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Some chapters are ending as others are just beginning...

overcast 55 °F

What a roller coaster ride my life can be sometimes. The last couple weeks have been crazy, and the next few promise to be just as crazy. Last week was awesome. I think at the end of the week I felt like a true mountain man, and living the mountain lifestyle has become the greatest thing in my life. I lifted weights a couple days, spent two days biking 20+ miles all over Vail, climbed Vail Mountain in record time, and went rafting down the Arkansas River in Buena Vista under a full moon. Full moon rafting was a bit of an adventure, after all rafting class IV rapids under the moon is a bit challenging, and I got thrown out of the boat once, but it was an absolute blast. Truly, a once in a lifetime experience. The unfortunate news is that my knee is still not healed and the future of it is unknown, pending a doctor's visit at some point, so it looks like I'm done hiking for the summer. This is my last week of biking for the summer as well, and I'm hoping to make the most of that. Vail continues to have me in the best shape of my life, and I think that alone is worth coming back here for in the future, someday.

France. Wow. As I write this, I'm 13 days from departure. It still feels like it'll never actually happen because it's such a big deal and so many words describe it. Nervous. Terrified. Excited. Anxious. That's just the surface. Hopefully I can embrace it enough to make the most of it. I'm most looking forward to growing more as a person during my stay there, the adventures I'll have, people I'll meet, and what I'll be able to take away from it. You'll definitely want to stay tuned here once I get over there for pictures, panoramas, 360 views, and blogs on all of my adventures. I can't wait, and I can't believe it's finally actually here.

And as I continue to be surprised and flattered by this, it looks like I may end up in yet another publication somewhere for my lifesaving story. My university, Denver, has already spoken to me, and now it appears my high school out here in Colorado is interested as well. It's so flattering to me, and more attention than I ever expected to receive for what I did. Lucky guy in the right place at the right time I guess. This weekend on Saturday I'll be receiving my Award of Distinguished Service from the Chaffee County Sheriff's Department at their banquet, which I'm looking forward to. I'll finally get to meet the gentleman's wife who I saved, and the other guy's wife as well who was there that day. My best friend Zach will be there as will my family to spend some time together and spend the night in Salida. It should be a great day all around, and I'm really excited for all of it.

And as I said, as some chapters are ending while others are beginning. This summer's time in Vail is coming to a close much too quickly, while my time abroad is about to begin. Call me crazy, but I'll be leaving for France while in a brand new relationship, which will make things even more interesting, but we're both excited for the future and giving this a try. I'll leave it there for now, with this beautiful picture of the double rainbow I caught over Vail tonight. Until next time... Double Rainbow over Vail tonight, 8/22/11

Double Rainbow over Vail tonight, 8/22/11

Posted by la vita bella 19:00 Archived in USA Tagged mountains hiking france village hike bike mtn dijon lionshead vista buena vail prepared buena_vista antero rmvr Comments (0)

Playing Catch Up

60 °F

I realized today that it's been a while since I've written with everything going on, so I figured I'd try to write before I leave town and technology for the weekend.

Life up here in Vail has been going really well. It's such an awesome place to live, work, play, and simply reside. I'm so much happier up here than was was months ago. The freedom to live and pursue my dreams without things holding you down is amazing, and I finally feel I have that freedom to make this life everything I want it to be and more. It's a powerful and awesome feeling. Work has been going really well up here too, and I think (it's kind of implied) I may have earned a job offer up here again in a year when I graduate. Nothing is written in black and white, but I think it's there and I couldn't be more excited about it. I'm thoroughly enjoying the concierge work thus far and the perks that come with it and hope the rest of this summer is just as much fun here.

Study abroad is rapidly approaching. As I am writing this I'm officially 59 days out from departure. All that remains is getting that Visa in LA and my train ticket from Paris to Dijon. Housing, classes, flight, Campus France, are all completed. I'm having way too much fun living and playing up here in Vail to realize how soon that is, but the excitement is starting to build. Having never been to Europe before and about to spend 4 months there by myself, it's a pretty terrified excited feeling, but I'm ready. It will put me one step closer to that goal that I set for myself at the beginning of college and the end in sight.

Last weekend I was unable to hike due to a torn (we think) ligament in my right knee, but I still went down to Buena Vista with my good friend and drove up part of the mountain where I saved the man's life. He has a lifted truck so I thought we'd see how far up we could get, and ended up at 12,200 feet. My car couldn't go any further at 10,600 for reference. It was a fun little drive, and we cruised around Colorado on US24 the rest of the day as I pointed out all the cool history and things there are to see. We enjoyed lunch in Leadville at a small little Italian place that is now on my list of favorite lunch spots. Definitely worth the stop if passing through.

