This Blog

This blog is dedicated to explorations of spirit, life, adventure, and people. I hope that it encompasses much more than the actions of people, but rather creates a more complete picture of what it means to be an athlete and a person in the outdoor community.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


I'm tired. Bored. Hung over. I don't fit in. I don't like it. I can't afford it. It makes me uncomfortable. I might not like it. I might get bored. I might not fit in. I don't like them.

The problem with excuses is that they color the narrative of our lives. What we tell ourselves is our story, and how we think of ourselves.

Being purposeful is, well, our purpose. We have to find something that we want to strive toward and make a lifetime effort towards it. As we progress through the layers of the goal, it will shift, our passions will shift as we will learn, and we will further understand what we are doing here. Most important is to be as engaged as possible in the process and be actively seeking ways to improve at achieving your goal of the time. Maybe sports is a way to get fit, maybe sports serves in the higher purpose of becoming a leader, maybe you are saving people by being a coach, maybe you are trying to slay girls by running big waterfalls(I will save you the trouble, it doesn't work). But you should be doing it to the fullest of your extent until it no longer interests you, and your passion bubbles up for something else, then transition with your whole mind and body.

We can always find excuses, stories we tell ourselves that make our shortcoming or lack of effort valid or acceptable in our minds. We need to really ponder them. Are they really true? How do they impact my growth? How does the story impact the narrative of my life? The stories we tell ourselves are true. What do you want to be your truth? That you are too tired/timid to run, or read, or engage fully in a conversation, or, that the grit required to do those things is worth the reward.

The bottom line is that you should be making decisions, not excuses.

Clancy, on the Boom in Nicaragua, being decisive on the wave.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Climbing the ladder

"At first, it is a relationship between you and the river, then it becomes about you and who you are with"
D. McQuoid

Finding a crew is hard. Even finding people to recreate with is hard. You don't want to hold them back, you don't want them to hold you back. Or at least that is how is starts. When you start a sport, it is all about you, your learning, your safety, the river, the trail, the mountain. Over time you start to manage all those things. You become prepared, and self sufficient, and the worries start to dissipate and what is left is you and your friends. You have gone so many times that it doesn't matter so much how fast you go. You have gone fast. You have gone slow. You have taken it easy. You have pushed yourself to your limit. 

You always have to go with others though, and it is hard to break into a new crew, or even find a new friend. Kayaking combines all these things: similar skill, similar speeds, desires, dispositions, safety considerations, logistics, even diet can play a role in how people interact on a trip. You make a lot of concessions to play with other people. So it is of the utmost importance that we communicate with each other about our intentions, our needs, our situations, and are able to read other people.

Rules of engagement:
1. If you are asked on a trip, and you had no part in the planning, don't invite anyone else. They extended the invite to you and you only.
2. Tread lightly when trying to get onto someone else's trip, recognize that they are doing you a huge favor if they let you paddle with them. Trip logistics as well as the safety of the group change a lot with the addition of one person, and frankly, river trips are some of the most complicated trips to plan, that is why it is rare to get more than a few people on the river at a time.
3. Get a tight crew. Go with them all the time. You will meet other paddlers through this crew, but will still be within the safety of your crew, you are not a rando if you are with other people.
4. It is best to go with people you have not paddled with before on a classic, relatively easy run for your skill level. Pushing it in a new group is hard on everyone.
5. You will break every one of these rules because kayaking is very hard to get people to do, when you want and how you want.

Here is a shot by Jay Lynn, the rare shot of the author.

Have fun out there, and communicate!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Our teacher

I often wondered why it is that you can teach yourself to kayak, or ski, and why you need a teacher to learn things in school. We certainly need to be exposed to the information, but why can't we just see the information and then start navigating it. Many people are taught to roll and then are taken out a few times kayaking, then start on their own. People can also just put on some skis and have a few words thrown their way and head down the mountain.

Months and months go by without instruction, sometime years, and we progress.

