Who the Hell is maadjurguer?

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I like to ski, mountain bike, drink beer, cook and listen to any jam band I can get my hands on; all while making a complete ass of myself. Hopefully this catharsis is as interesting to others as it is to me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winter is Back!

2 Splitboarders and an AT skier on funky gear set out on Tuesday for some turns to celebrate a birthday.  The recent storms gave us all renewed hope for winters return after a long month of high and dry conditions.  For all we knew, we were skiing mid-late December snowpack...in February.  No one complained though.....

Bluebird conditions and a light SW wind ruled the day with warmer than expected temps in the Allison Clay gully.....

Making use of a 2-day old skin track, conditions were soft all around rendering my whippet useless this day.....However, its utility the following day would make me declare, "I heart my Whippet!".......

Finding a representative slope to dig a pit, I proceeded to tap one out........

......My most hated part of the pit...the final "10" on the ECT and CT tests.....Fists of fury always hurt in our Arizona snowpack.......

John got artsy while I continued to nerd out on the snow........

......Declaring this, "The most boring pit, EVER"....we pack it up and climb higher....

Pit results here.............
 ....and now for the show......John "thrown up spray like a Powder Gangsta

....."dissing on his bro-bras while carving trenches"......

Even Sazi-dog gets some.....

There's a splitboarder in this faceshot..... 

Troy gets after it....

Good birthdays should always look like this......

.......and this.............

I just love this shot; rider wedged between the powder cloud from the last turn, eclipsing the cloud from the next turn which is just starting to grow.....

S-turns on the new rockerd board, according to Troy....were wicked easy......

Energetic release in the form of snow, freed from the ground, frozen in flight.....

The next day, Troy and I set out to check out the Cirque and Temptations....the weather came in fast once we started digging the pit.....

Pit results here...........

Keeping the camera out of the wind and precipitation, I pulled it out once we passed the iceband of death on the cirque ridge and descended into Temptations....the snow in Temptations just within tree line was very nice....

Stopping to play with focus options while watching Troy regurgitate a snickers bar into his camelback (gross), I spied new snow falling on techy tweed.......

Continuing on down through the trees, speed and spray were on order......

Before exiting back on the skin track, the snow goblin told me that more snow is on the way.....Winter is Back!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thoughts Seen

Living my life this past year, I’ve learned one thing:  The only thing I can control is my willingness to push through mental discomfort and go further than I feel like going sometimes.  Feeling the need for this, I set out to ride to the base of 4-Peaks from my house giving me 56 miles under cooling skies with 5200ft of climbing.  This trip paid dividends in sights unexpected, surprising sounds and experiences which leave me dreaming of more.

As I clawed up a ridge today, straining to find momentum in the face of a stiff head-wind, buffeted by chunk and bogged down by sand; I fought off the mind games that made me want to rest.  Just then, off to my left, a Harris hawk appeared; hovering as if still.  Riding the wind which was pushed up the side of the cactus choked ridge off my left shoulder, the hawk was moving forward at an almost identical pace as I.  I thought to reach out to it, for it could not have been more than 20 yards away from me at the time.  It did this for what seemed like forever, but must have been no more than 10 or so seconds, before it zoomed up and over me…never to be seen again, except in my mind.  I no longer cared about the wind holding me back.  The ridgeline with its rough and loose surface no longer concerned me.  I just rode on.

Later in the day, I saw a snake warming itself in the sun; a sun that had been baking me and drawing my strength with every drop of sweat from my forehead.  The same wind that I’d been fighting earlier in the day brought with it a cool down, leaving this snake betrayed by the promise of a sunny day like the days before.  I stopped my bike, and looked at it; me perfectly still, it also, perfectly still.  Then realizing how beautiful it was, I decided to move on lest I spook it.  I’m not sure why I thought that…but as I rode away, I peered over my shoulder and there it still lay…trying to take in as much sun before the impending cold front.  For the first time on this ride, I reveled in the cooling temperatures which had previously baked me during the climb and had sapped my strength.

Grinding away on a particularly sandy and hummocky section even later, I once again was fighting the lack of momentum; playing a balance between high RPM spinning, and pumping through the bumps to maintain any speed left.  A black and blue butterfly appeared in front of me, startled off its perch within a Palo Verde tree along the side of the path.  It fluttered in front of me much like a balloon, low on helium and in the path of a semi-tractor trailer on the highway.  As I passed it, it fluttered over me and out of my existence.  The thought of its silent beauty removed me from my struggle and centered me in the present….churning away, pondering beauty…hopeful for another distraction, but thankful for the ones I’d already received.

Towards the end of my ride, when low on fuel and close to home; I came across an individual who recognized me from a recent post online.  He remarked, “I’m out here looking for your tequila tree”; as he pointed at me with a devilish grin.  Laughing, we introduced ourselves and I told him he was on the right track and I wished him luck.  Prior to running into this individual…I had been ruminating on my poor fuel choices for this 55-mile ride.  This mental anguish sapped my strength and had me grumpy on a few climbs; for I knew I could have done better with my food preparation for the day.  I had needed food for the past hour or so, and although I was almost home; I was just suffering through it at this point.  My pause to stop and share in the excitement of my ride and the stoke of his adventure left me fueled to the brim.  The remaining ride was spent in the joy of a quiet mind; the sound of gravel beneath my tires, the wind in my ears and the cooling breeze around me.

