Archive for 'Explore'

Posted on Sep 20, 2017
Posted in Art!, Explore, My Life

In this case, the subway is a 9-mile hike in my home states’ Zion National Park. I love having friends that ask me to go on these adventures that require permits and an experienced guide. Why did we need an expert you ask? Because this hike through a slot canyon involved 3 rappels! 3!! It also involved swimming through parts of the slot canyon that filled up with water.

A true adventure you guys. Holy shit. I’m already sad it’s behind me.

I’ve been rappelling a handful or more of times over the course of my life and I’ve always found the experience thrilling. I’m not sure if it’s because there was no belay the bottom of the ropes this time (an actual person serving as a back up to stop the ropes if you make a mistake), or if it’s because it’s been a good 6 years since my last time bounding down a mountain attached to a rope, but this time it was scary! I don’t mind confessing to y’all (look at the slang I’m picking up from my trip to Memphis!) that I don’t like being as scared as I was. I definitely need to re-familiarize myself navigating heights like that on a more regular basis.

This awesome hike had some other scary elements.

#1 scary thing: Slot Canyons.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, slot canyons are usually narrow spaces in between rock faces. Sometimes they are just small enough for a person to squeeze through. My BFF and I had a memorable experience with another one in southern Utah last year. Feel free to read about that adventure here.

This slot canyon was not the claustrophobia inducing one we navigated in Escalante, but because it was still a slot canyon, there is always the “point of no return” element.

I am not being dramatic here. Should a flash flood come while you are anywhere in the “point of no return” zone, you will most certainly die. Now, I know the likelihood of death from a car accident is much higher than drowning in a slot canyon, but try telling yourself that when you cross that “these might just be your last steps” threshold… Especially if you see rain clouds, or even think about how quickly rain clouds can swoop in out of nowhere. These quiet, almost meditative moments that come with these kinds of adventures are some of my favorite moments in life. That connection with your breath you feel as you make the conscious decision to go forward forces you into a state of being completely present. The possibility of death seems to do that no matter how small that possibility actually is or how seemingly silly.

# 2 scary thing: My camera’s wellbeing.

There was NO WAY that I could do this trip and not bring my camera. I decided on one camera body and one fish-eye lens (Look at how far I’ve come!). I put it inside a gallon-size freezer bag, and put that inside of a dry bag that upon the touch seemed just as susceptible to water absorption as a delicate linen. I was freaked the fuck out you guys.

It was like Schrodinger’s Cat when I fully submersed myself in that first pool. The camera might be the fully functioning piece of equipment needed for my livelihood or it might be a water soaked antique trinket. Who knows?! It’s too late now! Keep swimming!

It made it through okay. Woot woot!! Thank you magic fabric for protecting my camera. I feel I should also pay thanks to the REI guy that patiently gave 4-minutes of his life answering the same question…

“THIS fabric is waterproof?”

“Yes.”

“Waterproof, like if I put something in it, dunk it in water and it will be dry inside?”

“Yes.”

“THIS fabric.”

“Yes, that fabric.”

“Waterproof, like the contents inside will be completely dry?”

“Yes.”

“THIS fabric, are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure that if I put something valuable inside, completely submerse it in water, that what’s inside will be okay?”

“Yes.”

“THIS fabric?!”

“Yes.”

… And so on for a solid 4-minutes.

I also decided to buy a GoPro camera for the trip since I would not have access to my real camera for a good portion of the hike. It was a good purchase.

Here are the pics from my Subway adventure. Special thanks to my friends who let me tag along. I’m one lucky girl.

1 mkp zion blm land

My hosts. We camped out on some nearby BLM land the night before the hike. Sleeping under the spectacular Utah desert sky was worth the drive from LA on it’s own.

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I had to press the shutter with my left hand since I needed my right hand to rappel down. I still like this shot even though my hand covers half the frame.

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One of the many slot canyon swims! Oh my god it was so fun!

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I did NOTHING to this picture in post. It came out of my camera this way. It’s so cool!

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21 mkp subway at zion

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30 mkp subway at zion

31 mkp subway at zion rappel

This was the third rappel and the scariest. You really had to take it slow because the rock was kind of slick and it curved in, so it wasn’t hard to kind of smack into it as you worked your way down. As soon as I made it down, I wanted to do it again but do it better.

30 mkp subway at zion

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35 mkp hiking subway at zion

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I’m so glad I got the GoPro. The underwater shots are my favorite from the trip.

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45 mkp subway at zion

46 mkp zion reflection

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48 mkp zion river reflection

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50 mkp hiker at zion

51 mkp river zion

52 mkp hikers at zion

53 mkp hiker at zion

54 mkp sunburst reflected in river zion

Come on!!! Look at all those sunbursts reflected in the water! I love it so.

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Epic staredown.

59 mkp frog at zion

The tiny frogs were so cute!!! I just want to squeeze their little bodies. I had a dream about them the other night I liked them so much.