We get better and better and better.

The river teaches us, mountains teach us. It does what any good teacher does: gives us challenging problems, gives us immediate feedback, and makes it fun.  We sit in class day after day, and I try to take the lessons that the river teaches, and use that as a model for teaching.

Sometimes the river is quiet, subtle, slow; sometimes it is fast and powerful, loud and overwhelming. It can be playful, sunny and light, dancing and easy. The snow can be light and freeing, hard and fast, or windy and harsh.

These are the lessons that the river has, that the mountains have. You must have variety, you must always have your students adapting to something new.

A river or a mountain can be anything, and is everything, it gives life and takes it away, it is an ever shifting entity but the lessons are always rich and worth learning, even if they are tough. It has all of life wrapped up in it, and that is what we need from a true teacher. We need every lesson life has to offer, every part of life expressed by our teacher, and the rivers and the mountains have it, that is why they are the greatest teachers.

We can spend a lifetime in the mountains, running up them, biking through them, kayaking down their crevasses, swimming though their pores, and yet we learn each time.

Lessons from 10 years in the mountains(That I learn every year... over and over and over):

A light jacket is always a good idea
If you think it isn't enough water, it isn't enough water.
plan better than you did
you can push through hunger, but you really should have just brought a snack
Injuries are preventable and it is all about the choices you make
Injuries are healable, but only if you move them to heal
Sweat is good
Have a repair kit
Ballistic stretching is best, and should be done every time you move intensely
You don't want to do a recovery workout, but you should
Intensity interval training makes you faster
If you want to go faster, drink caffeine
Weight train and you will be more confident
It is always better with friends
It isn't one bad choice that gets you in trouble, it is a series of bad choices
Sleep like it is part of your training
Life is short, honor those who are gone, and do what they loved to do
Keep playing or you get old

Cheers to the mountains and rivers.
Keep on learning.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I have one story.

Richard emerged out of his eurovan at about 8:15 with a black t-shirt cutoff right above his belly button. A black skull sat prominently in the center of the shirt. His ravaged black curly hair suggested a night of questionable decisions influenced by deep optimism.  He began to unload to set up shuttle. Out came a mermaid, a sword, streamers, and shiny decorative stars. We unloaded his life, or at least his life last night. The skull on his shirt somehow was making more sense now, though I think his hair explained the length of the shirt, deep optimism with a hint of absurd enthusiasm.

As we hopped into the shuttle vehicle he popped back out, "forgot my river knife", and promptly returned with a comically feeble pirate sword. "Got it". Yep,  now we were going to be safe.

On the ride down he explained his choice of vehicle "$250 for rent is just ridiculous" he said. "And a cardboard mermaid isn't?" I thought to myself. But, I had to admit, the man lived simply, and lived the dream.

Once on the water he would thrust his sword in the air with each worthy boof. 

He was particularly excited before one rapid and he explained it as "A big boof followed by explosions all around you". Explosions? Yep. Ready? Yep. And, he was right. Explosions. 

As our time on the river wore on, he told us of being a river ranger, his dating, his life. He also said that being a kayaker is "like being a monk". I think he meant the river is your church, and it can be a lonesome journey sometimes. 

I met richard, and for a few days I knew him, we were friends, like old friends. That is the river for you, it offers you moments of clarity and satisfaction, and once you leave it is back to another life, but I love those glimpses. In no other place do you meet richard, do you become deeply involved, and just as quickly you are gone. But the memory and the connection remain.

Cheers to friends on the river, we will reunite yet again and laugh at portages, fear, and the suggested weight limits on racks. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Too Young to be old, too old to be young.

Things are getting weird.

There is a definite split starting to occur, or maybe I haven’t noticed until now, but this generation is starting to split up into their paths, and they get more divergent every year.

I am 29, own a house, have a career. Used to sleep on the ground 100 days a year, live out of a car, cook, bum, kayak. I thought drinking stopped being cool when I was 17. 

