lofty perches, stolen hearts

The last 9 days of August I spent in the heart of Kings Canyon blissing out with friends, making friends with strangers, getting high on wildflowers and altitude, working a bit of trail… on my hike out I cried like the child-me leaving summer camp.

The daily snow-melt baptismal was met with much rejoicing.

Avalanche pass – first encounter with the foxtail pine, first sighting of the range beyond.

Because of this season’s longer-lived snowpack, all the flowers were blooming at once. I thought my head was going to explode every time I walked through a meadow.

The Kahweahs!

At Colby pass I met a seasoned couple who cross-country around this section of the sierras every summer. For the rest of the day we cracked jokes, swam, and traded stories. You can spend your whole life out there and still not bag all the peaks, nor swim in all the lakes.

An unnamed pass out of cloud canyon, where I spent the second half of my trip. Not pictured is the rad CCC crew I stayed and worked with… what a family!

Descending to Lion lake, around 11,000′.

My gracious host.

On my way out, I passed Valhalla and my spirit got stuck.

Mindaugis lent me some gear for this trip and is one of the reasons I keep running for the mountains.

And, to palliate the withdrawal symptoms, M+D+I went out for dim sum. THE END

blackberry bacchanal

more of the usual summer shenanigans. fluff, i know, but it is hard to deny these sweet opportunities to put hard work down for a moment.

all below by Yelena.

just a bit of innocent fun by the river.

summer employment

… consists of marshaling often recalcitrant teenagers to various beautiful locales on the North Bay where we remove invasive plants, etc. Here are some snaps from a day of our training, where we supervisors visited a local transfer station. That’s where your waste goes before it’s shipped to China (if it’s recyclable), or to the dump (if not).

Devi, our guide.

Part of the waste paper sorting process. Here they remove cardboard for hours on end.

Standing in front of bales of #1 plastic – one of two varieties that can be recycled into a container again. (Other numbers get downcycled – to carpets, or fleece, for example).

Ever notice how most every-day household items made of plastic say, “made in China”? They have a robust recycling industry there. Plants range from state-of-the-art to wholly unregulated.

Each bale of aluminum goes for about $2000-$3000, depending on the market.

We watched this tractor shovel vast piles of malodorous refuse back and forth from the chute whence it dropped.

The owner of this facility saves produce that groceries label as sub-par from being dumped. Instead, it feeds his collection of pigs, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks (as well as a healthy population of freeloading rats).


We take our job very seriously.

My zeal for climbing has been reignited by a trip to the Owens River Gorge in Bishop, CA. This trip coincided with the end of my last job, at Walker Creek Ranch. Goodbye, kiddos!

One creature to another.


Exulting in sensory input means: midnight plant walks, afternoon musical rollicks, feasts and celebrations.

From Trout Gulch to Yosemite to San Francisco. Bits and bobs.

Three days after my 24th birthday I piled into a car caravan with friends and co-workers, drove 12 hours to the Grand Canyon, and had the best 7 days of the year thus far.

The next morning we got up at 5am, repacked for the fourth time in 24 hours, ate some toast, and made our way to the rim. It was 13ºF. About an hour later, here we were, chipper as all get-out.

This is Jim – the reason we all went on the trip. He lives for the canyon, and this being his 43rd trip, had many stories to tell of adventures and misadventures. (At this moment, shaky muscles were meeting cold spring-melt water … 40 lb packs and a 5,000 ft descent left us creaky for days! Known as one of the hottest and generally most brutal, Tanner trail is apparently not the one to take as a first timer, but Jim had faith in us.)

This place is good at making you realize your size and worth relative to the universe.

Fording the Little Colorado. A few miles north lie the salt springs, a sacred place of origin for the Hopi people.

On the way back from our fourteen mile all-day journey. This was after walking a section of trail that wound right at the edge of a precipice, where a misstep would have sent any of us careening into the bright blue waters below.


One night we slept in a side canyon… the moon flooded this vase-like space with light, and crickets and scorpions danced their invisible dance all around us.

The last night by the river, we were illuminated by a nearly full moon. Magic!

the sign of the beast

My birthday-brother Tim and I lived to see another year, so we decided to celebrate a little early by gathering about 50 of our nearest and dearest in Briones regional park for a weekend of springtime debauchery. 20 of us biked there, the rest rolled up in cars, we climbed the bodacious hills around us, corn-hole was played, and we stayed up into the wee hours grilling and singing songs surrounding the raging fire in the roundhouse. Then another friend who shared our birthday arrived, completing the ultimate trifecta: 666. As good an omen as any.

My faithful steed.

The reason I take pictures is because of my mom – I grew up cutting the borders from the black and white prints drying on the newsprint strewn across the kitchen floor of our little moscow apartment (they had converted the bathroom into a darkroom). Paul says our “styles” are similar – go figure. Here are a few shots she took earlier last summer at a gathering in Ukiah.

meard meard meard

Every weekend brings another adventure – from nips up to the snowy mountains, to hucking up coastal hills in the company of 30 colorful bicyclists. My camera is still thawing from its wintry slumber… I look forward to taking more photos as the days progress.

Miwuk village playtime.

The skeptic.