Archives for category: Hiking

There are a zillion blogs and books and posts on how to prepare for and climb Kilimanjaro. I’ll try not to repeat what a lot of them said but here’s a list of things I DIDN’T read and wish I’d had.

DSCF1184This is an extremely long post so here’s the list of some topics discussed:

Gear to bring and not bring

The Toilet Situation

How to deal with Hygiene

Group Climb vs Private Climb

The Hiking Experience (How to train for the climb)

Food to bring and not bring

How to eat on the mountain

The Underwear Dilemma


Extra gear to bring



The list provided by the tour operator:

Definitely take JUST those items. You really don’t need anything else, except a few extra creature comforts for being in a developed country. I’ll list those at the end.

The Water Bladder/Camelbak:

I’m a pretty experienced hiker here in the Pacific Northwest and NO ONE I know out here hikes with a bladder. (Mountain biking – that’s a different story). We all carry Nalgenes or water bottles and drink when we stop to rest, about every hour or 1,000 feet. Our general thoughts are that the bladders leak, they are hard to refill and they get bacteria easily. I thought I’d just be able to take out my water bottle and drink when we’d stop.

What I DIDN’T account for is the fact that you need to be drinking – nay, SIPPING – throughout the ENTIRE day and at a minimum of 4 liters (4 Naglenes) a day. I realized this literally within the first 10 minutes on our first day of hiking and thought, “Oh crap. I should have brought the bladder. NOW I get it.”

We hiked at such a slow pace, especially in the beginning, that stopping to rest wasn’t really necessary, and dealing with bottles was a pain. I wound up hooking mine to my backpack’s hipbelt with a carabiner for seven days and would walk and sip. It wasn’t ideal but it worked.

SO: BRING THE CAMELBAK. (But bring two water bottles for refills and to drink out of at camp, because who wants to lug around a bladder while at camp?).



Again, Pacific Northwest. Rains 9 months out of the year. We are experts in rain gear. Just bring Gortex rain pants and rain jacket, right?

Nope. I used them once in Africa and immediately realized I didn’t need them.

The poncho that the tour operators STRONGLY recommend?

I used it every afternoon. Because rain/fog/mist came through every afternoon.

It was lightweight, easy to throw on, covered me and my pack and kept me warm. Plus the guides and climbers helped us put them on and take them off and just stuffed them in an outside backpack pocket when we were done with them. It never rained hard enough to warrant hassling with pants and the jacket.

BRING THE PONCHO. Actually, RENT THEIR ponchos. They’ll be of better and tougher quality than the $10 plastic wrap you buy at Target.


The Ski Jacket and Ski Pants:

Again, something I don’t normally wear in the mountains (unless I’m at a ski resort). But I bought an old one from Goodwill (with the intention of leaving it behind for the porters) and glad I had it. Brought a pair of old snow pants my mom had gotten me years ago, and they were perfect with two pairs of long underwear underneath.

I had brought my mountain summit kit anyway (lots of long underwear, softshells, overstuffed puffy and rain shell) but could have gotten away with just a smaller puffy under the ski jacket and no rain shell.


The Private Toilet:

Pay the extra money to rent it.

Read the rest of this entry »


That picture above. Right there. It’s gorgeous, right? Only a few miles from the road, yet wonderfully rugged. The North Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Hours from home. Fresh air, steep terrains, squeaky pikas, bear prints in the snow, flowing mountain streams. Stuff I’ve been traipsing in and around for almost 10 years.

I had a panic attack in the valley. Deep in the forest. Just out of the photo frame. Bottom right.


This was part of the Annual Ladies Backpacking Trip. Organized by one of my favorite outdoor ladies, it was guaranteed to be a good time. Get in a heart-pounding hike up and over a few ridges, with the potential to camp by a lake and even bag a peak. Most of us on the trip are constantly hiking and climbing with boyfriends/husbands/male partners, so the women’s trip is a refreshing change of company.

Despite all the promise of a trip with lovely company and views, part of me wanted to stay at home and just … stop. I’d just ended five months of absolute insanity. It’d been two weeks since the last of it, ending with the massive bike ride from Seattle to Portland.

