24 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

As someone who posts a new blog every Thursday, I'm growing the love the fact that I have one required time every year to give thanks.

I'm thankful for a lot of things this year: my incredible friends and family, a supportive community of adventurers, and of course the approaching winter. But I'm thankful every day to work for a company whose mission statement so closely resembles my personal ethos.

To celebrate Thanksgiving every year, The Mountaineers send a message of thanks to its community. As the marketing director, I'm primarily responsible for crafting and distributing this message. While I didn't come up with the beautiful design below, we used my picture and words. Just like the last two years, I feel personally moved by the way it turned out.

In an especially tumultuous time in our country, I, too, am thankful for our public lands. I'm grateful for those who came before us, like the late, great Polly Dyer, and fought for the wild places where we play. We all need to do what we can to protect our public lands; to let our grandchildren experience the sensation of discovering an untouched place.

17 November 2016

The Magic of Winter

Me on the left with my friend Marley. 1989.

Growing up in Montana, winter was always close at hand. We never spent much money on Halloween costumes because we'd end up wearing our ski pants and heavy winter jackets over the top anyway. My birthday is in mid-May but, by all accounts from my childhood, it was a winter birthday; I often got snow as a birthday present. I graduated high school on June 2 in sunny, 70-degree weather. Ten days later it dumped 14", covering my small town in tree branches which couldn't withstand the weight of the heavy muck on their new spring growth. It even snowed on the 4th of July one year, a memory which still makes me smile 25-years later.

My dad, especially, loved winter. He loves to complain about the cold now, but when I was two he built a luge off the back deck of our house in Whitefish. After we moved to Bozeman, he maintained a skating rink in our backyard for at least two winters. We didn't spend so much time skating on it, but I remember learning a lot about the science of snow and ice: melting points, ideal freezing temperatures, why you need to keep leaves from freezing into the ice. It's probably the best science lesson I ever had.

He also loved to ski. My parents met in Steamboat Springs, CO., where my dad worked as a ski instructor. They eventually moved to Montana, got married, and had kids. Both of my parents vowed to get me and my sisters skiing at a young age. We loved it. Our local ski hill let you ski for free until you were 10, so I was 10 until I was about 14. Shortness is good for something.

Throughout my life, winter has come to mean different things to me. Play, cold, ski, shovel, defrost, frustration, joy, rejuvenation. As a child, a fresh coat of white filled me with wonder. Today, a fresh coat of white refills my soul.

I've surrounded myself with people who feel the same way. I love watching my friends get excited about winter. I love seeing their faces light up, reflecting back exactly what I'm feeling inside. Right now my community of snow bunnies is giddy with joy, sharing snow memes and favorable forecasts. We're chomping at the bit to get out and enjoy the white stuff, and are envious of those who already have.

I'm grateful to have the privilege to enjoy winter, one I know is not afforded to all. I've lived through winters good and bad, and have seen marked changes in my short time on earth. Montana doesn't get snow on my birthday very often anymore. My niece, who's 10, gets fancy Halloween costumes because she can actually wear them. I can't remember the last time it snowed in June.

Winter is a cleansing, rejuvenating time. It blankets the earth in white and offers respite to our plants and animals in need of rest. It provides magical snow days to kids across the world. It's inspired snowmen and igloos and ice caves and backyard luges. It gives us a blank canvas to start anew. Everyone should experience the magic of winter.

I'm going to fight like hell to make sure my kids and their kids will have winter too. I can't do it alone. If you're interested, head over to check out the good people of Protect Our Winters (POW) and make a donation. I have.

10 November 2016

Things that are important to me

We all have things we hold dear - things that make our souls feel whole and our heart's shine. Here's a list, in no particular order, of things that are important to me:
  1. Recreation: I love getting outside, whether it's in a tutu or not. The fresh air and the mountain breeze rejuivnates me in a way that nothing else can.
  2. Creativity: I enjoy that I work for a company where I can be so creative, and where I don't have to fit a mold to be rewarded. Tonight I'm wearing a unicorn horn for a work-related event. Because I can. It's awesome.
  3. Fairness: I've always had a strong barometer for fairness. I don't know why, but I get very upset when I feel like things aren't fair.
  4. Snow: Growing up in Montana, snow has always been a part of my life. I have to drive a little further to get to it, but I'd like to see it stick around for all of the winters to come.
  5. Facts: I like living in a fact-based world, which I know is more aspirational than reality (for example: Christopher Columbus was a horrible human being why are we taught he's so great in US schools?!?). But facts are important, they inform decisions and create an even playing field.
  6. Equal Rights: My best friend in high school came out to me when he was 14. I was the first person he told, and it changed my life forever and for the better. I can no more choose to love women than he can choose to love women. Why is that so hard for people to understand? And why should he be judged differently than me because of it?
  7. Earning It: Unlike many of my peers, I worked through college and paid for it myself. I bought a house this year on my 32nd birthday, and I earned every penny (and paid off my college loans). I believe in helping people, but I also believe in working hard for what you have. Entitlement does not sit well with me.
  8. Active Listening: I'm not always the best model of this, but I do think collaboration leads to a better product and victories are sweeter when shared.
  9. Wildlife: I once let a spider, who I named "Stanley", live in my shower for a month because I didn't want to kill him. We had a good time together, Stanley and me. I also love elephants and turtles and frogs. For no other reason than they're awesome. And birds. Because birds are basically little dinosaurs.
  10. Freedom: I can write this little blog every week about anything I want, and don't face persecution for it (other than a few internet trolls). We're supposed to live in a country where everyone is afforded the same opportunities.
Not-ironically, this is also a list of things I'm really afraid of losing under the new president-elect. I've been so humbled by all of the posts from my fellow Hillary supporters online who are willing to have hope for at Trump Presidency. I'm just not there yet. I'm still very, very afraid.