Being present for the now is not always easy, especially when things get tough.  Yet it’s at these moments that we need it the most.  The difference between knowing that you’re not in control and truly feeling it is huge; but so is the difference between accepting it at face value and fighting the wind.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tequila Tree

Drawing inspiration from my riding brethren down south, I decided my local shred needed it's own Tequila Tree.   Directions to the tree are as follows:

On a Twisted Path, 
A rocky sight;
gaze through it's aim,
a red delight.

On a reciprocal heading,
you climb some more;
some 200 steps,
up a sandy shore.

Off to your left,
will be a tree;
beneath it's branches
you're soon to see.

A rocky house,
contains within;
a glass filled full
not whiskey nor gin.

But a cork held tight,
A silver cap;
A glass warm gold,
A border snack.

If you should find,
this tasty retreat;
Please drink some now,
but don't deplete.

My trips to visit,
will be for sure;
To restock our friend,
A taste, obscure. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The stillness bears down on us like a suspenseful moment in a crowded movie theater.  With it’s patrons too afraid to move or make a sound, one can hear a pin drop.  Frozen in time, it’s our thoughts which seem loudest.  The sound of the ravens soaring above our corniced perch are our companions this calm afternoon.  We peer up at the sky to hear the squawk of the bird, echoing down on us and out into the space beyond.  A space that marks a change on the horizon, a change which will bring wind.  This is one of many memories of winter, and it’s this imprint left upon my soul which keeps with me all year long.  No longer do the birds of summer fill the air with music from the trees, yet the sound of a solitary raven from time to time will interrupt my current state of concentration.

The stillness and inactivity we bear witness to when viewing a frosty scene; the theft of traditional visual stimulation along with the calm of frozen time, gives everything else between my two ears more of a voice than before.  The cacophony of color we enjoy in spring and fall is gone.  Landscapes now awash in a monochrome paint scheme, draw us closer to those things that strain and rebel against the palette of white, grey and black.  The explosion of color and activity of summer, numbs the brain with too much stimulation forcing us to wonder outside ourselves; it’s the winter that allows us to catch up to our thoughts and explore the deeper spaces within.

The nights come early and the mornings come late; our time spent warming ourselves in our bags runs long, forcing ourselves to focus inward our thoughts, fears and hopes. As we surround ourselves with things of comfort to protect us from the storm, we do so with our emotions as well.  Resisting the urge to lay awake in the warmth of our down cocoons, we steal our resolve to move away from the comfort of a warm down bag with the greater promise of a stoked fire, a warm cup of matte and a hot cup of oatmeal.  Outside, the wind bends the limbs into cruel sounds as they brush and scrape against the lean-to we reside in.  Creaking and groaning is added to the symphony as the pillar of our shelter bends and sways with the gale-force winds.

Yesterday’s peaceful existence is contrasted by today’s violence, proving that in the quiet of the season; winter can still be dynamic with violent winds heralding yet another change.  Its freezing precipitation sticks to every inch of my GORE-TEX and beard, forming a mask in white around me as I slowly move up the ridge away from my shelter.  In this blindingly abrasive noise, again; our thoughts turn inwards.  The foreboding nature of wind is not to be underestimated…it robs us of our easy hopes for the future and concentrates our every thought in the now.  Traverse this rock band, place this foot here, anchor my ice axe on this slab, stay away from that cornice.  The wind has the power to make previously benign thoughts that much more important; and important thoughts that much more benign.  Every simple movement I make against the wind is appreciated and hard won.

It’s in this environment that we find focus.  There are no worries of bills left unpaid, conversations gone astray with loved ones; there is a single purpose, to move forward and to be safe.  In this focus, clarity is sometimes found in a singular thought which, surprisingly, is not always germane to the task of staying alive.  Rather, it’s a thought rooted in trust, trust of the person that chooses to share in this adventure with me.  Trust that this person has my best interests at heart, and mine in theirs.  Trust that they will not let me down and I will not of them.  This trust remains unspoken, undeclared; yet ever-present as the crunch-squeak of firm snow beneath my boots is felt in my toes with every passing footstep.

Every neuron not dedicated to being safe is focused on this singular thing…..conclusions are reached at a preternatural pace and in an honestness which can’t be found anywhere else.  Our thoughts are as exposed here as is our perch on this runout pitch of ice and snow.  Resolve is gained, purpose renewed; we march upward into the snowball which is our world.

Winter offers up a stark tableau for contemplation.  It is a time for reflection on the way things should be, and how they should play out when spring returns.  It’s a time of renewal for some, and yet an end for others….however I see it as a beginning.  It’s the last of the seasons….yet, thoughts are born in the frozen air around me…and from this, comes action for the coming year.  Many see winter as a death, and spring as a birth…..I’ve never been in tune with this process of thought.  To me, winter is the birth of ideas and spring the realization of those thoughts….summer being the plateau of existence marked by maturation, and fall being the completion of the cycle. 

I once wrote that our confidences are bounded by our fears, with our ability to see the spaces between critical to our success.  So many view winter as a time to hold fast, and wait for better weather; as if the very obstacles the season brings are a barrier to all things productive.  Sometimes the spaces between are often…the spaces less seen, the steep pitch up the ridge and the windy and cold path away from the shelter.  Nothing is easy in winter…which is precisely why it’s worth exploring.  Thoughts are born here as in all seasons…fair weather and bad….it’s up to us to explore them all, otherwise we’re left with a squewed perspective, a predisposition for one season above another and a preference for the comfort of ease over the reward found in challenge.