A Stranger in Zion…

The late afternoon light was stretched low over the horizon casting long shadows in Zion National Park.  I had unpacked my gear from the dusty truck in Watchman Campground and quickly set up my home for the weekend next to another small tent quietly occupying the same campsite under a large cottonwood.  I didn’t know much about my mysterious campmate yet.  Less than an hour earlier, I had received a single text message – all set in F4.  They have a parking permit for you as you enter watchman campground.  If I’m not in camp, I’m off exploring.  Sounds like we’d get along just fine.

View of Watchman from the Campground in Zion National Park

The National Parks and Monuments of Utah have always called to me, especially Zion National Park.  I don’t normally make a huge effort to visit the National Parks, preferring instead to explore Wilderness Areas where I can find quiet and solitude.  There are exceptions.  When my dad passed away in 2005 we were in the planning stages of several trips together.  We were on the wait-list for a private trip down the Colorado River, we were just starting to plan a trip through Yosemite along portions of the John Muir Trail and we were talking about touring the Utah Parks of Zion, Bryce, Arches and Canyonlands.

In Fall of 2007 I was able to raft the Colorado through Grand Canyon on a private boat trip with several of my dad’s closest river friends.  This Summer I’ll finally be hiking most of the John Muir Trail through Yosemite with a small group of backpackers.  And for years I had been patiently looking for opportunities to visit Arches or Zion…when I received this message on twitter:

The timing seemed to fit perfectly into my jigsaw puzzle of a travel calendar.  I managed to scrounge up some petty cash for fuel, take the weekend off and drive 7 hours across Arizona and Utah to meet up with a fellow adventure seeker after nothing more than a handful of Twitter messages.  Twitter has been funny that way, especially when it comes to the outdoor community.  I see it happen all the time with messages like, “Anyone up for climbing near SLC this weekend?” or “I want to do Humphrey’s next time in Flag.  Who’s in?”  Social Media allows us to connect with like-minded people for outdoor adventures that just wouldn’t be as fun (or safe) alone.

This time it was Minnesota native David Wherry, hell bent on making the most out of his first whirlwind trip to Zion National Park in the shortest time possible.  David would have one day, sun-up to sun-down, to doggedly chase down as much adventure and general badassery (yes, it’s a word) as law would allow…and he was looking for a partner to help him run it down.

As I organized my gear at Workman Campground I knew we were staring down the barrel of a long sunrise-to-sunset day of steep, sweat-stained canyon hiking.  So when Dave came strolling into camp after a casual 7 mile trail run, I knew he’d be the guy pushing the pace the next day.

That night we sat around the campfire and discussed our strategy for the next day.  We didn’t know each other before that night but we both seemed very much on the same page about our agenda.  We listed out our priorities starting with Angel’s Landing at sunrise and worked our way from there with every intention of hungrily devouring as much of this amazing park as we could stomach before sunset.  We would not be content to shuffle along with cattle-like tourists.  We would push hard, move fast and end every trail with an eager and emphatic “What’s next!?”

David turned out to be a great trail companion and bad-ass adventure partner.  Hopefully his work continues to land him in parts out west so we can pull off another epic slam-dunk in another amazing location.  The sooner the better…

The Epic Day in Zion National Park…

Angel's Landing at Zion National Park

Echo Canyon at Zion National Park

Observation Point at Zion National Park

The Narrows at Zion National Park

 

To see more of my images from Zion National Park visit my gallery.

How to be Spontaneous: Tips for Unexpected Trips…

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” – Win Borden

Spontaneous Road Trip to New Orleans, LouisianaHaving the freedom, and the courage, to say YES when unexpected opportunities present themselves is one of the great joys in life.  Some of the greatest adventures are the unplanned twists, turns and deviations from our chosen path.  So many of us turn a blind eye to these spontaneous opportunities because we are scared or unprepared to take on the unknown.  With a little preparation and confidence, we can more easily approach these forks in the road and take the path less traveled…

Road Trip sign stop "How 'Bout Them Nuts?"On our recent accidental trip to New Orleans, we were fairly unprepared for such a detour.  Ultimately, that didn’t hold us back and we made the trip anyway and had an amazing time.  We were able to stop and grab most of the items that we thought we needed from a common grocery store, but had we packed the items ahead of time the decision would have been even easier.

“Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are.” – John McLaughlin

That got me thinking about putting together a simple “Go Bag” that would include some basic essentials for spontaneous trips.  I thought about the things we needed and asked around for more suggestions and came up with a pretty basic list of items that would be easy to keep in a small bag in your car for those unexpected cross-country road trips.

The Go Bag:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tissue
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • First Aid Kit
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Water bottle
  • Deodorant (via Beth)
  • Sunscreen (via Jennifer)

Spontaneous Detour to Punxsutawney, PennsylvaniaWe also came up with a list of items that should go with you anytime you head out, just in case you need them.  Sometimes, something as simple as taking spare shoes or an extra jacket will allow you to be better prepared to accept a spontaneous adventure.  It helps knowing that you have some basic items “just in case you need them”.

And again, being prepared will make it easier to be spontaneous and add adventures to your schedule without stress or worry.

Day Trip Essentials:

  • Change of Clothes
  • Layers (jacket, sweater, etc)
  • Snacks
  • Extra Water
  • Cash
  • Camera
  • Multi-Tool
  • Phone Chargers
  • Local Maps
  • Prescription Medications ( via Anthony)
  • Plastic bags (via Jennifer)
  • Pen/Pencil and paper (via Jennifer)

Being prepared for a spontaneous road trip also means keeping your vehicle maintained and ready to cover some miles.  Always start with a full tank, keep basic oils and fluids in the trunk and always carry a roadside emergency kit.  My wife also keeps an emergency bag in the trunk with extra water bottles, blankets, sweater, hat, gloves, and food.

What do you keep in your car for unexpected adventures?  What would you add to these lists?

New Orleans: An Unexpected Journey…

It started out simple enough…

I was in Houston for Christmas and Merelyn had a couple of days off for New Years.  We hadn’t really made plans for anything so we decided to head to Galveston for some quick beach time and then head home for a quiet New Year’s Eve together.  Then, about a half an hour into our drive, Merelyn said, “You know…we could just drive to New Orleans for New Year’s.”

Now, she’s mentioned driving to New Orleans before.  It’s only about 6 hours away and neither of us have been there.  It could be fun, but every time we’ve looked into it we’ve decided not to go.  I knew it was something she wanted to do before leaving Houston.  So when she threw the suggestion out there (half joking I’m sure), I took the bait.

“Is there any reason why we couldn’t go right now?”

We went through the list: No clothes, no toothbrush, the cats didn’t have enough food, etc.  None of those reasons, I argued, would be a problem in the next 24 to 36 hours.  We could drive to New Orleans, be there in time for dinner and hang out for New Year’s, maybe spend the night then drive home.  No problem.  Merelyn seemed a little surprised and scared that I was actually accepting her challenge but I thought it would be FUN!

As quick as that, we changed our plans from a few hours in Galveston to an overnight trip to New Orleans.  We made a quick stop at the Johnson Space Center then headed East.

We were both so excited to be on this spontaneous adventure that the drive was easy.  Merelyn was excited to be exploring and I was excited to get out of Texas and see some of Louisiana.  We usually have a good time on road trips, laughing and talking and exploring the sights.  This was no different and the added excitement of just going, without a plan, made it all that much better.

Action in the French Quarter - New Orleans

beautiful New OrleansAbout an hour outside of New Orleans we started looking for a hotel (we found none for a reasonable price) and a bank so we could grab some cash.  We found a bank next to a grocery store, so we grabbed some cash and did a quick run for some essentials (toothbrushes and beer).  Then we were off to explore the French Quarter!

We parked in the sketchiest of sketchy parking garages where they were packing cars in like it was a contest.  I was convinced they were going to keep piling cars in until the rickety, rust-bucket structure collapsed.  We paid our $20 and high-tailed it to Bourbon Street, right in the heart of the French Quarter, where the action was just picking up steam.

