Bondage with Strangers – WFA Day 2

Today was exceptional. It was the 2nd day of a two day course of Wilderness First Aid. We got to tie each other up! I learned how to dress a wound, immobilize joints and bones and more. We covered hypothermia, heat stroke, broken bones, head injuries, altitude sickness and more.

It was a hands-on kind of day. We started the day off with a scenario, nothing like jumping in to remember your ABC’s and 123’s from the day before. After our scenario we began the journey through mild medical care for injuries. Learning how to dress wounds and stabilize broken parts. Again, I hope I never have to use any of this information in the real life, but I’m quite grateful that I now have been introduced to it.

I do plan on taking the next course which is Wilderness First Responder (WFR). It is a 10 day intensive which deepens the practices and understandings of the WFA. As my next decade is manifesting around being an outdoors adventurer, I find that knowing this kind of information will be quite handy.

Be well safe travels.



Rolling Around in the Dirt with Strangers – WFA

wfa_crossI had an amazing time this weekend. I spent my entire day Saturday rolling around in the dirt with strangers! I took a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and REI. It is a two day course geared towards providing some education to folk who spend time outside and may encounter hazards, or perhaps folk who lead small expeditions, trip leaders, scout leaders, camp counselors and any type of outdoor explorers! It is a hands-on experience helping you to prepare for the unexpected. It was right up my alley.

Saturday was spent learning the ABC’s and 123’s.  They taught us a protocol using numbers and letters which makes it easier to remember what it is that you’re supposed to be looking for and doing when you enter a scene that may need some first aid.  Here are the basics:

1 – I’m #1 – I come first, if I put myself in danger, then who will help me?
2 – What happened to YOU? – Assess the scene before entering, look for a mode of injury – how did it happen?
3 – I must protect me – Safety first kids. Wear gloves, protect yourself.
4 – Are there any more? – Is this the only victim, or are there more that need help, assess the priority.
5 – Are they dead or alive? – Though I hope to never use this, I can see the relevance.

Airway – check the airway to make sure it is clear.
Breathing – check to make sure the patient is breathing.
Circulation – check for pulse and do a blood sweep.
Decide – does the patient’s spine need to be mobilized? If so, decide to keep it mobilized or move on.
Expose – expose all injuries.


We learned how to do a full body exam and what to look for. We learned how to roll a patient over on the ground if their spine needs to be mobilized. It was exciting and scary. They set up different scenarios for us to approach and examine. The instructors were quite amazing. I highly recommend a course in Wilderness First Aid if you do any backcountry traveling.

I learned quite a bit, and though I feel more confident this evening than I did this morning, I also feel more hesitant. It has been eye opening.  I hope I get a badge I can sew to my outfit!

Safe Trekking.



Whitefish, MT – Day 2


Loula'sI started my day at Loula’s again. This time getting the yuppie wrap. I couldn’t eat it all, though I really wanted to. I left my bags at the hostel and trekked with my ski gear to the bus stop which took me up to the mountain base where I acquired my pass.

Skiing today was exceptional. The snow at the top of the mountain was different from below. There was a little inversion, so there was clear skies at the base, clouds going up, and clear at the top. My favorite run on the mountain, which I did several times today, was Hell Fire. It is long and winding through the trees with plenty of leisurely places mixed with some great elevation.  

Hells FireI skied quite well today. I am so much more comfortable with my balance and confidence that I really relaxed and let my skis go DOWN the mountain. I picked up my speed and sat into my turns. It felt like I was flying.  

Lunch today was pizza from Summit House. There was also a cuppa coffee and a hot chocolate somewhere in my day. I even took a nap in a big comfy chair by the lodge fireplace (Yes, I’m embracing my age, which apparently is now 4).  

Skiing alone also allowed me to take my time, and take bathroom breaks frequently to warm up which was every few runs. 

I ended my ski day by hitting last call at Summit House for a beer, then cruised down Hell Fire one last time. I took the bus back to town. I changed, repacked my bags at the hostel, then carried everything the few short blocks to the train station and checked my bags in early. 

I walked over to McKenzie River Pizza and enjoyed a 24oz beer along with a delicious pizza topped with pesto, sundried tomato, pine nuts and artichokes! I even finished off by attempting to eat a slice of Red Velvet Cake. I couldn’t finish it though, it was way too much. 

