Julie and Lucas’ climbing wall “date” in Rockville, Md at Earth Treks

My book

Okay, so I don’t write in this blog very often. While in Nepal I stick to CCNEPal blog, and since the return to USA I have been writing in the blog to accompany my novel, The Sacrament of the Goddess.  If you haven’t been to the FaceBook page for The Sacrament of the Goddess, or the blog – check out this one part.

Date Night for Julie and Lucas

CLICK HERE to skip directly to the video playlist of each climb!

from their web site. from the outside it looks like a warehousee. Inside it was crowded. There is a colorcoded system to choose routes of varying skill level. The main protection is

from their web site. from the outside it looks like a warehousee. Inside it was crowded. There is a colorcoded system to choose routes of varying skill level. The main protection is “top-roping” with a belaying partner. They will train you. IN a real outdoor climb, you would need to do more hiking, contend with weather, and place your own protection as you went along. This clearly simplifies the focus on technique.

They live a mile from a very peculiar sort of gym – the Earth Trek Climbing Center.  For months now they go climbing a few times a week, as a form of exercise.

Julie on a pitch.

Julie on a pitch. “top-roping.” They took training class to learn effective belay. This was a 5.9 and she also attempted some 5.10s as did Lucas.

I had read an editorial about this in the New York Times, back along. In Rockville, people come from all over DC and these folks are in excellent state of conditioning.

The top is about fifty feet up. This pic gives you a sense of height. Lucas may be the top Brazilian climber there! They were certainly the only team coordinating the belayer using Portuguese. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi!

The top is about fifty feet up. This pic gives you a sense of height. Lucas may be the top Brazilian climber there! They were certainly the only team coordinating the belayer using Portuguese. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi!

Video

I brought the video camera and recorded each pitch. For the first one I was quiet, then I realized we needed some commentary.

PLAYLIST OF VIDEOS!

Here is the link to the playlist of videos. CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEOS PLAYLIST

It was a fun, chem-free evening out. The crowd was fun - young urban professionals from all around DC. Julei says she recognized people who had been on those reality TV shows that feature modern gladiators. For me? I was earthbound.

It was a fun, chem-free evening out. The crowd was fun – young urban professionals from all around DC. Julei says she recognized people who had been on those reality TV shows that feature modern gladiators. For me? I was earthbound.

The most famous Rock Climbs in American History?

We had the chance to discuss this later over a light dinner featuring Comida Miniero.

Was it Pointe Du Hoc?

was it Mount Suribachi? (the end result of which was planting the flag on Iwo Jima) close… maybe.

Nope. None of the above.

Not even the first American ascent of Everest (sorry, Jim Whitaker!)

I concluded it was this one, that took place about 1989, in Down East Maine:

The intrepid team later known as

The intrepid team later known as “Snafu,” “Whoopie Pie,” and “Catch-Up” on a summit after a daring climb in Acadia National Park. Note that the protective equipment consists mainly of sweaters hand knit by grandma

The most important climb is the one you make yourself, by taking that courageous first step.

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Is “A Walk in the Woods” a good thing for the Appalachian Trail, or a bad thing?

Here is my two cents for those now inspired to hike the Appalachian Trail now that the movie “A Walk in the Woods” will be released.

I just got back from a weeklong hike on the Hundred Mile Wilderness, the third time in my life I walked that section of the Trail. I’ve hiked 1,100 miles of the Trail in sections in the past. I was/am an Eagle Scout.

If that’s not enough street cred, here’s a picture of me at Katahdin:

In 1982 or 1983. I'm the one actually touching the sign. When you hike Katahdin in February you don't have to wait in line to get the summit photo. Oh and by the way, most of the time it's too cold for this pose.....

In 1982 or 1983. I’m the one actually touching the sign. When you hike Katahdin in February you don’t have to wait in line to get the summit photo. Oh and by the way, most of the time it’s too cold for this pose…..

see the following sign. It’s still in place about a hundred yards down the Trial from the Golden Road ( needs repainting if you ask me)

it might as well say "Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here" but for some reason, the new hikers have not all considered the warning, prior to arrival at the sign. It is quite necessary to prepare.

it might as well say “Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here” but for some reason, the new hikers have not all considered the warning, prior to arrival at the sign. It is quite necessary to prepare.

