I ran into my new landlord at 6:30 am this morning as I was unloading my Uhaul trailer in the rain. “Damn”, he muttered, “I was hoping you’d be lazier and I would have time to take photos of the place before you moved in”. I laughed. “Brian”, I said, “I don’t have time to be lazy”.
It’s true. As a medical student, the primary obligation of my time is to my studies, and they fill sixty hours of my week at a minimum. That means that if I can’t stay focused at school, or if I don’t use my time wisely to tackle errands in my spare time, then I have little left for the other things that I love to do. To be able to spend waking time with Taylor, run around in the mountains, cook good food, and write this blog, I have to be ruthless. There’s no time to be lazy.
Last week, the pace was different– it was one of those rare weeks after a week of final exams when the demands of school totaled closer to six hours than to sixty. I needed to move from one apartment to another, a daunting task that would consume much of the week. Still, I had three days all to myself, an embarrassment of riches.
Saturday: Taylor and I rallied up to Mt Hood to explore new trails with our man Eric, who lives up in Government Camp. With quorum for a shuttle, we dropped a car at the highway and drove to the apex of the ridge just East of Mt Hood. From there, twenty miles of singletrack wound down a few thousand vertical feet through changing forest. The view from the top of Lookout Mountain, a side mission through some snowdrifts and muddy road, was well worth the trip.
Sunday: Taylor had to go to work, so I pulled myself together and drove out to Bend. I knew that I wanted to bike, and that I wanted to ski. I had no idea where I’d stay, or what I’d eat. I pulled together the sad remains of my pre-move refrigerator, including some questionable milk and stale marshmallow cereal. With the freedom to suffer and unhindered audacity that I find when I’m doing things alone, I wound the Subaru up into the mountains above Bend and rode a loop well worth repeating. (For those in the know: up Storm King and Funner, across Tiddlywinks and Kiwa Butte, down Tyler’s Traverse).
The target of my day was a relatively new trail called Tyler’s traverse, which loops, leaps, and flows six miles through the Bend ponderosas with hardly a wasted pedal. It’s mind binding. Riding in the zone on a well-constructed mountain bike trail is a feeling which approaches powder skiing. Tired, I bedded down covertly in the woods with a plan to go to the mountains in the morning.
Monday: … Did not start well. I woke around five with the sun and promptly burnt the hair off of my right hand trying to pour hot water from a still-running JetBoil. The acrid smell would somehow linger somewhere near my soft palette for the remainder of the day. After botching the stove, I slammed a bowl of cereal, realizing as I did so that the milk had gone sour. I forgot to eat the yogurt that I’d brought and left camp with only 200 or so sour calories in my gullet.
Still, as I said, freedom to suffer and unhindered audacity: I left the trailhead for South Sister sometime around 6:30 in the morning with the most irresponsibly light pack that I could muster. Nearly June as it is now, I cruised a few miles of dirt in my S-Labs before hitting snow and switching to skis. Though from a distance the route is not completely apparent, it unfolded logically as I passed a group of skiers and then another of sluggish snowshoers.
All but the last five-hundred feet or so went with skins on before I, out of laziness, switched to crampons. Here the sour milk caught up with me and my stomach churned. I slowed, but glancing at my watch, saw the arbitrary opportunity to impress nobody and top out in a reasonable time. Making a quick walk across the summit crater, I tagged the summit in 2:57.
Never a patient one, I could muster only half an hour of summit-sitting in the hopes of softer snow before I locked the toes and skied off of the summit. The first pitch was miserably churned and icy, pock-marked with footprints. I steeled my teeth, ears, and legs for a few thousand feet of chattering skiing. Pleasantly, with a slight change in aspect onto the Southeast ridge, the snow softened to a perfectly rippable corn, and I quickly arced my way back to tree line.
Abhorring boot-hiking, I did what I do best and found the most contrived and hazardous tongue of snow which snaked its way down through the woods. I skied past a few groups of hikers, who looked at me like I was crazy, skiing a meter-wide strip of snow through the woods. Finally walking on dirt, I again seized on another arbitrary goal and fast-walked my way to the car for a time of 58 minutes down from the summit.
It feels good, to be so tired. Feeling three-day tired, having tagged five-thousand feet of corn skiing before 11 am, feels incomparably good.
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