25 August 2016

Turns All Year: Month 56

June turns are traditionally some of the best of the season, but this June was pretty rainy and also I was moving into my new house, so I only got in two days of skiing. I made sure they were good!

Tatoosh - June 12
Because no winter is complete without a trip to the Tatoosh, a crew gathered to make a few laps below Castle. We had a lovely skin straight from the car, enjoyed some steep adventure climbing when we got a little off route, saw incredible views of all of the volcanos, and came down without anyone getting hurt or sunburned. I call that a WIN!

Oh, and we learned that Tatoosh means "boobies". OKay, it's a derivation from a literal translation of "nourishing beast"... but I think we can all see the correlation.

Casey finishing out our adventure skin on foot. I did too.

Get in line pal.

Jordan enjoying the sunshine with a photobomb by Sarah. Photo by Tony Paquette.

Wonderwoman skis too.

We heart zee mountains.

Tony showing us how it's done through the trees.

Baker Summit - June 18
After the Tatoosh, Casey was jonesing for more snow and the Squak Glacier on Mt. Baker was looking good. Five of us headed up to camp at the trailhead and got out at 6am-ish to head up. The summit took a little longer than planned, but we made it up in time for prime corn slaying on the way down! Talk about an incredible route with an equally memorable ski descent. And we learned some tips for staying un-sunburned along the way.

This was my third Baker summit, second time doing it via the Squak in a day, and I'm telling you, that's the way to go. Next year maybe I'll switch it up and go for the Easton!

All summer skiing starts like this.

The weather was a little moody when we started.

The clouds finally abated when we neared 7800'

Looking into the crater.

Another party roped up.

Best Mode Theresa kicking in new steps when the other path was too traveled.

Theresa's reward.

Another summit, next time MORE flair!

The team preparing to descend.

The best skiing picture I'll probably ever take. This is Bruce shredding the gnar.

Go team! Photo by David Bruce.

Casey's happy face after her first Baker summit! Congrats lady.

18 August 2016

The Power of Writing Things Down

I'm a list maker. I always have been. Going to the grocery store? Make a list. Have errands to run this weekend? List. Packing for a week in the backcountry? You sure as hell better have a list!
Some people find my list making and/or general need to organize everything annoying. I can see how my spreadsheets and To Do Lists and to-the-minute calendar updates (that I make retroactively) could be irritating. But I just can't help myself. Data is power

The truth is I don't know any other way. When I was 7 years old I opened my first bank account with $32.00..... in pennies. Yes, I went to the bank, handed over 3,200 pennies and said, "Iwde like a bwank accwound pweese." (I should mention I had a bad speech impediment until about this age...).

Future nerd.
How did I know it was 3,200 pennies? Because I counted them. For FUN! I remember counting when I needed to escape what was going on in my little life. And I had a system. I would make piles of 10 pennies, then take ten piles of ten and put it into one big pile for a dollar. I learned quickly that I could count them most efficiently when I grabbed a handful of coins with each hand and alternated counting. Right hand: 1. Left hand: 2. Right hand: 3. And so on until I had 10. Then I'd do it over and over and over again. By the time I was done, I was sitting cross legged surrounded by 32 piles of 100 pennies.

The money came from my Dad, who would come home from work and deposit his pennies into a special bin we had made together. I only decided deposit it when my handmade piggy bank was over-full.

I remember feeling very surprised to learn that the bank had a counting machine. I just assumed I would sit down and count it in front of them. Or that they would just take my word that it was $32.00. I mean, I was a very trustworthy 7 year old!

When the numbers came back it was 12¢ off. I knew immediately why. I had miscounted a stack of 10 and they had lost 2 cents in their counting machine! But even if the 12¢ error was my fault, a 0.0375% error rate isn't bad for anyone, let alone a little girl who was just learning to write in cursive.

Maybe this is why I love spreadsheets so much. I like to know where things stand. I want to be able to keep track of stuff without having to hold it in my brain. Being able to look back and definitively see how far I've come is powerful. It's a way of announcing your intentions and holding yourself accountable. It creates a paper trail of your life, and gives you the perspective to appreciate all changes big and small.

Gaining some perspective.
That's why I write so many things down. I honestly believe writing something down gives it the power to come true. When I turned 28 I started on a 30 Before 30 List, and for the most part I completed the list as originally outlined. I did things I never would have otherwise prioritized, and I pushed myself to go outside of my comfort zone.

Most importantly, I learned the list had power to propel me toward action. I remembered that, and made a new list in 2014 and again in 2015. At the beginning of this year, I wrote down "Buy a house". I closed on my house on my 32nd birthday.

That's why I want to encourage you - today - to take a pen to paper and write down one thing you want to do before the end of this year. Pay off a credit card bill, go for a hike, clean out your attic, take that vacation. The goal doesn't matter, but writing it down is the first step in actually doing it. I believe this can be the most powerful step you take.

11 August 2016

The Unglamorous Reality of an Adventurous Life

Living an adventurous life isn't always glamorous, especially when it comes to dealing with poop in the backcountry. I dare say poop is the most unglamorous reality of living an outdoor life, followed closely by trash, snot, bugs, blisters, bruises, dirt, hat hair, sunburns, snot (again, because why won't it just stop already?), alarm clocks, nausea, and lack of sleep.

But this blog will focus on poop (sorry mom). More specifically, the grossest thing I've ever done related to poop.

In July, I supported a fundraising climb for SheJumps, a nonprofit near and dear to my heart. Founded 10 years ago by three rad ladies who love the outdoors, this mission of Shejumps is to increase the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. The whole organization is cool and inspiring and fun and energizing. I love it, and am happy to donate my time and money to support the cause. I encourage you to check it out and make a donation if you're so moved.

