Thanks, Dad.

When my sister and I were kids, we’d start complaining on Friday nights about going skiing. We’d complain about getting up early and about being stuffed into snowsuits and having to wear googles and that our boots hurt and that we had to walk what felt like a million miles across Copper’s main village to get to the lifts.

As soon as we hit the slopes, we’d have a blast, but once it was time to call it a day, we’d be back to complaining. My dad would gather his skis, my skis, my sisters skis and my mom’s skis, my mom would take everyone’s poles and I would ensure my little sister didn’t eat it in the icy parking lot.

Continue reading “Thanks, Dad.”

Advertisements

Travel Diary – Moab, Utah

The best places to hike, camp and drink coffee in Moab, Utah. Fisher Towers, Dead Horse State Park and camping on HWY 128.

One of my very favorite things to do is to throw some camp gear in the car, take off after work and drive through the dark to find what we hope is an epic campsite, stumble around with headlights and then wake up the next morning to discover where we ended up.

This past week, our destination was just outside Moab, up Utah State Highway 128. We rolled into a campsite at 2AM, the sucking blackness hiding any hint of a landmark, and awoke the next morning to this view:

20170325_070707

Waking up at first light and making coffee on the camp stove while Topher sleeps is another one of my favorite activities. I love the smell of hot coffee and damp grass, watching the sun touch our little corner of the universe, feeling the warmth of the coffee seep through the tin mug into my numb hands and the steam warm my cold nose.

This trip to Moab was focused on hiking. On Thursday we explored Dead Horse State Park and hiked the East Rim Trail, from the visitor’s center to Dead Horse Point. Its an easy 3 mile round trip hike with stunning views the entire way. After thinking it looked familiar, and texting my dad a picture, I realized that I’d rafted that section of river and hiked up the mesa at the point when I was 15, long before the Instagramification of the scenic spot. Yes, I am a hipster.

IMG_20170328_223858_492.jpg

On Friday, we got up early and did my favorite hike to date. Fisher Towers feels like stepping onto another planet. The trail immediately takes you down into a canyon and keeps climbing in and out of various canyons, along ledges, on top of cliffs, all while being shadowed by the most amazing red rocks spires. At just over 5 miles round trip, the hike was definitely strenuous with all the elevation loss and gain, but well worth it. There are many epic views along the way and the scenery is incredible. There’s a point where you have to descend an approximately 10 ft metal ladder into a canyon, which was definitely a feat with the dog. It took both of us balancing precariously and a stranger pushing her over the ledge to get her across.

output
Kenzie and I enjoying the views

 

This is a trail that I would definitely not attempt in the heat of the day or at all in the summer months. With no shade or running water, once you’re out of the spires’ shadows, you’re pretty much being cooked. Bring more water than you think you could possibly drink, sunscreen and a hat. If there’s even a chance of rain, don’t attempt. Much of the trail winds in and out of canyons that are prime territory for flash flooding.

While we’re not normally “campground people,” we did choose to stay in one of the BLM campgrounds along HWY 128 because we knew we’d be coming in late and didn’t want to have to search for primitive camping. At $15 a night, these plentiful campgrounds are a great option. Note that they were completely full by a Friday night in March, so finding a spot on weekends may not be possible.

While we spent most of our time hiking and reading in camp, we did stop at Moab Coffee Roasters on our way to Dead Horse State Park and were pleasantly surprised by their coffee being roasted in paint buckets in the side of a Life is Good store. Give them a try if you’re in town and in need of a cup of coffee.

I love the stark beauty of the desert. Beaches and rain forests and bustling cities are beautiful, but sometimes all that amazing-ness coming at me is overwhelming. I love the simple colors, the harsh landscape, the marvel of a teeny tiny flower blossoming under a rock or nothing but red rock and scrub brush as far as the eye can see. Somehow, that simple beauty is more beautiful to me than the busiest landscape.

20170324_101149.jpg

I love Utah, I love Moab and I love the desert. Go visit for yourself.

Stay tuned for why you should go take a road trip there 🙂

20170324_104552

 

Respect.

Being able to get out and enjoy public lands is one of the things I hold nearest and dearest. With public lands coming up in the news this month and several personal experiences in the last few weeks, I felt the need to write about a topic I’ve always felt was just common knowledge; respect.