I spent the next two days in Denver, briefly, with my family, grandparents, and aunt in town. It was my grandmother's birthday as well, so it was great to be able to be down there and celebrate it with her and see the family for a bit, even if brief. I got a lot of business wrapped up while down there and settled some things with my parents too since it had been a month since home. After things were done I headed back to Vail, thankful to be heading westbound on I70 on Monday and not eastbound, that traffic looked brutal. I've never been in or seen traffic so bad in my life on that highway.

The man whose life I saved called me last week and I spoke with him briefly. Good to hear from him, and I'm glad to know he's going to be making a full recovery. He told me he still has some nightmares of drowning from the accident and can only go for 60 minute walks (this was last week Wednesday) since is oxygen levels are still too low. I haven't spoken to him since, but it's great to know he'll recover fully.

This weekend I am planning to hike some more 14ers, hopefully without a hitch this time. Every time I've gone out this summer something has happened, for better or for worse, so hopefully this weekend will be better. My knee feels recovered, and I was able to bike on it the last two days without pain. I'll be hopefully climbing Mt. Yale Saturday and Elbert Sunday, possibly for Sunday sunrise from Colorado's highest point. If anything changes, I'll probably be meeting up with Zach for some food and catch up since he's in town for the weekend. Either way, it looks like a fun weekend ahead. Stay tuned till next time!

Here's something cool to look at until then, these are the kind of stories and people that inspire me to do what I do, and remind me that anything is possible even when you think it might not be: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=10266

Posted by la vita bella 19:50 Tagged mountains snow hiking france aspen ski bells hike eagle mtn dijon vista buena scout vail 14ers shavano princeton buena_vista maroon antero elbert Comments (0)

Life Continues.

The Fallout.

First blog since the last one which recounted the story of how I saved a man's life. It's been a pretty crazy week since then, with updates on almost everything, so I'm going to try to cover all of those and keep it short and sweet. Here goes...

Life Saved
There's been a lot of activity this last week surrounding that story. It's been more attention than I ever wanted or expected, but I guess you could say it's deserved. I didn't think much of it besides being lucky to be in the right place at the right time, but the people at the office went nuts. As a result, I made the cover of the Salida newspaper Tuesday morning (http://themountainmail.com/ftp/frontpage.jpg), and have two copies of that to keep for myself and family. I got a full page spread on the back of the front page of the Vail Daily newspaper yesterday morning also, and have copious copies of that one thanks to my friends at the office. I also received a call this week from the Sheriff in Chaffee County and they're going to honor me at their annual banquet in August with an Award for Distinguished Service for my actions. Pretty cool all in all, but definitely more recognition than I ever expected to get. The man who I rescued is doing well last I checked as well and resting at his home in Nathrop, right off the road to the Mt. Antero and Mt. Princeton trailheads. I'm flattered and honored to receive all this press and attention, but it's definitely a story for the ages and one to learn from. I've also earned the nickname "hero" from pretty much everyone at work and the other people at the intern house, which is cool, but I hope it doesn't stick. I'm too humble for a nickname like that.

The internship has been going really well so far. I did some work this week on international marketing research for the company, which was really interesting and finally a project that coincides with my major. I've also done a lot of work with data entry regarding Vail Resorts for the upcoming winter, which is boring but cool to know you're working for a super small company already partnered with such a giant gorilla in the business. Also, starting this week, I'm taking over concierge services for the company while our concierge guy is out of the country for the next 2.5 weeks. This should be fun because I enjoy the customer service side of things, and learned a lot from working at the Ritchie Center. I'm nervous being so new to the company and taking this on, but I'm sure I'll learn a lot. This may consume weekends for that time period too, not quite sure yet, but we'll see. We spent an afternoon at Camp Hale this week this week for Local's Day with NOVA Guides and got to ride ATVs and Jeep Tours for free. Play time is awesome at this company. I went to a breakfast networking event at the Cordillera Lodge (http://www.cordilleralodge.com/) this week also, aka where the Kobe Bryant scandal went down, and won a two free nights stay up there. Gorgeous place, and I'm not sure when or what I'll be using those two nights for, but either way it'll be a good time and it's cool to have won those. Those business card drawings really do work sometimes!

