Back in the canyon

So where was I? Standing on a ledge shivering sound right? Well there I was perched 80ft up on the side of a whispering waterfall. The mossy walls of silver schist making them far more slick than they already looked under the pearl sheen of the water way. The ledge that I was on was under constant bombardment from what Chris Atwood aptly called a rooster tail, the same effect is easily observed by a water skier who’s carving into the wake super hard. Unfortunately for me this rooster tail was aimed directly at my back. Fortunately for me I had a 70L pack with a cover that was taking the most direct hit. But it was constant. Always trying to drown me or dislodge me from my already terrible footing. Anchored into the wall as I was I wouldn’t have fallen more than a few inches before my sling caught me and I smashed my shins on the ledge, but that was not something I wanted to experience so I attempted to keep my feet.

The rooster tail in full effect; water spraying every which way and splashing on two the only necessary lens of my glasses. (For those of you haven’t read anything else by me or don’t know me, I have one eye.) And I suddenly had an immense burst of energy and yelled, mostly to myself, “LET’S GET WET!!!!”

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The level of endorphins soaring in my body,  warmth returned to the tips of my fingers and I began to slide as smoothly as the water below me down the face of the cliff. About 60ft down this awesome face I came back into the line of site with my partners Chris and Kathy. Chris was posted up knee deep in an eddy off to the side of the creek and his camera raised to the right eye while the left eye was shut tight. Snapping a few slow exposure shots, which I’m excited to see, he had me pause in the more diffuse water tumbling down over my feet. I was still perched about 30ft from the base of this particular rappel and at Chris’ request to pause so he could take a photo I also remembered to slow down. To enjoy myself.

I looked up then for what felt like the first time since I entered the slot. My comfort with my surroundings growing with every passing second, while my appreciation for where we were swelled as well. Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 8.13.22 AM

Intermission/ A real update:

Wow! What an unreal few days I’ve had! I finished my WFR, Wilderness First Responder, went canyoning in the Grand Canyon into a slot known as Garden Creek, and in what is perhaps the biggest deal for me I landed my first professional writing job! It’s pretty simple, I’m working as a freelance writer for a larger company that specializes in academic writing. So basically they connect clients with writers. Its super simple but its a foot into an industry I never thought I’d break into. So to say the least I’m beyond excited right now. Not to mention I only have $1000.00 left in my account soooooo I kinda need cash in a real bad way! I’m hoping that this gig will help keep me afloat for the next several months. And if I get good at it maybe even longer. I don’t see a reason why I couldn’t crush it thought, it seems like it is right up my alley.

In other news I’m headed down to Phoenix this afternoon, meeting up with my new friend Zach O’donnal from my WFR course. After which I’m heading over to San Diego, CA to stay with Jamie Sullivan and Courtney Clark for a week or two and hopefully get my feet under me and start to generate some income.

The weather in Flagstaff is hard to leave though, we experienced a really wet snow last night, about four inches of it, and I really feel at home here. It’s easy living but I guess that means it’s probably time to go.

It is amazing how many transformations this trip has taken on in its limited three month duration. I’ve learned a lot and experienced a ton while at the same time feeling like nothing has changed. But what I once thought was going to be a journey of outdoor shenanigans has now become more about people. Meeting new friends and seeing old ones. I think it has turned out this way in part because I can’t stay quiet  in new places and as some of you know it is people that light my fire! That being said I’m still getting out and doing awesome stuff in the backcountry. (i.e. the overly dramatized story about the WFR and canyon I’m interrupting with this piece of writing here.)

But to say the very least, I’m beyond stoked to be able to write for a potential living. I’m also beyond excited to be making my trip about people. And especially people that mean something to me. The friends and family that I have been able to connect with thus far have really made this trip. And I think the best part about that is that I was planning on doing this trip with the majority of time spent  isolation. It is definitely the unexpected things that makes life worth living.

Get outside, meet great people, and live the best life you can. Also chase what you want. (I’ve sent out probably close to 50 copies of my resume in order to get this one intro writing gig. So worth the work!)

Kathy Gonzalez and I posted up with fresas con crema after hiking 15mi together the previous day.

WFR and some other fun stuff.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 9.37.43 PMThe schist in the canyon had a white silver sheen to it, punctuated by swaths of darker blacks, the greens of mosses and the red strips of sediment from up stream. The sound that a river makes in a slot canyon is intense, perhaps only reminiscent of something like an arena concert, where the sound stops being a sounds and becomes a reverberation; finding its way into every fiber of your body and every corner of your mind. When you’re alone on a cliffs edge in a class C canyon, class C being a canyon with flowing water, the position that you’ve placed yourself in seems ridiculous and the fact that you’re being totally self reliant is seems even more ludicrous. Thank god I wasn’t 100% self reliant. Chris Atwood, the 32 year old explore from Arizona had quickly invited me to go explore one of his favorite canyons once he had heard I’d dabbled a little in slots previously. With the company of Katherine Gonzales, a high mountain guide from Chile, the three of us departed from Flagstaff, AZ and with a few minor hiccups drove the 75mi to Grand Canyon National Park.


