Jeff joined Eric and I today for our second snowshoe endeavor of the season. This time our plan was to head up to Lake Valhalla which is just east of Stevens Pass along Route 2. Luckily, we had no issues with the roads this time. The start of the snowshoe is a on parking strip on the westbound side of Route 2. From there the route description indicated that we were to walk up Smithbrook Road for 2.5 miles.

Smithbrook Road is not plowed for cars during the winter, but the road is well traveled by snowmobiles. Indeed a plethora of snowmobilers whizzed by on our walk up. There was no need for snowshoes on the hard packed road and we simply walked with our boots under bluebird skies and admiring some mountain views. But after over a hour of road walking we got bored and Jeff decided to take matters into his own hands. After cutting across some road switchbacks and passing Smithbrook TH we put on our snowshoes and turned off the road. Compass in hand Jeff cut a route through the forest, over half frozen creeks and several drainages aiming for the direction we thought Lake Valhalla was in. But to be honest there was no true end objective to this trek. We were just happy to be out exploring in the mountains.

We never did find the lake. Instead Jeff, Eric and I ended up in a basin just below a mountain and surrounded on three sides by high ridges. Lake Valhalla, we figured, was on the other side of the high ridge. We had turned off the road prematurely and thus had not gained enough elevation to clear the ridge… even though when we were off trail we climbed about 1000 ft. Scaling the ridge was definitely possible, but we decided to call it a good days work. The basin we ended up in was lovely and we stayed here for lunch. Jeff even brought out his stove to boil water and make mashed potatoes.

The return trip was much faster since were were going downhill and no longer route finding. We ran into several snowshoers on the trail we had cut out and a few xc skiers on the road. Perhaps we will come back with out skis next time. Another snowshoe trip that ended up being completely different than the original plan… but still fun!

On November 15-18  an immense volume of snow fell from the sky bringing an end to the wet mountain conditions and kicking off snow sport season! Last week marked the opening of pretty much every major ski resort in Washington state to the delight of ski and snowboard bums of the Northwest. However, Eric and I steer clear of the slopes until late December and January. Early season snow does not over up all the debris on the slopes and we’d rather not take the chance of messing up our gear. Instead we look toward other outdoor ventures.

Bluebird skies were forecasted all weekend so today we decided to drive up Route 2 and take our first snowshoe trek of the season in the newly fallen snow. Our chosen trail was Tonga Ridge near Skykomish. Eruic and I were reminded that snowshoe ventures never happen exactly as planned due to unforeseen road conditions. It just doesn’t matter how many trip reports you look at. Halfway up FS 6030 the pile of snow between the bare pavement tire tracks became so high that it scraped the bottom of my SUV. We tired to continue on hoping it was just a small section of road, but it got worse. We made a dicey U turn in a wide section of road and parked in a pullout a bit further down. According to the directions, we were supposed to drive 3.3 miles to road 310, but we were at mile 4 where we parked. Obviously directions are either incorrect or my car mileage is wrong.

We walked in the hard packed tire tracks admiring gorgeous icicle formations on the roadside for what must have been at least 1.5 miles before we got to road 310. Then it was another 1.5 walk to the trail head. As it turned out we did not need the snowshoes for the trail. It was packed pretty well. We walked the ridge until 12:00pm and then cut off the trail and had lunch at on the edge of the ridge admiring the mountain views. Eric and I turned back after that not wanting to get to drive back on the FS road in the evening. It gets dark so early now.

So our day of snowshoeing ended up being mostly a road walk… and did not involve the snowshoes on our feet; just on our packs. But it was a gorgeous day to be out in the mountains.

Today Prof. Griff boarded an airplane bound for California. He will be competing in no gi worlds on Sunday… thus our school is without an instructor for the next few days. As usual when he is about to skip town Griff asked if any of us were willing to run Fri and/or Monday morning classes. I offered to do it. To me it made sense in as my  next step in the BJJ journey. I’ve noticed that I’ve been instructing other students a lot lately and have begun doing a lot of in-class coaching, so why not teach a class? I’ve been an instructor pretty my all of my life anyway and love teaching. I didn’t realize until a day or two later that teaching BJJ is different than teaching, lets say, ecology. Ecology is facts, not body movement. The teaching methods, I realized, would be different.

Luckily, I had a purple belt husband so I got to practice the techniques I wanted to teach on him first. It’s amazing how much of BJJ is instinct to me that this point. I don’t realize half of the things I do. In this case, I was doing a running side control escape. I was keeping my elbows tucked in and head glued to the mat in our living room. This prevents a back take, but I did not include this in my practice instruction with Eric. I do these things naturally now, not deliberately. Eric pointed out all the details I was doing besides the largest more obvious movements. I realized then that teaching BJJ meant picking apart every detail and explaining why each move is carried out. The thing is, I might do it naturally, but the rest of the class, especially lower ranking belts, might not.

So I made a lesson plan and well, instructed. As I expected, teaching physical movement is different then when I taught at national parks, but all in all things went will and my all male class (typical!) were successful in repeating the techniques. We figured running side control escape was great to confuse newer folks who have it drilled into their heads that to escape side control you need to turn into the person. In the running escape you turn away! I also went over the  double underhook rollout since a player can get caught in that pass while doing the running escape… I realized then that body type makes a big difference. As a little person that is easier for me to do than the bigger guys I was teaching. But, I also taught to chicken wing elbow escape as an aside and they worked well for them.

So time to prepare for Monday’s class. Below was today’s lesson plan:

BJJ Lesson Plan,

Friday Nov. 1

Teaching Objective:

To teach the running escape from side control and a counter to the opponents common response: double leg unhook pass.

Class Structure

Warm up:

Jogging, movement drills (make sure to include monkey rolls, front and back rolls, butt scoots)

Technique Instruction

Running escape:

  • ·         Works when opponent is block one side in side control
  • ·         Free hand pushes while you turn AWAY. Free block arm immediately when there is space
  • ·         Place knee up high as you move onto you side beside forearm and then use TOES to push. Roll over shoulder
  • ·         Immediately place feet on hips …open guard

Double underhook rollout

  • ·         Last ditch effort
  • ·         Roll over a shoulder making sure to roll away from opponent to make distance and NOT just in place
  • ·         Grab hips with one arm and place butterfly hooks in with the same size leg. Sit back into guard


 Person down starts under side control

Open Mat