Womens March on Washington

img_1511img_1422-1On The Washington Mall with my pals

img_1540This was the biggest protest in US history.  It was ignored by mainstream media but we all could have predicted that.img_1538-1img_1534-1img_1532-1img_1516-1img_1443img_1456img_1427img_1449img_1491img_1557img_1554-1There were over half a million marchers.  img_1442Angela Davis as The Statue Of Liberty, a personal fav.img_1450Seven attempts a dialogue with a group holding signs that say “Feminism Destroys Families”.  One of the sign holders identified himself as a feminist saying that he’ll give us equal pay if we’ll stop killing babies.  There was no shouting or swearing or name calling thus potential for productive dialogue.  Then, another person from their group referenced the bible in order to justify some homophobic rhetoric.  Seven responded, referencing the bible, and asked him for his virgin daughter.  He told us we were interpreting the bible wrong.  We moved on.img_1499-1Yes that signs says “GAY:  Got Aids Yet”  Haven’t scene that sign in some years.  We chanted “Love Trumps Hate”  drowning out the megaphones that told us we were going to hell.img_1543A punk band in a nearby park

We were outside marching and milling for about 8 hours.  We were fortunate to have a really nice place to stay with friends just 2 miles from the march.  We had a fun road trip to and from Boston to D.C.  There was productive conversation in the car, on the streets and at the after parties.  There was also plenty of unproductive banter from all sides.  Overall it gave me hope and left me feeling empowered and motivated and clear about my next steps of resistance on my micro level.   One thing is clear, we must unite and support each other in order to resist.img_1495-1img_1474

D.C. Bound

I am headed to the Women’s March on Washington (WMW) this weekend.  While I generally go out of my way to avoid crowds and seek quiet places,  I need a little hope right now.  So I’m going way out of my way and out of my comfort zone to stand in solidarity with over 200,000 marchers who recognize that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

From the WMW:

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared.

All are welcome.  Here’s more information:

www.womensmarch.com

I’m mostly marching as an ally.

But I am also marching as a queer person.

Last summer I was locking my bike in Copley Square when this guy pointed at me and yelled, “That’s a fucking dyke right there.”  I looked up and he was all, “what the fuck are you looking at?!  I hate fucking dykes” and it went on and he spat on the ground everytime he said the word dyke.  I was frozen.  He got more aggressive yelling and threatening me.  I finally unfroze and realized I should stop staring at him like a deer in headlights and get away from him.  Many people walked by and did nothing.  I pulled myself together and quickly walked away half trotting.  Ironically I was on my way to BAGLY, a local LGBTQ Youth Organization I’ve been volunteering at for the past 6+ years.  I was very shaken up and grateful to have that community to go to in that moment.  This was a pretty isolated incident for me.  While I can barely use a women’s bathroom without being told I’m in the wrong bathroom, and while I do experience a range of micro aggressions on a regular basis, it’s rare that I have experienced such outward blatant hate.

Ultimately I recognize that I have a lot of privilege.  I’ve learned a lot from working with queer youth many of whom are black, brown, trans, poor, homeless, disowned, 1st generation immigrant, etc…

The biggest thing I’ve learned from doing youth work is that privilege is power.  Some of us have more, some of us have less.  The point is what we do with it.  I don’t want to be a bystander while the most gruesome parts of history repeats itself.  

The Haunted White Mountains

The White Mountains pull me towards them like a super magnet.  They stay with me. They are in me.  They intoxicate me.  Every time I drive into their various notches I feel uneasy.  Once I’m walking on their foothills I feel the relief set in.  My constant low level anxiety starts to dissipate.  I take in the vitality of the trees.  I think about the loggers from the 1800’s who lived on the trails and then left with the ancient trees.  I think about the many people who have died in and around and on top of these mountains.  I reminisce of my life before this one and wonder what my next lifetime will bring.  I hear music and voices and unexplainable sounds in these woods.  I don’t question it.  I just listen and take it in.

I took the “Cherub” (aka my partners daughter “A”) up to New Hampshire for some outdoor fun.  She is off from school for winter break after ace-ing her first semester.   Go A!  Stud lent us her xc skis and boots for A to use.  We headed north early on Thursday stopping at the infamous Red Arrow Diner in Manch-Vegas and then drove towards Lake Winnipesaukee to the Wolfeboro Cross Country Ski track.  We did a few loops and then headed to “Funspot”,  a massive trashy yet vintage arcade where we played all the race car games.  After cashing in our ski ball tickets for candy we drove up into Franconia Notch to these tiny cabins on the side of the road right on the Pemigewasset River. They got fireplaces and they were built in the 40s.  Family owned.  Super cute.  We made a fire and relaxed and watched some trashy tv and then retired in our prospective rooms where the rushing river lulled us to sleep.

