Friday, October 31, 2008

A Better Day!

desire vs. reality

I've been keeping a log of how I'm feeling all day long, to sort of track my mental acuity and physical symptoms (huzzah, insurance), and I have to say that TODAY WAS AWESOME. I feel SO much better after my therapies! Although it is a long day, the Ion bath, Acupuncture and Massage on the same day did something magical to me. Today, while I'm still in quite a bit of pain, I feel more energized than I have in days, and my cognition is SO Much better!

I'm pretty sensitive to overlapping noises still, and get overstimulated really easily today, but I can ask myself to focus and process whats going on. Loosing my balance a bit, but able to talk on the phone, and keep the idea of a schedule in my mind.

I like days like this, they are exciting and relieving, but I have been told to expect that these will increase over time, but that I am going to spend quite a bit of time feeling lost and unplugged. Just like any recovery, I guess, you will have strong days, and relapse days, but the overall trend is to healing.

I can STILL feel the acupuncture areas zinging across my body, it's amazing.

Welcome to the Team, Tamara!

YAY! Finally finally there is a person who can make my back stop hurting! WOO HOO! This woman totally "gets" treatment based work, but she's so damn good at what she does that it feels like a "relaxation" massage. Intense, but never painful, I'm SUPER psyched to say thanks to Tamara for joining my team!

For more on Tamara (who YOU can find at European Massage Co in Bozeman), read on!

Tamara graduated from an intensive 1100 hour Massage Therapy Program in Mitchell, South Dakota in Jan. 1996. She had a private practice in SD following her schooling prior to moving to Montana in 2000. She worked in conjunction with a chiropractor and started massage services at a local hospital, Tamara also began teaching at the massage school.

Moving to Montana in 2000, Tamara wanted to expand her therapeutic approach and worked with some local resorts to include Spa Services for a year. Missing the treatment based work, she joined a practice that focused on treatment based massage for clients involved in automobile or work related accidents and injuries.

Tamara has also been involved for the past 4 years teaching a variety of classes at Health Works Institute, a massage therapy school in Bozeman. She has taught Anatomy, Body Mechanics, Chair Massage, NMT, Clinical Anatomy and Supervises the Student Clinic.

Tamara has taken numerous continued education seminars to expand her breadth of knowledge including, Craniosacral, Reiki I, Healing Touch, MFR, several Advanced NMT classes, LaStone, Reflexology, Trager, and Introductory Energetic Healing, (Adv. Classes start in 2006.)

Tamara s pursuit of education does not end there. She is finishing up her undergraduate degree in Pre-Med. at MSU. With her wealth of experience (10 years) and knowledge Tamara is an asset to the European Massage Team.

Trick or treating in montana.

At least It's not six degrees below zero this year!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What it's like.

Hello. I'm home from my first hike since my accident. A few of you have emailed me to ask what its like day to day, what it is specifically that I am experiencing, so I'll try to put it into words for you here.

Yesterday, I had back to back therapy appointments which challenged me in a way that I have yet to experience. When I wake up in the morning, if I've gotten a solid 10 hours of sleep or more, I feel almost normal, like my old self. I am off of caffeine almost entirely, because I want to be able to feel my alertness, and to understand where it is coming from. I feel that I want to be able to assess my mental state easily and readily, I don't want it to be masked by drugs. I save my pain meds for the deep aches that I still have in my shoulders, hips and head, but I try not to take them until the afternoon or evening.

When its bad, I have a hard time talking on the phone, I speak slowly, and it feels like I have to fish for, find, assess, and apply each word to the sentence. Writing is MUCH easier, but only if its me writing about my experience. Recalling information that I've read is still very challenging.

If I get interrupted, I loose the thought completely, and don't even remember that I was doing or talking about something else. Scheduling things is exceptionally dificult, my callendar has become a lifeline, but even then, assesing times, travel distance and my ability to accomplish what is needed is one of the hardest challenges I face every day.

For instance, today, in class, someone asked me, "Are you still having the study group at your house on Saturday?" that was easy, because its something that happens every week, the answer was yes. But when someone walked up to me and said, "What are you doing tonight, could I come by?" I was stopped.

It felt as though someone reached into my mind and unplugged everything. There was a big, blank field, and I looked at Cassy. I wasn't sure for a moment if she had been talking to me, what she had asked, and what I had been on my way to do.

I had been walking from my bag, where I was getting a piece of paper, to my massage table to work on my massage partner for the day.

"I'm sorry, what?" I felt totally trainwrecked, there was just blank, no directions. Now that a few seconds had passed, I knew she asked me a question, one that I should be able to get the answer for, but I just couldn't.

"Can I come take the pictures tonight?" she asked.

I realized that this was a scheduling question, and I began to try to think about the answer. Could Cassy come take pictures tonight? I didn't know. To answer that question, I needed to access in my mind what day it was, what was happening after class for me, Tom, Ethan and Bodhi, check if I'd made any prior commitments, recheck what day it was... I got stuck in a loop. I couldn't answer her, because I don't know beyond the now what is happening.

I can't keep in my mind what is expected of me twenty minutes from now, because it takes all my concentration to know that I am doing what I'm supposed to be doing in the now.

My life, right now, is pretty full, I'm in school full time, I'm working part time in massage, writing some technical manuals, trying hard to earn enough money to pay some medical bills and to pay to drive to my bootfitting and training, and now I have abotu nine or ten appointments a week for my rehab. I'm trying to put some sort of hike or physical activity back in my life, get myself out to Norris once for the mineral soak, and reconnect with friends, as well as coach my clients and work on some training ideas for Bridger, which reminds me, I need to email Bonnie and check my other obligations and contacts through email, Facebook, and my phone, which has nine unanswered messages on it.

Writing that last paragraph was the hardest, it took about ten minutes, which is extraordinary for me, (I'm a fast typer!) because I had to write one word at a time, and as I pulled it up, I had to understand what it was, why I was saying it, and check if it was right or not.

I told Cassy, "I'm sorry, I can't talk about scheduling right now, it makes me feel fuzzy and confused." I'm also massively forgetful, and I mean moment to moment. Its hard to remember when I walk into the kitchen why I am there, even if its just to make tea. I have to write down when I take medication, because I can't remember if I've taken it or not.

