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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tough as hell

Thanks to all of you wonderful bloggers who left me notes of encouragement about my first bike ride yesterday. It feels like a small accomplishment in the context of the larger world but it was a major triumph for me. It felt fantastic to know that others understood how I felt. Thank you so much for your support.

This morning, we had a wonderful hike, climbing up a south-facing slope where most of the snow had melted. K leaped over a fallen log on a recall, with the puppy-like energy that she still possesses.
We crested the ridge and discovered that a new snow storm oozed inexorably toward us and had erased the mountains from the horizon.
The trail along the crest sometimes veered slightly to the north, leaving the dogs standing in snow.
As we hiked, the storm enveloped our world, covering the low hills closest to us.
The dogs picked up a scent from the north-facing side of the slope that they wanted to investigate. On past my mountain bike rides, I've found mountain lion tracks numerous times on that slope - it's a slope that our most secretive animals love.

We leashed the pups and explored the snowy slope. We found a maze of elk tracks but no predator tracks. When we emerged from the forest, the clouds had darkened still further so we started to trek back toward the trailhead. The dogs frolicked wildly, making me laugh aloud.When we arrived back at the car, we pulled my bike out of the back so that I could ride home. Snow lazily drifted out of the sky but I felt a little more vulnerable than usual so my pack covered my back by delaying their drive home while I rode my bike home. By lingering behind me, they could pick me up if I needed to be rescued.

I was truly amazed by how great my legs felt. Moreover, I had NO pain shooting down my arms into my hands - something that I've lived with for many years until now. I found myself hammering up a hill, practically laughing aloud as I tried to rocket through the now pelting snow. I didn't care about the snow stinging my face - I was riding my bike, and I even felt fast! I had to curb my bursting enthusiasm to avoid stressing my neck but it was tough to curb!

As I rode home through the snow, I passed two firefighters trudging along the side of the dirt road. They'd been working to control a prescribed burn designed to reduce wildfire danger. Their faces were blackened with ash, they wore heavy fire-proof suits, and they carried heavy hoes and shovels. Yet, they waved and shouted to me: "You are tough as hell!". Funny, I'd been thinking the same about them.

By this evening, the fury of the storm pummeled us during the dogs' evening hike. The wind whipped the snow horizontally past our faces. An inch fell during our 20 minute hike.
Right now, the snow is falling at 3-5" per hour. Who knows what the grand total will be?
Shortly after our last big storm a few days ago, I sneaked out without the dogs to check the bear den. The ursines had fallen back into deep hibernation mode. They hadn't left the den in days, except to stick their snouts outside and eat some snow about every second day, according to the wildlife cameras.

What I saw that day warmed my heart. The snow almost completely covered the den, and the setting sun suffused the snowy world with gold.
From the front, I still could barely discern the den entrance.
I zoomed with my camera and caught a glimpse of the sow. She's concluded that I'm pretty boring. She opened an eye, yawned, and went back to sleep in her cozy den whose opening now barely revealed her face. She served as the den guard, blocking access to her cub who doubtless slept behind her.
I imagine that the sow and her cub are snuggled together in the den right now as the storm buffets our forest. It's a wonderful thought. But, I have to say that if anyone is "tough as hell", it's the wild animals who somehow survive in our forests despite brutal storms like tonight's.


  1. Khyra SOOOO hopes K & R will get out there and enjoy the snow for her!

    The animals may be tough as hell, but we know you are surely on THAT list too!

  2. You're still pretty darned tough -- way tougher than me! I could feel your exhuberance as you described the ride today, though! I'm so happy for you!

    That is quite a storm! No wonder K and R felt so energetic. The weather must really have gotten them going.

  3. Congrats on your ride. That is truly a great accomplishment!

  4. And you got a photo again! You're turning into a master action photographer. :)

  5. KB! Biking at the start of this storm - you are tough! We're supposed to go to Breck tomorrow after Rehab but as of now travel is dangerous both here in the city, in the foothills, and in the Mts. Typical for spring, huh?

  6. ya, right. you're not tough as hell too.. ;)

  7. Your joy in the day, the dogs, the weather, your bike is palpable . . .it may even be catching! Lets hope so, anyway.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

  8. Hey there KB
    It's so wonderful to be able to share this amazing time with you! I can almost feel your exhuberance! You really are celebrating life!!!...and that is what its all about!
    I love your pictures and your pooches! Hang in there and gentle on yourself!

  9. You made us laugh. 'Tough as hell' - not the most obvious of compliments but probably the most well meaning and apt! Well done - we're thrilled.

  10. more snow!? i agree about the animals in the forest surviving the winter....
    but, you are tough as hell! i can picture you on your bike peddling like a mad women, laughing in the snow....maybe the firefighters meant to say "crazy as hell".....:)
    soon the snow will be gone and your bike will again be your main form of transport!

  11. It is a true joy to read this post and feel your happiness !

    I think you set a wonderful example for all your readers........I know I've been inspired to get to the gym when I am tempted to stay home.......just by thinking of all that you do, KB !!


  12. This is the happiest/best blog you have ever written! OK, maybe not, but one can sure catch the happiness in your expressions and the pure joy of living. Thank you for sharing, and for being 'tough as hell'. and for recognizing others (even critters) for the same spirit.

  13. I love that encounter with the firefighters. It's funny to imagine them with ash on their faces during the beginning of a storm. It sounds like you were all a sight to each other.

    The pictures of K and R make me want to get out and move! What contagious enthusiasm! I can't wait to hear more bike stories...

  14. Tough as hell is right - and a very happy toughness too. We can almost hear your laughter as you ride that bike up the hill and into the snow. We heard that your area was getting a wild storm - enjoy but Mom says keep the snow in your part of the world:)

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  15. Smart as hell, too. I think bikes are a much safer form of transportation in this kind of weather! If we could just keep the cars out of our way when we have to be on the roads!

    Good job, and once again, very joyful post.

  16. 5 inches of snow in one hour? I know more than a few New Yorkers who couldn't deal with that! It really amazes me how quickly the weather can change out there in the mountains.

    For simply dealing with that, you're all tough as hell! Not that I don't like snow - I'm just not sure I like it in amounts that large, that often!

  17. That's your new t-shirt slogan ... Tough as Hell! :o)

    I'm glad you got to ride before the snow got too bad. It took two plowings last night and another big one this morning to clear things here.

  18. That's quite a snow fall! Makes for some amazing photos. You sound like a little kid with you bike enthusiasm. I wish you had video!


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