Had two good days of climbing down in Twin Falls this weekend. On Sunday we met a whole host of new friends down at Dierkes lake for some gear and top-roping followed by a few boulders. The crew (8 at one point) was the largest group I have ever climbed with and it was awesome to share the motivation of early season climbing. Climbing was a lonesome activity in AK and we are stoked to get involved with a motivated core of local climbers here in the Big Wood. Can’t wait to get back out there and push ourselves again next weekend!
Skin-it-to-win-it was a super fun day up on Dollar Mtn. I raced in a 4-person team that ended up on top at the end of the day. Each member of the team took turns racing to the summit of dollar and skiing back down. Our team turned in 13 laps in 3 hours. There was only one other snowboarder in the race and he made an impressive showing in the solo race category. Prizes were cool, commodore was great and the outdoor community continues to be the coolest people on earth.
With transitioning to my new job, Spanish class, and playing outdoors, I haven’t had much time to catch up or write about the simple joys of cooking. And lately, we’ve cooked so many tasty meals, it’s a shame you’ve been missing out on them. Not to worry, however. I’ve been able to document a handful of our most recent meals and dare I say it, but these tasty dishes may be some of the prettiest and most delicious yet!
Tasty treats from the Davis kitchen: a) another delectable rice dish with black beans and vegetables. b) banana-chocolate-chip muffins. c) elk and vegetable stir fry. d) a beautiful morning treat. eggs and veggies over toast. e) festive sugar cookies with the creamiest frosting. f) homemade peanut satay and vegetable pizza. g) my first lentil stew ever! lentil and turkey sausage stew. h) comforting mac and cheese with side salad and sauteed broccoli. i) the prettiest yet: apple mosaic tart with caramel sauce.
Any new and exciting things on your menu recently? Tonight and for the next few months, we are focusing on foods that are extra healthy, filling, and flavorful. We begin our new training schedule for climbing in February and plan to purchase mountain bikes by April. We will certainly need the extra fuel to keep us energized, healthy, and feeling great!
It’s amazing how warm 20F feels after the deep freeze of late. Riding our bikes to work every morning I realized I have a pretty good streak of riding my bike to the office every day since I took the position in September. Windbreakers turned to ski jackets and then full puffy’s and snow pants. As my eyes watered and my eyelashes froze shut one morning I realized goggles were necessary and now I don’t leave the house without them.
This last week, however, has felt downright tropical as temperatures jumped 60 degrees into the mid forties during Jerrod’s visit. We skinned back to The Mushroom in Galena Pass sweating in t-shirts. The following day was much the same as we trenched through 40 cm of facets weakened and angled by our weeks of subzero temperatures.
The smell of earth has returned for the first time in weeks, and the roads are fast with only small patches of ice on the corners we know to expect it. Tomorrow we will head to Ketchum for the Skin it to Win It Randonee race to benefit the Avy Center and kick off the Nordic Festival. I will be a part of a 4 person team including the forecasters of the SNFAC as we complete as many laps as we can from the bottom to the top of Dollar Mountain.
The Nordic Festival will bring all sorts of fun events to the valley including the Banff Mountain Film Festival which Robyn and I always look forward to if we are near a showing.
With the warmth in the wind though brings thoughts of hiking, bikes and climbing. Today Robyn and I checked out the YMCA climbing wall and had a blast getting ridiculously pumped after a 3 week hiatus from the rock. Fresh pump in my forearms got me thinking ahead to my goals for 2013.. And with the nice ring of 20 twelves in 2012, why not shoot for a 5.13 in 2013? Along with our climbing goals, we also have a few others up our sleeve – one of which is already underway. A few weeks back Robyn and I enrolled in a Spanish course and have been supplementing it with online games and trainings. By the end of the year we plan to spend two weeks in Mexico climbing (hopefully with some of you) in El Potrero Chico.
I wont write down anymore of our goals just yet, because I am a firm believer in sticking with them once they are set in ink (or Times New Roman). Some of these will take a bit more planning and prep, and I don’t want us to spread our psych to thin. Let’s just say at this point there is no lack of motivation to get out and explore.
