Trail Running Gear I Use Around Lake Tahoe

There’s hardly any snow in Tahoe and it’s been rather warm lately so I went and bought a road bike. I stopped checking the forecast. Locals aren’t even thinking ‘snow’. It’s also nice to be able to run again, and when I do I see kayakers and stand-up paddlers on the lake. So I got to thinking: “I’ll share that trail running post on my own blog.”

I wrote this for work last fall. Since it’s only fair to credit my place of business upon duplication of their literature, you should check out Tahoe Mountain Sports. They’ve been awesome to me the past year+, and I love working for them. We sell top-of-the-line outdoor gear online and in Kings Beach, CA, one of the cooler places I’ve lived. This post discusses gear – because that’s what I do. Enjoy.

trail-runs-lake-tahoe

 

I love trail running. Especially in the mountains. I haven’t always been a runner, but I dabbled as a kid. I’d go through multi-week phases months (or even years) apart, but I remember often feeling the urge to move fast on foot. It’s a feeling that’s tough to beat, flying downhill with the wind in your face, sweat cooling as you move ahead faster than your feet should allow. You feel powerful, like Superman. And the liberating feeling you get when you break through the “runner’s wall” is contagious. But it’s not always fun. In fact, sometimes it really sucks and I swear I must be masochistic, but it’s always worth it in the end. No matter how hard it is to get out of bed and force your feet to move out the door, especially when it’s cold and/or dark, the final result is always worthy of the initial suffering.

It’s an underestimated mode of transport, moving by foot. You may not travel as fast as you would on a bike or in a truck, but you can access more terrain and you’re much more nimble. Spontaneous decisions are more accepted by feet than by tires, and it’s more fun, in my opinion, to use my own strength, balance and agility to propel myself forward over varied terrain, even if it requires exerting more energy. Actually, that’s one of the best parts.

I know there are readers out there who are relating to this. Anyone else, please bear with me. I truly love having your attention. I am going to list off the trail running gear I have grown to love the past year living in Lake Tahoe, and I will do so as a recommendation. Yes, I work in a retail environment, yes, my goal in the workplace is to move gear, and yes, Tahoe Mountain Sports carries several of these products. Still, this is not solely a sales pitch. It’s an honest review about the trail running gear I use on a regular basis. Still, I’m not exactly low on options, so this review is not to be taken lightly. I could use pretty much any products on the market, but if you see me running around Tahoe I’ll likely be wearing more than one of these items:

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Salomon S-Lab Trail Runners

First off, the shoes. I rotate through several pairs of running shoes, depending on the terrain. My Salomon S-Lab trail runners are comfortable miles-on-end, thanks to their seamless upper construction, stretchy toe-box and plush cushioning under-foot. They hug the foot more securely than I’ve felt with other shoes, and the heel-cup holds your foot in place and guides it straight forward to save you energy you’d normally exert perfecting your stride. I’m somewhere between a minimalist and a heel-striker; over the past two years I’ve trained my feet to land more naturally. I love the comfortable medium the S-Lab provides. These Salomon trail running shoes are ideal for my preferred style of mixed terrain, except for overnight trips through Desolation Wilderness, which is mostly granite under-foot so the feet require more protection on longer runs. I love the Salomon lacing system because they’re efficient and they tuck away into the tongue so I don’t have to worry about snagging them on branches. Plus, bright red shoes are ridiculously loud and…awesome.

My midlayer fleece from The North Face is probably my favorite layering piece for winter, and it makes a great top in the spring and fall. When you sweat, FlashDry Technology works to spread the moisture out over a broader surface area so it evaporates faster. The “ninja hood”, as I like to call it, covers all but the eyes and the bridge of the nose, but the inner lining and the collar are soft and the zipper doesn’t chafe the chin, so it’s actually quite comfortable to zip this softshell up all the way. The stretch fabric used throughout the jacket moves with your body when reaching for rocks holds, pack straps or pockets, and the thumbholes in the sleeves help cover enough of the hands to keep you warm without gloves. When winter really hits, I wear Mountain Hardwear winter liner gloves that work with my smartphone’s touchscreen so I can use my camera and send texts/emails without freezing my phalanges.

