Posts tagged “environment

The Edge We’re On

Posted on 22 November 2017

You can tell you’re on the east side of the mountains. It’s drier, more grey-orange, scrubby. The ground smolders around us as we drive up to the trailhead, remnants of the summer’s fires. It’s getting angrier. The earth, I mean. And I understand. The mountains are a great place to highlight precariousness. It’s not just that I nearly froze up walking along in a spot where the trail narrowed and the rocky land to my left slid down, down, down. It’s that even these enormous mountains are fragile, in a way. If you pay attention, you can tell. Mountains are edges: things hold on until they can’t anymore. And then something’s falling. Don’t walk off the path. And I mean because of the vegetation.…

Erosion

Posted on 4 August 2017

I’ve learned I can simultaneously expand with wonder and implode with despair. It’s a hard thing, working in a beautiful place and knowing it’s degraded, its soils are crumbling, rolling into the lake, leaving scars of absence. It’s also a hard thing to be degraded, to be regarded either too hard or too little, so like the soil you run away and scars mark your retreat. Walking back to my tent-room after tracking down documents, I’m greeted by a man who shakes my hand and then refuses to let go, he grips harder and I yank away and shuddering, hurry off. He knows exactly to where and I don’t like that. I have to work, or I don’t have to but I want to,…

A Place Is What It Is

Posted on 14 March 2017

Alaska in winter. Skeptical and bemused expressions acknowledged my plans. “What will the temperature be? Will there be any daylight?” Interesting questions and yet, the answers don’t matter. My friend alerted me to an airline ticket sale to Fairbanks, where she lives. I could get cheap tickets through February. So, I went when I could go and I was glad. February is a reality. Winter in Alaska is a longer reality. The point is: I’ll go at any accessible time. The corollary is: I want to see a place for what it is, not what I want it to be. Of course, everyone has a mental filter through which their impressions fall. What is called reality is only a part-truth, for no one can…

A Storm in the Desert

Posted on 22 February 2017

I had never been here before. The excitement of the new sprung out at me and I sprung back. And a rabbit sprung near me as I plunged down a hill, exclaiming at each new variety of cacti that I saw. The sun was strong and light and in the distance the cliffs of Sierra del Carmen rose above the border. The cacti distracted me from the greyness approaching, but then I felt a raindrop in the desert. And another. And I covered my camera with my arms as best I could and galloped back up the hill toward our vehicles as the drops became steady and hard. We huddled in one of our cars as the steely blue sky swirled above us, and…

A Year of Washington Hikes

Posted on 11 December 2016

A beautiful thing about living in Washington is the myriad hiking possibilities. One can head to enormous mountains, temperate rainforest, beach, or dry canyons – there are endless options. Living in Seattle means I can enjoy the cultural city life without giving up on outdoor activities. In fact, outdoor recreation is emphasized more here than in many more rural places I’ve lived. This year, I both cross-country skied and snow shoed for the first time, hiked quite a bit, camped several times, and collected mushrooms and berries. The following is a summary of the hikes I took this year – hopefully they’ll give you some ideas, whether you live nearby or are visiting. Paradise, Mount Rainier Hiked in February. Variable distance. This one requires…

Take Care

Posted on 29 November 2015

Recently, I’ve been up in the mountains. The Pacific Northwest weather has turned; it has started raining, and a chill has settled in the air. People have cranked up their heaters, are lingering inside more and more, and the dark drifts in early. Total insulation, isolation, however, is impossible, though we often do not feel it, hiding away as we often do. I’ve been raring for adventures. Almost every weekend spent at home with chores seems like a weekend lost. Ben found a hike, Heliotrope Ridge, that sounded like an especial, beautiful adventure: fording several water to come up to a glacier at Mount Baker. So we made our way, hoping across several rivers and gradually gaining altitude, until we hit our last obstacle.…

Solitude, Bookended

Posted on 26 January 2015

I disentangled myself from the small car, swinging my backpack over my shoulders while waving goodbye to the two older Estonian ladies who gave me a ride to the Viru Bog trailhead from the too far away bus stop I landed at when the driver ignored my request for the stop before. The women smiled widely, kindly at me and I grabbed comfort in those smiles—not because I was nervous but because they acknowledged me as a young woman, out on my own, telling me how wonderful it was and to be careful and how to find my way back to Tallinn. They drove away and I plodded onto the path. The weeks behind me stretched out full of people, amazing people, people I…

An Adventure Words Barely Touch

Posted on 30 September 2014

An admission: I was reluctant to write about my time in Siberia. My words aren’t good enough to encompass the experience. I’m more accustomed to internal drama, to melancholy; I have those words. But this project in its shimmering, impossibly stress free gauze—it is beyond me. An admission: It is slipping away. Though glittering flecks of it all stubbornly remain latched on to my behaviors, gradually I shed them off. I can’t help it. That’s life. Ordinary days take over again; I have things to do; I should focus on the now, anyway. But I still reach behind. Ah, there’s the melancholy. It didn’t exactly look promising, but I already knew it would be just fine. The electrichka train doors slammed shut, with half of…

Lessons Learned From Camping In Siberia

Posted on 22 August 2014

Our little camp in southeastern Siberia truly began to feel like a home, like the place I should be. My sleeping bag was a great bed; I was untroubled by camping night after night for two weeks. I didn’t need an inside anymore. I was out in the world, and with a group of truly great people, at that. And if you watch the world, and listen to it, you can learn some things. Here is an assortment of what camping in Siberia taught me. 1. Life can be busy – and not boring – sans technology The camp had no internet, no cell phone reception, and even no electricity (unless a generator was turned on). And I was busy! I honestly found it…

Hells Are Our Creations

Posted on 26 May 2014

I could hardly breathe. Sweat poured off my face as I bent and clutched a handkerchief to my mouth, attempting to suck some oxygen through the fabric. Only sometimes did I dare lift the cloth away from my mouth, desperate for a fuller breath; I was reluctant for the air was poisonously dusty. I gasped and gasped, unable to tell whether the primary reason for my struggle was a true lack of oxygen or panic. Cerro de Potosí, commonly known as Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”), and also, dreadfully and honestly, as the Mountain that Eats Men, looms over the city of Potosí. For centuries, the Spanish Empire was bankrolled by silver from this mountain. In the seventeenth century, Potosí was one of the largest and…