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It’s safe to say that this is my favorite picture from the trip, but it might be one of my most favorite pictures ever.

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73 mkp zion

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Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Do you need a new headshot, but don’t have the time or the money for a full session?  I offer shortened, discount headshot sessions at my studio in DT LA on the Second Sunday of every month.  Click here for information.

Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

Posted on Aug 10, 2017
Posted in Art!, Explore, My Life

I have lived in L.A. now for 18 years, and this year was finally my first trip to Catalina Island. YAY!! Finally! Catalina is a magical little island only an hour boat ride from either Long Beach or San Pedro. My BFF and I planned to backpack the Trans-Catalina Trail, or TCT. The length of the trail is about 37 miles, but because you have to hike back from the end back to where you’d catch a boat back to the mainland, it’s really more like 51 miles.

The most common way to do the TCT is to start in the city of Avalon and work your way to the other end of the island at Starlight Beach. Because of the heavy rains California was hit with this year, the last leg of the trail from Parsons Landing to Starlight Beach was virtually inaccessible. Technically we could have tried it, but should something happen and require assistance from the park service, they would not have been able to access it. Needless to say we decided against doing the entire trail. Instead, we decided on a three-day-backpacking trip. Here was our plan:

Day-1

Avalon to Black Jack campground: 17 miles

Day-2

Black Jack to Little Harbor campground: 7 miles

Day-3

Little Harbor to Two Harbors: 5 miles.

Although our hiking trip was three days, our actual time on the island was 5 days. We traveled from the Long Beach Harbor to Avalon on a Wednesday afternoon and stayed the night at Hotel Atwater. This gave us time to swing by the Catalina Conservancy office to pick up a map, walk around the city and grab dinner and a beer. Avalon is beautiful!! There are very few vehicles allowed on the island. Transportation is all pretty much on foot of by golf cart, which added to its charm.

1 mkp Avalon Harbor

2 mkp photographer selfie

3 mkp Hotel Atwater

When we were planning the logistics of the trip, everything we read told us to check in for our campsites at Hotel Atwater, which is why we picked that hotel for our accomodations. We booked our campsites at Reserve America and were able to print out our reservations from home and have them on our person. When we checked in at the hotel, they basically told us that things have changed a bit and that checking in with them per se there wasn’t necessary like it once had been.

4 mkp backpacking the TCT

5 mkp backpacking the TCT

When we checked into the Conservancy to get our map, we decided to work our way up to the TCT via Wrigley Botanical Gardens which shaved a couple of miles off of our first day. I think it was supposed to be around 15 miles from the hotel to Black Jack instead of the originally planned for 17. I feel I should say that going through the botanical gardens required a fee for entrance. Kristen and I were the only ones in the park that early in the morning and thus we were able to talk our way into not paying, ensuring them that we were not there for the park, but only for the access to the Trans-Catalina Trail. I think if it was later in the day and there were more patrons that we would not have been so lucky.

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13 mkp backpacking the TCT

Foxes are the islands apex predator. They were pretty stinking cute… Except when they cried at night. Their cries didn’t have the terrifying element that the howler monkeys in Costa Rica did, but the fox yowls were loud and lasted quite a while.

14 mkp backpacking the TCT

15 mkp backpacking the TCT

16 mkp backpacking the TCT

This is the spot where we experienced our first setback. We were on a very clearly marked trail. The path narrowed a bit and then we saw a TCT sign with an arrow clearly pointing toward the trail we were on that ran parallel to the fence you see in the right of the frame. We followed it until there was basically no more trail… Only a steep mountain face that a skilled hiker could traverse without a backpack. Doing it with a backpack would have been near impossible. Where could we have gone wrong? We could see the trail on the other side of the fence and down a ways. We decided to backtrack a bit and eventually opted to hop the fence and work our way toward the trail we saw in the distance. Once we did, you could see where the TCT was and it went right THROUGH the fence. This fence had no gate mind you. We were like WTF? This is something that could have been communicated to us at the Conservancy Office when we got our maps. You know, something along the lines of “Hey ladies! Once you come up on Haypress reservoir, you can either opt to stay on the service road that accommodates vehicles, or if you choose to stay on the actual TCT like you intend to do, you’re going to have to jump a fence!” Either option would have been preferable to adding a mile to our longest day, but oh well. What’s one little extra mile? We’re tough chicks.

17 mkp backpacking the TCT

18 mkp grump face backpacking the TCT

We felt that the best way to alleviate our frustration was with a faux grump-face selfie.

19 mkp backpacking the TCT

20 mkp backpacking the TCT

IT’S JUST SO PRETTY!!!

21 mkp backpacking the TCT

22 mkp backpacking the TCT

This image pretty much marks the point when I stopped taking photos on Day-1. This is when the real adventure riddled with tears, disbelief, fear and triumph took place.

