Expression at present is an interesting phenomena. For many people it comes in the form of clothing choices, others by what is posted to their multitude of social media accounts. Others find their mode in actions or choices taken on a day to day basis, whom they identify with, what they choose to study, how they choose to be represented. Many, like myself, find our solace in writing. We write experiences or ideas sometimes publicly sometimes privately with the ultimate goal of self expression. Needless to say there are always other consequences that derive from such simple action.  For instance if I were to post a photo to instagram with the hope of capturing a particular feeling I am experiencing at present in an act of self reflection I may also receive acknowledgement and validation from a peer group that agrees or disagrees with whatever I was trying to capture or at least they find the image aesthetically pleasing. To create music, write code, run, swim, skate, study walk, soak in sunlight all have their own significant, albeit, therapeutic effects on those partaking in such practices. As noted before writing seems to be what I enjoy the most. So I guess without much further ado I’ll writing some more.

There are very few things that can capture emotion, sensation, and imagery almost as perfectly as music can. However, I shall try to recreate the same emotional experience that I indulge in while listening to music by putting such things into writing.

About a year ago I lived in a 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan. In fact that was the very reason for the inception of this blog. Since then of course life has continued its oneward ebb and flow and now I find myself in a library far and away from the van and wild areas American Southwest that I called home for a brief time. However, I do find myself frequently popping back into those moments of solitude by listening to the music that captured my attention while I lived a life on the road. Perhaps one of the most significant moments I had the luxury of experiencing was one particularly rainy down outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Petrichor. Heavy mist. The dark green and brown of indistinguishable trees as they blurred together at a distance of no more than twenty feet. Gray sunlight unable to pierce the shroud of mist but capable enough of making the lichen on the granite boulders appear to be a self illuminating phosphorescent green. The brown red of the lodgepole pine  and the long languid needles of the ponderosa blurred all together.

Posted up, pinned between a cluster of tall skinny and dark pines as well as the silver gray of the van. Between the two I had strung my tarp. Anchored at 5 different points. Two on the van and two on the trees. In effect, creating a square of sequestered off sheltered space that allowed me to work outside while staying dry. The 5th point of contact was a line that was strung from the roof of the tarp up and over an outreaching tree branch that allowed me headspace enough to walk around under my shelter unimpeded.

Pulling out the silver and matte black folding table from the rear of the van, the stove and propane tank as well I set up a kitchen in my little forest shelter. The pitter patter of rain now becoming a constant in the quiet woods. On occasion the thunder would roll, breaking out in abnormal and grotesque ways from the pattern that my ears had grown so accustomed to. But the water I had put on the stove was starting to boil, the steam was clearly visible against the roof the green tarp.

The sticky smell of starch filled the air as rice was added and began to inflate as it simmered on the stove top. The sound of rain kept on, incessantly. Even when the sun cracked through the gray of the clouds and shown a white light down through the dark trees to the forest floor and my little encampment in the woods the rain kept on.

The rice and broccoli I was eating was a little too salty, but good nonetheless. The rain now was being ever so slightly drowned out by the music emanating from my speaker on the side of the van. I wish I could say I listened to something fitting for those mountainous conditions, something that did the lighting, the rain, and the fresh air justice but honestly I can’t even begin to remember what it was I was listening to that day. Nor can I really remember anymore details from those moments in the woods.

But I do remember the feeling. The feeling of calm, of excitement. The feeling of contentment and ambition. The gratitude for the rain and my situation. Paired with the smell of petrichor, those feelings were linked together to a place, a memory, that I will now go back to from time to time. And from time to time I’m lost in dark greens and grays, matte blacks, bright white light loud and breaking thunder, and salty broccoli.

“I have more memories than a thousand years.”

Charles Baudelaire


There are a number of different ways to live life. There is no arguing that. Simply walk out the front door and you’ll see hundreds of variations within a short while.

