Saturday, October 18, 2008

It feels good to complain about the weather

Date: Oct. 12, 13, 15
Mileage: 61.0
October mileage: 253.0

Well, Geoff is back in town now. Even after some discussion, I'm still not completely sure why he decided to return to Juneau after vowing he would not - at least, not until fall and a fair chunk of November and December were good and over. Juneau has given him its warmest welcome, too. The weather has been on the soft side of horrific. I'm not sure what it was like while I was in Utah, but I do know it pretty much hasn't stopped raining since the minute my Alaska Airlines jet lurched violently in a gusty crosswind just feet over the runway. Now we pretty much just wait for lulls in the wind to go out. "Oh, just 15 mph wind and drizzle? That's practically sunny."

Yesterday, before three hours of cycling I misjudged how many layers I'd need and paid the deep and painful price. I noticed a chill set in as I was climbing and knew I was in for problems. I turned around before too long, but it was too late to stave off breathtaking windchill during the descent, followed by 10 miles of bucking that 25 mph headwind in my single soaked layer of neoprene/polypro and a pathetic rain jacket. Upon return, I had to curl up on my bedroom floor while my body worked through some incapacitating pain. Rewarming the extremities after deep, wet chills is horrible. I have to relearn this every October.

Geoff has been experiencing some back problems and hasn't been running this week. Today he expressed interest in going for a hike, so we hit up Mount Jumbo. All was fine until we hit snowline, then I started to struggle. I was up there just 10 days ago, walking on dry ground under clear skies. Today we were plodding through knee-deep snow, still a few hundred feet below the peak. The snow was so wet that it seemed to be infused with some kind of oil - it was just super slick. After I crossed a narrow saddle, I slipped on a steep, rocky pitch and slid several feet toward the yawning abyss of a deep bowl. There were no cliffs nearby and the snow was deep and heavy enough to stop me before I slid too far, but I was sufficiently sketched out. I had announced to Geoff earlier that I would probably not follow him to the top, so I turned around right there. It was just as well. He caught me on my way down the mountain to report thigh-deep powder snow, a blowing blizzard, near-zero visibility and wind chills below 0F at the top. Another reminder that if you don't like the weather, just take a few extra steps - it can always get worse.

It's not supposed to get much better, but I still have a few punches left on my gym pass. Thinking it's time to take a break from the Great Outdoors.