T minus 1 week!!!

Hiking
I am ready.

My checklist uncludes:

  • Finish paint job
  • Get a haircut
  • Pay all my bills
  • Practice not obsessing over what I’m bringing or not bringing!!!!

Resupply Packing Party!

Food is packed and ready to go. Ayla helped me mix up the biggest bowl of gorp I have ever made in my life and encourage me to add some M&Ms to make it look more exciting.  It’s got almonds, cashews, peanuts, raisins, chocolate covered blueberries, chocolate covered cherries, banana chips, and peanut butter M&Ms and I’ve got 2 gallons of it.

I split up all my food into five piles, one for each section.  Each section is about 60 miles give or take.  The last three supplies will be mailed to the local post offices in the towns we will be resting in.  The first supply will be in our backpack and the second supply will be in Stud’s car which will be conveniently located 54 miles south of the start of our hike.

Travis and Stud came over and we sorted all of our dinners. Some of them still needed to be bagged or needed vegetables added.  There was also some last-minute shopping and gathering of last-minute supplies like batteries for my headlamp.

I honestly thought it would take us maybe an hour to pack these boxes. We ended up spending an entire day sorting, packing, gathering and just making decisions about things like how much soy milk powder for this section and how when we expect to run out of floss.

I know that in the end none of these smaller details matter and once I’m out on the trail I will make do. I’ll either run out of things and get to have that experience or I’ll have too much stuff and get to maybe pass it along to some other hiker who could use an extra something or other.

Two weeks to go. It’s feeling real.

The Youth Hike!

Around the same time that I began hiking, I also got involved with some queer youth communities in Boston.  I have volunteered as an Adult Advisor at BAGLY for 6 years.  BAGLY is a Boston-based Youth-led, adult-supported social support organization committed to social justice, and creating, sustaining and advocating for programs, policies, and services for the LGBTQ Youth Community.  

What keeps me coming back to BAGLY is a restored faith in humanity and being part of an inspiring  queer family that gives me hope and constant changing perspectives by opening my eyes, ears, heart and mind. BAGLY keeps me on the cutting edge of political correctness, keeping me on my toes as far as what our youth need to feel supported and nurtured as we strive for a deeper abiding loving world.  

Last summer I connected with The Venture Out Project and learned that there was an interest in creating a safe space for queer youth to get outside.  As someone who has first-hand experience that being in nature can be deeply healing and support a practice of spiritual growth and personal recovery, I got involved.

I asked just a few youth at BAGLY if going on a hike seemed interesting to them and if they thought that other youth would go if I organized it.  The response was overwhelming. There was a huge desire for nature blocked by a lack of accessibility.  

With support from the Venture OUT Project I set a date and proposed it to BAGLY.  Of the 25 youth who signed up, 17 youth showed up at 8:15 on Saturday morning with signed waivers in hand and backpacks full of snacks and water excited to hit the trail. I had my pal Stud offering adult support and my pal Travis of TVOP with a rented van.  

Our youth ranged in age from 15-23 and were from all over Boston and surrounding areas.  One of whom took 2 buses requiring them to get up at 6am.  Some came to escape their transphobic families for the day. Some came because their friends where there. Some came because they craved the woods. We hiked for three hours, did a little rock scrambling and some ups and downs. In the end folks expressed gratitude. It was inspiring and I can’t wait to do it again.


Mount Moosilauke 

  • Elevation: 4,802 Feet
  • Location: Benton, NH
  • Date Hiked: July 2016
  • Companions: Stud
  • Trails: Snapper Trail

Stud and I did a lovely nine mile outer loop on Mount Moosilauke today.  Views for miles in all directions. Lots of alpine flowers. Lots of summits and lots of laughing.  Then a dip in the river.


One month to go…

In exactly one month from today I will be driving up to Johnson Vermont to start my epic adventure. Stud, Travis and myself will load up in the Studs car with just our backpacks which I will be living out of for the next month.  We will find the trailhead in Johnson Vermont where we will park Studs car and then get picked up by a local Vermonter who will shuttle us up to the Canadian border and all the way to the end of the rugged Journeys End Road where the Journeys End Trailhead begins.

