Friday, March 30, 2012

A brief respite.

I may have a lot of things on my mind right now but listen: when viewing from on high gusts of wind as they sweep across a lake and swirl water into tiny feathers of direction even I can't help but relax a little. (Before proceeding for the 4th time in less than 3 weeks to drive in the wrong direction as I attempted to make my way home - AHHHH.).

20 days until the hike begins. Far too many unchecked boxes on my to-do list, still. Mind is clearly not here, located instead somewhere in the vicinity of the Mexican border... only briefly returning to New Hampshire for a lunch break on a ledge.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Asahel Curtis

Today I was researching* Edward Curtis (a photographer who documented Native Americans at the beginning of the 20th century) when I stumbled across his lesser-known brother via NPR. Asahel was also a photographer and what caught my eye were these colorized lantern slides of Washington that were commissioned by the Washington state Department of Conservation and Development of the time.
NPR's article at one point says "...just as often the images are beautiful because they create a world with its own integrity, either by their awkwardness or because the color they offer is better than what we experience in the real world."

 Well, I beg to differ, NPR!

 I think that the color that I'll be experiencing in the beautiful state of Washington while on the Pacific Crest Trail will suit me just fine thankyouverymuch!**

*And by researching, I mean procrastinating of course.
** I drank too much coffee before writing this. Clearly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Far away minds and places.

I woke up today to a blank slate. Gray fog covered everything and I went back to bed never dreaming that I'd wake up to snow. Well, I did. And also to no internet, which meant no blog post.

The snow has already melted but my mind seems to be in the fog. (Still! I know! I thought I'd get over it, but not quite yet it seems.) I'm going to leave you with this video of a place I have been longing to go to and take one more day to gather myself mentally.

The Edge of the Earth - DOCUMENTARY from Eric Dennis on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Andrew Wyeth

The color palette of Andrew Wyeth's work is subdued, as is his imagery... and his work has been dismissed by critics as sentimental, provincial and illustrative.
But what I see is a man whose translation of the everyday imbues a sort of magic realism to the ordinary. “By means of art we are sometimes sent dimly, briefly, revelations unattainable by reason, like that little mirror in fairy tales. Look into it and you will see not yourself but for a moment, that which passes understanding, a realm to which no man can ride or fly and for which the soul begins to ache.” 

Occasionally I feel a slight tug deep inside of me, as if my heart is being squeezed, and there's a flash of gratitude and love for something so much bigger than me. It can be triggered by almost anything outside: a puddle, mountains, clouds, a raven hanging above me on a summit, a circle of lichen on a tree, the scent of sun-warmed dirt and pine needles, a silhouette of weeds; I don't even need to be hiking for this to happen, sometimes it's just while driving and catching a brief glimpse of the surrounding environment as it flashes past. It's something profoundly simple, beautiful and evocative. Something that makes my soul ache.

In other words, what I am trying to tell you is that while by society's standards I may be hopelessly single... I realized recently that I am in the best goddamn relationship of my life and it's with dirt and rocks and trees and sky. Thank you Andrew Wyeth, for your visual reminder of the visceral reaction that even ordinary surroundings can evoke... if you love them enough.

Trodden Weed, The Carry and Ice Pool by Andrew Wyeth. Images sourced here and here. Solzhenitsyn quote sourced from an excellent blog post about Wyeth found here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Zero days.

Every day on a long distance hike is defined by mileage. A zero day is a pause from the normal routine of walking. Ostensibly these days are when you relax; instead usually you wind up cramming a large amount of errands into a small time frame.
Let's consider my lapses in posting last week zero days. I'm trying to fit so many things into small slots of time: socialization, productivity, creativity, and decompression from a work environment that doesn't just follow me home, it is my home. Lately I haven't feel like taking photos, or talking about art, or hiking, or really much about anything. I did however come to the conclusion that there are not enough hours in the day when you are inwardly panicking over an imminent thru-hike.

Panic is a misleading word, though. This is more like a nagging hangnail of insecurity that I can't resist picking at. I'm not really sure why I feel this way when I've already walked hundreds of miles before. But I do. This has been going on for days now. I'm going to try my best to clear the lingering cloud of doom and stress off of me today. Because look at what lies in my future: incredible things.
Photo of Lyman Glacier and tamarack trees by Marshmallow.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Days well spent.

 I was too lazy to document it all but here are some excerpts from my last two sets of days off.

Long distance hike in approximately one month. Until then, maple sugaring party, sunshine, smoothies, coffee, goat cheese brie, pizza making and other wonderful things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finding a different time.

It's a beautiful day, and I'm sitting here (ok, by sitting I really mean slumping) on a couch in a cozy home in a tiny town in Vermont nursing a slight hangover and posting belatedly.  The coffee seems to be curing the hangover, thankfully. What has not been cured, however, is the fact that I'm thinking the same revolving thoughts that have been swirling through my head for weeks now.

