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This is what spring looks like to me!

This is what spring looks like to me!

Hey there, Adventurers!

Can you feel it?  Spring is in the air and it’s time to ramp up the activity level!   I’m just so excited I can’t hardly take it!

Personally, I’m gearing up for TWO half marathons in the next 3 weeks.   I’m going to Run The Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky on Easter weekend and then the Allerton Trails Half Marathon on April 6th in Monticello, IL (near Decatur, IL).  If you’re looking for some last minute running plans, you can still get in on either of these events.  The Allerton event is especially nice because, even at this late date, sign up is only $40 for the half marathon or $30 for the 10K.

CLICK ME!! :)

CLICK ME!! 🙂

How am I going to get through 2 half marathons on back-to-back weekends, you ask?  With help from my Adventure Foot Sponsors, of course!  You have probably heard the news by now that I’m an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, but I’m also adding a second sponsor to the blog roll this week!  I’m pleased to bring you the very best energy gel on the market:  V-Fuel Endurance Gel!

CLICK ME, TOO! :)

CLICK ME, TOO! 🙂

V-Fuel is a Colorado based company, and they’re flipping the script on regular old Gu and have created a true endurance fuel that tastes good and keeps my tummy feeling good too (regular users of Gu will catch my meaning).  I’m going to write a full product review on both Nuun and V-Fuel in the near future- so stay tuned.  Even better: I’m planning a CONTEST for April where you could win product or gear from my sponsors! Woo hoo!

Heartland Road Runners Club is in full swing right now, but there’s still plenty of time to start running for Spring.   Come check out “Road Runners After Dark” if you want a taste of how lovely running with the club can be.  RRAD meets at a restaurant every Tuesday night for a fun, social run.  No runner left behind, we promise!  For the month of March, we will be meeting at Kelly’s Restaurant in Quincy.  Running starts promptly at 6:15.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee  handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

And as long as you’re running, you should plan on signing up for Quincy’s biggest running event, Bridge the Gap to Health Race!  This race, now in its 13th year, supports the MedAssist program.  MedAssist helps low income patients afford prescription medications.  The race will once again be marshaled by Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  If you’ve never been handed a medal by an Olympian, now is your chance!  There are a ton of options for this race including a walking or running half marathon, walking or running 10K and a running 5K.  There will also be a 5K Leisure Walk which starts an hour after the other races start.

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

And, saving perhaps the best for last: It’s BIKE SEASON!  I’m so darned excited about starting to really rack up the miles on my bike, I can’t even contain myself.  If you’re new to cycling, I suggest you try out the Quincy Bike Club’s Thursday night group.  This group will start meeting on April 4th.  The park which it meets at is TBD- I’ll keep you posted.   Once again this year I’ll be leading “Wednesday Night B Group.”  B-Group for 2013 will B a medium to medium/fast paced ride and I’m going to work in some training exercises  for all of us.  Maybe one week we’ll work out on some hill repeats. Maybe one week  we’ll do some flat sprints.  I don’t know. We’re going to be better cyclists for our work on Wednesday B Group!   Wednesday A and B group (A Group= really fast and experienced riders) will both leave from Madison Park Shelter House at 6 pm.  The first B group will meet April 3.  I will bring Easter candy as a bribe.

OH! And don’t forget to attend the Grand Opening celebration at Madison Davis Bicycles.  It’s April 11th at 6 pm.  The new shop is absolutely gorgeous and Greg is planning some great sales to kick it off.  You won’t want to miss it.

And Adventure Foot Readers- don’t miss this great spring sale from my blog sponsor, Nuun Hydration! $18 for a 4 pack of Nuun plus a water bottle (most of the 4 packs are normally $24 without a water bottle, so yeah. Stock up now.). It’s a great deal!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

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Hale-Bopp.  Mmm Bop.  See the difference?

Hale-Bopp. Mmm Bop. See the difference?

As regular readers will know, I’ve often got my eye to the sky for backyard astronomy. In fact, my most popular post of last year was my eloquently titled,  “The Adventure foot Guide to Not Burning Up Your Retinas or Going Blind While Simultaneously Viewing the June 2012 Transit of Venus Across the Sun for the Last Time Until 2117…or How to Make a Pinhole Viewer.”  That post, not to brag, (but totally to brag), was even ranked #1 on Google’s search results for 3 days.  So cool.

