April 2023

Thoughts about…

100 Days and Counting

For the past few years, I’ve made it my goal to cross-country ski at least 100 days each winter. Now, keep in mind that this doesn’t actually mean that I’ve skied all day on every one of those 100 days. As you probably know, I’m not a professional athlete and I do occasionally have other commitments to keep. So, some of my ski days are technically only about 30-45 minutes. Or, some of them may go on longer but I might only cover a very short distance during that time.

That may come as a surprise or even a disappointment to some people. That is, that I don’t actually ski all day long during every training session. But cross-country skiing is a workout, after all, and I wouldn’t really expect most people to work out for hours on end every time they went to the gym or on a run. Cross-country skiing also happens to be very technique-oriented. So although I do travel many miles over the course of many hours on certain days, I probably spend an equal amount of time only focusing on refining one small aspect of a bigger technical movement.

Bluebird day at Grass Lake on March 3, 2023. © Jared Manninen

The bottom line is that becoming proficient at anything requires us to find that balance between the big picture and its smaller parts. So, again, I vary my training between long and short distances and aerobically and technically-oriented sessions. I also do this as a way in which to pace myself.

Honestly, if I tried to grind out two dozen miles every time I cross-country skied I’d either develop a serious case of tendonitis in every joint of my lower body or I’d mentally burn out. Most likely, I’d end up suffering both afflictions in short order. Again, I’m not a pro athlete and I do like to do other things. That, and I’m not getting any younger. As they say, it’s not so much about the time but, rather, the miles on the body that ages us. So mixing it up is critical to seeing a longer-term goal through to its completion.

Storm day at Washoe Meadows State Park on March 4, 2023. © Jared Manninen

I choose 100 days because it’s a good number for me. First and foremost, it’s a goal that’s actually achievable assuming the snow cooperates. Add a low-snow winter to the equation, and that goal becomes even more difficult to achieve. Either way, though, I personally find that doing anything consistently for 100 days in a timeframe that can last 150 days or less is pretty challenging. There’s simply not a lot of room for error with those numbers. So, in my opinion, logging 100 days of skiing each winter is a relatively serious goal and commitment.

But this is the type of goal that I want to embrace. The kind where it’s both realistic but also includes plenty of legitimate challenges.

Essentially, when we’re goal-setting we want to set our sights high enough so that there’s always something for which to reach. Otherwise life just becomes too easy, right?

Making some tracks in the forest on March 6, 2023. © Jared Manninen

I wouldn’t necessarily call it demoralizing. But I do tend to find it underwhelming and a bit of a letdown when I achieve my goal in a fraction of the effort or time that I set aside to work on it. For example, rather than feeling celebratory upon its completion because of the all the effort and skill that I put into the endeavor I usually just feel meh about it. This is because I know I set too low of a bar for myself, and that I can accomplish so much more.

As a lifelong competitor, in one form another, I know just how unsatisfying an easy win can be. This stems from the fact that those easy wins just don’t create enough pressure to truly test us. So we end up logging a hollow victory and wondering what the point of it all was.

It actually felt like spring on March 9, 2023. © Jared Manninen

In contrast, and regardless of outcome, knowing that we pulled out all the stops and left everything on the mat or the track is the essence of living a meaningful and fulfilling life. As a bonus, when we go back to unpack the experience in an effort to determine what we could do better next time, we have lots of data from which to evaluate.

Some people might argue with this, but I truly believe that every single person secretly desires to be the hero in their own story. And what I mean by this is that we all want to, at one point or another, be that person who overcomes great odds to achieve a monumental victory. It doesn’t matter how big or small that “monumental” victory actually is because it’s all individually relative. However, we all want to experience that same feeling of having put forth a great effort that led to making a positive impact on the world.

Snow falling at the Upper Truckee River on March 12, 2023. © Jared Manninen

Obviously, cross-country skiing 100 times each winter is not exactly something that’s going to re-shape the world for the better. But it’s an example of how leading a goal-oriented life can simulate the experience of becoming the hero in our own story. We embrace a challenging goal. And then we employ all of our skills, talents, and resources to overcome whatever challenges we’re faced with in pursuit of that goal. And, hopefully when we’re through, whatever results we’ve achieved have inspired others to attempt their own challenging goal and, just as important, revealed something about ourselves that was previously hidden.

I couldn’t imagine living life any other way. In other words, find something that you’re passionate about and then go after it with everything you’ve got.

