Setting & Achieving Goals- It's easier if you hike!

Why do we hike? Why do we need to feel our muscles fully exerted, our skin warm, our foreheads sweaty? Why do we put ourselves through a process that can make knees pop, ankles swell, and bodies exhausted? I do it because through the process my body trains my mind to believe and fully feel that I CAN do it... And therefore, I can do anything.

One thing my hiking friends have said about me is that they never question whether or not we'll reach a summit together. Once the mission is set, there can be no failure. And it has been true so far. Maybe this mindset will be my downfall one day, but I'd like to think it is a strength for now. Of the 21 14ers I've completed, there was only once a route we had to rethink due to inclement weather. I was disappointed, sure, it wasn't what I had in mind, it wasn't going to be the enlivening Class IV I was eagerly anticipating, but it was still a long hike in the high alpine. The journey was enough, and we still summited the 14ers. 

Hiking Kit Carson & Challenger after a rainy night camping at Willow Lake. The fog was so thick in the weak dawn light that trail finding became quite the morning scavenger hunt. 

Hiking Kit Carson & Challenger after a rainy night camping at Willow Lake. The fog was so thick in the weak dawn light that trail finding became quite the morning scavenger hunt. 

My first 14er was Huron. I went with women I'd learned to play soccer with, women who I'd careened barefoot in creeks through golf courses in the summers and worked after school on dioramas and class projects with. It was the October before Anna went to med school. We drove up, crammed into the old Jeep Wrangler she'd had since high school, our bodies being pushed around as rocks and potholes presented themselves as obstacles. The reds, oranges and deep ever greens were saturated in the morning light. 

I remember getting past treeline and the oxygen levels thinning to the point that we couldn't stop laughing. Why is it that being at elevation makes life simpler? The chossy switchbacks were a thing of the past. The graupel snow falling muted any and all distractions, and the only thing to feel was our hearts beating furiously as our laughter rang out crisp and true. To feel so carefree, so safe and so wild, in our element, friends since before we could judge, before we felt shame or knew what falling in love felt like, is a feeling that is too easily taken for granted. It's a feeling I lost for a long time and it's a feeling that I greet openly when it appears. 

Once we were standing on the brown earthen gravel at the summit, there was this moment of silence that descended as the great landscape and stolid mountain peaks rose around us, as far as we could see and no people except us. In that moment, I felt so deeply of my physical body and felt so deeply gazing out at the vast expanse- it both lifted me up and kept me grounded. 

Hiking big mountains sets your drishti high. Even if you look down to be mindful of how you're stepping, your eyes are always seeking the horizon, the summit, the path that leads ever upwards. Even if there are obstacles, which there always are, that feeling at the top, at least for me, will always triumph. 

#CockpitGlobeTrotters

Traveling overseas to safari and live in Kenya was a life-changing experience. I promise one day I will write more about it. Can I just say, for now, that teaming up with Newland, Tarlton & Co. Safaris in order to model Cockpit USA's incredible jackets while climbing the tallest mountain in Kenya was an absolute dream come true. Click here to read the blog! 

Source: http://bit.ly/2qaHWYl

Santa Elena de Uairen, Guayana Highlands

Buenas dias a todos, estoy aqui (finalmente!) en Santa Elena y en 10 minutos, mas o menos, voy (con otras personas) a salir para Roraima (o a empezar la aventura). Despues de 20 horas en el autobus estoy aqui. 

I have bruises on my head from sleeping on the bus against la ventana. Did yoga this morning. Am excited to start hiking and am hoping to not be attacked by too many bugs (de que los mosquitos y puri puri no me molestan demasiado!) 

Also, there are postcards here. Woop woop! 

Gotta go. I wanted to share this, which was sent out this morning to my family, from my father. 

 Blessings for a Traveler   There are times in life when you choose to travel. May you choose wisely. May your spirit lift those around you, and May your interactions imbue a fertility of ideas and colorful relationships  that create possibility all around. There are times in life when you must travel May you participate fully May your spirit lift those around you, and May you find ways to break the bondage of requirement and  bring green shoots and blossoms to those you encounter. May you journey safely, touch softly, speak with your ears and   give blessing to those on your path. May you return to the comfort and security of your homeland  and those who wait for you there. 