I even complained to Maria a week before the trip. “I’m so exhausted and tired, I have no desire to leave my house.” No, you have to go, she said, don’t bail. I’ll even drive.

* sigh * Ugh. OK. I guess.

As email traffic increased leading up to the trip, I started to get excited. I started packing Monday night, even though we didn’t leave until Friday morning. I also had no choice, as apparently my life of insanity had not stopped and I had no time Tues-Thurs evenings to pack. I also was determined to go as light as possible, so I gave myself time to go through my gear and ditch things (and, well, buy a smaller pack). I eventually got down to 17 lbs of gear and 13 lbs of food and water = 30 lbs in a 50 liter pack, with room to spare! That’s a RECORD for me. However, just before we hit the trail, I added meat, which brought my pack up to 41 lbs, the heaviest of the group. FAIL. Seriously, 11 more pounds of food? I was so mad at myself.

We met the other five women at the trailhead and heartily started up our first trail: 4 miles and 3,000 feet to Easy Pass. With all the chattering and excitement, that seemed like a piece of cake and before we knew it, we were having lunch three hours later at the pass in the shade, with Fisher Basin open before us.

From there we could see the rest of the day’s route: drop down to the valley, climb out the southern end of it, scramble up and over some rocky ledges (a.k.a. “The Cakewalk”) and then drop down to Silent Lakes for base camp. Great! (Even if “The Cakewalk” looking nothing like that).

We started down to the valley, dropping 1,500 feet in 2 miles, under the oppressive heat of the July sun, and swarmed by mosquitoes and black flies. We reached the bottom of the valley near Fisher Camp and turned southeast, following a rough boot path with some log hopping.

At this point, I was doing OK. I’d enjoyed the climb to the pass, but something started to bother me on the way into the valley.

It started slowly with a sense of not wanting to be there. I felt guilty about that but then those feelings started to get raw: Damn my pack is heavy, why the hell did I pack so much food, I was totally cool with 30 lbs last night, I’m so exhausted, I guess I’m still trashed from the past few months, damnit it’s really hot all I want to do is go home I want to be in my gardens if I’m going to work this hard I want it to be at my house working with iced tea brewing on the backporch and feeling a sense of accomplishment why do I do this to myself–

Then came on the shallow breathing followed by a racing heartbeat, then a feeling of suffocation.

Maria was just a few yards in front of me.

“Maria?” my voice breaking to my surprise, and then suddenly feeling myself mentally, emotionally and physically crumble. “I’m… done. I’m just … done.”

She turned toward me.

“Oh, yes I know I am too. We bit off more than we can chew. And it’s really hot right now.”

“No, it’s not that,” I said as we met in the middle, my trekking poles dragging behind me like a toddler with a blanket. “I’m, like, DONE. I can’t go any more. I’m just …”

I then burst in tears and collapsed in her arms, and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

Like body-goes-limp-but-trying-to-catch-my-breath-while-trying-to-get-it-all-out-sobbing. I can’t remember the last time I cried so hard.

Maria held me for awhile before she gently guided me to a log to sit down and collect myself while she went to catch the girls.

I sat there dumbfounded, numb. I wanted to turn around and march right back up that hot hill and then back down to the car. It was only 5 miles. It was not hard. I knew I was still trashed from the past few months but I didn’t realize it would hit like this. I’m supposed to enjoy these types of outings. These types of outings are supposed to relax me. Take me away from everyday life.

When Maria returned, she didn’t have her backpack, which immediately crushed me.

“We’re going to stop just a little ways up here and make camp,” she said. “We won’t go all the way to the lakes and one of the other women is pretty done too. The heat is getting to all of us.”

“Oh… I was hoping we could go home.”

“No, now that’s silly. We’ve come all this way. We can’t leave now. We can just sit in camp, we don’t have to do anything.”

With a heavy sigh, I got up and trudged on. My body felt heavy but my head was completely void of emotion. I was just floating now. Not really engaged but still aware of my surroundings: that creek we had to wade, the boulder field we had to navigate, help make decisions on where we’d camp that night. Just barely.

But I continued on. Our group made the decision to camp below The Cakewalk and the next day, those who wanted to could do a trip up to Silent Lakes and Fisher Peak.

