Lost Creek Wilderness {November 2011}

Monday, February 28, 2011

Be thou the rainbow ...

'Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. 
The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, 
and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray' 
- Lord Byron

Sangre de Cristos; Southern Colorado

Monday, February 21, 2011

Two More on the Horizon

In the course of one extended weekend, I have had two seemingly successful medical school interviews (fingers crossed for Colorado!), and have entered into the planning stages for two upcoming road/camping trips (one small, one quite a bit larger).

In mid-March, my boyfriend Justin and I have decided to explore South Dakota for a few days. We’ll be able to bring our pup, Kona, since he loves the car – if not for the thrill of the ride, than certainly for the excitement awaiting at the end of the road – and make the easy six-hour drive to the Black Hills & Black Elk Wilderness in the southwestern corner of the state. Justin researched a few backpacking trails in the area, and found a promising loop allowing us to 1) travel a section of the Centennial Trail (110 miles long in total), 2) hike into Mount Rushmore National Monument, and 3) visit the interior of Black Elk Wilderness all in one short backpacking outing. To make the trip a bit more challenging, we’ll likely add a side-jaunt to Cathedral Spires, Harney Peak, or some other interesting destination. Of course, we’ll have to include a drive through the Badlands as well.

Our longer trip (minus the pup)? Ten days in California and the Eastern Sierra scheduled for late June! We’ll hit Great Basin, Nevada {which apparently has the darkest night sky in the continental United States}, the Eastern Sierra {including several remote hot springs}, Yosemite {hopefully getting the chance to climb Half Dome}, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and Zion, Utah. I can hardly wait; the Sierra Nevada, for me, epitomizes new territory just begging to be explored!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

Tomorrow may be one of the most critical and decisive days of my life {in the context of my future}. I have applied to medical school three times. That’s two times too many. No one should have to endure such an unsettled and gypsy-like lifestyle … never knowing where you’ll be in two weeks, six months, one year from the present moment. I have an unfinished Peace Corps application, I can’t really commit to a full-time job, and there are incredibly small windows in which to make and keep concrete plans with anyone. For instance, my family is renting out a villa in Italy during the month of September. I’d love nothing more than to say that I can join them, but it would be rather unrealistic in light of the possibility (and hope) that I would be in medical school.

Although I haven’t entirely put my life on hold for the past two-three years, it has been difficult to feel settled. I suppose I’ve learned to accept and embrace the circumstance, using it to my advantage. There is no better time to explore Colorado, drive across our neighboring states, visit friends who are far away, and travel abroad. My work schedule is extremely flexible (less so recently), and I don’t feel rushed to clutter my agenda knowing that I will never have this much time for myself again {until I’m retired and life is considerably less fun}. It may seem selfish, and it is. But, I’ve enjoyed the time getting to know who I am – ironically, repetitive medical school applications and personal essays have helped significantly in the process – what I want, what I don’t want, what I deserve, and what I am meant to do. I’ve also discovered the elusive source of and key to unconditional happiness J So many people never get that far. Either they aren’t willing to try, can’t figure out where to start, don’t take the time to learn, or convince themselves otherwise.

As for tomorrow, I’m not too nervous; I’ve been through all of it before. I would rather have an interview at Colorado than anywhere else - it's my home, and it's comfortable. And, of course, I want to stay. Mostly, I’m grateful for the opportunity to explain why I belong there, and I'm anxious to try my hardest at guaranteeing a spot in this year’s entering class. It’s just a bit crazy to think about the extent to which one day {really, one minute … one decision, one action} can change the course of your future. Tomorrow contains one of those moments.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Roses are Red ...

‘To love someone means to see him as God intended’ – Fyodor Dostoevsky

It’s Saint Valentine’s Day, again. I’m wearing knee-high socks with tiny pink and red hearts on them (under my pants of course), my nails are painted red, and I was sure to put my Swarovski crystal heart-shaped ring from Vienna on my finger this morning. In reality, I’m not all that fond of this holiday. It sounds so nice, a day celebrating love … a day committed to all things red and sweet … but why doesn’t it have a connotation like that associated with Thanksgiving? Everyone loves Thanksgiving.

It’s too bad. Valentine’s Day makes many single people wonder why they’re single and it evokes feelings of pressure and disappointment when expectations fall short. Since when do women think that a box of chocolate and a Walgreens-bought teddy bear translate to love? They’re only forced gifts that don’t mean anything. Hand-written notes have been replaced by Hallmark cards that express it all – exactly what you meant to say, right? Why can’t Valentine’s Day be a day in which you tell those people in your life that mean something exactly how much you love having them around? I suppose some of us manage that, but there’s still such a discrepancy in meaning between holidays such as Christmas and Easter … and Valentine’s Day.

I shouldn’t be one to complain - I’ve had proportionately good encounters with this holiday. It’s rare that you find a guy who knows how to create a meaningful experience, and who makes you forget why you hated the day in the first place … A guy who is so genuine in his love for you that you consider yourself the luckiest girl on this earth. I freely admit, I’ve got that. And it’s not just on Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

100 Lovers

DeVotchKa's video for '100 Other Lovers', a track on their newest album '100 Lovers' (out March 1st). This band is seriously cool, and they put on an amazing live show. More like spectacle.

The video above is one of the most creative I've ever seen.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Eleven

I'm thinking that my fourteener approach may be slightly misguided. I'm actually surprised it took me this long to realize, especially after Capitol last August.

Already, I have eleven peaks on my list for this year.

Longs Peak
Pikes Peak

It's certainly not the most challenging combination I could have come up with. But, taking variables such as weather, terrain, and season into account, you could convincingly argue that no fourteener is a safe bet. I considered adding Capitol to my lineup, but I can't bring myself to face that mountain again ... not yet. My palms get sweaty just thinking about it. Last week, I read about Christy Mahon from Aspen, who became the first woman - and the seventh person - to hike up and ski down all 54 of Colorado's fourteeners. Her final peak? Capitol. Yikes! Below is a photo of Capitol's summit ridge {class 4} from my trip in late August of 2010.

I've always thought of these peaks as conquests, like a temporary assertion of my dominance over nature. Yea right! This year, the eleven cataloged above will be regarded as opportunities rather than goals to be achieved or items to be checked off a list (of course, they will still be checked off a list ....) Fortunately, I've only had to turn back from a summit attempt twice, on Elbert and Capitol. While this may feel like failure, the reality is that nature wins - always - and the mountain will still be there, daring you to return. Another opportunity awaits on every occasion.