Friday, January 27, 2012

Sierra Hits 40!

40 days on the snow already this season and January isn't even over yet! Through the man-made crust of November, the ice and rocks of December, and now, finally, the stormy weather and fresh powder of January, Sierra kept skiing.

With the fresh snow from last weekend's storm, the Tamarack Gliders kids cross-country ski program has finally begun.  Although parents are welcome to ski along with the kids, neither Jeff nor I could make it Friday so Sierra got a ride up to Mammoth with another Bishop family.  By the time I arrived at Tamarack to pick her up, many of the kids were back in, but Sierra was nowhere in sight. 

Looking up the hill, I spotted a group of adventurous kids attempting to ski off-piste on a steep, powdery side slope.  Somehow, I knew Sierra would be in that group.  Sure enough, as I watched the group ski, roll, and laugh their way down the slope, I spotted Sierra's ski team jacket and black knit brimmed ski cap.  With their skinny cross-country skis acting like submarines in the powder, it took the kids some time to make it down to the groomed trail.  But once in the smooth groomed tracks, they were soon back to the yurt, enjoying hot chocolate and cookies. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow Day!

Sierra woke to the sound of her father screaming "Woo hoo!". Sprinting out of bed, Sierra ran into the family room, thinking her father had been bitten by a black widow. When she learned that school was canceled for the day due to snow, she joined her father in the powder day dance.

Mammoth locals always marvel at how the kids can't make it to school when it is snowing, and yet they all manage to make it to the mountain by the time the lifts open. I wish I could say that we were at Mammoth by the time the lifts were open, but the drive was very slow going because none of the Bishop roads were plowed yet and the highway was treacherous. Nevertheless we eventually found our way safely to Mammoth and were soon on the snow enjoying fresh powder.

Before Sierra joined in Mammoth ski team, Jeff and I were fair weather skiers. If the forecast called for snow or blow, we stayed home. But since Sierra joined the ski team three years ago, she has been determined not to miss a day of training.  Thus, Jeff and I were introduced to the joys of skiing on stormy powder days.

Our favorite stormy day ski runs are in the trees, where one can always find shelter from the wind and seemingly endless untracked powder.  Although this was Sierra's 39th day on the snow this season, most of those days have been logged on manmade snow, hardpack, and ice.  As the day progressed, Sierra regained her "powder legs" and enjoyed our forays into steeper sections of trees.  The snow continued throughout the day, filling in our tracks until it was time to head home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Planning for through hike can be an overwhelming task. Although Sierra and I already own our own backpacking equipment, we still must review all of our gear to make sure that the gear we bring is the lightest and most effective gear to meet our needs during the six months we will be on the trail. We also need to develop a projected itinerary, review maps, and plan out how we will resupply along the trail. Preparing our resupplies will also include packing numerous boxes to mail to resupply locations along the trail. These resupply packages will include all of the maps and guidebooks sections we will need for each section of the trail as well as food and other supplies we might need along the trail.

Sierra and I will also be taking lots of pictures, keeping journals, and blogging about our adventures so we also need to research the best way to accomplish those tasks.

As a teacher, I have the additional challenge of planning for my classroom in my absence. This means hours of extra work making lesson plans for the time we will be gone.

As a parent, I also have to make lesson plans for the work Sierra will complete on her independent study. The trail itself will present numerous learning opportunities in natural history, science, and social studies, and there is little doubt that Sierra will get her exercise. But I also need to make sure Sierra keeps up her work in reading, writing, and math.

Add to all this the worries of how to keep a household running and pay the bills while I am not working for the six months we'll be on the trail, and it is a wonder that anyone ever makes it to the start! And yet, that is where we plan to be in April, leaving me just over three months left to plan.