I saw a few parties that were skirting with trouble, mainly because the people underestimated what they were getting into. Also, there are local outfitters willing to bring food re-supply to the 40-mile mark these days – you no longer need to bring all ten day’s of food, as I did in 2000 when I hiked it with “Gummi Bear.”

who were these folks?

First was a family of five from Colorado that managed to get all the way to Rainbow Stream Lean-to. . They had a dog (not on a leash). They were so tired they took a rest day there. Problem was, they had pre-arranged a food drop at Jo-Merry road crossing, the leader ( the dad) told me they were going to need to hike a 28-mile day to make the rendezvous.

Um, no. This was not an accurate assessment of their capability. Dad was never going to be able to whip his team into shape. Loss of face for the dad. .They learned stuff about the Maine woods – it was just not the stuff they thought they were going to learn

The 28 miles that lay between them and the food drop was more difficult terrain than what they had crossed, by far. I tried to find a way to tactfully suggest that alternatives would need to be considered, but – there are times when a person needs to learn that for himself. Fortunately, they also crossed a logging road  about four miles further on; I was told by another hiker that the family decided to bail at that spot.

They  could have had a great trip to the Maine North Woods if they did some other activity.

Next was a mother/daughter combo. The daughter was flipflopping and already was doing fifteen miles a day. The mom wanted to co-hike but spent all day hiking 3.8 miles to Hurd Brook Lean-to. Obviously a disparity in fitness. It was sweet that mom wanted to support her daughter. After some heartfelt discussion, mom decided she would go back to Abol ( the starting point) and set up some “slackpacking” days, where a driver would ferry their backpacks around to a predetermined spot down the trail.

This created bad karma between Mom and Daughter. Nobody’s life was at stake, but the fantasy of a pleasant hike was dashed to smithereens. The team needs to be in harmony. Doing this activity with other persons is a form of enforced intimacy that’s probably closer than being married ( in some ways, not all!)

Next, a foreign guy with a 50-pound pack. Ouch. He was young and strong though – just headed for pain.

And various others in the mix, obviously carrying way too much stuff. My friend Tom Jamrog reports that somebody told him there’s been a forty per cent increase in hikers starting the Trail going South Bound ( SoBo, in A.T. slang) and that many now get about three days in, then quit.

Now, I have not seen the Walk in the Woods movie, just the trailer, which seems to promote  the idea of male bonding (it seems to have more of a plot than the book. The book was terrific but more of a collection of stories. I always thought Bryson did a great job) But I think they need to make a ten-minute short to show along with it, that emphasizes how to prepare. People actually die doing the A.T. and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

In 2012 I wrote a piece for beginner hikers, and everything in it is still true today.

Answer the question, Joe!

I think the movie ( along with “Wild” which is about the Pacific Crest Trail is a good thing, if it gets people out in to the woods.

Bottom line before you hike:

  1. get in shape. best way to do this is by hiking  in your own neighborhood.
  2. try out your equipment.
  3. take short trips.
  4. do a “shakedown”
  5. have some heartfelt discussions with your potential hiking buddies.
  6. read the books – here is a good one!
  7. be realistic…

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March 5 2014 update for the Junk Drawer

I have five blogs and I only write in this one when I have something to say about backpacking, or the Dixieland band (today is Ash Wednesday and Mardi Gras is over. time to clean up the beads, vomit and hurricanes from Bourbon Street..)

I will say, I have transferred my psychic blogging energy to The Sacrament of the Goddess blog. It accompanies my second book of that title.

Here is one little photo, of the book’s back cover, that may entice you to check it out….

they say the back cover has to contain a tease to entice the casual browser to open it and find the wonders therein....

they say the back cover has to contain a tease to entice the casual browser to open it and find the wonders therein….

