Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowbound solstice..

Every year, more so than New Years Day, I mark the solstice... My life is ruled by the sun. And this year is no exception... you can choose to fight the darkness, but I live for the light. .. and just like being snowbound.. much of how you live is by choice. So we're really not snowbound, technically, here on the mountain. In fact we're anything but.
It 's a great way out of unwanted commitments however.. "Oh, you know, there is just so much snow, I really can't make it, safely..."
Everything is forgivable once you use the "s" word... (Especially if you do and teach dangerous things for a living..)

So world, I'm snowbound.
I'm not out skiing with my buddy Jeff.. (or Drew, Jake or Josh, or Clyde or...).. doing laps around his mountaintop meadow. I'm not tubing down icy chutes into the nighttime darkness... the only light being a weak, distant lantern and the winter' s waning crescent moon.
..and I'm definitely not spending time on the trails out my backdoor, regardless of where they lead... there's just too much snow, and cold, and who knows what... it's just not "safe".

..and so I fight the darkness, too. Another log on the fire, a moonlit hike down the snow-filled road..around the turns and down, with the air full of snow-smells and woodsmoke, and then I sit and dream of the long hours of springtime and basking on sundrenched rocks.. so far from where we are...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Slop Running..

Early season, mid season, late season... in the mid Atlantic mountains, all of these are candidates for finding good slop for running..
Cold nights, warm days, and less than 10" of snow (new snow, old snow, any old snow).. make for cushioned footfalls, hidden rocks and holes, slippery takeoffs and turns, and wet, wild and sometimes muddy adventures at speed, spiraling up and down, over and under..
Plus, the mid thirty-degree range is an almost perfect running temperature and humidity level.. Change up your running game.. you'll be glad.
There's nothing like it!

Sometimes, I take for granted the treat it is to live on a mountainside.
With an arctic air mass inbound, I decided to take advantage of the above described running conditions...and at 1.30pm, at 1100 ft elevation, the temperature right at 32, I started on my "up the mountain over and back again" run... From the (relative) calm but shady SE (leeward)side of the ridge.. all was right with the world.
2.15 pm I was topping out at somewhere around2,400 ft the temperature was now in the low 20s.. and the slop was gone and in it's place was crusty styrofoam, and where there was no snow, the surface layer of leaves and mud was a frozen, slippery laminate... waiting for my careless footfall. Crossing to the NW side of the ridge, the full force gale winds of the approaching front were brutal... the sweat was freezing on my hat and on my sunglasses...
2.55pm returning to the start, temperature now in the mid twenties... and it feels so good.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So, today is the first of!!! November '09 has come and gone in a seeming flash.
Our guiding season has been busy with people realizing the beauty and wonder of the outdoors in the "off-season" (reality?? there never really is an off season.. perception vs reality)...
And with the longer nights, sitting by a fire it's also when we have the time to do a bit of reflection on our business... and where we are.. and all the variables that are beyond our control and knowing... and the things that just don't make sense....
* * *
Here is a secret (?!)...some of the best times of the year for being in the mountains is during the short daylight months November thru March... The mountains are all yours, a private playground.. and the beauty and the views are truly extraordinary.

But with most folks only thinking "warm weather=mountain fun", the phones and e-mails have been crazy... people competing for the limited days to hike, climb, paddle, explore etc.. all after 1 May 2010... Already, the summer months of Jun-Aug are nearing capacity...
* * *
In September, I was contacted by my friend Jedd Ferris of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine... He wanted my opinion on new gear.. all the latest and greatest and "best of"... (In fact, in a sidebar in the November edition, I was identified as a "Gear Expert".) Wow... those of you who know me know 2 things...
1- We have a LOT of good gear; and, 2. None of it is the latest and greatest hi tech weenie stuff.. (ok, some of it is)
Our / MY focus and philosophy has always been that the best gear you can have is stored in your cranial vault.
Gear expert.. a new resume item.
* * *
So, going back to my Luddite roots, when you really don't like cell phones, or computers, or e-mails...what do you do??
They are a reality of doing business in this age. You suck it up, swallow your pride... and subscribe for service
Along with those business "necessities", so are the social networking tools of Facebook and Twitter.

I always promised my kids I'd never have a Facebook account. Just like I said I'd never have a cell phone (in 1993) or e-mail (in 1996)... I lied.

We are working to build a Facebook presence for Shenandoah Mountain Guides... and in the Spring, an accompanying Twitter account...
The thing is, like all that we do, if we're going to do this we want to do it well... and "it takes a village" (I'm gonna get sick)

Become a fan of Shenandoah Mountain Guides on Facebook.. It will be a way to keep up to date with what's going on, a way you can contribute your own images from trips and classes, learn about short notice activities and some great bargains...

There, I said it.
.. time to put another log on the fire.