The jury is still out regarding the best part of this weekend. Was it the 2011 The Abyss from Deschutes? Was it two days of stunning blue skies and perfect powder at Galena Summit? It could certainly have been the true satisfaction of sharing my love for the snow with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center’s awareness course on Saturday. It is such a great feeling to share your enthusiasm with a class and have it met with equal excitement, thoughtful questions, and new discoveries. Equally satisfying were the enchiladas Robyn greeted me with upon my return from the field, a New Belgium Snow Day (this winter’s best new brew) in hand and the Backcountry Film Festival at the Liberty Theater that followed.
Of course today wasn’t shabby either, a lazy morning and cold -15F start that nipped our cheeks and froze the breath in our nostrils. As Trixie finally warmed up we were already at Galena summit snapping pictures of the immaculate view of the Boulder Mountains and nearby Smokey Mountains and Sawtooth Headwaters. Starting up the trail our gear creaked and our coats crackled, stiff and brittle as an old tarp. As we toured through the trees I remembered how much I love the forest. Climbing steadily, the trees thinned and the mountain views seemed to grow even more spectacular with each switchback. Our +9,000ft summit offered a 360 degree view of relatively untouched and infrequently traveled Idaho Wilderness. We have seen, skied, hiked and climbed in many mountain ranges all over the west but there is something special about this intersection of Central Idaho ranges.
After increasingly enjoyable laps on “The Cross” we cruised back to the car and rolled down to Galena Lodge. Galena Lodge is where it’s at. Nordic trails spur in all directions leading to mountain huts and snaking valleys. The lodge is rustic, comfortable and warm. The staff and everyone lucky enough to spend time there can’t help but exude a relaxed and cheery demeanor. Kids are sledding, dogs are hanging on a sunny porch and parents sit by the fireplace sipping beers amongst 36 miniature pairs of socks and ski gloves.
Back at home another homemade dish from Robyn wafts my direction from the kitchen. Our minds are whirling with potential adventures, mountain bikes, Nordic skis, summer summits, and backpacking trips. There are so many zones to explore, so many runs to do and miles of Nordic trails to learn on. It’s hard to believe we only made it north of Ketchum a few times this fall – climbing tugged us further and further south as the temperatures reflected the dipping sun.
So what was the best part of this weekend? I guess it’s hard to say, but in the spirit of living in the moment it’s the homemade peanut satay vegetable pizza that just emerged from the oven…
Trixie turns 400,000 on the odometer as we roll into another 30 mile long straight stretch of Nevada desert. A few curves, a slight rise in the road, and then its straight again flanked by Joshua Trees and Yucca dusted with snow.
Saying goodbye to Will, Cora and Ben in the final days of our stay in Red Rocks, NV carried with it a feeling of closure to the year in a way that no date on the calendar seemed to evoke. You would think these feelings would present themselves during our move to Hailey, or parking the bus at our new home, the supposed end of the world, the solstice, or the New Year but these dates came and went, just as yesterday and the day before.
Rolling up our tent I glanced at the old Miguel’s campground tags, remnants of spring break and Thanksgiving trips to Kentucky in 2009. This time as I carefully brushed the desert sand from the ground cloth after each roll, I new the climbing season had ended and with it the common thread of the last 8 months. As it turns out, it isn’t the calendar that represents closure to one chapter and the beginning of another and the fireworks we watched from the strip in Vegas didn’t bring about any pensive moments of reflection on the year past. Instead these feelings came flooding in as Trixie filled with the gear of summer: ropes, draws, campstove, packs and climbing shoes.
I check the temperature back home in Hailey. It’s 10 F and looks as if it will drop well below 0 F again this evening. The car still smells of wood smoke and climbing rope as we continue north and relive favorite climbs, hikes and stories.
Robyn sent an impressive (5.11a) on Cannibal Crag called Baseboy Direct which follows a dainty and technical line straight up the center of a featured red face. Will sent his 4th 5.12 ever and his first in over a year with an ascent of Maneater (5.12a). I had a couple memorable ascents as well including Soul Power (5.11d) which powers through a bouldery start to a poor rest and keeps with you through the remainder of the climb with small and technical edges right to the chains. Although the logistics of a multi-pitch wall never quite lined up, we had two amazing days of single pitch gear climbing. Robyn led her first ever gear routes, beginning with a few pre-placed pieces and on our second day all on her own with an onsight ascent of Zen and the Art of Web Spinning (5.4) at the Brass Wall. I got more experience with true crack climbing with flash ascents of Straight Shooter (5.9 fingers) and Scalawag (5.10b) an imposing roof crack that starts with hands followed by fists and pulls the lip after 15 feet of near horizontal jamming.
