Friday, November 30, 2012

Zion National Park ~ Narrows and Condors

I had an amazing trip with my two girlfriends in late November in Zion National Park.  I have always wanted to go to Zion and it seemed like a dream trip.  We did the Narrows 'hike' on the first day and Angel's Landing the next day.  Here are just a few pictures...

Water was nearly up to our waist in places but we didn't really feel the cold.
Holly and Shel entering the narrows.

I was nervous about being down in the canyon all day because I'm claustrophobic, but it was so beautiful and surreal I didn't even think about my fear.

Early morning view on the Angel's Landing trail.

An unexpected surprise on our Angel's Landing hike was seeing a pair of endangered California condors.  They were catching thermals from the early morning sun on the cliffs -- and they soared just below us and right above us several times.  They were so close in fact that we could see the radio transmitter on one of them and read the band on its leg.  One of the condors is perched on the cliff above and behind me to the right, just a black dot in this photo.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting, something I'll never forget!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clear water sound

Great Salt Lake at sunset, photo from Antelope Island State Park.

Lu Tung-Pin is
                gone beyond
his spirit suns
a thousand other worlds
merit, fame, and grass and mustard seed
the same
the old guy took his bramble staff
and smashed up all

no tricks
             nothing doing
sun and moon endure their rush
and don't grow old
sail backwards?
row against the flow?
to hell with that.
you'd better be known
for being

clear water-sound
fine mountain colors
nothing to do
    with right and wrong
bamboo's shade on a
rush hut's window
here's music
in a way
you cannot say
to any man
    - Yun K'an Tzu, Yuan Dynasty

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Backpack Trip

Before we had kids we used to backpack every summer in the Wind River Mountains.  We mostly explored the west side of the range because we lived in Green River at the time.  Since having kids and moving to Lander ten years ago we've only been backpacking once. It happened to be when I was pregnant with Ben and Laura was three years old.  Scott carried all of our gear - and I mean ALL of it: tent, sleeping bags, food, clothes, stove, etc. I carried Laura (and technically Ben) and my fishing rod.  We went into Upper Silas Lake which is only about a three mile hike.  The only thing that I can remember about the trip is that the mosquitoes were horrendous.  But Laura was a trooper and didn't complain a bit.

In the past few years we've been doing some horsepacking to get the kids and ourselves into the backcountry, but we've been waiting for the day when the kids were old enough to backpack.  This past September we finally did it!  And actually, it felt so much simpler and freer than packing the horses in.

Here are some pictures of the first official family backpacking trip, taken in September (in the Absaroka Mountains).  I was worried about Ben, age 7, walking the five miles to our favorite 'secret camping spot.' As it turned out, he did wonderfully.  Ben and I were at the back of the pack and we talked the entire time, or rather, HE talked the entire time.   

The kids were so tough.  We crossed the stream in the pouring rain and hiked through bogs in our quest to find the 'perfect' campsite.  Then it rained all night.  Scott and I had planned to sleep outside, and not planning on the rain, we all had to cram into our two person tent!  The wet and smelly dog slept outside.

Our puppy Daisy was never clean or dry in our 3 days of backpacking.  In fact she found every single item (think elk poop, cow poop, etc.) that is disgusting and vile within one mile radius of our camp and either ate it or rolled in it.

 Downtime at camp, Scott reading the Hobbit.

Last cast.

Dinner - one of the things we love about the spot is the great fishing.

I felt like the kids were old enough to go down to the river to play on their own. I had them take the bear spray canister and instructed Laura on how to use it.
 (This area is rife with grizzly bears and wolves.)

Waiting out a hail storm.

 Stream crossing #1 with full pack. Logistically it was a challenge for Scott and I to pack everything for four people since all that Laura and Ben carried was their clothes and snacks.
L and B loved climbing this crumbly volcanic rock.

Laura art.

Life doesn't get much better, running through a mountain meadow on a beautiful September day.  And having this country all to yourself.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day Dream

One day people will touch and talk perhaps easily,

And loving be natural as breathing and warm as sunlight,

And people will untie themselves, as string is unknotted,

Unfold and yawn and stretch and spread their fingers,

Unfurl, uncurl like seaweed returned to the sea,

And work will be simple and swift as a seagull flying,

And play will be casual and quiet as a seagull settling,

And the clocks will stop, and no one will wonder or care or notice,

And people will smile without reason, even in winter, even in the


A. S. J. Tessimond

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This ain't my first rodeo...