So I figured what should I do to make mine a little more interesting? Well I’ve decided to get out and go do something a little atypical for myself. January multi-day solo up in Indian Peaks. Providing I can access the trails that I want. I’m thinking around 25mi or so over three days.

I’ll be posting a complete itinerary here in the next week or so. This is to get me back on track.

Cold feet

When I was in high school I got a ton of shit for being a little eccentric. Like anyone else I’ve had the things that I nerd out over. When I was in elementry school I carried around a copy of the U.S. constitution. In middle school I was obsessed with musical theater, don’t tell anyone that was for a girl. In high school I fell madly in love with the outdoors. My love affair with the wild spaces of our planet started because of an almost disastrous trip to Indian Peaks and later was reaffirmed by my attendance on a 30 day long 126mi trek through Wyoming. This is the story of my first backpacking trip and the very cold morning that made me fall in love with wild places.

In 2006 and I was just barely 15 years old. I was an idiot in almost every imaginable way. I had no real grasp on the world and was altogether to opinionated for the amount of knowledge I possessed. I’d been a camper with a local summer camp called the Colorado Youth Program for the previous six years and loved my adventures with them, but by no means would I have considered myself an outdoor enthusiast at this point. I just enjoyed being outside like any other kid. Well through my connections at CYP I ended up hearing about this private school in Boulder, CO called Watershed. Watershed was an alternative high school and middle school with a focus on experiential learning. At the start of every new school year high school students ventured out into Boulder’s backyard, Indian Peaks Wilderness, for a 10 day backpacking and team building trip.

This was my very first backpacking trip and to say the least I really had no idea what I was doing, However, just like any 15 year old what I lack in know how and experience I made up for in over all enthusiasm and energy. Starting at Camp Dick off the Peak to Peak highway just outside of Colorado’s world famous Rocky Mountain National Park, our group of 10 high schoolers and two instructors/teachers  took to the trail. The first few days we took a mellow route because believe it or not or instructors had quite the task of moving 10 high schoolers even 3.5 miles. Our first day was rather uneventful minus the occasional blister. We all got to bust out the whisper-light stoves for the first time in a backcountry context and I’m pretty sure at least one person lost some part of their eyebrows. (Wade?)

By the third day our ragtag crew had made it to the summit of Buchanan Pass, which I must point out is only 7.5mi away from Camp Dick. So to say the least things were moving slowly. The weather was spectacular the day we summited the pass. The skies were the kind of blue that Colorado is famous for. The wind was light and fast with a touch of winter. In early September we could not have picked better conditions to be moving over a nearly 10,000 foot pass. The mountains of Colorado are infamous for fast changing weather, dramatic drops in temperature, and unseasonable snowstorms. But none of this was on our minds as we crushed passed old mining shacks, piles of debris and mine tailings towards the top of the pass. Once there, we were still all in such a way we decided to detour off to the south and summit Saw-tooth Peak.

Saw-tooth Stands at about 12,300 feet and is one of the most unique shaped peaks in the IPW. It’s distinctive southern face cut the sky and stand in sharp contrast to the mellow slope that leads to the saddle and Buchanan pass. Pushing on down the west side of the pass our route started to turn us south towards the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. Moving around the cirque of peaks that comprises the Brainard basin our little troop headed even further south towards our end goal of the Fourth of July Trailhead.

With each passing day my level of competency rose and the skill set required be successful in the back country developed a little more. Towards day eight I was feeling pretty damn amazing. I’d meet and begun developing a lasting friendship with Axel Anderson, Devaki Douillard, and many more. Jason Kushner was our primary trip leader and his influence and enthusiasm about the outdoors remains one of the most impactful I’ve ever encountered.