In the mountains, there are a few types of people, and they clash in their activities. To be young is to go out to bars, to be extroverted, to play sports and hang out. To be old is to buy a house, commute to work, have a career, to want a family and kids, to go to bed on time. 

Somehow, there is pressure to have an identity, to make sense of yourself, but you can’t. Each part of yourself is unique, and doesn’t necessarily fit some nice stereotype. I own a house(old), act like a kid(young), go to sleep early(old), am single(young), don’t party(old), play a lot(young).

A day with the Freeride team, during our one memorable storm, these boys range from 12-16 years old and throw some mighty backflips. 

Do we really have to make sense of this? Why is it so important that our life fit some narrative? What is our obsession with logical behavior relative to the folklore of our culture? We all feel like failures in some capacity in our lives, we all feel successful at other parts of our life, are proud of who we are.

We are extremely diverse beings, and spending time trying to understand ourselves should be time spent trying to accept ourselves and what we need to thrive, rather than beating ourselves up over what we are not. We can always strive to be better, but not at the cost of who we are now.

Are we waiting to grow? Is getting old inevitable? How do we measure success, and who measures it?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An attempt at romance

Note #2

Look, it is just a flower
Just a rose
It sits on the ground
Not meaning to impose

Each petal a word
It can mean a thousand things
Which can write a script
That is beyond my wit

It is so simple
Yet so fleeting
But in this moment
You can see it's meaning

It is meant for a smile
That lasts awhile
Maybe it will lead to something greater
That is for you to decide a little later

I meant to write this story awhile ago, I was waiting for an ending, so here it is. 

There is this girl...

She is a runner. She runs up hills, she runs for hours and hours.

A boy sees her, is proud that she runs, to see someone out there, Living. 

Boy has a crush.

Through coincidence, girl lives below friend, he sees her there, meets her a few times in passing. 

Crazy idea. 

Secret admirer.

Notes and roses, left at her porch. Some silly, some sincere, just a few, so few, so few.

The last note, an invitation. Meet me on the dock at the lake at 6.

No responses, no contact, no identities known. Meet at the lake at 6.

The day comes. Heart races. Not in real life. This could never really happen. Not to boy, not to girl.

Legs swinging off the dock, not believing.

The dock, water lapping, time passing.

Water lapping, time passing. 

6 passes.

Of course not. It couldn't happen. Not to me. Not to anyone.

Someone paddling in the distance.


Girl arrives. It couldn't happen. Not to me. Not to anyone.

Nervous talk. Surprise. Excitement. 

Her number. Her number!

She is gone for a few months. Out of the country. But she will be back. 

Boy calls. 

Boy calls.

No response. 

No response. 

Boy finally sees her around town. Girl does not acknowledge him. She won't look. Not at me.  Not at anyone. It couldn't happen. Not to me. Not to anyone. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Finding your soul mate

I just read an article about how the idea of a soul mate may have caused more problems than it has solved. Our lives are shaped by our expectation. If we expect to find someone or something that is perfect, we will always be let down, and be searching for more.

It may be a stretch but the search for love is not much unlike the search for the perfect river. If we are looking for a river that has exactly the right difficulty, beautiful drops, runability at many different water levels, play waves, or whatever, we will always be searching, and always finding fault in the way the river is. It may have a big hike in, a shitty shuttle, too many portages, a scary gorge, a few too many sieves. But, if we are open to the experience of loving each river as something that is inherently imperfect, and we expect there to be big hikes, scary sections, beatdowns, portages, and long shuttles, we can be content with those things, we can hold onto the small perfections that each run or person has to offer. Chris enjoying a small perfection. 

Hour Glass.

I have fallen in love with imperfection before. Teaching is imperfect, and marred with many shortcoming that a pure philosopher would spit at. Every run I have ever done is imperfect, every person, every action. Perfection is elusive, which is why we practice, which is why we have meetings and attend conferences, and go out again day after day trying to figure out how to communicate, forgive, be compassionate, boof, scout, assess, pack, teach, and love.

