Hiking Buddy Application

Note:  This is not actually meant to be a method of  judging people to be fit or unfit as hiking partners, it is just a slightly tongue-in-cheek idea I had after some conversations about What Makes a Good Hiking Buddy (an undefinable concept).  It might be a good way to get to know people before you hike with them though?

I put my answers at the bottom for fun.  Also if any of this seems oddly specific, it’s definitely in honor of one of my favorite hiking partners 🙂

  1.  Do you hike a lot?
    A. I don’t remember the last time I went a whole week without hiking.
    B. I hike when other people invite me or I am traveling.
    C. I guess I’ll look at the Grand Canyon or something.
    D. Ew, exercise?
  2.  How important is keeping up a quick pace to you?
    A. I love to time myself and try to beat my best time.
    B. I like to be able to hike fast enough to go farther and finish ambitious hikes.
    C. I love me some extended breaks.
    D. I literally couldn’t care less about speed.
    E. I gotta take my time and “my time” is a lot of it.
  3. Do you like bagels?
    A. Yes
    B. I can’t eat gluten or a bagel killed my family
    C. Why does there need to be another option?
  4. How do you feel about hiking in the rain?
    A. I love rain, especially on certain types of hikes.
    B. Maybe on occasion I’d choose to hike knowing it would rain.
    C. I can deal with it, but I won’t be happy.
    D. Why would you ever make me go outside in the rain?
  5. How prepared are you for cold?
    A. I know myself and own several warm layers.
    B. I can make it work for a day.
    C. I kind of hate the cold.
    D. I might die if you take me somewhere it is snowing.
  6. What happens if we end up hiking in the dark?
    A. I love night hiking sometimes, even on purpose, as long as the terrain isn’t terrible.
    B. Sounds like a scary but fun adventure.
    C. Uh… I’d rather not.
    D. I am legitimately terrified of the dark.
  7. What kind of snacks do you like (select all that apply)?
    A. Dark chocolate
    B. Clif bars
    C. Bread and cheese
    D. GORP
    E. Fruits (fresh or dried)
    F. Jerky
    G. Elaborate homemade meals
    H. I can carry cupcakes in my pack without smushing the icing
    I. I exist entirely on performance foods for runners
  8. How many hours can you hike in a day and still have fun?
    A. 0-4
    B. 4-8
    C. 8-10
    D. 10+
    E. What is a day?  I really like to challenge how long I can go without sleep.
  9. How much do you like to plan your hikes?
    A. I’m awful at planning.
    B. I’ll plan whatever is necessary for reasonable levels of safety.
    C. I like to do a lot of research, even about things where there is little danger.
    D. I will be pulling out some excel spreadsheets and maybe a powerpoint.
  10. What do you do if you feel something is unsafe?
    A. Macho man through it and say nothing
    B. Have a conversation with my partner and try to change strategy
    C. Let my partner carry on without me and go back
    D. Complain and never hike with the person again
  11. Which of the following skills do you bring to the table (select all that apply)?
    A. Recognizing and treating hypothermia and heat exhaustion
    B. Wilderness first aid
    C. Basic navigation
    D. Evaluating avalanche safety
    E. Communicating with European tourists (or locals when you are a tourist) using an elaborate system of hand signals
    F. Being self-sufficient on a backpacking trip
    G. Cooking things at camp that taste good even when you haven’t walked 20+ miles
    H. Actual mountaineering skills
    I. Taming chipmunks
  12. Do you like multi-day trips?
    A. Let me live in the woods for months.
    B. For a couple/few days.
    C. I’ll camp by my car.
    D. I like beds.
  13. How do you feel about singing while hiking?
    A. Bring on the sing-a-longs!
    B. There’s a time and a place.
    C. Ugh, shut up!
  14. What kind of nature knowledge do you have?
    A. I carry a magnifying glass so I can study moss.
    B. I know the names of all the birds and flowers.
    C. I can tell the difference between a false morel and a morel.
    D. I can find a few edible plants and recognize poison ivy…?
    E. What’s a squirrel?
  15. How do you feel about dogs?
    A. I only ever hike with my dog and my dog is perfect.
    B. I like to bring a dog that gets me tangled in trees constantly.
    C. I don’t have a dog, but BRING YOUR DOG I LOVE DOGS.
    D. I’ll be happy for the company if it can keep up.
    E. Kind of not that into dogs.
    F. I am terrified of dogs.
  16. What’s your biggest pet peeve in a hiking partner?  ___________________________________________________


My answers are: 1. A  2. B  3. A  4. A  5. A  6. A  7. A,B,C,E  8. D  9. B  10. B  11. A,C,D,F,I (definitely not G)  12. A  13. A  14. D  15. D  16. People who can’t handle unexpected problems, tied with the smell of tuna

I’m super interested to see your answers, if you want to post them below!!

