Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sauer's Legacy

Sweat It Out

I've never been on a more lupine-filled hike in my life! The wildflowers along Sauer Mountain Trail were in peak bloom and absolutely glorious. The smell alone was incredible; I felt like I could taste their color on my tongue. I've always had a thing for lupines. I have Icelandic ones tattooed on my arm as a remembrance of my trip there. They are beautiful, but they also hold a nostalgic place in my heart. One of my absolute favorite books growing up was The Lupine Lady by Barbara Cooney. It was an artfully illustrated story about a woman named Miss Rumphius who spends the end of her life scattering lupine seeds all over the world. Throughout the book, the author comes back to the same line, this central theme: "You must do something to make the world more beautiful." Miss Rumphius achieved this by bringing the glory of the lupine to as many people as possible. This weekend I met someone who would have made her proud.

Mr. Sauer first started a trail on his private property in 1982. Fast forward three and a half decades; He's still greeting visitors at the trail head every day, helping them park, sharing stories, and answering questions. He whittles walking sticks next to a sleepy pup and grumbles about the neighbors. He even sells his son's homemade wine! Washington Trails Association has started advertising the hike, bringing more visitors (and more complaints from those neighbors) than ever before. What started as a personal project for him has grown into a legacy. He has found a way to leave his mark in nature in a way that respects the land and still manages to service so many people. Coming and going, I heard multiple people thanking him for the gift of this trail and its continued maintenance. Since it begins on his private property, he certainly doesn't have to share it with any of us fellow WA hikers. Yet he does.

The first mile or so of trail is peppered with sculptures, totems, and masks that he has carved and painted. Seems that the man and the mountain are one in the same, an autonomous unit. Passing these  figures and cresting the first ridge, you can turn around to take in bright green, seemingly endless fields of orchard trees below. The wildflowers never stop as you steadily climb a steep but short 3 miles to the 3100 ft peak. Along the way, glacial views of the Cascade mountain ranges are constant. This is the first hike I've done in Washington that felt so strikingly similar to Rainier without being in the national park itself. It is such an incredible gem of a trail. Mr. Sauer told us that the day before our visit, a couple had their wedding at the peak! #GOALS

First hot hike of the year = sweating buckets, constantly reapplying sunscreen, and crazy famished as soon as we finished. Of course Rich and I hit up my very favorite place in Leavenworth, Munchen Haus, for german pretzels, brats, and Raspberry Ale! These pretzels are what dreams are made of. We took a quick detour down Icicle River Road as well to see how the Enchantments were looking as the ice continues to thaw.

Thank you, Mr. Sauer, for your hard work in making the world a more beautiful place. 


Art by Mr. Sauer

So many lupines!

The view from the beginning of the trail, overlooking the orchards below

Wildflower love

Looking out towards Glacier Peak

A muggy, gorgeous day in WA

Orchard Love

Friday, May 19, 2017

Milestones and Lists

Hiking Colchuck Lake in the Enchantments
Making some super exciting purchases this week as I actualize my upcoming trips to Utah and Argentina! It's going to be such an amazing Summer and Fall in my life, I'm so freakin' excited! I'll be turning thirty in November which definitely does feel like a momentous milestone even if I'm not quite sure why.

Am I "where I thought I would be when I was thirty"?-No. But I'm completely self sufficient, independent, and I spend a pretty good amount of time every week doing whatever the hell I feel like doing, so that feels like a real accomplishment. I have never been an extremely career oriented person. I've held an astounding amount of jobs over the years, started working when I was 15, and worked at least 30 hours a week while I put myself through college at the U.W. I work hard, I don't mind it, but I don't feel that my life or purpose here revolves around my career or work related goals. The milestones that have been meaningful to me on my life journey have had nothing to do with my career. I believe I have talent, and things to offer, but I simply don't identify myself as my job and never have. On the flip side, I also don't consider myself a "Family" person in the traditional sense of the word. I have never felt a strong yearning to be a mom. I don't see it happening for me, but I also don't say "Never" about anything. You can't know your future self, and you shouldn't try to limit the possibilities either. The point is, at age 30, American Society dictates that you should be well on your way to establishing a successful career or family. That this is what it actually means to be "grown up." I'm not at all concerned with growing up, or growing old. I am definitely concerned with growing as a human being, and continuously becoming a better and more compassionate person. I'd like to collect sights, smells, sounds, experiences, and identify myself with all these senses and moments rather than a position or title.