So three days days before we are supposed to be picked up at the Fourth of July Trailhead our little band of school children heads up a steep west facing slope to what is known as Wheeler Basin. Wheeler Basin is a deep set glacially carved basin to the north west of Arapahoe Pass. This little slice of hell is always damp, always cold, and is where I really began to fall in love with wild places. Because it’s in Wheeler Basin that I did my first ever overnight solo. The very first time I spent a night alone in the woods. Now since that night I have spent probably over 100 nights alone in the woods, sometimes in a car other times just on the flat of my back. I’ve been out with motorcycles, with bikes, on foot but this is what started it all. The feeling you get when sleeping in solitude or rather the isolation of the woods is unlike any other. At times the feeling is oppressive as if the dark around you is pushing in on every single one of your senses. At other points it is beyond blissful in how calm it is. The experience is surreal.

But back to Wheeler Basin. Like I said, a little slice of hell. I woke up soaking wet. I’d picked a space underneath a boulder at the edge of a meadow but the soil there had been washed away by the swamp like conditions of the basin. During the night the moisture that accumulated on the outside of my bag was enough to be rung-out and collect .5L. Low lying area I’d selected was a cold sink and only increased the deep seated chill I was experiencing as I woke that morning. But from my perspective I was alive and well and I’d never felt that good waking up.

But waking up on the blue yet crisp morning was the starting point to a series of mistakes that per-usual lead to a place no one really wants to be. Upon waking up I packed my damp bag away per standard practice. I slipped on my boots, crammed my gear into my pack and headed towards the central camp location where we were all to meet up by 9am. We started cranking out breakfast and coffee which soon lead to packs back over our shoulders and the trail underfoot. We descended the nearly 1,000 foot just before 10:15 and on our way down the those blue skies turned gray.

By 11am the ground was being peppered with the white flakes of falling snow quickly turning the trail muddy and slick. The 4mi route we had planned to Caribou Lake that day took much longer than our anticipated time due to constant stopping to warm up fingers and toes or to patch blisters from wet feet. Our feet were very wet. In fact at one point near the end of our slog I slipt off a small foot bridge and was quickly ankle deep in freezing creek water. Anticipating camp within the next hour I was not terribly worried.

Within 15 minutes my opinion had changed. Even moving at a steady pace the cold began to profoundly change my attitude. I was experiencing the wonders of a non-freezing cold injury. Which help to facilitate my introduction with mild hypothermia. And by 5pm mild hypothermia was far from a stranger in our midst. I was one of three students dealing with at least one form of cold related issue. One student, Dan Silverman a dear friend and now high experienced outdoorsman, experienced the far more serious moderate hypothermia in which his core body temperature plummeted to around 95 degrees fahrenheit. This is not joke. These conditions are no laughing matter nor are the consequences if cold is not dealt with effectively. Since we were in no position to evacuate Dan, or myself for that matter, our instructors decided to warm Dan up in the field and keep an eye on me.

We pitched our tarps, set up our sleeping bags and built wind barriers out of our packs to block the gusts that were careening off of Arapahoe pass. The snow was flying and the dark that pressed in around the side of the tarp were complete. The only audible sound over that of the wind, was the sound of my breathing inside of my sleeping bag and the rustle of the trash bag that my sleeping bag was tucked into. Its was right around 8:30 or 9 when Jason and our other leader brought by cups of warm soup made on their stove. Everyone of the kids was tucked into sleeping bags, save for maybe Axel our rather hearty and experienced friend.

As pathetic as it sounds I remember spending a good part of that night wishing that we would be evacuated by helicopter, that someone would come and help us. But no one did come. Nor should they. We were fine realistically. What you don’t realize when you’re 15 is just how bad things actually can get. Because for most 15 year old kids, bad these days has been for the most part removed from traditional experience. It’s hard to be pushed to any form of an end. The way the world is constructed we are protected from anything. The cold, the hard, the wilderness. It is kept at bay by warm houses, bright screens, and fossil fuels. To pick up someone who has spent their entire life in the middle of the cozy world and plop them into the middle of a real blizzard with no real clue about what their doing, well that’s a recipe to push a 15 year old further than they have been before.

