Style

I wrote the last post with my feet kicked up on the sofa on my phone. Like a big text msg. I looked at it this morning and realized I mistook CO2 with CO. One molecule of Carbon, not 2.

I actually hate that first person narrative style. It’s boring. This kind of writing usually begins in situ, then backs up to the start of the story. Like this:

I reached down to pick up they hydration pack that I dropped next to my pack and realized it had frozen solid in the few minutes I had been huddled below the windbreak.

I made this up.

Then back to the start of the story arc.

I much prefer the more introspective style of writing found in … I think it might be called The Sharp End … if we’re talking about adventure / alpinism writing.

Someone else direct experience can be interesting, but the subtext of “what did u learn?” is way more interesting. I’m not going to write another first person narrative like the last one.

Bubble Dance

The plan was to leave at 20:00, sleep for a few hours in the parking lot at Timberline and then get up and start skinning by 2:00. First trip in J’s new van – a Nissan NV high top that he recently acquired. I texted and said I needed more time b/c I had to finish watching Valerian with my daughter… her first intro to Luc Besson and the amazing set/costume/characters of his films. I also hadn’t packed anything yet. Once the movie was over I hustled to boil water for tea, make some pbjs and throw my gear in a pile for a 20:30 pickup.

We rolled into a mostly empty parking lot about 10 and left the van running to crank up the heat while we re-packed. J started the Mr. Buddy Heater and the van was toasty. I set up a camp chair and sorted my pack and set my clothes out for a 1:30 wake up.

Through my ear plugs I could hear the wind whipping through the parking lot from deep in my cocoon as the van gently rocked side to side. The only part exposed from my sleeping bag, my nose, was freezing cold. We were two mochi in a walk in freezer, struggling to sleep a few hours before signing out at the climbers bivouac to start skinning up Mt Hood.

After snoozing twice I watched the time on my phone change from 1:58, 1:59, 3:00. Daylight savings and we’re an hour behind before we even started.

I was a bit worried about carbon monoxide when we had the heater and the MSR Reactor both cranking as we boiled for coffee and oatmeal and changed for the climb. What does a CO overdose feel like… I’m already tired and lightheaded from 3 hours of fitful sleep. Best to wrap it up and get out into the pre dawn air.

The wind was blowing about 20-25 with stronger gusts on the regular. I kept my heel lifters down and powered up to Silcox on 120 counts… 120 steps, pause to turn my face to the West to rest my right eye and face from the ice microdermabrasion coming from the East.

We stopped for a quick drink and then continued up Palmer – I always use the mid lift hut as a mental gate in the dark – it’s a good landmark to set direction toward I- rock, or to just get a bearing on the way to the top of Palmer.

I got to the top of Palmer, pulled out my puffy and shovel and started digging a windbreak where J and I could rest and decide what we wanted to do.

Palmer before the sun hits is a strange place – sometimes times moves faster, sometimes slower. Climbers are tucked behind snow berms when the wind is up. Skiers are swinging wild windmills frozen in place standing in their skis, headlamp beams scanning ahead illuminating the spindrift.

When J arrives we took over a shelter 2 previously climbers had abandoned, dug in deeper to get out of the wind and I sat and drank my chai. The sun began to rise and we decided today wasn’t the day – J had to be back in town by 2, the forecast didn’t call for calming winds until the afternoon.

We tore the hides and skied variable crust and wind blown powder back to Timberline. We cut right at Magic Mile and had first tracks on freshly groomed corduroy. Sweet. It was just sweet sweet carving.

I caught myself falling asleep a couple of times on the drive home, but arrived home and into the Sunday schedule in time to take my daughter to see Captain Marvel at the Baghdad. Perfect.

It’s Spring in the Cascades but today had the max old man Winter feel. Great mini adventure on the local hill.