Saturday 3/11/17


I’ve been sleeping alone in the woods for the last four days. Tucked back into the shelter of the Coconino National Forest I’ve become a bit of a recluse. I’m anxious and quite excited for my WFR, wilderness first responder, course to start today. It’s been a few years coming, ten actually. Ever since 2007 when I took that National Outdoor Leadership School course, NOLS, and got my first taste of wild, but more importantly my first taste of emergency. At 16 years old when a can of bear mace goes off there is not much you really know how to do beside trying to calm down your screaming friend, or to try to drag them out of the unassuming hanging cloud of orange vapor. But seeing three others rush in and act with selflessness, caution, and calculated force changes your opinion of how you should act in the future. It’s not to say that this one moment was a life changing moment for me, but it has absolutely informed who I am today. It absolutely informed the out come of the car accident from 2011 on Valmont and 30th.  Since that day in traumatic or urgent situations I’ve learned how to slow my mind and act logically and safely. And now starting today I have the opportunity to learn how to act not just with more knowledge but more deliberateness.


Back in the canyon:


The rope bag Chris had asked me to carry was not that heavy dry, probably around 10lbs. That being said it was bulky as hell and really threw off my center of balance. But more then that, it further inhibited my already weak peripheral vision on my right side. The first down climb into Garden Creek Canyon is on that can be taken face first, but you need to turn around and drop your right foot about four feet in order to get purchase on a small ledge that when edged to the right even further leads to a larger shelf and the bolts for the first rappel. For all intense and purposes I did this blind. Unable to relinquish my pride and throw the rope bag down I hefted it over my shoulder and proceeded into the down climb. Slowly and painstakingly controlling my shaking legs, placing them in just the right spots.


Saturday 3/11/17

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Prevention. Prevention is all you here about in wilderness medicine. In Grand Canyon NP there are rangers posted at the entrance to rim trails called PSAR rangers, preventative search and rescue. These guys and gals literally try to dissuade anyone form going down the trails who might be going in over their head, pun intended. The trail has signs posted everywhere that, “Down is optional, but UP is mandatory.” The SAR teams in any area don’t want to have to come get anyone, they want everyone to know their own skill level, physical ability, and comfort zone. They want people to be safe, but they also want you to enjoy the outdoors. But its when people make poor choices that the men and women that comprise SAR teams are more often than not rallied. Folks who have no real level of fitness, hiking experience, or who just flat out are not prepared make the trek into canyon every year and every year when folks have become a danger to themselves, there are the SAR teams to pull them out. According to one flight medic I had the pleasure of talking to, “99% of rescues are because of preventable and poor choices made by individuals who did not think through their actions.” PSAR teams in GCNP are the very embodiment of the preventative wilderness medicine. They are not there to prevent people from checking something off their bucket list, but they are there to remind you that this is in fact a very difficult thing to do and to be smart about it. Chris Atwood is one of 12 people in the world to have done a threw hike of the Grand Canyon and even he says every time he hikes in the canyon he is reminded of how unforgiving, indiscriminately, and how quickly the canyon takes its toll on even the most experienced there.


So prevention becomes the name of the game. If you feel like you’re having an off day, slow down re-evaluate and maybe change your plans. If you don’t have enough food to hike all 14.5 miles don’t. If you don’t have the level of fitness to walk down a trail don’t. Be accountable for yourself because when you put yourself in danger there are people who care enough to help you. But by helping you and by initiating a rescue, they put themselves in danger. Don’t waste resources, don’t waste lives, check your ego at the door. Prevention is the key to successful trip of any kind.


But prevention often times is over looked. Most folks, myself included won’t check their egos at the door. We think we can more than we can and often times bite of more than we can chew. And sometimes we just have bad luck, we trip, slip, fall, or make any number of easy mistake and find ourselves in a position where we need help. And here is where course like the WFR, and any emergency medical training finds its home. How can we help reduce the loss of life in the wild places we love so much? This is why WFR is a thing. But before our instructors teach WFR content they teach prevention. Check your ego, reduce the risk, reduce the need.


Back in the canyon:

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I’m tired. The rock is slippery and I’ve already eaten three of the five bars I brought that day for nourishment. God I feel like an idiot. I’m making stupid mistakes, having a hard time with the physical demands of our descent and remembering how to tackle a class C canyon is kicking my ass. Luckily for me I’m with two others who have not only a phenomenal amount of experience between them, but also have extra food as well. While noticeable my errors are effectively corrected by the planning of others. The water is cold spring water, the sun is unrelenting. The white in the schist is reflective and amping up the brightness in the canyon. The rock can be hard to look at directly without sunglasses, the water is very much the same. That being said, the beauty of Garden Creek is overwhelming. The green moss on the wet north walls, the slick polished quality of the stone, and the views that spill down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon itself. What an incredible place to be an idiot.


WFR Course 3/11/19


With no real medical experience, the beginning of an academically intense and practical application filled WFR course seems more like a fun filled two weeks with fantastic people and that’s exactly what it was minus the fact that the training is the real deal. How do you deal with the big issues you encounter in the backcountry as an enthusiast, a novice, a professional, or an officiator? By falling back on your most basic training. Recently posted on Our Way Out West was a list of seven reasons why one person thinks that nature lovers should peruse a Wilderness First Responder cert, the most notable is that knowledge is power. The writer of this article shared his instructors saying of, ““You do not rise to the occasion; you fall to your level of training.” NOLS Wilderness Medicine shares this idea. There is no substitute for knowing how to act. And NOLS Wilderness Medicine curriculum is focused on the idea that once you’re in hot water, your going to fall back on something you’ve had drilled into you. And they drill in the PAS. The PAS or patient assessment survey, is a logical step by step evaluation of any patient in any context in order to thoroughly evaluate and identify any issues. If nothing else learn how to be thorough and systematic. Rule out possible options, list more plausible ones, identify major issues, and address the most threatening ones. Work quickly, systematically, and with confidence.


