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.