I take back anything I’ve said about Rowdy not being much of an endurance runner. Here’s a short video I made with my phone of yesterday’s epic – the Four Pass Loop near Crested Butte and Aspen, Colorado, and then some – totaling roughly 32 miles over four 12,000’+ passes and just shy of 11,000′ vertical gain…and equal descent. There would be times I thought it would be best we both just stopped in our tracks and lay down. Then he would go from panting at my feet to bolting off after a chirping marmot, or one of the billions of scents he seems to pick out from each square yard of wild earth, and I would force myself to also perk up. He kept getting these energy bursts…like mine, they would come and go…and he even pulled me up the final hill to the car at 9:00 p.m.! Maybe he sensed the car was near…or maybe he’s just a badass…perhaps both. We didn’t run all 32 miles. More like 24, but tried our mightiest. There was more snow…and water…and mud…and mileage than anticipated, but we’re home safe and sound and he’s sleeping like a baby after two big meals and a nice Bag Balm massage. Continue reading “Four Pass Loop – epic Colorado trail run”
FYI – This blog gets better with each highlight of the day…
Today was a good day. Actually, that’s quite the understatement. Not only did I have the best salami of my life in its hometown of Siena, in the Tuscan countryside, but also Pecorino cheese (made from sheep’s milk) in Pienza, home of Pecorino.
Next stop, Casanova di Neri produces the best Brunello (a clone of Sangiovese, one of my favorite wines) in all of Italy. They’ve earned top honors the past two years in a row. Of course, we brought a bottle of our favorite home with us. Well, Jon and I are hopeful but mom may save it for a special occasion. What could be more special than a trip to Italy with your two sons? Huh, mom? I know you’re reading this…
Since they make their own olive oil and it’s currently olive season, might as well grab a bottle of that too, right?
In the past three weeks I’ve tried grappa in several different regions. In Cadore of Il Dolomiti, Venezia, Padua, and Firenza. For those who don’t know, grappa is basically pure alcohol distilled with grapes. To enhance flavor, the distiller adds whatever flavor they desire – lemon, pine, eucalyptus, etc. It’s definitely not a taste for everyone, but I’ve had a few I’ve enjoyed (mildly).
Until last night, when the owner of a small ristorante in the town of Muntepulciano poured me the best grappa I’ve had yet. I asked him if it was local and if I could find it locally, and he responded by scribbling the distiller’s name on a business card. Today, we found it. Continue reading “To the Wall in Tuscano – Pecorino, Grappa, Brunello and Tartufi”
As promised in my latest update, this blog is photo-heavy and word-weak. Prepping for Europe, adventuring outdoors and visiting with friends is so time-consuming that a photoblog is most necessary at this time. So that’s all you’re getting for now. Photos with captions. I hope you abso-frickin-lutely enjoy them. If you skip ahead, be sure to at least watch the video at the end. It’s the world premiere of my innovative new dog mount for the smartphone.
I brought the camera along for last night’s beach trip in hopes of a cool sunset or even some action shots of Rowdy playing in the water. But the sunset was only so-so and I didn’t pay much attention to Rowdy because instead my eyes caught these bird-like rock formations.
I took those photos before a lady spoke up from her cross-legged position on a small boulder behind me. “I used to be a photographer.”
I thought, Um…okay. What’s your point?, and later decided I hadn’t thought it loud enough. You’ll see why.
“But 15 years ago I fell 400 feet off a waterfall cuz I was trying to take a picture. Real talk.”
What!? Holy s*^#! I didn’t see that coming. Crazy. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
She turned to the side and opened the hood of her sweatshirt to reveal skin that resembled a fire victim’s, and this texture seemed to cover what looked like exactly half of her head, right down the middle, and down below her neck. She shaved one eyebrow so the painted side wasn’t as obvious. She also seemed sweet and I began to feel for her. Then she started rambling a bunch of crazy mumbo jumbo, spatting off about a parking violation she managed to get out of and how the free, live concert on the beach was no good. Instead I began to pity her. You couldn’t expect anyone to even survive such a fall, let alone avoid any cognitive disabilities that come with a head injury that from that height. Then I noticed her annoying 20-lb mutt was trying to herd Rowdy into a corner, nipping at his legs and barking at him. But it was barely barking, because 20-lb mutts don’t really bark; they produce more of a weak shriek. So now Rowdy was in an even more awkward spot than I’d gotten myself into and she was still spouting off about God-knows-what. The pity quickly turned to more of an irritation. Needless to say I politely excused myself from that conversation, convinced Rowdy he was safe to walk past that little nincampoop of a dog, and moved to a less precarious section of sand.
