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New Year's Resolutions – Wyoming style

New Year's resolutions – Wyoming style

For these Wyomingites, 2014 brings with it New Year’s resolutions that reflect their love of the outdoors.

New Year’s Resolutions – Wyoming style

It’s that time of year. The time of fresh beginnings where all things seem possible. This year take a cue on resolution-making from several Wyoming athletes who are already focused on their goals for 2014 and beyond. Figure out what’s important to you and why, and think beyond “eating healthier” and “losing weight.”  This week’s Peaks to Plains features short stories on four Wyoming athletes who share their goals and tips on how you can try their sport in 2014.

Read on for inspiration and tips for picking up a new sport and feel free to share with us what your outdoor plans are for 2014.

Aaron Pruzan

Aaron Pruzan

Gore Canyon is a short, rugged canyon on the Upper Colorado River known for its class four and five whitewater sections. Once believed unnavigable, it is now an alluring challenge for expert paddlers made even more difficult with the addition boulders and other hazards with the construction of the railroad. Each summer since the 1980s, intrepid paddlers gather for the Gore Canyon Whitewater Festival, drawn to the long stretches of rapids with steep ledges and drops.

Last summer, Aaron Pruzan, 45, of Jackson, found himself stuck sideways against a rock wall on Gore rapid in the canyon during a race featuring boats 10-feet or longer. He’d entered the rapid wrong and felt the seconds tick by as he struggled to maneuver his boat. Once freed of the spot he dug in and paddled harder than before. He knew the course was so challenging almost every racer would make a mistake somewhere. It wasn’t over yet.

Pruzan came in second, three seconds behind the winner.

This year he plans on winning.

Expand to read more about Aaron Pruzan...

Get into kayaking: Take a lesson. There are paddling schools throughout the state — in Jackson, Cody, Casper and Laramie — that offer beginner instruction in flat, moving and whitewater. Many communities offer winter and spring clinics inside local pools. Once you are comfortable with the basics of paddling and river safety, check out easy stretches of water with other paddlers. Pruzan recommends stretches of the Snake, Shoshone, Green and North Platte as places with easy sections of river for aspiring kayakers.

Sam Lightner Jr.

Sam Lightner Jr.

If nothing changes in Sam Lightner Jr.’s climbing this year, it will be a success.

Lightner, who turns 47 in February, wants to consistently rock climb 5.13 rated routes when he’s 50.

“I don’t care what I get done in 2014, provided it helps me in 2017,” he said.

Lightner grew up climbing in the Tetons — his best friend’s dad was an owner of Exum Mountain Guides — and discovered he was naturally built for the sport with a light frame and strong fingers.

Decades ago, Lightner read about a climber who, at 50 years old, climbed a route rated 5.13 — difficult climbing for anyone today, but especially hard in that era. The story faded from his memory as he went on to pursue climbing in Laramie, Lander, Moab, Utah, and Banff, Canada, tackling crack, sport, sandstone and ice routes.

But then in his early 30s he started noticing something. His fingers stayed swollen longer after a hard day of climbing. An elbow injury took longer to heal. It could take days to recover from a strenuous workout. Lightner was getting older.

Expand to read more about Sam Lightner...

Get into climbing: Hire a guide and tell them you don’t want to be taken up something, you want to learn how to climb, how to use the equipment and how to move on rock. Climbing in a gym is not an adequate substitute, Lightner said.

Joe McGinley during Wyoming' s Cowboy Tough Adventure Race. (Photo courtesy Joe McGinley)

Joseph McGinley during Wyoming’ s Cowboy Tough Adventure Race. (Photo courtesy Joe McGinley)

Joseph McGinley taught himself to open-water swim by reading a book on the topic. About 10 years ago he jumped off a boat to swim from Alcatraz in what is considered by many one of the country’s hardest triathlons, using his already acquired basic swimming skills, the book and a little practice in the San Francisco bay. Since then he’s competed in the Escape from Alcatraz eight times and has yet to finish in less than three hours. This June he plans to meet that challenge.

McGinley, of Casper, used to race motocross until he started medical school and decided it was too risky. He switched to mountain biking, marathons and triathlons. Then he heard about adventure racing. He entered sprint events, which are  shorter races, and within a few years he was signing up for full races, which can mean days with little sleep on the course and transitions from kayaking to mountain biking to long-distance running and require navigating skills. He now enters three to four adventure races a year and is part of a professional team based in California.

Expand to read more about Joseph McGinley...

Get into adventure racing: Try a sprint race first. These are usually shorter, less intense and don’t require navigation. If you really want to start slowly, start with an Xterra race, which is like a rugged triathlon. All you need to know his how to paddle, run and ride a bike. When you are ready for a full-on adventure race, pair up with a veteran competitor. Often people are willing to help new-comers into the sport.

Carolyn Gilbertson

Carolyn Gilbertson

This year when Carolyn Gilbertson, 64, races in the 28 kilometer Teton Ridge Classic in Teton Valley, Idaho, and the 32 kilometer Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley, Idaho, she will care less about her time and more about simply finishing each skate ski race.

Four months ago Gilbertson underwent a stem cell transplant to treat multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.

Last year Gilbertson was dry-land training for cross country skiing and struggling to complete parts of the workout she’d done for years.

Gilbertson grew up downhill skiing in Oregon, but took up cross country skiing in the 1990s when her daughters started competing in the sport while growing up in Lander. To see them on the course Gilbertson had to ski to viewing points. A marathon runner, she found skiing easier on her joints.

Expand to read more about Carolyn Gilbertson...

Get into cross country skiing: Local ski clubs and ski shops often offer lessons. Most Nordic skiers are also willing to give tips. Find a friend that already skis and follow them. Weight shifting is important for both skate and classic skiing so practice gliding one ski and then shifting your weight to the other ski to get a feel for it. Add poles later.
Correction: This story was corrected on January 2, 2014, regarding the ownership of Exum Mountain Guides.
—“Peaks to Plains” is a blog focusing on Wyoming’s outdoors and communities. Kelsey Dayton is a freelance writer based in Lander. She has been a journalist in Wyoming for seven years, reporting for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Casper Star-Tribune and the Gillette News-Record. Contact Kelsey at [email protected] Follow her on twitter: @Kelsey_Dayton

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About the Author

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Kelsey Dayton is a freelancer and the editor of Outdoors Unlimited, the magazine of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. She has worked as a reporter for the Gillette News-Record, Jackson Hole News&Guide and the Casper Star-Tribune. Contact Kelsey at [email protected] Follow Kelsey on Twitter at @Kelsey_Dayton

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