I Stopped Washing My Hair. Like The Dirty Hippy I Am.

photo(3)I haven’t washed my hair since the day I boarded AirNZ for my 13 hour flight across the Pacific. I’d heard there was something called the “No-Poo” movement – which, frankly, sounds like some MRA plot to convince women not to poop – but I’d always been too ensconced in society and not looking like a grease ball to give it a shot. Traveling alone, in a van, in a country where literally nobody knew who I was, seemed like the perfect time to get rid of all my fucks. And I don’t think they’re coming back.

When I first started out, I knew I’d be okay for at least a few days. I’ve gone that long without washing my hair before and it’s never been a serious issue. Of course, I continued to shower, and rinsed my hair during said showers, but that was pretty much the extent of it.

By around the end of week one, it was looking a bit sketchy. I Skyped a friend back in Colorado and he looked at me, confused, and said I looked wet. Attractive.

But I’d done my research and everything I saw claimed that if you can get through the first month or so, your body will adapt and the grease will calm down. While I was waiting for that glorious moment, I decided to see what other people suggested to keep me from dressing in cuffed jeans and a white t-shirt and finding the nearest sock hop (cus…Grease? Maybe would work better if I were a man). I found several options that included some combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar. That seemed like too much work.

I kept up the search and found a remedy that was convenient enough I was willing to give it a shot. Apparently honey is good for cutting grime, and I just so happened to have some on hand, because bees are God’s way of making up for wasps. So I awkwardly took my bottle of honey to the pay-to-play shower and rubbed what seemed like a healthy amount onto my head, washed it out and enjoyed what remained of my rare hot shower.

It definitely seemed a little better, so I waited a few days and washed my hair with honey once again. Still decent but not great. I continued on with my life, mostly hiking and swimming and surfing, so it was easy to forget about the condition of my hair. Didn’t really notice anything again until about a week ago while I was in Auckland. The reason I noticed my hair again was actually because there wasn’t anything noteworthy about it at all. It looked clean and soft and pretty much exactly how my hair had looked when I was still shampoo washing it. This was at approximately two weeks in and you better believe I was stoked. I even wore my hair down on Friday night and looked like a fairly normal person. My hair was actually curlier than it has been recently, which made me super happy.

If everything goes to hell in the forthcoming months, I’ll let you know, but for now I think this is a win for lazy, cheap hair washers everywhere.

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Hiking With Stairs: A Rant

Hiking (or walking as kiwis so optimistically call it) is one of my favorite challenging activities. Along with a certain level of self punishment comes stunning views, a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, and really nice legs. Yesterday, however, as I was hiking the Coromandel Pinnacles, I came in close contact with my biggest hiking enemy.

photo 1
“Sonuva bitch”
Stairs. In every day life, they are merely an annoyance, or at best a simple choice to improve your fitness. As a hiker, with a 30 pound backpack, on a rainy day, they’re absolute torture.

I have three problems with stairs:

  1. They’re uneven. The ones above are an extreme example, but even the best laid stairs of mice and men often go awry.
  2. They’re slippery. Wood stairs, stone stairs, random rocks made to resemble stairs – IT DOESN’T MATTER. Limiting options for foot placement causes increased rubbing, which wears away at any texture that was once there, leaving nothing but a smooth surface of death.
  3. They tell you when and how high your next step is going to be. Easily the most condemnable offense, stairs offer no options for where to place your foot next. You will either stay on the same plane as your currently forward foot, or you will rise precisely how high and far the stairs mean you to. Stairs are trail dictators, and I won’t stand for it.

I don’t like being told what to do.

There is hope though. Often, alongside the very intentional staircase, is a second, more traditional path, usually created by like-minded hikers who prefer options on their trails. I like to think of these unassuming heroes as “Liberty Paths.”

LibertyPath

Liberty paths don’t pretend to know your hiking preferences. They realize you may want to shuffle your way to the top, or take huge distance-conquering steps, or even crawl on hands and knees if the situation is desperate. They don’t judge. Liberty paths are your friend.

I realize these paths can lead to erosion and trail damage, depending on the composition of the soil – and I absolutely try to stick to the Leave No Trace guidelines – but it seems to me the mere fact that they exist is a call to trail maintenance everywhere: Give me liberty paths or give me death.

Wait, what? That’s not where this rant was suppose to lead…shit.

 

Stairs are the worst.

