Friday, September 30, 2011

Change of Seasons

One of the greatest things about the seasonal world… wait a minute… some of you may not know what “seasonal” means. Yes, it’s the change in Mother Nature from spring, summer, winter, and fall but for some of us it’s also a change in our life as we know it. As the seasons change, so do our paths. I was quite taken back by the whole concept of having a seasonal job. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest and accepted a seasonal position at Wet Planet I was excited and nervous. My family and friends thought I was “crazy” for leaving a job and the life I knew to work for a few months in this far away place. But then, what started as a seasonal position turned into year round job. Whew… something I knew, working in one place for an extended amount of time. What a relief! But now, after working year-round in the seasonal industry, I’m ready to throw my life to fate once again and take a chance. I left what I know and love, my job and life in the Columbia River Gorge. Scary… or is it? The only reason I found this incredible job and place is because I took a chance, now it’s time to do it again.

I officially left Wet Planet and the Columbia River Gorge on September 20th. My future is slightly unknown but I do have a “plan”. I will be in Southern Oregon/Northern California until the beginning of October. Then I’m flying to Denver, Colorado to meet my good friend Nicki to go kayaking on the East coast. Our destinations include Asheville, North Carolina to meet a few other friends and the infamous Gauley River. After a couple weeks exploring new rivers (well, new to us at least) I’m heading back to Northern California. I will spend the last couple weeks of October planning for my big adventure… the Grand Canyon. Launching into the canyon on November 2nd, this will be an epic adventure. After 3 weeks of mind blowing scenery I will return to civilization on Thanksgiving Day, November 24th. After this I’m not sure where I will end up. My mother insists I’ll be on her purple couch for Christmas Day. I guess we’ll have to see if that’s what will happen...

If you ever have a chance to take a seasonal position, especially in the outdoor industry, I would highly recommend it. You’re constantly surrounded with new ideas and opportunities to enrich your life. I now have a new appreciation for the change of seasons.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Life on Crutches

Life on crutches has proven to have its ups & downs. The easy part is seeing all the negatives so I’ve been challenging myself to focus on the positives.

You get a wheelchair when you tour a museum. Who likes to stand that whole time anyway?

My sister got stuck in a snow bank up to her hip. All she could say was,"LORI! Give me your crutch NOW I can't get out." See... there's perks to carrying these things around. :)

Hiking becomes more of an upper body workout. Even though I can't go as far, I can still get out there. The furthest I've hiked was 1/2 mile before taking a break. It felt like forever.

My leg gets it's own chair for wine tasting!

I've watched my body progress a lot over the last 2 months. Slowly but surely the signs of healing are getting easier and easier to see. Recently I started to drive my car with my left foot. After 50 days of relying on others, it felt good to have the freedom and independence to drive myself. Other signs of progress include going to the grocery store alone & sleeping without a boot on my leg. Talk about appreciating the simple things in life!

June 7th is my next appointment when the x-ray will show if I'm ready to start putting weight on my leg again. Hopefully everything will go well and I can start the next stage in recovery - rebuilding strength. I made the mistake of trying to sit in my kayak this week. The only reason it was a mistake is because my boot fits and I'm getting anxious to get out on the water again.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me through this challenging time. For those of you said you'd paddle with me, be prepared, it won't be long now... I might not be able to carry it to the river but I will be able to paddle it :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Yes... I broke my leg.

How the heck did you break your leg?!? Yes, I’ve been answering that question a lot lately. So, here you go, here’s the story…

I had plans to go kayaking after work on Monday, April 11th which was perfect! Even though I got out of work later than I was hoping, I was determined to get out and paddle. It was just after 6:15pm by the boats were loaded. My friend and I decided to paddle the White Salmon Narrows below Condit Dam. After setting shuttle it was a race to the put-in to get geared up and a race to have enough daylight. It didn’t take long to get the boats carried down the two ladders and lowered into the river canyon. With only precious daylight left, I was in a hurry to get to the water. Carrying my kayak on my right shoulder I was navigating over the slippery wet rocks when BAM… down I went. I felt something snap/pop in my right leg so I laid there for a minute before trying to get up. Once I stood up I knew I hurt my right leg pretty good. Seeing as I was only 15 feet from the river I proceed to limp down to the water.

My friend didn’t see me fall or know how bad it was, heck, neither did I. We decided to paddle for a little while at the base of Condit Dam to see how my leg was feeling. Needless to say after a couple minutes in my boat I was in a lot of pain. With some positive encouragement I did something I will forever be thankful for. I peeled out of an eddy, paddled in front of Condit Dam and, with the water flowing over the dam, it felt amazing to be at the base of a waterfall appreciating the refreshing spray against my face. I knew that would be the last time I would be in my kayak for a while so I’m grateful I spent my last moments absorbing the refreshing mist.

(Condit Dam - This was the last place I was in my kayak, amazing place. Photo courtesy of Northwest Rafting Company)

Once I got back to shore and out of my boat the mission to get out of the river canyon before dark began. I ended up crawling from the river to a rope that fisherman use to get to the river. I proceeded to pull myself up the rope using my good leg to help me along the way. My paddle was my crutch through the trail and the ladders were easier that I thought they would be. Thankfully my friend was able to hike both of the kayaks out so all I had to do was worry about getting me out.

