Long Hair

I have had long hair my entire life. When I was a baby I was bald for almost two years and I’ve just been making up for it ever since.

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Bald till 2 and making up lost time ever since

When I was 5 my mom convinced me to get a real hair cut. It was called a boy’s cut and she promised me it wouldn’t be too short. I’m not sure what I thought a boys cut was, but it was too short, and that was basically the first and last real hair cut I’ve had.

The infamous boys cut

The infamous boys cut, never again!

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my hair used to be straight

At some point in Junior High, I ended up with a mullet. I still can’t quite figure out how that happened. When you are 12, there is no such thing as an ironic mullet… I was the target of much ridicule.

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This mullet would rock the spring bumps so hard!

One summer at the hippy, and somewhat communist, wilderness camp I attended, I decided to wear my hair in a braid. It got much less knotty and was easier to manage. On the first day of school that fall, a kid I sort of knew from previous years was behind me in line and asked who the hot new girl was… I turned around feeling pretty embarrassed. Not that I should have, he was the one with misdirected misogyny. Somehow my 13 year old self didn’t let that get to me and I wore my hair braided for the rest of 8th grade.

IMG_3669What guys doesn’t get his hair layered for soccer?

I have always seen my hair as a litmus test. If people are going to discount me or when I was younger, tease me for my long hair, then they are not worth my time. Take the kids that relentlessly teased me in elementary school. In 3rd grade I was the new kid, with long hair and striped shirts that my mom dressed me in. I was the target of much abuse. But I found people that still wanted to be my friends. I’m not saying it was easy, but I also would never want to go back and cut my hair so I could be friends with the people that were teasing me. Little hint, they haven’t changed all that much and still aren’t doing cool things with their life.

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School picture vs. Running ragged

If you’ve seen Freaks and Geeks, there is a great scene where Sam approaches Gordon Crisp, “the fat kid” about how he smells bad. Gordon explains that he has a medical condition called trimethylaminuria that makes him smell. Sam asks if he will smell for the rest of his life? and Gordon responds that he will, but he doesn’t mind because “The nice people don’t mind and it weeds out the jerks.”

While, I am not advocating that we all just embrace our BO to figure out who really likes us, the idea is there. The people that will accept us as is, are the ones worth our time, and the people that tease us are jerks and are not worth our time.

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Ah, college Ultimate…

gotta have at least one ski photo

gotta have at least one ski photo

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Wouldn’t it be Easier to Take a Helicopter?

When I tell people my plan they either instantly get it, or they don’t. The ones that don’t, start asking questions. “do you count the feet skied, hiked, or both?”, “can you take lifts?”, “how many miles is that?”, and my personal favorite “wouldn’t it just be easier to take a helicopter?”

Some of the answers to these questions are pretty straight forward, “No, I cannot take lifts”, but others are a bit more nuanced, so I will do my best to answer them as fully as I can.

What am I counting?
The goal is to earn 2.5 Million vertical feet of skiing. This sounds simple enough, but actually has a couple complexities. Assuming I start and end the day in the same place (most days), I can count either the up or the down, but not both. For simplicity sake I will always count the up.

On the occasional day where I start and end at a different location, it is not as simple. If I end below where I started and take a car back up to the trailhead, essentially that vertical was not earned, so it does not count. However if I start below where I end and take a car downhill then… I am not sure to be honest. I will have to contact Greg Hill and see.

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South American volcanoes, not Washington…

There is another case as well. Lets imagine it is spring and I am skiing a volcano in Washington. I start the day hiking 4,000 feet through the forest with skis on my pack. Then I hit the snow and skin to the summit. Then I take a few laps and ski down, then hike the 4,000 feet back to the car. Does that 4,000 feet count as earned vertical. I certainly earned it, and I had skis on my back, but I didn’t ski… Again, I have to ask Greg Hill and see what he did. I will follow whatever rules he followed.

Joey Camps. Holds the FKT for the Cali section of the PCT!

Joey Camps. Holds the unsupported FKT for the Cali section of the PCT!

As a short tangent. Breaking Fastest Known Times (FKTs) is a new wave in the ultra running scene. It applies to short hikes and long trails (ie The Appalachian Trail). In this community one of the ways of hiking is unsupported. There is no hard and fast definition of what an unsupported hike is, so whoever attempts an FKT must follow the rules that the previous person followed/created. The rules that the new FKT follows must be equal to or more stringent than the previous rules. It is this logic that I am following in conforming to Greg Hill’s rules.

Distance
The question of how many miles often comes up. I guess this has two answers. I will be hiking 473.5 vertical miles and skiing 473.5 vertical miles as well 🙂 That is 86.1 Everests from sea level.

However, I think the question people really want to know is how many horizontal miles will I be walking. And I don’t really know. Some tours have long approaches and other are just straight up and down all day. Last year I kept track occasionally and it seemed that it was about 1-2 miles per 1,000′ of vertical. And I would assume about 1/4-1/3 of that is the skiing itself. So a very rough estimation would be about 1.25 horizontal uphill miles per 1,000′. So for 2.5 Million feet that is 3,125 miles of hiking. I have no idea how accurate this is.

