First Anniversary

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One year ago today, Sarah and I summited Mt Whitney at dawn, by the light of the super moon, and finished our thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. That hike became an essential link in the chain of events and people that has lead me here to this point, six weeks away from starting the Te Araroa. It also led me to make some new resolutions for my life going forward. Straight from my journal: Continue reading

Out at the Roots

“When we were in Independence I got a sampling of what I’m like out there vs. out here. When you’ve been in the mountains for a while, away from mirrors and pictures and TV and the internet, you have a certain image of yourself. Idealized, maybe, but it stems from how you feel rather than how you feel stemming from how you look. I always come out of the woods to that sinking disappointment that I am not as physically beautiful, strong, thin, etc. as I feel I am. It may be shallow, but it’s real. I’m not looking forward to returning to that constant mental battle.”

I wrote that in my journal this time last year. Sarah and I were staying at a motel in Independence, CA for our last resupply on the John Muir Trail, only a few days away from the summit of Mt. Whitney and the end of our journey. I am frustrated and ashamed to admit that this is not unusual. I feel this way every time I see myself again: after every backpacking course, every climbing trip, every summit and ridge traverse. Continue reading

Liz ‘Snorkle’ Thomas on Hiking Alone

“Despite the cultural taboos, I decided almost 10 years ago to backpack solo from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. Those first few nights camping alone I was on such high alert that the U.S. Army Rangers, who use the trail to practice stealth travel skills, failed their mission. As they attempted to sneak past my lone hammock, I shined my headlamp on them. Dejected, the men disappeared into the woods, their training officer chastising them. Continue reading

Lady Knight

Alanna, the protagonist of my favorite books by Tamora Pierce, cuts off all her hair, disguising herself as a boy, and switches places with her twin brother Thom so that she can move to the castle and become a knight. She doesn’t want to be a lady of the court; she wants to have adventures! Over the next ten years and four books she defeats villains both mortal and otherwise, earns her shield, learns all kinds of useful skills from swordplay to picking locks to magic, makes sweet love to a handsome prince, goes on grand adventures, wins wars and the heart of the King of Thieves, becomes the shaman of a hostile desert tribe, and walks into the land of legend to find the Dominion Jewel, which she brings back just in time to save her kingdom. Naturally, I want to be her. Continue reading