VLOG #13: Melakwa Lake & Kaleetan Peak

Last week my adventure buddy Austin and I did what we love to do and found a fun hike and scramble off the i90 corridor to complete.  We headed out the night before, slept in hammocks near the trailhead, and then proceeded to burn the ever-loving piss out of my shoulders and back in the shape of the pack I was carrying.  There were fun times.  Great views.  Some route finding and steep rock faces.  We slipped at one point, that’s not on the video.  And, we jumped in the lake.

Sooo… Enjoy the vid!  No tunes added on this one, so it’s just the incredibly enjoyable sounds of nature… rather the commentary of two adventure dudes yukkin’ it up on the trail.  #CaptivatingAF

This weekend marked ten months of a booze free life; two more to go and I am officially done.  Who knows what will come then, but the initial quest is getting close to complete!

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

 

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My Reflections in Nature; The Final Quarter

9-Month Quest Update

At 9:30 last Saturday night I was running up a road back to my girlfriend’s white Nissan Rogue after completing a stunning backpacking trip through the Glacier Peak Wilderness in the Cascades (full trip report and vlog coming very soon).  Three of us took on a 44 mile trek and I was pretty damn exhausted while finishing the last three miles, trail running up a mountain towards our transportation.  All of this in celebration of the Fourth of July, or more just an excuse for a backpacking trip, which also happened to coincide with my nine months of living alcohol free.

One reflection I had while walking through these stupidly beautiful and varying landscapes, was how similar life is to the adventure we were on.  Challenges in the outdoors can be very complex and require quick thinking, just as in real life.  They can take you off track due to faulty route finding which in turn costs you time on the trail pushing goals and camps further from reach.  They’re physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding.  You’re always being faced with new challenges, both minor and major, some grueling, some require digging deep into your fear and conquering it, but they’re always overturning and linking from one to the next followed by breaks of insane beauty before reemerging you in chaos.  You learn from each of these experiences and move on with the knowledge of how to handle a similar situation later.  Shifty rocks, unstable snow, darkness setting with no camp in sight and mosquitos biting the shit out of any exposed skin, legs cramping, dehydration, exhausting heat, numbing cold.. the list goes on.  No matter what happens during the trek, it must be finished at some point, in some way.  The option to bow out and just not finish what you have started does not really exist after a certain point, unless not being alive is an acceptable outcome to you.  Which means, when unfortunate circumstances arise, you have two options: be mentally miserable, bitch and complain, or you can find a way around the obstacles that present themselves and make the best out of your misfortune.  Since we are just a bunch of organisms attempting to ping our neuro receptors with jolts of dopamine, adjusting your mindset to do the latter is possible.

The past nine months have been the most transformative, life altering months of my life.  They’ve been productive in ways that will benefit me for years, perhaps decades, to come.  Yet there is still an internal turbulence brewing that works against what I am trying to accomplish.  I have had to learn to silence that turbulence, and also, energize it when necessary.  To get to a place where that is possible, I need to completely calm my ever-pulsing brainwaves.  Meditation has done me wonders.  Intense exercise also helps clear the thought tinnitus riddled with politics, work tasks, relationship issues, and other trivial, lizard brained bullshit.  But the activity that proves the most effective is, without a doubt, spending multiple days outdoors with a set goal to obtain.  Removing myself from the stresses of modern life and replacing them with survival and nature allows a deeper cleansing than you’ll find at any Gold’s Gym and earns me a fresh perspective.

The days spent away this last week were more like a firmware update than a vacation.  I regained my purpose for this quest.  Remembered what it is that I am working for.  Realized the progress I have made so far.  Saw where I can make improvements.  Got calibrated.  A lot has changed in nine months, more positive change than at any point in my life, and I still have three more to go to finish off this year long assignment.  In reality, it never stops, until it does, and I want to make it the best it can be all the way up and to the ending.

“You want to know what anger is?  Well, just observe the sensations that arise and pass in your body while you are angry… … … Whenever I was angry, I focused on the object of my anger — something somebody else did or said — rather than on the physical reality of the anger.

