Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Now

At times Now feels too tender and fragile a thing to hold. Maybe looking ahead and behind to the future and past are just easy out's I developed to avoid the weight of Now. The absolute and total potential of it.

In truth, Now is so soft and so breezy when we manage to exist in it with awareness. It requires no vigilance or preparation. It's a state of brief flow buoyed up by our appreciation of the moment. I can't do better or be more in Now. It exists as a sole entity, free of comparison.

Sometimes I just need to say the word. Now. Bring it back. Now. I'm alive. Now. This is a tender moment. Now. The light feels so good as the sun shifts across the sky. Now. Stop wasting time thinking about what's next. What's next is an egg that hasn't even cracked.

Repeating Now to myself throughout the day, especially when my mind wanders to areas of concern or anxiety, is a powerful way to reset my attitude and absolve my grievances. Now has become a sort of hymn, a rhythmic anthem pulling me back from the past or future and into the moment.

The most effortless access I have to Now is the moment I wake up. Opening my eyes, I sense my inner consciousness as my true self housed inside my body. For mere seconds I hold a particular inside-out view of myself and my life that's both liberating and amusing. In the spaciousness of these first moments I seem to forget the agreement I've made with "reality"- of my body as my self. I feel like a Russian nesting doll, consciousness attached to a soul nestled in a physical form of flesh, housed within a universe wider than I can understand. It's silly and pure and bewildering, and makes me feel like magic.

If I were able to capture the feelings and thoughts that often define my first minute (or less) of being awake, I would exist on a higher plane as a happier version of myself. Now really connotes wonder. Wonder at the oddity of our souls existing within a physical avatar capable of everything from climbing mountains to splitting atoms.

When we achieve genuine presence, even if fleeting, life is a marvel; a parade of Nows suspended into oblivion like a string of bright lights punctuating the dark sky of space.

"Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!"

-Mary Oliver

Sunday, September 5, 2021

A Surplus of Solitude


This blog is chock full of endless references to my utter love for time alone. I've always been someone who requires an incessant amount of retreat & recharging. If life was like a dating profile where I'm asked to define myself in offensively small boxes, 'independent' would without a doubt be the first word come to come to mind. I've lived alone for quite a long time, traveled alone, and grew up an only child with strong skills in self entertainment. 

The thing is.. the last 14+ years I wasn't really living alone. I always had the companionship of my sweet baby dog Macaroni. My heartbeat outside my body, dictating our daily schedule and providing a constant sense of presence and camaraderie. Life is vastly different without him. 

Appraising Eagle Peak

This newfangled sense of loneliness didn't start with his passing though. It definitely began with quarantine. Pre-pandemic I was an avid proponent of both working from home and long stretches of solitude. Welp, the pendulum swings always- if we can count on nothing else in life, we can surely count on that. In the past two months I've been more restless and lonely than ever before. I've taken to working in coffee shops and cafes again, willing to pay my way in caffeine and pastry fees just to be around other humans. At times I feel completely stir crazy.

I even took on a second job bartending at the local tap house. I've loved meeting so many of my neighbors and chatting with regulars but I'm avidly searching for a place to live in Tacoma. At this moment my browser has open tabs on Zillow, Apartments.com, and Craigslist. 

Life is full of moments where we fortuitously change our minds. What we want or need can shift so drastically that we feel like imposters in our own lives. If I've learned anything in my thirties it's to NEVER SAY NEVER. Life/the universe/the all/God has a way of laughing at us when we make definitive statements. Irony seems to be the language of the divine. Though I said time and time again that I'd never move back to the city I'm now trying to stake a claim in the closest metropolis south of Seattle. I miss my people! I don't want to spend another Winter out here alone-this time for real for real, without Macaroni's company.