The one common theme that the doctors are telling me is that I must sleep. I must sleep and rest to heal. Today, I skipped my first two classes, missing my last class in Ethics, a class I love, and missing my Body Mechanics class for the second time in a row. This puts me horribly behind in school, but I know that if I am not balancing, that my mind isn't working, that it feels wrong, that I have to sleep.

After a hugely challenging day yesterday, my worst since the fun and excitement of the first week after the accident (when I forgot how to pour milk to make Bodhi's chocolate milk), I was pleased to find out that giving massage again felt soothing to me. I was partnered with Tiffany, who I feel really energetically connected to, and who needed some loving touch.

I worked on her for I don't know how long, just lost in giving massage, in connecting to her and feeling her and working through her tensions. I felt myself plugging back in, I felt my mind letting go and my body functioning more like me. By the end of her massage, I felt much much better.

I was energized enough to go for my first hike up Kirk Hill. Tonight, as the sun was setting, I hiked up Kirk Hill, a trail I've hiked probably more than a hundred times. I was by myself, as I usually am when I hike, I took a headlamp, although I love to hike in the dark with the light off, especially late at night.

I felt, as I began up the trail, the beginnings of health in my body. For the last two days, I've been knocking stuff over, and I fell over a few times this morning just walking around the house.

While I have pain in my body, which radiates down both arms into my hands, and down my legs into my feet, and I have had a headache since the accident, I feel in my soul that I need to move, I need to connect to the outdoors, I need to breathe the air and feel the fall all around me and see the carpet of leaves under my feet.

So as I hiked, with India Arie in my ears, I felt Kate in there, I felt gratitude that my knee was okay, that my body hadn't forgotten how to hike, that a month of being sedentary hadn't killed me cardiovascularly. I was, obviously, not as stable as I ususally am, but it was good to walk, to start over, once again, up this familiar trail that when I hike it now means, "We are begining again."

I am realizing that this may be what life is, that there are trails that when we get waylaid, we must begin up again first. I felt today not like I was internally regretting and bitching about what was lost, simply, "and now we begin again", that I had come back to the place where I start when I am healthy enough to begin again.

When I got to the top, I was grateful to know that my body can move, that it is time for rehabilitation, that the road back to balance and high performance will be long and hard, but I am ready to begin it, ready to apply myself, ready to give myself some grace when I have a day like yesterday that felt like a huge step backwards.

I took a picture and then turned around, sent it from my phone, and when I looked up, I was lost. I knew which way was down, so I began to walk along the trail in the gathering dark, keeping an eye out for bears, as they are out eating up all they can find at this time of year, especially in the twilight. For a moment, I was afraid. I am lost, it is getting dark.

I took a breath. I knew that this trail that I was on, while I did not recognize it at all, would take me back to my car, because I have hiked it so many times. I breathed in, out, and found the color in the decaying leaves under my feet. I watched my feet walk down the path, and kept letting the little mini terror chills pass through and away from me. It was an odd experience, to mix with the joy of being out, in a beautiful, familiar place, and to be scared, and lost at the same time.

After a while, I decided that if I knew this path would take me home, I could simply follow it, and get to do something I've never done before, hike a familiar trail for the first time all over again.

It was unique to say the least, not to recognize any twist, turn, fence, or tree until I got to the final switchbacks that lead to the bridge. I listened to my heart, and my fears, and my breath and watched my feet walk across the bridge and was grateful to be alive, grateful my body is gaining health, and accepting of where my mind is now.

The first hike!

Greetings from the top of kirk hill! fast, easy, feels good. I feel like crying with gratitude, my body did not forget, and my knee has healed. More when i get back.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Letting go of the negative so I can heal in the now.

There is an ancient Chinese story of a farmer who owned an old horse that tilled his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer's neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg, they let him off. Once again, the farmer's only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

I am realizing that getting into the car accident a few weeks ago was not bad luck.

When I went to Hood, trained myself up into a high level of fitness, hiking the steep "M" trail to the ridge with a 40 pound pack in 30 minutes or so, walking about 3 miles a night and working on my Balance 360 Board for about 15 minutes a day. I liked the direction my physical body was going, it was getting strong, I was learning not to over-train it, but to build the fitness like layers of thin paint, one over the next, and the color was richer, deeper, and more complex over time.

Then, the era of the punching bag began. And I think, when this happens, when something traumatic happens over and over again, its time to start listening. There is something going on, something you are missing.

I got a bit beat up in Aspen, and it forced me to examine my energy, my sense of personal responsibility. When I got back home, I gained back my confidence, and had a beautiful day with a friend whom I miss, but got injured again.

This would be the knee meets rock incident.

I believe now that I am lucky to have been in the car accident because had I not been, I would have been out there training again weeks ago. I would have taken it slowly, I was going to go to the pool and swim with a pull float between my feet so I didn't hurt my knee.

But I NOW realize that my knee is JUST NOW, a MONTH later, finally healed to the extent that I can exercise on it. I was forced, by the accident, to allow one of the most crucial joints in skiing to heal all the way, right before ski season.

Although I try hard not to push when I shouldn't, that's always a for me, as I want to learn, do, be stronger, faster, and then see how that affects my ability to perform.

The accident has been amazingly instructional, as well, because now, I am fighting a different kind of battle. Yes, in the month since my knee injury, I have gained about four pounds of fat, and LOST about 6 or 8 pounds of muscle. That muscle that is so hard won.

This period of time is a challenge for me because its my first test since entering therapy for my eating disorder last summer. Here I am, arriving back at patience. My body is healing, which is more important than meeting my goal of coming back at the beginning of ski season with stronger hips, legs and core than I left it with.

I believe I achieved that goal in August, but I was mentally focused on keeping it together through September and October, as last year these were the months in which I lost fitness as well.

Now, however, I am faced with a challenge: taking my win for how well and hard I trained all summer, and letting go of wishing I wasn't hurt now.

The Buddhist definition of suffering is this: Suffering is wishing something is other than it is. I wish I hadn't been in a car accident, because then I'd be even stronger now (and I'd have more free time, because it wouldn't be so hard to study and I wouldn't have so many dr.s appts!). But wishing things were different than they are now does not change the fact that I was in a car accident, it does not give me more free time or get me in better shape.

