Equador: Where Lows Are Highs

The Quito airport sits at just over 9,000 ft, so the moment you get off the plane, your lungs feel it.  Our accommodations varied in elevation; the highest of which was just over 15,000′ and the lowest being around 6,500′: still higher than SLC.  You could say we were high the whole trip.  Stats include: 6 clients, 2 awesome guides, 16 days, 2 acclimatization hikes, 200+ empanadas, countless cervezas, 5 historic Haciendas, 3 volcanoes, and the curveball: 0 summits.

Cayambe, Antisana, and Chimborazo; each mountain refused to let us summit.  We would’ve been stoked to bag all 3 in perfect conditions and share summit high-fives, but instead we faced heavy snow, high avalanche danger, and gaping crevasses.  But with each successive denial, we found ourselves less and less affected.  Our spirits stayed high because we were doing our best.  We found contentment within our effort and peaceful agreement with our guides’ decisions to pull the plug.

I’m pretty damn competitive…and as Ricky Bobby said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”  So it took a bit of mind shift to realize that a failure to summit was nowhere near an overall failure.  My tail was not tucked, my head wasn’t hanging, and I was still stoked!

Beauty and freedom lies in the effort; not necessarily the end result.

“…an artist derives more pleasure from painting than from completing a picture.” -Seneca

Speaking of pictures, here are my best…

smack dab in the middle

Our guide Romulo….Legend Status

first acclimatization hike

killer hat

hike 2: Imbabura

crazy plants

spongy ground cover

Cayambe

our guide Emily. Rarely serious. Always a bad ass.

said goodnight to this….

…and woke up at 11pm to this

downtime entertainment

one of the haciendas

after 7 hours of uphill, first light on Antisana

The Flabongo….Legend Status

a new day dawns on Cotopaxi & Chimborazo in the distance

Cotopaxi

Ry at 18,200′

sexy lines

steer clear of the void, bros

Ry leads the descent

dodging crevasses

rode some horses. saw some condors

met a local photographer and checked out his archives

He had a house made with hay as the primary insulation

He also had a great dane

got some hats like Romulo’s!!

having a blast on Chimborazo; a couple hundred feet from turning around

the night was kind of a blur

3am….back at the hut. Tired, cold, and strangely happy.

 

Safe to say we’ll be heading back to Equador; a return trip is already in the works.  We’ll get our summit high-fives.

 

 

Hiking With My Bud

The foothills above downtown SLC are kind of a conundrum.  Am I in the mountains?  Am I in the city?  Am I in a freakin park?  Should I ride my bike….or just walk my dog?   For Ryan and me, tonight the answer was to load up our backpacks with 35+ lbs of water bottles and rocks and go for a little training hike of sorts.  Conversation…vistas…movement…sunsets; Wed afternoon on the city side of the Wasatch was awesome….in a simple, everyday kind of way.  Damn, I love living here.

Nearby Yet Far Off

The Great Salt Lake is quickly climbing the ranks of favorite places.  It’s so weird out there.  Stinky.  Dusty. Empty. Vast.  Dynamic.  Every time is different, and even though it’s so close, it feels like you’re on another planet…or at least on the other side of this one.

Back to Back evenings yielded these shots:

Finally got the SUPs out on the salty water

The water is silky

psychedelic

golden

slice of light

the sky was lit

The next evening was out on the salt flats…

salt lines

mad hops

Angie had a shoot….

…then posed for me

My favorite shot of the night

 

Family Freaking Photography??

I’ve always been drawn to shooting landscapes, ’cause taking pics of people is hard!  Especially families.  I kinda cringe at the thought of clichè poses and cheesy smiles.  But I’ve tagged along on a couple professional photo shoots and have been learning/imitating how to combine light, composition, and camera settings.  It’s been fun playing around…and I’m all jazzed up about improving!

 

Park City shoot

Antelope Island shoot

Angie the pro nails another shot

Salt Lake shoot w/Lynn and her girls

 

Then I did a shoot all by myself with the Hatchers! The Great Salt Lake is such an awesome place….

Love these guys!!

Escalante Excursion

Utah’s got slots.  Lot’s of ’em.  Narrow, tight, windy, smooth, slotty little canyons all over the place.  Checked out Peekaboo and Spooky canyons last week.

sharp light
slot bridges

holes in rocks

hole in rock

more holes in rocks

spotsmobile sparkles

sparkletime

steaks 2

ashamed to admit: first time I have ever cooked on an open campfire.

silky slot

silky walls

dipshit yoga

just doing what everyone else does when in nature

The Land Before Time

Hopped in the van and traveled back 149 Million years to Dinosaur National Monument.  Basically a bunch of dinosaurs died in a riverbed and their bodies washed downstream until they created a logjam of bones.  All the fossils are still embedded in the hillside.  It’s quite amazing.  I listened to an audiobook about evolution, which provided an interesting mental backdrop to explore the park.  Ended up camping for 3 nights…solo…the park was empty.  Felt good to get out there and check out a place that seems to be highly underrated.  I tell you what guys, Utah is pretty damn amazing.

these things really existed

colors in the high country

11000 ft campfire

Wasatch Mtns 75 miles away

Utah Moon

The Yampa River.  Camped all the down there by my right elbow.

an old cabin in the middle of nowhere

Van Camp night 2

Steamboat Rock

morning coffee walk

just me and the wildlife

the morning stillness was unforgettable

cottonwoods miiiight be my fav trees

all lit up

down by the river: night 3

alive in a dead way

finally used the fireworks from July 4th

notice the big dipper…such a random, rad shot!

