alaska

Sometimes I struggle with how to start the first sentence of a post. I have so many single words I could list…

Inspired.  Honored.  Grateful.  Challenged.  Brief.

Today, I wanted to share some of my written words from the latest installment of my job: A week in the Alaska bush. But, of course, I am just struggling a bit with how to start…perhaps a date will work?

::24 March 2015::

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Morning in Alaska is not morning in Colorado.


In fact, in late March, one would think – in a warm winter such as this one – morning here was actually early evening in a late Pennsylvania fall. Though, this year is not quite like most…perhaps I should rephrase my thought process here:

In fact, in late March of 2015, one would think this morning in this place feels more like the early fall mornings in Pennsylvania. 

It is dark – sunrise eventually greets you around 8AM.

It is warm – temperatures do not chill you the way one would think this place should.

But, when I am here, I wake refreshed & rejuvenated. For being seventy-three feet above sea level, even the air is welcoming to breath.

I also wake with a desire to fish – to be within the water & among the life blood of the salmon.


::25 March 2015::

Today, I was saddened by the “waste management facility” we toured.

Travesty may be a harsh word to use…so I decided to put a filter on myself, but in my personal opinion (no reflection of any organization or agency that I may work for here…and no that’s not necessarily a disclaimer, but it is certainly getting to the fact that I have my own mind about me) it is in fact a sad place to see.

Here, the landfill is a feeding ground for iconic species: bald eagle, brown bear; national symbol, spiritual figure.

Here, what comes in, stays in…and it would seem that life (human habitation) comes at a cost to the environment.

So the question is: How do we fix it?

How do we sustain ourselves without bing a detriment to the reason we come to this place? 

How do we change a culture?


::26 March 2015::

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Salmon.

A wild life force unto itself. A fish that can draw thousands to one place every year and a food source for the wild life that exists in this place – a resource that which sustains so many: the brown bear, the tourist & the Native.

And finally, an inspirational being (fish being that is).

How is it that this one giant of the AK waters can do so much?

For me, it inspires a return: A return to this place (fly rod in hand) – not just the state, but the greatest salmon fishery in the world.


I think I should also share a few views from ’53 Beaver (and the commercial flight)…

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montana

I hear Montana is Big Sky country.


Now, I’ve only been there twice – last May and last week – and both were work-related trips with limited time to explore. But I am grateful that on the latest of these, we stayed in the Flathead National Forest for two nights and actually experienced the resources in both the national forest and Glacier National Park.

These are some photos from last Wednesday, Thursday, and the drive out on Friday…

GLAC sign
::Glacier National Park Entrance in Polebridge, Montana::

Ryan in Glacier
::Looking into Glacier NP along the Flathead River, Flathead National Forest, Montana::

Ranger Cabin on the Lake
::Kintla Lake Cabin, Glacier National Park::

Peak in Glacier
::Views along the trail to Kintla Lake, Glacier National Park::

Kintla Lake
::Kintla Lake & a view into Canada, Glacier National Park::

Kintla Lake (black and white)
::Lakeside Reflections, Glacier National Park::

River Cross
::Crossing the Middle Fork of the Flathead River::

Wurtz Cabin sign
::Wurtz Homestead, Flathead National Forest::

Wurtz Cabin
::Wurtz Cabin, Flathead National Forest::

transition

Moving is process. It has tangible and intangible components, for sure. And for me, it’s a process not just physically – sorting belongings, packing boxes, shoving the leftover randomness into packs, shopping bags, and cars – but emotionally.

As we move into our new home, I’m sorting through a lot of thoughts, emotions, and belongings. And with it, comes the reminiscing…mostly during the summer of 2009 when this place spoke to my soul and took a never-ending hold on my heart. This place and what it offers reaches me in a way very few places can…

Enjoy a look back into why I fell in love with Colorado and why you should probably get outside this weekend.

rY

Loveland Pass Hike-SkiLoveland Pass Hike-Ski 2Hike arcross SnowfieldScree SnowArches by carThree penguinsBig Ag LightsRabbit Ears flyfishLooking Up

accepting loss

I had a conversation on Friday that I did not want to have.


Nearly three weeks ago, I was body-deep in Colorado sunshine (but wishing for more snow), enduring a grueling skin into the North Pole hut in the San Juan mountains (see photos in winter is back).

I thought that was pain. I thought that was suffering. I even believed that those 14 miles were my battle for the next few days.

When we arrived at the hut, I was so exhausted yet ecstatic about finally getting there. In an odd fit of reconnecting my disconnectedness to the busy world, I thought it would be fun to call the wildest woman in my life: Marla (my mother).

I love this woman more than words can describe

She’s my mother. She’s the kind of crazy a daughter needs in her life. And…she answered.


Prior to calling her – when I turned “airplane mode” off on my phone – I didn’t realize voicemail messages were waiting for me…

phone ringing..surprisingly! We were miles deep in the San Juans and looking through a hut window into the wilderness area. 

Me: HEY! I’m in the middle of nowhere and I actually have SERVICE!

Marla: Have you talked to your father?

Me: What? No…What’s wrong?

Marla: Call your father.

Me: What happened? Is he ok?

Marla: He’s fine. It’s your Aunt.

I knew what was about to come next…


When that weekend ended, I drove to Denver and boarded a plane for California. I spent a week in some of the most beautiful and inspiring country I have ever experienced (exhausting..empowering). The granite, the giant trees, the smell of pine along one of the steepest trails I have ever traveled…it was breathtaking (literally).

It was a week filled with non-stop work until Friday afternoon, when I could finally embrace the place I was in and explore a small percentage of it on my own. But my mind kept taking me back to that phone call.


