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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Four Miles, Two Paintings and One Baby – Going Solo at the Bridge to Nowhere.

on the outdoors, painting

It’s high time I introduce my son to a trail that means so much to me – Bridge to Nowhere in the San Gabriel National Monument mountains, CA. It’s where I cut my hiking and backpacking teeth; it’s the first place I’ve witnessed the changing of the seasons and come to know as a second home on the trail. He naps as I maneuver the winding mountain roads and wakes with anticipation when I finally pull into the familiar parking lot. There are few cars and even fewer people on the trail; we have it to ourselves in its rugged beauty.

I wrangle precious cargo onto my chest and back. In front my wide-eyed son, on my back 40 liters of painting and baby hiking gear. I have an emergency shelter and extra formula packed away, a personal locator beacon just in case of emergencies, my hands full of trekking poles and bear spray at the ready. It all weighs heavily on my shoulders, but the weight is nothing compared to the one on my psyche.

I’m terrified.

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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Little Adventures Around Town

on the outdoors, Plein Air, Uncategorized

Not every adventure can be an isolated multiday far away from civilization. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a plethora of hiking trails newly discovered in my part-time residence here in the San Diego area. These trails are little hidden gems in the midst of urban sprawl. The climbs may have buildings marring the view but the climbs themselves give a taste of the wilderness, the herons are just as graceful here as they are in the backcountry and the views of the distant ocean are breathtaking from the peak of a local park as they are in the early morning mist of northern California’s rugged sealine trails.

Lake Cavalera

The smallest dormant volcano in North America requires some short but rugged climbs to get to the top. A reservoir at the foot of this fascinating geological structure is home to fish, waterfowl and attracts an assortment of local wildlife. Behind the volcano is a network of trails sprawling across the rolling hills.

Stages of Decay 8 x 10 Oil on Panel

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

Forest meets chaparral through this network of trails exploring the bubbling rush of a creek and up upon a peak overlooking the land onto the ocean in the distance. The trails offer the rocky, rough terrain hikers crave and the ease of proximity in San Diego county. There are easy walks and tough climbs as the trail network creates fascinating out-and-back hikes or can be linked together for a slightly longer loop.

explore-elfinforest

Exploring 8 x 10″ oil on panel

In complete honesty I crave the expansive backcountry of long trails with nary another soul in sight. In the interim, these little tastes of wild home tides my wanderlust and sooths the soul until the next big adventure.

Discovering Strength at the Grand Canyon

on the outdoors

I dreamed of traction spikes crunching into ice and snow gracing the soaring geology of the Grand Canyon in winter. It was a dream we rush into reality as my pregnancy moves along into the fifth month. The frigid air nips at our unacclimated faces on the porch of the Yavapai Lodge as we disembark to the South Kaibab trail. Herds of elk meander along the rim while condors freewheel overhead, striking the clear blue sky through with their imposing black wingspan. There is no snow despite the cold. The brutal series of switchbacks decending into the canyon peals away layer after layer of breathtaking scenery of the Grand Canyon’s interior.