GPB's Top Ten of 2010, Part I
2010 was a damned exciting year for Pink Boots. I was fortunate to get this here website up and running and rocking, AND my first foray (as GPB, anyway) into that most beloved and indispensible of all mediums, PRINT, debuted a few days ago in January’s issue of State College Magazine. If you haven’t checked out that gorgeous hunk of paper and ink, please do so immediately. And be sure keep up with my adventures every single month from here on out in SCM!
I intend 2011 to be as filled to bursting with life-affirming edge-living as 2010, but before we can truly bid a buoyant bonjour to the New Year, we have to wave adios to the old one. And what more perfect way to do so than with an end-of-the-year wrap up? Although since these boots spent last year walking – and horseback riding and snow shoeing and hot air ballooning – all over the place, it’s not been easy picking a top ten.
Narrowing it down to only outdoorsy, athletic pursuits helped a bit (though it necessitated passing over kickass moments like GPB visiting Marilyn Monroe’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star). And while sometimes Pink Boots accompanies me more as a state of mind than actual footwear, I’ve chosen to include only adventures during which they were on my feets. Without further adieu then, here – in descending chronological order – are…
Go Pink Boots’ Top Ten Bestest Adventures Of 2010
- High Sonoran Desert, Marana, Arizona.
This was the then-brand new Pink Boots’ first time out of the box – and my first time in the desert. The vista was stunning: the golden foothills of the Tortolita Mountains below, the luminous faded-denim blue sky above. Towering Saguaro cactus, the Sonoran’s beloved residents, were everywhere; the gritty trail, with plenty of elevation gain and loss challenged but didn’t overwhelm. It was magnificent…at least until I found myself in a wash at the bottom of the canyon, unable to see anything but the rocky hills surrounding me. Confused, cursing my now intensely questionable decision to hike solo, I stumbled along, ready to call the Ritz-Carlton and beg for rescue. My saviors, I realized, were sure to discover me only a couple miles from the resort, trail map in hand and markers all around me, lips quivering and nose running, sobbing like a five-year old. The thought was too much too bear. I put a lid on my panic and managed to hike my ass out of there. The next day I returned sans sniveling, conquering any remaining fear.
- Forest Outside of Chiang Mai, Northwestern Thailand.
95 degree weather and 95 percent humidity. No drinking water. A trail that, over the five or so miles I hiked it, inexplicably only ascended, becoming steeper with each step, until I was literally climbing, hand over hand, pulling myself forward whenever possible with tree branches and vines, ever upward. That I had actually paid a day tour company – who had assured me the hike was “no, not difficult” – for this replication of the Bataan Death March only added salt to the wound. And yet, as miserable as that hike was…It. Was. In. Thailand. When you’re someplace that exotic, even the most wretched experiences take on a patina of glory in retrospect. Unless, you know, you’re getting a kidney stolen or something.
- Craters of the Moon, National Monument and Preserve, Idaho.
The first big adventure of my extended spring/summer trip out West, and the subject of my first ever GPB blog piece, Craters of the Moon would hold a special place in my heart even if it weren’t mind-splittingly beautiful. But it is. Formed by volcanic activity a whole lotta years ago, Moon is chock full of crazy caves, fields of lunarscape-like lava flows, cinder cones and other utterly alien topography. It’s also massive – over 1,100 square miles – and checking out almost any feature requires a hike. By the end of the day, I was crawling on hands and knees, softly whimpering in the back of my throat, toward the car. Or maybe it just felt that way. But don’t let the prospect of mere exhaustion – or the fact that one long-ago pioneer passing through described it as “the Devil’s vomit” – stop you from visiting. Make no mistake, Craters of the Moon is one of North America’s most spectacular places.
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
Yellowstone is distinguished by the gorgeous, often spooky landscape formed by the monumental, still active volcano which lies underneath it. And by buffalo. Lots and lots of buffalo. Everywhere you turn there are buffalo, big and small, alone and in herds, their great shaggy heads lowered as they quietly graze the park’s iconic ground. My first sight of them literally took my breath away; I was so excited I nearly hyperventilated. By the end of the day, however, I had grown so used to them I reacted to a buffalo sighting as I would, say, spotting a groundhog back home. And while I admit feeling slightly underwhelmed by Old Faithful, I would rank the sublimely desolate Mammoth Hot Springs as one of Yellowstone’s can’t-misses. See it on an overcast day and soon you’ll be imagining the Three Weird Sisters out there amongst the steam vents and blackened trees, casting spells and leading Macbeth to his doom.
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
This time, Pink Boots picked themselves up off of the ground and let an equine do the walking – which was a nice vaca for my feet, if not my ass. Although I’d been riding a few times over the past couple of years, I quickly discovered there is a WORLD of difference between a smooth, short trail ride and spending nearly six hours atop a horse cresting mountains – and not just any mountains, but the Rockies, for heaven’s sake. I’m not sure what was more harrowing – descending a 1,000 foot switchback path or riding behind my brother, who’d entered – and won – an eat-50-wings-in-30-minutes contest the night before. But any risks were well worth the reward: the Continental Divide rising up unencumbered in front of us, craggy, white-capped, eternal.
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