In March of 2013 I flew to Colorado to visit my family for Spring Break and do a little skiing. It was actually the first time I got to use my Epic pass that year. (Not a lot of snow in Tahoe that year anyway, but still.)
My brother has friends with a home in Frisco, CO and they very generously let us use it as a home base for ski trips. On this trip we did a day in Vail and then a day in Keystone. I was a little rusty as it was my first trip of the season, but by the end of the second day I was back in the saddle and before I was ready or willing I was already on a plane back to LA.
I looked at my sad EpicMix stats when I got home and decided that two days on an annual pass was not acceptable. I planned a quick little solo trip to Tahoe to make up for an entire season of laziness. It would be my first trip to Tahoe, so I decided to try and hit all three Vail mountains in the area: Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood. I rented skis at Big 5 and made the long drive to Tahoe on Friday night, April 5th.
Don’t know how I did it, but I got to Northstar on Saturday morning and did a whole day of skiing. 22.000 vertical feet. I must have been really eager to ski because just thinking about skiing that much after a 7 hour drive makes me exhausted.
It was pretty cold and icy in the morning, warming up toward the end of the day and ending in pretty slushy conditions. I skied all the way through last chair. I drove down to South Lake Tahoe and checked into the Montbleu Casino and Hotel and passed out, presumably. I don’t really remember the details.
The next day I checked out Heavenly.
It was another frosty morning, and lots of fun. Heavenly really inspired me to improve enough to get into those beautiful trees. At the end of the day we got some light snow showers. I headed back to Montbleu for my last night
I had planned on skiing just half a day the next day, but I woke up to about 6 inches fresh powder. Did a few runs at Heavenly to take advantage of it, then headed off to Kirkwood. Conditions there were really fun, and I ended up skiing the whole day. By the end of it, I was glowing.
Before I set out for home, I sat in my car with a cup of strong coffee and promised myself I’d use my pass a lot more often next ski season.
I spent Martin Luther King weekend in Yosemite National Park. I’ve always wanted to see the park in the winter, and I decided to challenge myself by learning some cold-weather camping skills. I’ve never camped in snow.
I picked a spot in Camp 4. It’s known as a rock climbers’ camp and is very crowded in the summer. On this winter weekend, I wasn’t completely alone, but it wasn’t hard to find my own campsite. Upper Pines Campground is also open in the winter, but I read somewhere online that the restrooms over there aren’t heated in winter and the ones in Camp 4 are. (Not true, at least not anymore. I met a couple of guys with a spot at Upper Pines and they confirmed there’s heat over there too.)
Yosemite Valley is at a high enough altitude to see occasional snow in the winter and freezing temperatures at night. It’s also low enough for the midday heat to start melting any snow and ice that accumulated overnight. So basically that means there’s ice. Everywhere.
Lots of it.
I spent a few minutes chipping away at the picnic bench to remove about 6 inches of snow and ice so I’d have a place to sit down. And the tent was pitched on a bed of icy snow. The lowest nighttime temp I saw was 25 degrees.
I can confirm that your comfort level doing this kind of camping depends on a lot more than just the temperature rating of your bag. I have the North Face Cat’s Meow, which is a 20 degree bag, but I couldn’t rely on it to keep me warm all by itself. I had to pay a lot of attention to tent flaps and ventilation, clothing, eating well…I learned a lot in just four days and was able to feel pretty cozy by the end of the trip. I have my eye on a warmer bag though. One of these days.
On Sunday I joined a group snowshoe hike to Dewey Point from Badger Pass. What a blast! There’s tons to do at Badger Pass…downhill and nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing. Very kid and family-friendly. And the view from Dewey Point in winter is thrilling. If I can get my snow camping and backpacking skills up, I’d like to continue from Dewey to Glacier Point. (That trip requires you to camp at or near Dewey Point…brrr.)
I also got to skate at the rink at Curry Village. Interesting piece of Yosemite trivia: a committee representing Yosemite put in a bid for the 1932 Winter Olympics, and the rink was built in anticipation of this. (They were not picked by the Olympic Committee in the end.) Sadly, I hear that the ice rink may not be around much longer, as they are planning to shut down some non-essential services in order to devote resources to protecting the Merced River, which may be given Wild and Scenic River status. I’m all for protecting the few wild rivers remaining, but man will I be sad to see skating go. Nowhere else can you skate in the great outdoors beneath magnificent rock walls like those in Yosemite Valley.
