Showing posts from August, 2009

Cairn Peak

I set my alarm for 7 a.m. based on this forecast: Monday, mostly cloudy with isolated showers. Chance of precipitation 20 percent. If that isn't a promising weather forecast, I don't know what is. "Monday's the day," I thought. "The day to bag my biggest prize so far - Cairn Peak."

The sound of the alarm dragged me out of bed feeling the way I usually do in the morning - like someone stomped all over my head while I was sleeping. I shuffled over to the window to see nothing but a gray blank slate - a thick bank of fog. I groaned and went back to bed. The snooze button went off nine minutes later, and again nine minutes after that. Alertness began to creep in to my grumpy daze. I remembered that during high-pressure systems in the late summer, fog tends to settle low while clear skies open up high. Maybe ... maybe it could be done after all.

I set out in the haze with nothing but faith to guide me. Sure enough, after I climbed 1,800 feet out of the Twin…

No agenda

"What are you training for right now?" is a common question I hear from my friends.

"Nothing," I answer. "I'm not training at all."

They usually look perplexed. As long as they've known me, I've had some sort of epic event marked in red pen on my calendar, even if it was months away. Right now, smaller goals are only penciled in, lightly, and in the meantime I don't have any tangible motivation to ride my bike.

So I just ride my bike.

On Friday, I followed a sucker hole to the Valley, giggling out loud when I first glimpsed my shadow amid the swirling clouds. Tourist traffic was light that day, and the Steep Creek trailhead was closed due to bear activity, so I had the rare privilege of having the Dredge Lake Trails all to myself. I laughed and sang along with my iPod and looped the moss-covered corridors as filtered sunlight flickered through the trees. Two hours passed in what seemed like a dozen rapid heartbeats. I returned home soaked in r…

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 …

New project

I have been taking it fairly mellow these past couple of days - low-key run on the Mount Jumbo trail yesterday, and a mud shower of a bike ride up the Perseverance Trail today. I was definitely starting to feel some muscle fatigue and soreness from the running. It was good to do something else today, although I have to say that after three months of basking in the blissfully ordinary weather of the Lower 48, I am not digging the rain riding, what with the head-to-toe mud splatters and big pieces of grit in my teeth (I know, I know. Fenders. Now where did I stash those?)

I took this picture today lest anyone accuse me of no longer riding my bicycle. I learned that if you place your camera on your bike seat and set the self-timer, you come out with an bike's eye image, as if your bike were taking a picture of you, rather than the other way around.

But now, with the reality of autumn sinking in, I have started sitting down with the 45 minutes of idle free time I have in the day (I can …

Ditch trail

Living out of a suitcase for four months hasn't bothered me at all until today, when I was suiting up for a run with Abby on the Treadwell Ditch Trail, and all three pairs of running shoes were in various states of muddy and wet. I probably have an extra pair of running shoes stashed away somewhere; I may even have a boot drier. But today I had to pull on one of my wet pairs, green slime still glistening on the laces, a musty aroma of mildew on the mesh, bits of bark pressing down on my toes and muddy water gurgling out of the soles, as I contemplated the life of a runner in Juneau.

I am really starting to hit my stride with trail running ... starting to think about all the places I can take it ... starting to think about ways I can improve it ... starting to (gulp) enjoy it. If I can bear to leave my bike at home, there's still a whole lot of terrain surrounding me that I have yet to experience. And while walking can be relaxing, running tends to get you there faster, with lar…

Trickling toward fall

All around me now are subtle first hints of fall. Deeper chills in the morning air. Red leaves on the mountain ash berries. Devil's club wilting. Fireweed blossoms closing. Alpine ground cover showing hints of yellow. Oh, and then there's the nonstop rain. That's a definite sign of fall in Juneau.

I think I have finally found a place to live in Juneau. It's not available for another few weeks, and it's quite small, but it's cheap, secluded, scenic, cat-friendly and serves all of my needs - mainly, a dry place to rest my head and my bikes, with a shower and a garden hose to keep them both clean. Everything else is just excess. It's out in Fritz Cove, which is about 10 miles north of town. It will be my first time living on the mainland - no more Douglas Island, which makes me sad. But this place also doesn't require me to make any longterm commitment, which makes me happy.

I am still moving slowly toward my resolve to start up a training routine. Doing wha…

Over the hill

I came home from work at 11 p.m. last night with four big bags of groceries. Libby came out of her bedroom to wish me an early happy birthday just as I started spreading the contents all over the counter ... five pounds of chicken, red and yellow peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, red onion, cherry tomatoes, marinade, skewers ... the makings of my birthday kabobs. "Are you going to make those tonight?" she asked.

