Norway Bound!


It would not be an inaccurate statement to say Elaine and I have a thing for Norway. We’ve been there twice in the past two years, and as I’m writing this are heading over there for a third time. What can I say…it’s an awesome country that speaks to us in a number of ways. Of course it’s the hotbed of skiing, and in particular the kind of skiing Elaine and I like to do…Nordic and AT. There is so much passion and stoke for skiing in Norway, and it draws you back for more. The system of huts, the network of trails, the mountains that drop right down to the sea, the public transportation…it’s custom made for skiers. And while it is expensive, the abundance of public transportation, hostels and such make it possible to survive and even thrive without going broke. 

While we love skiing, there is a lot to see in Norway when the country is not white. It is home to a system of interconnected trails that is likely unmatched anywhere in the world. We wanted to see and experience that. Point-to-point travel across wild places brings us more joy than anything else in the world. And so, on the day after Brexit, when a $450 ticket from Denver to Oslo popped up on Hopper, we decided to jump on it. 

This trip is different from our previous two. This time we’re going there to hike. On our winter trips we missed out on some of the highlights of the country, namely the fjords and the mountains in the Jotenheimen Mountains. Simply put, there is epic stuff here that needs to be experienced…Trolltunga, Preikestolen, Bessegen Ridge and the highest peak in the country, Galdhoppigen. These are places we both want to go.


It’s a simpler trip. We’re not lugging around heavy ski bags, but instead just have our Hyperlites and backpacking gear. We plan to hike good distances and camp every day. It’ll be considerably cheaper, and we plan to only use the huts if the weather is horrible (quite possible – August and September are the rainiest months in Norway) – or we need some extra food to supplement what we’ve brought from Colorado. 

We’re not really into just picking off the popular destinations without having to work to get there. It feels much less rewarding and we feel less connected with the place. We want to log some good miles and build more base before ski season comes about. The best way I’ve found to do that is a long backpacking trip. This one certainly isn’t the PCT or CDT in size, but it’s no slouch. The goal is 300 miles in 12 days, which should be a sufficient push to build fitness. We’re starting in the fjord town of Odda, hiking up to the Hardangervidda and then making our way north across the high plateau, over a glacier and into the Jotenheimen Mountains. Along the way we plan to eat as many berries as we can, see reindeer, enjoy that high latitude light, smile a lot and live well in a wild place. We’re not completely sure where we’re going to finish (possibly the town of Sota Seter) but basically the plan is to go as far north as we can to catch a bus to Lillehammer in two weeks. This is not a designated trail or pre-defined route…we’re figuring it out as we go. 


Once in Lillehammer, our final goal of the trip is to visit the Fjellpulken factory and check out sleds. Fjellpulken makes sleds designed for ski trips. We’re doing a race in February that requires we each pull one, each weighted at 44 kg, and we also have aspirations to ski across Greenland in the future, where such a contraption is an absolute necessity. Fjellpulkens have a proven track record in polar exploration and we’re excited to check out their factory in Lillehammer. And while we’re there, we certainly hope to hike to the top of the ski jump and get fueled and energized for the upcoming Nordic ski season. It’s the hotbed of the sport and that kind of passion rubs off strong. 


Now it’s time for some sleep. Our plane touches down in Munich in six hours where we have five hours to see explore that city before it’s back to Oslo and the gateway to the Norwegian wilderness. 

71 Months of Skiing

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Back in October 2010 Elaine and I headed up to Loveland ski resort on Halloween Day. There was a certain excitement as there always is on the first ski day of the season. Truth is, the opening affair always features terrible conditions and soaring excitement. This one was no different. There was a “white strip of death” that offered a typically hazardous opening to the season. And yet being up there at 12,000 feet, feeling the slide of skis on snow, the cold autumn air, and smelling the wood smoke from the top shack on the mountain made up for any lack of pizzaz the skiing offered.

