30 plus one week

This week, I have been getting out more often than I normally do - in a social sense - which means I have been sleeping later and getting outside a little less. It's a good thing, I think; after all, life is but a river that ebbs and flows. Autumn seems like the perfect time for an ebb. The rains move in; the temperatures creep down; life slows to a trickle. But come winter, the trickle begins to freeze and accumulate until it has transformed into something sparkling and new and almost electric, in a way that makes life come alive. I love winter. It truly is my favorite season.

It occurred to me today that I have been 30 for a week now. I'm supposed to be having some type of pre-mid-life/post-post-adolescent crisis, but to be honest, I've hardly noticed. I guess I do find myself looking in the mirror and thinking things like, "I'm 30 now. Maybe it's about time I started wearing makeup;" or, "Maybe I should buy some non-outdoors-specific clothing that isn't a hand-me-down from my 22-year-old sister;" or "I'm 30 and my worldly possessions amount to a few boxes of clothes, a kitty cat, a car that after being "totalled" by $700 in brake work is officially worthless, a road bike that has a similar status, a battered mountain bike and one beloved Pugsley." But my inclination right now is still toward less stuff and more mobility. I guess turning 30 hasn't done as much to spur me toward adulthood as I'd hoped.

And I won't even talk about my athletic pursuits right now. It's probably been pretty obvious from my blog that I'm all over the map, both demotivated and excitedly trying new things; both wrapped up in frequent adventures and discouraged by the "sameness" of the space I occupy. The sun came out yesterday afternoon and I watched it with bitter jealousy from my cubical at work. Today the rain rate was back up to a tenth of an inch per hour and I decided to go peak bagging anyway. Mount Roberts was my goal, with an ambitious hope for Sheep Mountain should the weather take a turn for the better.

The rain let up but it left behind a brutal, bitter cold wind. On the ridge, it was blowing 35 mph and easily gusting to 50 and even 60 mph (a speed where the wind takes your breath away, and pushes unsuspecting hikers nearly off their feet.) The ridge is somewhat narrow in spots, but not too exposed, so I layered up as best as I could with the random things I had stuffed in my Camelback over the past few weeks - a fleece pullover, a soft-shell pullover, winter mittens, a hat, a headband (which I pulled over my nose and mouth), and dry wool socks in a ziplock bag (lifesavers, those were.) Hard to gauge the windchill this early in the season. It felt below freezing, but then again the first real chills of the season always feel uber-cold. It was probably 45 or so degrees at elevation, not accounting for windchill.

The wind was relentless, and continued to get worse. Mount Roberts has a few steep, loose spots that were sketchier than I remembered, and I ended up turning back short of the peak because I had become consumed with the idea that I was about to blow off the mountain. I'm not really sure what the wind speed would need to be to actually blow a 130-pound person off a mountain - probably at least double the strongest gusts that hit today. But the wind felt intense enough that I was genuinely jittery. Every time a gust hit, I just crouched down and held my hat until it passed. I was certainly relieved when I reached the tram terminal and ordered the biggest, hottest cup of coffee they had, and "cheated" the rest of the hike by riding the tram down to sea level. It was a good day. That kind of hard, cold wind makes me feel alive. Like I said, I'm definitely a "winter person."


  1. Yay I'm the first poster!! :)

    Anyhoo - when you said that part about not having much "stuff", I immediatly thought, "well I guess you can always go out and buy it". Stuff is stuff, eventually everyone wants to sell or get rid of their stuff, no one ever says "get rid of that memory" unless its bad...but no one wants bad things no matter what their make is. And its not like you can buy a memory, only make them. So I say, screw stuff! I bought a brand new car right out of college and now I'm like "great, guaranteed bills for the next 2 years (remaining) for this shiny blue thing"....smart move Sara. I've never had the desire to own lots of things, or buy a giant house...at the end of the day, I think no matter what age you are, the amount of "stuff" you own is arbitrary, cus you can just buy/sell it.

    Sorry for the essay, just felt the desire to contribute!