More than the climbs however, we will remember the great time spent with awesome friends. When we arrived late on Robyn’s birthday (Christmas Eve) we were welcomed to a warm fire by Will, Alf and Kassy. On Christmas morning we had a big breakfast, decorated a bush near camp and handed out presents under a warm desert sun. Later that week Ben joined us from Salt Lake fresh off one of his last days of work at Nexus and looking forward to his new career with Black Diamond. The next night Will went to the Greyhound Station to pick up Stu who was passing through en route to California and eventually Hawaii. Early on New Years Eve, Cora flew in and brought her usual enthusiasm and high spirits to add even more good energy to the group.
The sun is low in the sky now, casting long shadows of sagebrush over what could be the straightest stretch of road yet. Four more hours and we are back to Rupert, the Bus, groceries in Twin and then on to Hailey where the next season truly begins; ski season. It’s strange to think how influential your life’s passions are. By finding that activity that serves as a way to interact with the world, to travel and better understand it. Climbing encouraged us to travel the west and as we shift into winter, backcountry skiing will lead us into the Sawtooth’s, to early morning skin tracks and steep descents among the granite peaks. It will push our lungs as we ascend and clear our minds of everything but the smell of the pine and the reward of powder turns back to the car. I guess it really is a cycle. One thread ends and the other begins only to bring us back again, always eager, anticipating the season to come.
It’s amazing how fast it is now to get back to Rupert. A short 2 hours seemed even shorter as we anticipated spending time with family and prepping for our trip to Red Rocks. Last night we hit the Rupert night life including some quality time spent at the Skyline where Susan has been tending bar as a second job for over 20 years. Ben, Robyn and I expanded our beer vocabulary to include “Idaho dark-beer”. You know… the “one in the dark brown bottle”.
Here are a few quick shots from our time so far.
My parents came to town last Thursday through Sunday and we had an awesome time showing them around the area. We visited Sun Valley for a night at the Inn, cruised to Galena Summit on a clear and frosty day, walked around some shops in Ketchum, went to a live performance at the theatre in Hailey and of course had many a dark beer.
Also included in this photo set are some shots from Ben’s last visit including a couple bouldering shots from Dierkes. Even though it feels like the weekend just ended we are already gearing up for another big holiday adventure. Friday we head to Rupert to visit Susan, Nate and Zach for the weekend before loading Vincent up for another grand journey down to Red Rocks near Las Vegas. Meeting us there will be a host of great Alaskan friends amidst their own adventures, and none other then Ben and Cora as well! Christmas in Red Rocks? New Year in Vegas? Indoor skydiving (ask Cora)? In all we have 2 weeks of fun ahead of us before returning to the Big Wood which has lately likened itself to a freezer box. I won’t lie though.. getting up to see Galena Lodge has finally shaken loose the strangle hold rock climbing has had on my brain since last March. With new Deeluxe Sparks boots and a pair of new bibs, the backcountry awaits our return.
Happy holiday’s to you all and keep my grandma in your thoughts as she heads in for heart surgery on Friday, but in her words “I just want to get this thing over with so I can go on my next trip!” (at 80 years old she just returned from Africa)…
I absolutely love winter. I love wool socks and foot booties. I love coffee beverages and teas. I adore colorful layers and Pendleton blankets. I love snow surfing, cross country skiing, and snowman building. I love it all. To me, ‘this is the most wonderful time of year…’
Up until recently, however, my mind has been on climbing (we are gearing up for our two-week climbing trip to Red Rocks). My stoke is high. Maybe I’ve been a bit unfair to winter, but having the option to climb until late December and early January is pretty amazing, especially after feeling robbed of a climbing season in Valdez. It’s been really nice. You can bet, however, that after our mega-trip to Nevada, we will be ready for the ski season – psyched as ever to explore new mountains, meet new people, and enjoy every frosty bit of it.
Last night, the weather gods opened their wintry gates and dumped only the very best kind of snow on us – light, fluffy, and delicious! They sure know how to get me psyched for the ski season. I am itching to get out there and play!