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The North Face Fleece Midlayer Hoody (w/ TMS logo)


Switch Lynx Magnetic Interchangeable Polarized Sunglasses – There are several reasons I am fond of my Switch sunglasses and I recommend them to so many people that I know, meet or talk to in the shop. 1) They stay on my face during the toughest, sweatiest workouts, 2) They look cool, and they’re lightweight and comfortable – on everyone I’ve had try them on, and 3) They come with an extra pair of low-light lenses in a compact carrying case! Having low-light lenses is crucial for even more reasons than having Switch sunglasses. Switch just makes it incredibly easy to swap your lenses on-the-move.

Why wear sunglasses when the sun’s not bright? The same reason you still wear sunscreen at altitude, even on grey days: protection from UV rays! But I have more reasons to wear low-light lenses when it’s not bright outside: 1) Bikes (and dogs) ahead of you on the trail kick up dust, making it difficult, and dangerous, to maneuver between trees and rocks, 2)  Branches and bugs you encounter on the trail can ruin your run/ride. A scratched cornea was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, 3) I’m excited to use these for backcountry touring in winter. Before the sun rises, when the wind is howling and you’re working hard enough that wearing goggles means overheating, I know I’ll be stoked on my Switch low-light lenses. Then when the sun does come up I can quickly swap them out for the brights without having to stop skinning. Click here for more information about Switch Magnetic Sunglasses.

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Inyo National Forest with Switch Lynx magnetic sunglasses. Photo credit Brandon Marshall

Continue reading “Trail Running Gear I Use Around Lake Tahoe”

Three Resorts Get The Boot

You’ll probably have to zoom in to read this scanned image of an article I wrote for Issue #1 of Kronicle Magazine. I was SO stoked to have my first written piece published!

*Adam Broderick (2013, October). Get The Boot. Kronicle Backcountry Snowboarding Magazine, p. 42.

 

Get The Boot - 3 Resorts w: Epic Sidecountry

“Be, Creative! Be, Be, Creative!”

“I went from a super-steezy tail-butter to floating through the air switch, and I landed exactly one hard left turn in front of a massive tree trunk.”

gaper day crested butte
Caution: Unmarked Obstacles [aren’t always a bad thing]
(Not so) Obvious Disclaimer:  Until this year I worked at a resort. That is how I have managed to ride almost everyday, and thus still think of snowboarding as a rather routine activity. Most people that read this won’t ski or snowboard more than a dozen times per season, if at all. If you don’t understand the terminology used herein, please read on. Chances are it will all come together as you continue. I try my best to find a comfortable medium in with my vocabulary, constructing all blogs so they’re “universally comprehensible”. Thank you for understanding. Enjoy the show.

“Be, Creative! Be, Be, Creative!”

There isn’t much snow coverage yet in the Lower 48. After all, December is still just around the corner. But that doesn’t mean now isn’t the perfect time to get your legs into shape and practice more technical skiing or snowboarding. Although many would disagree, I enjoy having to put together pieces of a puzzle on my way down the mountain. Most people won’t ride the resort until there is more snow on the ground, usually due to the greater chance of beating up their skis or boards on rocks. Others claim to get bored fast when there are only a few trails open. Some may have been injured riding too early in the year, therefore hold a grudge against early-season turns. However, there are many ways to make more from less if you think creatively.

Gaper Day Crested Butte
Playing It Safe

Unless a sponsor hooks you up with multiple boards per season, I don’t recommend taking your favorite pleasure stick on exploratory missions through rocky terrain. Either bring your rock-board – your beater board, park board or last year’s board – or try not to care so much about a core-shot or a busted edge that you can (almost) always repair later. The more often you ride, the better you become and, in turn, the harder you ride. Eventually you learn not to become attached with snowboards because they rarely last more than a season, anyways.