Back in the canyon:

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Weird how you can feel so utterly crushed by something without any physical issue. Canyons can have that effect. The tight walls, the clear air, the open sky, you feel trapped and free at the same time. It’s not that I’m claustrophobic or scared of heights, but when you make a few bad decisions back to back its hard not to feel trapped by them. I had in essence built my own prison. I was the one who did not get enough sleep the night before. I was the one who did not pack the appropriate gear, I was the one who did not bring enough food. I was the one who put myself in the position that I was in trapped in a canyon with only one way down. And an easy way at that. A way I’d taken before. Not to say that I’d gone down this very canyon before, but I’d done similar things. rappelled off of high cliffs, swam through cold water, hike 15mi in nine hours. I’d done these things before. But I was adequately prepared for them. This time I was down on energy, lacking gear, and in a new environment with two new but great friends, and the cumulative experience of my previous adventures. But sometimes you decide to leave knowledge at the door. At that’s just what I’d done. I’d created a far more difficult situation for myself by not preparing adequately. By not being systematic.


Back to the WFR 3/14/17


Once your systematic, you need information. Everything has its own demands, its own need to knows. When you’re talking about a potential patient in the backcountry these things to know are possible injuries and illness and vitals. The PAS that NOLS teaches demands a thorough examination of the patient. Searching their body for possible trauma. Asking all the right questions about an individual’s history to suss out any possible medical issue. A head-to-toe is physical exam for a potential patient, while the S.A.M.P.L.E. history might lead to more information about someone’s medical status. In the head-to-toe a responder will thoroughly go over a patient’s entire body, checking for an  physical abnormalities. The S.A.M.P.L.E. history stands for: symptoms, allergies, medications, pertinent medical history, last ins/outs (consumptions and waste), and events leading to the situation that patients and the responder are now facing. This systematic approach to a patient evaluation leads to the isolation possible issues, and their potential causes. It does not diagnose anything definitively but it can however lead to preventative measures and appropriate action to slow the cause of the malady or injury.


Back to the Canyon:


I found myself facing a 180ft drop in the canyon. Not a straight drop off but a few steps cut into the rock by the passing of the ages and the flow of the creek. The three steps down to the pocket where my two friends waited for me to arrive after cleaning the gear and lowering myself down seemed so far away. The rushing roar of the water grew to such a pitch I could not imagine a world where it did not exist. I shook violently from the cold, a blast of water from a nearby waterfill pounding into my back and over the top of my head nearly drowning me while I waited for a whistle blast that would signify Chris had gotten off rope safely. Hands shaking, I examined my anchor, the thin strap of webbing connecting me the rock face tight under the pressure from my weight. Prepping for my descent I unclimbed our pull line from the anchor and clipped it to my harness, checking the lock on the gate and finding it secure I turned my attention back to the rope Chris had just rapped down. It was slack. Waiting for the whistle blast to let me know he had gotten off safely, I began to shift anxiously and from the cold.

To be continued…


Starting in Flagstaff

I’ve been in Flagstaff, AZ for the last two days. And what a two day period it has been for me! I woke up yesterday with a dead car battery, started writing an audition paper to try to get work as a writer, met some kids at the coffee shop who took me climbing, went back to my neck of the woods where I fell asleep in short order, woke up to sunshine and a headache. Now back at the same coffee shop I realize how much I enjoy the lifestyle I’ve begun to cultivate for myself. Amazing how quickly and seamlessly we adapt to new things.

So Flagstaff, AZ located at 7000 feet above sea level with excellent climbing and hiking options it seems to be a less cosmopolitan Boulder. With large mountain peaks in view of the city, a university located near the center of town, a reputation for outdoor enthusiasm and excellence Flag, as the locals seems to call it is an easy place to be. it takes no effort for me to exist here. People seem to be like minded and well educated and committed to a lifestyle that ensures prosperity for themselves and those around them. While it is obvious that this could just be the niche I have fallen into here because it’s what I am used to back in Boulder, I find it more likely that people everywhere are looking for similar things while they are executed in different ways. With similar topography, climate, and population these towns have created very similar cultures and breed very similar people.

But no matter how similar lives of people seem to be, the individuals themselves are all radically different. Perhaps one of my favorite observations, especially in the adventure sport world of climbing, snowboarding and skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, and a variety of others people seem to be in a constant search for that next thing that’s never been done. The peak that has thus far gone unclimbed, I look to Jimmy Chin and his partners Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk and their 2011 expedition on Meru. The mountain range that has thus far gone untapped, see Travis Rice and So Far Gone Range in Alaska. It is the indomitable spirit of the adventure who seeks these new summits. But, simply because these men and women add their names to the registry of famous explorers does not make their lives any more meaningful. To emulate such a lifestyle for most would not just be impractical but down right impossible. And so what are we left with? To patch together our own unique set of experiences that lead to a overall unique person and life even if the experiences have been had by countless others.

