Monday, August 30, 2010

100 Miles. Done.

Before my own ego gets too puffed up, I'd just like to point out that this past weekend, a handful of amazing folks covered 100 miles on less than 24 hours.

I did it in less than 31 days, which is cool, too. My shins and knees are pleased that this year, at least, I chose the latter of those two options :)

So, a confession: I've been composing an "I failed, and I'm trying to be okay with it" blog entry for the past two weeks. When I first set out to do this Hike-a-thon business, I had to set a mileage goal for August. My initial thought was to aim for 80 miles. It seemed ambitious, but doable. Then I reflected on how often I set "ambitious but doable" goals for myself...I'm a go-getter by nature, so even goals that sound crazy to most people (write a 50,000 word novel in a month, organize and direct my own road race, run an ultramarathon...) don't necessarily seem so crazy to me.

But, ambitious as some goals might appear to those on the outside, it's lame to create goals you already feel 100% confident you can achieve. What's the point? Even as you achieve them, it creates a false sense of satisfaction when, in fact, you haven't really pushed yourself to your limits at all. Hiking 80 miles in a month felt too readily attainable. So I upped my goal to 100 miles. And I genuinely spent all of August thinking there was no way I'd make it; I only had one day off from work per week, with the exception of my birthday week (3 days off).

When I got back from my birthday trip and realized I still had nearly 40 miles to hike, and only one more day off in the month of August, I thought I'd have to give up on my overzealous goal. Unfortunately, I'm too much of a...I don't even know what the right word is...nut? just give up. With a little creativity, I somehow managed to squeeze in all 40 of them. Well...39.5, by my most accurate count, officially clocking 99.5 miles for August...but without GPS to verify mile-by-mile each of my hikes anyway, who's really counting?


I've been fortunate to have great company on all my hikes this months, but this hike was particularly special. Though Seyeon is the person in Seattle I've known the longest, until this day, we'd never hiked together, just the two of us; with no nearby mountains, northeast Ohio wasn't really a place to hike much, and when I first moved out to Seattle, REI hadn't helped the hiking bug find me to bite just yet.

Given that we live within two miles of each other, Seyeon and I have a remarkably hard time actually getting together to hang out or catch up. This is largely the fault of My Ridiculous Work Schedule, the Yitka-time-hogging qualities of which many of my friends and loved ones are all too aware. (It's going to get better someday, I swear.) But we've both been reading some fantastic books lately, and having some equally fantastic thoughts and revelations surrounding them, so this hike was far more about spending time together to catch up with each other's minds than anything else.

We headed out to North Bend to take on Mount Si's neighbor, Mount Teneriffe - a mountain with several different routes to the top. We opted for the longest, most roundabout one - a steep, winding abandoned logging road that proffered some nice views of the fog on the way up, but mostly provided us with eight hours of uninterrupted conversation. We had the mountain entirely to ourselves, and our hike mirrored our conversation: meandering, full of tangents, no absolute summit at any point, but a wonderful journey along the way nonetheless. We stopped multiple times for snacks and to read to each other, then discuss what we'd read. Kind of like an intellectual seminar, except on a mountain.

Books discussed included: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, and You're Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget.

"It's not enough to just know what you want. If you only focus on wanting things, you will end up with more want. You have to have an action plan: things you can do every day to move yourself closer to your goal. Always ask yourself what you could be doing right now to make sure you have the future you want to have."
- Larry Winget

Mileage: 14 miles


My friend Gale is wearing pink in this photo, a tiny speck on the trail that's cut into the granite on the side of the mountain. See if you can find her.

This hike was another spectacular one, on the other side of the basin from Rampart Lakes, where I was last week. In fact, we could see Rampart Ridge from where we stood today, and likewise, last week, could see the Katwalk from our vantage point there. Very cool.

Gale and I also had never hiked together before (not even in a group), despite not having known each other for over a year. A fortuitous day off in common allowed us to head out early this morning for this trek up to Kendall Katwalk, a popular destination along the Pacific Crest Trail (the west coast's equivalent of the Appalachian, i.e. a 2,650 mile trail from Mexico to Canada.) Lucky for us, Mondays mean very few cars at the traihead, and most of the hikers we encountered were thru-hikers with big packs.

The views along the entire hike were stunning. Getting to talk to Gale more than our usual cursory chats at work was awesome. We also got to watch scurrying pikas and listen to screeching marmots. Video footage of this phenomenon forthcoming in a future entry...

