2012 Resolution Recap

It’s that time! Time to see what I was able to get done over the last 365 days. I’ll start by going through my 2012 New Year Resolution List. (Sorry for another pictureless post)

Life Absorbed’s 2012 Resolution List

– Complete all 42 walks in “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA”
I wasn’t able to finish the entire book due to some health issues, but I certainly did 80% and now I have the pleasure of enjoying the walks as I complete the rest in 2013.

– Go rock climbing! I got to go indoor rock climbing with Amber, Lindsey and Adam thanks to a groupon to Hangar 18. Despite my crazy fear of hieghts, I was actually pretty good and got into it. I’m no pro, but I would gladly go again.

– Do at least one “monster” walk in 2012. Use my new “Car-Free LA” book to find a good really long walk and make a day of it. This didn’t get to happen. I’ve done monster walks alone, but they are more fun with a friend and my walking buddy Michelle had a wild year of getting pregnant and giving birth to lovely Cole. This goal will have to pushed to my 2013 resolution list.

– Resume hikes from my hiking book! Give those new hike boots a work out. I wasn’t too successful completing a ton of new hikes from my hike book, although I did complete a handful from the book in 2012. Bigger than that, I hiked Mount Whitney! That’s a pretty big goal for 2012, in fact I was so concerned I wouldn’t follow through with it, I didn’t add it to my resolution list from 2012. And I did it! 

– Go camping! Camping happened for a few days around Mt. Whitney as well as on The Channel Islands and when I went tubing the Kern River. 

– Hike (or ski) Mt. Baldy. I got to complete this with weights as I was training for Mount Whitney. I actually found this to be more of a challenge. 

– Go back to Catalina! When my parents came to town in September, we got to take them to Catalina and took them parasailing. My sister and I had so much fun doing it last year, that when another groupon deal came up, we bought enough for all of us to go as an anniversary gift to them. 

– Keep filling my nights and weekends with fun activities, even if it means being tired the next day. It’s worth it! This is of course hard to gauge, but I think I did a really good job at going out a lot after work and on weekends. In fact I went out so much didn’t get a ton of my night walks in. It’s about finding a balance and I have to be better about that in 2013. 

– Visit Hearst Castle. Check! I got to go when my parents came to visit and loved it. As a family we took a weekend trip up there and drove back along the coast stopping at the small beach towns. 

– Go cross-country skiing for the first time. I wasn’t able to complete this (due to lack of snow last winter) but the groupon was extended into 2013 which means I’ll be going this winter and already Big Bear has gotten some great snow. 

– Go white-water rafting. Another side-effect of no snow in the winter, is that the run-off over the summer is so depleted that there’s not enough water to make it “white water”. But in place of rafting, we got to enjoy tubing down the Kern. I’m looking forward to white water rafting in the summer of 2013!

– Go kayaking. I got to do this during my weekend excursion to the Channel Islands as well as doing it about 3 times when I was visiting my parents in Cape Cod this past summer. I love it.

– Try yoga. Did it repeatedly! I love the Core Power Yoga free Sunday noon class. Although I didn’t realize you needed to pay to borrow the mats, so I didn’t realize I was stealing every time I went. But now that I’ve realized it I will be investing in a yoga mat in 2013 🙂

– Try spinning. I did not do that this year, although I really need to. I ended up canceling my gym membership this year, so now I’ll have to pay to go to a class but I still want to do this. The only reason I didn’t complete this goal was because I was busy, and frankly I forgot about it. This is why it’s good to do midyear resolution recaps, to remind myself what I still need to complete. 

– Make new recipes to last during the week. This I did only a few times. It’s hard to make meals for one. Also my job often provides meals that are around dinner time, so it’s nice to save money by eating that food and leave the cooking to the professionals. 

– Go to Chicago to visit my good friends and see a new city. CHECK! This was a really fun resolution. I got to lump a short stopover in Chicago onto my summer trip to Cape Cod. I had such a great time visiting friends and seeing the tourist sights (the FLW House!). 

– Keep up my nightly walks. An hour a day does so much. As I explained above, I did this but not as regular as I used to (since my walking buddy was busy having babies and I started doing more event stuff at night). But in 2013 I’m going to go back to doing this a solid 5 times a week, if not more. 

– Try new bars, restaurants and museums from my “L.A. Bizarro” book. (As Amber pointed out to me, we don’t have to see any of the porn-esque stuff and that is agreed). I got to do a bunch of these with Amber earlier in the year, although they did take a back seat to all of my other goals as the year went on. It’s worth digging this book out again and going more in 2013. 

– If someone says, “try this hike with me” or “lets do this sport” or any other physical activity, say yes! So far so good. Saying yes to life has only meant good things.