What it does is rob me of positive energy that I could be putting towards healing and moving forward from where I am now.

Before I could do that, I needed to realize, and admit, that I am hurt. As a person who is proud of the ability to suck it up and get it done, it is hard for me, a few days after a "mild" injury, to continue self care. I tend to look on it as babying, complaining, or coping out, probably because that is one of my biggest fears.

But I have a traumatic brain injury. Which means that while my body is healing well , my mind has some issues. And I need to honor that, look at it, be patient with it, and work on it.

It takes a village to put Kate back together, and I am grateful to the gills for Ruth at Health Works Institute, where I am a student, because she pointed me in the direction of some incredible people who can facilitate healing.

Now comes even more patience. This amount of therapy is exhausting. Its time consuming. It means that even though my knee is better, I can't start training. Which means I may loose more fitness, muscle, and speed.

This, for me, brings up issues with food. Red flag, red flag!!

So here is the deep breath and the place to look at this as an opportunity rather than a catastrophe of doom, undoing my hard work and throwing me again in the path of unhealthy compulsive eating habits that exist to try and momentarily soothe.

But what is the reality of the now? I can let go of wishing it was different, and thereby ease the desire for self soothing behavior that is distructive, and embrace what I have to do to get through.

Here is the team that's helping me heal, and their commitment to me is to get me all the way back to being able to stand on a swiss ball and hike the M in a pack in 25 minutes, but most importantly, restore my brain function to normal. Because I went to get Bodhi from his preschool the other day, and I couldn't find his classroom.

Northern Rockies Psychoanalytic Institute: Lori Thatcher, counselor
European Massage Company, Tamara Calhoon, NCTMB
Dr. Gary Litel, Chiropractor (406)-587-0711
Bozeman Creek Family Health, Dr. Burton, Dr. Cady and staff
Speech Pathologist: Amanda Fowler

Health In Motion Physical Therapy
Cranial Sacral: Lori Gillet
Acupuncture: Jean-Louis Gillet

I will also be working on Yoga Based Physicial Therapy at Health in Motion with a specialist who deals with balance and body spatial awareness.

Together, we will work to eliminate the headache I've had since October 8th, restore my severely compromised balance, reconnect my cognition issues which don't allow me to drive, study, or think after two in the afternoon, and heal my back, neck and hip injuries.

I am back at work giving massage, and the wonderful WONDERFUL thing about that is that it helps me heal! I have to pay attention to my body mechanics, of course, but I am feeling after every massage like things are re-connecting in my mind, I feel restored and full, happy and healthy.

Knowing that I am on a (full!) committed path to recovery, I feel hopeful and like I am already moving forward towards health. I picture myself coming through this stronger, more knowledgeable, and healthier in the end.

Maybe, its good luck, who knows?

PS, sorry this one is hard to read, I did actually re edit it, but things, as you can tell, aren't firing quite as well as usual. :-) We'll get there.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bodhi Skiing to Just Good Skiing 5

Alright, I'm sorry to those of you who subscribe to this blog via email, I know its a pain when I get in a posting mood and send five in a day. But I just really couldn't resist putting this up here.

Megan Harvey has, once again, outdone herself with her JGS series (I fell asleep to JGS 4 for a year until I started watching Steep at night), and Bodhi and Ethan are huge fans of ski movies. Bodhi has only been on skis about 3 times, and each time he has, he's stood in just the most amazing way on them, forward, flexed, parallel, its wild. We've just played on the berm at Bridger for about a half an hour and then skied the snowflake twice or so with a hula hoop.

He likes the idea, but he's freaked out a bit because a kid came into playcare and was terrified of crashing, so ever since then, Bodhi has been reluctant to get on skis. Whats funny is he draws pictures of people skiing, he does mute grabs off the sofa, and he is the kid who splits his head open on the coffee table and then puts his hand over the dripping blood and says, "I'm fine!"

I have personally glued his forehead back together with steri strips and superglue twice.

So I got JGS 5 in the mail the other (glorious) day, and popped it in, and Bodhi ran in to watch it with me. When the world cup guys came on, he started doing this, over and over again.

I thought it was pretty amazing to see him copy the form he saw on the video so well, and watching him ski in the living room (which I do a lot... a habit I picked up from Josh Spuhler who skis any time he's standing (or sitting) still), and ski pretty darn well! He's even open to the hill!

The Slushman's Lift at Bridger!

I was up at Bridger a few days before it snowed and here it is! It's real! Its UP THERE! I can't WAIT to get on that new terrain!

Take a look at the POC Armor Jacket at Roundhouse Tomorrow Evening

Hey, I'm swingin' by Roundhouse on Main tomorrow at about 5:45 to show some of the staff the new POC Armor Jacket. Come on by and check it out if you are curious. I'll have a couple pairs of gloves and two goggle and helmet styles as well to look at.

Also, POC has redone their website and it looks great! Check it out!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alpinist Magazine goes out of business!

Read about the end of one of climbing's important historical endeavors at TheSnaz.Com. Alpinist, we will MISS YOU!!!

Sneak Peek at the National Teams Tryouts Book!

I was originally just going to make a quick memory book, similar to the one I just did for Academy, so that folks who went could look through and, well, remember. But as I started making it, I started writing!

Writing about what it was like to talk to the athletes and watch what they went through, to see some of the administrative side, to talk to the selectors, the volunteers, the coaches, the incumbents, the folks who had stepped off the team and come to watch, the folks who stepped off the team and didn't come to watch, what it was like to be present during cut after cut, to feel the incredible energy on that mountain for ten days or so.

I think this one is going to be about 150 pages long, its 50 already, and it will have short interviews and thoughts on the process as I experienced it as a coach, friend, and volunteer.

Going through these photos and thinking about this experience this intensely again is incredible, I am once again grateful to everyone who allowed me to stand close and photograph the experience.

I was so busy participating in observing and in working that I didn't have time to blog while I was there in May, so I'm excited to have the chance to write about the experience... and I'm looking forward to getting some perspectives five months out.