Even through the thick, drunken crowds of Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ historic French Quarter is charming.  We grabbed a beer and walked up and down the streets and alleyways checking out the architecture and looking through the windows of the shops and galleries.  We got away from the crowds a little bit and took our time sight-seeing.  We walked down to the waterfront and walked along the river for a while.  Then ventured back into the rabble and checked out a few bars and pubs, had a couple more drinks and a snack.

Getting ready for Midnight -  New OrleansCloser to midnight we headed back down to the riverfront park and waited for the big fireworks show.  It was cold and I had offered up my jacket to keep my wife from getting chilled.  We hung out on a grassy rise, looking out over the Mississippi, holding each other close to stay warm.  It’s been difficult these past couple years spending so much time apart.  So when midnight came, there was a sweet and simple triumph in getting to kiss my wife at the ringing in of the New Year while fireworks painted the night sky…in New Orleans.

Spur of the moment adventures can be full of magic and excitement.  There’s nothing better than ending your day in a totally unexpected and amazing way.  That morning, we had a modest plan and no expectations and we ended our night with a magical moment in a new city.  I can only hope that throughout our marriage we make time for many more spontaneous adventures together.

New Year's Fireworks - New Orleans

I loved our New Orleans adventure, does anyone else have any awesome, unexpected, spontaneous adventures they can share?

Book Review – Paddling North…

 

What would it take for you to drop everything and disappear into the wilderness for two months…alone?

Paddling North from Patagonia PressFor Audrey Sutherland, all it took was a good hard look in the mirror before deciding that she needed to cross a few things off her bucket list while she still could.  That introspective moment led to a 3 month adventure paddling over 800 miles of southern Alaskan coastline in a 9 foot inflatable canoe solo.

Sutherland, then 60 years old and living in Hawaii, quit her job as an Education Coordinator and Vocational Councilor to pursue her dream of solo-paddling the rugged coastline of Alaska.  After months of planning, researching and coordinating food drops she found herself alone in a grand wilderness unlike any other.  Paddling North is her story of that journey pulled directly from her trip journal with, in some cases, very little editing.

The book reads at times like a blow-by-blow account of every headwind, paddle-stroke and rainstorm.  At other times it swirls and splashes in the philosophical, introspective pools of thought that are an inherent part of long solo adventures.  In a way, this makes for some tedious reading at first but as you are pulled in to her story it is this very stream-of-consciousness story-telling that brings you ever closer to her adventure.  By the time I had reached the second half of the book I had fallen in to her rhythm and the daily pattern of her travels.

Take down camp, load the boat, launch, paddle…

Then it’s sun or rain, headwind or tailwind, encounters with sea life or other people.  It’s the map and compass and scouting the terrain for a pullout.  She details her very specific requirements when evaluating a location for camp.  Very high on the list are cabins and hot springs, as well as a place to set up a proper kitchen.

Paddle in, unload boat, tie-off boat above high-tide, make camp, make dinner…sleep.

Food is a major theme of the book.  I think anyone who has traveled the backcountry knows that food factors in heavily and paddlers, more than anyone else I know, focus on fine food.  Sutherland has put so much thought and effort into her meal planning that the book is as much a culinary guide as it is a paddling journal.  She often supplements her condensed, reconstituted, pre-packed delicacies with wild ingredients collected along the way.  Nearly every meal is accompanied with specially selected wines and cheeses which she takes great care in rationing so as to not run out before a resupply point.  Many of her more successful recipes, which she speaks very highly of, are included in the book at the end of each chapter.

Wake up, make breakfast, take down camp, load the boat, launch, paddle…

Paddling North interior pagesThe book took some effort to get in to, but Sutherland’s attitude about adventure and her fortitude at taking on an arduous solo paddling trip in such unforgiving country endears her to the reader.  She talks about wanting to feel as though she is as much a part of the natural environment as the wild animals she encounters.  I think she finds that balance as she settles in to the cyclical rhythm of survival.  She seems to emerge from the other side of this journey feeling closer to the wilderness than to civilization.  She is asked, “aren’t you afraid alone?”

“Of what?” She responds, “…I was safer here than in a city or on a highway.”

Toward the end of the book as she reflects back on the trip, she writes:

‘Are you safe alone?’ People ask. I’m certain that I am safer.