– “Grow a Pair!” In 2012 I need to face the little fears. I successfully faced giant fears in 2011, so this should be easy right? I’m always working on that, and that’ll continue into 2013. 

– As a part of “Growing A Pair”, I’m going to go on dates in 2011. It’s something Ive been putting off because I hate doing it, but why not? If it’s the worst, then oh well. If it’s great then maybe I get a new friend out of the deal. I’ve jumped out of a plane, I think I can handle a silly little date. So send your single, outdoorsy, male friends my way. This remains true in 2013. Also, I’ve decided that “date” is too scary a word, and only call them “friend meetups” in an attempt to making dating less scary. 

– And of course I will work hard to maintain you, Life Absorbed. I wish I had started you last Jan. 1st, so now I must make up for lost time. I feel like in one year I did a lot to improve the blog. I tried (and I’m always trying) to come up with new features like Font Friday and Do This Today. I try to blog 1 or 2 times daily midweek and once on the weekends. I also designed a business card for the blog and changed the layout a bit. The “Life Absorbed” logo photo shoots where fun, and I hope to do more in 2013. Now all my photos have watermarks and I really work hard to make improvements as I get feedback. I’ve gotten retweeted by Scott Aukerman this year. I’ve gotten “shared” on facebook by some of my favorite comedians and even CBS included me in an article about the Secret Stairs of LA. It’s been good progress and I’m looking forward to more improvements in 2013!

This completes my resolution list for 2012. I can honestly say I gave it 110% and filled my time to capacity. There’s only so much time to get things done and I have no regrets with how my time was spent in 2012. I also want to share some things I did that weren’t on my 2012 resolution list:

A big Hawaii trip that included zip-lining, snorkeling, and hiking around an active volcano. Visiting the Queen Mary with my parents. Sitting in the UCB green room with Doug Benson and Zach Galifinakis (thanks Gabe!). The 1 million comedy shows I saw this year (I’m only exaggerating a little). Finally seeing David Cross do stand up! A fun weekend getaway to Palm Springs. My first hospital visit (not a good situation, but it could have been so much worse). Running the Denver Turkey Trot and getting to enjoy Denver fun. Getting to be Shari Lewis for the day. Doing all my DIY projects. Brunches with the girls. Visiting the JPL and going to about 5 neighborhood festivals. Doing the Color Run with Lindsey. Having my celebrity crush, Harris Wittels, comment on my blog. Tubing Mt. Baldy with Michelle and Lindsey. A weekend getaway to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. Visiting the horse racing park for Tom’s birthday. Going to a Beer Collaboration event. Magic Castle with the girls. Celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown. Gosh, this has been a busy year!

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Mount Whitney Hike Part 2

Did you enjoy Mt. Whitney Part 1? I last left off where we finally got to trail camp, where we could finally take the gear off our backs, and relax.

qIn the time it took to set-up camp and filter water to refill our canisters, it was time for dinner. Freeze-dried dinners to be exact. This was my first freeze-dried anything. You can get these packs at Sports Chalet, and the veggie lasagna was actually really good. All you need is some boiled water, and tada! Dinner!

The sun was setting as we finished our dinner around 7:30p. The moon came out, and so did the cameras. What a beautiful night. But just after dinner, it’s bedtime. With the alarm set for 2am, we were in our tents with our heads on our pillows by 8:30p. From my tent I could see the very far off headlamps of people at the top of trail crest. That would be us in a few short hours.

After an anxious night of sleep, it was time to hit the trail. By the time we got going it was 3:15a. These photos are courtesy of Dane on the trip. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t be bothered figuring out night photos. The right photo is from trail crest, after completing the infamous 99 switchbacks. You can tell by the rising sun, it’s getting later in the morning. As we hiked, it was fascinating to watch the stars move across the sky. It was the first time I really understood how you could use stars to guide you.

These photos were taken around 5:30am as the sun come up. This is why we climbed this. Where else can you see this? This is the reward for all of our hard work climbing. Priceless.

As we got higher the sun got higher. Light filled the valley behind us and suddenly we could really feel the impact of how high we were. It was a hard 5 miles up.

At 7:30am, I reached the summit. There is a small one-room shack at the top, which provided a temporary shelter from the freezing wind. I can’t stress how cold the last 50 steps to the top of the mountain were, compared to the entire hike. It was gorgeous but unpleasant. I signed in the guestbook, which is a nice pat-on-the-back.

After 20 minutes of photos, we were so uncomfortable and we knew the trek back would be long, so we moved back down this trail we had worked so hard getting up.