Sea Kayaking & Mochima National Park

Got back from a three-day sea-kayaking trip. Reaaaally dope but won´t be writing about it here for a while. Tomorrow am off on bus to Santa Elena to start a six-day trek of Roraima. In the meantime (today) I have a fever and have stubbed various toes four times.I am going to miss Playa Colorada and the people but am ready to be elsewhere.  
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22 de julio (in retrospect / referencing journal) 

So 12 de julio... the group of chicas y yo embarked on the kayak trip. In the morning I woke up early and decided to do yoga, and was proud of the fact that I remembered a few yoga poses and did them. It was centering until Boris walked down the steps from the outdoor dining room towards the gate out to the beach and whistled at me. It was an example of what I usually wouln´t have to try and avoid while doing yoga, but in the least I´ve become desensitized towards the usual male catcalls. Plus Boris is a sweetheart. A Venezuelan sweetheart with a name that recalls James Bond on N64. 

That afternoon felt very much alive and content with thunder that I could hear across my line of sight and its echoes rumbling. I went snorkeling for the first time. We kayaked into a mainly deserted island and for about twenty feet around the concrete dock was a coral reef. Thought about Rachel Carson´s line about the shallow sea and how it contains more life than anywhere else in the open sea. There were beautiful green, blue, and black fish that always swam by itself. A school of light blue fish swam around me- I was in their pathway and they parted then came again together. Creatures growing on old glass bottles. The sky darkens from where the sun is and blends the hilly islands into the clouds. Snorkeling... In the least I felt like Darth Vader (because that´s how it sounds) in the most a curious, uncoordinated observer of a most interesting ecosystem. On the edge of the bluish green you can feel a colder darker hue as the reef tapers past the continental shelf and drastically drops. 

We got a ride to Santa Fe with the owner of the island and his fisher boys. They had spent the day fishing and had a dead shark to prove it. Three motors in the boat and a row of fishing hooks against the wood helm. Noticed how my ability to converse, etc disappears or becomes weighted with the lack of confidence when I don´t know the language well enough to say my thoughts with an ounce of certainty and when I lack the ability to understand what others say correctly. 

I love the silhouette of the boat, canoes, men, and the beach, city lights far off twinkling and a hint of sunlight in the clouds illuminating the planes of the hills. Estoy feliz. 

13 de julio. 

At beach after around two hours of kayaking. We paused in a part of the ocean surrounded by islands. Those further away faded from reddish brown with green cactus, trees, and shrubs into cloudy hues of blue. When the paddle lay across the kayak in rest, the drops fell into the oscillating water and looked as if a topo map- except constantly changing peaks of water- as is the nature of the sea. 

Was stung by a jellyfish while snorkeling, kind of funny. Keep forgetting I´m in the Caribbean and there is such beauty here. Before we got in the kayaks today I was standing in the ocean drenching my clothes before embarking and I was surrounded by squids. It was trippy. 

22 JULIO AGAIN
SO SEA KAYAKING. Not boring as had been foreshadowed by a few people at the hostel. Hard work for sure but worth it. The moments in my journal lack the laughter, comradery (?) of course of the days. Always written in downtime. Had a good time with the chicas and Luis is probably the best (& good looking) guide out there. The road home seems to be the longest... when the end is in sight it appears closer than reality. This is true from kayaking and from Roraima. In both cases made it with strained muscles, a bit of stress, laughter, and head up perserverence. 

Am excited to see how the underwater photos develop back home. 

Sea Kayaking & Deep Water Soloing

Animals I´ve seen:
Dead rat, tarantula, tiny frog, cockroach, strange reddish beetle, vicious skinny spider, lizard gecko, and iguana. 
Sea life:
Little fishies & baby dolphins. Yes, dolphins. This lady (because yes, we are of the age of ladies now) and I were joking about calling out to them if they did not appear- we invoked Dory from Finding Nemo, or as she says- Ne-mo. Anyways. 
BIRDS:
No idea, but my spanish teacher Marco says that 18,000 bird species live here.. Something like a third of all the birds on earth are here. Lots of shit. Also lots of dogs and cats. 

And lots of action.

Spanish class started, y yo he pensado en español. A veces hablo en español y las personas en la hostel me miren extraño. Did that make sense? I meant to say I´m starting to think in spanish. Es interesante a practicar hablando por que yo he olvidado muchas palabras. Pero ahora, it´s all coming back it´s all coming back to me now-ow-ow (Celine Dion). 

Back on point. There are mostly girls at the hostel right now. Transition. They are in a traveling classroom meaning they travel around and do adventure stuff while learning spanish and bonding with one another. There are ladies from England, Wales, Switzerland, Austria, Germany.... We rock. I´m going sea-kayaking with the group in and around Mochima National Park for a while and then peacing out to Roraima. 