The life of monotony is no less noble, however uninteresting, than a life spent in constant pursuit of new and unknown. It takes a uncommon soul with an uncommon set of experiences that lead to someone who can pursue a life that allows them to go where no one else has, look at John Wesley Powell and his exploration of the Colorado River and beyond. Who’d have known that such a limited education would lead to such boundless curiosity and thirst for knowledge? We celebrate the grandiose but often times forget to celebrate ourselves for the doing the things that we do everyday. Tyler, the barista at Late For The Train, the coffee shop where I am writing, is like most baristas I’ve meet, friendly intelligent, and committed to a certain lifestyle. But if I were to sit down with Tyler and poke and prod my way into his life I’m sure, just like I’m sure with everyone, that I’d find a story worth telling.

The life that I have been enjoying, over the last month especially, has been filled with new faces, new places, and lots of reading. It’s been filled with reflection, and a thirst for knowledge I did not know I had until I removed myself from a world in which I was forced to choke on it. We are not just a reflection of our surroundings and experience, there is something far deeper and immeasurable that makes us who we are. It has been quite fun to get to know myself in this way.

To observe my casual encounters in an unbiased way, to attempt to see the world through their eyes for the time that I spend with them proves to me that every life is worth of its own celebration. Pages on Facebook like the People of New York, highlight this. But more often than not we are so caught up in our own day to day that it is easy to forget and easy to devalue the experience of someone else.

Climbing at Priest Draw yesterday with Eli, not sure of his last name, was one of the moments that I was able to appreciate the lifetime of effort that goes into who we are at any given moment. Eli, like so many others that I know, studied molecular and cellular biology and the University of Colorado at Boulder, he loves climbing and being outdoors, and has long hair and shares Boulder impeccable sense of style, i.e. he had no fashion sense. But Eli was a very strong climber, a light hearted and fun persona to be around, a committed friend, and devout worshiper of wild places. Eli’s list of experiences that made him is to long to be quantified in any real way. However, even with the number of similarities between Eli and the countless others I’ve met who have studied the sciences, love climbing, and have no fashion sense, he was very much so his own unique person. No doubt about it. Someone who is worth of every second spent with him.

Eli helped to push me to climb harder than I ever have in my life, which was both a pleasure, and today a pain. (I’m sore as shit) But regardless of all that I had a day with a guy I meet in a coffee shop that was as good as many of the days I’ve shared with the best of my friends. We create the value we want.

Anyways that probably enough of a ranting of what is on my mind today. Cheers of now and I’ll see you soon!





Did you know that Colquitt is an Irish name?

Life as we all know is filled with unexpected yet sometimes welcome and sometimes horrible surprises. Sometimes these surprises really aren’t surprises but rather small detours off of our original paths. I think perhaps some of the best advice I’ve ever been given was given in a rather informal way by a dear friend John Ryan.

About a week ago I decided to join my friend Lauren and her father up in Glenwood Springs in order to hike to Hanging Lake.

Hanging Lake on a beautiful blue bird day at the end of February.

This 156mi detour seemed to sum up and answer exactly the kind of questions I’ve been dealing with for the last two months. I left on this trip for no clear reason besides to change things up and learn a little bit about myself. And in doing so I have become occupied by several other aspects of solitary travel and adventure. Learning to prioritize the things that are important or necessary over the things that I simply want. When John Ryan texted me after we skied together at Keystone on Monday the 27th,  it sounded a little like this,

“It was good seeing you. Don’t lose yourself in the struggle to find yourself

Enjoy it all

Or maybe that’s exactly what you need to do, to lose yourself to find yourself… I don’t know?”

This advice why slightly cliched through the years of adventure seekers, soul searchers, and religious zealots is about as true as anything I  have ever heard. I am already relatively aware of what it takes for me to be happy, and I know the things that I love. To run away or deny myself these things in the search for who I am is basically saying that I wasn’t happy with who I was at my core and I wanted to reinvent myself. Well I actually don’t want to reinvent myself. I’m perfectly happy with who I am. Which is someone who loves people, interaction, social dynamics, and challenge. Perseverance, humor, time in the sun, academic pursuit, and emotional connection are other things that I also value very highly in myself . Among other personal qualities, these are the ones that I find define me most.

I am not out here to find myself. I know who I am. But I am out here to see what I am capable of. These traits that help to define who I am, like everything, seem to exist in some sort of scaled way, were we all are made up of certain percentages of these traits. I want to know just how I work with these qualities under all sorts of circumstances.

So this past week when I joined Lauren for a hike to Hanging Lake, and then moved on to see my friends John, Jen, and Chris in Silverthorn, and then finally meeting up with Greg Colquitt in Keystone it is because I am acutely aware of who I am. I love people, I love my people. Even though Greg and were not particularly close before I called him I was still welcomed into his place with open arms. That defines my kind of people. Folks who have no better reason to trust someone than because they have given them no reason not to trust them. (Paraphrased from “LIFE” by Keith Richards.) 

I’m not trying to find myself. I’m pretty damn comfortable with who I am. If I lose myself it’s to test myself. To see how far those qualities that I use to define myself run. And if I do discover more to who I am that is excellent and welcome side effect of adventure.

But sometimes an adventure doesn’t have to have a focus, it doesn’t have to be about finding, discovering, or even pushing anything. It can be pure and utter fun.

As you know, I’m James Hansen and I’m having a blast!


Also did you know that Colquitt is an Irish name? I had no idea.

A mellow night.