Coming down the mountain was frightening for me (I hate heights), but I did it! Slow and steady. Only 1 slight panic attack, which was better than what I had been anticipating. We climbed down the 99 switchbacks and landed at camp, where we packed up our tents and loaded our gear onto our backs. We had to keep moving on, since we had just gone down 5 miles and had the 6 from the day before to complete. We made it to the car at 6:10p, meeting tons of characters along the way. Hikers are so friendly. We had a celebratory pizza dinner in town, and then it was a 3+ hour drive back to LA. I arrived at my house at 11pm (after being up since 2am and hiking 22 miles in the last 24 hours) and collapsed into my bed. Success!

Mount Whitney Hike Part 1

Finally, my Mount Whitney post is here! It was so hard narrowing it down to these images, and even harder to take them down to low-res so they can fit on this site. So painful, but alas, I want to share them with you and that is the only way.

First let me start with the itinerary breakdown and altitudes:

Sunday: Arrive in Lone Pine (3,000 ft) by late afternoon, check in at the visitors center (get permits/wag-bag), then drive up to Horseshoe Meadows Campground (10,000ft) to set up camp and spend the night. (This was highly recommended to us, to help us adjust to the altitude and prevent altitude sickness. I really think it helped.)

Monday: Up at 5am, pack-up and drive down the mountain, then back up a different mountain to the Whitney Portal (8,000 ft). Have a breakfast at the cafe there, then start the 6 mile trek with our group (and all our gear on our backs). Arrive at Trail Camp (12,000 ft) at 4:45p, set-up camp, dinner, bed.

Tuesday: Up at 2am, hit the trail by 3:15am with our day packs. Hike up the 99 switchbacks, then climb across the mountains to reach the Summit of Mount Whitney at 7:30am (14,500 ft). Climb back down to base camp (5mi), pack up gear and then continue 6 miles down the mountain. Arrive at the Whitney Portal at 6:10pm. Drive back to LA! Get into Los Angeles at 11:30p. Done!

Now that you know all that we did (22 miles!) in 2 days… insanity, right? Why do it? What’s there to see? Well, these photos can answer all of these questions. We got to see untouched nature that only other hikers going through our experience get to see. There’s no road to Whitney, no shuttle, nothing. It’s hike in- hike out. Also, pushing your body to it’s physical limits is exhilarating. When your body is saying “stop, I want to sit!” and your mind is saying “Keep going, you can do this! You’re strong!” it’s an amazing feeling. Did you know Mt. Whitney is the highest hike-able mountain in the continental US?

Mount Whitney Part 1 is from Sunday night in Lone Pine to Trail Camp on Monday evening. For more information and expert info on Whitney, check out Modern Hiker.

(Left) This is a board of temperatures and altitudes you can see in the beautifully designed Visitors Center. Stop in here as soon as you get into Lone Pine. Be sure to read up on how to use a wag-bag (yes, you have to carry out EVERYTHING). At the visitors center at 5pm, my car registered the temperature at 93 degrees. Then we made the drive up to Horse Meadow Campground (Right), stepped out of the car at 5:45p and it was 50 degrees. Step one: put on pants.

Our first camp was in a valley at a 10,000ft elevation. There were maybe 20 other people spread out over a giant meadow. While setting up our tent, there’s no doubt in my mind that we heard bears roaring far away in the valley. We were in prime bear territory and had to be careful to lock-up all our food (and any scented items) in the bear lockers. Bears will break a car door if they smell food in there. I was extra careful. We had a rough night of sleep, given all the animal sounds we could hear echoing in the valley. Not ideal, knowing we had a huge hiking adventure in store the following day.

Our alarm went off at 5am, and it took us over an hour to pack up our tents in the dark (and freezing cold). We then drove down the mountain and then back up a different mountain to the Whitney Portal, and arrived at 7:15a.

(Left) Here is my gear (minus the bear canister). It first weighed in around 27lbs, but then after swapping items around my guess is the final weight of my pack was closer to 35lbs. This was a lot, but lower compared to a lot of people in my group. (Right) We shared a standard pancake from the cafe (yup, 3 plates to carry it!) and then it was time to hit the trail!

The terrain for the first 2 miles are woodsy switchbacks with the occasional water way to pass over. The higher you get, the less woodsy it becomes.

After the woodsy switchbacks, you’ll reach a sign advertising Lone Pine Lake .1 miles off the path. It’s worth the .1 of extra hiking. Lone Pine Lake is picture-perfect and a great place to refill water. The water is crystal clear and creates a mirror effect and it was my favorite lake of them all.

