Cucumber & tomato salad

It was too pretty out last night not to go for a bike ride down by the river. Cloudy, slightly windy, and almost chilly for June. Upon arriving back at the loft, I started to pack for another outdoor trip. Being Monday night, it might imply that I’m already excited to head out again.

Given that it was closing in on 8 pm I started to think about dinner and remembered I had this awesome fresh tomato and cucumber, both Ohio grown. You can immediately tell the difference once you slice open a freshly grown tomato from one that you pick up at the grocery store. The one from the farm smells like a tomato should, Rich, sweet, inviting and fresh. The ones from the store typically don’t emit any form of aroma until you cook them, with other things. Sort of like a negative entity in my book. Just not there in spirit.

So I set out to make myself a cucumber and tomato salad with ground pepper, a tiny bit of Kosher salt and some fat-free balsamic vinaigrette. I gotta say, it was light, filling, packed a lot of flavors and no guilt that close to 10 pm. I usually make this with red onions but, given the strong flavors from the ingredients, I didn’t miss the onion at all.

Dinner while doing some tent research
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Kale and seafood stew

I’m a sucker for a good seafood stew. Once while in New York City with Eddie, I was excited to find so many iterations of this dish readily available. Well, we were out with our good friend Lisa recently and she talked about some cod she had and was tossing around some ideas for. It’s a light flaky but meaty fish which lends itself to so many different methods of preparation.

Tonight I Googled some recipes and came across this little basic number for “Fisherman’s Stew” off of, oddly enough, Good Housekeeping. I didn’t have all the ingredients they rolled with and one key extra one. I used a red onion instead of a yellow. Added a huge bunch of fresh Ohio Kale. Dropped in some oregano, thyme and copious amounts of red pepper flakes as I like a bit of heat in these things. I’ve always thought soups are better the next day but damn, this is pretty good already even without the celery and yellow pepper.

Here’s to lunches for the week while I finish off the est of last weeks millet dish.

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Summer tunes

Summer is here. I don’t know what it is but for the past four years, it’s been my season to sort of celebrate being alive. It started about four years ago really, I was doing half marathons, was the best man in my best friends wedding after which we climbed Mt Hood, and a couple of other places, in addition to wading through a waterfall. “Beginnings” by Chicago was on my repeat list that summer.

I think summer is a really easy place to find your bliss. There are certain songs that also take me back to these seasons as well. “Shambala” by Three Dog Night reminds me of camping for the first time two years ago. Then there’s “Empty Pages” by Traffic which reminds me of a campfire conversation and an evening I spent with an author in the woods one night. And this summer, I think I just discovered the next summer song. “With Your Love” by Jefferson Starship. Makes me want to be rolling off of a hiking trail, strip down and jump in the lake actually. Waves like gratitude for this thing called life and all the internal and external struggles all of us face as a result of passing each day by being present.

Summer songs, while suffering from the trite more often than not, remind me of the joy that we can create by just allowing things to happen and simply participate. They serve as reminders to live, love and be happy.

I am spending this weekend home for once to go to the Arts fest with my husband and our really good friend Lisa, visit with a friend tomorrow and catch-up, make a call to family and just kind of relax a bit I suppose. Next weekend however, it’s back outdoors with any luck. Here’s hoping everyone is in the same mood as me right now, because it’s pretty damn good.

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First tomato and mayo sandwich of the season

I was just talking about these earlier this week and lo and behold, we got our first two Ohio tomatoes in our Yellow Bird share box this week. This may be some twist on what my mom told me once about her father. He allegedly used to eat lard and onion sandwiches. She may have been painting a picture about how my 70’s and 80’s lifestyle was so much better though. Regardless, I’ve always enjoyed a humbled tomato, lettuce and mayo sandwich.

So here’s to cravings solved and the beginning of the summer vegetables!

Millet salad and radish snacks

I’m getting used to this whole “cooking by the calendar” thing thanks to our farm co-op service Yellow Bird.

And, as we actually had a spring this year here in Ohio, the local produce has been amazing. I made the last of the winter millet last night by sauteing some onions, kale then tossing in some peas, corn, celery and cucumbers. Since millet has a slightly nutty flavor, I used a little bit of low sodium soy sauce to give the dish a little bit of depth but you still get the full flavors of the vegetables.

And since we have a surplus of radishes, I’ve been making snack plates of sliced radish and Dijon mustard. I know, it’s not for everyone but it’s one of my favorite flavor combos (and the radishes pack a lot of Vitamin C).

