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Mooning around on the (barefoot) trail

September 30, 2015

full moon september

My little pocket camera does not do too well with moon shots . . . Tuesday morning’s image (above) is about as good as it gets.

Here’s a very blurry picture of Sunday night’s lunar eclipse . . . what a spectacular show that was!

lunar eclipse september 2015

Summer ended with a blaze of hot days that continues through this week; to deal with it I’ve taken to dawn patrol trail excursions as I prepare for my October Rim-to-Rim adventure at the Grand Canyon.

Since I’ll be hiking across with others, I’m wondering if I’ll have to wear sandals to keep up. Right now, as fall begins, my bare feet have a summer-ful of experience on lovely rocky trails.

barefoot shadow

Here’s a poem that happened as I posted these photos:

prickly pear and full moon

Rocks and cactus . . .

raven silhouette

. . . raven ruckus . . .

turkey vultures perched in tree

. . . vultures thinkin’ . . .

darkling beetle

. . . beetle stinkin’. . .


. . . full moon show . . .


. . . ridgeline glow.


Sun soft,

moon pale–


morning trail.

Happy Autumn Trails!

Grand Canyon Presentation at REI Tustin tonight! (spoiler alert: lots of barefoot hiking photos)

September 18, 2015

On stop #3 on the So Cal book tour for the Grand Canyon anthologies Going Down Grand: Poems from the Canyon and On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories, I’ll be joining the editor and other authors to present photos and stories from our adventures in the Canyon at REI Tustin tonight (Sept. 18) at 7 pm. 

On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking stories author photo

Here we are at REI Arcadia last night; as you can see by our smiles, we’re having fun sharing our Grand Canyon stories.

In other news: It rained here this week . . . much needed and appreciated rain (and mud!).

barefoot print in mud

Click this for a link to my video “I like mud (and barefoot running)”  from a few years ago . . .

Barefoot Book Festival, Flagstaff-style

September 14, 2015

Last weekend I was privileged to be a part of the Northern Arizona Book Festival (in conjunction with Colorado River Days).

On the way to Flagstaff, I camped at Lynx Lake outside of Prescott (where I was part of a slide show/poetry presentation at an event at Peregrine Books . . . a wonderful book store!).

On an afternoon wander around Lynx Lake, I saw this inspiring “young” lady:

lady with walker reflected in lake

Here’s the view in the other direction that we were enjoying:

Lynx Lake reflection

Also–in downtown Prescott: the biggest, loudest cicadas I’d ever come across:

big cicada

Yikes! Then if was off to Flagstaff, and a fine pre-book-festival dinner with some of the poets of Going Down Grand: Poems from the Canyon (at MartAnne’s Cafe on Route 66).

Going Down Grand authors

The next day, I did some hiking at Buffalo Park at the edge of town; I was stoked to discover they had old-school “fitness stations” (that seems to have been more of a “thing” in California about 20 years ago). My favorite: the “hand ring bridge” . . . sort of what I’ve been practicing the last few months. I was pleased to discover that my ability to do it 2+ times qualified me for “advanced status” (because with several other challenges on the loop–especially the vertical rope climb–I did note even make novice status; note to self: find a fat vertical rope locally and get to work).


hand ring bridge

Then it was time for the extremely fun poetry reading: I joined seven of the 61 authors from the brand-new anthology of Grand Canyon poetry (mentioned above: Going Down Grand) at the Orpheum in downtown Flag (that’s what the locals call it) for a word-packed hour of Grand Canyon delight.

thea barefoot at orpheum

I got the luck of the draw and went first–shoelessly, of course–and to my utter delight five of the seven readers who followed  kicked off their sandals and took the stage barefoot as well. Here’s Danny Rosen, owner of Lithic Press (the book’s publisher), reading some of his fine work.

danny rosen reading

Still more Book Festival fun: Sunday’s reading at the Whyld Ass Coffee Shop, also in downtown Flag.

whyld ass cafe sign

On the lovely rooftop patio, three of us read from our essays in On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories . . . and what an honor it was to share the stage with such experienced canyon veterans as Nathaniel Brodie and Wayne Ranney. My story about hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim . . . without shoes! . . . seemed a bit out of place in this gathering of experienced hikers who “know” that to hike the Canyon one must, no really, MUST! wear the “proper” footwear. Oh well . . . maybe I gave them a reason to question conventional wisdom . . . always my goal . . .

barefoot reading in flagstaff

(Oops . . . I guess the nice lady I asked to take my picture didn’t realize how necessary it was to include my bare feet for the purposes of blog documentation.)