But actually it was for Laura and Ben. Here are a few pictures from their first rodeo.

Laura pole-bending on Pearl.

Ben in the barrel racing on Winchester.

Ben picks out his very fast chicken for the chicken race.

Laura takes 2nd in barrels!

One happy cowgirl.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Alaska Sea Kayaking

I was born in Tuscon, Arizona in July. My mom, bless her heart, said it was 115 degrees when she went to the hospital to have me. We lived in west Texas until I was 12 then my dad was transferred to Colorado. I graduated from high school in Pueblo, Colorado. I love hot and sunny weather and the hotter the better. It's almost always sunny in Lander even if we get subzero temps in the winter and there's feet of snow on the ground.  The prospect of having a cold and rainy week of vacation made me nervous.  For this reason, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to go on a kayaking trip to Prince William Sound, Alaska. The kicker is that was my good friend's 40th birthday -- and that's what friendship is all about. She, after all, climbed the Grand Teton with me on my 40th.

It was all worth it, we saw whales breaching, harbor seals, sea otters, one lone river otter, and bald eagles on every tree.  I loved the rhythm of kayaking, it was a great way to travel.   Here are a few photos of what turned out to be an amazing trip.

Holly and I starting to sort gear to pack into the dry bags, in the pouring rain.
Our kayaks on top of the charter boat as we are getting a ride to our destination.

Kathy and Scott - open water crossing to get to our final destination - Whale Bay.  I was very out of my comfort zone here and was colder and wetter than I have ever been in my life.
Scott hanging our food, just like at home.

Cooking in between rain showers.

Heaven on earth, our campsite on Whale Bay.

While cooking dinner at our camp in Whale Bay, humpbacks would cruise by camp.  One night a whale did a series of breaches across the bay while we drank wine and ate dinner.

Starting to dodge ice floes.

When the sun came out, the trip was glorios.

Enjoying the sunshine.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Girls Weekend - Ski, Bike, and Run Till You Drop

There are five things that make for a great girlfriend weekend: great girlfriends, loud music, food, more food, and a little adventure.  This last weekend I headed up to the Equinox Snow Challenge in West Yellowstone, Montana with three of my most intrepid girlfriends (and a pickup-load of gear) for what is surely the best 24-hour ski and fat bike event in the country.  

The goal of this event is FUN and personal challenge.  Racers set out to ski, snowshoe, snowbike, or run as many laps as we can in a 3, 6, 12, or 24-hour period.  You can change modes of travel at any time. Last year was our inaugural trip for the Equinox and we loved it so much that we came back for more.  Each of us registered as soloists for the 12-hour event.

I love to mountain bike but my skate skiing technique is pretty dismal. So this year my whole reason for being was to try out the fat bike. We stopped in Victor, Idaho on the way so that I could rent a bike at Fitzgerald's Bicycles. I had my doubts about my ability to ride one of these things in the balmy weather.  Cheese and rice,  I was wearing flip flops and shorts when I picked up Mabel (my bike, a Surley Pugsley). But I figured if I did just one or two laps on race day it would be worthwhile.

Picking up Mabel in Victor.  Thanks to my awesome friend Shelli at Have Media Will Travel for sharing her pics. The pictures are proof to our husbands that we did go skiing. The menfolk are SO on to us.
The Equinox Challenge has a great vibe.  It's very low key and feels like a small town party, which it kinda is, especially this year with the spring-ski-in-your-shorts weather. There is a costume contest (last year we were superheros), music playing over loud speakers, a potluck, a fire, and great camaraderie.  This year there were about 120 participants.  For me, I love that it's not a race, it's a personal quest.  I'm not competitive, partly because I'm slow (and always last!)  But I do well with endurance which makes this event perfect for me.  Every year I hope to do more k's than the last.  Easier said than done.  Last year the conditions were terrible because it was cold, windy and snowing.  This year the weather was beautiful - warm and sunny - which made the snow conditions crummy: squishy and slow.  If we ever get a cold-and-sunny combo I think I could make some progress.  BUT, who cares if the snow conditions are bad when the weather is soooooo good?  I'll take sunshine any day.