For Thursday night I am thinking about sauteing the big bunch of broccoli leaves, some turkey sausage and asparagus to serve with whole grain pasta and a red sauce. Still, I keep banking on the time when we get summer tomatoes… that means low fat mayo and tomato sourdough sandwiches in my book!

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Video of the Big South Fork trip

The group organizer, Myles, put together this 20 minute You Tube video of the recent Big South Fork three day hike we all took together in the rain. It’s amazing what a group of people can do together when we come to a trail head with a common goal. Simply to be outdoors and enjoy some unplugged time away from day to day life.

Big South Fork Trip
Hiking buddies
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Memorial Day 2019

It’s the unofficial first weekend of summer and I spent it with my gay brothers at a campground in Northern Ohio called Freedom Valley. There were campfires, camp food, whiskey and, clothing optional, nudity involved. It was however during some fireside conversation that I got the idea for this post. I wanted to take a moment and share these thoughts, and while car camping is really not my thing, for some reason, I find myself drawn to the company of these guys time and time again. It feels a little bit like home.

My train of thought starts about two generations before me. Those folks who pushed the cultural tectonic plates until, against all odds, the world began to change. It was during the 1950s & 1960s however when the term “gay” became adopted over the somewhat more clinical “homosexuality,” heard time and time again as a way to group and distance “normal” culture from the abnormal. It was an era of dramatic social change. The thing to remember though is that this was just the current set of people who were pushing those cultural fault lines toward the kind of change that would make a world free of stigma, gay-bashing and hate crimes against the LGBTQ communities. Wait, plural? I’ll get to that in a bit.

I was born on the borders of 1970. My best friend, and accidental mentor, Nick, was born almost 15 years earlier. My boyfriend Eddie and I spent a couple of decades across many parties, dinners, drinks, breakdowns, Holidays with Nick always celebrating our collective past by remembering it together. Sadly, Nick has had a stroke which has squelched that fountain of rich GLBTQ history which I used to enjoy. While my mind was not built to store points in time, I do have a general sense of the patterns I heard both Eddie and Nick discuss at length. This, of course, reminds me of my history professor at The Ohio State University (OSU). He used to say “history never repeats itself, but it has a fetish for patterns.”

I believe it was the 70’s/80’s that Nick was talking about where gay men had establishments, well bars, we could go to in semi-secret. Some with actual slide trap doors so the people inside could sort of screen for threats on the outside. That may have been more the ’60s. Again, Not sure. The thing to take away here though is that our culture’s socialization found a home in bar culture. Of course, while under the radar to most, the police and fire department had a hand in enforcing “morality” by implementing things like fire lanes in bars where you were in violation by simply drinking a beer in those zones. That doesn’t sound like much in an era with safety plan maps in every building, but throw a police raid in there and it was a whole different matter.

Of course, there were other constraints placed on our socialization. One that always made me cock an eyebrow was the code where men who chose to dance together had to stay a certain distance from one another at all times. I suppose, in my opinion, these negative social constraints lead to magical places like “The Wall” just above OSU where gay men would cruise one another and hook up for sex all night long in back alleys. Or the infamous “book stores” where men would rent stalls for 20 minutes at a time and enjoy each others company. It’s also, I would speculate, the birthplace of gay subcultures like the BDSM, drag, fisting, bondage and so many other communities of men that came together, sometimes literally, in an effort to create a life and find belonging.

A page from gay history, the communication mechanism of “hanky codes.”

There’s also an argument to be made against the current atmosphere toward homo-normalization. I enjoy the creative force behind the subcultures that spun off in a time period of repression. Let me rephrase that though. It’s not the oppression but the innovative spark and the moments of connection that brought so many like-minded men, women, bisexuals, and non-binaries out into the open together in various groups. Such as the aforementioned BDSM culture that I’ve always been on the periphery of but not myself a member. Fisting was more my speed and I’ve met so many great guys over the course of nearly 3 decades now. Some of these guys are close friends.

So yeah, I went up to Freedom Valley for Memorial Day weekend this past Thursday. I was meeting a close friend of mine and his boyfriend for the first time. We had different campsites in the area called “tent valley.” There was an underwear party that one of the seasonal campers throws on Thursday nights. Lot’s of men feeling free to just hang out around a fire ring, have cocktails, conversations, laughter all through the evening under the trees together in little more than underpants. It’s one of many moments where all body types, backgrounds, walks of life converge and simply be real with one another up at that place. I think I find the atmosphere of acceptance one of the best things about the campgrounds.