But ya know, watching the Transit of Venus or some of the other cool celestial goings-on sometimes takes a lot of preparation or complicated directions on how to view the event.

Not so with the Comets of 2013!

There are 2 great opportunities to view comets this year and one is TONIGHT (or tomorrow… or anytime through the 18th) All you need to do is:

  1. Follow your Adventure Foot out the door just a little while after sunset. 30 minutes should do.

  2. Locate the crescent moon low on the horizon (If you’ve got a lot of obstructions like trees and houses, you might need to find another location. It’s low in the sky.)

  3. Look at the comet right next to it.  It’s the bright red-ish star…with a tail.

Ta-da!  That little 2.5 mile wide hunk of rock and ice is named Comet Pan-Starrs.  It was discovered in June 2011 by a team of astronomers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (or PAN-STARRS), a telescope in Hawaii. Personally, I would have named her Dottie.

Artist's (my) approximation of comets. They casually cruise the solar system with boom boxes playing Monster Ballads from the 80's.  I bet you didn't know that.

Artist’s (my) approximation of comets. They casually cruise the solar system wearing aviators and carrying boom boxes playing Monster Ballads from the 80’s. I bet you didn’t know that.

Pan-Starrs is on a lazy 100-million year orbit around the sun and is the brightest comet to whiz by earth since Hale-Bopp in 1998 (astute readers will also remember this as the “Mmm Bop” era, but that’s unrelated.)

On the off chance that any of my South American friends might be reading today- there’s another comet visible in your sky tonight called Comet Lemmon, hereafter known as Comet Liz Lemmon.

Viewing guide. Credit Science@nasa from space.com

Viewing guide. Credit Science@nasa from space.com

If cloudy skies thwart your comet viewing this week, do not fret!  Another hunk of icy space junk will be blazing through the sky in November.  It’s called Comet ISON and it’s making a close pass by the sun in November.  This solar pass is either going to cause it to melt slowly and have a huge and spectacularly long tail… or possibly cause it to melt real quickly and be a bust.  Guess we’ll just have to see.

By the by- did you know that comets and asteroids are both space debris from the earliest part of our solar system?  They were formed around 4.5 billion years ago out of the left-over stuff floating about.  The main difference between the two is their composition: comets are mostly ice, frozen gas and some rocky material, while asteroids are metal, rock and minerals.  The ice/frozen gas on a comet are what melts and creates its distinctive tail.

Please also check out one of my favorite astronomy related blogs, also from last year.  Click here! 

AND if you’re a Heartland Road Runner (or if you want to be a Heartland Road Runner): Come to Kelly’s at 6:15 tonight, run 3 miles with me, then I’ll point out the comet for you!

thanks-for-reading

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Hey Adventure Foot readers! I’ve got some fun news!

Nuun Hydration before my long run! These flavors are grape, fruit punch and tropical!

Nuun Hydration before my long run! These flavors are grape, fruit punch and tropical!

Adventure Foot is now an ambassador for Nuun Hydration!  I was introduced to Nuun out on RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa.)  It was one of those days over 100 deg. and over 80 miles, and another rider noticed that I looked exhausted and that I’d sweat so much that there was salt dried in my jersey and my shorts.  He asked me if I was staying hydrated and I replied, “Yeah, I’ve had like 8 bottles of water!”   And he said, “Well you can’t just drink water! You need electrolytes too!” and he popped a Tri-Berry Nuun in my water bottle.  Not much later, my headache had subsided, I felt much better, and I became a real believer in Nuun!  Anyway, I’m sure I’ll tell you much more about Nuun over the next year of my ambassadorship, so stay tuned for more!  I’m also planning a give-away, so now would be a good time to “like” Adventure Foot on Facebook, and while you’re at it, like Nuun Hydration too!

Now, on to adventure!

Cross country skiing at Wakonda State Park

Cross country skiing at Wakonda State Park

It’s funny to have just told you about one of the hottest days I can ever remember, seeing as the last few weeks around central Illinois have been so cold and snowy!   But like any good adventurer, I like to follow my foot no matter what the weather.

Wyconda State Park

Wyconda State Park

Quincy took on a pretty deep coat of the white stuff in two big snow events in the last couple of weeks, and it seemed like it was the perfect time to try out some winter sports that we normally don’t have enough snowpack to support: snow shoeing and cross country skiing! The only problem?  I don’t have gear.  Luckily though, my very sweet friend from the bike club, Deb Esnault, had both and was willing to let me borrow them.  Also lucky for me: we wear the same shoe size!