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Thanks to my newly earned job at Neptune Mountaineering, I was privy to a weekday ski pass at Loveland. And while Elaine didn’t work there yet, I was able to convince our bookkeeper Roland to put her on the Neptune list so she could buy a pass dirt cheap. It was a good move, as Loveland and all of Colorado got hammered with snow that winter. I’ve never skied more inbounds powder than I did that season, and memories of gliding silk-like on six inches of powder EVERY SINGLE TIME OUT still linger with me today. That was a great year, and a start to something kind of cool that we’ve been doing ever since.

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That Halloween Day was the first of a skiing streak that has grown impressive in numbers. We’ve skied at least one day on snow for 71 straight months. It’s nothing unusual from November to April. Those six months of the season are the gimmes…as they should be. We live three miles from a ski area, have skinning and backcountry routes out our door, and more nordic trails than most folks this side of Norway. And honestly, unless you want to become an alcoholic, there isn’t much else to do here in the winter. Skiing in the winter is our health and sanity.

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It’s something of a secret, but the best skiing in this neck of the woods – at least in terms of climbing peaks and sliding back down them – is in May, June and early July. The snow consolidates, bringing our normal extreme avalanche danger to safer levels. The Indian Peaks are a great place to go in these months, even better than the rest of the state, a result of our slightly more northern location and distance from snow destroying desert southwest dust. Skiing in May, June and July is something to be relished here, because it’s  a world class experience.

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August and September is when things get interesting. The winter powder is long gone and the corn snow of the spring is a distant memory, having turned to something more resembling ice. That said, we are blessed with many things in this area, and the one in particular that directly impacts the local year-round skier – we have more glaciers in our local mountains than anywhere else in Colorado. These aren’t your Alaska behemoth glaciers. Indeed, most of them no longer count as official glaciers since they don’t really move anymore. They are, for all purposes, permanent snowfields. But they are there and they can be skied year round.

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The skiing is marginal. In the late summer, the corn snow turns to ice which turns to something called “sun cups.” Sun cups are formed by melting pools of water in the snow that create cavities in the surface – basically, thousands and thousands of cups. These cups are not particularly fun to ski. The worst of the sun cups are nearly unskiable, so you pick your way between little paths of relative smoothness. It’s a far cry from powder skiing…it’s almost a Mad Max-style battle type of skiing. But, it’s turns on snow when most folks are sweating on the flats. It’s good and it’s worth it.

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There have been some interesting adventures over the past near six years to take the streak this far. That first summer was easy…it snowed so much. The next year was one of the driest on record. I remember right before our first CT hike skiing a 30-foot-by-30-foot patch up at the local haunt. September was relegated to some horrible turns at Saint Mary’s Glacier. Come to think of it, September often involves horrible turns at Saint Mary’s.

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The cruxiest time of the streak was back in 2014 when I had knee surgery. My surgery was somewhere around May 25. May was in the skiing books – I was making turns the day before surgery despite the impending surgery – but June was no sure thing. It was way, way, way too early to be making turns safely on my expensive new ACL, so while Elaine and her friend Danielle took a couple laps on Sundance Couloir in RMNP, I skinned around the top for two hours. It wasn’t sexy but it counted as a day of skiing on snow in June. That whole summer was a challenge, and I distinctly remember being downright angry and scared with the horrible sun cups on Saint Mary’s in September. I was like…I’m going to end my season on this junk and the year hasn’t even begun!

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Alas, it all worked out. The next real threat was last year right after our Colorado CDT trip. We were simply out of of days and time to hit the glaciers in September, and were busy driving around the state picking up caches. We tossed our skis in the car in hopes of finding something, and we did – a 20×20 foot patch on the top of Cottonwood Pass. We hiked that patch 10 times each and skied back down so many times we actually made ruts in the snow.

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It’s been a good winter and spring and we managed to keep the streak alive, our last ski being fun little couloir on the 4th of July. Since we’re heading to Norway at the end of this month and have to work the days before departure, yesterday was our designated day to ski in August. We decided to head to Isabelle Glacier. Isabelle is a little pocket mountain glacier tucked between Apache and Isabelle Peaks. It’s a gorgeous cirque and the 4-mile hike in takes the visitor past lakes, pine forests, talus, tundra, moraines and right through some amazing peaks. I’ve seen a lot of mountain ranges, but the western part of the Apache cirque is hard to beat.

