Heading Off to the John Muir Trail!

8 Jul


My mom and I are leaving for the John Muir Trail early tomorrow! Dad will drive us to Lee Vining to catch the last YARTS bus, and we will be spending the night  in Tuolumne so we can get our permit on time. Then we hike!

I brought a small journal, so there may be reconstructed blog posts, and I think (due to popular demand) I will be doing another short video. Everything is set, all I need to do is to pack my pack and go…

I will be hiking with my mom until MTR/Blayney Meadows, where she will get off- we have a night at the tent cabins. I will hike for a week solo, to Kearsarge Pass, where my dad will be meeting me with resupply. He will do Forester Pass and Mt. Whitney with me. Then home!

I have the pre-hike jitters, and I don’t really want to leave my puppy.


Tahoe Rim Trail Video

27 Feb


Short Story Up!

13 Nov

This is just to let everyone know that my ENG 205 short story is up under TMCC –> Grinned the Boy, Laughed the Uncle. It needs more revision, this is the version I turned in as a second draft. I could post a link to the doc to make it easier to read. -A

Photos of Photos

29 Oct

I still have no idea how to convert my photo projects, here are just random iphone pictures I’ve been able to take of them.




Above are 3 out of 4 of my Photoshop assignment- all of the images I used were jPEGs from my Iphone, these are just pictures of the screen. The last you may recognize, it’s Uncle Ben’s buildings in the basement, with sky and ground texture added.

Below are the first prints and proofsheets I did for the Midterm Assignments. I would take more pictures of pictures but they are off being graded ;)

For finals, I am doing a typology of chicken portraits using overexposure, a “life in the day” of chickens series, and then a kind of retro series of stalking light in interesting ways and using colors to achieve this 70’s kind of asthetic. The teacher is amazing and it’s really exciting to work with her towards focusing all this. I am also kind of being an over-achiever person as I only need a prototype of a typology and a series, and I only need to finish one for Finals. But I am aiming for three :) Bye!!!

IMG_2604[1] IMG_2606[1] IMG_2623[1]


14 Oct


I finished the Tahoe Rim Trail  Sunday, the last Sunday of September, the 27th, with a 23 mile section from Kingsbury Grade South to Big Meadows Trailhead. There was one final last minute trip to Trader Joe’s, where my mom and I picked up Mac ‘n Cheese, and lots of good-sounding things like a bag of salt and pepper chips, ginger snaps, apple sauce, Luna and Lara bars, pepper meat sticks and jerky, dried apples, and instant coffee packets with chocolate hazelnut milk. I am experimenting with the Chip Backpacking Diet that I made up, because chips are light and come in every flavor you want, like pepperoncini or barbecue.

We spend the next morning putting our packs together and driving, driving- it’s really horrible to drive a Prius up a mountain. We call it the Meat Grinder. I have to stop a few times at hairy roadstops to let the trucks and SUVs pass, then we arrive at the trailhead, which is hidden in a tangle of ski resort and one-way road. I got hiking sticks for an early birthday present on the way up. ‘Lekis and Bic Lighter, feels legit,’ I say, sprawled on the sidewalk in front of the car at the gas station. Even though I don’t know how to use a lighter and can barely make it spark, and at first I swing the poles too far until I have a rocking, frustrating gait. It’s 9 miles to Star Lake for camping- views of Washoe Valley on one side of the ridge with little crop circles in burgundy and green and channels of green water, and a gridwork cluster of houses and trees tightly hugging the highway. On the other, mountainsides thick with pines, and oddly shaped peaks silhouetted in the distance. Slogging, circituous and winding- up the slumping backs of bald passes and around the sides of monsterous, looming slopes- a merciful lack of switchbacks.


Mom tells everyone we meet that I am almost done. We meet an older couple, Nancy and Rick, who are section hiking too. Nancy is going to do the John Muir Trail next summer too and we give her our contact info. We have made a habit of carrying business cards and it’s come in really useful. She wants to know when I will be hiking the John Muir Trail, and says that she will hike with me. When mom tells me this later I laugh. “What?” she says. We meet many more people who are planning on the JMT next year. I will have plenty of people to hike with. I do not want to decide before. I do not want a chafeur.