… The most important thing I realized was that the deep source of my suffering is in the patterns of my own mind.  When I want something and it doesn’t happen, my mind reacts by generating suffering.  Suffering is not an objective condition in the outside world. It is a mental reacting generated by my own mind.” Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, excerpt from Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferris

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

To The Summit of Mount Saint Helens

Trailer for my upcoming VLOG: To The Summit of Mount Saint Helens

Guaranteed to be less impressive than this cinematic masterpiece.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Vlog #6: Str8 Up Killin’ It!

Here is the long awaited VLOG (barf in my mouth) that I have been promising you.  Enjoy… well, as much as you can enjoy a VLOG, which is probably not very much…. I really am setting this content up to succeed.  #SelfDepricatingHumor

If you have suggestions of what you would like to see more of, or less of, for that matter, leave them below in the comments!  Just don’t be a pecker.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Six Months Down, Six To Go! The Quest Continues.

Holy balls!  I’ve reached the top of the mountain and am about to start heading back down.  Well, probably not, it usually takes much longer to summit than descend, however, I am six months into this quest of enlightenment with another six pending… And I feel great about the crazy amount of accomplishments I have made during this period.

So let’s take a lookie-lou at what’s been going down over the past six months…

  • I have turned exercise into a routine, lost a shit ton of weight (20 lbs I didn’t even know I had to lose), now have abs and have gained a solid level of endurance.
  • Drastically changed my diet to include more vegetables and greens, less junk food and cheat days, which has, in-turn, greatly improved my energy levels and focus.
  • I finished my real estate hours, passed the Washington State real estate exam, got hired on at a brokerage, sold my first house (within a month and a half of starting), and am successfully building a sales/referral pipeline.
  • Further made meditation and journaling life long habits (with a couple of lapses, including a recent one).
  • Read/Listened to two+ books per month (since the new year, but was reading prior, just not on a schedule).
  • Refrained from having a sip of alcohol.
  • Started writing regularly, again, and am working on writing a book, as well as regularly updating this blog – sometimes more than other times.
  • Retained my love and exposure for the outdoors (though, admittedly, less than I would like to – this ski season is the first I have skied less than 20 days in a very long time, although sometimes sacrifices must be made to better other areas of life and free up time to do much, much more skiing in the future.).

I’m sure there is other shit that I have accomplished, too, that’s a pretty solid list of not-so-humble brags.  All in all, I haven’t had such a productive six months in my entire life and I am stoked to see where I am six months from now!

With that all said, I still have plenty of short-comings and things to further and greatly improve on, but this is a celebratory post, so I will keep it as such.

I will follow up with a VLOG at the end of the week.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Quest Progress Report; “YOU KNOW WHAT, DUDE!”

PART ONE:  At this very minute, it is 5:43 AM, though it will likely be much later when I finish writing and posting this.  I have been up since 5:00 AM.  So what?  So, that’s progress, baby, THAT IS PROGRESS!  But let me start with why you haven’t heard from me in the last couple of weeks.

I ch-ch-checked a major accomplishment off my to do list last week.  Yeah, it’s a Biggie Smalls of a win for me.  In the last couple weeks I have finished my real estate hours and quizzes, passed the national and state exam – on the first try, and been in the process of getting licensed and settling in at a brokerage (for the sake of keeping my blog unfiltered, I will not be dropping the name of the brokerage I am with, if you would like to know so you can make a listing with me in the greater Seattle region, you can email me at alifetosummit@gmail.com).  I had to take a break from blogging and other things to get this done, but now that it is done, I can get back at it.

My little brother is in town this week and I was catching him up on everything that’s been going on with my self-development/improvement.  He seemed pretty blown away at the progress I have made since his wedding.  He, immediately, commented on how lean I was upon first seeing me.  I am down to 182 pounds (as of yesterday) and feeling fucking awesome.  After getting sick over the New Years, I have found it hard to gain weight back to the 190 pounds where I usually sit, but my strength is back up, I just, currently, have a really low body fat percentage.  When I was a kid my dad had jumped into glacier-fed Lake Chelan and joked that the reason he wasn’t cold was his extra layer of fat.  I never forgot that and have teased him about it since then, but now that I have lost my extra layer of fat, and I do get surprisingly way colder.

