Sunday, April 30, 2017

This really is post 2,000

If this blog were a child it would be in middle school right now, so it's probably not surprising that it has managed to amass 2,000 posts. But it seems like a milestone worth noting. Every once in a while I start typing in this space and ponder what it is, after all these years, I'm still trying to accomplish. The reasons I started the blog — to post photos, to connect with people online, to keep in touch with family and friends — all fall into the realm of social media now. I still enjoy writing long-winded (we journalists like to use the phrase "long-form") adventure reports, so I'm unlikely to dump the blog anytime soon (at least not before its high school graduation.) And I do need a place to post photos, because I will never join Instragram, never never, don't ask me again. 

Interesting, I've recently received a steady stream of requests from random PR people for gear reviews, sponsored posts, even a junket or two. I'm at a loss for why these started now, when this blog  has never been a gear blog, is far less popular than it was eight years ago, and the medium in general is about five years dead. "Jill Outside" must have ended up on some type of marketing list. Although I have to say no, I find it amusing nonetheless. This just isn't a commercial blog.

 This weekend, most of the Front Range was slammed by a frigid storm that raged for much of Friday and Saturday. Because it's so late in April, everyone treated the snow like an anomaly, but I have Facebook's "On This Day" feature to remind me otherwise. This storm was reminiscent of our first week in Boulder, except for we now have actual furniture to snuggle into, and a huge stack of firewood in the garage (last April we scrambled to chop downfall in the yard.) Yes, it's just Colorado's boring-old, annual, "Nearly May Blizzard."

My fatigue rollercoaster, thyroid or whatever it maybe, has been on the upswing. I felt much more perky than I had earlier in the week. The only annoyance was my left knee, which I had so graciously slammed into a rock on Wednesday. After the crash, an odd goose egg rose out of the top of my kneecap, which had also been scrubbed of its skin. The whole joint was painful and didn't want to bend much, so I didn't bother bending it for a couple of days. I limped into my allergy clinic, and when the nurse saw my right arm — which also lost a fair amount of skin — she asked, "What happened to you?"

"I fell," I said with the upmost derision. "I tripped over a rock, and I went down." Then, to emphasize how disgusted I was with myself, added, "I don't take my falls so well. I'm not 20 anymore" ... forgetting, conveniently, that I earned the nickname "Gimpy McStiff" in my early 20s precisely because I couldn't take a fall then, either.

 I also remembered advice from my mom, which she repeated the many times I bashed my knee as a clumsy little kid — "If you don't bend it now, it's never going to bend."

"But it hurts."

"Well, it's going to keep hurting until you bend it. Now try."

On Saturday, as temperatures plunged into the low 20s, fierce wind and snow raged through thick fog, and more than a foot of snow covered the ground, I decided it was as good of a time as any to try.

 It was 23 degrees when Beat and I set out in the late afternoon for the usual route to Bear Peak. This is the most snow I've seen up there yet — despite climbing Bear well over a dozen times during the winter — and it's always fun to view the familiar in such drastically different light. I was limping, but as expected the swollen knee began to loosen up as we slogged our way up the snow-covered road. I put my snowshoes on to hike through the deeper snow on the trail. Beat did not; it was the only reason I was mostly able to keep up with him.

 The scenery just got better as we climbed, where the burned forest was covered in hoarfrost.

 Thick hoar near the summit.

 An eerie apparition of Bear Peak.

 Beat on the rime-coated rocks. The wind was howling and I'd guess the windchill was zero degrees, at best. It was quite the exciting place to visit on April 29. It felt like we were standing atop a jagged 4,000-meter summit in the Alps, not lowly Bear Peak.

 My knee took a bit of a beating while making the hard bends necessary to complete the steep, snowy climb, so I was rather grumpy during the descent. I was definitely in pain. But at some point you have to decide if something is "valid" pain — as in the kind of pain that warns you injury is inevitable — or "erroneous" pain — as in the kind of pain your mother told you to ignore, lest your knee lock up and never bend again. I decided it was probably the latter.

 According to the closest official measuring station, 14.5" of snow fell in our neighborhood during this storm. Despite the colder temperatures, it was heavy, wet spring snow, so there's a lot of water ready to soak into the grass over the next two days. This is good news for the fire season, although if we don't continue to see spring rain, it's going to be a long summer yet.

 After the hummingbird feeder froze solid, Beat brought it inside. On Sunday morning, he made new sugar water and returned it to the balcony. Since it's so early in the spring, we currently just have a pair of hummingbirds, a male and a female — as far as we can tell. But the two of them attacked the feeder the moment it was back. They didn't even wait for us to leave. I wondered where those tiny birds went to sit out that storm. Wherever it was, they sure did come home hungry.

 My knee wasn't much better on Sunday, but it wasn't worse either, so I set out to hike the Walker Ranch loop while Beat ran. I figured a foot of new snow that was rapidly turning to slush meant that neither of us would be breaking any speed records.

 I was rather grateful for the slush, as it necessitated a slow pace whether my knee was working or not. Still heavy, shin-deep snow requires some hard maneuvering. My knee will bend when I make it bend, but it's definitely not the happiest knee.

Despite the soreness, I was stoked to just be outside and moving through the world. Mid-morning bliss.

Mule deer were out and about, nibbling on all the fresh greens. The resident elk herd also bedded down near this spot last night, leaving behind an impressive mess. It was strange to see these signs of spring, even though they've been around for a while.

 My favorite view from Walker, looking through the window of Eldorado Canyon toward Denver. After 3.5 hours of knee-raising marches and trudging to cover 9.5 miles, my knee had loosened significantly and I felt no pain. But it only took five minutes of sitting to stiffen up again. I think the lesson here is to just keep walking. 


  1. Jill - I'm so glad you started this blog and keep it going. I feel like I've come to know you somewhat over the years of reading it, even tho' we've never met. You inspire many with your writings and photographs. Thanks! (I hope we might get to meet some day.)

  2. Jill congratulations on your 2000th post. I hope it takes you a long time to graduate! Today's photos are sensational. Here's hoping the knee recovers quickly for you.

  3. Wow! 2000 posts. That is pretty impressive. Here's to 2000 more! Hope the knee is feeling better.

  4. WOW....2000! I don't think I've caught ALL of them, but I do say I've read MOST of your posts over the years (I started reading when you were still in Juneau...which seems like a lifetime ago). Great pics (as always) Jill! It's just beautiful where you are...glad you are heeding your Mom's advice and getting out there...would have been a shame to miss the Almost May snow...might be your last for a while. Your shot of Bear Peak is FABULOUS! That's worthy of being blown up big and frames (seriously!) Hopefully you are on an upswing w/ your medications and will have a wonderful spring OUTSIDE!

  5. I just looked back and realized I've been following your blog (silently) since 2011. I still enjoy this dying medium and appreciate all the inspiring content you post! Keep up the good work :)

  6. I'm glad you have 2000 posts. This is one of those blogs that I sometimes forget about (I'll go ahead and blame your lack of Instagram), but always come back to. And then I sink right in all over again, and read dozens of posts in one sitting. That probably sounds like an insult--no one likes to be forgotten--but I truly don't mean it to be. I love this blog.

  7. 2,000 posts is really impressive!


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