musings

There are times that I think back to 3 years ago - I had no idea about what was going to happen in our lives and what would begin in six months time. We were coming off of the most epic roadtrip. Steele, myself, and Sahara had been together almost 24/7 for a little over four months. Trying at times - because hey oh, life, but absolutely the most amazing months of my life. 

Over the last few years, I've packed that version of myself away. I think there is a season we all go through in life were we pack it in. There is something that makes us take a step back and we have to find our way through. We have to put one step in front of the other to do all of the hard things. Where doing all of the hard things, we have less energy to do all of the life giving things (whatever that is for you). We hunker down into our winter season. Our season of making lists, of big emotions, of walking through the valleys. 

There is magic though there in the valleys - that magic is your people. Whatever you believe in (an entity, or the universe, or that we are just all connected by energy), there is something to be said about divine timing and the people that walk in (or out) of our lives during these. The people that come to walk hand in hand with you. The people that would normally just be a like on a Facebook post, or a nod in the hallway - they become the best make shift family you could ever dream of. Those people - those people are your people. They are magic. They are love.

And that magic, that love - it waits for you. It helps you move through your valleys. It waits for you on the other side in abundance. The hunkering down, the getting through - it is worth it. Our story is still being written - the story of the last 2.5 years. We are still navigating it. But that magic, that love, the end of winter - I can feel it. 

I know where my love lays. Where my magic is. I also know where my people are. And, nothing can take that away from me.  

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2018 Thoughts

Oh heya! Bringing the blog back (insert dancing lady emojis here)!

2018 will be a big year for Steele and I, and I can't wait to share more. I've got some posts lined up about goals, adventures, some olllllddd adventures and tips, workout routines, and just some rambling thoughts. I just wanted to pop in and say hi today!

Anything specific you would like to read about just put it in the comments! See yall soon!

Monday Distraction

The Smokey Generation is a video collection of wildland firefighting stories. The videos last anywhere from around a minute to over ten. 

This one is from a Missoula smokejumper who was boosted (when a different base needs more jumpers & extra jumpers are sent) to the North Cascades Smokejumper Base (NCSB) on the then Okanogan National Forest (now the Okanogan - Wenatchee NF). This the story of her & her partner's epic hike out after a fire. 

Travel Links Tuesday

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I love reading & finding awesome links about adventure, the outdoors, and travel all over the internets. So here's a few of my favorite lately:

*Over at Never Ending Footsteps, Lauren breaks down her expenses of international travel for 2015. Pretty awesome that it comes in under 20,000$! 

*Kristen at Bearfoot Theory is currently on an epic roadtrip in New Zealand! Check out her latest post, and catch up on the others, for some great beta on traveling around the islands. PS- go check out her snaps too! (@Bearfoottheory) 

 *Southeast Asia is a place I want to check out & this looks like a sweet iternary. Found via Kam over at Campfire Chic

* And lastly, just in case you thought it was cold where you were this weekend! Whiteface Mountain in NY reached -114° over the weekend. 

Monday Distraction

When I worked a job that was more administrative, Mondays were always a bit harder to get going - especially after an epic weekend. So I'm going to start a series in this little space with some fun links to get you through the day we all wish was still the weekend!

Since this is the first one, here's you a longish short (but still less than 30 minutes - you can watch in on your lunch break!):

Want to know more about the expedition? Here's the NatGeo article!

Enjoy! Happy only four more days until your next adventure!

Hi from: Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Steele and I were making our way home from Southern California when I learned we had a bit more time to make our drive home. We were leaving the Gila National Forest when I found this out, and I originally wanted to make the drive to White Sands National Monument. However, I quickly realized that with stopping for lunch and the rest of the drive that was left we wouldn't make the cut off time of the backcountry camping permit. So, camping on the sand dunes will stay on the bucket list for now.

With that decision made, I started looking at national parks and forests within a 6-hour drive time. It came down to Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains, and by the title of the post - Guadalupe was the winner! It had a shorter drive time, camping cost less, and it seemed to be the quieter of the two parks (which I was hoping for as I was starting not to feel 100%).

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Yall. This maybe my favorite not talked about national park!

