Grace in Adventure

British Columbia, Canada

After years in sports, I know that showing up is not enough.  In fact the physical is the easy part, it is the mental, the mental management of the physical that is the key to it all, to performance, endurance and enjoyment.

And I had the pleasure of spending some time adventuring in the Canadian pacific northwest late this spring and was reminded that in back country sports, with a longer outlook, showing up with a combination of strength and grace is key.  I could not gut out these sports with my usual burst of energy, and use recovery days for sore muscles.  Rather on a paddling camp trip, on days after biking and hiking days, I needed to find a place in inner calm and really settle into each stroke, and be in the moment.  My impatience would not serve me. 

Instead it was a lesson in finding beauty in the moment and just being there in each paddle stroke, not considering the next one, or recalling the last.  If I worried or wondered too much, I would frustrate myself and burn energy. 

It was literally spatially constrained meditation, and was it stunning once I found the zen in it.  Soaring pine forested mountains, topped by retreating snows high over salty fjord waters lapped with kitten paw waves whipped up by the sunset breezes. One night we watched the shifting palette of sunset mark time passing and distance gained across the fjord, as we slowly paddled towards the fading light and camp.

And skiing in 75' weather high above the chilly Pacific winding through the waterways between the islands and the Straight of Georgia, well, it was heaven, let's be perfectly clear.  But it also again took a mental calm combined with cardio, to work through the heat and the excitement I felt about all the beauty to pace myself, in terms of energy, enthusiasm, and even hydration.  I couldn't "blow out my hip-flexors" as people tend to do, if I wanted to come back for many runs over many days of earning my turns, skinning laps. 

And in order to bring energy to the downhill I brought joy to the uphill, loving the duality of the work up and then flow down, which only make turns, and beers in between that much cooler and sweeter.  I am hooked on this mode of skiing, meditation muscle and flow!

And in a bigger sense, with my genetic gifted migraines picking up significantly under the load of my mothers illness these last few years, I am intensely reminded of the joy, and blessing, of a healthy able body, the feeling of sweat pouring down my back, my lungs working in concert with my legs, my core and my back straining in balance, as my arms swing in cadence with my feet, and pulling me up a mountain, across a sound, or (god help me) up and down a mountain bike trail. 

These are gifts not to be taken for granted, and the ability to play in the great outdoors is by no means a given.  So even when I get cramps on a run and settle into the fact that the aches and pains are the good kind, the healthy and alive kind, man, do I want to do this kind of fully alive living every day, every hour. 

Our physicality is the ultimate escape, and the great outdoors the best playground we will ever find!  So until next time, body - and by that, I mean tomorrow...

Mountain Days

Big Sky, Montana

 Final Big Sky twilight.  Walking the upper meadow at twilight is always so meditative, I never thought mountains could provide the same peace as the ocean, I was wrong.  Big skies can do just that.

Final Big Sky twilight.  Walking the upper meadow at twilight is always so meditative, I never thought mountains could provide the same peace as the ocean, I was wrong.  Big skies can do just that.

 The flowers in Beehive Basin greeted us in full bloom, even under the smoke filled skies from wildfires in Idaho and absolutely scorching heat of full on high desert summer heat.  This place is one of natures great cathedral, truly sacred.  I cannot help feel awe here and reflect in the mountain lake.  Bear Basin next year.

The flowers in Beehive Basin greeted us in full bloom, even under the smoke filled skies from wildfires in Idaho and absolutely scorching heat of full on high desert summer heat.  This place is one of natures great cathedral, truly sacred.  I cannot help feel awe here and reflect in the mountain lake.  Bear Basin next year.

 Paradise Valley perfection, I think all of us dreamers imagine living in these tiny shacks when we see them, but I admit, while I do love Montana's -30 winters, out here the wind would be brisk.

Paradise Valley perfection, I think all of us dreamers imagine living in these tiny shacks when we see them, but I admit, while I do love Montana's -30 winters, out here the wind would be brisk.

(All images in my stories are my own, unless specifically noted.  If you would like to reproduce them elsewhere please contact me directly.)

Oregon Refresh

Portland, Oregon

I took a weekend after the amazing Struktur Conference for outdoor industry designers, to go outdoors myself, for some much needed nature time and greenery.  And man, did Oregon deliver, with unseasonably warm spring weather and impossible brilliant greens that saturated my vision even when I closed my eyes. 

I could feel the calm washing over me, from the vegetation and the mountains in a way that my heart had been craving and my stress knotted muscles almost cried with relief at receiving.  I couldn't have asked for a more perfect adventure in the woods of the Columbia Gorge.

The spring water flowed everywhere in beautiful ways that set my ocean mountain loving self alive, from tiny impossibly perfect bonsai like springs to falls that dwarfed the massive jurassic scale trees and tiny people.  The Angel Falls above lived perfectly up their name with the halo of light which, like the beautiful moss which surrounds so much, this weekend as the perpetual rains stopped the sun glowed around everything, and shone on Oregon! 

I look forwards to heading back into the Oregon woods very very soon, I am hooked!

(All images in my stories are my own, unless specifically noted.  If you would like to reproduce them elsewhere please contact me directly.)

Horsing Around at Lone Mountain Ranch

I adore these guys, they are massive 2000 pound goofballs from tug of war, to bunny hops and trying to mouth everything in sight, they are such show offs and fun to chill with.  I love heading to Lone Mountain Ranch to hang with these gorgeous boys.

http://www.lonemountainranch.com/food-wine/sleigh-ride-dinner/

"I'm a trained professional, lady, I can hold this cute as long as it takes until you get the shot."

Skijoring Bozeman

Not for the faint of heart the Duckworth Montana Classic run by the Gallatin Valley Skijoring Association in Bozeman on Saturday was an awesome festival of horses, cowboys and cowgirl, nutty ex ski racers, dogs, fun, stupidity, speed, beer, fun and friends.  I was in heaven!

Each categories the riders and skiers got faster and bolder with the Pro racers competing for big money.  The horses flew by at a full on gallop, rider pushing them faster, as their skier slalomed through gates, over three significant jumps-landing on teeth jarring flats, while grabbing the three rings - any faults caused an addition of 5 seconds to the teams finishing time.  In true ski racer form (and rodeo style, I imagine, I have less experience in this area) after the teams showed their serious skills down the track, they then showed their party skills on the return, juggling beers in the saddle or while ski skating or being towed.  And yes, Montanans' included, we were pretty damned impressed.

I mean really, what could be more perfect than a combination of all the best things in life - skiing, horses, Montana, snow, friends and a bit of alcohol on a gorgeous winter saturday afternoon.