Introducing my good friends to the Bridge to Nowhere trail was something I anticipated with great joy. I knew they’d fall in love with its calming waters, riparian greenery and imposing geology. The weather was warm and the hike itself was simple as we cooled off in the river and found one of the many small camps where we put up the hammock and enjoyed the peace offered by the San Gabriel Mountains.
The brutal summers take a toll on the river. The sunken levels mildly reroute the trail and expose banks of sand and granite that would be otherwise hidden. I painted as my friends skipped rocks across the shallows. I’ve been hiking and painting this trail for years, but this particular season was disconcerting. I have never seen the river so low. This painting is aptly titled “The River Survives”, done in oil on 10 x 8″ canvas panel.
Utah went out the window when our two-jeep caravan crawled its way through highway gridlock past a big rig on its side. That’s when Mom’s ’92 Jeep TJ stalled.
Instead of making the nine-hour drive to Moab to meet up with a good friend, do some rafting and some offroading, we wound up calling a tow truck on the side of a two-lane highway in the desert just outside of Las Vegas, NV. The noisy highway made a stark contrast to the expanse of golden desert shrub and the shadows of complex joshua trees cast by the tenacious noon sun. We got out of our vehicles and away from the impatient traffic hitting the gas as they passed the big rig accident.
In a couple weeks I’ll be exhibiting with some awesome artists at the Creative Arts Group annual Art Festival in Sierra Madre, CA. I’ll be chillin’ beside the wine and food. Hope to see you there!
Logistics are something that can easily eat up a person’s focus when a trip is on the horizon. The where, when and what can be complicated or straightforward, but how many times do we stop and think about why we do these things?
As I prepare for our epic Grand Canyon trip the travel and permit logistics are daunting and can easily overwhelm a practice I’ve been doing for a few years. I set goals and identify when and where I can accomplish them.
Goals? Yes. Seems a bit counterintuitive to having a fun trip. Call them objectives if you like. They help guide preperation and planning. For example: Have a safe and fun trip! Now how do we make that happen? Where could we possibly go south and how can we lessen the risk of that? What is my contingency plan in case of contentious group dynamics? What potential dangers are there and what information and practices do I need to review and put into place to mitigate those dangers?
Another example: Paint 4-6 new pieces. This guides my choice in gear (no, I won’t be wasting time on a tarp) and my choice in activities (which trails I’ll hike in order to get the scenery I want).
I also look for teaching and learning opportunities based on past trips that could have gone better. I look for opportunities to put into practice new and old skills.
Opportunities and objectives – when you’re out enjoying nature they come easily and seamlessly integrate themselves into the trip when you’ve thought about them beforehand.
So that’s my tip for preparing for a trip. It’s not about gear or a specific skill. There’s already been plenty written on that. It’s about putting all of that to use in the best way possible when you’re on the trail.
Still and quiet is not something familiar to a person who battles anxiety, depression and PTSD daily. Half of my mind is running on the toxic nitro fuel of fight-or-flight fear. The other half enduring the contortions of a mind that wants to die in a body that fights to live. It was spring break, my companions and I standing at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, our pent up road trip energy quieted at the edge of such splendor. Just one day ago I was a stressed out, lapsed ex-artist, over-achieving college student, an abuse survivor, an alcoholic, dependent on a dangerous combination of pills and booze for three or four hours of sleep, and tediously suicidal.
There, staring down through layers of strata and time, following the blue-green ribbon of the Colorado River, I was only human. The chaos of my mind stilled for a moment and allowed me to be a person instead of an illness. I think that was my first time really knowing peace.
featuring Granite Gear’s super simple, super sturdy 60 liter backpacking pack.
Here’s part one of my review of cheap/knockoff backpacking and hiking gear. Featured: Rolling Fox Tarp at 1 lb 4 oz.
At Point Reyes National Seashore we hiked vast open spaces, towering trees, wooded meadows and sundrenched chaparral with an amazing view of the rugged shoreline.
Zero Day: A term coined by through-hikers, a zero day is a day where you cover zero miles. Camp stays up, pack stays down. It’s a rest and recharge day.
There may be 24 hours in a day, but the number of usable hours depends on when the sun goes down. They don’t call 8 PM “Backpacker Midnight” for nothing.