Summertime in Park City

Only 8 days until school is out, which means summertime for the kids and back to being a full-time Mom. Do we ever have time off? Nope.

Our summer “line up” is looking good for the boys. Lucas starts off with the Park City Town Shootout (lacrosse), then off to ski camp, then back for Eliteam in Park City, then back east for another lacrosse camp in Stowe, VT. Stefan’s schedule includes lacrosse with 212 camp in Park City, Lego Minecraft camp, Eliteam in Vermont and Nike lacrosse camp. Then we’ll go south to Cape Cod after Vermont a trip to the St. Lawrence River in Canada. We land back in Utah in August and stay home saying, “phew” and enjoy the few weeks before school begins all over again.

Before the school doors close (and my kids have a dream summertime schedule), I took part in Park City’s fourth annual “Running With Ed” on Saturday, May 18, 2013. This is a 38-mile relay race that raises money for our local school system. It’s great fun for a great cause. My team this year included: Simone Nixon, Kathy Pederson, Amanda Greene, Michelle Szwajkun and moi. Let’s just say I was the weakest link! Our team raised over $2,000 and this year’s event has raised over $150,000. Not too bad for some fun and exercise!

Personally, I think we had the best costumes with inspiration coming from the Dr. Seuss book, “GO Dog Go”. 2013 Thanks in part to Simone Nixon who came up with the idea. Last year we were “The Running Crayons,” another great theme. 2012I certainly don’t contribute in creativity or to the seven minute mile that everyone else runs!  I’m running for the cause, to be the comedic relief and keeping it non-competitive, (ha-ha). When I woke up Saturday morning, it was pouring rain. Always trying to stay positive, I thought, “at least it’s not snowing!” The weather managed to hold out considering what it had been early that morning. I ended up running in the rain and I must admit it was actually very pleasant! To top it off, we placed third overall for costume and third in the women’s division!

During the summer I try to fit in some hikes with the dog and, my favorite, road biking between shuttling and traveling with the kids. I also try and hit the little white ball and pretend I’m a golfer. Luckily my friends know about my love of the game but I don’t think they realized how much I love it until the other night at dinner. I always tell them about the going-ons from the “Golf Channel” which is on at my house 24/7. Seriously. They think I’m crazy, but I may be the epitome of a “fan/admirer.” My friends are nice enough to listen to me ramble on because they know the game of golf is challenging and I’m hooked on it. While we were having dinner at a local restaurant I looked over and I said, “that‘s Mark O’Meara” they all rolled their eyes and asked who? Are you kidding me? I rattle off some stats confirmed with a friend talking to him. It ended up being the best day ever. Yes, I had spotted my first celeb sighting!photo (37)

Since the summer is just beginning. I’ll continue to keep you posted with the activities and happenings that fill my days until winter rolls back around. No, I’m not ready to be on skis just yet. I need to exercise and get ready for the fall, but I promise to enjoy the warm temperatures of summer. Stay tuned for my next post on my new ski clothing sponsor!

Cheers,

Heidi

 

Gearing Up

Just like skiing, mountain biking is a wonderful sport that can be fraught with frustration if not started the right way. The problem is that, if we can ride a bicycle, we generally assume that we already know everything about the technique and the equipment, and don’t need any lessons. While this seems logical, mountain-biking is a totally different universe, because there is highly specialized equipment just for it, plenty of gravity going up and down, uneven terrain, and most often than not a narrow, single-track involved!

These differences are the key reasons for considering professional help that can take a rank beginner into a smart mountain-bike rider. Things like learning the basics of using the brakes the proper way, understanding the “platform” concept, knowing about correct body placement and feeling comfortable with obstacles and single-track riding. These elements where probably not part of the curriculum used by your mom or dad when you learned how to ride your first bike!

This said there are countless reasons for getting into mountain biking; most folks get into the sport either by accident, special circumstances, like a visit to Deer Valley Resort, or just because they want to try something new. There are also many ways to get started. First, there’s the gentle one, which consists of beginning on asphalt bike-paths, staying on flat terrain and progressively tackling the more challenging trails. Then, there’s the “full-immersion” program that takes rank-beginners into the heart of the matter, with guts and gusto, straight up into the mountain. These forms of entry points often match certain age groups too. Middle-age people will gravitate towards the former, while teenagers and young adults may pedal more assertively into the sport and enjoy a faster learning curve.

