December, Second Half01/01/2015
Mon – Green Mt. (1:47, 3000′)
Yesterday’s snow (only a couple inches) enforced another running-only outing. I did the same exact route as yesterday—up the front of the mountain, down the Ranger Trail, and then, in a nod to my infirm ankle, pounded the road down Flagstaff and back to town. Despite the ankle (a non-overuse injury), I’m just excited that everything else actually seems to be in pretty good working order. Fingers crossed.
Tue-AM: Green Mt. (1:37, 3000′)
I was out a little earlier than usual today, and there ended up being an odd temperature inversion on the mountain—comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt (while moving and working hard) on the top half of the mountain, but had to put the jacket back on once I descended back down to town. Also, this snow was so minimal that First Flatiron already looks to be back in shape for scrambling.
PM: First Flatiron (0:49, 1600′)
I noted the relatively dry nature of the rock on my run this morning, so this afternoon I biked up to Chat for a quick lap on the big slab before meeting Joe for a session at the climbing gym. While Chautauqua is typically a zoo, today’s chilly, damp conditions made for a pleasantly deserted outing. Halfway up the rock it even started graupeling for a bit, which was unexpected, but luckily it was too cold out for things to really get wet.
Wed – 2 x Green Mt. (2:01, 5200′)
Biked to Chat and logged a pair of laps up and down Amphitheater-Saddle Rock-Greenman. Was reminded of the joys that can come from consistent effort over solid ground rather than all the scrambling I’ve been doing lately.
Thu – 2 x (1st Flatiron+Green Mt.) (2:25, 5800′)
Well, if the rock’s dry, I can’t keep away for long. Did two laps on the mountain today incorporating a scramble of the First each time. Really fun.
Fri – 2 x (1st Flatiron+Green Mt.)+Amphitheater (2:31, 6000′)
A reprisal of yesterday, plus a scramble of the First Pinnacle in the Gregory Amphitheater at the end.
Sat – 1st Flatiron+Green Mt. (1:30, 3000′)
Kind of a weird day on the hill. I had plans for a big day of scrambling, but once atop the summit of the First I was oddly uncoordinated, bumbly, and a bit faint. I took it easy on the downclimb, but suddenly didn’t feel like I could really trust my limbs, so I just listlessly walked to the top of the mountain and jog/shuffled most of the descent, barely able to summon the energy for a simple run down on trail. It’s been a big last four days of vert, so I think I just needed an easy(ier) day.
Sun – First Flatiron (0:48, 1600′)
Phew, well that was a bit frightening. Biked up to Chat planning on a big morning of scrambling before the forecasted precipitation this evening, but I didn’t lend enough respect to the also-forecasted high winds of today. Things were normal enough on the approach and on the east face, but the minute I pulled onto the North Arete the world became a cold, wind-blasted, horrifying place. Normally I run up the 5.4 ridge with nary a thought, but today I was forced to creeping along, searching for handholds on sections that I usually just literally walk. With 225 ascents under my belt, I’ve been up on the summit of the First in very windy conditions before, but this might’ve been the worst I’ve ever experienced. Both my sunglasses (lost forever) and my Buff (recovered) were ripped from my head on the downclimb, which I could only accomplish by moving in between gusts. Once I was back on the ground, the wind was still roaring and my motivation for anything else—even just hiking to the summit of Green—was completely exhausted, so instead I just jogged back down to Chat. Where, of course, it was relatively and bafflingly calm.
A collection of thoughts from Christmas week, since any physical activity I did was pretty mundane (some running, some snow shoveling):
-It snowed a bunch Sunday night and the Roost’s rear-2wd, with bald tires, and no weight in the bed left me stranded in Gold Hill. Not really a problem, but it’s always a little annoying to not be as in control of a situation as you would like to be. The Roost has probably a couple-three more years of service left in it—when it dies, some kind of 4wd is probably on my horizon. I’ve had enough issues like this over the years that it just makes sense.
-On my 9+ hour drive home to Nebraska for the holiday, I listened to the entire 12 episodes of the Serial Podcast. Though I consider myself a relatively faithful listener of This American Life, I think I missed the beginning of this phenomenon by being over in Europe earlier this fall. Like pretty much everyone else, I was instantly a fan and was completely engrossed—it’s like the typically grueling all-day drive to my parents’ house didn’t even exist. In fact, it was a joy. Definitely looking forward to Season 2 in 2015.
-Every time I visit home my appreciation for the area and my upbringing is solidified. By conventional, mainstream standards, my parents definitely lead a pretty quirky, sometimes confounding lifestyle out there in the hills of Nebraska. But it is definitely simple, self-sufficient, rich, and, for me, inspiring.
-Literally every single time I make toast, I burn it. It seems the same is true for my running. I’ve been making toast for even longer than I’ve been running, but despite this wealth of experience I still have an extremely hard time exerting the discipline to watch it so that I can pull it out sometime in that seemingly three-second window where it goes from exquisite to charred. Can’t help but keep trying, though. Balance. Restraint.
Finally, here are some of the new songs from 2014 that I enjoyed the most. Music is a constant source of joy; I definitely look forward to what 2015 holds in that regard.
TV On The Radio is one of my favorite bands of all-time. Their new album, Seeds, has taken a few listens to really appreciate, but I think they’re still one of the most interesting acts in the business. Favorite song starts at 36:04 in the below video.
I’ve been aware of Ty Segall for a couple years now but I didn’t really get to know his work until Manipulator came out this year. Love the unbridled exuberance he seems to exhibit in basically every live performance. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want to play guitar like that?!
I randomly saw St. Vincent perform live over five years ago, and enjoyed it well enough, but not enough to really pay much attention in the intervening years (or buy their music). Until this song came out this year.
These last two are both former members of my favorite band of all time, The Walkmen. Leithauser was the frontman, Bauer the multi-instrumentalist. So, no surprise that their respective solo albums were top-of-the-heap favorites of mine this year. The pleasant surprise was that I’ve enjoyed Bauer’s so much. I guess I knew I’d like Leithauser’s stuff.