So of course, travel is a big part of that. I think there is always more to be explored in our own backyards, but going on these upcoming trips is going to be pretty effing amazing none the less. I am really excited to spend the week before my 30th birthday exploring Utah with my Pops. The grand adventure to Argentina will be with one of my best friends who I've known since 6th grade math class. She also speaks Spanish fluently and loves to hike, so she is just about the most perfect person to travel to Patagonia with!

Enjoying a post-hike thermal hot spring in Iceland

Where I've been:

-Costa Rica

-Colorado (born in Durango!)
-New Mexico

Where I want to go:

-Banff National Park, Canada
-Crete, Greece
-Amalfi Coast, Italy
-Camino Del Santiago walk across Spain
-Cappadocia, Turkey (Hot air ballooning!)
-Nairobi, Kenya
-Tulum, Mexico
-New Zealand

-New Orleans
-Montana-especially Glacier National Park
-Yosemite National Park, CA
-Redwood National Forest, CA
-Sequoia National Forest, CA
-Scranton, Pennsylvania (Dwight Schrute 4ever)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Peculiar Oddities

Hiking through Sulfur mist in Landmannalaguar, Iceland

I've always had a taste for the peculiar, the odd, and sometimes just the plain dark.

By the time I was 12, I was convinced I wanted to be a crime scene analyst or criminal behavior specialist. If not that, then definitely a detective or a private investigator. Not a huge surprise to my mama since I spent the years previous trying to embody my hero, Harriet the Spy. Many latch key kid afternoons spent spying on my neighbors and writing exposes about them in my journal. Pretty sure the main reason I set this career dream aside was because I found out that in order to do most of the investigate stuff I wanted to do, you had to start out as a cop first. Not really my jam, to say the least.

"Alpine Reliant, Police Defiant" -Andre Nickatina

Besides solving mysteries and trying to understand the pathology of serial killers, I have a lot of other totally obscure and  random interests that are less severe in nature. One of these is VINTAGE SIGNS!! I actually love all signs, but vintage road signs/gas station signs are my very favorite. I love nothing more than driving down winding high ways on the way to and fro trails and spotting old school signs to photograph. I'd like cover my tiny home walls in these remnants from the past.

A few of my other random obsessions include:

-Barns-especially old, funky, abandoned ones
-Moss and lichen
-Energy arts and esoteric studies
-Collecting old pins from thrift shops
-Cold brew coffee and affogatos (the rare time I imbibe on dairy)
-Paper art and stationary
-Small town bookstores
-Samurai everything: from the history and weaponry to kung-fu films and anime
-Ancient Egypt, pyramids, and hermetic philosophy
-Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine, herbs, acupuncture

Near Bumping Lake in Eastern Washington

Off Highway 20 near Rockport, Washington

Highway 2 in Baring, Washington

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Birthchart Insight

Lena Lake in the Olympic National Forest

Self discovery is the most important driving force in my life. Last week I made a commitment to myself to re-attune my daily life to reflect this passion and bring it back into focus as the top priority of my existence here on Planet Earth. One of the many things I decided to do to shake things up was to finally get a professional birth chart done by an Astrologer. I have been craving this kind of mystical insight into my personality, weaknesses, and especially my journey. I have felt on the precipice of extreme change for almost a year now...A very long time to feel in your gut that life is aligning to unveil something grand and mysterious. I opted to use an astrologer who focuses primarily on my sun sign, Scorpio. I have read her daily and weekly horoscopes for a long time and trusted that she was a legitimate practitioner. Here are some nuggets from my personal reading, if you are dying to know more about me...

Sun: Scorpio (Describes inherent personality and individuality and the way you express yourself)
Moon: Gemini (Symbolizes emotional needs and capacities; Internal reaction to what is going on around you)
Ascendant/Rising: Pisces (symbolizes how you appear to others, their first impression of you)
Fixed water sign

True...and I love myself
-Your mission in life is to lead, to probe, and to heal yourself and  those around you through compassion, strength, and love
-Change is a way of life for you, and your emotions are not likely to be very stable or constant
-You are a natural writer and communicator; You would excel in the fields of writing, journalism, acting, teaching, public speaking, or literary pursuits
 -For you not knowing the full story when yo can sense something is up is almost painful
-You have psychic tendencies
-You are full of artistic talents and the reason why you may have difficulty expressing yourself is because you have repressed an essential part of yourself for far too long
-You have a tendency of putting your emotions through a mental filter and intellectualizing them, just as you also can have dramatic bouts of emotional expression
-You often prefer being in your own world rather than having to explain everything to others
-You are unafraid of human darkness
-You intuitively know how to gain and keep money
-An attraction to the hidden sciences, the paranormal, the esoteric and the occult
-From an early age you immersed yourself in books, movies, plays
-A strong inclination towards travel
-You are the type to give second chances
-What you really want is the ability to have a seriously committed partner but also feel exactly the same as you do when you are independent and single
-Ultimately, you have faith in the universe
-You like going against the status-quo and pushing your intellectual limits

