Anyone There?

26 04 2010

Faithful readers, please forgive me.  Her Side has been royally buried under the work mountain for the past couple of weeks.  I’m working on a new post right now, and will put it up on Wednesday.  I’m so sorry I’ve been neglectful.

Here, have something cute to tide you over.

It’s a wild mountain…no, no, it’s just my cat.  Isn’t she cute?  Her Side will be back from hiatus soon!  Hang in there with me!

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Drive Me Crazy

15 04 2010

Today on Go Girl, I explain why driving is my travel mode of choice.

Check it out here.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Get in Shape, Girl

5 04 2010

You know the feeling. It's so appealing.

Last week, a friend of mine Facebook’d a reminiscence about a 1980’s toy series called “Get in Shape Girl.”  I had completely forgotten about this phenomenon, but it all came flooding back to me immediately, including the goofy theme song.  No no, you’re going to suffer with me:

Now, I had a bunch of these pink-and-purple workout sets when I was a young impressionable girl.  I particularly remember the one with the ribbon à la rhythmic gymnastics (it was a challenge to see how often I could knock things over by flailing the ribbon around before my mother ordered me outside with the darn thing) and the one with the dumbbells and wrist/ankle weights that you were supposed to fill with water (they always leaked and then my mother would get mad).

I was thinking about Get in Shape Girl because as I head back out onto the trail I am coming to the full realization that I have gotten way out of shape this winter.  I neglected the gym and used being busy at work as an excuse.  Now that the weather is beautiful and it’s time to hit the trails, I find myself horribly self-conscious. 

So I’m using today’s blog entry as a public reminder to myself…and any of the rest of you who feel you’ve gotten “soft” over the past few months…that there’s no help for it except to get back out there.  I’ll get back in shape again, and so will you.  Now, where’s my purple headband and pink ribbon?

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Anticipation Round-up

29 03 2010

Ah, springtime.  Here in New England, that means rain, rain, followed by a teaser couple of warm sunny days, and then more rain (and last Friday, in Boston, snow/sleet).  At least the temperature is rising, and I have hopes that the spring hiking can soon begin in earnest.  In the meantime, as I look out at the rain and gloom, I’m focused on the anticipation of the good outdoor weather.  Here are five things to get you in the mood for a great hiking and camping season:

  1. The National Park Service celebrates National Park Week, April 17 – 25, by waiving entrance fees.  That’s right, free!  Do you really need another excuse to check out the National Parks near you?
  2. The National Park Foundation has teamed up with with a great incentive program that helps the National Parks.  You can now book your next vacation on Expedia through the National Park Foundation website, and for every flight, hotel, or rental car booked in this way, Expedia will donate 50% of its profits to the NPF. 
  3. Got some winter weight to shed?  Is 2010 the year you’ll become the buff, healthy woman you’ve always wanted to be?  Does the treadmill at the gym make you scowl?  This month’s issue of Outside Magazine has a great article on re-energizing (or discovering) your fitness regimine with jazzed up walks in the park.  I’ve looked it over, and I think you can do it on a hiking trail, too.  (The article does not yet appear online, so you’ll have to ferret it out elsewhere).  It involves short 2-3 minute walking bursts with reps of exercises that can be done with the assistance of a park bench or a fallen tree.  Check it out or make up your own!
  4. Are you a student with some time this summer, or an executive who can take a leave of absence?  Check out the seasonal employment offered by the National Park Service. 
  5. Are you a writer?  Would you like to be?  Creative Conferences is holding a series of conferences in Boulder, Colorado, this August and September, covering memoirs, magazine writing and digital photography.  These two-day intensive workshops — and the possibility of publication in Women’s Adventure Magazine — will give you a jump start, connections in the industry, and a wealth of information.  Plus, hanging out in Boulder?  Not too shabby.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Tiny Triumphs, Puny Pleasures

18 03 2010

Today, on Go Girl, I write about the little things that make incredible trips unique and memorable.  That, and looking up George Washington’s nose.

Check it out here.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Hit the Road, Jane

4 02 2010

Today over at Go Girl, I give you ten questions to consider before embarking on an amazing road trip.

Check it out here.  While you’re there, poke around our new site!

And don’t forget to enter Her Side’s CONTEST!  Deadline is tomorrow, and we haven’t yet gotten enough entries.  Bring on your incredible moments!

A Word About Why

25 01 2010

Since I began writing this blog — actually, since I started solo hiking and camping — I get the inevitable question:


I’ve talked a little on here about why I like to hike, and what I like about camping, but I haven’t yet addressed the big question.  Why solo?

