Holding on to those past sunny days

The sun went away today, and I get the feeling that this time, it's going to be for a while. The last vestiges of the holidays have fallen away, 2009 is officially history, and I think most of us are asking ourselves, "What now?" I have a weather forecast full of sleet and snain and freezing rain, and a big question mark about where this new year is going to go. I have a lot of options. Too many options, not enough motivation, not enough courage.

Tuesday was the nicest day yet — temperatures in the high teens, no wind, pure sunlight. My body chose this time to come to come down with a heavy head cold, so my energy levels have been low. My friend Bjorn was leaving town Wednesday, so we went on a mellow goodbye walk across Mendenhall Lake. He fed me lemon ginger tea and we talked about how much he's dreading his upcoming trip, which I find hilarious, because his plan is to ride a bicycle from San Diego to somewhere on the East Coast via the southern states — basically a dream trip in my mind. What's even funnier about Bjorn's planned trip is that he's not a cyclist in any capacity. On the lake, the day before leaving, he asked me what kind of bike he should buy in California ("Um, probably a 26" rigid mountain bike with slick tires"), whether he should get one of those "fat butt" gel seats ("Um, not recommended") and where he should ride through New Mexico ("Just avoid I-10.") The final stab about Bjorn's bike trip is that it's not my bike trip, and it's going to ruin what was really my last best chance to learn basic mountaineering skills before summer sets in. No more sun, no more mountains. Suddenly, I feel more alone that ever before.

My wide-open question now is, what should I do in 2010? What do you think I should do?


  1. Besides take tons of pictures and write blog posts to go with? ^_^

    I'd say "Do something that scares you," but it's cliché and redundant--you're plenty good at that already. So the best I can offer is "Find something to be make-a-fool-of-yourself giddy about, that you've never been giddy about before."

  2. slay peaks anyway.

  3. Jacqui1:18 AM

    Follow your heart and Im sure you'll find your way. Thanks for another year of blogging, it's the highlight of my day. I live vicariously through you and your adventures! I hope part of your plan is to continue working on your book!

  4. Isn't there someone else who can teach you basic mountaineering skills? Just wondering whether that's really off the table.

    I have no major plans in 2010 but am really digging learning to ski. Planning to go to Leslie and Keith's to tour in February. Mabye you should do that too!

  5. Investment banking!!! Pant suits, meetings, what could be better???

    Actually, I like your "roll with it" scheme from a few posts ago. It's not like nothing will come to mind or come up.

    Happy 2010! How's your tire pressure?

  6. This is kind of funny because I just wrote about Michigan's cloudiness, and Juneau was mentioned as the cloudiest observed city with only 30% annual average possible sunshine. The Michigan cities range between 46 and 53%, but it feels like so much less. I feel some of your pain.

  7. Dust the old snowboard off, wax it up and go hike for your turns up high :)

  8. Scott7:47 AM

    My advice? Relax and stop over-thinking things. Take life as it comes. You seem like a fabulous and attractive woman who has a lot of varied talents and interests, but you are definitely wound up really tight. Not a criticism- I'm a bit that way myself. Over-thinking every decision will just wind you up even tighter.

    You may not know exactly what the future holds, but you DO have your health, have a very interesting life and live in one of the most beautiful places on earth (I've been there many times). It's corny, but bloom where you are planted.

  9. Anonymous8:34 AM

    Sorry to hear you're feeling discouraged.

    Suggestion for Bjorn: Surly LHT. Back in the 80s I did two trips from Canada to Mexico. No preparation, worked out fine.

    The spring will come.

  10. Consider a possible icefield ski trip with me and some other women in early June. Not 100% yet (it is only Janauary after all) but the idea is being tossed around.
    Whatchya think?

  11. I'm wondering what to do in 2010 myself.

    But for Bjorn, somebody buy the man some Adventure Cycling maps.

  12. Snow machining. Break trail for the iti.

  13. Work on the book. Just received Ghost Trails today, thanks for signing it too. Cheers

  14. Mixed Martial Arts?

  15. Anonymous2:50 PM

    You can find partners in your area
    at rockclimbing.com or supertopo.com alot of rock climbers
    moonlight as moutaineers too. ~Bob~

  16. Anonymous2:58 PM

    Also check out a book called Mountaineering: Freedom of The Hills. It covers everything from
    basic skills to advanced. ~Bob~

  17. nice skier4:13 PM

    Ok, remember that you asked first. Learn to ski! Ski touring, alpine/randonee/backcountry, skate ski, classic racing - pick one (or several) and immerse yourself in a whole new world of fun! Then go ski touring on the icefield with Deb. Deb - it's NEVER too early to plan an icefield trip ;-)

  18. Anonymous5:07 PM

    Whatever you do, have fun! Having just finished Ghost Trails, I have to say that I wouldn't mind one bit if you were to finish the next book, but don't rush it on my account. Val

  19. If Bjorn needs a support crew in NM, look us up. We are in northern NM after moving from Juneau and happy to help Juneautopians coming through.