Here are some sneak peaks at some of the ROUGH layouts. If you see XXX in the type, its because I need a name, fact, or spelling. Anywhere there is a light colored box, text will go there, the photo layout and text are kind of happening free form.

I'm dying to show you the cover, its my favorite shot I took at the tryouts... but I think I'm going to save it as a surprise for when its ALL done!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Memory Book from National Academy 08 is HERE!

snowbird, utah
By 2008

I finally finished it. It's six months late, I'm sorry! But it was so very fun to make! If you went to Academy, check out the book and see if you can find your face! I had photos from myself, Cindy Lechtenberg, and Megan Harvey (of course), and next year, we'll have even more roving photos! It out it's a lot of fun to flip through. If you haven't been to an Academy, go to the preview and take a look to see what it is like!

I did not mark up the Memory book at all, so it is selling at Blurb's cost, so we can all afford one. If you really can't resist, feel free to leave a tip in the training fund.

Bring your cameras to the 2009 Academy, using this software, you can all contribute to the 2009 memory book! Thanks for taking a look and see you on the snow!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Basin is OPEN! Skiing an 18" base

First area in the country to open, A Basin opened yesterday! Need an early season fix? Head to Colorado!

Dalbello Proton 12 for 08-09 are HERE!

Oh, joy joy JOY! Guess what came in the mail today? YES! Beautiful, awesome, loverly new SKI BOOTS! Slightly stiffer for me this year, last year, I was in the Proton 10. This boot is wider and fits well off the shelf, nice and snug but not evil. Definitely need to get my booty down to Park City to have Mr. Amsbury of Park City Pedorthics build me a pleasure dome for my big toes! HAPPINESS!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Looking for the Demo Team?

Click here to look at photos from the 6 days of tryouts for our National Alpine Demonstration Team at Mammoth Mountain!


Greetings from Bridger Creek:

Newsflash: Bohart is grooming. They apparently received 19 inches of new snow plus whatever came down today. The past several ski reports are listed below:

6:00 a m. 18 degrees. 6 inches SNOW last 24 hrs! FOLF Course and Summer Trail Use CLOSED for the Season. SEASON PASS SKIING OPEN. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR PASS. Projected opening of General Season Dec 3.

* Season Passes available at Bangtail, Northern Lights and Summit Bike and Ski. Pre- Season $175 thru Nov 15. Regular $185. Also available at the BSF Ski Swap Nov 8 Sat. A M. ** Perks of Season Pass include Before and After Season Skiing, Before and After Hours Skiing during Season and Ski with Your Dog after 3 p m on Wed during Season. **

* Now Hiring for School Group Instructors, Call 587-0011 *

6:00 a m. 20 degrees. 9 inches SNOW last 24 hrs! FOLF Course and Summer Trail Use CLOSED for the Season. SEASON PASS SKIING OPEN THRU THE WEEKEND. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR PASS. Projected opening of General Season Dec 3. Happy Birthday Anne MacInnes (cousin), Darien, CT.

* Season Passes available at Bangtail, Northern Lights and Summit Bike and Ski. Pre- Season $175 thru Nov 15. Regular $185. Also available at the BSF Ski Swap Nov 8 Sat. A M. ** Perks of Season Pass include Before and After Season Skiing, Before and After Hours Skiing during Season and Ski with Your Dog after 3 p m on Wed during Season. **

* Now Hiring for School Group Instructors, Call 587-0011 *

6:00 a m. 24 degrees. 4 inches SNOW! FOLF Course and Summer Trail Use CLOSED for the Season. No Season Pass skiing YET. Projected opening of general season Dec 3. Happy Birthday Amanda Cater, Bozeman, MT.

* Season Passes available at Bangtail, Northern Lights and Summit Bike and Ski. Pre- Season $175 thru Nov 15. Regular $185. Also available at the BSF Ski Swap Nov 8 Sat. A M.

Clearly it would be a good time to purchase your season pass since Bohart is only open to season pass holders in the pre-season. I had an e-mail from Norm Bishop reporting fine skiing, but without tracks. I also has a couple of photos sent along showing a smiling skier and surprisingly deep snow.

From Sharyn Anhalt: Time to purchase your reservations for the Nordic Snow Dance and Auction on October 25th - to help us plan a successful event, please reserve your tickets in advance! Tickets are limited, and this event was sold out last year. A printable reservation form is available online We have the most incredible list of items available for auction, including a Bridger Bowl Season Pass, lift tickets and lodging at Huntley Lodge in Big Sky, lift tickets to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a backcountry skiing trip with Hellroaring Ski Adventures, a winter trip to Old Faithful Snowlodge, lodging at Big Sky, West Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole, a ski package from Salomon, restaurants, art, food - and much more! Complete details along with a list of auction items is available at Classic Limo has again donated a car to serve as designated driver and will be available for rides after 9 pm - so carpool with your friends, have a great time, and we'll get you home safely! Questions? Call Sharyn at 599-2095 or email

From The BSF Ski Swap, November 7, 8 and 9 at the Fairgrounds
Remember, if you would like to work at the Swap, you must sign up by calling Kris Holland at the BSF Office, 587-2445. Being a Nordic volunteer at the Swap helps BSF Nordic earn a higher percentage of the Swap profits and enables you to get in and shop early!

BSF Nordic Sign-up Night (for ski training programs), October 21st from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the Bozeman Public Library
Plan to come if you have any questions about BSF Nordic/Thanksgiving Camp/Youth Ski League/Coaches/etc. Also, it's a great time for new families to get all the latest information, so please spread the word to friends who may be interested in BSF Nordic.

It is also time to renew your Bridger Ski Foundation membership ( -- $20 individual, $30 partners, $40 family.

I realize that winter has come on rather suddenly, and it is likely all this snow will melt in town very soon, but it is time to make preparations for the season. Since the Ski Swap is about a month away it is an ideal time to buy whatever you need in the way of new equipment now while selection is good so that you can take your used but not abused ski gear to the Swap. If your pre-season fitness campaign is not in high gear, now is the time to get going.

Fitness and Performance Programs by Kate Howe of HardHead Coaching are helpful!!

Get ready. Winter is on the way.

The Season's First Avalanche Advisory! There's enough snow to ski!!