A long day from last winter. I think this tour was 32 miles.

A long day from last winter. I think this tour was 32 miles.

The real take away for me is that the mileage is really not a concern. Walking uphill 10K per day is the difficult part if that 10K is over 10 miles or 15 miles it doesn’t make too much of a difference. Most importantly though no matter how many miles I hike, I still only get to ski the vertical feet. So bring on the steep skin track!!

Earned

Skinning with a pine bow

Skinning with a pine bow

I will be hiking, skinning, boot-packing, climbing, mountaineering, postholing, side-stepping?, and likely any other self-powered way of going uphill you can think of, for 2.5 million vertical feet. Using these forms of travel to ski makes the skiing earned. I like using the word earned. In many ways the earning of the turns is why I enjoy skiing in the backcountry. It doesn’t diminish unearned turns. I mean if I was walking down the road and someone handed me a slice of pie, I would gladly eat it. But the pie I pick the berries for and rolled out my homemade dough and make a woven top for is just going to taste better.

When earning turns there is no choice but to be where you are at that very moment. As one ski moves in front of another on repeat, every gust of wind is right there. When it’s snowing and the wind is from the South as you walk East along a ridge, the whole right side of your face becomes coated in snow. There is no doubt that the north slopes are becoming loaded and should be of concern. Or skinning up the South face in the morning, it starts rock solid and you are kicking yourself for leaving the ski crampons at home. But right as you crest the ridge it begins to corn up. Now is the perfect time to drop, and the skin back up will be easy, then on to north facing slopes for the rest of the day.

Sometimes, what can be noticed when earning turns is the smallest of things. There was one day a couple years ago, where there was a light breeze coming up Little Cottonwood Canyon from the West. It was a warmish day with a thick layer of fog. I was planning to ski a Southwest facing slope. On the way up I noticed a very, very thin crust beginning to form on the west-facing aspects. The fog was laying down a thin rime crust, not enough to ruin a run, but enough to notice. The due south slopes were enough out of the breeze that they remained smooth and soft. On my descent I carefully stayed just on the South facing edges of the sub-ridges and had a perfect run down.

[Inset picture of me mooning a helicopter]*

So while taking a helicopter may seem easier, the truth is not so simple. Would I have been able to perfectly time a spring corn run? Maybe. Would I have noticed the thin rime crust? Ignoring that fact that helicopters would not have even flown with that much fog, likely no. A helicopter is certainly less strenuous, but it could never provide the experience that I’m looking for.

 

*while I have done this, there is no photo evidence… yet.

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Vacation, Outdoor Retailer, and a Few Day in Alta

The last few weeks have been busy, relaxing, strenuous, and somewhat overwhelming at times. I left Vermont and spent a week relaxing on Cape Cod. Then I flew from Boston to SLC for the Outdoor Retailer Show. I have never been to anything quite like it. The past few days I was up in Alta getting my August turns in and doing some hiking.

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A little slice of Thoreau’s paradise

Vacation on The Cape has been a family tradition since before I could walk. The pristine kettle ponds, endless oceans, and ripping single track make for full days. We joke that the “Cape Trip” is about doing the most physical activity you can, so that you can eat as much as you can each night.

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Full Disclosure: I fell 2 frames after this

This years “Cape Trip” was similar to years past, but I took doing as much activity as possible a bit further. I swam 1/2 mile across pond and back each day. I did a bit of windsurfing, though the wind wasn’t quite there. I tried my hand at SUP surfing. It took me a good hour and a half just to paddle in a straight line. Then I was able to catch a few good waves. The surf was the best I have seen in many years.

We have always mountain biked on The Cape, but this year I really fell in love with the seemingly endless smooth fast single the National Seashore has to offer.

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Smooth single track

At the sad conclusion of the “Cape Trip” I wasted little time and headed for Utah, the beehive state. Why? no idea.

For the first 4 days back in UT I was trapped downtown at the Outdoor Retailer Show. And what a show it is! There are 1500 retailers and it costs many millions of dollars to put the show on. There are 2 story buildings, built just for the show, inside the convention center. There was a full size Hobie Cat hanging from the ceiling. Here’s a list of 19 WTF products seen at OR. I think I walked about 15 miles a day traversing the convention center from end to end to end for each meeting I had. There were live SUP demonstrations going on nonstop, and there was a whole room devoted to Chinese manufacturing. Yeah, I guess the OR show is a big deal!

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Hobie Cat hanging from the ceiling

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Pancakes?

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Yep, that room is about 1/10th of the show

Once I finally escaped the clutches of capitalism and consumerism I went straight for Little Cottonwood Canyon. Even though it was summer up there it felt like coming home. LCC in full bloom may be just as beautiful as it is in the winter. Wait, what am I talking about!?! It’s beautiful in the summer, but not that beautiful!

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My best touring buddy, Joey Camps, went with me on a quick mission to get in a couple August turns. The upper reaches of Snowbird were still holding on to just enough snow to make some turns. After skiing, to save the knees, we took the tram down.

