Monday, October 19, 2015

Climbing Some Mountains

Last weekend we came up with a great idea, we were going to do some peak-bagging. We were going to hike and climb mountains and make it to several peaks in one day. We were super excited, hopeful, and ready to start moving upwards.

Our plan was to start by hiking the American Fork Twin Peaks followed by a later summit of Mount Timpanogos. This would add up to roughly 8500 feet of elevation gain over the span of 26 ish miles. We knew it was going to make for a long day, but we were excited for the challenge.

I recently gave a description of our adventure to the American Fork Twin Peaks on The Outbound Collective here. It is meant as somewhat of a guide if any of you guys decided to take the same route up as we did.

"The trail begins at Silver Lake Flat Reservoir. Ditch your car and follow the road on foot past the north side of the lake, cross the stream, and continue up the road for approximately 0.7 miles. The road begins climbing the ridge and becomes inaccessible for cars. Enjoy your hike through the forests of pine, aspens, and abundant wildlife. Continue for another 3 miles until you reach a gate blocking the wider road as it opens up to a large basin. At the gate, take the trail to the left of the "road". This trail marks the beginning of the true climb in this hike.

You will gain elevation quickly as you follow the trail along the ridgeline toward the peaks high above. Take your time as you climb to above 11,000 ft. and approach the peaks. Once you've made the summit, you'll find several other peaks within reach. Enjoy some peak bagging while managing small saddles dipping approximately 150 feet between summits. Once you're peak'd out, follow the steep trail back towards the gate and follow the road back down to the parking area.

You will be rewarded for your climb on this mountain. For the adventurous, this provides a much better option than the tram ride to the top of Snowbird Resort or a walk up the slopes. Enjoy the working the back way up the mountain for some of the best views in the state! This hike is approximately 12 miles roundtrip, depending on how many peaks you bag."

Our timing was perfect. The colors in the mountains were vibrant and kept us inspired on our climbs.

Taking a breather on our way down from the AF Twins

The views from the summit were great, as expected.

 Getting both of the twins took longer of expected, and was delayed by injury on the way down.

Mount Timpanogos in the background from the top of American Fork Twin 1.

The AF Twins took longer than expected, and we didn't get back to the car (basecamp) until 5:00. We were determined, though, and started our way up Timp at about 6:00. It was dark, cold, windy, and we could only see what our headlamps illuminated. We were tired and delirious, and hilarity ensued. We slept well that night.

After a day of relaxation, we were ready for our next adventure..

Friday, September 11, 2015

Dude, Where's My Car? Needin' Some California Dreamin'.

We had just taken a great weekend trip up to our home away from home at Bear Lake. It included the usual: wakesurfing, hot tubbing, shakes, etc. I am super fortunate to have a place to escape to up there and never take it for granted.

It was a great weekend with great weather. I have been working in South Jordan temporarily for the last couple of months, and sent Ali up with her family and said I would meet them up there. She met her Dad at a hotel that he runs in Layton and they took off from there. We came back early Sunday morning and went to pick up the car from the hotel later that day. The conversation went something like this.

"Ok, where did you park?"

"See that spot with that Honda Civic?"


"That's where I left the car."

"I see.."

"It's gone, they must have towed it."

After speaking with the hotel....

"They've never authorized a tow in their parking lot."

"Well, we better make a few phone calls."

Never in my life have I ever even thought about the possibility of my car being stolen. I don't think I even know anyone who has had a car stolen. It was a crazy experience. In a way, it made me feel very violated. They got in my car which had a lot of personal possessions in it (equating to about $4,500 worth of things actually) and just took off. A pathetic thieving coward took my car. It's now been two weeks, no sign of the car or anything in it. I had golf clubs in there, a GoPro, souvenirs, I was crushed. The insurance has been, as expected, incredibly slow. I still don't have a check for the belongings in the car, or replacement funds for the car, or a rental car for that matter. It has been quite the terrible process. I continue my attempt in moving the process forward with little success.

After the car theft incident, we were lucky enough to make it to Southern California for the holiday weekend. While there, we did typical Southern California things....


Eating at The Crab Cooker

Beach Laying & Walking

Catching an Angel's Game

Beachside Biking


It was a much needed getaway after the car theft incident. We left our worries behind and enjoyed a beautiful weekend in a place we love. I wish I could write more, but I've gotta go call the insurance company....

