Monday, October 05, 2009

Overtrained for regular life

People only seem to call me when I am traipsing up and down mountains. Twenty hours a day, I am inside a building, surrounded by all kinds of social media, but the phone calls ... from my friends, from my boss, from my family ... only seem to come when I am clinging to Sitka spruce roots on a precarious ledge of some muddy slope that absolutely should not be located in cell-phone reception range ... but is, all the same. I guess maybe those calls come then because those hours, the morning hours, are the hours I'm supposed to be "around." But, lately, I haven't been "around." I've been everywhere else.

"Can't talk long," I told a friend from Utah who called Saturday morning. "I'm about to head down and the trail has turned really slimy. I'm going to need both hands."

My friend groaned. "Where are you?"

"Grandchild," I said.

"Again? Weren't you just there, like, last week?"

"Probably," I said. "But I have to get these in while I can. We had another nice day today. Can you believe it? That's like, two, at least, in October. More than we usually get in the whole month. I have to take advantage while I can, because you never know when the clouds are finally going to sink in for 36 days of rain. That's how many we had last October."

"There aren't 36 days in October," she said.

"I think the streak carried over into November," I said.

"Don't you have better things to do?" she asked.

"Oh, tons. I haven't gotten anything productive done, well, besides my job, since, well, probably since August."

But it's true - around here, I have to roll with the weather. I just have to. Every day, I track the forecasts and monitor the cloud ceiling and gauge the snow line - the combination of which threaten, every day, to shut me out of most of Juneau's high country until next summer. And every time a good weather window opens up, I think "this could be the last one." And I suit up, and set out.

And another window opened up Sunday - high overcast, a bit of wind, but no rain. "This could be my last chance to go up Ben Stuart," I thought. Ben Stuart is one of the few established trails in town that I had not yet set foot on. It was a horrible trail ... shin deep in mucky mud and decaying slippery grass. I'm usually not a rubber boot person, but my one of my running shoes pulled off my foot in sinkholes, twice, and I had to reach into the stinky swamp and dislodge it with a sickening slurp. By the time I hit the alpine, I was grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. I plopped down and stuck my feet in a stream, watching the clear water whisk away large chunks of mud. The vegetation on the ground, ravaged by too many killing frosts, was slimy and brown. Even though I had been walking across a level basin, my heart was racing. I had a headache and felt hungry, but the thought of eating the Power Bar I had in my pack was nauseating. And as I sat soaking my aching feet in the frigid water, the thought suddenly occurred to me ... "Holy cow, I'm totally overtrained!"

Overtrained for ... what? All I've been doing since I returned to Juneau is enjoying myself. And then I enjoyed myself some more. And then I enjoyed myself into a hiking habit that sometimes stretches to upwards of 20 or even 30 hours a week, or more, with exercise that is decidedly more strenuous than the biking I usually (used to?) do. And then there was that 30-hours-in-three-days bike tour in the Yukon ... was that just last weekend? It's all a blur. All I see is mountains, mountains, mountains.

A big fall storm moved in today ... 25 mph winds, 45 degrees, 1.25 inches of rainfall. I was grateful. I did my laundry. I typed e-mails. I talked to my sister. I pet my cat. I called my friends.

I felt a little more human. A little more grounded. I put bandaids on my blisters. And checked Tuesday's weather ...

Which calls for decreasing clouds. Again.