Our weather ranged from blazing sunshine to a trail-flooding downpour, with a lot of partly cloudy in between. After months of being nervous about screwing up my feet for either running or hiking, I finally have absolutely no other physical adventure penciled in on the horizon, so I felt like it would be a good day to start breaking in my new boots. In truth, they're old boots...a pair of Vasque Sundowners from the 90s, back when Vasque still manufactured full-grain leather boots in Italy rather than China - an era of bootmaking in Vasque's history for which hikers across the world are still nostalgic.

Landing myself an unworn pair in my size was a serendipitous gift from the universe. Nevertheless, the leather is ridiculously stiff and in need of a lot of breaking in. 11 miles today with only one tiny blister isn't a bad start, though! And given the downpour at the end, I was grateful to be wearing Gore-Tex footwear for the first time in my feet were the only dry part of me by the time we got back to the car.

Glad it was nice at the top, though!

Mileage: 11 miles

Total August Mileage: 100 MILES

Ultimately, here's what I feel I got from all hundred of them: the kindling of new and old friendships alike, a better knowledge base for my job(s), some much-needed mental clarity, strong gluteus muscles, rest for my battered shins from too many running miles, a lot of fresh air, rich food for thought, many awesome photos, and an even deeper appreciation for this beautiful world we live in.

And onward!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I saw the ocean!

It's been far too long since I've updated my blog. Apparently, working long hours and hiking on all your off-days doesn't leave much time for writing. I have more reflections on the psychology behind this goal-setting experiment, but I'll save writing about it for once the month is over altogether. For now, suffice to say that I have raised over $200 for the trails, thanks to all you spectacular souls who've helped sponsor my Hike-a-thon. I'm short of my fundraising goal, but I've still got four days! (This will be the last plug for it on my blog, I promise, but if you're at all interested in helping the effort, this is your last chance! Click here to help out.)

In the meantime...the latest in long-awaited hike reports of the past couple weeks...


Not the most spectacular hikes I've done, but the Bald Mountain Trail nevertheless enchanted me and my crew with its sheer solitude. Jenica, Casey, Wayne and I set out for what some of us thought would be a cool summit - but because we did our approach from the Ashland Lakes trailhead, rather than the generally recommended one by Cutthroat Lakes, we wound up just hiking for a long, long time in the woods until the threat of sunset forced us to turn around, still in the middle of the woods, sans summit or views. We at least had a nice day for it, and a pretty lake on the way up:

We also had the trail entirely to ourselves, which amounted to the intrepid Casey having to fend off many spider webs on the way up. We ate many berries, talked music, and shared stories from our disparate homelands of Appalachia, the Midwest, and southern California. Though the hike itself was nothing to write home about, the company was. Again, so grateful for the friends I've made since moving out here. Good people. :)

Total miles: 11 miles

HIKE #7: OZETTE TRIANGLE (Pacific Coast)

Seyeon and Leo hiking along the beach.

I've been talking about wanting to go out to the coast since I moved here. With that ambition in mind, I took a few days off from work surrounding my birthday last week and, in all the craziness of August, failed to plan pretty much anything. Happily, things worked out all right anyway. I didn't get in the dozens upon dozens of miles I envisioned myself hiking in Olympic National Park, but I did get: amazing time spent with some of my favorite people in the world, a beachside game of Scrabble on my birthday, and my first rain-free camping experience in as long as I can remember (well, it did rain...but only when we were already in the tent, so who cares? At that point, it was just a soothing audio companion to the waves crashing against the rocks thirty feet from our tent.)

There is a sweet loop trail on the coast that Seyeon, Leo, Alan, and I decided to hike and camp along. We had to hike about three miles ("hike"...really, it was an extended stroll through the woods on boardwalks) out to our campsite, an amazing spot right next to the water.

My crew.

Camp: Leo making dinner, Seyeon tending the fire, Alan off searching for firewood, and me predictably behind the camera lens.

The Washington coast is far more rugged than most coastal areas - lots of jagged rocky outcroppings, far less developed, i.e. quite isolated and wild. I definitely want to spend more time exploring it. After an evening of drinking hot cocoa, inhaling s'mores, talking politics, and telling ghost stories, we retreated to our respective tents. I woke up before anyone else and decided to seize the opportunity to go for a little solo birthday morning hike. I walked out quite a way on the beach and found myself a nice big boulder amidst the tide pools to listen to the sea lions, watch the birds, and wish the darned sun would come out. It didn't, but I still felt perfectly content.