As Frost would have put it, take the road less travelled. If there is enough snow off-piste to put together turns and make your way downhill, take that route. But don’t just ride recklessly through a snow field without a proper pre-inspection, and don’t ever assume any soft snow will be “safe”. Usually, the lower the snow coverage, the higher the hazard level. But on harder snow that doesn’t give or allow sinkage (hahahaha, he said “sinkage”), weaving between and ollieing over patches of dirt, rocks and bushes can be great practice. It’s also a lot more fun than sticking to the groomed trails, unless they’re decorated with features like boxes, rails and jumps. Or, even better more often than not (in my opinion), moguls.

The top of a good, fun run. Bumpy, chunky, and awesome under the lift line.

Moguls are a good on-piste (on a groomed trail) solution to unnatural terrain. Many skiers love moguls. Most snowboarders don’. I like to think of them as mini-berms on a banked slalom course, and I have tons of fun lapping bump-runs until my legs turn to Jello. It’s good to ride uneven terrain and learn to gauge your turns a few moves ahead of time, as if you’re playing a game of chess. If you can get into the moguls early-season, when the snow eventually gets good your legs and core will be strong and shready for action! Which leads us to our next topic, and a justified mantra of mine, if you will:

Ride moguls everyday.
Ride switch everyday.
Ride moguls switch everyday.

Practice riding switch-stance. It’s difficult at first, but definitely worth the investment. I learned from experience how useful this can actually be.

I went from a super-steezy tail-butter to floating through the air switch (backwards), and I landed exactly one hard left turn in front of a massive tree trunk. Luckily my superior muscle memory kicked into gear before I collided head-first with the pine tree I was flying toward at mach speed. I landed switch-stance, dug in my toe-edge and popped out onto a groomed trail, sliding about twenty feet on my butt on a flat surface – dazed, astounded, and speechless. I smacked myself in the sides of my helmet to ‘smack myself out of it’ and patted body down as if I had lost something in one of thirty pockets.  The only thing that saved my ass was my training, and that day has been with me ever since.

Emigrant Squaw Valley
Early season bumps and stumps.

Early season, before the entire mountain had opened and we were still confined to a few particular trails, we would practice riding the moguls. They’re like a more timid version of what it’s like to ride steep terrain. We made it a point to take a mogul lap every day we went out, and in due time that turned into riding them switch. At the time I knew that I was training, but had no idea what for. Well, I had plenty of ideas: switch 360’s, switch 270 blunt slides, switch rodeo flips. I mostly just wanted to get better at riding switch. Little did I know, all that training would lead up to one switch left turn. And I’m thankful for that turn, because ever since I have made a million more. Turns out it saved my ass…and quite possibly my life.

To this day I make it a point to ride switch every time I go snowboarding. Early season is a great time to practice fundamental work, before the snow gets deep and the time for “learning” has passed. By then, most people (including yourself) probably won’t have enough patience to wait while you figure things out. Nor will it be very practical to work on the basics when the snow is deep and soft. You’ll receive a lot more feedback from your board on hard-packed snow. Plus, although hilarious at times, falling over and getting stuck in powder can be really frustrating. Rarely does this occur without leaving you in an awkward, helpless and pretzel-like position. And you should count on falling when practicing the basics. If you can’t, you’re not trying hard enough.

Sharpshooter Crested Butte
A dear friend of mine falls on a green run during in early December. I forgot about this shot, then randomly found it on the work computer toward the end of the season.

So get out early and practice the fundamentals. As with any activity, start small and start early. That way when it’s time to play with the big dogs, you’re ripe and ready. Or as I like to put it, Shready. ‘Nuf said? Thought so.

Contentment

Wrote this while laying in bed this morning. Started as an extended facebook message, evolved into a bunch of bs…

I enjoy when people say they wish they could just leave and do what I do…it’s almost a pat on the back…but then again, anybody can do that. I just had a series of unique events in my life that had great influence on my values and how I envision my future. Most people fear instability and the unknown road, whereas I taught myself to embrace it and make it work for myself. And others assume I’m just more comfortable being broke…more like I’ve become used to it (but also tired of it). Really I’m just not comfortable settling w/out passion, and I believe self-worth is measured in passion/love/experiences/friendships/values/etc.

The money is on its way. I have no fear in that.

