Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Hiking Life

I love to hike. I love to travel. Whenever possible I combine the two. That’s basically the website in a nutshell. As to the hows, whys and wherefores, if memory serves they go something like this……

z1_4

Upon finishing university in 1993 I moved to Mexico. No, I was not on the run from the law, although not long after I arrived I distinctly remember being told that only two kinds of people move to Mexico, “those that are wanted and those that are not wanted.” My intention was to spend a couple of years working, travelling and learning another language before heading home to Australia. I ended up doing all of those things; however, two years somehow became sixteen.

It turned out that Latin America suited me. The relaxed pace of life, the friendly people, the seafood burritos, the balance between work and other interests. I was able to combine my principal job of exporting handicrafts, with teaching yoga and volunteer work. I grew to love Mexico; it became my second home.

Throughout this period if I wasn’t working, I was travelling. My journeys took me all over the globe and wherever I went I took along a backpack, tent and sleeping bag. As a consequence of these excursions I became proficient in different types of environments, ranging from deserts to jungles to mountains. The development of my backcountry skill set was paralleled by a growing connection with the natural world. Nature brought out the best in me. Wandering its hills and valleys, the perceived complications of life would invariably fade, exchanged for a less cluttered existence in which less is more, and the simplest things often prove to be the most profound. In the words of John Muir: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

–  Cam Honan
To visit his main website, click here.

You can also read his journal here.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told — Aron Ralston’s searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

It started out as a simple hike in the Utah canyonlands on a warm Saturday afternoon. For Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven-year-old mountaineer and outdoorsman, a walk into the remote Blue John Canyon was a chance to get a break from a winter of solo climbing Colorado’s highest and toughest peaks. He’d earned this weekend vacation, and though he met two charming women along the way, by early afternoon he finally found himself in his element: alone, with just the beauty of the natural world all around him.

It was 2:41 P.M. Eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, Aron was climbing down off a wedged boulder when the rock suddenly, and terrifyingly, came loose. Before he could get out of the way, the falling stone pinned his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall.

And so began six days of hell for Aron Ralston. With scant water and little food, no jacket for the painfully cold nights, and the terrible knowledge that he’d told no one where he was headed, he found himself facing a lingering death — trapped by an 800-pound boulder 100 feet down in the bottom of a canyon. As he eliminated his escape options one by one through the days, Aron faced the full horror of his predicament: By the time any possible search and rescue effort would begin, he’d most probably have died of dehydration, if a flash flood didn’t drown him before that.

What does one do in the face of almost certain death? Using the video camera from his pack, Aron began recording his grateful good-byes to his family and friends all over the country, thinking back over a life filled with adventure, and documenting a last will and testament with the hope that someone would find it. (For their part, his family and friends had instigated a major search for Aron, the amazing details of which are also documented here for the first time.) The knowledge of their love kept Aron Ralston alive, until a divine inspiration on Thursday morning solved the riddle of the boulder. Aron then committed the most extreme act imaginable to save himself.

“Between a Rock and a Hard Place” — a brilliantly written, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright astonishing report from the line where death meets life — will surely take its place in the annals of classic adventure stories.

SUP (Follow up)

Andrew and I finally scheduled our session at L2 Boards for Stand Up Paddle-boarding. Unfortunately, since we waited so long, the class schedule had changed, so instead of doing a yoga class, we simply got the rental and took them out by ourselves.

After being fitted for out life jacket and paddle, we carried the large boards, typically about 23 pounds, down to the river behind the Chattanooga Aquarium. We got a brief instruction course and then headed off underneath the walking bridge that connects North Shore with downtown.

It was humid, so it didn’t take long for the sweat to start beading up and dripping down my face. Like every sport, there is technique involved. You are supposed to keep your arms straight, not bending in at the elbows when paddling. It is a whole body work out, using your legs to balance and your core and upper body to pull you forward. Leaning over at the hips, you pull your upper body back with the paddle stroke.

We got the hand of it pretty quickly and made our way around Maclellan Island on the Tennessee River. There is a pull off on left side which we parked our boards and explored the island for a bit. It was originally inhabited by Native Americans. Eventually, it was bought by a few locals in 1930 and used to farm various crops. There is a 1.8 mile trail that loops through the island of 18 acres.

After thoroughly exploring, we hoped back on the boards and paddled against the current back up the river to carry the boards back to the shop. This ‘simple’ task turned out to the most exciting part of the day. Not only are the boards awkwardly large, but as we were paddling up stream, the wind picked up. The moment we headed back up the ramp from the water the wind grabbed a hold of  the board and swung Andrew and I around in circles. Trying out best to keep holding the boards and not damage them, but also not damaging us by slamming into the concrete supports holding up the bridge. It was cheap entertainment to those watching. Hell – it was cheap entertainment to me!