SKIING SAND STONE SLOPES.

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Nestled next to the northern slopes of the Abajos, and overlooking Indian Creek, is a lone mountain rising just above 9000 feet. The east side of it looks like the beehive on the Utah flag but with large grooves carved into its base, like a large bear had clawed at it leaving deep gouges on its flanks. Running at the base from south to north is Indian Creek proper; the creek has cut away at its base creating a mote on the east side. It’s not the height that gives this “Monticello” (little mountain in Italian) its beauty; it’s the diversity that surrounds it and is upon it. The base of the mountain starts in low desert country where sagebrush mixes with red rock and sand, mid slope is the pinion, juniper forest blending with cactus and yucca plants. Higher up is the oak, which creeps into ponderosa and aspen stands, Doug Fir and blue spruce crown the top.

There is an old jeep road that goes to the top of the mountain, my dad would drive up it in high school but it has long since been closed trucks or jeeps, however a quad and some concentration can get you to the top. In between the deep bear claw grooves is a sand stone ramp. It has always reminded me of the ramp the Romans built to take the Masada (a Jewish hill top fort). One summer I got ambitious and crossed the mote with my bike on my shoulders, stormed the ramp and proceeded to get my butt kicked by the thick oak brush defenders mid slope. I made the summit and enjoyed a grim, bone-jarring ride down the old road. Being on the sand stone slopes of the mountain was a surreal experience. Below me a red rock canyon, above me an alpine environment; and this open sand stone ramp connecting the two, I knew then I needed to ski it, after all how many places can you ski sand stone slopes.

Old man winter has been kind to us so far this season. I knew to ski the Masada ramp it would need ample snow coverage but the powder was too good to pass up on the Abajos, and I neglected the ramp when it was probably in its prime. Early January I decided to give it a go anyhow. I lucked out and could drive almost to the edge of the canyon mote, saving me hours of approach time. Dropping into the canyon proved pretty easy, with some smaller ramps still covered in snow (the snow actually stuck to the sand stone fairly well) Still, the skiing was sparse and after some side stepping I sheathed the skis and booted it across and to the base of the ramp. The snow was sparse and none existent in some parts. I encountered some fourth class scrambles that made me feel awesome, and I was grateful for the lightweight ski boots and copious amounts of ankle articulation provided by the Dynafit TLT6 boot.

 Once on the ramp I could put the skis back on and skin through stunted pinion juniper forest. With some areas having from two feet to two inches of snow, this little outing may not be kind to my skis. About the time I reached the upper most part of the ramp a storm started blowing in. I got a little worried that my truck with no winter weight in the back might get stuck and give me a ticket for a long skin back to a plowed road, so I ditched the skins and headed down. The skiing wasn’t powder or epic, it was stressful. Dodging bare spots and twisted roots creeping across the rock and, getting bucked by deceiving wind formed pillows was unique and uniquely satisfying. Getting back down to the canyon bottom was a bit more exciting. I kept thinking of a ski film I watched where this Austrian was skiing down a mountain with an imposing rock girdle. He was down climbing rock with his skis still on and kept saying, “I’m not taking my skis off, not me!” He made it down okay. With those words running through my mind I decided to keep my skis on as long as there was some snow. I managed to get down with out destroying my skis or myself.

Upon crossing the creek I opted to take a short cut through flora and fauna hell. Sometimes I’m just dumb. My wonderful short cut led me to a sandstone wall flanked by even bigger flora and fauna demons than previously encountered. I grew up climbing and scrambling the pathetic excuse of a rock (sand stone) of this area and felt comfortable leading out on a lower angle slab. Slab climbing is hard in ski boots, even the awesome boots I was sporting. The only reason I kept climbing out this way was the thought that cheese grading down twenty feet of sand stone was still the better option than going fisticuffs with Satan’s houseplants. After a few more tricky rock bands I was back on top and skinning to the truck. The storm held off and I drove out fine, promising the sand stone slopes that I would be back… I’m not sure why.


Post sound track
Pink Floyd’s-fearless
AC/DC- highway to hell

Guns N’ Roses- Paradise city    

one year (and two months).

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one of the hardest things for me about the prospect of moving to a small town was #1 leaving our friends and #2 finding a yoga instructor. ok, so yoga really wasn't #2 on my list...more like #10/12, but it was a reality of the move that i probably wouldn't find a class. kind of ridiculous--i mean realistically i could just watch a video, or create my own sequence. if i'm being completely honest though i like being surrounded by people sweating with me, giggling with my neighbor as i fall out of a pose, laughing with someone about our awkwardly contorted bodies, and i like being around people. i really like being around people. the other day D and i were talking and i mentioned working remotely from home would be kind of nice. he laughed and said "you would never make it." he is right. i love going to work, collaborating with co-workers, and engaging with people throughout the day. i recently made a new acquaintance at a bbq and learned that she taught yoga--and even better she was pulling together a class. today was the first time after about a year hiatus and it was a great release.

we've been here for just over a year now and it has been a bumpy year. starting a business, jumping into a new career in a brand new field, purchasing a house, living with in-laws, taking care of a house, the list goes on. taking the time for myself, with no underlying agenda--thinking of city improvements, business collaboration, city marketing, networking--solely to enjoy yoga (something for myself) was a monumental step. maybe slightly dramatic, but this step--a mere 1 1/2 hours--is what made me grow fonder of this town. i've started growing roots here, new friends, new relationships, new traditions. i'm finding my place. the greatest of all i'm allowing myself to become apart of a community.

