Too Busy to Articulate....

Perhaps I'll have more time (errr, interest) once the temperatures drop to "use my words", for I do love words.  But for now, my noggin' is all about the visual. And the smells.  And the feels of wind and dirt and alpine air and pine needles, and even of the branches as I slam into them in my clumsy descents of singletrack.  But this visual....all I can convey in this post, at least today. As such, all I have to offer are some pics today.

Or, is it a laugh, you seek?
Wanna hear a mountain joke?

Sure, but you won't get over it.


Speaking of mountains, some wholesome ones were romped around this summer.  So on w/a few pics to hopefully spread the stoke...

Colorado Trail....ahhhhh....


Amazeballs. Alpine lake @ 12,400'. Ummm....cold!
(Pic: by uber cool chica @tooley )

Looking south into the Weminuche, the high CT winding thru and some old ruins. And Lil Donkey125 is parked down below at the pass (road, right).
Oh, and some views.

All days aren't bluebird skies and rainbows. Montrose
Bikey no likey.

Cool cool uncle showing me a "trail"....yah right.

Fun lil independence wknd shuttle w/the baggie shorts!

Watched these lil guys from the day they hatched til they flew off. 

 Speaking of new ones, loved this sunny high-elevation walk with my favorite new mama, her baby chica and of course Turner-dawg!

Yes, in July.

Snuck south to the roots for warmer temps and some family time! Me and the mama on the Gulf.

And for some bike rides w/the mama and aunties.

Then, back up toward the sky about 13,000 more feet.....

Miss @tooley getting ready to JUMP IN that ice cold water! 

This guy knows some stuff!

One of my favorite spots. Zoom in, scroll around, pics never do these places justice.
Can see a lot from here...lots of CT to include those "flawless" switchbacks;  Weminuche, 
Lots of 13ers and 14ers, basically 360d of ooolala.  Meh :)
Schilling, et al, we shall ride (errr HAB) this, 2016.


My Not-So-Rigid (nor Articulate) thoughts on Females Integrated in Combat Units etc...


Ok, here we go…. 

Over the past few years I’ve been watching this whole evolution of females in combat units, SOF training, integration, etc. play out at a new level. And most recently, I’ve been peppered w/questions about it, yet am still trying to wrap my head around what I actually think of it all, as there are so many different points to consider and different lens through which to view it (to include my own personal lens of 2015 vs. mine of a decade ago). It’s been such a polarizing topic…both in the media but more significantly to me while at the “campfire” at work amongst friends lately. It’s been interesting to see who is pro, con, and/or indifferent…a few surprises along the way. And we’re not even talking full integration, we’re just talking a training selection course. Notably, the older guys seem less threatened by it, as do the guys with daughters (assuming these guys would be gung-ho to have their daughters approach them one day and say Daddy I want to be like you! …just my hunch.) The younger guys, especially the ones who got out after just a few years, seem to be the most irate. Hrmmm.

Bottom line: Personally, I think it's bad-ass that these girls want to further dig in their boot-heels to defend/represent/lead their country as well as have more direct options to ultimately go kick some ISIL ass! Good for them!

The ugly caveat elephant: as long as standards aren't dropped. Were standards dropped at Benning? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. (The whole issue of “standards” is an interesting one already and one that annoys the heck out of me already. I hated hated hated that we had separate gender standards in the army. I was embarrassed for max’ing the PT test as some of the events were so drastically different than that of the males. Of course, I never maxed the run portion of the male standard, though it was still my goal. But I’d still beat most of the dudes. Did that make me less? Did it make them less? No. We all put out, cards fall as they may. Some of the military standards are lame (Sit-ups…really?! One of the dumbest “exercises” ever. Not functional nor relevant really….and I’d hope that more relevant standards are instilled at some point, but that’s an entirely separate issue and I digress….) 

