Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My new blog

Hey folks—

I have a new blog, covering my writing life, and 'All things Yohe.' This running blog will continue, though as you can tell, I've been less active. I'm still running, just not running races at the moment, due to my financial situation.

That is changing, however. I've taken a fire lookout job down in Arizona for the summer, where I plan to be barefoot all the time, as well as do a lot more running. I'll post updates, and hopefully in the Fall will feel comfortable enough (ie have disposable income enough) to sign up for some marathons back in here in Portland. I'd also like to write some footwear reviews before I leave, but we'll see.

In the meantime, feel free to visit my new blog: johnyoheblog.blogspot.com.

And my website: www.johnyohe.com.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Grand Canyon 2014!!!!

Return to the Grand Canyon. This time going in at South Bass Trail, which will bring my friend Rick and I down across the Colorado River from where we were last year, on North Bass Trail. Except this time it's March instead of May, so a bit cooler, though the Canyon has been fairly dry all Winter, allaying Rick's fears of getting snowed on on our way out. The weather prediction is nice: sunny days our whole time down, all six of them. Because yes, this trip is longer.

We're actually hiking what is called 'The Gems'—down South Bass, heading east on the Tonto Trail, weaving in and out of a series of side canyons named after various gems, like Ruby and Sapphire. And, it's a long trip. We're joined this time by two other hikers, Larry and Nick, both long time veterans of the Canyon, like Rick, though he doesn't know them that well. I'm the youngest of the group, at 45 (!)(how did that happen??) and Rick is 59, while Nick is like 65, and Larry an astounding 70 (again: !).

Nick is actually another writer—he has an essay in the upcoming collection of essays about hiking in the Grand Canyon that Rick is editing, titled On Foot, and full disclosure: I too have an essay in it. Rick let me get a sneak peek at Nick's essay, and man, it was a good reminder that the Canyon can chew and spit one out: A couple years ago Nick got caught in a rock slide and fell off a cliff, saved only by a series of about five miracles. He's known by the Park rangers now as the Broken Dude. And yet, here he is still coming here and hiking long brutal backcountry hikes, with rebuilt knees and a hip, so that he's almost a tall cyborg.

I want to be like Larry when I grow up. He was a science teacher for a long while, and now is retired, but has always been active. He used to be a road biker, but once Nick introduced him to the Canyon, he's become obsessed with it, just like Rick and Nick, and perhaps me too now. He looks like the poet Gary Snyder, and will be our trip botanist.

Neither of them is messing around. They got up early to drive from Grand Junction all the way down the South Rim, and when they pull up in the Back Country parking lot, they don't even want to get out of Larry's truck, just ready to head on out to the trail head. So that'll be interesting, since Rick tends to be more casual and laid back. I am too, I suppose, though I can get into 'get up and go' mode if needed.

After a long drive out to the trailhead, east of the 'Village' (as the whole South Rim complex is called), we get out and proceed directly to hiking. Rick wants to get down in the Canyon a little tonight. He's arranged for a guy named Ron (also a writer, and historian) to drive his truck back to the Back Country Office parking lot. That's a whole 'nother story, since Ron regaled us with stories about the Canyon on our drive out.

I have a minor concern, in that I seem to have picked up some kind of nasal infection, perhaps from coming from wet and low-lying Portland to high and dry Fort Collins, then down (and up, and down) through the southwest to get to the Canyon. I'm worried that it'll get worse as we go, and I don't feel 100% at the moment. So, against my good sense perhaps, I'm opting to bring my tent on this trip. Normally, in Arizona, I just sleep out under the stars, but I'm thinking my nose might do better with the warmer air that my tent will offer at night. But, ugh, the tent is heavy. Plus too, Rick has been scaring me about the potential for snow where we hike out, so I'm bringing along my minimalist Merrill shoes, though I regret it as soon as Ron drives away.

Rick has already warned Nick and Larry that I'm a “wild man” so they're not perhaps surprised at my choice of footwear: Like last year, I'm going with my Luna sandals, the Leadvilles, and I'm bringing my thinner Xero huaraches as backup. I'd love to hike barefoot, but with the heavy backpack, I just can't be nimble-footed if I step on something sharp and pointy. If I were just dayhiking, or running, I would. Still, as is, Nick and Larry say they're impressed. I'm not going it for that, I just like hiking minimalist, but it's nice that they don't freak out and judge. Turns out they've both read Born To Run, so are not unfamiliar with the barefoot/huarache phenomenon.

But the hike! The Canyon! It's huge! I've seen it before but it's still huge! And, I'm in Arizona again! The air is dry, the sun is out, in March. Just cool enough that finally hiking down the trail with a heavy pack feels great. I feel great. Why do I not do this more often?

We hike down to an area called the Esplanade, a flat mesa area, with red rock, sand, and the piñon and juniper trees, and we camp in a spot Larry and Nick know about, that looks out off the mesa into the Canyon. And here's where the problem(s) begin(s). See, we don't have a plan. Rick has gotten the permit, for six days, but he hasn't hiked this trail in decades. Both he and I want to go all the way down South Bass and spend a night at the Colorado, but neither Nick nor Larry seem interested in the River, either because they just don't want to put in more up and down on their bodies and body joints than necessary, or, I think, because they just prefer to see the Canyon from this level, from the mid-range of the Tonto Trail, which we'll be on for most of the trip. I'm not sure though.

Also, there's been a mix up: Nick thought we were hiking out on Thursday morning, when in fact we're scheduled for Saturday. So, he may not have brought enough food, and both of them were kind of planning on being back in GJ by then. So, they seem inclined to haul ass, whereas Rick really wants to stay the length of the permit. I'm leaning with Rick, though of course could come out early if that's what everyone else wants, but I'm trying not to be another chef in the kitchen. Larry smiles at me. “John, this is what getting old is like. This is how old men communicate with each other!”

We could split up, though Nick and Larry would run the risk of being fined if they run into a ranger. We're supposed to stay with the permittee, Rick. So, the evening ends kind of unresolved and on a down note, with a seeming compromise of hiking out one day early, meaning we won't spend the night down on the River, and meaning Nick and Larry will still be late.

But in the morning, after thinking about things, the Elders reach a consensus instead of a compromise (yay! anarchism versus democracy!). Rick and I will go down and spend a night on the River. Nick and Larry will kick around the Esplanade area, hoping to find this rock inscription “Montevideo” that supposedly proves that a Spanish expedition reached this area in 1548 (?). That's right—not even 50 years after Columbus started the European invasion of North America, and before the Puritans even arrived at Jamestown to spread their prudery across the continent, the Spanish were already conquistadoring into the heart of the continent.