In the meantime, I am tying up lose ends, gathering last bits of things for my resupply boxes that I will be packing with Travis in a couple weeks.  Most of my food is bought and ready to be packaged up.  I’ve been working as much as possible in an effort to not be totally broke by October and I think I’m going to be in descent shape.  My work has been a good mental training ground for thru-hiking.  My work is very physical so I drink a lot of water and stop every two hours to sit for five minutes and eat a snack.  At lunch I often take my boots off and air out my sweaty tired feet.  Sometimes I even lay down on the floor for a few minutes to recharge.  I talk to myself and say things like, “You can do this bigT.  Just get this, that, and the other thing done and then you can rest for a minute.”  (I think this sometimes when hiking…like if I can just make it to the next peak or one more mile, then I can stop for a few minutes) 


And when I’m scared on a ladder sometimes I get really hardcore in my head and grit my teeth and sort of drill sergeant myself.  (I’ve definitely thought this way on some rock scrambles).  When I get super draggy and tired I will have this moment where I realize I am dwindling and I sort of shake my head, chug some water and push thru it and like will myself to move faster.  (I do this a LOT when hiking).  
Also, surfing helps.  Surfing scares me.  The ocean scares me.  I talk a lot to myself and push thru a lot of fear when surfing…well not exactly while surfing…more like while I’m trying to manage my board thru the break water or waiting for a wave.  Catching a wave and getting up is a different story.  Thats like ridge walking a mellow grade trail with 360° views.

Exciting things in the meantime are some day hikes and some car camping!  I’m organizing a Youth Hike in the Blue Hills with a bunch of BAGLY Youth thats being sponsored by The Venture Out Project.  I’ve wanted to share the woods with BAGLY Youth for as long as I’ve been hanging out in LGBTQ Youth Spaces and thanks to The Venture Out Project, I am making it happen.  I’ve got about twenty-ish young people signed up to go walking with me in the Blue Hills on a Saturday morning and I’m thrilled and so are they.  Tracy and I have some fun car camping trips where we will have a chance to fire up the dutch oven and the reflector oven and swim and just be outside together with friends and family and play games and fun stuff like that.

 

 

 

Food Prep and Consciousness

I have been slowly chipping away at food planning and preparations.  I’ve never had to figure out my menu for an entire month before.  If that isn’t tricky enough, add on the fact that all my food has to be lightweight and high caloric in order to sustain me going over those mountains.  The easiest and most affordable way to intake calories without carrying too many ounces is to eat highly processed foods full of sugar and chemicals.  This is challenging for me to wrap my head around because this is not how I eat.  My diet typically consists of mostly vegetables and we cook our meals mostly from scratch.  The only thing we eat out of a can is tomatoes when we are making our own tomato sauce.  Tracy and I bake all our own bread.  We have sour dough starter that Ayla started over a year ago that we use and feed weekly.  We ferment kefir and make it into smoothies everyday.  Our tofu is made right here in Jamaica Plain by this guy named Rudy and we buy large amounts of it once a month at a discount when shopping at our local co-op on member appreciation day where we also stock up on our dried beans, grains, flours, nuts, seeds, and spices.  Of course we still eat plenty of processed foods, especially pasta, crackers, tortilla chips, salsa, cheese, milk, nondairy milks, butters, oils, condiments, and the occasional tofurky slices or sausages and other random processed things.  While are far from eating “clean” or “local” or “vegan” or “oppression-free” or anything like that, we do make an effort to be conscious and intentional about our choices while also having fun cooking and enjoying food while trying to not take all these choices for granted.   Eating this way is economical and fun and feels good and its one of the many ways that Tracy and I connected in the first place.   I recently heard someone say that people are either conscious or unconscious at any given moment.  When we are unconscious we cause harm.  Consciousness is a practice that requires effort, maintenance and commitment that ultimately relieves suffering.  Hiking is one of the many practices I’ve found that encourages me to be conscious.  I want to foster this consciousness on the trail by eating foods that support my ability to be present physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

