Sixty60 Journey

What if…

…your biggest concern for the day wasn’t sitting in traffic making your way to the office or your first appointment, but instead was walking 10+ miles with 30++ pounds on your back in search of your next home for the night and more importantly a good source for drinking water. That’s the agenda. Period. All the while taking in the magical sights, smells and sounds along each day’s journey.

This thought hit me as I was sitting in San Diego traffic yesterday after spending four days and three nights in the John Muir Wilderness, making my way back home.

I met a solo woman hiker on the trail (many of them actually,) about 15 minutes from the Kearsarge Pass trailhead. She was just getting her day/journey started. Mine was just ending. My guess is that she was in her early 80s, fully equipped with an old school exterior frame backpack, covered from head to toe in sun protected garb, a small woman of stature with enormous confidence and ear-to-ear grin under her wide brimmed hat. This wasn’t her first rodeo!

“Where you headin’?” The number one question you would hear and ask out there on the trails. How quickly you get into that groove. Her response, “I’m heading to Bullfrog Lake.” Having just been out there, I knew exactly where that was and what it takes to get there. Kearsarge Pass alone is 4.5 miles to the top with an elevation gain of 2,600 feet, and at that altitude with a full pack you might be doing less than one mile per hour. Then she says, “I have a secret camp spot above and away from the lake. Hopefully the creek is running or I’ll have to find another place for the night.” You are not permitted to camp within 1/4 mile of that particular lake. So like I said…not her first rodeo.

Impressed and inspired. Not so much for the want or desire to hike out THERE alone, but the fact that here is a woman not being halted by age, stature or gender from going WILD! I wanted to ask her so many more questions, but she had a full day ahead of her and me, as she clearly pointed out, I had about 15 minutes to the end of the trail and this particular point in my ‪#‎sixty60journey‬—hike #54.

So many great tales from the trails. I imagine myself returning to Kearsarge Pass one day, if only to interview those passing through and over it, with one question in mind — “Where you headin’?”

What if…?

Sixty60 Journey

Socks & Bracelets: Rituals of the Past & Present

PAST: In my adolesence, I played fast-pitch softball for ten years, ending in high school as the first-string pitcher for our team. My original passion for sports. I loved it—I ate it up, all of it! Pre-game rituals became a part of that life as an athlete. I wasn’t the only one—as we all had some ‘thing’ that we did or said before an important game. Who am I kidding, back then they were all important. For me it was my socks. I’m chuckling at myself right now because I still have them! Or at least the last pair from my high school days. No matter what, these were the socks (referred to as stirrups) that I would wear for every game. If we were on a winning streak—they would not get washed. Nope! Only until we experienced a loss would I allow them to go through the washer wringer to cleanse away any bad juju. Thinking back now, of course, dirty or clean the outcome of a game had nothing to do with my socks, but so goes the life of many athletes. Whether it is making the sign of the cross, saying a little prayer or wearing your magic socks!

PRESENT: My new sport, if it can be called a sport…feels more like a passion, is hiking. It even has a name, and if you are reading thIMG_1153is you probably already know that. I call it my Sixty60 Journey. Sixty hikes to my 60th birthday. Currently in progress at no. 40…

It was during a visit with my hiking mentor, Lisa King, where we were about to embark on hike no. 3/60, I noticed a beaded wrap bracelet on her dining room table. It was as if a light was shining on it and I knew I had to have one. Turns out Lisa’s good friend hand creates them, (Beatnik Treasures) and in great immediacy I was ordering one for myself. I knew, like I knew, like I knew, that this bracelet would become my ritual, my “socks” during this hiking journey. I call it/them (actually bought two) my “trail treasures.” I never hike without them. They are liken to pulling up my magic socks before a game. I wrap the beaded one five-times around my left wrist and anchor it with the other one above it, everytime. I believe that they are attracting and collecting with each hike all of the positive energy I am hiking through in this communal journey with nature and life. Absorbing all of those good, nurturing, and healing vibrations, never to be washed…ever. Coumpounding one experience on top of the other. Always with me. Constant comforting companions on the trails, especially if I am hiking alone.

That’s it, a short share about socks and bracelets. I hope you will take time to check out the love imbedded work of Stacy Kent and her self-made company of jewelry at Beatnik Treasures!