I started out on the bike, which I was nervous about.  Sure enough, two minutes into the race I tipped over a few times on the short stretch of single track. Then we hit the ski trails and it was PURE BLISS.  The snow was so packed you could have taken a road bike on it.  And the downhills were a kick - snow flying, jamming around the corners, wind in your hair, heart singing...  Well, you get the picture.  I loved the course, it was curvy and hilly and not too difficult.  At least until about 1:00 pm. at which point it morphed into pure slush.  But falling meant merely getting wet, no tree roots or rocks to contend with, no dirt rash.  I could get used to fat biking. 

What could be more dorky than a middle-aged mom with a big cheesy grin on her face?
For the record, there were separate courses for the skiers and bikers and the runners shared a course with the bike folks. (The grizzly bear tracks were on the ski track.)  The way it was set up worked swimmingly.

At about 2 pm I decided to cut my losses with the bike before I didn't love it anymore and switched over to skiing.  I chugged some Gatorade, ate an epic bar and headed out on the ski course.  Wow, big mistake.  I should have rested for a little as my quads cramped up halfway through the approximately 9 k.  Ouch, that has never happened to me before.  Chalk it up to standing climbing on the bike, my legs were shot.  They froze up on every single hill, and I should mention that the "skiing" was pretty darn difficult.  One of my good friends even said the "f" word when she skated/slogged by.  She doesn't cuss and she's the toughest chick I know. Later on I had to check with her to see if I had heard her right (I thought it was lack of oxygen to my brain). 

It took me 2 hours to do my first lap, which is sick and wrong (not to mention embarrasing).  The great thing, again, was the GLORIOUS WEATHER so I took a break and basked in the sun, ate my Marie Calendar chicken pot pie, and drank a ton - and was much better.   At this point I was tempted to call it day and drink beer, like the more reasonable people who set up camp next to us.  But for some bizarro reason I set out for more laps, I guess because I knew I could hang up my skis once we got back to Lander.  The Equinox is a last hurrah for sure.

The good news is that the conditions seemed to slightly improve as the day waned.  I was finally making friends with my skis.  The magical late-afternoon light was just beautiful. At one point the wind shifted and the air smelled like spring, like the earth was finally taking a breath after a long winter.  The chickadees were singing and it was just lovely.  (See why I am always last!?)

Right before 7 pm I finished my last lap, having reached my goal for the day. Plus it was beer-thirty.  It had been a great day, crappy snow aside, but I was so done. For me the "f" word was FINISHED.  And also Fat Tire, the kind that you drink of course.
All together we skied, biked and ran about 155 miles.  But as you can see, that's not what it's really about. (The only body part that was sore were my abs - from laughing so much.)

More at:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yellowstone Winter Magic

If you are a rare reader of my blog then you are probably tired of Yellowstone posts already.  But I had to add this one because it was truly a magical trip. 

Laura and Ben - the snow was so deep that we didn't even know if we'd make it in or out of the park in these snow coaches, especially on our trip out.

Laura - with bison in the background. 

For our sweet little girl Anneliese.  We happen to be in the park on her heaven day.  We always tie a red ribbon in a tree in her memory.... with lots of love.

The kids had a blast with their friends at night on the ice rink at the Snow Lodge.  Lodge staff always kept a bonfire stoked next to the rink.

This is Laura and Ben with some of their best friends, who also go to Yellowstone quite a bit.  It's funny but they always love watching Old Faithful erupt, no matter how many times they've seen it before.

Skiing along the Firehole River ~ Laura, Scott & Ben.

Laura trying to strategically ski past bison.  Ben and I are behind her and I am one nervous Mommy.  The bison were on both sides of the trail and also coming up behind us so we had to go forward or back.  We went forward, quickly as we could, after the bison on the right moved away from the road a little more.

Skiing with the Copleands along the boardwalks near Old Faithful.  It was an unusually sunny day and we had a picnic at the Grand Geyser, just in time to see it erupt.  We had it all to ourselves and it is a SPECTACULAR geyser.

Freezing cold journey to a new thermal feature in the park near Black Sands Basin.  You could feel the earth shaking here.

Girls ski - we were very lucky to see the Firehole Geyser go off within minutes of getting here. It was entirely unplanned and a spectacular geyser which arcs over part of the river and also waterfalls into it.

Me and my little man Ben.