To Virginia and Back, In A Week. Part 1 to the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

Recently a friend of mine was given a chance of a lifetime, but it also meant she would have to move from California to Virginia. So when she asked if I would come along with her and her boyfriend to drive across the country, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, I’m an adventurer, how am I supposed to turn down an adventure? So even though I only came home from another adventure a few days prior, I packed up my bag again and was off to adventure on the open road once again.

When we left we only had four days to make the 40-hour drive to Virginia. The only problem was we were only going to drive for six hours our first day as we had planned to stay overnight at the Grand Canyon and visit it in the morning of the second day. I was more than happy with this decision. After all, it’s the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times I visit it, I can’t get enough of it. Plus I convinced to team to travel a little out of the way to visit Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona. I knew it would add a couple of extra hours to our drive, but I also knew it would be so worth the time.

When we woke up the second day, we quickly broke camp and entered the Grand Canyon. We saw Mather Point at early light, the partly cloudy skies added to the ambiance and spectacular views of the canyon. Often times a scene like this looks as though you are stepping into a painting, it’s so beautiful, you think that it can’t be real. Then you breathe, and you know it is real, that this splendid beauty and chaos is the most real moment you have had in a very long time. 20160505_070408_Richtone(HDR)

Soon we were leaving the Canyon and heading north on the 89. We were going a bit out of the way, but I knew this detour would be worth the hours lost. I had planned to make an important rest stop at Horseshoe Bend near Page Arizona. It took us nearly two hours to reach the parking lot of the bend, and the sign marking the area was no help at all. It’s tiny, one blink and you’ll miss it. That is if you don’t notice all the other cars turning into a random dirt road and lot.

As we hiked towards the Bend, I was anxiously rushing up the hill that stood between me and that marvelous natural wonder. Once I was at the top, I could feel my asthma kicking into overdrive, but I didn’t care. I could already see the top of the formation, and it made my heart skip. The soft sandy trail down was not going to slow me down, nothing would until I was finally setting foot on the Navajo Sandstone. It was already midday, and there was a lot of people gathered at the mouth of the cliff, but lucky for me I was able to grab a spot that had unrestricted views. IMG_20160505_125509

As I sat and soaked in the view of from the cliff face, I let my feet dangle off the edge. I’m terrified of heights, I don’t even like to be on ladders; and yet this was fine. Maybe nature just has that effect on me, or maybe the beauty of nature is like the flame to a moth for me? Regardless, I could have stayed all day on that edge just looking down at those cliffs and the river, and not feel like a moment was wasted. Unfortunately, we had to be hitting the road. So I had to say goodbye to Horseshoe Bend and hello to the open road.

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Thoughts on Solo Wandering.

In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to been able to travel and explore my country. I’ve been up and down the coast. Driven across the the country a couple of times. Swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Been to the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Alaska. I’ve drank the water from a melting glacier and tasted the salt of a desert from a dry lake bed. It’s been an incredible journey. Filled with amazing moments and sights. Memories that I will always remember. The kind that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

But, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, no. There are times, I admit, when the solitude felt too much. I’d sit there in my camp, looking up at the stars and the silence becomes too strong. The deafening silence, so strong that I could hear my own heartbeat, and it hit me. “I’m alone…” truly alone. No one around, no cars passing by, no planes, no cell service of any kind. Just me…and I’d wish that someone was there with me. A friend, a lover, anyone. Just someone, so I know that the world didn’t end while I was away.
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Often times I feel like entering a new town was a bit challenging. I would come in, by plane, bus, car, or even walk in, and I wouldn’t really know where to start. Should I find food first, or should I try to find someplace to sleep? Striking up a conversation with a stranger can be challenging too. I hear it helps if your very attractive, but unfortunately I’m not gifted in that department. I am, however, funny, and approachable, so that helps a lot. Once people can get a good vibe from you, there more friendly and will point you out in the right direction, or give recommendations on where the best pizza is, or a good place to camp. If your lucky enough you may even find someone willing to have a pint and share stories with.

