Really incredible photo essay from Patrick Means for Kona Bikes. Perhaps I am a bit biased, but I think photo essays really add an incredible amount of beauty and perspective to a place / brand.. more than what video can offer. This is my dream type of assignment for commercial photography. Check out the full essay here.
I woke up around 06:00 to take a shower, it was needed not because I was dirty but because I was so cold. I was wearing pants, a sweater, my nano puff, and a hat and still was frigid. After I packed up my tent, organized the truck, packed a bag for the first night in Portland and left Crater Lake. The drive was foggy and gorgeous.
By changing my camping plans I wound up being much closer to Portland than I anticipated. So, with a few hours to kill I had to find something to do. So I decided to stop in Eugene to at least check it out a bit. I drove by my soon to be apartment and was amazing as to how close it was to the gym and track, and then I stopped at Cornbread Cafe which is a super old school vegan cafe that serves soul food. It is ideal, and it will be dangerous to have it so close. Eugene is a bit more urban than I anticipated but it seems good for cyclists and pedestrians despite that.
I woke up at 05:00 in order to have time to eat breakfast and pack before checking out of the hotel at 06:00. I wanted to get to Oregon as soon as possible as the campsites tend to fill by early afternoon and there is no way to reserve them.
When I arrived I thought I would check the Mazama campground despite the reservations being full. There is a laundry facility and shower there which was enticing as I wanted to be all cleaned and packed for returning to civilization in Portland the following day. Luckily they had some sites available as they only reserve 75 percent of them an the rest are first come first served. With that peace of mind, I began my drive around Crater Lake. I was a bit anxious and very hungry but I wanted to get the sights in. About a third of the way around Mt. Scott appeared and I figured I would run that at that moment versus driving all the back to it the following morning. The run was fast as the trails were buffed, my legs were still hurting from my run up to Grandeur Peak but I still managed a decent time. After, I cooked up some lunch and finished the drive around the lake taking in all the sights.
After the drive I went back to camp. I got there around 17:00, I set up my tent, took a shower, ate, and went to sleep around 20:00.
I woke up pretty late (around 07:00) as I was out so late. But despite my grogginess I wouldn't allow myself to skip two runs I had planned so I packed up camp and headed to the Grandeur Peak trailhead. I decided to switch packs last minute which proved to be a grave mistake as I forgot to move my nutrition to the different one and thus was so hungry and shaky toward the end of my run.
Ill use the word run loosely as this was such an insanely steep trail that running simply was not possible (for me or any other sane human at least) and it even required me to get on all fours at some points. It climbed 3,333 feet in 2.5 miles. I thought the top would never come and contemplated returning before reaching the summit a number of times. Ultimately I am glad I persevered as it was a wonderful view and made the short run felt worthwhile. It may have been short and slow but I hadn't hurt that bad in a long time.
When I got back to the truck I was too hungry to think about cooking food so I drove to a Taco Bell and fueled up before heading back on the road to Nevada. On the way I stopped at the Bonneville flats which was so cool. I am gladI made the pit stop.
The drive felt pretty fast surprisingly and I arrived to Winnemucca around 15:00. The truck was a mess, I had school emails to take care of, and desperately needed to shower and reset. I wound up getting to sleep around 22:00 as I knew I needed to get up super early the next day.
When I woke up I was still wildly tired so I had a slow morning and decided to skip my run which consisted of 14 different arches. A bummer, but I cant squeeze absolutely everything in. I had already seen quite a bit of the park already. I sat in the shady spot and made breakfast and read a bit before starting the relatively short drive of only 4 hours.
The drive was beautiful but felt like any other 6 hour drive for whatever reason. I took many breaks (I think I was still pretty exhausted) and arrived in SLC only a couple hours before I needed to be at the venue for a show. I set up camp at the KOA right in downtown SLC and lied down a bit before cooking up some quick dinner and editing some photos (there was wifi in my tent!).
I got to Diabolical Records about 45 minutes early so I was able to browse the shop and I found 3 tapes I am really excited on. I then went to Pie Hole which had decent vegan slices and then Monkeywrench ice cream which is an activist oriented home made vegan ice cream shop.. that was incredible. When I returned to the venue I saw my buddy John who I hadn't seen or really spoken to in 6+ years when we worked together at Fun City Tattoo in NYC in 2011/12. He is into film and sound stuff so we immediately got deep into an exciting conversation on upcoming projects and ideas and such. It was really nice. The other acts pulled up and along came 20 or so of their gaggle of people which was nice to see.
The first acts a rock band and was pretty good but madam pretty nervous to play a drone set afterward. My fears proved to be true and many of the audience left during my set a they didn't really like noise. I didn't take it personally though, sometimes you get thrown on a bad bill. The other acts were similar in nature but I enjoyed them and I enjoyed talking to the owner of the store afterward about noise and metal.
After the show I got back to camp and immediately fell asleep, around 00:00.