  2. Anonymous5:01 AM

    Stuff...meh, clothes, makeup--just more things to clutter up your life. You know this, I think, but there's nothing wrong with a bit of healthy introspection/ re-evaluation (I say this as someone who has all too much stuff cluttering up my life & has been trying to pare away at an ingrained urge to acquire/consume etc.). Anyhoo, Kent Peterson, to my mind, has a very good perspective on this stuff--maybe another read of The Mountain Turtle (in all your spare time!) is in order?

    Best wishes from Pittsburgh!


  3. Anonymous5:18 AM

    " both wrapped up in frequent adventures and discouraged by the "sameness" of the space I occupy."


  4. more wonderful photos and another engaging story. Your posts make my time in the office more bearable, thanks so much :)

  5. 30 is just a number ... do not change your clothing look for that <;)
    The body begins oxydize but the spirit remains the same.
    I'am 38 and in my wardrobe is also full of outdoor clothing <;)
    In 1 years I'am 40 ... I'am frightened by this number!
    Because after 39 years, the performances body begins down sharply and very go speed to cimetery <:o

  6. hartage9:01 AM

    It does not take much to be blown off balance and find yourself down a ravine. Helped along by entirely too much gravity. Best to err on the side of coming home under your own steam. Call me selfish but I want to keep reading about your new adventures.

    I'm 37 and I keep hearing that age is just a number. I figure if I keep repeating that mantra, someday I'll believe it. Seriously though. With your natural tendency to get plenty of exercise without even thinking about it. I'm sure you'll be one of those rare women that will perpetually look half her age. If you ever worry even a little, don't. You're doing great.

  7. I was up there a couple of short weeks ago and it felt like at least 85 degrees and no breeze. Does the weather change quickly here, or what? Beautiful photos!

  8. The swift transition from vibrant summer to icy winter gives us only a brief glimpse of autumn- and a moment to catch a breath before the cold settles in. A great time to establish new goals for the frozen months ahead...

  9. Anonymous10:28 AM

    From the point hartage made about looking your age, I really can't judge that too well. I'm used to being surrounded by redneck women who are 100lbs overweight, or who smoke and drink so much that by the time they're 30 they look more like 50. Go into your local Walmart, or Dollar Store, and you'll see what I mean.

    Comparatively speaking from the photos I've seen of you you have the body type more of a teenager...that's normal teenager, not redneck teenager. Redneck teenager would be having an illegitimate kid in one hand, a cigarette hanging out of your mouth, a giant tramp stamp on your back, and a "muffin top" fat roll sticking out over your pants.

  10. Uh oh! You've hit the infamous thirty plus one week (30.0192) age. It's all downhill from there, I'm afraid. Maybe you should take a three month sabbatical to re-assess your life as you know it. Or something.

  11. Aaron1:14 PM

    When I turned 30 last January, I'd just completed a three and half month bike tour. I was trying to get used to being in the "real world" again, but was still trying to live as if I was on the road. I just wanted to ride, hike and enjoy life as opposed to act like a grown up. Ever since then whenever I've thought, "I better start acting more like an adult," I haven't been able to come up with a good reason to. I'm pretty sure I've got less job security than you, but that doesn't mean I'm not aloud to come up with cycling and hiking adventures to set as goals for the future and follow through with them.

    30 is just a number. As long as I stay active I don't see why it's any different from 20. I think age matters more for people who aren't physically active because they aren't keeping their bodies in tune. I say enjoy the desire to be mobile with less stuff. That freedom to act on a whim is something so few "adult" people have.

    Happy it's raining in DC!

  12. Anonymous2:25 PM

    With age the power goes down but the fun doesn't have to. I figure I have about 25% of the power I had at thirty which wasn't that great to begin with, but I'm actually having more fun.


  13. Anonymous2:30 PM

    Well honey, tough love time! It's so easy to get positive reinforcement from those who don't want to grow up either. Don't forget that the cavalry ain't coming. You are the only one responsible for setting yourself up for the future and living a life based on mobility ain't going to pay the bills after retirement or if you have an extended illness or get hurt. It's not an issue of having "stuff" it's an issue of taking care of yourself. I know it's supposed to be "cool" to not have responsibilities and the accompanying baggage, but it will all catch up someday. Boxes of clothes and a worthless car ain't gonna cut it. It might seem fun and bohemian to focus on mobility, but it's actually just irresponsible. Better get on track if you don't want to be still renting and drifting at 35. You can have stability and still have mobility as well - but stability is a must-have, especially when you're on your own.