Based on actions of my past self, this week should be one that would have me angry or down in the dumps.  However, even though my computer mysteriously deleted all my files for no apparent reason – literally all of them, and even though there is a certain level of stress that coincides with starting a new career, my demeanor is confident, collected, and I am ready to swan-dive into this new venture.  I started writing a book about a month ago and one of the chapters I had already penned was one of the files I lost.  I had sent the other chapters to a friend to see if it was a book he would actually read, but Chapter Three had not made it to that, or any other, friend.  My new stance: It was probably a decent chapter, but maybe I can rewrite it to make it even better; it was good practice.

Alright, I am going to take a break, as it is now almost 6:00 AM, and I am going to hit the gym.

PART TWO:  Holy Moly!  That was a solid gym, sauna, meditation, and cold shower sesh!  I feel infuckingcredible.

Expanding on that, let’s get into fitness.  So, my gym routine is staying at a steady 4-6x per week for weights.  Cardio on occasion – I should do a little more running, and I try to get a session of yoga in once a week.  My problem is that I am having a hard time gaining my weight back after getting sick a month ago, as mentioned above, so doing additional cardio is not going to help that.  Also, I think that this ongoing shoulder pain is hindering my upper body gains, as I can’t lift very heavy on chest or shoulders at the moment.  I’m trying some rehab exercises, but if this persists, I am going to have to get into a specialist.  I was getting AT LEAST one ski day in a week, but that has subsided since I decided to put everything aside to finish getting my real estate license.  Now that that is done, I am hoping to get a couple days in per week to finish off the season strong, though it’s likely I may get too busy to do so.  Ugh, responsibility.

I, actually, have an awesome weekend planned out.  Tonight, one of my best buds is coming to hang out to go watch Robert Kelly with me at the Parlor Live in Bellevue.  If you don’t know Robert Kelly, he is a New York comedian from Boston (New York now, Boston is where he started) who runs in the same circle as Bill Burr, Jim Norton, the late Patrice O’Neal, etc.  He has a podcast called, “YOU KNOW WHAT, DUDE!,” which I used to listen to regularly.  He was also a regular on “Opie and Anthony” before the show disbanded due to Anthony Cumia being a racist douche on Twitter.  Although I have since unsubscribed from Sirius XM, I imagine he is still regularly on the Jim and Sam show (which kind of is the replacement for O&A), regardless there are plenty of podcasts that he is a guest on besides his own.  Anyways, Robert Kelly is hilarious and I have been wanting to see him LIVE for many years.

On Saturday, I am hoping to skate off to get a day of turns in at Stevens Pass, and then, in the evening, I am meeting up with my little brother, my sister-in-law, and some of his friends in Seattle.  And, lastly, Sunday is my youngest sister’s birthday party, she’s now 17, and we are all getting together at my father’s place to have a cRaZy celebration.  All-in-all, a kick ass schedule is laid out before me for the coming few days.

These kick ass weekends used to include alcohol.  When I saw my brother the other night, all my siblings were drinking.  I, of course, was not.  Thing is, I want to drink a beer, but thinking about it no longer weighs me down.  I am past needing to have alcohol at all, and had a rad time without it.  The only time I want alcohol is when I catch the scent of a beer I actually want to drink… I tend to love certain IPAs, sours, and, honestly, many others.  Truth is, I just like beer.  It tastes delicious, but my need for it is gone, and that is something I am pretty happy about.  Grateful, even.

Which brings me to my last point of the morning: Gratitude.  Gratitude is something I have struggled with, especially during hard times.  The reality is, there is a lot to be thankful for and trying to train my brain to realize what it is I’m thankful for has helped change my outlook lately, even through events that would otherwise put me in a negative place, like losing every single one of my motherfucking files and documents.  Whenever I’m ungracious, overwhelmed, or just indifferent, I can just go outside for a run, into the mountains for a hike, sit in a chair and meditate, etc.  The options are truly endless.  Finances can be fixed, relationships can (often) be fixed, being gracious is the antidote for the negativity that stems from your hardships.  It’s the fix.

So, what am I grateful for?  Here are five things:

  1. A girlfriend who has sat by my side while I have been sorting through my brain’s internal complications, personal bullshit, and career.
  2. The outdoors and the hobbies I have in them that bring me pure and utter joy.
  3. My new real estate career and the accomplishment of taking the first step to get started on a path I could actually dig.
  4. My physical health, and, increasingly better, mental health.
  5. Friends and Family that have my back 100%.