Woke up to a light dusting on Friday and headed to the Lincoln Woods to ski on the East Branch Trail.  It was quiet and the sun ominously lit up parts of the surrounding snow capped beasts.  We crossed a few nice new foot bridges over various creeks.  The last time I was on the East Branch side on the Lincoln Woods was June of 2013 on a short backpacking trip.  My friends and I hiked into the Franconia Brook Tent Sight at dusk and then woke up and crossed the big river.  It had been a snowy winter and the water was raging.   The depths looked deceiving and half way across I found myself in thigh deep frigid pools between fast moving white water praying to stay upright and make it across with a dry pack.  We all made it across and sat on the other wide our legs red and stinging from the cold water and our adrenaline pumping.  There use to be a 180 foot suspension bridge connecting the East Side to the Wilderness Trail but it was dismantled in 2009 because of safety issues.  It was built in 1962 just two years before Wilderness Act of 1964.  It was not replaced because it is in a federally designated wilderness area.

We meandered home on the Daniel Webster Highway taking in the views of the mountains and the ramshackle cottages on the side of the road.  We stopped in a ski store and I asked to look at some “mens” cross country boots.  The sales clerk paused and with great concern, he explained the difference in sizing of men’s and women’s boots.  I asked again for the boots.  I asked for zero advice.  I just asked for the boots.  He began to ask irrelevant questions and went into great detail explaining the difference between men’s and women’s feet.  I started to glaze over.  I pushed back a bit explaining that not all women’s feet are narrow and given the limited selection of “women’s” boots and “women’s” styles I was not interested in women’s boots and I asked again if he could please just bring out some mens boots in my size.  He finally did but not without taking great offense at his decades of proffessional boot sales being questioned.  Where to begin…Why does clothing have to be so gendered…especially boots and hats and gloves.  Not all women are slight and want to wear magenta.  Not all men are tall and have big feet.  I have never worn women’s clothing because I don’t like the styles or the colors or the way things are often “fitted”.   I like deep pockets, darker colors and room.  I am more comfortable in “men’s” clothing and always have been.  I did not ask for advice about the boots.  I do not ask permission to wear my clothing of choice and I choose not to conform as a result of my preferences.  Its times like these that I would like to declare this Island of Misfits (as Seven has so eloquently named it) a wilderness area and remove all the bridges.  We’ll have to start a clothing line.

Bear Brook State Park

I knew I wanted to spend New Years Day outside on some sort of snowy wooded adventure.  My first thought was to hike up Mt Tecumseh (one of the NH48) with my snowboard and renegade ride down thru Waterville Valley as I had with Bear Bait 5 years ago on New Years Day 2012.    I asked Stud of she was game and she was!  I went online trying to find some trip reports and it seemed like there was a good amount of snow and more coming.  I was hoping we could hike up with just our micro spikes but it seemed that snowshoes were necessary with all the fresh snow they were getting.  When Bear Bait and I hiked it 5 years ago, the Mount Tecumseh Trail was packed down enough to hike up without snowshoes but the Sosman Trail which connects the peak to the Waterville Valley Ski resort area was untouched and deep powder and we were *post-holing thigh deep all the way which was both obnoxious and really challenging! *Post-holing is when you hike on a snowy trail that isn’t packed down and create deep holes which messes up the trail for other skiers and snowshoers making it all bumpy instead of smooth and flat and evenly packed down.  

I have some kind of blockage about snowshoes.  I’ve never successfully snowshoed.  I found abandoned pair in a basement and tried them for the first time as I set out with friends to hike up Doublehead to spend a night at the cabin  The plastic buckles that held the snowshoes onto my boots snapped after just a few steps and so I ditched them in the car and managed without them.  The pair I have now was a gift from my dad from job lot.  I tried them in the arboretum after a big blizzard but could not figure out how to walk efficiently in them and so I don’t really think I could hike a mountain in them.  They’re big and heavy and I just don’t understand how they work although I’m going to give them another go.  I’ve barely done any winter hiking as it is and even my micro spikes are less then a year old.  I’ve had a few successful winter hikes with no snowshoes and no spikes where the snowpack on the trail was packed down enough that it was manageable in just boots.  I managed to get up the foothills of Mount Washington a couple times for a ride down the Sherburne Trail and even hiked into the floor of Tuckerman’s Ravine but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t the only person out there without either spikes or snowshoes.  So I finally bought spikes this past spring and tried them out on some icy trails.  They are great!