All this is to say that menu planning for a month-long thru hike is a challenge because the food has to be able to live in a backpack instead of a refrigerator and meals have to cook very quickly since I can only carry so much fuel.  This means that most of my food will be very processed.  SO I am using a harm reduction model meaning I am doing a combination of processing my own foods while spending a little extra on some products to avoid some chemicals.  Other foods I am just straight up buying off the shelf, some of which are full of chemicals.  I keep asking myself why I spent the extra dollar on the organic cereal when I also bought the most processed chemical ridden cheese crackers on the same shopping trip.  In order to move forward I just throw up my hands and conclude, harm reduction.  I am keeping it simple sometimes and practicing progress not perfection (while secretly hoping for perfection anyways).  I could sum this all up to say that menu planning for a month-long thru hike is a really healthy challenge and good practice for me.

Fortunately I am dinner sharing with Travis who is hiking the whole thing with me.  He is making and planning half our dinners and I am doing the other half.  Last weekend I soaked beans and then made a massive pot of chili and a massive pot of curried lentils. Both pots were full of veggies (which had to be either shredded or chopped very small in order to dehydrate properly).  I cooked a box of pastina (tiny star-shaped pastas) and put 1/2 the cooked pasta into each pot.  THEN, over the course of the past week I dehydrated all of each pot of food in single serving trays figuring that one and a half cups of cooked food is about a serving for a hungry hiker.  Tracy was vital as helping me figure out amounts and also just helping me out with the whole process.  She has loads of experience in determining food amounts because she has cooked for her kids and for lots of other people for lots of various reasons. She helped me with the planning and the shopping to determine details like how many peppers I should chop for a pot of chili that will feed 2-3 people 2-3 times.  The amounts are crucial because you want to be well fed out there but you can’t have leftovers as there is no tupperware or refrigerator to put them in.  They have to be carried out like any and all other trash or debris.  I have definitely forced down a bowl of unwanted leftover mac n cheese the next morning on a hiking trip and I hope to avoid that as much as possible.

The dehydrator takes 9-12 hours to fully dry out the food.  There can’t be any moisture left in the food or it can mold.  Once its dry it becomes flaky and dusty and I bag it up into meals for two (and meals for three for that first week with Stud) and then put them all in the fridge or freezer to store just in case.  In late July, Travis and I will get together with a month of food and box it up into week long supplies which we will then mail to ourselves to various post offices in Vermont where we can pick them up along the way.

Mount Washington on My Birthday!

I turned 38 on Friday June 17th and spent the day with Ayla and Stud hiking Mount Washington.  We had originally planned to go almost a week earlier but some stormy snowy weather blew in so we postponed.  Mount Washington has some of the most severe weather changes and it can go from a sunny 70 degree day to a hailing 10 degree day in the same afternoon.  I actually lost a friend up there four years ago.  He  was hiking in Tuckerman’s ravine with his son in early April which he had done annually for many years and on this particular trip he tragically fell into a very deep crevasse.  When he fell, his son who was 23 at the time, responded immediately by throwing his jacket and flashlights and food down into the crevasse and yelling for a response but there was no response.  He went for help and rescue workers lowered someone on a rope about 50 feet down into the crevasse with a flashlight to see if they could find him but there was nothing but ice and rock and waterfalls beneath the snow so there was nothing anyone could do but wait.  We all thought he would come walking out days later because he was a very charismatic guy with so much life in him.  He was just 67 and very active and clever guy.  Having watched Touching The Void, I was optimistic but an entire month went by before the snow melted enough making it possible to recover his body at the bottom of the ravine.  It was extremely tragic and shocking.  He was a mentor to me and the very first person I ever worked for when I started my business as Handy Tam.  He was a very handy and very wealthy entrepreneur who was very busy inventing things so he had me working on his house everyday for years and taught me many skills.  After he died I wanted to say my goodbyes to him so that following June 17th, just two and a half months after he died, I spent my 34th birthday hiking up Mount Washington via the Lion’s Head route than hiked down into Tuckerman’s Ravine and took time to reflect standing back from the various cliffs along the switchbacks that make it possible to hike up and down the headwall in summer.  At the bottom of the Ravine there was still some big snow bridges melting that looked as though they had slid off the headwall sometime in the last month.  I even saw a jacket under it and I remembered how his son had thrown a jacket into the crevasse after the fall incase his dad was alive down there.  Death is weird.

