All These Things That I Write

May 23, 2017


I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that next weekend is Memorial Day, the unofficial kick-off to summer. (And also, the day we honor those who died in service to our country, which makes it an oddly awkward holiday.)

My point is that spring is over, and I haven’t been on a single hike. No mountains have been climbed, despite my wonderful plans to the contrary. And I did, indeed, have plans, most of which centered on North Carolina and Colorado.

And then something happened that I was hoping for, but not really expecting: I got a book deal. Fiction, not outdoorsy stuff, so I won’t discuss it much on this blog. My first book is out in late October, followed by three more books over the next two years.

I know! I’m as surprised as you are.

Anyway, this means I’m kinda busy at the moment. When I’m not at my day job or doing mom stuff, I’m wrapping up edits on book 1, drafting the end of book 2, and plotting book 3. If you ask me about book 4 I might start to cry. (My house is a mess and I’m seriously reconsidering my commitment to showers.)

That’s not to say I won’t be outside at all this year. I have a climbing trip planned for West Virginia in July, and I’ll be in Yosemite in early October. I’ll fit in other things here and there, just for sanity’s sake. There’s a Shenandoah trail race that I want to start training for, as well.

An old friend reached out recently and told me had been following my blog. “You seem happy,” he said. “This mid-life crisis is really working out for you.”

Yes, it is.



Our Public Lands Are Threatened, or That Time I Turned Into A Fireball of Rage

May 16, 2017

Go here. Comment by July 10.

From the Department of the Interior:

“The U.S. Department of the Interior is conducting a review of certain National Monuments designated or expanded since 1996 under the Antiquities Act of 1906 in order to implement Executive Order 13792 of April 26, 2017. The Secretary of the Interior will use the review to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy stated in the Executive Order and to formulate recommendations for Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other appropriate actions to carry out that policy. This Notice identifies twenty-seven National Monuments under review and invites comments to inform the review.”

Don’t kid yourself on this: We don’t need the oil and gas from drilling. What we need is a massive overhaul of our energy systems, from how we power our houses to how we power our cars. The technology is there. We just have to fully implement it. Will it be painful? Hell yes. Will it be expensive? Hell yes. Will it save us and our planet? Hell yes.

Please, please let your voice be heard–even though we know they aren’t truly listening. (Just ask the Navajo about who Zinke talked to about Bears Ears. They are purposefully seeking out a one-sided, money-grabbing view.) This is where we hike, climb, and play. This is where we lose ourselves, and find ourselves.

I am for progress, absolutely. I live in a city, and I love it. But it’s a human environment. (Well, humans, rats, and pigeons.) We need wild places so that the whole earth can thrive. Without diversity of life–plants, land, and animals–everything falls apart.

So what national monuments are being reviewed? Here’s the list:

National Monuments Being Initially Reviewed Pursuant to Criteria in Executive Order 13792
Monument Location Year(s) Acreage
Basin and Range Nevada 2015 703,585
Bears Ears Utah 2016 1,353,000
Berryessa Snow Mountain California 2015 330,780
Canyons of the Ancients Colorado 2000 175,160
Carrizo Plain California 2001 204,107
Cascade Siskiyou Oregon 2000/2017 100,000
Craters of the Moon Idaho 1924/2000 737,525
Giant Sequoia California 2000 327,760
Gold Butte Nevada 2016 296,937
Grand Canyon-Parashant Arizona 2000 1,014,000
Grand Staircase-Escalante Utah 1996 1,700,000
Hanford Reach Washington 2000 194,450.93
Ironwood Forest Arizona 2000 128,917
Mojave Trails California 2016 1,600,000
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks New Mexico 2014 496,330
Rio Grande del Norte New Mexico 2013 242,555
Sand to Snow California 2016 154,000
San Gabriel Mountains California 2014 346,177
Sonoran Desert Arizona 2001 486,149
Upper Missouri River Breaks Montana 2001 377,346
Vermilion Cliffs Arizona 2000 279,568

That’s right, folks. THE FUCKING GRAND CANYON. Because that’s not worth saving, right?

Are we really going to sit back and watch this happen?

Hell no.


All The Moments You Didn’t Photograph

May 9, 2017

Having a moment.

I don’t have a picture of the time I climbed a 5.10b–let’s say for the first time, but so far it’s the only time. It was just me and my partner, and our hands were kind of busy at that moment.

I don’t have a picture of the first mountain I summitted. I was 16, and I was dirty and tired, on Day 3 of a four day backpacking trip.

I do have a picture of the first time I hiked a 14er, but I wasn’t feeling euphoric about it and it showed. What I don’t have is a picture of me an hour later, when I was halfway back down the mountain. Because that’s when I was feeling pretty damn awesome about what I had just accomplished.

I also have a picture of me crossing the finish line of the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, but I don’t have a picture of me 15 minutes later, which was how long it took to walk off the pain.