We had put the bulk of the day’s journey behind us… Or so we thought. We had just over 3 miles left to go to Black Jack Campground. We were tired, but in good spirits. Our bodies were sore, but there was that sort of numb euphoria that I like about backpacking. We began up a mountain that DID NOT LET UP. Holy shit. I am guestimating here when I say it was probably a good 1.5 miles with no reprieve and at a significant grade.

I’m not a big Justin Bieber fan, but his song, Let Me Love You, was on REPEAT in my head. Specifically that part where he goes “don’t you give up na na na, I won’t give up, na a na, let me love you, let me love you”. I’ve heard that song a lot on the radio and at various events but is that song in any playlist of mine? Nope. How that song and specifically that part just forced its way into my consciousness at that particular moment in time is a mystery. Would I classify myself as a Justin Bieber fan? The answer to that question would have been a pretty hard NO before this backpacking trip. I can’t say that anymore. I am a fan of yours Justin Bieber… You got me through that hill and that was no easy feat. Thank you sir. I am forever grateful.

Once we made it over the crest of what is the highest slope on Catalina Island, we were in the home stretch. Only a mile and half or so left. We got to a point in the trail where it opened up at the crest of a hill. We noticed several orange flags marking the only unquestionably clear part of the trail. It veered to the left. Straight ahead were only grass, rocks and weeds. Clearly that sharp left turn was where we were supposed to be. We were appreciating the beautiful terrain that rolled up and down as it led us down toward the waterline line in the distance where we assumed we would be setting up our tent soon.

The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky. It was breathtaking in its ever-quickening softer light beauty. We were almost jovial as our level of exhaustion was coinciding perfectly with our arrival time. We kept going.

And going…

And going.

Surely we were supposed to have come across the little pond that was only a mile away from the campground. We had gone about 2 miles before we could not ignore that sick feeling in our gut. We stopped to pull out the map and saw that our guts were indeed right. We fucked up. Big time. But how? It didn’t make any sense!

The sun was really starting to set now and we had to go back the 2 miles we came in error, and still had another mile and a half to the campsite.

Our eyes moistened from the tears that wanted to eek their way out. We were at the point of complete exhaustion. Our 15-mile day, which had already become a 16-mile day, was now shaping up to be a 20-mile day… If we were lucky!! We weren’t earning any gold stars for our accuracy so far. On top of it, Kristen’s feet had begun to hurt so badly from her shitty shoes that we were already discussing just how many toenails she was going to lose.

And the sun was sinking lower and lower. It was dusk now.

I have experienced a number of very physically challenging adventures, but this was my first ever experience with real adrenaline. Something clicked in my head and body that made me keep a pace that would have been fast with no backpack.

All I could hear was the quick pace of my steps as I got to as close to a run as possible. I felt strong. I was focused. We were going to make it. We had to.

We made our way back to the fork in the trail where the eye catching orange flags mimicked the “COME THIS WAY” kind of sign used by aggressive salesmen. This had to be where we went wrong.

Sure enough, we walked though the grass and weeds to edge of the hill where we could see down. There, far out of the sightline from where the trail split was a sign marking the TCT trail.

While I did not love the situation at the time it was happening, I will say I am glad it happened. I am going to start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail next year and that trail is nowhere near as clearly marked as the TCT. We will be relying on compasses and maps a lot more heavily. This was a good lesson to double-check our path even, and especially in those times of certainty.

Our 15-mile day had turned into a 20-mile day. We made it to camp just after the sun had set. We put our tent up in near darkness, made dinner, and promptly went to bed. As we lied in our sleeping bags before sleep overtook us, we spoke about being more responsible hikers the following day. We would not make the same mistakes on Day-2.

I told you we were so tired that no photos documented the epic experience we had endured. I didn’t even pull out my camera to shoot our tent the next morning! I did get a few shots of our food prep and gear packing.

24 mkp backpacking the TCT

Look at that amazing woman making breakfast! God love her.

25 mkp backpacking the TCT

Out of all of our backpacking excursions, this one marked a turning point in our food planning. We still over packed a bit, but nothing crazy like our first trip in the Grand Canyon.

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(Insert angel music effects here) Look how beautiful our campsite was! Too bad our time at breakfast was our only time where we could see it since we got there in almost complete darkness the night before.

27 mkp backpacking the TCT

I had to take a picture of this bungee-hook thing because they are the bomb. They are so useful!! Never leave home without them.

28 mkp backpacking the TCT

After recommitting ourselves to doing what was necessary to stay on the Trans Catalina Trail, regardless or what the trail markers communicated, we began Day-2 with studying the map, packing up our gear and hiked out of Black Jack campground. Once we got to the main road/trail, we promptly took a right when alas, and this will probably come as no surprise, we should have taken a left. This little error was not super costly and only added 2-miles to what was supposed to be a 7-mile day to the Little Harbors Campground.

Way to go us! My BFF and I don’t call ourselves “Team Hard Way” for nothing. That title is earned dammit. Over the course of our lives, we have worked very hard to subconsciously make the more difficult choices, especially when the situation does not warrant such character building. That’s how we roll people.