“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”


Edward Abbey “Desert Solitaire”


A strange thing to be looking at the white and blue light of the webpage while listening to the wind in cottonwood trees. How strange to hear the click-clack of the keyboard keys paired with the snaps of the fire. The darkness pairs well with my fire and my van is making for an excellent wind shield, while still letting me get my fill in of wood smoke. A fire, much like water on a hot day, has become a nightly necessity for me on the road. Each time I’ve bent to make one my technique has changed, usually ever so subtly. I’ll change some minuet detail, only one thing will differ from the nights previous and tonight’s fire, and usually every time the fire burns a little hotter, a little longer, and starts about 10x faster.


Today was really quite the quiet day for me, had a bit of a down day yesterday, and so today I kind of kept the trend alive, went for a hike down Hunter Canyon about 7.5mi down Kane Creek Rd. I followed up my six miles with two Johnnies IPAs from some joint in town. And straight to camp for me. Once at camp I proceeded to eat two large sandwiches and enjoy one large chocolate chip cookie. Now, this oh so relaxing day comes after about four days of hanging out with a crew of kids from SLC. The crew, made in part by a one eyed counter part, welcomed me into their midst, shared their beer, their food, and their adventures. I even picked up a few new ideas as far as living in my car goes.


One such idea was a larger propane tank with an adapter for my Coleman stove, which ran me just about $75. Upon purchasing said new attachments for my stove I was eager to cook dinner that night to say the least. Almost as soon as I had parked at camp for the night, I was out and setting up my kitchen. In my haste, I dropped my stove. Not a large drop, just a small slide from the table seat to the ground, a distance of about 1.5 feet. Brushing the dust off the green and already scratched and dirtied exterior of my proven tough stove, I thought nothing of it. Setting up my stove with new accessories for the first time proved to be a bit of a battle however.


The first issue I ran into… I didn’t have the tools I needed to attach the adapter to the tank. It required a wrench, which I conveniently left at my sister’s house. But I was determined to cook and to cook with my new rig! So like any good person would, I jimmy-rigged the fuck out of it! Taking a large climbing hex, an old one I had found in a rock face and been using as a review mirror decorator… I took several large pieces of cord and shoved it into the corners of the hex. Placing the adapter in just the right way, I was able to create a tight enough hold on the bolt of the adapter to turn the hex with the cord and tighten the bolt sufficiently. Proud of myself for my resourcefulness, I quickly felt my elation fading as the stove would not lite. There was not the sound of gas nor the smell of propane.


Before I could do much else besides letting out an aggravated sigh, some dude around my age came looking for a lighter to solve his own stove related issues. Upon hear my predicament he offered up a small propane tank to test the stove to rule out the propane system. I quickly agreed. When Matt, as I later learned he was called, returned with my lighter, he held the propane tank as promised, and as expected it didn’t help. My stove was indeed broken from its tiny fall. But alas! All my tools are back in Mancos with my sister. So no hope of fixing it tonight. So I’m eating cold cuts and cheese dipped in Dijon mustard. But hey at least I have a fire.



Desert of Wilderness.

Big Bend: Buttes near the Colorado River 6:45am 2/18/17

I was recently taunted by a great friend of mine, “Find something beautiful outside of Utah, you son of a bitch.” In addition to Axel’s barrage of motivational comments I’ve also been reading a fair number of outdoor odysseys were more often than not protagonist die in pursuit of an ideal nature, an ideal man, an ideal world. In the case of Chris McCandless whose tale is told by Jon Krakauer’s, “Into the Wild” 1996, or the story of Everett Ruess, both these young explorers and adventures went in search of something much larger than themselves in the natural world. Both of them were well read and overall well educated by my standards. These to vagabonds if you will, also seemingly had a knack for people, however at the same time there seemed to broud in them a deep disgust for the majority of people who walk the earth. The two men mentioned above specifically travel to some of the, at the time, wildest places in America, where ultimately they die, and tragically usually with having made a realization that what they want to be happy is companionship, people.

I’m sitting in the public library in Moab, Utah typing this collage of thoughts, knowing full well that perhaps the single most important thing to me is human interaction. However, I’m on my present adventure in search of isolation. To be removed from the comforts of other people. I’ve spent several weeks with my dad and my younger brother and sister. A few more weeks were spent with my older sister in Mancos, Colorado. I’ve reconnected with my family in a way I did not think possible six months ago. Which is interesting considering the pretense for the trip. I’ve now also spent about five days road tripping with a few friends and have arranged to meet more friends here in Moab for random fun for the next few days.  While looking to get away, I find myself desperately seeking out human interaction.

But this idea of human interaction has been embodied for me in several different ways, I’m reading more now than I ever have. I’m soaking up everything thing I come into contact with. Currently I’m listening to Keith Richards memoir. Even though I may never know, speak, or even see with my own eyes Keith Richards, the connection I find myself developing to such a legend is strange. But it’s this connection that then pushes me to continue to explore my own musical goals. There is almost a dialogue between the experiences of someone who came before and the pursuits of my life. It is in this pho dialogue that solitude goes from hard to deal with, to being equally as pleasurable as working a crowded bar or having dinner with my family.

In America today it is rare to say the least to find true wilderness. Which as a young man in search of wilderness is slightly discouraging. There are very few places left unexplored, there are very few sites left unseen. However, I’m not seeking something that has never been seen, I’m not looking to climb the routes that no one has climbed, I’m not in search of anything really beside to better understand myself. Of course I’m looking for adventure! Of course I want to discover something incredible, but ambition has many forms.

