Dear April,

I might be more sensitive to the elements than the average soul. Especially this time of year. April showers. Blustery winds whipping from any direction. Dust and pollen kicked up. Ominous to the north one day, storms brewing in the south the next.

As much as I love change, thrive in the unknown, I am so unsettled in Spring. Willing it to just be rainy or just be sunny – not both simultaneously. Mother Nature in her most fickle, indecisive whimsy. Shall I wear this white, snowy blanket? How about these purple crocus earrings? Does this mud make me look fat?

Especially because I know what’s around the corner: sunshine, warmth, river days, cold beers, tank tops, skinny dipping, running to peaks, sleeping under the stars. When summer gets so close I can taste it, something inside me gets furious with angst. Over being cold, over a tumultuous state of being and ready for coffee on the porch in the morning and cocktails in the fading daylight hours.

I’ll spend June, July, and August in a gluttonous stupor, feasting on the elements, getting to the high places, sucking the marrow out of every sun-soaked day. And then come September and October, my favorite. Time for festivals, sweaters, and fall’s dress rehearsal.

When the aspen change from green to burnt shades of gold, orange, and red, tickled by pleasant breezes, they quake in harmony with exactly where I want to be. For whatever reason, autumn is that season I feel the least stir crazy, the most content. Cup overflowing with summer memories, skin warm and tan from days spent exploring and playing, and a quietness and rest that just seem to take me forever to reach.

And just in time, November will bring some gray chill that’s kind of a downer but also exciting because I’ll be ready for snow then, and afternoons spent baking bread and cookies, evenings by the fireplace sipping wine and reading stories, shorter days for earlier bedtimes. Sleep. Hibernation. These things make sense by December.

Especially because December, January, and February mean more celebrations. Like the festivals of fall, there’s enough to toast to and days hopefully packed with frosty breath, blower powder, and cozy nights snuggled in the biscuit.

And then, the cold needs to go. Because by March, I’m feeling so dry, so pale, so tired of being cold that when April finally rolls around, I’m so over short days and so ready for summer and fall to kick back into gear, that I just have to scream literally into the wind: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, APRIL?!

If only I could learn to not wish away the moments in these precious days.

So bring it on, May. I’m determined to love you in your steady plodding towards wildflowers, flourishing hillsides, budding trees, and flowing streams. Meanwhile, April, I’ll use you for your opportunity to sit and reflect about what I know about the seasons. Thanks for being so unbearably awful that I’m finally inspired to write a post on this forsaken blog. Regardless of my gratitude, I hope you know I’ll never like you.

Love,

Joy

Short Life in Short Shorts

Nearly a month ago, a friend, Alex Newport-Berra, passed in the mountains. I felt compelled to write a bit about him.

Enjoy reading and living out his words: “May each pilot their own ship, and may your life’s passion be a wind to fill others’ sails.”

Click here to read the article.

Alex Newport-Berra, Erik Skaggs, Nick Martin and Ron Braselton

Alex Newport-Berra, Erik Skaggs, Nick Martin and Ron Braselton

 

What I Did Last Weekend

For work this weekend, Gary and I guided a group of fathers and their sons on a three-day backpacking trip to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. It happens to be the most physically demanding itinerary I’ve operated all summer (funny that I chose this one to carry the extra weight of my camera). But after getting a glimpse of the shots below, you’ll see why. Yosemite is breathtaking.

Our trip mascot, the raven, with Half Dome in the background

Our trip mascot, the raven, with Half Dome in the background

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Raven in dead pine with Cloud's Rest in the distance

Raven in dead pine with Cloud’s Rest in the left distance

Approaching Cloud's Rest - Mount Clark in the left distance

Approaching Cloud’s Rest – Mount Clark in the left distance

These unique rustic iron signs mark the way on every trail in Yosemite

These unique rustic iron signs mark the way on every trail in Yosemite

Looking back East/Northeast from Cloud's Rest

Ascending Cloud's Rest

Ascending Cloud’s Rest

 

Ascent up Cloud's Rest with Half Dome in the background

Ascent up Cloud’s Rest with Half Dome in the background

Exposure found on the way to Cloud's Rest summit

Exposure found on the way to Cloud’s Rest summit

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Raven and Mount Clark on summit of Cloud's Rest

Raven and Mount Clark on summit of Cloud’s Rest

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Descent from Cloud's Rest

Descent from Cloud’s Rest

Resting

Resting

Hiking to Half Dome the next day started at 5 am under a full moon

Hiking to Half Dome the next day started at 5 am under a full moon

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First light on Half Dome

First light on Half Dome

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Smoke in the distance from Dark Hole fire that's been burning nearly a month now

Smoke in the distance from Dark Hole fire that’s been burning nearly a month now

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The sons at base of the cables

The sons (Maxx, Matt and Josh) at base of the cables

Fathers and sons start the crazy steep climb to the top of Half Dome - can't believe the NPS let's visitors to the park do  this

Fathers and sons start the crazy steep climb to the top of Half Dome – can’t believe the NPS let’s visitors to the park do this (note that the dad’s are in the back…)

Looking back without letting go of the cables - slick granite smoothed from thousands of climbers is super sketchy

Looking back without letting go of the cables – slick granite smoothed from thousands of climbers is super sketchy

Me and the boys - left to right: Maxx, Gregg, Josh, David, Brad, Gary (guide) and Matt

Summit! Joyy and the boyys – left to right: Maxx, Gregg, Josh, David, Brad, Gary (guide) and Matt

Where's Joy? Look for stick white legs draped over 4,000 feet of air from the end of the King's Chair

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Where’s Joy? (Hint: look for stick white legs draped over 4,000 feet of air from the end of the King’s Chair)

Looking back up Tenaya Canyon

Looking back up Tenaya Canyon

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The Stats:

Hiked 5 to 12 miles each day for three days with elevation gains from 800 to 2,700 feet a day and elevation losses from 800 to 4,000 feet a day

Cloud’s Rest summit elevation – 9,900ish

Half Dome summit elevation – 8,800ish

So ends a perfect weekend. Till the next…

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Nick in Awesome Places

Since he’s always posting photos of me because he’s the one who usually carries a phone, I’m happy to share a few moments I’ve captured this summer of Nick in Awesome Places doing semi-rad things. Wish I had one of those fancy iPhone cameras. Droid doesn’t do these scenes justice. Oh well. Enjoy!

Nick at Observation Point , Zion

Nick at Observation Point , Zion National Park

Nick guiding folks, Bryce National Park

Nick guiding folks, Bryce National Park

Nick using his awesome Z-poles to point out a rock that looks like a golden retriever. We call it Charlie Rock.

Nick using his awesome Z-poles to point out a rock that looks like a golden retriever – we call it Charlie Rock

Nick below El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Nick below El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

The remains of Nick's secret breakfast I found in the car one morning

The remains of Nick’s secret breakfast I found in the car one morning

Nick's not-just-tea beverage during World Cup Final - Silverton, CO

Nick’s not-just-tea beverage during World Cup Final – Silverton, CO

Nick running plateaus, Yosemite National Park

Nick running plateaus, Yosemite National Park

Nick skyrunning with Half Dome in background, Yosemite National Park

Nick skyrunning with Half Dome in background, Yosemite National Park

Nick pondering vastness, Sequoia National Park

Nick pondering vastness, Sequoia National Park

Nick about to set up first rappel in Spry Canyon, Zion National Park

Nick celebrating finding Spry Canyon, Zion National Park

Gosh darn it, I love this guy.