Going at mountain biking progressively is probably a good idea for middle-age and older individuals. These riders can be a bit apprehensive and often don’t have as much time available for the sport. They can transition naturally from their regular biking experience into some slightly heavier equipment in which familiarity with the proper use of gears, brakes and terrain requires some time to be learned. After practicing these skills for a while on bike path or gravel road, they’ll be ready to explore more complex terrain and get familiar with uphill climbs, descents and single-track trails.

If the riders aren’t quite ready for taking that step, either because they are just afraid or don’t have the stamina the activity requires, they might be better off switching to a lighter, cross-country mountain bike design that can be used either on gentler terrain and on wider trails covered with asphalt, gravel or dirt. Before they do, however, it might still be an excellent idea to take a few more lessons. On the other hand, if riders get comfortable on single trails and their ups and downs, improvements will largely be a function of time, mileage and increased level of difficulty. It is at this stage that a good combination of lift-assisted biking and practicing on blue runs can provide this key ingredient that’s so important in mountain-biking: Experience!

If the riders are young, energetic and fearless, they can literally take the plunge either by mean of lift-assisted, downhill biking or ease into single-track cross-country riding. As mentioned earlier, the participant’s age plays a crucial role. Teenagers and young adults can learn with buddies and thanks to a combination of grit, good balance, athletic abilities, peer pressure and lots of practice; they will learn the rudiment of the sport and improve quite rapidly.

Again, for all of these groups, the best way to get started is by taking lessons as there is a technique to be learned and this can save a lot of grief to the newcomer. Without lessons, these skills must be acquired the hard way and this can translate into a much longer process. In fact, unless the rider can get out 20 or 30 times each season, like some of the locals do, the morale of a successful mountain biking experience is to take lessons from the start, stick to practicing and getting out as often as possible.

Now, don’t delay, take that first step into mountain biking before the season is over!

Trail Ride through Deer Valley with the Horse Whisperer

What I love most about living in Park City is that everyone wants to visit, especially our adult children.  I don’t even have to guilt trip them about visiting their mom! They come willingly because there is so much to do. When our son, Brian, age 24, came last week, we decided after days filled with hiking, fishing, target practice, and a new adventure called “rifle golf” ( that’s another story) we decided to go on horseback trail ride at Deer Valley.

I grabbed my “Cowgirl Up” ball cap, threw on my jeans and my cowgirl shirt before heading out. We found Boulder Mountain Ranch tucked away by Stein Eriksen Lodge in a bend on the mine road.  We chose a two hour ride and were fit with horses based on our ability.  A few instructions and we were off.

The experience of riding a 1000 lb. animal on a trail is very different than the boots on the ground experience of hiking.  Obviously you are higher up, with an added six feet or so and you cover more than twice as much ground, but it’s more than that. The horse itself brings with him a whole new perspective.

If you listened closely to our guide, Dennis, and got into the mind of the horse, you not only had an easier time on the trail but a much more interesting one as well. Our group headed past “the beach” at Silver Lake Lodge and ducked into an aspen grove as we took the Sultan Out and Back trail.  This was when I realized that Dennis wasn’t just a guide but kind of a “horse whisperer.”  When he gave us our trail ride tips, he came from a place of understanding, compassion and respect for the animals so you realized you were on a special creature and not just on a ride.

Here are a couple examples of his direction and the depth behind it:

Stay close and follow the horse in front of you.  I know this is an obvious tip if you are on a trail ride.  But Dennis explained the horse’s nature as a pack animal; it is natural for them to follow each other.  For animals that live in packs, there is safety in numbers.  When they are out in the lead or on their own, they have a heightened sense of danger resulting in skittishness.  But when they are following, they relax and then calm is the result. It’s easier for them and, of course, for you.