On this trip we hiked the exact same route and it was just as glorious as ever.  Not only did we get to summit but we had epic 360° views and mild weather.  Never have I ever made it to the top of a ridge along the Presidential range and not immediately needed to put on some layers.  In fact, last time I was on Mount Washington when I hiked up the cog side, I was wearing a hat and gloves and all my layers in mid august.

Tam at STOP sign

August 2014 just shy of the summit

But this time, we soaked in the sun and welcomed that high mountain breeze.  Once we were in the alpine zone, a dark cloud came over the ridge and I wasn’t sure we should continue.  Lightening is a serious threat on wide open rocky mountain tops and Mount Washington has quite a stretch of completely exposed alpine zone with very tricky footing and once you are up there you are kinda screwed if the weather goes really foul.  Layers, food and rain gear will protect you from hypothermia but the only protection from lighting to get back below tree line and out of the alpine zone.  So we paused at our last trail intersection and decided the cloud wasn’t too threatening but we kept our eye on the sky as we continued up the exposed rocky boulder field until the sounds of Bike Week Motorcycle enthusiasts let us know that we were in fact just yards away from the Auto Road which meant we were just about there.  We stumbled onto the auto road trying to avoid getting run over and dragged our exhausted bodies up the giant staircase.  I pulled myself along the railing hand over hand.  It always feels like culture shock to go from the remote serene rugged mountain side to the bustling village on top where you then have to wait in line to take your picture at the summit sign behind all the people who drove up the auto road or took the cog.

Once we got our summit pic I laid down on the observation deck which I have never done, mostly because the weather is so intense up there that I immediately go inside seeking shelter. But it was mild and beautiful so I laid down and rested my feet up on the railing to let the blood drain down my legs.  We hobbled inside and put some layers on as our cores quickly cooled down and exploded our bags onto a table with all our food and water bottles bandanas.  I went to the bathroom and when I came back Stud and Ayla surprised me with some birthday treats!  Stud made little whoopie pies and Ayla brought a bunch of Mountain House freeze-dried ice cream!  So thoughtful and so fun!  We got a round of hot coffees (luxuries from the cafe) and enjoyed the treats and all our other food.  I then saw that the weather board had some low Tstorm warnings so we moved along not wanting to take any chances.  We filled our waters and started our decent out of the alpine zone very slowly as the boulders teetered under foot.  Once we got down to the top of the headwall of Tuckerman’s Ravine some eight year old kids warned us about some slippery rocks and how people have died.  We thanked them and I imagined the cautionary tails their parents warned them about before starting this hike.

This was my third time summer hiking in the ravine and it never ceases to take my breath away.  Its terrifying and beautiful.  I love it.  There were a couple of spots where we rocked hopped across a small bit of fast-moving water next to cliffs where so long as you didn’t do anything stupid or think about it, it was nothing but my heart raced a healthy beat while focusing on my footing.  Before we knew it we were down the headwall and crossing the bottom of the rain when the rain started.  But it didn’t really pick up until we were at the caretakers cabin under a covered porch at a picnic table eating some snacks.  How lucky are we?!  So we relaxed and ate while it rained.  Then the sun came out and we hiked on finished our last two hours thru the pines until we were back at Pinkham Notch feeling good and accomplished and dirty and exhausted.  We showered and went out for dinner in North Conway and saw a giant rainbow.