I woke up before sunrise and got immediately in the truck to head to Moab. I was excited and just wanted to get there and relax alone for a little bit after a couple days of more social interaction than I am used to. The drive felt long but just like any other. My gps directed me onto some BLM roads that was supposedly a straight shot to the park. I don't mind gravel roads but these roads were pretty rough for some sections and my truck's suspension is not what it used to be 10 years ago. It was a bit of a nail biter for about an hours worth of off roading until I saw some other cars stopped in the road. I got out to see what the commotion was and it turns out 15 minutes before I arrived a huge sinkhole formed and swallowed the "road" making it impassable. So, with that I turned the truck around and drove back to where I came. Once I got back on the highway I took the 45 minute detour around and finally made it to the park. The welcome center is amazing and truly museum quality. I poked around and learned about how the arches formed over time and then headed toward my campsite. The drive was long, steep, and incredibly beautiful. My campsite was nice and secluded despite being right by the bathrooms. It backed up a giant sandstone cliff which provided a bit of shade where I hung out until I got restless and decided to go for a run and knock out one of the sights I wanted to see. I hopped back in my truck and drove farther down the valley to the delicate arch trailhead, The trail is about 3 miles and somewhat technical but relatively easy. I guess I was having a good day as I managed to bang it out in the 22nd fastest time ever according to the 1500+ strava uploads. The arch was really beautiful.
Afterward, on my way back to camp I stopped at an overlook and called mom. Once I was in camp I was super tired and hungry so I made dinner and immediately went to bed around 20:00.
I woke up around 07:00 and decided to go for a short run around their place. It was a nice and easy 3 miles on the road which was a welcomed change to the intense mountain stuff. After, I showered and had breakfast with Kellie.
Scott and Kellie had things to do through out the day so I figured I wouldn't overstay my welcome and head to Denver for the day. I arrived to Denver around 10:30 and parked my truck in a lot near the venue I would play at the end of the day. I took my bike out and rode to downtown and checked out the Museum of Contemporary Art which was only okay, but the book selection in their gift shop was great. I bought a $5 little exhibition catalog from there. I then went to the Denver Art Museum which was incredible. There was an exhibition of contemporary / experimental landscape photography which was right down my alley. I really enjoyed it. During breakfast Scott and Kellie raved about the Clyfford Still museum which was across the street. After hearing it was strictly painting I was apprehensive but curious, and I had lots of time left to kill. Ultimately I am so glad I went as it was one of the most powerful art experiences I have had in a long time. They were not wrong, it is incredible. Still is most definitely my favorite abstract expressionist now. I wish I could've picked up one of their books.
After the museums I went to a consignment outdoor store, and the REI. The REI was amazing, it had its own climbing wall right in the store and was 3 stories. I picked up a pocket knife and a climbing guidebook which I am eager to dig through and learn as much as I can.
At around that time I had to bike back to my truck to get organized for the show. When I arrived to Bar Max there were already some folks waiting which was reassuring. Jacob who booked the gig was incredibly nice, and the other acts were great. There were 3 people who made interactive visual projections for each act based on the latest album of each artist which was really cool. After the show I crashed at Jacob's place only for a few hours as I had to get an early start on the next day.
When I woke up, the rain had soaked my tent (but luckily not me) but had since subsided. I cooked up some oatmeal really quick and broke down camp. I drove to Boulder without much excitement. When I got close I hit up a friend I knew through instagram who is an athlete and is vegan straight edge as well. We decided to meet at the trailhead of Mount Sanitas. It is a pretty crowded trail but seeing as we both only had a few hours it made sense as it is right in town. The distant wildfires had made the air extremely smokey and hard on the lungs (on top of me getting used to altitude) so the run was insanely difficult. It is a pretty steep and technical trail as it is but the conditions just set it over the top. However, despite all that, it was so nice to meet Jon in person and it was so nice to share stories about both endurance and music.
After the run he had to head to Denver so I decided to go to one of my favorite restaurants Native Foods. It was amazing, and well deserved after such a run. There were storms brewing and I still had an hour drive to Golden where I planned to camp. I posted a photo on instagram of being in Boulder and Lauren (who is in Portland) saw it and told her folks I was in town so naturally they wanted to meet up. I wasn't sure how I felt about the whole situation but I did miss them so we agreed to meet for dinner at their place (plus that meant I could shower!). Ultimately, I am very glad I did as it was nice catching up with them and the shower and real food were also much appreciated. With the storms rolling in and an hour drive left I decided to take them up on their offer to stay the night. This dashed any plans to run the trails in Golden but I didn't mind as I was just happy to be in a real bed and have real food in my stomach. I wound up sleeping at around 00:00.
I woke around 07:00 and took another shower just because I could. Cleaned up my stuff and relaxed for a bit. I checked out at 10:45 as the cafe I wanted to eat at didn't open until 11:00.
I ate at Cafe Gratitude which was pretty good but pricey and then hit the road for Kansas (the state). The drive was pretty good but boring. However, it was the first time I felt like I was actually heading west. The landscape changed so dramatically in those 6 hours in the truck.