So, kinda weird to split up, but we'll re-connect farther along on the Tonto Trail tomorrow. Rick and I head out, or down. The hiking is going great, my huaraches are great. I could probably go barefoot here in the Supai layer of the canyon, with the softer red rock sand and dirt, but once we come down onto the Tonto Platform, the trail is filled with harder stones and rocks. The trail follows a side canyon down, and this is were the original Bass dude would take some of the first tourists down to the canyon, from his ranch up on the Rim. In fact, he and his family would come down to the River in the Winter and live there. Just amazing to think about living in this area, though of course natives, like the Havusupai and before them the Anazazi (? I think?) were doing it for hundreds of years, if not thousands.

My feet are fine, though my quads are feeling the weight from yesterday and today. In some ways, going downhill is more difficult. Good thing all my joints are in working order! And oh this side canyon is lovely. Looking down, I once again can't believe we're actually going to hike all that way. Just seems impossible. So far. Be we're in the coolest part. Well, no, the Colorado is the coolest part, but this part, the Supai section, with all the red rock, feels good, maybe because I worked and lived in Sedona for a summer, which has the same formations, for a pivotal summer in my youth—changed my life, made me a backpacker, and it's where I started to meet people who talked about hiking in the Grand Canyon with awe..

No breeze. A bird cheeps. The creaking of my pack straps. Clear sky. We start in the sun, but when we begin the Red Wall Descent, which is the layer under the Supai, and in fact is not really red, just stained with the run-off from the Supai's dirt washing down with the rain, we're back in the shade, so that I'm a little chilly, with my sweaty cotton t-shirt. Yes, much cooler in March.

Past the Red Wall, which from above looks impassable, just a straight wall the length of the side canyon, but right at the inside end there's enough of a drainage to slip down, and then boom, we're down into the Tonto Platform, full-on desert, though still in the side canyon. Less steep too, which is nicer on the legs. Looking back, and up, it again seems impossible that we just came down all that.

Down in the drainage, the trail crosses over the dry creek bed, with the usual suspects: barrel cactus, cucumber cactus, agaves, yucca, and oak brush. At a section of slick rock, Rick finds a pool of water still hanging on with some crawly things in it, so for sure drinkable. We lunch and fill up on water. I even filter for this—just not sure on standing water like that.

Hiking on the trail, being mindful of where I'm stepping, not wanting to slip, especially after reading Nick's essay, but perhaps too mindful about one thing, and not everything, since we miss the turn off of the east bound Tonto Trail. We actually aren't going that way, but when we hit the westbound junction a tenth of a mile later, there is some confusion about which way to go, and we decide to drop pack and go back up, just to make sure, and sure enough, there's the turn off, with a really big cairn, yet we both walked right by it.

So we go back down and take the left trail, which is still the South Bass, over more slick rock, with some more water holes, skirting small cliffs, and yeah, my pack is feeling heavy. Gotta readjust, and take all the weight in my hips. Some guys like a little in the shoulders, but not me, yet it takes me a while every backpacking trip to remember to adjust to that.

Finally—what time is it? who knows? neither of us wear watches—we arrive above the Colorado, so murky brown that it's almost pink this light. And it's wide and flowing strong, of course, and yes, there's our beach from last year! Lost Underwear Beach! With a rafting group camped out on it. Seems early in the day, and they're already set up with tents and everything.

There's a fork on our side which, we assume, leads to a different beaches down below and, thinking of the two guys we saw camping over her last year, we suppose the one we want is on the right. Also: between us and our old camp is Bass Rapids—not a big rapids, but big enough, to make a low roar that downs out all other sound in the area. A lovely sound, and will be lovely to sleep by tonight.

On the way down, we pass an old old metal boat that looks like some kind of thrown together homemade special. Rick says this is the boat of one Burt Loper who, in his 70s and dying, left the hospital and came down the River in it, for one last float. His boat was found here, with a huge dent in it, his body further downstream. I love this story. That's how I want to go. And when I do, just leave my body out here. Let the condors feast on it.

We do get down to that beach, though it looks different, because the River is much lower than last time—some of the drop is recent, since there's a good chunk of wet sand. It all depends on Glen Canyon Dam, and if Los Angeles or Las Vegas or Phoenix needs some power sent over. Rick also thinks, judging by some of the sand washed away higher up, that the Park recently did its annual “big water release” which is supposed to shift sand around in the whole canyon, creating more, and different beaches.

But, we made it! Only one thing to do: jump naked into da Ribba! And I do. And it is mo-fo-ing cold. Holy Jesus. But how good does it feel to come out, like a primal fish-thing crawling onto land, and to stand in the sun? None. None more good. Yes, and doing so does my nasal infection thing-y much good. The healing waters of the Colorado!

Rick too goes nude, and it just feels natural: two dudes hanging out naked by the River. I actually try to take a nap, and he goes off to scribble. And when I awake, I walk out into the water and look back, and what should I see but a group of hikers coming down the rocks to our beach. Damn. Bastards. I mean, it's not their fault, but with only two groups supposed to be in this Zone of the Canyon today (meaning from where we hiked down to here) why would they both end up on the same beach? Ah well. But, I ain't putting on clothes for them. I can see they see me, and pause, perhaps reassessing the situation. Do they really want to be on the beach with a muddy naked wild man?

But, they continue, and come down by me, the leader at least waving hello. The other three, including one women, avoid my gaze. Or, avoid my penis. They also end up walking right by Rick, who's also still naked and scribbling by a rock. And, they don't ever really venture out from their little section of beach, not even to come to the water. Seems a major overreaction. I'm surely not that crazy looking. Until I realize that they might actually be Mormons, who are taught to avoid things like nudity, because, well, nudity is bad to them I guess. Makes them have thoughts. Or something.

In the evening, I join Rick up by Loper's boat, and we talk about writing, among other things, watching the murky Colorado go by and listening to the rapids. Of the perhaps-Mormons, not a peep.

Night: Warm though. Again, if my nose weren't messed up, I could do without my tent, though it's nice to be somewhat protected, and I have my headlamp on to read a chapter from Noam Chomsky's On Anarchy. Bats clicking. A breeze, blowing fine sand through my tent's nylon mesh. Some kind of annoying bird that sits in a nearby bush and won't be quite, until it is, or until I fall asleep. Also: an owl hooting.

In the morning, there's total cloud cover at first, but then it just blows all away. Light way before the sun crests over the Rim. But warm enough to get up and out and about. Bugs out. Two ravens sit on rocks upstream, waiting for us to leave so they can scavenge. We're in no hurry, I'm waiting for the sun so I can get another godawful cold plunge. Wind stronger, almost sending my emptied tent flying up into the rocks. Fine sand everywhere, covering everything, even inside my tent. Even on my teeth.