 

16 Miles in the Blue Hills

On Monday Stud and I attempted to do the entire skyline as a loop because it seemed like a fun challenge and because doing the skyline trail from end to end requires two cars and we never feel motivated to take two cars to the blue hills.

So instead we parked at the West end up past the Trailside Museum.  We made it about 8 miles when we decided to turn around.  I think we could have done the whole thing but it just didn’t feel totally necessary and we did want to save some power for the return trip in which we took some flatter terrain.

We’ve been wanting to do this for a while and then Monday came and it felt like being in the woods for half a day with a close friend and a solid companion was the only thing I really could do.  It was also an opportunity for us to train a little for Mount Washington!

Tomorrow I turn 38 years young and so tonight I am headed up to the Joe Dodge Lodge with Stud and Ayla where we reserved some bunks so that we can wake up at the foot of Mount Washington and try to hike up.  Ayla and Stud have never climbed Mount Washington and I am so grateful and excited to share this incredibly holy place with my dear ones.  We are headed up Tuckermans Ravine and we haven’t decided out descent route yet.  Either Lions Head or the Boot Spur probably.  Of course the mountain may decide for us.  Staying humble and trying to not ever get attached to summiting but I’m really hoping to get up top and enjoy the spring flowers in the Alpine zone.

I just went from flip phone to iphone thanks to a hand-me-down gift from some friends.  It only took me about two month to activate it!  Its a bittersweet change but I’m really excited about taking pictures with it.

Travis and I have started to do some food prep for the Long Trail.  Its overwhelming but its in process.  Next week will be a lot of cooking and dehydrating and gathering.  If I had to hike off tomorrow I almost could.  I can’t believe I am in the final two months before we depart.  Surreal.

Carter Dome

  • Elevation: 4,832 Feet
  • Location: Coos County
  • Date Hiked: May 2016, 9/24/2018
  • Companions:
    Ayla (2016)
    Stud (2018)
  • Trails: Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, AT

Last Saturday at 5:30am, Ayla and I drove up to the White Mountains under blue skies.  We drove into Pinkham notch admiring clear views of the summit of Mount Washington.  Its was a little after 9AM as we rounded the last bends of route 16 towards our trailhead of choice and I was nervous about the parking situation given it was a Saturday with perfect seeming weather -although this is the Whites and it can change on a dime but regardless, it was late morning for weekend hiking.  I was brainstorming alternative routes/other parking options when I noticed a hiker on the side of the road.  I asked Ayla if she was cool with me picking him up and she was so we pulled over.  When I saw him I just assumed that the parking area we were headed to was full and so he must have parked down the road at another lot and was headed toward the same trailhead as us but it turned out that he was finishing a loop he had started the day before and was simply hiking back to his car.  I asked him if he wanted a ride and he gratefully accepted and then just like magic, he was parked in the lot we hoped to park in which was indeed full and when we pulled in and he was able to give us his parking spot.  What a great start for us and I know he was happy to not have to hike along the highway for that last mile or two. We were also fortunate to be able to ask him for some first hand info about the trail conditions and the hut since he stayed there last night.  Given that it was still self-service season at the hut I wasn’t sure about water and he told us the water had just been turned back on and the composting toilets were free to use.  I also asked him about ice on the trail and if we still needed our micro spikes and he said there was some patches of ice and that he did use micro spikes.  Thank goddess for that tip from him.

We shuffled thru our packs before leaving the car making our last decisions about what to leave or take.  During self service season at the huts, one needs to bring a sleeping bag and their own food.  But even without a tent, sleeping pad, cookpot, stove, fuel, or water filter in my backpack, it felt surprisingly heavy given that it wasn’t even fully loaded.  I recently did a massive weigh-in of all my gear with Stud.  We weighed every little ity bity thing that we would most likely carry on the Long Trail in August and my base weight came out to 21.2lbs.  Base weight means everything before water, food and fuel which adds another 10-20 lbs depending on how many days worth of food I’m carrying.  Most likely my base weight will be less anyway cause I’ll be sharing a tent, cookpot, stove and fuel so I’ll only ever be carrying some of those items.  My pack felt heavy and I figured the extra weight must have been the micro spikes and the extra wintery layers I was carrying just in case it was still winter in the alpine zone.

