Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Courage to Speak Softly

Who wants to talk about divorce? It can be a painful subject, and it's what I went through last ski season. I'd quit blogging, and shut off parts of myself to the world for 10 months.

I was also making a ski film with all my heart and soul; going to therapy, and working to maintain friendships.

It was the most difficult time of my life. I divorced a woman I shared great love with, and saw all the ugly parts of myself come to the surface.

What's next for me?  I didn't know if I would continue to pursue my dream of being a skier and a mountaineer. I didn't know if I had it in me still, and I was really looking.

I joke that I have the hardest job in the world; but the hardest part of my job is the soft human stuff.

It's the times I spend in the dark, alone, thinking about stuff I can't express any better than the fumbling mistakes I've lived through and endured.

So what's next for me? I don't know.  Hind-sight is never there it seems like. Going forward, I guess it's ok to be unsure about what's next.  And maybe, I like it best that way.

The mid-life crisis bicycle.

Another morning in the mountains.

I bought the mid-life crisis bicycle in May and focused on cycling for the first time in my life. Regularly going out and putting the hurt on myself. 60 to 80 mile days on dirt trails became normal.

In August I attempted to climb Mount Cowen in-a-day from my house. A 126 mile round trip effort, with close to 11,000 vertical feet of gain and loss would be required.  With no support.

My plan was to ride 50 miles to the trailhead from my house during the full moon in August. From there run/walk to the summit of Mount Cowen (the highest peak in the Absaroka Mountains at 11,211 feet) and back. About 26 miles.

Then finish off with another full moon 50 mile dirt road ride over Trail Creek Rd. Again unsupported.

I almost pulled it off; turning back just shy of the summit in slippery running shoes on dangerous snow conditions. And I made it home in just over the 24 hour mark at 24hr 20min. Bummer. I was so close to being cool.

The best part came at 4am on the first leg of the trip. I felt awful, and wrapped myself up in an emergency blanket for an hour on the side of the road.

I laid there hoping to sleep, but I was scared to let myself relax. Finally I gave in and passed out for 20-30 minutes. It was amazing. For those moments it didn't matter if I climbed the mountain or even if I made it home under my own power.

I was right where I needed to be. Laying in the grass, feeling crazy and content with the madness of my life.

Happy to put the hurt on; Mount Cowen.

I have lots of news going forward. From new partnerships, sponsors, a new film, and some fun product design and testing in the new human-powered world of outdoor adventure sports.

I am honoured to say I've joined Caravan Skis here in Bozeman and will be riding for them as an athlete. This is an awesome shock to me. My first real ski sponsor!

In my twenties I mangled at least 3-4 pair of skis a year. And somehow always ended up with a new pair of used skis in better shape than the ones I broke. It happened so many years in a row, that I made reference to being sponsored as a soul member of the world team. I loved it.

Yes, there was lots of ramen noodles and smoky nights spent in snow caves. And yes, hind-sight was never there as I blazed through Jackson, Girdwood, and Valdez as a young ski-bum.

Sure was fun though...

Caravan Skis, Bozeman MT

Ashley and the crew at Chalet Sports are stoked on Caravan Skis.

So what is next for me? For human-powered mountaineers? I have no idea. So stay tuned.