Balancing Act

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Top roping at a local ice spot
[Photo by Luke]

Perhaps getting older has softened me? I recently survived another birthday and my priorities of late have seemed to shift. In the past, I mostly concerned myself with getting up north and doing things that others would be jealous of, whether it was simply a day of skiing at the resort, a mild day in the backcountry, or sport climbing at Rumney–the activity didn’t need to be epic, it just had to be envious.

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Same pump no matter where you are
[Photo by Luke]

Lately I seem to be happier staying closer to home and enjoying activities that might not make others desirous of my day, but that are as satisfying for me. I’m getting greater enjoyment out of activities that do not involve spending half the day in the car and forty dollars worth of gas to participate in. Who cares if no one thinks skiing at Wachusett is cool or if my little backcountry spot isn’t as awe inspiring as skiing Mount Washington? They are both close, cheap, and I can devote the five hours I would have spent in the car on my way to fill-in-the-blank destinations in Vermont or New Hampshire on actually skiing. Most important is that the local options, while not exactly lust worthy, are incredibly convenient and fun. Plus I can be home in time to cook dinner and share it with my girlfriend in lieu of eating something greasy served out of a window and consumed on the ride home.

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Ice conditions change so quickly, even the little local spot feels different every time
[Photo by Luke]

As I get older, I also notice the things I need to do have begun piling up. Spending a full day up north often means that a chore (in many cases multiple chores) are put off in favor of a day in the mountains. That day can often mean a long week following it as I scramble to catch up on the responsibilities I ignored. Often times it is not the activity that is time consuming, but rather the time getting to and from said activity that is the time suck. I can easily find time for six hours of skiing on my day off, it’s just the five hours of getting there and back that is the killer. Not to mention, when I do something close to home I can actually function the following day, not just try and recover from the previous day’s activity. It’s bad enough falling behind, but I no longer recover as quickly as I did in years past. A long day now often wreaks havoc as my body attempts to compensate for the energy spent.

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Great day, good conditions, and no crowds…it’s hard to complain about that
[Photo by Luke]

Despite the time and energy obstructions to heading to the mountains, I’m still stoked on going north. I have a large list of objectives that I still hope to accomplish and more than a handful of trips I would like to revisit. My heart is still in the mountains (the Whites in particular), and the numerous special places within them, but I realize that I have to be more particular about my visits. The days of heading north on a whim because I didn’t have anything else to do or because I wanted to make an office-bound friend jealous are at least partially behind me. I need to become more calculated and efficient with my time and objectives, and pursue things that I find gratifying.

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Steep pillar on a retaining wall. The local option sacrifices glamour for convenience
[Photo by Luke]

This past year saw probably the least amount of time I had spent in New Hampshire in the last decade. In truth it was too little. Despite the low number of visits, I still had some great days in the mountains, including a near-perfect ski day on Mount Washington and a ascent of Mount Washington’s Henderson Ridge. Mix in more than a few powder days in various New Hampshire stashes and I feel like I made the most of my time up there; I just could have been up there a little more. This year is about finding balance, about finding the happy medium between the mountains and the local option. It’s about using my time wisely and making the most of my trips up north, about doing the things I think are interesting even if others would beg to differ. No matter what I end up doing, it’s about being grateful for the time I get to spend outside, engaging in the activities I love.

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