  20. Alaska/Canada to Patagonia is my dream ride, but not in a million years is that going to happen for me. I think it's something you could shoot for, though.

  21. Come visit your sister and new nephew!

    Take care of yourself and feel better!

  22. Thats a really good question, you've already done so much. From following your blog, you've obvi had a crazy year. What about the concept of just kinda...not thinking about planning something and just simply existing for a few months. Don't focus on "what, what, what" rather coast along and see if anything develops on its own? Give it till like...April 1st or something (3months) and then reassess.

    When in doubt, take a break to sort shit out!

    Just a thought.

  23. Ok, you asked...I would suggest a biking goal of some sort, but not of the Iditarod variety...maybe the Susitna 100 or something similar. Perhaps you could make a goal of a high finish this year. I think a goal would give you structure right now. Second, work on your book. I perceive that your dream life would be writing books and freelance articles for a living. It would seem that doing something to reach toward that goal should be in the mix somehow. Perhaps take some lessons or experiences from the Divide tour and write articles about them and submit to magazines. Third, relax and let life come. You've had a tough year, to say the least. Things like happiness, relationships, and fulfulment seem to become more elusive the more you chase them. Enjoy the journey and let the other things happen!

  24. Take your beautiful self to valdez to climb ice. Hire a guide or make the paper pay for it or just make a friend. I think they have an ice fest...
    And don't hit yourself in the face with your adze.

  25. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Jill, face it, you need to move to Whitehorse. Don't listen to people who tell you not to over think things, or be patient, or stop eating goldfish. What do they know anyhow with their zen-like well organized lives, nutritious meals and inner peace.

    C'mon... we've got Smarties!

    Every Yukoner in Existence.

    PS Where else can you be 'normal' if you ride a single speed Pugsley up a mountain at -40?

  26. Thanks everyone. I really was looking for ideas that originated outside my own head to help with this drifting feeling I've been having. These posts pretty much reaffirm my choices.

    And Deb, YES! I really want to ski the icefield this summer. I am headed up to Banff at the end of the month for Touring 101 and my friends are going to help set me up with inexpensive AT gear. I won't be super skilled come June but I can make up for it with enthusiasm. I'm hoping to assess the conditions in June and weigh how possible it might be to come back in a different, colder, crustier season with Pugsley. :-)

    And yes, Yukoner, such is the dream. I'm still waiting for my Canadian in shining armor to whisk me away. Ha ha.

    These past three days, I've been down with a bad cold or possibly the flu; it's the sickest I've been in five years. On the plus side, I got a great amount of work done on my Divide story. It is shaping up really well. I'm pretty stoked on it right now. I wish I could somehow hole up for another couple weeks and wrap it up, but I'll likely come out of this cold and get back on my bike and spend four more months working on it.

  27. You asked…..go see your sister, do the ol touch home plate routine for a week or so, family and all that stuff….

  28. Amazing post! I totally love your site. I'm sure I'd visit here more often. Anyway, feel free to drop by my site as well. It's about valentines day gift ideas for him. Catch you there sometime.

  29. Have you thought about riding in Europe?

  30. ski, you have plenty of snow

  31. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Slay Fairweather.

  32. Jacqui4:24 AM

    I've been reading your old posts from years past and I miss the daily temperature log that you used to post. Any chance of bringing that back?

  33. Europe. I'm sure you could hook up with some cyclists and mountaineers.

  34. Keep writing! I just received your Ghost Trails book and I am halfway through it! You are truly talented so my suggestion for 2010 is to keep writing. Not just blogging but real stories, books, etc.

    Also - give the Iditarod another shot. You said in your book you felt like a rookie amongst all these "pros". You're a "pro" now. At least a seasoned veteran. Give it another go. You've got the knowledge and the training...why not?

    Just my cheap two cents.

    Ari (Rottenchester, NY)

  35. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Ditto the idea to combine your mountaineering with snowboarding back down! To any extent, this will be fun!

    whatever you decide, I know you will pursue it all with passion, and I look forward to reading about it :)

  36. I just want you to know that I look forward to your blog everyday...I am currently awaiting on a heart transplant and I live my dreams through your blog...you may not know what your next adventure will be but just know that all your fans are behind you 100% and know that you can do ANYTHING that comes your way. Keep on blogging...it's always making someone else's day. Life is so good!

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