Back to snowshoes.  When I think about snowshoeing, I think about skiing.  Like, why snowshoe when I could ski?!  Skiing is so much more fun!  But I can’t ski up a mountain with my flimsy little ancient cross country skis.  I definitely can’t ski down a mountain in my cross country skis.  I love going down some little hills but without that fixed heal it sorta feels like standing on a cafeteria sled meaning I have zero ability to turn or snowplow.  Its more of a Hail Mary type of plunge.  Lots of adrenaline on some tiny hills.

This leads me All Terrain Skis which enable you to ski up the mountain and then click in that free heel so that its fixed allowing you to descend with more control.  This technology has even been adapted for snowboarding!  Its called Split Boarding and its basically a snowboard sliced or “split” up the middle creating two “skis” so that one can ski up a mountain and then once at the top you can clip the two ski halves back together into a snowboard and pivot the bindings allowing you to ride down the mountain.  Bear Bait had been wanting to try this for years but its just not really a thing here in the northeast.  Once he moved to the Northwest he was able to try it and get himself a set up and now he goes split boarding all the time on Mount Hood.  I’m hoping to go out and try it this winter.

All this leads me back to snowshoes.  I have a wide variety of outdoor interests which means I have a lot of stuff and gear and various clothing for various activities and weather. I am constantly trying to find balance in my life around my interests, time and budget. Snowshoes, even really good ones, are not that expensive when compared with investing in a whole new set-up of All Terrain Skis or a Split Board.  My cross country skis bring me a lot of joy and I can get up and down a few hills with them.  If I want to hike some mountains in the winter, I need to figure out how to snowshoe or get myself a pair that works.

In the meantime, Stud and I made a plan B for New Years Day.  We brought our cross country skis to Bear Brook State Park in Southern New Hampshire.  Neither of us had ever been there but we wanted snow and woods and there was no snow in Boston.  I printed a really old map from 1992 off the internet that had no trail names and was very hard to read.  It was all I could find.  Bear Brook has 10,000 acres of trails and separate trails for snowmobiles and cross country skis.  Fortunately we ran into a really friendly snowshoer who assumed we were lost which wasn’t exactly true but we may have gotten lost had we not met her.  She gave us some directions for doing a big loop and off we went up and down and over and around various hills and creaks and ponds and pines stopping for lunch at a lean-to built by the CCC in 1937.  It was so nice to sit down in a dry shelter to eat my PB&J although we cooled down so quickly so we couldn’t linger long.  The shelter overlooked a pond and had a big fire pit and outhouses.  In total we skied for 4 hours and did about 7-8 miles. This was definitely my biggest cross country ski outing adventure.  I loved it.  It was only an hour and a half drive north from Boston and the trails were well packed from other skiers and snowshoers. We did hear some hunter shots and our ski trail took us thru an archery range that had big scary caution signs everywhere.  I worried we might get arrowed but we survived unscathed for the most part.


Tomboyhood

Went for a lovely little loop on the skyline trail in the Blue Hills with a new hiker friend named 5e (pronounced five-eee).  We hiked leisurely chatting away about stuff that adult tomboys talk about.  There was a little ice on the trail which was totally avoidable but also kind of exciting.  There were some views and I felt relieved from constant a low level anxiety I’ve been feeling the minute I got in the woods.

I talked to Bear Bait on the phone and schemed about future adventures, processed past trials and tribulations, life angst and talked about deep stuff that tomboys talk about.  We reminisced about the Long Trail.


Seven helped me move a big pile of sticks.  We loaded up the little pick-up and then headed to the yard waste dump which is like a mountain range of mulch, leaves, wood chips and brush.  Some of the mulch mountains have “roads” up them meaning slopey ramp-like sections with tire tracks.  Otherwise the mulch mountains are tidy with steep walls.  We laid the sticks to rest among their great great great grandparent logs.


Then we went for an epic walk in the cemetery where we admired the holiday offerings on the grave stones.  We saw a hawk pretty close up.  It pooped and I inspected it but there was nothing much to see there.