I think most of my favorite encounters with strangers has taken place in a bar. I’d go in alone, and usually end up making a friend for the night, but it’s not always so. There have been plenty of times where I entered and could not strike up a conversation with anyone. I don’t know why either. Was it because I was a stranger with a backpack? Or did I just catch them at a wrong time, when they didn’t feel like having a companion? I know sometimes that even I just want to be alone with my thoughts. So I don’t blame them, not at all. So I’d drink my drink in peace, and then be on my way. Sometimes it felt like no one even noticed I was there.
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That is a thought that can haunt you, once you realize how real that can be. Imagine going somewhere, anywhere and no one really noticed you. How would you feel? Maybe you don’t think about it much, but I do. I could go missing for one reason or another, and imagine if no one even noticed I was there in the first place? It makes me want to stand out in a crowd. Not because I want the attention. I just want someone to realize I’m there. I just want someone to remember me.

Sometimes that is easy too. There have been times when I have just been wandering, and I’ll end up coming along someone who needed help. So I’d help them, in any way I could. It didn’t matter if it was giving a fellow hiker some much needed water, or helping someone who had gotten into a car accident. I would do what I could. Those are the ones that I know will remember me. Even if it’s only the thing I did for them that they remember. It’s more than enough. Because I think I want them to remember the act of kindness more than the man who did it. Maybe, just maybe, if we act a little more kinder to people, they will pay it forward? If they pay it forward, then maybe those people will do the same. Maybe a tiny ripple can change the tide. Maybe a lone wanderer can change the world.  038

Purple Rain, on the way to Morro Bay

I’ve been driving through the Los Angeles traffic for nearly two hours when the congestion finally seems to break. I’m only in Ventura and I still have a ways to go. Morro Bay is my destination on this trip, and even though I can feel my morning caffeine begin to wear off, I can’t help but feel excited. I’ve been impatiently awaiting another outing since my last overnight trip to the Trona Pinnacles and I must say it’s been too long since I’ve slept in a tent again. I don’t know what makes camping so special but it truly is. Maybe it’s being detached from civilization? Or maybe it’s just a connection with mother nature that puts one’s mind at peace? All I know, is that I love it, and it makes me happy. 20160422_130254_Richtone(HDR)

It’s about 10 am when we arrive at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo. My legs can’t wait to get out of the van and walk around and the first step on the parking lot feels like heaven. I take in a deep breath of the salty air and it comforts me. I can already hear the waves crashing along the beach and I quickly grab a couple of things and begin to head off to the beach. Even though it’s early the beach already has some visitors on it, but lucky for me and my group we know an area that is less traversed. As I climb onto the pillow basalts to avoid the crashing waves I’m treated to a small but private stretch of beach. There isn’t a lot of sand at this part of the beach but that doesn’t matter. I’d rather look at the rocks anyways. I boulder up some of the structures and I perch myself up not too high but high enough just to get a better view. The sun is shinning and wind feels perfect and there are sea otters and seals playing in the water. It’s almost perfect here. I almost wished that we were staying longer than a couple of hours, but there is much to see and do, before arriving to camp.20160422_121351_Richtone(HDR)

We’ve only been driving for a half hour when the skies begin to pour with a vengeance. We knew before heading out, that we were going to get rain, but for a moment we forgot all about it, and felt surprised as the rain began to pour.The whippers on the van moved fast to keep the drops clear for a view of the street, but it didn’t seem enough. This storm was hitting hard. As we came closer to our next destination it began to lighten up dramatically. The once powerful and mighty storm was now just a light sprinkling and when we stopped, I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures. That’s when the music began to play in my head. I could hear Purple Rain playing and I felt a little sad about the recent lost of the artist known as Prince, but so happy to have known about his work before hand. It’s funny how a celebrity death can hit you so hard. You may not have ever meet them or knew them personally, but through their work you felt a connection. You grew up learning about yourself and making memories and having experiences to their work; so when they die, it’s like a piece of you died too. 20160422_142842_Richtone(HDR)