March was constantly back-and-forth between spring-like days and snow storm days. View of Freel Peak on March 18, 2023. © Jared Manninen

I haven’t worked at the cross-country ski center since February due to the numerous snow storms and a general lack of business (since we’re now in the spring months). So I decided that I better start working on some other projects before I get into my summer job.

Creating artwork is one of those projects. However, I decided to begin work on a much larger project which is a pocket-sized photo book or visual bird checklist specific to one of my main birding areas (near my home). I’ll share more details as I get further into it, but I intend on publishing it as a 4×6″, spiral bound, full-color book to help people identify birds in this particular area of Tahoe.

Cross-country skiing at Kirkwood XC on March 23, 2023. The Caldor Fire (2021) swept through portions of this area. © Jared Manninen

What I’ve found about nature-related resources is that there are many of them that cover broad topics like “Birds of the Sierra Nevada” or “Tahoe Wildflowers,” for example. But there are few resources that are dialed in and specific to particular regions or aspects of Lake Tahoe or the Sierra Nevada. There’s obviously value and financial reasons for publishing general resource books, but I want to take things in the opposite direction by creating more intimate portraits of various locations around the lake.

This is not to say that I’m going to create ultra-detailed renderings of finite locations. I’m a firm believer in the process of discovery, after all. So my intention is simply to create a relevant starting point for people to explore Tahoe’s many micro-climates. The all-in-one resources are great but, again, probably close to 2/3 of the content from those types of books usually isn’t relevant to the specific location in which you’re adventuring.

Long story short, I only made time to produce a few watercolors last month 🙂

Immerse Yourself in Nature

Join Jared Manninen, a California Naturalist and wildlife photographer, as he shares tips, considerations, and stories about his experience participating in multiple Tahoe Big Years (both birds and wildflowers) that have been sponsored by the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science.

Sponsored by Friends of the Library and Tahoe Institute for Natural Science.

I realize that most of you won’t be able to attend this in-person event since it’s here at Lake Tahoe. However, I’ve based much of my presentation on concepts that I’ve written about in the following articles. Take a look 🙂

Stevens Peak with blooming shrubs in the foreground

Believe it or not, I’ve been slowing down production at my YouTube channel.

At about this time of the year, people start to check out because they’re beginning to participate in spring activities (rather than xc skiing and snowshoeing). So, I’m giving myself a short break and working on other projects.

That said, I do plan to produce summer-related videos about hiking, backpacking, etc. this year. And that’s because 2023 is not a Tahoe Big Year 🙂 So, I won’t be spending every spare minute of my freetime either looking for birds or wildflowers!

Additional articles for you to read that are relevant at about this time of the year 🙂

Thanks for being a part of my life. Until next time…

-Jared Manninen

Tahoe Trail Guide is an online resource for hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing in the Lake Tahoe region. In addition to trail data, I offer backcountry “how-to” articles and information about the local and natural history of Tahoe. Tahoe Swag is a collection of art and design products I create based on my love of the outdoors and appreciation for Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains.

If you like any of the images I post in these newsletters, please contact me. I’d be more than happy to upload them to my RedBubble account so that you can order prints and other merchandise featuring the images.

View from the east shore after a big snow storm on March 29, 2023. © Jared Manninen

A Note about Patreon and PayPal…

Patreon (orange button) is an online platform for providing financial support to creators who provide quality digital content that’s otherwise free. I offer various subscription tiers starting at $3. And all subscription tiers from $6 and up will receive original artwork after six consecutive months of contributions. The button directly below the Patreon button is a way in which to provide a one-time payment via PayPal (if subscriptions aren’t your thing).

My newsletters here on JaredManninen.com, the articles that I publish on Tahoe Trail Guide, and the videos I upload to YouTube will always be free. But if you’re interested in contributing to the health and longevity of my websites and YouTube channel, consider subscribing. Even a little goes a long way 🙂

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Last Month’s Newsletter (aka Recap in Video Format!)

To broaden my audience and get more mileage out of these newsletters, I’ve begun to adapt them into short videos for YouTube. I’ll incorporate short video clips into these recaps whenever possible as I do often capture nature videos when I’m outdoors (but don’t use the footage anywhere else). Essentially, I want to make two different presentations with a minimal amount of extra work rather than just creating a 1-to-1 adaptation of these text and photo versions of my newsletters.

Categories: Newsletters
Tags: #2023

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