Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year's

In 1999, I spent New Year's Eve wedged into a procession of people on the Las Vegas Strip, clinging to my friend's backpack as we were involuntarily nudged through the advancing crowd like pebbles in a glacier. I remember stealing glances far above the blaze of lights, squinting in vain to see stars, and secretly hoping that Y2K would come and plunge the shimmering chaos into relatively peaceful darkness.

In 2009, I walked away from downtown Juneau with a small group of good friends, squealing with equal parts delight and shock from the sudden transition of the overheated Alaskan bar to 5-degree air, and above us the new moon blazed so bright that we could see both shadows and stars. I felt a sense of peace and well-being, even hope, for the new decade.

One of my resolutions for 2010 is a little more focus and a little less flightiness, from my writing to my riding to my simple domestic chores. But I also vowed not to turn away opportunities to spend time with friends, even if it means setting aside plans and goals. (In past winters, I have been uber-focused, much to the detriment of my social life.) So on Thursday I went for a last-of-the-decade hike with Bjorn. We returned to Thunder Mountain, both silently hoping we would see the wolf pack we spotted on solstice, even though we knew it was more than unlikely. Severe wind-loading on the snow wall kept us off the summit, but that's OK. Views aren't bad below the avalanche danger zone.

On New Year's Day, four of us managed to motivate early for a crust excursion on the Dan Moller Trail. We were a strange crew - two walkers, a skier and a bike pusher, but we chatted our way up the icy slope. Libby and Geoff K. had to break off early to return and prepare cupcakes and sliders for the party that night, but Chris D. and I continued biker/skier to the ridge. It was a cold afternoon, with my thermometer registering 7 degrees and a brisk wind blowing along the ridgeline.

The snow was, quite fantastically, horrible for both of us (since skiers love powder and snow bikers love crust, it's rare for both to be dissatisfied.) But it's been more than a week since we've had any sort of snow, and there's been quite a bit of rain in there, followed by deep freeze, and the snow was so hard and rutted out by days of use that it was body-jarring brutal. Chris described it well as similar to being pulled into coral reef and dragged along the rough, jagged bottom. I lowered Puglsey's tire pressure to 6 psi just to absorb the shock and still took a beating. A few times, I dropped into ruts so deep I couldn't bounce out and had to brake and bail. Chris, who is a skilled skier, eventually just took his skis off and walked a good deal of the downhill.

Today I returned to Dan Moller, sans bike, with the Cliff House crew - my ex Geoff, Shannon and Dan - for a snowshoe run-hike. I should clarify that the boys brought snowshoes. I didn't even bother with them because I had been up there the day before and knew that most of the trail was concrete, and suspected that even the ridge had enough crust to support my weight.

The guys planned to traverse the ridge over to Mount Jumbo, which I didn't have time to complete before work, but I still had to keep their ambitious pace to my turn-around point. Shannon put the sentiment of the day well when we crested yet another little knoll, facing the tangerine glow over the Inside Passage, and said with dramatic sarcasm, "Man, that view just sucks. I hate living here."

Shannon and I were fairly amazed that we made it from the trailhead to the high point on the ridge in just an hour and a half, and it wasn't even difficult. Geoff pointed out that it's usually easier to move faster because it takes less time, and if more people realized that, he wouldn't win so many races. Ha.

I still have no idea what 2010 will hold. There are so many uncertainties and unknowns and for now I'm committed to just roll with it, let any goals and plans come to me when I'm ready, and not try to wedge myself uncomfortably into the flow of the crowd just because I feel a compulsion to always be moving forward. Time ultimately decides, and I'm OK with that. As long as I have a little help from my friends. Happy New Year, everyone.


  1. Hey Jill, It's Andrew Davies. I work with Nicole Humphrey (now Nicole Furness). Your name came up and she showed me you blog. What is up? I haven't heard form you forever. Check out my blog at

    Your pictures are awesome. It looks like you are enjoying the cold of Alaska.

  2. Just go with the flow Jill. Enjoy you're adventures. You have entire life of adventures lying ahead of you. Most of all enjoy time with your friends, especially those that are closest to you.

    I'm looking forward to another year of following your life in Alaska.

    Nigity - "Always keep a smile in your heart."

  3. I hate asking myself the question "what do I do now?" And have no answer for myself. Thankfully, I feel like the New Year, especially one that starts a New Decade is the perfect time to try and figure that out.

    I love following your blog!

    Happy New Year!

  4. Happy New Year, Jill,

    I found your blog by chance recently, and I just wanted to say that I really like this blog. Pictures are nice and it’s so good to see nice girls doing the kind of things that you do. I’m really disappointed with all the fashion blogs out there. To me, your blog is really a bright spot in the blogger’s universe  I have a blog myself (or actually two together with my husband) about outdoors activities, judo and books… I guess it’s not so interesting for you since I write in Norwegian, but I do post a lot of photos ( The other blog is a photo blog, it’s not that adventurous, but I write in English, take a look if you want:

    By the way, I bought your book the other day and I’m looking forward to read it.

    All the best from Norway!
    - Birgit

  5. Hey Jill - I stumbled on your blog several weeks ago and have enjoyed keeping up with it. I received your book for c-mas and am thoroughly enjoying it! Thanks for the great pics and writing!! I'm looking forward to reading what 2010 brings!! Happy New Year.


  6. Oswald Chambers once said "we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should rather be an expression of breathless expectation." You have every reason to be excited about the future!

  7. "I'm committed to just roll with it"

    Great game plan. No sense getting uptight about things needlessly. There will be enough opportunities for that later. Happy New Year!

  8. great post jill! lots of wisdom in the last paragraph...your subartic blog helps me to keep perspective regarding cold weather cycling...winters in oklahoma are comparatively mild...when I am about to wimp out on my commute, I read your blog and saddle up.
    Happy New Year!

  9. Got your book in the mail today. Super excited to read it. Thanks for writing and thanks for the pictures.

  10. Hey, Jill, great attitude for the new year! Hold that thought. Happy New Year.

  11. alaska is a dream of mine. you make it look so possible.


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