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Season Recap via Video

 

About half way through the season, I had the goal of documenting my first real ski season as a triplet mom. I had an old GoPro that had likely crashed one too many times, so by the time I acquired a new one, it was late March. I still was able to collect a bit of footage and compile it into this Triplet Skier Mom Edit! I hope you enjoy it!

Kt Miller interviewed me for this story on Teton Gravity Research. It has more updates than I’m providing here!

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So Much Has Happened!

After an extraordinarily successful spring traveling to Greenland via sailboat and skiing first descents as a member of the Shifting Ice and Changing Tides team and a Climate Reality Project Ambassador, the summer was a whirlwind of catching up with my real job and finishing a creek restoration that had been in the works for over 10 years!

Then I found out I was pregnant with triplets! More on that later.

But something else cool happened. The multi-year all female ski flick that Lynsey Dyer has been working on hit the streets and the response has been phenomenal. I was even interviewed in Powder Magazine for it! Check out page 68 of the December 2014 issue!
MK_LL Powder Magazine
More on everything else later!

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Kenya Trip: Wildlife Works

Our next trip was to a project called Wildlife Works – which is a REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project about 6 hours southeast of Nairobi. Jen and Judi were invited by an employee based in San Francisco and jumped at the opportunity, since the project sounded interesting and relevant to their work with Zawadisha. In sustainability courses everywhere, the connection between increasing wealth and development and environmental destruction cannot be ignored. Wildlife Works seeks to protect forests and wildlife habitat and provide jobs and an economic stimulus for the local community. Therefore, by protecting lands they’re not pushing destruction elsewhere. We met with Cara, a young Brit, who gave us a tour. It seemed a lovely place to work every day. We walked through a screen printing area, a fabric scrap recycling center, 3 clothing production facilities that were buzzing with activity, an organic farm, a school for children of employees, and the lunch area for all employees. We had lunch, played football with some of the employees, and then were driven in an awesome safari vehicle to look for elephants. Quite a few elephants were living on the protected lands, but unfortunately we didn’t spot any. We only saw a few water buffalo and some dick dicks. Yep, that is a real animal’s name. They look like mini-deer.

A bustling clothing factory at Wildlife Works



Community seedling program at Wildlife Works

Looking for elephants from a radical safari vehicle.

Sunset at Rukinga WIldlife Preserve

While we visited Wildlife Works, we stayed at bandas (small huts) run by Mama Mercy, who was an early adopter of the environmental movement in Kenya. She had an amazing pack of African dogs living at her property as well as chickens and rabbits. We each had an individual banda with a bed, bug net, and bathroom. There were no showers though and we had to take traditional bucket showers where we were given warm water and had to shower ourselves with it. The highlight of staying with Mama Mercy was the food. Her traditional Kenyan coastal spread was delicious – for dinner we had beans, potatoes, chapatti, spicy salad, and tangawizi tea (ginger tea) and for breakfast we had omelets and andazis (Kenyan donuts). We stayed two nights and then Dan and I decided to make a quick escape to the coast, which we learned was only 2 hours away.

I asked Mama Mercy what kind of dogs these were and she replied “African Dogs”

African dogs are friendly just like the people!

Mama Mercy’s bandas

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Kenya 16 Years Later: Getting There

The days leading up to my month long trip to Kenya were fun and productive. I savored the time with my husband and dog. I rode my mountain bike as much as possible on the tacky Tahoe singletrack amidst the golden fall colors. I visited the lake and marveled at its clarity. And of course, I worked, trying to get a head start on my time away and not leave my coworkers with too much to clean up. I didn’t get to visit with too many of my close friends in Tahoe before I left and I know at least 2 who will have a brand new baby when I return.

Patrick drove me to the airport on Thursday morning. My flight was to depart at 7:15. Weighed down by 100 lbs of luggage, PK snapped a quick picture before I made my way to the Southwest counter.

skis to Africa, why not!