Sunset above Star Lake

Sunset above Star Lake

After many false procamations that it must be around the bend, we find Star Lake. The shore is surrounded by sandy footpaths and granite juts out into the water. All of the campsites are too close to the water, and we pick one in a broken-in sandy slope. The water slaps and sucks at the rocks and sounds like an animal drinking or water gurgling into a bottle. The wind that drives across the lake is cold and whips our hair and we hurry to set up the tent and cook food. I sit down on my pad and impatiently stir the macaroni, stop the stove before it is fully cooked, and empty cheese powder, a mayonaise tube, hot sauce and pepper into the pot. It’s good. Needs more hot sauce, and maybe Madras lentils, my mom says. Just before we duck under the tent fly a group of young people cheers as they crest the rise and see the lake, two guys and two girls, poles clacking on granite. It’s gloaming and the sun is setting salmon-red and lavender above a strip of white sky.

We read a short story I brought for Creative Writing about a crazy raver girl who is under the influence of meth and alcohol and goes to a nun because she needs a famous DJ resurrected for a party so she can get a job at this radio station where she interns but the nun sends her to a santeria lady but the santeria lady basically steals her money and says she can’t help and the piece ends with the girl dancing on a street corner to music from a car that’s probably driven away ten minutes ago. Got that? Me too. I think writing class in general is an excercise in broadening your mind, while writing itself is an excercise in narrowing it.

Super Moon from Campsite at Star Lake

Super Moon from Campsite at Star Lake

There are some things about a bonfire on the far side of the lake and flashing headlamps at them and calling dad to have him call the forest service because, it’s a drought goddamit. Something about staying awake until ten when they put the fire out, finally. The last day is very beautiful- As we leave Star Lake is covered in bubbles from the wind, then off we walk to more giant ridges that we meander up the rounded sides of, then drop down the other side with incredible, far away views. We meet a few more people. A geologist from Oregon and two ladies who tell everyone they meet that I’m about to finish so everyone seems to know now. The last two miles we go incredibly slow, because our ride is late and we want to let the dog have a walk. We are walking above the highway when we see a blue Prius with a black hairy dog’s head sticking out drive by. We are incredibly slow after that. Look at that feather! Mushrooms! Pictures! Let’s eat something to burn time! It’s like we are four again.



The black dog and the crazies finally find us a quarter mile or so up the trail and we head down together. We reach the Big Meadows parking lot and there are various pictures- it feels like mild papparazi. I straddle a short post with the TRT symbol on it. But really it’s just another backpacking trip ended, and the papparazi loses interest. I get cookies and a kiss from dad and then jog down to the far end of the parking lot, tag the TRT dirt and hobble back. For good measure, I guess. The ladies we met drive by in a huge truck and congratulate me again. I think they must have waited for me because we were really slow coming down for that dog.


We are driving up the road to the highway when a big congregation of people are shouting and waving at us from the parking lot. What is it? The back door of the car is open and our backpacks are about to spill out. We reverse down the road, close the door. As we go back up again we shout and wave, “Thanks!” Then we drive home.

First Day o’ Schoo’ Ma!

21 Sep

ART 141 Digital Photography I- First day, I come into class. It’s a computer lab with two rows of silver Macs with huge screens. Teacher comes in, she has tightly curly black hair held back loose, pale skin, and the way she’s dressed you’d think it was cold outside (it’s not), with a scarf and long sleeves and a jacket, a very two-toned style- Black, white, maybe some gray. She looks tired with rims under her eyes, and nervous with her voice slipping low and into an acquired English accent as she speaks. It sounds as if she is constantly on the verge of crying (later I learn that she teaches the late class the night before and doesn’t get home until 10 or 11, and then has to get up and teach us in the morning). But- WOW! The discussion (lecture?) is crazy interesting and surprisingly intellectual, on the first day. She talks about how photographs subtend memory, replace memory, and the moral weight that comes with that in conjunction with our modern-day obsession with taking pictures of everything. We talk about Formalism, and other things, too. I leave with the impression that this is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, and a week or two on I’d still agree, but unfortunately it’s only a photography class, not philosophy or lit or something which demands more debate, and less the ambiguity of tech and computer manipulation…

