WordPress Photo Challenge: Twisted Wood

WordPress Photo Challenge: Twisted 


Twisted deadwood patterns reflect pure light in the thin air of the High Sierras. Straight lines are rare on the John Muir Trail, usually occurring only where humans have built signs or bridges.

IMG_3049IMG_3219Give me the tangled shapes of nature over the orderly lines of civilization!IMG_3198rrLike beautiful twisted wood, good trails and lives well lived rarely follow a straight path. 

From Other Worlds: Stones, Water, & Wood

WordPress Photo Challenge: Out of this World

Elephant Rocks 2

Strolling through Elephant Rocks in Missouri is like walking another planet. This is a favorite photo included in my trail guidebook, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.


This Ozarks waterfall, a short drive from my home, is a magical place in wet season.


Next to the John Muir Trail, this surreal and solitary deadwood tree towered over the surrounding landscape.

The Urge For Going

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Do them now.”  ~Paulo Coelho


John Muir Trail

Yesterday a friend sent me a couple of links for the Rae Lakes Loop in the High Sierras of California. In a short conversation two weeks earlier we’d hatched the idea of hiking this area again. The thought lingered in both of our minds.


John Muir Trail

As I remembered our John Muir Trail experiences, I felt deep thankfulness for that nagging, troubling, and sometimes inspiring “urge for going.” I also felt thankful that I can go, and admonished by the reminder that I have no guarantees of time and strength in my future. All is a gift. Let the planning begin!

I’m looking forward to sharing the Ozark Highlands Trail thru-hike on Sunday, January 21, at 2 p.m. Hobbs State Park’s Visitor Center is a beautiful venue. Hiker-dog will be there, too! Five Star Trails Poster 012118 Hobbs State Park

Windows on the John Muir Trail

WordPress Photo Challenge: Windows


My window on Wanda Lake while hiking the John Muir Trail in the High Sierras of California.

JMT Red's Meadow hail

This was my view through the window of the cafe at Reds Meadow resupply on the John Muir Trail. While having blueberry pie and ice cream, rain then hale fell for several minutes. This was the only precipitation I experienced on the John Muir Trail. I thought of blueberry pie and ice cream every time I looked up at the blue skies and puffy clouds while hiking the remainder of the 210-mile trek.

Ozarks at Large Radio Interview


I never thought to put “radio interview” on my bucket list, but now I can add it and check it off. Kyle Kellams with KUAF did a good job of making me feel at ease. It was fun to share a few thoughts about the challenges and joys of thru-hiking.

Here’s a link to the 10-minute interview that aired today: Ozarks at Large KUAF

High Sierras and The Ozarks at Hobbs State Park on Sunday, Sept. 24

I’m looking forward to presenting the John Muir Trail and my book, The Ozarks, at Hobbs State Park! Please share with all who love the outdoors. A pdf is below the photo in case you’d like to print a flier. Five Star Trails Poster 092417 Hobbs State Park

Here’s a link to the Hobbs State Park description of the program. I’m honored to share in such a beautiful location!

Long Distance Hiking: Taking a Break or Getting Broken

Here’s a pdf of the flier if you’d like to print and share. Five Star Trails Poster 092417 Hobbs State Park 

New Strings?


My Keens weren’t allowed inside the Jeep until after a good airing out.

I knew this day would come. These shoes that accompanied me for so many miles were reaching their limits. How could we part?

I was surprised by the sense of loss I felt. Where does this strange emotional attachment to two ugly shoes come from? When I slip into my old Keens, suddenly I’m on the trail and memories of past hikes come to mind much easier.

Thankfully this attachment to things is limited. Limited in that I don’t feel an attachment to vehicles, pocket knives or typical items of clothing, but shoes are different.

I visited one of my favorite outfitters with my worn out shoes in tow. Placing them on the floor, I asked the salesperson for the same shoe or anything similar with a wide toe box.


The next morning I eagerly slipped into my new shoes and headed to my home trail just down the road. Every step felt fresh and bouncy. Those who play a stringed instrument will identify with what I was feeling. When you get new strings, there’s a richer resonance to the sound. While walking along, I thought of a bluegrass song by Ricky Skaggs, “Brand New Strings.”

My Keens* served me well on the John Muir Trail and many other trips before and since. They were with Hiker-dog for every step of writing Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. They took me every step of the 210-mile John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Whitney Portal.

So, do I dispose of these old shoes? No way! They’ll take on the task of holding memories of the miles we hiked, the friends we made, and the beauty we’ve seen.


View from Mount Whitney on the John Muir Trail

* This is not an endorsement of Keen shoes. Wear what fits.

Missing the John Muir Trail

Maslow quote JMT Warnock
This time last year I was with good friends on the John Muir Trail. While reading a thru-hiker blog, I came across this Maslow quote and immediately pulled out my maps to plan a future adventure.

If you look closely, you can see the John Muir Trail route across the green edge next to the lake below. How I’d love to walk that path again!

My JMT post from last summer: A Few Steps in Paradise

“Selfie” from Atop Mt. Whitney

WordPress Photo Challenge: Atop

IMG_4911rrAfter 21 days on the John Muir Trail, we climbed to the top of Mount Whitney. I have an aversion to selfies but felt compelled to capture this visual souvenir.

These feet brought me here, so they were deserving of recognition atop this beautiful fourteener. My face only hitched a ride. In route, my face exhibited expressions of exhaustion, worry, a little fear, and occasional pain. Prior to this point on the trail, these feet planted themselves over 2,100,000 times without a whimper or complaint.

Take a break my trusted friends, and pose for your well-deserved selfie!