“You Can’t Just Run a 24-Hour Race On the Fly!”

It was a recent Tuesday, and I was contemplating my training runs for the weekend ahead. I had options. There are always options … so many good options when you have some time. (This applies to my daily life, but today we will focus on running). I settled on what may sound like the least reasonable-sounding option to most – I could pay $28 and spend 24 hours running around a .82 mile loop at around 7300 feet in Palmer Lake, Colo., at a race called the “24 Hours of Palmer Lake Fun Run.” I like when I convince myself something sounds fun and I believe it no matter what anyone else says or thinks. I signed up the next day, on a Wednesday, and started contemplating the possibility of attempting my first 100-mile distance three days later.

“Why?” so many asked.

I usually answer that question (in any context) with: “Why not?!”

I wish that I could fashion a micro story about each of the 85 loops I completed. Instead, here are my thoughts on various topics that mattered to me when I was running a 24-hour race on the fly.

Sleep Deprivation: I am going to be running for close to 30 hours for the Leadville 100 in four short months, so let the sleep deprivation training begin! The only problem here was that I was already sleep deprived going into the race, so it really was going to be an exercise in sleep deprivation on top of sleep deprivation.

Strategy: “You can’t just run a 24-hour race on the fly!” – said to me by a more experienced ultra-runner that I trust. It all depends on what “on the fly” means, I suppose. I had very little strategy going in, though I did receive the go-ahead from my running coach. I certainly wasn’t trained for a 100-miler, or even a 70-miler. I drove there on my own, was expecting a few visitors throughout the day, and that was that. I do have determination and flexibility and an ability to work things out when I need to, though, so those things become my strategy. Also, how much strategy do you need when you’re going to be passing your camp every .82 miles? As it turned out, quite a bit! But, I survived.

Sustenance: I knew I would be sleep deprived. Nothing some Red Bull and chocolate-covered espresso beans couldn’t assist with, right? I am pretty sure that I thought Red Bull was reserved for some nasty vodka drink at some late night club…but this just underscores my feelings of disgust at what was in my grocery cart in preparation for the race. For those that don’t know me, I am typically a very healthy eater all of the time, and very disciplined in this way. I kept thinking, “How many bananas and Chia Squeezes can I eat during the race to balance this all out?” Luckily for me, despite all the sugary and caffeinated aids in my shopping cart, my nutrition kept up with me for the entire race, a first!

Shifting Interactions: I love shifting interactions. This is also something you should know about me. As when you are on a vacation with several people and you have no idea what you will be doing with whom at any given time. I LOVE this. So, think 85 loops around Palmer Lake and each loop being like a mini-vacation with new runners, new spectators, new conversations, and new ideas to ponder. Believe me, this is NOT boring or monotonous.

Socializing: This may be my downfall generally, and specifically was at this race. I get really excited when I see my friends, and I immediately want to stop whatever I am doing and head into a full-blown conversation. First, my friend Andrea arrived and walked a few loops with me. That helped me get out of a minor negative head space. (Thank you Andrea!) Then my friend Mark arrived, and although he tried to talk me into more running, I was also too excited and all I wanted to do was chit-chat. I know I need to work on this.

(the) Suck: There really was only one time that I can recall where I thought to myself, “This might suck.” That was when I looked at the clock and said “Oh great, only 14 more hours to go!”

Saviors: Otherwise known as friends and family and crew members. And at Palmer Lake, also the lady making grilled cheese at 2 a.m. In this instance, I had many race saviors, despite my cluelessness in not really planning for a crew. I received many texts and messages from people who were checking in on me and sending encouraging words, including a text at 1:30 a.m. from a friend traveling in Japan. He rightly pointed out that most people were sleeping while I was running loops, and it was extra fun to know someone else I knew was awake in another part of the world! Everyone’s timing was right on, and I was reminded of all the people that support my running goals and shenanigans. Thanks to all who checked in!

Some special thanks are in order. First, my friend Mark had committed to coming out there after running his own 50 kilometer run that morning to help me get through some night miles. I was really looking forward to this. Although the original plan was sidetracked by an injury, which would have been a perfectly acceptable reason to bail, Mark still drove out there, brought me a burrito, walked/ran several loops with me and dealt expertly with my overexcited, incessant chatter. (I promise I’ll change my ways for Leadville, Mark!)

