90 Miles Around the PNW, my newest photo essay collection from my 8-day trip around Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland Trail is now live. Check out my “Adventures” section to read it now.
I love you like I love the ocean.
It’s not a shallow puddle of love, but a vast body I must dive into, headfirst.
You are ever-present, a constant weight on the submerged plate tectonics of my mind.
I can sea your movement for eternity;
billowing with the wind, endlessly twirling and crashing, your body moving as a swell.
The farther away I am from you, oceans between oceans, the more you float in my thoughts.
Atop mountain peaks I find your salty spray on me still; voyages past our last encounter, you remain.
There is danger in blindly loving you too much.
Our attempts at embrace mirror the waves: rushing toward, grasping, pulling away.
If naut careful, within your current I easily sink, deeper into the increasing pressure of your bed.
I must fight to keep my head above water, avoiding the threat of drowning in your shimmer.
But, despite the danger, I yearn to explore your unknown, dark, and knotted depths.
I am a mariner not in search of a port, but rather,hoping to sink in your embrace.
I came to San Francisco to start over.
I was 23 years old, a recent graduate, and someone still trying to figure out how to spend each day. Arizona and the desert had always been home, but I needed something new. A fresh start.
I thought moving to California would wipe parts of me clean. Right before my plane to the bay took off, I wrote: “So many ideas of who I will be; who will I become once that jet takes off? I can be anything.”
I was day dreaming of becoming the “best version of myself”. Since that moment I’ve been consciously moving towards that imaginary human. I’ve made to-do lists for my every day, forecasting the perfect way to walk home, the perfect way to write, to speak, to think, to eat, to workout, to love, to be.
This monkey mind of mine has been rampant. And, after six months, I’m not closer that “best self”.
The truth is, this “best self” does not exist in the future.
My “best self” exists in the now. In the moment when I stop bulldozing my way through life and accept it, and me, for what I am in the present.
The man who packed his life in three suitcases and hopped on a plane to a new city. The man who takes adventures into the Sierras, meditates on top of bay area cliffs, questions everything, and quits his job because of lack of inspiration. These are all forms of my best self.
While each of these versions have their own flaws, these forms are enough.
In a fast-paced city like San Francisco, it’s easy to focus on end results, rather than the self of today. The mind of an ambitious person places importance on end results, goals, and visions of a better, or “perfect” tomorrow. While this vision can fuel one through the segments of life, it can also blind one of the value of the present state.
So, after six months I remind myself, again, to find balance through slowing down my anxious mind. The aspirational goals or values I seek for my future are not meant to dirty the perspective of who I am today. They exist to provide a true north along life’s trail. And, if we use the right lens, all horizons seen from this hike are spectacular.
“So long as the mind believes in the possibility of escape from what it is at this moment, there can be no freedom.”
– Alan Watts
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
– Henry David Thoreau
Welcome to Yosemite National Park. Three men sat inside a “Rent A Wreck” rental Hyundai on the way into what Muir called “The Range of Light”. We had planned for four months, etching out tiny details in itineraries, studying topo maps and tips on bear storage. But, as we drove up Tioga Pass, I knew no amount of preparation could ever contain all the beautiful, unexpected moments we were about to encounter. Within moments of entering the park, you see snow capped peaks, almost fluorescent alpine lakes, and winding roads built for tangled thoughts. As many park rangers state, this place deserves reverence. I can’t help but agree.
My eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach, and neither fit into a bear canister.
For five days of hiking, all three of us brought food to last a family a full week. Keeping in mind our caloric output, we would be eating like kings; but kings don’t climb mountains.
If we were going to achieve our future summits, we needed to shed weight. It’s one of the brilliant aspects of backpacking: bring all that is potential necessary and only that which serves utility and purpose; minimalism at its best. As someone who pursues this value in my daily life, backpacking is minimalism’s truest test. Study for months before, check each piece of gear, run through practice hikes, and read endless articles on best tactics.
Oh, and don’t forget to fit “everything that smells” in our clunky, heavy bear canisters. Dropping a few pounds of GORP, dehydrated meals, peanut butter tortillas, (but not the five pack of snickers,) we had all that was necessary. After waiting from 7am in line at the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center, we snagged our permits (including a Half Dome summit), and hit the trail towards Glen Aulin.
“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.”
– Lord Byron
Memorial Day 2015. I’m sitting next to a creek bed at the base of hundreds of sunset colored hoodoos. Bryce Canyon. Water’s orchestra plays softly against the smooth stones, trees sway in Utah’s dry atmosphere, and I’m laying out in the rust soil next to my best friend, Gavynn. It’s the end of day one, 14 miles, and we are exhausted. Rollercoaster elevation gains and drops inspired a Phoenician rise of dormant emotions; emotions now running at peak levels due to copious awe. Looking at each other, we attempted to connect the synapses between feelings and thoughts and words. Impossible. It was then when we looked at each other and muttered the one phrase that now follows me along each trail: “This is Life.“
All the everything that was around us, and within us, had no definition. The source of the life was life itself, and we were immersed in a vibrant second of Mother Nature’s solstice. We felt the energy surge through us, pulling us up switchbacks and pausing us at peculiarities. This…all of this…this is life. The nature, the people, the weather, the everything – it defined us, we were its definition.
Here, at the beginning of the Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulin trail, Gavynn and I once again found life. This my friends, is the true beginning of this story.
As detailed last week in 10 Songs For Summer, the best season is here. Instead of blabbing on about how important it is for you to go outside and beyond your comfort zone this warm June, I’ll let these five videos do the talking.
Click on one that calls to you. At least one. Don’t let today go by without filling your wanderlust tank. Do you want to spend the summer on your couch?
Open your mind, dream, and take action.
“May you always remember the path that leads back, back to the important places”
A poetic journey down the grandest of canyons.
“I step into the ocean knowing that I am one small little droplet.”
Confronting imminent death in the ocean.
“The sun shines not on us, but in us.”
John Muir meets the PNW
“Sometimes being lost is another way of being found.”
Enter a dream world where the trails never end.
“Life is too short to not be outside exploring as much as possible.”
An adventure school bus, high school grads, & a lust for the Canadian wild.