How to Be a Gaper – A Photo Essay

Gaper Day is a tradition at ski resorts. Even if they don’t have a party, the last day of the season brings out the gaper in most skiers and snowboarders. We drove to Vail for their closing day. They had their spring splash the weekend before, but it didn’t dampen the party atmosphere.

What’s a Gaper?

How to be a GaperThis term generally describes someone whose helmet slips back on their head creating the dreaded gap between their noggin protector and their goggles, revealing loads of forehead. This usually accompanies first time skier attire: Jeans, firefighter, camouflage or blaze orange deer hunting jackets… You get my drift.

On the last day of the season this is expanded to skier attire circa 1970-80’s or full on crazy costumes.

We went all out this year. Continue reading

A “Tail” of a Whale Adventure in Three Acts

ACT I

Last Friday, a monstrous spring snowstorm promised downed powerlines and trashed landscaping in Colorado. My husband, Danny, and I shrugged and headed up to the mountains. We looked forward to tremendous ski conditions and assumed we would share the highway with many others. Forecasters predicted snow in feet.

Funny thing. As we merged onto I-70 in Golden, our daughter, Courtney, called on her way home from work. She had to pack and pick up a friend before driving up to meet us in Breckenridge.

As expected, we got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. One mere mile outside of Georgetown, we came to a dead halt. CDOT had closed the highway hours earlier because of “hazardous driving conditions,” but we had ignored all the warning signs.

I-70 in snowstorm

Then Courtney called. She had just started on I-70. I suggested taking the frontage road to Georgetown instead of the crowded highway.

An hour later, we started to inch forward. As we passed Georgetown, Danny said, “I think we just passed Courtney’s car.

They ended up right behind us. No lie.

ACT II

It’s been over a year since my partial knee replacement. Before going under the crazy laser scalpel, that is Makoplasty, to replace messed up bone and cartilage, I could only ski two, maybe three runs before calling it a day. Since surgery, I’ve been careful.

Peak 7

 

The dump of snow proved to be heavenly for skiers and snowboarders. Saturday, I sailed through fifteen inches of ice cream snow in Breckenridge and took NINE runs. Courtney and I quit before exhaustion caused a crash and burn scenario. She had a business trip in Utah the next day.

snowboarder Courtney Lindau at Peak 7

On our way down the gondola, we met three people in the medical field from California. They all looked twenty-five because California. One was an orthopedic surgeon. Whoa! I asked him about my squeaking, squawking knee after replacement. He said that was normal for some people. YAY! Then he added the technology was so new, they don’t know how much time we have before wearing it out. Bummer. I did point out that I was pretty small and wouldn’t stress out my joints as much as a linebacker.

That boosted my confidence. It concurred with some on my online research for mule-kicking, hee-hawing knees. I tuned out the part about not knowing how much time I have on these manufactured parts.

Forecasters predicted more snow, so I planned to ski again on Sunday.

ACT III

Sunday night seven more inches dropped. A little stiff and sore from the day before, I headed out with the intention to ski a couple of runs and quit early. My son, Kelly, and I, took three chairlifts to meet his girlfriend and Danny on the top of Imperial. As we ascended into a cloud and white-out conditions, I assumed we would ski down the face.

Nope.

Danny led us to Whale’s Tail.

Whale's Tail

My favorite bowl, in the shape of its name, had just opened for the first time that weekend. Danny said it would be filled with feet of deep powder, meaning sweet, easy skiing for me.

I followed my group by sidestepping up the mountain to the steep catwalk. Yes. This was farther into the deceptive angelic clouds masking a sheer head wall on the edge of the bowl forming the tail fin.

Then it hit me.

They hadn’t skied it.

We had no idea what conditions existed. I wasn’t sure if my knee could handle heavy, deep snow.

It had been painful to ski Whale’s Tail before surgery and I hadn’t skied it since. My shoulders tightened as we hugged the mountain. Then we skied down to the edge.

I would be dropping into my favorite run from a cornice, but we were still in thick clouds and it snowed hard. We had very low visibility. I wouldn’t be able to see where I was going.