But this blog is about poop. Let me get back on track.

Target practice on Mt. Adams.

We had 8 women and 4 female guides going for the summit via the Disappointment Cleaver Route. It's the most commonly climbed route, and snakes up from Paradise along the south-east side of Rainier to reach the 14,410ft. summit. Most people climb it in 2-days. 

As one of 8 members of the support team, my job was to make life easier and more fun for the climbers. With three days on the mountain, the 'supporters' carried delicious, fresh food to camp, built tent platforms, shoveled out a deluxe kitchen and a separate but equally nice bathroom area, melted water, cooked, cleaned, and brought a spirit of fun in the form of music, tutus, onesies, masks, and streamers. Lots of streamers.

Cori embodying the spirit of fun. Photo by Freya.

Since we had such a large group (and let's be honest, a rowdy one), we chose to camp down-mountain from Camp Muir - the traditional mid-way point for climbers. This reduced our impact and gave us a little privacy. I was happy for the extra space. Camp Muir is a beehive of activity in the summer time. Tents are everywhere, humans are strewn about resting their tired soles, and a distinctive stench hangs in the air: the smell of human excrement.

Camp Muir has two or three outhouses with barrels in the bottom to collect waste. When they get full, some poor Ranger has to swap the full barrel for an empty one. When enough barrels are full, a helicopter whisks them back to civilization some 8,000ft down the valley. I always like using the bathrooms at Camp Muir. I enjoy thinking about my poo going for a helicopter ride.

Toilet at Camp Muir in March. Half doors allow you to still get in and out in the winter.

The point of all of this backstory is to tell you: we did not have toilets where we were camping. We were a good 30-minute hike from toilets  actually, so we built our own. This 2'x2f'x2' hole in the ground was designed to offer easy access while shielding our bums from onlookers.

We all learned quickly to employ the "blue bag method".

For the uninitiated, the blue bag method is pooping into a bag, sealing it up, and carrying it back down the mountain. Not everyone is super comfortable with blue bags, and I've been on trips before where someone opts to hold it for 3-days. I do not recommend this.

Places like Mt. Rainier give you blue bags. Literally a blue bag you'd use to pick up dog doody, you fold the top of the bag around two-fingers on each hang and hold it under your bum and relax. When you're done, you drop your toilet paper in the bag and seal it with a twist tie. Then, it goes into a second (clear plastic) bag, which you also seal off with a twist tie. The double bagging method is your key to happiness in the backcountry. It reduces the smell and protects you from the ever-feared bag puncture. Pooping directly into the bag means you don't end up with a poop smear on the snow, and it means you won't pee into the bag. Liquid is heavy and.... runny.

Are you grossed out yet?

Because things are about to get a whole lot worse. All 20 of us were at camp on Friday night and Saturday morning, and most used the facilities at least once. During the day on Saturday, almost all of us went up to Muir at some point, and thus we each carried our own 1-2 blue bags up to Muir to deposit them into human waste containers. Not a big deal. Poop is gross, but we can all handle a little of our own.

Sure looks like a nice place to camp.....little did you know there are blue bags hiding EVERYWHERE!

Then came Sunday morning. The climbers left at 10pm on Saturday night in order to summit and make it back down safely on Sunday before the crowds were overwhelming. They took only the essentials with them and left behind all items not going to the summit: sleeping bags, tents, stoves, extra clothes, etc. Oh, and used blue bags. They left behind used blue bags.

Let me say they were told to do so, and I agree with that decision 100%. But this blog is about gross things and so I want to paint a picture of reality for you.

Sunday morning the support crew team members woke up, made breakfast, and broke camp. For five of us, it was our job to carry the climber's gear up to Muir for the climbers to pick up on the way down without an extra side-trip to camp. They had just climbed up 10,000ft and down 5,000ft in 2-days, and would have another 5,000ft down to go. They earned it!

As we were cleaning camp, I went around gathering blue bags. Many of these belonged to support crew, and at least one of the bags had been left on nearby rocks by another party. I grabbed them all - probably 20 bags in total. The double-bagged blue bags then went into one big garbage bag. Then another.  

This is how I ended up strapping a 15-20lb bag of literal shit to my backpack and carrying it up the hill.

Freya's junk show, with me back-right contemplating poop.

Was it gross? Absolutely.  Am I proud of myself for overcoming adversity (and a gag-reflex). You betcha.

The real crux of the day, however, came when I was about 300' above camp with Cori and the bag started listing to the left. Before I knew it the black bag of butt butter had freed itself from my pack and was trying to make a break for it down the Muir Snowfield. Cori saved the day, stopping the slide before it turned catastrophic. We were going up one way or another, and you bet your blue-bag using ass we secured the shit out of that bag for the rest of the trip.

04 August 2016

The Shiba Inu Puppy - A New Meme Just For You

My friend McKenzie recently had knee surgery. She's a ripping skier and awesome mountain biker, so this was a major bummer for her and all of her friends who like to adventure with her.

To cheer her up, my friend Christy took photos of McKenzie's adorable dog Rupert and turned them into ridiculous(ly awesome) internet memes. Christy thought to herself, "What can I do to make the world a better place today?" and she took action. They cheered McKenzie up, brightened my day, and celebrated the adorableness that is Rupert.

Because I have a blog with 10s of followers, I wanted to share these pics in the hopes it will encourage you to make the world a better place through creating evil dog memes. Enjoy.

You can follow more of Rupert's adventures on Instagram, and see more of Christy's creativity on sweetbettyjean.com and christy pelland photograpy.