The Nineteen Mile Brook Trail is a nice moderate well travelled path.  For the first couple miles it runs along a roaring brook.  I was in shorts and a T-shirt and felt warm enough to consider submerging myself in the cool brook but decided against it since I didn’t know what to expect at the higher elevations.  I read online from some trail reports that there was lots of ice but it didn’t seem like ice was going to happen and then just like that when we least expected it, we turned a corner and on the other side of a big boulder was a long shady stretch of trail socked in with deep thick solid ice with no slushy top layer that our boot tread could grab onto so we sat down and pulled on the micro spikes.  While we got ready for the ice, a hiker passed us who did not have spikes and he started tromping up the ice and then quickly slid backwards about fifteen feet before catching himself on a giant boulder before falling off a cliff.  Our hearts were pounding and I fast forwarded to the story where our hike was over and now we were part of a rescue mission but fortunately he was fine, just shaken, and was able to bushwhack thru the brush to find a way around the ice.

Micro spikes are amazing!  This was only my second time using them and its like magic being able to walk on ice and snow so easily with them.  We cruised up the stretch of thick ice and then turned the corner onto a sunny stretch and the ice was gone so we took our spikes off.  Then we did this dance of putting them on, taking them off, trying to hike on bare trail with them on and so on as the ice came and went.  We found the hut which was on a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by high peaks. We claimed our bunks, dropped our gear, filled our water bottles, ate some lunch and looked over the map deciding on an afternoon hike.  We ended up on a little section of the AT that brought us up to Carter Dome.  It was a 1.2 mile stretch with over a thousand feet of elevation gain and it was rugged!  It took us maybe two hours to get up to this infamous 4800 footer only to discover we were still in the trees.  Some hikers told us to follow the ridge another mile to Mt. Height for amazing 360° views.  So we did, but we were hesitant as it was almost 4PM and the sky was getting a little dark with rain-threatening clouds but we went on and it was so worth it.  Views galore and there stood Mount Washington clear of clouds.  We could see the snow chutes in Tuckermans Ravine and into Huntington Ravine as well as the auto road and the observation towers.  What a beast.  We shared the view with this group of hikers that we had been leap frogging with all day leading up to the summit.  They were going on over the ridge to camp so we said goodbye to our new friends and climbed back down to the hut taking our spikes on and off most of the way.

Back at the hut we cooked up our noodles and drank tea and admired our neighbor’s five course dinner complete with shrimp and vegetables and boxed wine.  And I thought my bag was heavy!

We crawled into our bunks and woke up to clear skies despite predictions of rain.  Had our oatmeal and coffee and made our decent down to the car enjoying a foot soak in the brook at the end.  Mission accomplished.  Now I really want to go back and do the Wildcat Ridge but not before the ice is gone.

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Going Up!

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Bridges

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Stairs

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lots of ice

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ice in shorts

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ice!

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Carter Notch Hut

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bunk

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Carter Ridgeline

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Mt Height

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Mt Washington!

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Loading up

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Morning Descent time

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Ayla on bridge

We drove into North Conway and ate lunch and then ran into the hiking group that we had been leap frogging with so we shared some stories before popping into International Mountain Sports (IME).  IME has a goldmine of a consignment shop in the basement and it is here that I purchased my first backpacking backpack in 2010 as well as almost all of my hiking layers for about $10 a layer.  I did find a Patagonia Nano Puff for $90.  I almost got it but decided to pass.  If it was $50 I would have snagged it.

