And just like that, it’s December. We still grossly low on snow up here in the Rocky Mountains but the weather has taken a turn for the colder [much colder] so I guess we can officially say winter has arrived. Finally. The resorts opened 3+ weeks behind schedule which meant those of us lucky enough to snag mountain jobs were stuck with an extra 3 weeks of free time, sans paycheck.
Buffalo’s Boulders; Finally Finding the Summit of Buffalo Mountain
Oh me, oh my. It has been far too long since I’ve had an opportunity to wander off into the wilderness simply because it was out there + waiting for me. Winter is finally here + the time suck that is a job is finally in full swing. I’m back to working 50-70 hours a week between both jobs. It’s really not that bad, but it is time consuming. Once I add in the time I spend commuting on the bus 4-5 days a week + the long hours of wintery darkness my window of opportunity to get outside has narrowed. A lot. Of course, this is all my own doing + it was fully expected, yet the reality check of how little time I have to roam after a summer dedicated to roaming it’s not an easy pill to swallow.
I’m back in the van! After two weeks of hot showers, a full kitchen + easy access internet I have returned to my nomadic life in the TETON Sports #yourlead van. And…I was really excited to get back into the van. I was ready to move again. The van must have felt the urge to tone down my giddiness because it has been throwing things at me since the moment I pointed it east for the second leg of my trip.
It has been nearly three weeks since I made the trek down into the Grand Canyon with Robb + I think it’s a safe [but embarrassing] truth when I say at least 10 of those days were spent fighting with or avoiding the DSLR camera we used. Turns out shooting photos in RAW is fantastic for the marketing + graphics guys but straight up terrible for anyone attempting to upload them anywhere, especially on a hotspot. Or, at least that’s my excuse for failing miserably at sharing my van living adventures…now, without further adieu, here’s how our little trip into the Grand Canyon went down, then back up.
Some mountain adventures lend themselves to long, elaborate stories. Others…well, others are such an in-the-moment experience that I cannot wrangle the right words to truly explain what happened. My week in the mountains of Central Mexico is the latter. Just during the two days we frolicked along the trails leading up to Iztaccihuatl we survived three thundery snowstorms, wandered way off trail twice + literally danced down the mountainside courtesy of some “energy pills”. There aren’t words to describe that…so, instead I’ll share photos + two video mashups of our time on Iztaccihuatl. You can decide if we had any fun!
When my count down to the “Last Day At Vail Resorts!” stumbled to an end I jumped right into my two weeks of…freedom. I was finally down to just one job! I had a sliver of free time and I could spend it however I wanted; not just sleeping! And that’s exactly what I did. It wasn’t until late last night that I realized this — on Monday I’m essentially saying “good-bye” to Colorado for…I have no idea how long. Oh, I’m excited, I’m ready for another bout of change and I have an incredible summer ahead of me.
However, I am going to miss Colorado! From the mountain views to the adventurous people to the winding trails to the local cafes….I’m going to miss Colorado and I am going to miss Summit County! Thankfully I’ve been a lucky duck and I’ve taken some serious advantage of my free time…
From the snow to the sunshine…in posting order + in real life! I’m in the process of repacking all that winter camping gear into my car for a weekend of car camping + trail running + rock climbing in Moab. It’s a sorta solo, sorta group trip. I’m headed that way to take on another outdoor education class [lead sport climbing] but it sounds like I’ll have plenty of free time to explore trails…trails without snow!
Speaking of trails without snow, La M wasn’t the only mountain we hiked while I was down in Monterrey, Mexico. It was only the beginning of a handful of adventures out onto the trails near the perimeter of the massive city. We had settled into an AirBnB near Cerro de la Silla, a really nice neighborhood that butts up against steep mountains leading up to a jagged ridge.
In mid-January I had a chat with my scheduling manager at the hotel, asking for 5 days in a row off…any 5 days. I had no idea what I was going to do with my time off but after weeks of working two nearly fully time jobs I needed a breather. She picked the dates that worked best for the schedule and I started perusing the internet for cheap flights.
I ended up booking a flight to Monterrey, Mexico where I knew I’d find a familiar face, cheap tacos and an excuse to work on my Spanish. Come late February…off I went! I was giving myself a mid-winter trip to Mexico, where I wouldn’t see a drop of salt water but I would find the top of a few urban mountains.
“Are you alone?”
It sounds like a really simple question, right? I’ve been asked “are you alone” a handful of times while out on the trails and I never know how to answer. I mean, the person asking me sees only me on a wide open trail or next to an empty mountain hut…obviously I’m alone.
Every time I’ve been asked I impulsively answer with the truth. Yes. Yes, I’m out here in the middle of no where all by myself. There is no one to pick me back up when I fall, no one to navigate for me, no one to defend me against hungry critters or crazy humans…just me.
One of my questions for Merlin while coordinating my WorkAway plans in Gryon, Switzerland was “how’s the hiking + trail running in the area?”, turns out Merlin was not lying when he said the options are endless. From the day I arrived the Tour de l’Argentine has been mentioned by multiple people, yet it still took me about 4 weeks to actually get out there and run/hike the loop. It did not disappoint! And I really should have done it earlier because now I really want to summit l’Argentine but I’m running out of time!