The worst/best thing about mosquitoes

A few things signal to me that I’m really getting somewhere: washboard roads, for example, and Forest Service two-track lined by “No Shooting” signs riddled with holes. It’s like the whiff of white gas as I light my Whisperlite or a sleeping bag that smells vaguely of last night’s campfire or a long silence punctuated by loon calls; these smells and sights and sounds signify that something is going right.  Continue reading “The worst/best thing about mosquitoes”


I’m so vain (this post is definitely about me)

I should wear a helmet every time I go climbing. This is objective; a fact. I read enough tragic headlines and accident reports to know it. It’s a no-brainer (ack, sorry, I really just couldn’t help myself, sorry). Continue reading “I’m so vain (this post is definitely about me)”

The Weekend Warrior Blues

We didn’t get into anything Super Duper Epic, because sometimes—even when you’re a Weekend Warrior—life gets in the way. We don’t have the time (or energy, in my case) to tackle first ascents or explore uncharted wilderness every weekend, but that doesn’t always preclude you from having a hell of a good time.

This week, after nearly five years, the spacecraft Juno began its orbit of Jupiter, a mind-boggling 1.74 billion miles from its origin. As Juno embarked on its scientific mission in the Final Frontier, I lamented my own station here on Planet Earth, where, thanks to Bix’s on-call status, I was relegated to Cell Service. Continue reading “The Weekend Warrior Blues”

Smoke ’em if you got ’em

I’ve always had champagne taste and a beer budget, though that’s rarely stopped me from doing what I want—borrowed gear, nights spent in the back of my car, and a healthy relationship with Top Ramen have gotten me to plenty of summits. When it comes to adventure planning, I tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

A few weeks ago, Bix and I got an exciting invitation: a ten-day trip to Hawaii, where we’d run a few legs of a 200-mile relay and backpack in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

We instantly went into trip planning mode. How much would airfare be? Could we get the time off work? Would TSA confiscate our JetBoil? What’s the likelihood of my being eaten by a shark when Bix talks me into taking a crack at surfing? Continue reading “Smoke ’em if you got ’em”

Best laid plans

I take considerable pleasure from meticulously planning my next outing—I’ve more than once been called anal-retentive—but you don’t need a fancy headquarters to do it. Some of my best arrangements have been made at dive bars, discussed in vacant classrooms, sussed out around a friend’s kitchen table, daydreamed from my desk at work, or, on occasions that required it, reworked from a soggy tent as Plan A fell to pieces.

When I was in junior high, my school had a thirty-minute period after lunch each day earmarked for reading quietly. As a general rule, I struggled at this point in my life (and also now) to be quiet or sit still, but this wasn’t an issue for me during Charles O. Moore Middle School’s dedicated “Read & Relax” time. Most days, I’d settle in at my desk and pull out the same book I’d read cover to cover untold dozens of times. Continue reading “Best laid plans”