Earth Day Ride

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!

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(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.)

 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Book Review: 

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home – REVIEW

 

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home – REVIEW

Full Title & Author: 

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.

First Thoughts:

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.

Review:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

You MUST read this book! You can find this book several places on Anish’s site HERE or via her publisher, Mountaineers Books or on Amazon via this link  https://amzn.to/2VNsoau

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A Few Other Book Reviews:

Learning To See – Review

Girl In The Woods – REVIEW

 

 

(DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS! THIS MEANS THAT IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS AND BUY SOMETHING, I RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. THIS HELPS SUPPORTS DARWIN’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND ALLOWS US TO CONTINUE TO MAKE CONTENT VIA THE SNUGGLE DIARIES! THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT!)

 

Enjoying A Brew While Listening To A Bird…

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.

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(Flight O’Beer Provided By Carson’s Brewery)

 

Neato Stuffs:

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home Review – Coming Soon! 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Other Posts About Wesselman Woods:

Quick Nature Fix: Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

A Sunshine-y Ditty…

The Sun came out today slowly but surely.

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.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sure not to miss it again.

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(Spring Buds) 

 

Neato Stuffs:

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home Review – Almost Ready! 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

What I Was Doing Last Year:

And So It Begins…

Quick Nature Fix: Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

As most of you know I am back in the Midwest spending time in my hometown. Since I plan on being in the area for an extended amount of time, I am trying to make a point to explore areas of the city that one can experience the natural world without venturing too far away from creature comforts. These are places that are not intimidating for those with limited outdoor experience and easy for the experienced to get a quick nature fix.

Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

I have run numerous laps in and around the baseball fields and picnic areas surrounding Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve but it has been since I was a kid that I have entered the actual preserve.  The nature preserve is tucked between an expressway, golf course, baseball fields, numerous businesses and busy streets which may immediately turn some away from a visit, but I personally am impressed by the fact that the preserve is still “preserved.”

The day of my recent visit, there were many runners and dog walkers around the preserve but I timed my visit to avoid school trips and weekend crowds, I basically had the place to myself.  My child mind remembers feeling very easily taken in by the wilderness around me and so I was excited to see how my perspective would differ as an experienced hiker and adult.

The preserve has about six miles of walking trails (not to be confused with hiking trails) which are well maintained, and a great introduction for children or adults new to the outdoor experience. I didn’t walk the entirety of the preserve, as some sections were extremely flooded due to recent rain however, I explored over half the area. Some small sections of trail (closer to the nature center) are paved but most of the trails are dirt or boardwalks. It’s easy to forget that a busy city surrounds you while walking within the preserve but occasionally on some of the out skirting trails I was brought back to the city. On some of these trails, I heard and could see traffic along with taking in smells of fast food on the wind. I have a feeling, that once the surrounding flora goes into full bloom these sights and sounds will be diminished to some degree.

As I walked along the trails I was able to let my mind wander and take in the calls of birds and even the sounds of a woodpecker. Walking along a few ponds and creeks I took in the familiar croaks of toads (a sound I didn’t realize I had missed out West) and the sounds of flowing water that doesn’t seem to happen enough in the desert.

Several trails have been given local and historic names such as “Wabash Erie Trail” which is named for the water source it runs by; once the longest canal in the United States, the Wabash & Erie Canal. Others I couldn’t help but find a little off-putting after clearly being named for a company sponsor such as the “Toyota Break Trail”. Within these same off-putting thoughts, I cannot help but feel grateful that these companies saw the importance in continuing to help protect this special area of land; a catch twenty-two of sorts.

After immersing myself within the woodlands, I returned to explore the small nature center.  A few captive birds and reptiles can be viewed along with several hands-on displays, which I am always a sucker for. The weird smells and deteriorating taxidermy animals I remembered from my past have long since been replaced.  I did remember being mesmerized by a bird and wildlife observation area within the nature center and found the area still part of the center.

From the protection of glass, one can observe various species of bird, squirrel and other wildlife that come to feed and drink around a small stream. What makes the scene even more special is the placement of hidden speakers outside allowing the observers to hear all the natural sounds and wildlife talk. Forgetting just how bright red a male Cardinal is and how big a Fox Squirrel can get, I was fully entertained for a good half hour watching small dramas unfold in front of me.

After my visit to Wesselman Woods, I can honestly say I was fulfilled. For a minimum of five bucks (further donations are always appreciated), I was able to get my nature fix, learn a little history, rehash old memories, get some exercise, observe wildlife and hopefully with this post, show my appreciation that my hometown recognized the importance of protecting a wild place.

There are many ways to enjoy nature beyond just long-distance hiking and without traveling long distances. If you’re ever in my old neck of the woods, I recommend a visit to Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve.

Learn More About Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, a place of the likes that “no other city in the United States with a population exceeding 100,000 has within its corporate limits.”

 

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Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Learning To See – Review

Four Years Ago, On A Trail Far, Far, Away…

 

Learning To See – Review

Full Title & Author: 

Learning To See by Elise Hooper

How I Came Across This Book: 

I can’t exactly say where I had seen this book before but I can say that I found it popping up in the background of my life most recently. Perhaps this was in part due to Darwin’s new project out on the Arizona Trail, that I was sensitive to anything regarding photography or film.