Nowhere To Be: The Wonders of A Spontaneous Mind

Nine days anywhere isn’t nearly enough time to discover everything about a place. You CAN discover a hell of a lot about yourself though.

After three days in Auckland, I had made four new friends, bought a campervan by the name of Grandpa Jimmy, and decided the first direction I needed to travel was north. Beyond that, my days stretched before me, filled only with possibility. I had no set plans, nowhere to be, and only my map and some basic googling to guide me. If I thought about it too much, I may have booked a flight back before I’d even made it out of Auckland.

I tried to keep the thinking to a minimum.

Instead, I took out my map -which I inherited along with Grandpa Jimmy, and which was filled with notes from previous users on interesting places, cheap campsites, and the best Kiwi-spotting trails  – and picked a town with a beach as my first destination. That random town, called Orewa, marked the start of my real journey through New Zealand.

Over the next week, I kept driving north, turning onto roads with signs such as “Glowworm Caves” or the understated “Beach” as I went. I met a native Kiwi in Whangarei who had just returned from two years as a mountain guide in Norway, hiked the Whangarei Heads, learned how to say “love” in Maori (Aroha), and spotted a blur of a Kiwi on an island by Kerikeri. I kayaked across an inlet to hike the Houhora Heads, found the most perfect seashells I’ve ever seen, and saw the sun rise over Cape Reinga.

Alongside all those amazing experiences, came discovering the pitfalls of the unplanned. I took way too many wrong turns, caught myself driving on the terrifying (right is wrong) side of the road, accidentally bushwhacked my way up a mountain, and completely shredded my front left tire. Currently, I’m sitting inside a beautiful public library, having finally found free wifi, and I can seriously say that even the most – normally – stressful experiences have been enjoyable.

I said 9 days is enough to discover a lot about yourself. So after this crazy week, what have I discovered?

I discovered that my patience can last far longer than I expected. I’ve learned how to entertain myself for hours, or struggle through public transportation with a comically large backpack, or even survive without cell service (I think that will always be my least favorite).

I discovered joy in facing fears – by pushing myself to conquer steep scrambling, utterly destroying night hikes (I’ve always been terrified of the dark), and taking on the horrifying task of talking to strangers.

Most importantly though, I discovered how much I can trust myself – to find my way, be alone, and ask for help when I need it.

There’s something about having nowhere to be that brings life into focus.

Adventuring To New Zealand

A semi-envious “You’re so brave!” is a commonly elicited reaction when I tell people I’m traveling to New Zealand for a year – alone. It’s not hard to imagine that what they really want to say is I’m absolutely batshit insane.

I’m not entirely convinced they’re wrong.

12 months ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d be on a 13 hour flight, halfway across the world, on my way to the land of kiwis (people, birds, and fruit) and adventure, but here we are. After deliberating for about a minute 9 months ago, I got it in my head that New Zealand was first on my list of international adventures and set out to make that possible.

In the time between my decision and being seated in my 16F window seat today, I saved over $5,000, spent way too much on backpacking gear, and googled until I was seeing search results in my sleep. During that time, I came up with a (very) rough plan:

TRANSPORTATION/LIVING

I’m going full hippie and buying a van the minute I get into Auckland. New Zealand is approximately the size of Colorado, but has nearly one million fewer people and so largely consists of wilderness and sheep. What I’m is there isn’t a thriving public transportation system.

But that’s okay! Outdoorsy types travel from all over to van it up in NZ, so older vans are converted, loved, and resold to the next generation of backpackers. My hope is to find a decent one for $2,500-$3,000 around Auckland within the first few days after arrival. I’ll be sure to write a post on how successful I actually am.

VAST AMOUNTS OF TIME

A year with no plans – no job, studies, or even people waiting for me – is an intimidating prospect. So what will I do while I’m there? I have a list of places I’d like to visit and things I’d like to do, and that’s about it. For this adventure, wherever I feel like going is where I’ll go, and whatever work comes my way, I’ll take. My visa – a working holiday visa – grants me access to NZ up to the full year, as well as the ability to work for pay.. Again, I’ll let you know how successful my lack of a schedule is. It could easily end with me, crying on the side of the road, not knowing where to go. But probably not.

 

And that’s the extent of my plan! The best trips are spontaneous anyway, and I hope you’ll join me 😉

 

P.S. T-minus 13 hours until Auckland.