Author Archive

Off The Map: When The Rivers Run Dry

The glorious Santa Ynez River was gone. Its wide riverbed, formerly a no-man’s land of marshes and swiftly-flowing tributaries had been reduced to a few struggling pools withi... read more...


Off The Map: Week One: The Saturation Point

Rain. Rain. More rain. This was not the homecoming I had in mind. Back in Southern California, we could go a respectable five months out of the year without rainfall, but her... read more...


Off the Map: Week 13 - Pass or fail

As a plan, it seemed reasonable on its surface. Over two days I would hike upstream along Convict Creek to its icy headwaters, find some way to cross over into the nearby McGe... read more...


Off the Map Week 12: Spring cleaning

My performance on the slopes of Sonora Peak was underwhelming. I was breathing hard and felt sapped of vitality, which did not bode well for the more ambitious hikes I’d plann... read more...


Off the Map Week 11: Burning the night away

The gorilla and his bride-to-be stood at the end of the pier, hand-in-hand, as the presiding official put the megaphone to his lips and began the ceremony. “Do you, Tuffy, tak... read more...


Off the Map Week 10: Turning the corner

What seemed like a powerful dust devil at first now had the look of a small explosion. A quarter-mile down the road, a column of dust swirled and billowed up from behind a bli... read more...


Off the Map Week 9: Out of gas

I knew there was no chance I was going to make it to a gas station in time… might as well just enjoy the ride.  After passing what seemed like the fifth exit in a row without ... read more...


Off the Map Week 8: Worth a toenail

“My toenail’s probably going to fall off,” my mother predicted as she shortened the nail with a pair of clippers. The damage had been done in the course of a four-mile hike in... read more...


Off the Map Week 7: Without a paddle

I could tell within the first ten seconds that this was the most ludicrous scheme I’d thought of in a while. For one thing, the water was already freezing my feet. Secondly, W... read more...


Off the Map Week 6: Addicted to altitude

The woman looked exhilarated but concerned as she met us coming down the Swiftcurrent Pass trail. “You’d best be careful heading up to the pass. There’s supposed to be a big t... read more...


Off the Map Week 5: My chief concern

The rock dared me to trust it. “I’ll be a good handhold,” it seemed to whisper. “I promise!” Though it probably weighed as much as me, the rock seemed to have a tenuous connec... read more...


Off the Map Week 3: Flower Power

The grungy man, who looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks, drifted sleepily over to our car window and peered inside. “Hey, man. You know you’re still seven miles away from ... read more...


Off the Map Week 2: Icebound

Halfway across the creek, the nerve endings in my feet began to feel like they were on fire. Direct snowmelt from the whiteclad peaks of the Trinity Alps had swollen these fri... read more...


Off the Map Week 1: Natural Deceptions

After I had clawed my way back up the thirty-foot cliff, I sat down on the trail with a thud, passed Marcus the steel water bottle I had rescued from the bottom of the canyon,... read more...


Off the Map, Week 13: The Last Moonlight

I was just beginning to nod off in my tent when an intense light burned through my eyelids, searing a line down my cornea and slicing deep into my drifting consciousness. I op... read more...



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