Now, what are you grateful for?  What are you taking for granted or putting a negative spin on?  Once you figure that out, all you have to do is make the decision to reframe your thinking… Not easy, but doable.  Get after it.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Powabunga, Dudes; Not-So Bloody Thumbs

A powder day.  If you are like me, there is nothing quite like it.  Deep snow accompanied with the ability to drop off steep cliffy mountainsides without (likely) causing harm to yourself.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those whose cup it is, there is nothing quite as exhilarating… perhaps, the exception would be jumping out of a plane.  I have also done that and I think I would still rather have a day of powder skiing, but it’s a close call…  Hmm… whatever, flip a coin, they’re both bad ass… either way, today rocked.  Now, let me share with you the amazingness that is POWDER.

Yesterday I woke up and did what I always do first thing on any given winter morning, I checked the snow report at the local mountains – Crystal and Stevens.  Low and behold, ten inches of fresh snow had fallen at Stevens where I am a proud holder of an overpriced seasons pass.  Fuck me.  I did squats two days ago and my legs had not fully recovered.  I got out of bed and winced slightly at the pain in my quadriceps.  Skiing today was out of the question.  However, upon checking the NOAA forecast, exactly what I was hoping for was confirmed.  Another 4-8″ was expected Wednesday night followed by 10-16″ on Thursday.  Fuck me, twice.

I headed to the gym and got a lift in, a long stretch and sauna session followed by the routine ice cold shower.  I then ran some errands and washed my ski gear.  The excitement grew.  Tomorrow is the first real powder day I will have had all year thus far.  I had a 10″ snowner – a boner for snow, for the layman.  For clarification, these snowners are often much larger than one’s actual boner.  Just saying, I don’t rock a Ron Jeremy sized piece… unless it’s a snowner.  I put the hedgehog’s snowner to shame.

This morning I woke up, and again, checked the snow report.  The report claimed that it had snowed four inches overnight.  I got up, packed up the dogs and my gear, and headed out the door.  I stopped for a coffee, grabbed a sandwich for breakfast, one for lunch, as well as a tasty maple bar that I justified eating because I was going to undoubtedly burn it off on the hill.  Once I got near the top of the pass, the snow gods smiled and so did I as the rain turned to flakes and the roads became slick with slush.

Parking around 9:00, I ran the dogs for 15 minutes or so as I put my boots and jacket on. Then I locked those two bitches up – they’re girl dogs so this isn’t rude, it’s accurate – and skied down to the chairlift.  I did not catch first chair, but it did not matter because the skies were puking snow.  There was definitely more than just four inches of fresh white powder on the hill and I, again, smiled ear-to-ear as I headed towards the backside of the mountain loudly whooping with joy.

On the backside, I ran a couple cumbersome laps.  My legs were still a bit tender from squats, but not nearly as bad as yesterday.  I figured they’d warm up but they were definitely slower to do so than normal.  Shitty visibility wasn’t helping the cause.  I stuck to the trees to counter the whiteout conditions; trees tend to offer contrast and increase the visibility when the open slopes don’t.

With every lap I got a little better.  By the third or fourth chair up the mountain I met two dudes, Ben and Andy, who must have pitied my lonesome self, and so, invited me to ski with them.  I accepted the invitation and the rest of the day was spent lapping untouched powder stashes all around the hill.  The powder was so deep we even lost a ski for a period of time when Andy fell at the bottom of a run.  Beyond that, we got cliffed-out (when you end up in a place that is not skiable and requires either hiking back up hill or crossing your fingers that you don’t get injured should you decide to drop the unskiable cliff) on a particularly sketchy portion of the mountain, which, once navigated, resulted in the deepest untouched powder stash of the day.  We, also, created enough slough that we were fully aware that avalanches were a danger to be considered.  We skied together until a little after 3:00.  We had the best day ever.  Lesson: The bond of skiing makes strangers best friends.

It snowed a foot before I made it back to my car.  I left the hill pleasantly exhausted and as I drove back towards civilization I noticed something.  My bloody thumbs were fully healed and were no longer bloody at all.  Things are changing, people… things are changing!

Powabunga 🤙 ,

~Dane