Sixty60 Journey

10 Unintended Consequences (UC) of Hiking

When I started my ‪Sixty60Journey, the only thought/idea/goal was to hike sixty hikes from my birthday in 2016 to my next birthday (the BIG 6-0,) ending somewhere fantastical for the last hike, like perhaps in the Rainbow Mountains outside of Cusco, Peru. Pretty simple. I had no idea of the greater good and purely positive things that would evolve in the process. These are the first 10 Unintended Consequences of Hiking—I’m sure there will be more to come…

UC #1—Less than three months from the starting gate, I’m halfway there! Thirty hikes. I had no idea that hiking would latch on to my soul and soles the way it did. I will hit sixty hikes way before I initially intended, and will simply restart that counter and keep on trekking!

UC #2—I wasn’t looking for a fitness regime. What was I thinking? Of course it is. I was an athlete in high school, then life happened. I’ve never enjoyed gyms—at all, and for my entire adult life, I never really had some deliberate form of consistent exercise that I enjoyed. And that showed up on hike no. 2 (pre-season really) where I thought, “My God, I’m going to have a heart attack!” My increase in stamina are heart not beating out of my chest are a welcomed UC. At the end of a hike I get these spurts of energy where I just want to run, or run up something! I can, in part, thank my ultra-marathoner friend Shelly Hess for that.

UC #3—The beauty that exists off the freeways and into our open spaces, right here in San Diego county. I feel like a kid in a candy store! Josh Finkenberg, thank you for the introduction and tour of Mission Trails Regional Park—a hiking playground.

UC #4—The places I’ve already traveled outside my home town to hike and connect with family and friends, afar. Katie Love (Sedona) Lisa Bower King (Long Beach) and Neil Brookes (Texas) Bernie Rhinerson (Arizona) and myself in New Mexico.

UC #5—And hey! Didn’t see this one coming. I’ve lost 8 lbs of unintended body baggage, dropped one “pant” size and now need to go jean shopping. Seriously, my go-to jeans literally fall off.

UC #6—Hiking with any kind of elevation gain is Mother Nature’s stairmaster. Butt lift—the free way!

UC #7—Connections, conversations and commaraderie. The best of all. One hike in particular that was very challenging and took a village was—The Three Sisters Trail. A sweet bond was created between a group of women (Marley Wendel & Robin Persinger,) as we helped each other through and up places we thought we couldn’t go. It was a heart expanding and encouraging experience.

UC #8—I’ve been documenting my journey, of course—woman with camera appendage, and have been asked to show my work this fall at Benchmark Brewing Company. The images will come out of the local San Diego hikes. It’s been six years since I’ve had a photography show. Thank you Margaret Richardson Akin for following my journey and opening your gallery space to me.

UC #9—I met a new San Diego roadtripper friend in Bernie Rhinerson, and turns out we have/had mutual friends, beyond our initial introduction, in Shelly Hess and Steve Berg (RIP,) the latter was discovered at the bottom of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, hiking the White House Ruin Trail. A letting go of some memories happened down there in that sacred Navajo place.

UC #10—The best consequence of all were the hikes I’ve done with my two sons, Randy Bragdon and Neil Brookes. Each for their separate and different reasons. I’ve hiked twice with each of them and wish for many many more.

'Simple beauty.''Window Rock. @[222943891093088:274:Taquitz Peak, Idyllwild CA]''Mother's Day hike @[593893257293280:274:Piedras Pintadas Trail]'
Sixty60 Journey

Hiking Heroes

In 2014 I took a solo road trip to Grand Canyon National Park where I met up with my friend Lisa King and her family. She is one of my hiking heroes.

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Grand Canyon 2014

I got up early one morning to witness a sunrise, one of the reasons I was there, having missed that opportunity 20 years ago. Lisa with her friends and family in tow showed up a bit later at the Bright Angel Trail. I had zero desire to rehike that during this visit, hiking was not on my list of things to do. And I could see clearly the patch of green called Indian Gardens below, where I had backpacked to and stayed for two nights. On a whim, Lisa encouraged her husband to walk down there with her. I was thinking to myself, we won’t be seeing them for a long while! Things always look closer on the hiking trail. The bottom line here is that when she came back, she had one of those aha moments and realized that merely blazing a trail, in a place like the Grand Canyon, was not giving full appreciation to the grandeur and magnificence that nature deserves. It was then that she decided to become a hiker, and in that venture, be with nature.