When I arrived to Cedar Bluff State Park I passed a really beautiful gravel road. So when I parked my truck in my site and pitched my tent I decided to shake the legs out and explore that road along with the rest of the park.
The views were amazing and it felt so nice to ride my bike after so much time in the truck. Afterward I settled in camp a bit and then decided to find a good swim spot. The lake had a forest of dead trees in the center of it that you could swim through. When I was swimming all the other folks were eating dinner so I had it to myself and it was so refreshing. As I concluded my swim the sun was beginning to set and it was really beautiful.
When the sun set I made a quick dinner and hit the hay. It was really chilly which was a nice change.
When the sun finally rose, I threw everything in my crash pad and gave finding the trail (see yesterdays post) another go. At this point I was incredibly tired and dehydrated and I gave up only a few minutes in thinking I would just waste my time, but then I saw other climbers who I figured I could follow. At this sign of positivity it began to rain, dashing any chances of bouldering in the next few hours anyway. Defeated, I got back to my truck and began the 7 hour drive to Kansas City. The sunrise coupled with the fog was beautiful.
The drive was straight forward, I couldn't check into my airbnb until 16:00 so I took frequent breaks and kept my heart rate low. I arrived to Kansas its around 14:30 so I checked out an art supply store and got a smoothie as I waited. I checked into the airbnb at 16:00 just as it was raining hard.
It is incredibly nice and just what I needed after a pretty rough day at Jackson Falls. I took a much needed shower, shaved for the first time, and made dinner.
I went for a walk and explored the city a bit and then relaxed and caught up on some emails and such.
Corey took me on a 4 mile running tour around downtown to show me the sights of Chattanooga. Afterward, I hopped in the truck and headed to Nashville.
I arrived in Nashville about 2 or so hours later. The couple days of grime (especially with a few humid runs the past couple days) I was getting sick of feeling nasty so I stopped at a planet fitness to shower and it gave me a second lease on life. Afterward, I organized the truck and headed to the Southern V for amazing vegan southern food which I ate with Nort and their friend. Nort wanted to give me a little instrument they had been working on so afterward I drove to their place to pick it up. It was incredibly thoughtful and I am very appreciative.
I hit the road shortly after and drove the additional 3+ hours to Jackson Falls in Simpson IL. The drive was boring but manageable. The county roads leading to Jackson Falls were a bit sketchy but thankfully the truck handled it with ease. With a few hours of daylight I thought I would check out the various easy boulders I wanted to do on my own but after some time I couldn't find the trail down to the valley for the life of me. I chalked it up to being hungry and irritable so I headed into town to buy some snacks and gas up the truck. When I returned I tried finding the trail once more but only got myself pretty damn lost with daylight fading fast. I finally found my way back to the trailhead haggard and frustrated. Without climbing there the entire reason of staying there that night seemed a bit pointless and I contemplated hitting the road and stopping on the highway overnight. But, instead I found a nice campsite down the dirt road and hopped back in the truck with the thought that if I slept early enough I could wake up in time to pack climbing gear and have an hour or so to find the damn trail with an hour of bouldering before heading back to the truck to hit the road. The night was one of the most humid nights I have ever experienced, and the bugs were so bad that it sounded like hail was hitting my truck. It was a miserable night.
Alan made breakfast for us all and I finished packing the truck up. I left around 09:15 to Abrams Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where I planned to do a quick run (mostly to say I went there) before finishing the trip to Chattanooga.
The park was very pretty, but because of my slow morning I was a bit worried about timing and thus did not appreciate the full beauty of the place. When I arrived to the trailhead I threw my shoes on and started toward the trailhead. Like my time in Shenandoah the trail was packed, but people were very friendly and courteous when I passed them. I guess its the southern hospitality. The trail was pretty smooth the whole way through with a bit of rocky technicality toward the turnaround point at the falls. I anticipated a steady climb and then fast descent but the trail was surprisingly rolling. My enthusiasm / anxiety got the best of me about halfway through where I was opted to walk for some time. The falls were beautiful, but after dunking my head in the water I turned right around (there were so many people hanging out there anyway) and ran back. The entire run was about 5 miles and I am very glad I did it. The strava link can be found here.
When I returned to the truck I took a baby wipe bath and got back on the road. However, thanks to my Garmin that found a "shortcut" I found myself on a 16 mile winding one-way and incredibly narrow road that though beautiful, ate up a ton of my time. Ultimately it worked out so I am glad I did it, but it was a nail biter both technique and time wise.
I arrived in Chattanooga around 18:15 where I would meet Corey and his vegan meet up group at the restaurant Cashew. The food was incredible especially as I love southern food, and the company was nice. One of the folks who was there was a head chef in NYC and has worked at some of my all time favorite places there.
Afterward it stormed harder than I had ever seen so Corey drove me to my truck and I then followed him to his apartment. We hung out and talked running and cameras for a while before we both settled in and I edited photos before sleeping. I wound up sleeping at around 00:00.