Category Archives: Daylight Adventure

Vermillion Cliffs @ Wire Pass / Buckskin Gulch

Image That there crack in the rocks is what some people call a slot canyon. Wide enough for a person to fit through roughly shoulder to shoulder. The day before I was going to hike here, I climbed up along the northernmost part of the Arizona trail, looking out over the Vermillion Cliffs and received a mild pelting of rain, watched an ephemeral rainbow against a gray plastered sky, enjoyed life. (20% of the forecast area was receiving a light shower, but the next few days promised good weather.)

Getting out into the canyon, the weather was gusty with hefty grey clouds marking their presence – not appropriate weather for the Utah/Arizona border. I was disgruntled that the weather might make it a bad idea for me to be out, but I made some concessions to this. I went through a small portion of the canyon with some chagrin before getting up onto higher ground. Some inkling of (lets call it) self preservation encouraged me to play a game.

Rules: Climb upwards and along the walls of the canyon, belly crawl over or simply peer down into the canyon as appropriate and identify any points of exit in case of flash flooding. If you can’t ID a point for a distance longer than you think you can run at a reasonable speed…don’t go through. (Buckskin gulch is the longest known slot canyon in North America and is many miles long.)

I played this way for an hour or so, admiring the flora drinking up water seeps on the canyon walls. The wind began whipping up with more veracity, sending tufts of sand up into the air.

Observing the weather, I said, “Ok Buckskin gulch, see you when I bag some canyoneering skills, and find some more statistics on flash flooding.” I don’t like to think of myself as particularly anxious about being outdoors, but canyons are not familiar territory for me at all. I know that in the rainforest of Washington, I’ve come close to uncomfortable evenings stranded on the wrong side of rivers before. (Yay hiking partners and swift-water crossings to save the day.)Image As I came closer to the trailhead a number of folks had begun to cross my path ready for their casual stroll through the canyon…Ah, what can you do? Busiest trail head I’ve been on in the past 2 weeks and everyone starts LATE, wonder how far they get! Hope they have fun!

Mama never said not to go mountain biking alone

On a map, I can not completely say where I went yesterday, but I know what turns I took, and that I loved every second of the ride. Every moment of tasting the salt streaming onto my lips was beauty. Inhaling the air bound pollen and spores, reminded me of the first day I rolled into this town, exhausted and crusty and lost, and how I was enchanted. Feeling the adrenaline pumping, and the solitary, reflective nature of the trail was no small gift.

It didn’t start out perfect…the trail was too soft for my bike to negotiate, and I spent a lot of time pushing the dead weight of my bicycle as I contemplated the merits of continuing. Alas, at a road junction, I came by a group of three trail riders decked head to toe in spandex, “Rocking the skinny tires, I see?”

“Yeah, They don’t seem to be all that good of an idea, but that’s what I have. Don’t know if my bike can handle much of this.”

“Eh, I’ve done skinny tires in some crazy places. You’ll be alright.” One said, and we parted ways.

Oddly enough, after that, the trail evened out, and my thought that all mountain bikers must be maniacs were allayed. I fell into the groove of riding up and down the dips and turns, I stopped wondering where I was going. And as I rode there were nagging thoughts, “Don’t forget you were a beginner just an hour ago. You should not be out here alone…well my parents only told me not to go hiking alone, they never said not to go mountain biking alone…” The trail pulled me through the forest, and I am not someone to protest reveling in the sun and shade dappled paths of the mountains.

Ultimately the question of physics came, is it more dangerous to fall from 15-30 feet or be launched off of your bike at who knows what speed into the brush? (Because it eventually seemed inevitable that a crash would happen.) I have fallen on my head from 15′ in one of my old sports, and that, though most people can avoid, will happen from time to time. I feel, like possibly, the bike could have about the same amount of risk involved. And, yes, upon my return, on that loose terrain I was scared of earlier I was breaking in a narrow curvy space. Something got caught, and I found that my body was hurtled off of it’s bike. First the arm shot out, better break the arm rather than the face. Then I corrected my outstretched arm into a roll, like taking a fall in Aikido…Oddly, I  stood up, unharmed. Well, I mean, It felt one hell of a lot better than falling on my head from 15′. The ground was soft, and I rode my bike back in to civilization sporting some fresh sweat and dirt!

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Muscle pose. Check out the dirt I picked up!

Absence and I

Night time again. My bike is the color of forest in the full moon’s light. Pulses of photons waver off into the atmosphere beyond and behind my bicycle. The tires rotate towards me and away all in one continuous motion.  I think of the afternoon explaining away how electrons reveal the microscopic details of a sample much better than light can…how we still require scintillation to interpret all that information.

And?

I am lagging with the heavy heartbeat of the hills. Who rules the trajectory of my journey better than they and my asphyxiating rear tire? The test results came back in the mail, say my blood is just fine perfectly balanced. But still, I can no longer hang on to classes long enough to see them through. I must slow down sometimes. Not even trees stand still, at any moment they are pumping gallons and gallons of water up from the ground cycling organic nutrients through xylem and phloem, inspiring and exhaling, releasing volatile oils, rearranging their roots…

In the forest this morning, I stood with soggy feet as my phone rang with an unfamiliar number. I spoke calmly to a potential employer through the throb of my brain. A short cut that was to be longer than my original path pulled me through standing water. On I went, carrying bicycle over downed tree limbs, cutting paths through false lily of the valley.

Speeding down hill, wind chill. The high definition of the moon bracketed by two clouds like angel wings. The atmospheric shifts push them on. The water mass turns to a skull or half of a heart.