Men on each others shoulders smiling shirtless near a waterfall
Photo by Derek Owens on Unsplash

It’s a moment that I thought about while talking with my friend and his boyfriend over a campfire at my tent site. Oddly enough, this is not my style of outdoor activity. People take 12 man tents, for two, and have all manner of tables full of appliances, rugs, bathrobes, disco lights, sound systems, fans, king-sized air mattresses, and the list goes on… however, it’s really dear to my heart. It proves my credo that whatever the reason, or implementation, anything that gets a person outdoors is totally worth it. I was standing outside my tent, buck naked, after the festivities calmed down and people were hunkering down when the thought crossed my mind that this place was sort of like the old Leather/Levi bar in Columbus called the Tradewinds. It was a social spot for gay men to meet, talk, share stories, make friends, fall in and out of love, dance and just generally be a safe place for guys to let it all hang out together among friends and explore together. The trick is to try not to judge one another like we all had to deal with on the outside world of that wonderful bubble.

Change, however, is the only constant in life. The Tradewinds is long gone and now we have mobile phone applications like Scruff and Grindr where gay men can simply push a button and alert another fellow that he is interested. But, as I alluded to when calling up old school places like The Tradewinds, you miss the body language, the nights, weeks, months it might take you, and the inner storyline, of getting up the courage to say “hi.” I’m not talking down the apps though either. Cultural change happens and technology assists (but does not lead these). Yet it’s nice to find places where you can still meet face to face and find some of that magic that has seemingly become scarce in the wake of all this change. Places like Freedom Valley.

It’s funny to think of these things as I have done a lot of hiking and backpacking now over the past few years. The times I have stayed in State Forest or State Park Campgrounds have so many parallels to gay camping. While these places are more family friendly, and there is a definitely different code of conduct, I have also been the neighbor to the straight couple who were drinking all night, listening to music into the late hours and then fucking like wild elk later under the moonlight. While there were no disco balls, drag shows, or shot parties involved, it’s a similar vibe that I get from gay camping. People just doing their thing and having fun together. Perhaps that is what we share with one another after all? Gay and straight folks are not that much different at all. And yeah, this past weekend was a little “extra,” I would not have changed a thing.

I walked away with some awesome conversations, some great new connections, a chance to meet some incredibly wonderful guys who are doing fantastic things with their lives. It makes me proud to give of myself, bare all so to speak, taking every minute to be honest and open with my brethren and just relax together while trying to make others feel the same way.

Men laughing together
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Though I don’t go as often as I’d like, these weekends are golden to me. I feel closer to my brothers every single time I get to laugh quietly about the enormous tents, disco lights, dance music, nakedness and frolicking all around me. I don’t think there is a better way to celebrate being alive in fact than just this kind of experience for those of us who are into this kind of self-expression.

I guess it’s yet another thing that I am truly grateful for. That and for all the guys I got to spend time with and get to know a little during the past weekend. I feel at once humbled and elated in the same breath. That and grateful for the continued friendships I have and the new ones I walk away with going forward into summer 2019.

While I am getting back to my backcountry backpacking soon, Dolly Sods and Hoosier National Forest are up next, I will return to these kinds of moments as often as time, and goals, permit with a light heart and a fresh pair of underwear for the campfire hangout with my brothers.

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Big South Fork Yahoo Falls

Leaning against the railing of Cumberland Falls was where I choked up silently by myself. I was moved after the three-day backcountry hike in the rain more often than not. All that water. According to Wikipedia, the lowest recorded peak flow rate over the falls was 17,500 ft3/s in 1985. Being there, watching the second largest waterfall East of the Rockies, was reminiscent of standing on Hurricane Hill back in the Olympics. Not merely awe-inspiring, but it epitomized what I like to think of as pure gratitude. For having the chance to see and experience things like this while providing a deeper understanding of nature and be humbled by both its fragility and its persistence. The feeling of connection to the forest around me and the people with whom I had hiked with for the past three days lightened my heart at that moment while listening to the deafening sound of the water spill over the crest and crash into the river below. 
 

