Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Here's to July, in Driggs

Every year, I say how much I'd love to simply take the whole month of July off and enjoy the paradise that is summer here in Teton Valley, Idaho. Now that I'm in the asphalt industry, I realize that probably won't happen until I retire...but I sure do enjoy the windows of free time that I have right now.  This photo was taken over the past weekend, on top of Garn's mountain, with good friends Dave & Katie. We mountain biked up and up in the Big Holes, until there was no more up. The payoff was 360-degree views on a perfect summer day, with Tetons in the distance. Wow.

July is hot air balloon month in Driggs.  Plenty of calm, sunny mornings this year made for exquisite conditions, and I managed to catch one on film near my house a couple of weeks ago.  Beautiful, peaceful, adventurous, and fun.

Early in the month, I found myself in other places supporting new friends.  Accordingly, I spent the 4th of July in Lander, WY, and did a terrific road bike ride up above Sinks Canyon State Park.  It's a classic, with great pavement, little traffic, sustained 6% grade, and regular switchbacks that eventually drop you into Worthen Meadow Reservoir.  Wind River Mountain vistas beckon up there, and I'll definitely be back.

July also marks the core month for Victor's "Music on Main" event each Thursday evening.  It's free (donations encouraged at the gate), with impressive nationally-recognized bands (like "March 4th"), food & beverage for sale by local vendors, and the biggest social scene in Teton Valley.  Nothing beats warm summer evenings listening to good live music, in the shadow of the Tetons, with good friends.

What else?  I've been overseeing lots of asphalt-sealing jobs with cities & counties throughout Idaho, dealing with great people and enjoying my work.  We even had a nice day of work around Driggs & Victor last week, making roads more cycling-friendly.  I truly couldn't ask for a better career situation, with a nice mix of sales, e-marketing, and being part of a great team that includes my dad & brother.  Shameless plug: http://www.asphaltsystemsinc.com/

I also had Podium finishes in a handful of races this past month, including a triathlon, running race, and bike race. I honestly didn't think I'd ever pull off a podium (top 3) in a running race, but managed to do it in my age group with a sub-23 minute 5K at the Driggs Tin Cup Challenge.  It's a good thing someone took a photo, because it might not ever happen again.

In the end, it's all about people.  As many of you know - and if you didn't, you do now - it's been a mid-life crisis year for me: career change, divorce, move, etc.  Change is difficult, and there have been a lot of dark moments...but I had to be true to myself.  I've survived, and am emerging with a new lightness of being, clarity, hope, and happiness.  And I'm hanging out with a gal who inspires me, in every way.  If you know me, you'll see it.  Here I am with Melissa and some of her family, enjoying soothing Lander ice cream cones on the evening of her mother's passing earlier this month. There's something to be said for the ability to muster smiles on a somber occasion.

Continuing with the change motif: one thing that has always attracted me to mountains is their immutability, remaining permanent and unchanged, decade after decade, century after century.  It's been more rewarding than ever heading into the hills around Teton Valley this summer, and absorbing the same views that I have every year for nearly 18 years now, in spite of the changes in the rest of my life.  It simply puts everything in perspective.  This is the top of Pole Canyon on a recent hike, looking south towards Fog Hill.  These mountains have become a part of me, and I'm so glad. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Early Summer Adventures, and Blooming

So, wow, I missed the whole month of June on this blog.  It wasn't for lack of material, but rather a life full of work, change, travel, and good doses of fun to keep it all balanced.  But I really should write more, and chronicle, and share.  Like recanting the evening I spent while working in Challis, Idaho...bikepacking up into the hills with my fishing pole, counting elk, catching fish, and reconnecting with myself. 

Meanwhile, back in Driggs on June 4th, I encountered a frighteningly large pile of Grizzly scat on upper Millcreek Trail (just below Grand Targhee) while mountain biking.  Two weeks later I scared up a small black bear while trail running near the mouth of Teton Canyon.  And a couple of days ago, a hiker was attacked by a black bear on the Aspen Trail.  Walk loudly and carry fresh bear spray out there, folks.

We've had a bit more wind than usual, but nearly every day has been sunny and beautiful.  Snow has melted up to levels that weren't snow-free until early August last year, so backcountry access has been great.  Plus, the farmers got a nice head start on the growing season for a change...and the cycling has been great, like out here by Horseshoe Canyon.

I've been mixing in a bit of swimming for fun, too.  And one triathlon, so far.  Warm days, cool mountain water, beautiful surroundings...it doesn't get much better.

Evening get-togethers with friends are arguably the best part of summers in Teton Valley.  Playing around while the grill heats up, sharing adventure stories, and of course taking in the incomparable scenery.  Here, Melissa shares the fun with Brandon & Sarah's dog Sienna, in the shadow of Taylor Mountain.

Symbolically, local Poppy flowers bloomed brilliantly during June.  Much like hearts learning to re-open, and colorful new chapters.  Here's to summer, my friends...wherever you are, and whatever your path.  Happy 4th of July!