Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Retrospective- Christian Paul Photography

If I had to guess what 2011 was going to be like, I would have not even come close to what is in this video. This retrospective reflects the last year, by month, from January to December 2011. It has been a wild year, and I cannot believe all the adventures I had, the heart aches, the triumphs, the tribulations I have been through. When creating this recount, it was amazing to see all the places I had been, and people I have shared adventures with. And through it all, I learned even more about myself and how important family and good friends really are. I hope you enjoy this trip in time through this passing year- 2011. I wonder what 2012 will bring?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cruisers At The Bird- 12.26.2011

After taking a few days off from the last storm and to spend some time with my family for xmas, I got the message that Fryer was going to be up at da Bird for the day. Not something I was gonna miss out on. Got up there about 10 and threw the boots on. Started out on Peruvian where the snow, surprisingly was really good. We took a few laps there and decided to go find the sun. Tram to Regs it was, down to my first Little Cloud of the season. Rough traverse to get back to Regs. Some Gadzoom fun and back to P-dog to finish the day out. A great day riding with my friends, sunshine and good snow. Our thin season so far has to be a matter of perspective if you are going to have fun. Mother Nature does what she does, and so should we.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Freshies- Snowbird- 12.21 & 22.2011

We finally got some snow! Wednesday the 21st was really windy as the front moved in. The temps dropped fast and it was scouring the surface. Getting some wind buffed turns was fun, but it was hard to see up top to say the least. Then about 1 pm, the storm came in full force and was dumping like mad! Made for some fun afternoon turns before calling it a day. Thursday the 22nd was our first bluebird pow day of the year. Gad II opened for the season, and between the fresh tracks we got in Peruvian Gulch and in Gad Valley, the run off Gad II was the icing on the cake, Very fluffy over there, and a ton of fun riding. It was nice to have some soft snow under the board, and to be slashing some fresh for most of the day. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Soly Shuffle- Solitude- 12.14.2011

We finally got some snow! I got an invite to shred Solitude with my good friends Phil and Scotty. This was not something I was going to miss out on. We started off on Eagle and rode the whole resort. The snow was in great condition, lots of little things to jump off of and really fast laps. Even a few freshies off trail with no hidden surprises. It is still a very early season snow pack, so you have to be careful, but the coverage was good and you could venture most places on the mountain. It was obvious where you did not want to be, and we stayed away from those. Solitude is like a playground, so much stuff to do and play on, steeps, trees, cutouts, it is a snowboarders paradise. In all, it was a great day, perfect to be in the mountains.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Occupy P-Dog- Peruvian Gulch Opens- 12.9.2011

Finally! After waiting for what seemed like forever, Peruvian Gulch and the P-Dog chair opened today! The snow was in excellent condition for how little we have had in accumulation. Runs from the peak and off the chair were fast and smooth! Even went a bit off trail, not too far off, there is some nastiness still exposed out there that you would not want to meet. It would probably destroy your gear, if not you! Got to shred the day with my favorite riding partner, Jeremy who I spent the entire record breaking season of 10/11 with riding. It was just like good old times, fast laps and lost of sprayin' to be had! Now if we could get one of those massive storm cycles to put a bit more of the mountain in play. Never the less, a fantastic day riding, bluebird skies and snowboarding- nothing can beat that!

Friday, December 9, 2011

December Begins- 12.2.4.2011

Fun couple of days riding the Bird. We have not gotten our usual snow so far this year, so with the limited terrain open, we have to make the best of it. Friday 12.2 was a fun day as the snow had softened up and the runs were wide open and you could really mach it. Sunday 12.4 was some new snow, fun to ride, but visibility was low at times, making it a challenge to really open it up. Still good times, and we are waiting for winter to give us the goods. P-Dog opens today at the Bird, so I will be posting that this weekend after I edit the video. Pray 4 Snow!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Tram Lap of the 11/12 season- 11.26.2011

Finally got on the Tram. After it having some mechanical difficulties and then crashing into tower four breaking the windows out, they finally opened the big boat into the sky! Nothing fancy here, just a nice run from peak to base. First Tram Lap of the season! Conditions were icy to say the least, but still fun to be dropping 3,000 vert.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sunday and Monday Fluffies- 11/20/21/2011

First Sunday Funday at Snowbird for the 11/12 season! Really fun day, new snow made the surface really fast and laid back. Monday was the best snow of the season so far! There was about 8-10" of fresh to play in up there. Experimented with some different camera angles. Enjoy the video!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Opening Day- Occupying Snowbird! 11/18/11

Opening Day @ Snowbird today. I got second chair for the season. It was Gadzoom and creamy mix of man made and natural snow. Lots of little cutouts and fun things to play on. We for sure need a bit more for the whole mountain to be in play. But still a great way to kick off the season at the Bird! Let the good times roll! Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sugarloaf Tour- First Turns Of The 2011/2012 Season! 11/13/11