Speaking of rocks, check out these shots from last weekend’s trip to the Buttermilks, a popular climbing area just a few miles west of Bishop, CA, that is absolutely littered with boulders.
I didn’t take many climbing photos, so I now suggest you click this link: Backpacking Bishop Pass. It’s the trip report from the three-day overnight hiking/camping trip we set off on immediately after climbing last Friday morning, and includes some awesome photos of tremendously beautiful landscapes. If you enjoy exploring the outdoors by foot and you haven’t been to the Inyo National Forest, then let the trip report inspire you to mark a few days on the calendar.
Let’s hear about your adventures in Inyo, at the Buttermilks or in/around Bishop!
Friends have asked why I wasn’t able to play outside as much the first half of this summer. For someone who preaches “fun outdoors” on a daily basis, I may have lately seemed like quite the hypocrite. But my time spent indoors (or on the deck, milking the sun with laptop in
hand lap) was not for waste, I assure you. Fun experienced during outdoor adventures occasionally requires more tedious documentation than quick trip reports or brief reflections, and this year, such is my justification.
When Backcountry Magazine and Outside Magazine offer to send you to Colorado for a week to vigorously test next year’s splitboards (for out-of-bounds riding) and snowboards (for in-bounds riding), you drop everything and make it happen.
Then, when they ask for detailed feedback on products tested, you spend countless hours per week on the computer, outside your 40-hr/wk desk job, transcribing testers’ reviews and submitting numerous rounds of edits to make sure they receive the best possible beta on each. After all, real people will depend on these meticulously crafted reviews to make sound financial decisions, which will affect the amount of fun they have for the next who-knows-how-long until it’s time for another new board.
Finally, when it’s all said and done, the magazines go to print and I can begin telling friends and followers to anticipate some hot new reads hitting newsstands in the coming weeks.
Be on the lookout for Backcountry Magazine‘s 2015 Gear Guide (mid-August), as well as Outside Magazine‘s 2015 Buyer’s Guide (mid-September). Within them you’ll find information on the latest innovations in the snowboarding world, written by yours truly. You’ll also see cool photos of myself and my test team, taken by friend and photo-phenom Matt Berglund, and you’ll get a taste of the company I keep in the alpine.
Until then, these three articles I wrote for Backcountry Magazine’s blog (written during Test Week, March 2014) should hopefully entice you to keep a watchful eye in the checkout aisle:
*Sorry for being so silent lately. Now I feel I can comfortably share what’s coming down the pipes without getting an earful from my employers.
Adam. Is. Stoked.
Next weekend marks the one year anniversary of my first summit of Mt. Shasta (14,180′), and yesterday’s trip was even better. We hiked up faster, rode down faster, and actually found the trail on our way out. We were at the front of the pack and when we reached the top we enjoyed the view with far fewer skiers/climbers than last year. Must have been the low snow year we’ve had. Or, the competing BBQ’s and beach days at lower elevation. We passed on flatland beers for the day, but we sure as hell enjoyed the IPAs we carried to the summit!
Trailhead Departure: 3:30 a.m. / Waning Crescent Moonrise: 4:45 / Sunrise: 5:30
Summit Descent: 12:10 p.m. / Return to Trail: 1:00 / Return to Parking Area: 1:45
Gotta give a shout-out to Platypus Hydration. Their reusable soft water bottles are awesome! I keep one inside my jacket during climbs so it’s easily accessible without pausing and it doesn’t freeze. Add snow at each pit-stop and the body heat will melt it, giving me cold drinking water on-demand and one less bottle to carry in my pack. Here, Jeremy enjoys a chilled beverage from his Platypus soft bottle while we watch the sun rise over the Eastern Sierra.