After skating, I went to the Curry Village Lounge to for a bit of knitting. Yosemite has, I think, the highest number of cozy knitting spots per capita than anywhere else in the Continental US. (I haven’t been to Alaska yet.) The Curry Village Lounge has a fireplace and a very comfy couch. And this sign:
There’s even a portrait of Mary Curry hanging next to the fireplace, looking stern. I like to think it was she who originally enforced the “no-drying of mittens and socks” policy, perhaps out of her distaste for the smell that wet wool gives off as it warms. This warning was posted at every fireplace I saw in Yosemite.
They ended up closing the lounge early so I had to move on.
Mos def no drying of mittens or socks at any of the fireplaces at the Ahwahnee Hotel either, but man…what a great spot to knit. I thought I’d sit and knit for just an hour or so but completely lost track of time. The Ahwahnee bar serves hot chocolate and spiced cider, and stronger drinks if that’s what you’re looking for. They make something called El Capitan which I hear is very potent, but I don’t drink alcohol so I’ll take their word for it.
Something about it being so cold outside and so warm and relaxing next to the fire makes for great conversation. I met a bunch of really good people while I sat and knitted away on a scarf for my sister, including a couple from New Zealand who are travelling the US by RV for a month. There was Martha, the knitter, and her husband…they have a place in Carbondale, CO, and since I’m from Colorado too we traded stories from back home. And Bobbi and her mom from wine country…Bobbi’s a skater too, and her mom was visiting Yosemite for the first time. All good people, and I wished them all well.
Going home on Tuesday was a bummer…I always feel like I’m getting my heart ripped out as I leave the Valley. Just before Northside Drive exits the valley, I got one last chance for a self-pic.
To console myself on the way home to LA, I stopped by Unraveled, a new yarn store in Oakhurst. Oakhurst is about 11 miles south of Yosemite. Unraveled has been open since the spring of 2012, and it’s a great little shop., definitely worth a stop if you are anywhere near Oakhurst. Babette (the owner) is really nice and has big plans for the fiber scene in the Sierra area.
Babette told me there’s also a yarn mill in town (!) and that I should go see it, and so I did. I met Kate, the owner of the mill, and she insisted I take a tour. I’ve never seen yarn being made before.
I was completely geeky about it.
Mill Creek Fiber Works specializes in alpaca. Kate has one of the few mills in the area that can process 100% alpaca fiber. Despite being in the middle of processing an order, Kate gave me a VIP tour of the mill, showing me every step of the process of creating yarn from an unprocessed fleece.
I of course bought yarn too.
I’m supposed to be knitting from stash in 2013 so let’s overlook this.
All in all it was another amazing weekend in the Sierras and my heart is full. As I prepare to post this, I wonder if it seems somewhat lonely to other people, that I go on trips like this by myself. I just don’t know many people who share my passions and interests when it comes to the outdoors, and the ones that do were busy or not into the snow thing. (Understandable.)
In the end, I think it’s important to do the things you love, even if it means doing them alone. You have to go where your heart feels at home, and when you get to that place, wherever it is, you might find you’re the only one there. Don’t sweat it.
I’m participating in Use It or Lose It 2013 over on the Stash and Burn Ravelry group. You can get the lowdown here.
I’ve only been knitting for just over three years now, and already I’m complaining about the size of my stash. (Some of you will laugh because it’s actually not a whole lot of yarn, you can see it here if you’re curious.) I bought a ton of yarn on ebay and at a Super Bowl sale at my LYS in my first year of knitting, mostly because I saw everyone else stashing yarn against the apocalypse and thought I should too. The problem I have with the stash is that it gives me too many options. I have a hard time making decisions and so when it comes time to knit something I avoid the stash and just buy something new.
It would be nice to actually use a ton of yarn that I’ve had on my mind and in my stash for a while. Once I see them in final form I can stop thinking about them and start thinking about the next thing.
I honestly don’t see myself accumulating this much excess yarn ever again.
Since I’m starting the January project a little late, I’m giving myself a break and doing an easy hat to use up a single skein of Colinette Point 5 that’s overstayed its welcome. (Using that skein will actually free up a disproportionately large space in the stash by volume.) As for the rest of the year, it would be helpful to me to decide right now which yarns need to be given one last chance at rehabilitation. In 2013, I will only be knitting yarn from this list. I will only buy yarn if it helps complete a project using a listed yarn, or if it’s needed for a gift that I need to make immediately, and then only if I’ve honestly considered all of the yarns in my stash first.
So here is a list of yarns threatened with destashing. Consider this my personal Death Row.
1. All of my short balls of acrylic/mostly acrylic blends. Some of these are the first yarns I ever bought when I started knitting three years ago. Most of it was bought for kids projects, but I think I’m going to use superwash wools and wool blends going forward. If I don’t use it this year, I’m getting rid of it.
2. Two skeins of recycled olive green wool, unknown amount. I thought buying this thrift sweater for the yarn was a good idea. Re-thinking.
