Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some songs I covered while on the PCT....

As some of you may know, I traveled roughly 1000 miles with my Luna travel guitar while hiking the PCT. Here are a few videos I made of some good tunes while I was hiking the PCT.....
You can check all my videos out over here.

Some V-logs from the PCT

Well, during my thru-hike of the PCT in 2012, I planned on making video updates along the way. I didn't make many, and sort of gave up most of my extra creative efforts while hiking, but I did come across a few and I figured I could post em and show you a little bit of what I was thinking and going through early on in the adventure....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Summit Fever

Adam Bradley (left) and me on top of Poot Peak, Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska
The Summit.
Getting there can be an addiction. Getting back down typically involves even more danger. Conquering the mountain can and will lead to certain brushes with danger, and health risks, including fatigue, and elevation sickness to name a few.
Some mountains you’re scrambling up shale, loose rock, and fields of scree while others require crampons,  ice axes, and what seems like endless amounts of  rope, dozens of pounds in mountaineering gear.  Don't forget, you have to go back down.
One thing is for certain: once you get a taste of the clean crisp and splendid air on the summit of a mountain, all you want to do is summit more of them…

Saturday, October 19, 2013

So.... I spent a summer in Alaska.

Well, after a summer spent in the 49th state of the union, Alaska has instantly became my new mecca. I dream of the day I can go back and live that Alaskan lifestyle again.

I spent the summer working for Alaska State Parks, in Kachemak Bay State Park. It is located across the bay from Homer which lies at the Southern tip of the Kenai (keen-eye) Peninsula, about 4 hours south of Anchorage. Homer was my home when I was not out hiking and working the trails in Kachemak Bay State Park (K.Bay) clearing trails, building bridges, and being allowed some of Alaska's wilderness and back-country as my playground as well as working environment. What I was doing was actually volunteer work. In exchange for volunteering for Alaska State Parks, we were basically volunteers for the Alaska Conservation Corps (ACC). I was allowed residency in a house owned by the state for the 6 of us volunteers to live in while we weren't working across the bay. We were also given a van to use for errands around town and gas card to keep fuel in the tank. We were also given a food stipend to pay for our food while. So, to sum it up, a free place to live, a free vehicle to use, and food money, to work and play in Alaska all summer. Not a bad gig.

K.Bay SP is located across the bay from Homer, so in order to go into the park, you have to take a boat, water taxi, or bush-plane/heli. It is possible to kayak across the bay, but it is dependent on conditions. Sometimes the bay can be as calm as glass, or sometimes it can be huge swells that can take your boat down!! To take a water taxi across the bay, can run upwards of 80 dollars round-trip, per person. So it's not very cheap, leading to a park that is relatively empty most of the time. Several locals would tell me that they had only been across the bay a handful of times in all the years they lived there. Especially if they weren't part of the huge fishing industry.
So the fact that I was shuttled back and forth in the State Parks awesome landing craft, was just another amazing perk to working there all summer. I was able to get unlimited access to one of the most beautiful places I've ever witnessed, for free.
Arriving in May we spent two weeks in training becoming comfortable with the states tools, policies, and protocols. We then went across the bay to start hiking the trails toting chainsaws and fuel and cutting all the trees out of the trail that had toppled during the harsh Alaskan winter. After we had pretty much cleared all the trails of fallen obstacles, it was time to cut the foliage, grasses, ferns, and insane amount of growth that springs up, pretty much making the trails impassable unless we mitigate the growth, by hiking and re-hiking, and re-re-hiking some of the trails until they were clear enough for users to pass without getting lost or losing the trail.
At the end of the summer, we were given the opportunity to replace a washed out bridge. It had been washed out for nearly 5 years and was originally a bridge made out of spruce trees they fell. Now, thanks to many years of grant work and bureaucratic snafus, a 65 foot fiberglass bridge constructed in Pennsylvania, then shipped in parts on a crate up to Homer, we were the ones who got to put this big thing together. It was awesome to be a part of such an awesome crew, doing such an awesome project. We had lots of fun, braved bugs and weather, and bears and bugs. oh and bugs. Mosquitoes, Black and Salmon Flies, No-See-Em's, a never ending swarm of bugs trying to fly in your mouth, nose, ears, and to drain every ounce of blood in your body if allowed.