CampusFrance has finally received my payment, and once I get the confirmation from them on other stuff, the Visa process will begin. For now, I'm making a tentative Visa appointment in LA for the first Monday in August. The housing ordeal is almost complete. They have confirmed a studio for me, which is remarkable considering they wouldn't for a while, and now I'm just waiting for them to confirm the money I sent over there. The way I see it, they wouldn't confirm my studio if they didn't have my money, but regardless I have to wait for that confirmation. Then I can be reimbursed that money and the study abroad predeparture reqs will be almost completely wrapped up.

I'm still aggressively pursuing 14ers, and climbed my 21st yesterday on Mt. Princeton. Beautiful view from the summit at 7am, and gorgeous views of Mt. Antero from just across the valley. The two summits are about 5 miles apart as the crow flies, but the valley between sinks to about 7,000 feet, so the view at sunrise and from the summit is stunning. Check out the pictures on Facebook and let me know what you think if you haven't already. While optimistic about hiking next weekend over the holiday, it looks like I won't be now. I'm lying in bed as I type this with my right knee iced due to what it appears is a torn ligament (2-6 week recovery period). Thankfully, not an MCL or ACL tear, but still pretty painful. I had plans to hike Mt. Yale with a friend today, but had to bail yesterday. From experience, I know I've benched pressed 250+ pounds through a torn rotator cuff in each shoulder, so, I'm optimistic this thing will heal up fast and I'll be back out hiking soon. How soon is hard to say, but I can say it's going to be hard to get in the way of the passion I have for hiking 14ers and climbing the beautiful peaks around me, so we'll just have to see. I'm optimistic it'll be as close to that 2 week period as possible if not sooner, but it's impossible to know.

Who knows. I want to climb every 14er in the Sawatch range this summer and maybe a few in the Elks out by Aspen, especially those Maroon Bells. I want to learn as much as I can from the concierge spot these next few weeks for the future. I want to spend a night or two at the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs soon too, just to relax, either after a day of more 14er hiking or just to escape for a bit. 14er hiking will continue soon enough I'm sure, but it's impossible to know the future. You never know when you'll have to save a life out there, or when you'll end up hurt yourself. Until next time, take care of yourselves out there, and always remember... Be Prepared.

Posted by la vita bella 15:42 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises mountains snow hiking france aspen bells hike eagle mtn vista atv massive scout beaver vail 14ers princeton buena_vista maroon antero elbert rmvr scouting scouts elks acl mcl Comments (0)

A Life Saved.

How the things you learn along the way really do make a difference.

overcast 60 °F

I debated writing this and putting pen to paper (figuratively) over the last 24 hours since things have happened because of confidentiality and stuff, but I decided to write it out because I know I'll end up telling this story over and over again to friends and family if I don't put it in one place for everyone to read. So, here's the story, I hope I do it justice as it's impossible to fully explain everything that went through my mind. It's a bit long too, so you might want to take a seat...

Yesterday I summitted my 20th 14er, Mt. Antero just south of Buena Vista. On my way down, I was offered a ride farther down the jeep road to my car by a gentleman I met on the summit. I replied no because then I'd see it as an incomplete hike on my part, but told him if he caught me on his way down I'd hop in so I didn't have to cross the rushing and freezing stream on my way down. I already crossed it in the morning and was not interested in doing it again. So, he picked me up not much farther down and dropped me off by my car. Just above my car was the snow drift that I couldn't get over and was the cause of the now 2 foot scrape along my left running board. We met two gentleman on ATVs there on the other side of the snow drift. I took off my pack and taking off layers like any other standard 14er hike and suddenly one of the guys came running down the road screaming "help! help! my friend is drowning!" I'm thinking to myself, no way. This stuff never happens, there's no way. But still, I took off running up the hill.

His friend had hit a rivet in the snowbank from tire tracks on the opposite side of the snow drift with his front left tire, and flipped his ATV into the stream. The stream runs immediately along the road, and his friend was pinned underwater underneath the ATV. I've never felt so helpless in my life. This man was gasping for air and fighting, but simply could not break the surface. The stream was raging and much higher than normal due to the above average snowfall in Colorado this winter. Somehow, I don't really remember, I was able to grab his right arm closest to me (his head was downstream). His friend was standing on a sort of bridge of snow covering the stream that hadn't melted yet, and was leaning out against the ATV. Somehow, his friend grabbed his right arm, and we both pulled as hard as possible to get the guy above water. After a few seconds of desperate lifting, we got his head above water...but he was out, cold. Unconscious, lips bluish purple, eyes faded, face pale. I for a split second thought we had lost him. After about 10 seconds (I think?) he regained consciousness. Thank the Lord. He's alive and I don't have to perform CPR. He mumbled a few things that were simply noise, and then said to his friend, I give up. I'm exhausted, I can't make it out of this stream. I'm going back under.