We all learn who we are through different channels. Often times it is through our dedication to one specific pursuit that allows us to finally grasp at the many intricacies of who we really are. In the words of professional snowboarder Travis Rice,

“Experiencing the world through second hand information isn’t enough. If we want authenticity we have to initiate it. We will never know our full potential unless we push ourselves to find it. It’s this self-discovery that inevitably takes us to the wildest places on earth.”

And sometimes the wildest places are often times just wild to us. Go find your wild, find yourself. Currently I’m finding me.


Until next time!



Moving right along.


“There is beauty in the pathless woods.”

Lord Byron


Alright world! Its January 28, 2017 and James here is itching for some adventure! Its basically been a full month of indulgences: seeing great people, singing memorable songs, eating the tastiest of treats, sleeping more than any man, woman or child should! Needless to say I’m well rested and quite energized and ready for some real road time.

So quick updates…

I bought a mini van. It’s a 2005 Toyota Sienna mini van and its stocked up with a new bed, all my gear, and a few extra sweet perks. The van was sold to me by the gracious Ray Smead who went out and bought a 2006 Sienna with half the miles on it the day after he sold me his 05’. Guess it goes to show the van is a badass way to go. So far it has seen me through from Boulder to Salt Lake City. And from Salt Lake to Mancos, Colorado where my older sister Alys lives. Currently I am posted up in Mancos and setting up a bit of a home base where I can plan and organize from.

  • It’s good to know that the van that I bought is in fact deer resistant up to at least one impact, seeing as it struck one poor ungulate a few years back and still manages just fine.
  • It’s large enough to accommodate both me and at least one guest. I’m sure we could stuff a few more in beside though.
  • It gets better overall gas mileage than my Subaru did.
  • It has an unreal turning radius.
  • I can change into whatever gear I need to comfortably in the back space.
  • It’s strangely kinda has a cool counter culture vibe to it. Dirt bag lifestyle in a soccer mom rig. (who’da thought?)
  • It carries a kayak. ( I picked up a kayak, thanks Ed.)
  • It can accommodate my bike rack. (Thanks u-haul.)
  • It can double as a party van. (Shout out to my new friends in SLC Isabella and Maya. Isabella has one eye by the way, bumping her to the top 10 coolest people that I know. (I’ll let you all speculate whether or not you’ve been bumped off the list, but considering the eye thing is a selling point, Peter LaBlanc you’re still firmly in.))

So the snowboarding gear got organized today, starting tomorrow, Monday the 30th, I will begin some scouting hikes in order to find some backcountry lines in the area. I’ve been doing a little bit of reading and have a few really great starting places. Might as well enjoy the snow while I have it! Chicken Creek is my first pick for tomorrow.


So far from my rather slow start to this trip the one thing I’m learning is that I really don’t need a lot to be happy. Just a few good people, who you can literally meet anywhere, some ambition, a weird amount of motivation, coffee, and a van. Clothes and gear are cool and make things easier but just not really 100% necessary to living a great life. i.e. spend more time naked.

Here is a few pictures of the van cause why the fuck not…

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You’re favorite one eyed guy, James


It was supposed to be a eulogy.

Alright so totaling my Subaru Forester has turned out to be one of the biggest pains I’ve dealt with in a while, but it also happens to be a blessing is disguise. The Forester was a totally rock’in car, but because I wrecked it I got an even better ride and a couple extra bucks for the road…

Right after hitting a deer with great velocity and splattering the poor animal all over I-80, I was hell bent on getting my Subaru repaired and back on the road, well after the news came back that it was totaled I was a wee bit upset. The forester represented to me a massive financial investment in addition to symbolizing a freedom I’d only come to know while having a car. With the Subaru I had the ability to travel anywhere, do anything. I could adventure far and wide explore new places, meet new people, gain a larger appreciation for the world, specifically the natural world around me.

The Subaru spawned and facilitated a variety of adventures from: road tripping, and tripping booms in the northern forests of Arizona outside of Prescott. On this trip I also brought my two bikes and did some excellent trail rides in addition to riding a pretty badass BMX track in Durango, Colorado. That trip was just around 1,700 miles total. I had numerous ventures just north of Boulder to a place called Vedauwoo just south of Laramie, WY. Here I’d scramble giant boulders, cook bacon, and sleep under an amazing array of stars. It was also here that I’d have one of the sketchier moments of 2015.

