Seeking Solitude – Going Solo on the Trail

on the outdoors

Being alone on the trail is a soothing, grounding experience. It forces a level of comfort with the self and the here-and-now that the distraction of company doesn’t offer. Getting comfortable with that is, however, a whole different matter.

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Plein Air Painting on the Trail – A Gear Shakedown

gear review, on the outdoors, painting

Inspiration strikes everywhere on the trail – on the summit of a mountain or in the depths of a canyon, in the middle of the day or when the sun is quickly setting. A painting kit that’s light enough to carry, tough enough to endure the trail and quick enough to deploy on snack breaks or when the light is fading is essential for plein air painting on the trail! Here is my set-up:

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Back with a Buddy

Ruminations

I’m back! A very complicated and rough pregnancy forced me to take a break from painting on the trails. It was all worth it because now I have a little buddy to take with me. This is Dakota Tayag-Jerz’s official welcome to the world post here on ArtXAdventure!

I just got back from wheeling, rafting, camping and hiking in Moab and Arches National Park, UT. Dakota’s three month birthday was on the 19th and he’s already been to Big Sur CA, Sedona AZ, Moab UT, Joshua Tree National Park CA, and the plethora of trails available here in the San Gabriel National Monuments.

Hiking and adventuring with my son has been an experience I can’t even put into words, although I will try soon. In the meantime here are some photos and you can check out my other blog about raising a wild little one to love the outdoors at foxnkitadventures.com

I have a trans-catalina trail solo coming up soon, so stay tuned for more adventure and art!

Creating Home

on the outdoors, painting

Introducing my good friends to the Bridge to Nowhere trail was something I anticipated with great joy. I knew they’d fall in love with its calming waters, riparian greenery and imposing geology. The weather was warm and the hike itself was simple as we cooled off in the river and found one of the many small camps where we put up the hammock and enjoyed the peace offered by the San Gabriel Mountains.

The brutal summers take a toll on the river. The sunken levels mildly reroute the trail and expose banks of sand and granite that would be otherwise hidden. I painted as my friends skipped rocks across the shallows. I’ve been hiking and painting this trail for years, but this particular season was disconcerting. I have never seen the river so low. This painting is aptly titled “The River Survives”, done in oil on 10 x 8″ canvas panel.

Everything Goes South on Rocky Gap Road

on the outdoors

Utah went out the window when our two-jeep caravan crawled its way through highway gridlock past a big rig on its side. That’s when Mom’s ’92 Jeep TJ stalled.

Instead of making the nine-hour drive to Moab to meet up with a good friend, do some rafting and some offroading, we wound up calling a tow truck on the side of a two-lane highway in the desert just outside of Las Vegas, NV. The noisy highway made a stark contrast to the expanse of golden desert shrub and the shadows of complex joshua trees cast by the tenacious noon sun. We got out of our vehicles and away from the impatient traffic hitting the gas as they passed the big rig accident.

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Living on the Edge of Depression at the Grand Canyon

on the outdoors

Still and quiet is not something familiar to a person who battles anxiety, depression and PTSD daily. Half of my mind is running on the toxic nitro fuel of fight-or-flight fear. The other half enduring the contortions of a mind that wants to die in a body that fights to live. It was spring break, my companions and I standing at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, our pent up road trip energy quieted at the edge of such splendor. Just one day ago I was a stressed out, lapsed ex-artist, over-achieving college student, an abuse survivor, an alcoholic, dependent on a dangerous combination of pills and booze for three or four hours of sleep, and tediously suicidal.

There, staring down through layers of strata and time, following the blue-green ribbon of the Colorado River, I was only human. The chaos of my mind stilled for a moment and allowed me to be a person instead of an illness. I think that was my first time really knowing peace.

The Creative Value of a Zero Day

Trail Stories

Zero Day: A term coined by through-hikers, a zero day is a day where you cover zero miles. Camp stays up, pack stays down. It’s a rest and recharge day.