Seven asked me if I would be willing to help her do something weird.  I obliged without knowing what it was.  Seven’s deceased neighbor had offered their Mary Statue before they died but it needed to be extricated from a stone base.

Mission Move Mary was in effect.

We attempted to chisel it off which was but slow going but somewhat productive.  Seven got out the big guns (a concrete drill hammer thing) and walla!  Mary was freed and will have a new home in Seven’s garden.


Seven and I visited Mildred (who hiked the Long Trail in 1943).  I got to show her pictures of my long trail hike of 2016.  She showed us the aftermath of how the sun hit her chrystal ball and set the corner of her crossword puzzle on fire. 


I had an incredibly insightful Astrology reading.  It was the first time I inquired about a professional reading of any kind.  My mind is full of marinating ideas and my planets are aligning in ways that support whatever it is that is brewing inside of me.  I am in an intense transition towards living my most authentic identity breaking free from the shadows of other people and things.  It turns out that I am resilient as fuck and I got mad skills that I have been previously viewing as weaknesses. 🌌

On a sad note, I read that an experienced and prepared 26 year old Massachusetts hiker died on Bondcliff on Xmas Eve most likely from hypothermia as they were found on the exposed ridge line with their jacket unzipped and on upside down.  My heart goes out to his friends and family.  I haven’t been able to shake this story.  I was just recently considering a solo winter hike.  But hypothermia is creepy and this tragedy gave me pause. I’d like to think that I’d catch the warning signs like if I started uncontrollably shivering but what happens when you stop thinking clearly and are no longer able to make sound decisions?  I don’t ever want to take for granted having hiking companions that I can trust to stop me if I start slurring my speech and force me out of my wet clothes and into dry clothes and force me to stop and drink and eat.  R.I.P. Jack Holden

 

 

Cape Cod

Beautiful morning for a walk with on the national seashore with my family.  Tracy (my partner), Ayla (my partners daughter) and our awesome host Julie (Tracy’s sister who I can NOT beat at pong pong!).  Julie always shows us a good time on the cape and brings us to the most beautiful secret spots.  Lots of big bones in the marsh.

Good Morning Winter

Seven texts me at 6:18AM to see if I’m up.  I am!  I find my long johns, gloves, hat, rain gear and ski down the sidewalk to Seven’s house and off we go towards the Arboretum! We  waddle like ducks across a few intersections scraping over the plowed asphalt on our skis.  Thats the great thing about old xcountry skis salvaged from the trash or craigslist…you can scrape em up on the city sidewalks and streets and not care.  Once in the Arboretum it feels like I’m no longer in the city.  My favorite spot is the Pines!  The ground is soft and there are lots of hills and the snow on the trees muffle the sound of the road.  We find the hills and try to “bomb” them flailing along trying to stay upright.  Feels like we are going like 50mph down the hills but we’re probably going less then a 1/2 mph.  We wipe out often…usually while just standing still trying to chat and the face-plant happens very fast. Laughing makes getting up very challenging.  Then we ski home to our respective homes to shovel.

Tomboys With Tools Skis.

The Pines In The Arboretum

If we get some real snow we’ll get to do this again!

(This was from 2 years ago when there were feet and feet of snow!  and Sun!)

Ode to Squirrel

Last spring, on a visit to the Green Mountain Club Welcome Center, I had the great fortune of meeting Squirrel, a seasoned thru-hiker who spent about an hour generously answering all of my Long Trail questions and going over the entire Long Trail map and giving me loads of tips and information about towns and shelters along the way.  After I got home I wrote Squirrel to say thanks and we kept in touch.  At the time, Squirrel was gearing up to hike the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) with their partner Early Bird.  The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is one of the big three United States National Scenic Trails and it runs 3,100 miles (5,000 km) following the Continental Divide of the Americas along the Rocky Mountains traversing New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana.  The other two big United States National Scenic Trails are The Appalachian Trail (AT) and The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  There is a term for hikers who complete all three of these long distance trails; Triple Crowners.

