climb the mountains, jump the sun

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It was briefly sunny in SE Michigan today. I shoveled some snow and was psyched about it. I’m recently back from Colorado (again), where I’ve spent half of the last month and where it is super frequently sunny. It was a great time: beautiful, exhausting, full of good company. Even the drive out went pretty well, with the exception of a ridiculous wind storm/blizzard in Iowa (where we narrowly missed being the start of a 30-vehicle pile-up) and my first ever speeding ticket, in Nebraska, where I have bad luck with cops. I have distilled two rules from this trip. And illustrated them with markers. ‘Cause I love markers.

Number one!

20140127-125849.jpgThis is the same rule as “just say yes” or “just do it” or “do something crazy” (shout out to Nell Cunningham and Asher Roth) or “YOLO.”  There’s always room for a little more in every day. It’s too easy to make excuses – to say you’re tired, or feeling sick, or want to be lazy, or are nervous about something. Something I love about this crew in Colorado is that everybody is just, like, ON, 24/7. It’s sort of unbelievable, and very inspiring. And when you just say yes, to lots of wild things, you derive energy from those commitments. The act of committing to the plunge gives you the power to enjoy it. It all works out really well.

BaldysunsetSo even though I got some horrible cold that made me cough disgustingly, there was still mountain climbing, hiking to frozen waterfalls, skiing in that sunshine, dancing in crowds, shot skis, dubstep shows. We did the hike up to Hanging Lake and climbed around blue-clear mottled ice sculptures and then slid most of the way back down. I got smushed in a bar fight and met friendly people on the icy sidewalk. We turned a Mexican restaurant into our own private party and I gave an impromptu lesson on Isle Royale’s wolves, before a goofy game of Catchphrase and the eating of boiled peanuts. We climbed up Mt. Baldy (hardest effing hike ever, even though Tom carried my skis the whole way and so really, it should have been easy) and saw this illuminating, mind-blowing golden sunset over the valley and the mountains, and then skied back down as it got darker and darker and the powder turned into sheets of ice.

Everybody forgets this rule sometimes, me included. I’m not saying there’s no place for taking rests, once in awhile, or having a quiet read by the fire, but I think the more you say, “Fuck it, let’s go,” and you take that swig of bourbon and strap on your boots and hit the trail, the richer your stories. So for this, I strive.

Number two!

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Snow is awesome. It is fluffy, sparkly, and excellent for moving around on atop skis, snowboards, and sleds. Its existence – let’s get serious for a minute – is also threatened by a warming climate. I’m torn – to enjoy this snow that I love, I have to spend shit tons of fuel traveling around, and then riding chairlifts up the mountain. I’m not going to give up skiing, but there’s gotta be stuff I can do to atone for these things as well. So this is something I’m thinking about now. Let’s all think about it for a sec, shall we?

BreckskiFrom the Summit County newspaper, ‘Summit Daily’: “Boulder-based scientist Mark Williams, a snow hydrologist at the University of Colorado studying effects of climate change, predicted a rise in snowlines throughout this century in a 2008 study. The snow line — the elevation in which snowfall turns to rain — would move up more than 2,400 feet from the base areas at Aspen Mountain and Park City Mountain in Utah, according to the study which was sponsored by both resorts…Under a high-emissions scenario, the report predicts no snowpack at Park City’s base by 2100.”

Resorts like to ‘greenwash’ themselves and tout their sustainability practices, but, really, they gots to make money, and that’s what they’re gonna do. So I love snow, you love snow – let’s treat it like anything else we love and respect it and protect it. We can be conscious of the issue of climate change, educate others, vote, talk to our politicians, make the small personal choices than can, cumulatively, do some good. (I’d like to give some gnar points to my friend Mel who hitchhikes into work instead of driving her car, even though I’m not sure the decision is entirely climate-related.)

In the short run, climate change is going to cause all kinds of weird weather events that might even include more freak snow storms, but in the long run, with this trend, everything just gets warmer and warmer and warmer and pretty soon it’ll just be mud season all the time, which would suck. So be pro snow and do what you can. We got this – we can make a difference before it’s too late. And check out the “I am Pro Snow” video and campaign at the Climate Reality Project: http://climaterealityproject.org/pro-snow/ Not that watching videos and ‘Pro Snow’ stickers change too much, but I have to think that the more people are talking and thinking about these issues, the better.

These two rules can actually combine really well. Here are three things that will not only help fight climate change, they’ll also probably give you some good life stories. I’m sure you can think of even more.

1. Walk or ride your bike or hitch hike or ride the bus to work instead of driving, even if it’s 2 degrees outside or the bus has shady characters on it. You got this.

2. Show up at the State Capitol with homemade signs when they’re voting about climate related things.

3. Make your own beer, or at least find local, delicious, sustainable microbreweries. Also, recycle those PBR cans (because you’re still going to drink PBR sometimes.)

This is a great world. Live in it and protect it with absolutely everything you’ve got.

Glenwood

 (hi. do you remember this drive? sometimes i listen to those metallica songs. it’s an odd tribute in a way.)

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