What a fun filled day. I am so grateful that I’m willing to go on explorations all by myself to experience things. It would have been wonderful to have a buddy to share this with, but I’m glad that I don’t need one to go. Perhaps a GoPro for my self birthday gift would be a way to share. I had a great idea of time-lapse photo on the chair lifts with the terrain change and sun shining through the fog that would have been fun to share. 

Next Adventure – New England!



Winter Wonderland

I began a little adventure yesterday afternoon from Union Station in Portland. This is a beautiful station that looks like it was hand crafted back in the day when people took time to build things. I boarded a train to Montana and set out to check off one of the 5 states I’ve yet to visit. This is so far the longest train trip I’ve taken in the USA. The seats are wide and somewhat comfy with plenty of leg room. Though I started the journey at 4:45, it was quickly dark and there wasn’t much to see out the windows. I wrote in my journal, played some solitaire and listened to some music. Eventually I became tired and napped. There isn’t really much for sleeping on a train, but napping comes in quite handy.

In the middle of the night, we passed through Spokane, WA. This was my first time there and as we were passing through I realized it was a lot bigger than I had imagined. Another nap and a few hours later we had entered Montana. I think I slept through Idaho. It was almost 6:45 and it was still pitch black dark out. As we came upon the South side of Whitefish Lake, I could make out the distant mountains shining above the lower cloud line. I also noticed that everywhere I looked was snow. My first reaction was, ugh, snow, then I thought, “I’m a snow bunny, yes bitches, yes!”

We arrived at Whitefish train station about 10 minutes early. The paparazzi was there and taking my picture as I came off the train. Apparently, they had been told I would be arriving. As I was waiting for my skis and bag to be unloaded, I went into the cute town train terminal to find a celebration taking place. Empire Builder, the people train company, has been renting this line for years with service from Seattle to Chicago. For the past few months, they have been overlooked in priority by BNSF for the cargo carriers. That left the people carrier with delays of up to 3-4 hours consistently. That doesn’t bode so well for business, no?! The celebration today was with a spokesman from both BNSF and Empire Builder in a unity of train travel. The train I was on, was the first one that was on time in months. BNSF has finally given Empire a go for consistency. Isn’t that swell? Hey, I got a pin!

After my bags were unloaded, I walked a few short blocks to Whitefish Hostel. No one was awake yet, so I went one more block up to get some breakfast at Loula’s. YUMMY indeed! I enjoyed a yuppi scramble – loads of fresh steamed vegetables cooked with some scrambled eggs, toast, coffee and breakfast potatoes. Once I was stuffed, I walked back to the hostel and was allowed early check-in. I dropped off my bags, changed into my ski gear and clunked my way back the few blocks to pick up the free Snow Bus which had a stop right next to the train station. The Snow Bus is embraced by and endorsed by the town of Whitefish to carry people and their gear, for free, to the mountain for a day of skiing. How very cool is that!

Getting to the mountain I entered Base Lodge and found no line for the passes. The friendly girl behind the counter rattled off a couple of trail names by my request as ones I might consider finding throughout the day. Pass received, gear in hand, out I went to the back of the lodge. But where do I go?

I asked another cute girl if she knew the mountain at all. She said, yes, so I said, can you tell me where I need to go? Easy enough, up this little lift to another lift then the options are endless. I found my way up to the Summit Lodge after one short and one seemingly long chair lift. Okay ski legs, don’t fail me now!

I took the advice of my fellow lift rider to go off the backside of the mountain towards Chair 7. This area houses a lot of blue squares and a few black diamonds. I had been getting pretty comfortable skiing on blues back in Meadows, so I thought, “why not!” My legs were a little shaky, as were my nerves, as I descended down the first traverse. I found my way onto Goat Haunt, a blue, and got down to the Big Creek Express (chair 7) without incident. (Ski bunny bitches).

I went up again, then took a long slow gentle ride down Russ’s Street which took me back to the Village (where I needed to do number one and warm up my hands which were not happily warm at all). Hey, I’ve got no agenda, no schedule, just time to explore. I found myself a cuppa coffee and sat by the fireplace to warm up a bit.

After feeling revived, up I went again and found my way all over the mountain. You can ski all sides of this mountain, there are chairs and trails everywhere. This place is huge!

