In years past, we’ve often found ourselves meandering through the deserts of the Western United States. The Colorado, Mojave, Sonoran, and Great Basin all have provided ample inspiration to my tired body and mind. While many of these ecoregions feel familiar, by far the Chihuahuan is the most mysterious to me. It’s the one region we haven’t spent much time in and with our relocation to Santa Fe, I was looking forward to spending days meandering through the various public lands in southern New Mexico.
The Golden State Skyline is a human-powered, self-supported linkup of all fifteen 14,000’ peaks in California, stretching from Mt. Shasta in the Cascades to Mt. Langley, the southern tip of the Sierra. Along with my friends Jonny Morsicato and Charlie Firer, followed by film crew Colin Rex and Nick Smillie, I set off to complete the Golden State Skyline on August 14. Our planned route covered 800 miles by bike, 100 miles on foot, and 100,000 feet of vertical gain, including technical difficulties up to 5.9. But life had other plans…
Big Agnes’ team has pulled together this great video, guiding us along 740 miles of the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado. Check out their full guide at Big Agnes.
Oh, what a difference a few thousand feet can make. In sharp contrast to the incredible lushness of the story we shared yesterday from our ride to Hāna, the surroundings at elevation in Haleakalā National Park are cold, stark, and windy – simply other-worldly.
As is usually the case with high elevation destinations, you really are at the mercy of the weather on Haleakalā. What was a picture-perfect Hawaiian day down at sea level and for most of the drive up the volcano took an about-face as soon as we dropped off the ridge into the Haleakalā crater. We reached for our insulated jackets and descended into the fog.
Slip / Scale
Having visited Los Angeles – quite frequently, I might add – for a decade before moving here in 2015, I’ve heard how awesome of a hike Mt. Baldy is. A few years back, we rode to the Ski Lifts at Baldy Village and it was one of the hardest things I had done at the time. Maybe it was the painful memory, or perhaps it was the distance the mountain is from my home but for whatever reason, I hadn’t really desired to hike the 10,000′ beast. Well, on Saturday morning, I woke up just before 4am with Cari and met a few of her friends at the trailhead to take on the hike.
We – along with an insane amount of people for that early on a Saturday – climbed 4,000′ vertical in 5 miles and as we began to descend to Baldy Notch, all my preconceptions of the mountain’s difficulty subsided. Perhaps it’s because as cyclists, we seek out elevation frequently, both on and off-road, often pushing or pulling a good amount of gear with us, so the notion of strapping on a hydration pack with some food and camera equipment seemed like an easier feat when compared to riding.
Whatever the reason, I had a great afternoon, soaking in an area of Los Angeles I’ve never experienced. Check out a few more photos below.
As you might imagine, my life can sometimes reach a tipping point when it comes to cycling. When I’m not on the road for events, I’m at my home, which happens to be above a bike shop. This means most of my spare time, when it exists, is spent fully immersed in bicycles. Come the end of the year, I’m usually ready for a break. Unfortunately, the last bit of wick has yet to burn. September brings about Interbike and suddenly, the cycling industry awakens. Suddenly my days are filled with phone calls, planning advertising and talking about press launches. While the rest of the world slows down towards the holiday season, my life intensifies. This year, I had plans to attend Eurobike, but then my girlfriend mentioned that her friends had won the lottery to hike the Subway in Zion National Park, Utah. For many outdoorsy people, the Subway is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sure, you can always enter the lottery over and over again, but very few actually get to embark on this memorable hike. For instance, Cari’s friend had entered the lottery for four years before getting a permit.
After a week of being on the road, off the bike and in various trail networks in Utah, I’m glad to be back in Los Angeles. While I was on “vacation,” Found in the Mountains did a killer job curating the content. It’d been over 5 years since I have taken a week off from work, yet I still couldn’t leave my camera at home. The photographer’s curse, right? Next week I’ll be sharing some non-bike related content that will hopefully inspire you to explore Utah in the coming months. Thanks for riding (or hiking) along, y’all!
I’ve learned something over the years. Balance. Work hard, relax hard. Shoot photos of bikes, shoot photos of nature. Ride a lot, hike a lot. When your hobby, passion and love is also your job, establishing this balance is of the utmost importance. So when NAHBS rolls around each year, I try to have an exit strategy…
So there we were, planning our drive to Las Vegas for Interbike when Andy throws out the idea “mates, let’s go to the Grand Canyon”, like it’s on the way or something. Personally, I’d rather spend a day or two riding in LA than on the road, so I schemed with Kyle on how to convince the Aussie that there are perfectly fine parks not as far out of the way.
Solution: Zion National Park. We’d drive straight through Vegas and head two hours east. Get there in time to swim and then go on a hike before camping that night. Simple enough. So we drove and landed in Zion with two hours of sunlight remaining. Our agenda: Angel’s Landing.
I had one roll of film left.
See more in the Gallery!
Tools of the trade:
Leica M7 / Zeiss 28mm / Fuji Pro400H