Category: Adventure

Climbing Diamond Hill

Climbing Diamond Hill

In the distance is Diamond Hill…not far from the beginning of the trail.

It began as a cloudy day with 9 degrees celsius temperature. By the time I walked a bit I stowed the rain jacket in my pack and was enjoying the warmer day and beautiful scenery of Connemara National Park in County Galway, Ireland.

Nice boardwalks across the mountain bogs

My friend turned back after a while so I headed beyond the blue trail to the red trail, ready to challenge myself with a climb up and across the ridge and down the other side. The conditions were perfect.

Sweat rolled down my back as the incline increased. The trail started at near sea level and went to 442 meters…that’s 1450 feet…with a series of switchbacks. It was no trail for the faint of heart.

Crossing mountain bogs, streams, and occasional lesser inclines, I made my way upward stopping to photograph and video when I needed to catch my breath.

The clouds increased and began to roll toward the mountain. By the time I was near the top, the temperature had dropped significantly and the wind was so wild I had to remove my hat or lose it.

I stopped to put on my rain jacket and get out the rain cover for the camera. The steps going upward began to get wet and the ground around them was very soft and squishy. I walked on because I thought I must be near the top and wanted to reach it.

Thought I was at the top….thus the happy face!

Finally I got to what I thought was the highest point and even did a little video proclaiming happily, “I made it!” How could there possibly be a trail on the dome of that mountain?

Thinking I would be headed down, I continued on…and yes, climbed more steps and more steps….and more….what? Meanwhile the wind was ripping at my jacket and anything not tied down to me as the dark cloud got closer. Memories of the snow clouds rolling over the mountain about 15 kilometers away a couple days ago made me rethink my decision to walk further up.

Are you FREAKING kidding me? The top of my finger is where I found myself when I decided to turn around

Finally, I saw a trail sign in the distance. Okay….I would be able to see exactly where I was and that would give much-need information.

But NO! I still had a LONG way to climb…probably another 300 feet and a walk across the ridge. NO FREAKING WAY!

No way was I crossing the ridge in that wind!

The wind was too strong and dangerous for this gal to finish the climb across Diamond Hill. And the cold was no little factor. Time to turn around came with clear awareness. Mists and fog can roll in and in a white-out you can’t see and that’s just not a good thing in a landscape such as this. There are warning signs everywhere saying not to climb in fog, rain, and other weather events. Nothing said what to do if that all suddenly arrives when you are near the top.

But I knew what to do. As difficult as it was to not finish the challenge, I knew without one doubt it was the right thing to do. And making the decision gave me peace of mind.

As I descended down the steep trail, I looked back often and couldn’t believe I had made it as far as I did. It was an accomplishment I’m very happy about, even though I didn’t make it across the ridge.

Sometimes the greatest challenge is knowing when to let go of a goal, a dream, a person, a direction. Today I learned to celebrate my decision to take excellent care of myself in every aspect of my life.

Love from the Humpbacks

Love from the Humpbacks

Just arrived back in the Dominican Republic after spending a week anchored 90 miles offshore with humpback whales. The official blogs will start next week with the wonderful stories….but here’s a little preview.

This female played behind our mothership, came up beside the tenders, and found our group generally delightful. So you can imagine what we thought about her and her ‘boyfriend.’

The Ancient Ones are Calling

The Ancient Ones are Calling

_tsl8791It was nearly 4 a.m. when I awoke. I glanced up and Orion was shining through the skylight so I repositioned myself and laid directly under it. For over half an hour I gazed into the Hunter constellation and then moved downstairs for yoga practice.

_tsl8835I lit a candle in the cottage window and put on a playlist I enjoy and began my practice. The elemental energies of the hills, valleys, meadows and caves seem to fill the space as I opened myself to the beautiful spirits.

_tsl8700Afterwards I enjoyed a cup of tea and reflected on the wonderful hike yesterday in a bit of sleet with a few flakes of snow drifting around in the wind. My excitement and appreciation were deep as I was guided up a muddy hill to two sacred caves. The energies were so strong and the beauty exquisite.

After writing in my journal, I dressed for freezing, windy weather.