Well, it was bound to happen. Me getting a new Voile splitboard, and getting my first turns of the season. We decided west facing was good, since it was forecasted "Low" for avalanche danger today. So the Sugarloaf lift area at Alta has some great low angle stuff that just gets stacked with new snow. So this was a destination of choice due to the conditions for NW-E facing slopes were forecasted "Considerable." We got our gear on and started the long skin. It was snowing and the wind was howling. I forgot how much work skinning can be if you are out of practice. Once I got my technique dialed back in we made pretty good time up there. I went up to about 100 ft below the Sugarloaf lift, put the board back together, packed up the skins and put on the helmet cam. The ride down was sick, great surface with some right off trail freshies. I got to the car, and it just left me hungry for more. Great day to kick off the season- could not have asked for better snow conditions. There was a fatality in Gad Valley from an avalanche that killed one rider and another avy that fractured a skiers femur below Gunsight at Alta on Sunday. If you are touring early stay up to date on the conditions and be careful out there. Enjoy the video!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bells Canyon- October 23rd, 2011

I was really in the mood to just go for a walkabout on Sunday. The kind where time does not matter, and you immerse yourself in nature and just forget about everything going on in the world for a bit. I found myself not having been up to Bells Canyon since July back up there to see what fall had brought. Wow! The colors were amazing still, and the trees were still holding their leaves. I headed up to my spot to get a pano of the canyon, and soaked up some very warm late October sun. My biggest surprise was how full the res still is this late in the season, it is usually pretty much drained by now, but not this year, still pretty full up there. After a bit, I saw the lake start to boil, and I knew it was time to go fishing. I arrived at the spot and on my first cast- blam! I had a 17" Cutty on the end of my line! Wow! These guys got huge this year! After fishing for a while, I decided to head up canyon towards the bridge that crosses over the creek on the way to the falls. The colors were spectacular! I saw the biggest paper wasp nest I have ever seen while I was bushwhacking the creek. Evening light was awesome and lit up the trees. I got a very nice shot of the horizon when the sun went down, and I achieved my goal of getting away and letting it all go for a few hours. Hiking is so therapeutic. Winter is rapidly approaching, so it is day like these that are a bonus this late in the season. Enjoy the pics!

Monday, October 17, 2011

San Rafael Swell/Little Wild Horse Canyon- October 2011

I wanted to make it down to the desert one more time this year before the snow flies, and I have not spent a lot of time in the San Rafael Swell. My friend Muskie has spent a lot of time in these canyons, so we decided to make a last minute trip on Friday down there for some camping and hiking. We got to the T Junction that goes into Temple Mountain right about sunset, so we headed for the closest site to relax, have a few beverages and get some sleep after the long drive. It was a nice site, a few too many ATV's for me, but I did not care. The night was awesome, stars, big red rock walls, and the moon to boot. Around 11 pm this family drives in with their Camper and truck with ATV's and asks if they can set up shop in the lot next to us. Being neighborly we said that was ok. Around 12:30 we both crashed out. I awoke to the most terrible noise around 4 am- they were running a generator not 50 ft from my tent. Muskie woke up and was pissed! He walked over and turned it off. Thank you Muskie!

We finnally got a few more hours of shut eye, then got up. After coffee we overhear those inconsiderate people saying they were only running the generator so their microwave would have power. Microwave? really? We needless to say bounced to a new spot by 10 am. We found one of the sweetest spots I have camped in. It was like a huge balcony overlooking the swell. We pitched shop, got some sun, the headed into Little Wild Horse Canyon. This was an awesome hike! The narrows in here are amazing! There is one section that was a bit tricky, but manageable. We just enjoyed being in there and we wandered near to the road that would allow us to make the loop, when we encountered a section that was too dangerous for Muskies dogs. So we turned around at about 3.4 miles to head back to camp. We had a beautiful sunset, and an orange moonrise to compliment the beautiful place we were in. This was a really relaxing trip, lots of photos, and being in a semi-new place for me. Unfortunately this is probably my last trip this year, as the snow flies and my time between work and school is gonna get hectic. Enjoy the photos, stoked to have gotten out one more time.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

American Fork Silver Lake- American Fork Canyon- September 30th- 2011

I had gotten some insider information that the colors up American Fork Canyon's colors were popping. I decided that Friday I would head up for a day hike, since I had not been to this lake in a few years. I made it up the gnarly road, I have a Honda Accord, and it was slow going. The road is pretty rutted out. So I suggest a 4x4 truck or subaru for sure. The last time I went up there it was freshly graded, but it seems that the runoff this year trashed the road. I finally arrived at the trail head, and it is such a beautiful area. The trail starts out in a nice grove of aspens, then starts to climb the drainage. I was taking pictures of the weirdest spider I have ever seen when a huge Bull Moose came charging out of the trees. Yikes! I ran up the trail as fast as I could. After about 10 min I realized I had put quite a bit of distance between that big guy and me. I turned around and there was a Canadian Thistle blooming right off the trail. On I climbed, just enjoying the scenery. After the stream crossing the views really opened up. Got some great photos. After a few switchbacks, there I was, at the lake.