Due to a low personal budget, I book the only free flight I could get to Dulles, where my flight to Nairobi would depart from. The US government has just opened back up and I’m not sure anyone was even paying attention at this point. Checking the bags and finding them both to be under 50 lbs was a relief and I made my way to the gate. I sat next to two older women off to a cruise to the Panama Canal. I regaled them with the story of my impending trip. I used to love the attention, but now I just try to deliver the message without seeming self righteous.

When we reached Vegas, I had a new seat companion. The woman was just 2 months older than my mom and had the same skin tone, plus she was a talker. I listened to all her stories as we flew over the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and the Rocky Mountains on the way to Chicago. Fond memories of scenic and thrilling western trips flooded my head. I had launched more than a year ago for a 17 day trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon – my friend Debbie was down there right now. I hoped she was having the time of her life. I thought about the history that created “Lake” Powell and the impending ski season, remote backcountry pursuits, powder days, smiles, high fives, and then as we reached the Midwest, I thought of all the cross-country trips through the flats to get to our playground in the west. But as we approached Chicago, everything was obscured by clouds and I could almost feel a denser fall air through the plane window. The airplane busted through the clouds and the green lawns and deciduous trees of suburban Chicago came into view. And eventually the city itself and beautiful Lake Michigan – the very lake that started my love affair with lakes so many years ago. And I thought, “family is the thing that is important to me” and I started questioning the entire trip. That one Midwestern city could invoke this feeling, perplexed me, but I vowed to visit home more.

I was hoping my friend Lauren might have been able to visit me during my long layover at Midway, but the time was a bit too tight for her getting out of work, so I took care of some emails, ate at Potbelly (because I’m from the Midwest and I love these mid-level chains), and caught up with my mom on the phone. The next flight was to Dulles, the final leg of my trans-America flight. I caught an incredible glimpse of the Chicago skyline with Lake Michigan in the foreground and bid adieu as the clouds engulfed the view again. I spent much of this flight reading “ Where Men Win Glory” by John Krakauer when not distracted by the incredibly entrancing full moon out the airplane window. The moon was so bright that it was reflecting on the wing of the airplane.

moon reflection on wing


When I arrived in DC, it felt both international and cosmopolitan compared to Reno and Chicago. I picked up my bags and stoically struggled up to the Qatar Airways counter where explained to the perplexed employee why I was bringing skis to Kenya. Proceeding to the TSA checkpoint, I saw an incredibly beautiful TSA agent who looked like she should have been in a Benetton catalog and not checking my ID, but I tried not to stare. She had incredible style though.

The line for this checkpoint moved at the pace of an iPhone with one bar (or the internet in Kenya, but I didn’t know this yet), but the patrons were diverse. I tried to look at everyone’s passports to see where they were from and then I started crafting stories for them. I realized could be completely wrong, but tt passed the time so much that I had to chug all of my water when I reached the front of the line. Making it through, I reluctantly passed a Chipotle, one of my favorite mid-level chains, since I knew Qatar would be feeding us on board. I had heard them boast of their 5 star food and I was intrigued when offered literally 20 different dietary restrictions/preferences when selecting my meal on-line. I called Lauren and we chatted about our last trip to Kenya 16 years ago after just graduating from high school. It was a good memory exercise. She listened to my concerns about this upcoming trip, leaving Yzie while in poor health, leaving Pat alone with Yzie, not visiting my mom enough, scraping by financially since I was somewhat misled about the cost of the trip, among others. When I hung up, I was excited and intrigued by the journey ahead and I was grateful for the phone call with one of my oldest friends before boarding the plane. Right before boarding, PK called me and they had just beat their cross-town rival and much bigger school South Tahoe! He was incredibly happy after having a disappointing week leading up to the game. I wished I could be there, but I knew he was going to be fine.