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It was a good ski and a great hike. The turns were surprisingly high quality and the snow was actually kind of smooth in places. For August it was a ten! Perhaps the coolest thing about the ski was the large gaggle of crows just hanging out on the glacier. When they crowed, it echoed off the mountain walls with an eerie reverberation.

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On the hike out we were greeted with rain, hail and sleet that was predicted to turn into snow by night’s end. Fall is coming rapidly and I haven’t felt it more all year than I did yesterday afternoon. We hiked just slightly faster than the storm, and when we stopped near the trailhead to relax by a stream and watch a family of ducks feed, it caught up to us.

We got loaded back into the car just before the deluge began. Evening plans included a quick shower at home and then dinner with our good friends Erica and Bob at Crosscut. Stomach full and soul alive, we noticed through the heavy cold rain that the bank thermometer read 39°. While the satisfaction of skiing 71 straight months was significant, it was overwhelmed by the excitement of the snow-filled, skiing months to come!

Past accomplishments, medals and long streaks have their place, but they can’t compare with the giddy anticipation of future adventures. The past has been great, but the future excites me much, much more.

Roll , roll, roller skiing into fitness


One commitment I made this spring was to spend more time roller skiing. Last year we only went a paltry 15 days or so, and that’s a bit of a wasted opportunity since it’s actually easier to improve technique and fitness in the summer than in the winter. I’m not going to get much sympathy on this one, but our access to groomed nordic skiing in the winter is a ten minute drive, whereas roller skiing we can actually walk out our door and have a nice 10 kilometer route without having to drive a minute. Roads are consistent and it’s easy to work on stuff. Want a flat road to work on v2? No problem. A long climb to build your threshold fitness? We’ve got plenty on those. The only thing we don’t have out our door is rolling terrain, but alas our workplace is located in the roller skiing hotbed (I use this term very lightly) of Boulder and it’s all rolling. In addition to great terrain, there is little pressure in the summer and one can just progress at a natural pace. There are no races to break up training, few shitty weather days and less illness to contend with. It’s a great time to become a better skier.

Probably the biggest issue with roller skiing is it’s dorky as heck and there are a lot of other things you can do in the summer. You have to put ego aside a little bit and just enjoy being dorky. It’s actually a lot of fun and there is no better way to build ski specific fitness. We’ve gotten out 31 days so far this summer and the peak season is yet to come. There are few things I like better than roller skiing up Vail Pass or Mount Evans as the leaves are changing. It’s a highlight of the annual preparation ritual.


Elaine and I signed up for a ten-week Tuesday night summer roller ski training group that ended just this week. Our coach was Adam St. Pierre, a honch Boulder area Nordic racer, ex-collegiate racer, coach of the Boulder Junior Nordic Team and all around awesome dude. Elaine and I both improved a lot, which is what it’s all about. I remember back in week one how every divot and bump in the road scared the heck out of me. Ten weeks later, the hills seem a lot less steep and the confidence is way higher. On our last session I decided to do a little one ski pirouette down a fast hill, and while I didn’t crash Adam did give me a “be careful show-off!” Good advice, as I’m at that place where confidence and skill and miles don’t quite match! Fitness has come a long way too, from that first interval way back in June. There is some hop in the stride now and it feels good.

During the class I got to enjoy the simple pleasure of roller skiing in the rain, the brutality of skiing on 110 degree tarmac and everything in between. We skied up and down hills with medicine balls, we skied while towing people behind us, we skied with no poles while bouncing basketballs in front of us, we tackled scary descents and went faster on them than we’ve ever gone before.  The class took us out of our comfort zone, and that’s when you improve the most. 


We’ve found a lot of great routes around our work place, with interval options ranging from one minute sprints to ten minute consistent efforts. That’ll be nice a lunch break as we move into clinic season and morning workout opportunities shrink. We also picked up some classic roller skis which are great for our high elevation climbs near home. I’m quite surprised more AT skiers don’t classic roller ski as it’s a very similar motion to skinning uphill fast. I could certainly see it increasing in popularity as uphill travel gains even more traction. 