Second, my friend Dave spontaneously became my overnight crew and this was nothing short of amazing. Dave was planning on coming out around noon to hang out and bring some of his homemade cookies and fruit. At some point in time, Dave figured out I was on my own for the night and decided he would stay to help me through. He also decided to run his own 50k! Needless to say, I am not sure I could have accomplished what I did without Dave’s overnight help. I just couldn’t believe it, and when I kept thanking him, he said something to the effect of, “I like to volunteer and help our running community just like you like to do pro bono (legal work).” I am still overwhelmed at how awesome that was. Both Mark and Dave were already lined up to be part of my Leadville pacing/crewing team, and again, needless to say, I am stoked about this.

Sleep Deprivation (Again): A long time ago I bought a Volvo station wagon. You know, a good family car. If someone would have told me in 2006 that in 2017 I would be so psyched to sleep in the back of this car for 30 minutes in the middle of a 24 hour race, I may have said something like “You never know what’s going to happen!” or I may have just said something like, “Whatever, you weirdo!”. However, I fit perfectly in the back of this car and it was oh so warm in there. I took two 30 minute naps during the night. Each time Dave knocked on the window and shined a flashlight in my face to wake me up, I popped up, got out of the car and said “Ok, let’s go do more laps!” (maybe it wasn’t really an exclamation). Best unanticipated running purchase ever!

Solidarity– All those people running around that lake – we were all in it together. All those people that showed up that day to bring food, to heckle, to entertain (think semi-drunk guys blasting 80s music in the dark with a bottle of Fireball with a huge spotlight), to push their friends – all those people were in it together with us. Enough said.

Strength/Stubbornness: I remember my spontaneous crew member Dave telling me at some point, “You’re really stronger than you think.” It is always hard to understand that in the moment, when you’re struggling along, but it must be true. As for stubbornness – I had planned on being stubborn that day, and I don’t think I actually ever was. I think I was pretty stubborn for the first half of my life – I might be all out of stubbornness! That trait never really served me well anyway.

Sunrise: As for most, sunrises typically signal the beginning of the day to me, a time when I am waking up and anticipating the amazing day ahead. I catch many a sunrise while running. Here, the sunrise at Palmer Lake signified the opposite – the end of the race, the end of the day’s journey, and close to the time I could go home. It was just as meaningful. It was fun to see the people who had chosen to sleep through the night show up on the course again to fit in some more laps. I wonder what I looked like to the all of the well-rested people that morning!

Success: I decided to stop early at 70 miles. I could have completed another loop, but I wasn’t so interested in a 70.82 mile finish. Seventy miles seemed sufficient.

Seventy injury-free miles, a participation award, and so much fun! Thanks to all, and a special thanks to the race directors who provided the opportunity (and to my family who let me be useless for a few days after the race). I am one lucky person to get to have such an incredible experience.

Ilene Bloom is an evolving ultrarunner, mother and lawyer who lives in Denver. She is excited to do a few more overnight runs this summer in preparation for the Leadville 100 in August. If you have any questions or comments about this post, Ilene can be reached at ilenebloom@hotmail.com


The 25 Most Adventurous (and mostly white) Men of the Past 25 Years 

A celebration of the mountaineers, watermen, arctic explorers, activists, and artists who redefine the limits of what’s humanly possible.

The list:

Conrad Anker

Mike Horn

Eric Larsen

Alex Honnold

Jeremy Jones

Erik Weihenmayer

Colin Angus

Mike Libecki

Cory Richards

Doug Tompkins (1943–2015)

Werner Herzog

Siddartha Gurung

Shane McConkey (1969–2009)

Laird Hamilton

Sebastian Copeland

Dean Potter (1972–2015)

J. Michael Fay

Felix Baumgartner

Alex Lowe (1958–1999)

Jared Diamond

Tim Hetherington (1970–2011)

Ben Stookesberry

Richard Branson

Jimmy Chin


Source: The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years | Men’s Journal

Give And Take – Joe Grant confronts tragedy on Longs Peak

A mix of emotions swirl inside of me. It is strange to think of how I was out enjoying my day, while in the exact same context a tragedy was simultaneously unfolding.

by Joe Grant, Special to irunfar.com

A couple of days prior to the March Equinox, I set off from the Longs Peak trailhead around mid-morning, hoping to summit the mountain before the official end of winter. The weather is exceptionally mild for the season, and other than the calendar stating it as such, you would have a hard time believing it is still winter.

Jogging up through the woods, the snow is mushy, making it hard to find a good rhythm. Every so often I punch through the packed surface up to my knees, leaning heavily on my poles so as to not fall over. I roll up my tights, and am down to a t-shirt under my windbreaker, yet still sweating profusely.


