My current lifestyle began in summer 2008 with a road trip from Phoenix to Denver to deliver a car. I ended up taking the scenic route through the Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, falling in love with the high desert and the empty vastness that is southern Utah. Highway 12 still makes me very excited every time I drive it. I felt like I was wasting my life away and not enjoying the eventfulness of life and the natural beauty in the world. People spend their lifetime dreaming and looking at pictures, unwilling to put the effort and time into actually getting out there.
Over the next year, trips started forming in my mind and happening, first a motorcycle trip up Mount Evans, then a camping trip through Rocky Mountain National Park to hike an alternate route of the Continental Divide Trail, and then a motorcycle trip from Fort Collins to Blue Mesa reservoir using as many scenic byways as possible. Backpacking was the next step.
Backpacking has always been an enjoyable way to escape the crowds and experience the wilderness, stemming from Boy Scout trips as a kid. My first real test was in September 2009, going on a trail-less solo trip through the western Indian peaks wilderness. It was successful and I learned a lot of what I needed to improve to make my trips better. I started reading more and planning more trips, focusing more on the human powered side of the trip to see areas that weren’t normally accessible using cars. A bicycle tour through Yellowstone in the spring of 2010 got me thinking about the wilderness areas that I was missing out on outside of Colorado, and I decided to plan my next big trip, a solo backpacking trip to bag the highest point in Wyoming, Gannett Peak. In between working for a rafting outfit on the Poudre River, I took a few trips earlier in the summer to the Indian peaks wilderness and the Snowy Range to get my setup dialed, and then took off for Dubois, Wyoming in mid July to bag Gannett. That trip really opened up my eyes, being the only person to summit the day I went up due to the other parties being too slow to beat out the storm that engulfed the mountain as I descended it. I ended up doing the trip in half the time most backpackers take, and really getting to experience the true wilderness of the Wind Rivers. I did the trip in a very lightweight style with a bivy sack, and my only mountaineering gear being a set of microspikes and a snow axe.
The Gannett trip started me into climbing. I wanted to learn how to climb alpine ice so I could go back to the Wind Rivers and climb some of the harder mountains I saw during my trip, and being able to feel confident scrambling around on 4th and low 5th class rock with a backpack. That lead me to rock and ice climbing, learning how to climb ice in Ouray at the ice park, another trip up to Cody Wyoming to climb ice in the south fork canyon, a few trips to Hyalite canyon in Bozeman, and doing a few of the Vail routes. Rock climbing interested me less than ice, however was still very enjoyable, getting most of my experience at the gym, horsetooth reservoir, and poudre canyon, and taking some rock climbing trips to placing like Wild Iris, Sinks canyon, and Vedauwoo in Wyoming and Red Rocks outside of Las Vegas.
In spring of 2012, i had my first real set back, tearing two pulleys in my left hand, making it impossible to climb or do anything that involved gripping. This sent me back to primarily backpacking and some road biking. I still enjoyed backpacking thoroughly and the desert southwest was one of my favorite spots to visit, going to Horseshoe canyon, Zion, Bryce, and leading a group of first time backpackers through the needles district of canyonlands. Trips were done anytime school wasn’t in session, although college had to come first most of the time.
I graduated at the start of the summer of 2012, and with school out of the way and working a 9-5 job Monday through Friday, my weekends were always open with no more schoolwork. I spent some of these weekends backpacking, going back out to the Wind Rivers for a loop hike of the southern end, and taking my most extensive trip to date through Zion, linking up the grand traverse and the narrows. All these trips were great; however I still really wanted to climb. 14ers became the new middle ground, mixing in some easy scrambling I could do without re-injuring myself with backpacking and hiking. By the end of the summer, my hand had healed, however I had lost a lot of my contact strength and endurance, so I began training again at the gym for the upcoming ice season, mountaineering on the weekends that the weather looked enjoyable. I also decided to set myself some new goals for the next year. The Colorado trail, the Utah highline trail, and the John Muir trail have been on my “list” for a few years, and I decided this year I will do all three. I also intend on finishing off as many 14ers as I can, to date climbing 23 peaks since august. 7 of those have been during the calendar winter, with unsuccessful attempts on 3 others during the calendar winter. My ice climbing/ rock climbing season came to another abrupt halt after tearing something in my shoulder after a trip up to Bozeman in early December. Frustrated with yet another injury, I decided that just sticking with mountaineering and backpacking might be the best idea until my shoulder has healed, and if I’m careful, my shoulder would be 100% for the summer climbing season.
My goals for this year are:
Complete the Colorado trail over consecutive weekends. Depending on the snow pack I would like to start at the end of May.
Complete the Utah highline trail in July, traveling from west to east, with the Utah high point of Kings Peak as a side trip (July 4th – 7th)
Complete the John Muir Trail – because I did not get a permit through the Yosemite lottery, I will be doing the route “backwards” from south to north. I will also be entering through the cottonwood lakes trailhead to avoid the Whitney portal lottery system. If the trip goes as I’ve envisioned it, I will be summiting 13 of the California 14ers while I’m out there. (August 17- September 2nd)
Complete the Colorado 14ers – If I can finish them before august 11th, I will have completed them in one calendar year.
Complete my first half marathon – I signed up for the Georgetown to Idaho springs half marathon on august 10th with a few friends, and I’m shooting for a sub 2 hour run.