As we walked down to the Estero Bluffs we were treated to a field of blooming mustard plants before reaching the beach. Once at the beach we spent some time looking around. I found a couple of hidden plastic Easter Eggs, and I wondered who had an egg hunt here? One of the eggs was empty but the other had some candy in it, but the ants had already claimed it as their own. It was beautiful there at that beach. I got to see the remnants of the storm pass by and leave us and welcome back the blue sky and sunshine. Soon after that it was time to finally make our way down to camp to set up for the night.20160422_163904

I had never stayed at Morro Strand Campground before. It’s a little too close to  civilization for me, but it wasn’t too bad as it is right on the beach. I pitched my tent on a dune and then went for a walk along the beach as the sun began to set. The beach was littered with sand dollars and I watched the sandpipers congregating as they searched for food in the sea foam. Morro Rock towered in the distance in the evening glow. I watched in amazement for a while just trying to take in all the scenery. It really was a wonderful day for adventuring and I’m looking forward to getting a good nights rest. After all tomorrow will be another busy day. 20160422_195644_Richtone(HDR)

An Unexpected Companion

Ever so often, you feel like you are at a crossroads in your life. You don’t know which way to go. What path you should take. The road that brought you here to this crossroads was a rough one, but it started to feel a little easier. You tell yourself “Maybe you were just getting stronger along the way?” Or maybe things are just getting easier? My life has been filled with these sort of dilemmas for the past couple of years. One time life threw me such a curve ball and I swung and miss so bad it left me hurt. I had the longest second in my life, and I didn’t know how to carry on. So without really telling anyone, I set out to the desert to clear my head.

The semester had just ended, and while my friends were beginning to enjoy the start of the winter break, I couldn’t focus. I remember telling my best friend what happened. I remember going to her house because I really needed someone to talk to. She was always great for that. She helped me through a lot, but I still didn’t feel like I was really moving on. So I came home and packed up some camping gear, because when the sun rose, I was hitting the road.

It’s eight in the morning and I realize that I over slept. I should have been on the road already as it was going to be a long drive. I had trouble sleeping the night before, not because of what was bothering me, but because I always have trouble sleeping before leaving on an adventure. I rush to get dressed, make a quick breakfast and grab my field pack. I had to hurry if I wanted to get there before dusk. My destination was a good five hours away, so without any more delays I was off to be alone in the desert. 20141120_155532

The sun hangs low in the western sky as I pull up to camp off the dusty beaten road. As usual, no one is here. There isn’t a soul around for miles and miles. It is so peaceful here, some people can’t stand it being this quiet, however, I kind of like it. I quickly set up camp and then decided to do a little hiking while there is still some sun out. I can’t go too far because it will be getting dark soon. I set off towards the nearby mountains just north east of camp. The gravel crunches with each step along the lonely trail. I keep thinking about my mistakes. I keep thinking of how much of a fool I am. That is when the solitude begins to hit me, and I start feeling alone.

Suddenly out of the corner of my eye something moves. I turn to look and not too far in the distance is a lone coyote. It stands there watching me, as I watch it. I keep walking, making sure not to act like prey. I keep looking over my shoulder and I notice it is following me, not directly behind me, but off in the distance to the side. It’s not trying to hide, and it doesn’t seem to be stalking, just following. Maybe it’s just curious? I don’t know. After a couple of minutes of hiking I see that it is now keeping pace with me. Instead of it being slightly behind, it’s now off to the side of me. For some odd reason, I start talking to it.