I’ve tried the 8-5 office jobs – They’d have been more tolerable had I been passionate about my work. I worked with Outward Bound in Alaska – Amazing culture and a great experience – just doesn’t pay well enough! (See? I’ve still got an itch.) I got my BS in Resort Management – then decided I didn’t want to go the corporate route. The past three summers I worked as a landscaper. I enjoy the hard work outdoors, using my hands, and the reward of creating something beautiful for others to enjoy. I topped out at $15/hr on projects that should have earned at least $30/hr b/c they required carpentry, stone masonry, or hazardous/strenuous tasks – that’s the name of the game when you work for someone else. Especially in this valley, where people share similar values.

I have learned, over the years, how much my mood depends on eating well, sleep and exercise…and how depressed I can become when set into a routine lacking those things. Trouble with the law, carelessness at work/school, drugs and alcohol, and no center-of-focus (or balanced chi) eventually had me searching for something more. When I finally embraced this, and let the “nomad” take over, I found a whole new world opened up to me.

It came as a surprise when I first learned that most of the world spends equal-to/greater-than 1/3 of their income on food alone. This does not include eating-out. Not the US, obviously. We don’t have “time” to cook. Nor do we ever have enough money to do everything we dream of (But what shapes these dreams?). The quality of food has decreased in order to keep up with our fast, demanding lifestyles. This “convenience-food” has gone up in demand, and in turn the demand for quality produce and livestock we actually need has dropped, making it more expensive and “unaffordable”. With this, quality time with loved ones has moved to the back-burner. Families rarely eat together and more kids are forced to raise themselves each year, or hang in the “streets” and experiment with whatever is smack-dab in front of them. Like drugs, alcohol, vandalism, theft, violence and promiscuity.

The value of sex has also decreased. More than love, esteem has taken ahold of the wheel in the race to get laid. Thus, disease rates have risen and chivalry has declined.

Encounters with wise elders have lead me to follow my heart. Encounters with not-so-wise peers have lead me to follow my heart. Several physical injuries have forced me into a healthier, active lifestyle. Friends struck with cancer at an early age have opened my eyes to a healthier, active lifestyle. Reading the articles and counting the polls (Where do the happiest people reside? On Earth and in the US?) has brought me to a place I love. Counting the smiles and comparing their counterparts have brought me to a place I love. That place is contentment. Content with the future and whatever it may bring – because I know I’ll love it…or it’ll learn to love me.

California Dreamin’

With each return from my haven in the hills I become more comfortable assimilating to the cultures that shaped my youth.

I get these feelings of positive anxiety whenever I visit Southern California. The consistently warm weather, the friends and family, the nightlife and the energy. Mostly, the weather. All other factors stem from the weather. Other Diegans will admit that sunshine dictates their moods, and many agree that a region such as the Pacific Northwest seems uninhabitable. Err…depressing. Er…just not for us.

I start to feel it before I leave the mountains. Listening to hip-hop transports me to nightclubs and house parties. Images of running barefoot on the beach or going sleeveless into the early hours of morning trigger my stoke-meter and get my blood boiling. Although I know deep down that I’ll never fully accept the entire SoCal package, I still enjoy myself immensely during the semi-annual rendezvous; I do my best to go as hard as my body and wallet will permit.

Luckily I have Interstate 15 to thank for a smooth transition into city driving. When my car’s feeling frisky (rarely and never unappreciated) she’ll let me push her to 80+ on the stretch between St. George, UT and Barstow, CA. Some may refer to this territory as ‘Bat Country’. I know it as ‘the longest 4 hours I’ve endured since the Tijuana taxi ride from hell’. Still, I-15 serves as good preparation for city driving, where we adjust to 45 mph in-town vs. the 15 mph limit in Crested Butte.

Balancing outdoor time with indoor/drive time is crucial:

-I began with a 3-day prequel at Lake Arrowhead. Clean and sound-proof air for maximum penetration; ‘howdy'(adj.)-neighbors and cable-free tv; the scent of pine and a fresh pot of brew…and that’s it.  A great way to rejuvenate and relax before I fully took it to the streets.

-Not all streets, however. There’s a great network of trails near my mom’s house; it’s easy to remain on dirt almost the entire run, as long as you don’t mind re-tracing your steps a few times between the numerous trail junctions.

