Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's spri--Wait. Nope.

Spring here at the end of the road is a tease. Out of nowhere an impossibly perfect day will appear, raising hopes. Just as quickly, rain and snow will move back in. Even more difficult, days and days of gale-force winds rake across the mountain crest and pounce upon our town. The next morning, I awake and see what has blown into my yard and hunt down what has blown out.

It is a trying time for those of us who live to be out in the wilderness. Yesterday I struggled against a powerful wind, carving out my first run since the knee incident. (I'm glad to report that all seemed fine, although my knee is turning an intriguing shade of yellow.) At one point I was basically running in place, the wind was that strong. However, some people who were sitting at the trailhead in their car gathering up their courage saw me and were shamed into getting out. I'm always glad to do my part.

Today I arrived at the lake trailhead only to find an ominous sheet of ice covering the tread. Normally I would have donned my spikes and forged upward, but memories of my fall lingered and my new mantra thundered through my head: Must not get injured before JMT. Crankily I drove to the gym.

Right now we are under a flood watch, the rivers rising rapidly and turning chocolate. Snow is coming to the mountains and rain to the lower elevations. What that means for us is mud and more mud. My driveway has turned into a sloppy, bottomed-out mess that defeats the Fed Ex guy and scares the neighbors. I lurch along it in 4WD. The dogs merrily track mud everywhere and they are turning brown instead of their normal white.

Perhaps because of this, we sit and detail all the hikes we plan to do when we can get into the wilderness. We know it is months away. Even the canyon is lost to us right now, the lone access road a snarl of slippery mud that I am not willing to take on.

What do you do to keep your spirit alive when you can't do what sustains you? I look over JMT guidebooks and bully my hiking partners into making decisions. I make backpacking plans for the rest of the summer. I make gear lists. I keep writing my Alaska memoir, kind of, and my seasonal park service memoir, mostly in my head. I run on the moraine and in endless loops around the tiny state park. I work on cabin remodeling. Although these are all worthy pursuits, I feel like I am in a holding pattern. I wait for ice to melt. I wait for snow to recede. I wait for the rivers to calm, the country to soak in all the rain and the hillsides to turn green. The years go so fast now but the seasons so slowly. Winter was good but it's time for it to move on. Time to put on a backpack and head out.

The lake with whitecaps today.
What's it like where you live? Are you able to get  out? Cheer me up with some adventurous tales!


  1. In the last three days, we've gotten five inches of rain. I rode my bike with Matt yesterday as he did a pace run. One of our roads was blocked by a small mudslide and a flooded river running through the flats had just retreated enough to open another road.

    We had to change our run today to a different location because the road out there was three feet under water in different spots.

    We also discovered a serious leak in our roof this week.

    We ran in the redwoods today and then went wandered Arcata thrifting in the rain. A pretty big deal, Hubby hates shopping.

    Good for cheering you up huh? :)

  2. We broke our rain record for the month of March on 3/29 at 4:30 with 3.86" of rain. Previous record was 3.81" from 17 yrs ago.

    We had one warm week this month which was about 60 for a high. I was able to actually get out and run twice. I'm not one for running in rain, freezing cold, wind gusts, or snow so I'm limited. I am to the point where I hate the stale stinky gym air and I'm refusing to run on a treadmill. It is spring and I want my sunshine.

    Until then I will chaufer my kids around to scouts, and sporting events. My daughter's choir will start dominating the schedule for the next month or so. We have at least five or six concerts (band/choir) between the two of them through the end of May. I will also try fitting in an obnoxious amount of extended family gatherings in the next few months as well. All this while waiting for the rain to quit and the sun to shine.

  3. Side note: It hasn't quit raining since Thursday 3/29

  4. I've been doing a little backcountry skiing on Mt. Hood. We've been getting slammed with snow all month. I'm ready for some sunny-sky spring skiing! You can read about my skiing adventures in my latest blog post:

  5. ha! perfect timing. my dilemma today: i want to run the blue lake/herring cove route. BUT i think at least half of it is under snow/ice, and probably a good amount of snow in places, considering our big snowstorm 2 weeks ago. I can just walk it, i know, or walk/hike/run it, but i want to RUN it. Just run, for 6 miles straight... but that is TOO MUCH TO ASK for this time of year. It has been pretty clear, though, at least for a few days, so no complaints there.

  6. Well I'm living in two worlds right now, what with my field season taking me to the confluence of the the Grand Ronde/Snake rivers 5 days/week then back home for 2 days. We've had a few nice days, or parts of nice days down there at low elevation, but mostly it rains (I HATE rain). Frankly I'm glad to come home to snow! I was able to get in a run this last week, and I had an enjoyable hike the week before. Everything is earlier down there, and I'm seeing cool plants and animals. I can be pretty pooped from working the fishtrap, especially if we are getting up during the night to go out and check for debris in the trap, so I don't feel like running or hiking Every day, but still, I'm looking forward to drier weather so I at least have the option.

  7. Fairbanks has had the most wonderful February and March. February was warmer than normal and March colder--average lower than February. So after a lack of snow and a record cold January caused a very late start for my skijoring, I've only not been out 9 days since we started the first week of February.

    I kept expecting the days to get warm enough for the trails to be less than wonderful, so I kept not taking any days off--with some visiting dogs I can give them days off and still run a 3 dog team.

    But only last week did we get above freezing--first time since before Christmas. Saturday was my first day not skijoring in 27 straight! But trails are getting icy, so time to start taking it a bit easier. I did run two teams today--hard to take the withdrawal, I guess.

    I live right on the 28 mile sprint trail system on the edge of town, so that makes it easy to go without much (any) planning.

    Having grown up across from Mary in Grangeville, Idaho, what I like most about Fairbanks is the lack of slush. We rarely get melting between October and April, and then break up is usually just a couple of weeks before our nicest weather in mid-May.



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