As you can see from the map, there's only a few places that vehicles can go within the park and a lot of the park is Wilderness Area. For me, that's awesome! I love Wilderness Areas and human powered adventures. Know though, if hiking is not your thing -the scenery is beautiful, the campground peaceful, and there are shorter hikes that can occupy your time. This, however, is not Yosemite where you could stay inside all day somewhere (your room or car).

So here's my beta and photos from our less than 24 hours there:

*Camping at Pine Springs: $8 per campsite with 20 tent sites and 20 RV/car camping spots each. The tent sites are a mixture of walk-in, park in front of, and ADA accessible. They are all the same price. We got campsite 20 (and I would say maybe 5 campsites were in use) and it was a park in front of with maybe a 30 foot walk from parking spot to tent pad (yay)! Campsites #1, 5, and 6 looked to be the longest walks from the map at the self registration map. The camping is described as primitive but had a lot of amenities - including flush toilets, dish washing stations, potable water, and the trailhead of four main hikes right across the RV lot. It actually reminded me of the Smith Rock campground, minus showers. Be aware that the campground is just a couple turns off the main highway and you will be able to hear the traffic. Personally, there was not enough noise to bother me and I'm a pretty light sleeper.

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*Visitor Center: Steele LOVED this visitor center - there were taxidermied animals everywhere. There is also free WIFI available at the center, and an interpretive trail right out of the door. The Visitor Center can be reached by foot from the campground if you are staying for a few days and want to visit.

*Hiking: The hiking opportunities here could fill a full stay, especially if you decided to backcountry camp (which I will do next time we visit). Free backcountry permits can be completed at the visitor center, with a general $5 park admission charge (or an annual parks pass). {Tangent: I love our annual pass - for $80 (right now) you purchase a pass that will get you (and your car's passengers) into any federal land (BLM, USFW, USFS, NPS) for one year.}

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Since we only had the remaining morning and early afternoon to hike, I choose Smith Springs. It was a 2.3 mile loop trail that went past two springs (Manzanita & Smith). The limestone walls looming over Smith Springs were beautiful and huge!

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 The bench at Smith Springs! Perfectly shaded for a quick break!

The bench at Smith Springs! Perfectly shaded for a quick break!

In fact, there were huge walls everywhere including the park's own El Capitan. As a climber, there were areas that the rock quality looked very much climbable, but this is what I can find on climbing there (from the park's FAQ):

"Is there any technical climbing in the park?Technical climbing is rarely done in the park. It is not considered safe due to the limestone composition of rock. The best place for rock climbing or bouldering is at Hueco Tanks State Park, just east of El Paso, Texas."

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Our stay in Guadalupe Mountains was quick, but awesome! We will definitely be back. 

Have you ever been there? If so, what were your favorite trails or parts of the park?

 El Capitan

El Capitan

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find a couple short videos from our experience over on my twitter: @ztasam

Zion

Zion was the second to the last place Steele and I visited on our epic roadtrip last winter/spring (our last was the Grand Canyon).  We camped on BLM land outside of the park, because free!, beautiful, and quite. For once (all of my friends that know my researching ways you can be shocked at this moment), I actually have no clue what the area we stayed in was called. I probably could research & tell you, but check out this blog post (thanks Google) that has all the beta on the BLM lands around Zion! BLM lands, dispersed camping through the National Forests, and free local spots are absolutely how I kept the expense of traveling for over four months on the cheap. I love our public lands and so wish the east had more! (end tangent)

 One of the "cons" of public lands is the lack of stewardship of other people. (If you want to know about how to leave no trace while camping, read up on the general   principles  and then about enjoying the  desert .) That being said, it's a perfect opportunity to talk with Steele about leaving places better than we found them. If you ever get to camp or hike or climb with us, you better believe this guy is on trash patrol. 

One of the "cons" of public lands is the lack of stewardship of other people. (If you want to know about how to leave no trace while camping, read up on the general  principles and then about enjoying the desert.) That being said, it's a perfect opportunity to talk with Steele about leaving places better than we found them. If you ever get to camp or hike or climb with us, you better believe this guy is on trash patrol. 

 This book was one of my favorites of 2015! (Read an excerpt on Patagonia's  blog ) 

This book was one of my favorites of 2015! (Read an excerpt on Patagonia's blog

 We spent an entire day just playing around our campsite without leaving once. 