29 mkp backpacking the TCT

We like to think that had we gone the correct way that we would not have been in a position to be right under the airplane flight path. That’s what we told ourselves, but truth is, maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t have.

It was on this paved road to the airport that we met a couple whose flight had just landed. They chose to walk the “10” miles back to their home in Avalon rather than have someone pick them up. We talked with them about the island for a few minutes and we of course could not help but express our grievances with the way the island marks the trail. They casually informed us that all signs should be thought of as more of a suggestion, or an approximation as opposed to actual fact. Do you see a sign that says 10 miles? That could actually mean 9, 11, or even 13. Who knows exactly, but it’s for sure in that general area. Maddening piece of information noted.

31 mkp backpacking the TCT

We officially made it back to the Trans Catalina Trail! Woot woot!!

32 mkp backpacking the TCT

Catalina Island is home to a herd of Bison that have roamed the island since 1924. A film titled “The Vanishing American” was filmed on the island and one of the scenes required bison. 14 bison were transported from the Great Plains to Catalina Island with the intention of being returned upon completion of the film. That obviously never happened. Since their arrival on the island, the herds’ population has fluctuated from it’s original 14, to its peak at 527. The number now currently on the island is around 150.

They are really impressive up close. I believe we were encouraged/instructed to not approach the bison for obvious reasons. When we caught our first look at them, they were pretty far away. As we got closer they promptly ran in the opposite direction.  Great!

33 mkp backpacking the TCT Catalina bison

As we approached this group of bison, they didn’t really seem to move away from us as soon as the last group did. We didn’t expect that this herd would be different from the last batch of giant shaggy beasts so we stuck to the game plan. Keep calm, move slowly and don’t look them in the eye. I don’t know if that’s really a thing, but it felt right. Like, really right.

By the time we realized that they were not going to run away it was too late. We had committed to our game plan. It seemed like they would read our changing course as an act of fear, or danger in some way. Again, I don’t know what was going on in their buffalo brains, but rather than shuffling off (only my fellow tap dancers will appreciate this marvelous pun), we stayed calm and carried on.

We got through okay, but there was one giant muppet of a buffalo who appeared to be the leader. He didn’t trust us. We could see it in is eyes… Peripherally of course since we were adamant about not making eye contact. He started to slowly follow us and when he moved, the rest of the group moved with him. We kept going, cool, head down keeping the same steady pace. They followed us for probably 30 yards or so, seemingly establishing a perimeter daring us to step back in. We did not accept the dare and he finally relented.

Once we were a good ways away from the pack, we stopped to eat some lunch. We watched another set of backpackers approach the herd in the distance. How would they choose to navigate the beasts? They walked WAY FAR AROUND. Hahaha! What pussies! (Totally kidding, this was the correct maneuver.) Not long after said couple passed us on our break, a ranger drove up and spoke to us from his truck. He asked if the herd was on the trail when we came through and how we went around them. His facial expressions did not hide his surprise and horror when we explained to him our oxen-traversing method. He explained that they can get a bit grumpy at times to which we informed him that 15 minutes ago was in fact one of those times.

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35 mkp backpacking the TCT

We made it to our destination at Little Harbors campground with plenty of time to put up our tent in broad daylight and enjoy the sunset on the beach. It was stunning.

36 mkp backpacking the TCT

I love this woman. She and I have been best friends since 7th grade when my parents moved our family to my Dad’s hometown in Carbon County Utah. It’s small town with its roots in coal mining… A town where everyone knows your name. She and I have been through more life experiences and adventures than we can shake a stick at. This moment enjoying the sunset after the bison-gods gave us the “thumbs up” was a great one to add to our ever-growing list.

37 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors sunset

38 mkp backpacking the TCT camp dinner

We prepared and ate our dinner by the light of our headlamps. I love this picture because her hands are all blurred and positioned like she’s a magician magically making macaroni and cheese appear.

39 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors campground

40 mkp backpacking the TCT

This is my very high-tech method of airing out my t-shirt. You gotta make sacrifices when you backpack. One of those sacrifices is overall body freshness.

41 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors campground

By Day 3, Kristen had decided that she was going to call for one of the islands Sherpa companies to take her to the final campground. Her hiking shoes had wreaked havoc on her feet and her ability to use them. The third and final hiking day was supposed to be the shortest day distance wise at 5 miles from the Little Harbors campground to the one at Two Harbors. *

*5-miles is a mere approximation due in part to both the inaccuracy of the trail signs, and our personal unwillingness to follow a physical map.

We decided that if the cost of shuttling us to Two Harbors was more than $25 per person that I would hike it and meet her there. My comparatively inexpensive Solomon Trail Running shoes had taken such good care of my feet! They were so comfortable that I never even felt the need to take them off upon reaching camp both days. I cannot say enough good things about them. Solomon, I love you. Thank you for a product line that allowed me to keep all of my toenails.

