Category Archives: Life

Swan Creek Hiking & Salmon Spawning

One of my favorite phone calls of 2014 was one from my nephew, Andrew. I was just getting down from the mountains and had a message on my phone, “Hi, Aunty Beth. I was wondering if you could come over so we can go hiking.” I called him back and reminded him that I live in Colorado which is far away so I couldn’t come over today. He was very understanding and matter of factly said, “Okay, then we’ll go hiking next time you’re here, right?”

Andrew and I almost had conflicting travel schedules and only overlapped in Tacoma for one day so I was sure to follow up on my promise and get him outside. Andrew’s hiking requirements go as follows: “We get in the Jeep, drive to the woods, and hike.” (I found this out when I tried to convince four year old Drew that a walk in the neighborhood counted as a hike… he was not impressed.) Luckily for me, my mom lives near an awesome green space: Swan Creek Park.

Beth and Andrew

I’ve taken Andrew hiking here several times now and he loves it. Its big enough and the woods are dense enough that it really feels like hiking even if you are a 5 minute drive from downtown Tacoma. This time, when we got out of the car, there were signs announcing that the annual salmon run was happening. I was skeptical about there being much to see until we made it to the creek—the smell of dead fish was unmistakable.

Andrew inspecting dead salmon

Andrew was totally fascinated with the dead fish (“Aunty Beth, all of their eyes are gone!!”) and almost as excited with the few live fish still working their way upstream. I mentally changed gears: I was pretty sure we weren’t going to actually go hiking that day but instead would spend the whole time watching the fish and learning about them.

Watching salmon swim upriver

Much to my surprise, after wandering back and forth in the same area of the creek, Andrew was still interested in going for a hike. As a matter of fact, after hearing that he’d already walked a mile according to the GPS on my phone, he declared he was going to hike five miles.

Andrew

The trail was just muddy enough to be exciting but the sun was shining—an absolutely perfect day to be out in nature.

Trees

image

I’m so excited that he’s getting older. Even after learning about the salmon, he was still excited to learn about ferns and how they can help soothe stinging nettles.

Andrew.

We learned that this is in fact a plant, not an animal, and that it is called lichen:

Andrew and lichen

We saw big stumps that showed evidence of springboard logging and talked about that. We even learned the importance of silly selfies:

Beth and Andrew

We didn’t make it five miles but to my surprise, we did three miles—no crying, no whining, and all fun.

Andrew

Andrew even had so much fun that he was sure to tell his brother Junior that next time he just has to come hiking with Aunty Beth.

Andrew

Posted in Adventure, Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Night Is Dark and Full of Sparkles

I’m not a person who really looks forward to New Year’s Eve. This year I was mostly excited to have a chance to dance the night away with friends here in Ridgway but by mid-morning on the 31st, I had worked myself into a downright melancholy mood. Sometimes I just can’t understand how I’ve ended up here, just me and Sprocket against the world. I can’t understand how I lost a love that meant the world to me. And reflecting on 2014 wasn’t helping.

Sprocket in bed

I’d written about how 2014 was a year with amazing highlights and also a year that completely knocked me on my ass at times but I don’t think I’d really ever considered that 2015 was a new year. While relaxing in my bed with Sprocket, I found a New York Magazine advice column that make me stop and think about things a little differently.

I’ve always found it silly to make resolutions or consider the new year a time to make changes but there I was reading this article and getting excited about what was coming down the pipe for me in 2015. The change from 11:59pm December 31 to 12:00am January 1st was starting to mean something to me.

New Years

The whole thing is amazing so you should run over and read it right now if you didn’t already check it out but it was this paragraph that first grabbed me and pulled me in:

“At times like this, though, it’s important to know WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL. You can’t just have a vague idea. You have to know exactly who you are and what you believe in. You have to know how you want to live, even if it is all a big nothing. That takes time.”

That’s been my exact journey this fall. I’d forgotten how damn awesome it is to be me. I forgot that I’m a delightfully sassy person who is totally whip-smart and can accomplish anything that I put my mind to. I’d sort of forgotten how it felt to be a good friend and a good family member. I forgot how awesome it was to chase my dreams.

“Make that your work now: Finding sparkles. Suffering opens a direct path to sparkles. That’s what the jingles don’t tell you. Heartbreak and loss bring their own kinds of sparkles. Admitting that it’s all a big nothing brings sparkles. If it’s all a big nothing, what is left?”

