A “Best of Series” from Carbondale, Colorado homegrown 5Point Film Festival. The evening included pulled pork sandwiches from local Six 89 Restaurant and special appearance by adventurer Cory Richards. To watch in full HD click on the vimeo link.
A big thanks to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) for hosting my video on their Facebook page. The AMC is an amazing company and I could not have ask for a better place to spend two summers. The White Mountains and the AMC Huts are extraordinary places. I would highly recommend a visit! To plan a trip visit the AMC at www.outdoors.org.
Thanks again to the AMC and everyone that supported the video. If you have not seen it have a look at: http://vimeo.com/28877988
Mt. Washington, NH has claimed the lives of 135 people with 45 of those being between the months of January and March. Standing on the shoulder of this 6,288ft mountain, at our own (East Coast) respectable elevation of 5,200ft this thought and many others flood to the front of my brain. It was March 23th.
Visibility was no more than 150ft, or was at least 150ft if you are a glass half full kind of person. Maybe we should have been. Sporting the lowest percentage of clear days out of the year in the lower 48, Mt. Washington and the surrounding White Mountains National Forest is the convergence point for three main weather systems. This seemingly happen stance of factors allowed the summit to support the WORLD RECORD for recorded wind speed at 231 mph and an average winds speed of 40.4 for the month of March.
Exposed on the westerly side of the range, my friend Peter and I were enjoying non-existent winds and relatively moderate temperatures, 10 mph and 3 degrees Fahrenheit (- 12 with wind chill) respectively. Standing on the Jewel Trail, or at least what we thought was it, we looked up into the mist above straining to catch a glimpse of the ridge ahead. The goal was to link up with the Gulf Side Trail and traverse East over to the Cog Rail Way. The Cog is a train service that takes tourist to the summit of the mountain, and doubles for an unadvertised backcountry ski trail in the winter.
We were hoping to use it for the latter. With our skis A-framed to our pack we continued further into the alpine zone up towards… well we were not quite sure where exactly. With each step additional graphic scene of your demise flashed into my thoughts. The rare and elusive Eastern Yeti made an appearance in an elaborate daydream, which ended with him bullying us out of our gear and skis. Bastard.
My parents generation would have describe the decision as admirable and correct, my generation would have described it as they would a young cat or the Viola tricolor hybridized. Tails between our legs we succumb to our nervous and solemnly walked down past the rime covered cairns that seemed to be taunting us as we pasted. Then came Burt. Not long after pivoting our snowshoes in the backwards direction, the S-shaped path took us to an overlook of a steep ravine to our left, Burt Ravine.
I have a have a theory that irrational decisions come on the heels of making a rational one, and that brainless choice makes the better story of the two. Rarely indulging the illogical side of my mind and never heading my own advice, I came to one of the seldom “F**K It” movements of my life.
Swearing in the most positive of ways, I was immediately enthralled by the 4 inches of untouched new snow and 30 plus degree grade. As we descended in bliss, the mist continually designated leaving us with stunning views of the cliffs and ravine walls boxing us in. Our skis danced around the sparse spruce tops that would normally be head high, and guided us down rockslides covered by an unusually high snowfall. As the slope diminished it became a game of ducking and weaving through the riparian banks of Clay Brook.
The linked turns of the upper ravine had left a strong impression as we looked back up at the Presidential Range. Burt Ravine looked surprising terrifying from the angle at which we stood now, especially within view of the seemingly placid swath of cleared land that the Cog occupied. The normally magnificent feeling of taking off my ski boots was bitter sweat. Both of our minds lingered on the heading back for round two, but our frost nipped feet said otherwise. The gear piled in the car we could now see the majority of the snow-capped range, with the tinge of fading light spreading over the summits.
How do I put this lightly…? I despised running, and to be honest with myself many other athletic endeavors as a child and young adult. Well again in full disclosure it was not until less than a year ago I began to enjoy any endurance oriented sports. Soccer was my jam as a kid and continued to be through college. Activities such as skiing, hiking, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing and others slowly accumulated over the years into my repertoire of athletic vices.
One might think that this is inherent in all children, especially these days. My family is an exception to that rule, and I would have counted myself in the masses rather than with my two brothers and parents. When going to the doctor when we lived in Massachusetts, a population of 6.5 million at the time, he said that my father was the fittest client that he had ever had. That was until he met my older brother.
Both my parents downhill ski raced in college, and my mother raced in the women’s alpine nationals. Though she would say she was not one of the top racers, I am still impressed. My father is a power house with what ever he does. From skiing to cycling to ping pong this man has a natural knack for anything that requires body movement. In his early to mid twenties he biked across the country. BIKED! I am currently driving across the country and I get to average 70 mph on the Nebraska highway. To this day he still can keep up with everything his three sons do, and we have a sneaking suspicion that he is just toying with us.
Those brothers I mentioned before are cycling fiends. I am smack dab in the middle with a two year margin above and bellow. Apparently the cycling gene skips children. My older brother came in 3rd at the National Road Championships in 2007 and the little one placed first for his age group and 22 overall at the Mount Washington Hill Climb. The race is only 7.6 miles yet climbs 4,618 ft and reaches slope of 20%!
Me…I am a trail runner. There is no line of best fit to this epiphany. No slow progression or transition period to define this growing passion of mine. My family and friends still fumble with words when I say I am going to go for a run. I have no training schedules or events to prepare for, there is just a carnal desire that has seemingly materialized overnight. Though I am sure I could find the route cause, I am just as happy to not take away the mystery and run.
Over this past summer I immediately embraced this seemingly impossible transformation and it has taken me to interesting places and on exciting adventures. I cant wait to see where else this euphoric outlet will take me, and I hope that I will not scare it away.