But I digress. While we were breaking down camp, the same ranger who we had frightened with our Buffalo-Whisperer ability made an appearance to check the campground. We asked him about the frequency and cost of the Sherpa shuttles. He gave us the information we were after and added that he was heading over to Two Harbors in ten minutes. If we were ready to go in that time frame, he would be happy to take us.

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We were ready!

43 mkp backpacking the TCT

RANGER DAN THE MAN! He rocked. He totally gave us a tour of the island. We learned so much!! The conservancy did good when they hired him.

44 mkp backpacking the TCT

It’s a good thing for Ranger Dan The Man that I had implemented the use of my high-tech shirt freshening technique.

45 mkp backpacking the TCT

46 mkp backpacking the TCTTwo Harbors official greeter

This is the official greeter of the city of Two Harbors. Between the bitchin’ Ranger Dan The Man and now this cutie, Day-3 was already shaping up to be a great one.

47 mkp backpacking the TCT Buffalos milk

Ranger Dan The Man educated us on a vast array of all things Catalina Island. One of which was Buffalo’s Milk, a cocktail that was concocted by Harbor Reef Restaurant bartender, Michael Hoffler, back in the mid-seventies. It’s an island version of a white russian. Ranger Dan The Man is so smart.

48 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors general store

The very small city of Two Harbors has a general store, a restaurant, a hotel, a campground, a visitor center and that’s about it. We decided to have a couple of drinks at the only bar in town before making our way to our final campsite.

49 mkp Two Harbors general store

Check out this little wooden buffalo tchotchke on top of the register at the Two Harbors general store!

50 mkp Two Harbors

51 mkp Two Harbors

52 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

53 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

54 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

55 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

56 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

We really enjoyed our stay at this last campground. It’s about a half-mile hike from the harbor itself where the visitor center is located. The road there was kind of wonky from this year’s heavy rains. If you’re car-camping (not backpacking), you can pay the camp to transport your gear from the dock to your site by truck. I think it would be super fun to start an annual camping weekend with friends here.

57 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

We headed down to the dock with enough time to spend a couple of hours in town… And by town, I mean the Harbor Reef Restaurant.

58 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

I have no idea what these sketches are of, but I found them delightful. They were all over the restaurant.

59 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

Only a few beers on tap and one of them was a Utah beer! Uintah Brewing! Go figure!

60 mkp empty glass

61 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

62 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

63 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

64 mkp backpacking the TCT Catalina Island

You can see from a distance just how steep some of the mountains are. When I look at this picture, my eye goes right to the highest one. (Queue Justin Bieber verse.)

65 mkp Catalina Island boad ride

Our boat ride back to L.A. was from Two Harbors. When it made a stop in Avalon this cutie boarded and sat in the seat right across from me. She had a fun time with the wind blowing her hair. I had a fun time witnessing the joy it brought her 🙂

66 mkp Catalina Island boat ride

67 mkp Catalina Island boad ride

Although we are collectively going back with fewer toenails than we came with, hiking the Trans Catalina Trail was an amazing experience. It was harder than expected, but also more beautiful. I feel like I really got a sense of the island, both the urban element and the backcountry. The people were welcoming and kind, the views heart-stirring, I experienced my first shot of real adrenaline and the bison were accommodating in their willingness to let us live. I look forward to going back and hiking it without any extra miles added on, going against the “Team Hard Way” credo. We can do it! We have to go back to symbolically burn and ceremoniously drown Kristen’s shitty shoes anyway.

Here’s a list of resources we found useful when planning our this trip:

Blog featured on SoCal Hiker

Blog featured on Modern Hiker

Boat ride to and from

Hotel Atwater in Avalon

Catalina Conservancy

Campgound bookings

City of Two Harbors

Part of the trail we omitted

Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

 

 

 

Posted on Mar 19, 2017

I am lucky to have a good number of incredible women in my life to look to as positive role models. Among them is this RAD woman, Kristin, AKA Grease Girl. One of the many reason’s for my admiration is that if she’s talking about doing something, she’s DOING it. I think of her as an artistic craftswoman… She does crazy awesome shit with her hair, make up and general styling, and sometimes even makes her own clothes. If you went to her wedding and saw all the cool decorations and even her wedding dress, you might inquire where she bought such coolness only to find out that she made it. She dances, writes, she’s a photographer and oh yeah… She’s into cars. She was instrumental in the creation of The Gasoline Girls, an all girls car club here in Southern California. Even though she works professionally in the automotive industry, she still maintains her Grease Girl blog, which she uses to document her journey into all things car related.

The Automobile Driving Museum had an exhibit last month called “A Woman’s Touch” which recognized the impact that women had on the automobile industry from the inception of the automobile to modern times. The museum reached out to Kristin to see if she would be interested in teaching a “ladies only car class”. She was interested and so were 30 or so other women who showed up early one Sunday morning to learn about what’s under the hood of their cars. It was so cool.

