los angeles

It had been so long. 
This crazy sunny city in which I had spent so many weeks and vacations (and even fantasized moving to once or twice) had been left fully neglected for over a decade.
More and more people I knew had moved out there or back there or within there. I'd promise over and over that I'd make my triumphant return one day. Years passed and it was not until this past month of June that I would finally make my way.
And it was a little bit better than I remembered.
All the ghosts I feared would haunt me had long since faded. I didn't need the old spots, the old crew, the old childish way. These friends were suddenly adults and living enviable lifestyles in perfect weather year round with beach and nature but a short walk or drive away.
So we hiked and we beached and we ate and we drank.
A memorable solstice celebrated with friends and strangers and grapefruit cocktails. The desertous rocks of Joshua Tree while wearing a vintage white dress. Dipping my feet in a cold waterfall while eating banana bread baked by someone I didn't expect to see. Silverlake, Highland Park, Pasadena. 
I ate too much gelato, too many tacos. Lounged on porches, by pools, in forests, in parks. 
Finally some lazy time with people it had been too long since I'd seen. 
What really happened was an actual vacation.
And next time it won't take me so long.

the path of the devil

Serendipity is always at play it seems. Just when I needed it most, an invitation to take on the infamous Devil's Path across the Catskill high peaks arrived in my email inbox. Widely regarded as the hardest hike in the Eastern Unites States, it was just the thing I felt I should do and needed to do. And with strangers, even better.
I had had my share of indulgence in the wake of the Inca Trail. I could have used more planning and buildup and training for this. But the moment was now and I went for it.
Roughly 25 miles of endless and ragged and oftentimes appropriately evil up down up down up down with nary a break in between. We did it over the course of two hot and sweaty days: six peaks spanning east to west; a total climb and ascent of 14,000 feet. Intermittent payoff most often in the form of vast viewpoints across a state we so regularly take for granted.
Quiet time to think and contemplate. Quiet time to not think and to not contemplate and to only be able to focus on one foot in front of the next, the next rock up or the next step down, the next crevasse, the next craggly creek bed, the next vertical ascent, the next water refill. 
And The Devil's Path proved truly devlish. As hard as hiking gets, we said over and over. And it felt like it never let up.
Within it, there are of course amazing pockets of scenery and terrain and even lean-to's and beautiful campgrounds that I was happy to have discovered but would never think to revisit again all in one go. You're seeing it, but you're not seeing it. You're just getting through it. But you're doing this because you're on a quest to prove something. And I suppose I did.
We managed to pull it off. A few missteps and oversights and we admittedly eliminated one summit of the very lookout I had coincidentally visited a month before, but the rest we did within the time allotted, with almost everyone in our group successfully completing it in one piece. In the middle of it, a camp out under the stars in a setting fit for a redneck jamboree. A fire, a "rock chicken", some new friends, some new points of view. 
Funny how a physical challenge can make a preexisting mental challenge seem so small. A reminder of your body's strength somehow translating into a representative manifestation of your mental wherewithal.
So. Mission: accomplished.
Bruised and battered but still standing. Not home free but on the home stretch.
Just like I have been. Just like I'll be again.
Once again, stronger than I think.


And so it goes.
Just when you think you have your feet on the ground, an unexpected tidal wave.
I didn't see it coming.
A punch in the gut. A slap in the face. A different sort of mountain to climb.
Buried regrets, buried emotion. Everything's bound to surface.
You're going to make it, you've already come so far. 
This time last year plans were in place for the journey that would change your life.
Now: Setbacks. Things to confront.
No end in sight.
That feeling you have when you know you're going to be stronger as a result of everything so difficult, but you don't know when why how.
Everything's ok, everything's not ok.
One day at a time.

lazy day kaaterskill

Back in New York and missing Peru.
I realize could be making more of an effort to embrace nearby outdoor possibilities that don't require international flights. 
The weekend preceding my trip to South America, I had whet my whistle with Breakneck Ridge, a reminder of how easy it can be to take an early morning train towards beautiful hiking loops of varied terrain and views.
At a belated Passover themed dinner party, adventure prospects were considered amongst friends and the following weekend five of us squeezed ourselves into a car and made our merry way to the Catskills. The possibilities up there are endless, lucky New Yorkers that we are.  On the eventual agenda for our day: Kaaterskill Falls and Plateau Mountain Lookout just in time for sunset. 
In between: local flair, food, and beverage. 
A perfect spring day and hopefully many more to come.