Wonka ‘Low 4’ Rivard

We said goodbye to Wonka this morning.

He wasn’t the mischievous one. That was his little brother Chief. Wonka was above it all. He had an heir of seriousness about him. Aloof. He never begged, but he always gave a ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when getting puppy treats. He was always down for whatever. Never over the top excited, but never shied away from an adventure.

S and I were talking last week and it was almost like we were his guardians. The family he lived with, but he wasn’t our fur baby like Chief. We adopted him in New Mexico. He was a res dog. Australian Cattle Dog. He was deaf and had short little legs. Legs that could take him anywhere – going one speed. Slow and steady.

I’m going to miss him most at night after everyone goes to bed. We spent a lot of time together after 8pm. Years. Just the two of us hanging out passing the time.

The past couple of months weren’t that much fun for him. His legs were starting to go and he was having trouble standing up. We’d wake up at night and hear him spinning around having trouble standing. The past weeks we had been carrying him outside and then back inside. Setting him down in front of his bowl so he could get a drink of water, then helping him walk straight back to a spot in the living room so he could lie down in a good vantage point.

His lack of hearing never bothered us or him. I don’t know if dogs can sense the tone of your voice when you speak to them – with Wonka we just gave him lots of pets, lots of hugs, lots of scratches to let him know we were there. Last night I laid down next to him on the floor and spooned him so he could feel me breathing. I just rubbed his side and we fell asleep for a while.

He was my wing man.

Moderately Fast

Mentally going through the transitions for Saturdays skimo race and I realize I’m going to be sloooowwww in a couple places. I’m using Volkl skin pin Colltex skins, so I can’t leave my skis on and pull the skins in a transition. I just didn’t want to spend more $$ to buy race skins that have a standard tip attachment. I’m going to need to pull my skis off and remove the skins.

I’m also going to leave my leashes on — it would be a nightmare scenario of I removed the leashes and a ski got away from me during a transition. That would be a big bummer.

I’m just thinking: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Deliberate motions, focus on what I’m doing. I’m only racing myself.

Skin to bootpack

  1. Put poles down or in snow
  2. Unclip leashes
  3. Pop off bindings (thumbs)
  4. Skis together
  5. Through loop, hook over shoulder
  6. Grab poles, hammer

Bootpack to skin

  1. Poles down
  2. Skis off pack
  3. Clip leashes (one at a time)
  4. Step into binding
  5. Pull binding for uphill mode
  6. Grab poles, hammer

Skin to downhill

  1. Use pole to unclip bindings
  2. Poles down
  3. Unclip leashes
  4. Downill skin 1 : pull skin and put in jacket
  5. Twist heel for downill and step in
  6. Uphill skin 2 : pull skin and put in jacket
  7. Twist heel for downill and step in
  8. Grab poles : hammer

Downhill to skin

  1. Use pole to unclip binding
  2. Poles down
  3. Pull skin 1 from jacket / put it on
  4. Twist heel for uphill
  5. Put ski down
  6. Pull skin 2 from jacket / put it on
  7. Twist heel for uphill
  8. Put ski down
  9. Step into both skis
  10. Pull binding for uphill
  11. Pick up poles : hammer

The Poetics of Space

This has been a bit of a start / stop book for me. I think I’ve passed the initial hurdle though and it’s picking up. I was watching Arrival with my daughter this weekend and we there is an explanation about the words that you read have a tendency to start to change the way you think. That was one of the premises of that movie. It also happens with good fiction – Murakami or David Foster Wallace. Some books have a long on ramp to start to think about the ideas the writer is trying to convey. Then it clicks.

2 thoughts come to mind as I make my way through the book. The first: when I was running my own company I would receive a barrage of email, 24/7 and it was extremely stressful. When I left my office and went home, I had to consciously tell myself that home was my safe space – I cannot be reached here, I’ve removed myself from the flow of time and information. It was liberating and worked to gain some semblance of relaxation. 2: My work shop is in the basement, it’s a private space where I can sit at my bench, sketch and think and plan the things I want to build. It’s a design space, and a creation space. The fact that it’s in the basement more approximate to what Bachelard says about the the flower inside the almond:

The flower is always in the almond. With this excellent motto, both the house and the bedchamber bear the mark of an unforgettable intimacy. For there exists no more compact image of intimacy, none that is more sure of its center, than a flower’s dream of the future while it is still enclosed, tightly folded, inside its seed. How we should love to see not happiness, but pre-happiness remain enclosed in the round chamber!

The Poetics of Space

Vert

Felt like I was cheating a little using my heel lifters today. I try not to use them and find it’s better to set a not too steep skin track. I wanted to pick up the pace a bit and try and get some vertical in from Timberline. I’ve always thought about doing laps on Palmer from Timberline. I got mostly there today — I hit my turnaround time at the mid-lift (second time up) and had to ski out and get home.

I didn’t stop until I was above Silcox on the first lap and then had some water and a Clif shot. Then I continued on to the top of Palmer where I made a quick transition, skied back down to Timberline Lodge, put my skins back on, ate a sandwich and then skinned back up to the mid-lift on Palmer. The sun went away on the first lap and it got cold quickly, sun was back out on the second lap and the wind died down.

4500 vertical, 3:20 minutes with a few short breaks for water and gel. Never felt really worked, felt faster on the second lap in fact… I think I had more calories in me.

Cotton ball
This cloud cap formed over the summit and then blew East in the afternoon.
About 3 inches of powder on the way down.

The Education of Littleski

From Lou Dawson at Wildsnow.

1. Judgment. Combine fear and respect with knowledge.
2. Peer Pressure. Watch for it, we all succumb.
3. Equipment. Use it well, but don’t let it fool you. Your body is fragile.
4. Mentors. Be bold and reach out to someone.
5. Intuition. It’s a bit woo woo, but important as it’s your subconscious working overtime.
6. Excellence. Make this your attitude.
7. Risk vs. Reward. Be risk averse.
8. Debriefing. Talk it out.
9. The Social Contract Think of your mother, your wife, your friends.
10. Reading. Education is not a dirty word.

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.