We camped on a rocky outcrop with established tent sites, with a stream to our left and a snow patch to the right. The southern end of the valley rose above us, with Fisher Basin behind us. We established campsites (Maria had to call my name a few times to get my attention as I stood there mindlessly just holding one end of the tent as she was trying to set it up), rinsed off in the creek, changed clothes, pumped fresh water, had dinner and drank snow-ritas (margarita mix and tequila poured over cups of snow – WAY better than anything served in a restaurant.). We shared stories of previous trips and read outloud from the trip’s Official Literature, “Woman’s World Weekly.”

I explained to the ladies that I didn’t think I had the mental capacity for the climb the next day. They completely understood, and said they’ve been in my place before, where all you can manage is just one foot in front of the other just to get to camp. I was so thankful for these ladies. I may not have been all “there”, but I knew I was safe. If there was an emergency, I could snap into rescue mode, that wasn’t problem. But, at this particular moment, I didn’t have to do anything. I could just … be.

The next day, I woke up only feeling a bit better. Still in a funk but at least rested. I was wondering if I’d step out of the tent and see the day’s objective and wonder if I’d be struck with the usual “OMG I should go, I’ll feel guilty if I don’t, I came all this way, I should take advantage of this, I’m weak if I don’t go!”

Nope. Nothing. I mean, I felt a slight twinge of desire to scramble something but not necessarily do the weekend’s objective. I could have climbed to the edge of valley to peek over the other side, but I also felt completely OK with just staying in camp. Maria would be staying too. In fact, I entertained the idea of a nap after breakfast.

After the ladies took off for their climb, I straightened up camp, organized my food and took stock of what I had (why the hell was my bag so heavy?) and made it an objective to eat as much food as possible during the day, even if it meant stuffing an entire block of cheese, several landjagers and a log of sausage down my throat over the next 12 hours.

After I finished my food organization and made a list of lighter gear to research, I moved to the tent to organize my other gear. Maria was reading inside, shaded and away from the bugs.

“So what are you doing there, Tiff?”

“Oh, just organizing, putzing, nesting … Wait! I’m NESTING! Which is what I want to be doing anyway but just right now it happens to be while I’m seven hours from home and in the middle of nowhere!”

We both laughed.

That’s when I realized it.

It took me being in the wilderness to force myself to stop. To put myself in an environment free of any stressors, to simply just survive. To not be distracted by anything. No projects to tackle (even if that’s what I thought I wanted to do). I love being in the outdoors for those reasons – to simply survive and not think about all things I should be thinking about.

How to mitigate the bugs, what layers should I work with right now, when should we fill up the group water jugs, how much food can I eat today, when can I steal Maria’s book after reading Woman’s World Weekly from cover to cover again…

After coming to that realization, I finally relaxed, finished my putzing, then took my pillow and sit pad out of the tent, laid out on the ground and thought, “Here’s the vacation I’ve finally wanted. It may not be on a beach, but it certainly was warm, outside and quiet. No family, no work, no Internet to distract me.”

And I was OK with it. I even took that nap.

Later that night, when the ladies came back from the climb, the first thing Eileen did was march right up to me, embrace me, and exclaim, “Smart decision!” Apparently that climb was not for the faint of heart. Or the mentally unstable.


Back to my regular self

By this point, I was back being OK with life. I also made a few decisions, such as to truly zero in on my desires in the moment (mountains, city or home?). I also realized the mountains weren’t where I wanted to be this summer. I’d been biking since March and really loved it this year. So I mentally cancelled my Mt. Baker trip that was in two weeks. Once I made that decision, and started making plans for fun things to do around town for the month of August (including more bike time and yard time and yoga), I started to feel immensely better.

Just because it’s summertime in the Northwest doesn’t mean it always needs to be spent in the mountains. In fact, I LOVE my house in the summertime. The front porch is great for sunsets. The backyard (when it’s weeded and cleaned up) is cozy and lush. The light in the morning in the living room is lovely.

Then there is the question – am I living the life I want? Every year, I’m faced the issue – I want to do EVERYTHING. With EVERYONE. I need to climb mountains to stay strong for mountain rescue, which I absolutely love, almost more than life itself. I want to kayak though. I want to enjoy Seattle in the summer, with picnics with city friends in the little city parks. I want to spend time at home enjoying my investment. I want to be closer to the water these days, and not be far away in the mountains.