I start speaking out load, as if it can understand me. I tell it what’s been troubling me and why I am here. It doesn’t seem to mind and just stands there watching me.  At one point I actually looked at it and ask “What should I do?” It just looked at me, and everything went quiet. It was only a moment but it felt like a long time, and in that moment I felt at peace. I felt relieved. The coyote then sniffed the air then turn and ran off, checking over it’s shoulder to make sure I didn’t follow. I stood there and watched it run off. I then waived at my once unexpected companion, before returning to camp for the night.20141120_122202

I don’t know why that coyote followed me. Perhaps it thought I had food or that I was food? Or maybe, just maybe it was nature’s way of saying that everything was going to be okay, and that no matter what, I’m never truly alone. What if we are never alone, and always have a companion in someway? A constant companion. Always there to make sure we come back home. I like to believe that is true.

Until next time. Never give up. Never give in.

The Moment You Give Up, and the Silver Lining in Defeat

I can’t slow my breathing. My hands are shaking as I rest my palm on the weathered granite slope. My feet shuffle for position as I try to find an area to launch to. Ten feet is all that separates me from where and my path down. My friend and companion waits on the other side, two more are watching from the bottom. I only have one shot at this, there is no room for error. Under jump and I tumble down, and if I’m lucky a sharp thorn bush breaks my fall. Over jump and risk hitting a boulder and having a similar ending. The small landing zone is right there I can see it, but I don’t think I can do this. I take a step and instantly freeze in terror. Fear grips me like a long lost lover and I realize that I have finally lost.20141223_111912

I waken to the sound of a zipper opening up a sleeping bag and the rustling of my friend getting up. Light is beginning to fill the tent. I know it’s later than usual because today is the winter solstice, and a quick look at my phone confirms my belief. As I exit the tent and make my way to the nearby picnic table to get a drink of water I admire the view in front of me. Indian Cove in Joshua Tree is remarkable. The way the morning light hits the rock and fills the small valley, it’s like the mountains are singing to you. I can’t wait to get going, because today I go bouldering on the nearby rock. The greatest thing about this campsite is that there are places to boulder right next to your tent.20141223_104636

After a quick bite, and packing up camp, we set out to a tall outcrop. The nearest face is sheer and tall. There are climbers at the base gearing up for a climb. I mentioned that I don’t know how to climb, and that I always wanted to try it. My friend then exclaims how fun it was and that we should check out Hangar 18, a local rock climbing gym. I agree, and tell him that I almost went a month ago on my own, but something came up and I hadn’t attempted to go since. We then decide to try walking to the other side of the outcrop to see if there was a better place to try and climb up.

On the other side we found a great place to head on up. Two of my friends stayed at the bottom where a couple of small boulders lay, and by small I mean about as high as a one story house. My other friend and I begin our ascent. I head right he goes left. I end up on top of one rock not to far from the bottom but with no way to advance further up, while my friend is getting closer to the top. When I see where my friend is I decide to head that way. Now one thing about bouldering that I have noticed is this, it’s always easy going up. Going down is a whole other story. You look down at how you got up and think to yourself, where did I put my feet? So after heading down a tricky slope I start heading to the top.

I’m almost to the top when I spot my friend on a ledge about ten feet above me. I asked him how he got up and he pointed at a sloping rock and said “You see that rock that is sloping up on your left?”     20141223_111835    I look to my left and reply “This one?”
“Yeah, that one. Just take that and it will go around the corner” He says.
“Alright.” I say still confused on what he was explaining.
I don’t think he and I were looking at the same rock. This looked kind of sketchy but oh well. I thought to myself if you don’t risk anything, you won’t gain anything, so up I went. The first few feet where not bad, but then it narrowed significantly. It seemed to narrow at the worst part too. This is where it curves around and there is only an inch of ledge to place your toes on to support yourself. Luckily the boulder above me had a grove to provide a hand hold. I faced the cliff, held on with my right hand and stretched with my left hand until it found the other side where I couldn’t grip but palm enough to give me something to sort of hold onto.I then proceeded to shimmy across until I was on the other side. I felt a sigh of relief as I reached the other side and then started to hike up to the top.

