It’s been quite a year. Since August, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in online classes and a teaching internship to complete my public school teaching license for English. It was honestly the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I thought grieving two family members passing away from cancer was hard. I was clearly wrong. The one-year program through Western State Colorado University was already setup to be challenging. Add in hostility and negative attitudes within the school environment, and the internship was almost impossible.
But, I persevered, and as a result have more confidence in myself than I’ve felt in a long time. Something about the ridiculous pressure and seemingly straight-jacket-like scenarios allowed my emotions to mature. Maybe it was simply time to let go of some more grief about my brother and mom, and simply focus on the task at hand. I don’t know. By the end of June, I’ll be licensed to teach in the State of Colorado, and hopefully have a teaching job, too.
Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of the insane continual snow dumping at Red Mountain Pass, South of Ouray, about half-way to Silverton. Since the end of March, storm after storm rolls over the San Juan mountain range, with snow falling above 10,000′. Everyone is grateful for the moisture, given the arid climate here. But, we’re all feeling sun-starved, too. It’s hard living a spoiled life in Colorado…
Since the rocks are too wet, I’ve been skiing instead. I’ve been going a little gonzo, because I was waylaid with pneumonia for 3 weeks in April and part of May. As I listened to the pattering rain outside my window while coughing my lungs out, my teeth ground down at all the missed snow days. But, today (Saturday) was the epicenter so far, climbing up dicey skin tracks up to 12,400′ and the summit of Red Mountain #3. There are 3 Red Mountains, and an old mining town called Red Mountain that we skinned past on the way out. Apparently folks were short on names back in those days. The photo on this post showed our ski tracks down the North side of the peak. It was by far the best run I’ve had all season.
Spring Picks: Mt. Hood & Mt. Baker
It’s official, I have a partner to climb with for both Mt. Hood and Mt. Baker. It’s about time! The original plan was to ski Mt. Hood, but the snow season on the West Coast has been abysmal. We’d have to hike with our skis on our backs for two-thirds of the route before we could start skinning. It’s not worth it. And with the variable conditions, it’s possible we might experience a lot of icy/slushy/sticky conditions. This is no fun to ski in, as I discovered last weekend at the Commodore ridge at Red Mountain Pass. If someone triggers an avalanche in heavy, wet snow, don’t try to ski over it. That’s my Tip of the Blog.
So, we’ll hike Hood in one shot, driving up to the ski lodge. It’s only about 5 hours from there. For Mt. Baker, it’s a 3-person group, with one unexperienced glacier mountaineer. We’ll practice self-arrest and crevasse rescue at our mid-mountain campsite the first day, then start up at 1AM that night, the usual mountaineering method.
I’m thrilled to finally be able to leave 2 more memorials for Mickey on these peaks. As I was huffing and puffing up the peak today, with a giant rock in my pack to add extra weight and strengthen my body, I realized what dedication and commitment really means. It means doing things that don’t come naturally to you. Mickey was a natural endurance athlete. His multiple “Triple Bypass” and “Leadville 100” bike rides attest to this. I am not naturally an endurance athlete. Even at my peak training periods, my speed barely eeks up a notch while moving uphill. I run out of breath easily. I’m starting to wonder if I was erroneously undiagnosed with asthma as a kid. Ok, that’s a stretch, but sometimes I feel like I have asthma at 12,000′. Maybe it’s the altitude? Hmmmm…I’ll have to think about that.
Anyhow, I was telling my ski partner today about Mickey’s famous line, “You have to love the suck.” If you don’t love the suckiest part of the trip, the uphill skin through a steep, icy rock-strewn slope during today’s ski trip, then you wouldn’t be out there, and shouldn’t be. So, as I scramble to stop coughing up loogies and get back into shape, I keep loving the suck of it all. It’s hard not to when you’ve got a friendly furball running by your side, white-capped peaks all around you, and good company. Maybe that’s what helped me get through the teaching program. It can help me get through editing tons of footage for this project, too. How can loving “the suck” help you in your life?