The hike back up is an argument for not going down, and I could maybe understand why someone wouldn't want to, and yet, it is worth it. It's like re-reading a book, noticing things I didn't notice before, noticing things I didn't see at all (or a don't remember them at all).

Oh, before they left, the group of possible Mormons tells Rick that they passed a groups of twenty people, a family reunion, heading down and they're on the same exact schedule as us. So, great. Well, we'll deal with that later. In the meantime, we get back to the trail junction and head west on the Tonto Trail, which is a wee bit less steep and should be fairly level for the next few days.

In fact, on level ground, Rick charges ahead to take the lead. I was off in the zone, just trudging, but Rick wants to catch up with Larry and Nick. We've talked, and what I thought was going to be a 30 mile hike is actually more like 50 miles. So, Nick and Larry were right, we do need to put some miles in every day. So, good they're with us, because Rick and I might have, on our own, just dawdled by the River, then realized how much mileage we actually had to do and been miserable. Or not, Rick knows what he's doing too. It's just me.

The Tonto Trail is actually narrower than the Bass, as in seemingly less used? Maybe? But, being Arizona, everything that wants to poke and scratch you is out. Our legs get scratched up on this blackbush stuff—it's like evil sage, And there's also a lot of mormon tea, though thankfully it's green tube-like branches aren't scratchy. But, plenty of cacti, including little purple prickly pears that are probably not really prickly pear, but they're right at foot level, so one must be mindful, especially if one is only wearing huaraches.

After much whipping and dipping through small arroyos, we arrive at the head of Serpentine Canyon (the one Gem canyon not named after a gem, I guess) and yep, there's the big group, still there where they camped, though it's now afternoon. And there too are Larry and Nick, looking glum and annoyed at having to wait by the family, and possibly for having to wait for us. They fill us in on the family, which got strung out all along the Tonto last night, some of them having to stop and camp on the trail, so they're just now all getting ready to go off. They're eleven in total, all dudes except for two young girls, and also one young boy, and I'm not sure what to make of them—most of their equipment is new, and one guy is hiking in tight jeans, though the eldest the patriarch, looks, if not strong, then able, and he's one of the first ready to go. I want to be like him when I grow up.

Nick and Larry have formulated a plan, to both put in miles, and avoid having to camp near the Group of Eleven (since they've announce they're staying a the side canyon areas) and I think I get the basic plan: we'll all stop just before Ruby Canyons, let the family go on in there, and then power past them the next day, and stay ahead of them, camping out on the buttes, at the edges of our assigned 'zones.'

They set off, eager to get the hell out of there. Rick wants to hang out and rest a bit more, which I understand, though he urges me to go on ahead, which I do, since I too don't want to get caught up in the family pack.

So I spend the afternoon hiking by myself, which is nice, though as the sun gets over the Rim, I realize that I don't have a map, nor a good idea of where exactly we're camping. I thought I understood that we would be out on this certain butte/mesa, though when I get to what I think is the said butte/mesa, no one is there. So I hike to the next one. Again, nada. Hm, what's going on? The sun is behind the Rim, and now I suspect Rick passed me on the trail while I was off looking for everybody. So shit. I just do not want to be hiking in the dark. I'm a little angry, more at myself than anything, for not making sure of where I was stopping. And I don't want to be hiking angry either. That's when mistakes happen.

Finally though, I see Rick back behind me, on the previous butte/mesa. We wave to each other. Ok, well, he doesn't seem to know where we're going either. I think I hear him yell to me, “Come back!” Which, one, no way, and two, did I miss them? Are they back there and I just didn't see them behind a hill or something? Crap. Well, ok, I'm a big boy, I can camp on my own, and they'll all catch up to me in the morning. I'm a late riser anyways. So I give a last wave and pull out my stuff in a spot right by the trail.

And I'm just getting ready to sleep when Rick comes hiking around the bend! We consult, and he shows me that in fact we're supposed to be meeting those guys at the next big outcropping, which is maybe two miles? Or one? We're not sure, and it's getting dark. I take a stand: “I'm done. I'm staying here.” Which puts Rick in a bind, I know. He kinda wants to keep going, at least a little further to where he can see them and signal to them that we're still alive. But finally he decides to stay where I'm at, and says I made the right decision. Not sure if he's being nice to me, but it'll work. Those guys know what they're doing, and know that we can take care of ourselves, and know also that we've been hiking a lot longer today because of coming out of the river.

So, I'm a little frustrated going to sleep, but I think it'll be ok. On the bright side, I'm going tent-less tonight, and it's wonderful. Nice and warm in my bag, and out here on a butte, we have a great view of the Canyon entire as the sun sets, and I can lie here and look up at the stars from my little airhole.

Wednesday begins the Death March though. Rick and I get up early to meet back up with Larry and Nick, who are just breaking camp when we finally catch up. And, they figured something like what we'd done had happened. So, now the whole group is actually all together, hiking together, on Day Three. Again the idea is, in part, to pass the Group of Eleven and them them behind once and for all, but also just to put some miles in. Once Rick shows me the map with our scheduled destination points, and once I can compare those distances to what we've already done, I'm like, Ah. Or, Oh shit. It's a long way. Not as the crow (or raven)(or condor) flies, but with all the weaving in and out of canyons big and small.

We do pass the G11 at the bend of Ruby Canyon, and both Rick and Nick go over to confer with their leader and confirm their destination points, so that we're not camping at the same spots, though at one point, one of the eleven, not the leader, goes, “Oh hell, the more the merrier!” Which makes our group all grouchy. Who let an extrovert into the Canyon?! Call out a drone strike! But, just as Rick and I are about to leave, we get a whiff of pancakes! Wow, the G11 are going in style. Maybe we should stay. Hey, the more the merrier!

We go up and out onto the Tonto, with glimpses down at the Colorado, at least at first, but mostly hiking in the blackbush and mormon tea and, later, some brittlebush with silvery leaves, some starting to bloom with small yellow flowers. Springtime in the Canyon!

At times, on the tops of buttes, we all take turns losing the trail. More than anything, it becomes the absence of cacti. But man, the view—amazing that it starts to become normal. Like, 'Oh yeah, there's some more spectacular Red Wall formations,' or 'Yeah, here's another huge red canyon with an amphitheater at the end.' Or even, 'Yeah, more clear blue sky.'

I hike with my old windbreaker in the morning shade, and even keep it on a little in the morning sun, just to protect my arms. My right arm at the elbow is getting fried. And the wind that started up last night still comes in chilly bursts.

And, as Cormac McCarthy would say, we hike all day. And hike. And yet, we have to. Amazingly, Nick and Larry have done The Gems in only four days! I can't imagine hiking any further and faster than we're already doing. And apparently we have just as much to do tomorrow.

