Friday, September 12, 2014

A Team Abroad



A Team Abroad

  
 I thank my old football Coach Jako for encouraging us take simple steps towards attaining our goals. For instance, while other teams had a playBOOK, we had a playSHEET - literally about 4 plays run in both directions left and right making a total of about 8 plays. We went 6 and 4 with two losses by only 1 point. That was my most successful season as a team until 8 years later, and I do not mean in "wins and losses."I mean in the sense that when my helmet was jerked from behind by a person who outweighed me by 20kg that a group of teammates had to be restrained from rushing the field - we supported one another. In the picture above, the man on the top of the ladder has about 8 fellow fireman holding the ladder for him and about 200 people wishing him on to complete these well groomed acrobatics successfully. Even in a picture where a person looks to be reaching for the 'stars' alone, he in fact has a team of support beneath him. 


One with The 山 Yama


Yōtei San aka Ezo Fuji (photo taken in February 2014)

Friday (September 6, 2014) Yōtei received some showers. In fact it received a lot of showers the entire week leading up to our overnight hike. Nevertheless, we woke up to a sunny Saturday - that is Hokkaido weather in a nutshell this year. Here is a picture of our group from the trail head. We consisted of Americans, Jamaicans, Canadians, Japanese, and all together 10 solid 人 people with  years of experience, to not so many years of experience. 



Popular hiking trails in Japan are marked by "stages." This particular Volcano has 10 on the Makkari trail about every 0.6km as you count your way to the craters rim. Our estimated time of hiking was about 4 hours for the 'fast' group and about 6 hours for those fairly new to hiking. Here are a few shots taken at or near the stages. 





To compare the elevation of hiking Yotei San I will use Yosemite National Parks famous Half Dome (also the logo to North Face). Half Dome is 1,444 meters above the valley floor (4,737 ft). Half Dome's trail spans about 8.5 miles or 13.67 km. That means you are gaining about 105 meters per km while hiking Half Dome. The "easiest" trail for Yotei is 1,574m and 6.7km long which means you are gaining 234 meters per every kilometer. A picture from stage 8 after gaining well over 1,000 meters. The advantage to this trail is you can sleep at a hut less than a km from the peak which is a huge bonus because that means you do not have to carry a tent. A downside is there is little to no water on the volcano itself for you to refill water packs, thus each of was carrying 3-5 Liters of water. 



A picture of exhaustion but plenty of hope at Stage 9 above and the sunset 夕日 below just before settling into the Hut for some much needed rest. Our plan was to wake up at 4 am in order to hike to the final stage 10 and walk around the crater while viewing the sunrise 日の出 (ひので).





After a full night of cooking noodles and boiling hot water for らめん (ramen) using our backpacking stoves, we all tried to take in some ZZZ's. That being said, there were over 25 other people in the hut, そして we didn't get much sleep. In fact, at about 3 a.m. we ALL woke up. It looks like our 4 a.m. early departure was pushed up an hour. So we pack up and we head for the crater walking through clouds and shinning our lights through the misty mountains. I love this feeling by the way and get into the "zone" just stepping around rocks and keeping the flashlight off to let my eyes get used to the surroundings.





As we approach the crater, it's looking jagged, rocky, damp, cold, windy, and treacherous. The Sun is out now, but we can't see it, we are within the clouds of the yama.




Patiently waiting....


A few folks are ready to just hang out a bit below the peak and they do so, a few folks head down for an early start respectively so. A few folks are bold? adventurous? lucky? enough to trek on a few more steps and wait out the clouds...and the clouds part.





 雲海 うんかい Sea of clouds 











Now for the Descent

At about 6:45 am we began to head back down. To our delight we witnessed two circle rainbows inside the crater, this one came out the best on camera. We could see our shadows within the rainbow as the sun was to our backs. It's something not a single one of us saw coming our way. 





A look into the crater without the mist



シマリス 山 



キノコ Out of this world mushroom



The final steep descent


A few falls, some tree roots climbed, some rocks scrambled, some blisters, a sleepless night, some jokes and riddles, some great conversation, some kids hiking the trail, some grandparents hiking the trail, some will power...and we all returned in good spirits to the trail head. 



The Team (Thank You)




3,000 meters (9,000 ft) in elevation change later, we made it back to town! 

