Tuesday, November 5, 2013

First Turns of the Season

The first good snowfall of the season came around Halloween. Alta is nice enough to support uphill travel throughout their resort early season before the lifts start running, at your own risk. About a foot or so blanketed the high elevations while it stayed mild and warm down in the Salt Lake valley. It felt extra exciting loading up my skis and touring equipment while it was 65 and sunny at my house, it was time to break out the gear and see what it was like up there. My friend Marcus and I decided to go for a walk to check things out. We started up the summer road at Alta, headed passed the Sugarloaf lift and up toward Cecret Lake. En route to the Sugarloaf lift base we found some snowmaking whalebacks and a classic manufactured photo opportunity!

My first turns of the season were in fresh powder with no one around. Thank you, Utah!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

From Pause to Play

Finally, back in Utah, ready to resume my life here! Since I’ve been gone my roommate, Keely, decided we needed to move to a house from our 2 bedroom apartment. She and my new roommate, Tara, found a great house, right around the corner from our old place. They pulled the trigger, signed the lease, packed up and moved all of our stuff. Since I was back east, I had pretty much nothing to do with the move and I feel incredibly thankful that I have such wonderful roommates that would move all my stuff for me. All I had to do was sign and send over a check!

Moving couldn't have been easier for me!

Skier girls have A LOT of gear!

After my final visits and goodbyes were made back east, finally, off to Utah I went! I made it back just in time to attend the newest Warren Miller film, Ticket 2 Ride, where Keely had a starring role in the Ski Montana segment. The premiere in Salt Lake is always a big scene; all the skiers are there with all the sponsors, promotional booths and media. Keely’s segment was definitely one of the best of the film. She inspired me to want to ski Montana, that’s for sure!

The premiere in Salt Lake kicked off the film tour for the fall, with subsequent showings all over the country, including Bozeman, MT, Keely’s hometown. I tagged along to the Bozeman event to see what all the fuss was about Montana, and boy was I pleasantly surprised. I’d obviously heard a lot about how awesome Montana is, having two roommates who call Montana home. Bozeman felt incredibly familiar to me, in a way, like Saratoga Springs, NY. The icing on the cake was Keely’s dad taking us for a ride in his little Cessna 173. We got up for a sunrise plane ride and flew all around Big Sky country. We flew across Big Sky and the Gallatin Valley lit up by the pink sunrise glow. Absolutely breathtaking and unforgettable!

Gallatin River where Keely grew up


Fly and Emma doggies on a hike
View from Storm Castle Peak

Getting ready for take off!

View of Big Sky at sunrise

The Sphynx

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Back to Books

I knew I had to make up for myself somehow after things didn’t quite go according to plan this summer… My immediate thought was I should run away to France to the refuge of my friend’s chalet in the Alps and summit Mt. Blanc on my birthday… You’ve got to dream big, right? And I hope that does happen soon, but not before I learn how to deal if and when shit hits the fan out there. 

Auberge Du Chalezan, Les Contamines, France - the base of Mt. Blanc

After I came back down to earth and returned home, I thought OK, I’ve got to add something to my repertoire in order to progress out of this self-proclaimed “failure.” Through a bit of research I decided to enroll in a wilderness first responder course and an STCW (standards of training, certification and watch keeping) US Coast Guard sanctioned course. These two courses, I feel, will build my knowledge and certification in areas I’d like to pursue, like outdoor education and adventure camps for kids, and continuing to work on yachts in ideal locations. Since my work experience in those areas lacked this summer, I might as well go back to the books and build from there.

Wilderness first responder came first, beginning the day after Labor Day, kicking off September on a great foot. The SOLO Wilderness Medical School in Conway, NH is base camp for a group of WFR and WEMT students for two and four weeks each. There are about 20 students in the WFR group and 20 or so in the WEMT group. For the most part we are separate, but share meals and dorm housing.
Day one consisted of the awkward introductions and uneasy feeling of not knowing what to expect, which quickly subsided as we jumped right into scenarios and performing care on pretend hurt patients. Coming into this with some basic knowledge of first aid after spending many high school summers as a lifeguard, I felt decently comfortable with what I was getting myself into. Yet this is a 10-day intensive course where we start from scratch with basic immediate care of a hurt person in the wilderness, CPR, first aid, bandaging wounds, treating allergic reactions and snake bites, to more serious trauma like broken bones, splinting, placing broken femurs in traction, properly carrying a victim out of the woods, etc. This is such pertinent and relevant material to have in my back pocket while doing the things I love most – skiing and enjoying the outdoors. Although as a coach, if I encounter an injured athlete, I am strictly forbidden to perform care on them due to lawsuits and I am to follow the protocol of calling ski patrol to let them do the dirty work, this kind of knowledge will be incredibly useful for my own adventures with friends in the backcountry.