I headed over to Wakconda, our nearest Missouri State Park.  Wakonda State Park in LaGrange, MO is reclaimed land which was once a series of quarry pits.  Now, the quarries are 6 deep lakes surrounded by nicely groomed hiking trails, camp grounds, and swimming beaches.   I’ve spent plenty of time hiking and kayaking there in the summer, but I’d never been over in the winter before.

Adventure Foot Cross Country Skis!

Adventure Foot Cross Country Skis!

My friend Karen and I were going to cross country ski together, but our schedules didn’t work out, so my Wakonda trip turned into a solo expedition.  I pulled up at the park and unloaded my gear.  Save one man setting up to ice fish, I had the entire 777 acre park to myself.

I decided that I was going to cross country ski the 3.5 mile trail around Agate Lake first.  I’d run on that trail before, so I knew it was wide and not too hilly.  Since this was the first time I’d tried cross country skiing, I spent a little time at the beginning of the trail trying out the skis and learning what they were capable of.  The first big difference I found between these and downhill skis is that it was surprisingly easy to move uphill.  That’s primarily due to the way the boots are attached at the toe but not at the heel.  The heel detachment allows for a more natural foot motion when walking uphill.

581867_616430828371818_2096944925_nThe second difference I found was that though these skis were much better at making it up hill, they were much worse at making it downhill!  The shape makes turning the skis difficult and their textured surface doesn’t slide as well down a hill.  That’s okay though, because cross country skiers are often bringing gear and things along, so controlled slow descents are probably preferable.

Once I had the hang of things I set out around the lake.  It wasn’t long until I’d found a good rhythm and was scooting right along the trail.  The day was gray, but the trail was still very beautiful.  I watched a few immature bald eagles dive in the open water at the center of the lake and the only tracks in the snow besides mine belonged to coyotes.

About half way around the lake there is a camp shelter, which I used to prop up my camera for a quick blog pictures. Though cross country skis allow you to stay on top of the snow, it’s still a big cardio workout, and I had really worked up a sweat!  On a longer trail in rougher conditions, I might have really been in trouble since I was so wet.  It would be bad news to have bad weather or cold wind set in if I were too far from shelter.  Anyway, since this wasn’t an episode of Dual Survival…

The beautiful trail around Agate lake.

The beautiful trail around Agate lake.

I really enjoyed the rest of my time on the trail.   The hills the lake offered were gentle and rolling, and just enough of a challenge to keep it interesting.  I liked how quiet the skis were on the undisturbed snow, and it was nice to have some time by myself.  I was back at my car in no time at all.

Showing off my Adventure Foot by the start of the Jasper Lake trail!

Showing off my Adventure Foot by the start of the Jasper Lake trail!

Like I said before, we have so few opportunities to play in deep snow around here, so even though I was pretty worn out from the skis, I decided I was still going to snow shoe for a little while.   I switched gear and headed off towards the smaller Jasper Lake trail.

Snow shoeing was much slower going than the skis, but it had its own charms.  Snow shoes have large flat bottoms called “decks” for staying on top of the snow, but also have metal cleats called “crampons” on the bottom for gaining purchase on slippery rocks or ice. The bindings fit around a regular pair of hiking or snow boots and are attached to the deck by bolts that rotate and let your feet move in a walking motion.

A frozen corner of Jasper Lake

A frozen corner of Jasper Lake

I used the snow shoes to explore the lake shore and generally poke around a little.  The park looks so much different in the winter and a little sunlight showing through the clouds added a lovely sparkle to the snow.  The snow shoes were fun to try and really did save energy when compared to just trudging through deep snow.

Wyconda State Park Map (Click to view larger)

Wyconda State Park Map (Click to view larger)

I really enjoyed my solo trip to Wakonda and am looking forward to visiting this nearby park for more adventures, no matter what the weather.  I hope you find ways to follow your Adventure Foot this spring! There’s so much to explore!

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Pre-Climb at registration!

Pre-Climb at registration!

This past weekend my husband, Justin, my friends Jeremy and Adam, and I all participated in the Fight for Air Climb to benefit the American Lung Association.  I’d like to start this race recap with a great big THANK YOU to the friends and family that made donations to our team.  With your help, we raised over $600 to help the mission of the American Lung Association.  The ALA supports anything and everything lung related- including research, smoking prevention and cessation programs and screening programs for cancer, asthma, and rare lung diseases.