Fast forward…

Lisa is about to hike the John Muir Trail (210.4 official miles) from Yosemite to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. She will be doing this with another female friend, they have been training together for about a year and a half. I am in awe of their accomplishments and Lisa has become my mentor, coach and cheerleader in my Sixty60Journey. A working mom of two great kids and a wife fully supported and encouraged by her husband, to fully express her desire to hike and commune with nature. And sometimes, work permitting, he joins in…

We did hike no. three together in Whiting Ranch (Orange County) up a trail called Dreaded Hill (oh yes it was!) ending at Red Rock Canyon. I was blown away by the trail’s treasures and continue to be with every hike I have been on thus far. I don’t know that I will ever aspire to hike the JMT, my adventure is very full as it is, and you never know!

I contine to be encouraged in my new journey by great examples of women in my life, like Lisa. Hike on!

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Whiting Ranch 2016 Hike #3lori 11_1

 

 

Cuba, People/Culture, Travel

The Cubano Connection

Departure day, 6:00 a.m. punto (on the dot.) It’s dark out. I, and mis cuatro compadres, pile onto the bus for our final Cuban ride— to the airport. I nestled into the front seat behind Harlem, our driver for the past nine days; the doors close, wheels now set in motion—it is done. The interior lights are off, it is eerily quiet, no one is talking. A lump forms in my throat, and I can feel the water start to rise over my wider-than-normal eyes, not wanting to blink the dam open.

Water spills over my lid’s edges, warm salty streams trickling their way toward my chin. Swipe, sniff, swipe, sniff. “Wow, what is happening right now?” I ask myself.

Sixty60 Journey

Solvitur Ambulantes (Solved by Walking)

I heard the latin phrase “solvitur ambulantes” the other night and pure and simply it spoke to me.

In March of this year I took a short solo road trip to Death Valley National Park to witness and photograph the ‘super bloom’ that was painting the valley floor. I was inspired to go for a couple of reasons. The news that the bloom might not last much longer, the purchase of a new ‘road trip’ car and the viewing of a new film narrated by Robert Redford—”National Park Adventure“.

It was during this trip (my second to Death Valley) where something began to stir inside me, in particular the day I hiked alone into Golden Canyon, hearing whispered invitations to make my way up a few off-trail excursions. Finding myself sitting above the gulch, seeing and hearing no one, it was like no other experience. As I climbed in and out of these places, I could feel the stretch of my lips grinning from ear-to-ear. Pure bliss and contentment. The next day I hiked into and explored the painted landscape of Artist’s Palette. It was no longer enough to stand and ogle from the edge, I had to get in there. Walk on, over, across and through the purple, green, pink and salmon terrain. I would have rolled around in it if I could.

I don’t exactly remember now when my point of inspiration arrived about hiking my way to sixty, but I do believe it began with the Death Valley experience. In four days I hiked the equivalent of six hikes and did one other local to San Diego soon after my return home. This is all happening right before my 59th birthday in April and this idea wafted in about making sixty hikes during the next twelve months concluding on my sixtieth birthday.

Sixty hikes to 60 years. I settled on calling it my “Sixty60 Journey”. At first this was about taking a deliberate, intentional and embracing approach to a number that I quite frankly can’t wrap my head around. I wanted to be out in nature more. Backing up to 2012, there was one profound grief related event where I became quite an introspective and house-bound human, which started to change in 2014—more outwardly however than inwardly. All of my prior wants and desires had gone out the window with death and if anyone were to ask me what my goals were, or what I wanted out of life, I really couldn’t tell you anymore. Now, this urge to hike, to reconnect with nature, become a part of it, was all bubbling up from the inside, soul driven.

The first half dozen hikes were also revealing the effects of inertia—physically. I also suspect in the areas intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. I currently have twelve official hikes under my soles and even in this short time have started to feel more connected. Dormant information, solutions, thoughts, dreams, desires are just beginning to come back to life. Every hike seems to connect a lost synapse.

IMG_0033I circle back to the latin phrase, “solvitur ambulantes,” solved by walking. When I heard that, I thought, this is exactly what I am doing. I’m hiking to realign with my purpose. To find my wandered-off wants and desires for the next chapter of my life’s journey, solving through the power of my own two legs and two feet in a good pair of hiking boots.