"I have to," I said. "I'm going to try to hike up McGinnis tomorrow and I expect it will take most of the day." I arranged the mountain of vegetables I had to slice up at midnight. "I'm going over a hill on my 30th birthday. Get it?"

Libby smiled with a skeptical sort of smirk. "How much stuff do you do exclusively for the benefit of your blog?"

I feigned insult. "It's not a blog gimmick! I've been wanting to walk over that hill forever! Tomorrow is my day off and the weather's not supposed to be that bad. It…


Today's my birthday.
It's just a number, they say
As time trickles down

On a rainy Monday

It rained 1.5 inches today. I went for a two-hour run on the Lemon Creek Trail (can you believe that raging whitewater is a "creek?" In Utah, major rivers have lower flows than that.) Anyway, everything about the run felt strangely exhilarating - the slimy surface of the trail, the salt water streaming down my face, the clattering of raindrops as they bounced through tree-branch filters, the thick mist blowing sideways in 25 mph wind gusts, the icy plunges into knee and thigh-deep side streams and puddles. I hate this kind of weather, but I was loving that run.

My Achilles tendons are really starting to feel better. The stretching pain only manifests itself when I take big strides, or pedal hard. I think I am ready to start riding regularly again, and am considering it - you know, training - unless we get another long block of sunlight (in which case I'll be traipsing through the mountains for all Juneau's long, wet, quickly approaching rainy season is worth, and I do…

Seeking shelter

Gray weekend. Steady rain, lazy to the last minute, and then, Sunday morning, just as three days of wind and rain strengthened to a howling peak, I went for a ride. Booties and a fleece hat in August, and after the precipitation soaked through, water streamed down my cheeks and into my mouth. It tasted familiar. Like salt and melon-cucumber shampoo, with hints of peat moss and rotting salmon. The taste of early fall.

Low tide. Chum salmon flopped around in a few inches of water at the mouth of Fish Creek, their bodies bleached and flaking, their mouths gaped and gulping at the soaked air. The rest of their lives could probably be measured in minutes, but by nature's cruel design they had already been dead for a while, struggling mere feet from the ocean they were born to escape. I wondered what their offspring would find when they returned here. Would they see the same dead end?

Heavy fog. Fishing boats flickered in and out of the clouds like ghosts in a postmortem search for kings.…

Enjoying the break

I am still for the most part staying off my bike. I got out for a 30-mile ride the other day and felt Achilles pain toward the end. To tell you the truth, the pain's not even that bad. But my heel doesn't seem to hurt at all when I walk, and right now, I'm really enjoying the walking. For this super-short window of time between when the snow melts and falls again, so much new terrain opens up that it seems almost a shame to hold yourself to bikeable trails. In Juneau, if you really want to get out, you have to go where your bike can't.

Yesterday, my friend Abby and I headed up to the Douglas Island Ridge via the Dan Moller trail. Dan Moller is one of my favorite winter bike trails, well-used and often even groomed by snowmobiles. It's not so much a trail in the summer as it is a wooden staircase followed by spongy tundra.

Abby is a super-fast runner who can only drag herself down to my speed by schlepping around her 1-year-old son, Elias.

Even as the bushwhacking drag…


Thanks to those who sent me nice e-mails and comments after my post yesterday. I really do make an effort to not get too personal with my blog, because I recognize that my boss, distant ex's, and a fair number of strangers peruse it. But sometimes I crave the catharsis of a private journal keeper, and my only real outlet is this blog.

It felt good to whine a little. Now it's time to take action. I was moved by Elden aka Fat Cyclist's latest post, "The Funeral and What's Next." Because the World Wide Web of blogs is in fact a small, tight-knit community, most probably already know that his wife died last week of the cancer she has been fighting for years. Having recently met the man, I was upset by the news, but deeply moved by his strong resolve to move forward. I thought, "If he can find the courage to move on with his life, I certainly can."

So in an effort to avoid flailing around in uncertainty, I've decided to set 10 goals for the near future…

Thunder Mountain

A landlord called and cancelled an appointment on me today because she already rented her apartment out to someone who weaseled their way in before me. I am beginning to get that "I'm going to be homeless forever" feeling in my gut, and honestly, it's not for lack of trying. I could be trying harder, and I could be less picky or more willing to blow all of my income down a rent hole. Sometimes I think about just pitching my tent in campsite No. 5 at the Mendenhall Lake Campground, which was my first "place" in Juneau. I've been thinking a lot lately about my first days in Juneau, because they were exactly three years ago, and they were filled with a lot of the same desires and uncertainties. But those days, those rainy homeless days in August 2006, were also filled with hope. Sometimes I feel like this second go-around is lacking in that regard.

I had planned to spend the morning dealing with my housing issues, but that call and another discouraging e-…