Sitting on the top of this large formation of rock overlooking the valley in the morning was spectacular. My friend and I gave each other the obligatory high five and began making fun of our other friend who decided not to go as high as we did. It really didn’t matter to either one of us that he didn’t, but we just wanted to give him crap for it anyways, and so we did. After several moments and a couple of jokes later we decided to head back down, and join the others.20141223_112040

On the way down we passed where I had to shimmy across to get around the rock and my friend said  “Dude I wasn’t talking about that! That is way to dangerous! I meant this path.” He points.
I look and several feet below that is a nice flat rock that goes around the corner. I must have worn a shocked look on my face because my friend started laughing.
“You went the hard way.” He laughed.
“Oh well, if you don’t challenge yourself you’ll never exceed your limits.” I replied.
We continued down and at some point we ended up going down a different path. We ended up coming to a point where the only way down would be to jump down ten feet. We thought about attempting it but after thinking about it, and knowing there is another way we headed back.

I went over another rock and saw what looked like an easier way down. We started climbing down and we came to another ledge. Our friend who was spotting us from the bottom said if we go to our left we could make our way down. I recognized the rock from earlier and I knew we could go back. My friend was closer to the part on the left and I watched him make his approach and leap to the other side. He made it look easy. I tried to follow in his footsteps. I stood where he stood, I crouched and ready myself to pounce to the other side. Then something happened I started thinking about what if I don’t stick my landing. I imagined myself slipping and falling back, cracking my head open on the rock and falling to my doom. Once that thought crept into my mind, I couldn’t shake it. I lost my confidence and with it the will to try.

20141223_110854I turned and headed back up to find a new path. Leaving my friends behind. I went to another part where I found another place to drop down to was. I wanted to move closer to the edge to take a look, and that is where I slipped. I lost my footing and began to slide towards the edge. I reached out in desperation and caught a crack in the rock just before my feet went over the ledge. My heart was racing like never before and I thanked my lucky stars that I caught myself. I found my feet and climbed back up. Where I found my friend, he had come back for me. I didn’t want to tell him what just happened, so I didn’t mention  it.  We found an easy path after reuniting and made our way to our friends. Where I proceeded to hugged each and every one of them like never before. I was happy to be there with them. I was happy to be alive.

While I may be disappointed in myself for not being able to overcome my fear. For not trying to make that jump, that I know I could have made. I’m a little happy at what came out of this experience. You see it wasn’t long ago that I lost my will to live. Where I wanted to die, and it seemed like there was nothing anyone could say or do to make me think otherwise. Luckily I found my strength, my inner light to illuminate the darkness around me and I overcame it. Since then I wondered if I still had a slight death wish with some of the things I do. I think me not being able to attempt a jump for fear of death, leads me to believe that I don’t. I can truly say that I am happy to be alive.

Comfortly Uncomfortable: Part 2 of A Trip to Death Valley

It’s early and the light of the soon to be rising sun is beginning to breech the inside of the tent. The night was cold, and I can’t wait to greet the sun like a loved one that I haven’t seen in a long time. The agenda for today is a big one, and we will be making our way into the National Park, so sleeping in is not an option. I sit up still zipped up in my sleeping bag and take in a deep breath of the cold morning air. I struggle briefly trying to find the zipper that will set me free. I get out of my sleeping bag, and step out of the tent to get my boots on. I stand and marvel at the horizon to the east, as the deep blue night sky begins to lighten and be intruded on by orange, red and pinks. Soon we will be on our way.20141120_060159

I love traveling on dusty beat up roads. There is just something about them that makes the driving experience feel like, well an experience. The bumps and dips, the rattle of the vehicle as it moves over the rocks that have migrated onto the road. The trail of dust we leave in our wake acts as if it were masking our departure from the rest of the world; sort of like saying don’t follow me, find your own way. Yes dusty dirt roads are harsh and probably shouldn’t be driven on all the time, but you really need to do it once in awhile. Get out of your comfort zone as much as possible, and in the end you will find comfort at every turn.