So that’s the plan. 2015: you’re the year of the sparkles. As a friend put it New Year’s night: The Night Is Dark And Full of Sparkles. I’m excited to tackle my goals and continue to make forward progress into my future. I’ve got trips in the works and good things are happening. The night might be dark but damn if it’s not full of sparkles.

Heels in the snow

So as I counted down the last seconds of 2014 surrounded by friends, neighbors, and strangers I found myself tearing up. I felt that catch in my throat as I shouted, “3,” and thought a bit as I said, “2,” and laughed as I almost cried at “1,” at “Happy New Year,” however, I made my way into 2015 with kisses, hugs, and laughter.

Cuddled in bed with Sprocket for my first sleep of 2015, ready to embrace the sparkles:

“Here’s to the things we’ve never had a chance to say to each other. Here’s to the things we never tried. Here’s to the sparkles that we didn’t notice. We were surrounded by sparkles this year, but most of the time we couldn’t see them.

We can’t do everything. But let’s find more sparkles next year, okay? Let’s look very closely, and notice them, as much as we can.”

Posted in Life | Tagged , | 3 Comments

2014 In Review: By The Numbers

Because I’m a huge data nerd, for your pleasure, my 2014 fitness year in numbers.

Hiking: 

I hiked 61 different times totalling 186 miles. The cool stats are all about peakbagging:

Peakbagging:

2014 was by far my best year ever in the peakbagging category. I had a total of 50 summits that I hiked 112.7 miles to reach gaining 34,856′. (I also attained 11 of those summits by car, Jeep or ATV with 0′ of gain each. Required 3,000′ purist I am not.)

This represented a 49.8% increase in peakbagging mileage, a 51% increase in elevation gained, and a 127% increase in peaks bagged.

Climbing summary 2003-2014

I climbed mountains in nine states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) plus one in Jordan.

Sprocket joined me for 31 of the 50 summits. I only did 12 of the 50 without either Sprocket or human company. I only had human company for 18 of the peaks.

I visited 18 county highpoints spread over five states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon and Washington) bringing my lifetime total to 29. I’m hoping to start globbing together more counties in 2015! Two of these county highpoints were also Colorado 14ers: Wilson Peak and Uncompahgre, bringing my 14er total to 5 (plus unranked El Diente).

County Highpoint Map, end 2014

Running: 

Running was, again, not my priority in 2014. I ran in one race (Rainier To Ruston) and totalled just 131 miles.

 

The last bit of 2014 was pretty dismal as far as working out was concerned and I can feel it. I have big goals for 2015 and I’m already kicking things into gear (I put in 31 miles on foot Christmas week!). I am already so pumped to write the 2015 edition of the report next year!

Posted in Adventure, Life | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye 2014

2014.

Wow. You sort of kicked my butt all over in awesome ways and some pretty horrible moments.

January:

Spent sometime in the Yuma area and visited Los Algodones, Mexico. Hiked Signal Peak which wound up being one of my favorite hikes of the year. Competed in Columbia Sportswear’s #omnigamesand won.

Season 4 at Deer Valley Press Conference

February:

February was all about Arizona adventures. We spent some time exploring the Sierra Anchas which definitely a highlight.

Parker Creek Canyon

March:

March included some more exploring of Northern Arizona and New Mexico. We wandered through some beautiful places.

April:

April was all about JORDAN. I mean, how lucky am I?

Beth in Jordan

Photo: M. Going, Columbia

May:

May was a month of upheaval. We started out in California but ended up being in Oregon. Rolling with the punches was the name of the game.

Seed Tree

June:

I got to run in Rainier To Ruston again this time with a three person team instead of our usual four person one! I (sort of) learned to ride a motorcycle. I also was a bridesmaid in Stacia and Andrea’s wedding.

Stacia's Wedding

Amanda Summerlin Photography

July:

I did some hiking in Oregon but most importantly, I got to move back to Ridgway, Colorado.

Colorful Colorado

August:

August started out on such a high of being a new Colorado resident and heading off for lots of fun at Outdoor Retailer. The stoke continued with a fantastic trip back exploring Utah and Colorado with Sprocket. I added to my list of Colorado County Highpoints with Montrose County’s Castle Rock. The month ended with a mix of excitement about my new job and the heartbreak of ending my marriage with Forrest.