-Being at sea-level doesn’t hurt much, either. Energy levels increase as elevation decreases, and the oxygen here allows me to push harder and further than usual. I impress myself when I exercise here, yet I search for motivation back in Colorado. (Interesting sidetone – I excel through workouts with a vivid imagination; visions of charging up a mountainside in order to get ahead of the pack and capture the perfect shot; or digging a partner out from under an avalanche debris field while his clock quickly ticks away.)

-Although the surf is currently “poor-fair”, visiting the ocean can be therapeutic; almost immediately after descending to sea-level I do my best to race toward the horizon. Just being on the sand or taking a dip in the salt water works wonders for the soul.

-Traffic is more manageable as I adapt to 6-lane freeways and learn to better avoid rush-hour. Knowing when to refrain from certain freeways/neighborhoods is very beneficial. (So is having a passenger with hand-held GPS capabilities.)

-Getting out to capture photos doesn’t come quite as “second-nature” in the city. Without the panoramic views and outdoor activities surrounding us, the urge to shoot just isn’t as prevalent as I’m used to. This is not to say there aren’t terrific shots to be found; I just have to look a bit deeper to create them. These photographs usually provide the most satisfaction because they surprise and entice me with fun and interesting new perspectives.

“As years passed away I have formed the habit of looking back upon that former self as upon another person, the remembrance of whose emotions has been a solace in adversity and added zest to the enjoyment of prosperity.” – Simon Newcomb

Some of the better shots from the past two weeks:

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Landscapes That I’ve Created

The past three summers I have worked as a landscaper, and leader of our our two-to-three-man Projects Team. Working hard in an outdoor setting and shaping the land that has been so selflessly loaned to us has been taxing, rewarding, and progressive, to say the least, as a means of character-development. I really do enjoy sculpting the earth and “playing in the mud”, and my workspace sure beats any corner office in a high-rise city-scape. I do my best to remain stoked at all times, even at my day job.

Yesterday I took a scenic drive and brought home some photographs from a small handful of the projects I’ve completed these past few seasons. A portfolio/showcase of some sort seemed like a good idea, in case I ever decide to sell myself – and I don’t mean the way I used to on the corners in southeast San Diego. Natural, formal, or xeri-scapes; drainage issues and irrigation management; large, beautiful sod lawns or small vegetable gardens. If you can dream it, you can do it. And If you’re more of a dreamer than a digger, I can do it for you.

All projects began from scratch (excavation required).

Small Town Livin’

First snow of autumn, taken w/ point-and-shoot 8.0 mp

Written in October 2010, after the first snow of autumn.

As I gaze with anticipation out my living room window, I try to account for the inches that have melted away during the past three days of snow. With eight so far in our parking lot, I fight the urge to assume this is foreshadowing an epic winter. It’s only October 26, which means there’s about a month or more of unpredictable weather. That’s right, I said un‐pre‐dict‐able. Defined: “not to be seen or foretold”. The upper‐Gunnison Valley is the only place I’ve lived where you can’t depend on NOAA or LOLA to be accurate. Sure, our surrounding peaks will no‐doubt get hammered by the majority of systems that roll through the southern Rockies. But will our asses be covered? Or perhaps I should use the local‐deemed term “Crusty Butts” when referring to those whom anticipate roaming free on the jagged and intimidating, yet all‐too‐often dry, 12,000’ peak of Crested Butte.

A Butte is a solitary rock, or mountain, that juts out of an otherwise vacant landscape. Our Butte is bold and beautiful, and towers over our historic little town like a giant with arms crossed. Put simply, the rock calls the shots. Our community depends on our mountain’s ability to bring snow, which in turn attracts travelers with open lenses and open wallets each season. Our residents await the day that the shale and dirt take cover under the infamous white blanket, only to be replaced with hootin’ powder hounds and rabid escapees from Lonestar State Penitentiary. But just how many hounds will run free on our playground, sniffing out the goods where the average Joe wouldn’t think to look? How many dead presidents and corn-huskers will we be lucky enough to accommodate this season? We’ll never know until the lodging sales skyrocket. There won’t be a sign until you get rear‐ended by an Oklahoma license plate. Until we either do, or do not, get absolutely annihilated that first week of December, a week that the large weather systems have tended to favor.

