Return to Todos Santos, Mexico

Ten beautiful days back in Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico, proved restorative, nostalgic, and productive. Photos + words.

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Todos Santos Music Festival. Death Cab for Cutie. Santa Cecilia. John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. David Fricke from Rolling Stone Magazine. Dharma Talks. Todos Santos Writer’s Workshop. Cerritos surf. Late night music jam with old friends and family. Fish tacos, ceviche, everything covered in lime. And arroyo running. Lots of arroyo running. Todos Santos in Southern Baja remains one of my favorite spots on the planet. Great trip south of the border this time, packed with inspiring people and events.

A synchronized sunrise run was organized around the world by my running sponsor Territory Run Co. so a dear artist friend and I went out for a hunt.

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Jackrabbit crosses the path as we start up, start in, start out. A swerve left. A swerve right. Sandy paths, fishtailing feet. Go. Go. Go. The sun is making things pink over there, over in the Sierra. Hurry.

Down the arroyo. Technical. Watch that prickly stuff—ocotillo, pitaya dulce, torote, cardon. Baja wilds have teeth; they bite. Catch a toe, take a fall, and you bleed.

Go faster. Sun about to crest. That knife-edge ridge above the cactus canyon is where I want to be for sunrise. Cross a wide arroyo choked in sand. Common to see coyote here. None today.

A climb. Colin behind me with a long stride, a graceful gait, an adjunct art professor from Bennington College, Vermont. Solid man.

Climb. Climb. Climb. Up the ridge we make it, only to flare off a pair of white-dotted birds. Rustle in the bramble right of my ankle. Once saw a six-foot rattler here. Only the wind this time. Onshore, 25 mph today, Colin tells me.

We reach the ridge of awe. I smell torote peel, like cinnamon. There’s my heart beating. There’s warmth. There’s red. There’s orange. There’s that fiery reminder that all things in nature reset. Everyday. The sun rises, and us with it. Bees nearby, too, have risen to collect pollen by the pound next to us. Industrious bastards.

Awe. Reverence. Simplicity. Migration. I think of my home in Missoula where ice fringes everything. I recognize my privilege to be here in Todos Santos, Mexico. And I’m grateful to my core for this place, this moment, this friend, this sun.

We keep noticing. We keep attending. The great dawn helps us attune and attend with its shadow and easy light. We descend through hundred-year old cacti that look like stampeding elephant legs and return to van, to coffee, to family, to life.

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Cold Water: Reflections of Baja

A short, 4-minute film update “Cold Water: Reflections of Baja,” expressing gratitude for all the support for our documentary “The Crossing.”


Super excited to share with you “Cold Water: Reflections from Baja,” a short, 4-minute update and thank you for all the supporters of our film “The Crossing.” Includes some great video from our Spring 2015 screening at the Todos Santos International Film Festival, giving a $1000 scholarship for Ecology Project International in Mexico, and me awkwardly attempting to play the ukulele. Thanks again everyone for helping make this project happen. It’s been incredibly powerful. Much more to come.

 

Published: “Running in Circles,” Trail Runner Magazine

Excited to see my newest piece “Running In Circles” in print for the October 2015 issue of Trail Runner Magazine. A meandering article and photos about the magic found in choosing circuitous routes. Look for it at your local magazine rack. Excerpt below!    

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“Throughout the day, I sometimes felt strong and sometimes struggled–this is the psychophysical interplay that makes circuitous routes compelling. How I felt on one side of the mountain reflected the behavior of the exposure itself–its contours, its trail conditions, its shade and water availability.”

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One Year Later: An Excerpt from “The Circles of Kailash”

A year ago this week, I joined an international expedition of twenty to travel to Western Tibet for over three weeks and participate in a 31-mile circumambulation around Mt. Kailash, one of the most sacred mountains in the world. The powerful journey was part of a larger creative project I’m working on now, so to honor this one-year “revolution,” I’d like to share a short excerpt along with some additional photos. The scene is set at Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple on my last night. 

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An oversized prayer wheel stands alone and it does not spin. Mani khorlo, they are called in Tibetan. Mani—jewel. Khorlo—circle or cycle. A wheel of jeweled prayer. They are used in Tibet and around the world as ritual, like kora, to gain merit, symbolic of an ever-revolving cosmos. Often lining monasteries and temples, each wheel is usually covered in sheet metal and embossed with Sanskrit prayer. Passing devotees spin these small wooden barrels, skewered upright on an axle like rotisserie. To lubricate them, monks pour warm rapeseed oil down the shaft, leaving a dark pool at its base.

It can sometimes look like blood.

But this one prayer wheel, this outlier, is different. At over three feet tall, the Sanskrit-inscribed cylinder is bolted to a storefront wall, too high for a person to spin, even if the wheel were free. Decorative trim shines beet-red and new.

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In Photos: Circling Mt. Tamalpais

A photo essay from last week’s 15-mile circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais, retracing the footsteps of a historic route set in 1965 by beats Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Philip Whalen. Part of a larger book project in the works. Powerful experience. 

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Four Vows for Spiral Walkers: 

Sentient beings are numberless;
I vow to save them.

Consuming desires are endless;
I vow to stop them.

Bio-relations are intricate;
I vow to honor them.

Nature’s way is beautiful;
I vow to become it.

– From “Opening the Mountain” by Matt Davis and Michael Farrell Scott

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Published: “Circumnavigation: The Revolutionary Way”

Honored to have my article “Circumnavigation: The Revolutionary Way” and photos published on Territory Run Co.’s website today. Excerpt below. These folks from Portland, Oregon, are doing wonderful things for the sport and aesthetic culture of mountain/trail running. Grateful to be a part of it. This piece is hinting at a much larger creative book/photography project I’m working on now, aiming for Summer 2016.

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“So, I ask: what is it about circumnavigation? What the hell difference does it make what shape your journey carves into the mountain, into the psyche?

Perhaps it’s just nicer not to backtrack. Maybe that’s it. Maybe circling something makes it easier not to get lost. Yet I would argue for more. I would argue that something happens when we move around things, not just through them or up them or into them or over them. As outdoor enthusiasts, as howling-wilderness-animal-yahoos, when we move and interact and dance in concert with our home, this planet, something just feels right. Something becomes calibrated. Aligned. I’m convinced that to complete such a circuit is to mimic greater ecological rhythms at play all around us–seasons, cycles, orbits, weather patterns, electrical circuitry. The list goes on.” Read the full article. 

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