Friday, July 31, 2020

The Great Mask Quest of 2020

Two words  I never thought I'd see in the same sentence: Fashion and Mask.

Back in February, when most of us were innocently planning travel and thinking all was normal, I had a sense of unease. Surely my trip to Greenland wouldn't be affected, but I started feeling some concern. "Hey," I said to a coworker, "I have an idea. We should start making custom masks, with designs on them and stuff." He laughed it off, and yet another money making opportunity passed me by.

When all this started, I thought I could get by with a buff as a face covering. For those not familiar, these are often called "neck gaiters" and are worn by hikers, skiers and climbers and used for a variety of purposes: warmth, impromptu towels, and head coverings. I had a few of them. They should get me by.

Also, results of no haircut for almost 7 months.
We even bought some fire resistant ones for the flight crew to wear.

But as the mask orders became more prevalent, the buff didn't really cut it. They slipped down and didn't stay in place. I also felt like an out of place cowpoke who had lost the herd. I tried out a mask that we got at work. It was made by Hanes, so we called it the Underwear Mask.  It was comfortable enough, but bore a strong resemblance to tighty whities.

I also acquired a disposable mask, but it wasn't meant for the long haul and sort of looked like a feminine hygiene product.

Finally I broke down and ordered one. I considered all sorts of designs. Sparkly? Cute sayings? Flames? I found one on Etsy with a cat face on it. Sold!

Now that my state has a mask order, I have masks stashed everywhere. The Underwear Mask is in my truck along with a disposable one. The buffs reside at work, although I forgot one while following a helicopter around and had to do a walk of shame through a gas station (although there were a lot of people not wearing theirs either, ahem people, do better). I carry the kitty mask everywhere, occasionally succumbing to the same momentary panic as when I can't find my keys or wallet when I don't know where it is.

Any interesting or cool masks out there? (Bonus points for cat themes).

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The missing blogger: a solved mystery

Where have I been? Not writing blog posts, obviously! I wish I had something interesting to say, such as I snuck into Iceland, or was undercover investigating all the fire lookouts in America, but alas, it was nothing so exciting.

File it under the "lazy blogger" category. Time seems to be flying by. Although I've been working and hiking a lot, it still feels like summer is slipping through my fingers and will soon be gone. That is sad, because it's my favorite season, the one I wait for all year. I endure winter here because summers are so magical. I'm not ready! There are so many more trails to hike, lakes to kayak, and mountain goats to see!

We are flooded with tourists, despite covid-19. A huge parking lot in the national park was full at 5:30 am the other day. FIVE THIRTY.  Keep in mind that to even get to this parking lot from the closest town takes at least an hour. Who are you people?

Anyway, thanks to my readers (my mom, mostly) for still coming by here. Real posts to follow! Leave a comment about what you've been doing!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

A meeting with the young me

We hiked and scrambled along the ridge. At over 8000 feet, we weren't moving very fast, mostly because we had to keep route finding so we could stay up high on solid rock instead of descending onto the scree of doom, like many of the social trails did.  Behind us we heard a voice, and turned to see a solo female hiker.

She was in her early 20s, moving quickly.  "Can I climb with you?" she asked. Despite her confident appearance, she hadn't done this route before, and wanted company on the last bouldering pitch.

We gladly accepted her into our ranks, and she stayed with us for the rest of the ascent and part of the descent. Then she said she had to meet some friends up north, and took off rapidly down the trail.

As I picked my way do through the rolling rocks and steepness, I thought of my former self. When I was Brie's age, I was carefree and footloose. I would head off on an unfamiliar trail or peak solo, throwing my pack in the car and sometimes sleeping at the trailhead. One time, approaching the summit of a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado, I encountered a group of bros descending. "There's a burly girl, doing this solo," I heard one say.

I was never unsafe during these travels, but I had less worries. I had yet to have knee surgery, and bounded down steep paths without thinking about injury too much. I had confidence I could descend anything I climbed up. Despite wearing cotton, running shoes, and leaky rain gear, I knew I would always be okay.

I'm not sure if it's age, a few injuries, a couple bear encounters, getting temporarily misplaced a couple times, or a combination of all of those that have changed me. While I will still hike solo, especially in places without grizzly bears, I do more preparation now. I check the weather forecast. I tell somebody where I'm going. I try and find out trail conditions. I hike with other people more often now.

I have to admit, when I saw Brie gaining on us, I felt a little sad. That used to be me, I thought. But then I thought about my friends, who put up with my whining about mosquitoes and were encouraging when I was apprehensive about a climbing move. I thought about the times I had to abandon a trail because of getting lost or snow conditions and had to stomp back home feeling annoyed rather than laugh about it with someone else. I thought about all the hikers who have gone missing, people who were young like I was, doing the same things I used to do, but who had one misstep or fatal miscalculation.

Hike on, Brie and others (and me). I would never want to change those days of roaming solo across the country, picking a trail on a whim and going to explore it. I will still do that, only with more caution. There is a woman in her 80s I see a lot when I hike up the local ski hill. She climbs alone, accompanied by her dog. This is a 2000 foot ascent, yet she does it often, arriving at the top unwinded and calm. She has it all figured out. I like to think that she, too, when young, walked all over these mountains, happy and free.