How Briefly Getting Lost In The Wilderness Made Me Realize We Should Be More Like Ron Weasley
I heard rustling from the freely growing shrubbery that lined the dirt trail, and then I saw it crash from seemingly nowhere about 20 feet ahead of my trekking poles. The crash sounded like the moment a riding horse shifts from a trot to a full gallop. I could hear the sheer power of the hooves and the weight of the large animal as it slammed onto the narrow ledge of the rock face several thousand feet above the last human I saw. The doe quickly rolled from where it landed on its side and shot up before staring in my direction. I froze. The deer froze, and we made eye contact for what seemed like a full 20 seconds.
I was alone for the first time in the woods. I went onto the trail without a sign from anyone around, but on the way back, I saw a pile of fresh bear scat in the middle of the trail. I first heard noises behind the trees off to the distance and then saw the bushes move. “Of course I would get mauled by a bear the very first time I decided to hike by myself,” or so I thought, and so I picked up my hiking pace three-fold and made it out of the heavily-bear-populated mountains with a story. That was a little over a year ago.
The first time I ever drove on the highway was the day I left home for college. I gripped the wheel, white-knuckled, and waited for my car to swiftly slide off the mountains of the Grapevine’s edge for the entire two and a half hours it took to drive myself and my room full of belongings in the infamous minivan. I spent the majority of my first year driving around during a time without regularly available smartphones as an inexperienced driver of only a year lost with an equally confused friend.
In fact, we got lost so often from not printing out directions ahead of time from MapQuest (not Google Maps) that we would jokingly call the mishaps adventures. The cellphones that we did have barely went on the internet, and when you did accidentally click the internet button, you had to click out really fast, or your mom would yell at you for racking up her bill. I could use my aging Chocolate LG sliding phone to make calls, take photos that looked like they were taken with a shoe, and play the highly-sought-after game of snake.
In this episode of Jazzed About Nature Podcast, I have a conversation with Gary Golding (aka the Tarzan of Los Angeles) a frequent Naked and Afraid contestant with a message he wants to spread that he has tattooed on his back.
You can turn the Closed Captioning on the YouTube video of the podcast below.
If you asked me a year ago if I would be the ambassador for the Los Angeles chapter of the international hiking group, Hiker Babes, whose mission is to unite women who share a passion for the outdoors into a community, I would have laughed. It’s not as though I haven’t led such as groups of writers, students, coworkers, and such before. However, I always left trail scouting and leading hikes up to the other hiking groups that I am also a member — especially the group, Black Girls Trekkin.’
It was with the group Black Girls Trekkin that I first attempted to do the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. Before I was hiking with a team of badass women who climb mountains, I never would have thought that I would have been able to hike as long and as far as we have on some of these hikes. I think the two biggest lessons I learned was that, one: AllTrails is a tool to use, and two: with the help and advice of my wonderful and very supportive friends at Black Girls Trekkin’ I can totally lead a group of women out into nature safely.
It was also all my other outdoorsy friends that have motivated to do incredibly creative and intricate things such as a podcast. It was by first getting back into running outdoors and ultimately just returning to nature in college and hiking with other nature-loving people that have led me into this life of a wild mountain woman.
So, when people ask me how, or why, did you become the leader of L.A. Chapter Hiker Babes, I try to give a short answer. I usually just say I did it because I love hiking and I was offered the role, but what I really want to tell them is how I started running so I could drink more at bars and eat street burritos, and it lead me to be in a national online campaign for an amazing shoe company and a hiking leader for an international community. I know better that it would take too long, though.
I ventured out on to the actual LA River this past weekend with the group, Black Girls Trekkin, and had fun kayaking and meeting our tour guide and four-time Naked and Afraid contestant from LA River Expeditions, Gary Golding. He took his time instructing everyone on how to navigate our watercraft and he really made the outing fun. However, my favorite part of the entire kayaking trip was the time he took to speak about the river’s history and how it wasn’t even considered a river at first.
I had briefly heard about the documentary that he mentioned before, Rock the Boat, where local satirical writer, George Wolfe, boated down the fenced-in waterway, hoping to have the EPA declare the river navigable. Wolfe was hoping that it could gain protection under the Clean Water Act if he took the time to film himself kayaking down the river. He was, obviously, successful and I also enjoyed floating down the river as a result of his environmentalism, but I also couldn’t help but notice that there was still trash in the river.
I wrote a poem with the LA River in mind, but I also drew parallels between the river and the highways that weave in and around Los Angeles. This week alone, I witnessed three people on three separate highways throw trash out onto the road. Cups, a whole take away bag from In-n-Out, and— cigarettes. I’ve witnessed so many cigarettes thrown out of the window that I no longer find it surprising why California has so many brush fires along the side of the roads. I thought about how hard people, including me, work to clean hiking trails and the LA River, but it pains me to see people throwing their trash out on the road.
Yes, the river still needs a little more cleaning, but I also know that we can aid in the cleanup by first reducing the amount of trash that ends up outside in the first place. It’s not one person’s job or responsibility to do this, but as a group of mindful people, if we all at least make sure we throw away our own trash in designated trash receptacles, then we can make Los Angeles and California a better place.
There are moments in life when you feel like you’re climbing a never-ending mountain. Stressed—you feel like you will never get a break. I occasionally fall into this trap, and I forget that the most important thing you need to do in order to overcome nearly any obstacle is to take a step back and breathe. Continue reading “Your Breath Conquers Mountains”→
I’ve always marveled at the beauty of a California sunset, and I would cherish the times when I stayed up all night but got to witness the sunrise. I think our timely movement through space and around the star is one of the most beautiful things in the universe. It’s a small feat compared to all the supernovas, fleeing asteroids, and rogue black holes, but to me, in my world, it’s a daily reminder that we are alive and that we have survived another day of spinning and orbiting through space.
I wanted to write a poem about my love for the sun even though summer calls for a much more intense presence. I still stand transfixed by the view and wanted to write down my unorganized thoughts and share them with you.
The light from the morning Saturday sun illuminated the front dashboard of my vehicle with a golden hue. The sky was a gorgeous shade of crystal blue and sat prominently above our heads as the clearest it has been in months. It finally felt like it was spring, but I was stuck slowly crawling behind a line of equally eager drivers on the freeway.
“The sun came out and really brought everyone else out today,” I said to my passenger. We were heading out to venture into the nearby mountains and did not think that the rest of the world would want to slide back into nature too. “I don’t remember it ever being like this,” I continued.
It was true. A few years ago, no one really had ever heard of the words “super bloom.” Instagram wasn’t flooded with photos of excited Influencers and social media professionals laying in the beautiful wildflowers and crushing them into oblivion as they wandered off the path. Hiking was something only a few people I knew did, and I could never get any of my friends to sign up for a 5K outdoors. However, technology has changed along with time, and this has invited more curious parties out into the wild. Continue reading “What You Should Know Before Venturing Out Into Nature”→
“This internship has nothing to do your English degree—why are you even here?” A tall young man holding a nice camera used for recording the resident talent had questioned my bizarre motives.
I turned to face him wondering the exact same thing. “I have no idea.”
An afternoon of looking for stock photos for a video on smoking, later that day, had me staring at, what looked to be, an image of a giant squid riding a brachiosaurus on my computer screen. It was at this point that I decided I couldn’t possibly apply anything that I had learned during this internship into my future career.