Solemates: Adventures in Having Far Too Many Feelings About Shoes (And No Shame About That Pun)

I have a pair of shoes.  Basically just the one.  I also have a couple of fun pairs from over the years that are totally impractical, climbing shoes, and a pair of mountaineering boots for when it’s really cold, but otherwise everything falls on my trusty single pair of shoes.  I had a pair I loved.  They were perfect.  We did everything together.  Over 1000 miles of movie montage moments: walking to work; hiking on rock, ice, snow and mud; carrying heavy exhibits and working in the shop; standing around at the crag; I even ran in them the approximately two times a year I pretend that I like running.

But they were wearing out.  Chunks of foam were falling out– I ignored them.  They looked gross, but I pretended not to notice.  They developed a hole in the sole, and I even covered it with gaffe tape for a bit.  But it was time for them to go.  And the style had been discontinued a year ago.  As someone who spends essentially all of my time on my feet, it was an emotional realization.

I expressed my pain to others.  “My mom really likes this brand,” they would say.  Meanwhile, another person owned shoes of that brand that wore out very quickly.  “Don’t you want ankle support?” not realizing they were talking about the most important thing I owned.  None of them understood that bond I have with my shoes.  It just wasn’t as simple of a purchase as they were making it out to be!

Of course, when I went to REI, a couple of salespeople tried to convince me that I just couldn’t use one pair of shoes for everything.

“I want them to survive a little snow but not be waterproof, so they dry out,” I’d say.

“Sounds like you need different pairs of hiking shoes for different seasons,” they’d say, as if this was a reasonable approach that every sane person uses for their footwear decisions.  “And why don’t you have different street shoes than hiking shoes?”  It was like telling me to settle for a few casual acquaintances and surrender my best friend.

Eventually, I settled for a durable-looking set of trail runners, sticking stubbornly to the non-waterproof version that was only available online.  I wore them 10+ miles every weekday on pavement, to the shop, on a rock climbing trip, to climb a mountain through a bunch of slush, and on a run in a local park.

Two weeks later, they were falling apart.

Two weeks!  I returned them to REI.

“I hate to do this because I wear shoes so hard, but I just bought them and they’re peeling a bunch.”

“How long has it been?”

“I’m not sure, maybe two weeks?”

He obviously didn’t believe me, so he looked it up.  “Good lord, it has only been two weeks, what did you do to them?!”

I walked, trusting and barefoot, to the shoe department to try again.  Immediately a serene-looking man offered to help.  He had a British accent and was angelically backlit.  “What do you use your shoes for?”  he asked, after I explained I’d just wrecked a pair far too quickly.

“Everything.”  And he didn’t correct me.

After he suggested some refreshingly reasonable options which still just didn’t feel like The One, I noticed he was wearing sandals and hazarded, “do you just wear sandals all the time?”

Apparently he did.  Also apparently we had all of the same foot problems and both loved walking barefoot.  We had a really embarrassingly lame conversation about high arches and toe splay and stuff really no one cares about and he brought me some “minimalist” running shoes to try on since it would feel like walking barefoot.

“Can I really wear these all day, for everything?”  I asked skeptically.

“I’ve run marathons in them,” he assured me, with a yoga teacher smile. “It’s like being a kid again, you can feel everything.”

They were so comfortable!  I knew that these types of shoes caused some people a lot of pain.  I knew that it was a big risk to buy these shoes and wear them to do literally everything immediately.  But cults just have a way of sucking you in, and the minimalist footwear thing did just that to me, in that moment.

I walked outside and started focusing on walking mostly on the balls of my feet.  It was different, but I was ready to get to know my new best friends (and cultlike footwear lifestyle).

What It’s Like to Walk the Same Block 100 Times, and For a Lot of People to Know About It

Last Monday I had the interesting experience of doing an informal performance walking around a single city block 100 times (about 20 miles), and of it becoming more publicly visible than I anticipated. It was supposed to be a personal, ephemeral thing where I could immerse myself in something repetitive and reflect on it after, and maybe find out what it was like to interact with strangers in this vulnerable context.

Instead, it turned out that so many people who didn’t see it in person were affected by it.  I received messages from urban planners on Facebook about the importance of walking, and I was recognized by strangers days after the event.  This wasn’t what I intended, and I could have handled my interviews better, but I do love that this act was almost totally shaped by chance and other people’s actions/interpretations.  It was a fun way for me to think about at what point I am making art, how intentional I should be or should not be about it, and how actually nice people in Seattle are on the internet.  I decided to just publish my thoughts while it was happening, since my experience is probably the most interesting result of this experiment.

