Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Day in the Life...

The lovely Elizabeth recently posted about an ordinary day in her life.  She invited us to share our own "overly detailed description" of our day, and I thought about it, but then realized it would be boring:

Got up.
Went to work.
Saw a patient.
Saw another patient.

Patient confidentiality and (one would hope) professionalism would prevent me from saying much more than that.  However, I realized today that I could do a Saturday in my life.  I think it will be a fun post to write.  Here's the disclaimer: I take the fullness of the invitation to heart.  It will be overly detailed and therefore long.    If you can stick with it, enjoy!

5:57- Wake up, despite the fact that my alarm has not gone off yet.  Two parts of me start fighting- one part wants to stay put under the covers, and the other part is excited that it's Saturday, and I get to head for the hills!  The second part wins and I get up.

6:10- Get breakfast, check the pinpoint forecast for our hike (sunny and warm, yay!), and the avalanche forecast for the day.  Note that part of the avalanche rose is orange (higher danger) and the rest is yellow (slightly lower danger). Checking the second forecast is only for the practice of doing it.  We're picking a hike that is listed as NO avalanche danger.

6:22- Realize that I haven't charged my camera battery in a while.  Decide that a few minutes charging is better than no minutes, and plug it in quick while I start to find all the clothes and gear that I need for the day.

6:55- Cram my backpack closed, and think about the fact that I need to get a bigger backpack for winter hiking.

7:30- Sit in a parking lot waiting for the friend I'm hiking with.  Realize that she's running late and spend some time praying for the (too many!) friends that I have that are fighting health concerns.  Keep thinking of them often through the day.

7:45- On the road!

9:15- Get stuck in the slow traffic from all the other people that also thought today was a great day to get out of the house.  Note the dark gray clouds and heavy winds with a little concern.

9:45- Stop for gas and a pit stop.  After using the tiny, disgusting bathroom, we discuss that a tree would likely be both more pleasant and more sanitary.

10:15- Find the trailhead.  Note that the clouds seem to be passing over, but the wind continues to be crazy.  Try to remember if the forecast mentioned wind and I blocked it out, or if they neglected to mention that little detail.  Start putting on wind layers and strapping on snowshoes.

(On a hike, I rarely know and barely care what time it is, so your guess is as good as mine on the times).

-Find the first landmark, an old cabin.  Wonder if its inhabitants got to enjoy the beauty of their environment, or if they were too busy trying to survive.

-Walk past numerous homes that are currently only accessible by snowmobile or snowshoe.  Discuss that many of these homes- which at most are summer homes, or maybe only vacation homes- are nicer than what most people can afford as an only home.

-Stop to take some layers off.  Uphill is hot, even in the wind.

-Stop to put some layers on.  The wind is cold, even when you're working hard.

(These steps are repeated A LOT, but I won't keep bringing it up.  You're welcome.)

-Reach an area where we are even less protected from the wind, and start to take snow and ice crystals to the face.  Laugh about how we're doing this for the fun of it.  Then wonder if there's something wrong with us, because it really is fun somehow!

- Reach a trail turn off.  One way is wide, but barely traveled.  The other way seems to be taking most of the traffic.  We're not sure why at the time, but we know which way to go.  Our trail is the wide one.  Take a moment to note a part of the terrain that seemed perfect for an avalanche, but luckily it is not on our trail.  NO avalanche danger on our trail, remember?

-Continue to fight the wind as the trail is more drifted.  Have a eureka moment when I realize that the orange parts of the avalanche rose are likely due to wind loading.  (I'm originally from the Midwest, so I get excited to use the term "wind loading" in a sentence.)

-Work around a HUGE drift and right into the teeth of the wind.  The snow and ice is now painful, and we joke about the free facial we're getting.  Keep in mind that it's still sunny out, and might be warm if the wind weren't 100 mph.  (I don't know what the wind really was.  That's what it felt like.)