Source: Give And Take

Put Your Money Where Your Fun Is | Outside Online

by Frederick Reimers, Outside Magazine

It’s no secret that our public lands are in trouble. The Forest Service has had its budget cut, for everything but firefighting, by 36 percent since 1995, and the Park Service is teetering atop a $12 billion maintenance backlog. Oregon is selling a popular state forest full of old growth to make ends meet, and a Colorado nonprofit estimates that it’ll take $24 million to repair trails on the state’s fourteeners alone. In light of diminishing resources, it’s time for hikers, bikers, and paddlers to become more like gun owners and take care of our outdoor spaces.

Every time someone buys a rifle or ammunition in the U.S., they pay an 11 percent tax (10 percent for handguns) that helps fund the states’ conservation ­efforts. In 2014 alone, those taxes pumped $760 million into wildlife management, ­property purchases, and other ­essential endeavors. Without that revenue, and additional funding from a similar tax on fishing gear, our nation’s wildlife would be in trouble, says Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a Washington, D.C., hunting and angling group. The taxes, along with ­licenses, make up 80 percent of the funding for state fish and wildlife services. Fosburgh believes that other groups should be contributing as well. “It’s time for the general recreation community to ramp up their commitment to public lands,” says Fosburgh.

He’s right. Just like hunters and fishermen are required to, we should have to ante up for the sake of our forests, deserts, and mountains whenever we buy new gear. The easiest way to do that is probably to create excise taxes on items like skis, tents, and snowboards. Some have proposed that mountain bikers be required to buy a sticker that funds trail maintenance, just as dirt bikers and ATV enthusiasts are in many states. However we do it, our public lands need financial support from the people buying everything from RVs and teardrop trailers to boots and trekking poles. It’s time to pay to play.

No one wants more taxes. And the Outdoor Industry Association believes the companies it represents are overpaying already. The trade group was formed in 1989, in part to fight the “backpack tax” championed by then secretary of the interior Bruce Babbitt and others. The OIA argues that gear companies are already paying more than their share in import ­taxes, since their overseas-made goods are subject to a rate between 14 and 35 percent, while other industries—cars and electronics, for example—pay anywhere from 8 percent to nothing at all. (The outdoor industry got a late start lobbying against 1930s-era tariffs.) Those taxes add as much as $45 to the price of a light waterproof hiker.

“At a time when we are trying to encourage people to get outside, we don’t want addi­tional cost barriers,” says OIA executive dir­ec­tor Amy Roberts. Furthermore, how do you differentiate between a pack used for hiking and one for carrying textbooks? Or a rain shell worn on the Appalachian Trail versus one used to stay dry in Seattle?

That sort of distinction isn’t made for gun sales. The firearms tax is nearly the same whether you’re buying a .44 Magnum or a deer rifle; Dirty Harry supports wildlife studies to almost the same degree as Ted Nugent.

If the OIA doesn’t want additional taxes, it should throw its political weight behind an effort to earmark its existing import tariffs for public lands rather than the federal General Fund, which can be used to pay for everything from military drones to border walls.

Of course, the biggest hurdle is the Repub­lican-controlled Congress, which is ­looking to slash taxes across the board. This means that the best solution for states is to follow the lead of Minnesota, where, in 2008, ­voters approved a 0.375 percent general sales tax for conservation, recreation, and the arts. It has already contributed $1.8 billion to help fund projects like the 85-mile interconnected mountain-bike trail ­system in Duluth. “The Duluth system is a tourist draw,” says ­Luther Propst, an Interna­tional Mountain Bicycl­ing Association board member. “States that fund their natural resources are gaining a competitive advantage.”

Source: Put Your Money Where Your Fun Is | Outside Online

Finding Love In Durango

Mehall’s quirky advice to finding love in Durango—hold the pickles.

by Luke Mehall, The Climbing Zine 

To paraphrase my homey Chris Rock, all successful relationships are boring.

In perilous times like these, I turn to great activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and writers such as Bob Dylan for wisdom, but equally I turn to comedians. Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Kate McKinnon are the voices I need to affirm my own sanity.

This hit me while listening to some old Chris Rock standup about marriage. Now, you can always count on Chris Rock for a unique point of view, and he’s inspired me to write this: my tips for dating in 2017.

For a quick reference, I am 38 years old and have never been married. I guess you can say I’m a late bloomer – it took me until about 22 to learn how to talk to women without alcohol. So, you’ve got 16 years of dating experience here, and I’m going to give this information to you for free. Why should you trust me? I have a mustache, trust in the ‘stache people!

1. Here’s my first tip, something you won’t even find on pay-dating sites like Match: don’t drink on your first couple dates. Go out to coffee or tea. Take a walk in the park. Introduce your cats to one another. Alcohol makes people seem more interesting and attractive than they really are. Plus, you don’t find the real person after a few drinks. You find out who they wish they were! At a coffee shop, you can’t bullshit. Instead, you end up talking about your favorite books and your fascination for those Yay! Magnets. Boring shit like that. Alcohol makes boring people attractive and interesting, don’t fall for it.

