Two weeks ago, I was asked to take photos for the 2nd annual “GClaw,” a popular, all-women’s arm wrestling competition in downtown Missoula. It got rowdy. The event was a fundraiser for KGBA College Radio, our very eccentric, local station. Important stuff to support. Great sound, great fun. Some photos…
On July 15th, I started one of the most memorable experiences of my life: touring with The Postal Service. 23 days. 3 tour buses. 3 semi-trucks. 24 people: Band, Production Management, Merchandise, Stage Techs, Drum/Guitar Techs, Sound and Lighting Personnel. And me. All traveling together from Spokane, WA, through Vancouver, BC then down the entire West Coast, finishing off in the Midwest.
11 tour stops, 15 shows. And 15 running adventures.
As “Wilderness/Trail Coordinator,” I was hired to research the best trails/mountains at every stop along the tour, take lead singer and good friend Ben Gibbard on them, then return to the venue (alive) before soundcheck. I also worked closely alongside the production team to help with show responsibilities. The opportunity was simply unparalleled. The people were incredible, professionals in their craft, of the highest caliber, all supporting musicians embodying great humility, love and knowledge for their art. An article brewing about the experience, but for now, a few photos from the music side of things…
On June 29th, I reported for both Ultraspire and iRunfar on the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile foot race in the world, the Western States 100. Was a most incredible experience. Here’s my full article, “The Western States 100-Mile Healing Ceremony,” recently published on iRunFar. An excerpt:
“The art of long-distance foot travel encourages this kinship with the natural world while inviting us to venture into our own inner wilderness of possibility that, by conventional standards, discourages such drifting. When we forge this relationship, we are able to understand what some have termed the “ecological unconscious,” or shared emotional reciprocity with environmental conditions. When the world is under siege, we too are being attacked, and so we experience grief, anxiety, and pain. Conversely, when we enter healthy ecosystems exploding with vitality, we heal. The strength and diversity resonates within ourselves. So, for every training run, for every exploration into mountain hinterland, for every running log scribbled with hours and miles, it is critical to remember that we are simultaneously tracking the healing process of both ourselves and of the world.”
Took my cousin out into the High Sierra for a few days of wandering North along Ebbett’s Pass to Raymond Lake. This area is one of California’s finest and best-kept secrets (shush). Images paired with some notes from Bill Plotkin’s new book, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche. Plotkin is a true visionary and someone you should be following. Psychologist, wilderness guide and unbelievable human being, I got to spend some time with him last Fall and it definitively changed the course of my life. A dedicated revolutionary and leader for the co-creation of sustainable, life-enhancing cultures.
In this book, he explores a pan-human, nature-based map of the human psyche. I’ve included some basic characteristics of the four dimensions of human wholeness, but there is so much more to it, so I recommend picking up this or any of his other books.
Swapping hemispheres for a few weeks is a surefire way to pack home some stories.
Second day in, joined hundreds in Bogota (and millions around the world) in a Global Day of Action against Monsanto. Serendipitous encounter with a fellow foot travel activist, Juanita Ariza, who ran from Tierra del Fuego to Guatemala for world water rights. Humbled and inspired. One full week in Cartagena, a coastal town spewing magic from its tragic roots as slavery port. Meeting up with old-time family friend Karina Bell. Spanish classes, salsa-dancing on repeat, swimming backstroke deep inside a mud volcano. 5 cups of coffee per day at least. To finish, a solo, 10-hour, pant-crappingly harrowing bus journey south of Bogota to the mountain village of Salento. Two days weaving through coffee plantations, sampling local trout and posting Fastest Known Times by terrorizing trails on a fluorescent bike full of squeaks, trying to keep with a fleet of Colombian kids in polychromatic Raybans.
All while devouring Craig Childs’ newest book Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Ever-Ending Earth. Certainly one of his best and not nearly as depressing as it sounds, I promise. Absolute mastery, the highest recommendation.
New camera, new possibilities. Quotes + Photos.
