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Closing Out the Season

24 Apr 17
Heidi Kumm
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The one place it is perfectly acceptable to sit on the floor near a trash can is in an airport. Or that’s what I tell myself. For some silly reason 90% of the available outlets are always on those pillars surrounded by trash + recycling bins. From an architectural stand point, I guess that makes sense. From a self-respect + dignity stand point, not so much. Lucky for the batteries of my electronics, I’m not exactly overflowing with either self-respect of dignity!

[Note: This was written in MSP while I was waiting for my flight — we started boarding + I needed to take my bio break before I got the photos added, so I’m actually publishing this from a coffee shop in Switzerland a week later + back dating it. Oops.]

As you may have guessed, I’m writing this from an airport floor, near a trash can [+ an electrical outlet!]. I’m about thirty minutes away from boarding a flight from Minneapolis, MN to Reykjavik, Iceland. The more adventurous season of my seasonal life kicked in last week when the Keystone Resort closed for the season. I packed my Colorado life into a few totes, stashed them in Robb’s closet + jammed a few months worth of gear into a backpacking pack. After a few days of family’ing in Wisconsin [with a restock of cheese curds + cookies!] I’m back at the airport with my passport in hand.

…yes, I obviously *need* all of that! Probably. Hopefully?

Tomorrow morning I’ll meet Robb in Iceland, pick up a camper van + wander around the island for a week. Once we’ve tired of the rain [current forecast = rain, every. single. day.] we’ll head back to the airport + onto our respective summers. Robb will return to the muddy Colorado mountains [mud season is a very real thing] + I’ll hop on a plane headed east, to Switzerland. I’m going back + I can not wait to get there.

I know I’ll be oversharing stories + photos from Iceland + Switzerland + beyond once I get settled back into the nomadic traveling life.  I also know I haven’t been sharing much of anything from my winter season in Colorado. So, before I switch over to foreign mountain photos, let me love on Colorado + its beauty for a hot second. The past six months have blessed me with a handful of incredibly beautiful adventures…

Buffalo Mountain

I kicked off my season in Summit County with a trip up Buffalo Mountain. This mountain’s rounded summit is quite literally in Robb’s backyard, yet it took me a few years to get around to finding its true summit. With a really warm November I was able to head up the mountain on a random Tuesday, wearing a tank top until we hit the windy summit. This crazy warm weather is also the reason my winter job at the ER started three weeks late…

...when Max decided I was his favorite, probably. Or not, the boulder fields are not nice to dog feet!

Backcountry Avy Training

There is a big chunk of late-November through early-January that I do not remember. This is probably a good thing, as I was working 80 hour weeks in an attempt to balance two jobs. I finally got to escape to get a little real mountain time when we headed west to the San Juans for avalanche training. Over the course of a week we got a boat load of snow, making for a beautiful weekend in a mountain hut while brushing up on our avy knowledge…once the pass opened…

...digging pits, when we got a big enough break in the weather to be able to dig faster than it was snowing!

Columbine Cabin’ing

Once the jobs slowed down [reality: I focused on just one + figured out how to enjoy my actual life] I got creative with my free time. Rather than earn all of $50 working for a day at my online gig I opted for some fancy adventures that entailed driving two hours north to the Columbine Cabins. I made the trek three times — twice with Robb + once with friend from work. Each time we picked a new cabin, made big plans for our time in the wilderness…then got lazy as soon as we arrived + opted for an “on the way home” trip to the Strawberry Hot Springs…

…the rustic awesome of Columbine on our third trip [after our first trip + a girls’ “weekend” trip].

Backcountry Tubing

Of course, not every adventure requires a trip far into the wilderness. If we couldn’t wrangle multiple days off together we’d stick closer to home to find wintery fun. Sometimes we’d skin up a resort before the lifts opened, other times we’d hurl ourselves down a mountainside atop a snow tube. For the record, we were not *both* skilled at this…

...I flipped + smashed right into the snow. I was the one who did not excel at tubing. Shocking, I know.

Yurt Trip’ing

While I didn’t get a chance to go legitimate winter camping [seriously tho, not a complaint!] we did get to rough it a bit more than a 10th Mountain Division Hut or a Columbine Cabin. When I saw a friend was looking for extras on a Never Summer yurt trip I jumped at the chance…then talked a few friends [including my brother!] into filling to yurt. It was an experience, to say the least! The weather was frigid + we weren’t quite prepared for what we were getting into. Regardless, we found a way to enjoy ourselves, once we got the fire-place working properly…

…the sun came out, on our hike back to the trailhead!

Moab Biking + Camping

Knowing we’d be jones’ing to get away from the snow when spring rolled around we finagled our schedules to get us a few consecutive days off + planned a trip over to Moab. I bribed Robb with promises of dry trails for his mountain bike + Hannah with the promise of sunshine. We got both. We also go rain. Figures. We spent a long weekend mountain biking, exploring National Parks + volunteering at one of the Mad Moose trail ultras [highly recommend!]. We also soaked up just enough sunshine to really wish spring would hurry up + arrive already…

...the reward for volunteering — trails to scramble with stunning views, sans exhausted race legs!

Grand Junction Camping

After our successful escapes from cell service at the Columbine Cabins Robb + I decided we had earned ourselves one last weekend of  data free roaming before the season came to an end. Initially, we had planned to do something snowy…except February + March were extremely warm months so all of the snow left us. We opted for more sunshine instead, heading to the Western Slopes of Colorado for the last weekend of the winter season [as determined by Keystone’s closing date]. We found some BLM land + spent two days with coyotes, turkeys, Max + watermelon seeds…

...Max, showing off his mad skills!

Colorado River Rafting

My final bit of fun in Colorado this season was something I’ve never done before — a rafting trip along the Colorado River. The true beauty of seasonal work is the mix of personalities + passions you get. A lot of people who work in the mountains during the winter spend their summers on the rivers. The ladies of the Keystone Medical Clinic pooled our resources + pulled off a river trip that hit the water the day after the resort + clinic closed for the season. I knew nothing about river rafting prior to this trip + sort of loved the entire experience… the river, at camp…where electronics are relatively safe from the water! So. Much. Happy!

After the river trip I had all of 36 hours to unpack, launder, shower + repack before heading to Wisconsin for a 72 hour visit then plopping myself down on an airport’s carpet to kick off my summer of mountain exploring on the European continent.

It’s an non-traditional + rather odd life that I’ve carved out for myself. Every time I take a minute to really look at my life I am amazed to see where I’m at. A few years ago I would have laughed at myself for thinking this was all possible…yet here I am.

A humble brag? Eh. A not-so-humble brag? Potential. Reality? Definitely.

I’ll forever be thankful for all the forces that spontaneously came together to give me the nudge, push + shove required to throw myself out there + make this crazy, wonderful life happen. Here’s to another year of seasonal living! [insert ice cream emoji, because…priorities!]

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