Denali – Fear vs Doubt

Okay – so it has been a REALLY long time since I last updated this. By really long, I mean several years. This is what happens when you give up your internet service, have a quasi-functioning laptop, and almost exclusively use your smartphone for all your internet needs. Yes, I could use it as a hot spot, but really who has time for that these days, especially when there is training and climbing to be done?

So my days of bike commuting have taken a bit of hiatus, but they will soon be returning when I depart the “big city” for Newport, RI. But first things first; climbing. The mountains have been calling and I have been expanding my climbing resume. In December I traveled to Ecuador where I ventured up some pretty awesome volcanoes – some with crampons, others with just plain old hiking boots. Although the 11pm wakeup calls weren’t exactly my forte, the early “mornings” were worth the night climbs and sunrise summits. You just can’t describe the awe and beauty of schlepping up a mountain (or volcano) at 2am, headlamp off, eyes staring at the meteor shower unfolding in front of you…or really seeing the Milky Way with your own eyes as if you were watching “Hubble” in IMAX. If these little moments were absent from any part of the climb, I’m not sure the mountains would call me so strongly, I live for these little moments. After my final summit at some odd 19,300 feet, I was sad to leave the mountains. I had just made it to my highest elevation, climbed some steep pitches, and felt energized, but there was still a yearning. I wasn’t ready to call it a day. The mountains were still calling.

Landing in D.C., I knew. I knew it was time to push myself. Ready or not, I wanted to go for Denali. The day after I got back to work, mind you after having taken almost 3 weeks off, I asked if I could take 30 days of leave to go to Alaska. Amazingly, they said yes. Oh crap. This means I leave for Denali in just over 6 months. Now I have accountability. I have to sign up for the trip. I have to train. Will I be ready? Is 6 months enough time? Did I really feel that strong? What did I do? FREAKING OUT. Okay ‘Bou, time to focus. Next came the spreadsheets with training schedules, a rock climbing membership, weight lifting, and pack time. Lots of pack time. Wait, how am I supposed to do all of this and work full time? And move. Did I mention I was moving to Rhode Island after I would return from Alaska? Um. What just happened? Okay ‘Bou, time to focus.

Well, the training progressed, the spreadsheets fell to the wayside after my boss quit and I had the jobs of two people instead of one. I had to keep the moments of anxiety and self-doubt at bay; some days with success and others required nachos and Ben & Jerry’s to cope. I submitted my climbing resume, they said I had the skill, doesn’t that count for something? I needed to believe in myself the way that others believed in me, but still, I struggled with shaking that feeling that I didn’t do enough, that my best wouldn’t be good enough. I don’t have any grand ideas or profound advice on how to shake the lingering doubt and fear. I can only advise that you accept it, embrace it, and hold it close to you. Hold onto the doubt, let the doubt be your motivation to do an extra set at the gym, go a few more flights of stairs, 5 more minutes, 1% more incline, and one more climb. But it is a balance, you can’t let the doubt turn to fear and take over. Doubt has its place; doubt can push you harder, doubt can make you say, “Oh really? I’ll show you. I CAN do this.” Yes, embrace the doubt, but you need to kick doubt to the curb or shove it back – when it starts pushing hard, or picks a fight with you on Facebook, you have to respond because you climb mountains. Take that doubt. I can do this. I’ll be okay. Fear, on the other hand, you have to unfollow/defriend/unlike. Fear can take over; fear can cripple. Doubt can push you or make you pause to better evaluate your options. Fear? Nope. We don’t have time for that. Fear makes you do irrational things. Fear isn’t an option.

Even as I’m flying to Alaska and writing this I have my doubts. I’ve worked hard, but did I work hard enough? I’m not sure those doubts and questions ever go away, but perhaps it is a good thing – if you go to the mountain believing “I’ve got this,” you may get complacent or caught off guard by what the mountain will throw at you. The mountain decides who summits, whether you trained for 6 years or 6 months for the climb, it is up to Denali to let you scale her ridge lines, navigate her crevasses, and slog up her pitches. Deep breath ‘Bou.

Happy Trails. Caribou out.

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Walking from Reagan

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So I decided to walk home from the airport…maybe not the wisest decision for a gal on a late Friday night, but it was fine. I even had some lovely friends join me for the journey! It was a really lovely walk and great way to end a great trip to nocal! Walked on the beach and got my knees in the ocean, saw a petrified forest, redwoods, walked through the vineyards, and even helped to make some HLR Cellars wine! Photos and deets coming soon as well as new inspiration or rather plan…but I need a proper keyboard for that!! Yes, posting via smart phone!

Happy trails!
Caribou out.

White Bean Chili

When it comes to soups, I tend to gather inspiration from recipes rather than follow recipes.  I’m not sure why, but I’ve been wanting white bean chili all week.  Today, I made some. It was fabulous.  The recipe I used goes something like this:

Tools:

1 sautee pan, blender (immersion or traditional), 1 medium/large pot, cutting board

Ingredients:

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2+ cup mushrooms, chopped (or there bouts)

1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped

4 cloves garlic

2/3+ cup corn (I used frozen sweet corn)

1 cup spinach, chopped

1-2 chicken breasts, cubed (or shredded – I use organic free-range)

1/2 cup red/yellow/orange pepper, chopped

2 cans white beans

some basil (I used one of those frozen cubes)

some italian seasoning

some salt

some cumin (1/4-1/2 teaspoon?)

olive oil for sauteing 

1.5-2 cups broth

 

Instructions:

Saute 1/4 onion, 2 gloves garlic, spinach, and cauliflower – add some cumin and italian seasoning.  Once golden/wilted, puree with 1 can rinsed beans and 1/2+ cup broth.  Blend until you get a texture you like.

