Tag Archives: creatures

Video of Niko crushing Hippocrite (5.12a) at Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge. What a destination. I don’t think I’ve ever been so bummed to see a climbing trip end, particularly because I’ve got about a dozen climbing buddies who are still out there right now. Gorgeous crags, overhangs that stay dry even in downpours, phenomenal pizza, and a beautiful camping experience. A lady truly couldn’t have asked for a better trip.

I have about 800 photos and a dozen or so video clips to edit before the full trip report, but I couldn’t resist posting a quick littleteaser to give you a taste of Kentucky.

This video features Niko climbing “Hippocrite,” an aesthetic 5.12a line that sits towards the left side of a crag called “The Zoo.” We visited this area on Cinco de Mayo, which I declared a rest day. Armed with a six-pack of Coronas, a juicy lime, and a little salt shaker, I spent the afternoon sipping on cold beer while the boys went to town crushing some gnarly routes. Check it out:

Note: This video was shot with my iPhone 4s – and I was about three beers deep when I decided to film the climb, so please excuse the lack of my usual standards, ha. 

Here’s a fun little bonus photo/story: After shooting Niko on Hippocrite, I was overcome with the urge to break the seal – so I tromped down into the woods and found a nice little spot to relieve myself. In my tipsy stupor, I was totally ignorant to what was going on right in front of me – I didn’t even notice the snake that my stream had narrowly missed.

I literally almost squatted on the slithery creature, and upon noticing it, I immediately whipped out my phone to take some pictures of the cute little guy. Here’s the best one – I reckon it might just be the best picture I’ve ever taken on my iPhone:

It wasn’t until I returned to the group and showed off my shots that I was jolted to be informed that my little friend was actually a copperhead. Oops.

Stay tuned for plenty more updates from my trip to Red River Gorge!

A perfectly wild, perfectly simple mountain cabin retreat in Willits, California

Up into the mountainside surrounding Willits, California, down a winding dirt road, and past a skinny wooden welcome sign, sits a trio of charming cabins amid a veritable slice of American wilderness.

Welcome to Still Mountain Retreat.

But I digress.

During my trip across America with Niko, we stopped in my old California stomping grounds in San Jose to visit a few climbing buddies. We only planned to stay a day or two, but after being invited to join our cohorts for a weekend escape up into the mountains, we quickly agreed to alter our agenda.

Our evening drive up to the cabins took us past throngs of bay area traffic, up beyond the wine-laden land of Sonoma, and into the most wonderful nook of paradise. The Still Mountain Retreat property is an expansive sprawl of thick trees, mossy rocks, and grassy fields – all of which are intersected by a gushing river. I can’t say I know too many people who can boast having a waterfall on their property.


Immediately upon arrival, we were treated with two creature encounters. Despite misting rain, we explored the area a bit, and quickly found ourselves gazing upon a young doe resting alone in the grass along the muddy path we were walking. No more than a few weeks old, this infant deer made my heart flutter with adoration. Not wanting to disturb her, we carried on and were soon enthralled by the sight of a fuzzy little vole. I instantly knew that this mountainous retreat was the place for me.

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We nearly missed the most important month of the year – April is National Frog Month!

Driving past the Novey Animal Hospital on Tennessee Street always presents interesting little tidbits displayed their sign marquee, and yesterday I discovered something I could kick myself for overlooking: April is National Frog Month!

How I let this slip past me, I simply do not know. Frogs are my favorite creatures on this planet, and April is a great month to pay homage to their pimply backs, glossy eyes and pudgy finger pads – it’s the month where they finally emerge from their underground burrows to splash in April’s showers and gear up for mating season. To celebrate my beloved buddies, here are a few of my favorite frog photos, plus a few interesting facts about these great amphibians.

Frog Facts:

  1. Fish travel in schools, geese fly in gaggles – so what do you call a group of frogs? An army. A group of toads is known as ‘a knot.’
  2. Frogs don’t drink water; they simply absorb it through their skin via osmosis.
  3. A frog can live anywhere from 4 to 40 years – the average lifespan is 4-15.
  4. Ever see a frog with its eyes closed and rolled back in its head? Don’t mind him, he’s just swallowing his prey whole, and using the pressure from his eyes to force the meal down his throat.
  5. You can find frogs everywhere in the world, except for Antarctica. Then again, why would anyone live in Antarctica?