After a short rest, we continued on because we’ve got many miles to go! The above images illustrate how a terrain of steep rocks can lead you to a flat green valley which is a temporary relief from the incline. The landscape was constantly changing and you never knew what would be around the corner.

The image on the left is Mirror Lake (not as mirrored as Lone Pine Lake, am I right?) where we stopped to rest and refill water. The image on the right shows you Mirror Lake after we hiked for 20 minutes. Parts of the trail were so steep that even in 20 minutes, the last place you rested would then become a dot to you.

I had to share the heart knot in the tree. How sweet. (Right) We got to pass mules early in the trek, who were bringing supplies to workers doing maintenance high-up on the trail, and here they are returning down the mountain. They move SO fast with SO much weight on their backs… I have sympathy for them.

But on we must go! Higher! Steeper! Where is the campsite?? Is it around this corner? No. Is it around this corner? No. This one? YES! Finally we made it to our campsite.

This is Trail Camp, over 12,000ft. We set-up camp, filtered water at the local lake and then added some layers because if we learned anything from the night before, as soon as the sun starts setting the temperature drops. This is where I am ending part 1, given that this was the relief portion of our hike. It was only temporary though, as we realized the ants on the mountain in front of us were actually people climbing the near-invisible trail we were going to climb in another 6 hours. We were all anxious.

Hiking Mt. Baldy

I didn’t get to post anything yesterday because I spent the day high-up in the clouds, climbing Mount Baldy. It’s about a 45 minute drive outside of Los Angeles and an all day adventure. Modern Hiker has all the logistical details and maps HERE. For me and my friends this is more of a training hike for Mt. Whitney, so we brought along our big backpacks and weighed it down with water. It was quite a challenge.

The hike begins as a fire road and then becomes a steep uphill trek. On big hikes like this one it’s easiest to focus on the next “marker” and not the top (since it’s so far away). Our first marker is the midway point to the top, which is the Sierra Clubs green cabin. When we started it was a tiny dot… and we inched closer and closer.

.. until finally we reached this cabin. For a small donation you can use their chairs to rest and fill up on water. There is often a guide staying at this cabin so you can learn something about the mountain and ask questions. They even have an outhouse. This cabin is a great place to rest.

I was told that specific Sierra Club guides have a key to this cabin, and you can event pay a little money to stay here over night if you wish. The above photo shows the sleeping quarters and the view from the cabin. On the first floor of the cabin is a sink for getting fresh water, cooking, and doing laundry. In the main room clothes were drying on lines.

This was just a quick resting point for us, as we had to keep moving. Shortly after the above photo was taken, we ran into a rattle snake. Thankfully I was in the rear and didn’t have to see the snake, as my heart would have leapt out of my chest and jumped off the cliff we were hiking.

It was quite steep, and reminded me of the last scene of the Sound Of Music as they climb through the Alps (except we obviously weren’t being chased by Nazis).

We took a short detour so we could take some fun photos by the ledge that we had been climbing toward. Getting to the top of this ledge was the next “marker” in my mind.

From that ledge, the next big push was to get to the top, which for a while was so far away it was completely out of sight. It’s quite disheartening to not even be able to see the top. But higher and higher we went, just as breathing became much harder. Every breath was quickly followed by another. And I had to take short pauses every few steps. I might be slow, but I kept moving with my mind on the prize.

Finally, we made it to the top! We could see clouds (behind me in the photo) where lightening was striking. We had a quick lunch (as you never know if the clouds could suddenly shift towards you), caught our breath, took some photos and then headed on our way.

As hard as climbing up a mountain is, climbing down to me is SO much scarier. Gravity is pushing you down the hill, and I find my footing gets quite shaky. I have a very real fear of heights which I’ve been working so hard to eliminate. Unfortunately, I let my fear get the best of me as we hiked along the path that dropped down on either side. I had to pull myself back together and just get through it. I know that in order to learn/grow you have to do some scary/hard things, and doing this hike really helped me, despite the trouble I had in the moment.

We finally reached our next marker, the ski lift and restaurant. Here we took a restroom break, ordered some food and put our feet up. While two members of the group continued on and took the fire road to the bottom, me (and my badly blistered feet) opted for the $10 lift ride down to the car. I know we won’t have that option on Whitney, but I’m so glad I took the ride down on this hike.

Mt. Whitney is in two weeks for me, so I have to really kick it into gear. Thankfully I’m funemployed (for a little while) so I have the time to get some good hikes in.

Halfway Through 2012 (almost)

As of June 30th we will be halfway through 2012. HALFWAY THROUGH 2012?! This year has gone by so fast. I think it’s time to take a look at my 2012 resolutions and see how I’m doing. I can’t stress enough how important goals are, and how taking time to evaluate what you’ve done (and still need to do) is a great use of time. As I’ve said before, this is more for me than for you. It’s also not about scolding myself for uncompleted tasks, but just to be a reminder of the tasks I’d hope to complete in 2012. Let’s get to it!

