It's a perfect Thursday evening on the longest day of the year. Writing on the deck tonight, enjoying the long setting sun. I'm doing a bit more of the writing on this journal these days, as Elaine is spending her time writing THE BOOK. It's going to be good…more soonish.
The mountains are calm and summer has taken hold. Off in the distance, the echo of the railroad, two valleys over, rings. Thrushes and blue birds dance among the trees, dandelions and bright yellow plants in front of the home. A fox makes his way across the meadow, doing laps, scouting the terrain for food. Truthfully, he's practically tame, but I enjoy watching the wild in him nonetheless. The sounds of a summer evenings – the creek far below, and the birds singing – are completely relaxing.
The local fox.
We went for another ski today. We tried to get up Jasper Peak and failed. Not so much failed though, as simply listened to what the mountains were telling us, and observing the signs. A massive cornice had fallen, scattering debris across our path, no more than a day before. As we were putting on our boots and crampons, readying for the long, steep climb up the east face, rockfall dropped off the cliffs directly adjacent to the climb, echoing a menacing sound across the glacial basin and sending roller balls of snow a couple dozen feet away from our perch. Things were warming up too fast, neither of us felt good about it, and we made the decision to pull the plug. We want to be in these mountains for a long time, and the way to do that is to know when to turn around.
I've come the point in life where this no longer bothers me so much. Oh sure, I like to reach a summit as much as the next person, and the adrenaline and feeling of satisfaction from skiing off a peak is undeniable. But it's not my identity anymore, and being free from that burden allows for a richer experience. More and more, I just enjoy being out there. It's the woods and mountain time that matters – the smells, the sounds, the sights. I enjoy spending the whole day out there, and not just the moment for the peak and descent. I love watching Elaine's progression in the sport. As long as she's having fun, and it's an adventure, I suspect the sky is the limit for her. I look forward to sharing that ride, and the ride of life, with her. I've also learned that turning around in the mountains teaches lessons and inevitably leads to greater focus, better planning and more success in the future. Mountain sports are not gym sports. While you do indeed have some control – you decide to wake up, how to prepare, smart choice in routes and keeping yourself fit - you don't have all the control. It's not like going to the gym and doing squats. There are other forces at work.
I love the ritual of preparation. I enjoy coming home from work and piling all my clothes into the perfect order for dawn patrol excursions. It doesn't matter if it's skiing or biking or hiking…the preparation is the reset button, the zen-like meditation faze before the act. And oh the memories it congers. Tonight I was lubing my bike chain with an old bottle of Tri-Flow, and all these things came flooding back from the simple smell of the $8.95 bottle of bike lube. Wednesday night rides with the Mad River Riders. Muddy granny gear climbs up Plum Creek and behind GMVS. Fig newtons, thumb shifters, my old Rockhopper and mud bogs.
I think we all have a tendency to focus on the future too much. But then we all reminisce about the past a lot too. Maybe instead of reminiscing or looking ahead too much, we should focus on the here and now. Maybe the place were in is exactly where we're supposed to be, and the time is right now. Here's to creating new memories today, and every day to come.
Happy Summer Solstice!