The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.
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Hairy Yoga

The GiGi wax warmer- friend or foe?

Disclaimer: If you’re male, you may not want to read this post – but the ladies sure will.

Hair depletion and I haven’t always gotten along so well. Like much of my life, I’ve taken a shotgun approach to the issue. One blade irritates my underarms just as much as four. Electric razors are too harsh. And then there was the one waxing incident involving the microwavable wax. To make a long story short, I touched the wax container in the microwave and said wax exploded all over kitchen and a large area of skin. Burnt skin continued to worsen under a layer of tacky wax and the on-duty RN at the local ER (consulted via phone, thank you) was initially at a loss advice on a non-candle type of wax (hint: cold shower and use oil to remove. Take pain pills). This incident spurred the purchase of my own mini at-home waxing kit.

While somewhat barbaric, good ‘ole waxing is incredibly effective. In my mind, its biggest drawback is the simple fact that the wax needs something to grab onto. For underarms, this means a vicious cycle of careful planning to estimate the exact date when the hair is long enough to be pulled but not so long one is left waiting for the appointed day feeling like Sasquatch. Pull a week too early and an awkward stubble is left. And too late? Read on, my hairy friend.

I’m pretty sure that the wax pot at a salon gets plugged in when they open for the day. Not so at home. The wax kit must be brought out from under the counter and plugged in for at least 30 minutes to get the wax nice and gooey. I had plugged the wax in, but got distracted by email, phone, work and life in general. Before I knew it, it was almost time to go to yoga class and I wanted to wear a cap-sleeve shirt (as most full-coverage yoga shirts were hiding at the moment).

Reasoning that I had just enough time to do a quick underarm wax,  I began with gusto only to realize halfway through that if I was going to be on time (and you should not ever be late for yoga- just skip it), I had to go NOW. So, with one underarm pink and hair-free and one wax-ready hairy, I jumped in the car with a plan.

The plan was to go in the back corner. I began walking to my space when a woman in the second row asked me a question and we started chatting. A few new faces entered the studio, and that was the beginning of the end. Helping out the newbies, the instructor came up with two mats and asked the chatty woman and I if we would mind moving to the front of the class (‘so others can watch’, she mouthed). Fan-tastic. Watch away.

I have no idea if anyone objected to my one hairy armpit. In my mind, they did and were appropriately horrified/curious. In reality, they probably didn’t notice. If anyone has looked into laser hair removal for the underarms, I’d be interested in finding out more.

Funny-ha-ha-of-the-day: Graphic help for “Can I skip class today?

 

 

Wildlife before Breakfast

My new backyard

At 9 o’clock at night, getting up at 5:45 am to kayak the river the next morning sounds like a good idea. At 5:45 the next morning, it sounds like I want to throw something (anything) at the person who is waking me up. Did you know it’s still dark then? As in, middle-of-the-night-pitch-black dark? I didn’t. But I did get up, pull on a layers of clothing, hat, headlamp, and pogies (kayak mittens and incidentally, a key invention in the evolution of man) and proceeded to put my tired self into the front of our tandem kayak. Let me tell you what I saw.

I didn’t really ‘see’ the flock of geese as much I heard them. We weren’t 10 minutes into the paddle when a commotion sounding a bit like a Mack truck started immediately on my left. The Mack truck grew louder as we approached and started furiously honking for us to get out of the way before it decided to take flight and relocate downstream. A narrow miss.

The low water allowed for a more leisurely Chai-sipping pace and at one such interlude, I spied something moving along the bank towards an obvious den. The masked critter heard us and froze to assess the new bright orange creature on the river. Not often seen in this area, the raccoon decided we were more curious than threatening and we were allowed to safely observe him in his entirety with a comforting distance of water between the two of us. Cool.

Finally, I saw what I had been waiting for- a beaver! Although their dam-building can make them a serious nuisance for river recreation and to homeowners, it is super neat to see them in action. This one had its head above water and was swimming upstream straight at us. We spotted each other around the same time and he promptly dove underwater to resurface later closer to the bank. By this time we were downstream of him and he boogied to shore with amazing swim skills. He was probably breaking curfew as it was getting fairly light out. If this amazing Fall weather holds, I’ll try to find his dam and see if I can catch him in construction mode. But as that will require multiple 5:45am mornings, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Super Cool Video of the Day: Tagging bears in Canada- the three adorable cubs are worth the watch (it’s funny, too).

A New Range for Mountain Kidd

Downtown Casper and Casper Mountain

After six full years in the valley of Jackson Hole, Mountain Kidd is relocating to the second biggest city in Wyoming. Since very few people know the second biggest city in Wyoming, I’ll just spill the beans; I’m moving to Casper.

Casper, Wyoming has a population of 53,500 according to the 2010 census.  This is a significant number for Wyoming. And yes, I’ll still be “Mountain Kidd”. Casper is located at the north end of the Laramie mountain range. In this range is Casper Mountain, rising 3,000 feet above the city to a total of 8130 feet. 8130 is no Grand Teton. but that’s okay- I’ll adapt.