I’m not sure I have a final answer to this question, but here are some thoughts:

  • I love the outdoors.  I really love the outdoors.  I didn’t always — I grew up in a family happier in a movie theater or reading books than even eating dinner out in the backyard.  Over time, however, that changed, and there’s something about being outside that is invigorating — and not just outside, but out in nature.  Maybe it’s the fresh air.  Maybe it’s the feeling that you’re not contained in anything but the big blue sky above you.  Maybe it’s some primal instinct to connect with the Earth.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know that I get antsy and depressed and stressed when too much time goes by between jaunts out into nature.  Being alone out there lets me “commune” at my own speed.
  • I like to get away from the crowds.  I’m a city girl.  I’m a social person.  I talk a lot.  This means that I spend a lot of time talking with people in person, on the phone, over email, instant messenger, texting, etc.  I spend a lot of time in the midst of crowds, on the street, on the subway, in stores — even in the park.  Sometimes it’s just too much, and there are two choices: stay in my house, or get away from the city and into the woods.  Both are viable options, but the second one is a lot more fun.  Getting out into the woods alone is a time to breathe and recharge for the next whirlwind of social activity.  Being alone on the trail ensures that I can avoid the constant need to socialize if I want.
  • It gives me time to think.  Being busy — in career and socially — means I spend a lot of time thinking.  However, I spend a lot of time thinking about what has to be done and the most efficient way to do it rather than real reflection and introspection.  Being alone out on the trail with the calming effect of nature and no demands on my time and attention gives me a chance to slow my brain down and actually think about important life things — without the temptations of the television, music, email, etc. to distract me.
  • It gives me a sense of accomplishment, independence, and freedom.  This is really the most incredible thing — if you’ve ever accomplished something you didn’t think you could do on your own, you’ll know the feeling.  When it’s something traditionally viewed as a male activity, that feeling is even more intense.  Suddenly, you’re one with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, rubbing elbows with Rosie the Riveter and sharing war stories with Amelia Earhart.  Women are taught that from a young age that they need to be taken care of, and to realize that that’s not precisely true is a proud moment.  I have that proud moment every time I successfully complete a solo hike or camping trip.  Solo camping and hiking is on another level from just being master of your finances, knowing how to check the oil in your car, or successfully replastering that section of the bathroom wall where your towel rack fell out (ahem).  Solo camping and hiking taps into a more primitive feeling of self-sufficiency, independence, and freedom. 

You’ll notice that, on my list of reasons, is not that I can’t find people to go with me.  This is sometimes true, and it’s what broke the seal on solo hiking for me in the first place: I was sick of waiting around for a time when my schedule meshed with someone else’s for a whole day and they wanted to spend it out in the woods.  But that was then.  Now, I solo hike and camp not because I can’t find a companion.  Now, I go solo deliberately because I’ve found that it does something for my soul that no other activity does.

That photo at the top?  It’s a quiet moment on a trail.  There’s really nothing like it.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Photo Friday

22 01 2010

When I drove all over the US, I got as far out west as Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona.  I was on the road for almost 6 weeks. 

I knew I was closer to home when I started hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, in Tennessee.  It smelled more like home, because the greenery was more like what I was used to than the plant life out in the West.  I stood on the trail, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and, for a second, I got a little homesick.  I had been on the road for a month, after all.  I missed my cat, and my roommates, and my friends, and my family.  I missed my bed

Then I opened my eyes and remembered why I was having such a great time, and instead of being homesick, I thought, “I can’t believe this trip is almost over!”  Here is that moment of realization:

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Reflections, Revelations, and Resolutions

4 01 2010

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2010.  (Ahem.  “Twenty-ten.”)  It sounds futuristic, doesn’t it?  Moreso than the “oughts,” which actually sounds like it comes out of the distant past.  Speaking of the future and the past, today, in the inevitable resolutions post, I want to talk about looking backwards and forwards, and taking stock of the now.

The end of anything prompts reflection.  It’s natural to look backwards at events that have transpired and consider their meaning on your life.  When you complete a difficult hike or backpacking trip, you ask yourself what went right and wrong, and figure out how to improve or replicate the good for next time. 

Part of this reflection, or this looking backwards, prompts taking stock of the present.  How have the past events affected your life?  Where are you now and how does where you are compare with where you want to be?  Speaking of that, where do you want to be?  Are you on the path there, or does the path need to change?  If you ask these questions and find answers, sometimes these are indeed revelations.

Of course, the reflection and the revelations logically lead to a hard look forward at what your goals are, and what concrete steps you need to take to achieve those goals.  Which leads to resolutions.

I give this primer mainly because resolutions have the reputation of being impossible to keep.  While I can’t pretend to have a definitive answer as to why, I can identify two kinds of resolutions that are guaranteed to be broken before President’s Day.

