Monday, January 28, 2013

The Arizona Diaries: 13-21 October 2012, Part III

In October of 2012, I spent ten days on a road trip that traced a loop. Starting in Los Angeles, I went through Tucson, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back to Los Angeles through the Mojave Desert.

I woke at dawn, put on running clothes, and stepped out into the cold morning air. I ran down the hill out to where I saw one of the residents' flashlights disappear into the darkness the night before. There, I found a camp running along the edge of the property. A rooster crowed. I ran through the jumble of temporary and semi-permanent shelters to the edge of a field and down a jeep trail to the main dirt road. When the road ended at a fence, I turned around, ran up the hill and out the approach road, then back down to the guest quarters, straight into the sunrise.

When I got out of the shower, I heard voices outside my door and the grinding chords of black metal blaring from portable speakers. Workshop participants were working on the construction project underway on the embankment below the guest quarters. If the room had cost more than forty dollars, I may have complained about the early morning noise. But really, I was more charmed than anything else by the whole situation. After breakfast, I put some laundry in to wash and met up with a tour at the ceramics studio. We watched a bronze pour and learned all about how the artisans make the beautiful Arcosanti bells. Over lunch, I wrote out postcards and watched the residents eating and talking together. I gathered my laundry, left my key, and walked up to my car. I wanted so much to stay on there. It felt like some kind of home, and I was sad to leave.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Arizona Diaries: 13-21 October 2012, Part II

In October of 2012, I spent ten days on a road trip that traced a loop. Starting in Los Angeles, I went through Tucson, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back to Los Angeles through the Mojave Desert.

Lighting out from Los Angeles, I settled into the speed and the scenery. The last time I'd made that drive was over a year ago when my then-boyfriend was moving across the country. Memories of that trip and that relationship were inevitable; they were strangely humorous and comforting, and I wanted to share them with him. It was only the first day of a ten-day journey, and the high lonesome had already taken hold. But then again, that's just kind of my natural way. Maybe I was made for this empty, wide-open country...

I made it to Tucson in six hours. Being at the Hotel Congress was like going back to 1995. I would have fit in so well there back then. It made me think of playing music in college town bars. I missed my Doc Martin wingtips and my cropped, dyed hair. But in 2012, rather than do a soundcheck, find a cheap supper, and drink beers until the show, I took a little nap, had a shower, and put on a nice outfit for the rehearsal dinner. On my way, I saw a Miata up ahead of me on the freeway. At the end of the offramp, I pulled up next to the little convertible and shouted a greeting across my empty passenger seat to Lucy and Alex in the adjacent lane. I followed them the rest of the way out to the old barbeque spot where we ate ribs and roast chicken and stewed beans and garlic toast while a band wearing matching fringed cowboy shirts played old time country music.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Arizona Diaries: 13-21 October 2012, Part I

In October of 2012, I spent ten days on a road trip that traced a loop. Starting in Los Angeles, I went through Tucson, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back to Los Angeles through the Mojave Desert.

When Lucy told me her wedding party would take place in Tucson over an October weekend, I knew that I would want to spend more than just a couple of days in Arizona. I had been so close to the Grand Canyon a number of times but had yet to go there. I started looking into camping and hiking in and around the area. That's when I learned about walking from the South Rim to the North Rim (or vice versa) in a day, or "R2R", as the trek is sometimes known. I became so preoccupied with the idea of taking this walk that I noticed myself mentioning it in conversations that were otherwise unrelated to hiking and frequently found myself searching the internet for walkers' and runners' accounts of making the trip. As a beginning long-distance walker who hadn't even yet taken a backpacking trip at that point, my heart raced at the thought of doing the R2R: Was I strong enough? What if I sprained my ankle? Would I run out of water? But my visceral reaction to the very idea of this walk wasn't fueled by fear or doubt alone; it was springing from the thrill of a challenge and the excitement derived from knowing that I would surely do it some day.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mount Wilson, 6 January 2013

Mount Wilson
Chantry Flat Trailhead to Sturtevant Falls Trail, Lower Falls Trail, Gabrielino Trail, Mount Wilson Observatory, Old Toll Road, Upper Winter Creek Trail
13 miles
5,710 feet with 4,000 feet of elevation gain
5 1/2 Hours
Corrina Peipon and Chris Young

In anticipation of longer backpacking outings, I want to learn more about walking with a full pack. I intended to take this walk alone with my whole kit, but Chris sent an email saying he wanted to walk. I invited him along and decided to leave my backpacking gear at home. The night before, I checked the weather: 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms in Los Angeles, 90% chance of snow on Mount Wilson. Chris's response: "I'm always up for weather." Left to my own devices with a weather report like that, I would have skipped it, but Chris is a life-long mountaineer who hails from the Seattle area. I guess a little rain in the forecast is no deterrent for the likes of him. So, I told him I would pick him up at 6:30 A.M.

By the time we wound up the Big Santa Anita Canyon road, the clouds were breaking up, and the sun was shining, but the portent of foul weather had apparently kept other folks at home. The parking lot was nearly empty. It was cold, but once we started walking, I warmed up quickly, and by the time we were up above Sturtevant Falls, I felt a million miles away, too. I was so grateful that Chris had been undeterred by the prospect of bad weather. It wasn't until we were really in the woods that I realized how much I needed to be out there.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hiking Blog Directory

Walk On is now listed on the Hiking Blog Directory. I am so honored to be included. Philip Werner of Section Hiker conceived of and maintains the site, wrangling hundreds of personal blogs, trail association websites, small gear producers, and trail guides into a simple, reliable directory of hiking and backpacking resources. I hope you will click through and show your support for Walk On by clicking the "vote" button on the left side of the screen.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

I walked more than 275 miles in 2012. Over the past year, walking and backpacking have transformed my life, connecting me to myself and the world in ways that I never could have planned or expected. All of the people I have met on the trails, even to just say "hello", have impacted my life in small and large ways, and I am grateful to them. Organizing friends to walk together has also been more rewarding than I could have imagined. It's so much fun to walk together, and it makes me glad to know that so many new friendships have been formed along the way. I started this journal to document the group walks and to log miles and observations from my solo outings. What was intended to be nothing more than a digital notebook has become an essential part of my walking. A walk just isn't complete for me until I've posted something here. Walking and writing have become intertwined for me, making both endeavors all the richer. Here's to many more miles in 2013.

Feeling Good, Nina Simone by mrfnk