Under fabulous clouds, here’s Wayne reading his helpful “On Being a Trail Guide in Grand Canyon” . . . I definitely learned a few tips to keep in mind as I continue my WFR-ways . . .

wayne ranney at whyld ass cafe

Not to be missed when you’re in Flagstaff: the Museum of Northern Arizona. I was especially interested (of course!) in the Native American “Sandals” exhibit:

Native American sandal exhibit

early southwest sandals at MNA

While I was “OK” with wearing my sandals in the museum–and around town–my feel definitely felt happiest when they were free.

And . . . speaking of happy feet . . .  this morning’s run, back on Santiago Oaks’ familiar dusty trails (for some geological reason all the Flagstaff trails seem overly speckled with tiny sharp gravely rock-ettes) was: exquisite.

bare footprint

Happy happy barefoot trails . . .

“My Healthy Hobby” trail running poem

September 3, 2015

The poem at the end of this post came to mind last week (I wrote it 5+ years ago, and had not thought of it for a long time) when I came across some formidable paw prints in the dust on a (solo, as always) early-morning trot through The Willows (the forested floodplain of Santiago Creek, between Irvine Park and Santiago Oaks Regional Park).

While I was awed by the big tracks, I was sad to discover another drought-stressed willow had given up overnight, cracked a big branch off the main trunk, and thrown it across the trail . . . a dry-times-sacrifice the photo below does not quite capture.

Also un-capture-able via my little pocket camera (but I still try!): the fragile-but-sturdy Sacred Datura or locoweed (Datura wrightii) blooming in the dust . . .  a plant with both beautiful and deadly qualities.

The poem’s a bit “over the top” . . . but it was fun to write from a paranoid sort of mindset.

Mountain lion or coyote tracks?

Mountain Lion vs Coyote Tracks

mountain lion tracks?

cracked willow blocking trail

sacred datura

My Healthy Hobby

shaky legs
burny lungs
ridge-top dry heaves
one hill done

slippery scree
slidy feet
crumbly drop-off
dirt to eat

rocks and cactus
rattlers slidin’
sagebrush ruckus
quail explosion

something watching?
what was that?
just a shadow?
cougar scat

willow deadfall
trail blocked
headless rabbit
single sock

all my water
sweated out
damp shirt shivers
coyote shout

or euphoric
trail’s end—

But seriously, folks: Happy Trails!

Barefoot Home Improvement, Episode One: Stair Painting

August 27, 2015

barefoot home improvement

Don’t need shoes for this either . . . although I had to be super-darn-careful while pulling out the poky strips that had held the (NASTY DUSTY!) carpet down for the last 27 years.

stairs without carpet

Once this crumbly orange padding stuff was gone, it was time to fill in (some of) the holes in the cheap plywood subfloor, sand away (see first photo), and then brush on two coats of primer.

filled and primered stairs

It got a little messy, trying to keep track of eight cans of paint (on sale for 99 cents each at the local Ace Hardware).

messy stair painting project

mixing brown and green floor paint

I chose eight colors (total paint cost: $8!) that reminded me of Orange County’s beautiful coastal sage scrub habitat: fading shades of sagebrush and willow (which I mixed a bit), the brown of end-of-summer buckwheat blossoms, a reddish reminder of poison oak (as well as the new growth of laurel sumac), dusty beige, the cheerful sun-glow of our asteraceae friends, and shades of mid-day (and mid-night) sky.

