Hiking Masochist

For reasons I cannot explain I hiked for 9.5 straight hours today. I mean I only took a few meager stops, mostly during the first 3 hours, to take some quick non-tripod shots of the north sides of Pine & Mt. San Antonio peaks, which still had snow. (Side note: it’s the middle of February and winter is over in Southern California – it feels like a rather hot March with flowers blooming, but there will be no use chasing waterfalls in the Angeles National Forest, they will still be dry.)

I climbed up the PCT (Pacfic Crest Trail) from Inspiration Point off Highway 2 along Blue Ridge. It was full of great views, but pretty easy – I passed many closed Mountain High lifts, and stopped to watch some people come off the one that was still open for a minute, and when I made it to the ridge I round it covered in towers – shows what I know. I did not research this hike. I have hiked on the south side a LOT and have been on this side a few times, but I was totally winging it, taking my best guesses at mileage and trail conditions. I was ready for way more than an out and back at that point, even clocking 5.5 miles it seems way too short. So I continued into new territory – without having consulted a real map, done any research, or even talked to a ranger about it. Just a guess based on general knowledge of the area and a look at my 100k GPS unit. So I left forest road I was on around Guffy Campground (the PCT was skirted the North Side of the ridge, I was on the south) and headed down a forest “road” into the Prarie Fork – a stream-bottomed canyon. I have to say, one other hiker was 50 feet above me on the PCT at one point and yelled down that “I missed it” and when I said I was doing the loop he thought that was at least 16 miles and hard on the knees – so the trail gods did send a warning that I did not heed. You cannot call anything you see on the map a “road” any longer – forest and “jeep’ roads seen still on Google Maps are washed out or overgrown at least 60% of the time inside the canyon, and rock strewn further up the mountain – though they do popup once in a while and only sometimes fallen trees block them, either accidental or purposefully cut and placed in they way… interesting.

I knew the canyons had washed out trails, but the loop was longer than expected by at least 20% and had a fairly good section where any passable area, forget actual trail, disappeared among washes, debris, fallen trees, and ‘new’ plants… so I bushwacked with my body and prayed for nothing to bite me as I scrambled through dense brush and trod on unstable ground of branches and thick blankets of leaves. Surprisingly few scrapes this morning – good ol’ rip-stop hiking clothes! I passed two drive-in campsites that were abandoned – Lupine and Cabin Flat had picnic benches, fire pits, wood areas bordering roads to show where to park, and pit toilets (I did not look). There was some water in the stream, a feeder to the San Gabriel River, so sometimes the canyon was pretty, but time and energy were lost whenever a trail was – I often climbed inside the stream, jumping sides as needed, then being forced to leave and try to find any trail again or just pushed forward in the clearest spot I could find. With darkness falling I was nearly spent. My goal was just to make it onto the trail proper at Vincent Gap – the bottom of which comes and goes and I really didn’t want to do that in the dark. I did make it to the switchbacks, happily, before I had to get out my headlamp (kids, never hike without your essentials!).

It was pretty slow going at this point – I was less than 1.9 miles from the top according to GPS, but I had to guess it was nearly 3 with switchbacks PLUS I was parked in a lot fairly far away, so if I wasn’t able to hitchhike with another late hiker in this lot, I’d have to get back on the PCT and take it to where I parked, which was at LEAST 3 miles away, but probably 4. Lucky for me, two young men came up the trail behind me after their own over-long adventure (they went to Big Horn Mine then scrambled down the the southeast side of Mt. Baden-Powell into the gap) when I had about 0.8 mile left as the bird flies according to GPS. They talked with me to help pass the final hour in the dark, slowing a bit but also keeping a pace, and, after admiring the bright stars, gave me a lift to where I parked.

I did not plan, which is pretty rare for me, I just made guesses and went for it – and it hurt! I think the last time I didn’t plan at all I did a giant day looping from Millard to Echo Mountain to Inspiration Point, then up Mt. Lowe, back down the other side passing old ruins of an Inn and back down the old tram railroad – that was about 19 miles and hurt like hell, too. I was never lost or scared, but surely bit off more than I could chew with too many miles, unknown trail conditions, and a lot of elevation climbing. Coming up the final ascent in Vincent Gap I found the ravaged old campsite gone, but plenty of over-large scat… If I had so much as twisted an ankle it would have been a long night and following day: this area is REMOTE for being not that remote. You will NOT see anyone else, so going solo was my only regret, but all worked out with my amazing luck.