How do you find balance so not to burn yourself out or be overwhelmed?

Talking with a friend the other night, he said, you just have to learn to say no. Truly listen to what you want to do and do it. It doesn’t make you weaker or less of a person if you don’t climb mountains all the time, or decide you want to have an in-town weekend, or if you want to do yoga all the time instead of sports, or embrace your new found love for biking, or pick up a water sport.

Fay offered a quote that stuck with me: “You have to let go of the life you expected in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

Basically – go with the flow. Do what you want. Do what makes you happy.

Three days after that emotional backpacking trip, I was sitting at a campground on the Pacific coast. I was there for two days of work but I couldn’t bring myself to find a hotel or sleep in the Jetta. I wanted to sleep as close as possible to the ocean. So I tossed the tent,  sleeping bag and pillow in the car. A few snacks. Backpacking stove and a dehydrated meal for my dinner, which I delightedly and slowly ate on the beach as I people-watched. I could feel the sticky but refreshing layer of the saltwater on my skin. I’d been excited by the idea of sleeping by the ocean, by myself. Ironically, all completely forced by logistics of work.

And maybe my friend is right.

Maybe I should buy a surfboard.

I make a lot of excuses for everything. I know this. I’ve always known this. I’m actually a lot of talk and no action, contrary to what y’all think.

These ideas have been brought to my attention recently. On a deeper level. Don’t ask. Just go with it.

I woke up this morning with the uncomfortable feeling, like, yeah, get off your duff and actually do something. You ARE all talk and no action. I’ve been bitching for years about things I REALLY want to do and have I done them?

NO, because I am the QUEEN OF EXCUSES. Look at my past relations and jobs and extracurricular activities – why I can’t/don’t/shouldn’t get out of it, change it, do it.

F that.

I sat down with breakfast and a scrap piece of paper and a pen and scrawled across the top:

What makes me feel alive?


(Speaking of, at this moment, a Florence and the Machines song just came on KEXP. It’s not the song that reminds me of my trip to Australia in 2011, but this band had a song that came out around that time that was totally the theme of that trip. And that trip made me feeling so fucking alive.)



hiking/skiing uphill


good home cooked food

my favorite people


busy work

helping people


creating things with my hands


traveling and exploring



NOW, this list is all fine and good but HOW or WHAT am I going to do about each one.

Next to each item, I started writing out ideas:

Running – sign up for a trail run once a month. it costs money but whatever. Sign up early enough, it’s not as expensive. Every time I got off a trail run in 2014, it was the best feeling ever. Better than climbing, hiking, biking, swimming, whatever other sport i’ve tried.

hiking/skiing uphill – it’s winter, so it’s snow season, so I need to get my knee brace fitted which I’m doing next friday. YAY! Then I can cross country ski this year!

dogs – Don called me out last night on every excuse for not having a dog, as I’ve been moaning for years that I’ve wanted one. I essentially live in the equivalent of a big apartment (big indoor space, no fenced yard). Start researching good types of dogs for me – one who enjoys exercise and being worked but also knows how to chill.

good home cooked food – CHECK. ALL THE TIME.

my favorite people – who in my life makes me feel happy and real and myself. mentors and people i respect and look up to.

sunshine – continue to take 3,000 IUs of Vitamin D, go to the tanning beds or just fucking move.

busy work – i’m trying hard at work to do this while we’re in a slow season, as most my people are at their computers doing reports and data crunching, so field season is slow. time to plan long-term projects?

helping people – mountain rescue allows for this, but not enough. my job allows for this, but not enough. my career counseling last year shed light on working in a non-traditional teaching environment. Both my job and mountain rescue allow plenty of opportunities to do this. I need to sit down with a calendar and resources and do some research on how to incorporate this.

cleaning/organizing – i’m really good at this, no matter what it is. it just comes as required.

