A Celebration of Filth

I'm All Up On This Alp

I’m All Up On This Alp [Photo by Halliday Reynolds]

I woke up last Wednesday, pine sap matting a wad of hair to the back of my scalp, just above the beginnings of a redneck sunburn the likes of which I haven’t experienced since high school; before sunscreen was a thing. The previous days’ outfit lay strewn about my bedroom, covered in a Jackson Pollock masterwork of bar-b-que sauce, forest floor dampness, the black smudges of charcoal, pine needles, and a dash of red wine stains. None of this is bad; it’s glorious.

Perhaps the most difficult part of this disabled life is the constant balancing of caution and risk. Childhood and progressing into adulthood there are so many warning and precautions. Many (but certainly not all) necessary. So, how are we to find the line? It’s a discussion I’ve had with disabled friends and extreme endurance athletes alike. They almost all answer with some variation of the same theme. You have to push against it to find it. You have to overstep and risk a certain amount of catastrophic failure to know where the edge of possibility lies. Heading home after a multi day, or even just a strenuous single day out in the wilderness, I’ll joke that any day that ends without being airlifted to safety is a day ending well.

Let me be clear, last Tuesday was in no way a traditional wilderness epic. But, also, let me be clear, there is almost nothing (outside of town) accessible about the french alps. I’ve been here, writing, wandering, taking pictures, making friends, and otherwise living a charmed life since the start of June. This is nowhere near enough time for me to comfortably assess the degree of freedom my specific body has on nearby trails. Or, (even though I love these people like family) to assess how comfortable my new friends might be lending a hand (literally) or, assessing trail accessibility themselves before inviting me along. Historically, new friends are very ambitious on my behalf. This is always flattering, though often disastrous.

The safe play is to pass. Let my new friends run off on their own adventures while I poke around in town or ride the cable cars; meeting up later to swap adventures over Moscow mules and fries at the bar. We’ve done plenty of this all summer, and I’ve loved it. But, something about Tuesdays’ free-flowing lack of planning was irresistible.

A cable car ride up to the Plan de l’Aiguille for some lunch and an alpine photo shoot/ nature stroll somehow turned into a drive down the valley to Lac Passy which turned into swimming. And, then, turned once more, into a spectacular sunset drive back to Chamonix while the alps showed off how many shades of magenta they could flash as the light performed its slow change on the peak of Mont Blanc.

By that time I was in deep. In for whatever the day would bring next; when my small tribe of friends suggested clambering up behind the Brevant lift to a secret fire pit in near total darkness; up a path that was partially a stream; well, the good judgement and safety of refusal didn’t even occur to me.

Of course I couldn’t make it. Of course, hands were lent. I was pushed/ pulled up with a staggering grace. A fire built. Sandwiches made, wine opened, both passed around with the easy conversation of new friends that are well on their way to old friend status. We lay on the forest floor and watched the moon rise across the valley. Sunburnt, covered in sap. Muddy, spilling sauce and wine. Telling secrets and tall tales without distinction. Using logs as pillows. Listening to each other, the crackling of flame, and the twinkling of the stars. If I have one wish for the world, it’s that everyone, disabled and able-bodied, have days as grubby and free-flowing; as perfect as last Tuesday.

Mont Blanc Being All Like 'I'm a Million Feet Tall NBD'

Mont Blanc Being All Like ‘I’m a Million Feet Tall NBD’

Pretrip Nostalgia: There’s No Place Like Home…

Sad to Go

Sad to Go

Next week I’ll take the 210 to the 2 to the 5 to the 110 to the 105 to the 1. Then, I’ll hop on a plane and head off for an almost three month festival of lucky-swine Alpine writing workshop followed by a slow paced mountain and/or continent conquering aimless wander. I am excited and humbled beyond expression at the particular path my life is currently following. Continue reading

Good Looking Out, Smokey



For a week each spring we celebrate our National Parks. This is not nearly enough time. For ninety eight years the parks service has collected and curated eighty four million acres of Continue reading

Colonize the Montage

Dogwood Flowers Chillaxing in the Sunshine of a Sierra Spring

Dogwood Flowers Chillaxing in the Sunshine of a Sierra Spring

This past week has been completely overrun with two activities. The see through-tanning, internet-searching, hair-pulling minutia of planning my epic summer and a knock-down, drag-out, full blown, gloves off bout of RA fatigue. In the seven or eight hours per day that Continue reading

The Single Best Brownie and Latte in the History of Humankind

Mmmmmmmmmm Civilization...

Mmmmmmmmmm Civilization…

The above latte/ brownie combo may look run of the mill to the untrained eye. To the eyes of a deeply inexperienced outdoors-lady who has just spent three days drinking instant coffee, Continue reading

The Greatest Picture Never Taken in Denali National Park

This is a picture of a real live wolf! Squint, it's there. I swear it.

This is a picture of a real live wolf! Squint, it’s there. I swear it. If you’re on a smart phone you’re S.O.L. though.

Some people are possessed of a second sight. One specifically reserved for spotting interesting flora and fauna that the rest of us mere mortals miss. Personally, this skill set never developed Continue reading

Ripping Off Your Bunny Ears

Not an alp in Denali National Park

Not an alp in Denali National Park

I have disgustingly good news and I ask that you bear with me for a braggy second while I tell you about it. I swear there will be a pay off, just hang on.  Continue reading

Inherited Obsession, or Why I Will Someday Import an Italian Ape Car

Ape Car Climbs an Alp

Ape Car Climbs an Alp

They say that retirement is a time for reflection. A time to look back on your greatest accomplishments with a sense of pride. In this spirit, my father spent a significant part of his first year of retirement assembling a photo album of every car he has ever owned. Continue reading

Chapter 1: Encountering a Bear

What to Do When You Meet a Bear

What to Do When You Meet a Wild Bear

The wilderness is full of creepy unnatural beasties waiting to rip you apart limb from limb. Over time we Continue reading

Stunning Feet of Adventure

What's Holding You Up?

What’s holding you up?

This Labor Day I hiked a trail rated at 100% more difficulty stars in Afoot & Afield than I have ever hiked before. Lack of planning, Continue reading


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