…for a Thursday

As mentioned, I have avoided setting any particular alpine goals this year. To be sure, summer dreams of rock climbing with with my wife as she recovers her strength and energy while the kids nap and play on the rocks certainly abound. I’ve floated the idea of a 20-mile Enchantments through hike/trail run to a few people. But nothing drives my training in the same way as past years.

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Priorities are funny critters. I read stories of “average” people winning marathons or climbing seriously committing Himalayan peaks with a fascination. What sort of “day job” do they perform? How does their family feel? In short, how do they do it? It appears to require a certain dedication. The mom who wins a competitive marathon has the unbridled support of her husband/coach. The mountaineer expresses support for a family who understands why the Himalaya are so vital to happiness and fulfillment, despite months of absence.

I do not possess this single focus. I suppose that limits me to the lesser peaks, to lesser accomplishments. However, it also frees me to take some joy in otherwise competing interests.

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Three point two miles from our house lies the base of Canfield Mountain. A ridge hike of about two miles leads 1800 vertical feet to an overlook of the surrounding cities. It will extract sweat from a hiker on the coldest of winter days, but it’s no mountaineering adventure.

Many past hobbies have tested the same resolve as mountaineering now does. I wanted desperately to catch salmon and steelhead with ease and yet lacked the resolve to commit the necessary hours to research and time on the water. With a degree of additional clarity provided through the lens of time, I see that my desire for bigger goals hampered my enjoyment of the time I did spend and the time I was free to dedicate elsewhere.

On Thursdays, lately, my wife and Little Bug encourage me to take a few hours with my friend to climb Canfield. We leave slightly before Little Bug’s bedtime (she says, adorably, “Daddy play Tra-bis”, explaining that I’m headed to do something fun with my friend and she doesn’t get to go). In the winter, this means hiking with headlamps; the eyes of the watching deer reflect out of the trees.

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This winter, I’ve spent more time playing cars and blocks than I have training. The previous year, the same could be said about washing baby bottles. I find two changes occurring. First, when an opportunity to run or climb arises, it’s exciting.  For my wife to support these activities means that she gives up something of her own time. It cannot reasonably happen as often as it used to. Second, I’m able to relax and just play – with no expectation of gains, goals, or achievements, just fun.

Despite its accessibility, conditions are not always easy for hiking. Two trips ago, we enjoyed windblown powder over an unevenly-frozen ice surface. Our evening hike proved downright challenging. Laughing at our situation, I observed, “it’s no first ascent, but it’s not bad for a Thursday night.”

 

AlpineDad Re-imagined!

It turns out that blogs, as well as many other things, cannot be everything to everyone…

I began AlpineDad, with a focus on telling stories about adventures with our (then upcoming) kiddo, mostly for family and friends. In part, the name described the man I hoped to become: competent in the mountains/a great dad. I also believed others might benefit from hearing about how we continued to adventure while raising a kiddo. We could post practical tips on camping with a baby. We could also review family gear. Further, I expected it might be fun to write about my thoughts regarding all of the above from a philosophical perspective. As you see, it was many things, not the least of which is over-ambitious. About a year ago, I went to register the domain and realized that a couple of guys had started a page with the same name. I, somewhat sadly, transferred the posts to what I’ll call the Pebble blog and moved on from AlpineDad as a concept. With serendipitous timing, the name is no longer being used at the same time as several related ideas are converging.

First, the Pebble blog is now focused on (usually shorter) stories to share adventures with family and friends. Why is this helpful? Because it gives me a place to share those adventures and to use AlpineDad for a different project. Separating them helps to focus ideas.

Second, I read this article, which has nothing to do with the outdoors. It reflects on the idea of appreciating things as they are, when they are, rather than searching for future happiness. This is something my wife has been preaching for our entire relationship, but which I have failed to fully grasp. I have a twenty-mile-long list of opportunities to enjoy. We live in a City surrounded by mountains, lakes, and a river. We possess the resources and skills to turn our home into the exact place we want to live. Our family is mostly healthy (although seemingly plagued by the constant daycare-cold).

Third, we expect our second kiddo in June. For now, and possibly for a while, I will refer to him/her as Sprout. My summer plans now feature Sprout’s arrival as the central event around which to plan. For the past two summers, I’ve tried to join or form groups to climb Mt. Rainier but we haven’t gone. We tried in 2016 and didn’t make it. I was planning to try again in 2019. Sprout has given me a reason to look at the summer differently since climbing is not compatible with my plans surrounding his/her arrival.

So where are all of these things pointing?

This project, AlpineDad, gives me a venue to share thoughts, ideas, and musings on what I view as my approach to outdoors adventures and to life in general.

My reflection this fall and winter has led to a goal of appreciating joy-filled moments as they arrive in each realm: parenthood, marriage, house projects, mountaineering, family time, my work-life and a bunch of other fun things. To be clear, a long-term goal is to be able to take a family vacation which involves something like the John Muir Trail, traversing the Wind Rivers, or climbing the Grand Teton. I am realizing, however, that we’re more like to get to there if we have a multitude of “Type 1 Fun” adventures first. All of these things stand to benefit from trust and happiness built from Dad being engaged in swim lessons and sock dance parties as much as in training sessions or climb planning.

I hope to share how this evolves: focusing on the moment, teaching outdoors (and other) skills to the kiddos, and building adventure into our life.