2. Make fun of people. Real great relationships are based on what you dislike, not what you like. The world is an oyster full of weirdos waiting to be made fun of: the girl who wears her pajamas to the grocery store in the middle of the day. The small penis/big truck guys who rev their engines and speed past you on Main Ave. leaving you in a cloud of diesel smoke, only to stop right next to you at the next stoplight. These people need to be made fun of, and if you can’t do that with your significant other, you’re doomed.

Hell, you should even be making fun of yourselves: look in the mirror, you work three jobs just to pay rising rent costs and live in this town where you can’t afford to settle down and even buy a trailer. Move somewhere else, you damned fool. I hear Montrose is cheap. Start dating there.

3. Food. You must eat a meal early on and see what kind of eaters you are. The kale-eating vegan is never going to make it with the carnivore, not even if she or he, also likes kale. Personally I don’t like pickles. I find it offensive that every time you go get a burger or something they try to force a pickle on you. I mean I get it, some people like pickles, but 100 percent of people? Why do they assume the pickle?

How about chocolate? More people like chocolate than pickles. Plus, people do weird shit when they eat. Does he or she make that weird chewing noise? You know what I’m talking about. That noise could drive someone to murder.

But, if you both make that noise, maybe it might not bother you. Go eat some food people! Get right down to business, watch them chew, see if they treat the waiter with respect and if they tip. Because when it comes down to it, you can see into someone’s soul by how they treat people in the service industry, and because Durango is Durango, we’re all in the service industry! Not properly tipping is a cry for help.

4. To Tinder or not to Tinder? This one is in a grey area. On the one hand Tinder is the shallow- est form of communication known to the human race. It’s even worse than Facebook Messenger, or direct Twitter messages. Plus, in Durango, you already know half the people, so you’re swiping all over faces who you know but already dated, or don’t want to date, or already dated your best friend, and that kind of swiping does something to one’s soul.

However, I think Tinder is great if you’re not already meeting members of the opposite sex (or the same sex) who you’d like to have sex with on the day-to-day. I have friends who work for the Forest Service and such, and they aren’t meeting anyone but trees and rocks during the week. Do you really want to date a tree? Of course not, get on Tinder and start swiping.

5. Here’s something groundbreaking: be yourself and don’t take advice from friends. We’re all weird (again we live in Durango, why else would we be here?) and the truth is your significant other is going to see your funky self sooner or later. And, more importantly, they are going to have to love that weirdo. I believe there’s someone for everyone, and in the end we can’t change a thing about how we truly are.

For the latter part, I feel like the older you get, the more specific advice your married friends try to give you. In the end you probably won’t meet the love of your life on Tinder (but you might). You’ll more than likely meet that person at a restaurant, while you set your pickle aside, and she or he says, “Do you mind if I have your pickle?”

Source: Finding Love In Durango – Luke Mehall

On the Road to the Leadville 100 – Approaching Risk and Deflecting Doubt

Life is often lived in hindsight. In the moment of a big decision, it is often hard to fully understand all the factors that go into what you are thinking at the time. And it is nearly impossible to know what the impacts of any given decision will be until it plays out. You can research, plan, and try your best to predict all the possible outcomes. This is what one should do when taking risks. These risks are calculated, and not reckless. But with any big decision, there will be uncertainty and doubt.

I signed up for the Leadville 100 trail run.  Yes, I did this!  I was able to secure a spot in this race by signing up for one of the limited training packages, which also means I am working with a running coach for the first time in my life.  For those who may be unfamiliar, the Leadville 100 trail race entails 100 miles of beautiful, extreme trails in the mountains of Colorado, from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet and a total of more than 18,000 feet of climbing – all in a 30-hour time frame or less. It is one of the absolute classic races of ultra-running. It is hands-down one of the biggest challenges I will be taking on in my running life, if not my life in general, so far. Did I agonize over this decision for days on end before I did this? No, I did not. Did I fail to think this through before I did this? No, I did not.  What I did do was make a conscious decision to approach risk, as opposed to deflect risk. So much of truly living, to me, is exactly that, approaching risk versus deflecting risk.

To me, approaching risk often looks like this: I get an idea. I get really excited about this idea (probably over-excited) and convince myself it is a good idea. I set a plan in action of how to implement or set on the road to making the idea actually happen.

Basically, when approaching risk, I decide to live my ideas.