Current Avalanche Advisory


Good Morning. This is Doug Chabot with the season’s first Avalanche Information Bulletin from the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center issued at 10 a.m. on Sunday, October 12th. We will keep updating you on snowpack and avalanche information as conditions warrant.


If there’s enough snow to ski, there’s enough snow to avalanche.

There you have it—an early season advisory in 11 words.

Since Friday morning about 24 inches has fallen in southwest Montana. Snotel sites (found here: ) are showing about half that amount outside West Yellowstone and Cooke City. With temperatures holding in the low teens, wind speeds have been 10-25 mph out of the northeast, which will definitely create wind slabs at the higher elevations.


Treat your early season skiing excursions with the same diligence and preparation you’d use mid-winter. Carry rescue gear, travel with a partner and only travel one at a time in avalanche terrain. Wind slabs could easily be 1-2 feet thick with limb busting consequences if you get caught.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be paying close attention to how this new snow changes. If the temperatures stay cold and the storms stop the snow will turn into faceted crystals—angular flakes of snow that could create a very weak and unstable base for the rest of the winters storms. At the moment it’s just guesswork, like the recent political polls, or the stability of Wall Street. It could go either way.


Since many hunters travel solo, do not carry avalanche rescue gear and focus their energies on game instead of snow, they are susceptible to getting caught in a slide. It’s not unusual for hunters to trigger avalanches this time of year. Be wary of crossing any wind-loaded gullies. Hunters need to avoid avalanche terrain—any snow covered open slope steeper than 30 degrees.

I will send out Avalanche Information bulletins as conditions warrant. In the meantime, play it safe and don’t get injured! We’re always interested in your backcountry observations so drop us an email at or leave us a phone message at 587-6984.

10th Annual POWDER BLAST

Friday, October 24th

6:30-10:30 pm at the Emerson Cultural Center

The Friends of the Avalanche Center in conjunction with Sweet Pea’s Nursery will be holding the 10th annual Powder Blast. A $30 donation gets you food from Bountiful Table, two drink coupons for beverages from Blackfoot River Brewing, music by Western Skies and, of course, an amazing silent auction.

This event has sold out days in advance for the last 2 years, so get your tickets early! You can buy them at Barrel Mountaineering, Northern Lights Trading Company, PhD Skis, Team Bozeman, Gallatin Alpine Sports and Timber Trails.

Further financial support for the Powder Blast comes from On Site Management.


It’s not too early to start thinking about taking and avalanche class. We’ve got new listings every week, so check out or calendar on the web and plan on attending one for an annual avalanche tune-up.

Gallatin National Forest AVALANCHE CENTER | 10 E. Babcock St. | Bozeman, Montana 59715 | | Recorded Information: 587-6981 | Office: 587-6984

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Angela!

Happy (belated) birthday, beautiful girl! Thanks for hauling my sorry but up all the mountains we can find and for being so very patient with me, teaching me to pee while still in my skis halfway up something steep, showing me how to use an ice axe on a boot pack, and being part of my support group! Thanks for listening, and asking, and being there when stuff gets tough. xoxo kate

Time to Stop Taking my Brain for granted!

Hello from the couch! So I was rear ended on Wednesday on my way to school. The guy was going about 45 miles an hour and I was stopped in traffic. The headrest of the Bronco I was driving is low, so when I was hit, my neck hyper extended, my head went over the top of the seat, wrapped around and hit the metal frame of the seat on the back side of the headrest. OW.

The guy who hit me totaled his Subaru into the back of the Bronco, they had to tow it away. The hitch on my bumper is a little crooked. Nice to drive a tank! Too bad the headrests are so low.

They took me in the ambulance to the hospital to do xrays, because I was feeling really bizarre, I had a huge metal bar shaped lump on the back of my head where it hit. I don't remember a lot about being in the hospital, eventually Tom showed up, and they gave me some drugs. When my x-rays were clear, they let me go home, and I went and got in bed.

I slept for the next 22 hours on and off, and don't really remember much about that, either, except that Bodhi was home with me and Tom was at work. I called David, our neighbor at about 4:30 because I was super nauseous and walking in circles. It took me about 1/2 an hour to make Bodhi chocolate milk because I kept forgetting why I was holding the milk, and couldn't find his cups.

David came over, and I threw up and fell back asleep. Apparently, i called the ER again, and talked with them, they gave me an antinauseant, I remember tom putting it in my mouth, but not calling him or waiting for it. I fell back asleep and slept on and off till the next morning, which was Thursday. Bodhi was home with me again this day, and it was okay, except that I took a shower and almost fell because the shower wall was further away than I thought it was. For the rest of the day, I just felt out of it, confused, forgetful, headache, off balance, uncoordinated, and pretty freaked out.

I was nauseous all day, and I went back into the ER at about 5:30 that night, where they decided to do a CT Scan to rule out bleeding, because I had this tremendous sense of pressure in my head, which increased every time I got off my ice pack.

I was okay about the idea of the CT scan, until the nurse said, "to rule out emergency brain surgery." OH. Right. Well, I guess that's the reason you do a CT scan, right? I remember, though, visiting my dad in the critical care unit after he was in a motorcycle accident and they did emergency brain surgery on him. Scary to see.

Liat came to keep me company while I got the CT scan, and brought me a Fanta and a Toblerone, which was LOVELY, and then she drove me home in a drugged out haze and we watched a movie (what it was escapes me entirely...) and got to chat about life and love and friends, which was fantastic.

Anyhow, my CT was clear, no fractures or bleeding, just smacked it good, concussed myself, and have what they call "Post Concussion Syndrome" which can last for months. I am having trouble retaining things that I am reading, like reading a story to Bodhi makes me confused after about 15 pages, watching TV seems to be okay, but talking on the phone or trying to track what someone is describing to me is intensely difficult, it makes me feel confused, distracted, out of time and disoriented. Which is concerning, because I have a physiology exam on Monday!!

I went to see Dr. Litel, and he said he's not going to touch me till next week when all the insane inflammation all over my back, neck and head goes down, he sent me home with some ice packs and an admonition to get back in bed and chill out for the next week or so.