I had to go over each “stripe” twice to cover the stark white primer . . . which meant many many many hours of crouching and/or kneeling on the steps, trying not to mess up the adjacent wet paint. The paint job that inspired me to do this did not make use of straight lines, so that was a big relief . . . ’cause it’s darn near impossible (for me, anyway, and I just spent several days practicing) to paint a super straight line (which I guess is why the meticulous folks out there use masking tape; I’m not one of them).

painted stairs from pinterest

This is the Pinterest “model” I followed. Sort of . . .

Final step, times three: a thin layer of water-based “varnish” (which is REALLY difficult to keep from drips/runs/gooey messes: insert very sad face here).

final three coats

(And now: Sound trumpet fanfare . . . )

painted stairs

barefoot prints on painted stairs

“Dusty” footprints to lead the way up . . .

profile of Old Saddleback on painted stairs

And, in the photo above, a “hidden picture” . . . since I wasn’t going for straight lines anyway, I decided to include a little outline of our iconic eastern landmark, Old Saddleback (made up of two mile-high peaks, Santiago and Modjeska, poking out of the Santa Ana Mountains).

looking down at painted stairs

Everybody’s a critic: this is me admiring my work from above, whilst my helpful husband points out an especially egregious set of drips (that I will eventually fix . . . but I’ve had my share of stair-crouching the last five days. Time for a barefoot run!).

In the meantime, we’ve been using an eight-foot ladder to get upstairs for the last few days . . . it’s good to be old-but-agile (and not afraid of heights). Aside from ripping out the old carpet for me, and taking the first picture in this post, my husband has wisely kept out of the way, but I’m guessing he’ll be glad to be able to use the (NEWLY PAINTED! NO MORE 27-year-old CARPET!) stairs again.


Happy (Painted?) Trails . . .

Meteor Showers and Monsoon Wildflowers

August 22, 2015

barefoot at Joshua Tree National Park

It’s already been ten days, so who knows if they’re still in bloom, but earlier this month I headed for the desert to experience the Perseid meteor shower and was delighted by a carpet of yellow wildflowers at Joshua Tree National Park.

August wildflowers at Joshua Tree National Park

creosote in bloom at Joshua Tree National Park

carpet of yellow wildflowers at Joshua Tree National Park

Yellow wildflower carpet at Joshua Tree National Park

When I arrived in mid-afternoon, mid-week, the calm desert air was August-hot and the whole park seemed empty. “Hooray,” I thought. “This should be a lovely quiet night to watch falling stars in peace and quiet and did I mention I came out here for PEACE AND QUIET??!!”

It was not to be.

As soon as the day began to fade, people people people crawled seemingly out of nowhere (OK, they crawled out of their expensive SUVs) and began staking claims to the best rocks from which to view the upcoming show which must have been hyped by more than a few So Cal media outlets.

getting ready for the meteor shower

So, instead of night solitude and awe and isolated contemplation of streaking lights in the immense sky and my place in the universe . . . this:

headlights in the desert

The way my camp site was situated, I got a major dose of headlights as a constant parade of cars cruised the campground looking for a (non-existent) place to park.

I was, however, able to squeeze a little entertainment value out of the evening . . . since I had decided to spend the night tentless in the back of my truck, whenever I was roused from nightmare by the irritating rumble of a car engine idling a few feet away, I would raise up (maybe a bit dramatically, maybe not) from the truck bed and–usually, hopefully–startle the crud out of whoever it was who thought it was a good idea to park in my camp site for a while at 1 in the morning.

Yes, there were more than a few streaks of light to enjoy . . . some with glowing tails that lingered in the tangle of more permanent stars . . . but I was almost relieved when the sky began to lighten, bringing hope that the night of midnight giggling boulder scramblers was almost done.

morning at Joshua Tree National Park

ravens on rock at Joshua Tree National Park

Before I headed home, I did a bit of bouldering myself . . .  barefoot, of course. These monzogranitic rocks offered fantastic texture and (too much?) traction, but I think a whole day of scrambling without shoes might be more exfoliation than my feet could afford.

barefoot bouldering Joshua Tree National Park

On the way out of the park, I stopped to stroll the nature trail through the lush cholla garden . . .

cholla garden at Joshua Tree National Park

(Do I need to say it? OK I will:  . . . barefoot, of course.)

barefoot with cholla

Happy Desert Trails!