At one of the 'lesser' side canyons (which is still amazing)(Jade, I think) we stop for lunch and water and Rick talks of staying and taking a nap. But then the vanguard of the G11 appear, three of them, including the 12 year old boy, who is on his sixth trip into the canyon! Can you imagine?! Anyways, once they appear, Rick is like, Well, time to go!

And we hike. But we've got a group dynamic going on, finding a group speed. In fact, both Larry and Nick tell me that they're not fast hikers, and put me in the lead, but they're both on my ass the whole time. Well, I can do this, I can go back into my hotshot firefighting pace, and I know Rick can go strong when he wants.

Finally, finally, we round the bend into Sapphire Canyon, another (!) deep redrock canyon, though fortunately the trail doesn't go too far deep into it, and ends up on some nice red slick rock, with a small stream, enough to fill bottles. And it's here that Rick is shocked to learn that both Nick and Larry also drink straight from the streams here, like me, so that he, after decades of filtering water, even tries it. And survives. Gasp.

Across the Canyon, I learn from Rick, is Scorpion Butte, a huge curved redrock pincer. Next to it, to the east, is Confucius Temple! The temples are the higher rock formations with pointed red tips, higher than the buttes, and all named after gods, both mythological and otherwise. So Confucius made it into the pantheon down here. Yes, and next to him, smaller, but keeping him company, is Mencius Temple. Which is nice. Mencius is the one who made me appreciate Confucius. I never liked the whole filial piety thing, having to obey the father and other authority figures. Mencius is the one that says that relationship goes both ways: if the authority figure doesn't treat the person they're caring for with respect, the relationship is null and void.

We spread out to find camping sites, of which there are plenty, and I grab one right by the stream, so as to be able to listen to it all night. Downslope breezes. In the shade already, though it's late too. I'm tired and exhausted anyway. But the red wall buttes visible across the Canyon are glowing in the evening sun. I change into dry clothes, and sit and scribble for a bit. Worth the death march in order to have some chill time here in the evening before the coolness comes. And, now that's we're more quiet, I can hear rapids from the river, the low water rumble under the high trickle of the stream next to me.

Later, getting up for the call of nature, everyone else asleep. Not sure what time but late, or early. Sky clear, stars bright in black sky.

Thursday is overcast, blessedly. Mammatus (sp?) clouds, breast-like, to the west, though no rain visible. But the clouds make the hike over the Tonto much better, and even then we're all moving slower, all of us hurting in our own ways. But Nick points out birds along the way: swifts and wrens, and some Oregon juncos on their way back north, as I soon will be. See ya soon, guys!

Ugh. The slog.

Btw, we're now approaching the Park flight path zone thing-y, meaning helicopters are a somewhat continual occurrence all day, coming from Tusayan straight north over to Point Sublime on the North Rim and back. Which sucks. I really loved the continual quiet, or the continual sound of Nature. Nick says one time he saw/heard up to seven helicopters up in the air a the same time. But, you know, rich people need to see the Canyon too. And they need to be back in time to see the IMAX movie about the Canyon and have a nice dinner.

But yes, the slog. Fairly level still, on the Tonto, making it into ____ Canyon for lunch and water. There's a nice little stream just up the slick rock with pools deep enough to just dip a bottle right in I even get a slight nap in, even with everyone digging around in their packs, and only wake up when Rick goes, “And here they come.” And, I'm like, “No way.” But way—the vanguard of the G11 is coming toward us. They're relentless.

Ok, me voy. I throw on my pack and go, with Nick right behind me, both of us just going non-stop, leaving Rick and Larry behind, because they're taking rest stops to peer over into the Canyon and check their maps. When Nick and I make it into the crossing area of Slate Canyon, not at all at the end of it, we collapse gratefully on a long flat rock under the shade of the first juniper I've seen down at this elevation. Lovely slick rock canyon, and I find another stream up-canyon.

The sky remains blessedly overcast, making the slog less sloggy, though I still manage to sunburn my shoulders walking around without my shirt. Looks like the clouds are here for the night, which should keep the temps up. I'm so regretting bringing my tent now. Just an extra seven or ten pounds I'm humping. My nose is fine, just still a little clogged in one nostril, but I'm otherwise full of energy. Or, at least, at normal levels for what we've done. But, slog on into the afternoon. Actually only two hours, tops, which is doable, out to a promontory, right at the edge of our assigned zone, so the tomorrow we can barrel right down (or actually up) into Boucher Trail.

I like camping out on these promontories—I like the colorful canyons too, but out here we've got a great view of the whole Inner Gorge, ringed by red wall and Supai formations. Buttes and temples and the greener Coconino levels above. Plus a nice breeze to keep any flies and mosquitoes away, though they'll go away in the cool night air. Buzzed by juncos, then bats.

We each separate to find clear spots in the cactus fields. I find a nice sandy wash, just enough room for a solo sleeper. We are all beat, looking at an early bedtime.

And there's another owl.

Now on Friday, the hike, to me, just feels like we're hiking out. I guess that's because we are. But I mean, the highlight was the night down on the River, with what feels like a three or four day hike out from it. I just anticipated more free time. Might've brought one less book!

The plan is to divide the Boucher Trail in half-ish, doing the first part today, then finishing up tomorrow and out by late morning. Consulting with Larry, he says the climb up to Yuma Point, where we're staying, won't take all day, which is a thing that makes me go, Hmm. I'm thinking of quickly doing a day hike down to the Colorado, for one last freezing dunk. Nick and Larry of course politely decline, probably thinking I'm crazy. Rick though, thinks it's a great idea.

So, we'll hike down to Boucher Creek, a rare perennial creek on the South Rim, named after another early crazy white man to live here, with good cool clear water to drink. Larry says it's only a half hour walk down the creek bed to the River, so while he and Nick press on, Rick and I leave our packs there and head down. And in no time we're down there and man, is the water hauling ass at this point. We come out at Boucher Rapids, which seems fairly easy, no evil rocks sticking up anywhere, even at low water level, just maybe fast, with a couple of 'holes' for rafters to splash through if desired.

Even though the morning air is still chilly, there is only one logical thing to do—get naked and take a dive. Which, you know, is super effing brisk. Above the rapids there are some rock outcroppings, one of which has a hole with hand-gripping-size edges and a hole into which water is flowing, and into which I can simply dunk my head, so as to avoid another full body immersion, but still giving my sinuses a soak. And man, do they clear up! And then to stand in the sun.

And just when we are thinking of heading up, here comes a rafting group. We try to get dressed so as to run over and see them go through the rapids, but there isn't enough time. But at least we're presentable (somewhat) and we wave to each other. A private group, looks like, with a few kayaks, and two rafts just loaded with shit—stoves and food and chairs and massage tables and full wet bar. Looks fun, and they all look happy, unlike backpackers when backpacking. For example.