Went to my check up at Bozeman Creek Family Health (THEY ROCK!, Dr. Cady just got 26 stitches in her forehead crashing her mtn bike in British Columbia, Dr. Burton was the one that got my cast fit so I could ski with it. YEAH!)

It was tough to follow the conversation, it gets harder to concentrate later in the day, and Dr. Cady basically told me the same thing, chill, relax, take the meds (Valium, percocet, ibuprofen, and whatever else helps...) which I am happy to do, but am trying to keep off of until my back and neck and head pain are close to unbearable, so that I can track my confusion and make sure it's not related to the meds.

So here we are, its snowing outside, I seem to be able to write, okay, except I was texting with Elizabeth from the hospital and thought it was Tiffany for like 15 minutes... whoops... I'm hanging out with Bodhi and watching Sesame Street videos, drinking hot chocolate, Tom built me a fire before he went to do his stuff today, and all is well.

I still feel confused, lost, spaced out, but my balance seems to be coming back. I'm not retaining anything I am reading, so I guess I'll have to just keep trying! Thanks for all your well wishes and for the support, and for checking in, its been lovely to feel you out there! I'm sure that I am fine, its just going to take a bit longer to recover than I thought, as it's not so much the whiplash (which sucks) as it is the bonk on the noggin that's got me layin' low.

In the meantime, it makes me feel good in my soul to see it SNOW BABY, SNOW! 60 days to Bridger, 2 weeks to bootfitting with Brent in my NEW Proton 12 with ID Liner by Dalbello, 4 weeks or so to skiing with the PNW, and we're off! Lets get HEALTHY so we can make some TURNS!!

Snow snow snow!

Well, i guess bike season is officially over! Thank god! Lets go skiing!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Engineering halloween.

Taking it easy, but out of bed today. Kids are designing their halloween costumes, we are all going to be transformers!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'd rather be listening to dr.bob!

Look at all the excitement i missed yesterday! This is my anatomy class at health works institute. I love massage school!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nothing's broken!

All okay, just bad whip lash. Big headache, neck super sore, but ok! boy, what a week!

Crap! Rear ended on the way to school. X rays now.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Patella Meets Rock... or, when do you say when??

Because I spent most of my time on the ground, I don't have pics of this day, so here are photos from after the event, the day we spent rock climbing in the pass (the day after this episode) and the ride that Angela and I took when we got back home.

Ow. So one of the reasons that I went to Aspen was to ride bikes from Aspen to Crested Butte. I knew that there was a likelihood that I couldn't get myself in shape to do that ride, but I thought... lets give it a shot. Being out of commission for 2 1/2 weeks right before I went was definitely NOT helpful, but I rode as much as I could, and learned quite a bit in the process.

While I was training, I was riding with my feet in baskets, and the lovely and talented Mason Griffen of Bangtail bikes in Bozeman was AWESOME enough to come out to my house and do a bike fitting for me. He checked out my shoes, shorts, stem length, handlebars, seat, seat height, changed my chain, and generally tweaked and puttered until everything fit pretty well.

I was scared to use the clipless pedals, just terrified, really, of having my feet stuck to the pedals, but Mason held the bike and talked me through it. He suggested riding around the driveway and just practicing clicking in and out of the pedals a dozen or so times, and I'd be fine. After I did this, I felt pretty good.

I had been concerned that the trail that I was practicing on might not be technical enough or steep enough to represent the kind of riding that I'd be asked to do to ride to Crested Butte, but when I presented that quandary to Kurt, he asked "Can you ride that whole trail?" and I said, no. And Kurt pointed out that I should keep riding that trail until I could ride the whole thing, and then move on to a harder trail. By the time I got to Aspen, I'd either be ready, or I wouldn't and we'd look at it then.

Good plan! I was riding the Cottonwood trail and part of the Bracket Creek area, and I felt pretty good... I could climb okay, not very fast, and the road gained elevation slowly, but I felt stronger every time I rode, and like my bike handling skills were improving. My confidence was definitely going up. But I was still riding in the baskets, the clipless pedals didn't go on my bike until the day or two before I left for Aspen.

Almost at the last minute, I discovered that I wouldn't be driving down, Jill couldn't make the trip, and so we discovered the $88 e-fare on United, the only problem being... I couldn't take my bike. Lois to the rescue, she has a BEAUTIFUL full suspension mtn. bike that she was willing to loan me (WOW!), and I took my shoes, helmet and Shanon's shorts, and off I went. The weather was looking questionable, so we decided before I got there to bag the Crested Butte ride and do lots of rides in town instead. I was psyched.

The day I got in was the day of my birthday party, a night on the town drinking sake and beer, getting to bed kinda late... and the next day, we decided to ride up to the Smuggler Mtn. trail, which climbs about 800 ft. in about a mile and a half.

This, quite honestly, was the longest mile and a half of my life. Lets START with the fact that riding up to the trail head, I couldn't get my feet out of the cleats, stalled the bike and just fell right over in the parking lot. Yes, I did. Wow. Humiliating.

Kurt was laughing. "You have to take your foot out BEFORE you stop your bike, Kate." Um. I had been. I had been twisting for the whole last 20 feet that I'd been coasting up to the stop. Really. Let it go, let it go, you fell, it doesn't matter, arguing back doesn't help you not fall, swallow your pride, swallow your pride!! If you DON'T swallow your pride RIGHT NOW, it will be in your way for the rest of the day, keeping you from performing the way you know you can.

I mean, I am all for the beginner's mind, and for feeling free to fail, but we hadn't even STARTED yet, and I pull this bonehead maneuver. Okay. I double check, "From the heel, right?" I ask, pantomiming twisting out like I had with Mason. Kurt was under the impression that I'd been trying to pull my foot straight up, and I wasn't about to argue with him, although I was fairly certain I was twisting my foot out to the side, from the heel, like Mason had showed me, and I'd been practicing.

I swallowed my burning pride, deciding that the best course of action was to be re-instructed on how to properly use the (expletive deleted) pedals, because perhaps the pedals on Lois's bike were different than mine, or somehow, I'd really been trying to pull up. We sat there for a couple of minutes while I practiced clipping in and out on both feet, and then, of course, doing it without looking. It still took quite a bit of force to get my shoe out, but I put it down to bad technique, and Kurt encouraged that muscle memory would help. I just really didn't remember my pedals on my bike being this hard to use, and that was frustrating.