We spent an entire day just playing around our campsite without leaving once. 

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Our climbing partners did their first big wall in the park, while Steele and I explored! And by explored I mean, hiked Angel's Landing! I will say if you're not afraid of heights and in decent shape, this is definitely a must do! I would not have brought Steele if he wasn't in a carrier. Even if you're afraid of heights or exposure, consider hiking the first two paved miles up to Scout Landing. It's a wide area that would be perfect for picnic (which is what Steele and I did before finishing out the last .5 mile to the landing) and has restrooms.  

 Probably our most epic selfie! There were also climbing anchors down behind us and the wall below them looked fantastic.

Probably our most epic selfie! There were also climbing anchors down behind us and the wall below them looked fantastic.

 A really nice lady took this for us! One of my favorites of our entire trip. 

A really nice lady took this for us! One of my favorites of our entire trip. 

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 We spent about an hour at the top of the landing and then made our way back down to play in the river. 

We spent about an hour at the top of the landing and then made our way back down to play in the river. 

 We also rode the shuttle approximately 472,827 times while waiting for the guys to top out and make their way down. 

We also rode the shuttle approximately 472,827 times while waiting for the guys to top out and make their way down. 

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Zion is stunning. Angel's Landing was our only longer hike in the three days we were there. Part of that was being available to our climbing partners if anything should arise on their first big wall. They ended up topping out right at sunset of day two of the climb and we got to watch them on the last few pitches from the shuttle stop two photos up. Steele and I took one of the last shuttles out and got the Jeep to pick up the guys (since by time they hiked down the shuttle service would have ended). Before they even got down, the S tribe ended up running shuttle for the nicest climbing couple that had just missed the last shuttle. Once the guys were retrieved, we hustled to the Mexican restaurant in town and got awesome food right before they closed! 

 The most important part of our trip: visiting  Deep Creek Coffee  two of the three days! Steele was the proud owner of a lemon blueberry pastry that he devoured before our Angel's Landing hike. 

The most important part of our trip: visiting Deep Creek Coffee two of the three days! Steele was the proud owner of a lemon blueberry pastry that he devoured before our Angel's Landing hike. 

Next time we go, I've got us a long list of hikes and we will definitely stay longer!

Have you been to Zion -what were your favorite hikes? 

High Falls

I've been feeling a little in need for some adventure and watching Steele run around like a mad man (his normal MO if he's not playing outside), I knew he would love seeing a new place. 

High Falls in the Talladega National Forest is a pretty popular spot in the summer from what I understand, but the now two times I've been it's been pretty perfect. Steele and I were the only people there and took full advantage of that!

 

 The hike in is super short (around .3 miles in to the first fall) but does involve a creek crossing. Just be aware of that and slick rock if you're thinking about visiting after rains. I have a feeling that people underestimate how slippery the sandstone is after crossing the creek. (also side note: I was dying in my long sleeve! We quickly delayered at the falls!)

The hike in is super short (around .3 miles in to the first fall) but does involve a creek crossing. Just be aware of that and slick rock if you're thinking about visiting after rains. I have a feeling that people underestimate how slippery the sandstone is after crossing the creek. (also side note: I was dying in my long sleeve! We quickly delayered at the falls!)

 The second falls! I ended up carrying Steele around the right shallow side of the pool to go touch the waterfall. No documentation of this endeavor because even though my phone is suppose to be waterproof, I'm going to make an educated guess and say the cracks it suffered in Joshua Tree negate that!

The second falls! I ended up carrying Steele around the right shallow side of the pool to go touch the waterfall. No documentation of this endeavor because even though my phone is suppose to be waterproof, I'm going to make an educated guess and say the cracks it suffered in Joshua Tree negate that!

 I love his look in this photo! He kept pointing and saying "Mama! See! A waterfall!"

I love his look in this photo! He kept pointing and saying "Mama! See! A waterfall!"

We spent the next couple of hours scrambling around the base of the falls, chasing anoles, sitting and watching, racing boat leaves, and splashing in the water (because Alabama thinks it's early summer). It was awesome! Next time we visit here, we will definitely come earlier, bring the hammock and a lunch, and stay for the entire day!

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What other areas of Talladega National Forest or the general area should we visit while we are home?