Part of approaching risk is deflecting doubt. When the doubts are internal, I tend to try to talk to someone who can provide me with real-life experience on the matter. I often seek out someone I know who trusts my decisions and thinks positively.  And someone who really knows me and supports my BIG ideas. When the doubts are external, I recognize that it might be easier for some to deflect risk.  In most of the “unconventional” challenges I have taken on in my life, the majority of the responses have gone something like, “I would never do that ….How are you going to make that work?” In the case of the Leadville 100, typical reactions also include “You’re nuts” and “That sounds awful.”

These responses surprise me because challenges are exciting! And I can think of less responsible things than taking on challenges and following a passion through. In any event, anyone can do anything for a day or two! Remember, these risks are calculated, and not reckless. I clearly see the value in encouraging those taking calculated risks in our world…just the other day my friend said to me, “If anyone can conquer the unconquerable it is you!”  The outcome will remain unknown until the race, but I certainly appreciate such encouragement over the alternative.

The one thing you can never predict when approaching risk is the reality of how you are going to feel. This risk, the unpredictability of how you are going to feel, is the true risk… yet the one that holds the most potential for growth and rewards. All of the other risks are just doubts that can be resolved one way or the other.

I am sure the road to the Leadville 100 will be a true range of experience, both positive and not so positive.  The perfect opportunity to…

Approach risk.  Deflect doubt.  Live my ideas.

Ilene Bloom is an evolving ultra-runner, mother and lawyer who lives in Denver. In conjunction with training for the Leadville 100, she is raising money for the American Cancer Society at this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/leadville-trail-100-run-for-cancer/fundraiser/ilenebloom.  If you have any questions or thoughts about this article, Ilene can be reached at ilenebloom@hotmail.com.

If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

by Yvon Chouinard, for The Los Angeles Times

Every American citizen owns stock in 640 million acres of federal public lands. We hire public servants to manage our precious assets for maximum return. For decades, we’ve taken these sizable holdings for granted, assuming they’re in good hands.

But we’ve let the fossil fuel industry into the boardroom. We’re allowing gas and mining companies to boss around our elected officials.


Rather than harness the power of public lands for maximum benefit, some politicians on the right — including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — are trying to repeal laws that safeguard ecologically vulnerable landscapes. They’re working to roll back protections on some of our most special wild places, including Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in my home state of Maine. And they are pushing to transfer ownership of federal lands to states.

What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen?

They cloak all this in an argument for states’ rights, but that’s baloney. What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen? Selling public lands has been item No. 1 on Big Oil’s agenda for a long time. It’s a theft of valuable property owned by all of us.

Public lands already get used for drilling and mining and grazing and other kinds of development, which makes good sense. But some places are simply too exceptional to put at risk. That’s why both political parties have long placed trust in our federal agencies to make appropriate decisions about the best use for our lands. It’s not a perfect system, but it works pretty well.

These agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, take into account the input of citizens, along with scientific and economic data, to provide a wide range of benefits from public lands.

It’s outrageous that politicians would take away this oversight. But just as bad, these supposedly business-minded politicians can’t read a simple balance sheet.

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

Some argue that oil and gas jobs would multiply if more lands were opened for development, but in reality, those jobs are being replaced by robots. Because of automation, between a third and a half of the workers who lost their jobs after prices fell a few years ago still can’t find work, even as prices and production surge again. Those jobs have largely moved on to new industries, such as renewable energy. (Would you believe it?)

You can’t outsource the jobs of workers operating a roadside motel near a national park or automate the job of a local river guide in one of rural America’s many wilderness gateway towns. Public lands power a sustainable, homegrown economy. From 2008 to 2011, during the height of the recession, the outdoor industry grew 5% every year.

Areas in the West with protected lands consistently enjoy better rates of employment and income growth compared to those with no protected lands, a recent study shows. In the 22 years since the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah was declared a national monument, jobs grew by 38% in two neighboring counties.

Some lawmakers are acting far outside the interests of the public land owners they were elected to serve. In the corporate world, we’d show them the door immediately. Of course, that’s not how our government actually works.

Some 91% of Westerners agree that national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other federal lands are essential to their state’s economic prosperity, but Americans who support protecting public lands are badly splintered. Hunters and anglers love and value our public lands, but the “hook and bullet” crowd scares off environmentalists and some businesspeople. Environmentalists love and value our public lands, but hardcore activists scare off most businesspeople and some hunters and anglers. Businesspeople love and value our public lands, but lots of folks get skeptical when corporations are involved in advocacy.

We need to work together to protect our public lands. We all value access to wild places where our air, water and wildlife are safe from pollution and development. We all benefit from the enormous economy generated by the conservation of our lands. And we all hate getting ripped off by hucksters posing as smart businesspeople, threatening not just our economy but our American heritage as well.

