Sunday, January 17, 2021

Our World

November 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Nature, Our World

This is a 17 minute audio file – a Science Friday segment – that puts some of our global problems in perspective.

Harmonica for Health

November 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature, Our World

In response to my 2013 Holiday Gift Guide Newsletter, I got this nice response from Victor – Harmonica Joy Health Club International, California:

“You may want to consider adding the harmonica, a simple portable inexpensive charming musical instrument, for good physical and emotional health. Refer to YouTube video called Harmonica Health and Delight. ”
Dear AdventureBuddies readers:  Here it is 🙂

This serendipitous response came on the same day as my Guest Post about what to pack where author Stratton suggests a harmonica.  One day, during a practice hike at the Tilden Botanic Gardens (Berkeley, CA), we enjoyed the lovely,  melodic, even poignant  sounds of a lone nature-lover soulfully playing his harmonica.  It was magical, musical and inspiring.

The Tilden Botanic Gardens is free and is like visiting the entire state of CA (botanically) in about 2 hours.  It’s quite a gem in the East Bay Regional Park District system.  I lead practice pole hikes there year-round. Excerpt from EB Parks’ website: 

CA is a vast region of many floral areas, such as seacoast bluffs and coastal mountains, interior valleys, arid foothills, alpine zones, and two kinds of desert.  California embraces nearly 160,000 square miles – imagine 160,000 square miles of California set in a garden that can be walked in a day.

Practice Pole Hike at Black Diamond Mines Regional Park in Antioch

May 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature, Poles

On our most recent Practice Pole Hike at Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, we saw some amazing flowers, including this lovely Mariposa Lilly.  Photo taken by Diane of Lafayette on her I-phone – amazing 🙂

On practice Pole Hikes, we refine skills learned in the Basic Skills class AND prior participants of poles classes can come to practice, review and learn new skills.  Black Diamond is a park we do early in the year (in the summer, it’s an oven) and it’s a great place to really use poles for power on the up hill climbs and for support on the steep downhill parts.  The sandstone provides good footing, even when wet.   Poles classes and practice hikes are listed on the calendar 🙂

Mariposa Black Diamond

KQED Perspective – Coyotes By Michael Ellis

April 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature

Thank you Michael for your permission to post this excellent perspective for those who have not heard it. 🙂

The coyote figures in many Native American myths as the creator, the fool, the transformer and the prankster.  In fact the word-coyote-is an Aztec word which means – trickster.  Well they certainly have tricked their way into 49 states, throughout Canada and all the way south to Panama.   Coyotes are by far the most successful large carnivore in North America.  And since the gray wolf has been extirpated throughout the Eastern United States the coyote moved in from the West and now thrives in places it never did before.   One even showed up in Central Park in New York City several years ago.  And our own Golden Gate Park has resident coyotes. We are talking adaptable and flexible.

Coyotes have greatly extended their range and increased in numbers because they can exploit edge habitat.  That is open grass or brush next to wooded areas, plenty of cover and food nearby- hmm sounds like the Suburbs! Essentially we have modified the wild environment to perfectly suit coyotes, whereas other large predators like mountain lions and wolves have decreased in population.

Coyotes usually hunt in pairs and it is true that in urban areas coyotes will take domestic cats and small dogs.   They are extremely flexible in their diet and nearly everything is considered food from garbage and carrion to deer and birds.  During the late summer and early fall they eat a lot of berries as well.

Coyotes originally evolved in the Great Plains of North America during the Pleistocene era, 1.8 million years ago, relatively recently.  They are so closely related to both the gray wolf and the domestic dog that they can hybridize easily with both.  There are coy-dogs and coy-wolfs, rare but it happens.

The breeding season is limited to the early spring when 6 pups are born. Both male and female help provision the young and occasionally the offspring from the previous years stick around to help as well. Hate em or love em, coyotes are here to stay.  Oh and by the way, they have never been known to actively hunt roadrunners. Beep beep.  This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.

