SkiMo: Ski Mountaineering

Our family spent our Jan-Mar weekends as one of the half dozen families that hosted ski guests at Meany Lodge. In a normal year, guests would spend the full weekends at Meany. Due to COVID, we opened only for day use this year, serving hot meals outdoors and doing all we could to assure everyone had as good a time as was safely possible.

My Patrol Race team from last year decided we’d race again this year. In anticipation of the big race in mid-March, I spent much of January and February prepping my gear and body for the race. The easiest conditioning was skiing the 3 miles to and from the Sno-Park to the lodge each weekend. In addition, I took every chance to sneak away from the Meany campus and into the backcountry with Bev, Maud, Jim, Dan, Adam, Ben, and anyone else who would go. Most weekends I was able to ski about 30 side or backcountry miles on my AT skis.

I was feeling confident in my conditioning when in mid-February I bungee-towed an under-the-weather-from-his-COVID-shot skier uphill for 8.5 miles. A week before the race, Dan broke his thumb and Maud filled his slot. Then another disaster, a couple miles into the race, and Greg suffered a binding blowout. We did a trailside repair that lasted a half mile. Since all 3 racers must cross the finish line together, that dashed our dreams of an official time. Maud and I then escorted Greg to a bailout point. All dressed up and ready to ski, Maud and I pressed on and finished the race in 10 hours. Had we not been disqualified, we’d hold the best time ever for a Meany Lodge team.

The Meany ski season ended in mid-March but we still have the best snow in the mountains that we’ve had in many years. With great snow, well tuned gear and bodies, why stop skiing now? Others feel similarly, and so each week plans have materialized as we keep getting “one more” ski in. As the snow retreats, we follow it up the mountains. Stampede Pass. Rainy Pass. Yakima Pass. Snoqualmie Pass. Amabilis Mountain. Roaring Ridge. Mount Saint Helens. Plans are forming for Mount Adams.

SkiMo, or Ski Mountaineering is a mixture of two of my passions: skiing and climbing mountains. I took a hiatus from both after buying our current house. With the house projects all nearing completion, much of the physical effort I had been focusing there shifted to skiing and now towards SkiMo. The differences between ascending a mountain on boots or skis isn’t dramatic. In soft snow, skis are vastly superior. On steeper slopes and firm snow, kick steps are often superior. With SkiMo ascents, we have both options. We recently ascended most of Mount Saint Helens on skis, then skis with crampons, and finally on boots. The difference between mountaineering and SkiMo is most pronounced on the descent.

The hardest part of climbing on my body, especially my knees, has always been the descent. With SkiMo, the descent is not just icing on the cake, it’s a second slice of cake included. Descending on skis is far more fun, dramatically faster, and huge bonus–my knees aren’t sore for days after.

Dripsie

A few months ago I listened to a How I Built This episode about the Dripsie, a meticulously and carefully designed sink strainer. I have a garbage disposal in the bottom of our single bowl kitchen sink and thus have no need for a Dripsie. I bought a two-pack anyway and took them up to our ski lodge to try them out.

They work much better than the old stainless strainers full of little holes. Even when they’re full up with food scraps, they continue to drain very well. Tonight Alicia asked me where I got them. At first I couldn’t remember and googled a few terms related to sink strainers with no luck at all. Then I finally remembered the name Dripsie and voila.

Finance books worth reading

Here are a few books on finance and investing that I’ve read and recommend.

  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  • The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein
  • Financial Statement Analysis by Martin Fridson
  • One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch
  • Asset Allocation by Roger Gibson
  • The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing by Jason Kelly

Humor: COVID 19

  1. What types of jokes are allowed during quarantine? Inside jokes!
  2. I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now, but you’ll have to wait two weeks to see if you got it.
  3. Why do they call it the novel coronavirus? It’s a long story….
  4. Why don’t chefs find coronavirus jokes funny? They’re in bad taste.
  5. What do you tell yourself when you wake up late for work and realize you have a fever? Self, I so late.
  6. Let me get this straight, there’s no cure for a virus that can be killed by sanitizer and hand soap?
  7. Why didn’t the sick guy get the joke? It flu over his head.
  8. When this virus thing is over with, I still want some of you to stay away from me.
  9. If these last months have taught us anything, it’s that stupidity travels faster than any virus on the planet, particularly among politicians.
  10. Wait – you’re telling me that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? You’re kidding, right?
  11. People are scared of getting fined or arrested for congregating in crowds, as if catching a deadly disease and dying a horrible death wasn’t enough of a deterrent.
  12. If you believe all this will end and we will get back to normal just because we reopen everything, raise your hand. Now slap yourself with it.
  13. So many coronavirus jokes out there, it’s a pundemic.
  14. Whoever decided a liquor store is more essential than a hair salon is obviously a bald-headed alcoholic.
  15. Remember when you were little and all your underwear had the days of the week on them. That would be helpful right now.
  16. The spread of Covid-19 is based on two factors: 1. How dense the population is and 2. How dense the population is.
  17. Remember those times when you wished the weekend would last forever? Wish granted. Happy now?
  18. It may take a village to raise a child, but it’s going to take a vineyard to home school one.
  19. Did a big load of pajamas so I would have enough clean work clothes for this week.