All the locals I talked to at Tibble Fork Res said there were no fish up there, but I had heard otherwise. As soon as I took a seat lake side, one jumped right in front of me. I gave it my best, got a couple of hits, but did not land anything. So I am not sure what is in there, they looked like brownies to me, but hard to tell. After the sun started cresting the ridge, I put away the fishing pole and played with the camera. The light up there was amazing! I kind of lost track of time and realized that I needed to head down. The hike down was awesome! The colors, the clouds, it was really breathtaking. I made a pretty swift decent, crossed the stream and was loving this hike. As soon as I passed the wilderness boundary sign, a Moose cow and her calf walked right out in front of me. Yikes again! I made a large circle off trail up and around her, as I did not want this day to end with me getting trampled. She watched me closely, but did not pursue me. Got to the car and bounced down the road and headed home. Awesome day up there, love that place. Good times! Enjoy the photos!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cuberant Basin- Uintas- September 23rd-25th- 2011

This was a last minute trip that began Friday night. We had a spooky ride in the dark up Hwy 150, deer were everywhere. We finally arrived at my secret camp spot just of the Mirror Lake Hwy. We set up shop, got a fire going and cracked some cold ones. It was so dead out there you could hear a pin drop. Pretty chilly too. After some photos, some brews, we crashed out. Morning awoke me with some crazy clouds in over the area. Got some sweet photos, then we had coffee, breakfast and headed to the Pass Lake trailhead. We headed right in and it was still so green, wildflowers still blooming with the colors changing in the meadows. We made a hard push for the Kamas-Lofty/Cuberant junction, quick pit stop there then pushed for the pass. We did not stay on the pass too long, it was really windy up there. We moved on and down into Cuberant Basin. I love this place, so tucked back in there, and it was still so green! We made our way to Cuberant # 2, then after a few pics headed to Cuberant #3 to camp. We got shop pitched and fishing was on.

Third cast and I had a nice brookie on. These guys have grown from the last time we were out here last year. Fishing was on fire! We fished for hours, and both landed quite a few fish. Dusk comes early this time of year, so we finished up on the fishing and got our fire ready for a fish cookout! I took some pics at sunset, really nice lighting that night. As soon as the sun went down, the temps started dropping. We got our fire raging and got dinner ready. After an amazing dinner I took a few night shots as we had our frosty beverages by the fire. Around midnight both of us were tired, and it was getting really cold, so we turned in. I slept till about 9:30 am, as did Chris, and it was some of the best sleep I have had in weeks. We got up, made coffee and breakfast, and got out the slingshot for some good fun. Then fishing was on again! This was some really good fishing, as they would hit it on the drop. About 3 pm we decided to head up to #2 on our way out. A swift push for the pass and up and over we went. It was a perfect hike out, sunny skies, mild temps, and just beautiful views.

We arrived at the car a little under 2 hours later and cracked some 1st Amendment beers to celebrate another great trip in the Uintas. Bitter sweet for me, for this will probably be my last trip out there this year because of work and school. It has been a really strange summer, short, craziness for me and my family, and not as many trips as usual that is for sure. But I made the best of it, and that is what you have to do when the going gets tough. Enjoy the pics, I have one more weekend slated for Southern Utah, then bring on the pow pow!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

United- 2 Day Outdoor Event- Great Salt Lake- September 16th-18th, 2011

I was booked to shoot a wedding Friday night, so I was not able to make it out to this event till Saturday evening, which by all accounts Friday night was a miserable downpour and everyone was parking it in their tents. I got to the event and pitched my tent, cracked a cold one. Shortly after this the most awesome sunset appeared. This was a burn event on private property. I had a great set, people jiving and jacking, especially to my Salt Shaker track with a Jefferson Airplane and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas sample in it. I joined in the festivities and was taking photos until about 5 am. No bugs, starry skies with the moon out, and good times. This crew that hired me to play had just returned from Burning Man, and they could really throw fire. I had a blast taking pictures of this. It was a nice departure from the norm. Got up to a very warm desert, made breakfast, talked to the insomniacs and then headed home in the afternoon. All in all a great time, got paid to spin some slammin' progressive house, and play with my camera. I can think of worse things I am sure I could have been doing on a Saturday/Sunday. And I got to crash in my bag and tent too. Sweet! Enjoy the pics!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kermsuh Lake- High Uintas Wilderness- September 3rd-5th, 2011

For the past two years, we have owned Cuberant Basin for Labor Day Weekend. But since we have had a shortened season due to the late snow melt, we decided to hit somewhere new that we had never been. We weighed the options and decided that Kermsuh would be our outing for the holiday weekend. We departed Saturday and arrived just after 9 am. We hit the Christmas Meadows trail and pushed a very fast pace to the junction to Amethyst Basin. A short break, then we pushed on. This part of the trail is very beautiful and we saw lots of Elk on the way in. After a bit, we found ourselves sitting at the junction for Kermsuh. It is crazy, the tree that the sign was on had been totally scorched by lightning. We took a snack break, then moved on. Heading into the basin you have to cross a stream that is too deep to walk through, and no one wanted trench foot, but it had a log you could cross. To say crossing this single log bridge was sketchy is an understatement. I did not want my D90 to go in the drink, so this was a bit precarious. But we all made it and headed up the switchbacks. This section really reminded me of the Wasatch, because it was steep and a hell of a workout.