Finally finishing it off with some Soft Cream...and a lucky 4 leaf clover bracelet from my number one supporter in Hakodate. 




Until the next one...see ya 山




Thursday, September 26, 2013

Will I live to see 24? - Coolio

          It's been awhile since the last post, due to another season coaching football for running backs last season (we had a 1,000 yard runner!), a Spring session with the Northwest Youth Corps, summer school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and making a transition to Japan to teach English. The internet is a nice place to help keep in touch with past friends but it is also a bit intimidating to post much about ones life on the world wide web. This is another reason I figured I'd keep my posts to once in awhile and make 'em count. Speaking of counting, I just reached the age of 27. Coolio once asked "will I live to see 24 the way things are going I don't know." This was never really the case for me, there was no gangsta or set trippin or loc'in for me, but I'm happy to still be alive and kicking regardless of any childish mistakes or teenage unrealistic ideals.

          Right here right now, I'm in Japan, teaching English/Internationalization and am rewarded intrinsically along the way through spreading culture and learning about another. The residents in my town have been very open to learn about my family and I. There are things I miss about chosen lifestyles in California where I can wake up, teach/hike at an outdoor science school, coach football, and make my rounds to the mountains, the beach, pick up basketball, or downtown Fullerton. Demo (nihongo for 'however'), seeing many friends move towards their passions - such as; financial advising, engineering, acting, music, coaching, medicine, sports, and so on  - has helped me make decisions that have led towards where I am right now. Is it where I want to be in five years? If you asked me to answer honestly, I would say "not exactly". There are other meals yet to be served. I only hope to build and maintain the bridges which have been forged and will be forged over the next few years abroad. I am attempting to live a passionate lifestyle, and trying to live passionately even if it means or meant making prolonged stops at family members homes free of charge along the way.



         To the next point, making prolonged stops at family members homes along the way. the economy is recovering, I think? But when I graduated in '10 the job market wasn't what it was 10 years ago for fresh college graduates, especially with a Social Ecology degree. After uprooting myself from southern California I decided to work in the Oregon/Washington Cascade mountain range, hike for three weeks in the High Sierras, hike and volunteer farm in Oahu (WOOF), take a winter Wilderness Travel Course with the Sierra Club, and take summer classes in Anatomy in San Luis Obispo. (I find it necessary to have outdoor skills and the outdoors have become a sanctuary for me). These opportunities became possible through the support of family, friends, and mentors along the way. The above picture never would have happened if I didn't accept help in buying a plane ticket a few years back. Shooting forward to today, I am now living abroad and get to play for the towns recreational baseball team while also playing bball every day at lunch just like when I was in middle school- the kids around this small inaka (country) town even remember my number - 15. Now it can be my family who gets to travel on a small part of my account/location. The options I have in my present life and my future are made a possibility through much support from family and friends and the 'Big guy up in the sky'. I owe them a big one.

        That being said, it ain't all pretty pictures and sunsets. There are times I face doubts of teaching versus 'living'. In other words, as a young athlete I never found myself in a speaking role among my teammates, but a lead by example role. It was not until later in my life I felt the outside pressures to learn to speak well and many external benefits, as well as in interpersonal relationships. Even now on my down time I find myself planning for the next move without speaking the language of my current location, strategically planning out-of-the box ways to incorporate skill sets with experience and opportunity with respects to family, location, the outdoors, athletics, and attaining a Masters in a Kinesiology/Health related field.  My list is there, and we all have our lists of what ifs and how-to's. Sometimes, I may as well be scratching my head in the picture below, as I'm attempting to understand things in my own life yet alone keeping up with other happenings, but instead of scratching our head just keep looking and try to figure it out yea. I ought to just remember KIS, Keep It Simple, easier said than done.