3. Tahki Lana (Old Version) – 903 yds of bulky, scratchy wool. I think this wants to be the Estes Vest. And why not, Stephen West made one.
4. Araucania Nature Wool Chunky – 655 yds of bulky wool. Hmm. Still don’t know what this is destined to be. Maybe someone else does.
5. Debbie Bliss Donegal Aran Tweed – 672 yds of tweedy black wool. Just added about 300 more yds of a matching no-brand Donegal Aran Tweed. This is going to be a Dr. G’s Memory Vest for my Dad, Christmas 2013.
6. Berocco Peruvia – 348 yds in Prairie Dog. The color has so many personal connotations that it could only be for me. Dashing mitts?
7. Schaefer Nancy – One 600-yd skein. Thought I’d be more inspired to make something out of this than I have been. Turns out I’m very particular about the way thick-and-thin yarn is used…the simpler the stitch, the better. Will I find the right pattern in time…?
8. One skein – 54 yds – of Colinette Point 5. This is going to be the Meathead Hat. I’m trying to make the January deadline but I’m still waiting for needles to come in the mail.
9. Knit One Crochet Too Wick – 240 yds. So what-was-I-thinking.
10. Fibre Company Acadia – 1305 yds, all gorgeous. It’s a shame to put this on here, but it’s equally shameful that I haven’t knitted this. I’m not worried about this one, it will be done…I already know what it will be.
11. Dawn Sayelle Ombre – 400 yds. This one might be hopeless. I wouldn’t flinch if I had to play this card to save one of the other yarns.
12. Classic Elite Duchess/Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky – A total of 580 yds in various colors. I bought this to make my brother the Reversible Herringbone Scarf, which I love, but his wife warned me against these colors after I had already bought them. (You could say they are beyond his color space.) So now this will have to be someone more adventurous. That would be me, thanks.
13. Red Heart Super Saver Solids – 364 purple yds. If this giant ball wasn’t given to me as a gift, I would have used it to demonstrate the flammability of acrylic a looooong time ago. You know how they say it’s always a good idea to give a knitter yarn, because they always want more yarn? Not this yarn.
Last night I bagged each yarn separately and tagged each one with the month it will need to be used. These yarns have been separated from the rest of my stash and placed in a cabinet that’s more easily accessed from my knitting chair. There, they await their fate. May the odds be ever in their favor.
I’m going to start writing some stuff down. It may not all seem to be related, but it IS related in that it’s all coming from me. I suppose it may not seem related to you, then. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m only writing this stuff down for my benefit…I’d be writing this stuff in a journal if that was the case. But that’s not the case and anyway I haven’t caught the journaling bug, incredibly enough, as I seem to have caught the bug of every other activity that generates popular blogs.
Here’s the first thing: I’m a photographer by trade, for as long as I can remember, obsessed with images…moving images in fact, as evidenced by the little animations I created in the margins of books I had as a kid. But even before that, I was an obsessive maker. Paper and tape and scissors, crayons and paint, dirt and water and cloth and string…I have always loved to make and write and color. I think at first I did it for attention, because my family used to like the things I made. Eventually it became selfish. I’d spend hours avoiding distractions, focused on the distraction at hand…paperfolding, thaumatropes, colored pencil drawings, good soup, clay pots. I’m good with my hands, I guess, and with how my senses make sense of what the hands make and how they tell the hands how to continue…that’s the truest form of communication I have found. I have never been good with people, but I have always been good with my hands.
Thing number two: I’m working on an experimental documentary. It’s experimental in that I plan to finish it without ever working on it. It will communicate all that it wants to say without a single frame of film flashing upon the screen. Just kidding, I talk about it this way out of frustration with myself for avoiding the work of editing the countless pieces of footage and archival material. Countless. To think about how much I have collected makes me nauseous…I’m sure other documentarians have collected more, compared to Ken Burns for example I’m sure my collection is paltry. But this thing is mine, and I’ve never done anything this big before. So I distract myself and avoid it. Seems to be working so far. I haven’t gone through the footage in months yet I have so much more to SAY lately. Ha!
The third, and most embarassing thing…actually, not embarassing, I won’t judge what I’ve been doing instead of working on the film. Instead of working on the film I’ve been gardening, and cooking, and knitting, and working at my job. And going to my AA meetings, because I may as well. Just kidding again, frustration again. In my heart I know that the film is the most important work I’ve ever done, and that I got sober to do important work, and so what does it mean to avoid the important work? Ask my AA sponsor, I’m sure he has a lot to say about this subject.
Well, I think this is enough for now. Let’s see if I have anything more to say later on.
P.S. this is not to say that gardening and cooking and knitting are not important activities. They’re just not the most important work I could be doing right now.