Then a second group appears upstream, so this time we zip around to a good couple of rocks right at the midway point of the rapids. Another private group, all two-person rafts, though with some kayaks lashed on their backs. Most of them aim for the holes and get a good splashing. On one raft are a guy and girl standing up in front, holding on to bowlines, kinda bucking-bronco style as they go through. I am so jealous. Rick and I discuss the possibility of getting a group of friends together and maybe hiring a commercial outfit to take us down.

Back at the crossroads where we left our packs, the vanguard from G11 has arrived. We talk a little, but head up to Boucher Camp upstream, to top off on water before beginning the Climb on Boucher Trail.

And so it begins.

Never have I been on a harder trail. This is a huge elevation gain in a short amount of distance, with a plethora of short, steep, switchbacks. I just go into hotshot mode, just going for it, stopping a couple times to take off my pack, but not sitting down—if I did I'd just take forever and I want to get'er done. I actually leave Rick way back—when I get to what I think is just just below our Yuma Point, I stop in a shady overhang and wait, finally seeing him way the hell back down the hill. So, nothing to do but take a short nap.

When he finally gets up, we consult his map, pointing out where we think we are, and that Yuma Point is just up over the next bend. I throw on my pack and get going, eager to be done, while Rick takes a much deserved rest.

And, when I get up on top, it is a flat area, with camp sites. But, no Larry and Nick. Hm. This doesn't seem right. So, rather than get separated again, I take off my pack and go back down to Rick, where we reassess. And, we figure out that this is not Yuma Point, but in fact, White's Butte. We are only half-way to Yuma Point. Amazing what you'll talk yourself into believing. This is how people get lost.

And, halfway means...yes, more almost-vertical trail. Oh frabjous day, calloo callay. I mean, this trail is actually kinda scary at points, either by being super narrow with loose rock over steep cliffs, or by being so steep that one must use all four limbs. Coming down this trail would be even scarier I think. At least going up one can face the mountain and grip it with one's hands. Downhill, I think there's parts I'd be lowering my pack ahead of me. As is, for a brief second, I consider chucking my tent off the cliff.

And thank goodness for the soothing sound of helicopters all day. Like Nick said, at one point I count five or six in a row going right over us, though way up, too far for them to see me flipping them off.

And, Rick was right that the day hike down to the River didn't sap us of any needed energy, but it did suck up some time. The sun is well over the Rim, and we're in the shade, and I'm all sweaty from this hike/climb, but we're finally up beyond the Red Wall, into the red rock Supai, and finally, finally, some sidehill, and out to Yuma Point, which is sandstone, with piñon-juniper mix sprinkled around. Nick and Larry are already set up with tents and, thinking that Rick and I once again couldn't hack it and stopped early, they each drank the extra shot from Nick's flask that they were saving for us, meaning they've had a double, and now are more animated than I've seen them the whole trip.

The 'kitchen' is behind a big rock outcropping, to shield from wind, and up on top we have a good view down to White's Butte, to see if the G11 makes it in, and I gotta say, much as we didn't like the idea of them, they've given us plenty of entertainment this trip. I'm sure it's mutual—they probably think we're a bunch of amateurs, especially me, the long-haired hippie dude hiking in sandals, and not even using ski poles!

Out way out on the promontory is a big red rock knob, with holes worn out on top (from wind? I guess?) which probably make for good water holes after rains, but are dry now. And right at the very end are hug white bird dropping stains. Rick and I speculate whether they might be condor poop or not, though Rick thinks probably ravens, though I learn from him that there are indeed some condors nesting on the South Rim. I've seen them on the North Rim once. They don't migrate, staying year-round even in cold weather, as long as they have carrion to feed on. The problem? They usually eat carcasses left by hunters, and even trace amounts of lead from the bullets can kill them.

But the view: miles and miles east and west of the whole Inner Gorge. Again: did we really hike all that way? Across and up? Crazy. What kind of idiot would do that? And, why? And yet, I feel satisfaction. And superiority. Yes, my ego is out of control, because I feel somehow elitist now. I'm good. I've hiked that.

That night I finally see for Venus, glowing super bright in the east. The moon not quite full, but maybe full enough to explain our lunacy. The winds kick up, or maybe are just normally like this up here near the Rim. I find a little nook to sleep in, protected by rocks, while the other guys' tents get buffeted. Clear sky. No mountain lion visitations though. Alas.

In the morning there are at least five tents down on White's Butte, so some of the G11 made it in after dark. Despite being higher and therefore the sun hitting us earlier, our guys are up early. Larry already has his tent struck before Rick is barely awake, which is saying something, because Rick is an early riser. He and Nick are ready to go—they're driving back to GJ today. Plus we're all just done. Mentally just wanting to get out.

But we have like five miles to go. Most of it is nice easy sidehill through Supai red rock. At times the trail is a wee bit narrow. I can see Rick's concern now if there had been snow. Would have made for a slippery slope indeed. More great views, but Larry and Nick are keeping a good pace. No dawdling at this point!

Once the Boucher Trail bumps into the Hermit Trail, for the rest of the way out the trail gains elevation, as we get up into the Coconino level, and man, Boucher, or somebody, maybe Parkies, made an elaborate trail here, moved a lot of rocks to line the side and even formed what are nicknamed the '1000 steps'. In fact, we're mostly now hiking on rock, versus stones.

And now we're seeing groups on their way down. Some for overnighters (what small packs!) and some just for the day (no packs! but still with the ski poles!) most of who don't even get out of the way for a weary backpacker coming up. The one guy who does asks if I'm coming up from the River, to which I reply, Well, yes, about five days ago. I don't think he even realizes one can do more than an out and back for, like, six days.

Another guy, younger, on passing me, says, “You're wearing sandals.”

“Yes. I am.”

“A warrior.”

I don't know what to say to that. I guess it's a compliment? Or is it passive-aggressive? I never know.

Rick and I take a break under a juniper but Nick and Larry just barrel on. And, that's a good call. The more I wait, the more I lose energy at this point, or so it feels. Rick seems a little worn down, but I know he's got his own way of doing things, an has made this ascent many times, more than I probably ever will, so I go on, which is good, because I'm getting chilled anyway. Even in the sun, with this bitter breeze and elevation, and my sweaty t-shirt, I'm a little chilly.

Man, this is steep. I guess it's just hard psychologically, because I know I'm almost there. One guy going down jokes, “Only three miles to go! Naw, really it's like a quarter mile.”

Yes! I can do this. Just hike. Like you've been doing for five days. Ugh. But yes, there it is, the trailhead!

Aaaaand...yep. done. Kinda anti-climatic. Nick is already at Larry's truck, their shit already in the back. I feel I must say something, so I try a weak, “Yippie-kay-ay.”