My last few hiking experiences have told me differently.

I was raised on the Great Outdoors. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been on trails, on ski slopes, in back country campsites, hanging off rock walls, splashing in rivers and lakes. My dad and mom have been doing it since they were kids and my grandpas before them. I was taught at a very early age to respect the mountain.

The mountain can kill you.

I don’t care if you’re on a day hike, in bounds at a ski area, or climbing a 14er. The mountain can kill you.

The goal of this post is not to instill fear, but to bring about an important realization. Acknowledging the mountain can kill you is Step 1.

With more and more people moving to Colorado, I’m seeing more and more people out on the trails that don’t have a clue what they’re doing. I think its great that they’re getting outside. I hope everybody gets the chance to experience Colorado’s mountains like I do, but I also see that lack of respect and say a little prayer every time I see one that they don’t end up as Search & Rescue’s next target.

Step 2 in having a healthy respect for the mountains is being prepared. If I’m going more than a couple hundred feet from the car, I always have a water bottle and a jacket with me. It doesn’t matter if its the middle of July, or the middle of January. Dehydration is real and the weather can turn on a dime. It doesn’t matter what the weather report says, its the same reason you carry and ice scraper with you all winter long in your car, or the same reason you carry insurance. Anything is possible. If I’m going more than a mile, I stick a granola bar in my backpack.

I grew up getting packed squished Clif Bars for school lunch; my dad’s climbing rejects. Did he ever actually eat the Clif Bars? I don’t know. But I do know that he was always prepared. If you end up out longer than you expect, or god forbid, in a bad situation, a granola bar can be a lifesaver. Literally.

We were snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park a few weeks ago and there was over 60″ of snow. I was up to my knees in some places wearing snowshoes and the weather was threatening to turn all afternoon. I was shocked at the number of people I saw trying to hike in skate shoes. Was it likely ignorance? Yes. But with the capabilities of Google in your pocket, its not hard to check weather conditions. These guys lacked a basic respect for nature.

Step 3 is realizing that you can’t dominate nature. I don’t care how much weight you can lift at the gym, or how many marathons you’ve run. I don’t care that you’re a 22 year old guy and nothing can stop you. Neither does the mountain.

Nature is not something man can dominate. Man builds a sidewalk, and the grass still finds a way to grow through the cracks. Man builds levies and nature destroys their city.

I could direct you to hundreds of stories of athletes, incredibly smart people and even seasoned mountaineers that have died at the hands of nature. Am I being dramatic? A little. But I’m not just talking about Everest. People have died on that 14er you day-hiked last summer. All I had to do was Google “Rocky Mountain National Park” and hit “News” to find this story of someone who got bested by nature there last weekend.

On the same trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, a group of younger guys, who I overhead later were all doctors, thought it would be funny to count to 3 and yell “Avalanche” at the top of their lungs. I would have hit them if I could have gotten there quick enough in my snowshoes (snowshoes, while practical, are not very good for running).

Was there avalanche danger at Emerald Lake that day? I don’t know. But I do know what they did was blatantly disrespectful to the back country skiers and boarders continuing up the ridge.

Being prepared wraps up into realizing you can’t dominate on the mountain. Leaving your ego in the car and grabbing a jacket. Recognizing the weather and realizing when its time to turn back. Realizing that you are NOT in charge and you have to respect Mother Nature or suffer the consequences.

So many outdoor activities seem like domination is the point, don’t they? Let me tell you a secret. Not one of those activities actually dominates Mother Nature. When you raft a section of rapids, did you dominate that river? Or did you successfully navigate the rapids to make it out alive? Do you dominate a mountain when you summit? Do you dominate a route when you send it? The river doesn’t change because of what you did, neither does the mountain or the crag. It’s not domination. It’s symbiosis, which requires respect.

Every outdoor activity holds some danger. Should you stop participating because you might die? Hell, no. You should acknowledge the danger, prepare for the danger and undertake the activity with a mindset of symbiosis, not domination.

Respect the mountain. Be prepared. Check your ego. Don’t ignore posted signs. Pick up your trash. Respect your Mother.

It seems simple, but I guess not everyone was raised on Colorado.