Don’t let them eat.  Dennis made a strong point in telling us well before we hit the meadow that the horses will see this as “the buffet” and will go into “all you can eat” mode.  We watched for them to take their first bite so we could nip it in the bud with a quick yank on the halter and kick with our heels.  When we showed them right away we wouldn’t let them get away with it, they stopped trying.  It worked!

He went on to say that for thousands of years horses lived a nomadic lifestyle and never knew when their next meal would be.  They are “programmed” to eat when possible even if they aren’t hungry since their next meal could be days away.  Understanding their nature made it easier for us to discipline them – we knew they were well fed, and they also weren’t trying anything out of the ordinary.  We all enjoyed our rides much more without them putting their heads down to eat all the time.  Instead, they were paying attention to the trail so we could also.

As we stopped for a view of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the Uinta Mountain range, I was also getting to know, Ben, my horse. His favorite place to ride was with his nose right next to the flank of the lead horse.  I think if he could have sat in that horse’s lap, he would have. Talk about a follower!  But when my husband’s horse, Uno, tried to do that to him, Ben would have none of it.  He stamped his feet and aggressively swished his tail in Uno’s face to let him know to stay back.  I guess this is a case of “do as I say and not as I do.”

When we got to the end, we got to make a steep decline to get to the stable and Ben wanted to continue his flank attachment style of following.  In other words, he wanted to go double in a single lane. So I decided to “cowgirl up” and use what I’d learned from our horse whisperer guide, and actually said out loud, “I don’t think so Ben.  Just hold up a sec and give us some room here, my friend.”  The words were superfluous but the quick yank back worked and he immediately backed off so I could enjoy the last few moments of my ride down the switchbacks into the stable.

Dennis warned us that our legs might be a bit wobbly when we dismounted.  Mine were.  Two hours was the perfect ride for us — not too short and not too long. Overall it was “mission accomplished” for a great outing with our son because he wants to come back and do it again.  That’s all a mom can ask.

Note – For information on Boulder Mountain Ranch trail rides or to make a reservation, see their website bouldermountainranch.com.  You can call (866) 783-5819 or email them at bouldermountainranch@allwest.net.

A Long and Winding Trail Into Mountain Biking

Our first experience with mountain biking can be traced back more than a quarter of century ago, when we moved from New York to Park City, Utah. Then, Deer Valley Resort was just 4 years old and there wasn’t any lift-served mountain biking available; in fact, mountain biking had barely been invented. This period of the early 80s was only the dawn of that great sport and just a select few began to get excited about it.

I remember that for the summer of 1987, my wife and I bought two Scott mountain bikes, with fat tires, 24 speed and zero-suspension. We tested them on the asphalt a few times, but used them mostly to take a weekly trip to Old Town Park City and while I may have tried mine on a few dirt trails, I soon found out that it was more work than what I had bargained for and concluded that it was simply not for me. As summer turned into fall, the bikes were relieved of their duties and stayed quietly in our garage until the end of the decade.

Fast-forward to 1990; this was a new and exciting year for us; I was now between two jobs while building a new home. That year, we first sold our residence and the two venerable bikes inside the garage were conveniently “bundled” with the house to give the transaction more of a “mountain” flavor. Our move to a new home also coincided with a noted progress in mountain bike technology: The advent of front suspensions. That’s right, until that time there was no difference between the front fork of a road bike and that of a mountain bike. They both were stiff, unyielding and quite shaky on rough terrain. Getting rid of our first bicycles gave us the opportunity to upgrade to a pair of brand new bikes that had a semblance of front suspension.

This time again, similar scenario; we only used them for a limited number of outings, albeit more audaciously; we began venturing into singletrack trails and I even remember flying over the handlebars in a trail called “Trans-Wasatch,” just where the St. Regis hotel now stands. Through sheer luck and some divine intervention I survived the move as I miraculously landed standing up on my own two feet. Needless to say that after a mishap like this, both bikes were “grounded” for good, and they paradoxically remained hung-up forever, high in the ceiling of our large garage.

