The first week
I've been getting up early as well to chase away an obnoxious woodpecker who has taken up residence outside the house, and feed the goldfish in the outdoor pond. They were surviving just fine before we arrived, but I've taken a liking to the fish and now think of them as "pets." Although I have several projects that should take priority, this week I found myself pulling a camp chair next to a window and working on my Iditarod book. I figure I can probably finish quickly if I keep momentum, and it's going well. Fun project in an ideal setting. I'm stoked on life right now.
There were a couple of trips to town, but mostly I hung out in the mountains and loved it. I've felt hints of how living up here might become lonely, but it suits me. I made plans to have coffee with a couple of local journalists next week, and I have no doubt I'll start to meet folks on the trails. Hopefully I don't become too much of a hermit, but having scenic, private spaces to write and all these trails out my front door is ideal. Beat loves having his own space and a burly human-powered commute into work, plus he's enjoying his new job, so this is pretty much the dream.
It's funny how working on a memoir-type project helps me piece together specific details that I'd all but forgotten. While re-mapping the events of the first day of the ITI, I remembered a crash on the glare ice of the Skwentna River, about two miles from checkpoint two. I've convinced myself this crash is the likely culprit for this injury. A wind gust caught me off guard and washed out the rear wheel, and I landed directly on the palm of my right hand. Specifically, I remember now an electric shock of pain through my wrist, and the stem was knocked out of alignment. I put that crash out of my mind because there were (embarrassingly) so many others during the ITI. But it fits the profile of acute CTS, and explains why I had no issues at all until I arrived at Skwentna Roadhouse, where my right hand was suddenly and inexplicably numb (I'm generally very aware of my own physical discomforts, because I'm really quite a pansy when it comes to pain. There was no hint of numbness before that point, even a couple of hours earlier.)
I looped around to climb Fern Canyon, which is a mean route, just mean. The trail is more like a staircase of boulders and roots, ascending 2,100 feet in just 1.2 miles — average grade of 32 percent and a max of 60 percent. I'm already bogged down by the altitude, so I wheezed my way to a 57-minute mile (and two tenths) to ascend Bear Peak. If I make Fern Canyon a regular part of my afternoon routine, I figure I'll either finally achieve the mountain running fitness I've long desired, or blow up my lungs entirely.
Selfie on top of Bear Peak. I took many selfies this week. I make no apologies. I'm just so excited to be physically present in this place.
I could see my house from the top! It did take some deep zooming in Photoshop to find it again in this photo.