About 2/3 of the way up, we got a side view of a canyon that the drainage flows out of, and it was holding some of the biggest trees I have ever seen in the Uintas. We pushed on, and finally made it to the part where it sort of levels off. A nice walk in the woods, and you come to a stream crossing and a huge meadow. You kind of loose the trail here for a minute, but it is easy to pick it right back up after you cross the stream. Then it begins to climb again, which once again reminds me of the Wasatch. Finally we hit the final meadow which was beautiful, and up the inlet to Kermsuh Lake. One word- WOW! This basin is pristine to say the least, and it is so picturesque. We decided because of a huge granite feature that was right off of camp to pitch shop on the south side with a full view of A-1 Peak. We pulled out our goods, got shop pitched and we were all fishing right away. And they are active up there! It seemed for a time, we all kind of forgot what time it was, and realized that we needed to get dinner going and a nice fire. It was a brisk night, but we had a half moon rise over Hayden Peak, and it was giving some cool reflected light.

I did some night photography, and then we were all bushed and decided to turn in. Morning brought the sun a bit later then any of us expected, as we all slept in a bit longer than we planned. Coffee, then fishing was on! Chris was nailing brookies in the inlet, and I got a few cuttys right off shore from camp. Afternoon came and we decided to go scout the water marked on the map in the cirque above Kermsuh. It was a nice hike, and very scenic. But alas no hidden fishing gem, but the view was spectacular! We were sitting right at the base of the shoots on the backside of Hayden Peak. It was awesome to be up there, and you could really see how far you had come up here. We spent quite a bit of time up here, enjoying the view, the warm sun, and good friends. Evening time found us back at camp fishing for dinner. Brookies ended up being the main course, and we all had a ton to eat! I did some more night photography, and we had some tunes by the fire off the Ipod Shuffle. The next day woke us with a slight drizzle, nothing major, but the sound of the drops hitting my rain fly were really soothing. Then it broke clear. We made breakfast, broke camp and started to head out. Then the storm tried to come in, and from Kermsuh, to the junction, it was cloudy, few drops and lots of wind. Then at the fork it broke again, sunshine all the way out of Christmas Meadows.

This was the best trip of the summer. We had only two other groups up there that weekend, and they bounced on Sunday, leaving it all for us to enjoy. The fishing was great, the scenery was exactly what I love when traveling in the wilderness. Kermsuh for sure delivered the goods.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Red Pine Lake- Little Cottonwood Canyon- Aug 18th, 2011

I finally made it up to one of my favorite places to go in the Wasatch this summer. The hike up was perfect temperatures and the flowers were out everywhere. A few bugs, but not intolerable. After I started up the Red Pine junction I found myself shooting pictures of a Pika in a small boulder field on the slope. I made a very brisk pace to the Maybird/Red Pine junction. Took a small water break them moved on. Got to the lake shortly after and was amazed how green it all was up there, and how many wildflowers were still blooming. I headed to the south side, and 5th cast had a fish. Nice Cutty's up there. I landed 16 fish today, and one that was easily 16". The hike out was awesome, beautiful light and a nice breeze and more flowers! Nice day shooting photos and being up there again. It is days like this that remind me that what I am looking for is in my own backyard! Love the Wasatch!

Twin Lakes Trail- Big Cottonwood Canyon- Aug 12th, 2011

My original plan was to hit Red Pine today. But I got to the trail head and realized that my battery was dead on my D90. I went back home, and charged it, and made a destination change. I arrived to Silver Lake, and the usual tourists were there. I started in on the trail, and on the way in, I saw some fish jumping in the stream. So I got my rod out and on my third cast, nailed a nice little rainbow. After all the kids oohing and ahhing that I caught a fish, I pressed on. Once I hit the junction for Lake Solitude and Twin Lakes I was all alone. Perfect! Nice hike on the way up, and the flowers were for sure putting on a show. After a bit, I arrived at Twin Lakes and headed for the inlet just below Twin Lakes Pass. I landed quite a few small ones, 8-10" and got one probably just about 11". Nothing too big, but fun little buggers anyhow. I did see a monster size Lake Trout cruising the shallows, this one would have been much bigger, but alas, he wasn't interested in what I was offering. After a great afternoon up there it was time to head down. Great hike out, and ran into a Chipmunk that did not seem to mind I was there, so I took his picture. Wonder if I need a model release? hehe! Good times once again in the Wasatch!