Pour puree into pan with the rest of the broth.  Once at a boil, bring to a simmer, add corn and 1 can rinsed beans. Toss in a pinch of salt and basil.  Stir every once in a while.

Saute chicken with cumin and the rest of the garlic.  Once cooked, add to pot.  Saute mushrooms, onions, and peppers.  Once cooked, add to soup.

Taste mixture, season if needed.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes?  (I took a shower and didn’t time it, so…..)

Stir and serve!  

This got great reviews from the other person eating it with me – and myself!  I used closer to 2 cups of liquid and when I do this again, I will use less.  Also, I will make the chicken chunks smaller and add a little more cauliflower and spinach to the puree.  

Looking forward to cooking this again, and making up some new soups, stews, and chilies!  I will also take a photo of this tomorrow as the leftovers are in the fridge right now!

Happy trails!

Caribou out.

Why I Need to Bike Faster

Although I do enjoy a relaxing bike ride home at 0530, as you can enjoy the scenery and think about grand things in life…sometimes you think about things like the phrase:  “I f@&#%ing love this sh#t!”  Someone said this as they were climbing a magnificent wall, and I just thought to myself, what was the benefit or purpose of using those cuss words. 

First, and I’m no grammarian by any means, but in that phrase, an adjective is turned into an adverb. or at least where you would normally place an adverb….  Without the cusses, the phrase is “I love this!”  why is that not sufficient?  or you could use a normal adverb “I truly love this”  or be casual “This is awesome!”  

Second, clearly, the climber did not truly love sh#t.  They put great personnel risk, finances, and creature comfort into going on the climb.  Granted, saying they loved climbing would be redundant as “this” implies the activity they are currently doing.  In theory, “this” is ambiguous and could refer to the placement of pitons, a specific hold, tying a knot, belaying their partner…..but the use of sh#t does not further clarify “this” unless there was a magnificent pile of goat crud that the climber saw and was enamoured with.  Given the peak, I would say 100% unlikely.

The other question that came to mind as I thought, clearly far too long about this phrase, was does the increased use of vulgarities in our society render them less meaningful?  To an extent yes, but the tone and pairing in which the vulgarity is used is more the determining factor to its meaning and impact.  Such as, “Holy motherf@#$&ing sh#t balls” followed by “this is the best soup I have ever tasted” would be an odd, but enormous complement.  Yet followed by a concerned tone of “What did you do?!” could exemplify the shock of seeing someone eat goat crud, or something far worse.  

All this to say, I should bike faster so I do not contemplate whether f$&#%ing is an adverb or adjective and the impact of cuss words in society.

Oh yeah, it would also be great for increasing my mileage, loosing post-heart-crumbling-ice-cream-eating summer weight, better fitness, and beating more people on the trail 😉

Until then, stay safe and happy trails!

Caribou out.

Night Shift Bake-a-thon

Day off + Night Shift + Fall = BAKING!

Since I’m off the wheat, I’ve had to learn how to bake again, which is an adventure!  I’ve definitely found some delicious GF baking tips (and “clean eating”) – such as using black beans to make brownies and cupcakes! who knew?

Tonight, I’m trying a cornbread recipe replacing the flour with a gf flour mix, I didn’t do anything special to the amounts, but did substitute the buttermilk with goat’s milk yoghurt and greek yoghurt…it’s in the oven right now. 🙂  I shall post on how it goes.

here is the recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/crackling-cornbread-muffins-recipe/index.html

instead of cracklings and fat, I used a tablespoon of veggie oil and didn’t put anything in place of the cracklings.  finger crossed!

I recently made black bean cupcakes using more or less the following recipe:

http://eatingwelllivingthin.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/youre-kidding/

instead of cake form, I used cupcakes and baked for 18-20 minutes and they tested clean.  I also used 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 splenda, and all in my blender. It was amazing. The clean-up especially.  In a couple cupcakes I put in a few chocolate chips, oh lord. awesome.  They are dense little cakes, but fabulous.

Ok, I’ll post the results of my experiments soon!!

It’s FALL! Summer Funk Begone!

Seriously. Fall. Am totally in love 🙂 I have missed you Fall. A lot.

So yes, I neglected my blog…biking…and running for all of August and part of July.  You know how people get all sad and blue in winter?  That is me in summer.  I never realized until this year, how much I dislike summer.  I’m sure an event this spring didn’t help the situation much, but let me tell you this – once I turned off my AC, I was beaming again and back on the saddle.

Fall. My favorite season. My one true love.  The last time I enjoyed a stateside fall was in 2008, and then I only got about a month, if that.  Thankfully I did get to head up to Duluth MN with the family and romp around the forests before I had to leave American fall for Afghan fall…followed by Iraqi fall….they just aren’t the same let me tell you.

Yes, I am STOKED about fall.  Yes, I am one of the last humans remaining who still feels “stoked” is an appropriate and relevant word to describe one’s emotional status.  Since this lovely fall has started I’ve not missed a bike ride into work, in fact I get sad that my commute is only 7 miles!  I will soon need to take an even longer way home to just enjoy this weather more.

Another way I know I am over this summer funk, I’ve started baking.  I found an AMAZING gluten free chocolate cake recipe, which I made entirely in my blender.  I made it once with splenda, which was alright, and a 2nd time half sugar half splenda and in cupcake form…ah-mazing. and my gluten eating coworkers agreed!  I bought yeast, so I can try making bread and other such things.

I feel alive again.

I feel happy.

I love life.

More posts to follow and I apologize for those who were/are following for my absence!  It’s fall and Caribou is back!