Dan was pushed pretty hard that night. Moderate hypothermia usually means prompt evacuation from the field and exhaustive measures to reheat the victim. To slip from moderate to severe hypothermia is a huge deal and usually requires the skill and the equipment that can only be found in hospitals. As the crew was less than a four mile hike out of the backcountry; he received new hot water bottle every couple of hours, he was monitored closely and given totally new and dry clothes. He wasn’t left alone that night.

I heated up pretty quickly once I made it into my bag and had a single bowl of soup. Falling asleep though was tough though. I kept rolling around on my bad under the tarp, wind howling through the blackness. Snow would occasionally blow through our tarp covering or bags in a light dry powder that was mostly harmless. My real lesson though was yet to come. You see, in my haste to get into a warm sleeping bag I stripped my wet clothes off and tossed them right next to my bag with no consideration of the circumstances. I didn’t think about where I left my boots or my coat. Nor did I even consider what to do with my only remaining pair of socks. So the reality I woke up to the next morning was not a pretty one.

From our location at Caribou Lake we had just over a 4.5mi hike out to the fourth of July Trailhead. And much like in the photo below, our route was totally covered in snow. The storm from the night before only left two or three inches. However,with the aid of previous storms and the wind wrecked landscape made for snow drifts that were just about 4ft deep on the trail up and over the pass. That morning I woke up to find my jacket frozen to the ground, my boots hardly malleable enough to move the laces, my socks so frozen that I could have snapped them. I had dry camp shoes, a pair of cotton socks, board shorts, a tee-shirt and a very frozen coat. First thing in the morning Axel put my coat on and started the process of thawing the arms. Better a wet coat than nothing in my current condition.
My boots and socks were so frozen I opted to hike out in my camp shoes, a pair of Vans, and cotton socks. I stuffed everything haphazardly into my pack knowing full well this was the last iteration of its packing for this trip. We headed for the pass watching the snow blown trail disappear in a myriad of switchbacks. Knee deep in loose and flaky powder we slogged up the pass. Once on the summit of Arapahoe Pass and knowing that there was only a 3 mile down hill to our vans there was an immediate feeling of relief. And that down hill flew by. By the time we made it to the parking lot it might have well been our first day on the trail. The level of enthusiasm about being picked up was tangible.
And that is it. We made it out. No one lost any toes. No one died. No one really needed to be evacuated. We made a ton of mistakes, but that’s the basis for greatness mistakes that you can learn from. Whether they are yours or the errors of friends, family, or stories from others pay attention. Because cold feet are hard to hike with.

Cause I need to be writing.

So I have finals and I’m stressed the hell out. So here is a story from my summer.

In early August of 2017 I was finishing a summer of working with the summer camp Avid4 Adventure and getting back to my usual grind behind the bar at Tahona Tequila Bistro. I was working about 65hr a week and doing very little for myself. In fact my self care was so poor it pretty much killed a relationship I was having. Having just taken 6 months off of work though I could not justify a slacking schedule. Having crushed through most of the summer I was close to my goal of dropping the summer camp job, dropping hours at Tahona, and getting back to school. I was beyond excited for school to start, it is my last year after all. The start to August was hot, but stunning. The fires that ravaged the West were yet to really cast a cloud of smoke south and east towards Boulder, and the front range was breathtaking.

I decided that I needed to get up into the mountains and get me some fresh air and stretch the ol’ legs! So I picked one of my favorite local spot, the Brainard Lake Recreation Area (BLRA). Being the ambitiously minded 26 year old that I was I woke up at 5:30am and drove up towards Ward, Colorado the small town just east of the entrance of BLRA. I gotta say I really enjoyed driving up the small pothole filled road in the early morning light following the twists and turns in my newly acquired subaru outback, (Thanks Rita) It’s always fun to drive a new car in the mountains.

Thinking I would just have a mellow day I decided to go hike to Blue Lake, a roughly 4mi hike on the western edge of the Brainard Lake area. Pulling into the parking lot that morning was fantastic! I was one of three cars in a lot that only a week before I hadn’t been able to find a space. Hardly anyone was out which meant I’d be having a blast. Grabbing my pack, and my poles, checking my water, and maybe even retying my laces I started up the dirt track next to the pit toilet.