I decided to form a team for this event back in October after a good friend suffered a spontaneous lung collapse. Then my dad was diagnosed with primary lung cancer.  What can I say?  It was a bad month for lungs.  As members joined my team, we added some “reasons to climb” for friends and family with conditions including asthma, sarcoidosis and a recent lung transplant recipient.  The one thing we know is this: no one should have to fight to breathe!

ALA Fight for Air Climb events are held at prominent skyscrapers and stadiums throughout the country. Participants basically just climb the stairs as fast as they can- kind of like a vertical road race!  There are different categories at each race including a first responder division where firefighters and other first responders run the stairs in 70 lbs of full gear, and a category called “The Ultimate Climb,” where climbers complete the course as many times as they can within a set time limit.

The Hilton in Springfield, IL

The Hilton in Springfield, IL

We signed up for the regular single climb in the Springfield, IL event.  So, on a cold Saturday morning, we made our way over to the tallest building in Springfield: the 34 story Hilton hotel.  The Hilton sticks out like a sore thumb in downtown.  There’s just no other building around it even half so tall.  It really adds to the intimidation factor to see this one tower dominate the skyline.

We arrived about 45 minutes before our scheduled climb time and went straight to registration.  I get the feeling that locals took advantage of the early registration the night before, because it took no time at all to get in, get our numbers and our tech shirts, and get ready to climb.  And it was good that registration was so fast, because the event was running ahead of schedule and our wave was already being called.

The volunteers directed us toward the basement where we got chip timers for our shoes and where we saw the beginning of the climb.  Yep.  It was just a regular old stairwell.  The team before us exchanged high-fives and took off up the stairs.  We didn’t know really what to do, so we all kind of stretched our calves out for a minute and then walked up to the door.  A very nice volunteer checked off our numbers and then we were off!

The stairwell is pretty narrow, so our team took off more or less single file.  I could hear Adam hootin’ and hollerin’ as we began… and so could everyone else in the stairwell!  You have to love his enthusiasm echoing through the halls!

Personally, I didn’t have any expectations for how long climbing this building would take me.  I just kind of took off as fast as I could go without tripping over my own feet and started knocking out floors.  I didn’t do much stair training for this event since I’m in the middle of my half marathon training plans, but I figured the cardio should transfer… right?

Top of the Hilton with our medals!

Top of the Hilton with our medals!

Wrong! Well, maybe the cardio transferred some, but it was still harder than I expected.  I think it was around the 6th floor where I first felt winded.  It was a surprise to be that out of breath!  There wasn’t anything else to do but keep going though, so that’s what I did, albeit a little more slowly.

Some other women from the team before me were also finding this climb a little harder than expected and were taking a break on a landing.  I high-fived them and yelled out something encouraging as I passed.  Through the climb I passed several other groups- getting around them was not always easy in the little stairwell- but everyone seemed like they were having a good time.

I looked up somewhere around floor 20 and was really proud of myself.  This was going pretty fast, even if I was winded!

My Fight for Air Climb Medal

My Fight for Air Climb Medal

There were volunteers standing at some of the doorways along the way up handing out water or yelling encouragement, and the man at the 28th floor yelled out that I was almost there!  I scurried up the last couple of steps and then it was over.  My time for the climb was 7:30.

The rest of my team were already there waiting for me at the top.  My husband put up our team’s best time: a scorching 4:35.  Adam ended in 5:00 flat, and Jeremy came in at 5:20.  It was kind of strange to be done with an event so quickly.  We didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves… so we snapped a few pictures and headed to one of the best restaurants in Springfield, D’arcy’s Pint, for a victory beer.

The event was a fun time for a good cause. It was also incredibly well-run and well-staffed with helpful volunteers   We all decided if we did this again next year, we’d try the Ultimate Climb.  Our friend Brian Pahlmann participated in this grueling event last year and logged 11 climbs in an hour.  Amazing! I also think it would be fun to try the same event in Chicago at the Sears Tower.  It’s, ya know, just a little more iconic than the Springfield Hilton.

If we do that though, we’re going to need to really train.  Stair climbing is some serious exercise, and I can tell that I need to work on my VO2 Max if I’m going to dart up the 110 stories of the Sears Tower next year!