I was beyond excited when she hired to me to document that first class. Basically, I absolutely adore her.   Her inquisitiveness, desire to make things beautiful, overall kindness, adventurous heart and getter-done personality make her one of my most favorite people on the planet. The class was such a success that they’re doing more. If you ladies out there are interested in attending, click here for more information. The more badass girls out there doing their thing, the better. Let the Grease Girl help lead the way by example.

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Like what you see?  To discuss my professional services for hire or perhaps an artistic collaboration, contact me here!

Posted on Feb 20, 2017

I had the absolute PLEASURE of going on a helicopter ride with the Pasadena Police Department. Colleague, client and friend, Jill Hawkins of MHP Events, was my partner in crime. IT WAS SO FREAKING COOL!!! It was no joyride for the guys working and there were quite a few things going on in the city that required the helicopter that day.  Seeing what they do and how they work was facinating.  Because I had my gear with me, I was able to photograph a particular street corner of interest to the cops at one point during the ride… Sooooooo basically I’m like an honoree PPD officer. All in a days work folks!

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THE ROSE BOWL!!!

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These mofo’s took one of my cameras when I was taking pics inside the cockpit.

helicopter book - 30 of 30

Posted on Jan 15, 2017

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This was a creative collaboration with poet, Sarah Suzor. Today’s post, “Having Seen, or Winter” is the fourth and final installment of this year’s “elements” theme; an ongoing quarterly collaboration.

Sarah Suzor is the author of The Principle Agent (Winner of the 2010 Hudson Prize), and After the Fox (2014), which is co-authored with Travis Cebula. Her articles, interviews and poems have been published widely. She is also the Founder and Owner of INK, LLC, which provides all-encompassing editing services to clients looking to publish and polish their writing and manuscripts. She lives between Venice Beach, California, and her hometown, Sheridan, Wyoming.

If you are inspired to colloborate on a blog post with me and my photographs, or any other creative project, please contact me at melissa@mkobephotography.com

Posted on Oct 21, 2016

Today’s blog post features photos taken on an actual film camera. Can you believe that?! They still exist! They were taken on a 360-degree camera, which is so freaking cool. It’s a toy camera that only has 2 settings, F-8, or F11 so you can’t get fancy with the details. You pull the string, and it spins a full 360-degrees using 8 frames of film to make the whole picture. It’s so bitchin’.

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I took this from the INSIDE of a hot air balloon before they blew it up.

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Like what you see here? Are you interested in my services professionally or creatively? Contact me here.

Posted on Sep 30, 2016
Posted in Art!, Explore, HoneyBe, My Life

Escalante is a very small town in southern Utah. The truth is, I really wanted to call this blog post “The Vagina Monologues” as it is a more appropriate title for the recurring theme of the trip, but I stuck with the more family friendly, “Escalante”.

I met my best friend in Provo at the tiny little airport jam packed with a mix of good Mormons doing mission related activities, and pretty extreme looking outdoorsy folks desperate to get into the beautiful Utah wilderness. We drove straight down to Escalante where my family friends have an awesome home.

The goals:

  1. To do as many hikes as possible.
  2. Sleep in.
  3. Cook a lot of delicious meals.
  4. Drink beer.
  5. Understand the female reproductive system.

Okay, so the last item on the list wasn’t exactly planned, but it became a topic that was discussed in lengthy detail. There were long conversations that stemmed from the simple enough “Hey, let’s have kids” (I’m paraphrasing for time sake as anyone knows that the topic is NEVER NEVER NEVER that simple no matter how many movies and books tell you so). That seed started my BFF down the path of education on what is happening in our bodies… You know, the “Our Bodies Ourselves” kind of deep introspection that is the subject of truly fascinating conversation to half the population. Let’s just say that the one male member of our hiking weekend party did a lot of quietly backing out of the room once he got wind of the ongoing conversation.

Back to the hiking adventure! Our first hike was a rolling 6-mile round trip hike to the breathtaking “Calf Creek Falls”. I totally went swimming in the near freezing water. There were, unfortunately, too many people at the watering hole to go skinny dipping which would have been preferable, but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

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When we began our route back to the car from the falls, the bright sun was hot in its blue sky. Half way in, we heard a deep rumbling of what sounded like thunder, but didn’t seem to be possible as there was no visible storm cloud. As we progressed, the storm cloud made itself seen, moving quickly over the landscape. It was beautiful! The rain started to trickle a quarter mile away from the car, and by the time we stopped for coffee at a super cute spot in the middle of nowhere, it was a full blown downpour that resulted in mini waterfalls, and even a few power outages in the restaurant. It was awesome!

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Meet Mike and Jenny, our hosts. You might recognize their faces from a previous river adventure blog post that I’ll never forget.  Mike and Jenny are very good friends of the family, and two of my favorite people on the planet. I love them more than I have the time to express in this blog post. They are obviously super fun to be around as the “Lady and the Tramp” moment suggests.