Catheirne Pass to Lake Catherine- Little Cottonwood Canyon- Aug 9th, 2011

The Albion Basin road finally opened for the year, so I headed up to Catherine Pass to head to Lake Catherine on Tuesday. It was a sunny day, very few clouds and the temps were awesome. The wildflowers were everywhere! After reaching the pass, I headed down to the lake, and caught a couple of small brookies. After fishing and some pics, It was time to leave, and made a good push back to the pass. It was a great day up there, and it reminds me that some of the best adventures are right here in the Wasatch which is my backyard.

Ruth-Hayden-Jewel-Cutthroat-Teal Lakes Loop- Uintas- Aug 6th- 7th, 2011

Well, after a long week at the Outdoor Photo Expo and Outdoor Retailer, It was really ready to get out of here for a couple of days. Since our crew did not have a lot of time on our hands, we all decided to head out to the Ruth Lake area and loop the basin. I pushed in from Ruth to the ridge in about 30 min, then I dropped down to Hayden Lake to shoot some photos. Quite empty out there for it being a weekend, and the weather was sweet! After a short visit to Hayden, I pushed on. After a nice walk, I ended up at the boulder field that drops you down to Jewel. I could see Collin and Barley fishing on the lake, which was a welcome site. The other half of our crew had not shown up yet, so we decided to fish Jewel, and wait to see when they would show up. I got a nice Tiger Trout on my first cast. After fishing for a while we were talking about maybe moving on to another lake when Mike and Muskie roll up. They apparently made a wrong turn on the ridge above Ruth Lake, and made the full loop up to Lofty and Kamas Lakes, and came down the basin via Cutthroat Pass. Wow, we felt bad that they had been on the move like that, and they looked really beat, so we decided that Jewel was gonna be our home for the night.

After they got their shop pitched, we decided to take a walk up to Cutthroat and Teal lakes to see about catching some dinner. I landed a nice Cutty up at Cutthroat and Muskie was killing them on a Blue Fox at Teal. We did a crazy traverse from Teal back to camp, full on off trail hiking, route finding and bushwhacking. We finally returned to Jewel, where the evening fishing was in full swing. Chris was killing it with a dual fly set up, nailing them right on the strike. We all settled in, got the fire going and I decided to set up my camera so I could shoot some night photos. This was way fun, doing some long exposures, playing with light, and catching a huge meteor burning up on one of my long exposures. I actually counted like 10 meteors burn up on entry that night, but this was the one I captured. We all finished our frosty beverages and crashed out. Morning arrived with some brisk temps and the skeeters were out like mad! Everyone made a mad dash for the 100% deet and coffee. As the sun rose, the winds picked up and the skeeters retreated, but the deer flys were still hanging out unfortunately. No matter, we decided that fishing was in order, and we all fished for quite a while.

After some time, we decided that it was time to head out, all of us wanted the colds ones in the car, and Uinta Drive Through cheese burgers and shakes were sounding delicious. A great time out there, and nice to be on walkabout in the woods again with the crew.

Outdoor Photo Expo and Outdoor Retailer Summer Market- Aug 4th- 5th, 2011

Day 1

I got a double whammy this year. I was invited to Outdoor Retailer, and was attending the inaugural Outdoor Photo Expo. The speakers at the Outdoor Photo Expo were awesome. Mark Fisher, Moose Peterson, ect. Really educational, and awesome to be able to talk to Nikon and many other photo companies about photography. It was a huge knowledge base get together, and I felt like today was really a lot of fun and very educational. I also had a pass to Outdoor Retailer. I popped over there for a couple of hours to browse around. Katadyn has a new filtration bottle called MyBottle which not only handles all your bacteria concerns, but also kills viruses too. Primus, which gave me a couple of these, has a new spice/salt and pepper shaker that is awesome, super light weight, and packs in three of your favorite spices. Gonna put that to use this weekend. Got new Merino socks from Darn Tough, and pancake mix from Vasque. Camelbak has a new built in steri-pen type light in a filter bottle that is coming out this year. So you don't need the pen, the light is built into the lid of the bottle-crazy! A ton of other swag from a bunch of other companies, and a party with free Sierra Nevada's and food for the masses. All in all it was great to see a lot of my friends in the industry, and all the new gear for next year. Back at it tomorrow, it is my Birthday, probably get loaded up with more stuff.