I had lunch at the Summit House. A greasy grilled cheese, curly fries and hot cocoa. After lunch I skied more becoming very familiar with the backside of the mountain. I did run a few trails down the front side of the mountain, warmed up again, and eventually got myself an end of the day beer at Summit House. My last run I ventured over to Hellroaring Basin at the advice of the cute girl who was scanning my ticket. I met a lot of cute girls today!

I have to say, out of all the places I skied on the slopes today, the last run was the most fun. It was a winding pathway through the trees with lots of possibilities of going into the trees, but I stayed on the blue trail called Hell Fire. This brought me to the chair 8 which ran up purgatory back to some windy parts leading to the village and base lodge.

I did find this along the way. Say what?


I took the free shuttle back to town, trekked back to my space at the hostel, took a quick shower and headed out to eat. I ended up at Casey’s and got a baked ziti and a dark beer. The guy next to me at the bar was talking to his friend about hunting wolves. I cried a little on the inside. The food was just alright, nothing to see here, move along. Once I got back to my bed, I was exhausted from lack of sleep on the train and a full day on the slopes, I decided it was nap time. After nap, I decided it was dessert time, so I walked to the end of the street and found Ciao Mambo. Yes, Yes, Yes! I got the cheesecake and a cuppa decaf. I think I will come here for dinner tomorrow night before I get back on the train.

Let It Snow!



When in Rome…

I’ve REALLY decided to embrace this whole ski thing again. Way back when I was in High School, I had a few friends who liked to ski that introduced me to the mountains on a couple of pieces of wood. The skis that were passed along tom me were about 6’6″ long and weighed quite a few pounds. Olin Mark I’s.  We would all pile into a vehicle after school and drive the 20 minutes to Mt Wachusett arriving by 3:30. It was a mere $10.00 to ski from 4PM-10PM daily. So, we did. The mountain was small with just a few lifts. We would ski down as fast as we could and get right back on the summit lift. After graduating from High School, I had only skied a couple more times before stopping. There was no rhyme or reason to my stopping, I just did. The last time I was on skis I was probably 27 years old.

So, here I am at 40, still in great shape from personal training, yoga, eating well, hiking and backpacking, rediscovering my ski legs. I have to say, it’s been a very short few weeks, but so much fun.  I am working with a bunch of people who also love to be on the slopes, so getting out there is easy and supported. The clothing that I have now is so much less bulky but so much more warm, which also makes it easier to embrace the chilly days.

Along with my season ski pass to Mt Hood Meadows, I’ve also booked three separate ski mini-getaways. I am overdue to visit my family in New England, so I decided that an end of January visit with a flight on Southwest (bags fly free), is just what I needed.  I actually got a round trip ticket for UNDER $200.00. I can’t even believe that, but I embrace it with a big ‘ole thank you to the travel goddess.

I also booked a quick get-away to Whitefish, MT. I will be heading out there next week. Montana is a BIG checkbox on my shortening list of states that I have yet to visit (Montana, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska). I am going on a solo ski adventure to Whitefish Mountain. I will be taking the overnight train on Amtrak which picks me up 2 miles from my house and drops me off in downtown Whitefish. There is a free shuttle bus in Whitefish that takes folk from the town to the mountain, so I will ski all day upon arrival the next morning. I found a $40 hostel with great ratings for one night (Whitefish Hostel). I will get up early the next morning, take the free bus back to the mountain to ski again for the day, then the free bus back to town to get on the overnight train to Portland. Whole trip – $225.00!  Yes Please!

Finally, it’s my good buddy’s big 40 this year, and he wanted an adventure. So he invited a bunch of folk up to go to Whistler in BC. Everyone I mention this to gets excited for me. I’m really looking forward to this in March. I may also go down to check out Mt Bachelor this season as well. Hey, when in Rome!

All in all – it’s going to be a great ski adventure year. I am looking forward to the many places of discovery yet to come and the many folk along the way that I know will make it amazing.

Do not spend time waiting for the world to catch up to your adventures. Instead, go on adventures and meet the world along the way!



Happy New Year! I’m a ski bunny!

At the end of 2014 I had decided that I would embrace winter once again and join the many who venture to the slopes of the mountains. I became a ski bunny. It had been 13 years since I was on skis of any sort and my downhill legs were calling to me.

