List: Things I totally believe count as training

I am supposed to be training for the marathon I signed up for three months ago, when I thought maybe all I needed to really motivate myself to get after it was a concrete goal. The race, which is to take place in the neighborhood of 10,000 feet elevation, and which I now deeply regret signing up for, is in three days. Here is how I’ve been getting ready. Continue reading “List: Things I totally believe count as training”

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Red Hot lovin’

Around this time last year, I started a new job. In an office. I’d spent most of the previous five years working mostly outside: as a backpacking instructor, conducting field research in grad school, a brief stint as a whitewater raft guide. The closest thing I’d had to an office job still allowed me to ski, on the clock, a few times a month. This was a big shift. Continue reading “Red Hot lovin’”

Things to do instead of riding your bike on a muddy trail

You guys. We should not be having this conversation again.

Do not ride your bike on muddy trails.

It’s bad. We all know it’s bad. Bike tires create ruts in the soft trail, which stick around all season long. Water runs through the ruts later in the summer, causing further erosion. Other users step around the ruts and the mud they generate, so the trail widens and social trails pop up. It takes resources—time, tools, labor, which land managers often don’t have—to repair these trails. The International Mountain Bike Association says not to do it. Local land managers post signs at trailheads asking us not to do it. Other mountain bikers are mad (super mad) when we do it. Continue reading “Things to do instead of riding your bike on a muddy trail”

These feet are made for walking

My feet are unsightly—some might even say they’re downright gross—but they’re pretty useful. They’ve been up mountains and down rivers, across glaciers and talus fields, over miles of trail both soggy and dry. I have stuffed them into too-small climbing shoes, smelly ski boots, worn-out trail runners, my beloved Chacos, and, on very rare occasions, a pair of sky-high heels. I rarely have ten toenails.

The week of my wedding, at my best friend’s insistence, I got a pedicure. This was uncharted territory for me.

“Look,” she told me, “If you insist on getting married in those sandals, the least you can do is make your feet presentable.”

“They’re Chacos,” I explained cheerily, “And what’s wrong with my feet?” Continue reading “These feet are made for walking”

Kicking the Seasonal Avoidance Disorder habit: How I learned to love my favorite places all year long

We rented bikes and took the lifts to the top, from whence we careened back down the mountain on trails hidden all winter by feet of snow. The runs I’d skied so many times looked different, shed of their cold-weather clothing, but not at all unpleasant. It had never occurred to me that there was more to this place than the way I saw it between December and March, that there were nearly 2,500 acres of unexplored terrain beneath the mountain’s annual 300” of snowfall. It had never occurred to me that Copper Mountain had layers.

I grew up skiing at Copper Mountain, a resort at the edge of I-70 just shy of Vail Pass. I skied there dozens of times every winter in college, and I could’ve recited the runs accessed by each lift from memory or told you exactly how to get from Super Bee to Spaulding Bowl and back again. I knew when, on any given lift, to look for the tree adorned with Mardi Gras beads and discarded bras—that ski area staple—and that I had precisely four-and-a-half minutes to choke down the disfigured peanut butter sandwich in my pocket before the American Flyer quad deposited me at the top of my favorite run.

I thought I knew Copper Mountain pretty well. Continue reading “Kicking the Seasonal Avoidance Disorder habit: How I learned to love my favorite places all year long”