Life Absorbed’s 2012 Resolution List

– Complete all 42 walks in “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA”
This has gotten away from me, as I have 10 more to do to be where I should be by June 30th. Thankfully I’m looking into this now, and I see I have 3 weeks to do 10 walks which would put me back on track. In fact, I plan on doing one today. See how reflecting on the resolution list is helpful?

– Go rock climbing!
Completed!

– Do at least one “monster” walk in 2012. Use my new “Car-Free LA” book to find a good really long walk and make a day of it.
I haven’t gotten to do this yet, and it’ll happen before I take another job. I went on a long walk the other day, and I ached for an epic walk. Soon, soon.

– Resume hikes from my hiking book!
I need to train for Mt. Whitney, so more hikes are coming. I’ve been doing Fryman Canyon a lot, but I need to step it up. Next week I’m thinking of driving to Yosemite and hiking around there. Which brings me to my next resolution…

– Go camping!
Next week! I can’t wait. I have so much awesome gear from Christmas and I can’t wait to use it all! And Yosemite! It’s going to be amazing.

– Hike (or ski) Mt. Baldy.
I still have my groupon for the chairlift an this is a great hiking place to get ready for Whitney. I’ll be hiking it soon!

– Go back to Catalina!
The plan is to make a day trip in September. More on that later.

– Keep filling my nights and weekends with fun activities, even if it means being tired the next day. It’s worth it!
I’ve certainly been doing this. Ive seen so many comedy shows lately and I love it. I recently went to the Silver Lake Jubilee (post on that to come this weekend), the Franklin Fair, and this weekend I have a jazz event downtown. I’ve been doing super well with this.

– Visit Hearst Castle.
When Mom and Dad visit we will go up north over LAbor Day weekend. I’m so excited for this trip. I’ve been saving this weekend trip for them.

– Go cross-country skiing for the first time.
This will have to happen in December or in 2013 because we didn’t get enough snow this year. Unfortunately, that was out of my control.

– Go white-water rafting.
Spring/summertime!

– Go kayaking.
I’m going to visit Cape Cod soon, and you can bet I’ll be kayaking a lot (and cycling too).

– Try yoga.
I did it! I’ve been to the Corepower Yoga in Sherman Oaks for their free intro class. It’s every Sunday at noon and they even have free mat rentals. It’s been a challenge but fun. I hope to go back soon.

– Try spinning.
I still need to do this, and I won’t lie, I’m intimated by this.

– Make new recipes to last during the week.
I tried my s’more recipe recently (see that post here), and I have plans to make soup today. It’s not exciting but it’s something.

– Go to Chicago to visit my good friends and see a new city.
Soon 🙂 I’ve got the ball rolling on this, and I’m looking up tickets today. I feel really good about this.

– Keep up my nightly walks. An hour a day does so much.
Since unemployment, my night walks haven’t happened as much. I need to get back into the routine. I’ve done morning walks, but I need to set a time and say “now it’s walk time” and commit to it.

– Try new bars, restaurants and museums from my “L.A. Bizarro” book. (As Amber pointed out to me, we don’t have to see any of the porn-esque stuff and that is agreed).
I haven’t done much lately from the book, but that’s because I’ve been so busy.

– If someone says, “try this hike with me” or “lets do this sport” or any other physical activity, say yes!
I’ve been saying yes to life! I don’t think I’ve said “no” in a while, and I like it.

– “Grow a Pair!” In 2012 I need to face the little fears. I successfully faced giant fears in 2011, so this should be easy right?
I’m always trying to work on this. It’s nice to go through this again and remind myself of these mantras.

– As a part of “Growing A Pair”, I’m going to go on dates in 2012.
I’m working on it, I’m working on it.

– And of course I will work hard to maintain you, Life Absorbed. I wish I had started you last Jan. 1st, so now I must make up for lost time.
I’ve been working on you a ton! I’ve even started taking web design classes so I can learn code and make you even more awesome than ever!

I have a few added goals for the year that I call my secret resolutions, because Im worried I wont have time for them in 2012. One of which is taking a knitting class to successfully make something (I’ve already bought a “how to knit” book!). Let me know if you know of a great beginner knitting class!

I’m really proud of where I’m so far in my goals. It’ll feel so great to reach my goal of 10 Secret Stair walks by the end of the month. At that point I’ll feel like I’m really at the halfway point of all my goals. Alright, time to get outside!