A good start to a new year in my life!

When I got back to camp, Alan woke up and joined me for morning stroll #2. We walked out to a cool little island that I believe is only accessible at low tide. There, we watched the waves and speculated about the array of strange objects washed up on the beach. Returned back to camp for a long, lazy day at our campsite, spent drinking more hot cocoa, stirring up our fire again, and playing some Scrabble oceanside.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my birthday.

Total miles: 11.5 miles

HIKE #8: KLAHHANE RIDGE (Olympic National Park)

This was a seriously rockin' hike. Alan and I car-camped at the national park's Heart o' the Hills campground the night before, slept in, and got up to Hurricane Ridge by late morning to start our generally unplanned trek.

Alan and I outside of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

At a park ranger's suggestion, we began our amble along the Klahhane Ridge trail, which was paved for a short bit, albeit ridiculously steep and at elevation that made the climb seem much more intense than most of our typical hikes. The pavement and national park crowds quickly and drastically thinned out as we climbed, until finally we pretty much had the largely exposed ridge trail to ourselves.

Although the elevation made it a challenging one, it was a stunning, stunning hike. Sunshine and mostly clear skies proffered spectacular views on both sides of the ridge - on one side, Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada visible, and Mount Baker poking through a thin line of clouds...on the other side, a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains, way more up close and personal than is visible from my beloved home city. No photos will do it justice.

All the wildflowers and wildlife - friendly deer + even friendlier marmots - were icing on the cake.

Total miles: 10 miles


I'm sure I've said it before, but I really, really mean it this time: this was the most gorgeous hike I've done in the Northwest. At the recommendation of a new hire at work whom I was helping train last week, I gathered five friends this past Monday and made the epic trek up first to Rachel Lake, a sometimes gentle, sometimes brutal 4-miler up, then even more brutally upward to scale a ridge and drop back down into the Rampart Lakes basin - a truly magical little hideaway in the mountains, isolated, and pocked with crystal-blue, shimmering mountain lakes. I've been doing a lot of alpine lake hikes lately was, I'm ashamed to say, beginning to feel sort of like "Ehh, once you've seen one mountain lake, you've seen 'em all" - until this hike.

Alan above Rachel Lake on our hike up to Rampart Lakes.

Alan and I were both disappointed as we reviewed our photos later, because somehow more than usual, they completely and utterly fail to convey the majesty of this place. But so it goes. That's, I suppose, why I go outside and hike instead of just admiring the photos in the guidebooks.

The coolest part of the day? At Rachel Lake, as we were all doubled over catching our breath, already massaging our exhausted quad and gluteus muscles, we ran into a 90-year-old man who was hiking with his dog, Dusty. Really friendly guy, who told us that every year, he's worried it'll be his last time getting to see Rachel Lake - but so far, so good; what an inspiration!

Total miles: 12 miles

Total Mileage so far: 74.5 (of 100)
Total Funds Raised so far: $210 (of $300)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Trekking with a pooch + Meteor-watching with wild pigs


Seattleites love dogs. They're everywhere. People hike with their dogs, swim with them in the lake, take them into stores, sit with them on the sidewalk outside of cafes. Of the six units in my apartment building, which technically disallows dogs, two managed to talk our landlord into keeping one anyway.

Every time I'm out running or hiking in the mountains, I'm a little jealous of the people who are hiking with dogs. I still remember reading an article in Runner's World maybe 5 or 6 years ago about the ultrarunner Scott Jurek, and how he'd go for epic long runs in the mountains with his husky, Tonto. (On a sidenote, the article also discussed his making a home in Seattle, working at a local running store, and cooking delicious vegan food all the time. Upon reading the article, I remember thinking to myself, I want this guy's life! It's kind of cool now that we live in the same neighborhood in Seattle and overlapped at the Orcas Island run back in February.) Anyway - the problem, of course, is that there's no way my current lifestyle would allow for a dog. Some days, I leave for work by 8 in the morning, and between jobs, don't get home again until 11 at night. Not a dog-bladder-friendly schedule, by any means.

Likewise, I think it's really cool that people don't let having babies keep them from getting out into the mountains; I love the kid carrier backpacks, and how happy and engaged the little toddlers look as they get to go for a slow ride through the forest. I will strive to be that kind of parent someday. But of course, no dogs or small children for now; in the meantime, my only hiking companions are other grown up humans, when we can coordinate our work schedules.