creating things with my hands – woodworking is the first thing that comes to mind. I just signed up for a free online four-day creative class. I would like to sit down and go through it, but see, I’m not creating an action plan here to make sure I follow through with it. I guess a bigger priority is the pile of fabric in my living room for two sets of pajama pants, three quilts, a dress and lots of mending …

music – most of the time, KEXP. Also, I have a ukelele and a guitar in my living room. In their cases. Someone told me to buy music stands so they’ll sit out and I’ll pick them up more. I need to buy two music stands. Cheap.

traveling and exploring – this takes planning. I see on Facebook (yes, the Facebook syndrome) all the trips and ideas and think, man, I need to plan some trips. Yes, I know I just went to Ireland (which was amazing) but wanderlust is getting to me again. I WILL BLOCK OUT THAT LAST WEEK OF MARCH FOR MY WEEKLONG ROAD TRIP FROM CALIFORNIA TO WASHINGTON DAMNIT. I’VE BEEN WANTING TO DO THAT TRIP FOR SIX YEARS NOW.

Gardening – that pink binder on the table? the one you keep meaning to organize by month so you know what to do for each plant, as well as layout where each plant is in your gardens? that needs to be done. again though where’s the action plan to make sure it gets done?

(Irony? KEXP is now playing ALIVE by Empire of the Sun)

it feels good to get all this out, but it also means planning and budgeting. that’s where i get blocked. when do i have time to sit down and plan and budget? that’s my problem.

the other question – in a year, after i do all these things, will i finally be happy? i constantly feel like there is something else there, something else that i need to satisfy me, because apparently my charmed life right now (i’m not going to lie, i know i have it good, on paper, my life looks fantastic) isn’t enough.

there you go.

No one ever said i didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve.






It’s 3 a.m. the day after my ACL surgery on my left knee. So, you know, a perfect time to write a blog post. I didn’t wake up to pain, just a little stiffness (the leg propped up on pillows and forced straight by a brace and thick layers of gauze will do that to a person who likes to sleep on her side). I expect pain to kick in around 9 a.m. as the femoral nerve block wears off but we’ll stay ahead of it with 12-hour oxycodone pills at 7 a.m. I also am losing my voice, but apparently that’s a side effect of when they put something down my throat to keep me breathing during surgery.

Since I tore it in October, I spent 2.5 months exploring my options to replace the ligament and the right doctor to do it. Four Seattle doctor interviews later, plus a chat with my step-uncle, an ortho surgeon in Minnesota, I finally settled on Dr. John Green at University of Washington Sports Medicine Center. Everyone else gave me different options for the ligament replacement, none of which I was crazy about, even after discovering the publication “The American Journal of Sports Medicine” and reading study after study of the various options (hamstring = possible weakness the rest of my life; patella tendon = knee sensitivity the rest of my life and I have experience with that in my right knee from the last time I did this; cadaver = easier recovery but not as strong as using my own tissue, although the debate is still out on that one. If I’d gone that route, I’d gotten a tattoo on my knee that said, “This is Bob’s old knee.” Or, “RIP Bob” or, “Bob now lives here.”)

Dr. Green said using the quadricep would be the way to go for me. It’s a longer recovery time with the harvest site in the quad, but it will grow back to be just as strong.

I love my quads more than anything in the world of my body, honestly. They power me up the hills, crank during cycling and propel me forward while running. And I’ve got PLENTY of them, so USE them!

The reality of this whole deal started to hit last Friday, my last day of work for three weeks. Then Mom came into town on Tuesday. Then UW called on Thursday to give me my check-in time for Friday morning. I was pretty anxious and apprehensive about it all by then and of course questioned, why why why??? do i have to do this?

But I knew. And I woke up on Friday morning with a different attitude – it was GO TIME.

We had to take the 4:50 a.m. ferry and got to UW very very early, so I was in pre-op very very early. Everyone came into visit (nurses, IV nurses, anesthesiologists, the P.A. Nicole and then Dr. Green). Of all things, I was anticipating the IV line insert because the idea of it just plain freaks me out. And the needle prick that comes with it.

Brian made a good point though – I brushed off some bee stings back in September, and these needle pricks would be much less severe. It WAS less severe and she did a great job (I entertained the nurses with my Hugh Grant obsession, which is my go-to aimless chatter topic I use when getting pricked – it goes back to last ACL surgery and IV insert in 1996 and I was a fan of the mop-topped Brit at the time. Still am. I like his his dry sense of humor).