Cliffs near Storm King

September:

Although September was a tough month, it was epic enough that it qualified for a wrap-up of its own. I floated the Gunnison with friends and Sprocket. I climbed Wilson Peak (a 14er and San Miguel County Highpoint), Uncomphagre Peak (a 14er, Colorado’s 6th highest mountain, and Hindsale County Highpoint), Mt. Lamborn (Delta County Highpoint), and Leon Peak (Mesa County Highpoint). I bought a lot in Ridgway and celebrated with Sprocket. “I Am #omniten” debuted on YouTube.

Trail selfie

October:

Kristin came to visit and we hiked Courthouse Mountain and visited Telluride. #damselNOTindistress was in full swing. I drove to Joe’s Valley to go bouldering with Josh, Andy, and Steve.

 Courthouse summit selfie

November:

November had a lot more #damselNOTindistress-ing. I finally climbed Precipice Peak. I saw Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell in concert at the Wright Opera House. Had a lovely snowy afternoon walk on Piñon Mesa. I traveled to Connecticut for Lucy and Franz’s wedding.

Late afternoon. Early winter.

December:

I got my first Christmas tree in three years! It was so much fun to make cookies, decorate a bit, and send out Christmas cards.

Bailey's Christmas Bow

Bring it 2015. I’m so excited for my best year yet.

Posted in Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas In Tacoma

When my mom picked me up from the bus station, we headed over to my grandma’s where we helped her make final preparations for the Christmas Eve festivities. After a flurry of table leaf adding, chair moving, Christmas dish unearthing, and rullepolse eating, Mom and I headed home for a Christmas Eve Eve dinner. I pretty much ate yams and stuffing (known in our house as “dressing” to the confusion of my brother-in-law).

Funny faces with Aunty Beth

Middle Nephew was unsure of what to think of gjetost cheese. His dad basically made this exact face as did Littlest Nephew (but he warmed up more quickly and I didn’t get a photo!).

Not so sure about gjetost

Christmas Eve morning I took over my dad’s “run all over Tacoma and procure all the seafood” duties. I even got to snap a selfie with this massive inflatable crab. What seafood store would be complete without one?

Northern Fish Co. Inflatable crab

At home, Mom had been busy making kringle (which doesn’t seem to bake well at altitude, I failed at an attempt earlier in the month):

Kringle

I had a snack of rullepolse and Norvegia cheese. I’ve always been all about the rullepolse and gjetost but when my brother-in-law suggested this combination I had to try it. Kevin, this is simply the best:

Rullepolse and Norvegia cheese

Nons’ house for Christmas Eve was full of all the fun traditions. There was plenty of Catch Phrase played and Times to Remember (Um. Hasboro, when you bought Milton Bradley, you were supposed to make an updated version of this for my family. How about a 1965-2014 version? Thank you very much. Love, the Rahm-Lakin-Gillis family.)

Christmas Eve game time

Santa made his annual appearance to the delight of all:

Santa time

Will (Littlest Nephew) wasn’t so sure what to make of the big guy with the beard but Santa brought presents so he warmed up pretty quickly.

Unsure about the present giving bearded man

Santa visit 2014, Christmas Eve

And for good measure, a Christmas Eve selfie:

Christmas Eve Selfie

Christmas morning, my sister and Kevin managed to hustle their boys out of the house before 10am. I was impressed. Clearly there had been promises of more presents on the way though, Junior (Middle Nephew) could hardly wait for coffee to be poured before tearing into this pile of presents. I had lots of help opening gifts this year.

Holy pile of presents

Cheese ball

Planes

Christmas presents

Then it was on to Christmas Day festivities with my dad’s side of the family. Uncle Mo, as always, was an entertaining elf with assistance from Izzy and Emily.

Christmas Elf Uncle Mo

After dinner and presents, we had two tables of 500 going on. I chose to be partners with my sister since I figured she’d give me the least hard time for being out of practice on the strategy. I’m not a card game fan but I love this funky euchre/hearts like game.

500

It was so so much fun to see everyone! I’m so lucky to have big extended families on both my mom and my dad’s side that are so supportive and loving. Thank you everyone for an awesome Christmas!

Posted in Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments