Wilderness — A Meditation

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bozeman, Montana

Here we are in lovely downtown Bozeman waiting for the predicted winter storm to pass over before we continue on down the highway.

And, of course, since we listened to the weather forecasters, since we chose to stop rather than move forward as we did just before Thanksgiving, the storm has stalled in the west!

Irony reigns no matter how often we attempt to challenge sweet Mother Nature.

Despite her reticence, we are snug and comfy - happily in the midst of Stratham adventure violence on USA.

May your week end be as enjoyable.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ankle Strengthening Exercises -

In the past two months I managed to sprain both of my ankles. Urgh. In late November I took a triple step off my front porch. On Thanksgiving, I slipped on ice at Zion National Park. Am finally feeling healed and have been looking for some exercises to strengthen my balance.

Here are a series of exercises that I hope will allow me to ski again. Hope you find them useful.

=== Alphabet Range of Motion ===

Sitting down, cross your left leg over your right leg.

Using your right ankle, trace the letters of the alphabet from A-Z, imagining your big toe as a writing instrument.

Cross your right leg over your left and do the same with your left ankle.

=== Ankle Lifts ===

Tie a Karate Belt or a similar sized piece of rope around both ends of a light dumbbell so it forms a triangle when you hold it by the center of the belt or rope.

Sit on a counter and insert your feet (covered by shoes) into the triangle and lower your feet with the weight. The rope should be just below your toes.

Using your ankles, lift the weight repeatedly.

=== Ankle Turns ===

Sitting on a counter, slide a long rope or jump rope under one foot.

Holding onto the rope, pull left so your ankle tilts left.

Going against the force caused by your arms, push your ankle right.

With your ankle now tilted right, pull right and push your ankle to the left.

Do this repeatedly and then do it with your other foot.

=== Toe Raises ===

Stand on the ground with feet parallel.

Raise your ankles so you are standing on your toes, and then go back down.

Repeat until tired. This will also work on your

=== Toe Tappers ===

Sit in a chair.

Keep your heel on the floor or ground and tap your toes up and down.

Set an initial goal of 1 minute of continuous, steady tapping per ankle, and try to increase the time you tap or the speed you tap from there

=== Heel Drops ===

Put a phone book or another large book on the ground.

Stand on it with the balls of your feet so your heels touch the ground. If they can't touch, find a smaller book.

Raise your feet up so they form a 90° angle with the book.

Hold the position for a few seconds, then let your heels fall back to the ground.

Repeat until tired.

=== Proprioception ===

Grab a large elastic band and put it under one leg of a sturdy, four-legged chair.

Put your left foot inside the band so that your left foot is closest to the chair.

Holding onto the chair, cross your left foot in front of your right leg as far as the elastic permits. Do this repeatedly.

Turn around so your right foot is closest to the chair with your left foot still inside the elastic.

Pull your left foot away from you as far as the elastic permits. Do this repeatedly.

Lone Pine - The Loveliest Little Town in California

I know, I know. Been gone for a while and you're probably wondering what distracting adventure has kept me away from the 'puter.

Hate to disappoint; so's here's the story of our latest travels.

Returning from southern Arizona in a new vehicle, a 2008 GMC Canyon; we over nighted at the Whitney Portal Hostel in Lone Pine, just ten miles from the 'closed' sign at the bottom of the Whitney Portal snow covered access road.

The next day we snow shoed four miles to the cabin cuddled in seven foot of snow - quiet, pristine, welcoming.

Two days later, we loaded the toboggan and on a smiling brilliant blue skyed day buckled on our snow shoes and delivered the load to the little GMC whose name is Betty.

Tomorrow we head for San Jose, a visit with our American children, and then continue north to -28F North Dakota.

Wish us good fortune and sunny skies for the duration.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arivaca, Arizona

Here we are wintering 12 miles north of the border in a grassy, mesquite treed valley surrounded by several mountain ranges, a holy Indian peak, blue skies, amazing sunsets, and good friends.

We expected warm temps, but are enjoying 60 degree days and 25 degree nights. Great for hiking and sleeping.

Today we headed for Tubac to shop for Mexican painted dinner plates, two new sinks for our prairie bathroom. Good food, great companionship and success in shopping for ways to add color to the little house on the prairie at reasonable prices.

While we are away, the Sierra are melting - daytime temps above freezing in the portal. Perhaps we will return sometime in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, enjoying sunshine without snow is a welcome diversion.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

December 21 - A Snow Trek During the Lunar Eclipse

On Monday, December 20, at noon thirty the snow was up to the eaves of the roof, back and front of our cabin located at 7800 feet in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

Reaching the generator house was a half hour endeavor of snow clearing. The snow covered the tarp on the wood pile a solid three feet. You couldn't see the bridge railings over Lone Pine Creek because the snow was a good foot above them and the entire bridge was full of snow.

We left the cabin with daypacks and a snow shovel to head for the Toyota Ute (pick up) that was parked in the lot next to the road closed sign at the bottom of the mountain three miles away.

Usually this trek should have taken no more than two hours even with my almost healed spained ankle and my Thanksgiving sprain of my other ankle that was doing better, but still quite swollen.

The day before it had rained, melting much of the snow from the previous storm and four snow shoers had made a path down the road which we intended to follow as soon as we were through the campground and past the lower gate.