(some jokes without links blatantly stolen from Dean Forbes post on NextDoor)

Goat Packing

My family and some others were left for the weekend,
All of our backpacks contained quite a blend.
We started off to camp with several goats,
An’ the next morning, we would eat boiled oats. (oatmeal…)
So we hiked several miles and fell into some piles.
Then we sorted out our tents and made a nice fire,
With a wide river beside us all the while.
We ate a couple bars and filtered some water,
Little did we know that that river would be broader.
Then we all retired to our tents and fell asleep,
Listening to the waters, ev’r so deep.

FSHHHHHWSHHHHHWSHHHHHWSHHHHH! (it was very loud, a little bit repetitive)
My dad woke up early the next morn,
Started a fire, and made it really burn
Once we were filled and hydrated,
We all knew at the end that our feet were ill-fated.
The goats were loaded up and then we grabbed some snacks,
The parents nearly left us behind- we had to follow their tracks.
We hiked so far just to see a waterfall and some rocks,
But halfway through some of us went back to dry their socks.
When we all came back and were laid out with aching bones,
Along came a thunderstorm and amid general groans,
We had to quickly rig up a tarp to keep dry.
The river it was roaring, soon we said goodbye
For we radioed out and they said a likely flash flood!
If we never left, we would have been fish food!

(<could/could not be hyperbole, we will never know)

* real story, this happened a bit ago. A couple other families and my family went goat-packing, and we hiked all through Saturday only to find that it rained so hard we had to evacuate in danger from a flash flood. We were situated in a canyon next to a river, a perfect spot to get flooded! We hiked out and got to the parking lot at 11:20, then had to drive home.

Why the long face?

Superchargers Visited

Superchargers Visited is a silly and fun Tesla owners game I’m playing. I have a Tableau page showing the Superchargers I have, and have not (default view) visited.

The game might be one of the reasons I drove to Tampa for a meeting instead of flying. Fun facts: about 8k miles driven, 146 Superchargers visited, 11 days, and $409.23 in electricity.

Note to my future self: with two drivers tag team driving, keeping the wheels in motion when not refueling, expect to cover about 1,000 miles per day in fair weather.

FrankenYak

I recently obtained this lovely new yard ornament named Yak.

Yak is 1/3 of our snowmobile fleet at Meany Lodge. Our main winter transport for the 3 miles from Crystal Springs Sno-Park to the Lodge is Tomcat which can haul 35 people + gear. We use the snowmobiles for the many smaller transport tasks such as hauling large sleds full of groceries and gear to and from the car park.

This machine suffered a mechanical failure and the cost of repair exceeds the machines value. Instead of disposing of Yak, I intend to strip the 4-cycle ICE powertrain and replace it with an electric motor and a DIY Li-Ion battery pack. The project is just getting started as I’ve purchased a box of battery cells to experiment with and started searching for the lightest and most efficient 100HP motor I can find.

When it is complete and we have demonstrated a minimum viable product (the ability to drive to and from the Sno-Park with sufficient reserve capacity), I hereby promise to impersonate the canonical “It’s Alive” scene.

First time driving experiences

On this summer’s road trip, a few things happened that I’ve never experienced.

  • At an Ontario supercharger, a Tesla Mobile Range walked up, introduced himself, asked about my trip, and if there was anything on my Tesla he could help with. Besides helping me pick up my jaw, I couldn’t think of anything.
  • At another Supercharger station, that also happened to be a Tesla Service Center on the East coast, another Tesla employee introduced himself and asked if there was anything he could help with.
  • My passenger brake light stopped working in California. I opened the Tesla app and scheduled a service appointment. Soon after arriving home, a Tesla Mobile Ranger showed up to replace the brake lamp assembly.
  • I had my tire tread measured. After 15,000 miles, it seemed likely they were [over]due a rotation. All four tires had exactly the same measurements in the center and edges. Rotation is unnecessary due to the even power application of power across all four tires.

Circumnavigating the USA in an EV

Starting on Sunday June 23rd 2019, my two children, one of their friends Sebastion, and I piled into my Tesla Model 3 and headed East on our first leg towards Michigan. Over the next 7 weeks, we covered 13,000 miles, visited 176 unique Superchargers, and spent $610 on electricity.