Cumberland Falls

But I suppose all hikes begin at the trailhead. This hike was organized by the Central Kentucky Backpackers group. I’ve been out three times with these good people and each time has been amazingly well organized, beautiful and very fun. This time, we all made arrangements to carpool together. There were four of us. An operating room surgeon named Claude, a world-traveling teacher and avid board game enthusiast named Celeste and a wonderfully kind and resourceful writer, program manager and child care taker called Eloise. We all arrived on Thursday morning around 11 am or so. It only took a few moments to put on all our packs and head on up to the trailhead. The sky had been spitting at us so we donned our rain shells and, trekking poles in hand, we headed up the long grassy tree-rimmed corridor to the point where we’d descend into the massive rock-lined path that lead us down toward the streams below along our route. 

The group of us stopped by our first waterfall, the name escapes me but it may well have been near the Yamacraw bridge. Since we weren’t in a hurry the group relaxed time wise. Claude made tortilla pizzas, a popular trail lunch, while Eloise broke out some containers filled with all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables. I boiled some water and rehydrated a package of Good To Go pasta with marinara sauce. This always reminds me of shivering next to Doug up at Heart Lake in the Olympics after a long trek up the mountain in the misty foggy weather. We were both spent with only enough energy to break camp, make dinner and clean up a bit before crashing into our bedrolls. I guess that dish brings with it some good memories. 

From there we trekked through the woods, making the same stream crossing over slick rocks multiple times until we reached Princess Falls on Lick Creek. It was a low but long rock shelf with an impressive water flow creating a curtain of flowing water making a thunderous noise. We all decided to take a break to rest our feet a bit down by the campsite nestled at the base of the falls. Eloise decided to go for a swim in the crisp water darting under then through the falling water. She had the courage I did not to realize a moment I’d always dreamed of being to stand under falling water outdoors just breathing in the positive ions all around. She was the picture of joy right then. Celeste and I sat on the rocks and aired out our feet while Claude looked around the area checking out all the geological features, including the discovery of stairs out of the area. The Cataract Power Light and Traction Company, later known as Dominion Power and Transmission, was built on the nearby Chedoke Radial Trail generating power for the area using water from the old Welland Canal. In those days the nearby town was called the “Electric City.” Funny how one of the things I love most about visiting places like this is escaping my own digital lifestyle in the end. 

We all packed up, dried off, laced up our boots and headed out.  

We plunged down a pretty unpleasant stretch of the Sheltowee Trace next. It was more about the mood of the trail though. There was a recent river flood that saturated the banks we were walking atop which made the ground rise up and tamp like a bog as we walk across the spongy cracked drying but wet mass. There was a total lack of breeze which made you sweat everywhere. Right down through your underwear and socks dampness. Schweddy balls indeed. We followed the white turtle blazes out of that stretch of trail while seeing multiple sets of fresh bear and deer tracks along the way. 

As we made our way back out onto our trail with the white diamond blazes we finally came out to “Negro” Creek. One of my Kentucky trail books says that the repulsive name may come from a rare African American family who lived at the mouth of the creek in the 1800s. Around the corner, our campsite waited. Once we were set up, Celeste and I filtered water from Negro Creek while Claude hung his hammock with the Cuban fiber tarp to ward off the coming rains of the night. We sat around the fireless fire ring as everything was just too wet to kindle, made dinner and shared company with one another. Trail family for a couple of nights. We broke out some whiskey and talked well into the night while listening to the Cumberland River behind us, the wildlife sounds of toads, owls, and other animals that all comprised the ecosystem we were mere visitors within. After our food bags were hung on our bear lines, we headed back to our respective shelters, donned our night clothes and fell deep asleep. 

Morning came to soon and a long day awaited us. We had only walked something like 7 miles the day before so we were all still pretty fresh. The second day however I think we topped around 12 miles.  

Just before one of our stream crossings, as fate would have it, Claude walked over a young copperhead just as Celeste held the rest of us back and guided us slowly backward. It was a pretty awesome sight to see. Something so small and unassuming yet poisonous and representing imminent danger when you are six miles down a trail with a 25 lbs. backpack strapped to your back. Nature is beautiful… even the sharp parts. 

Later, we climbed up a pretty decent sized exposed hill into the sunlight where I gladly took my soaked shirt off to dry in the sun and the wind while munching on a fruit bar Eloise was kind enough to share with Claude and myself. Celeste found a meditation spot on the other side of the summit and sat quietly in the sun no doubt reflecting on the beauty around her. 