Bottom line here: standards at RS are what they are. I surely hope they remained the same this year, and I surely hope everyone was held to the same standard. Can I personally carry/drag a 250-lb dude? Nope. I’m guessing I could do the rest (well, maybe not this year w/a crap-knee haha not haha) But, for instance, if I can’t carry ol’ injured buddy comrade Eli and all his gear out of harms way, then well, I’d be screwing us both, and for the topic at hand: out of selection. Not negotiable, not waiverable. Rightfully so. Is it important to be able to carry your buddy off the field? Heck yes! Can a 120 male soldier carry his 250-lb comrade off the field? Probably not. Is it important to be tactically A-game? Heck yes. Standards should be maintained. Once standards are proven, we can then rely on our individual strengths to contribute 110% to the mission, to the team. 

Retired SOF member J. Carpenter wrote an interesting piece which is worth a read (Female Ranger School Grads: A Post 9/11 Army Ranger’s Perspective). He reminded us that the only people who really know what happened during this recent class are the classmates, those who shared the daily burdens. And, that goes for any team, any event, training or real. The fact that these girls had to bear the weight of ALL females though is a little unfair. Guys wash out all the time, it happens. Everyone’s not cut out for it; it is what it is. But when it happens, the guys’ entire gender doesn’t come crashing down nor get criticized for it. These girls had to represent their entire gender...that’s a lot of pressure. Looks like at least a few of them did a'ight for themselves (not to mention all the mental crap/pressure likely going on in their heads along the way). F’n eh! At least they were busy and likely didn’t have the time to worry about the naysayers! 
What I personally hope for these girls is that they choose to move forward with professionalism and not get trapped into some politicians agenda nor public relations campaign; that they hold their heads up and drive-on knowing that they're not going to always be able to please everyone (hey that's life!); and that they figure out a way to fully contribute to the mission while maintaining their femininity (not try to turn into guys). The hardest part I think to overcome is the dynamics within the group. I’ve seen it go both ways. In 2015, it might be harder to gain the respect from the team-guys, but once earned, it’s f’n solid. I’ve witnessed this first-hand with some girls earning their integration on teams. But I also realize that we remain humans and that yes genders are wired a certain way, in general. Can we overcome it? I don’t know. Should we try? Well yeah duh. (I love that these girls are more interested in contributing to the world this way rather than via bikini-clad selfies on instagram; to each her own!)

Would I personally want to go through selection (BUD/s, Ranger school, etc.)? Now, 2015? Hardly. That ship has sailed. But when I was a stubborn gung-ho 25-year-old, yeah probably. I had a lot I thought I needed to prove to myself, to others. And frankly, I would’ve likely done it simply because people would say I wasn’t allowed or because they thought I couldn’t. And frankly let’s all admit, it’s also the main reason most young 20-year-old bucks do it too. Most of us, at age 20, know little about the big world, haven’t seen anyone die, haven’t learned anything about the big picture — rather we’re mainly driven by wanting to be part of an elite “tribe”. And this young urge to fight, to prove, to inflate those lats….it’s what makes the world go ‘round! When we’re 20 we think we’re invincible, we run to the fight. 

I’ve been watching the responses from a lot of people to include so many of my friends/teammates/colleagues. It's been interesting. Very polarizing and emotional. I get it. And frankly, I'm torn about the topic myself. While my road isn’t exactly the same, for the past 20 years, I've often been the only female in such a group — both in the military, tactical settings, as well as out. In training and downrange. I’ve received the welcome wagon from some open to let me prove myself, as well as from some who were nearly drooling to watch me go down in flames and doing everything to sabotage it from the start. Wasn't always easy. It took me a while to learn that I’d rather be a little embarrassed for failing at something than of dealing with the shame of not trying at all due to fear of public failure of trying. 

