Early spring is usually go time for snowboarders. Longer days and a stabilizing snowpack combine with strong legs and a honed skillset to finally tag those lines you’ve been eyeing all year. If you’re lucky, maybe a trip to BC or Alaska or another prized northernly destination is in the cards.
But this year, that’s not an option. Last week, I wrote a story about a weekend in the Whistler backcountry, and how the mountains are still open. I was still holding out hope for a possible April mission to Haines, which I’d been dreaming about for months. How quickly things can change. This Monday, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay home, stay healthy order, directing Washingtonians to shelter in place and only leave home for essential reasons (getting food, medical attention, exercise, and so forth). Same with many states. Same with many provinces in Canada. Same with many regions around the world.
So, we’re grounded, and for good reason. If we as a society get ahead of this novel coronavirus pandemic, or at least get it under control, we’ll be able to return to the mountains sooner than later, perhaps in time for spring corn cycles in the Sierra or volcano season in Cascadia.
We need to put community before self and save our egos for another day. Certainly, it hurts to watch it snow up at Mt Baker and not make the hour-long pilgrimage to sample the goods, but I know this is a time to self-regulate—to focus on breath, health, the privilege of a roof over my head and food in the cupboards, greenspace out my front door. It’s a time to reflect on the good fortune we have as the lucky few with the time and resources to spend a good portion of our winters in the mountains.
For inspiration through these challenging times, I turned to a few of our favorite powder hunters and creatives. For these folks, like most of us, are feeling the burden of time away from the mountains. And these folks too, as much as anyone, must understand the importance of staying home for the greater good. Here are a few words of love and respect from prominent members of the snowboard community. Maybe they’ll help you to activate and chill, to take control of your time at home and find a better head space. Maybe they’ll help you remember that, despite the fact that we can’t connect in person, we’re all in this together.
There are people out there who don’t have the luxury of health or shelter, so remember them when you’re feeling restless because they would love to be in your position.
I’m taking advantage of this opportunity to almost do less. I’m always so go-go-go that it feels good to slow down and take a breather—slow down the mind and the body so when this all blows over, I’ll be energized and inspired.
As far as staying busy, I’ve been learning Spanish every day and chipping away at the endless and fun DIY projects around the house that I’ve been putting off, and spending some quality time in the garage a.k.a. “the Rhaj.”
Oh, cook some good food and touch your toes, your body will appreciate that when you get back out amongst it.
We don’t all have to be out “getting it” in order to be happy, which is a really good thing to remind ourselves. It’s a perfect time to get inspired doing those things that you don’t normally let yourself have time for. It’s an easy time to not have FOMO anyway, ‘cause no one is really out doing much.
I’ve got a bunch of freelance art projects to work on so it’s been really good for me to focus my full attention on them and not feel like I even should be doing other activities instead. I make sure to also make some art just for fun every day.
I’m pretty happy that I get to ride this whole thing out at home with my best friend [Tim Eddy]. Hopefully we can all learn a bit from this experience whenever it mellows out and remember how connected everything is and how we are all in this together.
I’m trying to take this time to realize how fortunate I am. It’s crazy to me that a week ago, going outside or just meeting up with friends casually was the everyday norm. Having it taken away temporarily makes you realize how lucky you are, and it’s been helping me to realize to live in the moment. The past is a memory and you never get to the future. All we have is now, so choose wisely, is what I’ve been learning.
To combat going crazy I’ve been cleaning, stretching, doing yoga, listening to records—I built a set of legos the other night. I’m gonna test out my artistic side. Always loved drawing and art just never took the time to hone in on it. I’m trying to do less scrolling—I feel like too much scrolling will lead to madness.
Being quarantined is the perfect time to get in touch with your artistic side. I have never been much of a painter, but [Robin Van Gyn and me] have been doing daily art classes where we pick an object around the house to paint or follow along during an episode of Bob Ross.
Robin Van Gyn
We’re not especially talented there but doing tutorials on how to paint with watercolors has been fun. Last night we had to pick an item from inside the house for the other person to paint.
I’ve also been utilizing this time to learn some new songs on the guitar so if I ever decide to hit an open mic night, I am ready. For now, it’s the perfect time to sing because usually people distance themselves from me when I start singing, anyways.
