Hi LA friends! Come check out my plein air paintings in person at the Chocolate and Art show in LA – and a bunch of other awesome artists, musicians, body painters, grab some food and drink and free chocolate 🙂
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
They cut my abdomen open and gave me cabin fever when I birthed my son. A c-section is major abdominal surgery. Combined with the residual pregnancy-complication related back and hip pain, I spent the first few weeks of my son’s life teetering around with a cane. I was a postpartum wobbly tornado of stir-crazy eagerness.
Needless to say I wasn’t in the most reasonable mindframe when I swore that I was going to solo trek the Trans-Catalina Trail at three months postpartum.
I’ve done this trail a few times before. There really is no excuse for not knowing better. The trail traverses the length of Catalina Island just off the coast of southern California. Its unmaintained, meandering singletrack follows the coastline and diverts deep into the interior of the island where there is no refuge from the unrelenting sun and arid conditions. The harsh climbs and off-trail wanderings around bison are the price paid for beautiful campsites on the beach.
I’ve seen this trail wreck athletes with ultralight packs and trail runners with support.
I board the boat and set off for Catalina Island anyway.
We don’t see much of anything when we arrive at Moab, UT. A half day’s drive stretched into the wee hours of the morning. Such is life when on the road with a three-month old baby. After a few hour’s sleep the morning sun reveals the powerful Colorado and beautifully bizarre red rock formations characteristic of the land – just steps away from our camp site. Despite my apprehension for the day’s plan, I stop and paint.
The baby is left in his grandma’s good hands. I am new to this. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m putting my faith in my wonderful friend and skilled river-rafter to get me from point A to point B still breathing. We load up the agile two-person raft and set off along the Colorado.