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2013 in review for Joe’s Junk Drawer

I know this blog has not been active – I mainly focused my energy on the Nepal blog and especially on the Nursing in Hawaii blog. But for those loyal subscribers, here you go. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 720 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 12 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Nov 30 finishing a manuscript

I have finished my latest project.

http://sacramentofthegoddess.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/nov-30-finishing-a-manuscript-about-nepal/

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happy birthday to Amy july 20 2013

Eleven and three-quarter time zones away.

I am here and Amy is there. She lays, wounded on the field of battle, on her mother’s couch. Happy that she didn’t break any bones. Yes, this particular outdoor adventure went from the mundane to the spectacular in a split second. Amy (a.k.a. “Whoopie Pie”) is actually one of the safest and most sensible outdoorspersons I know, which is why I love hiking and camping with her. Get well soon!

Happy Birthday Hambone

I was thinking of a post titled “Top Ten Amy Moments” but then it grew to about a hundred, many of them involving hysterical laughter or perhaps quiet reflection at some vista. (The exception being The Incident at Cooper Brook Falls, which was more about me). So it would take all day to write. No matter, I can just *think* them, one at a time, and they reappear in memory as if I had YouTube in my head (which I do).

Amy, thank you for digging dirt with me that time. If I ever need to dig another hole, or perhaps a shallow grave, I know who to call.

Amy, thank you for Western Union. Now we know how.

Amy, thank you for the bon-bon.

Amy, thank you for braiding Julie’s hair all those times.

Stitches and staples

Yes, she is there and I am here.  Maybe I am being too coy, too oblique. Make it plain!Amy got her ass whupped on a bike ride, and she is licking her wounds. That’s why the couch figures so prominently in today.  Since her mom is a nurse and loves that sort of thing, I picture the day consisting of the smell of baked goods that will nurture her back to health. Presented on a tray with tea (and lemon of course) by a woman with a dusting of flour on her face. For Amy that would be a primal memory.  I picture them reading a book together.

How to avoid future pain and suffering

Maybe I should buy her some body armor for her birthday. Just what every girl wants. When they invent body armor that protects your heart from being broken, I will get her some. And maybe for myself as well……

The amy playlist

I can’t send a birthday gift from here in Kathmandu, not now. But in Amy’s honor I will be the DJ of the hour. Here, in no particular order, are tunes I associate with Amy.

Whenever God Shines His Light on Me by Van the Man.

Glycerine.  By Bush

Anything by Ani DiFranco, or so it seems

Prettiest Tree on the Mountain, Ben Sollee.

Wagon Wheel, by O.C.M.S.

Ray LaMontagne

Chris Ross

The Circle Game

So Long Ago, by Nanci Griffith

You Can call me Al

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An Open letter from Honolulu to Kim Jong Eun, Supreme Ruler of North Korea

Kim Jong Eun, Supreme Leader, Pyongyang, North Korea

Dear Comrade Kim:

Aloha!

I was watching the television news when they said that you were threatening to attack Guam and Hawaii with nuclear weapons on missiles. I live here in Honolulu and I wish you wouldn’t attack us. Please don’t.

Why you pick beef wid us?

Why you give us stink-eye?

we owe you money o wat?

They say you are just making empty threats to get attention. I dunno  -It might be funny in a way except that most kids who throw tantrums don’t own nuclear weapons. From what I read, you have a wife with a new baby at home and a demanding job. You look like you don’t get enough exercise. You need a new barber.

I have some advice for you.

First, read this post. You don’t have to get up being mad with the South Koreans all the time. You can take charge of your own life and get new friends instead of relying on those guys your dad picked out for you.  The seem like stick-in-the-mud guys. You could use some better wingmen. And I’m not talking about Dennis Rodman either.

Bottom Line – come visit!

It’s been along winter and I think instead of dropping the big one on Honolulu you should just take the wife and kids here for two weeks in the sun.  There’s lots to do on Waikiki.

Let’s get back to Aloha.

That is what life is about. We’d be happy to teach you about it.

 

 

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