Now if you’ve never been to the subalpine at 9-10,000ft above sea level you’re really missing out. The smell is probably my favorite part. If cold had a smell that would be what the subalpine would smell like. Not that it was all that cold this time of year at 6:15am, maybe just 45 degrees fahrenheit. I think it might just be the smell of freshly melting snow cascading through the soft topsoil on its way to join on of the many winding streams and into the Saint Vrain drainage. Combined with the soft piney smell of subalpine fir and spruce trees there is nothing else in the world that calms me down so much.

Crushing up the trail dirt and pine needles underfoot I was in very high spirits. The sky was just starting to lose the orange glow that screamed sunrise and was taking on a classic Colorado blue sky. The deep deep blue that I’ve only ever seen here in the summer. And it was only about halfway up the trail before I came upon the only folks I’d see that morning. The owners of the only other cars in the lot, a group of photographers wrapping up a sunrise shoot of the alpine cirque to the west of Blue Lake. Stopping to make small talk and make the required exclamations of not wanting to be anywhere else; two of the photographers asked me my plans for the day. The two fellas asking were older maybe 65 or 70 years old. When they found I only planned on heading to Blue Lake they suggested an alternate route. Above Blue Lake, maybe a 1/2 a mile there is Upper Blue Lake, and if you follow the draining up towards the base of the cirque, there should be a trail. That’s what they said, “should be” a trail. They mentioned it had been a few years since they’d been up to check it out, but that trail used to lead from Upper Blue Lake to the summit of Mount Audubon which is a 13,000ft peak that creates the northern crest of the cirque.

Having no real plans for the day and feeling very good I mentioned to the photographers that I might go check it out. With a quick smile and a nod I was off down the trail again quickly moving towards Blue Lake. The sun was moving higher in the sky as I crested the final little hill and the lake splayed out magnificently before me.

Blue Lake, Aug 2017

Upon reaching the lake with the sun still far behind me in the east and with the boost of energy that came from crushing an energy bar I decided to keep pushing up to the upper lake. Moving quickly along the outside edge of the lake, soaking in the sun I headed towards a rock shelf in the rear of the glacial cirque where I assumed that Upper Blue Lake would be hidden out of sight. Within about an hour I’d reached the steepest part of the shelf and started to scramble up the rocks on my hands and feet. Quickly breaching the crown of the shelf I looked expectantly for the next lake and saw nothing. Having just traveled off trail for an hour I was a little peeved about the lack of a lake. But I still had my bearing. Mt. Audubon was an obvious and hulking  guide for me. deciding to head towards the peak and look for a trail I began moving even further away from the trail and Blue Lake.

30 minutes of walking on rocks while dodging the hopelessly sensitive patches of alpine vegetation, I quickly meandered my way northward towards the massive scree slopes of Audubon. It was just about now when I realized how much larger the cirque was than I had thought. The time it took to cross was only increased by my hoping and skipping across the granite to avoid the sensitive flora. However, its when I made a misstep and my foot went through what I thought was a solid soil surface and into the stream below that I realized that I was walking on loose rocks covered by barrenground willow. This plant grows near water at high altitudes. My attention was then taken again as a very small lake appeared right in front of me as if out of nowhere. I’d found Upper Blue Lake.

Looking down on Upper Blue Lake. Blue Lake would be just out of frame in the center left of the frame. This view is from the south slope of Audubon.

Upon arriving at the upper lake I began to search for the trail that would lead me up to the summit of Audubon. It was getting later in the morning, right around 10am. The sky was starting to give up a few wispy clouds. Knowing the area is prone to afternoon showers and that the last place I wanted to be was below treeline on an exposed face when a storm rolled in I had a choice to make. Head up to the summit on a trail I was having a hard time finding. Or I could turn back and go down the same way I’d come up.

