(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving plans

Not pictured: A comfy couch. A warm blankie. And SO much pie. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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Workout of the week: Justin Michael Williams’ core sequence

I’m on a constant search for the next new core exercise—the twist or tweak that will render the standard few abdominal exercises (plank, sit up, crunch) nearly un-doable, and therefore super-valuable to any athletic endeavor or yoga practice. Yoga teacher Justin Michael Williams delivers a dozen or more such movements in one 17-minute video.

From twists on the classic boat pose to a forearm plank variation that will eat your obliques and shoulders alive, this sequence offers enough movement and variety to keep things interesting, and enough breaks and modifications to make it do-able for beginners (or for people who reeeally don’t feel like doing core work today). I’m going to be honest and admit that the first time Williams suggested I take a rest in sphinx pose, I laughed out loud, then laid flat on my stomach in exhaustion.

Yogis will love the way the sequence fuses movement with breath, and the way it boosts their inversions and arm balances—I have been doing the sequence regularly for about a month, and I genuinely think it’s helped my handstand practice. Athletes will love that their midsections will be sore for days after their first attempt at the workout.

Let me know if you try this—and if you make it to “rest” in sphinx pose!


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Endorphins and awe

This post has been at the tip of my virtual tongue for months. I started to think about writing it at the end of the summer. Last weekend, Jonny Moseley announced at the end of this year’s Warren Miller movie that for skiers, “winter starts now.” Better late than never, right?

Season notwithstanding, it’s a tough post to write because grief and loss are at the root of it. I’m not ready to share the source of this grief (sorry about that—I hate all the vague, obtuse posts floating around the Internet, too). However, I’m happy to share the two things that have helped me heal: movement and beauty.

I found peace and beauty hiking in the Rockies, in Hell’s Hole and Devil’s Thumb (you could say there was a bit of a theme).

Hell's Hole, near Winter Park, Colo.

Hell’s Hole, near Winter Park, Colo.

On the Hell's Hole hike near Winter Park, Colo.

On the Hell’s Hole hike near Winter Park, Colo.

Hike to Devil's Thumb, near Winter Park, Colo.

Hike to Devil’s Thumb, near Winter Park, Colo.

I found simplicity and exhilaration putting my earthly belongings in a backpack and camping in the Adirondacks’ High Peaks region.

The view from Fish Hawk Cliffs , close to our camping spot at Gill Brook.

The view from Fish Hawk Cliffs , close to our camping spot at Gill Brook.

I found grounding in my regular runs to the gardens at Yaddo.

Yaddo Lake.

Yaddo Lake.

And I found hope watching the most stunning sunrises and sunsets in the peaks overlooking Lake George.

View from our camping spot at Fifth Peak.

View from our camping spot at the Fifth Peak lean-to.

Sunset from the Fifth Peak lean-to, part of the Tongue Mountain Range.

Sunset from the Fifth Peak lean-to, part of the Tongue Mountain Range.

I don’t know why the combination of endorphins and awe is so powerful. I just know that it works in a way that feels truly magical.
How have you found healing through motion and natural beauty?


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Three down, 43 to go: Nippletop Mountain

“Are you guys going for your 46ers?” the woman asked, nibbling on some Swedish Fish as she took in the view on top of Nippletop Mountain.

I shrugged. We were standing on top of one of the Adirondacks’ famed 4,600-foot peaks, so it was natural to ask whether we’re consciously working toward summiting all 46 of them.

“Kinda sorta,” I said. “Casually, and slowly.” The woman and her hiking partner hurried off to ascend Mount Blake, another 46er, before the end of the day while we hung out at the summit and enjoyed a snack and the views.

It’s not that we’re uninterested in “going for our 46ers.” But we’re more interested in the journey to each peak than we are in the actual peak-bagging. Maybe this is why we’ve only done three since moving here in 2013. (Read about our ascents of Cascade and Wright here.) In any case, Nippletop (I know—heh, heh) is worth the trip, both for the vistas up top and the scenic journey leading to the summit.

There are plenty of turn-by-turn blog posts that offer advice about routes (this one from Hike the Adirondacks is especially helpful), so I’m going to focus on sharing a few of my favorite moments from the hike instead.

We camped at Gill Brook the night before. This enabled us to be among the first on the trail in the morning without waking up at the crack of dawn in Saratoga Springs (which I highly recommend). It’s a long slog down a fire road, then a beautiful hike along the scenic, brook-side Gill Brook Trail. IMG_0776 IMG_0777The next morning, we were awed by the weird beauty of the trail between Gill Brook and Elks Pass (which is exactly as steep and scrambly as everyone says it is). It’s an old-growth forest with lots of exposed roots and interesting rock formations. Right before I took this picture, Steve said: “I keep expecting a bunch of Ewoks to jump out.” IMG_0738

The summit was interesting—the actual highest point is just a small clearing without many views. A few feet below it, there’s a nice rock outcropping where you can see Mount Colvin and Mount Blake, though. We paused and took in the views there. IMG_0739

We also got that couple in a hurry to summit Blake to take our picture there.


The most amazing and beautiful part of the hike was Fish Hawk Cliffs and Indian Head. If you hike Nippletop or any of the other nearby peaks, don’t miss the sweet, deep peace of this fjord-like overlook.


We lingered for an awfully long time, staring at Lower Ausable Lake in pure wonder. We were in no rush.