Day 2

This was my birthday, and after a really cool first day at the photo expo and OR, I was thinking it was gonna be a hard time to top that. Arrived at the Photo Expo at 8 am and had an very interesting seminar with David Stoecklein who does cowboy portraiture in all natural light. All these photographers were not photoshop geniuses, they had very simple post processes, and they emphasized being more passionate about your photography, and having fun with it. After the seminar was over, I headed over to Denny's for my free birthday grand slam. Then it was off to Outdoor Retailer. I decided to spend a bit more time seeing the new gear and taking advantage of the swag that was being given out. I made my way over to the Contour HD booth, and met one of the national sales managers. After a bit a chit chatting, She put up my video from the record breaking day this season at Snowbird. It was on a 6 HD screen video set up at OR, and it drew quite a crowd over to their booth. After a bit, she decided to get my info, and hooked me up with a free waterproof case for my 1080 HD cam. Stoked! Those are not cheap. After a great visit, I moved on and raped in the goods from all over the place. Sierra Designs has a new sleeping bag that is vertical baffles, 900 fill down, 15 degree rated, and weighs 1 lb 2 oz. Powerbar is making a gummy that tastes like coca cola gummy bottles, but has a whole shot of caffeine in them. I took those with us over the weekend and the crew was sold on them. All in all, it was Outdoor Retailer as usual, and there was lots to see. It seems that the neon 80's colors dominated the clothing lines, and that there was lots of new tech out there to be tested. My final seminar of the evening was with the Photo Editor for Backpacker Magazine. She had some great tips and ways to market yourself, and I had a nice chat after with her- Stoked! It was a great birthday, and I did not get to stay for the festivities afterwards because I was heading out to the Uintas for the weekend. Good times, can't wait until next year!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lake Blanch- Mill B South Fork- Big Cottonwood Canyon- July 29th, 2011

Sometimes you just have it so good, that when you travel to other areas, you realize that what you are looking for is right in your backyard. I decided that I wanted to get up to Lake Blanch this day, as the weather for the weekend was forecasting severe thunderstorms all weekend. This was going to be the one day that was good to go, so I hit it. The hike up was spectacular, and for how popular this trail is, it was a ghost town on this day. The views just kept getting better, and as I was traveling alone, as I do quite a bit here in the Wasatch, the photography that I was getting was unreal, and I was able to really play with my camera, being alone brings that kind of focus. After a little under 2 hours I ended up standing on the shore of Lake Blanch. If you have never been here, you really need to make it a destination on your list. I have been here so many times, and every time I go there, it still blows my mind.

I decided after some pics and drying out from the hot hike up, that fishing was in order. Second cast and I had one on. It was like shooting fish in a crap barrel. They were so active is was crazy. I spent like 2 1/2 hours fishing and they were still hitting my fly like they could not get enough of it. I caught a total of 10 fish on the same fly. The biggest I got a photo of, and I have to say, this was the best day of fishing this season by far. About 2:30 I noticed some towering clouds start to build over the ridge tops and decided that it was time to head down. the hike out was amazing. The light filtering from the clouds was awesome. Made it down in about an hour and change. This day totally reminds me that I love exploring new areas, but that sometimes I forget that some of the most beautiful wilderness, and great fishing is right here in my backyard. I love the Wasatch, got some more places to visit here before the snow flies again!

Big Water/Dog Lake/Little Water Loop- Millcreek Canyon- July 10th, 2011

This started out to be a very nice hike. Much cooler than the valley. And not too crowded with all the traffic in the canyon. We started on the Big Water Trail, and headed up under sunny skies and perfect temps. The snow is pretty much gone, minus some stubborn patches holding on in the trees below the trail. Muskies dogs were loving it, and It was sure nice to be in the upper part of the range hiking again with no snow. We pushed a sweet pace up to the lake. The dogs were loving the tennis ball we were throwing all the way out there. After about an hour, the clouds started towering and we heard distant thunder and decided it was time to head down. As soon as we hit the Little Water Junction, it just started dumping hail, and we had a few lightning strikes very close. We basically trail ran the whole way to the car, dogging into the trees when the strikes were close and the thunder was loud! Got to the car, soaked, muddy, and pumped from the adrenaline of the storm. Crazy how much moisture is in these monsoon flows we are getting. Good times, because it is always an adventure.

4th of July @ Snowbird - 7.4.2011

Day 95 for the season. 783 inches of the Utah pow. This has been the best season ever. Only went up a few times in June and rode July 1st and 4th. This is a season for the history books. Amazing! Sad to have to wait until next season to slash it up at the Bird.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Duck Lake- Uintas- July 22nd-24th, 2011

Finally got out to the Uintas this year. As we all know that the snow has lingered far to long, so you had to know I was excited when I got the call from Chris and Collin to get ready we were heading out. We had a large crew, I traveled with my friends Robbie, Ryan and Alex, and Muskie and Mike came in on Sat. Collin had 3 friends with him, so we had a rather large party. But not on the trail at the same time. We got to the trail head Friday evening and made a 20 min push to the pass. Took a small break and then full speed charged our way down to Duck Lake. We had pretty good light all the way to Pot Lake, then it started to get pitch. We made it right at pitch to camp to find Chris and Collin and their friends enjoying some cold ones. We pitched camp and joined everyone and had a great night by the fire. Morning brought clear skies and the sun peaking up over the ridge tops. I got up right away and threw a line in and on my third cast, landed a nice cutty. It was on from there. everyone was fishing, and catching. They were even boiling on Duck Lake till about noon. This is when the rest of the crew decided to just hang at Duck, so me and Chris rolled up to Beaver Lake.