4.

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four years down, eternity to go. It is crazy to think D & I have already been married for four years--we've basically graduated the high school of marriage! haha. It has been a roller coaster of a ride, but definitely a good one. I was thinking of some highlights and we've pretty much been around the world and back. Literally in traveling, but also moving pretty much every year and in starting up a business. Marriage is definitely no cakewalk--and has been a fine balance all around. Out of all the things I've done consistently, this is probably the most consistent I've worked at something!

It'll be interesting what year five will bring--but here are some highlights...
  1. Started off marriage driving up the California, Oregon, and Washington coast.
  2. Took D's parents over to Southeast Asia and had a traditional Chinese Wedding. Then we travelled around to Singapore, Malaysia, and Bali.
  3. First apartment in downtown SLC (this was a BIG step for D living in the 'city')
  4. Went to Iceland with our friend Devin
  5. Decided to start a business,  D went to guide training in Washington.
  6. Moved to Millcreek basement
  7. I went to Ireland & Scotland with 5 other girls (including 2 sister in law's Co & Jan)
  8. Decided to name the business Roam, narrowed the focus to bikepacking/human-powered adventure, decided to base operations out of Monticello, launched a crowdfunder
  9. Had my third and final ankle surgery!
  10. Moved to Cottonwood Heights with Devin and Tyler as roommates
  11. Bought a dog--Aldo (Lt. Aldo Raine)
  12. Left my job at the University of Utah--made the big move to Monticello chasing our dream of owning a human-powered adventure business
  13. Bought our first house
  14. Launched Roam in Monticello
  15. I started working for Monticello City as the Parks & Rec Director (Leslie Knope wannabe)
  16. Went to England & biking in Wales
  17. Tons of skiing, biking, and climbing

FEAR FROM COMPARISON.


i've been thinking a lot lately about fear and where it originates for me. many consider me fearless in a conventional sort of way--i climb, mountain bike, ski, participate in what many consider "high risk" activities. my mom still cringes at the thought, more so at the fact that my scarred knuckles and legs aren't very lady-like. i was a lost cause pretty early on regardless of how many dresses or bows were put in my hair.

those closer to me know i am not completely without fear when it comes to these activities, like everyone else i have mental hurtles. one of the most recurring hurtles is going out with other adventurers. i fall into the unfortunate cycle of comparison which at times leads to me sidelining myself from an activity i love. am i going to be as fast as that guy? will i just be holding up the group? more simply put a fear of failure.

i like a quote i recently read, "we aren't competing with other women [or men], ultimately, but with ourselves -- with how we think of ourselves" (Emily V. Gordon). i like this quote because it pointedly states that fear of failure i have is derived from no where/one else then me. the competition within ourselves of comparison is a mental slippery slope that only gets slicker with time. breaking out of the cycle, breaking out of excessive introspective thoughts is key--and normally where reality hits. reality that in the end it all comes down to a common love for being outdoors or whatever other situation. ironically i'm one who falls into this trap when i'm the one who so often is trying to pull friends away from it. the more friends (male or female) i can get out to enjoy the things i love, the greater our circle grows. some of the greatest experiences i have to look back on are from experiences where i've been out of my comfort zone, or where i've been out with friends outside of their comfort zone. some experiences i regret not having are the ones i've missed out from not overcoming a mental hurtle.

we all have hurtles, hopefully too many aren't self-inflicted.

KIN.

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In 1939, two young men walked away from freshly plowed fields to enjoy a weekend in the Abajo Mountains in Southeast Utah. Looking across high wooded plateaus and red colored labyrinths to the west, a wanderlust to chart the unexplored moved them to walk away from the day to day grind. Sweat from labour soon turned to sweat from joyous exertion. By foot and handmade boat these young men traversed the land of the ancients, a land carved and formed by the movement of geologic ages past, a land previously known only to a vanished, and at times, banished people. Several hundred miles and four weeks later they returned from their wanderings. The mountains, deep canyons, and high desert plateaus they traveled remained indelibly engraved upon their hearts and minds and the call to explore hence bid them return time and time again.

These two men were Ruel Randall, Dustin's grandfather, and Kent Frost, a renowned explorer and recreation advocate in San Juan County, UT. Their backcountry forays are inspirational, they often left with only a single knapsack to roam and live off the land for weeks; true human powered adventure.

GROWING PAINS.

