GET OUT: PPP solitary style

By on March 31, 2015
An icy outlet serves as a dipping spot for the weary and scorched. (Photo credit Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

An icy outlet serves as a dipping spot for the weary and scorched. (Photo credit Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – ‘Tis the season for some of those friendly multi-sport competitions. Assembling a team of friends and competing in the Pole Pedal Paddle Race all sounds like a good idea while chatting about it at the bar. While I respect all humans who decide to partake in the competition, I have no desire to do it.

“Why not? It’s fun,” everyone claims.

I just wouldn’t fit in there for many, many different reasons.

For one, I don’t own an animal costume or anything slightly goofy-looking. Secondly, I don’t have enough friends to even create a group, nor am I in good enough shape to attempt the whole thing on my own. Lastly, I have a fear of commitment for dates far into the future. I get planning anxiety and my throat starts swelling if I make a plan too far in advance.

While trying to keep in the spirit of PPP, I created my own little activity set that I can do with others or by myself. It’s called the “Bike, Ski, Swim” and can be practiced at any time for little cost (after the purchase of your National Park pass). I began mid-morning from Bradley Taggart parking lot. While it wasn’t intensely cold, it felt brisk enough to leave my gloves on. From there, I biked. The park had just plowed the road and it really did look bikeable. Unfortunately, I am not an expert biker and I slid around a couple of times on the black ice. Additionally, by the time I had biked about three miles, I wanted to retire. I don’t have bike shorts and have not biked for years. I have yet to enjoy the comfort of sitting for extended periods of time with a plastic seat between my legs.

A scene of solitude on frozen Jenny Lake. (Photo credit Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

A scene of solitude on frozen Jenny Lake. (Photo credit Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

So, I abandoned the bike along the side of the road in a patch of melting snow. When you make your own activity you can end legs of the race at any point. Post-bike, I put my skis on and skied to Jenny Lake. Here, I saw some friends and skied to the West end of the lake. The skiing across the lake was perfect corn and it had become quite warm in the middle of the day.

In the sizzling heat, it was time to create a new activity. I quickly settled on the dip/swim, although I felt a bit apprehensive about plunging into open water surrounded by ice. I held my breath and went for it. There was no swimming involved because all heat immediately left my body. So, I began my way out of Jenny Lake. Dare I say it was the most peaceful Jenny Lake outing I have ever experienced? It was mostly silent except for a few birds and a sole snowshoer. I have never been to Jenny Lake when the road is closed for the winter, but now I know why so many people flock to it in the spring. When all is silent, the mountains actually look even bigger. I tore my eyes away from the beauty to continue my attempt at a multi-sport day.

On the way back, it got extremely warm — too warm. This is when I wished I had a support team like they have in real races. It was about 65 degrees. The radiant heat from the snow made me feel like I was crossing the white Sahara Desert. I began to feel dizzy and lightheaded. I wanted to give up, lie under a tree, call for help — anything to get me away from the heat blanket of whiteness and sage. Since the previous options seemed too dramatic, I continued on my way.

I got to the road and looked for my bike, cursing the fact that it wasn’t there. I figured someone must have stolen it. I walked on the asphalt, because in my delirium, I thought it would be cooler than skiing on the white snow. I don’t know which was better, but I eventually found my bike. At that point I was feeling happy at the idea of it being stolen, as I don’t really like riding bikes anyway. So, I pushed it back to the parking lot while carrying my skis and being as inefficient as possible. Some race. Maybe multi-sport competitions are better with others? Perhaps creating my own race and changing it up as I went along wasn’t the best idea? Maybe it can be cool to sometimes sign up for an event and work toward the prize of having fun and finishing? In my own little world, I was a winner. In fact, I found my trophy in the shower when random splotches of my skin felt hot and tingly. Oh sunburn, what a priceless prize I can remember for days.

Enjoying the magnificent view into Cascade Canyon from Jenny Lake. (Photo credit Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

Enjoying the magnificent view into Cascade Canyon from Jenny Lake. (Photo credit Elizabeth Koutrelakos)


About Elizabeth Koutrelakos

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