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Signs of summer: Lake swimming begins

It’s raining in Saratoga Springs today, and the temperature is barely cracking the 50-degree mark. Water is pooling in the potted plants I haven’t transferred to garden boxes yet, and I’m wearing a thick sweater and drinking tea.

But just last week, I got the truest taste of summer there is—the beginning of lake swimming!

Moreau Lake last Thursday evening.

Moreau Lake last Thursday evening.

Last Thursday was Saratoga Triathlon Club’s first open-water swim in Moreau Lake. The 20 minutes before the swim had all the joy and excitement of a summer-camp reunion as I saw and hugged the swim friends I hadn’t seen since the previous summer.

I hadn’t brought my wetsuit—we’ve had such a warm spring, I couldn’t imagine the water temperature being anything colder than lukewarm—so it was an unpleasant surprise to hear the lifeguards tell us the water temperature was 67 degrees “in the shallow spots.” “No promises about the deeper areas,” said one guard forebodingly.

I walked into the water gingerly, expecting ice cubes and uncontrolled shivering. Instead, it was pure heaven, feeling more like 72 degrees on a warm, sunny day. I was a little more tired than usual (note to self: get back in the pool more often!), but by the second lap around the lake, I felt the same cool blue peace that keeps me coming back to the lake again and again.


Lake Desolation on Saturday morning.

Saturday at Lake Desolation was no different. I felt more tired than usual, and could tell I was a little slower. After the same mental note (back in the pool, please!), I chilled out and swam at my own pace, finishing a bit early by cutting off the last out-and-back stretch. I snapped this picture while I relaxed in some comfy sweats on the dock.

How are you celebrating summer?

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Tales from a 50-day ski season

What a magnificent ski season it’s been!

I think I’m finally ready to admit it’s over. This means spending some time reminiscing about the things that made this season special. Will you indulge me?

No? You’d rather watch this marmot photobomb a Greenpeace video? Well, let’s watch that first, shall we?

Now. Back to the ski season that was.

I traveled to new mountains and made new skier-girl friends through SheJumps. I’d like to think I would have made it to Berkshire East and Magic Mountain on my own. But knowing that I had a crew of skier-girls there waiting for me gave me extra incentive to explore.11050743_10152846566873043_3117595188167487574_n

I skied in a whole new state when I attended the Powderfall ski-patrol conference at The Canyons in Utah. I hung out with other patrol-nerds, took clinics from PSIA demo-team instructors and relaxed with some of my dearest friends. While wearing gold-lamé pants, of course.


I became a senior ski patroller. This involves passing two practical exams—one to test my ski-and-toboggan skills and the other my leadership and problem-solving abilities in Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC, the medical part). It also involves a heck of a lot of extra training. I struggled to explain to my non-patrol friends why I spent so many weekends this winter in clinics and other training sessions, and why I spent my free-ski days doing drills meant to help me finish my turns. I can say only this: When I completed my first senior OEC clinic in 2012, I had two simultaneous thoughts: “That was impossibly hard and exhausting,” and “If I see this process through to the end, it will make me better.” Three years later, I know that going through the extra training has made me a calmer and more confident ski patroller, which I know translates to my daily life as well.

I had a 50-day season—my first since my senior year in college, when I planned my schedule at University of Colorado around skiing two weekdays at Eldora and weekends at Vail or Arapahoe Basin (thank goodness for student-priced passes). I learned that having classes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. straight on Monday, Wednesday and Friday made those Tuesday-Thursday ski days even sweeter. I relied on the same tactics this year—I loaded as much work as I could into a four-day work week, and tried very hard to take one weekday each week to patrol. Just like back in college, I found I was more focused on the days I was in front of a computer, and enjoyed the ski days even more for the work it took to make them happen. The downside: I may have neglected this blog a tiny bit (sorry, friends!).


Day 50 at Killington last weekend.

I just went. Netting 50 ski days while working full-time at a desk job—even one that lets you dictate your own schedule—means just going, and hoping the forecast of freezing rain/gusting wind/bone-chilling cold is going to be wrong. On some days, that was totally the case—one rainy day in Saratoga was a surprise powder day at Gore. On other days, not so much, such as the day in February when the wind chill was -60 degrees.

I had SO MUCH FUN. Photographic evidence below.






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Pretty Faces movie benefiting SheJumps in Saratoga Springs, NY

It’s been nearly a week since our showing of Pretty Faces in Saratoga Springs, NY, to benefit SheJumps, and I’m still riding on the high of it.

Until showtime on Saturday night, I wasn’t sure whether anyone except for me and the 20 friends I forced to attend would make it. So you can imagine my delight as I watched skier-girls of all ages mill into the auditorium. There were women my age looking to get involved with SheJumps, and there were itty bitty girls wearing costumes and great big smiles.

They filled my heart with joy as they stopped by the SheJumps table set up outside the theater, giggling at the girraficorn stickers and filling in the “#IAmSJ” placards with crayons and magic markers.


The “#IAmSJ” hashtag answers the question: What is it about you that embodies the mission of SheJumps, the non-profit that aims to increase the participation of females in outdoor activities? I explained to the girls that it could also answer the questions: Why do you love to play outside? What is it about the outdoors that inspires you? Their answers blew me away.


My favorite one: Because I am confident (in) who I am.


Listening to all the giggles and “oohs” and “aahs” as the movie rolled was just the icing on the cake.


If you haven’t already, please take two minutes to watch the trailer for the movie. I promise it will brighten your day.




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