Cochise County Highpoint: Chiricahua Peak

After hanging out in Tombstone, I was ready to do some hiking. It was time after a long fall full of working!

The hike to the summit of Chiricahua was exactly what I needed. I made a foray up Peak 9308 with some off trail travel but aside from that summiting Chiricahua and Flys was seriously just a beautiful ridge walk in the park. Considering my low level of fitness and activity, this was highly appropriate.

In the 12 mile hike, I didn’t quite hit 3,000′ of gain but I did check off another Arizona County Highpoint taking me to 80% on the list!

Badass

I’ve been called a badass a lot in the last few years. And to be clear, I don’t think I’m a badass. I think I’ve been gifted with an immense amount of straight up stubborn. Half of what I achieve, I do because it just needs to be done and I’m looking for the way I can do it by myself as cheaply (but nicely) as possible. Anyway, a thought occurred to me last night as I fell asleep:

When I was seventeen, I asked a guy to our tolo (apparently the PNW term for a Sadie Hawkins dance, thanks for the learn, wiki!). I had a black eye from a bad hop when I asked him but impetuous high school me didn’t let that stop me. My dad found the black eye bit alternately horrifying and really amusing. Fortunately, this guy was a baseball player and he said yes so it didn’t bother him too much. The dance was nice but nothing really came of it.

Over the following summer, we actually reconnected and went on a few dates, we (or at least I) had a lot of fun. I, however, was a massively awkward girl who had never kissed anyone and had no idea how to help him make the leap to so much as holding my hand. We went to homecoming together but it was massively awkward and I didn’t know how to make it better and thus it just ended.

Bellarmine Prep Homecoming, 2003

The moment that I remembered last night was walking into CenturyLink Field (then Quest!) for a WSU football game that my aunt had given me tickets to. Mike was working for a construction company of some kind that summer. A prep school kid driving a late model Civic, this seemed slightly out of character but he jokingly but with a certain level of earnestness told me about the concrete truck driver who was a “badass.”

“That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” he said.

“A concrete truck driver or a badass?” I asked.

“A badass.”

“A badass, okay then.”

Maybe he grew up to be a badass, I don’t know. We never really hung out after that awkward homecoming. Facebook does tell me he grew up to be a stock trader that appears to live in a house and be pretty normal.

Embarrassingly, looking back, I mostly rolled my eyes at that comment. I couldn’t particularly see this guy, that I really quite liked, growing up to be a badass and it didn’t even occur to think about badassery in my own life. I definitely didn’t think to be a badass and kiss him. The word “badass” sounded kind of crass and redneck. At the time, I was planning a life saving the world from the horrors of climate change in academia, not living this life (I don’t even have words for what I’m doing).

I knew I was brash and a little bit obnoxious— another friend’s (shitty) boyfriend in response to something about me said, “Feminists are fat, ugly embittered women who can’t get a man.”A rather critical and religious classmate told me she could spot me flirting “from across the quad” (which is hysterical because… see, I think I scared the high school boys).

My friends would cringe because I was the definition of “too much.” I was loud in public places and ridiculous. I hope they loved me for it. In college, my friends used to say, “Do it, Beth, you won’t” and I’d joke about having a dollar for everytime they said it. Maybe I was just a badass the whole time and just forgot for a few years (six?).

So cheers to you, Mike, I hope you’re a badass. I think I’m owning my title in 2018.

Thanksgiving 2017: Tombstone & Bisbee, Arizona

My original plan for Thanksgiving was to head down through western New Mexico and do a few hikes but as home building would demand, I had to make a return at IKEA in Phoenix before Sprocket and I had an empty RuthXJ to adventure in. So, after braving the Saturday morning return line, we took off for southeastern Arizona. My plan for Sunday was to hike Chiricahua Peak but that left us with ample time to explore the rest of the day.

I was a terrible blogger who is out of practice at taking photos but we did some touristing in Tombstone and Bisbee. We struggled a bit in Tombstone because it seemed that all there was to do was tourist but I was pleased to discover that Tombstone Brewing has some pretty solid beers and that Bisbee is adorable.

2017 In Review: By The Numbers

Ha. Ha. Ha.

2017 was about numbers in the bank to put a (heated, insulated) roof over my head. But, for posterity’s sake (as if the global posterity cared about my numbers), here is my 2017:

Hiking:

I’m still working at resolving my weird boundary issues with running and hiking for 2018 but anyway, that’s my own obsession with data integrity. Anyhow, I hiked 150 miles in just 29 outings (down from 44 outings in 2016 and fifty in 2017). I PROMISE MYSELF TO BE BETTER TWENTY-EIGHTEEN.