When I returned home, I was welcomed by a Frontrange to SLV snow storm (winter is back). I was exhausted and knew the work week would begin in another 24 hours. I told myself I should, but I couldn’t pick up the phone to call my family. Sunday came and went and suddenly, Friday was upon me.

As the phone rang, I almost hoped the answering machine would pick it up & then…I heard the voice of my uncle on the other end.

Some thirty minutes later, I came to a hard and sudden realization:

 I didn’t want to make that phone call because I didn’t want to accept that this loss was real.

I didn’t want to accept that my father lost his sister, that my cousin lost his mother, or that my uncle would now need to embrace a new normal – one that would be vastly different from that of the past 40 years of his life.

Though difficult news is hard to swallow, I am grateful for the minimal cell reception that day in the mountains. And I am even more grateful that I made this call two weeks later.

We lost an amazing woman and in the days since her death, a flood of memories has rushed into my mind. I’ve shared stories, cried, sat in silence with myself, others, and the wilderness. She wasn’t my mother. She wasn’t my sister. And she was not, unfortunately, a part of my daily life. But she was and will always be my aunt: a woman that had a profound effect on my life as a young girl.


When a loved one is lost prematurely, we are reminded of the fragility of life, and that realization stays with each and everyone one of us until our own lives end.

winter is back

On Saturday, February 21, 2015, winter came back to Colorado


I know this because I had just landed at the Denver airport after a turbulent two hour flight from sunny Sacramento, California.

We may have landed at five in the afternoon, but it was nearly eight o’clock and I was just reaching Conifer – – a 4 hour drive on a good day.

I also knew that winter returned because as I traveled from snowy Denver through several questionable mountain passes and along white-knuckle winding roads until I reached the San Luis Valley, I kept trying to shake the eye-crossing vortex caused by whirling, twisting, mystifying flakes along route 285. I questioned my sanity.

Should I turn around?

Get a hotel room?

Hang tight and wait until daybreak?

The weather maps answered all my questions for me: If I didn’t continue now, the likelihood of getting home before Monday was slim.

It was Saturday.

Within the next fifteen miles, flashing lights appeared in the distance. I passed a car front-end deep in a creek.

I slowed down.

The next hundred-plus miles featured five plows, very few other vehicles, and my speedometer resting right around forty-five.

Winter was back and I felt uplifted! After the nearly seventy degree temperatures on the previous weekend’s ski hut trip, this was worth the wait.

As I drove a once semi-familiar road, I counted down the miles until home and wondered what this fresh snow would have felt like beneath my skis last weekend and how great it will feel next weekend. And tonight, as I sit home with my husband and wait for the five feet of fresh powder over the course of the next five days…

6 inches tonight

5 inches tomorrow morning

14 inches tomorrow night

16 more inches the next day

It goes on…

I embrace our fifty-plus inches on the way.

In the meantime, I’ll share our valentine’s weekend getaway: frozen skin tracks, forty-five pound packs, and pure Colorado sunshine…

aspen grove
::The skin track through the aspens lead to a steep ski-off/hike up path::


::Map check::

mount sneffels
::Mount Sneffels::


::Frozen skin track and sunny days meant hiking was the better option::

emma lounge
::Emma on a lunch break::


::Keep smiling on the tele/hike to the hut::

moose on trail
::Moose leads the way::

ski
::Ski below the hills::

to the hut
::Found::

hut view
::View of the hut::

bearpaw
::Bearpaw::

exhausting..empowering

It has been far too long since I’ve posted…


Perhaps it was the “romantic” (if that’s what you call a 45+ pound pack and grueling frozen skin track to out weekend hut) getaway we took a few weeks ago to celebrate love, endurance, and Colorado sunshine?

I suppose it could also be the packing and re-packing of boxes, books, gear and more as we prepare for life in a new home.

Or, maybe the week of work and exploration at Yosemite?..

Whatever the reason, I apologize to myself (maybe to all of you that read this as well..though, I’m not sure if you follow these words regularly…just know that I do appreciate you and any visit you may make to this blog).

Yose Valley

Seqoia

Half Dome

Roots

Yose Valley

My first week in Yosemite was Powerful. This place is thought-provoking. It is awe-inspiring. This world within and surrounding the granite and bark is power and peace, beautiful life, beautiful loss, challenge and ease. It is a reminder of what was and hints at what could be…

I am amazed by the power a place can possess as it provides an opportunity to walk among giants.

Day 41

Today is the forty-first day of 2015.


It would appear that Monday began the three months of epic, nearly non-stop, events. Workshops, board meetings, meet-and-greets, skiing adventures and more…After two days on the road, my next eleven days will include two at home, three on trail in the San Juan mountains, and six in California’s Yosemite National Park. Amazing.

Tonight, as I rest after a long day of travel, the dogs lay beside me and the husband is my DJ – weaving together Jerry, the original Jack, and…is that Bobby Weir I hear? It’s nice to relax at home for an evening. To read others’ words, reminisce about last weekend, and dream of the next weekend to come.

Here are some images from this last weekend…while the pictures serve as a nice way to share this great place with all of you, the sandy gritty gravel clogging my boots out on the porch will serve as my own personal reminder.


Seeking a heeler
::Elephant-size boulders warn from the dry winds of valley::

Bones
::Emma’s treasure::

Moose & Elephants
::The overlook::

Cacti
::Cacti quickly remind us that we aren’t in east anymore::

CO Pride
::When in Colorado…score epic thrifstore finds::

Rocks
::RockWalker::

rY.

rambling across the mountains of colorado seeking adventure and inspiration…