As soon as we got back to the vehicle and got my dry suit off we saw how much damage I had done. After a quick look at my distorted ankle it was off to the Emergency Room! I thought since I was able to get into my kayak for a little while and hike myself out it couldn’t have been too bad. Well… needless to say I was wrong. At first they thought it was just my Fibula that was broken but after seeing a specialist I found out it was way worse than that. In that brief moment hurrying to the put-in I managed to roll my ankle out and break my fibula, roll it back in and break my talus bone.

After reviewing my x-rays and taking new ones at their office, I was referred to a nearby hospital for an MRI. It’s never good when your doctor says, “If it looks this bad on an x-ray it will be at least twice as bad on an MRI.”

Bad News: My fibula has gotten worse. If it continues to separate I will need surgery sooner rather than later. The results for my x-ray scheduled for Thursday afternoon (May 5th) will answer this question!

Good News: My talus break is better than he originally thought. I will still need to keep weight off it for 2 months but it could heal without surgery. J I’ll have another MRI in a few weeks to see how that healing process is coming along.

Awesome News: It could have been a lot worse! I have TONS to be thankful such as: my phenomenal friends & family, health insurance & being able to crutch around. J I love to take baths, now I’m forced to. I love to hike & kayak, now I’m forced to learn new things. I love the area I’m in, now I appreciate it even more.

Moving Forward: I’m currently residing in a camper with a beautiful view of Mt. Adams. My new tent set up and, thanks to some awesome friends, the top tarp is up too. I hope to move back to my life in the woods along the banks of the White Salmon River soon. The deciding factor will be how my appointments go and if I need surgery(s)…

There you go! Now you have the whole story or at least the part of the story that has already been written. I’m staying positive, in good spirits (especially since I’m off pain meds) and excited for what the future holds. I’ll be back on both feet in no time BUT… in the meantime, I’m going to learn some pretty sweet crutch moves. I’ve been on them for 3 weeks already and only have another 2-3 months to go!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Newest Winter Addiction

Living in the Pacific Northwest I am surrounded by new opportunities to get out and play. It's just a matter of choosing which sport to get into next! At the end of the rafting season two very awesome people, Aleson & Tobias left me with little choice. They gifted me a snowboard so I had no excuse not to try it.

(Beautiful scenery heading up to Mt. Hood)

Being from Minne-snow-da, it’s hard to believe that I have never been into any winter sports. My brother would always convince me to go to the top of a huge hill with him and sled down. I would always get scared and bail out of the sled just to roll all the way down the hill. Needless to say, going fast on snow doesn’t come natural to me. In fact, it scares the shit out of me. But, seeing as I was gifted this beautiful and classic Kokanee snowboard, I am determined to give it a try.

(Typical view of me on the Kokanee)

My friend Kayla got the privilege of giving me my first lesson. Her first question, “Are you goofy or regular?” Since I didn’t know the answer, she gave me a test. She stood behind me and pushed me. Since I stepped with my left foot first, I was probably regular. We spent the next hour on the bunny hill and getting used to side slipping, turning, and keeping me upright. After a few good runs, we decided to meet up with the guys and give a bigger run a try.

(My fearless snowboard instructor, Kayla Applebay)

For the most part it went pretty well. I did take a few good falls and some other random smaller ones. My friends were awesome and made this a very memorable day. By the end of our adventure, I was thrilled and excited to go back for more. Kayla warned me that I have to give snowboarding 3 good days before I can decide if I like it or not. I’m hooked after day one. This weekend I’m looking forward to returning to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort and giving it another try. This may just be my newest winter addiction!

(The crew - Kayla, Jonathan, Me & Tyler)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Winter Home

(Charming Chalet)

As luck would have it, a perfect winter home opportunity stumbled across my path. I currently reside in a charming chalet tucked on a hill with a view of Mt. Adams. Chalet you may ask? I wondered the same thing! I basically have my own detached living space from a house but use the bathroom, kitchen & laundry inside. I even enjoy modern conveniences such as wireless internet, an endless supply of DVDs with a comfy coach to watch them on and warm cozy queen sized bed.

(View of half the Chalet)

It also offers other luxuries such as a breathtaking view from the toilet. Yes, as I sit on the toilet I get to watch the sun illuminate the massive snow covered Mt. Adams. But that’s not all this place has to offer.

(Mt. Adams trying to hide behind the evergreens)

There is a whole trail system (which I still have to get figured out) right here too! It’s amazing to have the option to come home and go hiking until my little heart desire.

How far did I go to find a place like this? Not far at all. This charming chalet is located 1.5 miles from my job at Wet Planet Whitewater in Husum, WA. I have the option to commute via bike or Monte Carlo to work.

I am happy to call this my home for the winter months. Heck, there’s even a lama here too! Special thanks to my friend Alexa for traveling to Australia, the Grand Canyon & Europe to make this possible. What a true friend to leave her place allowing this to be my winter home. :)