I grew up in a branch of Christianity that valued certainty and constantly left me questioning my own. Everyone around me seemed so damned sure of everything, and the sermons told me I could be that way too if I just believed the right things. Needless to say, I put a lot of cosmic-level stress on my middle school self. I was baptized not once but twice — just in case the big man upstairs missed the first one or I had done it wrong. I asked my friends at school whether they knew Jesus, as uncomfortable as it made…


Back in May I planted corn in the median between the sidewalk and the street in front of our Los Angeles duplex. I actually planted a variation of three sisters*: corn, beans, and mini-watermelon. The corn grows up first, providing vertical support for the beans to grab on to. The beans, in turn, anchor the corn to the ground and provide essential nitrates to the soil. The broad watermelon leaves show up last and shade the ground, locking in soil moisture for all the plants as the summer heats up.

As I tucked the seeds into the ground I whispered…


Contrary to both popular belief and the demographic makeup of REI parking lots, you are not in fact required to drive a Subaru to be eligible to go on a camping trip. They will not turn you around at the campground entrance if you arrive in a quote “normal car,” and all 63 National Parks let you visit with whatever make and model car you please, even if they should perhaps reconsider that legacy. …


Do you ever pause and consider the fact that time is a completely human invention? Yeah, that’s where my head is at this week. No, of course not actual time — that never ending unfolding series of nows we all seem to find ourselves wandering about inside — but minutes and hours, weeks and years, all the ways we normally talk about time are completely and arbitrarily figments of our own imaginations. British mathematician and Stanford researcher Keith Devlin explains it better than I ever could:

“Most of us think of the time produced by our clocks as time itself…


I’ve been thinking about bears lately. Partly due to the fact that I just got back from some time in the mountains, and partly because it’s been a long time since I last saw a bear. Bears are something out of fantasy. Like honestly, I’m supposed to believe a horse with a horn is made up but a three-hundred-pound-forest-dwelling-racoon-who-sleeps-under-a-log-all-winter is real? My gut would say unicorns every time, but I’ve seen bears with my own eyes and can confirm, bears are real.

I remember seeing my first bear through a car window in Yellowstone. The most memorable was seeing one…


If you’ve lived in California for any significant length of time, you must be aware of the fact that fireworks are very illegal. (And if you didn’t know, now you know.) Authorities go to a lot of trouble to make sure everyone is aware of just how illegal fireworks are. Year after year LAFD seems to spend the entire month of June warning people against the dangers of fireworks. Highways signs and social media posts constantly remind us Californians that fireworks are illegal!

But year after year, as soon as the skies darken on July 4th, the whole publicity campaign…


I step out of the car. It’s colder here than I thought it would be. Of course it is; it’s February and Mill Creek sits at nearly 5,000 feet. Fortunately I have a puffy jacket in the back seat and put it on — not my first choice for this ride, but better than the only alternative, a t-shirt.

I feel silly for forgetting. It’s easy to forget about things like seasons down the hill. It’s why I try to get up in these mountains as often as I can. It never seems to be often enough.

I know it’s…


Oh, that hike?

No, I mean yeah we can totally do that hike, it’s just a little… boring.

Like, it’s definitely better than nothing. It’s a good way to get outside, get some fresh air, and absorb some sunlight that has travelled ninety one and a half million miles from an ongoing nuclear reaction floating in outer space to our skin where we experience it as warmth, energy and light, at which point a mysterious automatic chemical reaction occurs that literally transforms cholesterol stored in our skin into Vitamin D which is essential to life as we know it and…


Adventure is pretty pointless. Not pointless in the sense that we shouldn’t do it, not at all, but pointless in the sense that we have no real survival need to get to the top of mountains, climb hard projects, or ride bikes grueling distances. Most adventure these days falls distinctly into the camp of elected suffering. Mountaineers are “conquistadors of the useless” according to Lionel Terray, and I’d extend that to cyclists, backcountry skiers, whitewater kayakers, and pretty much every other adventure recreationalist.

So I’ve been asking myself… why do I do it? Why do I hike mountains or climb…


Just as all good articles start with over generalizations, all good adventures start with a cup of piping-hot coffee.

The United States is booming with amazing third-wave coffee shops. As a matter of fact, I’m sitting at one right now-Bar Nine in Culver City. They serve their drinks in fancy glassware and sprinkle cacao nibs on top of their mochas. The girl sitting across from me has The Los Angeles Coffee Guide 2019 open on the table and seems to be plotting out her next stop on a coffee tour of the city.

A lot of people who say they…

Aaron Rickel

Camping, biking, rock climbing, gardening, spirituality, humor… I write somewhere between those lines. Weekly outdoor blog—The LA Field Guide.

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