That lasted right after the Salt Lake City Olympics, when our children left us and my wife and I suddenly became empty nesters in an over-sized home; we eventually sold the house, negotiating once again the pair of unused bicycles as part of the real-estate settlement. We subsequently lived three full years without bikes in the garage. In 2005 however, I relapsed into my two-wheel pursuit and purchased two-state-of-the-art mountain bikes (front and rear suspensions, disk brakes, the works…) My wife gave me the kind of look that means something like “you’ll never learn…”

We got our bikes in the fall and began to use them on the easy stuff, like the Park City Rail-Trail plus some other bike paths and even made a few timid forays into single-track territory. While the new, modern bikes were literally a “game changer” as they’re more efficient, comfortable and user-friendly, we were both anxious, not quite knowing if my latest infatuation would last. What got us going was the investment we had made and while we realized that a third time wouldn’t automatically be a charm, we just didn’t want to give up only after having tried our hardest.

What made all the difference however, was that I was now retired and we suddenly had much more time on our hands. While we continued for a while on easy paths like the Rail-Trail and both the Farm and the McLeod Creek trails, we then dared to try the lift-assisted mountain bike trails in Deer Valley, but still were woefully inexperienced to fully appreciate them. We then honed our skills on the easy trails that crisscross the Round Valley open space that stands between Park City’s new hospital and the Park Meadow subdivision where we live.

A steady practice on that gentle but technical terrain began to bear fruits and eventually would make a huge difference in our gathering the prerequisite technique and mileage that are the foundation of enjoyable mountain biking. This in a nutshell is how we become more attracted to the world of singletrack trails and almost without realizing it, began to become more confident and enjoyed the sport so much more. Each subsequent season, more days were added to our schedule with greater challenges that turned into better skills, growing assurance and much more fun.

We can now use the Deer Valley lifts and enjoy riding Sunset and Naildriver on the way down as if we had done it for a lifetime. We love the sport and, this season alone, have logged more than 40 days by the end of July! Make no mistake though; mountain biking isn’t an easy sport to pick and stay with, and I bet that there are a multitude of mountain bikes out there that, just like our first two sets of bikes, are hanging alone in some garage, even though they were purchased with the very best of intentions! In some next blog, I’ll try to explain how everyone can get some great “traction” in mountain biking without working too hard or even thinking that they where just not made for that sport. Stay tuned…

An Evening with the Utah Symphony

I’ll admit it.  I hid the chocolate. It’s not like I needed to because there were also two pieces of lemon cake right on top of the gourmet picnic basket I carried to our blanket on the lawn at the Opera Hits concert with the Utah Symphony.  I just wanted the chocolate raspberry truffle tartlets all to myself.

You can come right out and say that’s selfish and I must be an awful person. It is all true – I can’t deny it.  But I have to say if you’d seen the desserts in the Deer Valley gourmet picnic basket, you would have done the same thing or at least thought about it.  I simply couldn’t help myself.

Food is important especially when you are enjoying an outdoor venue. I remember a few years ago, I went camping by the beach in Bodega Bay, California with my brother and sister-in-law. They invited their neighbor who brought two cans of tuna as her culinary contribution to our weekend.  I am dead serious. By the way, she also sat in my chair the entire time and I had to sit on the ice chest (but I am not the least bit bitter.)  When enjoying the outdoors, you don’t want the ordinary. You want something special.

On the lawn listening to the operatic voices of angels – the sopranos, the tenors and the opera choir backed by the full symphony orchestra, we had that something special. My husband and I lingered and enjoyed the bottle of Pinot Noir with our Brie, apples, grapes, crusty baguettes, and antipasto before feasting on a salmon steak and filet as well as the amazing lemon cake.  What a great night.

Later when we got home, he dug through the basket, found the chocolate tartlets and said, “Look, I found these for you.  You can have them both.”

“Chocolate raspberry tarts? Oh I love them. Thank you, Honey.  That is so sweet of you,” was my shy reply. He obviously didn’t know someone had hidden them in the bottom and he clearly is a better person than me.

Come on though. Wouldn’t you have done the same thing?

Easy Breezy Summer Day

Some days you don’t feel like exerting yourself -no biking and no hiking.  You just want to chill, relax and have an easy -breezy day.  Last Saturday was one of those days. We had some friends visiting from California so the chairlift to Deer Valley’s Bald Mountain was just what the doctor ordered.Great views – aspens, pines, and mountain bikers below us.  Now you are talking!