Motivation

I was sick in early February – just a cold. I was calling it the cabin fever cold. Most likely from breathing stale, dry air. It started with a sore throat and persisted with congestion that just lingered for a week and a half. There was a period of 2 or 3 days where I was up every few hours with Wonka so I didn’t get a good nights sleep. He’s 16 and in low power consumption right now. When he goes outside he needs an assist down the stairs and a boost coming back up. The only way I get sick is from lack of sleep – my immune system is weakened and I catch a cold. I ran very little during that time and gave myself a pass at not being motivated.

Looking back at past years, I don’t drive myself too hard in January and February. In the context of annual training periodization – I tend to lay low, mentally and physically let myself take a break and begin to make plans about the upcoming spring and summer.

In 2018 I ran 20+ miles consistently for 52 weeks and always tried to hit that mileage. For me it was a mix of a few lunch runs and longer run on the weekend. I made a big effort to just be consistent and it felt like a good balance overall.

The only race I have planned right now is in July – a marathon, but I’m feeling the itch to go longer. I haven’t decided yet, but with many things, past experience builds year over year. Nothing seems very exceptional to me right now. I need to think about where I should point my effort and motivation. I was reading something recently where the questions was asked, “what’s your 10 year plan? well why not just do that in 6 months?”.

I’m less “stoked for whatever” or “down for whatever”. A few years ago I started thinking about the concept of “no epics”. I’ve had many in the past – days where it was unclear if you were going to make it home or things were going to go pear shaped and get desperate. Overall, it’s just experience and maturity. Stack the odds completely in your favor, mitigate risk and go recreate. I’ve found that when people are “stoked” to go anytime, it’s because they don’t have much experience, thus they just want to log hours. That tends to get old quickly. Skiing in whiteouts, climbing when avy danger or conditions are marginal. Maybe it’s just me being older and more risk averse, but it also detracts from the fun.

There was a time in the recent past where I tied much of my identity to my outdoor pursuits — but there’s a risk there, of being one dimensional, of being … less interesting.

It reminds of Walt Whitman’s famous saying, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

My motivation is coming back like a spark growing into a fire. I’m making lists of objectives. I’m looking forward to the mountains this spring and summer. Time to start getting after it.

Folding bow saw

I went down a rabbit hole in the last month as I started to plan a winter camping trip with the kiddos. I think it started at 4 season tarps, continued to canvas tents, then to hot tenting (people put little wood burning stoves inside a canvas tent – mostly Canadians) and went to too making and this obscure corner of YouTube around “bushcraft”, which I never knew existed. From what I can tell, it’s modern men who fantasize about living like neolithic soloist in the “boreal” forests (it’s got to be boreal… the videos always mention that point).

My cursory analysis is that it’s a backlash against technology and being always connected … and scratches an itch about living in a sod hut in the forest hunting small game… or something. I’m not knocking it – it’s making me want to try my hand at subsistence farming in the boreal forest… somewhere.

Here’s a folding bow saw (for cutting firewood? I guess?). It’s hickory and finished with boiled linseed oil. The pieces fit together with a mortise and tenon on the long arm and the blade folds into a saw kerf in the handle.

I know I’m going to feel like a real frontiersman when I pull it out of my pack on a backpacking trip (I don’t even make campfires when I backpack).

Before I rounded it off and cut the curve on the cross brace:

Finished without the cord:

Small box

My youngest has been hanging out in the shop with me and we’ve been talking about projects.

She’s been sanding and asking me what kind of wood this is … what kind of wood that is… “smells like walnut”.

So I made her a small box. Maple milled to 1/4″ on the bandsaw, mitered and then keyed with walnut. Top is walnut with a carved finger pull.

I agonized over how to attach the pull. I didn’t want to use anything but wood, but was worried it would break off. So I predrilled and counter sunk 2 tiny screws. There’s a hairline crack on one side of the pull. I may take the screws out and in their place, epoxy a few bundled wooden toothpicks. Or just leave it and repair it if it breaks off.