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We think the beetles were mating, but we don’t know.

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BREATH FOR PCD!!!

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So… This photo marks the beginning of what could be considered a whole other adventure. The water in the slot canyon was too deep for Doug, the dog. Mike stayed with him, leaving us three ladies to work our way through the rock formation that clearly resembled a giant vagina. Thus began a very literal reference to “Our Bodies Ourselves”. We disrobed to our skivvies, and the two of us donning underwear with the least amount of fabric led the charge. Lets just say, poor Jenny saw things she cannot unsee. There was a lot of challenging bracing and scaling involved that allowed for both the philosophical and literal deep insight into our person. Things happened in there that I don’t think should be put into words for the world to imagine. Because I couldn’t bring my camera with me, we’ll only have our memories to live with for the rest of our lives.

giphy

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Lunch break!

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This part of southern Utah has some bitchin’ rock formations that we’ve never seen anywhere else. There are these rocks called Moqui Marbles that once eroded, roll down the hills and collect in pockets. They are super cool to look at, but I didn’t really get any photos of them that I loved. There are also these sphere-like knots that seemed to come up out of the rocks like straws… Some are tall, others shorter that seemed to have broken off. We are all standing around one those here.

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Slot canyon number 2!

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Here is the team putting our clothes back on.

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Car bar!!! Our friends, hosts and guides packed a cooler full of beers to enjoy at the completion of our long day hike. They are so smart!!!

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Can you count how many things are wrong with this picture?

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We stopped for gas on Escalante’s main street before working our way to hike number three. I snapped this shot from the passenger side window.

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Mike was standing behind me when I took this picture. I saw something fall on my lens and thought the joker was messing with me but it turned out to be a grasshopper!

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I am so lucky to call this landscape home. There is no place like it anywhere in the world. I am also lucky to have such amazing friends and family to continue to explore it with, even as I make my home in Los Angeles. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some light reading to get back to…

Posted on Sep 16, 2016

I had to rent a super wide-angle lens for a job a few weeks back and took it for a spin on one of my morning hikes before returning it.  My favorite hiking buddy and I do the Observatory Trail up at Griffith Park often… Several times a week.  It’s just under 2 miles, so it’s short enough to squeeze into the busiest of days.  I LOVE L.A. SO MUCH!  A lot of people like to talk shit about this amazing city, but don’t let them fool you.  The city of angels is the bomb.  At a 10 minute drive from my house, this isn’t even the closest trail to me!

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Posted on Jul 21, 2016

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This was a creative collaboration with poet, Sarah Suzor. Today’s post, “Having Flown or Solstice” is the second installment of this year’s “elements” theme; an ongoing quarterly collaboration.

Sarah Suzor is the author of The Principle Agent (Winner of the 2010 Hudson Prize), and After the Fox (2014), which is co-authored with Travis Cebula. Her articles, interviews and poems have been published widely. She is also the Founder and Owner of INK, LLC, which provides all-encompassing editing services to clients looking to publish and polish their writing and manuscripts. She lives between Venice Beach, California, and her hometown, Sheridan, Wyoming.

If you are inspired to colloborate on a blog post with me and my photographs, or any other creative project, please contact me at melissa@mkobephotography.com

Posted on May 19, 2016
Posted in Explore, My Life

My bff and I are adventurers. It’s awesome. She’s an excellent planner, and I am excellent at saying yes to plans! We had made the decision to start planning our own backpacking trips. Although I personally have had a love affair with backpacking from my very limited experience with it, up until this conscious decision, I was never in charge of the coordination of such trips. We were adults now dammit. If we want to do it, we can do it ourselves!

We set our sights on The Grand Canyon. As it turns out, that’s easier said than done. Because of its popularity, there are something like 50,000 annual requests for backcountry permits which is needed to sleep at one of the campsites in the actual canyon itself. There are only like 3,500 permits available each year. (I should look up these numbers to have accurate facts here, but I’m lazy, and I’m comfortable with the point I’m making as I’m not that far off). There’s a lodge at the bottom called Phantom Ranch that also books up super fast. My partner in adventuredom, being the get-er-done type of gal I noted above, called everyday to see if there had been any cancellations. One day it happened. There were two cancellations in the ladies bunk. Our Grand Canyon Adventure was on!

So, remember when I said we had decided to start planning our own backpacking trips? Well, that meant that this was going to be our first one on our own without the expertise of more experienced guides. We were both in agreement that doing one of the hardest hikes on the planet sounded like a good place to start! Lets do it!

Even though we were staying in a bunkhouse, the plan was to treat it as if we were camping which meant full packs. Like, OVERLY FULL packs. We overestimated food and equipment big time. I could not imagine hiking to the bottom of one of the greatest landmarks without my camera and several lenses. My camera body and my most frequently used lens is comparable in weight to my ultra light backpacking tent. Adding additional lenses definitely added more weight than was advisable. We probably erred on the side of 17 pounds heavier than what was needed… Per person, per pack. Ha!