"Because shit happens..."
The SOLO school is one of the premiere specifically wilderness medical schools in the world and has been operating for nearly 50 years. This kind of training drew an incredibly unique crowd to the SOLO School for their September courses. The typical crunchy post grad and current college students abound, yet we also have a young woman who’s contracted by the Army to provide cultural intelligence to special ops teams in Afghanistan, a man about to embark on building a hut-to-hut trail system through the Costa Rican cloud forest, a man who started the first and only on-the-ground mobile paramedic operation in Cairo in response to all the upheaval going on there, a former Navy rescue swimmer, a young man taking this course in order to immediately seek an Air Force recruiter to enlist for para-rescue, and a paramedic who traveled all the way from Australia. Based on the diverse backgrounds and far reaching home bases of the students here, I believe this must be the premiere wilderness medical training facility.

Practicing splinting with ski poles, a jacket and layers for padding - very realistic tools

ski pole make-shift arm splint and sling

The students are pretend victims in our practice scenarios - injuries got pretty real with theater makeup

I'm the victim with a splinted leg - please never let this happen in real life!

Make-shift head splint/immobilizer with air mattress, layers for padding and crevat triangle bandages as ties

Week one of WFR training is in the books and I’m now equipped with the know how to approach a distressed or injured person in the backcountry, gauge their condition and treat as appropriately as I possibly can with very limited resources in usually adverse conditions. Although I have all this new knowledge at my fingertips, in no way do I ever want to have to use it. Interesting that I took 2 weeks out of my life and paid a good chunk of money to learn these skills, yet hope to God I’ll never put it to use. However simply having the skills to remain calm and take charge in a shitty situation in the backcountry gives me a newfound confidence to continue going out there to do what I love. 

A fun way to learn what's in our guts in case we come upon an abdomen injury

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Making Lemonade out of Lemons

Sometimes one thing leads to another and you find yourself somewhere you never imagined you’d be. Recently I’ve found myself in one of those places; back home, living at mom’s house, waiting tables.

The last time I was living a similar life was nearly 4 years ago after college.  Since then I’ve been on a nonstop adventure, from Mt. Hood to Boulder, Vail, Chamonix to Paris, California, yachting in New England, Utah and beyond. This summer seemed it would be just as the last several had been – back to Hood to ski all summer on my endless winter crusade. From my last few blog entries, that plan obviously never came to fruition. Onward to the high seas I went instead, working on a mega yacht, serving the mega wealthy cruising Newport to Maine for the summer.

Again, one thing leads to another… My time on Sailing Yacht Islandia was numbered, and eventually it was time to close that chapter and move on to something new. Here is where I am perched, in-between adventures, trying to enjoy and make the best of any and all experiences in which I’m involved.

If anything, I am leading a life that’s pulled way down to earth, like everyone else who only skis during the northern hemisphere’s traditional winter months. Not skiing all summer reminds me of how lucky I’ve been, how much I absolutely love skiing, and that my hometown doesn’t really suck this time of year.
Psyched to shred some lake

Lake George, New York is a summer destination where people flock, and I’m lucky enough to call it home. The situation I’ve figured out so far couldn’t have worked out any more perfectly, which somehow is the way it often goes in my life. Although rarely do I know exactly where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing from season to season, as my dad says, “you always seem to come up smelling roses.” I just laugh that off to a positive attitude, luck, knowing cool people and finding or creating opportunities, yet this time around it was the last thing I wanted to hear from Dad. This time I felt that I’d lost control of my destiny and was forced to backtrack to the refuge of mom’s house.

Paddling through Dunham Bay Marsh, an outlet of Lake George

Paradise Bay, Lake George... its truly paradise in here

Ride to Lake George with my mom

As the days started to tick away, I knew I needed to figure something out quickly to resuscitate my bank account. As it turns out, a busy lakeside restaurant is situated directly across the street from my mom’s new house on Glen Lake. Said busy restaurant, The Docksider, needed help, so in I stepped to hit the ground running.

The Docksider, my place of employment and where I put in to go paddle.

After all the travels and experiences I’ve encountered since the end of the 2013 ski season, my car and most of my belongings are still sitting where I left them back in Salt Lake. Given my lack of transportation, working at a restaurant across the street is an ideal situation. Although waiting tables is something I (half heartedly) told myself I’d never do again after earning a college degree, it’s certainly a lucrative means to an end. The location of my mom’s house also lends itself to the easiest access for paddle boarding. I’ve since gone out virtually every day or evening and paddled around the 2 miles of Glen Lake.

