I never thought I’d be that person who had more than one sleeping bag, a backpack for any occasion, and 2 snowboard setups. But alas, it happened and hey, I’m pretty happy about it. However epically awesome “gear mountain” may become, there comes a time where plastic bins just don’t cut it anymore. That time for me was when I was packing for an impromptu backpacking trip and couldn’t find my headlamp. So what did I do? Waited six months until the weather got crappy and got to work fitting out some unfinished space in my basement to show off all my gear by building a DIY gear room. In the end I had one bitching backcountry closet that didn’t break the bank.
Zerrpppppp, click. Zerrrrpppp click. Zerrrrpppp click. My legs sound robotic as they slide across the skin track on their makeshift skis. The only thing that reminds me that I’m human is my heavy breathing. “Phew this most certainly is killer,” I huff as make my way up, slowly, towards what I hope is the top of the ridge. We had taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on a steep skin track through some rather dense trees.
I stand there, frozen, unable to speak, pinching a ledge of rock about a knuckle deep for dear life. We had bushwhacked our way up a Castlewood Canyon to hang out on some walls and get our climb on – however at that moment it was the last thing I could bring myself to do. Half way up a route where the holds went from gentle 5.9 jugs to a grueling 5.11a. finger killers. There I was, stuck in my sick fantasy on how was I going to fall to certain death. Tears started to trickle down my face.
Laying awake under the mosquito net I’m staring at the ceiling of the bungalow. The air is still thick, and covers are useless. Silently I listen to the orchestra of sound around me. Each species rhythmically singing it’s tune, as if they’ve all been practicing for centuries. Despite the exhausting humidity and general uncomfortable feeling that comes with constantly being covered in a film of sweat I’m at ease. The noise is deafening – as if someone is blasting a system right by your bedside. However, I’m pleasantly tired. It’s as if every moment was meant to exist just like this.
Pristine sapphire waters lap gently against the steep peaks of the Sierra Nevadas. Dramatic views unfold between pines and you hike along the ridges of the mountains. Perhaps hiking isn’t your thing, you’re more of a beach bum, that’s ok because there are countless nooks and crannies to find hidden patches of beach leading to sapphire waters you have to see to believe. Where is this obtainable slice of Shangri-la you ask? Oh, it’s closer than you think, this is Lake Tahoe like a local.
The 3:30am wake up call came with some ease this go around. Surprisingly, my eyes naturally popped open without an alarm. It’s as if my natural body clock knew what was coming. I rolled out of bed and got moving for today’s destination: Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park. Who doesn’t want to ring in a new year watching the sun rise dramatically over the snow caped mountains?
As I finally clear the boulders and begin to rip my spikes off Nina does a happy dance and starts rolling furiously across the patches of snow. She’s happy to be outside enjoying the great white wonderland. Seeing her joy brings a warmth to my heart. I look up at the beautiful lake snuggled against the steep couliors of the 13,000′ peaks surrounding me. Life is perfect. This is why I snowshoe with a dog.