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Birthday Sweets

It's not just my birthday, but also my friend Tim's too! We went for a flight yesterday :)

It’s not just my birthday, but also my friend Tim’s too! We went for a flight yesterday 🙂

I’ve only got a minute for a blog today and I don’t mean to gush, but I just thought I had to say something about my birthday and the phenomenon that is Facebook birthday messages.

Sitting here at noon with a zillion quick birthday wishes from friends far and wide has really been great.

Each name brings smiles and memories of adventures big and small.  I remember us in chemistry class together or climbing that mountain or paddling that river or running that race or cycling that ride.  I remember the time you said something funny and we laughed for a half an hour.  I remember the hugs and the tears when that sadness touched our lives.  I remember the fist-pumps, woohoos and high fives of our accomplishments.  And I remember the songs we played on our guitars and the nights we stayed up long enough to see the sun rise.

So thanks, friends and readers, for remembering me for a moment today.  Your quick Facebook message reminds me of you, and you are truly a gift – on my birthday or any day.

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Hey Adventure Foot readers!

You must be wondering what I’ve got on my docket for the first half of 2013! Okay, maybe you were and maybe you weren’t.  But I’mma share the list with you anyway.  The important thing to know about these events is: YOU are invited!   So hop on a bike, lace up your shoes or grab a paddle and follow your Adventure Foot this year!

February 2013

Feb. 16     Fight for Air Stair Climb, Springfield, IL- to benefit the American Lung Association

March 2013

March 30      Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon or 10K, Lexington, KY

April 2013

April 6      Allerton Trails Half Marathon Monticello, IL or 10K to benefit Make a Wish Foundation

April 6     Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon, Springfield, IL (I’m not doing this one, but if you’re looking for a  nearby half marathon that’s affordable, you should check this one out!)

April 13     Race for HOPE 5K, Palmyra, MO  To raise awareness of suicide risk.

April 20     Abe’s Mini or Sprint Triathlon, Lake Springfield, IL

May 2013

May 4  Quad Cities Bike Club Tailwind Century

May 11/12  TOSRV– Columbus, OH to Portsmouth, OH and back. Tour of the Scioto River Valley- Century or half options each day.

May 18     Bridge the Gap Quincy, IL  5K, 10K and Half Marathon to benefit Med Assist

May 25/26     Pedaler’s Jamboree  Columbia, MO  Bike on the Katy trail for two days… with lots of live music!  I’m actually planning on pedaling the entire Katy Trail this weekend- but I’ll catch the Jamboree in the middle section.

June 2013

June 8/9  TOMRV– Starts in Bettendorf, IA 2 day cycling event with Century or shorter routes. Read blog from last year! 

 

As always, all of these events can be found on my events calendar.

Other things, both big and small, I hope to do this year:

 

  • Explore Maquoketa Caves State Park

 

  • Ride Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park

 

  • Ride my bike to Mark Twain Cave and get them to let me explore “off tour.”

 

  • Kayak.  A lot!  And get people to kayak with me.  And enter another kayak race.

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Adventure Feet!

Adventure Feet on the ski lift!

In our little corner of Central Illinois, winter sports just aren’t high on our to-do list.  Really, I spend most of the winter trying to squeeze the proverbial square peg in a round hole by bundling up in 46bazzillion layers and riding my bike like it’s June anyway.  The lack of winter sports in our area isn’t too surprising though, as large quantities of snow are hard to come by and are almost always accompanied by a glaze of ice which makes a cup of hot cocoa and a movie sound better than most things you’d want to do outside.  But not so very far away… 4.5 hours from Quincy by car… exists a little pocket of wintertime fun tucked in the glacier-carved hills of northwest Illinois…

SKI TRIP!

Most of the gang!

Some of the gang! L-R: Adam, Jeff, Sarah, Sara, Laura and Justin

This past weekend I followed my Adventure Foot and took a trip with my husband and 12 of our friends to Galena, IL to check out the skiing and snowboarding at Chestnut Mountain.  Today is not Chestnut Mountain’s debut on my blog however.  If you recall, I biked up this very hill in June of last year during the Tour of the Mississippi River Valley bike ride (TOMRV).  I believe the exact thought I had was, “If you see a sign while on your bike that says “ski area ahead,” you really should consider turning around.”  But I digress…

Justin and I on the slopes around midday.

Justin and I on the slopes around midday.

This trip was a dual birthday celebration for my husband and our friend Jeff, so we decided to make it extra special.  Jeff found a wonderful vacation rental home [read: with a hot tub] in Galena, and we all made our way up north after work on Friday. It was early to bed, early to rise for us, and after a surprisingly winding and hilly road, we made it to the Chestnut Mountain lodge to grab our rental gear and lift passes.