It’s been good, and I’m thrilled to have made solid strides during a time of year when I normally wouldn’t think of skiing. Elaine is crushing strong this year, so we’re on track for a good year. Now it’s time to have a strong autumn season and then just basically stay healthy for the entire winter. A cold front just moved in and they are predicting snow above 10,000 feet Friday night. One of my favorite seasons of the year, autumn, is just about here!

Wilderness First Responder Class

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Elaine and I just finished a ten-day Wilderness First Responder Class. We figured that with a number of upcoming adventures planned in remote locales, it would be a good to know some solid wilderness first aid should something go wrong with one of us.

This is actually my second go-around for one of these courses, as I took a WFR class back in 2008 as part of preparations to become an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). That course seems like a distant memory from a more turbulent time in my life. It was taught at the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado, and it was a fantastic experience. Days were spent learning wilderness medicine and in the evening I’d link up with the local Leadville mountain bike club for some evening rides on the copious trails surrounding that wonderful town. Alas, I let my three-year grace period expire, so to get re-certified I needed to take the full ten-day course again. And besides, Elaine and I wanted to take it together since we’re in these adventures together.

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This go-around was a little different from the 2008 Leadville course. We decided to take the course in Boulder which allowed us to save money on lodging and make the whole experience a little less expensive. In retrospect, I might question that decision. While it was nice to come home to our own bed every night, the setting – Williams Village in the middle of residential Boulder – left a bit to be desired in terms of authentic wilderness feel. Will Vill as it’s commonly called was actually my freshman year dorm at C.U., and while I enjoyed (somewhat) the nostalgia of being back under the shadow of Stearns East, the constant drone of construction and lawn mowers was aggravating.

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Whatever. Small problems in the big scheme of life. The course was outstanding. Our instructors, Bethany and John, knew their stuff and were incredibly inspirational. I like being surrounded by people who just live their lives in a quality fashion, and Bethany in particular gave me a standard to up my game to. Extremely aware of other people, almost always positive, funny…just a good, genuine human being.

The course moved through a series of lessons, from a patient assessment system to various ways of identifying and doing what you can to fix a variety of problems including simple lacerations, separated shoulders, compound fractures, heart attacks and shock (and much more). Some of these things – like separated shoulders – you can do a lot for. Some you can’t do much for other than make the patient comfortable, call for help and hope they don’t die on your watch. It was a sobering class, but a valuable one at that. We are fragile, and life is finite.

Elaine and I both passed with aplomb, which in some ways was a bit anti-climactic as I find a test where you circle A-thru-D on a hundred questions does little to really “test” what you know. The highlight of the class was a night scenario held in the foothills just north of Boulder. I was one of the victims – a compound tib-fib fracture was my hypothetical injury, and they went to the nines to make it look authentic, included a stick glued onto my leg and copious amounts of red dye where the hypothetical bone popped out of my leg.

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I was required to fake stepping into a hole and then scream bloody murder so my group would use their learned skills to help me out. All was going well -there was some academy award winning acting complete with copious swearing – until we heard shouting from the nearby hillside, “THIS IS REAL LIFE – EVERYBODY COME BACK TO THE TRAIL. STICK TOGETHER.”

Apparently a mountain lion had stalked our instructor John and was sitting about ten-feet away from him on a rock staring him down. John started yelling and the mountain lion SLOWLY backed away. Nevertheless, it was a clear choice…better to cut the nighttime scenario short than have a bunch of WFR students end up being lion dinner. Honestly, dusk in the foothills is about as prime as you can get for seeing mountain lions, so it’s not particularly surprising one paid us a visit during the night scenario.

Beyond the course itself, a major highlight was the people we took it with. Great folks from all walks of life, and more than once I realized that my current world is fairly limited to like-minded and like-doing people. Nothing wrong with that at all, as those folks are my brothers and sisters, but it was neat to talk to people from different walks of life. There is a reunion hut trip being planned already, so I suspect a few friendships will come of the 2016 WFR class, which in the end is more valuable than the certification we got!