That same day my husband had driven the car down to the bottom parking lot in case the NOAA weather folks were too conservative in their estimates of 6 inches of snow fall in the canyon predicted for Monday, 20 December. I had followed his trail out to the road where I encountered two 30+ mountain climbers/rock climbers coming up the road without snow shoes.

They parked at the 7000 foot point on the road which was clear of snow. We chatted and they shared that my husband was on his way back up the canyon. I invited them in to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate which they accepted. They were headed to the Whitney Portal to snow camp.

The two young men preceeded us down the snowshoe trail the next day without their snow shoes..urgh..holes, holes, post holes.

On Monday, the 6'2" Australian to whom I am married broke trail through snow that started out at chest height as soon as we were on the other side of the bridge.

We left the cabin at noon thirty on Monday and arrived at the parked Toyota at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning. We trekked through the total lunar eclipse of Tuesday morning.

Snow at the curve where the young men had parked their car was six foot deep.

Several times I tried to get Graham to go on and just let me lie there in the snow where I had fallen one more time. He refused and harrassed me into getting up and moving forward.

What a night!

Being 70 has it's perks, one of which is stamina even when exhausted.

I'm pretty lucky and damned fortunate to have a partner to keep me going, to break trail, and to harangue me into using my daypack on which to push up out of 4-6 foot snow drifts repeatedly.

At the bottom we found our Toyota sitting in four foot of snow at the road closed sign.

We turned on the motor and the heater and spent the next three hours resting/kind of sleeping in the cab.

At 7:30, I called Doug Thompson at Whitney Portal Hostel and asked if he could drive the ten miles to the parking lot and pick us up.

He had picked up the two mountain climbers the night before after their ten hour descent to that same parking lot.

Like the young men, we walked an additional mile down the road because the ice and incline were so great that Doug's three axel six wheel drive V8 truck wouldn't negoitate the road any farther.

Back on with the boots and the very wet gear and in the morning sunlight we headed east. Doug met us at a point where the snow was still four foot deep. He delivered us to the hostel where we are now resting comfy.

The Aussie went back up the next afternoon with a rental car and a brand new snow shovel, dug the Toyota free so that he could attach the truck chains we purchased earlier in the month and drove the Toyota out.

It's taking a while to get my energy back; my thighs think that walking down staris is just too much to ask.

I had no dry clothes, so the Aussie when shopping at Evolution..the little mountaineering shop in town and bought me shoes, socks, fleece pants and two fleece tops.

The only real injuries are to my thumbs that got a tad too cold in the wet, but they are improving. Feeling is returning to the tips.

All of this has endeared me to the idea of having a partner who cares enough to make sure that we both survive.

I wish you all a most prosperous spiritual January.

Keep on loving one another. Life is way too short to waste time with negatives.

I love thinking of each of you enjoying the companionship of those who love you. And finally, I am convinced that all that really matters in life is that we are loved and love and that we make time to be with those who love us and whom we love.

Things are of little importance - except, of course, for the ski pole that I snapped one of the times when I fell.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Tuesday's Blue Skies

The Aussie is up the mountain again. His fitness levels improve with each trip. We did eat a tad too much of the bread pudding he brought down from the cabin on his last trip to 7800 feet, but it won't hang around his belly button too long after today's three miles of 3000 foot elevation gain and loss through the snow covered terrain.

My healing sprained ankle is doing well, but not well enough to carry me far up the snow shoe route on the mountain. I'm gonna sit here and write you notes about the whole physical endeavour whilst my ankle continues to unswell..and then when we get back to Nordacotah, the cross country skiis will help me turn soft muscle into a mean machine - yeah right - we all know about future plans -- the only difficulty is making sure they actually manifest.

The day is magnificient! Slight breeze, cool temps - perfect for working hard in the outdoors - especially this incredible outdoors.

We'll be here in Lone Pine til Saturday and then head south to enjoy friends in Tucson...then drive back to San Jose to spend some time with my middle child..the artist!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sunday, Cloudy Sunday

The view out of theWhitney Portal Hostel window this afternoon looks rather like a Japanese water colour with the mists meandering around the peaks and crags of the Eastern Sierra.

Here I sit (mostly alone) awaiting the return of the Australian who has once again ventured into the snow pack and up the slope three miles to rescue the cabin from our Christmas and New Years dinner goodies.

We had anticipated guests for both holiday meals and purchased to acommodate about ten or fifteen appetites. Fresh asparagus and Brie cheese, fresh brocolli and sharp cheddar, ham, turkey, potatoes, carrots, fruit and yogurt to top the bread pudding, fruit cake, as well as pecan pull aparts to munch with our scrambled eggs brekkie.

There they sit stashed in a black garbage bag stuffed behind the back door. It is essential that these goodies be returned to the valley floor, probably heisted into the closest dumpster.

And so, the tall fellow with enormous energy and determination will once more walk up and back down the mountain with a sled.

I'd love to be with him. I so miss my mountain matter how welcoming our hostel host, three bunk beds, a hot shower may be, I'd rather be in the quiet, cozy, cabin at Whitney Portal.

Hopefully, each of you has such an abode to comfort you on this first holiday week end of the year.