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growing pains
I can recall a time I felt growing pains. I was walking down the hallway in our house and a sudden pain shot through my leg, in fact I remember crying out that I had just been shot in the leg with an arrow, a flint tipped Port Orford Cedar shaft right through my femur. I've recovered from the incident, and have since grown to the towering height of 5’9 (take that Port Orford Cedar). The point is we all experience growing pains; in our bodies, relationships, jobs, in everything. Life.
growing pains
This last summer I was scouting out a bikepacking route for a group of high adventure scouts. The leaders wanted the boys to be pushed to their limits but still survive, thus avoiding the wrath of the ever-looming matriarchs. It just so happened that summer I found the most opportune subject in my fourteen-year-old nephew. I knew his matriarch, and wasn’t afraid of using him as the guinea pig. I planned out the route knowing what to expect 80% of the time; the 20% of unknown was a bonus and the real test (I thought) for my nephew and his age group.

For those of you not acquainted with bikepacking, simply put it’s taking everything off your back you would use for an overnight backpacking trip and attaching it to a bike. Then ripping down trails, fire roads, and two tracks (oh and the grueling uphill that always comes with the down). It’s a grand time.
growing pains
Weekend arrived, we kitted out, and set out. The first section of the ride is a well-used quad trail, flowing gradually down hill like a river, and like any proper river has a few rapids. Having navigated it many times I bobbed and weaved through rock gardens and two foot drops. I had the upmost faith in Nat’s skills and knew that she would survive. In hindsight I should have covered my nephew in Go-pro’s, as he took on every rapid and failed miserable but recovered admirably…we missed out on some great crash footage.
growing pains
The next bit was the unknown to me. It is an old two-track road that has been overgrown for the last umpteen years. The riding has potential, but the encroaching gamble oak reminded me of a scary movie scene that has arms reaching out to rip and tear their victims apart--the gamble oak was not much better. We all received a few slaps to the face, shirts ripped, and it was a gamble (pun intended) to use speed to bust through as an occasional oak arm would grab a fist full of break lever resulting in a bushy endo. In the end it was easier to push through all the grabby, grabby. Gaining a little in elevation we worked our way out of the slap happy forest and entered lush green meadows with knee high grass (a rarity in these parts) it was beautiful--in the kind of way an American GI would view the Guadalcanal or the jungles of Vietnam. Beautiful if you didn’t have to move to get through it. Hiding in the grass were hundreds of downed aspen trees not worth going around. We would dismount and carry the fully loaded bikes over and over. The short distance riding was not worth it, so we became mules and pushed, pulled, and hiked the bikes. It became particular enjoyable as the terrain got steeper and steeper. We did come across some interesting geological features for these parts, such as granite boulders like you would find in Little Cotton Wood canyon. The thought crossed my mind to re-visit the place with some bouldering pads, but the thugs in the slap happy forest pushed that thought aside. I would have to get my “Ash”(see Evil Dead for that reference) on in a serious way to accomplish that mission.
growing pains
Eventually, we reconnected with a well-used track and enjoyed some deserved down hill time. We then spent the rest of the day and well into the evening burning our legs and lungs out on a consistent six mile climb. That night sitting around the stove on a ridge; huddled in our down jackets, backs to the wind and eyes on the stars I asked my nephew what he thought so far. His response, though pleasing, was surprising; he liked it, said it was harder than he thought it would be. Come to find out this was his first time camping away from a car. He had never spent a night out on a backpacking trip let alone a bike-packing trip. I thought about the activities of the day, especially his additional pain and suffering with all the extra wrecks he endured. Lots of pain, but lots of growth.
growing pains
Besides a brutal little push up some steep two track the day, and trip, ended with five miles of rushing trail. Once again I lamented the forgotten go-pro to document a young boy's many and mighty wrecks. As expected the rapids didn’t disappoint and my nephew wiser from previous encounters took his time to pick a line and ride them out. He’s only fourteen and has lots of growing to do and with that, lots of pain. We all have growing to do in one-way or another, but that’s how you know your progressing, learning and enjoying life. Get out and feel some growing pains.

Post Sound Track | The Beta Band
Full Set | Growing Pains

FETA MAC.

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Feta Mac

20 min prep | 35 min baking

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups macaroni and cellantani pasta mix
  • 4  T butter
  • 4 T olive oil, plus more to grease dish
  • 5 cloves garlic diced
  • spinach
  • basil
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1-2 cups feta
  • 3 green onions diced
  • bread crumbs
  • spices to taste (oregano, cumin, cayenne)
Instructions:
  1. boil water and cook mac (I like to mix mac with cellantani), when texture you like drain, and run under cold water.
  2. in same pot on low/med heat add butter, olive oil, and garlic sauté until garlic is tender then add  2 handfuls spinach, pasta, and mix well. add spices (oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper) to taste.
  3. grease 9x10" glass pyrex with olive oil
  4. layer:
    • pasta mixure
    • fresh spinach, basil, tomato, green onion and feta
    • past mixture, remaining fresh veggies for garnish, bread crumbs, and feta.
  5. bake at 400 for 35 min

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