20141122_095021We travel through through the desert making stops along the way and taking in the scenery that this beautiful desert has to offer. We make a stop at Badwater Basin and Devil’s Golf Course to see the salt flats and salt structures. Much to my surprise I seem to be able to meet new people whenever I travel. If anything I suspected that my rugged beard would drive people away. Yet I always seem to be approached by someone. Whether it is a kind elderly person or an enthusiastic college aged person I seem to attract them. I enjoy talking to strangers, and they seem to enjoy talking to me just as much, or even more. I meet a ready to retire Geology teacher and talked with him for a bit at Badwater and a group of college kids from USC at Devil’s Golf Course, and another Older gentleman and Lady at the Hot Springs in Tecopa the evening before. 20141122_105754Each one had something fascinating to share. For Instance the Tecopa people were big time rock hounds and talked about their extensive collection from all over. The Old Geologist in Badwater talked about his time being a teacher and how much he loved it. Two of the USC kids were from France and I talked briefly to them about the geology of the area and how it all formed. After all, even though I’m an adventurer I am still an amateur scientist.

20141122_161307As the afternoon came upon us we found ourselves in Mosaic Canyon. This place is absolutely fantastic! It’s one of my favorite places in Death Valley. As you walk into the mouth of the canyon you are greeted by magnificent sloping and narrow path. The marble is smooth and polished from years of flash flooding. The path meanders through the rock, with each turn revealing a beautiful story in front of your eyes. When you begin to enter the upper Canyon, your eyes will be in for a treat as there is a great view of the mountains ahead. I decided to make may up a small slope to get a better view of the canyon ahead. Once I was at the top I noticed my friend had climbed a steep slope up to a peak. I watched and hope I wouldn’t seem him fall. It wasn’t a designated trail and there didn’t appear to be an easy way up, but he reached the top fast and safely.

When he returned back to the bottom, I asked how was it, and he said it was pretty 20141122_141354easy. He showed me pictures of the view from up there and I knew I had to go up there and see it for myself. It’s one thing to enjoy another person’s beautiful pictures, it’s another thing to experience the view for yourself. Now, I’m afraid of heights and this trek was going to be walking straight up a steep slope with no room for error. I decided to leave my daypack so I would have a natural center of gravity, and once I filled my canteen we were off. This slope was comprised mainly of Noonday Dolomite and much to my surprise it was very easy to walk on. It was strenuous because you are walking straight up, but it’s easy because your not slipping and sliding, it’s like you are Spider-Man. It took me a bit to get comfortable while walking up. I kept wanting to get low to crawl, even though I didn’t need to. I didn’t even want to really take any pictures because I thought I would fall back and down.

Once near the top though, was a different story. The rock here was scree and it was 100 times harder to move through. You have to watch your footing on rock like this, because your not sure what is loose and what can really support you, and one wrong move and you will slip and tumble down the slope to the ground below. At the top I took a big sigh of relief as I had finally made it up safely. The view from the top was everything I expected and more. Every direction I looked was breathtaking. The colors of the rock sung as the sun’s light reflected off it. The blue sky stretched on and on beyond the mountains. It was incredible, I was overjoyed to be there at that moment. Images of incredible beauty and the serenity in the moment is what I love most about being on top of peaks. I love to sit there and look at that horizon, and dream of chasing it for the rest of my life.20141122_142219

Exploring the Kingston Range: Part 1 of A Trip to Death Valley

It’s been five days since I’ve been in civilization. I’ve just got back from being in Death Valley, and now I’m sitting in an In-N-Out enjoying a grilled cheese in silent company. My pants are torn, and the once dark green color is now muted by layers of dust and dirt. My right boot is being held together by a few strips of duct tape. A light ring of salt stands out on my navy blue shirt. I don’t even want to imagine how I possibly smell at the moment. The only thing that looks slightly good on me is my beard. Yet despite all of this, I’m smiling from ear to ear, from having an incredible adventure, with some incredible people.20141120_122202

It’s been over ten months since my last trip to Death Valley and I can attest that it has been way too long. I didn’t go by self on this trip, but rather a large group. Large group camping trips aren’t really my thing. I like to be in small groups or solo whenever I can, but sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone and do something different. After all, variety is the spice of life. The trip was planned for five days and four nights. Over half of the trip was to be spent outside of the national park but still in the surrounding area known as the Kingston Range.