My whole life I’ve been a coffee nerd, but I never have the time in the morning to experiment, so I have been taking advantage of these long mornings to perfect my French press and aero press methods and even getting experimental. For example: mixing a touch of cinnamon into your ground beans in the aeropress to give it a nice spice—I highly recommend, it’s absolutely wonderful.
Following coffee, we will hit the news for 30 for any daily updates on COVID-19. It’s good to be informed so we can all do the best we can to make it better. I will then usually do any computer work or house chores until I’m too stir crazy to focus and that’s when I will skate some flat ground in the garage or have a youtube yoga/workout. The rest of the day is filled with artistic adventures, playing music, watching skate/surf/snow videos, a little bit of netflix, catch up with friends, reading, and other random activities you can do when self-quarantined.
But the best thing you can do is stay positive, informed, and use this time wisely to expand any skills you may want to touch on or expand your knowledge on a topic you are interested in.
Robin Van Gyn
We’ve also been organizing, making many awesome home cooked meals, baking way too much, reading books, doing workouts in the garage, getting my ass whooped at rummy, playing tennis in the driveway, doing arts and crafts, practicing headstands, and showering more than normal.
Turn the TV off. Try something new, even if you’re embarrassingly bad at it, no one cares. There is so much free learning online, take advantage to get dialed for when this thing is over!
It’s so easy to get restless, especially for those of us who are used to being outside most of the time. I have been enjoying watching old snowboard films, reading, doing yoga—overall, it’s been pretty chill.
My personal way of trying to stay sane so far has been to limit my phone and internet time, do some sort of at home workout, get outside for fresh air, and call friends and family. It helps to know we aren’t in this alone.
I’ve been keeping busy with a lot of typical stuff: movies, news, scrolling the feed and whatnot, but I’ve also been trying to get out for a walk or some sort of outside activity since the weather has been so nice here [in Bellingham, WA]. I’m feeling super fortunate to have great housemates, a great backyard, and that we’re close to the forest and hiking trails. I’ve been gardening and getting to know my backyard a bit better, learning more about the local flora and fauna, foraging a bit more. There’s talk of building some bike trails in the yard, so we’ll see how that goes.
A friend, Zoe, inspired us to set up an axe throwing target, so we’ve just started that. I have a small cross bow pistol that I bought a few years back that I’ve been wanting to practice with, so that’ll be fun to learn.
When I find myself feeling a bit stir crazy it’s because I haven’t got my heart rate up for a while. Do 20 push-ups, jumping jacks, 100 crunches or some planks. We really don’t need that much space for things that can get our blood pumping. Get back into a yoga or a simple workout routine. Or maybe just take a deep breath and do the stuff we never allow ourselves time to do.
Exercise your imagination!
I have no shortage of photo editing to complete. I have to sort, cull, rename, keyword and color correct close to 20,000 images from the season. That said, there’s only so much screen time your eyeballs can take in one day before the quality of your editing starts declining. I’ve been spending time with my wife and daughter, playing, laughing and really relishing the closeness this self-isolation provides.
There was an awesome “mess with the algorithm” challenge going around on Instagram where people were sharing each other’s photos for about a week and I absolutely loved that. I got to see so much new-to-me work and enjoy other’s creativity. It inspired me to start my own photo challenge, where I give people a word to interpret through photography. I wanted it to be a free-for-all where anyone could feel free to participate. I don’t care if you’re a pro photographer or just a person with a phone camera: if you have a way to capture an image, a brain and Instagram account you can join in the challenges. At the end of the day I repost everyone’s entries and try to inject some humor with a caption accompanying the photo. Whichever photo I like the best that day gets awarded a print of my choosing. I’m participating too, since it wouldn’t be fair for me to ask people to flex their creativity if I don’t flex mine. If anyone’s interested in jumping in, you can follow me @fotomaxizoomdweebie to see the daily challenges and instructions.
Since there’s no shredding to shoot I’ve had to try and come up with photo ideas to execute in ways I’d never normally shoot. That in itself is a new skill. I have so many new projects in mind, but it’s been very difficult to get started on anything truly new. I feel really out of step right now and have been really affected by what I call “the tyranny of choice.” There are too many things I want to do so I don’t start any of them. I guess it’s time to re-read Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” and get to work.
I also want to say that taking care of your mental health is really, really important right now. If anyone’s feeling overwhelmed, please reach out to your family and friends about how you’re feeling. Don’t suffer alone, people want to help. It’s a scary, uncertain time and it’s hard for everyone to process. There is help available, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of it.