Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sky Pond Adventure....fourth time's a charm

Coming up with an adventure is easy, executing the plan to make it happen is the hard part.

I’ll admit, when my alarm went off Friday at 5am, my first thought was to text my friend Kelsie and say I couldn’t get out of bed. I just recently took over management of our QiFlow Edgewater studio and I had been up late for a teacher’s meeting the night before. Not only that but I had taught two classes, done studio hours, had a meeting, taken a class and I hadn’t had time to even clean my house or do laundry let alone answer my Yogi Magee business emails. I felt overwhelmed when I woke up and no one had offered to sub my 4:30pm barre class so I knew the day would feel rushed to get up to Rocky Mountain National Park, hike almost 9 miles and make it back in time.

But I needed this day.

We were late, of course, getting to the trail head after swapping cars and stopping for coffee so we didn’t start hiking until 8:30am. I’d been to the Loch Vale three times prior without making it to Sky Pond. Two other occasions we were supposed to go to Sky Pond but the hike was re-scheduled due to weather and timing. To understand this hike you have to understand that Sky Pond, is like the name sounds, it’s the end of the line and you gain 1,600 feet of elevation. In summer, you have to climb over rocks that frame a waterfall making it treacherous but in winter you cross a steep slope and avalanche terrain over landscape that few dare to blaze. My husband and I tried last year and lost the trail because not many people venture past the Loch and we hadn’t been up there in the winter so we weren’t sure where to go.

Luckily, Kelsie had climbed the route in the fall so she had a great idea where to go. Since we had all pretty much made it to the Loch before we only stopped for a few photos before cruising on the frozen lake towards our destination. We were on a mission.

Once in the trees on the other side of the lake the “trail” stays close to a drainage that leads up towards the base of what is Timberline Falls. We were fortunate that someone had been on the trail before us so we didn’t completely have to break trail but the snow was still pretty deep in spots. Once we got past treeline we got a better view of the terrain ahead and had to decide if we should keep going due to possible avalanche danger. 

In the end we decided the snow was good, but we used caution because the previous tracks were wind-blown. I went first and then the others followed, staggering behind in case one of us triggered an avalanche.
Past the avalanche danger was a steep slope which I’m guessing, hugs the waterfall in the summer but was completely snow covered. I started up the slope and slide. I tried to dig my snow shoes in and would only slide backwards. Kelsie didn’t have poles and I forgot my ice axe so my concern was that she wouldn’t be able to make it up the slope if I couldn’t dig tracks for her. I stopped and sat down in the snow.
“What do you want to do?” they all looked at me from below. They told me it was my call. If I wanted to turn around, if I didn’t think I could do it they were fine with bailing on the expedition.

I felt, in that moment, that everything that had been going on in my life lately manifest itself in that moment. I’ve been forced to think a lot about my business, Yogi Magee Expeditions and where I see the future going. I’ve been forced to think about my career as far as teaching at various studios, managing a studio and flying. Personally I feel like I haven’t been spending a lot of time with my family because I’ve been in and out of the house and when I am around my family I feel pulled to my social media and emails. I’m trying to create a name for myself while also supporting a business I care deeply about and many times I sacrifice my sleep just to get the odds and ends met when everyone else is asleep so I don’t feel as guilty.

So I sat at the base of that slope and I looked up at where no trail was and had a decision to make. Do I blaze a trail and fight to get to the top or do I turn around, satisfied I made it that far but ultimately disappointed I still didn’t reach Sky Pond.

In my mind were the words, “you can’t fail if you never give up.”
I fought for it. I dug and I clawed and I finally got to the top of the slope and even though I couldn’t breathe I stood triumphant, waving the other girls on. 

Kelsie later told me if I hadn’t continued she probably wouldn’t have either. A few steps later we crossed Lake of Glass and then hit Sky Pond. There was no wind, practically an anomaly up there, and the sky was blue and the clouds were minimal. Days like this, don’t happen often, but I can say it was a perfect day.

We took photos, we ate lunch and we started back down to the parking lot. The initial down climb was treacherous as the slope was beyond steep so we used our snow shoes as crampons and toe stepped down digging our fists into the snow. 

We avoided crossing the avalanche terrain again in favor of down climbing some rocks then glissading down the drainage. From here we could see the trail so we connected back to it and headed towards the Loch. We made it up and down in 5.5 hours. The beauty and curse of hiking in winter is that there’s no danger of erosion so you can take any path you choose but you must be careful because tracks will often lead you in the wrong direction.

After another coffee stop I made it to the studio in time to teach my 4:30 class and though my legs were beyond tired I was happy I was able to fit it all in. My husband ended up picking me up from there and we had an awesome night of food, craft beer and celebration of his promotion. After a day outside saying, “fuck it,” to everything, I felt lighter, happier and even more ready to take on my day to day challenges.

The universe showed me yesterday that it is, indeed, possible to do it all. Taking adventures and time for myself isn’t always easy because I feel like I’m neglecting my other responsibilities. I’m not a person that gets massages, stays in fancy hotels for a night or even sits on the couch binge watching Netflix and eating donuts. So to me, taking this time for myself outside, is my way of self-care and I know I need to not feel like I have to apologize for that.
After all, the floors needing to be clean and laundry needing to be folded…that can wait.

Views like this only come once every three years for me. Thank you Kelsie, Maddie and Hilary for joining me for the perfect adventure day. :)