I’m sure that, for true winter enthusiasts out there, our weekend was decidedly not wild and crazy. However, Sam and I are both fairly new to winter sports (or I should say, I’m reintroducing myself to most winter sports I enjoyed as a kid), and we spent the majority of this past Saturday burning a lot of calories and exerting our minds and bodies more than most weekends in the winter.
Our morning started off with an early cross-country ski at the Vasa trail. We’ve gone out once already this season, but it was too icy and there wasn’t a good base layer to make it entirely enjoyable. It’s been snowing on-and-off for the past week now, and while there isn’t a ton of accumulation there is a nice coat of fluffy flakes all over everything. It’s absolutely beautiful outside up here in Traverse right now.
Even though it was only our second ski of the season, we opted for the 10K route and took our time through the forest and hills. It is so quiet and peaceful out at the Vasa, and stopping in the still of a white winter scene like that makes my heart catch with its beauty. It frustrates me how many people up north get angry about the long winters up here: if you get out and enjoy the serenity of a snowscape, it’s impossible to hate winter and all it brings.
As expected (and as we hoped), the 10K route kind of kicked our asses. We came back, took our hot showers, and warmed up with tea. Nothing completes a ski trip for me like sipping the hot cup of tea waiting at the end…it’s the best.
The rest of our afternoon consisted of finishing all–yes, all–our Christmas shopping. Talk about gratification! After the shopping was done, we headed over to visit our friends Alison and Aaron. Oddly, I met Alison at work and Sam met Aaron at work. It was so great to hang out with them and get to know them better; they are easily two of the coolest people I know, and Sam and I are already talking about wanting to see them again soon.
But enough about that. The bulk of the “wild and crazy” this weekend took place in their backyard, where Aaron designed, rigged, and formed a massive ice wall between two trees using a wire fence and a dripping hose. Like, hello! AWESOME!
Sam has been positively giddy since he heard about the wall a few days ago, because when you hear it described it sounds almost as cool as it is in real life. This wall is so. cool. We have hardly climbed anything at all in our lives, but Alison and Aaron are true adventures and were more than willing to get us geared up with crampons, harnesses, helmets, and climbing axes (yes, ice wall climbing axes). As you can see, they are pretty much outfitted for any and all outdoor adventures–and their trip repertoire validates all the sweet stuff they own.
I barely made it halfway up the wall, but I still felt like a real badass swinging the picks and kicking my feet into a massive wall of solid ice. Aaron and Alison scaled this wall like a pro, and Sam took two stabs and made it all the way up on his second try!
I really had no idea what I was in for when climbing this wall, but I quickly figured out what made it so challenging (aside from the obvious “it’s a 40-foot tall wall of ice”). it was my first experience trying to scale anything without having “designated” places for my feet and hands, like fabricated climbing wall, and just choosing a route with no guides was intimidating enough. I was staring at a nearly-vertical 40-foot tall pillar of ice, armed with two axes and some spikes on my hiking boots. And I was told to climb. I damn near gave it my best effort, but it’s incredible how quickly my hands went cold and my forearms locked up–and remember, I barely made it halfway! Props to the rest of the crew: they are so impressive.
After we had our way with the wall, we headed out for a great dinner and came back for some drinks and laughs while playing one of the most hilariously offensive games ever invented.
Sunday was considerably less wild and crazy, at least in terms of calorie-burning. We spent the bulk of our day cleaning out files, reorganizing all our paperwork, cleaning up a whole bunch of stuff, and organizing our new desk. This probably sounds worse than hammering a nail into the back of your hand to most of you on the “fun” scale, but believe me when I say it was such a gratifying day. We’ve spent the last year living in three different locations and moving stuff between four different places, so to finally have our own home and things put away in a sensical place is a huge relief and mental stress-reliever. That, and our bodies were pretty sore and exhausted after a full-day of activity on Saturday!
This week, challenge yourself to do something you might not normally do. Take a risk, travel the unmarked path, find a new limit for yourself. I can promise you the gratification and reward are well worth the effort. Plus, with Christmas coming up next week, who doesn’t need a little bit more excitement, right?