Backcountry progress

Last year (’22-’23 season) I invested in a splitboard, skins, bindings and boots. I hadn’t been snowboarding for a few years because I found resort crowds and expense increasingly annoying. I started heading up easy local trails with the splitboard to get accustomed to the mechanics and cadence of transitioning from uphill to downhill modes. I loved that I could just wander anywhere in the snow.

This year I invested in the education of a Mazamas backcountry touring class and it was a huge boost to my knowledge and experience. I’ve got better avalanche awareness and I’m making informed decisions in the backcountry. I also found some new adventure friends which is pretty nice too.

Today I planned a trip to ride the Lower White River Bowl, which is a couple of miles up the White River Canyon on Mt. Hood. I’d done the approach once before with the Mazamas class, so it felt familiar. I was surprised that we were the first tracks after a couple of days of snow. The conditions on the run were a little soft since it’d been in direct sun all morning, but still fun riding!

Our trip was about 3.5 hours car to car, 1,400′ of elevation gain, and 4.7 miles round trip. It was a quick one, but definitely built some confidence. I’m looking forward to many more years of doing this.

More (time, distance, resistance)

The last post was about how I’ve lost weight by tracking calories. I’ve also been paying attention to how much I move each day. I have a tendency to jump into a routine and go too hard, which makes me really sore and provides a convenient excuse to stop doing the thing. It’s a dumb cycle that took too long to identify.

Anyway, these days I’m walking the dog. Literally. I wake up at 5am and have a quick self-talk in the vein of Marcus:

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I’ve got a backpack1 that I use for pretty much everything, and once I finally roll out of bed I dump out the iPad and keyboard and throw in a 45lb2 plate. I take the dog for a 3 mile walk with the backpack. Takes about 55 minutes which, for me, equals about 6,500 steps. Since I’m a sedentary office drone and I don’t move much once I’m at work, this is a great way to get some movement and steps. I usually end up with somewhere north of 9k steps each day.

Generally speaking, our human bodies seem to adapt well to whatever we throw at them. In my case, just walking the dog, even with a weighted backpack, eventually becomes the new normal. When that happens, or to delay that adaptation, I try to mix up my walking approach with changes to time, distance, and resistance. I’ll try to walk the usual route a little faster, adding in some jogging. I’ll try a longer route, but throw the weighted pack on my back. That kind of stuff. I don’t plan it out, but I do try to get more time/distance on the weekends.

1. I use a 26L GR1 from GoRuck. They are expensive, though I got mine on eBay for a decent discount. These bags are bombproof, so there should be no hesitation buying a used one. For the last 18 months or so, I‘ve used mine daily, with 45lbs in it, and it’s in great shape. If it ever blows out can’t be repaired, I’ll get another one. GoRuck stands behind their gear, so if it ever does blow out I’ll send it to them first to see if it can be repaired.

2. I got a 45lb plate on Amazon instead of directly from GoRuck. GoRuck’s manufacturing process is compelling though. For me, there wasn’t enough of a distinction between the American-made plates and the plates from who-knows-where to justify the difference in price. They both just get shoved in the backpack.