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.


Just as a reminder to myself, I wear every single chain even when I’m in the house

I had this really nice piece of 1 inch thick Cherry today – I think it was left over from the kitchen pot rack … but I needed some thinner material for my current project.

I used the bandsaw the resaw to the thickness I needed – 1/2 less the thickness of the blade. I’m not sure if there’s a way to get the center exact when resawing, I was off by about 1/16th and was left with 2 pieces each of the same thickness, 4 total.

There were a few wobbles, but I know the blade is pretty close to the correct tension. I’m not sure if there’s a tool – a tensiometer – like you use to check spoke tension when building bicycle wheels. Maybe?

I don’t have a power planer, only a handful of #4 hand planers. Working in the shop with the material locked in between the bench dogs and the front vise, I planed everything to final thickness by hand.

I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than shaving off long curls of wood when hand planing. It’s just direct feedback satisfying work.

The Pass

I was climbing in the gym with a friend visiting from Colorado yesterday and I was telling him about my trip to Ouray and how beautiful Western Colorado is. I drove South through Lakewood and then West on 285 toward Fairplay and as I was driving at night by myself listening to The Firn Line, I remembered that I had been on this road before.

In 2001 I flew out from D.C. to race the Leadville 100 (mountain bike). Before ending up in Leadville, my girlfriend (at the time) and I stopped to ride the Colorado Trail from Kenosha Pass. It was a sunny August morning and I remember I was just wearing a cycling jersey and had some arm warmers and a shell stuffed in the pocket of my jersey. We rode for about 5 miles and were caught in the (2nd most) scariest summer Colorado storm I’ve been in*. It started to hail and freezing rain fell. I gave my girlfriend the shell and put on the arm warmers and we rode as fast as we could on singletrack back to the car at the pass.

By the time we got back my lips were blue and I was shivering with hypothermia. We cranked the heat in the car and just sat there trying to warm up. That’s when it happened.

A flat bed semi truck came up over the pass, slid across into oncoming traffic and took the top off a passenger car going West down the pass. I remember getting out of the car and running over to the car. Other cars started to pull off and traffic slowed to a stop. I walked over to the car not really thinking or knowing what to expect. There was a little girl curled up in the fetal position in the back seat – the driver and front passenger were both deceased. In what was probably only 15 seconds later more drivers came up to the scene and a man identified himself as a paramedic. That’s when I turned and walked away, realizing there wasn’t anything I could do. I got into the warm car and shortly afterwards continued the drive through Buena Vista and on to Leadville.

I recognized the landscape last week as I started driving up Kenosha Pass. A flood of history came back to me and I gripped the steering wheel tighter, just wanting to be over the pass and down the other side – on my way West.

*The scariest Colorado summer storm I’ve ever been in was trying to climb Handies Peak from American Basin. It’s the only time I’ve experienced Flash/Boom lightening. It’s terrifying.

Oh yeah. This episode of The Firn Line was excellent.