April. Is. Almost Over. What?

April is sort of insane for teachers. As crazy as May is with the end of school fast approaching, I’ve always found April to be that kind of end of the year grind where you always seem to be behind and it seems like it’s never going to end. However, it doesn’t feel as dark and desperate as last year. It seems more like a temporary thing to push through and then the world opens up into the next thing instead of just being a whole bunch more question marks.

Selfie

So in short, April has been busy, just like I knew it would, but I’m making it. I’m only a couple of weeks away from finishing my teaching program and only another couple of weeks away from school being over. It hasn’t been a particularly adventurous time for me but everything ebbs and flows I guess.

Basically, dear blog readers, I’m telling you that I haven’t forgotten about this blog. Life has just been busy in other areas and I’ve had to prioritize that lately. Summer will soon be here and although it doesn’t look to be as footloose as last year, there will be plenty of mountains coming your way soon.

 

February 2015: Keepin’ On Keepin’ On

It feels like I’m talking about running a lot but it’s something that I’ve been doing a significant amount of in the last month. Conditions in the hills are totally drying out and snow in the high peaks is consolidating so hopefully there will be less in between season frustrating hiking and more summiting in March. Even so, I didn’t sit idle in February!

Consistency wasn’t quite as on point in February as it was in January but I’m still pretty pleased with my efforts. My runs continued to grow in length and my weekly mileage was pretty solid other than one week (I don’t even remember what happened there…).

Screenshot 2016-03-07 at 7.44.19 AM

Running: 14 runs, 60 miles, 10.4 hours. This is about the same number of miles as January but in fewer runs and in less time! I think I’m making progress!

Hiking/snowshoeing: 7 sessions, 20.2 miles, 12 hours. Killed it here. 🙂

Cross-country skiing: Yikes! I didn’t get out to do this at all in February. I let a bit of summit fever get in the way. I’ve set a goal to go at least twice more before the snow is gone and I’m also reminding myself that my investment in the skis was long term not just for this year.

Yoga: 11 Yoga Camp sessions, 4.8 hours. This was a little lower than last month and I’d like to remedy it in March but when I find myself in a time crunch I’m going to side with cardio to get ready for mountains so we’ll see.

I’m so excited for #summitsummer 2016 to start. I think I’m ready this time.

January Fitness: New Years Resolutions

2015 was a pretty great year for my hiking goals. It wasn’t perfect and there were some mountains I wanted to climb that remained unattempted but I made peakbagging a priority and it turned out well. I did, however, climb some mountains out of pure grit and determination as I felt tired and exhausted a lot of the way up. Outside of reaching summits, I was lazy and didn’t do the work to be ready and make long hikes more enjoyable.

Colorado RiverIn the fall, I kept thinking I was going to fix things. And I procrastinated. And procrastinated some more. By the time December rolled around though, I was starting to lay the groundwork for kicking things up after the holidays. As cliche as it is, I resolved to do the work in 2016. I was going to save towards a house (as far in the future as it may be). I decided to be in summit shape and to drop the pounds that had crept onto my frame.

De Beque Running

I dove into Training For the New Alpinism and within the first section, I realized that before I could dream any huge mountain dreams that I needed to combat my severe lack of aerobic capacity that had crept in on me over the past year and change. And guys? I’m impressed with myself.

January 2016 Fitness

I’d started to lay the ground work for running more in December by carefully (ever so carefully) building up the mileage on my neglected legs. I said yes to “Yoga Camp“; a perfect companion to keep flexibility going when running. I, kinda impulsively, bought a cross-country ski setup right after the New Year. I’ve found myself running at 9pm because I needed to get it in, 10 degree temperatures be damned.

And everything has gone exactly as I would have hoped. I’m feeling so much better when being active and the magical effect of exercise that makes you only want to exercise more has kicked in.

By The Numbers:

Running: 16 runs, 53.25 miles, 11 hrs (um. This is more mileage than all of 2015..)

Hiking/Snowshoeing: 5 hikes/snowshoes, 14.8 miles, 10.8 hrs

Cross Country Skiing: 2 sessions, 11.3 miles, 3hr 40min

Yoga: 20 Yoga Camp sessions, 10hrs 20min

Yup, it’s on 2016

Colorful running
Sometimes I dress like a muppet when I run.

Pyramid Rock: Final Summit of 2015

New Year’s Eve morning, I woke up to a glorious sunny day. I was just 0.4 miles shy of 200 miles hiked on summit hikes in 2015 and I decided to head up to a local summit to round out the year and enjoy the sunshine. Sprocket, as always, was very excited with this plan so we headed out into the hills.