Chestnut Mountain has 19 trails on 220 acres overlooking the Mississippi River.  The longest trail boasts a drop of 475 feet.  Now…I know you’re thinking “I’ve been to Colorado where 475 feet is the run-off for the bunny slope,” but in Illinois, this is respectable.

Weekend lift tickets are $40 for a day or $78 for two days, and gear rental of either boarding or ski equipment is $32.  Rates are slightly less during the week and they also have special rates in the evenings.  A neat feature of the rentals is that if you rent, say, a snowboard to try but don’t end up liking it, it’s only $5 to switch to skis instead.  Helmet rental is $8.  Lessons are available for $20 an hour in a group or a $50 for a private lesson.

This trip was only my third time skiing, and much like my previous outings, the worst part was sitting in the locker room sweating and trying to wrestle ski boots on.  In no time though, we stepped outside into the beautiful day, ready to roll.

About the beautiful day: it was over 40 degrees outside.  That’s not ideal.  Sure, it’s nice to not be so cold, but the mostly man-made snow was awfully slushy and got worse throughout the day.  At times, the slush was nice for me because it slowed me down a little, but at other times, it caused everything to be extra slippery and skiers would gouge the slopes making bizarre trench hazards.

Sara and her awesome snowboard!

Sara and her awesome snowboard!

Our group had mixed experience with skiing, so some of the more experienced members headed off to the blue trails while I tested my legs out on the bunny slope.  A pair of safe rides down the cotton-tail-trail and two trips up the moving carpet later, and I decided to go on one of the larger trails.

The first beginner trail was called, “Old Man.”  This trail butted up against the bunny slope in the beginning and then dog-legged to the left down the mountain.  I started out okay, but took the first turn down the steeper slope faster than I expected and ended up wiping out and sliding on my belly for ten feet.  My husband, who is much better at this than I am, skied over and helped me up, and we hit the trail again.   My friend Sara was right behind us on her snowboard and was finding her legs too.

Just before the steepest part of the trail there was a member of the ski patrol holding a “slide zone” sign which the slushy conditions necessitated.  I skied over by him, clearly a little shaken by my fall, and asked how I could avoid another fall in this slippery area.  His answer? Make the mountain bigger! He said to take long, sweeping passes more horizontally across the slope (while watching for other skiers, of course) and that it would help me not feel so out of control on the slush.

So that’s what I did.  And we made it safely (and slowly) to the bottom of the slope.  My husband and I waited in a relatively short line for the ski lift and headed back up the mountain to try some more trails.

We had lunch around noon at the restaurant inside the lodge.  I imagine locals bring their own food when they ski because eating at the lodge is very expensive, but I suppose that’s to be expected at a resort.

Some friends from Iowa City joined us too. Chestnut is only about 2 hours 15 minutes from IC!

Some friends from Iowa City joined us too. Chestnut is only about 2 hours 15 minutes from IC! L-R Jordan, Becky, Justin and Laura

After lunch, I made an equipment swap and upgraded to a half-size bigger pair of boots. This was the best decision I’d made all day, because I had more mobility in the larger boots.  Note to self: never suffer in ill-fitting equipment!

The group of us spread out over the mountain- some people took on the hardest trails, some stuck to medium or easy ones.  The bravest thing I did all day was to go down “Rookie’s Ridge” which runs alongside of some jumps, and I skied up the side of the jumps and back into the bowl a few times. I thought that was just the best!   I also tried out the little slalom course and finally felt like a real skier whooshing back and forth between the markers.

All in all, the entire group had a lot of fun regardless of skiing skill level.  Despite being so nearby, being in the hills of Galena seemed like a real vacation.

My favorite store in Galena

My favorite store in Galena

I should mention that downtown Galena is very cute and shouldn’t be passed by if you head up for a ski trip.  My favorite shop there is called Fever River Outfitters.  This shop is an outdoorsperson’s paradise.  They carry great kayak, cycling and general outdoor items as well as a nice line of merino wool tech gear.  They are one of the sponsors of the Fever River Triathlon, which I’d really like to participate in this year.  In addition to Fever River, there are lots of great specialty food shops, gift shops, a brewery and several bistros in downtown Galena.  It’s a fun place to spend a whole afternoon if you’re not on the slopes.

skitrails

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