It was early February in 2015 and myself, Tyson White, and Zewek Kilonoski drove about two hours to Vedauwoo to go shooting. It was still winter and we knew the area had recently been snowed on so we decided to take Zewek’s Jeep Patriot. The drive up was quick and painless, the sky was mostly overcast making the day feel colder than it was. We arrived at Vedauwoo right around 11:30 in the morning to find that most of the back woods 4×4 trails were covered by deep snowdrifts. Well being the arrogant asses that we are, we decided to push on to a back corner of the recreation area. Within about 300 yards of leaving pavement we got stuck. We had no shovels, no real snow gear, and no change of or back up clothing. Naturally we dug ourselves out with our hands and continued on our way, because why turn back? The time was just approaching 1:00pm. We finally snaked our way through a maze of snow drifts frozen puddles to our own personal shooting range. It was here we let hell loose for a few minutes and had an absolute blast, blasting clay pigeons and other assorted items. 3:00pm approached and we began to realize that if we did not head back soon we’d be driving back to the main road in the dark and avoiding the drifts had been hard enough in the light of day. So promptly turning back toward paved roads our misfortune started. Gunning the Jeep through small drifts was not only easy but fun, the issue with something like this though is that it builds confidence. Zewek, who was behind the wheel, gunned it into a drift that we had driven through on our way to shoot earlier that day, not only did we not make it through the drift, but it also became perfectly apparent that we would not be digging ourselves out of this one. Even if we had had shovels. The car was buried up past the front axle with some snow covering the hood the vehicle. We immediately knew that we were in trouble. Each of us jumped into emergency mode, first and foremost calling and notifying a few of our friends of our location, as well as our current situation and status. One of the people we called happened to be my boss at the time a fellow by the name of John Ryan. John had survived around four nights in the backcountry of Keystone after getting lost while skiing out of bounds, John’s story is impressive but should be told by him. When John heard of our situation he kind of gave us one of those laugh snorts, where it was clear he was thinking, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me?!” John gave us a few short words of inspiration and told us not to worry then proceeded to tell us that he could not come get us, disappointment. But understandable the guy has a kid. So we called around for a few more minutes trying to raise on of our friends from nearby Fort Collins, Colorado but alas no luck. Realizing that staying with Jeep was not really an option as we had no food, no water, no warmer clothes we decided to walk out to the freeway to try for a ride and maintain better cell service. As soon as we conceived the plan of hitching a ride we had to veto it, realizing that we were three grown men carrying five guns, no stranger would pick us up. We walked to the freeway anyway hoping to run into someone with a better 4×4 vehicle who might be willing to pull us out.

When we did reach pavement we still had about a 1.4 mile walk to the interstate. 

The three of us trying to find another truck to pull us out of the snow bank.


On the way in we had seen around five or six other cars each of which was either a jeep or larger burly looking truck. None of these cars remained. In fact walking three miles back towards the road in the snow in our tennis shoes we didn’t see a single other person. Just the headlights of the cars on the freeway heading back towards Cheyanne. It was around 6pm when we finally got ahold of one of our friends, Parry, who agreed to come and get us, only issue was, she was over 4 hours away. After the relief of knowing we had a way out of our situation, we began the waiting game. We continued our trek to the freeway posting up in the tunnel that cut under the road. It was here we waited and fantasied about a heater for just around five and a half hours. Right around 11pm that night Parry found us shivering, but otherwise just fine, minus the fact that we were leaving Zewek’s jeep in the middle of nowhere.  Focusing on getting home and warming up we but the loss of the jeep out of our mind temporarily. It wasn’t until four cups of coffee and one amazing nights sleep later when wheels started turning to recover the entrenched jeep.


Making a few phone calls I was able to arrange to borrow a Toyota 4Runner from an old friend of mine the next Saturday and just like that Zewek and I were head north again this time to retrieve his car. Upon arriving in Vedauwoo we immediately noticed the reduced amount of snow coverage and grew suddenly more optimistic about or recovery mission. That was until we saw that the jeep was still very much so stuck. The warmth from the sun heating up the metal of the car, radiating out it made the snow around the jeep melt and allowed the jeep to sink deeper into the drift. On top of that the temperatures were still dropping well below freezing at night and so the jeep was now trapped in a frozen drift of ice. Somehow still feeling optimistic, we proceeded to begin cracking and breaking the icy ring entombing the jeep. After removing a sizeable swath from in front of the jeep we hooked up a tow strap to the chassis of the jeep and to the tow point of the 4Runner and slowly started to pull the jeep out, or so we thought. The tow strap we were using snapped. The end of the strap whipped forward and through the open hatch of the 4Runner smacking the headrest of the driver’s seat four inches ways from my face. The jeep had moved less than an inch. Our hopes were immediately dashed. We could probably have dug the vehicle out entirely by hand but that was not something we really wanted to do.  And just at our lowest moment, a few rednecks mobbed by us on a variety pack of 4×4 toys. Seeing the jeep in such a deep hole the group of four decide to stop and help us out. Pulling out their own tow straps, and helping to shovel an even wider path in front of the jeep we tried again to pull the jeep from its frozen grave. This time to wild success. Every time I go back to Vedauwoo I think of this story, and every time I have a car adventure I remember to pack the right gear to get myself out of any hole, whether figurative or literal.

So that was a bit of a tangent as this is supposed to be more of a eulogy for the Forester… so I’ll carry on my reminiscing. The Subaru got me to Salt Lake City and Durango on more than one occasion.

It traveled to Moab about three times. It carried bikes, climbing gear, and often times found itself topped with a canoe for water adventures on the reservoirs of the Front Range. The back of the Forester became a home away from home, a place I’d often sleep if the weather or road conditions became to extreme while driving I-70 to Summit county. The forester pulled itself up rocky embankments on the Switzerland Trail, and crawled down slick rock outside of Escalante. It brought me safely home for just over two years. Then I exploded a deer with it. What a way to end an era.

But the era of adventures and life on the road is merely beginning. A dear friend of mine just sold me his 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan, helped me build a bed, and restored my dream of being on the road for the next few months.

My names James Hansen and the next time you hear from me this sucker should be packed and ready to roll!


Cheers I’m out!


Another few days…

One interesting experience after another. I guess that’s why they say make big choices on an empty stomach. Over the last 24 hours I’ve had one of the most annoying, inconvenient and rather hilarious experiences I’ve ever had while trying to fly. But allow me to back track ever so slightly in order to properly bring you up to speed.