This trip gave me a chance to try out my new backpacking backpack and I’ve concluded and confirmed that I just don’t love my new pack.  You see, I got my first pack at IME.  It was an Osprey Atmos 50 that was like-new when I got it very cheap.  I loved that bag and I had it for about 5 years until some of the seems busted.  I found out that Osprey has a lifetime warrantee and will repair your pack no matter where it came from. So I sent my beloved pack in for repairs and they couldn’t fix it so they sent me a brand new pack and were even willing to upgrade me to a slightly larger pack upon request as I’ve always felt like my pack wasn’t quite big enough for a longer hike.  I ended up with a different model built for carrying a heavier load.  I chose this bag cause its really comfortable.  The down side is that its a good half pound heavier then my old backpack and most of that weight is in the form of lots of annoying and unnecessary clips and straps and buckles and giant zippers which make getting in and out of it kind of annoying.  I am sure I could get use to it and I could also hack away at my pack and cut off a bunch of the these straps and buckles making it lighter but its hard to hack at a brand new bag even if I got it for free.  So I splurged and bought myself the pack I’ve been eyeing ever since I got one for Ayla last summer and was with Stud when she got one.  I borrowed Ayla’s once for an overnight hike last fall while I was waiting for my old pack to get repaired and found it easy to use and very comfortable.  I used my REI Dividend in combination with a giant sale and got 40% off the exact bag I’ve wanted.  Now I need to go on another overnight hike and try it out for real.


REVISTED with Stud

Day 2 of our epic finale of finishing the NH48

Blue Hills+Sun+Queers= Fun (hey that rhymes!)

This past Saturday I led my first hike along a short section of the Blue Hills Skyline trail with about nine folks in tow.  This was the first Boston-based TVOP (The Venture Out Project) day hike.  We had about six local participants, one western mass regular, and Perry and Luke of The Venture Out Project come all the way out from NoHo.  Most of us carpooled from Jamaica Plain which enabled folks who don’t drive or have cars to be able to come.

Group

It reminded me of these Queer Kickball games I use to organize in Jamaica Plain every Sunday for about a decade.  I threw in the towel about six or seven years ago when it lost momentum and when the attendance started to dwindle.  There have been a few games here and there since it stopped being a regular occurrence but when it was at its peak we would have an average of thirty people show up. We even had bases and cones and we had a special place to stash our gear in a yard nearby.  Sometimes we potlucked it and some folks just watched or maybe kicked once or twice while others really got a workout out of it.  It was a great place to meet folks.  My favorite thing about it was that we were not a group of athletes.  In fact many folks were out until 2 or 3am the night before and yet here we all were just being outside and getting a little exercise and just being “out” in our neighborhood.  The gathering happened fairly causally every Sunday afternoon in the park by Stony Brook T.  We would stretch, I would give a little talk letting folks know that if they haven’t kicked a kickball since Elementary School then they were at high risk for pulling a quad if they didn’t stretch.  It happened all the time.  Someone would kick with everything they had for the first time in their young adult life and then yelp as they felt the burning tearing sensation happen on the front of their leg.  Fortunately there was ice available nearby at a corner store and the injured usually recovered by the following week. Sometimes kids who were just hanging around would come play with us from the nearby playground and basketball court.  They would try to figure us out and this one kids once asked if we were playing boys against girls which was pretty funny cause this kid had no idea who the boys were and who the girls were.  The magic of it was the camaraderie, the supportiveness, the positivity, the fresh air and the goofiness.  We would get playfully competitive and even disagree about how many outs there were or whether or not something was a foul yet we never really kept score (unless we were playing Somerville which is another story).

The Venture Out Project feels like a grown up professional version of JP Kickball in some ways.  I think its really powerful and important to create opportunities for folks to get outside.  Especially folks who might not otherwise.  While hiking sounds simple and is simple in many ways, my experiences hiking have been deeply profound in my ability to heal by adjusting my own focus towards light and peace and courage from experiences of oppression, trauma, stress, and disease.  I think creating outdoor space for LGBTQ folks is a form of social justice that I want to foster.

Blue Hills Humor