I’m working on compiling a new pack list for an upcoming summer backpacking adventure. I wanted to get it out there to hopefully bounce ideas of some other people. Everything is weighed and listed. The tally puts it at 11.5 pounds total with 1L of water and 2.5 days of food (2lbs/day). Outside the pack, I’ll have my socks, shorts, and shirt, but will also be using Black Diamond Ultra distance trekking poles, and am 100% unsure of what shoes I will use. Any tips on comfortable, durable, lightweight trail running shoes would be much appreciated.
It is a common mistake to believe someone arrived at a life predicament because of their own choice. But when we reflect on our own lives, we see them more empathetically, forgiving the small mistakes and acknowledging that they weren’t conscious choices. They were merely results of incidents, different circumstances that led to our failure; this is a universe guided by molecular collisions, by determinism, and we are not at fault for our situation. Continue reading My egotistical pedestal: On determinism→
When I saw this video title I knew exactly what it was going to be about. And I knew who he would be targeting. I realized that I, the guy who sat in a kayak paddling with no sights on the horizon besides blue sky intersecting with blue ocean, the guy who spent nearly 400 hours of driving and sleeping time in my car this summer, the guy who walked from Maine to Virginia for over four months, was now capable of being bored. Continue reading The entertainment-fueled boredom→
Nothing in my life has ever sparked such overwhelming fear as sitting alone on a beach in the early, early morning, long before sunrise with intentions of paddling a kayak across an enormous body of water to a foreign island. There was lightning on the horizon, too distant and sparse to be a sure no go, but not clear enough to make me feel confident to paddle out. The wind was blowing from the north and would launch me down to Cay Sal on an open ocean kayaking voyage in under 12 hours. I would arrive there before dusk and set up camp on the uninhabited island in the Gulf of Mexico. I could see the tall palms swaying high overhead behind me and knew the wind coming from the other side of the island was strong. Within the first mile of paddling the wind would catch me and launch me faster and faster from the island until eventually I would not be able to paddle back. It was a commitment that gave me chills.
I’ll try to be brief, but this needs to be said. I often read statistics of women getting lower average pay than men and of black people being incarcerated more often than whites. These are two correlations that potentially could have absolutely nothing to do with sexism or racism. Maybe women’s work doesn’t deserve as high of salaries, and maybe black people commit more crimes. Both of these are possible, and could be reasonable explanations for the statistics. But, here’s my point, my very important point that I beg you to read carefully, the reason for the problem doesn’t negate the fact that it is still a problem. There is absolutely no situation in which any of us get out of this with no responsibility. Whether an individual’s result is because of overt or subtle sexism or racism or because of choices that they were influenced to make matters only in deciding how to treat the problem, not in deciding if there is a problem. Continue reading Racism or not, Michael Brown shouldn’t be dead→
There’s always a cost. In the case of ginseng as an herbal remedy, the largest cost is very likely not its symptoms to the user. I read an article earlier on NPR about the effect of wild ginseng harvesting on our National Parks, highlighting the effect it has on ecology, the risk of American ginseng extinction, and the impact of its poaching on individuals and communities. Ginseng is selling for ridiculously high prices in Hong Kong, up to $20,000 per pound. For the poacher here in the eastern United States, that can mean selling their prize for over $200 per pound, a healthy income for some in rural Appalachia. But it can also mean 5.5 months in federal prison in the case of Billy Joe Hurley who was convicted multiple times for ginseng poaching. The reason for the high selling price for american ginseng is not that it is a culinary treasure over in southeast China, instead it is viewed as an herbal remedy for many ailments and diseases. And the reason that it isn’t simply cultivated is that the delicate forest ecosystem is difficult to mimic and mechanize. With ginseng selling for such a high price and having a tremendous impact on people’s lives and the ecosystem of the Appalachian Mountains, I wondered whether this is all worth it. Continue reading The unseen effects of belief in alternative medicine→
I sat on a toilet seat for the first time in a month a few minutes ago. I washed up, cleaned the travel grime off, trimmed the nails, shaved the beard, cut the hair, and now I’m ready to return to civilization, sort of. I’m actually scared out of my mind and can’t sleep. Believe it or not, after all the crazy scary things that I have done over the past three months, immersing myself in the social world and heading to medical school are scarier prospects than a lot of my adventures. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and paddling a kayak 70 miles from civilization out into open water solo is about as absurdly scary as it gets. But medical school is a close second. Maybe I’m overreacting, but it just feels like I’m starting all over again, and that’s kind of overwhelming. Continue reading Home→
I’m lying in the bed of a pickup truck. I’m lying on my neoair, or as my hiking partner, Scott, called it while acknowledging its limitations, a yellow balloon. He had popped his while laying on granite shards at the base of one of yosemite’s large cliffs. And it is of such a strikingly un-outdoorsy shade of yellow that I claimed the Thermarest fabric supplier must have had a sale. When his sleeping pad had popped a week earlier, he wasn’t even mad. It had been a long day and it was almost expected that something else might happen. The worst face of Murphy’s law. Continue reading Euphoria: Thru-hiking the John Muir Trail→
Standing among high mountains, we are instantly humbled. Their towering peaks, foreboding granite walls instill a sort of humility that only the powerful forces of the universe can provide. And yet they almost seem to crave being climbed, beckoning like a child wishing to be acknowledged. It is like Schrodinger’s cat, the sort of thing like some philosophers hypothesize the universe necessarily must spawn life in order to exist. If a mountain exists in the woods and no one is there to climb it, does it exist? The mountains seem to announce a similar array of necessity, not an insecurity, but rather a requirement to be observed. Continue reading The patient life: life of adventure→
I shoved my ice axe down, trying to establish a self belay, essentially the lifeline for my travel on this alpine glacier. If I fall I would quickly grab the axe and hopefully it is well planted enough to hold my weight. The axe penetrated just a few inches in. Before it had been going deep into the snow. It happens though, there are occasional patches of ice. I pushed through again. Didn’t budge.