Common sense would dictate that I turn around and head back towards the car, but I was feeling particularly good this day and decided to push on. Giving up hope on a trail I began searching for a navigable way up the formidable boulder fields and cliff between me and the summit of Audubon. Finally just going forward I soon found myself at about 12,200ft, as according to the altimeter on my watch. The time was 11am and by this time clouds were actually starting to roll in. The dark gray in the west a familiar albeit a very unwelcome site for me at that point. With a few loose rocks tumbling down below me I made my summit bid. A quick 30 minute push up the final 800ft to the summit. But within about 15 min I’d made it to saddle I’d not been expecting. And here on this unexpected saddle I found a trail. A trail that dissipated into the rocky drop and boulder fields I’d just climbed out of.

Jogging along as best I could I pushed fast to summit. The air was obviously thinner and I had to slow my pace several times to catch my breath. The wind was picking up and making breathing even more difficult as it started pressing in on my mouth like a suffocating hand. Sun breaking through the cloud and wind whipping against my jacket strongly enough to support my body weight for a split second I rounded a bed to the last slight slope to the summit of Audubon.

So I’d found my way to the summit. Up a sketchy scree slope and even worse boulder field. Finishing the coffee in my thermos, which was still hot, I enjoyed another energy bar before turning for the trail that would lead me down the eastern slope of Audubon towards the Brainard Lake drainage.

I’d beat the storms. On my way down I passed about nine other folks on their way to the summit but when I was passing them the first drops of the afternoon storms were starting to pepper the brim of my hat. At this point I was booking it for treeline, not out of fear of a storm but more for the feeling of security that comes from being in a familiar place. The alpine is gorgeous. Above treeline the when the wildflowers are in full bloom, there are very few more beautiful places. But when the rocks start to match the color of the sky one begins to feel very exposed.

I made it down to my car before the rain really started, right around 1:15pm. The first clap of thunder reverberated loudly through the plastic panelings on my car door. My seat was reclined all the way back and I began to doze off to the sound of the pitter patter of rain on my windshield.

(I guess thanks for letting me share another story without much of a point. I guess it’s just fun to write sometimes. To go back to these memories helps to keep me calm while I’m dealing with the stress of finals. To put them out into there world, well I don’t really know how that’s gonna make me feel yet. I guess I’m finding out.)

Those moments before something happens.

Think back to the last time you had something stressful arise in your life. Paying a parking ticket? Breaking up with someone? What to cook for dinner? Not making enough money and the bills are stacking up? Life can sometimes feel like a series of stressful moments punctuated by brief moments of easy breathing. I know that is exactly how I’m feeling right now. I’m finishing the semester and I’ve never been this stressed. Today while working on a group project I had to take a few minutes for pushups and deep breathing while I was processing how hopelessly underprepared my group is. This project is due Thursday. Thursday will come whether we are ready or not. Life is like this, the build up to the critical threshold comes at an agonizingly slow pace and once it breaks it seems unbelievable that you were ever worried by “those mundane problems.”

These are my front country problems. But as I pointed out last night, it is the viewing of these moments as the adventure they are that will help lead to a more fulfilled life. Maybe, cause who actually knows.

The funny thing is in the backcountry when things go wrong it usually happens fast. There is not usually this slow buildup of stress that takes you to a breaking point. This slow dragging along of stress and burden seems to be something that is attributed just to the front country. Now in some ways it can exist in the backcountry as well. Let us say your diet consists of food that your find while foraging or hunting. If you struggle to find food this could be a source of stress that slowly builds. But it would also be constant and usually no breaking point, just meal here or there. But that would be your existence then. Subsistence living would probably take all the focus off other issues and require all of your attention on getting by. No longer a build up but a constant pressure for survival.