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Uinta's and Strawberry's

More Weekends = More Adventures

Uinta Dreaming

Two weeks ago we took a trip up to the Uinta Mountains to climb, hike, fish, and spend time with friends. It ended up being a much smaller group than we had anticipated, and were wondering if anyone at all would be joining us when we left home on that Friday night. There ended up being seven of us there on Friday night, and just two of us staying Saturday night. Our small group turned out to be a good size for our climbing and fishing plans for the weekend.

Our basecamp for the weekend was a family A-Frame cabin complete with outhouse and no running water.

We stayed in a little A-Frame type cabin in the Manor Lands community just outside the National Forest area. At night we spent time talking, playing card games (UNO!!! was probably heard by residents way over in Kamas), and planning the crags/climbs we wanted to visit the next day.

We spent Saturday morning climbing the walls near Ruth Lake, along with A LOT of other weekend Uinta visitors. We made our way to Warrior Wall (because it was the least occupied wall at the crag) and found climbs ranging from 5.10c to 5.12b. Stoke was high and it was great to watch friends work and send some routes on this wall.

The views don't suck from this crag. Climbing above Ruth Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

After a few hours of climbing and lunch, we made our way to some Uinta lakes to fish the high mountain trout. Hopefully, we'd be successful enough to add fish to the dinner menu. It was a beautiful afternoon and, after trial and error, dialed in on the lures that were getting the bites. We had a successful evening of fishing and ended with 2 of the fish being large enough to add to our meal back at basecamp.

The high mountain fish, small as they are here, are often some of the best looking fish I find.
A good end to a good day with good people.

That night, the remaining members of our party headed back to civilization while we decided to spend another night in the mountains. The next day, before returning home, we stopped by some rivers and lakes to pull out the fly-rod in more remote areas.

We then made our way home, preparing for another week of work and busy schedules, while remembering the things that were said and experiences shared on another great weekend in the Uinta's.


The alarm sounded in our pitch black bedroom. I looked at the clock and saw the time 3:30 AM begin to illuminate the screen. A couple months, on Father's Day, we gave my Dad the gift of a fishing day at Strawberry Reservoir, located in the Uinta National Forest in the Wasatch Mountain Range. In order to get there before the sun rose, we had to leave our home in Kaysville at 4:00 AM. We rolled out of bed, made the 2 hour drive, and entered the lake on our rental boat. We were rewarded with stunning views as the sun rose on the smokey horizon as we left the marina.

The view of the sun rising as we departed Strawberry Bay Marina.
After a slow morning of testing our lures, flies, wooly buggers, flatfish, etc., we finally found the fish and how to bring them in. Once a fish was on, we loved waiting to see what kind of fish and how big it would be. We caught several rainbow and cutthroat trout ranging from 14 to 20 inches and as big as a couple pounds.

That night, after returning to Kaysville, we were exhausted. Not much more was done besides showering, putting on a movie, and heading to bed. It was a fun day for us, and hopefully a fun day for our Dad.

Now I'm looking to the future to see what the coming weekends are bringing. Bear Lake and California are coming up next, and they will be welcomed greatly after long weeks of work and constant business!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Finding Balance

I hear it all the time... Something like "How do you guys vacation all the time?" or "Do you guys even work?" Other days it's along the lines of "They've been given everything, they don't understand 'work' or the value of it." My personal favorite? "Spoiled Sh!#$ and ungrateful." 

The other week I was in Zion National Park. I picked up some hitchhikers who were climbers (being a climber myself, I was happy to give them a lift when I saw their ropes and gear.) One of the two guys came from Sweden. He had been self-employed for many years and quit to travel and climb. He had been summiting mountains for years (including Everest) and told me how people thought he was crazy and that his life was a joke. It made me think about the questions I mentioned above, whether they've been said to me directly or spoken between friends or family members.

Do these things bother me? In short, no. Sometimes it's flattering that people think I live such a glamorous life. I am facing the same challenges that others in almost all phases of their career are dealing with. I'm trying to find balance in my life. I have to work to live, to support my family, and to pay the necessary expenses that comes with living here. I'll do my best, for my own sake, to answer these questions/statements that friends/family/acquaintances have said to us personally or said to others about us while we aren't around.