Update: Still haven't figured out jPEGs/NEF/PSD/SO conversion. Was going to ask in open lab today, didn't. No grades or returned assignments yet :}

Update: Still haven’t figured out jPEGs/NEF/PSD/SO conversion. Was going to ask in open lab today, didn’t. No grades or returned assignments yet :}

Anyway, the woman who sits next to me there is a neighbor’s sister, one of the sane neighbors, and there is a girl from High Desert Montessori, named Yume. I have lunch with the neighbor and learn that her daughter who is ~ my age is in rehab in Texas for cocaine addiction. Too much personal information for a practical stranger? Apparently not. Also both of my chair/computer neighbors in the class both depend on me for using Photoshop already?!?? REALLY? I mean I know it’s complicated but can’t you have figured out how to put a photo INTO the program by now? After the poor teacher has showed you 5 times? Can’t you take notes? Is everyone this stupid here? I hope not?

ENG 205 Creative Writing- After a hurried lunch in the frenzy that is the cafeteria, I return to Sierra building, which is a crystalline series of connected squares leading away from the center of campus, and wait outside of the classroom. There is a bathroom right across from it that looks like a janitor closet so it’s always empty, even in this crowded yet strangely large and empty building. There is a class before in the room, which is one over from the photo classroom, and I watch the buildup of fellow classmates. There is a small girl with greasy mouse-brown hair who looks like she lives in the cat-eared headband and cat tail, as she curls up by the door with her books. There are a bunch of generic girls, the ones that look all the same, and wonderfully strange yet also generic people. When we finally get in, intruding on an unwary, bumbly professor with grey hair who is being buttered by a student as he gathers his things to leave. He is carrying a bowl-bell on an embroidered purple silk pillow, and a religious switch- and I am faintly alarmed that this might be my World Religions teacher. I find my seat behind a woman with dyed red hair who I realize smells of smoke. She and the young, white Michael Jackson replica are the talkers, I find, and he calls me sweetie, and he really is a sweet, unnassuming person himself.

The teacher comes in and at first I am alarmed by the way he comes in, walking slantways, leaning over and mumbling at the computer, but then I realize that’s exactly what I would do. He’s laid back, and is very much like the way he walks, not square in a masculine way but in a kind of sloping and unassuming downward line, in jeans and plaid cotton shirt a size and a half too large. I think I will get to like him. It’s funny how these creative writers express themselves, spilling out their emotions and experiences like an open suitcase. It takes a kind. I am not quite one of them, and I don’t think I will ever devote myself wholly to this, this writing and inner exposition. I want to do something other than write and make a generic existence. Writing for me is a means, not an end.

PHIL 210- World Religions- IT’S THAT GUY. He’s nice, he says he’s Orthodox Christian or something turned Zen Buddhist, but I honestly cannot for the life of me understand his speech. There’s this perfectly fine sentence and then- did it end? Is this a new sentence? If it is where is the subject of the sentence? Or like punctuation? It takes me a few seconds to catch on to this new one, on an entirely different subject, and then he is off again… The entire class is in an induced stupor, huddled in little fetal balls in their chairs, staring straight ahead at the walls. It looks like a mental institution. The first half of class is story circle, where we learn about each other’s summers- half of the people say, “I just worked all summer. I didn’t do anything, I just went home after I got out of work.” Exciting. There is the guy who professes, first, his born-again-christianity, second, his name. He gets into an argument with the poor zen proffesor within ten minutes. I leave in a pissy, agitated mood after a whole two hours of this, my brain feels like it’s concussed and shriveled up in the bottom of my skull, and I am unable to function. Did I learn a single thing? I ask myself, thoughts racing around in an unbroken circular loop. I can’t even answer this. We just listened to rambling the whole time. I begin to get angry at this harmless, oblivious, crazy proffesor and I snap at my mom when she drives up. I’m all agitated about this stupid folder I need to get for photography, and this isn’t really fair to mom, is it?