There was some confusion boarding the plane, but I found my seat and room for my carry-ons and sat down for the long flight to Doha, Qatar. John Krakauer had succeeded in pulling me into Pat Tillman story and I was interested to be flying over the Middle East, especially Iraq. I was also interested to be flying on an airline from a Muslim country, albeit a very liberal and pro-American one. Qatar is right next to Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Osama Bin Laden. I just wished I had a window seat. The seating in economy was somewhat cramped but food service arrived promptly. I couldn’t remember what I selected from the 20 options – it may have just been vegetarian or lacto-ovo vegetarian, or maybe low fat vegetarian? I wished I had selected Indian vegetarian. That looked delicious. Next time! The fresh fruit was great through. I asked for red wine and the stewardess responded “French or Spanish” and I picked French after some hesitation. She poured me a large class and said she’d bring me some Spanish if I didn’t like that one. The alcohol question was answered, but it still didn’t seem right to over indulge en route to a Muslim country, so I stuck with one glass. Towards the end of the flight, I headed back to use the bathroom and saw them pouring out all their wine. It made me wonder if there was any significance to landing in Qatar and wine disposal.

the only view I got flying over the middle east.


After landing, there was some commotion. Clashing cultures of people not waiting their turn and people who believed in order. I observed, but kept my head buried in the book with the situation seemed uncomfortable. I disembarked from the plane in the outfit I’ve had on for 20(?) hours or so and the heat and humidity felt like a mid-summer Baltimore day. The flannel and scarf were certainly overkill. In Doha, the airport terminal is not yet finished, so you have to board a bus from the plan, then go through a “Short Transfer” if you have a quick layover, and then check in again and re-board a different bus to the new plane. The security was quick – no need to remove your computer or liquids, and comedy ensued when I was trying to take an escalator up to my gate. There seemed to be 5 people in front of my apprehensive to step on. Clearly they did not grow up frequenting the indoor malls of the Midwest… though if I had more time in Qatar, I’m sure there were a lot of indoor amenities due to the heat alone! I was told my flight was already boarding, but that actually meant waiting in a room for the bus to come and take us to the plane. The room was full of Kenyan men and one Kenyan woman – at least Kenyan in heritage. I knew when I saw that first electrifying Kenyan smile. The memories of my high school trip started flooding back. These people are happy and they have smiles that make you smile!

So much has happened since 1997 to make the world seem scarier and less accessible – the terrorist attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salam, 9-11, and most recently the siege of and mass shooting at the Westgate Mall not far from where I’ll be staying in Nairobi. With all of this, our trust of other cultures and races continues to erode. But we need those smiles and those foreign connections to realize we’re all brothers and sisters. And with that, I boarded a plan to Nairobi, with 23 Kenyans, and 2 other Americans and flew away from the lights of Qatar into the darkness of the Persian Gulf and the African Continent. I just wished it was still light out!

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Helms Alee! Summer Sailing Recap

I went into this summer with the goal of learning to sail. I’ve always been in love with boats, water, and the power of wind, so it felt like a skill I needed to learn, especially living near Lake Tahoe. Add to that our upcoming expedition funded by the Polartec Challenge Grant, learning to sail, or at least crew a sailboat, became more urgent. So I contacted my friend Will and he was able to set me up with a talented captain named Steve, the rear commodore of the local yacht club.

Captain Steve at the helm. Steve can sail the boat right out of the Tahoe Keys.


And so my education began in June. The first thing you have to learn when you sail is to avoid the boom and don’t fall off the boat. My athleticism has helped me with that, though I’ve had a few near misses with the boom. My first day on the boat, Lake Tahoe looked like the Bering Sea, so I passed the test of staying on the boat.

Wednesday night beer can races are supposed to be for fun, but can also be quite competitive and exhilarating


The next hurdle was to understand the archaic sounding language my fellow sailors were shouting back and forth! “We’re going to weather,” “ready to tack?,” “helms alee,” “douse the jib,” “jibe-o,” and the list goes on and on. “Those aren’t ropes, they’re sheets!” “No, blow the vang, not the twinger!” One of the coolest things is realizing the influence sailing had on English linguistics “3 sheets to the wind” and “keel over” or “even keeled” for example. I have to admit, this one is a work in progress.