Now other issues that arise in the backcountry happen fast. Take for example an avalanche. One moment you and your friends are traversing a slope in the early morning sunlight. The wind is light and cold, the sun is filtered through a sky of light gray clouds.  Fresh snow covers the mountainside of an area you’ve skied before. Of an area that you know has the potential to slide. You’ve checked the snow. You’ve judged the layers, you’ve watched the weather reports for the last few days, know the freeze thaw cycles in the area, looked for other evidence of an unsteady base. You crest the top of the ridge and get ready to drop in. You test the drop, jumping turns for the first few yards. Trepidation dictating your every move. And just when you think it’s good and safe to drop; a slab right below the top of the ridgeline frees itself from the side of the mountain.

Any way that scene plays out the stressful moment is not in the future its in the moment. Its happening to you. There is no build up or elongation of stress. Just the pure and often unbridled fear and response that comes with disaster.

What the hell is the point of this post? Well to indicate that I’d way rather deal with an avalanche and the crazy moments in the wild places of the world the long slow build up of the academically induced stress I’m dealing with now. So adios for now as I’ve gotta go write a paper on the ability of the Boulder community to be resilient in times of disaster.



An ode to a good adventure story.

Well shit. That wasn’t what I expected at all. Like not even a little bit. It’s December 4th, 2017 and I’m just 20 day shy of finishing my last fall semester of college. The last time I wrote on this blog I was crushing through some bullshit obligation to posting on here and not actually enjoying the process of just writing. So I’m back up here to just do some writing and fill myself in on what has been happening in the ol’ world of James.

It’s funny how the preconceived notions we all hold of what something is usually ends up dictating our entire relationship with that thing. Take for example alcohol. We all know alcohol has negative health effects, it can make us unruly, rude, loud, funnier, better singers and all the other fantastic and terrible things it can actually do. (Think hangover) The knowledge of all the things that alcohol is capable of inspiring and dictating in us was known to others who came before us. They pass this knowledge down. In my case, I was raised mormon and let us just say alcohol doesn’t have the best reputation among mormons. They tout against any of its positive merits and instead only highly the negative. Now as a bartender you might think that I’ve reconciled any amount of misleading thought passed on to me by my mormon heritage, but they would be quite wrong. As many of my friends know I’m usually always in control when I’m drinking and very rarely if at all do I allow myself to fully indulge in the moment. This hesitation I experience comes as a direct result of the cautionary tales and the sometimes comically wrong lessons I received as I child. But these lesson have gone on to shape the person I am today.

I, we are a product of those who have come before. The stories they tell us help to shape our world view. We engage with the world through the lens of these lessons and ideas. Now that does not mean that we follow them strictly, but it shapes our responses. These lessons and learning moments are a condition that predicate a reaction from us, however that reaction can look 7 billion different ways. In a world of adventure there are several greats and it is these greats that we all strive to emulate in some fashion or another. I know I for one read the story of Chris McCandless and was awe struck at the bravy as well as the brash stupidity exemplified in that tale. I know that when I first heard of the man Che Guevara, not his political self, I heard of a young man who saw the world, lived among people who were diverse and exciting, who had hardships and experienced lows as well as many many highs. When we post epic instagrams or # our favorite hikes and views we quote John Muir. A man who walked countless miles in a land that inspired him, that drove him, and a land which gave his life purpose and meaning. And who could leave off the likes of Lynn Hill the first person to free climb the nose of El Cap? She spent months living the dirt bag life committed to living passionately for brief moments when she was able to do what she loved most.

These four and the countless others who came before are the ones who set our expectations for what adventure is. They challenge the idea of the impossible and in doing so they inspire us to do the same. And since we all have different definitions of adventure or a life worth living these influences shape the lens that allows those who follow to see the world in a slightly different way. By broken rules, records, bones, dreams, hopes, homes, careers… the list goes on.

So we all have different ideas of what adventure is, that’s really the only point I’m trying to make here, you can really just ignore the cliche bull^.