          In the meantime I try to deal with perceptions of this is not 'enough' and learning patience through working at being grateful (click the link for a cool site), really work at being grateful. Along the beginning of this prolonged journey and lifestyle, which is ordinary in the respects considering that many friends and family have already taken their courageous steps, from starting families, playing ball in Europe, and another running an ultra marathon (which I admire and follow) towards their goals - there will be many people who choose to help us along the way. One thing that has really helped me appreciate my ups and downs - being grateful and making the effort to give to those you also see taking steps towards a goal of theirs.  Muhammed Ali once said “What keeps me going is goals.” I have felt some amazement in the helping hands I've received along the way, and now feel a sense of responsibility to also help the next person or people I see traveling or making effort - from the Nihonjin only speaking the bare minimum English needing a ride in the Sierra Mountains to the physically awkward kid who just wants the ball passed to him in a pick up game of basketball so he can show what he's practiced so much for. That being said, lets help each other out in aspects of education, sport, travel, adventure, and so on, most of us in our 20's are looking for something, let's help each other get there and also realize the huge pro's to our current situations whatever they may be. I know I'll continue to accept a helping hand when necessary and am grateful for the ones offered thus far. One thing I want to continue to improve is financial stability as well, so for any one younger than me reading this, keep your finances right, it'll make things run smoother. Gracias.


(Grand Canyon backpacking trip, May of 2012, hiking friend Mark along with Dorea/Audrey/Kari helped organize this trip - Inside The Outdoors coworkers)



Monday, December 31, 2012

John Muir Trail

           211 official miles, 222 when counting the triumphant return hike to the Mt. Whitney portal trailhead, and any additional miles depending on the hikers choice of side treks. The trail begins in Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley (Yosemite National Park), goes through Inyo, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks as well. The time taken to complete this hike ranges people from 10 to 24 days on average and then some. Should you choose to attempt this trail know there are pros and cons to going at different speeds. Should you choose to travel fast, you travel light, no 'tent', one or two pairs of shirts, one pair of pants, low/dry food rations, you name it, you have less of it. The pro to that is you lessen the load and can travel up to 20 miles a day. Should you choose to travel medium to heavy you carry more items thus carrying more weight and lengthening the time taken to complete the trail. The pro to traveling a little more comfortable is taking your time and viewing sites at a more comfortable pace. That being said, it's all up to the hiker because any fast thru-hiker carrying little weight can still stop and go at his/her own pace and a thru-hiker carrying everything including a night lamp can still miss out on great views if not aware. It seems that only one things is guaranteed, opportunity for choice.

          Opportunity: comes and goes. Choosing to attempt this trail came from years of going to a very disciplined high school, a competitive college, and relying heavily on the outdoors as my refuge to the daily stresses of living in a city in Southern California. There are stresses in the outdoors as well. Have you ever had trouble digging a cat hole and finding nature wipe? then you'll know what I'm talking about. Regardless to new ways of handling daily routines in the outdoors, the gain of the experience is something worthwhile. There may be times where I sit with an empty stomach because the GORP (trail mix) is no longer attractive, and other times where it's so cold and the ground so hard I wake up about 3-4 times throughout the night, or the threat of a bear taking your food looming throughout the night. In fact, one thruhiker was "nibbled" on by a black bear and it very quickly released her arm once the bear realized it was nibbling on a human, not the baby wipes that had been left in the tent. So make the right choice and put all your items in a bear proof canister over 30ft away from where you sleep. Opportunity does not arise without adventure and obstacles.

         Adventure: is often chosen as the word associated with trips in the outdoors. But there is also adventure in a city. What about taking a walk at midnight through the gang capitol of America in Los Angeles? That has to count for something. There are people left and right living lives that are much more dangerous than being on the John Muir Trail. In the wild I haven't heard of a 40 foot 3,800 kg steel cargo container falling onto a longshoreman, Rest In Peace to the Long Beach longshoreman in January of 2012. But I have heard of winds reaching well over 100mph knocking over tens of thousands of 40 foot trees in Inyo National Forest. Looks like there is risk wherever you are. The risks outdoors just seem to be sensationalized because they happen less often, to less people, which makes sense because less people are out there. Hey! There must lie the adventure, being where there is less perceived knowledge of the surrounding forces.