From there we dove back into the Daniel Boone Forest and made our way to the roadway. Eloise told us that this was the first time shed worn her hiking boots in over a decade. She’d decided to get back outdoors recently you see. From experience, I understand just how much courage to change this takes. Well, her boots did great but everything has an end of life. So, her right boot burst apart at the toe box. Claude and I decided duct tape was the thing to do. I had wrapped that on my trekking poles as recommended by Outdoor Adventures once. And like a fool, I was in a hurry to help with no regard to my own process so I whipped out my Swiss Army and, treating it alike the full tang blade it was not, plunged it into the tree trunk we were both sitting on when it collapsed and cut into my index finger. While unfortunate, and mostly embarrassing, it was OK because Claude and Celeste patched me up as Eloise wrapped her boots. It made me think about what I have in common with an old boot… and that the boot did not share my own stupidity. 

From there we made our way to Yahoo Falls which is the only place where we saw any people along the entire trail. It’s thought to be the highest waterfall in Kentucky. Standing at the base of it, you have no doubt of this as its powerful finger touches the black rocks below with a melodic crash. Almost like a harps cord. Just this living strand of water singing as it moves over the earth. We all took a few moments here and just took it all in. 

After this, it was time to close the loop however and try to head back to Princess Falls for the night, back up the butthole of the Sheltowee Trace trail. The miles seemed to stretch on in the heat and humidity though. Claude suggested to the group that there was a discrepancy in what was reported on the map and what his GPS was saying, and not in our favor. I was getting low on water and feeling the negative effects of not having a proper lunch when Celeste told me to filter some water at the next stop which gave me a second wind for a while. All through this stretch, however, we passed geological feature after feature. Towering proudly above or teetering as if they would topple in that very minute. All while passing streams and creeks just bursting full of water noisily signing and giving life to everything in the area. 

Eloise was feeling the same way I was at one point and fading fast. We did the best to prop one another up but when your tank is low, its low. We passed an old chimney that looked like that all it was missing was the house to make it a Blaire Witch experience. We also came across an AT style shelter in a particularly dank section of the Sheltowee Trace. It’d be a great Winter spot but with our campsite from the previous night nearby, we chose to push on. 

Finally, however, we came back to the spot we started off from that morning. Around 12 to 13 miles later if I recall right. Celeste, Eloise and I went to gather water after setting up our shelters, leaving Claude to set up his hammock. We all had dinner with much lower energy than the previous night but, oddly enough, with light hearts that were practically beaming with all the beauty we experienced during that day. Together as a group. There was talk of family, friends, life, choices, and possibilities. Once again, bear bags were hung and we all crawled into our respective shelters slipping out of trail clothes and into deep dreams while listening to the river, frogs, and owls talk to the night sky. That night the sky let loose and decided to pour out upon the earth with a heavy volume. Loud. Pounding. And thorough. 

We decided to wake up pretty early the next day in order to tackle what we suspected would be another set of mismeasured miles on the map. The rain let up a bit while we made breakfast and packed up our campsite but never fully stopped. When we hit the trail, it began with gusto again, however. By the time we reached the Sheltowee Trace, everyone was soaked, rain gear notwithstanding. Walking down the trail was reminiscent of being a 6-year-old kid sloshing and splashing on City sidewalks that had become temporary streams. That stretch of trail was both complicated by the rain and difficulty of traversing the muddy terrain but lighter because of the cool water, cooler temperatures and the breezes that permeated the trees. It was, in many ways, a totally different experience than the day before. 

We made it back to Princess Falls and then to the multiple stream crossing that lay in store for us. Unfortunately, the trail wanted a little more from us however than a boot, my finger and Claude having fallen on his ass on a rock, no doubt leaving a formidable bruise. It was Celeste however who glided in and out of those woods unharmed. But back to the present moment. On the stream crossing with the rope strung across, Eloise slid on the jumping off rock and painfully fractured her hand. We got her upright and across that and the other stream crossing, however. Reminding her of my own experience with disaster thinking. That it’s not worth jumping to the worst-case scenario first. That we can choose to instead kindle the fire of a more hopeful possibility. Alas, this was not her reality. However, when getting through experience, there is strength in hope.  

There’s a meditation that I read recently about “touching peace” which I was reminded of over the course of the 27 miles we hiked last weekend.  

“The possibility of peace is all around us, in the world and in nature. Peace is also within us, in our bodies and our spirits. The act of walking will water the seeds of peace that are already there inside us. Our mindful steps help us cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment.” 