As we approached the top of Bald Mountain, my friends innocently asked me which runs I ski.  Since they aren’t skiers, I could easily have said something like, “Oh Grizzly and Orient Express but my favorite on powder days is Mayflower Bowl.  I stay away from Morningstar when it is really cold because I just can’t catch my edges but otherwise it is an exhilarating run.”

All that would have been a completely fabricated — a bald faced lie so I didn’t do it but it would have been fun to see if they believed me.  Well, instead I looked at them and laughed saying, ” None! Are  you crazy?  See the black diamond?  Let me explain what that means.  That  means not Nancy.” (Well, not yet anyways). 


We walked over to Sultan Express lift to see views of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the Heber Valley from what felt like the top of the world. We could see the Uinta mountain range from there.  I pointed out the Blue Ledge run to my friend and we stood at the blind drop off edge to get a feel for what it would be like to fly over the ledge on skis.  We stood near the top of Thunderer run and looked down on a black diamond run but with our feet firmly planted on the ground.


Mountain bikers and hikers were unloading to make their trek down the mountain as we climbed back on the lift to ride down.  The view of Park City and the valley was breathtaking.  I pointed out Flagstaff Mountain where I do hang out on the single blue and green runs.

All this sitting on the chairlift and relaxing made us thirsty! 

We headed up to Stein Eriksen Lodge to lounge on their patio, drink local brews, visit and watch the wind blow through the aspens in an easy breezy way.

Deer Valley Grocery and Cafe – Nature at Your Doorstep

When you live in Park City, you live right in the center of paradise.  To a mountain lover like me, Park City is the most beautiful place on earth.  So when I am inside working on a stretch of long days in my home office, I go a little stir crazy.  Last week was one of those weeks.  I didn’t see the light of day with what seemed like an endless stream of projects. At the end of four intense days, I asked my husband, Jay, to get me out of the house, even if it was just for a drive. Well, he had a better idea.  He drove me directly to the Deer Valley Grocery ~ Cafe for a relaxing dinner on the deck.
I’d had breakfast inside the cafe last winter and loved their strong coffee and hot oatmeal with what seems like a hundred condiments piled on top – brown sugar, sliced almonds, raisins, etc. but I had never been there for dinner so I took my time in ordering.  Jay immediately went for the made-to-order cheeseburger when he saw the grill outside on the deck.  I had much more of a challenge with the tapas menu.

Clayton, our waiter, explained they have about twenty different small plates -tapas- which they constantly rotate.  The six I had to choose from all sounded wonderful – there were chicken lettuce wraps, smoked duck empanadas, Brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots, short ribs, grilled asparagus, etc.  You can see my dilemma.  With some help from Clayton, I settled on the duck empanadas and added a Caesar salad.

We grabbed our silverware, two glasses of water, our little number, and headed out to the deck.  In the evenings, the entire deck is shaded so every table is a prime location. We chose a table in the corner overlooking the pond and adjacent to pots overflowing with flowers.  When we sat down, Jay looked at me and said, “I had no idea this place was so nice!”

We love historic Main St. but the cafe had a whole different vibe to it. Nature was at our doorstep. Fish were jumping, mallard ducks were swimming by, and egrets were on the shoreline stalking their evening meal.  We were informed the pond is often frequented by moose wandering in for an early evening swim, and osprey circle and dive for fish. 

To our delight, Clayton walked out with a tub of breadcrumbs and gave us quite the show as he dropped them one by one into the water.  We watched fish versus ducks in what I dubbed, “The Battle of the Breadcrumb.” The ducks were often the victors but the fish gave a valiant fight as the jumped on top of each other sometimes coming completely out of the water to get closer to their treats.

When our dinner arrived, we scrambled back to our table. A waitress brought out a tray of condiments that included local mustards.  She was kind enough to leave it for Jay so he could sample them to his heart’s desire. The empanadas were delicious and the salad was the kind of Caesar I like, which I can only describe as “Caesery.” Even though we were stuffed, we opted for the bread pudding with caramel sauce anyways.  We knew we couldn’t eat the whole thing so we took the rest home after eating a couple of delicious bites.