I’ve lived throughout the Rockies for over ten years and each town has pushed me to develop one skill set or another. In Vail, I was young and made bold job choices. Working full-time as a ski instructor Beaver Creek allowed me to become a technical, proficient skier very very quickly. When summer came around, I paid $200 to take a two-week training course as a whitewater rafting guide. At the end of the two weeks, everyone was granted an interview with the promise that about half of us would be hired on for the summer. With a customer service personality and a deep passion for water in all its forms, I got the job and spent the summer swimming rapids on the Eagle River (not on purpose) and guiding tourists down the Shoshone section of the Colorado.  I also bought a whitewater kayak and found that I enjoyed the solidarity of kayaking even more than rafting

There was a brief stint swimming flood-stage whitewater on the New River in West Virgina, but it was clear that I needed to find my next mountain town ‘out west’. Vail was fantastic but I knew the fur coat party scene wasn’t for ultimately for me. I told people I wanted another ski town without so many people and more laid back. Those in the know all said “go to Jackson.” And to Jackson I went.

While Jackson has whitewater, it’s not near as plentiful or accessible as it is in Colorado. But we do have epic mountain biking. Armed with a tricked out Kona mountain bike as a college graduation gift, I took to the trails with vengeance and let whitewater fall to the wayside. I dare say the shift in focus fit my aging process as well. When things go ‘wrong’ on whitewater, it’s game on. The situation instantly becomes exponentially more serious and a rapid set of decisions needs to be made to ensure the continuation of life. As a raft guide, you may need to flip the raft, which involves climbing on top of an upside-down raft, attaching a rope to the side and pulling it on top of yourself as you go back into the water. After this, you need to collect your guests. There’s no question that it’s a high pressure situation. But with mountain biking, a wrong decisions leads to a glorious stand-still. Assuming your friend isn’t about to run you over, a crashed mountain biker can luxuriate in lying on the ground and doing a mental once-over before acting.

Of course, the winter months in Jackson are all about the skiing. I went from a good skier in Michigan to a good skier in Colorado (a considerable jump) during my time at Beaver Creek and I consider myself lucky to have had the time to cut my teeth before coming to Jackson. When people call it the best skiing in the lower 48, they’re right- if you can ski it. Jackson is steep and rugged with limited beginner and intermediate terrain. It’s one reason we’ll never get the skier numbers of Vail- which is fine by us locals. On drops where other resorts would issue series of flashing lights and multiple rope lines, Jackson puts a pole with a small orange “cliff” sign. Skiers that wander off the groomed trail, ski at your own risk. It’s fantastic skiing, but a minor knee injury and the cumulative effect of many long, hard winters has me thinking I may be able to live without flinging myself down mountains on two narrow sticks.

Casper does have world-class Nordic skiing. The Casper Nordic Center has 42 kilometers of groomed trails with a 1.2K lighted loop. So I’ll buy some Nordic gear for the winter months. Maybe I’ll help develop the mountain bike trails in the summer, but Casper does have a whitewater park on the downtown section of the Platte river- it’s fun without the consequences of class V rivers. And Jackson is an easy five-hour drive away. Maybe a mountain lifestyle has more to do with the person than the geographical location.

Nonprofit of the Day: Teton Valley Hapi Trails

Kayaking in the Snow

When I worked with the public, people were constantly mistaking me for a meteorologist. “We’re thinking about coming in Aprtober, what will the weather be like then?” was put on me several times a day. My steady answer was “it could be warm, it could be snowing. I would come prepared for anything.” If you want to get out regularly and live in the mountains, these are words to live by.

A few flakes in the sky turned to a full-on flurry

"Well, we're here. Who knew it would be snowing?"

When visiting Casper, my friend suggested we go sea kayaking on a cold October day and I thought “sure, that could be interesting”. After all, I’d kayaked class III in 20-30 degree weather, so a little fall chill on a peaceful lake didn’t seem like a bad idea. However, when it started snowing hard enough to prompt a last-minute purchase of hand and foot warmers at a gas station on the drive, I began to get slightly concerned. Our end destination was Lake Alcova, about 40 miles Southwest of Casper. We may have used four-wheel-drive to pull into the parking lot. By the time we ready to put the tandem kayak in the water, it was damn near approaching a blizzard.

I warned my friend that I’d spent too much time in cold water to put up with it for long. If things were just plain sucky (a technical term), I would want to get back in the warm car a lot sooner than later. He agreed, but I suspect he was secretly overjoyed that I didn’t call him nuts from the get-go. Donning a dry suit (previously known in my whitewater days as a “drowning bag” from their tendency to fill up with water when torn), brimmed hat, two pairs of gloves and sunglasses to stand in for goggles, we stupidly pushed away from shore.

I really began to think we were crazy when the ducks started giving me looks. However, the intense fog, snow and my unfamiliarity with the area made the lake magical and more than a little spooky. The excitement kept me going. We would silently paddle up to towering shadowy figures that would reveal themselves at the last second to be brilliantly red rock islands or looming canyon walls. Unsuspecting duck flocks scattered as they quacked, “just when we thought tourist season was over, these two dumb asses get a bright idea.” At least, that’s what I think they were saying.

I finally threw the towel in when the water dripping down the shaft of my paddle soaked my outer gloves and my hands were more involuntarily curled around the paddle than physically capable of independent movement. On the way back, my friend asked how the foot pegs were working out. “Foot pegs?” I said, “What foot pegs?”. A quick shuffle of my feet revealed conveniently located foot pegs that would allow me to get brace myself in the boat and get much more weight in every paddle stoke. We were 10 minutes from the take-out (river talk for the end of the trip), but boy did we fly. So the lesson is this: familiarize yourself with the gear before your adventure. Just because you’re a whitewater stud doesn’t mean you know jack about a tandem sea kayak.

Song of the day: Another Way to Die (click on song name to listen, then hit “back” in your browser to return to blog) by Jack White and Alicia Keys. It’s from Quantum of Solace and has some rockin’ piano.

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