Thumped With A Blogstöcken
Upon checking my Twitter account one fine afternoon, I discovered that I’d been thumped with a Blogstöcken. While this may sound vaguely violent, it turns out that the thumper was one SoCal Hiker (aka Jeff Hester) and his umlautted weaponry was in service of something called The Liebster Award, which is basically an assortment of ever-evolving questions passed from blogger to blogger, chain-letter-style (hmpf), in order to help expose readers to other websites.
Jeff’s thumping may turn violent once he realizes that I’m not going to continue the chain by posting and tweeting to a bunch of other blogs – although I tend to think most hikers are lovers, not fighters. In that spirit, I hope you enjoy my answers below (oh, the digitally-enabled narcissism!) and check out not only SoCal Hiker, but also the outdoorsy blogs he links to in his Blogstöcken post!
Where was your most recent walk, hike or run?
I enjoyed a rather ill-fated run last evening around the Silverlake Reservoir. It began well, it really did – Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” (see above for inspiration) pumped through my janky headphones, giving me the confidence to run like a phalanx of Kardashians was at my tail armed with a frightening arsenal of false eyelashes, Botox, and butt pads. I was in a groove. After a few miles, Sharon Van Etten’s “We Are Fine” made for a perfect finale and I began a lazy walk home, only to realize that I dropped my one lonely house key somewhere along the route. Deciding it a better option in the waning light to walk one more mile than three (and having left my phone at home like a moron), I made my way to Cat Sitter #1′s apartment to ask for my spare key…but no one was home. Dejected, I slumped another half mile over to Cat Sitter #2′s apartment…but was denied once more. They were all gone somewhere, partying it up with my spare keys. I buzzed the intercom again and prepared to sit on the stoop like a lost puppy until my friend came back home. Miracle of miracles, she answered and gave me a ride home. Running is a lot of fun, but so is having unfettered access to your cat and all of your worldly possessions.
What is in your daypack right now? Bonus points for a photo of the contents.
I’m very glad you asked, because I’ve been expert-level procrastinating packing for an upcoming backpacking trip and this forced me to address the insanity parade that is my daypack. You’ve heard of the Ten Essentials, right? I have about Eleventy Hundred Essentials, and you can see them spread out in all of their overabundant glory above.
What is the one third-party app on your smartphone that you would never uninstall?
Camera+, hands down. While I carry a moderately decent digital camera on significant hikes, I also tend to give my iPhone lens quite the workout. That Yosemite valley pic above? I was too lazy to dig out my camera and was able to take a quick snap with the phone and shine it up a bit with the app. Presto-bingo, an iPhonetographer is born.
What is your favorite local trail?
What is this, Sophie’s Choice?! Fine, fine – I choose…a tie. The winners are Sandstone Peak, for its undulating scenery, ocean sightlines, and un-Californian “sandstone,” and Icehouse Canyon for the cool water, alpine views, and countless adventures to be had (see above for once such view enjoyed during one such adventure to Ontario Peak).
Name your favorite outdoor-inspired book or movie.
All hail the King O’ Mountains, Ed Viesturs! While I credit Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild for sending me down a path of ravenous mountainous obsession, I have Ed to thanks for making sure I traversed that path logically. His book No Shortcuts To The Top is kind of my mountaineering bible, mostly because in it, he sold me on the concept that “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” Plus, there’s a lot of really awesome adventure-stuff in there.
If time and money were no object, what is your dream adventure trip?
Oh, my. Oh, my, my, my. Let’s start at the top – or at least near it – with a monthlong circumnavigation of Annapurna, followed by a trip to Everest basecamp and a sampler platter of smaller local peaks. From there, perhaps we pop over to the Alps for some hut-to-hut action and a taste of via ferrata. Once I’ve located a handsome Swiss mountain husband, we’ll continue together down to New Zealand, camper-vanning our way from Auckland all the way down to the penguin-coated tip of the South Island. Since we’d already be down yonder, it only makes sense to pop over to Australia for a romp in the Outback and some bouldering in the Grampians. We’ll swoop back home to visit family and friends and purchase an adorably cozy mountain cabin, then down to South America it is for some Patagonian adventures. If we accidentally end up on a boat to Antarctica, so be it.
Describe your earliest memory of outdoor adventure.
Camp Whitcomb/Mason in Hartland, Wisconsin. It was the eighties; shorts were short, socks were long, and I had a crush on Sean Astin. I went to the Boys’ & Girls’ Club across the street from my house and this was their camp; I sailed off a half hour west and a world away from Milwaukee and came back with a lifetime of inspiration. THERE WERE SO MANY TREES. And a big field. And a lake. And a wetland. And arts & crafts. And a petting farm. And a pool. And canoes. And Capture The Flag. And cabins. And archery. And a giant moose head. And funny songs. And silly traditions. And cool counselors. And it smelled like pine and bug spray, two scents that to this day immediately propel me back to that first summer and so many after.
What in the name of all that is holy compels you to write your blog?
I don’t know if I’d call it holy, but it might be supernatural – it’s just the urge to write. To dump out the thoughts that seem worth sharing, but don’t fit over at Modern Hiker or Year Of The Scout (or any of the other places brave/foolish/kind enough to host my words). I’ve been a writer since I was in the single digits and the affliction shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
If you could spend a weekend camping with one person no longer living, who would it be and why?
JOHN MUIR. I would build the biggest campfire known to man, continuously stoking it while the Bearded One regaled me (and a group of select friends) with all of his tales.
Looking into a crystal ball, where do you hope we will find you in five years?
“Alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic!” to quote a song we were (rather joyfully) forced to sing at camp most mornings. On top of that, I’d simply love to continue living a life full of outdoor adventure and creative inspiration. Whether that finds me still in Southern California or decamped to the Sierras or living in a Colorado cabin with a lovely mountain man, I do not know. But as long as I’m happy, the kids are alright.
How many times do you plan to hit me with a Blogstöcken for nominating you?
Just one gentle thwack will do.