November 2021

Thoughts about…

Taking Time to Reflect

I promise that this won’t be just one long complaint session but, wow, October was hard. In many ways it felt like a microcosm of 2021. Why do I say that? Because like most people, I looked forward to putting 2020 in the rear view mirror believing that it couldn’t get any worse. Well, it sure felt like it did!

It’s so weird because I’ve experienced a lot of great successes in October and throughout all of 2021, for that matter. But often those successes were either preceded by or punctuated with some sort of demoralizing setback or, to a lesser degree, a simple letdown.

Storm clouds over Nevada's high desert

Storm clouds over Nevada’s high desert on October 8, 2021 © Jared Manninen

Granted, not all of those bad things happened directly to me. But it’s hard to maintain optimism and focus when they occur to our friends and loved ones, and that which we care about most. I find it difficult not to internalize such events which, then, affect my disposition and productivity.

I can’t explain it and, like I said, I’m not going to list all of the reasons … but this last month definitely caused me to stop and reflect.

The questions that kept resurfacing during this period of introspection were, “How I can transform this current life of volatile highs and lows into something more balanced and sustainable?” Or, better yet, “How can I learn to remain calm and centered during times of great upheaval?”

I think the latter of those two questions is more universal and, therefore, more helpful to consider. This is because life happens, right? Events outside of our control will always occur regardless of our plans, how much money or stuff we have, or how many cool people we’re surrounded by.

Blue skies and puffy clouds in Nevada's high desert

Blue skies and puffy clouds in Nevada’s high desert on October 8, 2021 © Jared Manninen

I have to admit, though, that I don’t really think that have the answer to that question quite yet. To me, it ranks right up there with “How do I live a life of peace?” and “What’s the purpose of my life?” These questions yield different answers for each one of us (at different times in our lives) because life isn’t a one size fits all scenario.

It’s important to periodically ask ourselves these types of questions, though. They remind us of what matters most, and why we do the things that we do. And, by reflecting on our lives periodically we can determine what matters most to us now which is probably going to be vastly different than 5, 10, or 20 years ago. In fact, depending on life circumstances your priorities may be completely different from last week.

High desert flora of Nevada and mountains

Early morning at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge on October 15, 2021 © Jared Manninen

Keep in mind, that when going through this process don’t treat it like you’re writing a vision statement or that it’s a check-in-the-box activity. There’s no right or wrong answer. You don’t get an A+ for coming up with the most clever response. This thing takes a commitment to dig a little deeper than what’s comfortable.

Ultimately, the point is to reevaluate your beliefs and motivations so that you can then align your actions with them.

Without knowing where you’re going, it’ll be hard to get there. And if you don’t know where you’re going, there’s a good chance that you’ll easily be pulled in many different directions (most of which won’t have any relevance to what you want out of life). Permanent life changers aside, the obstacles and distractions that conspire to keep us from hitting our target have always been there. Remember, life happens no matter what. But with a lack of clarity of purpose it’s so easy to fall prey to them.

Chalky dirt roads at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge

Chalky dirt roads at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge on the morning of October 15, 2021 © Jared Manninen

That last part feels like what I’ve been experiencing this past month (and much of the year). I think I’ve allowed myself to drift too far from the goals that I want to accomplish. As a result, every little hiccup I face has been just enough to keep me from getting meaningful tasks (toward my goals) accomplished.

In essence, what I’m advocating for is finding a goal or mission in which to tackle. These goals can provide a place in which to return when things get rough. Now, I’m not saying to avoid your problems by burying yourself in your work. But the focus that’s inherent with following your passions can keep you on track by enabling you to live with purpose.

Cross-Country Skiing Explained Mini-Series

Just wanted to remind everyone, particularly those of you who are new to my newsletter, website and/or YouTube channel, that I have a series of articles that I’ve written about classic cross-country skiing. These articles cover topics such as buying cross-country skis for the first time, waxing your waxless xc skis, and understanding the components of classic xc skis, bindings, boots, and poles.

Please note that I wrote Cross-Country Skiing Explained with the beginner or intermediate cross-country skier in mind. This is the demographic for whom I most often served while working in the outdoor recreation industry at Lake Tahoe. I basically treat these articles as extensions of the conversations I’ve had with those customers. That said, expert skiers probably could take away something of value from this article. Just know that I don’t intend to address racing-oriented philosophy, technique, or gear selection.

Waxing Your “Waxless” Cross-Country Skis (for beginner and intermediate xc skiers)

Classic Cross-Country Ski Components

Considerations for buying cross-country ski gear (new and beginner xc skiers)

Cross-country ski season started early this season!

Lake Tahoe was hit with two significant snowstorms in October that yielded enough snow to warrant pulling out my rock skis 🙂 And, believe it or not, the temperatures stayed cold enough for long enough so that I was able to log 10 days of cross-country skiing. It’s always nice to get a bunch of shorter ski days at the start of the season so as to knock the cobwebs loose!

Please subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already. Thank you 🙂 

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.

Wild Horses running in the high desert of Nevada

Wild Horses running in the high desert of Nevada on October 8, 2021 © 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, 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 🙂

Categories: Newsletters
Tags: #2021

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