Let’s drop the discord, start acting like owners and demand that our elected representatives start delivering the value we deserve.

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia.

Source: If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet – LA Times

Anxious Recreation Syndrome Is Real | Outside Online

Anxious Recreation Syndrome (ARSe). Perhaps you’re familiar with symptoms such as dropphobia (fear of getting shelled), nerdphobia (fear of not knowing how to set up your mountain bike suspension), or the debilitating poseurphobia (fear of forgetting how to tie an improved fisherman’s knot during an active hatch). Whoops, I just pissed my waders.

by Marc Peruzzi, Outside Magazine

Cognitive behavioral therapists call it “mind reading.” You show up at a new group ride, ski tour with recent friends, or [insert your favorite pursuit here, but with strangers], convinced that your soon-to-be mates are judging you harshly. “I mean, look at the way he’s putting his avalanche transceiver over his midweight. What a worthless tool of a person. In the event of a burial, let’s all agree not to dig him out.”

This type of anxiety is common. Unless you’re blissfully un-self-aware thanks to an unpresidented [sic] case of presidential narcissistic personality disorder, you too might find yourself suffering from Anxious Recreation Syndrome (ARSe). Perhaps you’re familiar with symptoms such as dropphobia (fear of getting shelled), nerdphobia (fear of not knowing how to set up your mountain bike suspension), or the debilitating poseurphobia (fear of forgetting how to tie an improved fisherman’s knot during an active hatch). Whoops, I just pissed my waders. An indiscriminate neurosis, ARSe affects skiers, hikers, bikers, anglers, climbers, and backpackers in equal numbers. Newbies agonize over it until their bowels blow; so too with veteran outdoor athletes, despite their coiffed smugness.

Take it from a longtime ARSe sufferer like me. A chronic self-flagellator, the best example of me beating myself up quite literally involves me beating myself up.

This was 15 winters ago, in the Utah backcountry. While reporting a story, I toured with a famed local backcountry skier and avalanche observer named Bob Athey. Bob has husky eyes and a Gandalf beard, and he was and is one of the strongest ski tourers in the Wasatch. Naturally, I brought my heavy alpine boots and skis equipped with (stupid heavy) alpine-style touring bindings. One stale granola bar would sustain me for the 6,000-vertical-foot day of climbing.

Unprepared for the nearly vertical skin tracks of the Wasatch, I struggled to hang as Bob giant-stepped his way up cornices and ridges so steep that I was self-arresting with each tenuous step. I was cold, calorie starved, and gassed to the point of shaking, but somehow I managed to keep Bob from seeing me wallow.

On our final summit, my frozen gloved hand slipped from my climbing skin in mid-tug…and I punched myself hard in the nose. For ten seconds, blood fire hosed from both nostrils down my Gore-Tex shell, where it froze upon contact in the single-digit temps. Gripped by ARSe, I quickly turned my back to Bob and, grabbing the shell at the hem, snapped the hemoglobin slushie into the atmosphere.

In hindsight, my ability to make it sleet blood would have made for a nice moment of ridgeline levity. But ARSe makes you a bore. When you spend too much time inside your own head, you’re brushing with a metaphysical theory known as solipsism. A lighter, less-filling form of nihilism, solipsists deny the existence of other beings. Both are asshole belief systems, but solipsists are quieter about it. What’s the point in talking when only you exist?

I still flirt with ARSe-induced solipsism today when cycling in big groups. A half-dozen times a year, I roll up to a scary biweekly ride called the Bustop. Nobody organizes this unsanctioned street race, which starts and finishes at a strip club of the same name. And typically, nobody I know is there. It doesn’t help my confidence that I’m undersized compared with the powerful sprinters and rouleurs who show up to max their wattage on the flatter circuits.

In the tense moments before we depart, the mind reading sets in: Oh great, here comes the former Irish National Champion who is at least ten years older than I am but showing no signs of slowing down. He’s probably bummed to see a hack like me here. Is that an entire team rolling in? They’re going to break me to pieces. Are those strippers? I must look like a total dork. What am I doing here? Fading to black in the throws of ARSe, I solipsist up and go mute.

What a worthless tool of a person I can be. All that anxiety is for naught. I learned to Nordic skate ski in my late 30s surrounded by statuesque European athletes from the university. One of the coaches once skied up behind me when I was clearly struggling. Mind reading again, I thought he was going to scream, “Track!” demanding that I pull over, but instead he courteously offered some helpful pointers. On that Wasatch tour, Bob Athey taught me how to clear ice from the frozen glue of my climbing skins and execute a safe ski cut in an avalanche-starting zone. When I see him at trade shows, he always invites me out to ski again. And the Irish National Champion? He broke through my cone of silence, too.

