Photodump

One of the things that’s kind of a bummer about doing these trail blogs is that when I’m out on the trail I see and take pictures of a lot of cool stuff which, when it comes time to write, gets filtered out for various reasons.

So, since I accidentally created an Instagram account a while back that I haven’t used and a whole bunch of people have started randomly following it, I figured I may as well toss up some of the photographs that don’t make it into the blog. Reason I’m posting this now instead of just doing it is to apologize in advance to anyone who might have chosen to follow my Instagram account and is gonna get hit with a whole bunch of hiking pictures all at once.

I’m gonna try to space it out over the next couple of days until I eliminate the backlog, but after that I’ll upload in real time, or as real time as my cellular network will allow. Oh, also, I’m not a great photographer, and I’m shooting on my phone so I make no claims to quality. Hopefully this can be improved with time.

So, if you already follow me on Instagram, I’m sorry. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, you can now totally follow me on Instagram! Aren’t you lucky!

https://www.instagram.com/snarkipelago/

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A Funny Thing Happened…

High Peaks Hiking

A while back I decided I needed to take a step back and reduce my internet presence. I wrote about it here before. It was, in large part, to help me clear my mind of the clutter induced by social media, current events, and just the life-by-proxy nature that comes with interacting with people across thousands of miles.

Part of that effort included escaping to the forests and attempting to fit a weekly hike into my already packed schedule of television and video games. Believe it or not, in the eleven weeks since making that decision I’ve hiked thirteen separate trails to varying degrees of completion. So, so far, I’d say it’s been a resounding success.

I think it was about the fourth week of consecutive hiking that I decided that I wanted to share my experience with friends and family. The island of Oahu has some truly beautiful and unique scenery which I thought acquaintances both locally and afar might be interested in seeing. In addition to this, Hawaii is just dripping with history and folk-lore everywhere you look, and I wanted to share some of that as well.

And so began the Trailhead trail blog; my weekly write up of trails I’ve hiked on the island of Oahu. And it’s been good so far. It keeps the writing gears oiled and operational and, probably even better, when I come back from a hike with a phone full of photos I feel like I have something to write about. I don’t have to come up with a clever idea, or interesting characters or a plot twist or any of the other sometimes-burdensome conventions of fiction writing. Instead I can just tell my story with only mild exaggeration.

The “funny thing” is that I didn’t expect retreating to the forest to steer me back to the internet.

Though I withdrew in large part from Facebook, I increased my presence on Twitter. There’s a different vibe there which is just less intrusive to my thought process, and it’s better for networking and such which is how I stumbled upon High Peaks Hiking.

High Peaks Hiking is an online hiking and backpacking outfitter based out of Northern New York. Their mission is to help make hiking appealing and accessible to everyone by not only peddling high-quality gear at reasonable prices; but more so, just by reminding people that hiking is a thing you can totally do to get outside, get healthy, and get away from it all.

It’s an idea that really resonated with me, so when I saw a “Blogger Wanted” post on Twitter, I figured, “Why not?” I’m going to write this stuff and share my photos regardless of whether or not anyone reads it, why not get it seen by a wider audience? So, I shot them an email telling them a little about myself and linking them to the blog here.

A representative responded to me in a matter of hours saying they really liked what I was doing here and they would love to host my work as a guest blogger on their community page. We kicked about some details and, long-story-short, I’m a shill now!

Every few weeks or so, when I go on an especially satisfying hike, I’ll send it over to them, they put it on their site and I add a link to their site on my end. Mutually beneficial, just the way I like it. As of today they’ve accepted two of my trail blogs; the Ka’ena Point Trail and my newest, the Kaunala Loop Trail and it’s been great so far.

I’m really looking forward to continuing the trail blog and have some good ones coming up that I can’t wait to share, and High Peaks Hiking is helping me share them with a much wider audience. Also, I got a coupon code for 10% off on swag, so…

Oh, I’ve also been tinkering with some new fiction stuff too, but I don’t want to talk too much about that lest I convince myself I’ve already finished it; because apparently that’s a thing.