Happily, this week, though, my friend James called me up with an awesome proposition: he's dogsitting for the week and wanted to take his dogsitting charge, an adorable lab/border collie mix named Ruby, for a hike. Elodie and I had made late evening dinner plans on the eastside for that evening, so it worked out well for James, Ruby, and I to do a nice local hike on the eastside, then meet up with Elodie for dinner (giant avocado bacon burgers at Red Robin, YUM) afterward.

Yes, it was everything I dreamed it would be.

The sunset rocked, too:

Miles: 7.5


This one wasn't really a hike, but I'm enjoying my blog's temporary foray into hike-chronicling, so I'll keep the format. Last night around midnight, the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked. It's always the second week of August, and traditionally, my aunt and uncle host a big stargazing/meteor-watching party and campout on their land. I'd forgotten about the meteor shower this year, until Brant brought it up at work yesterday and mentioned that he'd rented out a bivy sack, with no plans whatsoever except the general thought that it'd be cool to go sleep somewhere away from the city's light pollution and watch for falling stars.

The big deal this year is that we've just had a new moon a couple nights ago. "Moonless Perseids" only happen once every three years - but the absence of moonlight makes a big difference in terms of how many stars are visible with the naked eye. Although I had a late tutoring lesson last night yesterday and had been dreaming through my whole workday about getting a long night of sleep in my wonderful bed, I was intrigued by Brant's plans. Although neither of us knew exactly where to go to watch for meteors, Cam popped out of the woodwork at the opportune moment to contribute a suggestion. He reappeared moments later with a printed Google map and a hand-drawn dotted line snaking all over country roads between Redmond and Fall City, with a little star marking "Da Spot" which he recommended for us.

Come 10 p.m. last night, Brant and I set out for the country. Again, I felt amazed at how easy it is in Washington to move between vastly different landscapes in a short span of time. You can literally go from beach to mountains to city to suburbs to rural farms, all in the span of an hour's drive. It didn't take us long to get completely away from city lights. With my sun roof open, we cruised winding country roads in search of the perfect place to lay out our bivy sacks and sleeping bags.

We found it. We had it all to ourselves. We had flat ground to lie on and a panoramic view of the night sky that included thousands upon thousands of stars. I could hardly even find the big dipper, because I'm so unaccustomed to several hundred stars being visible inside of the dipper, too. The meteors were pretty spectacular - at least one every couple of minutes, and sometimes two or three right in a row, almost criss-crossing each other in the sky. We had great snacks.

At some point, there was a fairly loud chorus of snorting and grunting from the other side of the tall row of blackberry bushes we'd lay out sleeping bags next to. Brant was off exploring on his own, and my sympathetic nerve system seriously kicked in at the idea of some wild animal being out there in the darkness. Brant had heard it even from where he was, probably fifty yards away, but we concluded that it was probably just a little piggy at the farm next to which we'd camped out.

Finally around 2 a.m. or so, I dropped off to sleep. Woke up at 6 to Brant tromping around in the sea of fog that had come in overnight. (The sky was completely clear for the duration of our meteor-watching...a miracle!) I got up, and we walked around a little bit, plucked fresh blackberries off the bushes, and picked up where our conversations had left off the night before as we dropped off to sleep.

Overall, a great success.


Miles: .5ish

Total Mileage so far: 30.5 (of 100)
Total Funds Raised so far: $170 (of $300)


Monday, August 9, 2010

Inopportune Moments

The universe is conspiring against me. Three signs of it:

1. Pilot lights went out on my gas stove and oven three times in one day.
2. My car died.
3. 3 of 3 friends I was supposed to hike with on Sunday bailed on me (it's okay, team; I know homework and boyfriends and parties happen!)

Fortunately, all of this happened to coincide with the 48-hour time period that Alan snuck home for the weekend from Portland where he delivered a load on Saturday. So for the most part, crises were averted.


Rainy days in the Northwest.

After I awoke to sorry-I'm-bailing-on-you texts on Sunday morning, I rolled over and promptly went back to sleep, bummed out as all heck that my plans for the day (group hike out east + stopping in North Bend afterward for the Sound to Mountains Bike Festival, for which I'd gotten several comp tickets) were shot. While I certainly enjoy being out in the woods alone, it's just plain not safe; the fact that it's black bear hunting season in Washington now doesn't help. Anyway, Alan wasn't originally planning to come along for the day's festivities, but being the Personal Hero Boyfriend he is, he pulled me out of bed and said he'd go with me.