I don’t have a picture of the exact moment my friend turned to me, after a hard day of climbing, and said, “You know, I feel really good about what we did here today.”

I don’t have a picture of a thousand I love you‘s. Hell, I don’t even remember most of them, not even my first.

Sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes the camera captures the exact moment I want to remember forever. But more often than not the moment comes and goes and will one day be forgotten completely. It’s hard not to feel sad about that.

These moments matter, even if we don’t remember them. They build on each other, pushing us further than we were yesterday, making us stretch in new directions. It’s only been 18 months since my first climb, and already I struggle to remember the details. I definitely don’t remember the first time I made it to the top. But it must have felt pretty good, because I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since. I might not remember the first 5.6, but I couldn’t have gotten to 5.10b without it.

It’s always the moments in between the photographs.

These are the moments that make us.



It’s All In Your Head

May 2, 2017


Janae over at Hungry Runner Girl asked something a few weeks ago, and it’s been on my mind ever since: How do you know you can do it? This caught me by surprise, because honestly, it’s never occurred to me to ask. I often tell myself I can do things, and then I go ahead and do them. But more often than not, I tell myself I can’t do something, and then it either takes me years to actually do it, or I don’t do it at all. What’s the difference?

Ever since the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler…(did I mention I ran a 10 mile race? Oh, I did? All the time?)…I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t go back to my old ways. And by that I mean, three miles, three times a week. Why lose fitness that I worked so hard to gain? My new goal is to make 10 miles my base fitness, something I can easily do. I’ve been doing pretty well with it. I took a week off to take my daughters to Virginia Beach for Spring Break, and while I would have loved to fit in a few runs, those two cannot be left alone. Not if I expect them both to stay alive, anyway. So, clearly I have gone back a stride or two on fitness, but not all the way to three miles. Mostly.

On Friday my goal was 4.5 miles. It was 85 degrees and humid, so I said no to that and went for the treadmill. I made it exactly…2.5 miles. Not even a full three. I haven’t had that bad a run in a long time. And honestly, I don’t know why. Nothing really hurt, I wasn’t struggling for breath. It just felt hard. Like, legs-of-cement hard. So I gave up and called it a day.

On Monday I ran 4.5 miles, and I did the last quarter mile at a sprint. I felt good, at the end.

What was the difference between my fitness level on Friday and my fitness level two days later, on Monday? Nada.

It was all in my head.

On Friday, when things got bad, I thought I can’t, I can’t. It’s not like things felt great the whole way through on Monday. Somewhere around mile 3, I thought fuuuuuuuck. But what I told myself was, two more songs. Because anyone can make it through two more songs.

I wonder why I ever told myself I couldn’t.




How to Make an Amazingly Healthy Smoothie

April 25, 2017


Smoothies are my go-to lunch. I usually run or strength train in the afternoon, so I don’t like to have anything heavy in my stomach. Also, I’m not a lunch person. Honestly, who is? Some people love breakfast food so much they eat it for dinner; some people love dinner so much they eat it for breakfast. Lunch is just kind of lame, that thing you do so you don’t get hella cranky.

After googling “healthy smoothies” and coming to the opinion that one person’s “healthy” is another person’s “garbage,” I decided to make my own. I’ve spent the last several months throwing random shit in my blender and seeing what happened. After much trial and error, I came up with something I can actually stand to eat everyday. That’s how much I like it.

I see a lot of recipes that call for almond milk or some other kind of nut juice for the base, which baffles me, quite frankly. Sure, it’s low cal, but it also lacks nutrients. It doesn’t have the protein of milk or almonds because it’s mostly water. Basically this means I’ll be starving, and my workout will crash and burn. No, thanks.

Finally I settled on using nonfat plain Greek yogurt for a base, because: 1) I hate the taste of vanilla/any flavored yogurt, and the added sugar is no bueno 2) protein boost 3) I’m adding better fat with avocado, which also makes the smoothie creamy. But maybe you don’t like avocados, in which case we can’t be friends. Just kidding. If you aren’t an avocado fan, use whole Greek yogurt instead of nonfat. Remember, fat isn’t a bad thing. You need it.

Next comes the spinach. I personally love spinach, but to be honest, you have to put a whole lot in to taste it–more than the two handfuls I recommend. Sometimes I do add more, just to give it a green taste. If I know I’m going to have spinach for dinner, I leave it out. It’s just an extra boost of micronutrients–there’s no real added calories in the way of fat or protein, so the choice is yours.

Lastly, to make it taste good, I add a cup of chopped frozen fruit. Mostly I go with half blueberries and half strawberries, but mango and pineapple is also super delicious.

And there you go: A lunch that won’t weigh you down but will keep you going through the afternoon.



2 large handfuls spinach

1 cup frozen fruit

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 avocado

1 cup water