Safe and Fun Barefoot Camping, and Then . . .

August 8, 2015

California’s Big Sur in the summer: although I am a native Californian, I never camped there until last week. What a week!

We were blessed with amazing (and unusual for summer) weather: no fog banks hanging around all day and night, no brisk ocean breeze . . . instead, the air was warm and still with just enough clouds to make for spectacular sunsets. (And two days of big-spouting migrating whales to admire . . . some no farther out than the rocks off-shore in the photo below.)

(Photo by my daughter with her big professional camera.)

This lovely image was copied out of my professional- photographer-daughter’s FB feed.

For five days I went nowhere needing shoes: just walks around the campground and to the nearby beach and second-growth redwood forest.

This shot's for you, Brian :)

This shot’s for you, Brian! (Brian=fellow admirer of barefootprints)

bare feet and limekiln creek falls

Light and shadow at Limekiln Creek falls.

The next generation of barefooters . . .

The next generation of barefooters . . . here’s a happy nine-year-old eager to get her feet wet.

Who doesn't love to be barefoot at the beach?

Who doesn’t love to be barefoot at the beach? Even safety minded engineers lose their shoes when the Pacific Ocean calls.

lots of bare feet

Five of our six grandkids camped with us, going barefoot sometimes, wearing flip-flops or Softstar moccasins other times. I do my best not to pressure them to lose their shoes . . . which works fine until one of them gets a tiny (but painful!) splinter in the beach gravel. Sigh. Is that an “I-told-you-so” look from the parentals?

The (flushable! such luxury!) campground bathrooms were cleaned every day, so I had no problem going in shoeless. In fact, the only time I slipped my toes half-way into my thin Merrell Pipidae sandals was when we stopped for gasoline (the ground around gas stations seems especially yucky to me) and then, on our way south and home-bound, to have lunch at the Firestone restaurant in Cambria.

I just don’t like pushing the “where-can-I-go-bare” envelope, so I almost always slip on my sandals to go into eating establishments. We had parked across the kind-of-busy main street that runs through Cambria; hubster had already crossed and was in the restaurant. I rarely feel a need to use crosswalks (remnant rebel stuff from 1960s?), and so I began my first shod steps in five days with toes barely in my sandals, dashing across the main drag through tourist-haven Cambria.

Just that thin layer of sandal sole somehow convinced my brain that I had no need to look down where I was stepping (one of my main arguments against hiking boots: the more shoe on your foot, the less attention your brain gives to the trail–or, in this case, street).

It’s taking me a long time to build up to this . . . I’m usin’ all the tools of suspense I can muster . . . but it’s probably obvious where I’m going with this little story . . .


It felt almost slow motion–first there was the sensation of something catching my left sandal bottom under the ball of that foot. My upper body kept moving, however, in a light and leisurely arc that ended awkwardly when I felt my left knee and right hand hit the pavement.

Not even a flesh wound . . .  but my daughter and grandsons came running out of the restaurant, having witnessed the whole frantic scamper and plummet, worried about granny’s physical well-being. Which was fine. My pride was moderately wounded, but I was able to blame it on the darn sandals, thus absolving myself from self-recrimination about lack of balance. I had, after all, just spent five days stepping lightly and lively over beach rocks and stream rocks and logs and log bridges . . . all with much joy, joy that was only brought into greater relief by the ridiculousness of taking a tumble on level pavement on a busy summer day in the picturesque Central Coast beach town of Cambria, CA.

Limekiln Creek waterfall

It seems that I can negotiate slippery log bridges, but not city streets.

Happy Summer Trails!


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