I wanted to ski down to the middle of the tail and drop into my usual spot. Everyone else wanted to drop in from the tip of the fin. I lost.

looking down whales tail

Whale’s Tail on a clear day.

I had always had skied this after several warm up runs.

This was my first run of the day.

I stood on the edge of the mountain and looked down. As everyone dropped in, they disappeared into the cloud.

FullSizeRender (7)

In the cloud.

I freaked.

Then I had a flashback to my heli-ski trip. After being dropped off on a mountaintop by helicopter the first time, I followed the group and carved fresh tracks alongside the rest. Sounds wonderful, right? My new boots dug into my calves. The skis they provided seemed way too long for me. They chattered while I carved turns in the wet, deep snow. It put tremendous stress on my knees. I didn’t know how to up-weight through the turns and fought through every one of them. I lagged behind and then watched in horror as our guide headed into the trees. I had never been a tree skier. I couldn’t control my crazy equipment.

Hail Mary’s became my mantra.

I made it through the trip and learned a lot about skiing and myself. Sometimes I had to dig deep.

This time, I took a deep breath and dropped in.

My pole sunk into the soft fin, never reaching bottom, unbalancing and thrashing me about. Unsupported and unsure, I kept my weight over my skis instead of my more aggressive stance on a steep incline.

When I turned to the left, I said, “This is your good knee.” When I turned to the right, I said, “Right turns have always been your strongest.” I said this every time, back and forth and back and forth until I reached the bottom.

As I caught my breath, I looked back up the mountain. It had cleared and the word was out. Tons of skiers learned there were fresh tracks to be made on Whale’s Tail.

skiers and boarders on Whale's Tail Breckenridge

Those dots are people along the ridge to give you scale. Scale on the fin of Whale’s Tail. Ha!

 

They hooted and hollered as they made their way down the fresh snow. Some tumbled. Others face-planted, but they all had fun in the deep snow.

My knee felt strained as if I had taken twenty runs already. Pain from tendons and muscles made me wonder if I would make it down the rest of the mountain. I wasn’t even halfway.

Danny caught up with me.

Danny skiing Whale's Tail

I was furious. “I can’t believe you took me down this. It was my first run.”

“You did great!” he said and then reminded me of rule #1: “A skier never trusts their friends. Not when there’s fresh powder.”

As I iced my knee at Vista Lodge, I swore I would never ski anything that difficult again. The orthopod’s warning rushed back and I felt like I was on borrowed time. I had to face facts.

More snow dumped in Breckenridge as we drove back to Boulder. I woke up and expected to be gimped out and limping, but my muscles only felt the usual strain after exercise. We only lost one branch in the wet snow over the weekend.

Both the trees and I survived.

If we had skied another day, would I have played it safe? Would I stick to easy runs? Keep my knee functioning as long as possible?

Nah. I’m going to wear a full-on knee brace next time.

I am kind of a Wild Child.

Do you take chances to live your life? Has fear gotten the best of you? What is holding you back?

10 Ways to Win Like the Broncos – Parade Photos

The 2015 football season taught me a lot about life. The Broncos started out strong and then faltered. Their offense fell apart and their exhausted defense couldn’t win games on their own. After quarterback, Peyton Manning, threw several interceptions, he admitted to suffering with plantar fasciitis. Manning sat out and our back-up quarterback, Brock Osweiler, took the field.

Trophy, Manning

We thought we were doomed. Television commentators assumed the team had divided.

But that didn’t happen. The team supported Osweiler. The Broncos continued to win games while Manning healed and watched games from the bench.

After Manning recovered, he regained the #1 position. Osweiler showed a lot of class in quietly retreating to the bench. Our team supported both quarterbacks. Fans wondered who would start in the championship game, but Manning was back. With a supreme team effort, they won the Super Bowl.

 

So how does this relate to you?

I think there is a huge takeaway from this year’s season.

Learn from the Broncos and reach your goals.

