I am quickly learning that whenever the awesome people in my life invite me to do something with them, the answer should always be “yes, please”! The “yes” is because adventures are too awesome to ever turn down, and the “please” is because I have nice parents who raised me to be polite, thanks very much. Every time I’ve said yes to an invite, I’ve been so happy and experienced something new. Going surfing at The Wall in New Hampshire with Andy and Erika. Hiking in the White Mountains and staying in a hut with Annie P. Fishing in Norway. Skydiving in Utah. Seeing the Backstreet Boys reunion concert in Oslo. These are never NOT going to be good ideas, people!
So when the opportunity came up this weekend to go camp in the desert and run around Moab, Utah…how could I say no? The training promised to be amazing, even if I WAS the only person on foot and not mountain biking the whole time. The views, everyone assured me, were from another planet. Best of all, it was going to be a big US Ski Team staff reunion! Peter Johansson was our wax tech for 9 years and when he retired last year we bought him and his wife Tine some tickets to come visit us in Park City. I also got to see the Vordenberg family and Cory Wubbles, and I was so happy to see all these awesome people in one place!
But before I get into camping trip show and tell, I have a fun announcement! Every year the Chilkoot Cafe in Stillwater, Minnesota hosts a fundraiser dinner for me before I head to Europe for the World Cup season. It’s a wonderful night with amazing food from the cafe, and I get to see so many friends and members of the community that have supported me from the day I first started racing! It has also been a crucial part of paying for my travel and training as I race around the globe, and what I love about this is that every time I snap down my ski bindings and get to the start line, I know I have my hometown behind me. That, even more than the financial help, is what powers me through the year and the long training hours!
This year instead of a fundraising dinner we are having a send-off party…a “high-energy raiser”, if you will. I’m super excited for another annual dinner as a chance to see everyone before I leave! I’ll have posters to sign and hand out, I’ll talk about goals for the season and my plans for the year, and I’ll be needing good-luck hugs from everyone! The date is November 1st, the cost is $30 per person, and please call ahead to reserve your spot at the Chilkoot Cafe: 651-342-0429. In past years this event has filled up quickly so if you’d like to come, please don’t wait until the last minute to call!
So now, you may be wondering…Jessie, what were you doing in the desert when you leave in a month to start the ski season? I was running around soaking up enough Vitamin D and sunny rays to last an entire winter, of course! The training was amazing down there, and it was incredibly hard to stop myself from running all day. The middle of the day got up to around 85*F, which felt pretty hot but because it was so dry your sweat would instantly evaporate and actually cool you down like it’s meant to!
We camped in a few big group campsites at Dead Horse Point park, which was absolutely stunning. Right beyond our site, if you walked for 5 minutes you’d come to the edge of a huge cliff that went right out into a point and made you feel so small looking out over the edge.
I haven’t slept in a tent in far too long, and camping there was fun although it’s what we describe as “Gucci camping”…there was nothing rough or tough about it! The campground had picnic tables and shade and really nice bathrooms, but for a large party with kids around, it was perfect. I felt so relaxed and absolutely nothing in my life was stressful when we were just sitting around the campfire playing guitar and roasting s’mores.
One of the cutest things was when little Josie Vordenberg climbed into my lap to investigate my hot pink mini-Martin guitar. She was very interested in plucking the strings for me while I made the chords! Pete and Matt also did a hilarious “Flight of the Conchords” style duet on the spot one night that had us all laughing.
The desert is a crazy place. Going there to explore makes me happy in a way that’s so hard to describe, but it’s the feeling I get whenever I get to travel to new places and see beautiful things. At the risk of sounding cheesy…it’s a happiness that I feel in my soul. It energizes me not for days, but weeks! I think that’s part of the reason I love my job so much, because travel can be hard sometimes too. But whenever people ask how I make it through 4 months on the road away from my home country, it’s because I’m with people I like to be with and seeing new beautiful places that keep me content to live out of a suitcase.
The first morning I was there, Erika and I ran together at the Klondike Bluffs. She had taken a fall the day before and hurt her elbow badly, but she is one tough cookie and was a champ about it. You’ll have to check her blog to hear the rest of her story, but that morning we were all about adventuring! We ran over hundreds of dinosaur tracks in what was labeled as a “stomping ground” and we thought that was pretty amazing.
That afternoon, I ran around the Dead Horse Point trails and finished the run out on the edge of the cliff by our campsite.
Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how quickly the sun set in the desert and suddenly the trails dropped into this murky darkness where I could just barely make out the cairns marking the trails. I admit, running alone in the desert at dusk is not one of the smartest ideas I’ve ever had! So even though I’d been running for hours I started booking it back to the campsite, certain that a rattlesnake or scorpion was out to get me. It was pretty funny when I finally showed up at the campfire covered in sweat and dust, exhausted but happy to have avoided any and all cactus plants.
Our last morning Matt, Sophie, Liz, Fish and I went to Arches National Park to see some of the famous sights. We didn’t go to Delicate Arch…too many people, not enough time. We did run the loop around Devil’s Garden, and we did quite a bit of exploring and climbing around on our own!
Now it’s time to settle in to Park City life and get ready for our 2 week US Ski Team camp! I’m excited to see all my teammates again and get some good training and fine-tuning done.