  • Christmas Eve 2016 I hit a deer.
  • Christmas Day drunk in a hotel.
  • New Years Eve I stayed in for the first time in 5 years. (Been bartending the last 5)
  • Three dentist appointments.
  • One visit to the ocularist, the guy who made my eye.
  • Four breakfasts out on the town.
  • A few late nights.
  • Insurance company issues.
  • A check from the insurance company.
  • Car shopping.
  • No fucking luck.
  • Raymo (Basically my grandpa) calls to say he’ll sell me his van.
  • Bought a ticket back to Denver.
  • Issue after issue arises with the flight making for a comedy of errors.

So what has actually happened here? Well on January 6th a bought an airline ticket through a third party reservation system called CheapoAir, they have lived up to their name. It has been mess. My flight which was originally scheduled for take off at 5:05pm on Monday, January 12th was canceled due to weather conditions here in Moab, Utah where I’m typing this silly little piece. Normal enough, flights get canceled all the time. So I head home and try to reschedule my flight. However, not a single person with CheapoAir can help me reschedule my flight. After about the first 45 minutes of calling, “Customer Service Professionals”, their words not mine,  and getting placed on hold for over two hours, I decided to call the airline itself. Which after cutting some red tape and arguing for an additional 30min was more than accommodating.

But now I’m stuck in Moab. As of Monday night I was able to get my flight changed to 2pm the following day, today which is Tuesday. The plane took off on time, one small pit stop in Moab and then on to Denver right? Wrong. The flight that I had been rescheduled for was a round trip Salt Lake to Moab and back to Salt Lake, just not even remotely close to what I needed. After about another 30min of jumping hoops, some of which were on fire I might add, I had a spot secured on a PC-12 aircraft

Photo retrieved from: Slack&Davis 

at 6:15 from Moab to Denver. That means I only have three more hours in Moab, I can work with that.

Three hours and thirty minutes later…

The plane that was supposed to be back 30minutes ago never made it back. I doubt that it has even taken off from SLC airport. Which means I’m stuck in Moab for the night. I’m not sure what I’m gonna do yet. Might call Kari (a friend of mine I think still lives here), might just check into a hotel and post up for the night until a plane can make it here to get me to Denver. Kinda an unreal amount of bull shit if I’m gonna be honest. I should have gotten back on the plane to SLC and bought a flight from Southwest or some larger company. To say the least flying with a small airliner like Boutique is kinda fun, but so not worth the hours of waiting about I’ve had to do. It kinda feels like that movie where the guy gets stuck in the airport terminal for a few weeks and he just lives outta the terminal for a while. That being said, my terminal is a series of hangers, some shady looking tarmac, a few disgruntled old pilots, and a exceptionally loud Coke machine. I’m not spending the night here, or shaving in the sink, but the idea is still amusing. Its super quiet here, no one is behind any of the work desks, the one attendant has kept himself in his office, I’m pretty sure he is annoyed as fuck with me for whatever reason. The little gift shop for RedTail Air Adventures is the only thing lit up by the river of fluorescent light that moves in a straight line over the ceiling. Well that and the god damn Coke machine. Really I’m not sure if my flights been called off yet, I’m just assuming as much because it’s 30 minutes past when it was supposed to land. That being said every sound I hear I expect to be the annoyed clerk coming to tell me to find a hotel for the night. Load of bullshit. What a couple of days its been flying with this company.

First radio chatter I’ve heard in a long time, no news of my flight though. Still just posted up typing to save my mind from wandering. It’s amazing how quickly one gets annoyed, anxious, and angry when things don’t happen as efficiently as we are used to them happening in our modern society. So far, this trip I’d say the most important thing I am learning is patients. When I hit the deer, I was pissed because it was changing my plans, when this flight mess started I was upset because again it’s adversely affecting my plans. That being said I have no real reason to be upset. I’m alive and well. I have money enough to deal with my situation. I am stuck in one of my all time favorite places, I have friends here, I am currently warm and dry. I am annoyed that I am not back in Boulder with Tyson, or back in SLC, with my fa

Flying into Denver, CO

mily. But I am also far from actually upset. I guess its all part of adventuring. The small aircraft thing though, that’s an immediate correction to my agenda next time. Never again. They just can’t fly through shit weather. Which is something that actually bothers the piss outta me.

I think the reason the annoyed clerk hasn’t come to give me any details about the plane is he doesn’t want to give me the news that I am not gonna make it to Denver tonight. Which is honestly just fine with me. But I would like to start setting up other accommodations for myself.

We will see what happens. Gonna check out on a movie for a minute. Oh shit… I hear a prop plane. Sounds like my flight just landed! All that ranting for not. Let me see if I make it to Denver now…. Fingers crossed. This is James signing off!


One day later…

 Heyyyyoooo! I’m back in Boulder! Tyson snagged me from DIA last night and after all my fretting. That being said it is really great to be back in Boulder. So big news of the day, I bought a 2005 Toyota Sienna mini van! Retrofitted with a bed, removed the seats, this thing is gonna be one hell of a home for the next few months! I’m pretty stoked to get back on the road, but depending on weather I’ll probably end up staying in Boulder till after the weekend. Alright well, I’ve got a beer to finish and a dog to scratch behind the ears…

Until next time!

Royal Arch Trail Boulder, CO