        Nature's surrounding forces: the temperatures reached below freezing on multiple occasions in over 10,000 ft elevation, the winds reached well over 20mph, wildlife runs wherever it wants, a rodent ate part of my water mouthpiece, and your legs/back get sore from time to time. Yet, throughout the hike, one thing remained the same, water. Whatever forces might give discomfort, there was always a viable water source near the trail. To be born in Southern California we take water for granted, no doubt about it. To work in Washington/Oregon this summer and live near the Wenatchee River, it hits home to how little water Southern California has compared to other parts of the Nation. The abundance of water in the Sierra Nevada's is a dream to any kid born and raised next to the Santa Ana River: I love riding a bicycle here but there is just no comparison between the concrete Santa Ana River and the Sierra's or the Northwest. Water, alpine lakes, glacier melt rivers, pine trees I've never heard of, tens of shooting stars, constellations, deer, long-tailed weasels, squirrels, marmots, hawks, bobcat, granite rock, the list goes on for all these forces beyond our control. Throughout the hike we just learn to take them in for what they are and enjoy what they have to offer to our senses and knowledge. It's like the longshoreman who accept the risks of the docks, going on a thru-hike is no different. Risks are everywhere anyhow. Should a struggle arise, I'm sure we can count on the other longshoreman and thru-hikers to offer a helping hand.

        Thru-hikers: She quit her job as a biomedical engineer in her mid-forites because her first major in college was actually outdoor leadership not her parent's choice of biomed, he just turned 70 and works to save Trestles in San Clemente, she brought her father and younger brother on the journey, he summited Mt. Whitney on his 63rd birthday and plans to do Denali next, she works as an Education Ranger in our National Parks, he flew in from Tokyo, Japan speaking very little English without even renting a car during his stay, then there I am a Cali kid just wanting to do a thru-hike in California's backyard. Hiking this trail is like preparing for a year for your first marathon: run a few 5k's, get in a 10k, pick up the tempo with a few half-marathons, join a training group, tailor your diet and lifestyle, then you arrive super pumped at the marathon with some family and friends. Lined up next to you is a 60 year old with a hairstyle they should of left in the 70's. The PA blares a congratulatory announcement to so-and-so for starting their 100th marathon. Anything I just did in my lifetime looks like a side-note compared to what many of these people have already done and continue to accomplish. That is the great thing about this trail though, the people are inspirational and without trying they will inspire you to reach for your goals and aspirations. Should you try this trail, pack smart, give in to Nature and faith, and enjoy the scenery.

Thank You, Happy New Year



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Reason for The Blog Name...


Incomplete (F on transcript) ... D (went ahead and dropped the class just before the drop deadline so not on transcript) ... C (not what I wanted)... "I will do better this time, my 4th try at Calculus 2B". This was my train of thought heading into my Senior year of college and retaking Calc. Motivation was key here, I began coaching at my alum high school for the freshman team - a time I will never forget as an athlete myself - and I was fully committed to the wave of getting things done with the support of the athletes I was now coaching and offering motivation to on a daily basis. What good of a coach am I if I can't fix something that needs fixin'?

Every day, every day I studied. Attended every class, studied for every quiz, did every single homework problem, and attended office hours. I even enlisted a fellow intramural teammate and classmate to join my study group, which consisted of sitting in the library and me now teaching him Calculus. It became euphoric. The quizzes all came back with near perfect scores, as did the midterm.

Final stretch, should I stay up and pull a classic college all-nighter? No, I'll go to practice, do some type of physical exercise, and get some rest. All the practice beforehand will take me into this final prepared. I trusted my preperation, I trusted my professors office hours, and I trusted that whatever outcome should occur I knew I did my best. I slept well that night putting my nerves to rest. I walked into the final needing to use the restroom actually, nerves creeping up basically. I excused myself, walked back in, put pencil to paper and left the results to the math heavens.

A+ is what it now says on my transcript for Calculus 2B. Boom-shacka-lacka!  



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NorthWest Youth Corps Journey

A Photo Journal of my time leading with NorthWest Youth Corps in Washington/Oregon. This is a summer program for youth 16-19 years old who are paid for their work and are able to receive school credit. These youth are not labeled "at-risk" but we undoubtedly do some risky work in the front and back country for a total of 12 weeks w/a few occasional stops in the "city". Just imagine being out there with mother nature with ten youth, one other leader, a plethora of sharp and heavy tools, falling trees, steep mountainsides, wildlife, and amazing.





















Thank You to all the fellow staff/leaders - Jon Z, Jeff M, Jolsen, Teddy, Ana, Keegan, James, Lexi, Patrick, Jenn, Sarah, Aldy, Coral, Brently, and Hannah! Then of course the 80 youth who gave a total of 10 weeks of hard labor and disciplined living.