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

I Only Go Up To Go Down

After years of living in athletic towns like Vail and Boulder, Colorado as well as Jackson, Wyoming, I have noticed two distinct camps of athletes which I have affectionately named “cardio freaks” and “adrenaline junkies”. In case you’re new to this blog, I belong in the later category.

“Cardio freaks” were often on the triathlon team in college. These heart-rate-monitor wearing, leg-shaving guys and gals get their high from breathing hard and harder. Drugs of choice include road bikes with impossibly skinny tires, any running race with a “K” on the end, and little itty-bitty skinny skate-skis. Often eschewing motorized travel in favor of their own two legs, this rare breed of mammal appears to actually enjoy discomfort and is loathe to long days on the couch.

“Adrenaline junkies” breathe hard for one reason- it gets us somewhere cool. We skin up the mountain ridge because we get to ski untracked snow on the way down. We peddle up the gigantic hill because the single track on the other side is oh-so-sweet. In truth, I have the most fun mountain biking when I’m on the edge of crashing. I know there is a science behind all of this, but I’ve experimented enough on myself to know that I respond very favorable to adrenaline. It’s either my chemistry or practice, but in an emergency situation such as swimming Class V whitewater (read: very, very big swirly water), I am calm. Sound is suppressed and I have the mental space to think through my current situation and respond accordingly. The trick is not getting addicted to my calm (or finding other ways to access it), like Dean Potter in this photo.

Dean Potter solo at Taft Point, Yosemite.

Dean Potter solo at Taft Point, Yosemite.

There are some athletes who take the adrenaline too far, most of which I have encountered in the climbing community. Often running from a divorce, death or other significant life event, these athletes become addicted to the singular focus that high-intensity athletic endeavors demand. When life is quite literally on the line (pun intended), there is no space in ones mind for the nasty breakup last month, unpaid bills or where dinner is going to come from. Body and mind have a singular purpose, and that is perpetuating life. As athletic skill increases, these situations must get more severe to have the same consequence, hence Mr. Potter slack-lining (tight-rope walking), leashless high above the Yosemite valley floor. As with everything in life, moderation would appear to be key once again.

Word of the Day: Flibbertigibbet –  a silly, flighty, or excessively talkative person. Use it in a sentence.

Fishing Report: I hooked two but the first one was my dog.

Welcome to the inagural post of the blog “Mountain Kidd”, the blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.

Let me assure all of you non-fishing readers out there that I am no expert and there will be none of that “what the heck is she talking about” in regards to fishing. An active participant in almost every mountain sport, I had decided that one of the last sports to round out my skill set was to learn how to fly fish. Luckily, The Boyfriend is some sort of expert. So, for my birthday in June, I received what I am told is a fairly nice rod and reel. And then the adventures began.

I fished as a kid in Michigan. It was a pretty straight-forward affair. Get a pole (the $19.99 special will do),put a fat worm or minnow on a hook, drop it in the lake and wait for the florescent yellow bobber to start flailing or disappear altogether. Fly fishing also has a hook and a pole. This is where the similarities end.

I think my friend Jason put it best when he said, “fly fishing is a lot like hunting”. So it would seem. Fly fishing starts with a fairly complex cast using the arm but NOT the wrist. You must next cast an artificial fly (usually made of animal hair or feathers and attached to the hook) in a manner impersonating a fly, which involves the fly gently setting down on the water but NOT smacking the water. You don’t want to startle the fish. And the fly? There are MILLIONS, maybe billions of types of flies out there. Once one deduces which feather and hair contraption looks like the bug on the bank, you must discover where the fish are dining at that particular moment and hope the menu involves the fly you’ve tied on. Assuming you’ve managed to do all of this successfully (and one should not assume this about me), there is “the fight” once you get the fish on the hook. Something about keeping the head up and tiring him out until you can bring him to shore. If it’s a big fish, you may need to let out A LOT of line during the fight. More to come on this once I actually catch a big fish.

Back to Sunday. The Boyfriend and I decide to go fishing. Due to the cold weather and colder water, he warned me that the fishing was either going to be very good or very bad. And it was very bad. After hooking my dog while I attempted to fling the line behind me (known as a backcast), morale was already down. Another half-hour before hooking a fish (but not landing it) was fairly mediocre compared to my last fishing attempts. An hour later without even a glance from my scaley friends, I channeled my inner child and starting braiding grasses while The Boyfriend set up something horribly complicated looking called Streaming. While I was patting myself on the back for practicing vital survival skills like braiding grasses, he managed to catch half-a-dozen fish. Good for him. I think I’ll wait for a “this is  a GREAT day for fishing” before I go again.