About 15 months ago, I was invited to go on a motorcycle trip to South America by my best friend. I had my reservations and a few incidents and all in all I couldn’t go. But what it came down to really for me, is there was a part, whatever part, of me that really didn’t want to go, otherwise I would have went. No questions asked. This is a little embarrassing to say because the idea of that trip is to me close to the epitome of adventure. To travel 1000’s of miles into new places, have new experiences, and meet new people! That sounds like the perfect adventure. But I didn’t go. Instead I hit a deer in my subaru and moved into a mini-van and drove around for a bit. By all definitions an adventure. By my expectations and reckoning an extended road trip. Granted all the pieces of adventure from the motorcycle trip were there. I drove 1000s of miles into new places and spaces, and I met tons of new people. Not to mention some crazy experiences, some better than others but nonetheless cray. And yet I feel unfulfilled on my adventure front.

Life is an adventure and I’ve been living life. I’ve been working and back in school these last several months. In fact I’m on track to graduate in August of 2018. Finally. Then what? Find a job, get comfortable? I honestly dread that idea. It seems so nice and so easy. But honestly I think what I’m really looking for is suffering. I don’t wanna be in pain I’m no masochist.  But I want to but some effort, some blood sweat and tears behind something. Now that could be a career sure. Or it could be a relationship, i agree. But remember how I said that our lives are shaped by the stories and lessons from those who came before? Yeah I’m coming back to that.

My idea of an adventure now would be to blend everything together. You might be thinking James, you idiot that’s what life is! It’s a blend of work, love, boring ups and downs, filled with moments of high paced action! And I agree. So I guess really what I’m saying is I’m changing my perception of what adventure. I’m removing it from the confines of what exist in the wild spaces of the world, with fresh air, far distant lands, new people, exiting languages and food. I’m changing it to mean whatever the hell I’m doing now. I seek adventure. And so my life is adventure. I’ve already found what I’m seeking.

But hey this ain’t no boring old bullshit self actualization message about how I’ve now found contentment. No, this is a dramatic reframing of my life. So the pages that follow here will show case this new frame. The new lens in which I look at the world. Adventure is to come.


Blue Lake, July 2016

Rationalizing my life choices.

I guess one way to get good at something is to do it a thousand times. I’m not really sure what I wanna be good at though. I’m realizing more and more that I’m a generalist. I like to do as much as I can. You might call it an identity crisis or you might call it overly ambitious but I call it fun. Every single day that I wake up I seem to ask myself, “James you sly son of a bitch, what do you feel like getting into today?” I usually answer with a clear and resounding, “Whatever.” This is not a passive response but rather a recognition of the fact that I am really down for whatever. If I get a phone call and am asked to go to work that is what I’ll do. If I’m not working and I have an offer to go adventure somewhere i’ve never been you’d be right to suspect that I’m going adventuring. But my desire to learn and explore as many facets of the human condition goes far beyond just the possible activities one can do in a day or night: it extends also to academic disciplines. To learn and grow as a person in whatever capacity I can manage is my ultimate goal. But I’d like to point out that I don’t chase these opportunities.

For me life is and for the last few months has been all about the cliche of living in the moment. I’m not getting ahead and planning my next six moves or anything crazy like that. Some of you might say, “Well see here now James, you planned a trip to South America on a motorcycle and backed out, and then you said you were going to head north to Alaska and now seemingly without reason you’re on your way back to Colorado. You have plans young man you just never commit to them.” But of course I’d disagree. I have ideas of grandeur, things I’d like to do and places I’d like to see. And yes I plan something of these things out in order to make trips happen or help ideas reach fruition. But what I don’t do is become attached to these goals. When it became clear to me that I needed to stay stateside to be near my family these last five months that what I did. When I realized that I wanted to go back to school I dropped my AK plans in favor of heading back to Colorado.

There is a flow to what I do. It seems jumpy and chaotic sometimes and honestly it can be. But it’s also a natural progression. With no attachment to these plans of mine I’m able to float from one thing to the next and be perfectly content and stoked about whatever I have in front of me. Am I ever disappointed by the outcome of a situation? Honestly I can’t tell you the last time I was. Everything I do is so worth my time. Every mistake a lesson learned. This is not so much a practiced mind set but more or less the way that I am. It can seem a little disorganized but it’s working for me.