Two summers back, the Bustop peloton was strung out, battling a stout headwind up a false flat. With an echelon running diagonally across the full width of the road, I was the odd man out, dangling and exposed on the windward side of a line of riders. Too weak to chase down the small pack ahead and a minute away from getting jettisoned off the back, I was clearly floundering. That’s when the Irishman looked askance at me and, in a perfect brogue, said, “You’re a wee fellah like me, but you’re doin’ all the work.” He then slotted out of his position in line and invited me in before effortlessly closing the gap on the leeward side of the echelon. Last summer, he taught me what he calls the “suicide move” to stay connected to the pack in crosswinds and attacks. Next summer, I’ll catch his name.

Like most anxiety, recreational anxiety is self-inflicted. If we could actually read minds, we’d realize everyone is happy to share the world with us.

Unless you’re talking resort skiing, that is. All the nihilists on the chairlift are ridiculing you. That’s a given. Don’t be a dumb ARSe.

Source: Anxious Recreation Syndrome Is Real | Outside Online

Gratitude – Joe Grant ponders the concept of gratitude during a morning run

I found it particularly challenging to take my focus off of what I could not do, instead of being thankful for what my body actually could do. I could run, and really that should be enough. Yet, because of the season, I wanted to ski and climb to take a break from all the pounding. My focus was more on the activities rather than contentment with just being in the mountains.

by Joe Grant, special to irunfar.com

We have had a long mild stretch of unseasonably warm weather in Gold Hill, Colorado, allowing me to run much more than I typically would at this time of year. Most of the roads around town and the trails down in Boulder have been clear of snow and ice. I have been grateful for the clement conditions as some persistent nerve damage in my wrist has limited my physical activity primarily to running.

I sustained the injury during the Arizona Trail Race last April, a 750-mile mountain-bike race across Arizona. The severity of the pain has fluctuated from manageable, to nearly non-existent, to feeling as if my wrist was completely broken.

About a month ago, I severely re-tweaked it for the nth time, which triggered a negative psychological response far greater than the physical discomfort. The issue, I felt, was close to being resolved, but then due to a silly mishap, I was back to square one.

For some reason, I found it particularly challenging to take my focus off of what I could not do, instead of being thankful for what my body actually could do. I could run, and really that should be enough. Yet, because of the season, I wanted to ski and climb to take a break from all the pounding. My focus was more on the activities rather than contentment with just being in the mountains.

When healthy, as fitness and ability improve, there is a tendency to become too goal-oriented and perhaps overlook some of the more essential reasons of why it is worth being outside in the first place. Nature is part of us and we are fully part of nature.

Beyond stating the obvious, on a deeper level, this realization brings forth a sense of contentment, grounding, and humility–all of which are important ingredients to the healing process.

As I set off on my run today, I go by the school where the kids are piling into the classroom. There is yelling and laughter, a mix of the excitement and innocence that comes to life every morning in the playground This is a good way to set the tone as I enter my own world of play.

The neighbor on the corner is smoking a pipe on his porch, easing into the day. I do not smoke, but enjoy the aroma of tobacco. There is also a real sense of tranquility in his process that I can appreciate. A couple of fox dart across the road, playfully teasing my dog. Bella is not sure what to do, to chase or flee? She stands frozen in place, the hair on her back raised. Before she has time to engage, they have vanished into the woods.

I love the fox–their whimsical character, that twinkle in their eye, always with an air of mischief. Much like the kids, their whole demeanor reminds me to stay lighthearted, to not take myself too seriously.

I plummet down the steep trail, opening up my stride, feeling loose, relaxed.

I can hear dog’s bell, but lose sight of her. She takes a shortcut, appears out of the trees ahead, charging. We hop the creek in unison and begin to climb. She buries me with ease up the hill with her four little legs. Pausing, she looks back at the heavy-breathing ape, tail wagging. She is smiling, I swear.

It is easy to get caught up in our own little worlds, to feel defeated by an injury or an obstacle and lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead of feeling bogged down by my limitations, I am deeply grateful for what I can do. With the right perspective there are no dead ends, only possibilities.

As I reach the top of the climb, I stop at the overlook above town. The Indian Peaks line the horizon, with the broad, flat summit of Longs Peak capping the range to the northwest.

The mountains speak to a deeper place in my heart, rather than just feed my physical needs. We have so much to be thankful for.

Source: Gratitude

Let’s tax our stuff — and spend it on clout 

by Molly Absolon, Jackson Hole News & Guide

I’ve never seen as many people on the Glory boot track as I saw this past weekend. An unbroken line of hikers strung down the mountainside, and the parking lot overflowed with vehicles. The numbers drove home just how many outdoor recreationists there are these days.

