Navigating LA, which is known for its vastness and interlocking freeways, without a car is akin to a New Yorker pulling his vehicle from storage to run errands in midtown for a few hours. It’s crazy. It doesn’t even seem like an option. But what if I made it an option? I decided to try the unthinkable: live in LA for one week while my car sat in the driveway. The goal: see just how dependent I was on my car — and determine just how much I could buck that dependency.
Intentionally Stranded in a City of Gridlock
That wetsuit ain't for show
When I first received the invite for a Wilderness Collective trip I had many reactions, which were, in no particular order: “I haven’t camped since I was six” and “I hope the people don’t suck” and “it’ll be nice to go on a pleasant, Instagram-worthy tour off the coast aboard a yacht in order to roast marshmallows on an island”. Our destination would be the Channel Islands archipelago, eight land masses situated over 30 miles seaward from the shores of California’s coast. The multi-faceted trip would not, in fact, be about yachts and butler service. I didn’t know that yet.
Tagging sharks in the Bahamas
Sharks are hot right now, despite, or perhaps because of, their scarcity. People love them, vilify them, study them or eat their fins. Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” is one of the year’s most highly anticipated television events, up there with the Super Bowl or finale of “The Bachelor.” Still, they’re very endangered due to a combination of targeted fishing to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup, pollution, coral reef degradation or as bycatch in nets and on long lines. This last method, which claimed an estimated 97 million sharks in 2010 alone, accounts for 80% of shark deaths annually and is the subject of an ongoing study being conducted by scientists at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. We endured a bumpy ride in a tiny turboprop to visit this remote outpost and see what they were finding. Along the way we came face to face with this top predator of the deep.
Mount Rainier - 14,410 feet
Mount Rainier rises 14,410 feet above the landscape two hours to the southeast of Seattle. It towers above its surroundings, dwarfing the smaller peaks of the nearby Tatoosh Range and creating its own weather systems. It is the largest and most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. From the city on clear days, it is a beacon, almost a benevolent presence. Yet Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the Western Hemisphere. Should it ever erupt again, the resulting mudslides and ash would threaten not only Seattle but much of Washington state and beyond.
For climbers, Mount Rainier presents a tantalizing challenge given its accessibility to a major urban center and the established routes that zigzag up its flanks. Its topography and numerous glaciers and crevasses make it an excellent training ground for bigger climbs in the Alps and Himalayas. Only about half those who attempt to summit it succeed each year, the other half turned away by weather, unstable conditions or fatigue. It was also the scene of one of the worst mountaineering accidents in North American climbing history when an ice fall killed 11 climbers in 1981.
It sounded like a good challenge.
A Photo Essay
It started with an email from my buddy.
Meet you in the lobby of the Islazul Gran Hotel De Camaguey @8am on March 18th, 2013. I will be in touch – Peregrine.
Actually, we’d talked about the possibility of a Cuba trip when Mycah — his name isn’t always Peregrine — and his wife found out the she’d been awarded a fellowship to study urban agriculture there. I had not booked my tickets. I wasn’t really sure I’d go because it was near a grand between the flight to Cancun and the next one to Havana, plus I’d been traveling a lot the past year. I told him it was 50/50. Then in early March I was offered a quick business trip to Cancun ending in mid-March. You don’t balk when serendipity tugs at your Johnson, so I shot off a quick email reply: F*ck it. Tickets booked. See you there.