I am the Sasquatch

hiking, I went outside

I had a little mini breakdown at the trailhead this weekend. I’m not proud of it. It wasn’t a great moment. But it happened, so I’m owning it.

This is what happened: I forgot my socks. The socks I had so painstakingly packed to ensure my feet wouldn’t get new blisters. The wool socks and thin liner socks that would help keep my feet dry and hotspot-free. They were not where I had put them. And therefore, they were not in the car but in my overnight bag at The Boy’s house.

The thing is, the mountains are where I’m competent. I transition quickly. I know the trail. I know my limits and I push myself beyond them. I am on time. I am prepared.

But not this week.

rainbird trail

Alaska, hiking, hiking alaska, Hiking in Ketchikan, I went outside, Ketchikan, rainbird trail, southeast trails

The past handful of days have been absolutely beautiful. I know I've said that before, but this last weekend brought sunshine and absolutely clear blue skies. Sunday was warmer than 80 degrees and it was just the thing I needed to feel like my spunky self.

I knew ahead of time that Saturday was going to be gorgeous so I planned to hike early before meeting up with Danelle and the search and rescue dogs. I decided to tackle the Rainbird trail with Ellie.

We picked it up at the trailhead behind the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus. The trailhead leads right out of the parking lot and is a couple miles from the house so it is super convenient. Conceivably, we could walk to the trailhead that is closest to us, about a mile, instead of driving all the way to the college. But then we would have a LOT of stairs to deal with.

We went the whole length of the trail and came back. It was a nice walk, about 2.25 miles round trip with about 145 feet elevation change. It's a nice flat trail once you get up to it, though there are just a couple spots in the middle that can be a bit steep and would have the potential to be slippery in the rain.


There are a couple other entrances to the trail, one at the other end and in about the middle. They both use stairs to access the trail. A lot of stairs. If you start at the college there aren't any stairs and there is a nice little incline at the very beginning, but it doesn't last very long.

Ellie handled the trail really well. I had done it once earlier in the week for work and I thought there might be a couple tricky spots for her but she handled it like a champ. It's also not Forest Service land so she is free to roam without a leash.


the narrows and dreams 15 years old

backpacking, camping, Happy Travels, hiking, I went outside, photography, Temple of Sinawava, The Narrows, Utah, Wall Street, Zion National Park

Preface: This is way more sentimental than usual but I dedicate this hike to my dear friend Eileen. For dreaming with me when we were teenagers about the adventures we would have, and for introducing me to Zion National Park in the first place.


I write this as we travel the five hours back to Salt Lake City.  My shoulders, back and hips are tired and sore. So sore. As my body chills out and begins to relax into the seat, other spots on my legs and arms become the focus, finally speaking up to complain about their bumps and scrapes.

I have a distinct memory of standing in the Temple of Sinawava at 13 years old looking down the paved trail to the entrance of The Narrows.

“It's really hard,” I remember Eileen saying. “My dad said you stay overnight and camp. Carry everything with you. That's where you come out,” she said, pointing up the river to the people walking around in the water.


We were in awe of the challenge of it all.  The thought of trooping through the canyons, seeing the mystery that was held from two teenage girls who just wanted to grow up and have some adventure.

My thoughts continued to flash back 15 years during the 1.5 hour van ride to the trail head.  I was finally doing this.  Five months of planning, 15 years in the making, only hours to go.


There were so many beautiful sights and I could not take enough pictures. I was constantly coming around a bend or seeing a new beam of light that I wanted a picture of. But I am grateful to have the pictures I did take, knowing that some of the most beautiful sights were not captured on a memory card in a camera, but are reserved for only me to remember.

The first day we hiked 11 miles to our designated camp site. About mile 8 or 9 I had experienced enough and was quite done. But with a few miles to go I switched into putting one foot in front of the other and just going. Trudging along, I realized that I would have followed Lauren and Josh right to the end if they decided to keep going. But I'm glad they didn't, it would have been an additional five miles past the campsite.

There was a specific moment when I was far enough behind them that I would catch a glimpse of them just before they rounded a corner or went behind a rock out of sight. I had a funny thought. Y'know that part in Lord of the Rings when Gollum is following Frodo and Sam-Wise into Mordor and he just close enough to make them feel like they're being followed but far enough away to stay out of sight? Yeah, I was Gollum.  And I was so tired at that moment that I had to stop walking mid-stream so I wouldn't fall down with laughter.


When we reached camp all 12 of us peeled off wet boots and socks. Everyone moved a bit slower, more deliberately, conserving energy. There wasn't much conversation since everyone was so focused on their reconstituted meals. Exhausted and with food in our bellies we all called it a day before it was dark.

Curled in my tent listening to the river below and the crickets above I slept as sound as I did when I was a teenager and could fall asleep anywhere.

With a slow start in the morning we broke camp and headed out to finish the last five miles.  The trek was long and exhausting. With a tired body and sore feet I finished the 16 miles, walking barefoot for the last stretch on the paved trail. One of the best choices of the whole trip. 

This was my first backpacking trip and I would call it a success.  Not only did I survive, I have minimal bumps and scrapes.  I'm a bit sore but it's the type of sore that I love, a gentle reminder that I used my body, flexed and stretched my muscles and experienced something wonderful. Because of that I feel no pain.

While the trip was amazing, beautiful and totally worth all the planning, anxiety and stress, those won't be the things I will remember the most. I will remember that moment, walking through Wall Street, exhausted, and finally stopping to look around me realizing where I was. Knowing that my 13 year old self was cheering me on because I was actually doing it. Something that I've wanted to do for half my life, I was doing it. And that moment of reconnecting is priceless. That reconnection is what I went to find and I feel lucky that I found it.


And now I have the urge, as I do at the end of all my adventures, to plan the next one. There are so many wonderful places within a half day's drive that I haven't been to. I look forward to exploring them all while I still have the chance.

goblin valley

camping, girls weekend, girls' trip, goblin, Goblin Valley, hiking, I went outside, Moab, photography

Dani and Lauren picked me up Friday afternoon and we began our trip to Southern Utah.  Having never been to Goblin Valley or Arches National Park near Moab I was beyond excited. All of us were eager to get out of the city for a couple days and have an adventure.

And adventure we did. 


We set up camp just before dark on BLM land just outside of the Goblin Valley park. We had a surprisingly yummy dinner of rehydrated food and some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had (spiked with cinnamon whiskey).  Soon we were too cold to continue sitting outside and decided it was time for sleep.

We knew the temperature would fall below freezing and came prepared.  Or so we thought.  I'll just say, I've never been so glad to have a pair of handwarmers. The zipper on Lauren's bag broke so she was exposed to the night air all night. The condensation released by our breathing froze to the inside of the tent. And with a nighttime jont to release the contents of my bladder, really cold does not even begin to explain it.


Upon waking in the morning, we realized that because we were in a canyon we would not get direct sunlight very soon.  Lauren suggested we head into Goblin Valley and make breakfast there. Agreed! We quickly packed up and headed into the park.





Goblin Valley is a sight to see.  These weird little rock formations for the 'valley' floor by the hundreds.  They really do look like the perfect place for little creatures to hide. They are so cool.

After breakfast, coffee, and a short wandering around the goblins, we walked a short trail to an overlook.  The movement was welcoming after the cold night and shivers.






After the hike we climbed in the car and headed the few hours south to Moab and Arches National Park.