  14. Actually, I do have a salaried job, a hefty savings account, health insurance and a 401K plan(that's been hemorrhaging money since the economy tanked.) What does that have to do with owning stuff? Permanent equity is a myth - look at the current housing crisis. The furniture and a lot of other tangible stuff in my life left after the breakup and the move. I don't even miss it. The place I'm moving into next month is cramped and tiny and perfect. I could afford better, but what's the point? I chose to invest in people, time and memories, and I have yet to regret it.

    I love you tough love anonymous commenters! What's so bad about people making their own choices?

  15. There is nothing wrong with where you're at in life, Jill. I find it really interestingly sad that someone on a blog who doesn't know you personally would even begin to tell you what to do or what you should own and where you should be in five years. Holy Cow. Plus, I took your post as just airing thoughts, not asking for opinions on life after thirty. Anyway, the idea of less stuff and filling life with meaningfulness is so much more appealing to me too. I get it. :)

  16. I am 40 and have kind of done a reverse in that I started wearing more outdoor clothes and less makeup (lip balm or stick only) now. It has been liberating as that is how I am most comfortable and have finally realized that.

    Stuff is stuff and I realized that when I started venturing outdoors to run, hike and other things. It is so much more fulfilling than owning junk that you appreciate for 5 minutes after you buy it and then it just collects dust in the corner.

    Remain true to yourself and trust your gut and you will be fine at the age of 30, 40, etc. Just keep writing please that's all! ;o)

  17. Anonymous5:52 PM

    "The place I'm moving into next month is cramped and tiny and perfect. I could afford better, but what's the point? I chose to invest in people, time and memories, and I have yet to regret it."

    George Carlin said it best:


  18. I've followed this blog for a few years now, and I marvel at how personally people will write in with their two cents on this persons life. (I'm refering to the mean two cent portion). Whats the big deal people!?! Dont you guys realize there are other people out there pissing their lives away (incert verb here: drugs, alcohol, etc) and yet...this blog, about a person, just living their life, not harming anyone, catches soooo much crap....

    My response is this: So?

  19. Just wait until you turn 50. No socialising to worry about, nothing but your daily and weekly mileage! getting old is great!

  20. great photos - beautiful place you live in

  21. Anonymous11:57 AM

    It's got nothing to do with "stuff", it's got to do with stability. You've been going on for weeks about not having a place to live or knowing what you're going to do. I never said you need "stuff." Face it, you were scrambling around trying to find a place to rent in one of the most expensive places in Alaska, at age 30, because you don't want to be "adult" and you were completely lost after your boyfriend broke up with you. One can invest in people, time, and memories and STILL have a stable life in which "where am I gonna live" is not a weeks-long stressfest culminating in a decision to take a place that "doesn't involve commitment," inviting a repeat of the same situation just months down the road.

    Look, I had similar ideas when I was that age, making the same "ooooh, real estate is not necessarily a good investment" and "Who needs stuff anyway," and I have to say thank goodness I woke the hell up and decided to take care of myself and my life. Getting it together means you get to take part in those big adventures WITHOUT having to worry about "what happens now" or "where can I live" or any of that. Yes, I think that getting to 35 and having no assets and having no home is a seriously bad situation. No, I am not advocating consumerism or makeup or buying junk; people just want to focus on that to avoid my real message, and I suspect that many of the commenters need validation of their own life choices. Claiming to not be into "stuff" is just an excuse to avoid responsibility. No one is saying that you should be into "stuff". But hey, all of you want to be drifting around aimlessly, paying someone else for a place to live until you're 40, you go right ahead. How silly of me to encourage you to do otherwise.

    I offer my thoughts because I think it's at least worthwhile for you to hear something other than the slavish Fan Club hanging on your every word and agreeing with everything you do. For those who are opposed to differences in opinion; it's easy to participate in blogs and social media and accept only the positive reinforcement. If you post your life on the Internet and invite feedback, you can't just bank on only hearing what you want to hear. Jill, if you don't want comments, don't allow comments, and if you only want 'rah rah everything you do is perfect' comments you should just say so.