You can really tell how much snow we got, the meadow up was a running torrent and really squishy in places. As we got to the meadow, I had a slight accident with my camera bag, and it broke my UV filter on my lens. I hate broken glass! But to my surprise that is all the damage that happened from the drop. After cleaning up the mess, I put on my polarized filter to protect the lens. To my relief, everything was working like a charm. We got up to Beaver Lake and there was no one there. We had the place to ourselves, but the fishing was very slow. No matter, Chris got a new wrist rocket for his birthday, and we shot it a bunch while having some beers in the back basin above Beaver Lake. On the way out of Beaver, we fished the tributary and both caught dinner. We headed back to camp for a fish cookout. Our friends Mike and Muskie had shown up while we were gone, so the whole crew was there. After a great meal, everyone got out the beverages and the fire going. Midnight drew and I did not want to turn into a pumpkin, so I headed for my tent for some shut eye. Sunday morning came far too early for me. I was sleeping so soundly when the sun finally hit my tent.

I got up, brewed some coffee, sat lakeside with my brew while Chris, Mike and Muskie were getting the glass before the winds picked up. I broke camp, and had a bite. I was packed and ready to go by 11 am, so I decided to wander ahead of everyone to shoot pictures and just enjoy the great weather we have had all weekend. After about an hour I found myself standing on the pass, and took a long sun break because the temps were perfect, slight breeze and no skeeters, which were pretty gnarly morning and dusk at Duck Lake. After a nice time kicking it on the pass, I made the final push to the car. Waited about a 1/2 an hour and the crew showed up. We all had a beer to celebrate a great weekend in the mountians. Duck Lake is not the most picturesque place in the Uintas, not the farthest jaunt out there you can do, and there are people in that basin a lot. We and one other couple that was camped up by the inlet were the only overnight residents all weekend. But it is a fun place to get away, and just unwind. I had a great weekend, as did the crew. Clear skies, very little wind, and very warm temps. And we all had fish for dinner. Good times all around!

Deer Creek Lake- Great Western Trail- Chriss Lake Loop- Boulder Mountain- June 2nd-5th, 2011

I was so excited for this trip I had trouble sleeping the night before we left. I did a small section of this loop last year, and have wanted to return to do the full loop, and this time we did. I have not been alpine above 8,000 ft, minus snowboarding since last October. So needless to say, I was amped all the way to Hwy 12. We left about 6 pm on Thurs the 2nd of June to head south for our first alpine backpacking trip of the season. On this trip we had Chris, Collin, Mike, David, Muskie, Robbie, Laura Hadar (Pro Snowboarder for Capita) and 5 dogs. We arrived about 11 pm to Deer Creek Trail Head to set up a base camp for the night so we could get up Friday and pack it in. This was an amazing spot to camp, a few adult beverages, a fire, and then we all crashed out. Woke up to sunny skies and warm but mild temps. We woke up and had breakfast, then broke camp. After setting our return shuttle at the Chriss Lake Trail Head, we headed in the Deer Creek Lake Trail. It is a series of climbs, which just seem to go up and up. There was a lot of snow this year up there, so the trail in sections was muddy and running with water. After a nice walk in the cool breeze, we eventually ended up at the junction with the Great Western Trail. This is a lovely area, which I made a pit stop just to soak it all in. After some pics we moved on.

We climbed into a thick pine forest, with some drifts of snow to cross. The whole trail was pretty much melted off, but you did have to climb the occasional pile of snow. On our way to the Deer Creek Lake junction, we ran into a pond with a whole chorus of frogs just singing away. We arrive at the Deer Creek Lake junction, and we see this huge ice fall that was getting uplift winds which were coating the trees at the top of the plateau with a nice frosting. A nice walk in a pretty sweet mountain meadow and we arrive at Deer Creek Lake. This lake is huge, and seems like it just released its winter hold here. I got to pitch for the first time my new solo tent. I got the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1, and let me tell you it is super light, but so roomy. 2.6 lbs with the footprint, and it is freestanding. How do they do that? There were still some pretty large drifts in the trees, but for the most part it was melted off. We set up shop and made a impromptu kitchen to cook on one of the drifts in camp, then proceeded to go fishing. Unfortunately, we found after walking around the lake, that there was a lot of winter kill, you could see fish on the bottom belly up. After a long hike all the way around the lake, we decided it was time for those beers we packed in and to get a fire going, because the temps were dropping fast.