Nick shakes his head and smiles. “I prefer the famous quote of George Washington Heyduke: 'Sweet Jesus Motherfuck!'”

But, we made it. Rick comes up fifteen minutes later, looking elated. Another find GC trip for him, with a good bunch of guys. Annual pilgrimage completed. Now it is my intention to go eat pizza in Kanab.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Top 10 Reasons To Continue Running Barefoot

1. Everyone already now thinks you’re crazy, you have nothing to lose.

2. Someone has to show all those people wearing “barefoot shoes” what barefoot running really is.

3. Paying $100 for a pair of shoes still seems like a bad idea.

4. Your feet won’t fit in your old shoes anymore.

5. Shoes would feel like lead weights at this point anyways.

6. Still feels good to pass shod runners in races.

7. Every run is still a new adventure.

8. The question “Doesn’t that hurt?” has now been asked so many times that it’s actually funny at this point.

9. You’ve made at least a few other people’s lives (and knees) better by influencing them (not by preaching, but by modeling) to change to barefoot/minimalist running—maybe you’ll influence some more!

10. The older you get, the more shod runners will stop due to injuries, therefore the higher your ranking will be in race age-group categories.

What are some of your reasons? Share them below!

Check out my other Top Ten Lists:

Ten Reasons NOT To Run Barefoot

Top Ten Reasons To Run Barefoot

Monday, December 16, 2013

Checking in, and the importance of races, and yoga

Hello folks!

I just want to check in and let people know what I'm up to running-wise. I AM still running, I just have not been in any races lately. I continue to not find employment, so my willingness to pay 70-150 dollars for a race is just not high. Note too that since I don't own a vehicle (happily) I would have to get a zipcar for the day, which, while not impossible, adds to the cost of any race, unless it's right out my back door in Forest Park.

I'm not happy with this, but it's the way things will be for a little while. Only a year ago I was going to all kinds of races (see previous posts) and feeling pretty good. Having a race planned just automatically gets one mentally geared to get out the door and run, and if you do them on a regular basis, races become part of your training, rather than just a goal at the end of training. Races also force me (well...motivate me) to run faster while I'm doing them, thereby making me a 'better' runner, though of course the act of running is its own reward.

Still, ever since my burn out training for the Badger 100M (was that only last Spring? Man...) I have been running less. Interestingly, without actually running marathon type distances, I was still in shape physically, and more importantly mentally, to run the Forest Park Marathon this Fall. Another benefit of running marathons on a regular basis: you just KNOW you can do it, and KNOW how it will feel.

So depending on the week, and the weather, I've been running 4-5 times a week, with 1 or 2 2 and 1/2 hour runs up in the hills. Since the gravel fairies have been active in Forest Park, I've tended to wear minimalist footwear for the trail runs, and go barefoot for my pavement runs.

And...I'm ok with this, since my priorities, now, are to do a lot of writing, and search for jobs. I kind of cringe thinking of all the days that running took up while training for a Hundo last Spring. Not that it's a bad thing, and who knows, maybe again someday, but right now, with money running out, I can't justify taking a whole day to run (for example, running a looong run will leave my wiped out and not really up for engaging in any creative work for the rest of the day).

While the job search isn't going so great, my writing has been productive. Please feel free to visit my website, www.johnyohe.com, for links to some published works. If only I could make money at it....

I've also continued to practice yoga this whole year, at Yoga NW in Portland, OR, and it has been a blessing. Note: I get classes in exchange for cleaning the studio. I think without this grounding work I'd probably be freaking out about my life right now.

I have found a balance between yoga and running. The main thing is to not run after a yoga class. That much stretching right before running will result in torn muscles. After a run is great, or alternating days. Yoga is a GREAT way to recover from long runs, and provide some cross-training muscle work. Much better than a gym, though that may be a personality choice.

So, as long as I am doing some activity every day for my body, I am happy. I may have to cut back on yoga this summer, and therefore be more likely to run more, because:

Plan C or D, whatever I'm on now, is that I've been applying for Forest Service/Park Service jobs for next summer, like I used to do. If nothing happens here in Portland, a good summer adventure out in the woods sounds like a good thing. I'll keep you informed. If I know I have a job in the works, I will for sure be more likely to sign up for more races. Let's hope!

I also have ideas for more footwear reviews, including moccasins and huaraches. Interestingly, my reviews are the posts that get the most traffic, though I like writing about races. I will try to get to some reviews!

I'd like to thank folks for reading, and especially for the kind words about the recent incidents with cafes in Portland. Once I have some basic life necessities taken care of, I think there'll be more race reports. In the meantime, again, I am running, and I hope you all are too!



Friday, November 22, 2013

Here we go again....

Well, that was quick: I've now been asked to leave yet another cafe for taking off my shoes and sitting at a table barefoot. I swear, it just takes one employee who thinks he knows everything, to ruin things. So, I wrote another letter to the owner (below). But man, I mean, I maybe Portland just isn't my town. I swear, I'm just being a quiet writing dude, keeping to myself, not even walking around the place barefoot! I just want to be left alone.

Anyways, here's the letter:


I have been a fairly regular customer for about a half a year now, coming in a few times a week, to write and read and generally hang out in a friendly place. I have always appreciated your friendly employees, and how they remember me and my drink. So I was really disappointed about how I was just treated at the 10th Street cafe this evening.

Here's what I was doing: I was sitting at a table, writing. I had slipped my feet out of my shoes in order to tuck my feet up under me and be more comfortable. After and hour and a half of doing this (and I've done this since I've been coming to your cafe), an employee, male, came over and told me, rudely, that I would have to put my shoes back on. His explanation was because of "safety." When I inquired what he meant, he said that there could be broken glass. Again, I was seated at a table, with my shoes right under me. I was not walking around. I informed him that I would watch out for glass. He then said, "Plus there are other people here." I asked him what he meant by that, but he repeated that I would have to put on my shoes for safety, and that there were other people there. I told him I would prefer not to put on my shoes, but he repeated himself again. I asked him if he was kicking me out. He replied that if I did not put on my shoes, then yes.

I was not doing anything wrong. I appreciate that your employees are looking out for my safety, but I can take care of myself. Though I don't think that's really what he was talking about, and I'm not clear exactly what he means by other people being there?

Just to be clear, there's nothing wrong with taking one's shoes off in public. There are no laws, no health codes, nothing like that. I'm sure you know this.

What I would like is an apology for his rudeness, and assurance that if I want to make myself more comfortable in your cafe, I can, just like I've been doing for the last half year.

I would really like to not worry about this, and continue giving you my business. I would like a response.

Thank you,

John Yohe


Well, I finally received a reply from the owner. She invited me to call her, which I did, with some trepidation. She does seem to be a sincere kind-hearted person, and to really care that her customers have a good experience at her place. That said, I don't think she has all her facts straight (surprise).