I chose this hostel and not the one in Merida because the website had a picture of a rock-climbing wall. So finally, a few nights ago, Luís set up a rope para escalar. We had talked about going to this secret place where you climb and then jump into the ocean, but he was skeptical. So everyone takes their turn and it starts raining, then stops. Was funny and sometimes aggravating to watch the skills and lack of strength of the ladies. Everyone did well for never having done so before. I got to climb and made it up the wall fast. Later on I did a different route that was supposed to be hard and it took longer, but was still easy. 

All the days are blurring. Journal entries are beginning to lack dates. This does not help retrospective storytelling.

I think it was a day when we went to the beach to try out kayaking. It´s suprisingly refreshing to thwack the water to avoid tipping and also to purposively rock until you do turn over. Rescues are fun too. Went rock climbing. Boat trip, dolphins, waves eternal, dolphins, cat and mouse rock formation, waves. Blah blah. The rocks were really quite sharp, also holds like hollow calcified sponges. Jumping was a trip. There were two routes and the second reminded me of climbing at miramont, when there was some start that took me a dozen times to get ahold of. Loved being in a boat! 

Also love that I´m in a double bed. Tried the hammocks one night and somehow was in the only one that lacked a sheet so I woke up freezing. Put on almost everything i own, tried to wrap the hammock around me, but that´s when humidity becomes less of a blanket and more of a wet slap in the trying to sleep whatever. Um... I started saying that because I guess I ended up in one of the hammocks outside in the living area, watched the sun come up and felt it slowly becoming warmer, promptly fell asleep and woke up for breakfast. I feel like I´ve already written about that, this is how awesome my life is right now.

I am really getting along with my spanish teacher. Also, the cooks and house lady. Have found myself en la cocina on nights when I need not be. Has been nice helping out, though I seem to have ajo scented hands being that I´ve been on garlic peeling, cutting, and crushing duty a few times now. En lunes, vamos a cocinar un postre y es posible más, porque es el mismo para todas las culturas- las chicas se encantan azucar! 

Apparently, says my Welsh friend, I speak a very convincing English accent... but usually for very short sentences, sentences such as, "Morning Gromit, time for walkies!" Ohh yes. When not thinking in spanish, I seem to be thinking with an English accent. And more Brits are arriving tonight. I´ve been trying to overemphasize my Americanness, at least in speech, but also in fact of extremely tiny English-Spanish dictionary covered with US flag (made in Peru), which has now been lost to the couch or perhaps a tarantula wanted to learn what it´s called in English. 

Anyways the books I brought- "The Sea Around Us" & the book by David Levi Strauss that my brother gave me look worn only due to pages curled at humidity´s mercy. Am really lucky to be here and am super stoked for the kayak trip. Judging from the mini excursions so far, it is going to be hilarious and challenging. Gotta find a snorkel somewhere, or at least goggles. Need to find postcards and stamps! It´s almost six and it´s probably dark outside- am hoping for a sunset, a bus I can wave at and jump into, and perhaps a fruit stand. 

Tonight we´re going to some place to dance. VIP, table service, reggaeton, and salsa/ meringue, but apparently going clubbing means staying out til 6am. I am hoping for a table surrounded by couches and blankets lest I get sleepy. 

All for now! I promise to try and find postcards another day. Abrazitos! 

Like a wave traveling shapes vision....... More to it but thanks Margaret Atwood. Like um YEAH!

Learning to Sea Kayak in the Caribbean! 

Puerto La Cruz, Northeast Venezuela.

Grant me the ability to be alone,
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grasses,
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
the I belong to. 

-Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlaw

 
Woke up this morning at around 6am to walk up a hill very close to the hostel. It was already sweltering hot and humid, and the path up was lined with soft, red dirt, rocks, and great canyons of a tiny nature. At the top I could look straight ahead to the path that continues along the ridge line and lopes back into the village, down to the village, out to the ocean. I sought solace and existed there before returning. 

Last night a bunch of us climbed the corrugated metal fence to cross the dirt road to the beach. The ocean is quiet at night, and the surf stronger. It was the first night that I could see the stars. Imagine boats without their motors, varying in colors, staggered along the coast, against the dark ocean and equally dark sky. I believe I shall draw it.