Most notably, shortly after 9/11, I attended some pretty high-speed tactical training with a dozen or so guys who were mostly from the elite SOF community, with me being the only female (EO selection? haha). Our hands were raw after just a day or two on the range — A LOT of rounds and weapons were being slung. Admittedly, I was learning a lot. One of the mid-level knuckle-draggers was clear from day one that he didn’t want me there. Whatever. The choice wasn’t his and our eventual assignment wasn’t in his purview. I figured I had two options — learn what I could while I was there or let his suck-attitude wear into my confidence (which could adversely affect the confidence/skills I might eventually have to rely upon once down-range). Occasionally, we had some drills on the range during which we’d pair off two students to compete against each other. I figured I might as well volunteer myself to “compete” against him — if I lost, I’d be ok with that as he had signifincant experience over me; if not, well, I pushed myself against a solid operator and maybe learned a thing or two (talk about adding stress to the mindset!). I had nothing to lose. But these thoughts went through my head. And through his head as well (I later learned). Point being, none of this should’ve been going through our heads. We all should’ve been focused on the mission at hand — how to accomplish the task, how to improve our skills, and how to help our buddies’ improve theirs. Why were so preoccupied with the gender crap? Was it because it was such a new wrench in the program? Or is it human nature? To me, this is where the main challenge lies for us all. I don’t know the answer, if there is one.

Once women are more integrated in the community, will we still all think this way? I don’t know. Human dynamics are powerful, and some are deeply engrained. And personally, I think that’s a good thing. As long as we recognize that. I love that we all bring some different things to the table. But it’s taken me decades to figure that out. I don’t want to be a dude…god love em all, couldn’t imagine life without em. Would I want to fight alongside a group of them vs. a group of females. Today? Yes, of course. In general, most girls aren’t wired to want to fight; neither are some boys. That’s fine. They won’t make selection. They won’t even hold an interest in it. 

But, once someone (male or female) recognizes their own intent to fight, to wear the uniform, to risk their lives, and eventually makes selection, then it’s a different ballgame. This integration is new territory, new for all of us, and we don’t have to embrace it nor even fully understand our thoughts on it, but I do feel that we should respect those trying to contribute with their own blood. 

(For questions/comments, go back to the FB page.)


One day, I might update this site. In the interim, get outside, be inspired, go.


Whirlwind Month in Pics....

A whirlwind past few weeks...

From prepping for another phenomenal summer (to include spending most of it in the Rockies, kicking bootay at the Breck Epic and some XTERRAs) major OUCH, to ANOTHER knee surgery (2nd in 8 months...ugh), lots of tears and why-me-pity-parties to being lost w/out goals, exertion, switching gears, reflection, appreciation, lots of rehab, legs propped up, more tears, more fat, new body, tears, to hanging w/friends and family, swimming, paddling, reading, writing, trainer "sessions", eventually some flatland pedaling, a new lens, some camping in CO, then finally to some dirt, even some lung-sucking, grin-producing climbing...boom!

Blissful reunion.   Giddy in fact, not to mention that it was way up high above the treeline. bliss.  No ball-busting paces and still no techy singletrack but some epic rides/views nevertheless. I've even found some doubletrack worthy of praise!  Still a long way to go, still no running (sigh), still being very cautious, and perhaps never hit hard efforts again. 

But....summertime keeps ya dreaming, keeps stoke alive, esp that Rocky Mountain high.
Patience and restraint....lessons of summer 2014 (so far).

DH pedals for the roadbike (needed flats to layoff the tender hammie).

No QOM hunting this summer.....just hunting for self-earned wind in face, epic views, HR above 70 (finally!), some solitude,.....score!  
Bedrest led to walks, to trainer sessions, to some flat-land pedaling to some climbs and eventually....Colorado Trail!

Giddy....trail, flow, elevation, wildflowers, pow!

Embrace the day!



So grateful for the freedoms we have here on the homefront. 


A Green Spring....

Saying this post is late is perhaps an understatement, but as my knee convalescence drags on, I have no excuse to procrastinate further.