Lewis Carroll said “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Ain’t that the truth? Time to hit the trail and get solving…

 

Sixty60 Journey

New Hiking Boots, New Journey

Thanks again REI! My replacement KEEN hiking boots have arrived. On my birthday this year, 4/6, I will begin a year long trek/journey to my next birthday in 2017 (60…whoa!).

Stay tuned for more information that will involve my new trailblazers — the “Sixty60 Challenge”.

Curious? I can’t wait to share it… let the hiking begin—again!

 

Death Valley, Road Trips, Travel

The Power of Two-Words

Wild. Hair. | Flirty. Skirt. | New. Car. | Road. Trip.

I bought a new car on Monday. An unplanned wild hair purchase. My other car, a trusted companion of eight years, nothing wrong really—hence the two-words wild hair. At the same time I had been reading recent news about the “super bloom” happening in Death Valley National Park and projections were that it wouldn’t last long. Thoughts began swirling around inside my wanderlust brain about a quick visit to document it, but then there were those other work commitments.

On Tuesday I viewed an early look at the iMax film “National Parks Adventure” narrated by Robert Redford. Walked away from that film with a much deeper appreciation around the existence of our U.S. National Parks, and that new found sentiment saddled right next to the swirling images in my mind’s eye of yellow blooms on the Death Valley floor.

I returned home from the film which turned into an immediate swooping up of my belongings, including the flirty skirt, bedding and a few food items in preparation for an pre-dawn departure in my new car on Wednesday.

Road trip! [Best two words]

It really can be that easy.

I arrived in Death Valley somewhere around 10 a.m. and made a right turn toward the area named Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level, and reportedly where the largest concentration of the blooms were to be found. I spent most of my first day in and around this area, weaving through the s-curves delivering a new presentation at every turn of gold desert flower blooms rising up against dramatic landscapes that only Death Valley can offer.

I spent three more days there exploring only some of what this U.S. treasure has to offer—those musings for another day. For now, please enjoy my take-away from my time mingling with the gold, purple and white darlings painting the desert floor. It’s been ten years since the last mega bloom and who knows when it will happen again. So grateful I took the time out of my regularly scheduled life to experience this in person.

I went for the blooms and stayed for the bliss. Sounds like a working title for my next musing…

People/Culture, Travel

That Beach Needs a Raking!

The tourmaline waters and white sandy beaches of New Providence Island, Bahamas—that’s where I was last week having a day by and on the beach. Much of the trip was a bust. Between the unusually cold weather, the (not my style) all-inclusive 70s resort and a Montezuma-esque Revenge bout with something not-good-in-paradise, brought me home early to the opposite phenomena of 90 degree weather happening in San Diego!

BUT, and I use that here to negate the above because there are always brilliant jewels to any journey, if that is the way you choose to view life—right? Right.

I found a sunny spot for the lounge chair which happened to be right next to one of the palapas you reserve for extra money. It was not hard to notice the two resort employees who were beach raking their way from the front of the palapa, dragging the sand up and over a berm, fizzling out near the shoreline. I couldn’t help opening up a conversation with the two of them, about what the heck was going on—it just didn’t make any sense.

Cuba, Travel

Fidel’s Revenge on the Road to Trinidad, Cuba

The night before our long road trek to Trinidad, I succumbed to some “bad ice” in a local all-inclusive resort’s mojito. I made it through dinner but left the table with a good ole fashioned Irish goodbye. I won’t go into details for the rest of the evening…but I will tell you that I have not-so-fondly come to call the 24 hours that ensued—Fidel’s Revenge (inspired by Mexico’s Montezuma.)

Determined not to have this bout turn into trip-interruptus, I willed my way onto the bus at 6:30 a.m. and decided I would lay low in the back for the next 3 hours or so. A planned quick stop in Cienfuegos was on the itinerary, and when the bus came to a stop I lifted my head followed by the rest of me and quickly realized I was going to toss some cookies! I felt my eyes get really big in a panicked thought of “Oh this is going to happen, right now, right here, on the bus!” Thank God a bag was handy and mis compadres,Steve and Hazel, were at the ready holding the bag and my hair…end of that story.