Yuba gap reminded me of this. I am quite a prude when it comes to kayaking, I want low input and high levels of reward. I don’t want my travel time to be greater than the amount of time than I am on the water, or on the bike, or skis. But, on this day yuba gap was perfect. I got stuck in an undercut eddy, portaged a ton of rapids, pitoned my boat 4 times, and it took us 7 hours to complete the run, but I expected all of that. I expect scary portages, long days, intimidating rapids, to not run everything I could run, and in the end, it was perfect, because I expected it not to be. If we can lose our idea of a soul mate, and start to expect, and even enjoy the imperfections of our relationships with others, we can love them fully, and accept them fully, as the beautiful river that they are. 

Entrance Drop.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Life is challenging, and oh so joyful, but there is an optimal level of challenge that we must seek. We can't be complacent, but we also can't be slaves to challenge, to the struggle. We create our reality, through our thought, through our actions, through our expectations and perceptions.

We walk a line, and we can choose more of either: Leisure or challenge. 

It is like it is snowing and sunny at the same time, which do you need at this particular moment?

Monday, April 7, 2014

You're almost dead

I really tried to write a post about maturity. I did. But then I had a conversation with a housemate and she reminded me that we are almost dead. So damn it, be happy now, because there may be no tomorrow!

 Thanks to Andy Giordano for shooting photos. You can check out the rest of his stuff here.

Here is the original post:


It has been a topic that I have thought about throughout my life. What is maturity?

I have always loved it when people say "Act your age!".

No matter what age I am, I am acting my age, silly.

I have been thinking about it because I don't fit my own stereotype for what a man is.

Consider this:
On Friday after school I went and hung out with 12-16 year old boys, the freeride team. We built a kicker and did back flips. It was me, a 29 year old, and a bunch of boys and young men, and we were having a great time. Apparently fun does not change as we get older.

The next day I went out with some friends and found this great cornice pictured above. No, I didn't land it any of the three times I tried, but it was fun. Are these the pursuits of a man, or a boy?

A man has responsibilities, or at least fulfills the ones he has. He has kids, he has a job that makes him unhappy, or at least he complains about. A man has troubles, and drinks to deal with it. A man fights, and gets dirty, and doesn't get to have too much fun.

This does not describe my life at all. I play almost every day. My job is super fun. I pretty much live in a way that is as close to camping as I can get. I don't have any kids. I don't have a partner. It is unclear to me that any of those things will happen.

The identities that we form now are drastically different than what the past has given us as options. How many generations have really had the choice to have kids? How many sports have been invented in the last 50 years to keep people playing their whole lives?(think surfing, biking, climbing, whitewater kayaking). The world is changing faster than we can change our life expectations.

So here we are. Playing like we are kids, because we can. Maybe we are the new adults, not burdened by the things that our parents generations were burdened by. We have economic independence. We can wait for love to marry, we can wait to have children. We are different, and that is a hard thing to be because the rules no longer apply.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


The river flows on

I have been in truckee for enough time to have some sense of what it means to be single here. I talk about it a lot, with a lot of people. There are many sayings here "You don't lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn" and for ladies "The odds are good but the goods are odd". Agreed. This really isn't a truckee problem, it is a mountain/outdoor problem. I always say "Well, if it isn't flat and warm, there won't be any girls". I don't actually say that, but I should, because it is true.

With a ratio of 7:3 men to women in Truckee (I totally just made that up) there is a sense of urgency when you meet someone single, as if you should just pounce on them. This goes for both sexes, really. Frankly, there just aren't that many responsible, compassionate, professional, spiritual, thoughtful, intelligent, athletic, healthy, attractive people, that are single. There are plenty of those people, they just already have partners. And actually, when you write out that list, it does sound like a tall order.

