Baby it’s cold outside

So I made it a week at the new gig. What gig? Well, I’m a lift operator (aka liftie) at Alpine Meadows. Its something I’ve wanted to do for many years and finally got around to.

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Magic Carpet duty
You can ski?
Yes. I’ve been skiing since the 4th grade, at Mt. Holly in Michigan. Over the years I’ve learned and enjoyed skiing with friends in Minnesota, Colorado and California. I even gave snowboarding a try, once. Working at a ski resort is a wonderful opportunity to learn and get better.
Isn’t it cold?
Yes and sorta. It’s been snowing (Yeah) and the temps when I get to work can be in in the 20’s, but you hardly notice it when you start setting up for the day. Plus I got a sweet North Face winter uniform that is pretty toasty. Later in the week the sun actually came out and it was warm enough take off layers. Plus an breath taking sun dog hung over the mountain.
What do you do all day?
I’m up early and after a quick locker room stop, on the mountain by 7:30 am. We have to set up fences, signs and be ready for guest by 9 am. It’s a lot of trudging through the snow carrying stuff (aka my morning workout). One day I worked the magic carpet (a moving surface lift that transports skiers and snowboarders on the ground as they are moved uphill). Watching the kids and adults go from fearful to confident under the watchful eye of parents or instructors was so exciting! The rest of the day I get to feel snow on my face, gaze at the sun on the snow capped peaks and engage with people who’ve come out to enjoy the snow, not a bad gig.
What’s the living situation?
Thanks to employee housing I live conveniently close to the mountain, with 5 roommates from Florida, Georgia, Washington and California. We have a nice place with a view of Lake Tahoe. Tahoe City has the small town feel and slower pace of life that I enjoy. Alpine Meadows (where I work) is the laid back side of Squaw with great trails.
All in all it’s been a interestingly fun week. I’ve done some skiing but mostly I’ve been focusing on learning all the things first. Like I’ve never worn a helmet but not only is it required but like everybody wears on here. Each lift has a different set up to learn, things to be aware of and safety procedures. It’s a fun learning process with co workers that very helpful in showing my the ropes.

Pack or freeze

Planning to be “in winter” is kinda like planning for a 5 month thru hike, you know similar, but different. There is training, I’ve been dragging my butt to the gym pretty consistently (except for that one time). Gotta get those legs and core. I’m not a fan of squats and I’ve even done those. Liver training is admittedly lacking but maybe it’s similar to muscle memory!

Packing, is me spreading things all over the floor, looking at them and then deciding I’ll deal with it later. This could be a problem later, as I’m not going ultra light. I need snow gear, hiking gear, a NYE outfit (ya never know), oh and a tiny Christmas tree!! Screw it PACK ALL THE THINGS!!

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Mentally I’ve been psyching myself up by doing a snow dance while listening to Pearl Jam (and not packing). Oh and watching ski movies for giggles. Have you seen the movie Frozen, not that one, the other one? Or Ski Patrol (1990) they just don’t make movies like that anymore. Plus a Warren Miller video or two “because if you don’t do it this year, you’ll only be older when you do“!

Know how much I want to go Heli-skiing? That’s totally random I know…….I’m just throwing it out there in the universe. Cuz ya never know…..heck who knew I’d walk to Canada!

State of Love and Trust

With the end of the hiking approaching, seeing pictures of hikers completing their hikes I have been reflecting on my own experiences. Looking at old PCT pictures and getting all teary. Maybe it’s just all the Pearl Jam and Martin Sexton I’ve been listening to that brought on all the feels.

I got a lot going on in my little corner of the world currently, don’t we all huh. The currents are shifting and as usually I am just gonna ride it out. Over the last 3 or so years figuring out “what to do next’ has been easy…another trail of course! The choice was easy as I was comfortable there or at least familiar. But if growth starts outside our comfort zone…I got to mix it up a bit right?

Bears, rattlesnakes, heck even bold squirrels are not as scary, to me, as stepping into a new adventure. There are so many unknowns, but thus is life, mine anyway.

So, I’ve decided to take a position in Tahoe for the winter! (i had to go back and change that period to and exclamation point) Been saying for years ‘I’m gonna ski more’ so what a better way than- total immersion! It’s gonna be hard, cold AF, new people, new experiences, new places I have never been. I’m not even sure where I will be living or with who? The uncertainty is exciting and scary all at once. On the upside I am looking forward to taking a swing a snowboarding (again), checking out that Rim to Rim trail (in snowshoes probably) and whatever else they got going up that way! Look at me getting out my head and my own way. This should be interesting. What you got going on this winter? Get outside!!!!

Say Something -A Great Big World

Well hellooooo! How y’all been? I’ve been enjoying the last days of summer and just being, well, busy. Let’s catch up!