True...But I hope to change/evolve/do better:
-You are extreme, passionate, erratic, and intense. You live in a world of black and white-you dislike grey areas
-Because you easily sense the ulterior motives of others it can be difficult for you to view people in a positive light
-You tend to speak before you think
-You get bored with people easily
-You run away from your emotions because you feel more comfortable with reason
-It can be difficult for you to accept reality as it is
-You often lack follow through

This reading affirmed a couple things for me that I had already been thinking about in this renewed quest to put myself and my self discovery first. I am meant to write, and I need to continue to do it...more, more, more...I also need to seek out anything that speaks to my inner child, like immersing myself in the activities I enjoyed as a kid (note: the top thing was reading and writing, lol, along with horse riding!), and reveling in my creative energy way more often. I also NEED to live a life of personal freedom, where the people I chose to surround myself with accept and understand that absolute freedom is an essential part of my identity. I cannot commit to anything that challenges or quells my own personal freedom. Freedom and adventure are the things that light my soul on fire.

"If you accept what Saturn is trying to teach you along the course of these next few years, then the rewards will be tremendous, and you will have created something of lasting value that you can be proud of. It will take dedication, patience, and commitment. You will pull it off."

Hiking Brown Mountain in Tucson AZ

Friday, May 5, 2017

When Nature Calls

Me as a tiny speck, hiking thru the Tucson Mountains near Saguaro Ntnl. Park

"What makes a place special is the way it buries itself inside the heart, not whether it's flat or rugged, rich or austere, wet or arid, gentle or harsh, warm or cold, wild or tame. Every place, like every person, is elevated by the love and  respect shown toward it, and by the way in which its bounty is received." -Robert Wilkinson

In the past year I have had certain landscapes call to me in such intense ways. I developed a complete obsession with Iceland and was convinced that it had some important sights and lessons for me. Traveling there solo last September was one of the most exciting things I've ever done, even though I felt supremely calm throughout the entire trip. I felt the calling, actualized my goal, and had an insanely dope experience despite everything (fear of traveling alone, my mom relapsed immediately before I left, last minute plans for my dog's care fell through, countless other roadblocks trying to deter me). I said yes to almost everything that came my way in Iceland, and ended up spending nowhere near as much time alone as I had planned since I met so many cool and open travelers to explore with.

Lately, the Southwest has been calling my name and asking me to return. I grew up spending a few weeks every summer with my dad in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For years he lived on the property of a super kind Hispanic woman who rented a home to my dad's girlfriend, Iska. Looking back, I think of Iska as a spirit guide from another lifetime. She introduced me to natural healing and earth remedies at an extremely early age. She was a masseus who scouted gemstones on her property, decorated her home like a bohemian desert garden, and made me feel really good about myself. She was the first person to help me understand how much the food we eat impacts our body's ecosystem. On one of my Dad and I's many adventures, he drove us to the Carlsbad Caverns on the border of New Mexico and Texas. I got HORRIBLE food poisoning from a place we stopped at on the road, and Iska soothed it all away with foot reflexology and herbal anti-nausea pills that I let dissolve under my tongue. These early experiences with natural healing opened my eyes to the mind-body connection and had a profound impact on the way I view health and wellness, and the way I live my life.

This time around Utah is the Siren luring me in with her sweet song. It's a place that I think ceaselessly about, constantly planning a trip in my mind and researching the many options. In talking about coincidences and following life's signs (see my last post), I have an unused airline ticket from last year that must be used by November 1st. I plan to change my destination from New Orleans to Utah. Fall in the red canyons and golden arches of Utah sounds like the most brilliantly satisfying experience. I'm excited by the prospect of visiting national treasures like Zion, but also for the smaller and more hidden gems the state has to offer.

The desert is an incredible landscape that has begun to appeal to me so much more as I've gotten older. I think the emptiness sits better with me now than it did when I was younger.

 "It wasn't particular things but the space between them, that abundance of absence, that is the desert's invitation." -A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Thursday, May 4, 2017

An Ode to Coincidence

Wandering thru Eastern Washington
Yesterday I wrote about a woman in Tucson who asked if I was stuck. I talked about how I defended myself and my home in that moment, feeling defensive per usual, only to realize that she was completely right. Since returning  from that trip in the end of February, things have been different for me. The desires and dreams I have aren't as easy to settle for fantasizing about anymore. I want them too much.