_tsl8807Then I took a walk up the driveway to the tree planted near burial cairns. The rural, quiet, pastoral places of England call so strong to my soul. Here I feel so peaceful and ‘in’ myself and could see myself living here–I come alive here. The Ocean is home to me and where I find my work but if I must come up for air and walk on two legs, then I cannot think of a place that calls me more strongly than rural England.

image1Later my friend Maria and I drove up from Strattfordshire near Butterton to Applethwaite near Keswick. It’s near the border of Scotland and is called the Borderlands. It’s the Lakes District–the home and inspiration of William Wordsworth, a fellow birthday celebrant and lover of nature.

Wordsworth walked these mountains and enjoyed the magnificent scenery. They inspired his poetry that has been inspiration for hundreds of years. He is the romantic poet that most-calls to my wild heart.

img_6720Sacred places are such gifts to those who take the time to slow down and listen to their wisdom, their beauty. They don’t speak in words but in long sighs of the wind, in rippling water as it cascades over rocks, in snow as it softly falls against dried leaves, in magnificent vistas that cause us to sigh with wonder.

_tsl8685Let us remember to pause and reflect upon nature…and listen. The Ancient Ones are calling.

Where’s My Ice Axe?

Where’s My Ice Axe?

FullSizeRenderIt was an interesting travel day. Just the diving + underwater photography and the gear penalty that comes from that equation is grueling but today gave other experiences besides whining about the gear.

First, my mom dropped me at the airport and as I asked her to push the button to lift her back tail gate, I remembered my camera gear bag was leaning against the door. I ran in what seemed like slow motion to the back of her SUV as I watched the bag do a perfect roll out of the vehicle onto the pavement. The good news is, the new EVOC bag I just hocked my three cats and dog for (no…not really…calm down) protected all the cameras and lenses and laptop. The investment of the bag paid off already.

Then the woman sitting behind me on the plane was in her late 70’s or early 80’s, was from my tiny home town…lives next to friends of mine…and she was on her first plane ride ever…first leg of a trip to Ireland. That’s a crazy-cool brave thing to do for your first experience in a plane. The flight attendants gave her wings, checked on her often and she did just great. I thought a lot about her courage.

The first flight was 20 minutes early arriving into Atlanta but probably because they were trying to beat the horrible weather that moved into the area. There was a two hour delay due to Mr. Thunderstorm, the name given to the weather by the gate attendant. It wasn’t such a big deal to have time to grab a sandwich and eat a late lunch.

Once we boarded the completely packed…but very nice, sort of new jet with blue mood lighting…the captain came on the intercom and warned us it was going to be a horrible flight. Well, maybe he said very, very bumpy. He said the extra bouncing would mean the attendants couldn’t serve anything but water. Luckily for us it really wasn’t bad and most likely they simply didn’t have time to restock drinks and snacks because the plane was two hours late arriving due to the weather..those quick turn-arounds don’t give much time for those luxury items airlines have these days…you know the pretzels and sodas. Nevertheless, it was fine and we made an impressive landing from over the Atlantic Ocean into Fort Lauderdale.

IMG_4721Then baggage claim…to add to my collection of huge bags. People sort of stare sometimes at the massive pile of luggage for just me; however, I’m used to it. A big gear bag for dive gear, another for clothes and strobe arms, a hardshell case for the underwater housing, and the lovely, new camera backpack…which needs an introduction.

It seems as if I’ve spent years looking for the right backpack that was carry-on size and would hold my gear.  I just recently I ordered and returned two such creatures from a photo supply store in New York. One was massive and wouldn’t even fit through the doorway of a jet and the other was smaller than the one I already had. So I searched and researched and watched youtube videos and read reviews and finally found the one.

The EVOC CP 35L is made in one of the alpine countries (sorry, can’t remember which one) and is a camera bag for adventurers. It is designed to protect photography gear and be handy and well-made to accommodate the outdoor photographer and still fit inside a plane as a carry-on. I’m not one to write about such trivial things as gear packs but given the grief I’ve had trying to find the right bag, its not trivial to my work. And I could help others who might be pulling their hair out over this matter. It reminds me of Hermoine Granger’s bag in the Harry Potter movie.

