January 20, 2017

Naked Dive

Video Filmed From Shoe

One thing about doing something for the first time every week - it forces you to think differently. Even when going for a simple training run. Not a very interesting activity when stuck in pre-programmed mode.

Your mind begins to wonder as you trot along on the beach, like how cold the water really is in January, and whether you could dive in naked without being noticed by the person a couple hundred yards up the beach, or the person looking down from the bluff. Then you ask yourself, why should I care?

Next your running toward the water, feeling the cold rush around your feet. Around your legs. Other things. Then you're fully submerged.

This is fun, you say.

January 14, 2017

Sphere of Influence

Like a robot programed to receive (as in never leave a well established routine), I moved along the same trail I trode upon dozens of times over the years. Anxiety was beginning to percolate between the gusts of wind that were nearing 45 miles an hour and pointed at my face. OK, actually the wind was a nice reminder that I wasn't laying in bed, or watching the talking heads on cable news, or another episode of Game of Thrones, for that matter.

When I reached the sphere, I went right, instead of left, something I've never done before. The program was overwritten. Up and up some more, until I reached Pleasants Peak, 3,860'.

Sixty miles in every direction.

Catalina Island From Pleasants Peak
Mt. Baldy

January 7, 2017

I Knocked On the Door

There was an agreement. They would carry only matches and candles. No flashlights. Too easy for their code. They talked during recess, before the bell summoned them back to their second grade class. The dreaded Ms. Hagan’s class. The witch. This time, they knew, they would venture deep into the abyss. This time, they decided, they wouldn’t turn back until they reached daylight.

According to UNICEF, a child’s brain is most responsive from birth to eight years. The years when billion’s of neural circuits are established through genetics, environment and experience. But what is it that makes us remember things we experienced when we were children? Experiences, it is said, are not just what happen to us, they are the raw material that we use to shape our identity, our self. 

What are your memories? When you look back to your childhood, what memories stand out in your mind? Do they tell you something about who you are? Or why you do the things you do?

They entered the tunnel, like always, by holding the metal gate open for each other. It was heavy, but swung open from the bottom with a sturdy pull. They knew matches burned quickly. They chose to bring candles this time, to give them more reach, more time to move into the darkness of the underground tunnel.

This week, for the first time ever, I knocked on the door of the house I grew up in. I ran on the trails I used to run on as a kid. I crawled into the storm basin where Matt P and I carried our matches and candles and entered the abyss.

I’ve said that many of the things we learn - our fears, insecurities, anxieties, self limitations - our weaknesses - we teach ourselves over a lifetime. But I think it is fair to say that the other things we learn - our courage, tenacity, steadiness, confidence,  our strengths – we also teach ourselves over a lifetime. Our strengths, like our weaknesses, our nourished by our own imagination.

As we moved further into the darkness, a sense of calm came over me. I knew we were safe, it was a strange confidence that could have only come after being two miles into an underground storm drain. We moved forward step by step with only a small candle to light the way. Eventually, we climbed up toward a tiny light above us, pushed open a man hole, and peered into the daylight. We were surrounded by hills, and had no idea where we were. 


Why did I enter the abyss when I was seven years old? Was I trying to escape from something? Was I just looking for adventure? I’ll never know. Looking back, like it is for a lot of kids, youth for me was a restless time. I remember standing on top of my desk in Ms. Hagan’s class like a recently un-caged animal (she was out of the room at that particular moment). To the relief of the other kids in the class, my mom graciously removed me from that school. I guess she didn’t like me reporting to the principal’s office everyday.

It didn’t occur to me what I would say before I knocked. But I decided to knock anyway, knowing that  words were the furthest thing from my mind. When I walked across the front yard, I remembered it was the same yard I walked across with my sister everyday after school, next to the park where a little poodle chased me after getting off the school bus, and up the street from the greatest playground of trails, tunnels and canyons a kid could ever imagine.  

There was no answer. So I left a note.  


January 2, 2017

Hiking a Mounting to Ski Down

I've been thinking about this for a while. I've never hiked up a mountain to ski down. So, when the snow storm hit when I was in the mountains on New Year's Eve, I figured why not knock this out when the stars are aligned?

I used to snow ski a ton but got a little burned out on the crowds, the exorbitant cost and the hassle of getting to and from the slopes. It didn't help that my girls weren't keen on getting cold in the snow, well, at least for anything other than building a snowman. Which led me to the idea of missing the crowds and the shakedown all together by hiking up and skiing down.

Ok, the plan wasn't executed to perfection as you will see in the video. Mainly because I wanted to be the first one on the top so I could ski down on untracked powder. Yet, by the time I made it to the top to begin my dream run, the slopes had already been infiltrated. Was I disappointed? Not a all. I just headed for the trees where no one had skied (the morning after New Years eve didn't help my departure time). As you see in the video, I got my fair share of turns on untouched snow. This FTIE was very sweet indeed.

I hope you enjoy the video. And you have to turn up the volume because the song by DJ Krush is crazy!