The good news is that she did 'give a talking to' the employee who was rude to me, about the 'how' he talked to me, if not the what.

The bad news is she basically used the employee's 'reasoning' to say that she couldn't allow anyone to be barefoot (again, surprise). That is, it was both a safety issue, and a courtesy to other customers.

Supposedly, another customer complained about me being barefoot. The owner wasn't there, so I'm not clear if this was just what the employee in questions told her, or if other employees said this. I kind of have my doubts, since I was, at the time, in a back corner and there wasn't anyone near me. But even then, I questioned why one customers opinion/feelings was more important than mine. She didn't really have an answer to that.

Instead she switched to the 'safety' issue, claiming that there could be broken glass. Then she paused, perhaps realizing that her cafe actually doesn't have any glass, and said that broken ceramics could be a problem too. I again said that I was sitting in a chair, but that didn't seem to matter.

She then claimed that there was a general 'rule' (I think that's the term she used) for all restaurants in the area (what area? I'm not sure. Sounded like she meant Portland). When I asked her if she could provide of copy of this rule, or tell me where to find it, she backed off and invoked the 'no shirt, no shoes, no service' signs “that you see everywhere.” When I told her that those had not basis in fact, and that there was no health code, she backed off and claimed what I take to be this (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/hotels_and_restaurants) as her reason, what she called the “innkeepers responsibility,” saying that it was an old “law.” She hadn't read any actual texts though, and just said I could find it on the internet. At least from this source, the emphasis seems to be that a customer has an obligation not to act boisterously (ie cause a scene).

At this point my patience wearing thin, as was her's, and I feared I would start to lose my temper, so, knowing she was being sincere (if misguided) I tried to politely say goodbye. I got the impression that she thought I was crazy to make a big deal out of wanting to take off my shoes in a cafe, which I think misses the point: that I just don't think I was doing anything wrong, and was being treated unfairly, based on ignorance of what is legal or not. What I could have pointed out is this doesn't seem to be about 'safety' at all, but rather the other reason: that my bare feet were causing a 'scene' and/or bothering other customers. I don't think that's true, and again, she wasn't there, and is going (I think) on what this employee said while being chastised. I could have also told her about how people in cafes do things that I don't like all the time (ie talk loudly on cellphones, have strong body odor, bring dogs in) but that I just deal with it. And I would ask her, if I complained to an employee about another customer, if she would be willing to treat them in the same way as I.

But, my heart was already racing, I already knew I was stressed out. Not worth more stress, and, like I told her, I've found other businesses that don't care, and I'm giving them my business. I just wish owners and managers had a better understanding of facts, especially since they seem so concerned with litigation. At least for safety concerns. I wonder what the legal implications are for this type of situation, ie if what they're saying would hold up in court. I wouldn't sue, I don't like lawyers and courts and stuff, but surely they're opening themselves up for something here? Maybe not?

Anyways, basta. Enough. I hate this. I just want to be left alone, and now I'm walking around with my nerves all raw. This is enough to make me re-think my desire for cafe culture, and city life, and instead get a cabin out in the woods and just have a bunch of cats.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Stumptown Smackdown

So I was gobsmacked two days ago when a barista in Stumptown coffee on Third Ave. here in Portland went out of her way to tell me that putting my bare feet up on one of their couches was both a “health code violation” and that I also shouldn't do it “just as a courtesy to other customers.”

This is a place I've been hanging out for over a year, almost daily, for hours, because it's such a great place: Cool eclectic baristas and customers, where loud good music is played, which keeps the cellphone talkers at bay. I'm on a first name basis with some of the employees, and they all know my drink.

As soon as I heard “health code” my jaw tightened, I have a terrible poker face. But, her tone was surprising—kind of talking down to me, snooty. So, I couldn't help but snoot back, and asked her if she could provide me with copies of the 'health codes.' She said yes, flustered, but of course didn't, and backed down, though still saying it was as a courtesy to other customers.

So that just put me in a bad mood. I really like this place, it's a 'place I can trust', where I can do work and enjoy myself. Or, it was.

So, I wrote a letter to the company from the contact page of the Stumptown website:


Today, one of your employees at the 3rd Avenue cafe informed me that I am not allowed to take my shoes off when sitting on the couches, because it violates "health codes." When I asked her if I could see a copy of these health codes, she said, "Sure, but it's really because other people sit on those couches." Which, I'm not even sure what that means, but she didn't provide me with a copy. Because there are no health codes. If they are, could you please provide me with a copy? Or send me a link to where I might read them?

I've been a loyal customer, coming almost daily for over a year, and really like everyone that works here, and appreciate that they remember me, and my drink. I was actually really surprised I was singled out, and made to feel like I was committing a crime, by taking off my shoes. In my mind, Stumptown is like a second home, where I can feel comfortable. I suddenly don't feel comfortable.

Please clarify to me and your employees what is going on.

Thank you,

And here is Jason Overby's reply:

[begin quote]

Hey John,

I'm so sorry that you were made to feel uncomfortable at our downtown café. It is not a matter of health code violation by any means. However, as a courtesy to our other customers it is our policy that everyone must wear shoes while in the café. I've spoken with Jeremy who is the manager of the café, and he knows you well and has very kind things to say about you. I hope that you'll continue to spend time with us and feel like you can relax in our space. Could I send you a gift card as a token of our appreciation of your business over the years?

Please send your address to me, and I will get something to you right away.

Thanks and warm regards,

Jason Overby

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

[end quote]

Here's my reply. Please let me know if you think I'm being 'that guy' (ie crazy dude). And/or suggestions/comments.



Thank you for responding. I think we both agree that there are other things we'd both rather be doing. Still, I don't feel like I've done anything wrong, yet I'm still feeling that you think I'm doing something wrong.

To clarify: When I sit at the couches in the café, I like to tuck my feet up under me, cross-legged, to be more comfortable. I make sure to take off my shoes so as not to get any dirt on the couch. This is what I think of as 'courtesy.' Tucking my feet up on the couch, barefoot, is also what I would do at home on my own couch. It's also what I would do at a friend's house. To me, it's what couches are for: to get comfortable on. This is how I feel (or felt) about Stumptown: that's it's a comfortable place to hang out.

I think though, that by using the word 'courtesy' you are trying to be polite, and actually mean something else. But I don't understand what.