Go NOW – Springtime Splendor

April 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature

Mt. Tam in the Springtime – after a rain – hillsides COVERED with colorshow-stopping splendor (forgive my little point and shoot – click on any photo to enlarge, click back button to return to post):

Lupine hillside (Large) Purple Larkspur (Large)
BBE (Large) Swabbie (Large)

Coastal trail is alive with flowers right now – hillsides of purple lupine.   Near Rock Springs we see yellow/gold hillsides.  Cream cups are one of my favorites 🙂  This kind of display is really when you want to be able to look at something besides your feet while enjoying your buddies and the outdoors – we love our poles!

Cream Cup and Goldfields (Large) 2 cream cups (Large)
Hikers and lupine hillside (Large) BBE Blue (Large)

Above hikers on near purple lupine hillside on Coastal Trail – north of Pantoll Ranger Station.  The baby blue eyes (2 pictured) literally cover several hillsides.  Go now, it’s as good as it gets.

Tuck your pant legs into your socks if you don’t have gaiters.  Do a tick check periodically and especially before you get into your car.  Happy Trails!

Pole Shadow (Large)  I like how my poles

were shadowed in this hillside shot.

This yellow/gold hillside

is just West of Rock Springs

parking lot and is stunning!




Desert Hiking & Desert Horse-back Riding

March 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature, Travel

Anza Borrego Desert State Park:   This very accessible desert is full of wonderful places to explore – canyons, caves, mesas, nature trails and more.  Borrego Springs is the main town and has lots of great accommodations – below you can see the main street was decked out for President’s Day.

Desert Light (Large) Borrego Springs Presidents Day (Large)
Wind Caves (Large) Sleepy Bighorn (Large)

A quick flight to San Diego and a short drive over the mountain and we’re there.  At the top of the mountain, we stop in the lovely town of Julian and pick up some goodies from my favorite shop – the Julian Tea Company – and  pies from the Julian Pie Company.

We hiked thru the wind caves, enjoyed the desert terrain (carefully) and rode thru an Ocotillo Forest.  We saw bighorn sheep in Palm Canyon.  Look for the people stopped and staring and you’ll see sheep.

Bob Stuck (Large) Cholla (Large)
Comet (Large) Canter (Large)

Hiking thru big rocks can be tricky – ha ha, Bob got stuck.Sandra and  Spats (Large)

Watch out for “jumping” cholla!  They pop out as you walk or ride by.  We had to be hyper-aware and get off our horses periodically to check their legs as we rode thru the many desert trails.  The stream crossings were fun.  My horse (Comet – above) shook violently all over after every crossing.  The first time was quite a surprise  🙂

We recommend a walk around the lovely Nature Center to become familiar with the plants before you head out hiking.  It’s nice to know what you’re seeing and what to watch out for.

If you like to ride – check out SmokeTree Arabian Ranch.  Dr. Sandra has quite a variety of lovely equine experiences – the horses are sublime and the scenery is stunning 🙂

As always, click on any photo to enlarge and click the back button to return to post.  We recommend the first photo in this post.  The afternoon light on the cactus was shimmering.

 Bob and Jayah Riding (Large)








Desert Hiking – Tucson in January

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Gallery, Nature, Pole Tips, Poles for Hiking, Travel

Tucson in January.  Below is a desert pony.  This saguaro skeleton really was like a prancing pony.  To the right is a healthy young saguaro in front of a Palo Verde (AZ state tree and very green 🙂

Suguaro Pony Green of Suguaro and Palo Verde (Medium)

Saguaros  can grow to 60” tall (although the tallest we saw was probably 20′ and, according to the Sabino guide, the largest was 75′, they can go 3 years without water, they don’t flower until 35 years of age and it takes 75 years for the first arm to grow so they get to be very old.

Rain in the desert is magical and it poured while I was there.   Below:   The tannins from oaks on Mt. Lemmon cause the water in Sabino canyon to be brown.   Next to the water are saguaro reflections in a small lake.  Click on any photo (especially the reflections one below and the pony above) to enlarge and click the back button to return to post.