Bottom line…I recommend a WFR for anybody who spends a lot of time in the backcountry. NOLS and the Wilderness Medicine Institute are top notch and would be my choice for taking any wilderness first aid course. For more info visit https://www.nols.edu/wmi/.

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Photos taken by Karen and Heather.

Curling Towards Progress

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The past few days my thoughts have turned to wide-open spaces. sagebrush valleys, lonely mountain ranges, dark clouds of thunderstorms, tiny shack burger joints, wild horses and coyotes. The open west really. While Colorado is technically the west, we have a lack of these things in the Front Range. It’s simply too crowded. That’s the big problem with living in the fastest growing area in the country. There are too many of us. We’re running out of space to roam, space to breathe.

I’ve come to realize that the things I like – easy access to mountains, plentiful jobs and a liberal base are things that a whole heck of a lot of other people like too. One salvation – I don’t really care so much about being near a metropolitan area. Sure, a good meal and movie is nice, but we could be perfectly content in a cabin at the base of that lonely mountain range, with empty trails to hike and fresh powder to ski and almost no people. And while I’m as liberal as they come, I’m also beginning to find a new tolerance as I grow older. Different strokes for different folks, so long as we respect each other. Truth is, some of the loneliest and most beautiful places are not liberal. At some point the pros of living in a bastion of open thinking is outweighed by the sheer number of people living here. Happy Valley is wonderful, but I doubt this will be our last hurrah.

In the meantime, we live. This summer is a bit of a big exhale. It’s not been a bad exhale. One of the highlights has been this nordic training group I signed up for. Roller skiing every Tuesday night. At the first session, I got my ass thoroughly handed to me. Literally left in the dust, stunned by my lack of fitness and suffering from hellacious allergies. It got incrementally better, but the allergies persisted most of the early summer. I’m pretty sure it was allergies because at one practice session it rained, hard. I felt cool and alive. All of the sudden, I felt back to normal, spry, good breathing and quick. The next week it was 98°, dry and brutal, and I was suffering.

Still, I’ve been working hard to break through. Part of that has been rest. This is the first year in many where I’ve consciously taken a day off per week. By doing that, I’m better able to train hard when I need to and also have time to plan the week. It’s finally starting to pay off. Today training was good. We did intervals today, and a little time trail. There is a guy who has been smoking me all year. Today, for the first time, I was able to keep up with him, bridge gaps and even win a sprint. I’m thankful to have somebody to push me, to make me improve. It’s the gift of competition and training groups. We elevate each other.

Tonight, back to my newest project, building these wooden skis. After an hour of fiddling with the spokeshave, I managed to get it just right. My technique is still rudimentary, but I did manage some nice curls. My goal is ten in a row without chatter and losing the curl. It’s not easy, but like everything in life, hard work yields results.

Review: Fjallraven Keb Gaiter Pants

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Fjallraven is a Swedish company that makes outdoor apparel and gear. While their best known product is the somewhat “hipster” Kanken day pack, they actually produce a full line-up of highly technical products. While I have not actually laid hands on one of their tents, they look like a dead ringer for Hilleberg tents, which are in my opinion the best in the business for serious cold weather expeditions.

Fjallraven makes some dynamite outdoor pants, but they are “old school” in many ways. They eschew Gore-Tex and other high tech fabrics for something called G-1000 – essentially a robust cotton with a slicker outside than your average t-shirt. The advantage of G-1000 comes from it’s breathability. Bottom line – cotton breathes well. Yet in the outdoors, some waterproofing or at least resistance is often needed. Fjallraven does this by promoting and producing something called Greenland Wax, which is an environmentally friendly paraffin. Waxing is simple – rub it onto the areas where water resistance is desired and then iron it in. Want more waterproofing? Put on more wax. Want less? Use less – or even no – wax. This method is cool because one can customize garments. I’ve always found certain areas of clothing get more wet than others – the shoulders, the bottom of the coat, the thighs, the butt, etc. Fjallraven says you can melt in your wax with your camp stove or over an open fire for field application. This method sounds slightly terrifying, but seeing how these pants are produced by Vikings I can see how they would recommend that.