V 2/10 Road

We made our way to a ridge that looked like it would go fairly easily and started making our way up towards the summit. The views got better and better and being out in the crisp winter air was the perfect way to wind down 2015. The sparkles were everywhere and there wasn’t a hint of darkness to be found.

Ridgeline

image

I had debated at the car whether or not to wear snowshoes and I’m glad I didn’t. The snow was only ever more than 5″ deep once (and then I managed to bury myself up to my waist) and I was glad I didn’t wear them.

Hiking with the best dog

We walked across a small flat area and then made couple of small scrambly moves among the snowy rocks and found myself at the summit.

Summit Selfie

Summit views

Final summit of 2015

Summit views

Panorama

When we got back to Ruth, I was in such a wonderful mood. I had planned to spend a low key New Year’s at home with Sprocket and decided that was not the right choice. I scrambled together a shower and headed home to spend the evening with my friends in Ridgway. <3

2015 In Review: Top Adventures

Okay, I’m sitting down at the SeaTac airport on my way home from Christmas trying to pick my top adventures and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. (Think this Mac & Jack’s Cascadian Dark is going to help?) Heather mentioned in her roundup of 2015 that one of her favorite things about having a blog is the record of all the adventures and I can’t help but concur: I love all of my faithful readers a lot but the best part is the record I have of my own adventures! I’m cheating a bit and lumping some adventures together but I hope you enjoy!

Driving Francis, the FSJ

I found myself driving my 1977 Cherokee as my daily driver for most of 2015. This wasnot my original intention and I pretty much did a number on my bank account driving it all over Colorado this summer but I’m really glad I did. I learned a lot since I replaced the rag joint, the steering box, the power steering pump FOUR TIMES (a leaky pump, a replacement bad pump, a poor installation of mine trying to reuse a reservoir and the final fix), and the starter. To be really honest, 38-year old Francis treated me really well in our 10,000 (!) miles of adventure and I have no complaints. Sleeping in the spacious cargo area for most of the summer worked out really well!

Full size Cherokee

Baja, Mexico; Spring Break

Although I didn’t reach the summit of Picacho del Diablo, I always enjoy traveling to Mexico and this was no exception. I got to do everything from enjoy the beach to play on subalpine granite and really enjoyed some time in the sun. As always, I can’t wait to get back to old Mexico (and hopefully climb that devil of a mountain next time!).

Pineapple drinks

Colorado County Highpointing

Chasing my goal to reach 50% on the Colorado County High Point list was so wonderful this year! Earlier this month, I actually reached my goal after some driving around the eastern plains but I spent most of the summer traveling all over the state visiting new places. It was so much fun! I can’t wait to do some more next summer (and hopefully finish the list!).

Sprocket and Beth, Beattie-Fuller Saddle

Arizona Thanksgiving Road Trip

SP and I headed south for our Thanksgiving break and covered a lot of ground. I reached the high point of 6 counties, drove all over the place, thought a lot, and just enjoyed some time to myself. I also got to enjoy Thanksgiving with my friend Maryanne and her family.

Maryanne and Jamie

 

Seahawks Cuddly Flannel Quilts

Now that the gift wrap has settled, I finally get to share these two quilts with you! I really wanted to make some gifts this year and once I made the first of these quilts I knew I wanted to make another. They’re so cozy that I almost had to keep one! I toyed with making true “lap” size quilts but since I’m tall enough that lap quilts just don’t do a lot for me I went with twin sized cozies!

Seahawks flannel quilt

Sometime laying them out was a little bit of a challenge. It really involved a lot of sweeping and herding Sprocket away: he was fairly certain the cozy rug thing was on the floor for him.

Quilt sandwich.The quilts are similar with the same fabrics, back and binding but the patterns are a little different as I played with what works best. I really do love the results!

Quilt #1:

Quilt 1

Quilt #2:

Seahawks Flannel Quilt

My sister gleefully took the quilt from the white elephant gift exchange and my aunt already had hers on their quilt rack when I visited on Sunday night. Enjoy during the playoffs you guys!

Tacoma at Christmas: Ice Skating

I landed in Seattle late on Tuesday night and got up on Wednesday morning and immediately launched into holiday festivities! My oldest nephew, Andrew, my mom, and I went to downtown Tacoma with my aunt and my cousin’s daughters. I had fun snapping photos of everyone (although a few turned out blurry they’re here anyway for fun), accepting my mom’s challenge to skate backwards, and scooping Andrew up off the ice.