In sum, it was a spring of "green", although not so much because of the color.  In Arizona, despite what some people think, we do have lots of green year-round!  Many envision "hot, brown and nothing worth seeing".  But, we who know it better, know much better!  The myriad of colors -- the brilliant blue sky, the evergreens, the exposed earth basically offering you the cliff-notes of local geology. The intoxicating scents -- the mesquite, pine, cypress, their crispness, and my all-time favorite the creosote especially during monsoon season when it plumps up w/moisture.  The life, the history, the good livin',...!   I could go on and on and on about how much I still dig this place!

But, this past winter and spring, my life seemed to revolve around "green" -- my Grandmother who was the last woman on our side of the family to carry the married surname Green and the Verde River (spanish green), the latter which gives life to much of Arizona.   Per my previous post, our grandmother's final days were swift but she was super sharp til the end, and I'd had a few of my final phone chats w/her while I was walking along various spots on the Verde and she at her home in Florida.

I didn't realize the "green" connection at the time nor the awesomeness of how much they both gave so much vibrant life and brought everyone together.  She for the family, and the river for its life-sustaining water.

At the time, I'd merely been trying to find other things to do outdoors which gave me some wind in my face and still-injured-knee more time to heal...and of course to escape the "cold" of the higher elevations near home.

I spent many days paddling (stand-up paddleboard / SUP) along different sections of the river, though mainly in its dammed sections, some of AZ's best lakes.  The lakes are fantastic nuggets of the state and for the most part are quiet and unvisited in the winter/spring especially midweek.  Sheep, bald eagles, coyotes, wild donkeys, cattle and wild horses were regularly within sight, quenching their thirst from the wild and generally inaccessible river's flow.

And of course the bike.  Duh.  Since all my lil' hinge would really allow was some easy spinning, I'd scouted some long empty desert dirt roads where I could camp then just spin to my heart's content.

So remote in fact that sometimes I actually packed a little heat, something I rarely do.  Maybe I'd need it against some hungry mountain lion at dawn, or a bored ol' cattle rustler, or.....just felt like the right thing to do in certain locales.

However, of all those remote excursions, the only time I got a little sketched out, the heat wouldn't have been much use, sadly.  I was on my bike on an old fireroad seeking the old historic Sheeps Bridge.  The day was getting warm already and I was definitely having to pay attention to water supply versus mileage away from homebase (aka the truck).

I crested a hill and lo and behold there's big daddy rattler sprawled out across the road sunnin' himself.  I could relate, after all the sun felt great. But, he was blocking my way and wasn't going to budge.  I waited a few seconds and took the opportunity to snap some pics.  I was still a good 15-20 feet away and didn't feel too threatened.

Until. He. Got. Annoyed.  He rared his head back, giving me the ol' cockeye all while setting his rattler in full-throttle.  Instinct kicked in and I swear I felt sweatglands open in places I didn't know shins??  Wha??  So, now ol daddy simply refused to let me pass thru his sundeck.  Errr.  Rolled a few small rocks his direction which were not met kindly.  I then got mad.  I FULLY INTENDED TO FIND THAT SHEEP'S BRIDGE SO OL DADDY NEEDS TO CHILL THE EFF OUT AND LET ME PASS.   Eventually, after I told him that I was just a guest, he slithered up the bank and disappeared into the brush; I'm quite sure that when I pedaled past that I was at mock-speed, breath-held, traps fully stressed toward my ears and probably eyes squinted if not fully-closed (the same thing I do unintentionally sometimes on the dirtbike on rocky drops beyond my skill-level...ha!)  Point being, neither that little sidearm nor pepper-spray would've done much good w/ol daddy rattler.
(Oh by the way, he was the 5th snake I'd seen since sunrise.  Ah, another day in the life...)


( Fun friend TD & I playing along the northern sections of the Verde. )

( Right up against the river, a cool campsite for sure, assuming no one else is around. This night was totally unplanned. Fortunately my combo of stocked-rations and some leftover lunch was good enough for sunrise brekkie - sardines and strawberries. Yum??  )

 ( One of my now-favorite spots to set up camp now; ok well not now as it's 1 zillion degrees down that low, but come November, I'll be back! )

The Verde,
special chats with my grandmother,
the sun,
brilliant blue skies,
wide open space...
   ...Spring 2014.



