Tag Archives: Montana

Fast Forward

A couple times a year, my life just hits fast-forward. I got back from Alaska and immediately started packing to move house the next weekend.

Schreck

The McKinstry truck I borrowed for moving came with a stern task master.

After the move, I started unpacking while simultaneously digging out gear for my first 50km trail race, The Rut. I left work at noon on Friday before the Sunday race and drove to Missoula- my pre-race team was second to none:

I'm not sure I would have finished with out these folks cheering me on.

I’m not sure I would have finished with out these folks cheering me on.

The Rut was really hard. My training took a nose-dive in August due to other constraints, and my shoes were too lightweight for the course. Lots of lessons learned: I took the first downhill too fast, I added some glue to the shoes to alleviate a soft spot (and found that hard spots are worse), and for the first time, really actually wanted the dubious “mini-soft-shell gaiters”. Also, poles. Poles would be not stupid on this course. Double also, crew. Having a crew person is rad. Thanks to Paige, Jess, Tod, and Amanda for pinch hitting in that regard.

Up and over the peak at right... twice. Remember it is supposed to be hard.

Up and over the peak at right… twice. Remember it is supposed to be hard.

Post race salt deposit. It was hard.

Post race salt deposit. It was hard.

I got a truly gnarly set of blisters by mile 11, which made the race a lot grittier than it needed to be. Early nutrition and cheering volunteers kept my spirits up. Once we got into the steeper terrain I stopped getting passed and the scenery got a lot better. After adding a full roll of tape to my feet at mile 18, I was ready to fight for the finish. Around mile 25 the blisters were screaming and I dug two painkillers out of my jacket pocket, just to take the edge off against the remaining miles. I’m not proud of needing the pills, but it felt like the right call at the time. I finished in 8hr 4min 10sec. Not the sub-8hrs I hoped for, but for a few long hours afterwards I felt full, that simply finishing was enough. I’m not afraid of the distance, or my feet, any more and

Tape is awesome. Flip flops are awesome.

Tape is awesome. Flip flops are awesome.

I had a wonderful night of recovery (2 dinners!) staying with Jordan and Cari in Bozeman before driving back to Seattle in one go on Monday- it took 3 tries to get out of the car at the first gas stop. Despite the stiffness in my legs, it was a beautiful drive, which was good because I jumped straight into a 11hr workday, and then onto a flight to Chicago for the 2015 North American Passive House Conference (NAPHC) on Wednesday.

What’s wrong with me that this:

Wall insulation cross section.

Wall insulation cross section.

is almost as much fun as this:

These guys are awesome. I think they had more fun than I did.

These guys are awesome. I think they had more fun than I did.

It was a great conference. I linked up with some old colleagues, some new potential clients, and got a lecture from a few of my heroes.

After the last 6 weeks in fast forward, I’m officially ready for a weekend at home.

Canyon Peak, Bitterroot, USA

This isn’t a post about philosophy, politics, or even really pushing the limit of anything. It’s about climbing and autumn. No question about it- fall is my favorite season. A few months ago I went on a lovely walk with some technical gear and got surprised by how far back our goal was. While we didn’t summit, we had a beautiful day out, and I got fully hooked for the objective.

The obvious right skyline beckons us. For another time.

The obvious right skyline beckons us. For another time.

I knew this would be one of the last weekends to tick Canyon Peak, and suspected the colors would be pretty spectacular too. Based on what we found, I was right on both counts.

Mr. Smithicus charging off the start.

Mr. Smithicus charging off the start.

The approach is long, and somewhat steep for a single day adventure. Evan and I left the car in trail runners and jogged to the base of the steep hiking. We each carried layers, food, and a climbing harness. We took (7) nuts, (1) hex, (5) runners, (1) 30m dynamic rope, (1) 25m static line, and bail tat. Evan had approach shoes and tights, I chose proper rock shoes and no pants. Evan is a wiser man than me.