Photo: David Wherry

I only summited sixteen peaks in 2017, down from 43 in 2016 and 56 in 2015. Considering the amount of free time I (did not) have, I actually don’t fret about this too much because when I made time to hike, I climbed big things. 2017 featured my highest average peak height ever. And apparently I did some steep stuff because I surpassed my 2016 elevation gain despite being wayyyy down in peaks and miles. (Admittedly, 2015 and 2016 were padded by some low elevation plains high points to achieve list completion eventually.)

I did get six county highpoints: San Juan County, Utah’s Mt. Peale, Navajo County, Arizona’s Black Mesa, Nevada’s Storey County highpoint Mt. Davidson, Jackson County’s Clark Peak and Eagle County’s Mount of the Holy Cross in Colorado, and Arizona’s Cochise County highpoint Chiricahua Peak. I’m only three peaks from finishing Arizona (80%), and three quarters done with Colorado (76.56%). I’m hoping to make a really solid run at Colorado next year. I have a lot of big but awesome peaks left in my home state!

Photo: Katherine Zalan

Running:

No wonder I’m not feeling my best. I ran 200+ times in 2016 but only 46 times in 2017. I need to be better about moving my body more (I’m headed out in a bit so I’ll be 2/2 in 2018 in a couple of hours!) Despite that cratering of number of times, I did only fall to 184 miles from 345 in 2016.

Training in General:

Didn’t happen. I just gritted my way up peaks because I needed them for my soul. I’m looking forward to living a life that can be much more balanced in 2018 and one of the things I’m looking forward to emphasizing is my fitness goals!

 


Past In The Numbers posts:
2013
2014
2015
2016

New Year’s Eve.

As a kid, my family generally rung in the New Year by playing board games, Monopoly and Risk were favorites. Sometimes some of my aunts and uncles would join us but mostly it was just my family and I. (Except for NYE 2000 where I vividly remember being an 8th grader, dancing on a coffee table singing karaoke in my pajamas at my cousin’s house at 5am…)

In my Christmas loving family, the song “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” showed up in rotation fairly frequently. I wanted very desperately to have someone want me to give them a kiss at midnight. As circumstances would have it, I fell in love with a man who really wasn’t in to holidays or staying up late and I’m pretty sure didn’t actually know that a midnight kiss with your love is a cultural trope. New Year’s Eve 2013 and 2014 I think found him asleep before the clock struck midnight. (I know NYE 2012 did but we all fell asleep because we were at the cabin and it had been dark for hours and 10pm felt like 2am.)

After my divorce, however, NYE has changed significantly. I read an Ask Polly column as night fell on December 31, 2014 and it all clicked into place. (This is not surprising because I have since realized that Heather Havrilesky is amazing.) I might have kissed a 23-year old visitor to Ridgway that night but what meant the world to me was hugs from the people who in the last three years have become a community family to me. I floated home believing at a deep level that my life would turn out in some fantastic fashion at some point. 

Facebook deemed it important to remind me of a post I made in the early afternoon of December 31, 2015: Sprocket and I had just summited Pyramid Rock near De Beque. My plan was to head home for a quiet night with SP and ignore the holiday. A comment from a friend on that post telling me to “come home.” It was the tiny push I needed. I loaded Sprocket in the Jeep and away we went. Tucked into the Jeep in the January chill, I realized my understanding that “The sparkles were everywhere and there wasn’t a hint of darkness to be found” was spot on.  I had feels about not being in Ridgway but I kept them at bay until the drive home.

My 2017 feels are similar to my 2016 feels:

2017 should be a mix of hustle and getting back to my regularly scheduled life thanks to the foundations laid in 2016. I’m so ready, bring it on.

2017 was different in one big way: I could see the results of my sacrifice daily. I lived #shedlife for one really cold week to welcome 2017, weekends until May (with more than a few weeknights tossed in), and just over two weeks ago, Sprocket and I moved into the house.

My lessons this year are so much harder to articulate. I’ve basically let this blog go fallow (sorry! hoping to do better in 2018!) because adventure has been thin (although I do owe you some Thanksgiving break posts). I’ve had to confront some of my lingering feelings surrounding F and what transpired between us. I’ve been too much of a sloth for my liking and have definitely had some feels about how my body looks these days.

2017, however, despite really just being a grind has really taught me one thing: I am powerful.

It seems so odd to say that. It seems conceited somehow but I cannot figure out any other way to describe it. I’ve lost track of the number of people who have looked at me and said some variant of “You’re a badass, you know that right?” (Holla Kat, Wanda, etc.) I do achieve the things I want. I’m still unsure of how to include other people in that drive but I’m here and I’m pushing forward.

I’m not quite sure how 2018 is going to shake out, I anticipate this being a year of settling in. I’m still working some, the better to buy some touches for the house. I’m taking an EMT class in the two night a week and a few weekend days; it’ll be lovely to be back to volunteering for my community by summer. I’m settling into the house which is wonderful but it feels a little slow going to settle in—I simultaneously feel deeply at home because I designed the space and also in transition.

