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Thea Gavin–that’s me–likes to wander the hills outside her hometown of Orange, both for exercise and to keep up-to-date on the latest chaparral dramas–who’s in bloom or hovering or hiding in the sagebrush today?

Trying to put my observations into poems might be a life-long task, but I’m looking forward to it. As a volunteer naturalist with local land conservancies, I lead creative writing hikes to encourage others to write their way into a connection with the land as well.

My goal is to eventually collect an anthology of place-based nature writing about our own wild Orange County–a collection that has not been attempted, but needs to be. If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, email me at ocnaturewriting (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Davy Dove permalink
    September 22, 2018 11:21 am

    Hello Thea this is utterly off topic and apologize for it unless it aids in my benefit. Do you happen to know of places near you for rent?

    Davy Dove

    • September 22, 2018 1:58 pm

      I’d suggest just driving through the neighborhoods–there alway seems to be a few places with signs out, as the Chapman students move in and out of the area. Good luck with your search 🙂

      • Davy Dove permalink
        September 22, 2018 2:15 pm

        How often do you barefoot run per day anyways?

      • September 22, 2018 4:06 pm

        A couple times a week, for one-two hours. Just enough to have fun but not over-do things 🙂

      • Davy Dove permalink
        September 22, 2018 7:48 pm

        I hear ya, Barefoot is very sensaitionall fun. I wish i could but no privacy here in Virginia nor warm places year round like Cali, which is why i wanted to know about places to live in California. No land lord will rent to me i guess nor would i have land near me to legally barefoot near by! Tough callous feet is my near ultimate goal… How long do you recommend? Few hours everyday?

        Davy Dove

      • September 23, 2018 6:15 pm

        If you want to connect with a great group of barefoot folks (who have lots of experience with some of the topics you bring up), I suggest checking out the Society for Barefoot Living: . . . also the website Barefoot Is Legal: Good luck!

  2. Michael Branch permalink
    May 14, 2018 7:41 pm

    Thea, thanks for your kind note about my work. I’m not on linkedin, but feel free to contact me by FB. Alas, no SoCal book tour is planned, but I’ll be on the road a lot this fall after my new book, How to Cuss in Western, comes out in late August. Thanks again! Cheers, Mike Branch

    • May 15, 2018 6:24 am

      How to Cuss in Western is one of my favorite essays–I remember how much fun I had using it as a model as part of the “humor unit” of my Creative Nonfiction class back in the day. Congrats on your new book! I’ll keep tabs on your reading tour–sounds like a good reason for a road trip! Happy (cussin’) trails, Thea

  3. Kim Hocking permalink
    March 27, 2018 8:23 pm

    Thea: What a great job at Monument Valley. I can’t believe you ran in the snow with no shoes, but I should know better. Thanks for the excellent story and photos. See you in June….. Kim Hocking

    • March 27, 2018 9:12 pm

      Kim! Hello! I thought about you a lot during all the Ventura County fire fiasco . . . figuring “no news was good news” . . . I’m so excited you’re coming back to the North Rim for more creative writing fun! Thanks for the nice comment on the race report . . . I actually wore my little Sockwa slipper-shoes until the ground thawed out, but then had a great barefoot time on those sandy sandy roads. See you at the North Rim 🙂

  4. October 12, 2016 12:02 am

    I am planning on doing this after teaching my Yoga retreat in Sedona March 6-8th ish ! 🙂 It has been a dream for many years! Love to chat more if you have time. Thanks so much for sharing your awesome journey!!! Way to go!!!

    • October 13, 2016 7:15 am

      Hi Brian–

      Thanks for commenting on my blog; I’ll send you an email right now! Cheers, Thea

  5. May 20, 2015 11:12 am

    I did a PCT section hike in 2014 from the US/MEX border to Big Bear, CA. My feet were like ground beef in my hiking shoes. Most people had blister problems from “bad” to “trail-bailing, journey ending, bad”. The only person I encountered who had no foot problems what-so-ever was a guy hiking in huarache style sandals.

    When I got back home (Bend, OR) in mid-May last year, I made my first pair of huaraches. Since then I have been trail running, city walking, hiking, mountain climbing, and back-packing either barefoot or in huaraches.

    Of course, like you, you need the right footwear for the terrain being traveled. Discovering your blog today, you are the first person who shares a similar attitude towards biped travel.

    Yes, some mountain climbs I will have plastic boots and crampons on. Others will either be barefoot, or barefoot and switching to other appropriate footwear when needed.

    This June I celebrate by 15th anniversary of my 39th birthday. I never expected, at this age, to change my footwear (and motion style, of course) so dramatically. I am so glad I did.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • May 20, 2015 1:19 pm

      Thanks for the note, Brad . . . I’m so glad you thought my blog was helpful . . . my goal is to inspire thought (and barefootedness 🙂 )

      I’m a bit jealous of your hometown . . . Bend seems like an area with lots of places to enjoy barefoot wandering. If you ever need a search-and-rescue team (and I sure hope you don’t!), you may come across one of my writing friends, Leanne. Cheers to your barefoot (and other appropriately shod) adventures!