Umm anyway that’s the first day’s reaction. Sorry for the long paragraphs and I think it’s obvious where I’m going with World Religions. The second class we watched David Attenborough videos the entire time about what animals the Egyptians worshipped (I had to help him find the video player window for him). I know that the Egyptians worshipped falcons and egrets and bulls, and mummified them, I didn’t need to sit there and watch old grainy CDs to know that. A bunch of new students came in, this class is advertised on every single board the campus over for its credit fulfillment and its cheap textbooks. My mom and I quickly had to make a decision to go ahead or drop, because that day was the last day for refunds. We did it, ugh I felt guilty, but it was worth it- I just signed up for 2 Brigham Young University online accredited courses for Math and Latin with the refund. As far as other things- I am one 23 mile trip away from finishing the TRT, I am going to finish that before it gets too much colder. After, I have a bunch of video from hiking I need to look through and attempt to edit into a documentary-thing, which I will post here. I have my first short story from Creative Writing that I hope (!!!) will get returned tomorrow. I’m nervous, it’s not as polished as I wanted as far as some stylistic and transitional stuff. I have my first Photo assignment too, and I hope that gets returned and maybe I can get the photos out of psd and into jpeg so I can share it, probably just insert them into this post. I am finally doing the Great Courses, particularly the geology one. So that is school for the semester.

Some rambling for your day, Amelia

Once I Wrote a Story

4 Aug

Once I wrote a story about a man called Death, and I believed it was about inspiration and intellectual enlightenment, but really I found out it was still about death. But then maybe death is really a turning of old ideas, a new way of looking at things, so maybe again I was right. Maybe Death was a metaphor for intellectual rebirth was a metaphor for death. I’m not sure in what order.

So once again the end of summer is over and maybe summer, too, is a place for these things, a turning and composting of knowledge until it is something rich and earth-laden and complex. Ready for something new.

Blogs can be ignored for a season but eventually they must be tended, so here I am again. Hmm. Where to begin. Let’s work backwards.


School is starting for various people. A Not-Back-To-School picnic, Co-ops, and TMCC Classes. Meeting people before school starts, doing things before school starts, not thinking about school until after school starts. Y’know. Normal end of summer things. All of my classes at TMCC are going to be in the same two rooms right next to each other in the same building. I checked them out the last week of the previous semester and it was in between classes and the halls were awkward and eery with oversized walls and mirrors and worn stairs and stains and echoes. It would be a perfect place for a scene from a horror movie.

Avoid large spaces; keep to small, the walls whisper. I stand at the top of a wide, rubberized stairs and say adieu, until next semester.


Both classrooms have windows and don’t look cramped. This is going to be a great year. I know where I’m going and what I have to do, but there is still room for improvisation and spontaneity and there is no railing, as far as possibilities are concerned, and it feels good on me. As a correspondence put it about something, “pretty damn good”:

ART 141- 9:00-11:30- Digital Photography

ENG 205-  12:30-1:45- Fiction and Poetry

PHIL  210- 2:00-3:15- World Religions

Umm and then Math at home, per usual, as well as many other things ;)


I’m over halfway done with the Tahoe Rim Trail, with only 3 sections to go ranging from 15-30 miles and doable in two overnighters- am looking at John Muir Trail permits for next summer and they are a mess, with a competitive lottery for southbound and an even more esoteric and scattered lottery/permit system for northbound. Why does the trail have to begin and end at the two most popular, overcrowded places in the Sierras? And, solo or no solo?


I am also continuing to spout Latin names after the Sierra Wildflowers class, so that’s good. Thank you, VCG! Love you! <3

I guess the other big thing this season is I’ve been trying to document/film my summer, mostly through video. It’s hard, and we’ll see if we get anything out of it. At the very least filming and editing experience and something to show my kids someday, yes? I feel like it is worth the effort I’ve put into it.


Just some thoughts and rambling for your day,

Amelia        XOXO


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