Spring Reflections

It has been my intention to share a few glimpses of my spring even here a little ways after the fact. In the context of this recent running success, it seems particularly appropriate to look back on the April adventures that helped build my current fitness. I believe that the best way to build fitness is to go outside with friends, challenge yourself to develop new skills, cover some human-powered ground, and have fun!

The racing season for cross-country skiing ends in very early April, and beyond that skiers often take a few weeks to recover and rebuild. My recovery was active recovery spent in Alaska and Montana, playing in the mountains and visiting with my family and friends. I especially enjoyed doing more backcountry skiing than ever before. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a month, before structured training resumed in May.  Here are glimpses from many of my favorite outings from April 2017:

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This is my brother Scott, he likes adventures and adventure toys like ice screws and ropes. After the final ski races of the season in Fairbanks, AK, I drove down to Anchorage with Scott and we chased spring adventures.
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Scott rappels down alongside this ice falls, after we had both climbed up to the top. It was stable when we started but a bit of debris started to come down midway, so we got out of there quickly rather than climbing the lower section again as had originally been our plan.
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We made a summit attempt on this mountain, Mt. Sanford. It was on the borderline of the hardest thing I’ve ever done, somewhat life-changing, and completely captivating. A story of this particular 4-day expedition will have to wait for it’s own blog post, the Sanford Special, coming up soon.
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Ice in a different form, with a backdrop of the Chugach mountains above Anchorage. On a crust nordic ski on the tidal mudflats below Anchorage, we came across some great ice formations as well as good crust skiing. This was a pretty low-key ski and a great opportunity to catch up with my friend Rachelle, who lives in Anchorage and I only get to see about once a year.
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Scott enjoying the mudflats ski and unusual terrain
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I contemplatively made, photographed, and ate tasty bits of food like these pesto grilled cheese sandwiches. And Scott and I made lots of other tasty meals, from moose-and-mushrooms to black bean and corn salsa to muffins to camping couscous. It’s fun cooking together, a great chance to talk about whatever and also concoct creative treats.
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High above Anchorage on a sunny evening. We skinned up after Scott finished work, and even though the snow was a little cruddy for the descent, it was worth it for the time outside!
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Playing on this mushroom-shaped ice chunk in the lake below Spencer Glacier, on another crust ski adventure
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Spencer glacier from the far edge of the lake
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Scott and Becca R check out the walls of ice at the face of Spencer glacier. Cross-country skiing is spectacular just on its own as a way to glide through the woods, but the opportunity to explore anywhere on the crust, and check out glacier faces, really makes crust skiing incredible.
After 2 weeks in Alaska, it was time for me to head down to Montana to see my parents, explore more of the trails and mountains around Bozeman, and soak in sunshine and spring weather.  For another look at the Alaska adventures, plus more after I left, see Scott’s blog: https//scottgpatterson.wordpress.com

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Montana powder with Anja Gruber, former UVM skiing teammate in college and always a great workout buddy!
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Anja evaluating the line ahead
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Near the summit looking out over the peaks of Montana around Bozeman
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Another great backcountry skiing day with Anja, Emily, Tim and Andrew at Beehive Basin, after a huge late-season snowfall
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Left to right, Tim, Anja, Andrew and myself. Photo taken by Emily. Yes I absolutely backcountry ski in my Nordic spandex, it’s awesome for spring skiing temperatures!
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Tim cruises down through the powder at Beehive
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Enjoying spring evenings at my parent’s house outside of Bozeman

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I got out for just one crust-cruise on nordic skis in Montana, at Fawn Pass with Anja and Johanna. Completely worth it, great skiing in May.
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Stream crossings necessary. Some with bridges, some requiring rock-hopping, encouragement, and lots of laughter.
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Does anything look strange about these horses? They’re sculptures.
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Trail running! I did a fair bit of trail running, mixed in with all my skiing and biking outings. And in Montana the trails go up-up-up, and then you turn around and come back down. On quite a few of the trails I’d run into snow, sometimes post-holing waist-deep. Run up, run down, repeat the next day… well, I suppose that’s mountain running for you!
I am a very lucky person, believe me, I know this! To love more than anything to play outside, and to get to play outside and stay fit as my life’s work. I hope you are able to get outside and enjoy this beautiful world and the company of your friends as often as possible!

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