Color of Water vertical2 (Medium) Reflections

After a hard early-morning hike, I relaxed on a tram ride up Sabino Canyon:  canyon waterfall (note the brown water and striated rocks), a VERY little cactus – see the pole tip to the L of it and how the spines look like little fishhooks?   I was enchanted by the color of the rocks very near the waterfall.

Waterfall (Large) Small Cactus (Large) Color of rock (Large)

At the Desert Museum, we were honored to see my cousin’s photographic exhibit.  After enjoying Howard’s amazing photographs of Arizona nature, I explored the museum and saw some wonderful creatures including Bighorn sheep, Grosbeak, walking like a duck and a female cardinal.

Bighorns (Medium) Spotted Towhee (Medium)
Walk like a duck (Medium) Female Caridnal 2 (Medium)

When hiking in the desert, the locals go early.  The morning we blasted up Blackett’s ridge, we hit the trail promptly at 7 a.m.   In the summer they start at 5 or 5:30 to beat the heat.  The terrain is rocky and steep.  I use my poles in the desert and love the long foam grips for when I’m on frequently changing and rocky terrain.

Early Morning (Large) HHP_69Reunion_DSC_1625

Above is my on-the-go morning shot and a picture Cousin Howard took of me.  Morteros – grinding holes – are part of ancient cultures’ kitchens.  Finding one in the desert (usually near a stream) is special!

Trekking Poles expand your Hiking Horizons, Utah Part 3

Bob is 65.   He works hard so ends up being a weekend warrior which puts him at increased risk for injury. On our Thanksgiving trip to Utah, we hiked 6 days in a row.   We would not have even considered doing this without our poles.

People are always asking – POLES? Why????  They seem surprised when we answer – Poles feel good – it’s great whole body exercise.  They get us places we want to go,  for instance,  Part 3 of our journey:

I remember the lady in sandals who had driven to the top of Mt. Tam’s East Peak asking me, as I had just climbed to the top of the mountain,  if my poles were canes.  Can you imagine?

Let’s talk about improving power on the up hill.   Hauling yourself up with small muscles in your shoulders is not only inefficient, it’s also potentially harmful to your shoulder joint.  Why NOT use big muscles in your back – the ones that support and elongate your spine?  (uh, the ones that keep you tall and reverse the aging process).

Notice the angle of the poles.  Click on any picture to enlarge and click back button to return to post.   Notice how Bob’s arms are relatively straight.  The latissimus dorsi muscles are attached to the humerus.  Elbow pumping does not engage the lats only the whole arm movement does.  This also engages your obliques.  Imagine someone walking behind you squirting WD-40 into your spine as you walk.  That’s what optimal technique feels like 🙂

What about down?  Do you have knees?  Photo #1 above – Remember, if you flick the poles out in front of you on the down, they’ll support your lower body joints and engage rectus abdominus, pecs and biceps.   The steeper the hill, the smaller the steps.   Photo # 3 above – If I had $300 to casually spend, this vase would be in my new living room.  We found it at the visitor center of Grand Staircase Escalante.

Photo #1 above, Bob using plant push technique – power at 8,000′ on the 6th day of hiking…thank you VERY much  🙂

Photo #2 above is me in front of Calf Creek Falls – a lovely and easy 6 mile hike (in and out) at Grand Staircase Escalante on the way to Bryce.  Driving from Moab to Bryce is one of the most stunning road trips if you go via Torrey.   Make sure to stop in at the Red Desert Candy Company in Torrey and get some of their Red Desert Jellies and Truffles as well as a cup of chai or a latte for the road.  You’re hiking – what better time to splurge?

Photo #3 is a really great example of the swing assist for making time on downhill.  Join us on a practice hike to learn/practice this wonderful technique.

Photo #4 is from the Nature Center at Zion.  We took the scenic route back towards Vegas from Bryce through Zion – another amazing road experience.

So, will learning optimal use of poles really make a difference? YES!