Thich Nhat Hamh

I’ve spent so much energy on managing anxiety the past four years post heart attack. And while running got me back outdoors, it’s been hiking that has given me lasting moments of relief. A way to refocus on the experience at hand which, effectively, trains my brain to zoom out and look at the path ahead of me instead of the fears of what might lie around the corner. Finding likeminded people to hike with has been an amazing thing as well. The memories that you walk out of the forest with are worth every drop of sweat you shed. 

Next up? A short two-day backpacking trip to Zaleski with a new buddy this coming weekend and then camping with some friends the following weekend to kick off the summer season. After that, I plan to make my first trek out to the Dolly Sods and Hoosier National Forest. I’m damn grateful for every hike and chance to be outdoors. I think that’s why I choked up behind my sunglasses at Cumberland Falls. Not out of sadness, but joy.

Onward.

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Mustard greens and spinach pesto

It’s springtime in Ohio and, sure enough, the colors in our Yellow Bird boxes are changing. The types and variety of local produce we are enjoying is impressive. The funny thing here is that I follow a guy on You Tube who is a hiker/kayaker who owns a farm. He kind of put just going to a local farm for groceries in my head in the first place. While we are lucky to have an innovative service here that sources out and delivers this stuff for us, it’s just as easy to simply Google local farms and see what you come up with. Shifting 50% of our shopping away from Kroger has been well worth the time.

Anyway, we got Mustard greens, which I have never tasted before,, spinach and oat cheese recently along with some ramps, which have heard about but also never had the chance to try. I made a pesto out of the spinach and mustard greens which is out of this world good. One afternoon I paired that on toasts with a local goat cheese and it was nothing short of something out of a movie where people were wolfing food down as quick as possible. The next night we boiled up some orecchiette, sauteed the ramps in olive oil, broiled a chicken breast and then tossed everything together with a 1/3 of a cup of the pesto. It was also superb.

Here’s the recipe I adapted from this source for the pesto.

Instructions
Add pine nuts to a food processor and pulse until they start to break down. Add the rest of the dry ingredients (spinach, mustard greens, cheese and salt) and process until combined, about a minute or two, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. The mixture should resemble a paste. Add the olive oil and the lemon juice, processing again until ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth.
Let sit for at least 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Ingredients
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
1 3/4 cup Spinach
1 big bunch of mustard greens
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon, the juice of

Mustard green and spinach pesto

Wisdom from a would be PCT through hiker with heart disease

I was in Cleveland working with a client this week when I came across this article in one of my email feeds. “My PCT Dreams and Why I’m No Longer Hiking,” Jenna Duesterhoeft. It’s about a young woman who, with her boyfriend, was planning on doing the PCT together. Only, heart disease had other plans for her. I really liked her story in the capacity of how resilient she was while being presented with two major setbacks over the course of a couple of years.

Same boat here different circumstances. Yet, I understand and appreciate her words so very much. While I enjoy the dichotomy of my life. Living in urban settings now for most of my life. Smack downtown both in Columbus Ohio and Dallas Texas. But enjoying my time outdoors hiking and camping as a way to combat anxiety related to having had a heart attack in 2015.

But, as seen with Jenna’s words, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how everything, and I mean everything, can change in just a matter of minutes. I think that’s the other part of what I’ve been doing though. While getting outdoors for 5, 20, 100-mile hikes in the backwoods is a way to combat anxiety in as much as it forces me to live in the moment, it’s more than that. Jenna sums it up beautifully in her note to PCT hikers.


“Savor every moment out on the trail. Be thankful that you are out there. Please. You are so lucky.”

I feel grateful for where I have been so far. The memories of mountain tops, glacial streams, sunsets atop cliffs in Kentucky with some new friends over dinner, treks through deep woods as a stinking spider web covered bearded mess are things I cherish. And yet, I concede, I have been lucky to enjoy these experiences. My own first through hike is loosely scheduled for 2020. Nothing on the scale of the AT, PCT or JMT but something to the tune of 300 miles, which, for me, is huge. But you can count on every small group hike or multi-day backwoods trek in between now and then I will keep Jenna’s words fresh in my heart.

While the next hike is not guaranteed. With a nod to Jenna, as she is dead on right, I plan to make the most of my time outdoors this year and toast to her, and everybody else’s, health and happiness.

Man Looking At Water
Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash
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