Sitting on the deck after a glass of wine and a delicious meal, I felt reconnected with the paradise I love.  With the fish jumping, ducks swimming, and a slight breeze kicking in, the deck started filling up with more patrons and Jay smiled as he overheard someone say, “I had no idea this place was so nice.”

 

 

 

The Deer Valley Grocery ~ Café is open daily from 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. and is located in the Deer Valley Plaza building at 1375 Deer Valley Drive, Park City, Utah.

For more information and a sample menu click here.

How We Burned 900 Calories During a History Lesson – Historical Hike at Deer Valley

Going on Deer Valley’s guided historical hike with mountain host Michael O’Malley was a great experience! In my last post, I shared a little of the history he taught us and a lot about the host himself.  There are a few more things you might want to know, however.  Here you go:

Photo By T.J. Lenahan

We gathered at Sterling Express Lift and then hiked on a narrow trail through two amazingly beautiful aspen groves.  Just when I started to notice my heart pounding and lungs burning, we stopped for a mining history lesson and a chance to catch our breath.   I  listened intently as  Michael explained there were literally a thousand mining tunnels beneath us. He passed around black and white photos of how Deer Valley looked during those mining days. Guess what? Silver Lake was actually a lake at one time! I did not know that. I always wondered…

Wildlife was everywhere.  We spotted two mule deer does on the hillside across from our trail.  Then a few minutes later we saw three elk cows in the same area.  They slowly came  into a clearing and then moved past. I had never seen an elk, much less three and so close. Magical.

We also met some interesting people – there was a mix of locals and out-of-towners which included some hard core hikers who you’d want to saddle up to in a windstorm or if you were hungry – they had all kinds of supplies in their packs. One guy had bear repellant spray which of course we didn’t need but would come in handy in a variety of circumstances.  We met a mountain bike instructor, a tourist from San Francisco, a family from Connecticut and Jennifer the helpful mountain host.

Photo By T.J. Lenahan

When we regrouped at the end, my friend informed me we hiked 5.5 miles in 3.5 hours to an elevation of 9100 ft. which was about a 1000 ft. climb.  She wore her heart rate monitor the whole time and told me that we had burned 900 calories and the guys had burned 1600.   What?  Are you kidding me? I was having such a good time, I never noticed that we were working out.  Do you know how hard it is to burn 900 calories? In case you don’t know, here are some examples:

Two hours on the rowing machine burns about 900 calories. I love the rowing machine but I am seriously bored to death after 20 minutes.

About two  hours on a treadmill burns 900 calories — utter torture.  Will never happen in my lifetime.

Five hours of yoga burns about 900 calories – I did a class once called Yin Yoga where you twist into a pretzel and then the instructor tells you to relax into the pose (really?) and you stay in that position for like 20 minutes or so to release the tension.  Push ups are easier than that. Seriously.

Photo By T.J. Lenahan

An hour and a half of cardio boxing burns 900 calories- I actually took a cardio boxing class at my gym a couple of months ago. Don’t ask me why I thought I was in good enough shape to take this class.  I made it through the class but when I got home, I couldn’t lift my arms even to feed myself and believe me I was starving.  Two days later the real pain hit. Every  muscle in my torso and upper body felt like it was being attacked by ice picks. A friend of mine who boxes told me to go back right away and work through it. Right.

So imagine my surprise that hiking in the most beautiful place in the world, learning all kinds of interesting history, meeting some really cool people, and seeing majestic animals burned up a boatload of calories …. with out feeling the burn.  Somehow it feels like everything is right with the universe. The historical hike is one experience I definitely plan on repeating.

144 Days Off the Couch

I’ve got a goal, to spend the 144 days of summer off the couch.