Please keep in mind that 'courtesy' is subjective. There are many things that people do at Stumptown that I think are not courteous, such as:

-Leaving dirty dishes on the tables when leaving
-leaving coffee spills on tables when leaving
-dumping paper on the floors in the bathrooms
-using the bathrooms without being a paying customer
-talking loudly on cellphones
-playing videos/music on electronic media without headphones
-using offensive language
-putting feet in shoes up on the couches

Please note that one of the reasons I like Stumptown is that this stuff happens less than at some other cafes. Also, I'm adult enough that if someone is doing something discourteous, I will ask them to stop. My point is, I don't see how having shoes on while sitting on a couch is a 'courtesy' to anyone, or is discourteous.

This situation is silly, and I'm sure you feel the same way, though perhaps for different reasons. Still, where does this go, logically? Is there a 'proper' way to sit on a couch? Is putting your shod feet on a couch ok? Are hands ok? What about babies? Can they, like I've seen, crawl on the couches without shoes? What about transients who haven't bathed or washed their clothes in a while? Are they even allowed to sit down at all?

Please understand that I don't have a problem with any of those situations, nor do I think most of your customers.

What I would like is to be able to continue to come to Stumptown and not made to feel like I'm breaking the law, and/or like 'that guy' for defending myself, which is how I feel now.

Thank you,

John Yohe

And his reply (surprise):

Hey John,

I understand where you're coming from, but this is a rule that we have to apply consistently to be fair to everyone. Again, I hope you continue to give us your business, but this is a general requirement in all of our cafés.



And....my reply back:


I'm disappointed, for a few reasons. One, you haven't seemed to be listening to me in this whole exchange. Two, you haven't explained exactly what this 'rule' is, nor what you mean by 'a courtesy to other customers.' In fact, I'm left feeling that I haven't been treated with courtesy, by you or the Stumptown employee.

If I understand you (which I don't really, because you haven't explained yourself very well, or at all) sitting on the couch with shoes is ok (no matter, apparently, how dirty) while sitting on the couch in bare feet (in part, so as not to get dirt on the couch, but also to be more comfortable) is not ok.

I'm also not clear when/how/why this 'rule' was made, since, as I said, I've been going there for a year, almost daily, with no problem from anyone, including the employee who said something (again, rudely) this past week. No one else besides her, and you, seem to have a problem with what I've done.

I could speculate about the real reasons, but you have not been honest nor helpful in your emails to me, so I won't know for sure, though I suspect because you know that this 'rule' has no logical/legal basis.

I'm surprised that something like this could happen in Portland, of all places. I really enjoyed Stumptown Coffee, especially the people who work there, and I think the feeling was mutual. Except, I guess, this one employee. Nor did I ever get the impression that I ever offended any customers with the horrible offense of putting my bare feet on a couch.

I will take my business somewhere else, and I will be sure to share how you've treated me with everyone I know here in Portland.

John Yohe

Enough, craziness! Ya basta!

Just got this from the actual manager of the place (no relation to Jason, I think), which is interesting because he says he's a barefoot runner! I still don't think he understands what was going on, though he's surely seen me, and I've talked to him before. I just don't know if it's worth replying to him or not.

Hi John,

I manage the cafe. I am the tall thin guy with glasses. I am also a barefoot runner, trail runner and secret distance lover. Last week, I just did my first 15 miles barefoot on trail!

It is never easy to approach anyone with concerns, complaints and confrontations. Right or wrong..? I cannot make that judgement. I am sorry all this happened. I wear my Bedrock Sandals on my runs into work and put on boots while working. Unfortunately, as a barefoot health believer, I have to wear closed-toed shoes while serving and working behind the bar. It is required by the health department while serving food to have close-toed shoes. Moreover, I would bump, knock and destroy my strong lovely feet while working. The cafe also encourages customers to have shirts, bottoms and shoes on while in the cafe. It just is the case.

It is apparent you want to argue about why, and publicly tarnish the cafe I love and work in daily. And do this in a small community that I am part of. Ouch. You desire documented reasoning. My apologies, I do not have that for you. My employee's reasoning was incorrect, and she felt uncomfortable about the whole thing. Jason and I felt bad that this happened because I recognized that it was you who was singled out and I had a sneaking suspicion that you were a barefoot runner. From one barefoot runner to another, I have seen tons of glass broken on that carpet, and the cafe floor almost daily. Our professional carpet cleaner cannot guarantee that the carpet is hazard free. Don't hurt those feet! I am sure you have worked hard for them.

Again, I am sorry you felt singled out and sorry that this has spiraled downward. I am saddened and hurt.

Have a good run, man.

Jeremy Robillard
Downtown Cafe Manager
Stumptown Coffee PDX

My reply to Jeremy (note, this is after his note in the comments section below):


First, I am sorry have posted you personal phone number online. I thought it was the Stumptown number, since it was under your job title. I have taken it down.

Second, thank you for admitting that you do not have “documented reasoning,” though this leaves me wondering why you still seem to be implying that I did something wrong. To review:

-There are no health codes cantaining anything about bare feet. There are no health codes.
-The Multnomah County Health Department is more for things like medical and mental health services. If you can find anything about bare feet, please provide me with a link.
-The 'rules' you are talking about are actually OSHA guidelines, which are only for employees.
-I've seen you actually on the job, walking behind the counter, in your huaraches, and it was fine, nobody freaked out.

I'd like to clarify: we are talking about me putting my bare feet up on the couch, correct? That is was Sarah said to me, and that is what I stated to Jason. If we are talking about something else, please let me know. I'm willing to go there, but my complaint to Jason was about Sarah's complaint about me sitting with my bare feet on the couch.

As for glass, I'll take your word that broken glass happens there, but please give me the benefit of the doubt that I can see it. Anyways, I don't think you are proposing that there might be broken glass on the couch? This is what makes me think you actually mean something else besides sitting on a couch?

By “tarnish” Stumptown's reputation, you seem to be implying that I have been lying, and or changing facts. I haven't. I've been posting your and Jason's exact words.

As for the other things you said in the comments section on my blog, if you think I've insulted your intelligence, please imagine how I feel, since neither you nor Jason seem to be addressing my concerns, nor even really listening to me. As for your love of running, I have no doubt of it, nor of your love of coffee. I don't know how you got that impression, though I am sort of puzzled, you being a barefoot/minimalist runner, how you could feel that bare feet on a couch are not “courteous,” though again, I do not know exactly what you or Jason mean by that.

As a barefoot/minimalist runner, you might try visiting the Barefoot Runners Society website:

There's lots of information about running, health, and yes, legal matters.

Just to summarize: No documentation. No definition/explanation of “courtesy to other customers.” No evidence (presented to me anyways) that anyone other than Sarah and Jason and you care about me putting bare feet on a couch. And yet, you were all rude to me when I complained and defended myself. I would say Stumptown's reputation rests on your actions, not mine.

And yes, I will tell others about my treatment. If a company was rude and dishonest with you, wouldn't you do the same?

And now, in my best British accent, I say, “Good day, Sir.”