Trailhead Update: Aiea Loop Trail

Due to its centralized location, ease of access, and the happenstance of being situated within the boundaries of one of Oahu’s very few public campgrounds, the Aiea Loop Trail is unarguably one of the most heavily trafficked unpaved trails on the island.

The Aiea Loop Trail is an off-shoot Kea’iwa Heiau State Recreation Area, and said heiau is the first thing you’ll see upon arriving. I didn’t realize there was a heiau near to our destination because I do all my research retroactively for some reason, so I was surprised to see it and wanted to check it out.

Read the rest…

In to the Wilderness

Into the Wilderness

Onward!

As I mentioned before, I’ve been trying to get out into nature more often, see the lesser known parts of the island, to move around a little more and let the fresh air and physical exertion help me to clear my mind.

And so, with the help of the Alltrails app and my trusty sidekick, Matt the Dinosaur, we’re going blogging… about hiking… Which we’re also doing.

In the last eight weeks, we’ve have hiked seven different trails of varying lengths and varying degrees of quality and difficulty and as you might have guessed, I’ve started writing about those hikes.

Both hiking and writing serve a similar function for me; escape. In writing I can un-tether my mind from the day-to-day mundanity and/or insanity and drift off into alternate worlds. Hiking allows me much the same freedoms, only I can take my body along for the ride. So, considering the strong thematic link, in only makes sense that I host the “Trail Blog” alongside my fictional work. I’m also having a lot of fun with the formatting and stuff that comes with doing these.

In addition to pictures, I’ll also try to dig into any relevant history, or mythology, or just interesting local trivia whenever I can; so hopefully these will be more fun to read than a typical hiking blog. As always, feedback is welcome!

There’s a clicky thing right HERE which will take you to the Trail Head (see what I did there), or you can access individual trails from the drop-down on the menu bar. I’ve got three trails up there already and a few more written (pending formatting), and at least two more hiked but not written about by the time you’re reading this.

Going to try to update this thing about once a week, so click the “Follow” button that’s hiding around somewhere and you’ll be notified by email when I do.

Publication Update

Patchwork Raven

It’s hard for me to put a finger on, or express how I feel about this upcoming anthology. I cannot emphasize enough how cool it feels to not only know my work is to appear in print in the near future, but also to see my name listed alongside so many other authors.

On the other side of that coin, though, I wish it were a story more reflective of the body of my work.

“Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tiny Tikes” is an anthology of bedtime stories, so not exactly my comfort zone. A while back at AWR we had a friendly competition where one of the prompts was a children’s story. I wrote a draft for what would eventually become “Tree Rings” for that competition. I remember feeling like it was far outside of my wheelhouse at the time.

I’m never quite sure how to act around children, let alone write for them, but one thing I try not to do is dumb myself down. Sure, conversation tends to veer toward topics they enjoy, but if I’m asked a question I try to give actual, thoughtful feedback; to treat them like adults who just happen to like juvenile things. If they don’t understand my thoughts, I do my best to explain. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Right?

Probably the most annoying thing I remember from being a kid were the times where I was treated like a kid; the times I was treated like I didn’t know things, or that my thoughts were invalid, not because they were nonsensical, but because I was younger or the times I had to shout over the din of adults talking in order to be heard. So I try not to do it to them.

Admittedly, I’m generally only around my friends’ kids for short periods of time, so I’m sure such an approach would get tiresome if you had to do it 24/7. But I don’t, so I try, and I’m apparently pretty popular.

In writing “Tree Rings” I tried to keep a similar philosophy in mind; be thoughtful, be clear and concise, but don’t make them feel like children. I remember making a concentrated effort to keep the language simple but not simplistic, and the narrative straightforward, but also make it not-too-juvenile. I wanted it to be a “grown-up” story that a kid could understand and relate to and, in effect; something which elevates the child listening, and maybe brings the adult who’s reading back to childhood a bit. I wanted it to be a story that puts both reader and listener, as the case may be, on an even playing field and maybe even spurs a conversation.

I dunno, maybe that’s putting a little too much weight on these 1,500 words. I suppose that’ll be for you to decide when it finally lands in your hands.