While Squirrel was hiking towards becoming a Triple Crowner having already hiked the AT and the PCT, they took the time to write and say hello and encourage me leading up to, during and after my Long Trail hike.  The friendliness and generosity I received from this person who I had met just once really set the tone for my overall positive experience of trail community.  By the time I started my Long Trail Hike, Squirrel and Early Bird had made it from New Mexico to Wyoming.  While they were preparing themselves for hiking thru grizzly country, I was guarding myself from mice.  For every day I hiked, they hiked three.  I would read their blog updates aloud to Travis and we were amused by how a half-day hike for them was more then a full day for us.  These endurance athlete hikers became an inspiration to me, not just in physical ability but in humility and thoughtfulness and epic-ness.  Check out their blog to see these badasses trotting across the rockies:  https://squirrelandearlybirdcdt2016.wordpress.com/blog/

Less then a week after I completed my 272 mile Long Trail hike, Squirrel and Early Bird completed their 3100 mile Continental Divide Trail.  We sent each other care packages.  I sent them cookies with exploding pop rock like candy on them just in time for shooting stars in Montana.  They sent me a care package to my house when I got home with some treats including a hand-me-down ULA Backpack.  What?!  I had literally been looking at ULA packs online all last winter but since you can’t buy them in a store (only online) it felt too risky to buy it incase I didn’t like it and they aren’t cheap.  The care package came when I was feeling pretty low.  The transition home was tough.  Getting that backpack along with a note acknowledging the challenges of adjusting to life off the trail was profound.  Oh and “TimTam” cookies are really tasty!



Taking my new-to-me ULA pack for a spin up to Zealand Hut via Mount Hale.


And while we’re on the subject of generosity, check out this beautiful gift from The Venture Out Project that I hung this weekend.  So great seeing all the shelters and gaps and peaks.  And the colors go so well with our plants.

Looking at this big map all blown up on my wall has really motivated me to start scheming my next big adventure: a solo hike! I’ve never ever done a solo hike.  I’ve decided to do the last bit of the Vermont AT that runs from Maine Junction to Hanover, New Hampshire.  The “Maine Junction” is where the LT and the AT split in Vermont.  This will mean completeing the entire Vermont section of the AT since I’ve already done the potion that coincides with the Long Trail.  I just bought a map and I’m really excited about having that experience of a solo backpacking trip.  In the meantime, I’m really pumped to play in the snow this winter.

 

Mount Hale

  • Elevation: 4,055 Feet
  • Location: Bethlehem, NH
  • Date Hiked: 10/23/2016
  • Companions: Stud, Zannah, Seven
  • Trails: Up Hale Brook Trail, Down Lend-A-Hand trail and Zealand Trail

From sunny glistening peaking foliage and crispy fall breezes to gale force freezing winds and snow.  Welcome to the White Mountains.

Some time ago Stud and I had blocked off a couple days to try and hit a few more peaks on our NH48 list before fall turned to winter.  We recruited our pals Zannah and Seven to join us on an epic 22 mile round trip traverse over the Willey Range to try and summit Mount Willey, Mount Field, Mount Tom and maybe Zealand Mountain as well.  We reserved 4 bunks at Zealand Falls Hut which is maintained and operated by the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club).  Some of the AMC huts stay open during late fall, winter and early spring with self service rates.  During self-service season you bring a sleeping bag but they still give you a pillow and a bunk with a mattress.  Instead of the Croo (Croo=AMC staff of young energetic outdoorsy campers) cooking dinner and breakfast for the guests, you get to use the kitchen and cook for yourself.  But they still keep the water flowing if not thru the pumps and pipes they keep it gathered and keep it potable.  Guests can use all the pots and pans and cutlery in the kitchen.  And there are pit toilets.  It’s a pretty sweet deal and it’s about $100 cheaper then the full service rates.  It’s a good way to try  an overnight hike without having to carry a tent, sleep mat, stove, fuel, pot, bowls, mugs, sporks, etc…

The weather forecast called for snow, gale force winds, and freezing temps.  Like I said, I’m not trying to die on a mountain.  We decided to avoid any exposed alpine zones and cliffs given the forecast.  Instead we chose a much shorter route to the hut on a more protected trail that would still bring us over one of the NH48; Mount Hale.  All the while, never leaving the trees.

The drive up was ominous and the foliage changed the more north we got. Once the White Mountains were in view we could see them living up to their name as everything above 1500ish feet was dusted in snow and stormy clouds swirled over the higher summits. Driving into Franconia Notch always flips my stomach and even more so in winter.

The dirt road we would be taking to our trail head closes in winter but not until November.  It was all snowy on the road and there were lots of downed branches.  We heard later that a tree had fallen and was blocking the road and some hikers were waiting for Fish and Game to clear the road so they could drive home.