I held on tighter, and yelled at him, we've got you! We're getting you out of here! He was heavier than anything I've ever lifted, and kept acting like he was going to use the ATV as a crutch to try to stand up. I refused to let go. At this point another bystander showed up and I immediately yelled at him for help too. This way, he was able to grab the guy's left arm and the guy's friend was able to get out of danger from standing on the snow bridge. Somehow through a series of movements, I don't remember exactly, we were able to get him turned around in the stream and solid footing on the stream bed so he could attempt to stand up. We had him do his best, and we both pulled with all we had to get him out of the stream and up onto the snow drift covering the road. This guy was probably 300+ pounds, and it was a huge relief to have him out of the stream. At this point, we had saved his life, and had I not been there initially, he would have drowned for sure pinned under the ATV. But, this is just the beginning.

With my knowledge of CPR, first aid, and an Eagle Scout, I knew the first necessary step was to get him out of his clothes, and being the only person around with any knowledge of first aid, everyone followed me lead, especially once I said I'm an Eagle Scout. I ran to my car and grabbed some towels my dad keeps in there and the fleece sleeping bag liner I slept in the night before and after we got him out of his shirts and hoodie, I did my best to warm him up. I asked him how he felt: nauseated, weak, exhausted, cold. I knew he needed a hospital ASAP. Next thing I did was a memory check with important facts since he was out for so long. DOB, wife's name, address, hometown, political party, things you should remember. He passed all questions, thankfully. He claimed to remember crashing and going under water but not much after that. I'm awaiting another call, but hoping he doesn't suffer from brain damage from the time he was unconscious. At this point the bystander and I got him to my car, and headed 3 miles down the rugged (and intense) jeep road to the Chaffee County dirt road.

Once we got back to the dirt road, we went to his part time retirement home nearby with his friend and got him some new clothes, shoes, etc. Not having cell reception and with their landline not working, I told his friend we needed to get back out and head straight to a hospital. I told his friend to follow me just in case they needed any information since he knew his friend better than I did, and that I was going to call 911 as soon as I had reception. This guy did NOT want to go to a hospital. He kept saying he would be ok and just needed to lay down, but the rules of CPR say otherwise. So, we headed out towards the nearest highway (285), speeding like mad down the dirt roads. I continually talked to him to make sure he was there and if anything was changing. Right before we reached 285, he told me he was beginning to shake. Shock? Hypothermia? Either way, I had him recline the shotgun side seat as best as possible and grabbed the fleece blanket to try to warm him. The person on 911 sent the nearest patrol car to meet us and the nearest ambulance, and told me the EMTs would be able to tell us what to do from there. Within minutes, I was pulled over, and for a good cause for once in my life, and the officer began checking things out, getting story info, contact info, etc. Within minutes of this the sheriff and EMTs arrived.

At this point I let the EMTs go to work. The officer turned to me and said you should feel proud, you saved this guy's life today. The sheriff said the same thing. The EMTs then pulled out the stretcher from the ambulance and loaded him on, covered him in a blanket, and loaded him into the ambulance. One of the EMTs then told me the same thing, and told me which hospital they were headed to. At this point, we began to wrap things up a bit. The ambulance flew off down 285 towards Salida hospital, and I shook hands with he sheriff and police officer, and they both commended be again. I told them both I attribute it all to being an Eagle Scout and our motto, "Be Prepared." You never know when those little things you learned in Scouting will come in handy. I exchanged contact info with his friend, and told him to please please call me with an update when they get the verdict from the hospital. Case closed? Hardly.

I got a call this afternoon from the gentleman's wife from the hospital with an update. They were both very grateful for me being there and saving his life, and for the kindness I showed in getting him to a hospital. His wife said he periodically coughs up blood, which obviously isn't great news. He said he experienced the worst shaking of his life yesterday and it took them 2 hours to warm his body temperature back up to normal. They scanned his chest and his enzymes were off (or something like that) and they think he might have had a mild heart attack (he's 69), but aren't positive. His oxygen level is still too low to let him leave, but the doctors said he might be able to go home tomorrow if things improve. He said the doctors said it's a miracle he survived. I told them if they need anything else to call me and also to please let me know how things end up and when he makes it home safely.