Andrew ice skating

Eight year old boys will stick out their tongues in EVERY PHOTO if you’re not fast with the candid…

Andrew ice skating

Andrew missed the memo to wear pink:

Cousin ice skating

My mother, aka “Suzie Snowflake,” even got into the fun:

Mom and Beth

Aunty Beth and Andrew

After ice skating, we grabbed pizza at Elemental Pizza before heading home.

Cousins

364 Days To Go

I am lucky to have a large extended family that still gathers each and every Christmas. Christmas in Tacoma, for me, spans two full days. Christmas Eve kicks off with me heading to pick up oysters for our appetizers that night (I took over this role after my dad died) and then that afternoon and evening are spent at my mom’s mother’s house celebrating with Norwegian Christmas cookies, appetizers, board games, performances, a Santa visit, and more presents. The next morning, it’s time for Christmas morning. The past two years, Mom and I have done stockings and then my sister and her family have joined us for exchanging gifts. After that, the fun is still not over and it’s time to head to my dad’s brother’s house for the Lakin edition of Christmas: more food, cards (mostly 500!), and another gift exchange.

When I was growing up, we’d get home from our Christmas Day celebration and my dad would lay out all the presents on the couches in our living room: mine would be on one couch, Emily’s on the other, Mom’s and Dad’s under the tree. As a family we’d sit, exhaling a bit after the busy two days, and each and every year, Dad would remark, “We’re all so lucky to have such a loving family. I think this was the best Christmas ever.”

This song, Brad Paisley’s 364 Days To Go, always makes me think of this moment and more often than not, it makes me cry.

I’m so lucky to have such a loving family.

Fementation: Homemade Mead

Eek! I thought I’d posted this ages ago! Seems like a holiday week appropriate post though. Enjoy!

My first fermentation experiment was making sourdough bread but The Art Of Fermentation had inspired me to keep playing with the amazing transformations possible with fermenting. Although Sandor Ellix Katz does an excellent job of making fermentation sounding accessible (full review here) I wanted to try something fairly simple.

One of the book’s earliest chapters deals with simple alcohol fermentation: mead, wine, and cider. Mead seemed pretty foolproof: start with raw honey, shake the jar daily, and wait. As with most things, you can make the process more complicated but this seemed like a perfectly feasible experimental set up.

The first thing I needed was raw honey. Although you can use pasteurized honey, this requires the addition of yeasts since the yeasts that are naturally found in honey have been destroyed. Raw honey can often be found at farmers markets and at some natural foods stores. I ordered mine from My Local Nectar, a new online marketplace where beekeepers can sell their honey. I purchased a small jar from Buchanan Bees (run by my friend Adam Buchanan, founder of My Local Nectar) and was ready to give mead a shot.

image

I didn’t want to start with too big of a batch so I started with a medium jar (I think it was a salsa jar), 1/4 c. honey, and 1 c. water. And then, I loosely put the lid on the jar and waited. Every time I walked by the jar, I gave it a shake. I was never really sure if anything was happening and I don’t have a hydrometer to measure the alcohol content. A little pressure seemed to build which was supposed to happen but it was all a little questionable. Supposedly after 10 days or so, the mead should be “light” and drinkable although not very alcoholic.

Last night marked 11 days and I caved, pouring myself a glass of this honey water that had been sitting on my counter for over a week. I admit, I was a little nervous. Katz had made me feel pretty confident that I probably wouldn’t get sick but I admit I was a little nervous.

The mead was sweet and it didn’t seem very alcoholic but I don’t have much knowledge of mead to compare it to. There is a winery in Palisade that makes mead, I guess I’m going to have to go sample some to know how mine stacks up and what adjustments I need to make before another (perhaps larger?) batch.

Christmas Tree Cutting 2015: Grand Mesa

Friday morning, Sprocket and I headed up to Grand Mesa in the four-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.* The weather was great, I remembered the saw (and the snowshoes that I neglected last year)…

Christmas Tree Adventure

Grand Mesa

We walked around a bit until we found a tree. I attempted to grab a photo of us and the tree but mostly I just grabbed a cute shot of me and the pup.

Christmas Tree Adventure

image

We got the tree home and made it the 3Up Christmas Tree 2015:

3Up Christmas Tree 2015

*I reserve the right to reference “Christmas Vacation” on each and every Christmas tree hunt forever.