Friday, January 2, 2015

2014: A Year in Review

2014 was a busy year for Sara and I. In many ways it was a great year: we got engaged, we became partners in Sea Level Sucks, we finished the CDT, we moved to Missoula and started new jobs. But we feel very relieved to have made it through the year after what felt like multiple hurdles kept us jumping from one crisis to the next. We had a surprise $2000 car repair when we needed it least, we spent a day scrambling to different vets to try and keep Zeno alive, we got sick on the CDT again, and while in Flagstaff one of us always had to be sweeping to stay ahead of the dust from the backyard. But we prefer not to dwell too much on the negatives though, so here's our 2014 highlight reel!
It's 2015! (photo by Jacque Povilaitis)

In January we survived no snow in Flagstaff by spending time mountain biking in Sedona with friends and enjoying Oak Creek Brewing company. Sara improved her confidence on the mountain bike and is now ready to ride the infamous white line next time we hit the red rocks (see video).

February was very race filled. We both did the Agassiz Uphill in Flagstaff, the Mt Taylor Winter Quadrathlon in Grants, NM, and the WillRace Snowshoe Qualifier in Bend, OR(we both won!). We followed the snowshoe race with a failed attempt at the Bend pub crawl, but enjoyed quality time with our siblings.
Qualifying for nationals in Bend

In March we got engaged! We want to continue adventuring together for a lot longer so we're making it official on June 13th. We also became majority partners in Sea Level Sucks where we hope to inspire others to more outdoor adventures (a work in progress).
Romantic Engagement Photos by Jacque Povilaitis

In April Sara started the first of 5 river trips as a guide. While she was on the river soaking up the sun and having water fights, I kept trying to keep up with the guys of Team Run Flagstaff Pro. I also traveled to Vegas for my first XTERRA trail run and placed a humbling second to Roberto Mandje after he loped away on hill number three of seemingly hundreds.
Still hanging with Mandje after the first mile (pic courtesy of XTERRA)

As Sara continued her river season in May, I went to Los Angeles (Malibu to be exact) where I got to race another XTERRA race through where MASH was filmed. We also began seriously thinking about planning our return to the CDT.
Saying goodbye to good friends in Flagstaff

In June, Sara continued her river season and I went on a Zeno/Forrest weekend trip to Colorado for a race and play time in the mountains. I raced the Mount Evans Ascent where I remembered that road running is not as fun as trails, there is no air at 14,000' and wind slows you down. Zeno and I had a great time hiking a couple 14ers after the race, though, and returning to sections of the CDT from the year before. Sara and I also began and finished planning our last 1000 miles on the CDT June 30th and July 1st so we could leave on the 2nd.
Zeno's first Mountain Goat sighting
In July we frantically cleaned our apartment and drove up to Lander, WY to resume our CDT hike in the Wind Rivers where we aborted in 2013. July 4th I jumped in the local half marathon, we watched the city of Lander fire department waste thousands of gallons of water in a spectacular water fight, and quickly packed for the CDT while what sounded like a firefight at the Battle of the Bulge (really just fireworks ignited by people trying to out-'Merica each other) commenced outside.
Finishing the Lander 4th 1/2 Marathon
The rest of July and August we spent hiking the CDT. We quickly fell into the rhythm we established last year: get up, I make breakfast and coffee, Sara breaks down the tent, we hike, we eat, we hike, we do core and pushups, we eat, we hike, we sleep, we repeat. Once again the scenery was spectacular, and it was wonderful to be out on the trail again. This year, though, we did feel a sense of pressure the entire time since we needed to be in LA at the end of August for a wedding. This meant that we hiked 25-30 miles a day over terrain that would have been trying at 20. We were more than exhausted and would have preferred to back off a bit. But, the CDT never disappoints in terms of providing adventure satisfaction and we are very glad to have finished what we started (aside from one relatively teensy section that is slated for a weekend this summer).

Sara on the CDT before Rogers Pass

After getting off the trail at the end of August we drove back to Flagstaff, packed, drove to LA, went to a wedding, and then I drove up to Missoula to start work at the Cycling House the first day of September. Sara followed a few days later with the rest of our stuff and we began life as Montanans. September was also our introduction to bike racing. Sara did the Montana Hell Ride and I tried my hand at cyclocross. Despite Sara's bout with near-hypothermia, we both enjoyed the bikes and are looking forward to more races for 2015.
Sara in GNP (pic also now an ad for the Student Conservation Association)

In October we started to feel at home in Missoula. Sara found steady work at the Good Food Store and I continued trying to sell bikes and wheels. I also raced a 20k in Whitefish and found that cyclocross races don't transfer to trail runs longer than 12k.

Wind sculptures and blue sky at Discovery Ski

In November Sara went back to Flagstaff to help run the Grand Canyon Youth fundraising event and got to see great friends and family. I stayed in Missoula and journeyed to Coeur d'Alene for a weekend of freezing cyclocross to end the season. It also started to snow some in the mountains so we got to use our Kahtoola microspikes more in November than we did all last year in Flagstaff.
You can help send a kid on a GCY trip here

In December I went down to Scottsdale for the Cycling House staff retreat; a glorious week with a wonderful facilitator, early morning runs, afternoon rides where everyone repeatedly attacked, and late nights. To end this week of exhaustion I attempted to defend my title at the McDowell Mtn Trail Frenzy 10 mile, but failed when my Cycling House coworker opted to run.
Team TCH 1-2

Back in Missoula we wrapped up the year with a huge Christmas snowshoe where we climbed over 4000' to the ridge just below Stuart Peak. When we started there was 1/4" of snow and at the top there was over 7'. It was a beautiful day, but we were both quite exhausted after nearly 18 miles of powder.
Working down 7' of snow

The next day we went cross country skiing at Pattee Canyon for the first time with a night ski. It was great being able to skate without fear of rocks!
Breaking trail in the Rattlesnake

We continued our snow play days with a ski/snowshoe excursion at Lolo Pass the next day. The trails weren't groomed yet, but we did get in a couple miles of classic skiing before Sara's boot came apart. After hobble-skiing back to the car we donned the snowshoes and ran a couple miles up and across a ridge-line with views of more snow.
Training for Snowshoe Nationals begins!

Since then we've gone out on skis a couple more times, and even spent a day alpine skiing. We are loving how easy it is to play in the snow here in Missoula. Even when there isn't any in town we can run up to the point where skis/snowshoes are a necessity within a couple miles.

Ski day at Discovery - my first and last double blacks

2014 did have some great moments. But with snow, steady living locations, and the promise of long summer days (and a wedding!) we're hoping for bigger things out of 2015. We appreciate all the friendship and help we received last year as well. Thank you!

Happy Trails.
Happy New Year! (Photo by Jacque Povilaitis)

Forrest and Sara.

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