Canyon Peak basin in fall. Worth the hike.

Canyon Peak basin in fall. Worth the hike.

A leisurely start meant leaving the car at 11:15am- we made the lakes in 2 hours, refilled water, and made the col at 2:30p. The north ridge is obvious, but there isn’t really a clear line- I stayed back from the edge to mitigate issues with loose blocks. We stuck to the ridge and kept eyes out for rappel slings- the summitpost description is about as good as it gets. Class 4 might be fitting, but there are many variations – e.g. ways to make it harder on yourself.

On belay.

On belay.

Livin' the dream.

Livin’ the dream.

The rock had started its winter transition- frozen lichen, thin ice in cracks, and snow on most of the ledges made all of the climbing pretty “heads up.” If you caught this on a hot day in mid-summer, the climbing would be substantially easier. We found moves up to 5.7 on solid but dirty rock. We mostly simul-climbed, with a few belayed bits around hard moves for the leader. Wind, ice/snow, and my choice of running shorts as my only leg-wear made for cold climbing, but I couldn’t have been more stoked to be on the sharp end pulling the ridge. We made it to a small ledge just below the true summit plateau at 4:45pm and realized we had both gotten what we came for- it was time to head home without the true summit.

Calling it here. The wind was howling.

Calling it here. The wind was howling.

The rappels are perfectly set for a 60m rope, but we made due being 5m short. We were walking again at 5:45pm after 4 rappels and some downclimbing. We refilled water again at the lake, and dropped most of our elevation before dark. I was embarrassed to not find a headlamp in my bag, but I kept on Evan’s heels and we made the car just before 9pm. A full day out, with a perfect partner and weather. This is what fall is about.

Pink shoes, shorts, and 3 layers on top. Makin' a statement.

Pink shoes, Patagonia “technical softshell” shorts, and 3 layers on top. Makin’ a statement.

Buy Your Vote?

There’s been a lot in the news this week about money in politics.  I couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride in my newly adopted state after reading my current governor’s piece in the New York Times, and I continue to be frustrated that a large portion of the Wisconsin recall war was funded by out of state donors.

I also couldn’t help but notice the disgust that welled up in my stomach after following the link to this headline: “Romney Tops Obama in May Fundraising.”  Why does this rather benign report on the national campaign get under my skin?  At the very root of it, the headline implies that the money raised has something to do with the likelihood of winning- that the cash of the candidate, rather than their character is what the American people will ultimately use to make their decisions.

“Success generates more success?”  Bullshit.  I’m not thrilled about either candidate- I find Romney outwardly scary and dangerous, and Obama to be mostly sneakier and more polished.  I’m sure you can guess who I’ll be voting for this fall- but it has nothing to do with who has more money in the bank (unless they are running their campaign on debt).  The party establishments would like to use all this cash to by my vote (and yours).  It is both sad and likely that this transaction will likely proceed in many homes around the country- people that don’t take a moment to stop and think about what a headline like this is really all about.  The notion that fundraising matters, that my vote depends on how many slick (or vicious) television ads I see, is a logical fallacy of popularity (“vote for the guy with more money- everyone’s doing it!).  I may not be happy about my choices, but the cash offer just doesn’t pencil out, so I’m not selling.

I don’t really care who you vote for so long as you look at the legislation they intend to introduce and accept what that legislation means to our population as a whole (does it endorse bigotry?  I’m not really about bigotry…).  And vote- make it to the friggin polls.  I didn’t get registered as a Montanan to vote in the primaries, but you can be damn sure that won’t be the case in November- I was sad to miss that deadline a few weeks ago, and admit my mistake here as motivation not to miss it again.  I’m also excited to congratulate two incredible women I am privileged to call friends – Kimberly Dudik and Jenifer Gursky, who have stepped into the arena of vying for public office, and won their primaries this week.  I feel much better knowing a few of the folks I believe will be representing my community in Helena next year.