"Do you guys even work?"
As hard as it may be to believe, we do in fact have full-time jobs. I work about 50 hours on any given week, not including the phone calls I receive from people about my company that are happening at 6:00 in the morning and 10:30 at night. Alexa puts in her weekly 40-50 hours working as one of two chemists in a water conservancy district that covers 4 counties and deals with 94 million gallons of water per day. We worked very hard to get these jobs and continue to work hard to advance in our careers.

"They can do all these things because they are given everything."
Wouldn't that be great! I can say one thing, if I was given everything that I needed to live a comfortable life, we would definitely spend a lot more time on the road than in the office. Did we grow up in homes where our parents had done well for themselves? We did. I can definitely say that our families have been very blessed. My parents had the means to take my siblings and me on great vacations, to have a beautiful cabin where our family can gather, and to enjoy activities like boating on a lake or visiting a beach. My parents worked unbelievably hard to give us kids those kind of opportunities. I remember not seeing my Mom for days at a time during tax season, and my Dad having to determine what we would be able to do with the leave that he had. Seeing my parents work so hard to provide a comfortable lifestyle for me was inspiring and motivating. 

I, like most kids, had to earn money for the things I wanted to buy, and was repeatedly told "No" when I laid my eyes on the items that I thought I literally could not live without. I worked through college and, mostly thanks to Alexa's scholarship and science fair money, we were able to graduate without any large debts. It was our hard work during our college and immediate post-college jobs that eventually landed us the jobs that we have today. I can't say that our parents didn't help us through college. The fact is, they did help! They always told us, "we won't let you go hungry", and they never did. Despite what many people think, I saw first hand and learned the value of hard work from a young age as I learned my parents to the times in college where I knew if I performed well enough in those jobs, I would be rewarded in my job search after graduation.

"It looks like you guys are always on vacation!"

We try really hard to make our lives as "vacation-like" as we can! It isn't easy, but it has been worth it for us so far. We don't take ourselves too seriously, and we work to make new memories and friends all the time!

This is how we try to keep an active lifestyle despite our time committed to the office. Obviously everyone does things different and does what makes them happy. I'm not trying to "coach" people in similar situations to do the things I do because, frankly, not even close to everyone wants to do the things that we enjoy doing! Some people would rather sit on the couch over a weekend than do a spontaneous road trip to a place they've never been, and I can't say which one is better or worse or wrong and right. This fits our current situation (no kids, no more school, just us and our two careers) and works for us for now.
1 - Wake up early! This is a great time to get things done and out of the way. Wake up, exercise (important), organize your things, send letters (do people still do that anymore?), etc. Getting your workout done in the morning saves you at least another hour after work that can now be used for something other than your workout. 

2 - Work hard while at work! Don't just get your obligatory duties done with mediocrity, be efficient and do them well! Being efficient with your time at work will help you do a better job in a shorter amount of time, causing less amounts of stress. 

3 - Decompress on your drive home. Try to decompress while on your way home from work by listening to audiobooks, good music, driving in silence to comb over anything that bugged you throughout the day, whatever works for you. Do this so that when you get home you don't have to fall onto the couch and say "Oh man, I just need a minute to sit and do nothing." This one is hard for me. It isn't easy for me to get home and say "Ok, what do we have planned?" or "Hey, let's head up to the lake for some paddle boarding!" It's always easier to stay on the couch and turn on the tv, but I've never regretted getting out and doing new things. 

4 - Leave your work at work. Some of us have to answer phone calls that come at any hour of the day (myself included), but that doesn't mean we have to bring work with us everywhere we go. In your after work gatherings, rarely do people want to hear all about how Sally jammed the copy machine again even after you've explained the correct paper-loading process a million times. Use your time after work to be in moment whether with friends or family.

5 - Have hobbies, interests, and friends outside of work. 

6 - Weekends (when you don't work) are GOLD. Never waste a weekend. That is a motto that Ali and I try to live by. Don't let a weekend slip away by sitting around on the couch or sleeping it away. Sometimes it's a lot of work to take off on a weekend, or maybe the drive is "too far away" for anything you'd like to do. Sometimes the hardest part is getting out the door. Once you do, just enjoy the experience!

So here is the deal.... We work pretty damn hard. We have to work for the things we want, whether it be material, spiritual, or mental. I am incredibly grateful for my parents, their work ethic, and the sacrifices they have made for me. We understand work. Finally.... I hope to be able to make my life feel as much like an adventure and a journey as I have so far!