The snow has melted and this week the kids get out of school for summer.  As the school year ends I’ve been able to fit in a couple events with some friends. The first was Running for Ed. No not a person but a fundraiser for our local schools-Ed as in education. This is a team of five and we each have two legs to run. The total course is 42 miles around town and change overs at the schools. Most teams have a theme or costume. We were the “Crayons.” When my friend Simone told me our costume I envisioned some sort of hat that was a crayon tip with a face cut out. I was pleasantly surprised (see photo). I joked I might wear it again for Halloween. One of the funniest comments of the day was when one of my teammates passed someone and she heard them say” I got passed by a crayon!” We also got placed in the last group (fastest runners) to start the relay. Not sure how that happened because I’ve never run a six minute mile in my life. Maybe it was because our captain was on the winning team last year. It was a blast for a good cause.

The next event was Little Red Riding Hood. I’m not sure how many women are riding their bikes but there’s a lot! One number that was tossed around was 3,000. You choose your own distance, my group chose 80 miles. This isn’t a team event but the seven of us got warmed up and into a rotation of drafting. There was no more talking or joking, our heads were down and we were rolling out the miles. If you didn’t know you would have thought we were professionals.  It ended up being a bit shorter than 80 miles but I was happy to see the finish.

It is always a fun time to get away with fiends for the night and share the day together. I’m not sure there is another place that has so many people that are active and enjoy exercising fundraising at the same time. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue my theme for the summer “144 days off the couch” as the boys get out of school for the summer. I might need to multitask and take advantage of time when the kids are in lacrosse & golfing camps. Oh to be a kid again! At least I feel like I kid when I’m with friends and exercising! Good thing my friends invite me to participate. They’re helping me to stay in shape over the summer for the winter! Or maybe they know I need to work off the winter lunches! Hmmm

The Modern Mountain Man (and Woman)

Since I was born, raised and have spent most of my life in the mountains, I tend to consider myself as a true “mountain man.” Of course, my own definition doesn’t necessarily fall into the accepted view most of us have of the traditional “mountain man.”  It means more of a “mountain dweller” than the quintessential trapper and other explorer that used to roam the Rocky Mountains and might still be encountered at certain summer “Rendezvous’.” Since I’m also from French extraction, if you found me at one of these events, you might easily mistake me for these rugged characters if I donned a different garb and sported a few grizzly teeth around my neck, but that’s not quite my style, at least, for the foreseeable future!

So my definition of what makes a mountain man and woman is a far cry from that early frontier day’s image, and is in fact defined by the love some of us have for living near the summits and for building our daily lives or our recreation around them. I simply would like to talk about those of us, mountain women and men, who love elevated living and always get more excited when we’re in the midst of jagged peaks than strolling on New York’s Fifth Avenue or facing a tropical sunset, far away in some South Pacific paradise.

This new breed of “mountain people” love to ski in winter, whether it’s alpine, telemark or cross-country, can on occasion step on a pair of snow shoes or just enjoy a stimulating morning run in the snow. These same individuals are also highly adaptable; they can switch gear within weeks and go from skiing to fly-fishing or even mountain biking, as soon as the trails are dry enough and passable. Endless trail running is also part of the choices mountain dwellers make and their stealthy travels take them where wildlife hides, where deer and moose are totally at home, marmots lay in the sun and cougars watch from behind some aspen grove.

They’re rugged individuals who can also hike long distances, scramble towards forbidding summits and climb vertical cliffs when they’ve made up their mind to reach over them. On occasions, they’ll explore distant valleys on horseback or run down a river with friends. I’m not a hunter, so I can’t speak for those we see in the fall with gun or cross-bow in hand, but I’m a bit closer to those who never miss a sunset on a stormy day, can catch an Osprey in flight or surprise a heard of elks with their camera.

The luckiest of these modern mountain people work in the mountains and usually don’t even realize how fortunate they are; others still have to compromise between making a living in some city and escaping to the mountains whenever they get a chance. They belong to the mountain environment and they love it. They look at the clouds and guess tomorrow’s weather; sport goggle and sun-glass tans year-round, stay connected with their surroundings and become almost part of the scenery. They respect the natural elements, they know that nature is the ultimate boss and see in it a yardstick to measure their strength, their determination and their endurance.

In many ways, they are as fierce and independent as the first “mountain men” used to be and are one-hundred percent in tune with their surroundings. The only difference, in my opinion, is that their life is far less dangerous and that they’ve found many more ways to extract raw fun out of their mountain lifestyle!