 

Backyard Action

Little stuff going on in my backyard…..

 

 

Big Stuff going on in Utah’s backyard….Canyonlands NP to be exact….

TJ gets super reflective on a cliff

Ry tests out his T4R

sketchball road

the end of Sep 19th

searching for a campsite

rap squats

thumbs up for NPs

Squeezing the Most Out of Summer

August & September have been firing on all cylinders…(which coincidentally happens to be 10 when in the van.)  Prepare for massive photo dump….

 

eclipse base camp

not taking any chances

Totality was totally ridic!

scrambled along the ridge splitting LCC & BCC w/Lish. Pucker Factor: High

ripped up the old front porch…

…turned it into this…

…then added these. Porch Monkey Level: Obscene

pushed peaks w/these posers

pretty worked afterwards

I like to surround myself w/beauty….even at county rodeos

TJ…aka Grill Master Bates…at his family’s new getaway

Sometimes Kyler gets saucy

Alec is a True American

post-20 miler w/Jen

Lone Peak w/J Crews. Such a rad mountain

the Idiot Flotilla on the good old Weber

D-Bomb and her boy gettin’ down at Red Butte.

Rose all day, baby

Wed Night Lights

Bagged Kings in a day! 28 Miles! Highest peak in Utah.

recovery smoothies in the backcountry

caught a lot of these too…and always tried to reflect on how to maximize this short life we’ve been given.

People, Places, & Moments

Summertime and the livin’s easy  …….  Summertime on disability.  (haha…ridiculous)  Been filling my time w/road trips, concerts, family, kids, runs, paddleboarding, naps, porch time, camping, hikes, reading, yoga, beers…..yada yada yada.  I’ve been doing my best to truly being present in each moment, and giving my attention to whatever it is I was doing; at varying levels of success.  It’s so hard ditching the phone!  It’s so easy to distract ourselves with crap that doesn’t matter.  I’m learning that it’s quite a practice to simply be present.

I’ve collected lots of photos of said moments…and other moments slipped right by; let go w/out a shutter snap.

Here’s a hodgepodge of the the people and sights that make my moments matter….

baggin’ peaks & face timin’ chicks

Jen has one speed: FAST. “Gearless and Fearless”

females of all ages are intrigued

Healthy & Happy. So glad Matt ditched the cargo shorts & AE flip flops.

4th of July pilgrimage

poppin’ bottles, cranking bass, & cruisin’ backroads

apparently the devil made this tower

woke up in a bad place

sunrise in a good place

happy hour in a shady place

TJ handling his biz

Ryan handling his biz

Summer bags peak in Utah like she’s a local

bruised & battered

hat swap!

“Let’s go cruise the playground Uncle Josh!”

this place actually exists

pounding the pavement somewhere in Idaho

ran a trail, got the medal

losers

true love

Jen loves choo choos

 

A few things that caught my eye….

I-84 hillside

surface layers

my desk

virga

The clock is ticking.  Savor your moments!!

How to Summarize a Summit?

We climbed Mt Rainier last week, and I’m still digesting the whole experience.  But damn, what a trip!  To say, “It was fun.  We bagged a peak.” would be a huuuge understatement.  The new people we met, time we spent together, stunning views,  physical exertion, crazy weather, lack of cell reception, sketchy “trails”, and achieving a goal that was set almost a year ago; all these aspects added up to an extremely high level of satisfaction on the drive home…and a nagging question of “What the hell just happened?”

In searching for some context,  a quick skim of a Mountaineering book led me to two quotes:

“Security is mostly superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of me as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”  -Helen Keller

I choose adventure.  This one digs a bit deeper….

“While seeking the freedom of the hills, we come face to face with ourselves.”

We’re already planning another climb.

 

gear for days

Greg on the Muir Snowfield

Ry and our Lead Guide Dallas above the marine layer

 

chow time

checkin’ out Camp Muir

on the move to high camp

ever had sunburn on the underside of your nose!?

camping on a glacier

crashing out at 6pm

climbing through the wee hours

layering up

the sunrise was insane!

money shot

tagged the summit in 50knot winds. We stayed there for literally 30 seconds.

heading back down

above Ingraham Glacier.  High camp in the background,

most scenic toilet ever

parking lot refreshment

debriefing Rainier w/Rainiers