  22. Anonymous12:03 PM

    P.S. "Actually, I do have a salaried job, a hefty savings account, health insurance and a 401K plan(that's been hemorrhaging money since the economy tanked.)"

    That's great! You can build some serious wealth and income off of a good 401k and a savings account. If you focus on building it up, you will never have to depend on anyone else as long as you live. What does freedom mean if not that? Renting is not freedom, junking all your stuff is not freedom; having the assets to do what you please is freedom. Just don't let it slip away until you realize that you are, despite all attempts, an adult, with no one to turn to but herself.

  23. "I offer my thoughts because I think it's at least worthwhile for you to hear something other than the slavish Fan Club hanging on your every word and agreeing with everything you do."

    Yeah anonymous, I am sure you care deeply and that's why you chimed in.

    'Rah 'rah, Jill! I am a part of your "Slavish Fan club!" Can't wait 'til the book comes out. Keep ridin', runnin' and writin'!

  24. Hi Jill,
    stumbled upon your blog...and upon perusing through, it turns out I heard you on the MTBcast during the GDR while doing research for my hopeful GDR in 2011.
    Anywho, great job and keep plugging away!


    The journey is the reward." - Tao proverb

  25. hartage2:48 PM

    Hey anonymous, wow....

    What you said is exactly true ! Also obvious to just about everyone so don't go tooting your own horn for saying the obvious. There was nothing in the blog even in the past few weeks that is in any way irresponsible.

    It's OK for someone to have a "huge savings account" a 401k a solid salaried job AND still feel sometimes lost. It's ok to challenge yourself on a cross country bike race AND still be responsible.

    If your not a fan of this blog what the hell are you doing reading it ? Go be somewhere else that you do like.

  26. So, Anon, are you recommending that a woman who is single, childless, with limited credit, and fairly uncertain about her longterm status in her city, go out and try to purchase a home in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the U.S.? I only ask because you seem to be tailoring this advice to me, but I can't imagine why that seems like a better option than renting. Criticize my lifestyle if you like, but don't do it under the guise that you are trying to give me good advice.

  27. Ken Kifer, the man I credit with sparking my passion for cycling, once wrote, "I never had much money so I never had much need for it." He said this at age 50-something, not long before he was hit and killed by a drunk driver 10 miles from his home just as he was returning from a 6,000-mile bike tour. In my opinion, Ken managed to live a rich and meaningful life, taking care of himself, with very little. Simple, unencumbered lifestyles are not for everyone, but neither is wealth.

  28. hartage6:23 PM

    Drunk drivers..... suck. It is unfortunate that Ken Kifer was killed. I was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver myself past november. Recovery is ongoing and difficult. It burns me up that innocents like myself must pay for the stupidity and selfishness of people that drive drunk. Sometimes innocents pay with their lives. If drunk driving were to be turned into a capital offense I would quickly support it. I am saddened that Ken Kifer is no longer with us but likely the drunk driver is. It should be the other way around.

  29. Let's see..I want to tell you what to do too, since you're thirty and all.

    Buy some high-waisted Lee jeans? I think that would be a good luck for you. Maybe a side ponytail too. Way hot.

    I am a 39 year-old late bloomer, so 30 seems incredibly youthful to me. I could not have cared less about my future at 30 and yet I am still here. Still riding. Still on the launchpad to success baby!

  30. Anonymous7:15 PM

    Having been around bicycling for over 20 years I've seen the various cliques that bikers are often a part of. The long distance touring cyclists often have a subset of men in their 50-60's who are somewhat social pariahs, anti-social, malcontents, and anti-establishment types. These guys are often over-educated, and are often identified by the presence of facial hair, strong BO, and bicycles that are 20 years out of date. These guys aren't the type of messiahs any sane person would want to follow as role models....at least not if you want to get laid on a regular basis.

    It's all fun and games being a granola muncher and living a bohemian life of no adult responsibilities, until one day you wind up in your 60's living with cats in a room full of old newspapers, talking to yourself, and riding around on your bike collecting aluminum cans for food money.