The only issue I have is with the weight of my gear…topping out at 37 pounds it’s really heavy to carry, much less lift into an overhead storage compartment on a plane. But here’s what it’s carrying on its maiden voyage: Two Nikon camera bodies, a 70-200mm lens, a 2 x converter, a fish eye lens, a 24-70mm wide angle zoom lens, a laptop and charger, extra camera batteries, battery chargers, two (huge) underwater strobes and their batteries, my travel wallet-purse, lipstick and lip balm, a little other makeup, meds, two pair of sunglasses in hard cases and a pair of regular glasses in a hard case…and other stuff I cannot remember.

FullSizeRender 2Learning the new bag I’ve found extra-handy gadgetry. For instance, there’s a fold out, water-proof avalanche emergency plan and a loop for my ice axe. I’m sure the avalanche plan will come in very handy seeing how much I love romping through the snow (not). But dang it all–the airline refused passage of my ice axe and I really thought I could use it in Bimini. Oh, well. Next time perhaps.

bitmoji-20160617204607It’s never to late to have an adventure, to go somewhere you’ve never gone before, to travel and enjoy the beauty of this planet. And if there’s anyone out there willing to voluntarily help carry gear, have I got a trip for you!


Leaping Off the Cliff

Leaping Off the Cliff

SimoneLipscombToday I wrote a friend, “I feel a nudge to fly off the cliff….my toes are hanging over the edge and I’m looking back…looking down at a faraway salt water Ocean realm….and a blue sky in front of me….and so I stand…trembling a little…excited….and grateful.”

SimoneLipscomb (2)It feels as if I’m at a huge turning point in my life that seems to have appeared suddenly but in truth it has been in process for decades. It began when I made a decision to clear out anything keeping me from doing whatever my ‘mission’ was. Sounds funny now but as a 25 year old, it was serious stuff.

SimoneLipscombLittle did I know my journey would take me through really rough times. The more I resisted inner change, the harder it became. There came a point where everything fell apart. I lost basically everything. It was a true dark time in my life. But it was a time where I was able to clear out inner debris as well. I released fears and other crippling emotions as I worked on healing. As the darkness cleared, light was exposed.

SimoneLipscomb (21)The more I surrendered to my path, the clearer the direction became. Looking back I can see those turning points and the narrowing of direction clearly but at the time it was pretty intense. Support came for my work in many forms. My first book was published by an indie company. Making ten percent in royalties on my first book, after all the work, prompted me to publish my next two books. Another book co-authored was picked up by another indie house in Kentucky. Another book was co-authored and done in E-format. That may sound exciting and it is satisfying, but being a writer and photographer has yet to create a supportive income. But thankfully the support has come in other forms as I continue to surrender to the direction of my heart.

SimoneLipscombRecently another narrowing of focus and intention occurred through a series of events that I wrote about in an earlier blog. Now that I’m on the other side of the decision-making process it’s a bit scary. Other financial commitments arise as I further the work of my heart….marine education, volunteer researcher, underwater photography at a more professional level, more writing and publishing of books on marine animals. I went away for a week and came home with a list of things that will be the next steps in my life. And amazingly, support has begun to arrive for this next phase of my work. I feel grateful for the direction and the support.

SimoneLipscomb (2)I lit my candles this morning, after a unsettled night of wrestling fear and anxiety about the upcoming opportunities and projects. I asked to be given a specific sign….”Show me if I am going in the right direction.” Late this afternoon I had two signs happen within minutes of each other. Why do I need signs? Because I dream big at times and wonder if I’m sane. And yes…that’s a joke but I want to be headed in the direction that is true to my path of service. So yes, I asked for confirmation that the direction was correct. It’s like, “Yes I know I had all of those amazing events happen a couple weeks ago but was it real? Can I trust that I correctly interpreted the experiences? Can life be that amazing?”

SimoneLipscomb (24)Yes. It can be. And yes, I’m taking the leap. I haven’t worked this hard on my life’s path to suddenly give up because a bit of fear arose. I’m standing on that cliff. I’m looking around and down. I lift my arms and realize they are wings. A warm breeze rushes past. I rise and glide over the ocean. The direction is clear. It’s a fine day for flying.


There have been so many people that have been part of the warm breeze that lifts me up.  The depth of support grows and adds strength to the wind. To each of you, I am deeply grateful.

SimoneLipscomb (3)