We got a later start, and the weather was plenty cool and rainy (really, Seattle, really? It's August. Why has it been 55 degrees and overcast for days? The weather's the same as it was in February), but we made good time on the Annette Lake trail - a nice amble through old-growth forest, past a few little creeks and waterfalls, and ultimately arriving at a small little mountain lake, cupped by three big peaks, which were pretty much completely encased in fog. The sun emerged for approximately 45 seconds when we first arrived at the lake, but was promptly beat back into submission by the clouds and the onset of a gentle rain.

Woohoo, summer in my rain jacket!

Miles: 8.5ish

Alan hiked in his Hawaiian shirt. (One of several in his possession.) We have an ongoing...conversation?...about his enthusiasm for Hawaiian shirts. He noticed that I'd left this particular one within easy access in our apartment, which I'll venture to say was a complete accident on my part. Inevitably, wherever we go together when Alan dons Hawaiian shirts, there will be some woman who will smile wide and call out to him all swoony-like, "Hey, nice shirt!" I've tried to explain that it's a different sort of compliment if (when, always) the woman is elderly, but no matter; I always get a big, smug grin from him in the wake of these exchanges.

I think it's a losing battle. Either way, the shirt certainly brought some color to an otherwise fairly uniform landscape of greenery and fog. When we came back down from our hike, we got malts and milkshakes and other yummy diner grub at Scott's Dairy Freeze in North Bend before meandering over to the Bike Festival. There, we met up with Cam, Avey, Jeff, Kate, LC, and other assorted friends, several of whom had ridden their bikes all the way from Seattle(ish) to North Bend...crazy impressive. (Someday I won't be such a scaredy cat when it comes to riding long distances on my bike.) There, we hung out in the grass, listened to live music, and picked blueberries. I fell in love with U-pick blueberry farms in Ohio, but I have to admit, the backdrop of this one was a little more awe-inspiring than any other blueberry farm I'd ever been to.

Overall, the day wound up being a great success.

That's Mount Si in the background!

Total Mileage so far: 22.5 (of 100!)

It's not too late to help out!

Friday, August 6, 2010

WTA Hike-a-thon Reports, Part I

First of all, a huge, huge thank you to Mike, Kate, Melissa, Duy, and Chris for their amazing generosity in helping sponsor me in the WTA Hike-a-thon! You guys are absolutely fantastic, and I cannot thank you enough. We are six days into the month, and I am at an unbelievable 42% of what felt to me like a somewhat ambitious fundraising goal. THANK YOU!
(Linky at the bottom of this entry if you want to help out, too.)


Technically began on July 31, so I can't count the hike in toward my Hike-a-thon miles, but the hike out was on August 1, and I'll write about it the whole shebang here. Most of our crew left early in the day, but my trusty trail compadres Camba and Jenica were both down for a little bit later start; morning work shifts, errands, etc...these are the same terrific two with whom I'm frequently counting shoe boxes at 7 a.m, so I swear, it's not that we're just lazy bums who didn't want to get up early to hit the trails.

I hadn't backpacked in a long time; the last time was when I was still in school, when I could just borrow gear from Oberlin's virtually unknown Outings Club (translation: tons of awesome gear and gas funds always was great). Fortunately, REI looks out for me, too, and so I was able to rent a backpack for free, and take out my new Half Dome tent for its second outdoors excursion.

The hike up was hot (in Pacific Northwestern, that's 78ish Fahrenheit), but as is always the case with Camba and Jenica, the company was great. I forgot how much harder it is to hike with a giant backpack! Silly me. We got to the lake and didn't see our crew's camp right away, so we asked some other hiker passersby whether they'd seen a group of hooligans, some bearded. They shrugged, said not really, but that there was an inflatable dinosaur with an arrow a little ways down the trail.

"That's probably us!" Cam replied. And sure was. We found our people frolicking by the lake, leaping off boulders into the crystal clear chilly water, making music (leave it to Jeff, Mr. Superhuman Treadmill Climber from my Ragnar report to haul a guitar all the way up the mountain, in addition to his backpack, tent, and other gear), and having a good time.

Jeff leaping into the lake. Kate and I jumped, too.