It was a cold night, with all the snow in camp, we for sure were bundled up and had a very nice fire. I awoke to the place just above frost temps, and we fired up some coffee and the sun came out and within an hour you needed short sleeves. I decided that we should head for Chriss Lake, it was a bit lower in elevation, meaning that there was less chance of winter kill, and the overnight temps were sure to be a bit milder. Everyone was moving a bit slow, so I headed out to hike the Great Western Trail to Chriss Lake by myself, as I would meet up with everyone later when they made the trek over. It was awesome to be out there without a sound minus the breeze through the trees. It was much warmer this day, and I was just exploring the whole area to much delight. This was a treat for sure to just be on walkabout, and seeing some amazing things. I hit the Great Western Trail, then headed to Gresham Spring, took some photos and continued on. Then pushed through to West Deer Creek, which is the point at which you descend into Chriss Lake. This was a lovely section, and we were well below the snow line at this point, and the whole forest seemed to be just waking up from winter. I saw a huge Marmot run right across the trail in front of me, and a pretty decent size snake. Not a Rattler, just a Coach-whip or something similar. I finally, after a nice walk in the woods arrived at Chriss Lake. I decided to take a stroll around the lake. After a nice walk the crew eventually showed up and we all got shop pitched again and went fishing. Mike nailed a fish on his first cast, which was a good omen for our crew. They were for sure biting, and Chris got 3 nice ones for dinner. Evening set in and we had a fire and watched the Milky Way pop into view. A long night out, and we all went to bed.

I woke up to the sun just blazing over the ridge. I brewed my coffee and decided I wanted to hit it early, since the light was so good, and shoot photos on the way down to the car. It was an amazing hike out. Trees were just getting their leaves and it was the largest gathering of Daisy's I have ever seen. I just wandered for who knows how long, I was just so stoked to be in shorts, in my new Vasque Wasatch boots with a pack on not tied to anywhere. Eventually my blissful stroll came to an end when I got to the Chriss Lake Trail Head. The crew made it out about an hour after I did and we had celebratory Cutthroats for having such a kick ass weekend. I tell you I have missed the alpine so much, this was a great trip, for sure stoked and cannot wait to get out again. Enjoy the pics!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Paria-Hogeye-Lower Death Valley- Grand Staircase Escalante- May 13th-15th, 2011

After the long winter we have had, I was finally able to make it out for my season opener backpacking this year. We originally had 6 people on board for this trip, but due to circumstances, our party ended up only 3 deep. We departed late Friday afternoon for the really long drive. We did not end up at the Cockscomb until about 8:30 pm, which we decided to get some rest and set up camp. Our spot was beautiful, and really quiet. I awoke to what was one of the most intense sunrises I have seen in a while. With all the color from the really wet year they have had, it was great to shoot some pics and drink my coffee watching this unfold before my eyes. After some breakfast, we headed over to the Paria Box trail head. We started in and shortly after we began, it was apparent that we needed to be in our sandals because of how many crossings had to be done through the Paria. After a fun time slogging our way through the box, we started our journey into the valley. It opens up and there is really not a lot of cover here. At least we had some cloud cover, which did help with the sun exposure. After miles of wandering, we passed Kitchen Canyon and rounded the corner to the Paria Confluence, which is where the mouth of Hogeye Canyon is. We once again had to do 5 water crossings, and finally ended up in the mouth of Hogeye.You would not believe that you were in the desert if you had not been in the Paria previously. Hogeye is a mini-oasis out there. Lots of trees, shrubs, clear water running, and frogs and snakes. Lots of those trees with thorns, which left their mark on us all on this trip.

Shortly after we entered the canyon, we saw a huge hive of bees in the Northwest side on the canyon on one of the cottonwood trees. Since the "Killer Bee" has been found in this county, we moved very quietly past them as to not disturb them. An attack in here would have been really bad as there is no where to go. Bush whacking and more bush whacking, and we made it to the small falls and spring that run in this canyon. We filled up our empties and topped off what water we already had, and continued up Hogeye towards the rim. This section is all sand, and a real workout with a overloaded with water pack. We made it up to Lower Death Valley, where after about 11 hours on foot, we decided this was gonna be home for the night. We had the moon shinning on all the sandstone, and not a cloud in the sky. Our original plan was to do the loop into Hackberry Canyon, but after eating breakfast, breaking camp, and ascending to the very top, we realized that we were not sure which way was the exit over there. If you take a wrong way, there is not a easy way into Hackberry, and since we had no rope, minus my bear rope which I brought in case we needed to lower packs and such, we decided that exiting the way we came in was the best option as Robbie and Muskie had to be to work the next day, and we had to get out to go home. We had a decent push down Hogeye, and had lunch at the Confluence.

The hike out of the Paria was unforgiving on Sunday to say the least. No cloud cover this day, and the temps were 90+ degrees according to the Suunto. I really think exhaustion and dehydration were setting in on me, and the winds were howling across the valley, sandblasting us all the way to the Paria Box. we finally made to the car around 6:30 pm for our customary celebratory beer, when Robbie tried to start the Jeep- it was dead. We were low on water, Jeep wont start, and we are a hell of a ways from any civilization. I decided I was going to stand out on the road and flag someone down to try to help us. After about 10 minutes, we were saved! A very nice gentleman stopped and gave us a jump, and were were on our way. This was by far the largest season opener I have ever done. 24 miles of hiking in 2 days. I am physically beat and worn out. I am taking a few days off for some R&R to rest up my bones. Everything hurt when I got out of the Jeep in Kanab. I was waddling like a Penguin walking into the gas station to get some water. It was surely an adventure, and nice to be out backpacking again.