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. Required visit to Mecca for ultrarunners. 42 miles. 11,500 vertical feet. Across the Grand Canyon to the North Rim…then back. Kaibab Trail. In company with best in the biz, Joe Joe and TK (ran it sub 7-hours, what?) + Joe’s Uncle Dave (aka Uncle Boss). Took over 15 hours. Slow, meditative crossing. Full day enveloped in this gaping fantasy chasm. Most visuals snapped by the one and only Alpine Works. No one today inhabiting the intersection of Artist and Athlete quite like Joe can. Period.
Photo update of 70-mile crossing of the entire Baja Sur Peninsula, Mexico on foot in one day. Protest run joined by many to raise awareness and resistance against open-pit mining plans in the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains.
70 Miles. 9,000ft vertical. 18+ hours. Gulf to the Pacific. One day. First-ever recorded attempt. Joined by over 50 runners + hundreds in support. Runners, walkers, cyclists, police escorts, ambulances, huge crowds, film crew, running crew. Attacked by wasps, dogs, falling rocks. Perma-cramping. Some preliminary media coverage before (one and two and three) and after the race. Short documentary film in production now, due at the end of May. Full story coming soon. Some snapshots of one of the single-most powerful, moving days of my entire life.
Did you see it? Have you seen the green flash? You know, that split-second moment when retreating Sun cannonballs into Sea delivering a cosmic wink, celestial eyelashes flapping emerald firework. How did you miss that? It was right there. Perhaps you looked too early. Gotta be careful, you’ll pan-fry your damn eyeballs and then you bet your bottom dollar no one’s ever seen ‘em a green flash through an eye patch.
No one sees a flash through an eye patch.
Sea Turtle Nest Excavator. Member of Agua Vale Mas Que Oro, organizing 70-mile Transpeninsula pedestrian protest with local activists against cataclysmic Canadian gold mining operations. March 21st. Hasta La Victoria, Siempre. Befriended two young Aussie travelers. Hours exploring trails and land. Cardon Catcus. Ocotillo. Torote. Palo de Arco. Picaya Dulce. Todos Santos Music Festival. Took Ben Gibbard, lead singer for Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service, on 14 miles of Baja singletrack. Solid foot traveller. Sat with REM lead singer and artist Michael Stipes for a chat. Offering weekly trail running classes in town. Wednesdays, 3:30pm. Forget money, only trades/gifts accepted. Get creative. Helping conceptual design for “huerta” ecology center development near town. Giving yoga one last chance. Ukulele progress, one and two new songs. Apprenticing with neighbor to learn biodynamic gardening practices. Graduate applications in. And I wait.
Anxious. Excited. Confident. Ready. Free.
Photos accompanied by music and favorite quotes from Jay Griffith’s Wild: An Elemental Journey. Delicious book. Don’t die before reading this one.
“Nomadism is like an original fire in our wild minds; we stole it from the gods, and we made it our own, leaping to new places, quickening to motion, curious and light as flame. The keen urge has never left us to take a flinting tent and fling it under the stars, then swing on, on at dawn, on an elemental journey. That is how to burn most brightly. That is how to catch like wildfire.”
Currently in Todos Santos, Mexico. One month in. Simple living, daily love affairs with sea and mountain. Studying. Writing. Creating. Connecting with community. Contact! Contact!
Its evening, and the ocean floats red.
Corneas crawling through linen forts
Of blankets crimson.
Hermit peers West, emotional heat.
To honor the demise of Sacred Sky Fire;
Toast soft buttery soul beneath.
Gray and Humpback Grace,
Still breaching, lunging, playing;
Old Faithfuls of the Sea,
Exhalations powerful, resonant.
Breath Deep. Breath Now.
Hatched Olive Ridley,
Mere minutes into life;
Time has come Brave One!
Enter Wave, Enter Mystery.
Welcome Life, now face Death.
Charge ho! Heave! Heave!
Follow current. Trust its tug.
Reds swallowed whole
By eclipsing twilight diamonds.
Nature, Grand Alchemist.
Turning East, to honor mountain jigsaw;
Barefoot sandy signatures,
Animal stamp collections
Of wandering Horse hoof, furtive Jackrabbit,
And callused feet.
Enter the deep end.
Melting into wondrous waves of Unknown.
Here now, accessible and available fully
To see what lives
Just beyond the breakers.