I'm afraid for my niece, a 10-year old living in a red state. What kind of sex education is she going to get? What kind of resources will be available to her when she needs reproductive health support? What are the boys in her class going to learn about consent?

I'm worried about my job. I work for an outdoor nonprofit. Will there be a place for conservation work under a Trump presidency? Or will we just take a big step back on the environment? Will recreation even be available for my kids?

I'm afraid for my friends who are LGBTQ, or not-Christian, or who aren't quite "white-enough". Will they be safe?

I'm worried about my way of life. Both as a recreationist and as a woman. The snow-capped mountains are my escape, my place to wander and renew my soul. No one bothers me for being a solo female traveler. If I can't go there, what will I have? Where can I go?

03 November 2016

Turns All Year: Month 60 (5 Years!)

I met Christy in October 2014 when she attended an event at The Mountaineers. We were premiering Pretty Faces, a ski film featuring only women, and Christy volunteered to help. She showed up in bright red ski bibs, adorned with a white helmet with a pink mohawk and glowing unicorn horn. This girl had ridiculousness written all over her, and I knew immediately we needed to be best friends forever.

Christy, her two amazing daughters, and fimmaker Lynsey Dyer (read more about the film here)

I got to know Christy at more ladies' events, and have been lucky enough to partner with her on a few SheJumps/Mountaineers events. We've traveled together, enjoying turns together at Alta, SnowBird, and Schweitzer. We also shared a few soul-restoring days together at our local Crystal Mountain.

When it came time to organize a SheJumps fundraising climb of Mt. Rainier, Christy not only came up with the idea, but adeptly organized most of the trip. She's talented, smart, dedicated, and passionate, and she has more costumes than all of us combined. I have always been impressed Christy's endless enthusiasm and zest for life. This girl knows how to have a good time, and is superb at making people feel welcome and included. And to top it all off, she's a great mom to two girls, two dogs, and a barn-full of goats!

She's also a great skier. With October winding down and me without my monthly pilgrimage on skis, I was elated to get a text from Christy suggesting a day in zee mountains. She had a plan and we were GOING FOR IT!

The universe had other plans.

First, Christy got a flat tire. And not like a just-put-air-in-it-and-keep-driving sort of a flat tire, but a your-rim-is-ruined-drive-to-the-closest-gas-station-do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 kind of flat tire. Always the considerate ski partner, she let me know right away and I enjoyed a nap in my car while she sorted it out. Actually, she managed to get her father in law to come tow the car, drop her kids at school, and get to me only in just over an hour. If that's not a special kind of skill, I don't know what is!

Then we arrived at zee mountain, and it looked like this:

Given the lack of snow in previous days, we weren't expecting pow, but we weren't expecting dirt. With little time to waste and a deadline for me to be back in town, we set off with the adventure dog Strider into "the snow" (quick safety note here: it's never a good idea to have a "I need to be back in town by X time" qualifier; it's fine, in fact a good idea, to set a turn-around time if you don't make your intended destination, but rushing is never a good idea and can lead to unintended consequences).

This is going to be "fun"!

Time to skin! Strider post-holed the whole way poor thing.

We hiked for a short time through mostly snow but also a lot of muck, until we reached the place where previous skin tracks started. We could have just walked all the way to the top of Naches Peak, but my rule for Turns All Year are "skis on my feet for an hour", which means uphill counts!

Photo by Christy.

Christy and her pooch.

Getting closer! Strider post-holing some more. Photo by Christy.

We made it to the top right when dense fog was rolling in. Of course. We ate our sammies and "rested" after nearly 600' of uphill climbing.

And we took selfies. Because: of course we did.

Smiles for days.

Then we "skied" down. It was...skiing. We got in some turns while laughing at our own lack of coordination and trying to dodge the rocks. We were mostly successful.





We were back at the trail in short order, but just because we were on the trail didn't mean I was ready for the skis to come off. We gingerly inched over the rocks to ski almost all of the way back to the car. Before we knew it, the little adventure was over.

They say "you don't know unless you go". In this case, we went and it was worse than expectations, but I've gone and won so many times that this felt like a win. It helps with an awesome adventure buddy! And hey, that's skiing in October. 

In denial about running out of snow.

Two types of skiing: snow and water!

This guy in the parking lot took SO many photos of us. I dind't get the memo on making a more awesome face.

So happy! I made it to 5-months of TAY!