Tahoma from the Eagle Peak saddle

“Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” 

-Paulo Coelho

Yesterday I was lucky enough to spend the day hiking with Claire after way too long apart. We climbed to the saddle of Eagle Peak at Rainier- one of the most challenging trails I've done in awhile. It was blissful to get outside with a dear friend and to not be left to my own devices. More of that good good friend time to come this week as I depart on the annual Takhlakh Lake camping trip tomorrow! Time with our chosen tribe is truly the most life affirming medicine.

Claire    

Trail Specs:

7.2 miles

2910 ft. elevation gain

Friday, August 20, 2021

Summer Skyline

In Summer it feels like almost anything can be remedied with a cold, crisp beer or a breezy night by the water. Old burdens hibernate temporarily and a constant air of possibility abounds. What more can be done with the added hours of sunlight? Days are drawn out like a hand cranked film wheel and sleep often eludes.

Summer is the season of Now - saying yes because the daylight and options will soon recede into Autumn's arms. Precious weekends bear heavier price tags as August unfolds. For awhile our time outdoors is unconstrained by the weight of gear and heavy coats. Hands free of gloves are ready to splash, seize, and climb-up, up, up into the Summer sky.

Summer is a love letter to spontaneity. Leaping into after hours fun and last minute trips. Admiring sandal strap tan's as proof of time well spent. Staying busy sweating out the humid heat and detoxing all that doesn't serve us. Especially here in the PNW- where a record breaking, model defying heat wave was only the beginning of a season defined by an average 83F, often dipping into the mid 90's; totally unprecedented in my 30 years of Seattle-area living.  

It's already August 20th and I'm asking myself what I want from this last month of Summer, while also reveling in the past few weeks of delicious time outside.

Wahclella Falls (Oregon)



Beacon Rock




Camping & Silver Falls




Skyline Trail at Mt. Rainier






"We are all on The Path-and the road leads upwards ever, with frequent resting places." 

-The Kybalion

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway

Lately I haven't felt compelled to share play by play's of specific trails or even trips. I'm much more interested in using this blogosphere to ask and work through big questions. The internet, and social media especially, is at an all time low point of interest for me. Everything is overrun with a fury of negativity (note: annoyance) that seeps its way into my bones if I allow it.

Creating a distance between myself and the interweb is downright necessary. After all, the most notable thing to happen to me on the internet since More Life hit 200k all time views was my ex boyfriend's latest girlfriend stalking my Instagram. Hardly riveting.

It's impossible to avoid the rampant negativity running amok on the web. Even my blessed trip reports on the Washington Trails website, something I've started my mornings with almost every day for five years, are full of complaints. The frustration is palpable and at times entirely relatable. I too am sick to death of overcrowding in the outdoors and mingling with new hikers who have zero respect for the basic rules of Leave No Trace. This past weekend on a dispersed camping adventure along the Cowlitz River, we were absolutely horrified by the amount of trash encountered. Amazon boxes, piles of soiled toilet paper mere steps from the water, shot glasses and broken bottles. Facing the reality of increased recreation on public lands is fucking terrifying. 

Because of this, I haven't made hiking as much of a priority this year as in others past. Aside from being outside -you know, when it's peaceful, and therapeutic- my greatest source of joy is quality time with good friends. If the pandemic taught me anything at all, it's how furiously and profoundly I NEED the company of my people.

On that note, I want to share some belated photos from Jasmin and I's early June road trip along the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway.  If you're considering a trip to the area or the Sawtooths in general please feel free to comment or contact me for specifics regarding our route and itinerary. 

Immediately proceeding our adventure, I hit total burn out between a roller coaster relationship, my mom's Parkinson's diagnosis, and my beloved companion Mac's intense decline. I warned Jasmin that I'd probably burst into tears repeatedly without notice. The breakdown I expected never came, though. This trip was nothing short of total respite and life affirming joy. Jasmin has always been a light house for me, a safe shore. We've managed to have an ease-filled, high reward friendship for more than 15 years. We both thrive in zero pretense environments and almost no one makes me feel as accepted and supported as she does.

