Phoenix rising: The New Winehiker Witiculture Blog.

No doubt many of you recall the frustrations of the 2008-2010 economic downturn. Housing bubble, financial crises, stock market woes, massive unemployment hitting home for so many of us. The course of my life and career were certainly on a parallel: I found myself scrambling for a paycheck – almost any paycheck that I could earn with a keyboard. Furthermore, I had developed problems with my left hip that precluded any hikes longer than 4 or 5 miles.

And I crashed head-on with the realization that I could no longer operate my tour business, California Wine Hikes.

It was a grim time, and I felt its deep, bitter bite for weeks, even months. Feeling the heavy weight of failure, dwelling more than I should on how I’d wasted five good years, and desperately searching my soul for any kind of meaning as to where my life had gone and why, I realized I needed to close operations on my business, shut down my website, and springboard full tilt boogie for Jesus into the job search.

Those were dark, dreadful days. It was not easy to appear enthusiastic during job interviews, but somehow I managed to dig deep and shine. It took a long while, and it was damned hard to stay focused and positive. Thankfully, after many months, the phone finally rang and I came away with a technical writing job that pays the bills – a job that I still hold today, nearly 2½ years later.

I quickly discovered that landing that job was not the only silver lining to my recent dark storm cloud. While I had already possessed the chops to fulfill the role of technical writer, it had become very apparent to me that my company’s website needed work. A massive lot of work! It helped immensely that I had spent the better part of the previous 5 years managing a business and website, honing my HTML, SEO and content-creation skills, building an understanding of social networking, and even building the vocabulary, the jargon, of the web developer. Right then and there, two weeks into the job, I volunteered to own the company website.

Those 5 years of skill-building hadn’t been wasted after all.

I threw myself lock, stock and barrel into the job. I worked hard to heal my hip. For two years, I rarely came up for air. Though on salary, I worked nights. I worked weekends. Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, to me, were abstractions I could not afford. And, though I felt all the while a strong compulsion to drastically improve my company’s website and technical documentation, I felt equally strongly about resurrecting my own sense of self-worth, of contribution, of accomplishment. As I ticked off each painstaking milestone, both job-wise and hiking-wise, it began to occur to me that light was actually beginning to appear at the end of my own personal tunnel.

And I began to reach out again.

Many of you who are reading this post have certainly noticed an upturn in my social media activity, which I returned to in the Spring of last year. Some of you are even reading my online paper, Winehikers’ Daily, which I felt was a way to not only inform and perhaps enlighten my audience about the topics they find interest in, but also a way for me to keep my finger on the pulse of current topics – and reconnect with my social network. Though I had been away from social media for what seems an extended hibernation, this journey back has, in retrospect, been very much a sound mental health decision.

Let's hit the trail.

Let’s hit the trail.

I don’t regret that journey.

Today, despite the ritual and the process of these past few years, I realize that this journey has turned out to be a very redeeming one. I have emerged from the other end of my long, dark tunnel. I’m largely satisfied with my job accomplishments. And I am hiking again!

And, if you’ll permit me to be so bold: I have returned to blogging.

Behold the new winehiker witiculture!

I am deeply grateful to you, my readers, for your abiding warmth, understanding, and patience. I hope you’ll join me on the next leg of this journey.

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Folks, what do you think? Was my return to blogging a good idea? Or, is blogging dead?
Did I wait too gol-darn long to resurrect my blog?
Are these all just silly questions?

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Love,
winehiker

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From sexyhotbeauty: Ten Easy Steps To Getting Started In Hiking

Today’s guest post, albeit a “stylized” one, which you’ll readily notice if you click through. My conclusion? When all else has you in conniptions, hire an experienced guide. Like me, for instance.

Ever dreamed of hiking but do not exactly know where to start? Don’t worry. You are not alone. You are one of the many who have chosen to embark in the process of staying fit by means of hiking. But good hikers haven’t reached that level literally and figuratively overnight. They were also briefed on some basic things every hiker must know.

read more | digg story

Outdoor Blogger Ho-Down a Fine Success!

From all points to a high point: “A pride of bloggers.” Photo courtesy of L&T Nancy.

From all points to a high point: “A pride of bloggers.” Photo courtesy of L&T Nancy.

After three glorious Indian Summer days in the vicinity of Mt. Shasta in upper California, I’m hard-pressed to catch up on things here at work this morning. Frankly, I don’t think I can capture the spirit of our weekend “convention” any better than fellow hiker, outdoor blogger, and compatriot Tom Mangan, so I’ll let him tell the story in his can’t-miss photo essay.

If this past weekend was any indication, the Internet is proving that hiking (and yes, flyfishing) in these United States is alive and well. It sure is a passion with each of us.

~winehiker

From the demijohn to Sauntering John

A technical writer by trade, I am sometimes stifled in my ability – or inclination, perhaps – to write with creativity. It is most painful, of course, when I realize I haven’t blogged for well over a week.

I’m sorry about that.

And I’m not feeling particularly creative tonight, either – the magic that can come by and by with the sipping of the liquid red ambition thus far escapeth mine fickle writing sensibilities.

So, as in the past, I have once again taken refuge in John Muir’s “The Mountains Of California” for inspiration. And, after experiencing a longer-than-usual wet winter season, from which swollen rivers come, I want to share a passage with you from Muir’s chapter, “The River Floods.” It reminds me of a moment from last week when I sauntered across a bridge over Alameda Creek at Sunol Regional Park on a quite stellar – and long-awaited – Spring day. It also encapsulates what I feel, if not what I am able to say.

And so, I humbly yield unto the living prose of Mr. Muir:

The glad creek rose high above its banks and wandered from its channel out over many a briery sand-flat and meadow. Alders and willows waist-deep were bearing up against the current with nervous trembling gestures, as if afraid of being carried away, while supple branches, bending confidingly, dipped lightly and rose again, as if stroking the wild waters in play. Leaving the bridge and passing on through the storm-thrashed woods, all the ground seemed to be moving. Pine-tassels, flakes of bark, soil, leaves, and broken branches were being swept forward, and many a rock fragment, weathered from exposed ledges, was now receiving its first rounding and polishing in the wild streams of the storm. On they rushed through every gulch and hollow, leaping, gliding, working with a will, and rejoicing like living creatures.

Ah…. It sure puts boots on your feet, doesn’t it?

~winehiker