It was fully snowing and very cold as we started walking up the path. We warmed up quickly and started shedding layers before we got too sweaty.  It was too cold to take breaks so other then stopping to pee or to quickly eat something or chug water we had to keep moving to avoid cooling down to that dangerous speech slurring hypothermia.

The snow wasn’t deep but it left the trail slick and it was slow going as we deciphered what we were stepping on.  We felt the wind pick up as we popped out on the summit which was a big cairn of rocks in the trees and we took a quick pic and ran back into the trees following the Lend-A-Hand Trail towards the hut.  There were lots of little water crossings and we miraculously kept our feet dry.  We reached the hut around 1pm and all was quiet.  We discovered it was no warmer than the outside air. In fact I think it was colder inside the hut then it was standing on the icy front porch outside.   The sun shed some rays on some mountains in the distance and it was beautiful.  We sat drinking hot chocolate and soon the caretaker popped in and made a fire in the tiny wood stove.  Other weary hikers came in covered in snow describing tales of literally crawling on all fours in fierce winds over exposed alpine ridgelines and losing their rain covers.  Some hikers talked about continuing onto other exposed alpine ridges.

The caretaker (AMC Croo Member) shared the weather report of dropping temps and gale force winds.  130 mph winds and negative whatever wind-chills were being reported on Mount Washington.  We looked at each other wide eyed and relieved we made the decision not to traverse the Willey Range in these conditions while the caretaker strongly discouraged another party of hikers from continuing on up over the higher peaks as they planned.  He told tales of other hikers stumbling into the hut the night before at 2am all hypothermic and sleeping on the floor next to the wood stove.  Fortunately the group that wanted to keep hiking heeded the caretakers caution and settled in.  We all warmed our boots by the wood stove and cooked our dinner and played games and laughed and talked to other hikers.  It was cozy.

I was concerned I’d be cold in my light summer sleeping bag but with my liner and all of my layers on I was toasty even though I could practically blow “smoke” rings with my breath.  I found a copy of “Not Without Peril” in the huts’ library and I read aloud to my companions in our little 4 person bunk nook.  We had our lights off and were drifting by off by about 9PM.  I listened to the howling wind outside and hoped no hikers were stuck or lost out there.

In the morning we made our coffee and oatmeal and followed the Zealand Trail under a sunny sky.  The moss and smell of pine revealed itself as we descended thru the valley and we walked by beaver ponds and across streams.  The clouds moved quickly over the higher summits and we happily strolled thru the temperate valley.

Once back at the car we drove in and out of Crawford Notch and through Franconia Notch and left the stormy White Mountains in the rear view mirrors while the brilliant peaking foliage came into focus blowing our minds under the bluest skies with the puffiest Simpsons-like clouds.

It was rather invigorating to face some more intense elements in the White Mountains.  Zannah talked about the quality of aliveness that comes with harsher weather.  Stud shared excitement about our forced change of route and how we still managed to bag a NH48.  Instead of views and relaxing summits, we got muffled snow caked pines and frozen air delightfully snapping us into the present moment again and again.  Seven posed a question about hiking away from something vs towards something and then later concluded that it might be possible to be doing both at the same time!  I recently had the opportunity to notice that I am often living my life almost a week ahead of myself at a time.  When I finished the Long Trail I set an intention to scale back my involvements in ways that that would allow more simplicity and spontaneity and less rushing around from thing to thing.  Last Monday after hiking the Kinsmans with Stud I learned my dad had a heart attack.  A few days later he had a double bipass heart surgery.  All week I was forced back into the present moment with no other choice but to live in each day as every plan I attempted to make or unmake was not in my control.  Things happened really fast and really slow at the same time.  Yesterday my dad went home after a long week in the hospital and days in ICU.  I just got home myself after staying with him and helping him get settled in after returning from my hike that he insisted I not cancel.  He’s doing so great and I am so grateful for the reminder to slow down as every plan I made last week ended up not being what I expected.

Hiking continues to be this great metaphor for life in that I can set my intentions and make my plans but I can’t get too attached or I might miss out on what’s right in front of me or I might really suffer when things have to go differently.  Hiking simply supports my desire to be more conscious and suffer less.  Grateful for the babbling brooks that are like miracle grow for my amygdala and grateful for my companions who willingly walk into snowy cold mountains with big smiles, open minds, and great senses of humor.