Asking an adventurous person to be still and stay put can be a very tall order however due to the current state of the world these orders of quarantine, social distancing, and shelter in place are for the health and well being of us all. Both the adventurer and the loafer are affected this time and everyone in between; we are in this together.
As we all try to adjust to our new reality, we find ourselves striving for activity both physically and mentally and so I thought I’d perhaps try to assist with the mental part. Below are links to several book reviews I have done in the past. The books I review typically have some connection to the outdoors, hiking, adventure, wildlife, etc.
I present to you this list in hopes that you may leave your four walls via an escape with a good book. Be forewarned there are a lot of my personal opinions in the reviews!
Take a look at the reviews and pick a book. Links are provided to find the book on Amazon (some books can be found in various forms) but don’t forget to check out your local library via apps like Libby or support your local bookstores via apps like Libro.fm (especially now when lots of local business are closed).
Since it seems we are all inside looking at the outside world, this journal entry seemed to strike a chord with me when looking over old journals…
Weed, CA 6/28/2018
I haven’t written for a while; not sure why. I’m still lingering in Weed, CA and I can’t exactly remember how long I’ve been here now.
I found a place to park, a place to work, places to hike and a few places to just be. For a place not being on my radar, it seems to have worked out Bowie and I coming here.
We had a great hike around part of Siskiyou Lake. It was hot out today, but a four-mile hike did us both good. I felt exhausted in a way I haven’t for a long time; my body being challenged and used.
We returned from our hike to a local park in Weed we like a lot. I am confident in saying it’s my favorite park I have stumbled upon so far in this journey. The town is preparing for their July 4th Carnival and I’ve been watching the rides arrive all week as the park seems to be the center of it.
As we relax in the grass, I watch the carnival workers start unloading supplies and observe local families sitting on picnic tables watching the action too. I feel I’m an unnoticed observer. I wonder if anyone has picked up on our routine, this big van and all can stand out.
I’ll be gone when it all happens the carnival and all its buzz of activity, but it’s somehow pleasant to know that things will continue without me. I wonder if the carnival workers feel the same when they leave a town?
It’s nice to be in a place longer than just a few days; to observe the going on’s of a community. I often feel lonely, but it makes the human interactions I do have that much sweeter. I feel more present in everything I do now.
Bowie seems to like this easy pace we are in, our routine, this place. I’m hesitant to break out of this pattern and leave but within the same thought, I find myself longing for the change.
The following was formulated while out on a day hike most recently with a friend. Coffee was not involved however it was discussed. Miles were also discussed but more were hiked due to good conversation and amazing surroundings provided by Mother Nature.
Catching Up With A Friend Over Coffee But Ending That Time Early Due To Discomfort Of The Body (Sitting Too Long)
Situation Break Down:
Some people prefer to have coffee with a friend; to sit and sip and chat it up a few hours. The whole while the body is being cooped up, bent into a seated position; no real physical activity is happening.
After an hour or so, the body starts sending signals that movement is needed and Friend One starts shifting in their seat. Then, when the uncomfortableness reaches max toleration, Friend One starts the process of ending the conversation with Friend Two in order to get moving physically.
Likely, Friend Two is also ready to move literally on, again not necessarily away from Friend One, but too simply activate their stagnate body; their legs are numb.
Hike Or Walk With A Friend And Drink Coffee
Situation Break Down:
People can enjoy a coffee while on the move, literally. Friend One and Friend Two can plan on meeting up at a local park and while strolling around enjoying the scenery, each can enjoy a nice cup of joe they brewed themselves, brought in a disposable cup from home or picked up along the way.
Said friends could also venture out on a dirt trail with day packs. Friends One and Two hike a few miles up to a scenic overlook while chit-chatting. Friend One sets up the stove and fuel. Friend Two provides instant coffee and water. Each friend provides their own mug. Friends together chat it up while making coffee on the trail and taking in the wonders of nature. After mugs are emptied, items are dismantled and repacked as needed and friends continue their good time down the trail. Each friend is physically moving and mentally stimulated. Thanks to a surge of caffeine from coffee, Friend One and Friend Two are likely to feel energized and continue hiking even longer while enjoying each other’s company and Mother Nature.
(These scenarios can be played out by just an individual or more than two friends…maybe three friends, or more! The choice beverage can also be hot tea or any other desired beverage.)
Special thanks to Sarah for the help in identifying this issue and formulating this cure and to Mother Nature for the rad scenery that inspired us.
After my ride this morning my senses are awakened. Running is a full-body experience and I feel riding is a smelly one.
The morning air has a sweet coolness that wasn’t there before and as I start my morning ride, I breathe in the coming autumn; the rich smell of wood-burning, the crisp freshly fallen leaves on the street.
Then it rushes over me, that feeling that comes over you once you breathe in the season. The excitement of unknown adventures and the memories that flood back of autumns past; a buzz sends ripples through my body.
Although I’m even lower than a novice when it comes to riding, I enjoy what it allows me to smell (as silly as that is). I have come to really appreciate the small things and the smells that nature provides is one that is missed while in a car.
Later after my ride, I took Bowie (our dog) for a walk and found myself a little emotional. Bowie seems to find enjoyment in every small thing as well. She takes the time to investigate every blade of grass and rock. I let her stop as much as she wants and I enjoy the crickets and the beauty of the dew on the grass as it sparkles in the rising sun.
I breathe in deep the coming season and the approaching day.
The itch to be outside, the yearning for something more.
The tingling of excitement when I touch a piece of gear.
I look outside and see mountains I’ve yet to explore.
The last two weeks have been a little wacky with Darwin’s film premiere and now I feel I can finally look forward and start adjusting to life post-film release. I have also turned another year older since my last post which always makes me reflect on my previous year on Earth. What have I done? Where have I been? And most importantly, what have I read?