  1. Surround yourself with people who support you.

Build a team of those with common interests or who will be there for you throughout your career. Continue reading

Friday Photo and an Invitation!

Happy TGIF Wild Riders!

Want to have fun and get one of your Instagram or Twitter posts featured? Tweet or Instagram your photos while walking, running, hiking or having any kind of outdoor adventure. Include the hashtag #WRFChallenge. I’ll pick a few to post here on the Wild Ride.

It’s summer. Time to enjoy the longer days and explore the great outdoors. It’s easy to let it slip away.

ChautauquaIf you haven’t already joined, it’s not too late to be a part of the Wild Rider Fitness Challenge. Exercise two or more times a week. Once a week, go outside to exercise your body.

There are many ways to share your adventure. Post about it on your blog and link me up, email me to guest post, or meet me and the other Wild Riders on Twitter or Instagram at #WRFChallenge.

On September 8th, I’ll host a party! You know me. I’m all about parties. We’ll have a Wild Rider Fitness Challenge Day where we can look back on our summer of fitness fun.

Adventure awaits, right outside your door!

Have you been enjoying summer? Do you have plans to get outside this weekend?

Join The Wild Rider Fitness Challenge

Hey Wild Riders! Are you ready to be challenged?

I’m back to my wild adventures and thought we could have a little fun this summer. Many of you already exercise, but some of you are only well-intentioned. I know. I’ve been there too. Here’s how you can become fit while receiving exposure for your blog or website.

The challenge.

Commit to exercising in some way 2-3 times a week. Make at least ONE of those an OUTDOOR ADVENTURE. Take a walk or run through your city. Go on a bike ride, hike, swim or play tennis. So the weather is nasty or it’s winter where you live. Dress for the weather. Go skiing or become a mall walker, anything to get you moving. I’m sure you can come up with all kinds of exciting adventures!

This is a 90 day challenge. By September, we should all have hard bodies! That might be an unrealistic expectation, but I know we’ll be in better shape. We may feel and look better too!

Outdoor adventure fitness challenge

Want blog exposure? Continue reading

I’m Back! A Photo Essay

I have emerged from a long winter of isolation. Two years of recovering from surgeries broke me in places, but where my body and psyche were shattered, I am stronger. Focused. Driven. I am stoked for the challenges that lie ahead. I am ready to take back my Wild Life.susie's knee

For me, skiing symbolizes health, strength, and freedom after setbacks. I looked forward to hitting the slopes again.

I had hiked and biked to get back in shape after a Makoplasty partial knee replacement on January 5th, but my physical therapist instructed me to build strength in my muscles to stabilize the knee instead. I took a few weeks of Pilates and strengthening classes.

Were my muscles strong enough or would I have to ride back down on the chairlift?

I made it to the top! Now for the true test.

The top of A-BasinI would be skiing the heaviest and slushiest snow of the year. It would have been painful to ski with my old knee. How would my body handle it?

Continue reading

Trash-Talking and March Madness – I’m In!

While perusing my WordPress reader, I noticed a new post by super blogger and author, Nathan Bransford. It was titled, “7th Annual Blog Bracket Challenge!!

I could not figure out what kind of bracket challenge could warrant two exclamation points so I clicked to find out. He was creating a group for the ESPN [college basketball] Tournament Challenge for March Madness. Joining would mean choosing the winners out of 64 teams. All I knew was CU was out and my alma mater, UW-Madison, was ranked pretty high.

I left a comment:

“It sounds like another social media time suck, so I’M IN!”

old basketball photo

Even though it was free to enter, ESPN will award the first place winner a $20,000 Best Buy gift card and a trip to the 2015 Maui Invitational. Another winner will be chosen from the top 1%. Nathan is offering a query letter review or something else agreed upon to the first place winner of his group. There was plenty of incentive, so I checked it out.

After creating a profile, I found Nathan’s group. I knew I wouldn’t have a chance in hell of winning since I would be guessing while competing against 39 others, but I’m always up for meeting new people and liked the idea of trying something new. I was drawn into The Madness for the first time. Continue reading