Today I am wishing the guys good karma and promising my pained feet (oh, my poor toes!) a long break as I say goodnight to this day, wondering where the wilderness will take me next. I’ll probably plan my future solo adventures like I usually do, in detail – for a while anyhow. The guys I met just shrugged and said diving into an adventure IS the best plan. I might be getting too old to agree – even one buddy on this one might have saved me from a serious problem of being stuck in the wilderness until rescued, which is a total waste of resources and a lot of worry from loved ones… or from being mountain lion food.

Tattoo Cherry is Popped

Well, that’s it then. “Gods” be good, I actually got myself inked. Being a commitment-phobe, this is a pretty big deal. I am also very self critical and a perfectionist, so it will be quite the test to see if I can deal with how ink ages with me. All that said, it’s just a three-quarter-inch Canadian-flag maple leaf (red filled, lined in black on recommendation) on the inside of my left wrist (lower than the creases after much debate). I got the ‘it was meant to be there’ feeling, so that part is easy – now to see how it heals and basically over analyze everything, as I am wont to do.

The ‘grumpy’ part of this rambling comes from my love-hate (well, mostly hate-like) relationship with in-person attention: realizing that I’m going to hear “From Canada, EH?” from Americans forever.

LOL! I didn’t think about that… oh, well.

The good news? Everyone seems to like the placement and angle, so my “yes” to the silly question (which might be an ice breaker vs just dumb, actually, now that I think about it) seems to followed by a compliment. Seems people that profess “I don’t like tattoos” all like this one… Plus, I don’t really go out much and mingle with the masses, so it’s not likely to happen often beyond checkout grocery clerks.

Then again, I’m 38 and have really entered a who-gives-a-shit mode which, coupled with impulsiveness and routine mini-obsessions with new creative endeavors, leaves me instantly wanting another (and much larger) piece. Trying to wait – and I have at least 5 other hobbies laying about I could pick up again to bide my time.

Damn, “news” and white people make me facepalm…

I was going to be all grumpy about how people come into work sick and infect anyone else – I have gotten down right rude about it by complaining loudly every time they cough. Then I thought I might complain that loved ones hate when I hike / camp / backpack alone but how I like the solitude plus going at my pace without slowing anyone down or being slowed down by my group. Instead, today’s topic is about how totally pointless TV news is now. Specifically, this is about white people turning a pumpkin festival into a full-fledged riot, and how somehow it’s seen as ‘silly’ vs. mostly peaceful protests in Ferguson are portrayed as dangerous – something I can only attribute to rampant racism.

Read the story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/whites-riot-over-pumpkins-in-nh-and-twitter-turns-it-into-epic-lesson-about-ferguson/

Search for some epic tweet responses with #keenepumpkinfest including my favorites/snarkiest:

“Why are they tearing up their own community?”

“Where are the leaders in the white community? They need to speak out.”

“If white people continue to glorify pumpkin violence in their culture they deserve the spice-latte thug stereotypes.”

Your thoughts? Or, better yet, share you favorite tweets that point out the sad irony of the whole affair.

Being sick sucks

It’s just the common cold. Started with a sore throat, progressed to blowing my nose raw with a tree’s worth of tissues. It ruined my weekend plans, and I took two days off of work (the last just to be safe, I don’t like sharing disease) which, as a contractor, is a lot of money.

But, now I am on the mend – feeling 85% tonight – and I was struck by how luckily I was for my general well being. I mean, I complained, was grumpy, and let my man take care of me a bit (thanks, babe!) – but then I got over it. Well, I’m going to tomorrow, anyhow, and get back to work. Having health should never be taken for granted. It’s not like I have cancer, contracted ebola, or have a disability that restricts movement or any physical activity. I basically get to do whatever I want, just about whenever I want. That is pretty amazing – ’cause being sick sucks.

Have you ever found yourself forgetting to be grateful for your health? Know anyone that regularly isn’t and makes you grumpy? Share!

Depressed in SoCal

How is this possible, you ask? SoCal has endless summer weather, in the winter you can truly surf and ski in the same day, etc. Well, a trip to Oregon ruined it. SoCal has downfalls for me:

1) It is very dry. After visiting Oregon, everything looks orange-ish, like the place is covered in dust. It’s probably smog, and it is August, so things are more dry than normal, but, still, it’s pretty dreary looking by contrast.

2) It is fairly expensive – and crowded. You pay a lot to live hear and most housing is medium to high density – all stacked on top of one another. I don’t like most people, so this is a problem with noise, barking dogs, generally rude behavior.