I spoke with my friends at my favorite Recreational Equipment retailer about my new drive to become friendly with the swish and slalom that goes with the winter sport. They were more than helpful as usual. The abundance of questions they asked honed me in to where I needed to start. How long has it been? What level of skiing did I used to do? What were my old skis? What is my skiing aggression level? What kind of skiing would I see myself doing and more. With each question I realized that skiing had changed in the past 13 years. A Lot!

From ski width to length, to boots and helmets, everything was brand new to how the slopes are approached today. The entire time I was in questioning the associate had a smile on his face. Everyone around that was listening in for tidbits of information were also mentioning that skiing has changed a lot, and that I was really going to like it.

I tried on many boots and found a pair that felt like they were a part of my legs instead of a cement block attached to my foot (Diabello – Boss). I purchased Rossignol Experience 88’s, and a Giro Combyn helmet, smartwool baselayers and a Patagonia ski jacket. I actually found my old bag of ski gear which had two sets of Smith goggles (which apparently are not as cool as the goggles of today), and some Burton gloves. I also had stashed away a pair of Columbia ski pants that still fit like they did way back then (one of the many perks of staying athletic). The last purchase I made was a season ski pass to Mt Hood Meadows. I mean, if I was going to do this, then I was going to do this right, right?

With ID in hand and all my gear ready, my friend picked me up on New Years Eve morning to go to my first ski resort in over a decade. I was excited and nervous. Not only was this a new mountain to me, but everything on my body was new and even the terminology of the mountain was new, for I was about to Shred the Bunny Slope! Watch Out Bitches!

We started slow, the magic carpet ride, in which I was the 2nd tallest person on it besides my friend. I thought, if these little kids can do this, so can I. We spent the day working our way up each ski lift progressively moving our way towards the summit. I didn’t fall once, though they had to shut down the ski lift once for me as I almost ran over one of the attendants. He had walked out onto the path and I had already started going, in my attempt to avoid him, I crossed my skis and ended up off to the side. Oops!

The first day back was great. The sun was out, it was cold, but my gear kept me quite warm. I gained a load of knowledge about my approach to skiing as my friend was extremely helpful in giving direction and pointers for me to work on. I was challenged and had a lot of fun. The views from the mountain and lift were astounding. I could see clearly all the way to Mt Bachelor with the Three Sisters and Mt Jefferson snow capped and visible. It always makes me smile to see them knowing that just a few short months ago I hiked from there.

All in all, it was an excellent first day back on the slopes!

Denny Ski

Gear Repair and Maintenance

At the end of every season I commit to overhauling my gear. I take a weekend and pull out all of my camping and backpacking gear and spend sometime evaluating the condition of my gear.

I begin by organizing. I basically have two separate piles of gear: Car Camping and Backpacking. Some of the items may cross over, but I find a place for them as well. I organize next by category: Fuel, Lighting, Food, Sleep, Shelter, Navigation, etc.

Once the items have been organized into category, I begin to evaluate the condition of the gear. I check to make sure the headlamps and flashlights work. Is my knife is sharpened? Does my tent have any holes and is it still seam sealed? Does my sleeping pad need a patch? After I inspect each item, I clean the item, remove its battery (if it has one), and place the item into the storage container. I clean my stoves and knives. I clean out the bear vault and properly store any unused dehydrated food items. I clean my sleeping bag and hang it. I check the tent poles and grommets and seams to make sure that the tents are fully functional, then I clean them after any repairs are made.

I also ask myself these vital questions – Do I need this item? Have I used it in the past year? Is this item necessary for survival? A lot of times I find that I am holding onto something just because I’ve had an experience with it in the past. I also hold items with the intention of using it in the future. The mind comes in and says, “You’ll need that… Some day.”  It’s the Some Day mentality that makes me question the need. If I can, I remove the item and either sell it, or give it to a friend. I love passing along older gear to people who are just getting into the spirit of outdoor adventuring. It serves two purposes, you help someone get outside, and you pass along some of your history.

Once all of the gear is checked, maintained and cleaned, I store them for the winter.

Proper care for your gear means a longer lasting item for you to use. Yes, gear is constantly changing every year, but that doesn’t mean we have to purchase every upgrade as soon as it comes out. Good quality gear should last years if it is well taken care of.

Happy Camping!