With elaborate maps of her route, nice illustrations and littered with original recipes from her trip, I did really enjoy this book.  If you are a paddler, or a solo-adventurer I think you will find this book very relatable.  If you are considering an extended solo-trip you just might find this book educational.  I certainly found it to be both.

I would like to thank Patagonia Books for providing me with this book.  If you would like to check out more titles from Patagonia Books like Paddling North or the next book on my list The Voyage of the Cormorant, visit their website.

About the Author:

Audrey Sutherland author of Paddling North

Audrey Sutherland was raised in California and has lived in Hawaii since 1952. She raised her four children as a single mother, supporting her family as a school counselor. In 1962 she decided to tour the coast of Molokai by swimming it – and towing along an inflatable raft with supplies. She has ever since been an inveterate water traveler, during the past several decades in inflatable kayak because it’s transportable, light enough for her to handle comfortably and relatively inexpensive.

For more about Audrey Sutherland, read this interview by Dale Hope from Patagonia Books.

Return to the Sierra Ancha Wilderness: Cold Spring Canyon…

I’ve been up since 3AM.  I’m sitting in my truck in the pre-dawn darkness at a far corner of a Walmart parking lot sipping black coffee…waiting.  Waiting for the rest of the group.  Waiting to take the long ride out to Cherry Creek.  Waiting to continue an adventure we started two years ago…

The main part of the trail into Cold Springs Canyon was easy enough.  We started from the same old mining road we used to access Pueblo Canyon a couple years prior, about 23 miles down a seldom used 4×4 back road along Cherry Creek.  This time with a more suitable vehicle, we 4-wheeled our way up the mining road to a small, level clearing once used as a camp.  From here it was supposed to be less than two miles in to Cold Springs Canyon to the Crack House.

Crossing Cherry Creek in the Range Rover - by Jabon Eagar - Sierra Ancha Wilderness

Crack House is the nickname given to the 700 year old Salado Culture cliff house ruins we were after.  When you see the site, the name is obvious.  This cliff dwelling is literally built into a naturally occurring crevice at the base of a 600 ft shear canyon wall.  The 3-story mud, rock and timber dwelling was discovered in the 1930s and documented by Dr. Emil W. Haury as part of the Gila Pueblo Project.

Long view of the Crack House at Cold Spring Canyon from the trail - by Wilderness Dave - Sierra Ancha WildernessAbout a mile up the main trail you get a glimpse of the Crack House…if you’re lucky.  You’ve really got to be looking for it and luckily, some of us had better eyes than the others.  Jabon Eager and Mike Sorensen were with me again on this hike, the same guys I hiked Pueblo Canyon with.  The only one missing from the original Pueblo Canyon party was my (now) wife, Merelyn.  As the three of us hiked deeper into the canyon looking for the side trail that would lead us to the site, Jabon was the one who managed to spot the distinctive black square hole in the cliff face that marked the entrance to our ruins.  Now, with a frame of reference, we excitedly continued forward.

Wilderness Dave stopping for photographs along Cold Spring Canyon Trail - by Jabon Eagar - Sierra Ancha WildernessEven the primary trail is nothing more than a narrow ribbon of roughly flat ground wrapped tightly against the steeply descending canyon walls.  It’s a seldom used trail that had become overgrown in some areas and we were looking for an even more obscure side trail to guide us up to the ruins.  We followed the path until we were standing below the cliff ledge where we had seen the entrance to the Crack House.  None of us had discovered any sign of a side trail, but as we stood below the cliffs there was what could only have been a drainage path or a rough game-trail leading straight up.  Could this be the trail?  Jabon consulted his print out of the Trail Description he’d found online as I consulted my topographic map.  “This section is nothing short of NASTY”, is what the report says.

“Nasty” is a very subjective description.  To some, a “nasty” trail is any trail without asphalt or concrete.  So with little to go on, we eyed this barely discernible clearing heading straight up the steep slope with trepidation and doubt.  It certainly looked “NASTY”.  We decided to give it a shot.