I tried to come up with a guess-timate on just how much money each of us carried or wore up the track. Let’s say our skis cost $700 and our boots were $500. Dynafit or a comparable pair of light alpine touring bindings run anywhere from $300 to more than $500, so let’s just say $350 is a reasonable average. Backpacks cost around $100. Ski pants $150. Jackets $200. I could keep going but don’t really need to. My point is clear. Each of us has at least a couple thousand dollars invested in our backcountry ski getup, and there were hundreds of us out there on this weekend. So just for fun let’s say 500 people climbed Glory. If each of us had spent $2,000 on our gear that’s $1 million total, and I’d guess that’s an underestimate.

The point is that outdoor recreation is big business. To illustrate that look at the decision by the Outdoor Retailers Show to pull out of Salt Lake City after 20 years in Utah. The decision will cost Salt Lake City $45 million in lost revenue. That’s a big blow, and that’s the point. The Outdoor Industry Association wants to throw its weight around. After years of being pushed aside by the louder voices and deeper pockets of oil and gas, coal and other extractive industries, the outdoor industry now thinks it has grown enough to deserve a seat at the table when it comes to deciding the future of our public lands.

The fact of the matter is that it’s about time the outdoor recreation industry stepped up and took a stand on issues affecting the lands on which we pursue our sports. I used to be the communications manager for a conservation group in Wyoming. We were focused on protecting the Wyoming Range from oil and gas leasing at that time. The voice that had the most power for conservationists at the bargaining table was that of the “hook and bullet” crowd. Hunters and anglers were respected and listened to. Why? Because hunters and anglers are willing to pay to play. In fact they have contributed more than $300 million to federal coffers through self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and fishing equipment. Those dollars have been used to help fund wildlife conservation efforts. They’ve also given the hook and bullet crowd credibility and clout.

Outdoor recreationists don’t have that same clout though our numbers are growing exponentially. I don’t have any statistics to back up that observation, but all of us who’ve lived in the area more than five years have anecdotal evidence of the growth. Yet despite this increase you don’t see us at the bargaining table when it comes to federal land management decisions. But we should be, especially in the Jackson area, where outdoor recreation is ingrained in our psyche.

Forrest McCarthy has been thinking about this issue a lot. We got into this topic on a skin track one day and subsequently he has shared background information on one potential solution: a 1 percent excise tax on outdoor equipment and clothing that would be set aside for conservation.

The so-called backpack tax is not a new idea, nor is it Forrest’s, but he’s a fan. It was first proposed in the 1990s, but the Outdoor Industry Association shot it down. McCarthy says that the industry’s complaints about the tax were legitimate, but he disagrees with their decision to kill rather than reform it. He believes we need to be paying our way like hunters and anglers and motorized recreationists (who pay an excise tax on gas that is used to support motorized trails). Because these groups pay into the system they get something in return. Right now outdoor recreationists aren’t really paying into the system, and it shows. We don’t get a lot of respect from our government so our voices often go unheard and our needs unmet.

You can argue that all of us already pay taxes on our gear, and we do. There are sales taxes and import tariffs on outdoor gear, but those taxes go into the general fund and don’t have any direct effect on conservation or public lands. We also pay fees for a variety of things like entering a national park or getting a permit to float a river, but hunters, anglers and motorized recreationists pay user fees, too, so you can’t really count them. It’s not like we’re doing anything extra for the lands we love.

People also criticize the backpack tax because it makes gear more expensive and, therefore, less affordable for any but the rich elite. I understand that argument to an extent, but don’t think it holds water in the long run. If you are paying an extra 1 percent on your $700 skis, that’s $7. That’s not going to make or break your decision to make that purchase. Furthermore, used gear would not be taxed and, therefore, would continue to be an option for people who can’t afford top-of-the-line equipment.

Finally, in the ’90s, when the backpack tax was first shot down, the outdoor industry argued that it included items that weren’t used for outdoor recreation. Again, this argument seems like one that can be surmounted with a little thought. After all, most of us know the difference between a backpack intended for books and one you use for skiing.

I think we need to put our money where our mouth is. I applaud the decision to pull the OR show out of Salt Lake, although it’s unfortunate that businesses in the area will suffer. But that’s the way sanctions work. They are meant to hurt. They are meant to make a change. Taxes also hurt. No one likes to give more money to the federal government, but if we want to protect the lands that give us joy and freedom, we should be willing to pay.

Source: Let’s tax our stuff — and spend it on clout – Jackson Hole News&Guide: Outdoors Snow Survey