Slide Fire

Quick post and a few pics from my tiny lil optic/experience w/the recent devastating Slide Fire up Oak Creek Canyon.  I was on the other side of the globe when it broke out and started getting bombarded by friends' emails asking if my house was ok. (Yes, mi casa is surrounded by far more pavement/urbania that I'd like.....hopefully the market will improve soon so I can get my bootay farther off-grid.)  

Knowing/loving this unique area intimately (see two links below* for some recent pics/adventures)
, knowing some of the local firefighters, remembering the tragedy last year of losing those fallen 19 FFs at the Yarnell fire, and already constantly annoyed by the tourists, their "need" for campfires and cigarettes, it was driving me nuts to hear about it -- the safety of the people working the fire, the air quality for my friends nearby, the wildlife, and of course preserving the gorgeous land itself.  

I finally got back into town late in the afternoon, with sight of the huge plumes of smoke filling the sky visible from miles away.  See this fantastic pic taken by my local insta-bud Drtjump....  Pretty much sums up the grandeur and what it looked like rolling back in town from the south.  Urghhh....

I was happy to be home and to finally sleep in my own bed, but at 0330 woke up feeling like I was going to suffocate because the air quality was so bad. In town, we were getting this weird atmospheric inverse(?) each night/morning which pushed most of the smoke/ash down the canyon to us.  It had somewhat cleared up by midday, but after another night of that, I decided to just pack up the truck/bike/sup and hit the hills for a few days.  Headed up to unaffected perches of the Mogollon Rim to camp, fend off some jetlag and reacquaint myself w/AZ.  

Much respect to those working the fire (the work continues) and to those still trying to find the perpetrator.  

Please don't smoke in AZ. 
Please don't feel the need to have a campfire just bc you're sleeping outside.  Wear a jacket.  
Eat normal food that need not be charred.  
Plan ahead. 
If you must have a fire, do so a "safe" area, conscious of wind/etc., have a shovel/ax, don't leave it unattended, and don't leave the area until you know (for hours!!) that's it's totally out.  
It's like clearing a weapon -- check it once, twice, friggin 10 times!

Anyway, the fire is contained up to about 90-95% today and the air is clearer earlier in the days now.  

A few pics always trump words....

Base camp elsewhere for a few days....

Once back home, still nursing a tender knee, I thought early the next morn would be the best time to get in a road ride assuming the air quality wouldn't be too bad . . . up the canyon to spin the legs and to see the carnage.  (The road would otherwise be closed for the next month since they're doing construction at the switchbacks/top anyway....meaning less traffic added perk!)

Taken from just north of town looking up the canyon; you can barely see Midgley bridge here. I posted on IG:  "Expecting the worse but found some of the best: still lots of green, no traffic, songbirds and ravens flew alongside, two herds of deer, a few skunks, lots of chipmunks, rested firefighters, clean air by 0830, oh and an un-achy knee.  #makinglemonade #slidefire #sliderock #cycling #pleasedontsmokeinaz#pleasewearajacketnotacampfire #ijustwannaride"

(Slide Rock....a little over an later on my way back down the canyon...wind had picked up and much of the smoke had lifted. First time I've EVER not seen hordes of people playing in the was awesome to say the least!)

There was definitely some carnage up there but with all the green foliage in full bloom, it was hard to see.  (But you can scour the internet for pics the crews took of the burns; personally I didn't leave the pavement....still not allowed to anyway as the fire is not 100% contained.) Surely the carnage on the eastside of the ridgeline (west of road) will be more exposed in the winter.

Please burn responsibly.

* Links: 

 - Schillingsworth's tale of our recent traverse of the top of the canyon along the rim which btw during the fire was all totally closed off and perhaps burned (definitely the Woody area); 
 - Half-Dirty Century  - an old post of mine.