-We're almost to the reservoir that we're headed to.  We have to make it to the top, even though there's no wind break up there.

-I may or may not have bumped into a tree while my hands were up to protect my face from the snow and the ice.

-We get up there finally, only we had to keep our backs to the reservoir because of the wind.  I did turn around for about a half second before another gust came across.  Had the following conversation:


Then we stopped talking because we were tired of screaming in the wind.

-Realize that there must also be some dirt particles in this particular windswept area, because I'm pretty sure the grit on my teeth is not ice!

-Retreat behind some rocks for cover and peek around to take some shots, then head back down.  At least our backs are to the wind now, and downhill is much easier.  It amazes me how tiring the wind is.
(There is a beautiful blue sky behind that blowing snow.)

-We head back down.  My friend checks her phone and realizes it's 2:30 already.  Since we haven't eaten yet (most hikes we'd take a break at the top), we decided to stop for a little food.  My peanut butter sandwich is way more amazing on the trail than it would have been if I'd tried to eat it at home.

-My friend and I bond over the fact that we have each just made an exciting new acquisition- humidifiers!  As geeky as that is, you have to realize that with the dry air out here, a humidifier is HUGE in quality of life.

-Drive home, watch the clouds change colors as the sun sets.  Conversation is much more at a lull, given that we are wiped out.

-Before we go our separate ways, we make tentative plans for another hike in the next few weeks.

6:30- Make it back into town, and head to the grocery store, despite my grungy state.

7:00- Finish with the worst kind of grocery shopping ever: no list, no coupons, tired, and hungry.  Good thing it was a QUICK visit to the store, because I realized at the checkout that I spent $3 for every minute that I was in the store.

7:20- Try to figure out how to get a camera, backpack, snowshoes, trekking poles, and two bags of groceries into the house.  Because two trips?  SO not happening.

7:30- Home and can't decide whether to shower first or eat first.  The shower wins out, and as I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I try to forget that I was just seen in public at the grocery store. The wind is such a horrible hair stylist.*

8:00- FOOD!  It didn't sound good at first, but then it was fantastic!  One of the best parts about a good snowshoe- you can eat about anything and not feel guilty.  One of the worst parts is that I'm still hungry, but too tired to get up and get more food.

Then I read blogs while I ate and then started this fascinated and gripping account of my life.  Or I wrote this post, at any rate.  Want to know what I'm doing tomorrow?  Don't worry, it's shorter: 1) Sleeping in. 2) Going to Mass. 3) Alternating between eating and being a blob with some combination of computer, TV, a book and a jigsaw puzzle.

I'm going to finish my day by going to bed very soon, but first I have to see if any of my pictures turned out, and maybe add some to this post.  Thanks again to Elizabeth for the invitation to share way more than you ever wanted to hear! :)

*It's not a bad esthetician, however.  My face really does feel softer!  Whether it's the "facial" we got, or my imagination is anyone's guess.


  1. My first thought was good for you for getting up! :) And that pit stop? That reminds me of a tiny disgusting bathroom stop on vacation on the side of a mountain (it may have even been in Colorado) that had a plastic floor that moved up and down and made popping noises as we walked on it!! A humidifier TOTALLY improves life, congratulations on getting one. ;)
    Sounds like an awesome Saturday, hope you have enough strength to do anything tomorrow, because after a hike like that I'm pretty sure I'd be laid up for a few days at least!

  2. Love the cabin! Minute details are awesome! I'll probably swipe this from you if Life gives me the time! ;)

  3. Amazing photos - and your reflection about the cabin, I've been thinking about it on and off all day.

    Now, about these avalanches....

  4. Gorgeous photos! You're my hiking hero! I thought I was roughing it in 40 degree Phoenix.

    You know, I also happen to document minute:purchase ratios. Haha.

  5. Oh, I loved this! The details are what makes it so interesting. In fact, I think you should document all your hikes like this :) It sounded like quite an experience!