Jeff is a great floor decker, but he also can trim the sheets.


My mentors have told me sailing is a lifelong pursuit but that overwhelms me so instead I think of the incredible strides this summer thanks to their patience and willingness to teach. Making headway you might say!

They even let me drive the boat sometimes! Batten the hatches!


Tonight I’m sailing in the beer can race and this weekend I’m actually headed to San Francisco to watch the top sailors compete in the America’s Cup. Once you understand sailing tactics, the races are quite exciting!

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Photographer Patrick Orton

This is Patrick Orton.

THE Patrick Orton at Mt. Shasta


I didn’t know him very long. We met during a trip to Shasta during last year’s solar eclipse. We were a large group of skiers from throughout the west – Colorado, Utah, California, Idaho, and even Alaska. We converged to ski Shasta’s famous spring corn and to witness the solar eclipse in a place known as a spiritual epicenter. Patrick dove right into the “assignment” and bonded immediately with the group. He encouraged us to flip of bridges, be silly, work it for the camera – the kid was hilarious. His persistence payed off and he took the National Geographic Extreme photo of the week and had his photos published in a writeup on TGR.

Channeling energy after the solar eclipse in Mt. Shasta.


Over the year, we stayed in touch via Facebook and email. I ran into Patrick at Outdoor Retailer in February and he invited me out with his friends. In April, I hooked him up with some European ski friends of mine and he spent days photographing them in Alaska.

A photo Patrick took of Sandra Lahnsteiner in Haines, AK was a finalist in the Red Bull Illume contest.


As recently as a few weeks ago, I contacted him to let him know we’d be traveling through his hometown in Idaho and he offered me the “grand tour.” We ran out of time and never stopped there, but, it turns out I should have. Patrick died in an accident on July 20th and it has hit the people who knew him pretty hard. He was young, but a role model for many who exemplified following your dream and doing something that scared you every day. He was outgoing and career driven, but incredibly nice and the opposite of pretentious. I’m a better person for having known him.

I’ve been thinking a lot about injuries, death, extreme sports, and social media and I haven’t quite come to a conclusion on all their connections. I know that Patrick’s death was an accident, but I also know that we are members of a community where the norm is continual progression and the line between pushing your limits and death or permanent injury is sometimes blurry. So for now, I’m reassessing my risk tolerance and trying to find fun in less risky pursuits. I’m sure there is a line, but sometimes we have to step back to see it.

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Angora Lakes Triathlon Recap

Every year, on the 1st Saturday in August, Tahoe locals get together to compete in the unofficial Annual Angora Lakes Triathlon. The weather is always perfect and Angora Lakes is the perfect temperature for swimming. The route is always the same, a scenic 6 mile bike ride from Kiva Beach up Angora Ridge Road to the Angora Lakes parking lot, followed by a steep mile run up to Angora Lakes, where we then jump into the lake just as we’re getting too hot, and swim across to a 20 foot cliff, jumping off, and then do it all over again on the way back. Except that it is WAY easier since it is downhill!

The climb is a lung buster, but the meadows filled with wildflowers and flanked with aspens and stunning vistas can make you forget about your aching legs and rapid heartbeat. We call it a race, because it’s pretty fun to compete against your friends… but the only reward is pride and the only goal is fun. Mission accomplished again. We’re even thinking of more “fake” triathlons we can do in Lake Tahoe. We’ve decided the opportunities are endless.

Serious competitors showing off their race “markings”… a symbol of their choice.(Photo by Gretchen)


Rachel having fun as she starts the run to Angora Lakes. (Photo by Will)


Two time champion Lauren Lindley looking strong as she runs back to her bike for the final section. (Photo by Will)


Meghan (author) and Sveta neck and neck as they head to the final section.(Photo by Will)


The swim venue. (Photo by Gretchen)


Friends Raina and Jenny pose after a successful swim across Angora Lakes. (Photo by Gretchen)


Video recap of the race!

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