3) More to the point on crowded: the traffic is very stressful. Lately I have also been driving pretty aggressively as my mood sours and patience wanes. It’s pretty dangerous… and I only drive 10 miles to work, 7 on the crowded 405. I could not take a real commute.

4) Compared to Oregon, the place now seems really flat. Look, I found parts of Central Oregon very similar in nature – around Eugene or Medford and further in the East were dusty, flat farm land, too… but the rolling, tree-covered hills seems usually within view.

So, I came back and thought “Yeah, I really hate living here.” I basically feel tied to making money, I guess, plus a couple family members and friends – but it’s just not making me happy anymore. I want to downsize, too – I am tired of dusting a bunch of crap and maintaining our 1600 sq ft townhome. I want a small cabin in the wood near rushing water where neighbors are limited. I want to enjoy life, rather than be a slave to work. I am looking for balance, and making plans accordingly. I don’t want to wait to retire to relax, that seems silly. Time will tell!

Bullying and Friends Online

I have not added people to my Facebook ‘friends’ list that I have not met. The list is literally my friends – or people that might soon be friends. So when I recently got a rash of comments that called me names and bullied me when I posted a video I found interesting from one moment from one night of Ferguson protests, I was shocked. How could this real life friend troll my thread then proceed to harass me and make grandiose claims about how I was spreading some sort of propaganda. I replied, stating I was insulted by his reply – which, of course, enraged this clearly sad, angry, lonely person to make a few more posts back, one of which was long and offensive to me. I can’t say that he used poor language, just a lot of accusatory finger pointing and name calling. All from a video I shared that I didn’t even leave a comment about. I initially did one more reply – then decided he was bringing out the worst in me and just deleted the post and removed him as a ‘friend’.

I was pretty shocked by this behavior. No friend of mine calls me names, bullies me, or questions my character/motives, especially over a stupid post on my Facebook feed. This person was actually an ‘adopted’ friend from my man’s group of friends, whom I think pretty highly of. I felt put in a strange position – and apologized to my man, but I could not be friends with this person any longer and was certainly not interested in seeing this person or attending an event that he was. No point in being around a person that hates you so much they felt the need to berate you online. #sorrynotsorry

I am open to other view points, I like arguing, in fact, but I won’t be silenced. If I like something – be it kitten videos or something more political I believe in – I am going to post it. I am going to stand by my convictions, my beliefs, no matter what names another person calls me. You should, too.

Getting the word out is hard work.

Then again, I haven’t had time to do much work on it at all. I cannot figure out how people fit kids into this equation – likely why it makes more sense to have them young. I still operate as Vivid Dream Design, but now fit in those hours early mornings. I then get ready for my full-time gig in-house. I fit in a plethora of hobbies, hiking and camping, backpacking and vacation time – but once in a while housework has to make it’s way in there… Our fridge is fairly bare (by American standards), and until last night I was growing a science experiment in the sink. The fireplace front is 1/3 tiled for the last 2 months.

I digress. The point is I need to get images and small videos going to promote this ‘brand’ and I have just not made the time. I love it the drawing and new alter ego, I need to blog more and put more thought into my posts. How to get that done is the dilemma. I’m probably not rich for this reason – that extra push it takes to market yourself is something I lack. I think I spread myself thin among lots of activities and have a difficult time concentrating all my efforts on one thing.

Do you have any suggestions? I’d love to hear how you have marketed something you love to do into your main or side business.

Don’t rush me.

Look here, I am working on it. I’m kinda busy, with a lot of things, and making room to get a new blog up and running is difficult to squeeze into my schedule. Help a girl out, buy a shirt to support me – maybe it will make me work faster.

The back story: I was pretty unhappy at my last gig. Not because it was stressful, or that I had to commute very far, or that it paid crappy. I have a strong need to stay fresh with front-end coding and UX design standards, and I wasn’t getting that. Plus, I am fairly shitty at being bored. So, I was very grumpy for a few months there at the end, which led a co-worker to draw me on a white board while he mocked me with “Oh, boo-hoo, I’m bored.” Oddly, the now infamous face was just perfection in my eyes. A true work of art. Interestingly, I believe it looks more angry than grumpy the longer you stare at it, which I find fascinating.

The face also really drove home that I need an attitude adjustment, but I cannot fix my snarky response to most life situations permanently, so I have decided to vent using GirlGrumpy.com as an alter ego. I hope you enjoy it. Or don’t. It’s just the internets, don’t take my ramblings too seriously.

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