As locals we know that we always have options. That is why we choose to live here. Options unless, well, unless you’re out due to an injured ACL or another leg injury, which it seems almost 20% of us are at any given point between December and May. The backcountry surrounding our resort gets 3-4 times the snow than our beloved Crested Butte each year, if not more. We know that we have limitless boundaries, and we can travel as far as our feet, or snowmobiles, are willing to take us. We also know that once we get out there, we’re pretty much alone with our surroundings. We scan 360 degrees from viewpoints atop high mountain peaks, and we sigh with appreciation for the solitude and serenity that we’re so privileged to have access to. After all, that’s why we choose to live here. Right?

Wrong. That’s only one reason. As locals of such a unique community and pursuers of seemingly surreal lifestyles, we cannot forget what makes us so attractive to the outside world. Our community. After all, it’s what stuck us here in the first place. Sure, most of us came with dreams of steep powder turns and an escape from the flashy and fly corporate culture that has taken over at the other ski destinations. But once we arrived, it was the culture and the small town vibe that kept us around. It was watching a local cop harass a teenager with an “I knew his mother when she was pregnant with him so this is acceptable behavior” approach. Or knowing that you can ride your cruiser‐bike to the post-office faster than you can drive there in a 15-mph zone. Even on a snow day. Or knowing that if you forget your wallet, the cute girl at the local coffee shop (who you can swear you saw dressed as a beer can last night on Main Street) will simply jot your name on the IOU list.

It’s the little things that keep us around. Sure, the big things help. Big lines, big dumps, big vistas, big high‐fives and big smiles. But immobilize yourself with an injury and spend mid‐winter on crutches, and I’ll bet everything in my pockets (at least 1/2 oz of lint) it won’t be enough to get you packing your bags. Why? Because when you hobble your way into the bank on your crutches, which thanks to local knowledge came fully equipped with spikes for traction on ice, the teller had more empathy for you than your own mother did (then again the teller probably didn’t just cough up half of your medical bill). The guy in line next to you sees the same physical therapist you do, and the first things he says is “Dude, how’s the swelling in that knee? Still chillin’ on the couch? Here, check out this new video I just bought. SICK big‐mountain riding and pillow lines galore! Should help you pass the time.” Your jaw drops as he leaves your side and approaches the teller. “Really?” you ask yourself. “Did that just happen? I barely know that guy!”

That’s what we’re all about up here at 9,000’ above sea level. Sharing and spreading the love. Seek. Destroy. Share. The enticingly hardcore scene got us here and filtered the rest out, and the local‐camaraderie kept us around. So when you get rear‐ended this winter, be thankful that the snow Gods are calling out to others. Be thankful that the driver is supporting your lifestyle by hiring your landscaping crew for $12,000 per summer in order to keep their HOA off their back. And if you must, find comfort in knowing that they’ll most likely stay on the “blue” runs and won’t interfere with your pow lines. Don’ t forget how attractive groomed “corduroy” is to family members that only get out twice per year. Sure, they’re the ones keeping us in lift lines, but they’re also keeping us with jobs. They’re the ones covering your asses. You should know that you can always disappear into the backcountry, but that when you return you’ll be forced to share your powder report with the locals at the burrito shop. And yes, there may be an outsider listening in. And no, you shouldn’t lower your voice in order to protect your secret stash from a non‐local. If you can recall, you were in their shoes once also. And if you were lucky enough to be born here, then your parents wore those shoes once. And shoot, if the shoe fits…well, that’s why we choose to live here. Right?