When it was done, I made the mistake of looking at it and then asked them to cover it up with tape, then promptly fainted. I thought I was going sleep for the surgery and thought, “Yes! Give in to the sleep and I’ll wake up in recovery!”


Next thing I heard was something about being “green”, Mom calling my name and the P.A. saying, “ah, let her relax, she’s pretty tense right now.” I woke up sweating and asking what happened. Everyone just chuckled and said I passed out, and that it’s pretty common, especially when you haven’t had anything to eat for 12 hours. And I hadn’t been given in any sedatives yet.

But, two hours later, they started them and I gave in and last thing I remember was being wheeled into the OR, where I promptly started calling out all the people’s names and who they were in the OR, since I had met 99% of them in pre-op. Anna, Nancy, Colin Kennedy (what a name and a handsome fellow!) the equipment tech and then the first anesthesiologist – I didn’t know his name and someone said his name is Dr. something, or Ryan. So I called out, “OK I will call you Ryan. I like that name.” Next thing I know, Ryan is putting a gas mask on my face and told me to start counting. BAM. OUT.

What seemed like moment later, I was waking up a bit foggy, my left knee feeling pretty heavy and a nurse asking me to eat ice chips. Then I just sort looked around and felt like I had this goofy smile on my face and gave everyone the “rock on” hand signal when they asked me a question. The Regional Anesthesiology Team came in to give me my nerve block in my leg, which I anticipated to be painful, since I was envisioning a large needle going deep into my leg. So I closed my eyes, tried not to listen to Benjamin and his partner discuss exactly what they were doing step by step and again, a little prick and they were done. Sweet!!!

After that, the recovery nurse said, “OK, you’re done and ready to go home!” Mom went to get my prescriptions filled, only to find out that my insurance didn’t cover 12 hour Oxy. So the nurse said to mom, you know you can just buy it. I proclaimed, “Put it on the credit card!” But we had to wait for Dr. Green to come out and rewrite the scrip since it had been deleted after mom visited the pharm. So, it was an hour and a half of waiting for Green to finish up a surgery, but that was OK with me. I was pretty comfortable.

Around 4 p.m., we loaded me into a wheelchair, got me in the car (Lucille Bertha “The Battlewagon” Royale was awesome and comfy) and Mom got us to the ferry easily during the absolute worst time of the week in Seattle – commuter traffic. But she did a great job. In the meantime, Brian got ice and soup for me and dinner for mom after work and was at the house (with pretty flowers for my living room too!) when we got there at 6:30. He helped me up the stairs (he wanted to carry me in but I honestly just needed him to catch me if I fell), stayed for about 45 min, got the day’s stories and then went home to let me and mom go to bed (we’d been up awake since 2 a.m.).

So, aside from fainting, it was a pretty uneventful day. Now, as Dr. Green told Mom, I have a lot of work to do for the next six months. Bring it on!

Buuuuutttt, let’s just get through these first few days of pain that I’m sure will on-set today. More like uncomfortable pain, but hopefully nothing as unbearable like the last time I did this. Post-op is Tuesday and with the OK from Green, PT starts Friday. That’s when the REAL work will start.

And I am just absolutely blown away by all the kind words and wishes and texts and phone calls from my friends throughout the country. It’s been awesome to receive those, on top of Brian being so sweet and helpful to Mom, who, I think is more worn out from this than I am. But she’s doing great and I’m extremely happy she’s here.

OH and screw Whole30 right now. I want some Dave’s Killer Bread smeared with my favorite peanut butter and my favorite relaxation tea and maybe even some ice cream…

Oh and the experience at University of Washington? Could NOT have been more fantastic. Totally stoked about going with them and HIGHLY recommend there. I’ll probably go back later this year to have them help me fix my sub-scapla (or at least figure out WHY and WHERE exactly and WHAT is going on).

2:25 p.m. July 30, 2012

I want to be at home. I want to be at home RIGHT NOW. I am SO done with this trip.

That was my first thought when I woke up at Camp Site 11 in the Seven Lakes Basin in the Olympic Mountains Sunday morning.

