Monday, March 19, 2007

Top o' Douglas Island

I hiked too long and too high today, and now I regret it. It was clear and calm and I was down to short sleeves in the 32-degree sunlight. Now ... swollen. I can't detect my tipping point, and I can't define my boundaries. Heaven knows I'd push them, though, even if I knew what they were.

I learned that a window of three hours will take me deep into the heart of the Douglas Island mountains. It's much further than I've ever been on my bike, because the canyon's grade increases significantly and the trail fades out into dozens of "high mark" lines. I always thought that "high marking" was the term for snowmobilers' testosterone-fueled efforts to kill themselves and all of their buddies in massive avalanches. But today I watched several snowmobiles roar up the slope before carving a graceful arc and descending in a cloud of powder. It looked wicked fun. I was jealous of them, and wishing that I had brought my snowboard with me, and at the same time, grateful that I didn't (Heaven knows I don't need to add that to my list of infractions.) That didn't stop me from traversing several of the less-steep high-mark lines in an effort to climb to the top of the ridge. I came pretty close a couple of times. But eventually, the slope would reach a grade in which my wimpy snowshoe crampons became useless. I'd take one last hopeful step before sliding backward about 30 feet. Clearly, I was inviting my own avalanche. So I turned around, bounded down the mountain as powder swirled around me, and went to try a high-mark line that *definitely* looked less steep. Repeat.

Not the best of physical activities, but good for the soul. Somewhere in here, I'll find a happy medium.

4 comments:

  1. I had never snowshoed here in Alaska, it wasnt until I was in the mountains of the Tahoe region that I tried it and absolutley loved it. It was so nice to go out hiking with all the underbrush covered up you can just take off and go just about anywhere. For anyone who is not a skier its a great winter activity.
    I met a young lady who was getting over a torn ACL and the snowshoeing was actually part of her physical therapy- Truckee Dr's have a bit different point of view I beleive...

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  2. I just recently discovered your blog and I really enjoy it. Your writing is refreshing and inspiring. I used to live up on Pioneer Ave. and I miss the Dan Moller trail like crazy. I used to ski it all the time. I appreciate all the time you take to share your adventures. I'll keep checking in from time to time and I wish you all the best.

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  3. Anonymous8:40 PM

    A thought. Endurance bike racing is something you can do well into your 40s, if not your 50s, and be very competitive, if not one of the best. What would your 42 year old self think of your 27 year old self? I suspect she might say..."chill girl, I want to race in 15 years, I want to go on adventures, I want to bike across Norway, go to ride to Dawson and beyond." You are an endurance racer - the last three weeks reminds me of someone who goes hell bent in the first 10 miles, and then explodes at mile 50 and drops out, when there is another 50 to go. Biking is not going anywhere, you are just a pup...let this thing heal. It's a little painful to read the blog lately, cause I can hear your knee screaming.

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  4. Anonymous9:04 PM

    Reading your back blog. Noticed you first mentioned the knee about a week before the Susitna Race. This makes me think it was something already triggered - likely over use...you put in a HUGE January - probably more than a 10% increase from December and November, and then started adding weight to your bike. It makes sense you'd have a bad case of tendonitis. Which means two things:

    1. no ligament damage likely, no surgery.
    2. It needs rest. Real rest...maybe not high line snowshoeing rest.

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