The hostel itself has no rooms closed to the outdoor environment. Hammocks stretch towards the ground as people settle into them to relax, read, and inevitably fall asleep. We drink from metal cups and white, plastic plates. 

I love how the clouds come in around midday. They melt into the ocean, and fog and sea lock together. 

The other day, I stayed in town with a British friend as the rest of the group returned. When we left the internet cafe, hidden in stairs and hallways behind a strip mall by the ocean, we met a deluge of rain. Las tiendas en los calles retreated to the buildings´ awnings and people hung out in doorways watching the rain pound the streets. It was interesting to observe how time and movement stopped nearly completely to let nature do its thing, while keeping one´s clothing dry. We got soaked as well as lost, darting awning after awning con permiso, in our search for the elusive bus stop. I haven´t seen rain like that since the streets of downtown Los Angeles flooded last winter. It was lovely and I found it equally hilarious. The bus ride home, we sat in the back and of course the windshield was actually plastic held together by that brownish tape- and yes, I sat there and stayed soaked. 

Two girls on the bus kept looking at me and kind of giggling. We just smiled at each other and eventually attempted to have a conversation. I asked where a local spot to go dancing was, and still need to go. I´ll probably end up going with them, being that most of the people at the hostel seem to not be my kind of adventurous. Still, I dance. 

It´s relatively frustrating to be a girl here. Often I have felt constricted, or unable to be friendly and inquisitive. There are guys who creep me out. I think I´ve figured out the remedy, or the antidote- be respectful and say Hola, como estas, buenas dias, before they can say something I don´t want to hear. Of course there are guys who are equally respectful. It´s the same here as in the United States, but in a different sense. Needless to say I´m skipping around it and not letting it limit me- at least not as much as when I first arrived.

At the hostel, I´m drifting between Spanish and English. It´s tripping people up when I speak Spanish, but I don´t want to speak English. I think that when the next group comes in, I shall pretend that I don´t know English at all. I guess I´m the first US citizen who has come through the hostel in quite a long time. Right now there are people from Canada, Britain, Wales, Germany, and Denmark. Conversations about gender roles, perceptions of race, etc. Veering away from politics. Still not the conversations I want. I don´t learn so much from them and more feel like a gentle teacher. I feel more free on my own than with those at the hostel. 

Had an interesting fruit the other day. Looked like a great long bean pod, opened by pounding it on a rock. Inside instead of peas were white fluffy cocoons surrounding a flat, oval brown seed. Delicate subtle flavor. Am in Puerto la Cruz again and wandered quite a while before I found this place. It´s fun to be here. The road to Puerto winds along the coast and it is green trees, vines, blue ocean, hints of clouds (because it´s sunny today). At every beach there are cars, umbrellas, and people. I will describe the houses and hopefully get a picture of this one wall of graffiti soon. 
 
My brother sent me a message that I appreciate:

Me alegro de que está teniendo la oportunidad de experimentar esta gran cantidad de sentimientos y de la ambivalencia que a veces les acompaña, estar fuera de su elemento y no saber cómo dar sentido a lo que hay alrededor es lo que experiencias de este tipo debe sentirse como , creo. Tal vez usted no debe tratar de dar forma a su experiencia para que signifique algo para ti, lo que significa es una construcción cultural, y estás en una cultura diferente ... tratar de sentir su experiencia, y no como muchas cosas diferentes como sea posible. Deje que su viaje que forma! En cuanto a su seguridad: la gente tiene la mala costumbre de ocupar los dos extremos - ya sea overamplify o subestimar el peligro potencial de un lugar. Tanto la evidencia una ignorancia subyacente o la pereza de entender la realidad de su entorno. Pregunte a los lugareños acerca de dónde es seguro o no seguro a donde ir y prestar atención a cómo te sientes con respecto a su entorno y se le multa. Por último, ¡Te quiero! Divertirse y pasar el rato con los que hablan español - así es como vas a mejorar.

Loose translation via Albert Schweitzer- “Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me.”

I don´t want to be a tourist here. I don´t want to feel like I´m on vacation and am looking into options. Will keep y´all updated. Abrazos!

PlayaColorada

Puerto la Pensive

I floated in the ocean today. For lack of exercise, I swam out as far as felt safe and lay on my back, floating. Fighting the tide, riding the tide. Not sinking. Not swimming. 

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Am at an internet cafe in Puerto La Cruz, which is as disorganized as I feel right now. I took the bus in with a few other students staying in Playa Colorada. Winding roads into the city. I feel a bit out of sorts here and so I decided to trail behind these people in order to become acquainted with this region.

It is strange because I am told multiple things every day. Yes, it is safe to be alone. No it is not safe to be alone, and points along the way. I feel safe enough. It is frustrating to be honked at all the time, but the sound of honking does not set off alarms to me. I am slowly figuring out where I want to be, and need to look into it. Find something to do here. In a more tangible sense- find out where the trail is- apparently a daunting three hour hike real closeby, I need to run it. 

To recap- I am a lucky girl. I do love this opportunity to be here. Now what to make of it? 

It is interesting to find that many of the people staying at the hostel are Europeans enjoying their gap year. In a sense it is truly great because now I can pick up the English accent I lost so many years ago. It is either safety in numbers or something completely different. I think that there is a sense of patrimony here- people feel they must protect, or unless until I show I need not that kind of protection. 

But I need to find something worthwhile to do here. I feel that observation shall not suffice, nor photos. I felt like I was on vacation today and hmm... Do I deserve this?

Basically today, I feel listless.

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I have met some interesting people and had good conversations. My spanish is not terrible. Dance party tonight and I will track down a soccer ball for a friendly match on the beach. 

There is a chance that I will volunteer at a summer school type place with some of the local children. I also might go sea kayaking for a few days. The possibilities are endless-- the internet service is not.

Mareada en Miraflores: Lima, Peru.

Flew into Lima, arrived at 4:20am. In Miami, as I walked down the corridor into the plane siento dos partes cansada y uno parte feliz! Voy al America de Sur!! No estoy en los EE.UU!! 

Boarding the 757, I noticed a few things- the smile creeping into the corners of my mouth and up into my eyes, how extremely nice this plane is, how every announcement is spoken in español y despues ingles. Reflectí como yo no ha salido el país por doce años y I am super grateful to have this opportunity for growth, introspection, and change. Estoy buscando para perspectivas, amigos. (I'm looking for perspectives, friends).

Only thing different from travels as a kid was that hot towel nonsense. For once, I was sat next to an interesting guy and after sleeping as much as possible, we helped each other figure out the customs form. Would I get a stamp in my passport? <¡sí!>

My layover was a few hours, so I decided to go into Lima with Adriano. The cab into town didn´t get to see much of the sights along the way- only tube lighting of certain stores. I remember thinking that the streets seemed smallish (wc), but were actually the major routes from the airport. Looking to the west was dark, but I could smell the salty fish of the ocean. Fresh air? Yes, but in a different sense. Humid. I believe (now that I am in Caracas) that this journey will delve deeper into the warm blanket that tropical climates wrap around a person. It was humid in Miami, more humid in Lima, and my goodness, welcome to Caracas. 

The word that seems to best characterize the trip thus far, or at least my go-to word (duh, everyone has one)... I just forgot it, lo siento. 

Anyways, Adriano and I walked around Miraflores which seems to be a newly redeveloped part of Lima. It was quaint. Beautiful gates, ornate steel. Central square with six cats. They were strays, but fat. I surmise that they were pregnant. Trying to pretend as if untouched by western civilization = imposible. The taxis are everywhere. They like to honk. Still trying to figure out the symbol for keep on keeping on señor, no necesito a ride! In the same sense, still trying to figure out how to communicate effectively. I´m doing alright, but am looking forward to gaining confidence speaking Spanish. 

We wandered into a grocery store. Biggest Papaya Ever. Walked to the coast to eat breakfast on the beach and it was absolutely beautiful. The tide was slowly creeping east, towards us. Perhaps in a few hundred years, there will be sand there, but for now there are stones worn smooth by the ebb and flow of the ocean. There seem to be many stones here. The pathway was etched into the stones and so were the roads, etc. I wish I could be more descriptive, but I shall throw down some words: Graffiti, green wood slats, wood bridge overpass, old man surfer stretching, soccer ball rolling downhill as we walk up to Love Park. Am in a hurry because the final flight leaves soon. Pictures to follow. 

Oh. P.S Slug bugs seem to be the national car of Peru. So many. Also, apparently "the sun never comes up"--- the answer to the equivalent of when will it be light outside? I feel that I may not be in Colorado type sunshine until, well yeah, until I return. 

Am happy, tired, and my muscles are sore. Am glad I did yoga and rock-climbed the day before I left Fort Collins, but that + backpack + airplane sleep + traveling for almost two days = sore. Time to go!