It’s rare for me to think that when backpacking. I typically relish in waking up snug in my little tent, with the sun starting to brighten the bright green walls that kept me warm and dry during the night. I woke to the rustling of my campmates starting to pack up and get ready for the day. It was probably 5:45 a.m. I knew we needed to get up and not dwaddle as the organizer of the trip had a long day planned, which included an attempt to climb Mt. Carrie. I was going to be hiking back to the trailhead instead but had a long day too – an 11 mile-long hike out.

I apparently wanted to leave this place quite badly.

Having that nagging thought really bugged me though and made me a cranky camper Sunday morning. Usually I’m pretty bright-eyed and content, looking forward to the day’s adventure and enjoying the chores of a camp morning. I even had a restful night of sleep, only waking up briefly but didn’t need to heed to nature’s call. I thought my unusual sourness was brought on by feeling rushed, knowing we had to get up and get going soon. And I was upset with myself having these negative thoughts. Were these the last days of my time in the mountains? Did I not enjoy camping anymore? Was I burned out?

Wait, I thought. I hadn’t been in the mountains like this in six weeks. I hadn’t been out nearly as much as I had wanted to be this summer. And this particular trip I’ve been dying to do for years. What happened? Read the rest of this entry »

11:11 a.m. Oct. 25, 2011

That title above. It’s a weird statement. I was just checking my Twitter feed, which I’ve pretty much neglected this summer and fall due to just being barely having enough time to check Facebook (well, obsessively trolling the FB for pictures of my new nephew anyway).

So I checked in on Twitter, where most of my climbing/outdoor friends live. I clicked through to a few blogs I’ve missed reading and skimmed over articles about friends climbing this, biking that, hiking this, offering various philosophies on the outdoor lifestyle and mindset. It took me back to 2009 and 2010 when I was reading them consistently and embracing it all.

Then I thought: “Wow. I feel like I don’t get out anymore.” Read the rest of this entry »

After wasting 600 words of my brain drafting a negative post recently about how mentally and physically crappy I felt about 2010 and how I’m clueless about 2011, I decided to check Twitter for a second and my friend Katie posted this article from Nerd Fitness:

Well, that was just a kick to my pity-party, Negative-Nelly ass. Kinda like when @RedHeadedWriting bitch slaps the world and tells everyone to stop whining and F’ off and go do something with themselves.

I scratched my head and that stupid foggy cloud over my head lifted. Then I started thinking about the goals of 2011 and the future. It’s all part of the way my head works when it comes to something big: panic, fret, get upset, complain then buckle down and be productive. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been a few years since I snowshoed. I asked for a pair for Christmas soon after I discovered the sport in 2003, early in my days of learning how to play outside in the Pacific Northwest. I soon realized that, well, snowshoeing is kinda boring. Groomed flat trails and packed snow? Meh. Not super interested.

But after a recent weekend, I learned all about the virtues of what we called “Adventure Snowshoeing.” My snowshoes and the sport were redeemed.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m quite excited to post my first gear reviews here – one for a favorite piece and one for a brand new piece!

Favorite Piece: The Freshette

It’s about time for me to write about this little piece of equipment that goes on every trip.

Uncharacteristically for me, and for climbing gear, it’s very girly and pink. It was odd to use at first, but it’s become my 11th Essential. And I tell just about anyone about it who will listen. Read the rest of this entry »

More like Panic Attack.

It’s 2.5 weeks to Rainier.

I’m as trained as I’m going to be, given shoulder/back issues that have prevented a nice variety of cross training. But Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Camp Muir 2x are all under my belt and I did pretty good on each one.

All my fundraising money has come in, plus some – $4,085!  – thanks to everyone out there who was gracious enough to deal with my incessant begging, pleading, dramatizing, party-throwing, cooking-baking and again, begging, tactics.

I have 99.99% of all my gear purchased, rented, borrowed and planned (except those damn hardshell pants – can’t decide if the low end Sierra Designs will suffice or I should buck up and purchase some GoreTex). (and Trekking Poles, please don’t be stubborn and please cooperate on Aug 20, ‘K?).

But there’s one piece of gear that’s got me on edge. The ONE THING I wasn’t planning on having to worry about.

The Pack. The Bloody Freakin’ Pack. Read the rest of this entry »