Lowest to Highest Route (L2H)

After finishing the Sierra High Route, the Colorado Trail, as well as a section of Canada’s Great Divide Trail, Virginia and I wrapped up our summer of backpacking with this off-trail doozy: ~130 miles, nearly 31,000 elevation gain and loss, from the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (Badwater Basin, Death Valley, -282 feet) to the highest point in the lower 48 (Mt Whitney, 14,505 feet). What else is there to say? Feast your eyes and ears below.

A Video Retrospective of the Colorado Trail

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VA and I had been working as caretakers of a property in Big Sur over the last year, and besides a quick trip to Death Valley, hadn’t been on a long walk since our back to back high routes last year.  Living simply in the Sur afforded us the time and space to get out and wander the coastal ranges of central California, skimming the beaches for jade, running the ridges and valleys, hosting friends and family, and exploring more deeply a place we both hold dear.  It also allowed us the mental space to plan another series of summer adventures, including a return to the SHR, the Colorado Trail, and the Low2High Route.   And then there was the Soberanes Fire.  It’s birth came as an illegal campfire, was first reported as a 5-acre brush fire, and over the last two months has grown and matured into a full-fledged backcountry wildfire (currently over 125,000 acres and the most expensive fire in American history).

The ridge we were living on was evacuated two days before our departure date, and we left the Sur as flames crested Mt Manual and started making their way into the valley.  We headed east to the Sierra for a quick section of Roper’s route, and then made our way back to Durango, the town in which VA and I met in 2012.  We parked Occupanther at a friend’s house, rented a car, and drove to Denver to begin the CT.  It took us twenty-two days to walk the five-hundred miles from Denver to Durango.  Many of those miles and feelings were captured in the video below.  Turn up the volume and enjoy.

Injury & Healing: A Mental Approach

In 2014, at just over 200 miles into our southbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, injury ensued. And not in some badass way that I can turn into a riveting story either. The knot I tied for one end of my hammock was loose and the toggle slipped out. The result? I landed straight on my tailbone. Oops! Crippled over in immediate pain, I knew it was bad. I could not fathom the thought of dropping off trail — it was not an option to me. So we took 5 days off in Gorham, NH where I laid motionless for the first 2 days, slowly walked around the 3rd day, slowly walked around with an empty pack on the 4th day, and repeated with a half-full pack the 5th day. It didn’t help that we were just getting into the White Mountains of New Hampshire, arguably one of the toughest sections of the AT.

You can see the crushed vertebra outlined in pencil.

You can see the crushed vertebra outlined in pencil. Yowza!

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Gossamer Gear ‘Kumo’ and a Bear Canister Fall in Love

Planning to thru-hike an extended version of Roper’s Sierra High Route, I knew the dreaded bear canister had to join for the escapades. Shortly after becoming enamored with my Gossamer Gear “Kumo” backpack, the question popped into my head: Can I carry the Kumo with a bear canister? Research online proved little-to-no-help, so I set out to test not only the possibility but also the comfort of carrying a bear canister with my beloved pack. The results, a resounding success!

Kumo, fully loaded and ready to rock!

Kumo, fully loaded and ready to rock!

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Toward a Minimalism of the Mind

boronda ridge, big sur

One of my favorite places to clear my mind: Boronda Ridge in Big Sur

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Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. […] every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.
— Viktor E. Frankl
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Much of what materializes in the physical world begins in the mind. The same goes for minimalism. More than just getting rid of things and minimizing what you own, a minimalism of the mind not only allows for true transformation from bulky habits but it also creates a sense of peace and clarity. Minimalism begins in thought, reaches through intent, surfaces in language, and actualizes in action. Continue reading