Thoughts like: why is it so hard to have a wonderful adventure like this in our day and age? When I say I want to hitch-hike across the country generally the response I get is "Oh, that sounds really dangerous." Which frankly, isn't enough to deter me... but my present financial situation is pretty bleak and I do want to be able to afford taking 5 months off from my life to walk from Mexico to Canada. So perhaps frittering away my money at rest stops should not be on my agenda. I'm on the fence. I know it can be a cheap way to travel... but there's always a fear that unanticipated expenses will arise. If you have grand stories about hitching, please share them! (One of the guests at the lodge this winter met his wife hitching across Alaska. Of course, like most of the lovely stories I have heard about hitch-hiking, this happened several decades ago... during what everyone is fond of referring to as a different time.)

Speaking of: if you're like me and you secretly long to live in that mysterious state of existence known as a different time watch this trailer. These people are doing just that.

Encountering Space: The Fire Lookouts of Montana from Tom Persinger on Vimeo.

ps: It's time to get off the couch and I think I'm going to take a day off from blogging tomorrow... but I promise I'll be back on Thursday! See you then. Bring your favorite hitch-hiking tale!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shiny happy people.

These are wonderful. Artist Amy Friend alters old photographs with subtle pinpricks of light.

Today I smiled so much that the muscles in my cheeks actually hurt. The damp & foggy gloom of melting snow has been replaced with an almost surreal amount of heat and sunlight. After a winter existence spent trapped under hats and alternately shivering or stifled by artificial heat it felt wildly exciting to spend two hours in the car with the windows down and my hair tossed about by the wind.

I'm enjoying my days off, to say the least.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sandy Litchfield

Topographies that seem based off of memory and tactile experience, landscapes that fluidly merge and shift, and even portraits of people cobbled from the stuff that makes up the earth... what's not to like? See more work here: Sandy Litchfield.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Holy Awesomeness.

I'm pretty sure I'll be hiking in the Donner Pass vicinity on the PCT... this amazing home happens to be located there as well. I may have to take a time-out from hiking in order to become a squatter for a while. 175 tons of granite moved by hand over a 5-year period. I'm consumed by jealousy just thinking about it.

Via Cabin Porn.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This made me temporarily forget the irritating doldrums of cabin fever. It sent a shiver of pure, electric happiness through me. If you installed me in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere with this going on around me, I'd probably never leave.

Time lapse photography of fireflies by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu via but does it float.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Phases of long distance hiking prep.

I tend to go through several stages when planning a large adventure. The first step is announcing my plans to my friends and family. This is done well in advance, less out of excitement and more out of a desire to appall them. However at this point they tend to handle my pronouncements disappointingly well. Once my loved ones have been made aware of my plans and have hardly blinked a collective eye I move on to preparation.

Embarrassingly enough, the bulk of my time and effort is spent on idle uselessness rather than actual preparation; apparently my brain enjoys fixating on the perfect hiking outfit and weighing gear but excitement and tangible preparation fails to really make an appearance. I can agonize for hours over the theoretical inclusion of a dress to wear on days off from hiking. I've weighed my gear three times now. I'm not proud of this, but it's true.
And so between obsessive list making and agonizing over what to wear several months sneak by unnoticed and we then enter what I like to call the "Oh shit." phase. This is when I realize that I have less than two months left to get physically and mentally in shape for this hike. I become aware of all the mundane tasks I have been postponing: planning where to mail myself food, obtaining supplies, selling gear in order to afford a new backpack, figuring out the logistics of getting myself to a trailhead located on the opposite side of the country and most importantly, I start to panic about not being in shape, about my various joints and tendons crapping out on me; before I have even completed my preparation for the hike I begin visualizing its imminent failure.
I am panicking quietly at least; I just ignore the overwhelming stack of 400+ double-sided map pages sitting on my floor and I guzzle herbal teas like it's my job. I'm nursing a recurring knee injury brought on by winter hiking abuse. It's mildly stressful, to say the least. But at least the herbs with anti-inflammatory properties don't taste that bad.
I'm not going to lie: occasionally the pile of maps can longer be ignored and the words "Oh shit." really do reverberate through my mind. And when that happens rather than do something productive like finalize my mail drops instead I break out the scale again and make another list. Nothing like a little procrastination to soothe the nerves!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Take me here.

Via Cabin Porn. (Of course.) Enjoy your weekend! My work week isn't over yet, not by a long stretch. I'm ready to go hide in a cabin. Preferably somewhere epic, but I'll settle for the unheated crew cabin on our property that is filled with mouse turds. As long as there are no other people, I'll be fine.

See you Monday, when I will have recovered most of my equilibrium - because your Monday is my Saturday. Hurray!

Thursday, March 8, 2012