Traversing 1,700 miles in six days, we cut across Oregon to explore the very underrated state of Idaho. As an absolute hot springs hound, I've had my eyes on Idaho for a few years. When Jasmin reached out to tell me she had a flexible Summer schedule and wanted to adventure together, I threw out the idea of hot springs hoppin' in the state known widely for...potatoes. She immediately agreed and got to work researching an area she knew absolutely nothing about. BE LIKE JASMIN! Say yes to random and lesser known things. Everything else is crowded anyway...

Idaho City, Idaho. A true relic

An old mining cemetery

A taste of the magic we encountered, including a butterfly migration


My favorite hot springs of the trip

This hot springs was too crowded for my taste but gorgeous regardless

You simply can't capture the Sawtooths in a photo

Such a memorable dinner on Red Fish Lake for Jasmin's Bday

See my last blog for more on our hike to Norton Lakes

Stanley, ID. An immensely groovy town

Headed to our private hot springs soak



Shoshone Falls. INCREDIBLE

Pinnacles near Shoshone

Beautiful incense cedar- one of many new-to-me plant and tree species encountered in Idaho

The winding, scenic byway we took from Boise to Ketchum was flanked with towering pines and constant views of the Payette River. We visited four hot springs in two days, three of which bordered the rushing river and offered alternating hot and cold dips.

Stanley, Idaho was somethin' special; from our 8am private hot spring soak inside an old barn to discussing wolf sightings in the catch-all tool and grocery store. We passed a hot afternoon drinking in the local watering hole among men who looked like part of the crew who stormed the capital, all while the jagged mountainscape loomed through every window and bison heads peered down from the walls. An immensely unique and memorable experience that I will never forget.

Our road trip to Idaho has inspired me to let go of my preconceived notions towards less visited parts of our country in favor of  experiencing wild zones that aren't oriented towards tourism and capitalism exclusively. I'd much sooner go back to Idaho for a trip around the northern hot springs than return to New York or even (most) National parks at this point.

Jasmin put together a very fun video of our trip, which you can view here 

More musings on the bounty of female friendship here

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Hiking in the Sawtooths: Norton Lakes

 
 
Transporting back to exactly a month ago, on the fourth day of Jasmin and I's road trip through Idaho, where we embarked on our first-and only-hike in the Sawtooths. As luck would have it, I broke my toe (?? questions remain, doctors were not consulted) the day before we left. Folks, you can't make this shit up. I iced the blue and purple digit religiously for the first few days of our journey and taped 'er up for a necessary jaunt into the Sawtooth wilderness.
 
 
 
While staying in Ketchum, we chose a moderate hike to nearby Norton Lakes since I wasn't sure how the toe would fair. It proved an excellent choice as the trail wandered through alpine forest, fields of robust sage, and creek crossings that kept the incline interesting. We were baffled to not see a single bear (or three) in what was so clearly bear heaven. Meadows of wildflowers and a fully stocked lake of rainbow trout danced in speckled sunshine below the cliffs of Norton Peak. 


This was one of only two times I've felt the physical affects of altitude. I relaxed and caught my breath at the lake while Jasmin ambled on to check the next ridge. There's opportunity for fairly high elevation views here in Washington, though nothing like the 14'ers of Colorado. Even Sunrise-the highest point accessible to cars in Mt. Rainier National Park-is only 6400 ft up. In comparison, we topped out at 9200ft of elevation on the Norton Lakes trail. 


We were grateful to complete this out and back early in the day before temperatures sizzled their way back into the 100's. While planning our early June road trip to one of the sublime hot spring capitals of the US, we had no idea what was to come weather wise...

Flowers identified: silky lupine, spreading dogbane, heartleaf arnica, manyflower stickseed, dark throat shooting star, wedgeleaf draba, and rydberg's penstemon.

Trail Specs:

4.7 miles

1500 ft. elevation gain