I took point and scrambled up the slope, unsuccessful.  Jabon followed close behind and when I ledged out, he took another path to the left with the same result.  We both moved laterally toward the cliffs to find something – anything - that looked like a trail.  We found many, followed some, and one-by-one discovered they led to nowhere.  As we crawled along our imaginary trails, glancing up occasionally in an attempt to orient ourselves, I spotted a crack, high in the cliff, carefully filled in with stacked rock.  Far too small to be our Crack House, it must have been an old granary.  Granaries were often created high out of reach and used to store food for the Winter.  This meant we were close.

Mike retreated early, probably getting tired of dodging the numerous geological samples I was generously sending his direction.  Jabon and I retreated next and as I followed Jabon back down slope I lost my footing and my bad knee gave out, crumpling completely under my weight.  Aside from the intense pain and initial fear that I had crippled myself, the fall wasn’t bad and after a short rest I was able to continue on my own.  Jabon backtracked looking for another possible trail and returned later having been unsuccessful.

Mike had had enough and decided not to join in the fight for the prize after our first attempt and failure.  Jabon and I had a little more gumption in us and agreed on a second attempt after having talked through our options.  When Jabon had backtracked he was also able to locate the ruin again visually and note where it was in relationship to where we had been climbing.  We were directly below it at one point and could not find a route.  But now we had our bearings and we knew it was directly above us…

The Punch Bowl below the ruins in Cold Spring Canyon - by Jabon Eagar - Sierra Ancha Wilderness

This meant there had to be a trail above us as well, we just had to find it.  Jabon and I were not leaving this canyon until we’d found the Crack House.  For Jabon and I, this trip had been simmering in the back of our minds for two years now, since Pueblo Canyon.  We were here, no more than 100 feet below the site we’d read about and we were not going to walk away now.

We both chose different lines and committed to them.  He blazed up the left side of the trail we had originally attempted and I crawled up the precarious slope on the right.  My knee was sore from my earlier fall and Jabon was making better progress.

I keep losing my footing.  The steep canyons out here in the Sierra Anchas are in an extreme state of erosion and nothing is stable.  I am constantly worrying about my bad knee as I hoist myself up one precarious foothold at a time, following nothing but the whisper of a trail, not able to see my target but knowing that it is up…somewhere up.

After much sweat and swearing Jabon triumphantly called down that he’d found the trail.  This spurred me on and I hacked my way through Prickly Pear cactus and overgrown Cat’s Claw trees in my fight for the trail.  Before long, with sweat dripping from my dusty brow, I had found it as well and quickly set off in pursuit of Jabon and the Ruins.

The real path to the ruins wasn’t much better than the trail we’d been forced to blaze.  It simply had the benefit of being an actual recognizable trail.  It still amazes me that so much vegetation can cling to the steep, eroded slopes of these desert canyons.  I found myself crawling through brush and vines, sliding under tree branches and carefully dancing around cacti, yuccas and agaves.  Finally, after a near vertical scramble, I reached the rocky shelf that led to the Crack House.

The photos say more than I can about the impressiveness of this cliff dwelling.  Both of us have studied enough about the archaeology of the area to approach the site with cautious awe and respectful curiosity.  Because of its protected location, the floor structures are in fantastic shape.  The crack which this structure was built in cuts clear through the cliff.  The main room, which is on the third floor, makes a sharp left turn about halfway through and presents visitors with a balcony window framing an amazing view of the valley to the southeast.  Jabon photographed the interior of the ruin creating some of the most detailed interior shots of this site ever taken.  We stayed for a short while, soaking it in, quietly reveling in our triumph.

For me, there is an addictive nature to this sort of hiking.  These canyons are littered with sites like this.  Not all of them are as dramatic or as well preserved, but they are here.  Most of these sites see so few visitors that trail descriptions are few and far between, pictures are rare, and the academic documentation incomplete.  Finding them takes work.  That, for me, is what draws me to these kinds of hikes.  I like the research, the exploration and the satisfaction of discovery.  Even though this hike was probably no more than 2 or 3 total miles of hiking, it was far more gratifying than many longer hikes I’ve been on.