Rowdy wouldn't know what to do in Time Square! -also taken w/ point-and-shoot 8mp

Get in where you fit in

Yesterday my brother told me that my car perfectly symbolizes my lifestyle. It’s an Outback, and it requires constant maintenance due to “considerable” wear and tear. The fenders are red from the rocks of the Southern Utah desert. The rear bumper is falling off due to an incident with a hungry bear two years ago. The cargo box resting on top is full with gear that wouldn’t fit inside the car. Stickers that read “Got Balls?” and “Snowboarder” are worn and peeling. Dog slobber coats the rear left window, and a mud-covered mountain bike is strapped to a rack on the rear. The car definitely stood out amongst the newer sedans and clean sports cars in the lot. It rested in the last available spot in the crowded San Diego lot, and I had to park it at an awkward angle so it’d fit.

I had to thank my brother for the compliment.

Utah’s Onion Creek

Levitation in Progress

When you leave on vacation it is only natural to think “out with the old, and in with the new”. It becomes second-nature to get caught up in the moments and forget why you’ve decided to nest where you do. You’ll enjoy your fresh mentality for the time being, and when you’ve finally returned home it may take a couple of days, or even weeks, to unpack your bags and re-settle. Although you’re now back in your element, your brain is still on vacation. That “change-of-pace” you’d looked forward to for so long may have felt short-lived. Is that because you took too short a vacation? Didn’t complete the extensive “to-do” list that you only gave yourself a month to complete? Or because you didn’t fall in love? Only hit 12 out of 15 destination surf spots? Made two birthdays and a bachelor party, but missed the wedding reception? It rained for the majority of your tropical vacation? Got laid twice but missed out on the orgy?  No. And let me explain why.

As the saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” We knew this when we re-located. And again when we re-re-located. I find I tell myself this regularly to justify some of my life choices. I believe this is what keeps life interesting. Those feelings of dissatisfaction can be constraining, but they can also lead to new beginnings and new adventures. We’re always searching for something more, exploring new terrain and testing our boundaries. And once we’ve filtered through the ups & downs enough to know where we’d like to rest our heads between adventures, we can be at peace. After you’ve found a place to call home, the need to flee will subside. The cravings for change will diminish and you will find other ways -local methods- to soothe the soul.

Spending most of the year above 8,000′ has its ups & downs (pun intended). Mostly, it has its ups. We live in a valley, so every trip involves a mandatory uphill prior to descention. The pay-off is rewarding because the required effort is strenuous, and the downhill becomes much more enjoyable after working up a sweat getting to the top. Other “ups” could be the low-stress, healthy lifestyles and fun-loving culture that we’ve created for ourselves, the gargantuan national forest that we call our backyard, and the fact that given our proximity to trail networks we can be daily-warriors, as opposed to weekend-warriors.  The few “downs” I can pinpoint – the cold and dry weather almost year-round, the distance between myself and my friends and family, and less opportunites for socialization (hence the population) – aren’t enough to leave me feeling unbalanced. I have had doubts, but they’ve usually been justified. “Well, I’d rather this, but then I’d be less content without that and these.” For each negative there seem to be two or more positives.  I imagine this is because I enjoy the day-to-day so much.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons on my scale. In fact, when I go on “vacation” I tend to do things that make me feel more “at-home”. Five-star resorts and room-service are not exactly my “cup of tea”. I enjoy being covered in dirt and grime and being exhausted from outdoor exercise. I love how delicious oatmeal or a bland pasta dish can taste when you’re beat down and dirty. Actually, a high-carb can of beans can taste just like a four-course gourmet dinner after a long day on “vacation”.

Since I left my home in Crested Butte, I have run at least five miles per day (I don’t even run much at home) and have eaten for less than $10 per day. Versus stopping for Starbucks, I have prepared all my own drip-coffee from my Whisperlite camp stove (multiple times daily). I have yet to sleep past 7am. My two-year old labrador is tired and limping. Still, I imagine that when I return to Colorado these antics will subside. The energy required simply living at that elevation can be exhausting, not to mention having tons of fun while you’re there. The five-day work week will resume, but with plenty of daylight during the summer I will still find a way to do something awesome everyday. For now I guess I’ll just enjoy myself. And when I get home, I’ll probably continue to do so.

Some pictures I took during my short stop (due to crummy weather) in the desert:

ahh…relaxing creekside
actual size of tree: 6 ft. Lovin the wide-angle lens.

difficult overcast lighting to work with
great contrasts in this one