The waxed cotton theory could be ideal for spring and fall in the Rockies. I do find that their pants are a little too warm in the dead of summer, which might have something to do with their origin – they are from Scandinavia where 90° days are rare. Also, I’m not sure I’d trust the wax as my only waterproofing solution in a super wet climate like Alaska, Norway or the Hoh Rainforest…for those locales I’d prefer Gore-Tex active or something to the like. That said, I need to test that and report back. It rains a lot in Sweden and these are the pant of choice for the outdoors over there. Theoretically using these in very wet conditions seems flawed – but theory and practical use don’t always mesh.  More on this topic as I get it.

Back to the Keb Gaiter Pants. These are probably Fjallraven’s most technical hiking/mountaineering pants. They feature G-1000 in all the areas where reinforcement is needed – the thighs, bottom of legs, etc, and a stretchy material on the more motion driven areas, like the butt and inner thighs. They work well and provide a great range of motion.

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These are zip-off pants. Zip offs are high in functionality and absolutely the pits in fashion. Is there anything more dorky than a zip-off? Well, believe it or not, Fjallraven did a good job with these. They don’t really look like zip-offs – they “almost” look cool. Compared to offerings from Outdoor Research and Kuhl…well, they are downright stylish! I chose the U.N Blue color, which looks spiffy. The only problem is my normal hiking ski shirt and hat are also blue, so it’s not hard to go out their looking like a smurf!

While they are maybe only quasi stylish, there is nothing quasi about the functionality. They are simply an awesome Colorado pant for the high country. Start the morning off in the cold with the pants fully intact, and when it warms up, zip ’em off and have a nice pair of shorts. My only complaint with the zip-off function is the seam near the knees is a little uncomfortable when they are in pant mode. Not bad, but they are not pajamas. I have sensitive skin and little things like that bug me, so for most it probably wouldn’t be a problem.

As I mentioned, G-1000 is a warm material, but fortunately these pants have a long, almost seductive outer thigh zip. This is a nice interim as the day is warming up (or you are exerting more effort) but it’s not warm enough yet for shorts. The ability to control the thermostat in the Keb Gaiter Pant is the best I’ve ever seen on any pant.

Another feature of these pants – that I admittedly have not used, is you can make them full-on Gaiters when they are zipped off. The lower part has a latch to connect to laces and the upper part of it has a draw strong cord to synch it over the calf. If one is serious about using this feature I would recommend attaching a little cord to the existing eyelets at the bottom of the cuff to create a strap under the boot.

The pockets on Fjallraven pants are the best I’ve ever seen. They are large and on the thigh, perfect for a camera, map, compass, food, dog leash, etc. This is one of the best features on the Keb Gaiter Pants.

Fjallraven sizing weird weird. They use a European system that is detailed on their website. Basically, I wear a 31 in the U.S. pants and a 46 in Fjallravens. I have a 32 inch inseam and the pants are the long version – they also come in regular. The long length seems to work well for me. They fit very well, although I must say they are a little snug around the butt. My wife loves it, but it’s a big difference from North American fits. It seems to be a trait on most Fjallraven pants, especially the Keb models. It’s odd, because the waist is perfect, if not even a little loose. I wear a belt with them, but I’m honestly not sure I need to. The fit is highly functional…it’s just different.

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I’ve been using the pants for about a month now on hikes in Indian Peaks wilderness. I pushed them a little bit by using them for a backcountry spring ski as well. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cuff fit just about perfectly over my Dyanfit TLT-6 boots. There was no loose fabric to catch a crampon on…always a nice thing on steep snow climbs. Note however, that this doesn’t seem to work with the regular Keb (non-gaiter version). My wife has a pair of those and they do not fit over her TLT-5’s. This could be a size thing too…my boot is a 27.5 and hers is a 22.5. Best to test them out in the shop if you hope to use them for this application.