Letting my bro take a spin on the board

Sunrise paddle with my mom

Sunrise session - mom caught the moment

The silver lining of my summer was difficult to see at first, but as the simple days pass, I must remember how lucky and blessed I am to be able to fall back on my kind and generous family. Not everyone is so lucky and I must make the best of the time I have here. If nothing else, at least I get to hug my mom everyday. J

Frying up the bass we caught on Lake George

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fill 'er up

The morning of July 5th we got things rolling straight away, no hour long leisurely breakfast to ease into the day. High tide came at 9:59 am on July 5th in Rockland Harbor, so we had to act fast. Bringing a 140ft boat into a tight harbor marina fuel dock wasn’t the issue; it was getting in when the water was deep enough to allow our 12 feet of draft to pass through.

Journey’s End Marina in Rockland, Maine made a killing off Islandia. Although, they did give us a .20 cent per gallon discount for buying over 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel, which was a nice gesture, we dropped $6,000 without blinking an eye - not even close to filling an empty tank, we simply topped her off.

Docking went very smoothly, which was to the professionalism of the rest of the crew who all are seasoned sailors, besides me; I just take direction well. Before we left our anchorage we got out bow and stern lines and two spring lines which cross each other at mid-ship to further secure the boat on the dock. Andy was positioned at the bow, Julie with the spring lines at mid-ship and I had the stern line as it would be the last line to be thrown to the dock hand and the boat would be pretty secure by the time I had to let it go. Unfortunately, with no practice, I wasn't able to heave the stern line very gracefully and it ended up mostly in the water... My sailing skills will come in due time... 

We're often reminded of just how magnificent Islandia is, not that we forget, but living in her 24/7 can make her seem normal. Docking this beast was smooth and easy, but it drew quite a crowd. Witnessing a 140ft sailing yacht come in to dock must be a sight to be seen because the entire marina staff plus local on-lookers and everyone on their boats in the marina were peeping us the entire time. I feel so incredibly lucky and honored to be working on Islandia with the great crew that we comprise. Julie informed me that Islandia is one of the top 100 largest sailing yachts in the world...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Favorite New Toy

The week before guests arrived for our last trip we were busy preparing to set sail, but it also brought along some special deliveries. My wakeboard came in the mail early in the week. It arrived without a scratch thanks to Sports Den and the girl that is subletting my apartment in Salt Lake.

I mentioned before that I left a lot of stuff back in Salt Lake, including my car, that’s sitting safely behind my apartment, thank goodness. But since I’ve been on the boat and figuring things out with the crew, I realized we’re going to have a lot of time when no guests are on board and we can screw around and have some fun. We have two dinghies on the boat – one for guests with a 60 horsepower engine and one with a smaller engine for crew. The captain mentioned that the guest dinghy could easily tow a skier, which got me scheming. Luckily the girl that’s subletting my apartment is a good sport and was willing to grab my wakeboard from the basement and bring it up to Sports Den, who then packed and shipped it to the Hunt Yachts office where we were docked. 
Guest dinghy with 60 horsepower engine

Dinghies 2 & 3, left is "The Reason", a $250,000 sailboat thats the reason for the monster it sits atop

Next came the arrival of my favorite new toy, an inflatable stand up paddleboard! I did a ton of research on inflatables and found that C4 Waterman’s are the best. Their inflatables are able to inflate to the highest pressure, 15-17 PSI vs. most that only inflate to about 7 PSI. So massive box number 2 came through the Hunt Yachts office and my toy count continues to rise.
My new baby!

My 2 chariots await at the Melville Marina in Portsmouth, RI

The Ski Prophet told me to contact Ted Keyes, the western region C4 rep, who hooked me up BIG time and included a cool C4 rashguard for good measure. My “iSUP”, as C4 Waterman has coined, came with everything I need to get out on the water. I also got a super nice carbon fiber travel paddle that breaks down into 3 pieces and is fully adjustable. Using the foot pump that’s included didn’t take that long at all to inflate the 10.6 ft board. Although, we do have an air compressor onboard that’d probably speed up the process quite a bit, I just need to be careful and turn the pressure down so as not to explode the thing.

I couldn’t be more stoked on this iSUP as it’s another new way for me to play on the water, get some exercise, and a side perk is that I can find some peace away from the boat even when we’re underway.
iSUP with 60 horse dinghy

Balance * Endurance * Strength * Tradition

Taking her out for a spin in the Hinckley/Hunt Marina

This all seems like the perfect setup, however, toys that are meant for outside enjoyment are inherently weather dependent. It’s been cold, foggy and rainy since we’ve reached our summer destination on the midcoast of Maine, which has completely discouraged my ambition to get out on the water. We’re in a beautiful location, anchored in Rockland Harbor currently, with 3 dinghies at our disposal including a mini sailboat on deck, my iSUP and wakeboard, dive gear, noodles, fishing poles, lounge chairs, and more, yet inside we sit, below deck, reading and watching episodes of Game of Thrones waiting for the sun to coerce us outside.  

July 4th cruise in Rockland Harbor- the sun finally showed it's face, just in time for summer

Sunset from the iSUP, June 21st, First day of summer, in the books.