We camped out at one of my favorite campsites called Horse Thief Camp. It is usually completely empty and it has a vaulted toilet so there is no need to bring your own toilet or make a cat hole if you need to go. There are remarkable views in every direction in this camp. Last time here we mainly focused on exploring nearby abandoned mines, however this time we explored the nearby mountains.

Hiking up these mountains are a bit challenging as 20141120_155532there are no trails that really lead to the top. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find a worn path, or at least something resembling a path. If you do go, and decide to hike these mountains, be prepared to scramble. The rocks here in and around Death Valley are mainly made up of carbonate rock and when they weather and break they can become very sharp. My best way to describe it is to imagine touching a starfish only the tiny spines are much sharper.

The first mountain was not really a problem and it was relatively easy to get to the top. Once at the top my friends and I were treated to some spectacular views. The partly cloudy sky made shadows that stretched through the valley. It was as if an artist’s brush had painted the valley. 20141119_141536It was surreal on that peak, almost like in a dream, but with the cold air to remind you that you’re alive. You couldn’t help but just stand there and take in the breath taking views as hawks screeched and dived around the mountain. I almost wanted to stand there forever, looking off into the distance, at the horizon. It was so peaceful, it was tranquil. But all good things must come to an end, so we headed back to camp.

The first night in camp was spectacular. The camp fired roared and we all gathered around to keep warm, as the night grew cold. You can learn a lot about a person while at a camp fire. There are no distractions, no television, no phones, no communication with the outside world. In that time, you learn about a person, and what makes them who they are. You learn what makes them laugh, and if your lucky you learn a story about them. It’s funny to think that in the end, we’re all just stories. Everyone has a story to tell, and every person you meet will become a character in the story of your life.

The next morning we drove a little down the road to the only open area near the north side of Kingston Peak. We hiked a couple of miles through dry riverbeds and prickly brush as we tried to head up, what looked to be a way up to the spine of the mountain. 20141120_080643When we got closer to the top we found that it would be treacherous to continue on that path as the natural rock had formed spires that would need to be climbed and jumped through. Some of the spires were about 20 feet high and the range was as long as a mile, so that way was out of the question. It appeared we would have to go back and try to make our way up another peak.

20141120_120721As we approached the next peak we found it more difficult than anticipated. This mountain was covered in scree, and with no trail to lead up to it, we had to make our own way up. I snaked my way up as if I was on a switchback trail. Taking care to ensure I had sure footing as I went up. A slip and fall here would be unforgiving so I had to tread lightly. At some points the incline became to difficult to walk and you had to use your hands to scramble up. On more than one occasion, as I scrambled up the rocks beneath me gave away and began to slip. Let me tell you, I’ve never scrambled so fast in my life. I was winded as the hike was strenuous but when the rock slipped out I was able to move quickly. I scrambled for my life and once I reached stable ground I took a big sigh of relief.

It was all worth it, once I reached the top of the peak. It was higher than the peak I climbed yesterday, and the views were even better. Most of the group gathered on a different peak then me, and for a bit of time I was the only one up there. I felt like the king of the mountain. I sat on the rock and basked in the view. I’ve been telling myself for about a year now that one day, this will be my life. One day, each day will be a new adventure. One day I’ll pack some things and leave, and it will be just me chasing that horizon. But for now this will do. For now, I’ll enjoy the company when I have it, and explore as much as I possibly can. 20141120_125545