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Plenty enough to ski:)

I don’t know if it was revenge for making him come skiing the previous day, but the next day Joey totally sandbagged me and took me on an 11 mile hike. Sure 11 miles sounds easy, but it was also 8,500 elevation gain. Still though that shouldn’t be be too hard. It was also nearly all class 3/4 scrambling with some class 5 climbing and much of it had crazy exposure.

Hey Buddy!

Hey Buddy!

We summited Storm Mountain, The East SLC Twin, O’Sullivan, Dromedary, Monte Christo, and Mt. Superior. Coming up to Monte Christo was easily the scariest part. We had to traverse out a 4ft ledge looking straight down at the Tram Club. Then we had to make a couple tricky class 5 moves getting higher up and even more exposed. We finally pulled over the crux and easily scrambled to the summit!

one of the less exposed sections

One of the less exposed sections

Exposed scrambling is something I am pretty new to. It is an interesting head game. No single move is hard. However the continual threat of falling means that you have to stay focused for many hours (10 in this case) and move a bit slower to make sure that you don’t slip or trip. I think I retied my shoes about 7 times during the day, just to make sure they were tight.

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The days hike left to right.

So, nice and puckered, I left Utah and headed back to VT. Coming off the OR Show, I am more stoked than ever for 2point5mill. I have a workout regimen that I will begin this week. I have some great mtn bike rides planned and I have started back up jumping in the stream every day!

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Veg Head

Being a vegetarian in this day and age is not a big deal. The idea of the meat, starch, veg dinner is becoming a thing of the past for many. People are realizing that there is plenty of macro and micro nutrients in something as simple as a vegetable stir fry, with the added benefits of it being easy and quick to make while only dirtying one pan.

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Still when a person is found out to be a veg everyone wants to know why. It is natural for a human to want to understand why another human would make a decision different from their own that maybe they cannot understand.

For many being a veggie is just a fad. For some it lasts a couple months and is preceded by glutenfreeness and followed up with a paleo diet. There is nothing wrong with experimenting with diet but often the conviction of the fad is not as strong.

Other people are veg because they believe in animal rights, and others because of environmental issues. Some people, because they don’t like the taste, some for health reasons. To me all of these reason are perfectly valid, but none are mine. In fact, in my 15 years of being a vegetarian I have only met one person who was for a similar reason and it was still not quite the same reason.

I became a veg when I was 10 years old. My mom never served much meat. Maybe chicken once a week and fish every other on top of that. Maybe the occasional turkey burger and once or twice I had a hot dog or burger. So at 10, for reasons unknown or at least long forgotten I stopped eating meat all together. To this day I don’t have any memory of ever eating a steak. I do remember eating swordfish once, and turkey on thanksgiving and bacon.

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So, why? This is what everyone wants to know. I have crafted my elevator speech to give to people with a good enough answer, but seeing that I am taking the time to write this post, I will go into a bit more depth. There is one main reason, and two supporting reason that I am and remain a veggie.

The first and largest reason can be a bit difficult to explain, but I will try my best. For many people there is the thought that meat is “icky” if it resembles the animal it came from. For example, if served a fish with the head still on some people will not eat it, and even think it’s gross. How is this gross? Served with or without the head at one time the fish had a head. So really some people just don’t want to think about the fact the what they are eating at one point was alive. To me this is a disservice to ones self.

This extends past what is on ones plate. The killing of an animal is a super intense process. One that I am not sure I could carry out. So how can I ask myself to eat something that has been killed, when I couldn’t kill it myself. This is the heart of it for me. If I cannot kill the animal then when I eat it I am just trying to ignore the fact that it was killed. So to extend this, if I do kill an animal myself, I will eat it.

I do not have many opportunities in my life to kill animals for food, but I have killed and eaten a chicken and a few fish. It is very intense to hold a chicken and shove a knife into its neck and slit it’s throat and then hold it tight and wait for it’s muscles to stop twitching. But in this powerful experience it also made the food on my plate genuine. I was not ignoring what it took to get it there.

I said there were a couple other reasons I am a vegetarian. For the trained ear there are a bunch of flaws in the above argument, they don’t make it invalid, but they do raise the question of why I don’t raise my own veggies because the same thing can be applied to all food. So I have a couple back up reasons. To start I think the array of reasons that people are veg all hold some validity and at this point I don’t have a great reason to start eating meat. I have figured out how to eat healthy and enjoy what I eat.

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Another reason I have been a veg for so long may seem crazy to some, but to me makes perfect sense. It is not always easy to be vegetarian, and I have never intentionally slipped up in all 15 years. Not once have I eaten meat intentionally that I did not kill myself. Sure in 15 years you have a soup that you were told 3 time didn’t have chicken broth in it just to find out that it did in fact have chicken broth, but I have never cheated. A large reason why I am veg, is just to test my self control. I enjoy testing my self-control and see it as a great tool to build for every thing in life.

I have talked about self-control in other articles I’ve written. Self-control goes hand in hand with motivation. In order to push oneself to stick with a goal there must be something motivating you from deep down. And in order to stay motivated you must not stray and maintain self-control. So, in heading into the coming year and attempting to walk uphill 2.5 Million feet I am going to need a lot of self-control and motivation. 15 years of self-control training certainly cannot hurt.

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