Of Maps and Sweat Equity

Happy 10.10.10 and Happy Thanksgiving,

I don’t think I was all that clear last week when I announcing my new approach to weekly updates. For those folks who’ve been receiving your updates via gmail, you don’t need to join Facebook-sorry for any confusion. You can just visit my website and click on TA’s Blog and you’ll see any updates I’ve posted there. If you’d like to receive those updates as they are posted, you can subscribe on the site and chose to have them sent out to you daily, weekly or monthly. My blog’s web address is https://taloeffler.com/tas-blog/ (and for the next while, I’m keep sending out updates until I’m confident folks have found their feet with the new system).

I’m loving the new creative possibilities of my new site and have been celebrating for now with a daily post called “Visual Soliloquy” where I talk to myself with both words and pictures. I’m working to organize my digital photo library into a more manageable scene-with over 25,000 images, I need a robust system that makes is easy to find images as well as back them up. So along with revisiting much of the writing I’ve done over the past six years, I’ve been seeing images in all new ways and am enjoying sharing them.


A Topo map of Tilton, Newfoundland

A Topo map of Tilton, Newfoundland


I spent much of Monday hiking around the Tilton Barrens on Monday helping Marian and Nolan map out a new orienteering course. I tagged along as photographer. In the process, I remembered how much I love maps and how my relationship to a map changes once I have traversed the terrain it symbolizes. Topographical maps contain such a wealth of information that it’s hard to totally take in that bounty until you experience the place first hand. In both my work and play, I’ve had the privilege of creating an intimate knowledge and relationship with so many landscapes. In looking through so many images of late, I realize that I try to capture, explore, and share the nuances of those relationships through photography (and through words as well).


Hiking the Tilton Barrens

Hiking the terrain to double-check the map

Thursday, Marian and I drove the Irish Loop along the Southern Shore to pay a visit to Jacinta McGrath and Stella Maris Academy in Trepassey. During the spring of 2006, Jacinta (of Bachelor of Physical Education, Grand Canyon backpack and Everest base camp fame) invited me down to speak at her school. She knew I was aiming for Everest the following year and wanted her students to learn about what it takes to attempt the world’s highest peak.


Jacinta holding the HKR flag atop Nagarsang Peak in Nepal

Jacinta holding the HKR flag atop Nagarsang Peak in Nepal enroute to Everest base camp



TA presenting at Stella Maris Academy in May 2006

The First School: TA presenting at Stella Maris Academy in May 2006


It was the first school I spoke at in the province and had no idea, four years ago, that that engagement would lead me into sixty-five other schools in three different countries. I often say that when we identify and take on our personal “Everests”, we have no idea where they will lead us (and that’s half the fun).

Jacinta’s students sent me off both in 2006 and 2010 with hand drawn greeting cards that deliver mountains of inspiration to me to keep climbing and training hard.


Good Luck Ms. TA Loeffler

One of my favourite cards of all: Good Luck Ms. TA Loeffler


Given my current phase of looking forward and back right now, I so appreciated the opportunity to come full circle and be back at Stella Maris. In four years, their student numbers have almost dropped by half so I spoke to the entire K-12 school in one group. Of course, after the presentation, most of the questions came from the elementary students (it’s not “cool” for the older students to ask questions in an assembly.) After the presentation, one of the kids who’d asked a number of questions said to Jacinta, “Miss, I think I got a puffer fish inside me, I want to be a top chef and cook really good food – I think I can!” One “puffer fish” moment makes it ALL worth it!


Back at Stella Maris

TA comes full circle to present at Stalla Maris Academy in October 2010


Yesterday, Marian and I finished up our reclaimed wood deck project and then headed over the Hilary and Adrian’s new house to attend a painting party. Both Hilary and Adrian have been working incredibly hard all summer to renovate the house they bought last spring. They invited friends and family to come help move the painting along in one big collective effort. Seeing the transformation of both the entire house and the walls since I’d last been there, I thought a bunch about “sweat equity.” I suspect the hours and hours of work the new homeowners have put into their abode will deepen their relationship to the place/their place, (just as hiking through a landscape nurtures a different level of knowing and commitment than driving through it).


Putting in Sweat Equity on Signal Hill

TA and training buddies put in some sweat equity on Signal Hill February 2010


It reminds me of why I define an expedition as starting the moment I commit to it–why I spent a year on Denali rather than just the month of the actual climb–that I recognize(d) the critical importance of the journey, of sweat equity, of the process being as much the goal (or perhaps much more than) the product/summit.


Early morning start on Denali

Early morning start on Denali


Have a great week. I’m thankful to have you all cheering me on. With much gratitude,


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