Lap 1:  It’s a nice day.  There are layers of stickers on everything, so I feel like it’s going to be a challenge to focus on something other than the stickers, street art, and posters.  There are a lot of typically Seattle things to notice here: a glass fish, an Elvis statue, some drunk people.  I should try to actually talk to some people today, I doubt anyone is actually going to go out of their way to talk to me.  Maybe I’ll ask this lady to take a picture of her dog.

Lap 5:  I finally get the courage to take a picture of someone’s dog.  I see some carpet cleaners (or something like that) getting their supplies out of their van, joking around.  They seem cheery for a Monday morning.

Lap 18:  I really have to pee, so I stop in the bar to use the bathroom.  At this point Wade is with me still, and I can hear him talking to the bartender.  “What is she doing?”  “She’s walking around the block 100 times.  I’m just hanging out until my job interview.”  “…Okay.”

Lap 22:  There are some people spray painting… something… by a trash can.  A couple guys coming and going and joking around.  I can’t tell what they are doing but don’t want to stare.

Lap 23:  One of the something-painters looks up, gestures to the other.  “Is that her?”  “Yeah.  It’s gotta be.”  I confirm that I am the girl with the posters and take their picture.  They are maybe painting some audio equipment?


Lap 27: Stopping at Lost Lake for a bunch of potatoes.

Lap 28:  I notice some daffodils by the Rancho Bravo.  Also that their planters still have stickers with instructions on them.  Some new abandoned boots have materialized on the sidewalk across the street.  Hairstylists out for probably their second smoke break obviously notice I’ve passed multiple times, don’t confront me though.  This makes me feel super weird and vulnerable.

Lap 31:  Someone stood the abandoned boots up neatly on the corner.  A girl is carrying daffodils.

Lap 32:  One of my posters has been moved by someone putting up a ton of concert posters where it was.  I thank him for moving it instead of taking it down.  He smiles and looks confused.

Lap 33:  I see a parking enforcement person giving the carpet cleaners a parking ticket.  The daffodils by Rancho Bravo are gone.

Lap 36:  The painting guys have some baseball cards now.  I really don’t understand what’s going on.  They smile at me.  I stop in the same bar bathroom.  My bladder is so small… I’m glad the bartender is nice.

Lap 41:  A guy walks up to me and asks if I’m the girl with the posters.  He asks if he can interview me, and I agree but don’t understand why.  He explains who he is, and I’m halfway through a video about what I am doing before I realize I’ve totally heard of Dan Savage before.  I feel embarrassed for not acting appropriately impressed, also have no idea what to say in a video.  Is this random act even meant to be public in this way?  I thought I would have some awkward conversations with people who frequent this block; should I have expected this to happen?  I also look like shit because it’s raining.  Whoever Mr. Savage is with wants to know what kind of shoes I’m wearing.  They don’t make them anymore.  They disappear into an unmarked door.


Lap 42:  I feel compelled to text people I know about what happened.  This is legitimately distracting, and I wonder if he will post something that will make people harass me in the street.  I am trying to focus on looking at the block again.

Lap 48:  One of the trees has a label saying what kind of tree it is.


Lap 50:  I see the carpet cleaners back at their van on a break; they are laughing about the parking ticket.

Lap 62:  I feel like I should talk to the hairdressers, who are on another smoke break.  I could maybe take their picture.  I can’t do it because they just look so hip and annoyed with me.

Lap 64:  I get some messages with a link to the article with me in it, and I take a break at the coffee shop to watch the video.  I don’t really want to get sucked into reading internet comments, but I do, and I respond to some of them.  Someone finds me on messenger to tell me they want to walk with me, but they can’t because they live across the country.  A very overly excited guy sees my poster and tells me he just love loves what I am doing.  He hasn’t seen the video though.

Lap 68:  I get some high-fives from random commuters on their way home.  A couple in all Patagonia stuff tries to have a philosophical discussion with me.  The carpet cleaners have caught on and ask me what lap I am on.

Lap 70:  A guy who looks like he might be into The Grateful Dead asks if this is “some kind of neo-Fluxus thing.”  I tell him maybe.  It was mostly just a way to spend my day off.  I think he’s disappointed because he thinks I don’t know what he’s talking about.  Dan Savage comes back and asks me to answer questions by email later.

Lap 76:  Wade comes back and brings Paul.  They help me find new things to photograph, like an awful suit and an umbrella hanging from a power line.


Lap 80:  Some people getting off a bus who I also saw in the morning ask me why I am doing this.  I get a beer.  I am a little overwhelmed by the dozens of people I have had to explain myself to.

Lap 82:  I haven’t eaten much, so I kind of really feel my beer.  Some people come and find me after seeing the article and walk a couple of blocks with me while waiting for dinner with a friend.  I try to make sense while talking to them.

Lap 90:  More high fives.  It starts to rain.

Lap 97:  I get ice cream at Molly Moon’s.

Lap 100:  I see some stores closing.  No one is talking to me anymore.  I go home.