When that little frustrated voice came up in my head, I brought my coach out that deals with pride and ego, and that coach had a little talk with me: "Hey, now. You are a beginner at this. Listen to what Kurt is saying, he knows about bikes. You need to set your ego and your pride aside so that you can hear the instructions clearly, and execute them properly." Okay. Struggle struggle, but I was able to finally do it.

After that first humiliating "crash" at the trail head, it was really HARD to set aside my pride and ego so that I could listen to Kurt, believe he was not being judgmental, or decide that even if he was embarrassed and frustrated and disappointed, that it was not germane to me being able to ride my bike properly.

I had to try a couple of different things, mentally, here, even before we began the ride. I tried using outside validation, first: "Kurt, are you frustrated with me?" Anyone who has ever been in this situation knows that it really doesn't matter what the answer is to this question. The issue is NOT with how the person who is taking you along is feeling, but with how I am projecting he must be feeling.

Therefore, even when he said, "Don't worry, Kate, you are a beginner and it's unreasonable to expect that you would have a skill set that is stronger than that of a beginner!" I still projected on to him that he must be disappointed in my fitness level and skill level. This would NEVER do, I wanted to go on a bike ride, and we really can't start out with a negative attitude. I knew that I'd have to set my own ego and pride, the things that were projecting negativity onto Kurt, aside, and begin again fresh and open to coaching.

After struggling internally for a few minutes, under the guise of practicing clipping in and out, I got to a place where I was back, open, and ready to be taught.

We began riding up the rather steep fire road, and after about 200 yards, I stalled the bike and fell again. I laughed, oh, this is absurd, I had pulled and pulled from the heel, rotating out, and could NOT get my foot out of the pedal. Its a learning curve, I guess, I thought to myself, and while it hurt to be on the ground, especially as the super fit Aspen Sunday crowd pedaled on past me, I felt okay. Frustrated, and not understanding why something I could do a few days ago I could NOT do now, but okay.

Kurt rode back down and I got my act together. Starting in loose dirt on a steeper uphill grade than I ever had before turned out to be quite the challenge, and Kurt gave me some pointers for getting the power on and getting spinning. It took eight or ten tries, and finally I had to ask Kurt to ride on ahead of me so that I could focus on the task at hand, rather than feeling mounting embarrassment at my total and complete lack of athletic coordination. He took off, and I got it rolling again. 200 yards later, guess what? Yup. Went down hard.

A couple pedaled by. "You okay, girlie?" he asked. I plucked up my courage. "Yup!" I replied, as cheerily as I could from under my bike with my head downhill, feet still both clipped into the pedals. "Just fine! First day in clipless pedals." I replied.

"Wow, you are doing great then!" said the girl, and they continued on. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to get my feet out of the pedals while lying under the bike on a fairly steep grade, twisting this way and that way, eventually, I got untangled, picked up the bike and got back on. I was really REALLY getting worried that I was just thrashing Lois's bike, and for the life of me I could NOT imagine what must be going through Kurt's head.

I took a minute to decide that it did not matter what was in Kurt's head, that my job was to stay clear and present, to ask myself to leave frustration and negativity behind me, and mount the bike again with a clear head and an open heart. I knew that I was capable of riding up this hill. I knew that I was capable of putting my feet in and taking them out. Combining the two was what was proving to be difficult.

NOW: Here is the question: When are we just being a hammer head? When are we being stubborn? When is your ego getting in your way? When is it smart to keep going? How important is outside validation? Should I be enough for me? Should I have known at this point I was in over my head?

For some reason, at this point, I was still feeling like, okay, well, get yourself emotionally free again, and try again. I didn't feel like I was in over my head, but I believe that is because I had mentally given the power to make that decision to Kurt. I believed that he would not take me to a place that would be dangerous for me to practice on. Was that right? How could Kurt know my level of experience? After all, I'd told him time and time again that I'd been riding and working on lofting my tire, going around switchbacks, and coming down rocky single tracks.

Why, in this instance, did I not look out for myself and even REALIZE that I was in over my head? The thought, quite honestly, did not occur to me.

This brings me to questions about self accountability and self reliance. Should we ever completely hand our trust over to our guide or friend or teacher? We should always use the voice of self preservation and intuition, I believe that. I also believe that we can accomplish more than we believe that we can, and that the thing that often stops us from learning is our pride and ego. I practice constantly putting that aside so that I can gain information more efficiently, and ask my body to perform with less emotional interference. This, I believe, is one of the keys to cutting plateaus out of an athlete's performance.

Alright, so lets also add the fact that suddenly, its about 80 degrees, and suddenly, I am realizing that I am really nauseous. Oh, right, we had SAKE last night! CRAP! I'm hung over. Here is my belief about that: if you did it to yourself, you aren't allowed to bitch about it. Don't put yourself in danger, but definitely time to suck it up. I knew I needed water, and that I'd better listen to my body so I didn't make myself sick. But I wasn't ABOUT to complain about it other than to mention it to Kurt, so he'd be aware, just in case.

Let's fast forward. By the time I got to the viewing platform, 1.5 miles and 800 feet later, I'd fallen more than a half a dozen times, been trapped in the pedals EVERY time I'd fallen, and was bruised, battered, frustrated, and confused. My heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest, my legs were shot, I felt like I was going to puke, there wasn't enough water in the world for me to drink, and I wanted to go home. I walked my bike the last 150 feet to the viewing platform and drank all the water I had.

I sat on the deck for a while and watched the wind blow through the Aspen leaves, focusing on their color, their transparency, on the wind moving them. I knew that my desire to turn around was coming from a self-defeatist place, and still believing that this was a trail that I AUGHT to be able to ride, or we wouldn't be here (because I still wasn't using my own personal accountability, but looking at Kurt like a guide... I do this on my skis "No, I don't want to go there, the consequences of a fall are too high, and I don't think I have the skill set to ski it.", but I was for some reason not doing this on the bike...)