I went out to Twin Lakes this weekend to solidify some thoughts about being single.

It is hard to live with integrity in the dating world. There are so many choices: Where do you find for a partner? Do you actively search for a partner(use a dating site, actively put yourself in situations where you meet other people)? Do you live in the moment or live for the future?

The night helps me to solidify some thoughts
(this was my first long exposure at night, and it is extremely hard to focus with no way of seeing your photo until after it processes. One more skill to practice)

These are the pillars I have chosen to live by

1. The mantra "I accept and appreciate what is and am open to what could be"

Man, you have to say this a lot, because it is hard to live by.

We have the option of being happy all the time, if we choose to be satisfied with what we have. Notice that this mantra is not "I accept and appreciate what is and am frustrated by lost opportunities". Frankly, we will meet thousands of people, and our experience with them will only deepen our understanding of our needs and abilities within the context of a relationship. I am thankful to each person that I have had the pleasure of dating, whether for a day or for years. They have all taught me something about relationships and myself.  On the flip side, we can only thank people for the opportunity to get to know them, and not expect anything more, in this way we can have gratitude for any relationship that we are in, rather than feeling empty when we are not in one.

It is a long journey, but at least you have your friends.

2. Be true to yourself

The anxiety that we feel because of the lack of good options puts more pressure on us to force things. It does not work. Your heart always wins, eventually. There is something to the idea that you should give things time before making a decision, but it seems like the people that I know that fell in love, followed their heart for the whole journey. Love is illogical, so don't try to explain it, just feel it.

The addendum here is that you should not just be chasing someone because they are the opposite sex. Being true to yourself means being true to the other person too. I always ask myself the question "Would I want to hang out with this person if there were no possibility for us to get together". If the answer is no, then why are you hanging out with them? Frankly, you have marginalized that person, and yourself, into just a fraction of what you actually are.

3. Communicate

It sucks being rejected, no doubt about it, but if you are thankful for the time you spent together and never expected more, you end up with more gratitude. And trust me, no communication is the worst. It is like a wound that never heals. You just keep looking at it, and sure enough, it is still there. The message is clear, but it was never actually said, which is just shitty. We can forgive those people, but frankly you should try not to be one. Be honest. It is drastically better.

Being in the dating game can make you tired.

I live by these pillars because I maintain contentment for this moment, build honest relationships, communicate to those about my intentions as soon as I am aware and able to(which is not always as soon as the other person would like), and have gratitude to those that give me the opportunity to be with them. This is the best I can do, this is my ideal. I don't always live up to it, but these are the pillars I hope to achieve while being single, and while dating.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I have been tripping out recently on the idea of skill development. Sometimes it just blows me away what we have to go through to in order to become an expert. It is a miracle that we ever make it. Watching people learn how to kayak, ski, skate, lift, read, write, or any human endeavor worth doing is a long uphill battle.

Some activities are tremendously capital intensive; intellectual skills require direct guidance for almost two decades to get someone to a level that they can even participate in a middle class job. Recently, Time magazine dedicated an issue to a new breed of school that have students graduate school with a 2 year associates degree and a guaranteed job at IBM. High school isn't enough, and neither is college. There is no gimme. You have to earn what you get, or have the connections to float through.

The idea of "earning it" in the real world is much more complex than in the outdoor sports. We just walk out there, climb to the top, and we "earned it". But what is the equivalent in the professional world? Are some people riding lifts, while others are boot packing, and others skinning up?

Galen makes a transition after a short climb.

What do we earn? What was given to us?

The climb gives us character, perspective, gratitude, and we get to practice real human skills. But the bottom line for everyone looking for the dream line: Perseverance. You will make it to the top if you envision yourself there. You will make it to the top if you keep hiking up, keep looking for a way. And you will get knocked down, lose your footing, but all it takes is a short break, and starting back up.
Galen looks out on the possibilities. 

Kiki Shows us what it is really about