2018: I’m welcoming you with a quiet joy in my heart. I’ll be here in Ridgway, just like the prior three years and I’m so grateful.

Celebrate Me Home

I’ve been feeling rather Grinchy about Christmas this year. Stuck in house limbo with balmy temperatures more suited to San Diego than 7000′ in Colorado with finals impending I just couldn’t muster my usual enthusiasm for Christmas music, twinkly lights, Christmas trees, presents and gift wrap.

Christmas 2011; Mullan, Idaho

And then suddenly, on Monday, I had a house deadline: an actual three day range in which I can expect to get my certificate of occupancy and move in. I briefly had a little tantrum and decided I wasn’t going to have a Christmas tree. I was going to do my best to move in and then I’d sort out Christmas later. There I sat, behind my usual pace on Christmas presents, threatening to basically skip Christmas traditions, and begrudge the entire trip to Tacoma to celebrate with my family.

Home for the holiday,
I believe I’ve missed each and every face,
Come on and play my music,
Let’s turn on every love light in the place.

Tuesday, I took a look at my list of gifts I had left to purchase. Somehow my icy feelings towards the holiday melted all at once. I started placeing orders on gifts that I’d been procrastinating on ordering, simply going for the gifts I knew I wanted to buy those people love. Somehow my list got longer as I reconsidered a couple people I wasn’t going to purchase for and I did it anyway. I know it’s in vogue to simplify and cut your list these days but that’s just not my style. 

As a kid, Christmas at my house was magical. My mom and dad went out of their way to make the holiday special for us as kids. There was a never ending string of traditions that lead us from our viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” late Thanksgiving night to doing a puzzle to the background of college football bowl games between Christmas and New Years. Throughout high school and college I never was ashamed of my absurd love for the joyousness of the Christmas holiday. In high school I wore giant gift bows on my head unapologetically. Once I even found a battery pack set of mini lights and wore them in my hair (OMG… with LEDs I might have to get on this again). In college, I introduced more than a few friends to the cannon of Christmas movies.

In my young adult life, however, things wavered. Even during the two Christmas I spent mobile, I decorated the van and camper. The sparkle had dimmed and I kind of started to think that I’d lost my love for the season.

It’s time I found myself
Totally surrounded in your circles
Whoa, my friends.

After making a list and checking it twice, I put it on my list for next week to go get a Christmas tree permit—damn it, a tree was going to be the first thing in the house after a bed. I’m nothing if not stubborn and I wasn’t going to let this be the first time I could have a tree and not do it.

As I’m sure all of the lovely people in my life can attest, my affect around questions about the house has been mellow and sinking. It occupies my thoughts a lot but I don’t really have control so I’ve just settled into a holding pattern. It feels disappointing to me and I just can’t decide whether I should show excitement for the people who are so excited for me or whether I should retreat to my safe non-emotional space. I always choose the latter.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number
Please, celebrate me home

Tonight though, on the way home from my side hustle chocolate shop job, I decided to play some Christmas music. I went to the little amount of Christmas music on my phone. In a hurry to get home to Sprocket, I put it on shuffle and the first song was Kenny Loggins “Celebrate Me Home.”

My first solo Christmas tree, 2014

Immediately I froze. Tears welled in my eyes. Suddenly, it all seemed real. I was going to give myself the best present ever just before the holiday. I realized there could be little better than wrapping presents in the glow of Christmas lights on a tree cut at 12,000′ with the warmth of a woodstove warming me in my own home even before I get the rest of my possessions moved in the house.

Play me one more song
That I’ll always remember
And I can recall
Whenever I find myself too all alone
I can sing me home.

“Celebrate Me Home” was my dad’s favorite Christmas song. He would play it repeatedly. He would always take every opportunity to do just one extra Christmas thing but every single year, Christmas night he would remark, “Aren’t we so lucky to have so much family to spend Christmas with?”

Maybe it’s because Dad latched on to “Celebrate Me Home” while I was in college when I started traveling for the holiday, but “Celebrate Me Home” has always felt like the journey into the holiday to me and I’m just going to hold it as the anthem in my heart right now. My journey towards bringing myself home is coming to a close but it’s time to start really putting the pieces together of living my life. 

Uneasy highway
Traveling where the Western winds can fly
Somebody tried to tell me
But the men forgot to tell me why

This was the thread I’d lost somewhere. I’d been surviving for so long that there was so little space for traditions and time to relish the beauty of the holiday season that I really just wasn’t fully appreciating it. Being far from family at the holidays had changed things but I am so lucky to have a place I love living like Ridgway and a family back in Washington still carrying on the traditions that I had always loved so much.