After I had fallen a half a dozen times, I got to a place where emotionally finally, I didn't care, I was no longer embarrassed about falling or frustrated, I was just in a super focused place where I was constantly saying "Okay, that hurt, but you learned this: (insert whatever the lesson was about weight, balance, etc). Remember, you are a beginner. Frustration does not aid you in getting more proficient at this. A clear, open mind, a mind willing to fail allows you to practice and become proficient." I was proud of myself for being able to coach myself back to an open, positive place, but it was taking its toll, and getting harder and harder.

I began looking for some outside validation. I wanted someone to say, "Wow, way to stick with it, I am proud of you for trying even though you must be frustrated." But that wasn't happening.

The question I've been thinking about for days is, should this be necessary? Why do I need this validation? Shouldn't I be enough for me? I came to this conclusion: we all do better when we have support. A good coach can shore up your belief in yourself just enough to push you over the top. But if you can do it yourself, if you can be your own coach, validate yourself, you can survive competitive, or stressful situations all on your own. And lots of times, when it really counts, that support system is no where to be found.

I struggled on this day with the issue of validation. I knew I wanted to be able to stand on my own to feet, to take responsibility for what I was putting my body and mind through, to be able to do it on my own emotionally. As I reviewed the day later, I realized that I had learned a very valuable lesson about personal responsibility and accountablity. I don't want to be led by the hand through life, I want to learn from those who know more than I do, but be responsible and capable within my own skill set.

This was a very tough way to learn it. And when we were discussing whether or not I could ride the downhill portion or if we should turn back on the fire road, I got a brief respite. Kurt asked me how I was doing, and I told him that after my last fall (I'd stopped counting after 6) that I was rattled. My confidence was shaken, and I felt that I'd be able to ride the single track in baskets, but that I was afraid of the clipless pedals, I didn't feel like the ride up had taught me how to get out of them, I was still stalling the bike and just eating it all over the place.

Kurt found some compassion for me, in what must have been a supremely frustrating situation for him (the longest four mile ride of my life for sure...) and gave me some encouragement. We rode on down the single track, and he rode ahead, got off his bike and walked back down so he could coach me through some sections. I was pretty banged up, but the down hill portion went through groves of spectacular Aspen trees, bright yellow and beautiful, and slowly I felt better.

I walked portions of the trail, kept a foot out, and we rode out into a huge meadow with abandoned mining buildings all around it. We were heading off to a nice vista for lunch when my body finally decided it was done. I sucked up my pride and told Kurt I didn't want to go any further, and we ate on a boulder in the middle of the field.

Here, I faced another trial. Is it important for me to explain myself, my journey, my intentions to Kurt? I felt like he had the wrong idea, like I'd represented myself as someone who just didn't care, put your head down and power through, like he was perceiving me as ego-driven, when in fact, I'd been actively trying to set my ego aside all day. I listened to his suggestions, about knowing when you are in over your head, about not being a hammer head, about setting aside your ego so that you make good decisions.

Once again, in order to hear these words with the good intentions that were behind them, rather than alowing my pride to get in the way of me learning something, I had to actively put my ego down on the ground and hear what he had to say. Regardless of what my intentions were as I coached myself through this day, I might learn something here. If the perception of my actions was one of stubborn hard-headed-ness, perhaps I'd better review my actions. I chose not to argue back and make sure I was understood, but to listen. I pictured my ego bleeding out my toes, leaving an empty space for some wisdom, and opened the holes in my ears very large so I could receive the truth, even if it hurt.

I went home and soaked in an Epsom salt tub for a while, and thought on this. I had a moment with tears, and let them come, and then they left, and I had space to think about learning.

My very last crash of the day was a pretty good one, I was lucky I didn't re-break my arm. "You are going to hurt yourself, Kate." Kurt said.

So here I was, in the tub, thinking. Why had I been okay picking myself up and coaching myself through to a positive place where I could learn and try, when it was not the appropriate thing to do? Where in this ride should I have said, "I am in over my head. I want to stop." The problem, I guess, is that I don't want to stop. I feel like every failure is a learning opportunity, a stop along the way to success and more skill.

Yesterday, I went on a ride with Angela. We rode 22 miles, up to Mystic lake on the fire road. I clipped into my pedals and twisted out. They released effortlessly. I stopped my bike and screamed out my frustration to the forrest. All that. ALL that pain. My pedals had been too tight. We'd checked them, Kurt had thought they were okay, and they were, Lois uses them, Kurt can use them, but they were significantly different than the one's I'd been practicing on.

All at once I felt relieved that I hadn't been deluding myself before the trip, and cautious that I didn't loose the lessons I'd learned that day. Click, click, no issue, in and out. I did stall the bike out and fall over once without getting my feet out, I was standing up and pedaling and couldn't figure out how to get my foot out with weight on it.

On the way back down, riding a trail Angela told me later was called the "Wall of Death" (Oh, lord, are you serious? No wonder I was so freakin' scared...) my back end washed out in some loose dirt and over the handlebars I went, coming out of both pedals and landing my kneecap smack onto the only rock in the trail. It was a good one. I sat there for a few minutes letting the insane feelings shooting through my leg subside, and then we rode on.

Was that trail too hard? Should I not have been out there, either? I don't have an answer. I've decided that I love riding my bike again, Angela encouraged me to walk all of the trail I felt uncomfortable on, and there were several technical sections that I did walk, but I rode the climb with no problem, happy, strong, capable.

My next idea is that I should sign up for a mtn. biking clinic, and learn from square one how to handle a bike. Because my knee is now swollen to the size of a softball and not really bearing weight, I've also decided that no matter WHO can ride in tank top and shorts, I'm riding in armor. I want to ski this winter, and beating myself to a pulp is not going to allow me to do that.

The questions are still out there, I'm still sifting through them, but the conclusions I've come to are: you can never put your ego aside enough, in order to learn more about self-responsibility and reliance, I had to practice that. I also learned that I love my bike, and the feeling of riding it is tremendous. I DO love climbing, but I'm not ready to climb something steep at high altitude. I need to be patient as I build that fitness, its unreasonable to think I could have that kind of fitness, even with all the hiking and training I've been doing.

Patience. Patience. Again, it comes down to patience.

Thoughts? Please share them, and thanks for reading.