We concluded this hike on a high, excited to have had the experience.  Our conversations inevitably revolved around where we would go next.  There are rumors of more ruins in Cooper’s Fork, the canyon to the east across the creek.  Another rare site in rugged, inhospitable territory with no established trail and minimal documentation…sounds like a fun trip!

Photo Gallery

To see more Jabon’s fantastic work, check him out on Facebook.

These archaeological sites are in the condition they are in because of the rarity of visitors.  I have deliberately left out a trail map and directions in hopes that these sites do remain undisturbed by the general public.  Like most protected areas, their inaccessibility is their salvation.  One of the lessons learned from other important archaeological sites that have turned in to tourist attractions is that people are inherently destructive.  If you do visit some of these historic structures, treat them with respect.

Winter Outdoor Giveaway – Week 2…

Week 2 of the Winter Outdoor Giveaway is here so you get a second chance at some awesome winter gear.

We’ve added a new entry option called Refer-A-Friend.  Use this entry option to score up to 10 bonus entries!  Here’s how it works:

After you enter using any of the options, a box will appear at the bottom of the widget that will give you a unique URL that you can share with your friends. For each friend that enters the giveaway, you will receive +1 entry into the giveaway. You refer up to 10 people.  Cool, right?!

Win lots of great winter gear

Entering is easy, just click on the entry options below to secure your chances.  The more you enter the better chance you’ll have to win this fantastic gear:

And don’t forget to show your support for our fellow outdoor bloggers who have put in considerable time and effort to pull this outdoor giveaway together.

What are you waiting for?  Enter the Winter Outdoor Giveaway now!

 
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Heading to Costa Rica…

Nothing like the last minute…

 

Merelyn and I have been talking about what we want to do for our honeymoon for a long time.  We started out talking about Costa Rica but looked at many other options including Hawaii, Mexico and parts local.  We both have had so many things going on with work, finances, living situations, etc. that, for a while there, it looked like we weren’t going to get a honeymoon at all.

Finally, with much anxiety and great determination we decided to make it happen.

So, next month after our wedding in Lake Tahoe, will will be happily heading south to beautiful Costa Rica for a week at the Hilton Papagayo Hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Hilton Papagayo Hotel

from the Hilton Papagayo Hotel Website…

We are both very excited about this trip.  Neither of us has been to Costa Rica before and we are looking forward to getting to see as much of it as possible from our little bungalow on Bahia Culebra.  Looking over the activities offers everything from hiking the Arenal Volcano, Jungle Canopy Tours, Zip-lines, Kayaking, sailing and fishing, whitewater rafting and so much more.  We can’t wait to get there and explore and take TONS of photos.

Hilton Papagayo Hotel

from the Hilton Papagayo Hotel Website…

I’ve already found hints of pre-Columbian ruins near the hotel that I would love to check out.  The hotel has jogging and hiking trails and there are tons of activities to keep us busy even if we never left the property.

I’ve always been in love with the thought of going to Costa Rica, and nearly moved there several years ago.  I think this is an appropriate place to take my new bride to celebrate our new life together.  I would like to thank both of our parents for their help and support in pulling the wedding together, and financially helping us so we could be in a position to make this amazing honeymoon happen.

Hilton Papagayo Hotel

from the Hilton Papagayo Hotel Website…

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica I would love to hear suggestions or ideas of things we should check out.  We will be on the Pacific side near Guanacaste.  And if you happen to know someone in the area, I love to meet locals who can get us off the beaten path and show us some of the real gems of the area.

The Infamous Tarantula Story…

Like all great stories, this tale has been told countless times and never the same way twice.  In true storyteller fashion, I wrote this as close as I could to how I would tell the story in person.

This story takes place in a bathroom…proceed with caution…

 

In September of 1998 my dad and I visited Peru.  After a couple weeks in South America, we managed to land a great room in a small, family owned bed-and-breakfast-style place in Cuzco.  It was one of the cleanest places we’d stayed in and the owners were the nicest people you could ever meet.

Our second day in Cuzco we took a bus out to one of the many spectacular Inca ruin sites surrounding the city and spent the day hiking, shopping in local markets and taking endless photographs.  We returned to the hotel tired and sunburned.