Earlier, I stood staring blankly at a crowded venue unable to recall the words of all the poems I’d etched into my brain. One judge scribbled an image of the grim reaper. Still, somehow, recognition found me. Forgetting everything is not embarrassing if you can pull together the strands. The woman poet I drove home intoned, “Meditation,” as I struggled with the road.

I got certified to play around with my schools Scanning Electron Microscope and Auto-montage scope pretty much anytime they are available. I regret not doing this sooner. But when is there time? Perhaps I will be able to share some pictures with you in the coming weeks if I ever find time and space of mind to take them.

The Path Was Traveled

It was a clear sunny day in Bishop, California. The date late November, 2008. As I placed my basket filled with squash, dates, apples, whatever the hell it was I deemed good to eat back then onto the conveyor belt. The clerk looked me in the eyes. “What happened to your face? You fall off a dirt bike or something?”

I smiled, “Bear got me on a bad day.” Shoved everything in my hand stitched sack, strolled out the door.

Explored the town for only a bit longer before assessing not much was going on. Drove onward into Death Valley as the sun set, found a dirt road somewhere off the map, and pulled over for the night.

I poured white wine into a purple mug, ate something I called dinner, fed the cat, and toasted the stars.  The lack of city lights, the perfect desert air. It always is those deadly landscapes that have the softest air.

The sleep wasn’t easy. The cold cut my sleep sack and blankets. I was breaking into sweats, trying not to itch my inner thighs, arms, my face. Trying not to dissolve all the way before sun rise.

“What happened to your face?”

“Systematic poison oak, actually.”

Uncomfortable in my own skin, I couldn’t shake it for a month.

And now, I’ve got another fun affliction to battle down. Hope it won’t take that long!

To recall we are small

If you look closely here, you might notice a person standing on a snow coated log in this photo. This person is waving myself and another member of the party to follow, to chance  this log suspended over an icy river of snow melt.

Almost immediately the risk was repaid with a view of glacial blue pools & the fluid dynamics of water shooting over boulders many times our height.

The weather cycled through rain, hail, sleet, and sun on our drive to this trail, but it held out for us on our hike, illuminating moss with sunlight. It only deigned to sprinkle us with dry snow crystals as we made our return trip to the trailhead.

This was just one small part of an enchanting journey through Fletcher Canyon. Many other joys and perils were shared; observing shelf fungi, gigantic Devil’s Club, lunch in a snowfort within a salmonberry thicket, and limping back down the trail clutching an alder branch after my knee decided to violently flair up in protest.

Not too many miles away from this trail, stands the world’s largest spruce tree. It is ~191′ tall, with a circumference of 58’11”. You can climb up its root system and lie down upon this ancient being. It is thought to be over 1,000 years old.

A Poet’s Garden


The past week has been feeling the strain of the growing season. I’ve done poetry performances 3 times in the past week, and I’m tired. Gratified. Challenged. Poetry plays the part of Himalayan Blackberries right now.  Invades my life with it’s fleshy thorns, takes root in the space I need for other pursuits, yet produces such tasty and abundant fruit.

I ventured down to Portland this past weekend, booked a bed in the Hostel on 18th and Glisan. Celebrated a friend’s birthday with that which is uplifting and thought provoking. I think the highlights were in the conversations I had around town, the affirmation that I am learning something in the way of subcellular biology and mycological trivia that I can share with those I cross paths with despite the fact I feel under accomplished. Perspective is valuable.

Also, I ventured into the Chinese Garden, I was told how poetry is one of the most revered arts for the Chinese scholars of past. Each part of the garden pays careful attention to symbolism and aesthetics, and it acts as quite a bit of a portal for shifting the mind about. (Thanks to The Lost Art of Hitchhiking, I was inspired to visit.)

plum blossoms on cracked ice

I am at a tired time, where feelings are getting dredged up from the depths, and my poetry is finally feeling welcomed into the world. It’s been chilly with transient sun before now, and there is still time before spring arrives. I’ve felt as if my veins were pumping poison, and perhaps as if I were inhaling ether or Carbon Dioxide (which was only the reality of Thursday’s benzoic acid synthesis). I simply am finally acknowledging the fact I’ve run into another sinus infection, and now it is time to pull inwards and heal myself with rest.

Blood rush, heart strings, banging drums

As the tips of my hair flee from its roots and blood rushes into my ears, I come to the realization that there is a small crowd of young men circled around me. Now not for an instant should you think that it is simply me upside down that is of interest. Modern day alchemists turn the world upside down too often for anyone to notice that. It’s the drumming, the guitar, the singing, and these odd aerial fabrics all juxtaposed into a walkway where these folks just happened to walk through.

I have been fever dreaming the past few nights of being airborne, dreaming of forgetting what few tricks I’ve learned on fabrics. Dreaming a trip to Mexico, dia de los muertos mourning with trapeze and sleuthing a week of locked away memory. On the waking side of life I have a fear of losing my strength. So when the sun circled into my life this morning with it’s fiery orb, and my musical friend rolled into town from the South I knew it was time to gratify the impulse once again.

The height between concrete and the top of my fabric is roughly 14 feet from the ground. The weather is just warm enough to be bare footed and not frozen. And as I am reveling in this moment, there is music traveling through the air of this corridor which has been co-opted as a studio. Those who are not armed with an instrument or standing behind SLR cameras unassumingly are simply trying to encode or extract a memory that is a bit out of their ordinary experience.

I feel favored by fortune as I begin to remember all that which I have forgotten.

The sunlight, the song, the dance.