Saturday, August 9, 2014

Drawing new circles (wedding, new job, Denali and power-hiking)

"The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory and to do something without knowing how or why; in short to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful. It is by abandonment." Ralph Waldo Emerson, from 'Circles' 
Jumping for joy on the summit of Mount Tiny (9869 feet)
in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness during our honeymoon.
Since my last post in late-May, I have drawn many new circles: I have changed jobs, moved, GOTTEN MARRIED, had my first photo show, confirmed a spot on a 2015 Denali expedition and set a new power-hiking PR on Stuart Peak (in that order, with the Stuart Peak PR happening today). Today, I will touch on the job, marriage, Denali and Stuart Peak.

New Job:

I have the best job in the world! I now work for The Flagship Program as a Youth Development Coordinator at Hawthorne Elementary School. In my role, I am responsible for developing/planning out-of-school time enrichment programs (reading, sports, outdoors, gardening, art, etc.) for K-5 students. I am so grateful for such an amazing job!


Linds and I committed ourselves to one another in front of ~150 of our friends and family on July 26th up at beautiful Snowbowl. It was, without a doubt, the most joyous occasion of my life (and hopefully Linds' life too, although X-Men movie releases are pretty high on that list). I have never smiled so much in my life!

There were, of course, countless highlights. From our officiant Brian Marsh's beautiful words to the echoes of our audience's affirmations off the mountainside to seeing so many of the people that we love. With all of that goodness, there is one memory that stands above the rest: our first dance.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not particularly keen on dancing. Of course, the wedding would stand as an exception (this I had known well in advance). Linds had selected our first song and had been communicating with the band, in secret, about how our first dance was to go. After clearing the dance floor of the tables and chairs, we go in to hold one another, in preparation for the song to begin. Faint acoustic guitar strumming began. As the intro crescendoed, my mind formulated what song it was that we were hearing. It was one of Linds and I's favorite songs 'Taillights' by David Boone (a local Missoula artist). What a treat! And if that wasn't enough. Linds leans in and whispers to me, "he's playing a 30-minute set." At this point, it began to sink in: that was not one of our band's musicians covering David Boone that was, in fact, David Boone! Linds, unbeknownst to me, had hired David Boone to play a 30-minute set, including our first dance. Wow. I was mildly in shock, still struggling to understand the enormity of it all.

"Move to Montana and lay your burdens down...
and our feet don't touch the ground." Taillights, by David Boone
Our first dance!
The morning after the wedding, Linds and I packed up the car and headed to Anaconda-Pinler Wilderness for a 3-day backpacking trip. Just as we were disembarking from the car, Linds mentioned that her wedding dress was in the car. Should she bring it along? Of course! My wedding clothes were packed amongst the myriad wedding decorations and odd-and-ends from the mountain wedding. We opted to pack our wedding clothes and a few decorations for a mountaintop photo-shoot.

The first day, we hiked in 4 miles to Goat Flat and set up camp on the edge of a stunning alpine meadow at 9,200 feet. This would be our home the next two nights. We took our first day out as a serious rest day. Upon setting up camp, we rested.

Our campsite replete with our wedding prayer flags.
The two days that followed were a total lark. We did our mountaintop wedding shoot, stood on two summits, read, wrote, ate, laughed, stargazed (amazing!) and napped. It was, in short, spectacular. 

Linds airborne on top of Mount Tiny. 
All told, from the Friday before our wedding through the Tuesday that marked the end of our honeymoon and the beginning of real life, joy abounded. These go down as easily the happiest 5 days of my life! And it is just the beginning...

Denali 2015:

After much consideration and conservations with my climbing friend Phil, we locked in a 2015 climbing date for Denali. May 5th, 2015, Phil and I will head out on the trip-of-a-lifetime to climb Denali. Our original play of 2014 fell through on account of several life circumstances and now, here we are, primed for the climb. We have been confirmed on RMI's first team of the season and could not be more thrilled. More to come on this in the near future!

Stuart Peak power-hiking PR (today!):

Eager to get back to some semblance of mountain fitness, I set my sights on a speed-hike of Stuart Peak for my August ascent of the ol' mountain. In preparation, I did a couple of speed hikes up Mount Sentinel and University Mountain over the last couple of weeks. I was able to nail down a 50-minute round-trip on Sentinel in 95 degree heat and a 2-hour round-trip on University a couple of days later.

Feeling strong and excited to sink my teeth into a challenge, I packed my larger camelbak bag with a few Clif Bars, 2-liters of water, a GoPro and sunscreen. 

Now, I will spare you the details of the outing, as these things tend to be rather uneventful (and it was, in the best possible way). My plan was to hike as fast as I could, with only a 1-2 minute stop on the summit for pictures,  up and down Stuart Peak without running a step. I would drink a modest volume of water every 15-30 minutes and eat half of a Clif Bar at strategic points on the trail. The fueling worked perfectly! I felt like a million bucks throughout the duration of the hike. What fun!

Here is the breakdown (Stuart Peak trail 517):

Distance: 9.5 miles one-way (19 miles round-trip)
Elevation exchange: 4,200 feet ascent and 4,2000 descent

Trailhead to summit (ascent): 2 hours 17 minutes (1.5 minutes on summit)
Average ascent pace: 4.2 mph
Summit to trailhead (descent): 1 hour 59 minutes
Average descent pace: 4.8 mph
Total round-trip time: 4 hours 17 minutes
Average overall pace: 4 mph

Overall, I am quite pleased with al it went. I still have some work to do on my uphills. That said, I am very pleased with an 3.7 mph average uphill for 8.5 miles. And, ultimately, I had a blast!

On the summit of Stuart Peak for 1.5 minutes. What a glorious day!
Today's outing ultimately got me excited for the prospect of a Stuart Peak double-dip: 34 miles round-trip with 8400 feet of climbing and descending. I am going to lay off of the speed stuff until mid-September, when I prepare for the 'Mount Sentinel Hill Climb', but I foresee the Stuart Peak double dip power-hike in the near future :-). 

As I mentioned, I am laying off of speed-hiking for a bit so I can thoroughly enjoy hiking some mountains with Linds this month while staying healthy for Phil and my 'double-dip' at the end of the month. More to come on this!

El Fin:

All right. That is all for now. I sincerely hope that my next post is not filled with so many big life changes. All of the above were welcomed, needed and dearly loved, but stability is also nice. Ah, there they are: my feet. They are below me firmly planted on the ground. Life is good.

With love and gratitude,


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