Climbing Shasta is not the most difficult task, but it sure takes a while. 7,000′ of elevation gain requires multiple rest breaks. We took four over the course of the six-mile ascent. At about 12,000′, we switched from climbing skins on our splitboards to crampons on our boots and boards on our backs. It was windy and the frozen mountain didn’t provide much traction for skinning, but with Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons strapped to our snowboard boots we were money. We were so money, baby, we didn’t even know how money we were. I’ve been running a lot lately so I did pretty well moving uphill. Here, I take 45-minutes to reflect from a rock at 12,600′ while I wait for the pack to catch up. I could count 25 other skiers ascending beneath me. Photo Callout: Thanks to Kronicle Backcountry Snowboarding Magazine for supplying the literature that keeps me stoked on splitboarding year-round, even when I’m sporting trail running kicks.
When you set out to summit and ski a peak in a day, don’t pack much. The more weight on your back, the more you’ll regret hauling items you won’t really use. First Aid Kit – yes, bring it and hope you never use it. Food and water – yes, bring extra. Whatever you don’t consume on the mountain, you’ll finish back at the car. And, in the case you’re stuck out there longer than expected, you’ll be glad you brought extra. Beer – yes, bring it and let it motivate you to push harder toward the top.
I met Jeremy at a friend’s house this past winter. I had just purchased rock shoes and a harness, and he was looking for a climbing buddy. Ever since, we’ve done something awesome weekly. He’s a straight-shooter and stays on top of his game at all times. I appreciate friends who overanalyze situations in the mountains. Back in high school, I remember having to choose partners for class projects. I would usually choose the person that would bring the least conflict to the team. Or, the cutest girl. In college, we think more critically and try to partner with people who don’t seem like slackers and will do well with the current assignment. Once out of college, you’re forced to think from a wider perspective. At the school of hard knocks (wilderness adventures, in this context), you choose partners who will make sound decisions under pressure and will dig ’til they’re dead. By “under pressure”, I mean when things go terribly wrong and reaction time is crucial. By “dig ’til they’re dead”, I reference an avalanche situation that requires the rescuing party to literally dig as fast as their body will allow, and then some. Jeremy’s that kind of partner. Here, he and I share some stoke on a summit that we’ve put off three times within the past six weeks due to last-minute changes in weather patterns.
After a half-hour at the top, it was time to drop in. We tried to time our descent with the corn harvest. For those who don’t do much spring skiing, that’s when the frozen snow melts and turns to beaded, corn-like flakes. If you ride before the corn harvests, you’re on a frozen slab. If you wait too long, the consistency of the snow worsens and you risk setting off a wet avalanche. But, when you time it perfectly on Mt. Shasta in late-May, you get 6,000′ of awesome turns. That’s what we did today. It was absolutely glorious. Just before dropping in, this guy made it to the top. Coincidentally, I had just been thinking about the sacrifices so many others have made so that we have the freedom to do these kinds of things. Fortunately, my camera wasn’t far away and I was able to pop one off before he stepped out of view.
And then, we get to go snowboarding 🙂 It’s one of my favorite activities. So is capturing memories of my friends snowboarding. Here’s a good one of Jeremy:
Looking back as we walk out the trail toward the car:
Did you do something awesome yesterday? Will you today? How about the next? If you’re hesitant for any reason, remember: You never know until you go. If you still can’t summon the strength, remember: You never know when you’re gonna go.
Over and over and over again. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Ahhh… That deserves a burger and a beer.
I feel so freakin’ good right now. Thanks to Jon and Scott for calling me out. I repeatedly heard your sarcastic words of encouragement as I fought the urge to break. Miles 30-35 are an uphill struggle with your inner beast. Miles 35-40 are a downhill reward for your efforts at 40+ mph. You swear you need more than ten gears until you remind yourself what you’re capable of. Brockway Summit, it’s about time you feel defeat. Third time’s a charm. The first time I got off and walked for two minutes, about a hundred yards from the top. The second, I dismounted earlier and walked even longer. Not this time. Cuz I could hear my brother laughing when I told him I couldn’t do it.