So I went to PCT Trail Days…
Like a crazy person I drove 17 hours to Cascade Locks, OR! But it was so worth it. I met some cool people (that I’ve only known through the internet), volunteered at ALDHA-West, chatted with hikers and learned about Land and Water Conservation Fund!!

A Place in the Sun….
I’ve been itching to move out of the city, thought the desert would be right up my alley. So I took a trip out to Palm Springs. It was fun and hot, I even hiked part of the Cactus to Clouds trail, but it was hot. Went to a swanky museum and a cool bar with misters because it was hot. Then when I left to drive home my car overheated, I guess because it was hot. I took that as a sign and ditched the whole desert plan.

You’ve got a friend…..
My friends are the best and have helped in every way imaginable throughout my hiking adventures. So it’s been great to be back this summer and get to hang out with them. There have been some rocking brunches, porch chats, city hikes, kayaking, Ziggy Marley at Del Mar and Pink Floyd on the Spreckels Organ. We camped at Carlsbad State Beach last weekend and hiked Mt Woodson for a fogged out full moon! So much laughing and straight up shenanigans. 

But wait…I thought you said you were itching to move out of the city? Yes, this is true. It’s time to mix things up a bit and get out of the city. There are plans in the works I’m finalizing the details and digging out my winter gear! (hint) More on this later…

 

Looking Forward……

BIRTHDAY MONTH is coming!!! Setting down my wine glass and picking up my stein, bring on the Oktoberfest fun!

October there will be a lot of celebrating Me! Oh and the 50th anniversary of the designation of our nation’s first two National Scenic Trails: the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails!! The PCT and the AT were our nation’s first National Scenic Trails, designated by a bipartisan act of Congress and signed into law as the NTSA (National Trails System Act) by President Lyndon Johnson on October 2, 1968. 

Two years later on October 14, 1970 Elsye chardonnay was born, destined to hike those very trails…..yeah let’s celebrate!

For my birthday week I’ll be in Portland finding some trouble to get into and then Mt. Hood, Oregon for the ALDHA-West Gathering!

Oh I love Fall!! But I’m also looking forward to a wonderful winter adventure!

 

 

Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam

When I’m in a time of transition and lacking clarity I listen to Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter.  I have no idea what the actual lyrics are to the song. Heck I don’t think anyone does, maybe even Eddie. But there lays the beauty of it..

“A riff loosely based on something I had during the Ten sessions. I thought it was pretty. Eddie started making up words on the spot and we kept them. I still don’t know what it’s about and I don’t want to! I love it. Fans like it too!” -Lead guitarist Mike McCready

So in moment s of, well, uncertainty I listen to the song. Sometimes on repeat. At some point I just hear what I want to hear. Some people need silence to hear what their heart or that little voice inside is saying. I need Yellow Ledbetter….

 

What a Feeling – Irene Cara

this is a long post……but worth it!

On the morning we were to climb Katahdin we were all pretty excited to get going. All packed up and ready to go by 6 am. There was a quick stop at the ranger station. You can borrow a day-pack or just leave some of your things there. This was pretty nice since there was really no need to haul everything up there and back. Now the climb is only about 5.2 miles, however this is the AT so yeah. All the fast kids took off as soon as we hit the trail, I fell back. It’s kinda like a race remember to go your own pace. Sparkle is from Boston and offered to give us a ride out of the park afterwards. The plan was to hike the Hunt Trail up then hike the Abol trail down to the campground. Everyone said the Abol trail was shorter, yea, later I would find out it’s also the steepest descent!

I was cool with hiking alone, it was time for me to process the fact that this was it the big finish. The trail started out just fine….then came the boulders.  Not surprised, it never gets easy the last day should be hard too, consistency. So I checked my map, only 2.3 miles to go! Yes I can do that. Pushing hard, I pulled my using the metal hand holds anchored in the rocks. Sweating, breathing hard and swatting those annoying bugs I leaned on a boulder. Now I’m not great with guessing distances but I felt I was really moving. So I checked the map, bad idea. 2.0 miles to go, WHAT!?! That .3 had felt like a mile. The steeper, exposed climb and alpine section were still ahead. oh no.

My mind took over….crap everyone is gonna summit and be down, what if they leave me? I know I can make it but when? Wait wasn’t there talk of rain, what if a storm rolls in? What if there is no Santa Claus? ahhhh. Just then I glanced a saw Glowworm climbing up behind me! “Hey chardonnay, you can do this.. congrats on that triple crown..he said passing me.”  Mentally when you’re not in a good-place on trail, it’s the other hikers you draw strength from, solo hiker or not.  With that I was moving, behind the boys (again), but moving. I’d see the others coming down as I still climbed, but their words of encouragement and a hurry up gave me wings!!

katahdin sign

My first glimpse of the sign, it stopped me in my tracks.

Like a highlight reel it all flashed through my mind. All that I had done to get there, all that I had given up, been through, suffered through, the highs and the lows. I’d do it all again…well most of it. Now let me get a picture and get off this mountain!

My elation was short lived…on the way down I stumbled, ok fell, cut up my hand. There was blood, I would live. But it did not help with the steep climb down. At the bottom everyone was waiting…..and there was cold soda, chips, and sandwich’s!

So there I sat drinking warm Chardonnay, swatting bugs…..now what?

 

 

The Middle- Jimmy Eat World

“Hey / Don’t write yourself off yet / It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on”

So I’m mixing things up a bit. Headed into the 100 mile wilderness northbound. Then back to southbound the the rest, since my flight is out of Portland anyway. I’ve been a bit anxious, tired and emotional (pacemaker gave me her bacon this morning and i teared up, agh) Everyone’s pretty excited about finishing and the triple crown. My head/heart just isn’t there, yet. The end is near, almost.

Like the hills out here my emotions have been up and then down. I feel unsteady and unsure like the rocks under my feet. Even though there is predicted rainy weather ahead I’m good with being on trail and i hate hiking in the rain. Hoping these next will will be instrumental in sorting myself out.

Yesterday was stressful trying to find my box. After a frustrating call or two it was found, right where it was supposed to be. Thanks Kassy, now I have everything a girl could need for 100 miles in the woods!!

Great stay at Shaws hostel, amazing breakfast and they are very helpful. So onto the wilderness…..see ya on the flip side.

Roar – Katy Perry

Laying here in the hostel bed, everyone’s sleep but me. Can’t sleep, in the morning I will wish I had. Tomorrow we tackle Moosilauke and enter the White Mountains. I have no idea what challenges are ahead but I know they are out there.

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I try to sound confident and casual as I talk with other hikers. But my own concerns and fears I keep to myself. It’s been nice at the hostel meeting other hikers but it also makes me anxious. Hiking alone up till now I make my own pace, distance and choices. Now that I’ve met people I feel a pull to keep up, I feel slow.

Deep down I know the trail is about to school me. This next section will be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, truth.

Become the Mountain Lion by refusing to hide in the cave of your own shyness or uncertainty. Roar with conviction roar with power and remember to roar with laughter for balance.

Thats what my cards read before I left. Really I pull the Mountain lion card! Couldn’t I have pulled the sloth or maybe a turtle. Fine (clears throat) I’m ready roar.

What I think I’m like roaring…

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Reality….

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Thank you for being a friend -Andrew Gold

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People often ask how am I able to take time off and hike the trail for month(s). Well I say, I work hard and a lot. However, there’s another bigger part of the equation. People. By people I mean family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. My family doesn’t completely understand what I do and my mom wishes I didn’t do it at all!! But like every other crazy adventure that I take off on they support me even when they are not sure how.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, I have the BEST friends. They have shown up every freakin time, financially and emotionally. Whatever I needed and things I didn’t know I needed. When I needed extra work friends hired me, when I needed a place to live pre/during/post trail they took me into their homes, they gifted me gear and threw going away parties and camp outs. They sent packages, watched/repaired my car and took phone calls from the trail keeping me up on goings on at home.

Because I work for months at a time I work with a staffing agency (Ultimate Staffing). Vicki has been on it for the last three years, finding me great long/short term positions with great companies. My current assignment is with a auto dealership and it’s been a great job with fun people. Super happy that they want me back, they celebrated my departure with tasty food (carbs and meatballs!!) and gifts!

 

Thanks Apothekayla for the healing salve!

Then there are the strangers, aka friends I haven’t met yet. People who follow my blog/Instagram, leave supportive comments, messages, jokes, tips and donations. This is so over whelming at times it brings me to (good)tears.

Gracias     Merci Beaucoup      Grazie     Danke sehr   Mahalo

I’m out there hiking the miles, adventuring, ‘living the dream’ but it wouldn’t happen without my awesome support crew! I never walk alone! So much love and kindness. Thank you all for ALL THE THINGS and being on this journey with me.

I love y’all………..yep you!

It’s Not Over – Daughtry

In 2016 I quit an attempted thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. I learned some lessons on that hike, like all trails are not the same and to thru hike you have to really want it. Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean failure though, it just means you’re done, for now. Checkout my fun chat with Lynn Marie of Quit Happens, we talk quitting the trail when the drive isn’t there…..and going back when it is!

 Quit Happens with Lynn Marie 

African American hiker Appalachian Trail
AT Conservancy

Stay tuned…..in 2 weeks I’m back on the Appalachian Trail…..Katahdin I’m coming for ya!!