NYE 2014: The Night Was Dark but FULL of Sparkles

The familiar melody flooded me with feeling. Who am I to be a Scrooge? In the space of three weeks, I will celebrate my new home with myself, Sprocket and a Christmas tree. I’ll celebrate Christmas with my family in Washington then return to settle into the house and celebrate New Years with Ridgway. Then, to put the icing on the cake, I get to welcome my Ridgway family to my new home.

I gotta count on being gone,
Come on home, come on daddy,
Be what you want from me,
I’m this strong, I’ll be weak

Which all brings me here to this moment, I’ve got a honey whiskey spiked peppermint tea propped in the crook of one arm that I can’t reach because Sprocket’s head is propped on the other shoulder begrudgingly letting me type my feelings out here. I dug out the charger for my speaker so I could bathe the shed in Christmas music. The tears keep coming. I know the next weeks are going to be hard, sweet, stressful, exciting, and exhausting. 

Ruth XJ; Red Mountain Pass, 2016.

I can hardly picture what living in a house will actually feel like but I can see myself adapting Clark Grizwold to fit our situation: “Sprocket, we’re kicking off our fun old-fashioned family Christmas by heading up Red Mountain in our 4-wheel drive sleigh…” Back home, I’ll wrestle the tree into the stand, laughing about how small alpine tree trunks are, and trim it with lights, my grandmother’s Shiny Brite ornaments, and tinsel.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number,
Please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song,
That I’ll always remember,
I can recall,
Whenever I feel too all alone,
I can make believe I’ve never been gone
I never* know where I belong
Sing me home.

Tree cutting snowshoe; Grand Mesa, 2015

*How lucky am I to have a place to belong? ♥

Lyrics of “Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins and Bob James

Out of Bed.

My headlight bounces in the dark and I suddenly notice some glowing eyes on the concrete path in front of me. The deer seem as shocked as I am to see someone running down the path in the chill October night. My breath puffs a steamy cloud in front of my face and I trundle down the path.

I’m not sure what propelled me out of my warm bed with Sprocket curled up against me. I felt required to put down my excellent book, don shorts and headlamp and run. The relatable prose had somehow pulled me in so far it has pushed me out and demanded I live, right now at this minute. Life has impeded these moments of clarity and running—or rather, I’ve let my excuses get in the way of exercising. No one blames you for not working up a sweat when you lack shower facilities. No one gives it a second thought when you say, “But I work seven days a week.” No one, that is but the yourself as you feel continually less fit, less confident, less whole.

I reach the old railroad bridge and hear rustling in the bushes near the river. It could be a bear or a skunk, it is likely more deer, and in a worst case, could be a mountain lion. There is nothing to be done about the creature minding their own business out of sight and I run on. The bridge looks like the set of a Halloween movie and I attempt to capture it in a photo because I find it so ridiculous. I fail, as I knew I would.

A mile from my house, I force myself to turn around. I haven’t been running and I didn’t warm up and it’s cold. There is no need to risk injury more than I already have and I really should get to sleep. As I cross the bridge again on the return trip, I can feel my mood rise a little bit like the mist off the Uncompahgre. “I need to do this everyday,” I tell myself.

The impossibility of that looms before me; even just this week I have evening work commitments and I question how realistic it is that I’ll sort out how not to smell at work. Part of me, a big part of me, doesn’t care though. I want to feel strong again. I’ve started rediscovering social parts of myself but this, the part of me that can agree to any hike and is ready for new challenges has been in hiding. Perhaps I’ll try to reclaim that part in the dark where no one can see a bit longer; I know that’s better than not reclaiming it at all.

Running past my appliances in my yard, I glance at the house before I go into the shed. That’s mine. That’s why I’ve sacrificed the feeling of the chill on my legs and the hours for words to enter my eyes and also to exit my fingers onto the screen.

I’ve been feeling like there’s some moral to my story, the larger story, not just this run or the house or processing of lots of old feelings I’ve ignored but I can’t put my finger on it. I need to write about it more, both publicly and privately. I need to move my feet to ruminate on it more. Back in the shed, I pulled off my clothes before I could really start sweating in the warmth of my tiny home. Baby wipe basics done, I crawled in bed, pulled my pup to my chest, finished the page I’d been reading and wondered if this is what it feels like to have the pieces come together.

Sunday Sermon

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences…”

 

 

 

 

 

–Susan B. Anthony

Local Adventure: Hayden Trail, North Trailhead

I almost didn’t share these photos. This little adventure on the Hayden Trail didn’t seem all that “worth” posting. It wasn’t grand, it didn’t go for miles and miles (I think we did three miles round trip?) but it was a joyful hiking adventure after work with my buddy.

The views of the peaks over in the Sneffels range in the dramatic raincloud influenced light didn’t disappoint. (Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever been “disappointed” with a San Juan hike.)