Unsteady Uproot – “Winter Wonderland” (Tuesday, January 7th)

I took my little sister out in the snow this afternoon (in last last hour of sunlight) to get in some fresh air before the temps dropped back down into the teens. It truly is a winter wonderland out here in the middle of Alma, Colorado population of 260. Our cabin is massive and surrounded by nothing but snow and pine trees. If you look off into the distance you can see a few grand estates like the one we are in, but they are hardly close enough to be called neighbors. Take a look at these views:

I’ve struggled with being content to not ski this time around. It all looks like fun! Honestly, though, I haven’t skied since I was a kid. And with my troublesome knees and my recovering back I’m positive that I would do more worrying about hurting myself than I would actually enjoying being out there on the slopes. If I could have a private ski lesson (aka a babysitter) then I would have a blast, but the idea of being in a class with a bunch of other skiers and knowing that if I learned slower than the others I would feel pressured and stressed… that doesn’t sound enjoyable to me. Also, I have ZERO athletic abilities simply because I never try and therefore have no muscle memory for it so there is that weighing against me, too.

Our group is having a blast, though. My sibs decided to all take snowboarding classes this week and they are in the same class so that’s been a really good experience for them all. And they have all picked up the technique quickly even though this is their first time to ever board, so I think this has been a fun sibling bonding activity. The others in the group are either snowboarding or skiing and there seems to be a mix in abilities so I think everyone has been able to find a buddy to ski with even when they aren’t in school.

I can tell you what, though… 10,000ft elevation is NO joke. And even though I was in Denver for the weekend I have still be feeling pretty winded and headachey. I highly recommend buying yourself some squished oxygen – aka those mini tanks of compressed air that you can sip on while you acclimate. It’s like $15 a can, but it’s honestly helped temper some of the panic I have felt over not being able to breathe well. According to Google Alma, CO is nearly the highest (there is one city slightly higher) elevation in the United States that has permanent residents. Yeah. It’s that high up there.

If you’ve never climbed this high before then it’s difficult to explain the sensation. Kinda like hyperventilating, but there’s more of a muscle component. It’s like you can feel it in your muscles that your body is starved for oxygen. Also, I’ve been having an insanely difficult time sleeping since I got here. I truly feel like I just lay there and wait for morning to arrive. I picked up a valerian root tincture hoping that it would help me relax into sleep, but the only thing it’s helped me do is relax but not to actually sleep.

I did manage to frolick in the snow this afternoon, though, and I was able to breathe with only minimal huffing and puffing so I’d say that’s a win! Speaking of huffing (and puffing), I feel a little strange every time I take a hit off that oxygen tank. It’s got a little plastic mouth cover that goes over your mouth but under your nose. And the oxygen feels so cool as it hisses out and you breath in deeply. The tanks aren’t cheap but they seem to be helping keep the headaches and heavy breathing at bay. I’m going to attempt to do a yoga session tomorrow and we’ll see how my lungs feel during that.

While my little sister and I were burrowing in the snow banks I was reassured that although I now live in a very warm climate I still know how to dress like a cold climate gal. We were up to our knees in snow and even at a brisk 29 degrees we were still toasty warm in our boots with wool socks, fleece-lined snow pants, puffer jackets, and hats. The one thing I lack is some water-proof ski gloves like I used to own, but somehow my possum fir ones kept my hands dry and warm even though we were on our hands and knees in the snow. The one drawback to this climate is that it’s too cold to build anything with this snow. It’s just a couple feet of powder that refuses to stick together at all.

We still managed to stay out until the sun was almost down and the rest of our crew was home from the slopes. Then we all piled into the kitchen for a bowl of chili after a long day in the cold. Thankfully there is no climate too cold for ice cream, though, because we now have six flavors in the freezer for us to enjoy through the week. Several of the guys ate their ice cream in the hot tub which they “10/10 would recommend“. They said that standing out there naked to their swim trunks was brutal at 25 degrees, but once they got in they thawed out. And that view from the back porch… my my my.

Hot tubs are great and all, but did I mention that my room has a jacuzzi tub? It’s one of those giant ones that takes like 15mins just fill. My room also has a steam shower big enough for ten people and a king-sized bed. And speaking of bed… mine is calling me. I think all I did throughout last night was drink water, pee, and stick Carmex up my nostrils, so it’s my night to shine in dream world tonight, haha.

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