Problem resolution #1: Some resolutions aren’t concrete enough.  They are too vague or too conceptual, or really are more goals than resolutions.  An example: “to lose weight.”  That’s a nice, common resolution.  The trouble is that it doesn’t mean very much.  How much weight?  Is there a weight goal you’re trying to reach?  Are there other levels of fitness that matter, or just the number on the scale?  What are the steps you’re going to need to take to keep your resolution, such as going to the gym a certain number of days a week, embarking on a diet or just changing eating habits, setting money aside in your budget for a personal trainer?  Vague, conceptual resolutions are nobody’s friend.

Problem resolution #2: Some resolutions, on the other hand, are specific and concrete enough, but aren’t connected to anything meaningful, and therefore breaking them doesn’t mean much either.  An example: “to eat vegetables every day.”  That’s a fine, concrete resolution.  You should be eating veggies every day.  But if you aren’t already, then there’s some other problem…not liking vegetables, not having time to go to the grocery store, etc.  In order for the vegetable resolution to be meaningful, and increase the chance that the resolution isn’t broken, you should consider what the root problem is, determine what your larger goal is, and make a resolution that fits into that spectrum.

Reflection, revelation, and resolution.

With that in mind, here are my resolutions for 2010:

  1. Turn off the computer and the television when not in direct, singular use.  I love television.  And movies.  And surfing the internet.  So I spend too much time with the television on in the background, half watching, while I do other things, like surf the internet.  Or read a magazine.  I am the quintessential multi-tasker.  I check email every five minutes or whenever my iPhone bongs at me (which is sometimes more frequently than every five minutes).  That means I don’t focus my attention very well, and it’s getting worse.  To achieve the greater goal of improving focus and attention and getting more done and done well, it’s time to take the concrete step to have the television and computer on only when I’m using them.
  2. Try new things.  This might suffer from the vagueness problem above, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on it by giving it a frequency.  This is less of a resolution and more of a promise to myself to explore more of the world around me.  I’m doing pretty well so far, because in the first three days of the New Year I managed to cook a new vegetarian recipe and go snowshoeing for the first time (more on that later).
  3. Finish a novel.  I finished one a few years ago.  Nothing ever came of it.  Then I “got busy” and, of course, work on twelve things at once (see resolution number 1), and so don’t focus on projects enough to finish them.  Thus, this year, I’m going to pick a project (I haven’t selected one yet…I’m giving myself through the weekend to do so), set a schedule, and work on it until it’s done.  I’ll keep you posted.

That’s all for now.  Pardon me while I turn off the computer.

What about you?  What are your resolutions for 2010?  Reflections?  Revelations?

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010 (hey, look at that date!).

Thanks for 2009!

28 12 2009

Acadia NP in Winter

Her Side was on hiatus last week in the madcap dash to Christmas (and I still have gifts to wrap and ship…I don’t know how this happens to me), and will be checking out again after this post until January 4, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say:

Thank you.

Thank you for reading, for commenting, for emailing me and telling me that I have inspired you.  Thank you for allowing Her Side to spend the last few months of 2009 figure out how the heck to do this blog thing.  Thank you for providing feedback, making requests, and sticking around.

A look back at 2009:

  • September 8: Her Side of the Mountain launches with a post entitled “Carpe Diem,” a photo of Buffy and Willow, and a joke about carp.  Let’s keep carpe-ing the diem in 2010.
  • September 27: Ken Burns’ documentary series “National Parks: America’s Best Idea” airs.  Someone says to me, “I thought I’d be bored but I couldn’t stop staring at the footage.  There are places that look like that for real?”  Yes, Virginia, there is a Yellowstone.  And not just in our hearts.
  • October 5: Her Side posts a photo of Henry Ford (beside a quirky and topical quote attributed to Ford), and thereby receives a vast influx of visitors because a LOT of people search for Henry Ford each and every day.  Each and every day. 
  • November 7: A couple of Her Side’s friends get lost in the woods in the dark and  provide Her Side with its first real-life reason to say “I told you so.”
  • December 28: Her Side gears up for the new year, makes lots of resolutions, and comes up with loads of brilliant new ideas (see below!).

Coming up in 2010:

  • New Year’s Resolutions.  Yes, let’s make them, and let’s make them fun to keep.  Who’s with me?
  • The completion of posts about the Rules and the Good Stuff.  We’re about halfway there.
  • More (hopefully many more) hike reviews and guides (with photos!).
  • Food.  I’ve been digging into some hiking/camping food sites and cookbooks…once I’ve had the opportunity to try some of this out, I can pass some suggestions along to you and we can discuss.
  • I respond to your requests and suggestions.  So keep ’em coming.

Happy New Year, everyone.