For all intents and purposes, our group had a great evening hanging out. The weather was muggy but decent. We made food. Mark had brought a portable fishing pole and caught himself a nice big stick. We sat around and drank and sang and generally were merry.

Surprise Lake by twilight.

That's where the good times went downhill. It started raining. It didn't stop. I stayed out of my tent hanging out with Jenica and Cam and Jeff in the rain until late, until all of us were soaked (and, in my case, chilled) to the bone. Got into my sleeping bag sopping wet, slept like a rock, and awoke to Lizzie yelling that there was a chipmunk on my backpack just outside of the tent. Turns out the little bastard had chewed a hole through the fabric of my pack to get at an empty sunflower butter packet and some tiny corn chip morsels. Left the entire back of open trail mix twenty feet away on the ground alone.

The hike out was a foggy one, but an enjoyable one. We stopped on the way home at a tiny little diner (really, just a big table in the front of a convenient store), but they had exactly what I'd spent all morning craving: breakfast food and a chocolate milkshake. I wolfed down a big egg scramble and went home a very happy woman.

Miles: 9ish total, but 4.5 toward Hike-a-thon


This one was just a day hike. I had to work until noon, but Wayne and I took off from Seattle right when I got off. We were on the trail by 1:30 (I LOVE THIS PLACE) and up to Mason Lake a few short hours thereafter. The trail is shared with a large stretch of the Mount Bandera route, which Alan and I had done several weeks ago - though I could already tell my hiking legs had developed some strength since then. I had less trouble on the uphills. The weather was sunny but really hazy; the trail proffers great Rainier views, but the haze was too great to see it.

Instead, we checked out the gorgeous wildflowers along the way - fire weed, lupin, Indian paintbrush, glacier lily, fox glove - and shared great conversation, as we often do out on the trail. Wayne's lived all over the country, but he's been working in the outdoor industry in Oregon and Washington for awhile now, so it's wonderful to pick his brain and hear his stories about various mountains, trails, Northwest icons.

We picnicked at Mason Lake, where I enjoyed the sunny rocks for awhile before taking a long dunk in the lake. Swam over to the other side and back, saw a salamander and a crawfish, and had some tasty snacks before picking up and moving on in our attempt to continue to the summit of Mount Defiance. Somehow, we got off trail in a mini boulder field, and wound up following a narrow, unmaintained trail that eventually led us into a mosquito-infested swamp. Always up for adventure though, we thought to ourselves, Ah, but surely if we just bushwhack through this brush right here, we'll find the trail! And so off we went into the trees and marshes and brush. No trail. But...surely, just over this ridge, we told ourselves. And still no trail.

After meandering off-trail for quite awhile, we finally decided to back track all the way, pretty much, to Mason Lake. There, we figured out where we'd gone wrong and got back on track - but by that time, we were pushing time. We made it up a little more than halfway up the mountain before the clock nabbed us and we had to turn back. "Don't worry, Lady Defiance, we'll return to you soon!" Wayne called out as we turned around and made our way back down.

Drove home into a stunning sunset:

Ah Washington State, how I love thee!

Miles: 9.5ish total

Can you spare five bucks for the trails of the Northwest?

Total Mileage so Far: 14 (of 100!)
Total Funds Raised so Far: $125 (of $300!)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

10 Seattleite Essentials

Brainchild of a recent hike: my list of 10 Seattleite Essentials! Feel free to comment, add, subtract, protest, express offense, etc. I know it's a departure from my usual blog material, and the potentially controversial mix of self-deprecating humor and amused social critique is a little edgier than I usually opt for, but here goes:

1. Beard, bearded boyfriend, beard envy, or all of the above
2. Reusable Trader Joe's shopping bags
3. Waterproof commuter backpack
4. Forest green Subaru and/or cornflower blue Prius
5. Obama/Biden bumper sticker
6. Pair of Chacos
7. Sounders FC scarf
8. Kindle
9. Cup of Vivace espresso
10. Chocolate lab

(I'm 2/10 so far, and clearly failing at my own game.)

Runners Up Include: NPR messenger bag, utility kilt, fixy bike, hiker chick girlfriend, home espresso machine, Vibram Fivefingers, cloves, microbrew snobbery, altimeter watch, MacBook, backyard compost.

(4/12 this time!)

Back to the usual blog material soon, including my Hike-a-thon update, but first I have to hike some more. And not be working 58-hour work weeks so I can actually have the time to update my blog! That's all for now, folks.