Enjoy the outdoors, enjoy your poles 🙂

Trekking Poles in Rocky Mountain National Park

June 11, 2012 by  
Filed under DVD Updates, Nature

Back from Rocky Mountain National Park.   With early starts we had serene and sublime hikes – with parking at the trailheads 🙂   Below are low-to-the-ground flowers at 12,000′ and a photo from our hike to and beyond The Loch.

Poles Tip:  When crossing a bridge, lift your poles as I show below.   I lengthened them in case I needed them for support, but we don’t want our pole tips to get stuck between wood slats on bridges.  If I had felt uncertain, I could have pointed the tips inward with my arms out (a la trapeze style) to give me a bit more support.

Yes, I was using serious zoom rather than approach wildlife.

Poles Tip:  Below is a little hiker carrying his poles.  His head was bumping against them, so they pulled them out to the side in an X.   I thought they looked like they could get caught on vegetation.  We like to carry our poles grip down (straps clasped) with the tip up, rubber tips on.  However there was no terrain this day on which we would CARRY our poles.  They were too much fun to use.    We got great exercise and spinal rotation on the up, good support on the down and an extra set of legs on all the rocky/uneven sections.

Poles Etiquette Tip:  Second photo shows how I PROP my poles vs. laying them on the ground.  I liked the tree shadows on my long foam grips.  Long foam grips are worth their weight in gold if you need and use them.  In our hiking poles DVD, we show practice segments on how and why to use long foam grips.

While in CO, I presented a short session at the Denver Athletic Club.  On the drive back to Parker, we encountered driving rain, flooding, golf ball-sized hail and tornado warnings.  It was torrential and terrifying.

Below we drove to about 12,000′ above the tree line.  Good thing we had plenty of water in the car 🙂   We relaxed and practiced deep breathing and my slight headache resolved.  In the 2nd photo, you can see Timberline falls in the distance.  We had set a turnaround time, so this was as close as we got.   Dry year in CO (as well as CA) so not as many flowers or as much water, but RMNP is glorious!

We were able to explore some new trails and re-visit some favorites.  Hope your weekend was splendid as well.  See you OTT (on the trail)

Trekking Pole & Trail Tips, plus some photos

May 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Nature, Pole Tips, Trail Tips

As we head into our dryer Summer, we encounter different challenges on the trail than we experience in Winter or Spring.

The poison oak this year is obscene.  I got a bad case through clothing.    I had to step into the poison oak to help someone who had fallen down the trail.  He sat down to rest and kept rolling backwards down hill.  He ended up in a heap, upside down and backwards, in the poison oak.   It never occurred to me that the poison oak would seep thru my pant legs.  I got a very bad case behind my legs, not on my arms or exposed skin (where I vigorously washed with cold water, soap and Tecnu).

Avoiding the poison oak yesterday was practically impossible.  I had brought along a long sleeve shirt for TWO reasons:

  1. Poison oak protection
  2. To wet down in a cool stream which lowers my core and arm temperature.  I do this for comfort and to avoid a lymphedema flare-up.  On a hot day, this is HUGELY helpful.  It also helps extend drinking water if I’m running low (which I try NEVER to do, but on hot days, it’s especially  important to stay hydrated).  Check the trail tips section of this blog for more heat tips.

Oh, and what about our poles’ exposure to poison oak?   Well, we have to wash them with soap and water or – my favorite –  rubbing alcohol.  But do be sure to use enough alcohol to CUT the oil, not just spread it around.  I thoroughly soak a paper towel, extend the pole sections and carefully go over them twice.

Do you like my photos? 🙂 How on earth do we see such wonders?

    • we use our poles for stability on uneven terrain
    • we maintain good neck function
    • we lift our feet – this is a function of hip flexion and dorsi-flexion – when you put your attention to your form, you’re more mindful and your form improves.  Thinking of lifting your legs (kind of like marching) on uneven terrain helps us to more fully enjoy our adventures  🙂

Click on any photo to enlarge.

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