  6. Rebeccah permalink
    April 18, 2015 5:40 pm

    Nice to see your blog, Thea. Are there any barefoot hiking clubs in Orange County? There were three of them in the Bay area when I was living there, and now that I’m down here I find that I miss it.

    • April 18, 2015 8:25 pm

      Thanks for the note, Rebecca. So far I haven’t come across any info about barefoot hiking here in OC . . . but . . . Barefoot Ken Bob (“the” barefoot running guru!) has a lot of regularly scheduled barefoot running events. I imagine if you showed up to some of these you’d meet folks who like to hike as well as run barefoot. Here’s the link:
      Happy Trails!

  7. Kelly Marshall-Teske permalink
    December 13, 2014 3:06 pm

    Hi Thea. Just saw your re-cap of the Spooky Raptor Run 10km race at Irvine Reg. & Santiago Oaks. Great story, great finish…and all the in-betweens! Your barefoot running is VERY impressive as my aging feet have enough trouble in the best of trail shoes! Oh my! Thanks so much for coming out to our event! We are in the permit process with Whiting Ranch for the 2nd annual 2015 “Line Shack Attack” 5km and may even include a 10km this year. (June or July). This is a a fairly groomed course, mainly fireroad and not too many rocks. If you’re not familiar with Whiting Ranch, you might want to try your feet over there some time too. Thanks again Thea. Loved your blog!
    Kelly Marshall-Teske
    OC Trail Wings, LLC
    Race Director
    USATF Level 1 Coach

    • December 14, 2014 10:24 am

      Thanks for the note, Kelly, and for the kind words about my blogging. I don’t run at Whiting (it’s too easy to stick with the nearby trails of Irvine Park/Santiago Oaks), but your “Line Shark Attack” race looks interesting . . . I just might show up! Good luck with your race directing; I appreciate your efforts getting people together on Orange County’s beautiful trails. See you in the hills 🙂

  8. January 22, 2013 8:37 am

    Hello Thea, I was researching Cottonwood Blues and came to a website with some cowboy poetry and then the Cottonwood Blues ‘poem’ by you. So I have two questions. I own the doman . When I get the web site up, I would like to post the poem crediting the arthor of course and I actually was given pages of cowboy poetry created by Shirley Price but I can not locate her ( she is the one that gave them to me). At the time many years ago, I never heard of cowboy poetry. Do you think it would be ok to post hers also with credits on her behalf–or no? Thanks

  9. November 6, 2012 9:33 am

    Great writing, terrific photos. You are amazing!

  10. Ariel permalink
    May 19, 2012 8:06 am

    I know it’s not really your neck of the woods, but I was wondering if you might have any recommendations for barefoot hiking in the San Diego area. I’ll be there on business next week and will stay an extra few days to explore. I’m an experienced barefoot hiker, although opportunities for satisfying hiking have thinned a bit since I moved from the northeast to the midwest.

    BTW, your blog is terrific.



    • May 29, 2012 10:37 am

      Hi Ariel–

      Sorry for the delayed reply–I was at the Grand Canyon wandering around barefoot 🙂

      San Diego is a little out of my local hiking range, but I’m sure the trails there are similar to the ones in Orange County–a nice variety of hilly, dusty, rocky (and sometimes wonderfully muddy) surfaces. Most of the trails are not shaded, so this time of year I try to time my outings to avoid the mid-day HOT trail surfaces. Here’s a link to get you started:

      Enjoy the sage (and other) fabulous chaparral scents . . . happy trails!


  11. Sera permalink
    May 13, 2012 9:02 pm

    I’m curious how you avoid hurting your feet on your travels. Are you sponsored to be a barefoot travel writer? I think it’s cool what your doing, treading lightly on the earth, and setting a good example for everyone.

    • May 16, 2012 2:25 pm

      Thanks for the comments; lots of people have asked me about keeping my feet safe on the trails–my best answer is that somehow, the “less” shoe you are wearing, the “more” you pay attention to where you are stepping. And, after a while, my brain goes on “autopilot” and sees the trail subconsciously, so that I don’t have to obsess over each footfall.

      Regarding your other question: no one’s EVER asked that one 🙂

      My answer: I’m not sponsored at all; I just love to hike and trail run barefoot and write about all the interesting places/plants/critters I find along the way.

      Being barefoot out on the trails is a lot of fun. (I’m 52, but it makes my feet feel “young”!)

      Try it! Happy Trails!


  12. Alison Schaumburg permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:59 am

    met you at Steve Beisner & Melinda Palacio’s – enjoyed your reading at the Borders in Goleta and talking to you about the “older” days in Orange when I was at Chapman (1971!) and when I worked at Irvine Ranch Equestrian Center (1972-1975)- just wanted to be sure you check out the book: Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan- talk about walking/hiking barefooted!!! Fascinating story of a doctor who hiked with a remote tribe of nomadic Australian Aborigials. Best, Alison

    • September 18, 2010 9:11 pm

      Thanks for the note, Alison! I will look for the book tonight online 🙂

      Please check out the link below–and consider writing something about your adventures riding horses around the beaches and hills of Orange County in the early 70’s. I’d imagine you have some stories . . .

      Regards, Thea

  13. December 14, 2014 10:18 am

    Thanks for the kind words! I’m really looking forward to sharing the North Rim with writers next summer!


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