Stay tuned tomorrow for a preview at my graduation photos! I’ll be walking (read: falling) across the stage at the Leon County Civic Center on Friday, April 29th to officially end my time as a student at Florida State University! – But first, excuse me while I find a few toad buddies to play with.

5 Ways to Celebrate La Madre Tierra for Earth Day!

Looking for a way to pay homage to the beautiful planet that so kindly houses you, feeds you, waters you and creates boulder formations for you to climb? – Consider one of these five ways to say ‘thanks’ to nature on Earth Day.

1. Plant something. The possibilities here are really endless. Plant a tree, take a cue from my neighbor and plant some dainty flowers, or get creative. Eatin’ a pineapple or avocado? You can plant ’em! I currently have a pineapple head and a sprouting avocado pit basking in the sunshine on my patio. Good for the earth, and an entertaining little project. Stick a few tooth picks into the pit, prop it up in a little cup and fill it with water until the base is nicely situated in liquid. Voila!

2. Feed the critters! It is no secret that I am obsessed with my little creature buddies. Birds, squirrels, raccoons – I love ’em all. Making bird-feeders is a quick and fun way to celebrate Earth Day. Check out my how-to make a bird feeder using recycled products, or go old school with a simple feeder made by rolling pine cones in peanut butter. Hang it by your window and you’ll have entertainment all day long, like the time the Squirrel Bandit parkoured his way up to my feeder..

3. Pick up some trash. There is no shortage of litter in this world, and there’s no better day to tote a plastic bag around and fill it with the rude garbage that clutters the earth. I’ll be collecting trash around Tally Rock Gym today after I volunteer a belay party, so feel free to come join me.

4. Thank your farmers. Not exactly thanking nature, but today is a great day to appreciate the people that work hand-in-hand with the earth on a daily basis. Forgo the mass produced food that is processed using methods that create pollution and waste – stop by a farmers market (like the Thomasville Farmers Market, or the Pinecrest Farmers Market) or local grocer, and take a bite out of something good for your body, and good for your earth.

5. Take a hike! Or leisurely walk, or bike ride, or canoe ride. Get outside and revel in everything that the earth has provided for you. We spend too much time taking advantage of our resources, and not enough time appreciating our blessings. Head to a local park, make a drive to your favorite beach, canoe along a river – the ways to cherish the outdoors are endless, so stop making excuses.

Did I mention that these things are great activities for ANY day, not just Earth Day? This holiday aims to raise awareness about our need to give back to the earth, but you efforts to celebrate Mother Nature shouldn’t be reserved solely for April 22nd. Every day presents a prime opportunity to make a difference.

Image of the Day: Diggin’ for pollen in Denver.

A classic shot from last year’s midwest road trip, and one of my all time favorite critter photos. I can’t recall if we were waiting for someone or just decided to stop, but our crew ended up spending quite some time exploring this charming community garden in Denver, Colorado.

There were bees swarming every blossom, and pudgy vegetables lined the soiled pathways. I’m no gardening expert, but the keepers of this little sliver of land certainly knew what they were doing by the looks of their blushing rhubarb and cautious signs that warned of recently planted seeds or particularly delicate plants. It made me want a garden, so very badly.

Monday Motivation – inspiring words by L. Sepe and bumble bee photography

Today’s uplifting quote comes from one of the most beautiful ladies to ever grace the planet, Lauren Sepe. This girl has a captivating spirit that seeks out all the beauty in the world around her, which means you’d do well to follow her word.

To compliment her wise words, enjoy a lovely pair of shots I took this weekend at Railroad Square Art Park. Spring is officially upon us, and the bugs are lovin’ it.

“The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice! If we regularly deposit encouraging thoughts in our minds, bite our lips before we begin to complain and shoot down that harmless negative thought, we will find that there is much to rejoice about. The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference… Make your optimism come true!” – Lauren Sepe
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Lesson of the Day: Don’t Procrastinate Burying a Dead Bird

When I came home from work on Thursday, I found a startling addition to the little garden area by my front door: a downed adult bird, sitting motionless in the grass. I ran inside to put down my bags, then called out to my housemate that there was a hurt bird we needed to help.

“Uh, he’s been there for about four days,” she informed me. Hmm, maybe not so much hurt as he is dead? I still had to investigate my poor fallen buddy.

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