A few weeks ago, this book finally just slapped me in the face while standing in the check-out line at the library. I could ignore it no longer and made a mad dash to grab it off the shelf and checked it out. In some ways, I felt reading about a photographer would somehow allow me to understand this art form better and feel more connected to Darwin, while he is out filming and photographing the people and places of the AZT. I often find comfort in books and this one was no different especially for the fact it was the story of an amazing woman.

First Thoughts:

I immediately liked the book and found it never to be dull or slow. The author Elise Hooper is a good writer, however, if you do any research on Dorothea Lange, you’ll realize Lange’s life was never exactly dull or slow in reality. Lange traveled around America doing things that were frowned on for a woman to do. She sought out places that men would shy away from and she did what she could with the skills she had. She followed her passions regardless of what others said about her; a true artist.

Review:

Learning To See is another historical novel which like I have mentioned in another review, I find easy to read and learn from. The novel depicts the life of American photographer and photojournalist Dorothea Lange at the start of her career around 1918 to a few years before her death in 1965. Although Lange was not a hiker, she was a female adventurer who found herself in many precarious situations traveling thousands of miles and making sacrifices to provide for her family and to capture a story.

The author Elise Hooper, is upfront with the fact that although the novel depicts historical events in both Dorothea Lange’s life and the world she did take a few liberties in order to present the book from the perspective of Lange herself. Hooper even discusses this further in the “P.S” section, in the back of the book. As I read, I would often refer to pictures Lange captured in specific times in her life (a few are also presented in the book) which gave even more meaning to what I read. Lange risked her family and her life to show the world the devastation brought on by the Great Depression and traveled to remote places to show the horrors experienced by Japanese Americans who were forced to evacuate their homes to be incarcerated in camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. Her photos are now pieces of history that many would like to forget but we can no doubt all learn from.

Not only did I find Lange’s photography interesting but also the crowd of fellow artists she was friends with such as Ansel Adams the landscape photographer and environmentalist and Frida Kahlo the highly famous Mexican artist. One can also not mention Lange without mentioning her husband of fifteen years the famous painter of the American West, Maynard Dixon. I found the mix of Hooper’s writing and the basic facts of Lange’s life to be full of inspiration. Lange herself was surrounded by creative people who found their inspiration and pursued it no matter the costs as she herself did.

Conclusion:

I think Learning To See is a book for anyone looking for inspiration to create something. Whatever your art form is writing, photography, filmography, painting, etc. Dorothea Lange’s life alone will get you motivated to show the world what you can do even if the world doesn’t want it yet. This book also gave me a little more understanding of the mindset of what it takes to capture a shot, a moment. It’s more than just setting up the camera and looking through a lens. It has a lot to do with the artist, their surroundings, and if taking that shot is really what they are passionate about.

Hooper’s novel can be found following this Amazon link https://amzn.to/2UEzVYo or check your local library to see for yourself!

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A Few Other Book Reviews: 

Sharp Top, A Historical Novel – REVIEW

The Blue Ridge Parkway By Foot – Review

 

 

(DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS! THIS MEANS THAT IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS AND BUY SOMETHING, I RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. THIS HELPS SUPPORTS DARWIN’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND ALLOWS US TO CONTINUE TO MAKE CONTENT VIA THE SNUGGLE DIARIES! THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT!)

Four Years Ago, On A Trail Far, Far, Away…

When I headed out for my run it was gray outside, a color not uncommon when describing my hometown in the Spring. A glance down the street showed me a distant fog hovering over houses and businesses. I started out feeling the dampness in the air; a reminder of the sticky humidity that summer would bring. My run took me down streets of my past but as the morning sky continued to close in and darken, I remembered what I had been doing the same day, years before.

March 10th marked the four-year anniversary of the day Darwin and I touched our first White Blaze on Springer Mountain in Georgia. An event that still lingers in my mind like it was yesterday. A chilly foggy morning, the kind where you can’t exactly say if you’re wet because of rain or just from the amount of moisture hanging in the air.

During our time on the AT, rain was a constant. I remember how good it felt to peel off my cold wet clothes and trade them out for my dry camp clothes. I also remember how it felt the next morning waking warm in my sleeping bag knowing my day old wet (and sometimes frozen) clothes awaited me. Georgia presented numerous challenges for all of us newbies. We were all excited and nervous but those feelings can only motivate you for so many miles before the weather really starts gnawing at you.

I remember coming down from Blood Mountain, another foggy rainy day preventing us from having any views. We, however, we’re excited to have survived our first few days on the trail and ready to treat ourselves with the first bit of civilization, a bunk bed and shower in the hostel at Mountain Crossings.

Several people left the trail at that point however I remember being still hopeful and excited to hike back into the fog and rain the next day. That excitement would wain as we continued to hike in those conditions for several days. I would find out, later the harsh reality of the saying, “No Rain, No Pain, No Maine”.

Now life post AT, I find I am very tolerant of cold, rainy, or foggy weather. Not exactly my favorite weather, but again it’s tolerable. It doesn’t keep me from doing something…usually. When hiking the AT, the tolerable attitude is a must and a lesson the trail will surely teach any hiker willing to listen.

Of course, this is all easier to say knowing, that when I finished my run I could treat myself with a hot shower, and dress in warm dry clothes, via a warm dry house. Another gift from the AT…an appreciation for the little things in life.

Thank you Appalachian Trail, for all your lessons. It’s four years later, and  I haven’t forgotten you or all you taught me. 

 

(Technically, I didn’t touch the 1st Blaze, I leaned on it…)

 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

One Of Many AT Journals :

3/16/15 Trail Magic & Tray Mountain