Homer itself, is an awesome community. It has a bohemian element, with a taste of working class and some retirees as well. It is a huge fishing hub for Alaska, known as the Halibut Fishing Capital of the world. Also, for the 'Deadliest Catch' enthusiasts, it also is the port for the famed 'Time Bandit' crab vessel from the hit show on the Discovery Channel.
 Alaska is also filled with so much art. There are so many amazing artists and styles and types of art, and it seems there is a never ending number of shops, studios and museums where you can go to view and feel the art and creation and energy being expended. It is one of the most amazing communities I've had the privileged of being part of. And with any awesome community, comes the people. The people are truly what make a community, tribe, group, crew, really feel like something special, like extended family. The crew I was thrust into ended up being incredible. The house I lived in, I shared with 5 other people. Three buddies from Virginia, Bradley (Adam), Elder (Andrew) and Joe. Then there was Pat, the awesome cat from Chicago, who had friends who grew up in Homer, who always told him stories of the awesome place that it is, so he decided to spend a summer finding out for himself. There was Paige, from Michigan, going to school for the maritime acadamey, working in the depths of ships diesel rooms, spend a month and half as well. Then there is Sara, better known in the online community as 'Bloodbank' my amazing friend that I hiked parts of, and finished in the same group as, on the PCT. We all formed tight bonds and spent a summer just having lots of fun and doing some awesome work.

All in all, it was an amazing way to spend a summer, and the fact that it was in one of the most amazing places I've ever been only made it better. Homer will always hold a piece of my heart, I can't wait to get back there someday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 13th ~ North to Alaska

What a crazy-long day of travel. Sarah and I were up and on our way to the airport in San Jose by 4:30 am, so we could start our long grinding trip North to Alaska. To get there as cheap as we possibly could, we had to fly from SJ to LAX, where we had a 3 hour layover, before flying 3.5 hours to Minneapolis, where we had another 3.5 hour layover before catching our final flight of 6 hours to Anchorage. All said and done, we touched down in AK around 12:15 am. It was quite the day.
Some highlights were surely watching the crazy old man in Minneapolis who was using his 3 foot salmon shaped stuff animal as an air guitar and singing as loud as he could for everyone in the terminals enjoyment. It was really funny (and somewhat refreshing) to see someone who simply just doesn't give a damn what you may think of him. He was just living life and having fun. I was disappointed when the airline attendant made him shut down his performance.
Another highlight was the last ten minutes before we touched down in Anchorage. The night sky looked like what you see at dawn when the sun is rising and about to peak over the horizon for that first glimpse of sunlight for the new day, but it was midnight. From the plane's window it looked as if we were scraping the tops of the snow covered mountains that surround the Cook Inlet. We finally were here, Alaska, the last frontier.
We grabbed a cab to the hostel and were greeted with a nice note telling us to make ourselves at home.
Staying in hostels is quickly becoming one of my favorite things about traveling. The people and the stories and adventure that surrounds the hostel style of travel is so appealing and I feel like I am alive and part of something so much bigger and more special that myself. I love the conversations and stories we share with all the adventurous and like minded people. It just feels right.

Today is the 14th, we are staying here another night before we hitch our ride into Homer tomorrow, which is where we'll be calling home for the next 3-4 months. The trip to Homer is about 225 miles but takes nearly 7 hours because of the terrain and it's remoteness on the Kenai Peninsula. It is supposed to be a truly beautiful experience and I just can't wait!

Spending this summer working in Kachemak Bay State Park along with one of my best friends in the world is gonna be amazing...I hear we may even have to be helicoptered into some of the trails we will be working on this summer!! Oh man, so many adventures await in this new and amazing place! I can't wait to get out there!

Until next time.