My dad retired to the porch to browse through our guidebook and scope out possibilities for dinner and I dropped my gear on the bed and went straight to the bathroom (it had been a long day of eating strange and unusual food).  I closed and locked the door behind me, walked across the bathroom, dropped my drawers and sat down.

I was not afforded more than a few seconds of peace before I caught movement out of the corner of my eye in the direction of the door.  My gaze shifted toward the movement and my pulse immediately doubled.  Any attempt at relaxation was now out of the question.

A gigantic, reddish-brown, hairy, 8-legged intruder was IN MY BATHROOM…and he was looking at me.  Now, for someone who can get a little stage fright when I know two eyes are watching me, this guy and his 8 beady little eyes made me crazy nervous.  I sat there frozen, pants around my ankles, with a spider larger than my fist fixated on me.

It really is amazing when in a situation like this, the brain starts working in over time.  I recalled all the information I had ever learned about tarantulas: they can jump distances up to six feet (about the length of an average bathroom!), the hairs that cover their bodies can have irritating toxins in them (nice little defense mechanism), the smaller brown ones are usually the more aggressive varieties (this, especially, I recalled), and they will usually leave you alone if you leave them alone.

This last one was important.  “You stay there, and I’ll stay here and finish my business and we don’t have to have a problem…”

THEN IT MOVED.

Tarantulas can move amazingly fast (especially the highly aggressive, brown, man-eating, attack tarantulas).  It was a slight movement, maybe a foot or so, but there were two very important and worrisome facts about its movement: it was unexpected, and it was in my direction.

This effectively ended any business I was attempting.  I was now focused on my 8-legged problem.

I considered calling out for help, briefly, but with the door locked and my dad out of earshot, that was a ridiculous and short-lived notion.  I still had distance on my side and held out hope that my visitor didn’t want to be any closer to me than I wanted to be to him (or her, more than likely).

IT MOVED AGAIN.

The creepiness of a spider’s movement is lost in observing smaller spiders.  When the spider is tiny and scurries across a rock, or up a tree it’s just a spider.  Watching the large spiders move, especially when they move fast, is unnerving.  It’s a very alien form of locomotion and, well, it creeps me out.  I’ve never really been afraid of spiders, but I’m not a big fan…especially of the super-aggressive, brown, poisonous, flying Peruvian spiders.

It’s really close.  If it moves again it will be within arms reach.  I’m now very concerned about my exit strategy.  I can’t get very far, very fast with my pants around my ankles and my foe is sitting (aggressively) between me and sweet freedom.  Maybe it’s not my foe?  Maybe it wants to be friends?  Maybe it just needs some attention, like a puppy?  I’m in a small, locked room with my pants down…I am not looking to make friends.

IT FUCKING MOVED AGAIN!

CODE RED.  I need a plan.  This clearly aggressive, deadly, man-eating beast is hell bent on killing me…I’m sure of it.  It’s now WELL within arms reach, which also means it’s close enough to leap at me at any second.  I can easily picture it’s eight gangly, hairy, outstretch legs as it is flying through the air, fangs dripping with paralyzing toxin.  I nervously look around the bathroom for a weapon, tools, a shield, an escape hatch, an eject button….anything.

On the sink, just outside of my reach is a glass.  SALVATION.  It’s not a large glass, it’s a typical bathroom glass you’d find in most any hotel bathroom.  I look at the glass with the same incredulity that David must have had when he looked at his pebble before slinging it at Goliath.  I can use the glass to trap the beast, I just have to put the glass over it.  As I grab the glass and hold it I think, “really?  That’s your plan?  What if it moves?  What if you miss?”

The next time it moved I didn’t even have a chance to see it.  I grabbed the glass and when I looked back down I almost jumped off the toilet.  This crazy bastard was inches from my crumpled pants and I swear I could hear it growling at me (I admit this might have been my imagination).

I had to act fast.

I positioned the ridiculously tiny glass over the massive spider.  I slowly and nervously lowered the glass until I was as close as I could get.  My guest was getting wise to my plan, he took an aggressive stance, feet up in the air, ready for the fight.

I slammed the glass down.