While I’ve only had them a month, durability seems outstanding. There is no piling or tearing or any tell-tale signs of wear. I also notice they dry very quickly…there is something to this G-1000 stuff. One application where materials like G-1000 works great is mid-winter nordic ski touring. Water proofing is nearly a non-issue in these conditions, but breathability is a big issue, especially if you move fast or run warm. I’m not sure I’d use the gaiter version for nordic ski touring – I doubt I’d ever want the zip-off function when it is 5° F in January – but I’d have zero hesitation using the standard Keb pant for a tour on the Asnes Nansens.

I’m a fan of these pants. I love the versatility, the look and the durability. I also think Fjallraven has a cool, environmentally friendly story. I’m going to give them 4.5 stars out of five, with the little deduction being a result of the tight fit around the butt. I’d say I could lose some weight, but I don’t have much to lose! They are a great option for somebody who wants a classic hiking pant with lots of versatility. For cold mornings and hot days they are hard to beat! And as the temperature gets a little colder in mid-August and beyond, I think they’ll be even better. They are not cheap – they retail for $225 – but I suspect the durability and functionality could make them an outdoor wardrobe staple for a decade. There are not too many outdoor pants out there that I can say that about, and the cost is actually comparative. While not cheap, they are a good value.

More info: http://www.fjallraven.us/products/keb-gaiter-trousers

Working for a minute (or more) in the next three months

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There is a good gauge for fitness behind our house. It's about a two mile climb, and it is a hard run. It's steep, works the legs, and keeps the lungs moving to the max. After doing some quick calculations, I figured out I'm a little slower right now than I was last year right before ski season. About a minute slower over 13 minutes…not insignificant. I've certainly had some breathing and general fatigue issues since Norway and then getting sick, but I do feel like those are subsiding, and if this pulled tooth ever starts feeling better I think I'll start making nice headway. Today's time was 13:06. I'd like to see if I can chop that down to 12 minutes before snow flies. And if possible, even a little faster. 

I have a few limiters right now. First, I don't feel like my leg strength is where it should be. So it's time to start doing two minute tucks (eventually more) and lunges at work. Hiking with weight will help too. Second, I have done basically zero intervals, save for the frenzied jumps that Adam has us do at roller ski practice. I think I've been a little afraid of running this summer – probably because of the breathing issues – but it's time to get over that and start improving. Fear leads to stagnation.  One thing I realized today…I like running uphill and I'm decent at it. If I take a little identity with that, it's not the worst thing in the world. Sometime identity is important, and I have not had a ton of it lately. 

I have not been the strongest mentally this summer either. I worry too much. I've been a little bit prone to that since dad died. Worried about health, the future, getting older. Don't worry so much. What happens in life is beyond your control. You are still very healthy and young with a lot of good years ahead of you. I eat well, exercise religiously and am getting better with sleep. Don't let work cause too much stress…it's simply not worth it. Stay positive and have fun…life is too short for anything else. It was many years ago when coach Tim Davis made me say ten times on that hillside in Whistler, "I'm a good skier, I'm a good person." Keep doing that. You are a good skier (and runner, hiker, biker and everything else) and you are a great person. And I've got my dad at my side and the best wife in the world. Enjoy it…life is grand and the best is yet to come!

On the technical side of things, Mal cautioned against Mule kick while roller skiing. I don't think I'm doing it, but it's a good reminder to drive the knee forward, compress aggressively at the start of the stride, and stay dynamic and centered over the skis. 

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Bottom line…it's almost August. It's time to get serious. Just think…in one month the leaves will have started turning. In two months, we'll be in the peak of foliage. And in three months, the trees will be bare and the ground starting to freeze. And in four months, we'll be skiing. 

It's been a hot summer in Boulder. Too hot really. The mountains are the place to be, and I hope the crispness returns to the air tomorrow morning. 

I saw the Ouzel that woman was telling me about last night! I was sitting on the rock, petting Stella, and there it was, hovering over the rapids, diving its beak into the water sporadically in search of food (I'm assuming). And then, it flew over to our side, before rocketing up the stream, just over the rapids, like a missile in flight. I didn't see the nest, but I'll have to look more carefully next time!