All Humans Are Welcome Here!

Category : Hiking

Glimpse of white Jeep Cherokee near red rock tower of Canyonlands

My New Wheels

I’ve been laid up a while with a serious illness and not really able to plan hikes. That’s been hard. And so my new set of wheels has come in handy to get me to the places that I love. Don’t worry! I still have my Westfalia! He goes places, too. But I was able to pick this Jeep up for a deal I couldn’t pass up, and it will drive pretty much anything. I originally wanted a Comanche, and SP was stuck on the idea of restoring his old beater Land Cruiser, so we compromised, scoured the web for months, and finally landed this by simply placing a wanted ad in the local paper. Its inaugural drive was up… continue reading

boy leading mules in High Sierra

High Sierra Pack Tripper

This summer I had the privilege of working with Reds Meadow as a backcountry cook, which meant occasionally bumping into a 12 year-old packer named Bo. I first met Bo in 2013 when hiking the PCT. He was eating candy outside the Reds public restrooms, looking cute. Bo spends each summer in the Sierra with his sweet family on extended National Forest permit at Reds, surrounded by pack animals and thousands of tourists and backpackers. What a life, and what a little man, charming as ever! We had some bumpy interactions at first where he would say strange, sorta bossy things like, “Hi we are your guides on this trip [not true; he was pack support], best get crackin’ on… continue reading

Mount Whitney with SQF wildfire smoke, september 2020

The Curse is Lifted

In 2013 I started an annual tradition of sleeping on top of the tallest mountain. I don’t know why, but year after year I went up. Pressure built to go up again the next year, and so on. These extended 14er summits were not easy for the obvious reasons, but almost every time it ended up being harder than hard because of surprises at the top. 2013: I had no idea what I was doing. It was very hard to get up that strange hill, especially since the notorious PCT clown Guino had dosed me with 200mg caffeine that morning (I’m caffeine-free). But it turned out to be bizarre and romantic, with a sunset and a sunrise akin to something… continue reading

woman hiking in Utah

Where trails come from, where they go…

I subscribe to Wired Magazine in digital form, where I learn all sorts of neat things each day. This morning I spent over an hour watching a video produced by Wired, where an astrophysicist explains gravity to five people, ranging from beginner to expert. What a brilliant way of teaching/learning a topic, by helping someone realize how much they don’t know, and expanding on a concept bit-by-bit over an hour. (I was about at the grade-schooler’s level of understanding, haha. How far can you follow the concept? By expert level, my mind was blown.) This afternoon, an opinion piece popped into the Wired newsletter. It’s right up my alley. If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you probably know I’ve… continue reading

Death Valley rock formations

Rock or Wood?

I just spent a couple of gloriously mild days in Life Valley, canyoneering and hiking, conversing with and admiring a lot of rock. The Valley also had quite a bit of water in it due to some recent storms, but this time of year the plants and animals have retreated and it’s time for the rock to shine. And there’s a lot of rock. The Valley’s valleys, as they show (or don’t show) themselves from the car, are enshrouded, modest, and less-than-tantalizing by reputation. If one is brave and stupid enough to venture too far from the road on foot and with rope, they open in dizzying, hypnotic displays of color and texture, enfolding you. It’s not so much that… continue reading

High Sierra glacial basin

Nature : Museum

Discussing my latest backpacking trip with my guy, I came up with an analogy which I like very much, and which seems original and enlightening. I compared modern wilderness visits with museum visits of the recent past (pre-2010). My first memories of museums were of the Anchorage Museum as a young teen, then the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay, and the Met in NYC and Mutter Museum in Philly as an older teen. Even if relatively brief, I treasure those visits for several reasons. Be they small or petty reasons it doesn’t matter, the memories are large as a very deep breath. Memories of carefully-curated open space and light, surprises of color and subtle hushed sounds. Photos were disallowed and so… continue reading

lake powell invasive mussel shells

New West vs. Old West

I’ve been struggling with thoughts about conservationism, conservationism against the prevailing tide, and my tiny place in the thick of things, as well as a sore knee, since I got back from walking Utah in early June. Some reading, and going through my photos, is helping me finally collect my thoughts. I can’t remember where I was when a friend forwarded me a link from the Canyon County Zephyr, but I was definitely in Utah. I was probably in the backcountry still somehow indulging in LTE “connectivity,” but unable to read much because I was busy walking. But with a few clicks and paragraph licks, I distinctly gleaned a sense of being the outsider where I was. I looked up… continue reading

view of sagebrush forest and a deep canyon in the distance

Tuckup Canyon Head Flora and Fauna

I topped out at Kanab Point, a very quiet and lonely place. I did consider introducing myself to the people truck-camped there, but got a definite vibe that it wasn’t the right time. It’s weird to have feelings like that, but I always listen to my gut. Probably a great idea when one is that remote, and without any rescue beacon. But it was good to know someone was there in case my tonsil decided to explode. And as I went through those thoughts in my head, the truck fired up and drove off, without so much as a backward glance. People can be so weird in the desert. I know if I had flagged them down they probably would… continue reading

Little Package