A couple hours after I posted that blog I got home and found a note on my apartment door. I figured it might finally be someone complaining about all the weed I smoke in there, but no! Just a lovely letter from my landlord letting me know that I have two options for lease renewal, since mine ends this month.
I can sign a 9-12 month lease, and see my rent raise $60. Or, I can go month-to-month and see my rent raise $160.

I have a grand love affair with the concept of "coincidence." I call it a concept because I do not believe in it. My feelings always seem to be expressed best (or to their truest nature) with a quote by someone else. What is that about??

"All coincidences converge on the inevitable" -Deepak Chopra

Coincidences are to me like flags or cairns along the road of life. They are meant to be noticed, respected, and revered. They are not random as we have been lead to believe by the very nature of the word itself. Instead they are like the God particle revealing itself, infiltrating our reality with revelation and empowerment if we are willing to capture the chance and run with it...

I am not signing that lease. It might seem like the "stupid" option in a sense, since I am committing to paying way more per month, for now. As it happens, I have a quote for that too:

"The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men" -Henry David Thoreau

The way I see it, refusing to sign a long term lease forces me to leave Seattle permanently within the next 9 months TOPS. Otherwise, I will have paid that extra money unnecessarily, instead of taking the path of least resistance and signing the cheaper lease.

A lot changed in my life in the last six months. Some of the things I have clung to here are still lurking in the shadows of my plans to leave, tugging at my heart strings. Many are not. I had a painful falling out with one of my best friends a few months ago and we haven't spoken since. For a long time her friendship was one of the main things that I would consider in leaving. I've never been one to successfully maintain long term female friendships all that well, so hers meant a lot to me. She was a major source of support and comfort for me, but when we had our falling out, I realized that this was opening me up even more to the idea of leaving Seattle behind.

I got a new job in December that has been an amazing fit, yet for the first time ever I have a boss who knows what my goals are for my endgame. He has told me more than once that he would be willing to try out me doing my job from afar. That alone gives me (and the financial minded side of myself) support in following my dreams.

The truth is that the only remaining things keeping me here are my consideration for other people or my responsibilities to them. There is nothing at all in my own heart that says this is Home anymore. Slowly learning the beauty of L E T T I N G G O .......

Playing the disappearing act in Rockport State Park, WA

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Adios Invierno! A Winter Recap

I have decided to officially bid adieu to Winter now that May Day has passed. It's timeeee. It's been a horrendously wet and grey season here in the lovely 206. Agreed by all to be one of the absolute shittiest on record. Still, it managed to be a fantastic season for me, outdoors-wise! Since the leaves fell last Fall, some of the many dope outdoors excursions I have taken include:

-A trip to Breitenbush Hot Springs in the Wilamette National Forest in Oregon. Clothing extremely optional, I.E. I felt like a damn fool as the only person with a suit on when I first arrived. Don't worry, I got with the program! Amazing wet sauna here too. Just an incredible experience to dip naked in the individual lobster pots, surrounded by constant snowfall and a Narnia landscape.

Breitenbush Dreamin'

-Amazing series of hikes the week of Christmas-New Years, which made up for a rough spot in my life. Hiking the Snow Lake/Source Lake trail solo the day after Christmas stands out in my mind as one of my favorite and more epic solo adventures this past year. I had the trail completely to myself that morning (#rare), until some back country skiers showed up and started doing insane jumps off icy rock cliffs dripping with icicles. I took their lead and veered wayyy off trail up avalanche territory to get a closer look at some of the ice formations. I also drank a few of the canned champagnes my sweet friend Jos gave me for Xmas! Highly recommend those puppies, they come with a mini straw and everything! They are the "Sofia" from Coppola Winery.

Snow Lake Backcountry

 -I tried my hand at snowshoeing for the first time ever at one of the most stunning spots in Washington state- Artist's Point! I had never been to Mt. Baker before this, so even the road there was exciting for me. All praises to my neighbors Kalee and Trev for lending me their snowshoes. Rich and I had so much fun climbing up hills in our snowshoes and coming down them on our butts. It was an incredibly cool experience and I followed it up with another fun snowshoe outing to Skyline Lake at Stevens the next weekend. After climbing to the frozen lake, we veered off to the left and climbed some more to find the semi-hidden Boulder Garden above. I can't recommend this detour enough! Coasting into a pristine snow field crowded with towering rock formations was so beautiful and memorable. Crazy cool views of the National Forest from this side of the ridge as well. I posted up here, gazing out until my hands went numb.