Apanthropinization

An old word, appropriately unrecognized by spell check, which means to withdraw from human concerns and the problems of humanity; to place oneself outside the world and its problems. Or, more relevant to this post, to stay the hell off of Facebook.

I’ve been making an effort to reduce the amount of time I spend with social media. I found that the constant stream of mis-, dis-, and non-information which flows through it to have a corrosive effect on my psyche. Eroding away at the good and wholesome and creative bits exposing and emphasizing the angry, the frustrated and the unhappy.

I’ve a compulsion, it seems, to attempt to correct the inaccuracies which I encounter online, and I’ve recently come to realize that despite how much people claim to want the truth of matters, in many respects offering said truth is unwelcome; even in the most benign of forms. Such efforts end up leading to phrases like, “Why are you so literal?” and “Some people like to be entertained.” All of which creates a feedback loop of frustration for me. First a frustration that people have chosen to believe and propagate misinformation, then additional frustration when it’s revealed to me that they prefer the fantasy over the (in many cases) really, really cool reality.

A phenomenon which strains my brain.

Colliding with such an impenetrable wall of willful ignorance a couple dozen times a day for months on end pushed said strain into breaking territory to the point where when I wasn’t actively arguing with someone on the internet, I was thinking about arguments I was going to have when I got back to the internet. It was a sad state of affairs which I’m a little ashamed to admit to publicly.

It’s just that…

Fantasy is a thing you resort to when the truth is dull. It’s a fictional spice on an otherwise bland reality. But things like the naturally occurring nuclear reactor at Oklo, or the Atlas V rocket launch, or the ruins at Gobekli Tepe are all really cool true stories. You don’t need aliens, or conspiracies, or lizard men or whatever to make them interesting. That actually makes them boring.

I’ll never understand the people who want to credit aliens with every interesting thing on this planet. Isn’t assuming that everything which seems out of place is caused by the exact same phenomenon (aliens) just super dull? What a boring, homogenous global world view you have there. Or the belief that the world is secretly controlled by a vast global conspiracy with (for some reason) nefarious goals… When the answer to every question is “Illuminati,” doesn’t that just get old?

Our planet, our cultures, our accomplishments, our people… They’re all incredibly cool if you actually look at them and not get distracted by whatever random bullshit you saw in a meme.

That’s how this whole thing started, after all; with memes. I’d see some meme online and think, “This issue must be more than two-sentences-complex.” And I’d hit the Googles. Then I’d locate the truth which the meme was typically bending, warping, or otherwise misrepresenting and attempt to clarify it to whomever posted the meme; because why wouldn’t you want the truth? And then the cycle begins…

But enough about that.

Now that I’m unchained from my memetic shackles, what have I been up to? Probably the biggest change is that I’ve been getting outside more often. Going hiking. Getting back to my roots. It’s one of those things I’ve been talking about doing ever since I moved to Hawaii over a decade ago; getting up in the hills and seeing the nature, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

In the last five weeks, I’ve hiked four separate trails which I’d never been on before. The wife and I making a very real effort to try to get dirt on our shoes at least once a week (interrupted briefly by visiting family).

I’ve talked before about how Hawaii is almost mystical. About how you get a sense of the mundane and the magical living side by side. Nowhere, I think, is this felt more strongly than when you go hiking here.

When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, if you wanted to go camping or hiking, you’d drive up into the mountains and there would be this slow fade of civilization being slowly overtaken by wilderness. Not here. Not in Hawaii. Hawaii is a land of hard borders. Adjacent kingdoms; one giving way to the next immediately and without compromise. The ocean hits the beach, the beach hits the city, the city hits the jungle, the jungle hits the mountains, the mountains hit the sky. There’s no fading, no blending.

When you go hiking here, in some cases you will literally stand with two feet in separate worlds; the change is that abrupt. Six feet into the jungle and the city you were in a moment ago is miles away. It’s jarring.

Anyway, point is, it’s been good. It’s been healing. Getting into the wilderness has helped me clear my head. I’m going to be writing more about that (and other things) in the very near future; might even start a separate trail blog. Haven’t decided yet.