The insanely wild, spastic, explosion of energy that followed was enough to rattle the glass in my hand.  Once the wild dance was over, I was still reluctant to remove my hand from the glass…confident that the monster I had imprisoned would easily toss his glass cage aside and seek revenge.  I slid the glass as far away from me as possible to give me room to get up without risk of tipping the glass and unleashing an angry demon of a spider.

New problem.  Now that I have a spider-in-a-glass, what am I going to do with it?

I quickly found some postcards we had bought and decided I could slide the postcard under the glass and transport my prisoner to a more desirable location.  Sliding the postcard under the glass sparked another energetic frenzy from my reluctant inmate.

“Hey Dad, look what I found!”  My dad’s eyes grew wide once he realized what I had in my hands, followed by some selective swearing.  Out on the patio, several stories above a small garden, we decided the best course of action was to release the beast.  I positioned the glass beyond the rail and with one swift motion I flung the spider away.

Later that day, I had a conversation with the owner of the house about the incident.  Explaining, in my broken Spanish, the ordeal with the “Araña grande” using my open hand to express it’s size.  I was promptly, and urgently asked if I had killed it.  When I told the anxious proprietor I had not, I was definitively informed that I should have.

I got little sleep for the rest of my stay there waiting for my nemesis to hunt me down and exact it’s evil revenge.

tarantula

Spring in to Adventure: BACKCOUNTRY Week…

(strobe lights, loud dramatic music, confetti, fireworks and a deep announcers voice says…)

THIS IS IT!  THE FINAL GIVEAWAY!

This one is huge!  An amazing collection of backcountry outdoor gear from companies like Trek Light Gear, GearPods, Buff USA, Purificup and MORE!  Get as many entries in as it will let you!  This week is truly….EPIC!

 

BackCountry Week Giveaway participators logos...

As you know, for the last couple months Wilderness Dave along with: My Life OutdoorsThe Outdoor AdventureA Little CampyHiking the Trail and Trail Sherpa have been working together with a whole bunch of popular outdoor companies to bring you guys more than a month of giveaways.

This is the LAST WEEK of the Spring in to Adventure EPIC Giveaway!  Click on the entry, complete the action, and then hit ENTER!  Don’t miss your chance on this one…it’s a HUGE prize pack!

As a reminder, here’s what’s up for grabs:

April 12th: BACKCOUNTRY Week

First Place Prize Pack:

Second Place Prize:

  • Alpine Aire Food Kit
  • Merrell Shoes

[Read more…]

Spring in to Adventure: SURVIVAL Week…

**SURVIVAL Week winners have been posted**

The Spring in to Adventure Giveaway is still going!  This week is SURVIVAL Week and we have included a whole pile of stuff to keep you save and alive in the outdoors.  Adventure Medical Kits is setting you up with one of their Medical Kits, a Survival Kit and an Emergency Bivy!  Beyond Coastal is supplying another one of their awesome Travel Kits so you can survive the brutal sun. Alpine Aire has a pile of backpacking meals.  And if the threat goes beyond that we’ve got a Gerber “Bear Grills” Survival Parang!  If you can’t survive in the wild with this stuff, maybe you should just stay home!

Spring in to Adventure Giveaway Logo - Cold Week

As you know, for the last couple months Wilderness Dave along with: My Life OutdoorsThe Outdoor AdventureA Little CampyHiking the Trail and Trail Sherpa have been working together with a whole bunch of popular outdoor companies to bring you guys more than a month of giveaways.

This week is SURVIVAL Week and two lucky People will proudly walk away with some seriously EPIC Outdoor gear.  Just ask our two lucky winners last week, they’ll tell ya!  So get your entries in early!  Just like last week we are offering you tons of ways to earn extra entries and if you entered last week you know how easy it is!

As a reminder, here’s what’s up for grabs:

Grand Prize:

Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight Watertight 0.7 oz Med Kit
Adventure Medical Kit Origin Survival Kit
Adventure Medical Kit Escape Bivy
Gerber BG Survival Parang
Beyond Coastal Travel Kit
Buff USA Merino Wool Buff
Innate Storage Sack

Second Place Prize:

Survival Strap

[Read more…]