Artist's Point, Mt. Baker

Artist's Point, Mt. Baker

Mike in the Boulder Garden

Skyline Lake Backcountry

 -Finally caught sunset from a Lookout tower. It was a lovely experience at Heybrook Lookout, near Sultan, off Highway 2. It felt like the perfect place and time to get beamed up by a UFO if there ever was one :-D Here's hoping for another day.....

Heybrook Lookout Tower at the top of the trail

The view below the Tower
-Many back country adventures, unsafe steps taken, and frozen lakes walked on! Oh and lots of normal trails too.
Near Icicle Ridge, Leavenworth
Icicle Road in The Enchantments Zone
Lake 22 off Mntn Loop Highway
The Golden Hour

Chasing after the Butt Wolf at Lake 22

Lake Valhalla on the East side of Stevens Pass

-Last but not least, an uber inspiring trip to Tucson to meet my Dad and his friends at Saguaro National Park in February. I flew down and spent 5 days living the full time RV life with my Dad at Gilbert Ray Campground in the Tucson Mountains. We hiked all around there, Brown Mountain, and inside the park itself. I learned so much in that short time about birds, foliage, and desert life. I like to think of myself as a legit Arizonian after being attacked by a jumping cactus. Coming back from AZ was just about the roughest return to Seattle that I have ever had. I just wanted to say Fuck everything and catch a ride with my dad to the next destination. On this trip, I had someone ask me if I was stuck where I am. I said no, and defended this city for all the things I do love about it-namely those people who I struggle to imagine daily life without. But upon returning and thinking more about the trip and  the lifestyle, I realized that I am absolutely stuck. Stuck by choice (and perhaps finances..), avoidable if deemed imperative, but stuck here for now nonetheless.

Hiking Brown Mountain near Tucson

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Welcome to New Zealand, Washington

I spent this past weekend doing some canyon cruisin' in one of my favorite places in Washington: Umtanum Canyon. It's sort of odd that I never knew how gorgeous the Eastern side of Snoqualmie Pass was until some family drama required me to be in Yakima two Christmases ago. Silver Linings, folks!

Last March, I took this same trip to Umtanum with one of my oldest friends, Jasmine. We attempted to summit the ridge crest but were unsuccessful. It was pretty brutal since there was still snow on the ground and traction was a definite issue, especially towards the end. After winding through the canyon and steadily climbing elevation towards the ridge line, you come upon two GIGANTIC, dusty hills. Worst part is, it looks like one giant hill until you crest it and discover the second one behind! Gahhh. Approaching the peak viewpoint while moving farther away from the Yakima River turns the earth below your boots to a crumbling brown dust, which required me to maneuver on my hands and knees more than once.

Reaching the cairns at the top felt like a huge success to me after turning around on this trail just over a year ago. Spectacular views of Mt. Rainier on a good day, which it was. 65 degrees and sweaty! Lupines and more in bloom. We ran into two guys who had crushed the climb up and were shocked to find out that one of them had only one sock on and kept switching it back and forth to avoid blisters! Never judge a book by its cover out on the trails. Some of the most experienced and knowledgeable hikers I have met over the last few years have appeared out of shape or elderly. I love telling the story of my favorite hike encounter with 71 year old Don, but I'll save that for another day. Suffice it to say, he kept my pace no problem.

Recently a friend told me that she gets anxiety when she reaches the top of a hike. Something about the return trip sends her nervous system into overdrive. The feeling of accomplishment from sitting atop a peak, or reaching an alpine lake hidden at the top of forest trails, can be dampened by the idea of more work without as appealing of an endgame (return to your car, to your day, to life outside of the woods). All of this is practice in absorbing and living the present moment. Everything about hiking does this for me. One step in front of another, and another, and another, and no step is better than the last, regardless of what you see or feel. You just push through and feel everything as it is.

Climbing our way up the Canyon ridge line took almost three hours. Coming back down took a third of that time, even though we were in no rush. In the warm, late afternoon hours the entire canyon floor was illuminated bright green. It was stunning, and so much more lush than you would ever expect from the "desert" of Washington.

I definitely need to investigate floating the Yakima River this summer. It looked ridiculously inviting after such a strenuous hike. So excited that I was able to complete 2500ft of elevation gain in three miles up. It is the most elevation I have hiked in 1 day since dislocating my kneecap last April. Treated myself to a delicious Dairy Queen Blizzard after as well 'cus #dualitybaby !

Note: The private parking lot that borders the trailhead is $5 day use and $15 overnight. DISCOVER PASS NOT ACCEPTED.