Thus, I present to you dear reader a loosey-goosey list of doings for my 34th year on Earth….
3-4 day Bikepacking Trip in Arizona
Rim to Rim Hike of the Grand Canyon (yes, most permits are already secured)
7k Trail Race (this will be my first race on trail)
Half-Marathon (this will be my first trail half)
Summit Mount Elden
These are only a few things to share with you now, more to come later! What are your upcoming trips or plans for the year? Any good reads to share? Leave me a comment and let me know!
As I settle down in my tent I feel so small and the world outside feels so big. With nothing but thin nylon and mesh between me and the outside, I recognize my human size.
Buildings with their walls give me a false sense of who I am; strong and large, a being at the top of the food chain. Sleeping in a tent changes those thoughts and challenges that sense of being. Outside those walls, there are bigger, stronger, and hungrier beings than myself.
Man-made walls are just that, man-made and so is the image that we as humans have won and conquered the world. The reality is that we are guests here and many things have been here longer. There is something about being in my tent that resets me and takes away my human arrogance.
Bowie and I are both waiting. Waiting for Darwin. Waiting for him to call. Waiting for him to finish hiking. While we wait we try to enjoy our time together and explore.
Today we went looking for a tunnel but we found a lake instead. While following directions I found online for the mystery tunnel, I came to a dead end with no tunnel. It was only when I was about to express to Bowie my frustrations that I noticed a family vacating their van with floaties in tow. Curious, Bowie and I followed down the same path as the family and was then introduced to Rattlesnake Lake.
Neither of us having bathed in some time, we backtracked to the van to collect a few supplies as a cool body of water seemed just the ticket to boost our morale. We found a small section of beach cut off from the other families already enjoying the lake. The sun was shining but not too hot, the sky was blue, and the water was glittering beckoning us to enter.
Quite and undisturbed, Bowie and I doggy-paddled out both of us submerging our entire bodies, cleansing our itchy fur and hair. We played in the water together for awhile simply enjoying the day. Later, sitting on the beach watching Bowie try out what could only be described as the dog version of snorkeling, I felt good and at ease. It seemed like the lake had the same effect on Bowie too.
I’ve never seen a Big Horn Sheep in person, not until this weekend at least.
A friend and I had planned a four-day three-night camping trip to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. I was expecting lots of hiking and beautiful landscapes but I hadn’t exactly thought about wildlife. The second day we were driving back to our campsite when we came across a large number of onlookers, pulled over on the side of the road. My friend immediately knew what was happening as she had experienced this same occurrence during previous visits to the park, so we, of course, pulled over and got out to stare.
“See the sheep?” she asked me.
“No,” I said back as I scanned the area in front of me and wondered why a fuzzy white sheep would be out in these parts.
“There see? Look for their white butts.”
And then as soon as the words left her mouth, I saw a furry white butt and the animal attached to it. And then another, and another, and another. A whole herd of butts or rather rams, scattered the rock outcropping before us.
I was awestruck.
I had never seen one ram before in real life, let alone a whole herd. We observed them from a safe distance but I could still feel the sense of power that was emanating from them. I’m not sure how long we stood there watching them graze and climb among the rocks but finally, the shared time with them ended as one ram trotted across the road and then another until the rest of the herd leaped from their places on the rocks and followed suit in full gallop finding greener grass on the other side.
The spell that held us onlookers was broken and everyone continued on there way. As we also returned to our car and drove past the grazing herd I couldn’t help but feel moved by the experience. To see such powerful animals, in the wild, doing what comes naturally to them was inspiring.
During the rest of our time in the valley, we would encounter these fellows a few more times and their presence was never taken lightly especially as the cracking of horns could be heard echoing off the red rock that they so easily claimed as their home. Oh, they also became easier to spot now knowing that when the cracking of horns could be heard, I could scan the cliffs for white butts and there they would be.
Digging through some old journals as I do occasionally, I came across a small entry from 2018. I am pretty sure I’ve never posted it on the blog, however, I found it sweet and of course have no recollection of writing it. I still feel the same about the forest surrounding Flagstaff and think it’s one of the reasons why we have been drawn back so many times.
11/20/18: Flagstaff AZ – Coconino National Forest
There’s a feeling about and within the Coconino National Forest that I don’t exactly feel anywhere else. It’s a tingling feeling of fall and winter; a weird but undeniable truth.
There is a low hum of life that surrounds me in this forest yet it is so still if you move to fast you may miss it. Things are moving and growing but slowly, carefully, never in a hurry but always waking.
A walk on a trail will help you notice, feel eyes on you but yet you cannot hear a thing, leaving you to wonder what exactly is out there with you. This is not at all a scary feeling but somehow magical and comforting.
There are still wild places and wild longings that man has yet to tame.
I went hiking this weekend down the same section of trail that I have hiked before. If I’m being honest, it’s the same section of trail I have run before too, but it was different.
The snow was still completely covering the trail and surrounding landscape so I traveled along with spikes on my shoes. I paid special attention to avoid sections of ice and was very aware of the world around me; very “present” as it were.
The trees and ground seemed to twinkle and wink at me as the sun hit ice crystals. I listened as glumps of melting snow lost their grip on tree branches, rustling branches and needles as they fell. Somewhere between the branch and ground, the clumps would separate and became individual flakes again which in turn, became glitter in the sun for just a few, brief, seconds.
The trail seemed hushed and still although I passed others braving wet feet and frozen noses. I could smell wet pine and feel the tingle of ice on my face as the breeze relocated snowflakes. This same trail that I have traversed many times before revealed a different side to me as I traveled in this new season. I tried to imagine a few familiar spots along the way in the summer or fall but I struggled being so immersed in the world around me, so beautifully decorated by Jack Frost.