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We road tripped it to Arizona from Cali and camped at the top of the canyon at a campsite that did not require a backcountry permit. We learned how to work our Pocket Rocket (get your mind out of the gutter, a Pocket Rocket is a backpackers stove.) at a rest stop on the way, and really practiced using it for dinner that night prior to our decent down the GIGANTIC Grand Canyon. Do you know why they call it THE GRAND Canyon? Because it’s fucking humungous! It is literally like 3 normal Utah-sized canyons stacked on top of each other. I shit you not.

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This is us the night before; ready for what awaited us. We’re adorable.

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There were so many deer and elk meandering about!

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They apparently could not give two shits about people all up in their business.

We decided to go down the South Kaibab Trail, which is 6.5 miles. Now, as an avid hiker, 6.5 miles is damned near nothing. We threw on our packs that weighed the same as a chubby second grader, and embarked on our journey to the bottom on the steep trail. Calling it a trail doesn’t quite explain it properly; it was really more of a staircase. The park service put in steps made of stone or railroad ties so it wasn’t a 6.5-mile slide.

I forgot to mention that I had thrown my back out doing a cartwheel just 7 days before this trip. (I don’t want to talk about it). It was still a little wonky when we hiked down, so it was a serious core workout stabilizing my person as the 60 lb. pack wanted to go the way of the never-ending staircase… Straight down. Up until this point in my life, I had always made fun of those hikers that used hiking poles, either audibly or quietly to myself. What a bunch of pussies I thought! Now here I was, trying to fight the 90-degree angle the heaviness of the pack was trying to force my body into, and that’s when I understood the whole hiker-pole thing… You use it to stabilize your weight as you go down hills! “Brilliant!” I thought. “This is karma,” I also thought for all my judge-y judge-y shit talking and thinking.

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We stopped for lunch after hiking for a little while. It looks like we’re at the top! We were not. This is THE GRAND Canyon folks.

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This was our first sight of the bottom!!!! Woot woot!! It looks like we were close, but we still had another hour until we could dip our feet in that cool refreshing water.

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Beasts of burden!!! Phantom Ranch, the lodge at the bottom gets their supplies via river, or mules only. No vehicles. Just like the old days.

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Some much needed feet dipping.

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The insect and the frog could also not care less that I was in their face. The insect was even eating another insect, though it’s hard to make out in the picture.

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The cantina at the lodge is only open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is a pre-paid box of hiker-y snacks, fruit, nuts, cliff bars, and who knows what else. We didn’t partake though, because we brought our own food remember?! Like we were really backpacking. The dinner choices are a never ending bowl of stew and a steak dinner. We did splurge for the $45 stew one night. Totally worth it.

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We stayed two nights at the bottom. The last night I did some long exposure shots of the sky. It was so beautiful! These pics do not do it justice.

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Someone walked by with a flashlight on one of my long exposure shots… One that I messed up, thus the blur of the mountains. Sometimes the mistakes are the gems.

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We climbed out of the canyon on the Bright Angel trail, which is 9.5 miles. I thought going down the South Kaibab trail was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. It only occupied that hard-earned spot in my mind for 2 short days until it was unceremoniously replaced with the deceptively sweetly named “Bright Angel” trail. We started before the sun came up in an attempt to stave off the would-be 120-degree day that it would become.

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It was about here that we pushed through our giggle-fits derived from exhaustion and got excited about nearing the top. Look at this view! We just HAD to be close! We were beginning to see far more day tourists on the trail that don’t venture too far down. While seeing the tourists meant we were nearing the finish line, it also meant that THEY ALL wanted to talk to us about what it was like at the bottom… How far, how steep, what did it look like? Did you do it all in one day? What’s in your packs? I answered as politely as I could as I feared Kristen might punch someone in the face for their unfortunately timed line of questioning. I asked one elderly couple visiting from Germany on a tour bus, “How much further have we got?” “Oh! You’re so close! Only about 45 minutes!” I felt a very dramatic Denzel/Glory tear eking it’s way out of the corner of my left eye. 45 minutes?! I thought seeing this group meant that we were only 5 or 10 minutes away from success!!! Time to put on our big-girl panties and trudge on. We can do it!!!

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We did it. We made it to the top with little incident. Taking those last steps to the very top felt like the climax of a movie or a book. It felt like there should have been a band awaiting our arrival alongside a large crowd ready to celebrate with us, beers in hand to toast to our accomplishment. We made our way back to the campground after we stopped for a pop at a vending machine (Ahem, Kristen, you remember…) and started to set out the ingredients for our dinner on the picnic table. We left the wrapped food unattended for 5 minutes to rest our legs in the tent when were heard the screeching of birds swoop in on the food, and tear it apart Game of Thrones style.

Wendy’s it was.  My junior bacon cheeseburger and root beer never tasted so good.