I was invited by my good friend Caron to go for a bicycle ride (which typically I’m always game for) in and around Blue Grass Fish and Wildlife Area. The day had been warm but a small wind had picked up promising some relief and good resistance for our ride.
We chatted along riding smooth and consistent passing open fields and farmhouses. Pulling away from a more trafficked area we entered into the Wildlife Area noticing subtle changes in the area around us. The sounds of traffic and the city now non-existent replaced by the soft wind and conversing birds.
As we rode I felt little bugs graze across my face unable to avoid them as I rode occasionally catching one in my mouth (delicious). The area again started to change providing views of stripper pits, fisherman, and families enjoying this reclaimed area. I felt grateful that the land was given the opportunity to heal after being dug up when used by a coal company. It was now hard to imagine it any other way but its current natural state as we rode.
The sun began to fall slowly in the horizon casting rich hues of gold into the sky and onto the land. Frogs began their dusk choruses adding a hint of enchantment into the air. The wildlife area began to fade and more fields and farmhouses emerged as we made our way back to our stopping point.
Feeling tired when we first headed out, I was revived by the easy conversation with my friend and the freshness of the wildlife area. It is easy to forget how close to the city Blue Grass is, a great escape for those needing solace from city life.
Moral Of The Story: Nothing beats spending time with Mother Nature and a friend on Earth Day or any day for that matter!
(I enjoyed the ride on Earth Day instead of taking any pictures so the above is a throwback picture taken during my time at Lake Isabella in California. Absolutely nothing to do with riding a bicycle but “earthy” none the less.)
Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home By Heather “Anish” Anderson
How I Came Across This Book:
I along with a lot of readers of this blog, am very aware of who Anish is and have followed along on her adventures via Instagram and visited her website anishhikes.wordpress.com for various bits of information. Because of her achievements, I have heard tons of “Anish” stories over the years as well; she is a trail legend.
For those of you who don’t know of Anish, she has MANY trail and non-trail accomplishments. Most recently in 2018 she became the first female Triple, Triple Crowner and became the first female calendar year Triple Crowner at the same time. She also holds several Fastest Known Time (FKT) records, one for fastest female self-supported hike on the Appalachian Trail (2015) and fastest female self-supported hike on the Arizona Trail (2016). She has also broken the overall record for the Fastest Known Time male or female (actually establishing the first record for this for females) out on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013. To say the very least, Anish is an extremely inspirational female and a phenomenal athlete.
Beyond her significant amount of record-setting and variety of incredible accomplishments, Anish opens up to the world with Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home allowing you the reader, to see her past the records and titles, to see her core. She recounts her emotional hike and her personal thoughts during that record-setting hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013. Within the pages of Thirst, Anish shares many strained and painful memories from her childhood and the numerous trying times, she experiences on the trail leading up to that record-breaking moment.
Personally, I am sure I would have read anything that Anish would have written trail related or not for the simple fact that I look up to her, such an accomplished and strong woman. However, having that she wrote about a specific hike in which she broke one record and set a new one for females, on a trail I’ve traveled on and around before, grabbed my interest all the more.
Thirst is not for the light-hearted hiker. It’s gritty, tense, and uncomfortable but somehow, it’s presented all in a good way. If you’re a potential long-distance hiker who would like to know the non-romantic side of the hike, read this book; it’s sure to give you a reality check times 110. Although everything happens at a high rate of speed, Anish experiences all the common issues and non-issues of a thru-hike. The mountain top highs and the grimy lows are all there. The body that rejects the hike but the mind that is still willing. Mother Nature shows off her best and then her worst and the Hiking Community seems to always be there to give the boost to keep Anish going one more step.
Not only does Anish take you back to the PCT, but you can also feel her pain. You can understand why she keeps pushing but all the same, may find yourself wishing she would just stop. You’ll be rooting for her the whole way and fall in awe of her abilities. You find your self-thinking “ I would have quit right then” but keep reading because Anish keeps going. It’s an incredible read and will give you a small understanding as to what it takes to break a record. Anish to me is in a whole different category of hiker, but yet so humble about her accomplishments. I think what makes this book such a good read, is knowing that Anish is like you and me except when it comes to hiking and endurance sports, she’s a machine.
I found Thirst to be an easy way to lose track of the present time while getting lost in Anish’s world, finding her descriptions of her physical and mental challenges hard to turn away from. As the reader you know she sets the record (spoilers!) but you can’t help but still cringe when reading about blisters, or choke on her words while she describes her dry mouth and the single want and need for water.
If there are any reports that Anish’s book is hard to read, it can only be for the fact that it makes a reader feel guilty for living a life of luxury while she is suffering and pushes herself to the absolute limit for 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes in 2013. You will wonder what you were doing back in 2013 that was even half as badass as Anish. The answer? Nothing.
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A lot of times I find myself exploring the outdoors solo with small hikes, runs, exploration, etc. Last night, however, I attended an event at Wesselman Woods that was about experiencing the outdoors in a way I never really have, with people I didn’t know, with beer I had not tried.
Birds and Brews is a newer monthly event hosted by Wesselman Woods where a different “bird” or speaker covers a topic involving the outdoors and a local brewery provides a flight of beer for each attendee.
I found myself drinking down my whole flight of beer from Carson’s Brewery and discussing Leadville, Co, mountain biking, yoga and van life with several strangers that quickly became good acquaintances. We discussed the blind Screech Owl Ray-Ray that was perched upon a staff member’s hand and giggled at a curious Raccoon looking in at all the commotion inside from a window.
The speaker, however, was the main event and who I had gladly paid to hear discuss “Into Thin Air: The Highs and Lows of Climbing at 14,000 Feet”. A topic I was familiar with due to friends and a husband who have personal experiences. I, however, feel it’s always good to get another’s perspective and of course the stories will always be different.
Shane Thread, a local high school teacher discussed his passion for climbing and at times running, to various summits in Colorado nailing what is fondly called a “14er”. A teacher part of the year and climber the other, Shane discussed living out of his car and traveling to mountains. He shared the statistics of the most dangerous mountains, peaks he has bagged and stressed the fine line between pushing for the summit and safety.
I couldn’t help but feel caught up in his talk (it wasn’t just the beer) and stayed to hear more as he continued to speak about experiencing the mountain before during and after summiting. There is more to climbing then just getting to the top. Even after the event was scheduled to be over, many stayed to hear more. Although I don’t think I have the interest or want to grasp for breath at the top of a summit 14,000 feet high or more, I fully enjoyed learning more about climbing and hearing Shane’s adventures in high altitude.
Moral Of The Story:It’s good to be around other people interested in adventuring in the outdoors and there is always room to learn from others (no matter how skilled you are in something). Even though the Internet gives us access to some amazing information, nothing will ever beat the camaraderie found in personal interactions.
It peered out from behind the greyness that so often fills the empty spaces.
As it rose higher parting the dwindling clouds, my small world grew warmer.
I watched from inside as it drew out creatures from their hiding places, enveloping them in its warmth.
Rays of light fell down from the Sun on people and things and anything in its view. I watched as my world and the beings that were called out, danced in the beams. I watched as later, these same dancers so full of energy and life quieted and were lulled to sleep by the same warmth and light the Sun beamed down to them.
And here I sit an observer to this, as the world turns and the sun begins its slow descent. I finally emerge then, feeling the only the last remaining tickles of light and heat on my skin.