And that's where things stand as of right now. I've never been one to take merit in things and try to remain humble, but I do feel proud in some ways I guess for what I did. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed that I was there when I was, had the knowledge and preparedness that I did, and that I took that ride down from the guy I met on the summit, because otherwise that man would not be breathing today. The feeling of knowing you saved someone's life is indescribable really. From the immediate terror and shock that something like that was actually happening to the ability to react to the humble pride you take in success from a situation like that, it's beyond words. I thank God that I was there yesterday. He works in funny ways sometimes. It's truly the most speechless moment of my life to date because you really can't describe the feelings and rush of emotions through the whole thing. It's just beyond words. I shared this story in an email to the man who was my Eagle Advisor last night and spoke with him today, and he suggested using it as an inspiration letter to the guys in my scout troop back at home and the guys in the Philmont crew leaving in two weeks that I had to back out of. I hope they can take as much from the story as I learned yesterday and understand that Boy Scouts really does teach you a lot of useful things. And with that I'm going to close with two words that have always served me very well:

Be Prepared.

  • **Update 8/28/11***

I received an Award of Distinguished Service from the Chaffee County Sheriff's Department yesterday for what I did. For pictures of the presentation, follow this link: http://t.co/tjQl4eI

Posted by la vita bella 17:25 Tagged snow hiking be eagle boy vista atv buena scout prepared 14ers antero scouting scouts Comments (4)

Inspired Again.

50 °F

Today was my first "official" day with RMVR, meaning I got your typical training today at work. Policies, procedures, meet with different people, etc. Not a bad introduction, although after a few days of work last week and the "retreat" this past weekend I already knew a lot. So far, everything is working out pretty well. All of the interns in the house are really chill people and everyone gets along really well so far, and the same goes for all of the other people at the office. My only real complaint thus far is the use of weed. I knew and expected it to show up more so up here than in Denver, but I hate being around it, and the amount of people at work/in the company who use it is more than I'd like, so I've just had to become really creative at getting around it when it's in use. This past weekend we took a retreat as a company to Breckenridge and stayed in some 7,000 square foot mansion (here: http://www.luxuryrealestate.com/vacation_rentals/24853-chateau-at-trappers-glen-breckenridge-colorado) for free and basically threw a huge party. Everyone was drunk, stoned, etc, except me probably, although I did have more to drink than I ever have (still never been drunk). Needless to say it was a good time, a good way to meet everyone in some way or another, and a great way to kick off my internship. I still can't get over the concept of weekends free after sacrificing my weekends for JFN for so long. It feels unbelievably great to be free of that headache.

With that, I have this weekend free, and... am planning to go hike some more 14ers. Antero and Princeton both look like good bets and the weather looks good also. Right now, I have one friend I'm waiting to hear back from, otherwise I'm planning to probably go solo again, despite my experience last time. This time I'll bring the weight of extra batteries and these two peaks have less vertical gain and seem to be easier to follow as far as trail/ridges go. Also, being two weeks later, more snow should have melted with none new fallen, making route finding easier. But, that aside, I'm hoping my friend is able to come and I won't have to worry about any of this, but I'm planning either way to leave from work Friday and head down to Buena Vista with my eyes on the prize. Wish me luck!

The last two things I want to write about are two epiphanies I feel like I've had in the last week that need to be shared.

The first of these being that I always thought it would be good, but living and working in the mountains is probably one of the greatest things I've ever been blessed to have in my life. I really do have an endless playground in my backyard every day, and hiking or biking are always an option for after work. Last week the company played a round of golf at Vail Golf Club for free after a half day at work. We're going rafting in a few weeks as well as biking (down) Vail pass into the Vail Valley and back to the office. It's awesome to finally work for a company that truly understands a great work/life/play balance and encourages that in everything you do. I never want to work in a city again after being up here and hopefully, if all goes well this summer, I'll be back post graduation for more, and with the company being ranked in the top 500 (I think, or 5000) fastest growing companies in the US this year, there's promise in the future too.

The second thing I'd like to share, going off of that, is the conversation I had with my dad the other night. He is still unhappy that I'm at an unpaid internship, although they are paying for my lodging for the summer. To this point I have just mentioned how it's in Vail, it'll be a lot of fun, the owner personally hired me, etc. But this week I came across an old Emerson quote that put everything into perspective: "I find, where I thought myself poor, there I was most rich." It's really been true for me thus far up here in Vail. You take a job for no pay or little to no pay since I've found out my boss doesn't make much either, but you get to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The views, activities, and opportunities are endless here. Emerson has once again inspired me and allowed me to find myself again. Thank you all for reading, and stayed tuned for a report Sunday night of the weekend ahead!

Posted by la vita bella 20:25 Tagged vail princeton antero emerson rmvr Comments (0)

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