    Sorry about you hitting 30, being single, with no kids, having wet green slime covered running shoes, wearing hand-me-downs from your sister, driving a broke assed hoopty, and living alone in a shoebox sized apartment....but hey, that's the life you wanted. You wanted to take the path less travelled, and you got it baby. Now you know why that path is less travelled....it's kinda sucky, unless you like living like a hermit, or are a member of a religious cult.

    "Once upon a time you dressed so fine
    You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
    People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
    You thought they were all kiddin' you
    You used to laugh about
    Everybody that was hangin' out
    Now you don't talk so loud
    Now you don't seem so proud
    About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be without a home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
    But you know you only used to get juiced in it
    And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
    And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it
    You said you'd never compromise
    With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
    He's not selling any alibis
    As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
    And ask him do you want to make a deal?

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all come down and did tricks for you
    You never understood that it ain't no good
    You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
    You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
    Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
    Ain't it hard when you discover that
    He really wasn't where it's at
    After he took from you everything he could steal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
    They're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
    Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
    But you'd better lift your diamond ring, you'd better pawn it babe
    You used to be so amused
    At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
    Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse
    When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
    You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?"

  31. MarcL7:22 PM

    mercy what a bunch of useless advice - live your life as you see fit the only thing you can be sure of is the uncertainty. But I have to say you live in a beautiful spot to ponder your existence

  32. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Wow! How many cliches can you fit into one rant? And a very long lyrics sheet that no one is actually going to read. Sir, you need to start a blog.

  33. Anonymous, people who judge and generalize like you just did are scary.

  34. Anonymous7:58 PM

    Yeah, for a person who has no respect for the person writing or anything she writes about, you sure read a lot of this blog. Look at the pretty pictures and move on!

  35. hartage10:47 PM

    People often accuse others what they hate most about themselves. Same can be said about what they see in the mirror.

    Anonymous, as others have said. If you don't agree with or like what you see here, move on. If you have so much to say, start your own blog. Seems like you reading this blog is a waste of your time and effort. Don't let us keep you from reading blogs that you DO agree with.

  36. to hell with all this philisophical malarky. what i want to know is if that singletrack is legal for knobby tires? looks sweet!

    there's an old saying that goes: "if you're not a rebel in your twenties you're a coward. if you haven't sold out by the time you're thirty you're a fool." i think moving to alaska is the de facto alternative option to selling out.

    wv = valimmen

  37. Hey Sean,

    The singletrack is perfectly legal as long as you are willing to drag your bike up 3,000 vertical feet of mud, roots and talus. A couple of times, I've seen guys in body armor who pushed their downhill bikes all the way up there (mad props to them). It would be a hell of a descent - way beyond my skill set. But, I agree. I would almost be worth the risk of killing myself for a few blissful pedal strokes on the ridges around here.

  38. Anonymous10:27 PM

    I've always thought of my home (which I've owned for over 20 years)as my basecamp. It frees me to go out and do wild things, knowing I have a shelter I can call my own waiting for me at the end of the day (or week, or month, depending on the adventure). Just another perspective, neither right nor wrong.

  39. I have to go with the majority on this one. All the scare tactics and cliches seem something a mother tells her children so that she, herself, can feel secure.

    Life is full of things we can't control, its how you decide to deal with the uncertainties...and what your idea of happiness and living truly is.

    Working and accumulating wealth is great, but what is it all if you don't enjoy life along the way? It seems so many people miss the little things in life being caught up with how much money and stuff they have. When all that is lost, what are you left with?

    I would rather spend a day with you or in your shoes than with/be someone who lives a superficial life and finds "happiness" in living up to every cliche of what happiness supposedly is.

    Live on...be true to Jill-self! :-)

  40. If anything when I turned 30 I had even less "stuff" than I did when I was in my 20's. Posessions become less and less important as you grow and find that the really good stuff in life is friends and family. Possesions are just the stuff that clutters the path.

  41. Another great writer on turning 30...

    I was thirty.  Before me stretched the portentous, menacing road of a new decade.   Thirty—the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair.  F. Scott Fitgerald, The Great Gatsby


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