Yea, I feel good about my ride today. Yesterday’s ride was also pretty tasty, but it was a ride of another flavor. I rode a new line at Squaw Valley on my snowboard, looker’s left of The Slot off the Headwall chairlift.
Most people take the main “slot” down from the summit, so my first three turns were epic and untouched – I gave a little hoot. The pitch was steep so I was fully committed from the get-go, and as I gained speed I got pulled into the fall-line (skier’s right). Immediately, I was above the rocks I initially planned to avoid. I gave a quick heel-check and jumped from my edge…over the obstacles. Whew! I landed on my heel-edge below the rocks (and just above another cluster) and charged hard to my left, firing out into the clear. Only it wasn’t so clear. It was skied-out and littered with moguls, so after a few fast, clumsy airs, I gave up and took to my butt. I didn’t care. I ripped what I’d set out for and it felt awesome to scare myself. I haven’t been doing that enough lately.
Yea, I just bragged for two long paragraphs. Sometimes when you feel really good about yourself you’ve gotta claim that s***.
“I went over my bars. Upon deployment my shorts got caught and my bike came along for the flight. We went over one full rotation and landed on my feet. Well, I landed on my feet, but my bike landed on my shoulders, so I proceeded to slide another thirty feet down the steep canyon toward the river. It came to the point where I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stop before the rocks and water below.”
Read the rest of this blog I wrote for Tahoe Mountain Sports here: http://blog.tahoemountainsports.com/2013/10/15/aotw-back-in-downie-and-backing-down-mountain-biking-mishaps/
This morning was epic. After sleeping very little in my bag last night, I’ve been on a good one all day. You know that feeling when you aren’t sure whether you need to exercise or take a nap? You’re sleep deprived, but that’s actually what has you wired…somehow. Anyway, I slept awfully last night and it paid off. I had to pee terribly at 4:30 a.m., but it was cold out and I was comfortable in my down sleeping bag. I hit the ‘bladder snooze’ and got some more shuteye. Then at 5:00 I seriously considered getting up and walking to the nearest tree. Wasn’t happening. Winds were picking up outside my bag. Inside, a warm, temperate climate that felt about 80-degrees. At 5:30 I arose and rushed about ten steps from my bed, did the biz partially into the wind, and crawled back in. None of that helped one bit. I still could not sleep.
Thankfully, I was up before my alarm to catch the sunrise. I even had time to brew some freshly ground beans before setting up the tripod just in time to catch the peak of the morning light 🙂
From then on I was jazzed all morning. Jazzed = Stoked. Well, technically all day, since I’m still jazzed and it’s now late afternoon. How can someone remain stoked so long? I’ll tell you how: get your friends to go camping and wake up for first-light mountain biking photos on some awesome downhill singletrack, then head across the street and get shots of Lake Tahoe in the backdrop of some other awesome photos. But wait…there’s more. Next we drove up to the top of Blackwood Canyon and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail north to a killer view of the lake. Here we took trail running photos. Well, Rick Saez of Rick Saez Photography took photos. I played the trail runner. What triggered this sudden overnight photo sesh? Rick, who I’ve known all my life, came to town from Oakland and asked me to rally photo subjects for his ‘action photography’ portfolio. That’s exactly what I did, and even though only two friends (and great neighbors) came through for us in the end, it was enough to stoke out Rick on his photos…and it was more than plenty to stoke me out for the rest of the day. Although, as we all know, tomorrow I’ll also be stoked. And the next day, and the day after that.
I won’t see any of Rick’s professional mountain biking or trail running pics for a week or so, but CHECK OUT THESE PHOTOS I CAPTURED:
I wrote this fun one about going backcountry snowboarding with Tamara. It did pretty well on my work blog, and it’s been awhile since it was first published, so I thought I’d share it here as well. To read the original story, follow this link to the blog I manage at work: