I never thought I’d be that person who had more than one sleeping bag, a backpack for any occasion, and 2 snowboard setups. But alas, it happened and hey, I’m pretty happy about it. However epically awesome “gear mountain” may become, there comes a time where plastic bins just don’t cut it anymore. That time for me was when I was packing for an impromptu backpacking trip and couldn’t find my headlamp. So what did I do? Waited six months until the weather got crappy and got to work fitting out some unfinished space in my basement to show off all my gear by building a DIY gear room. In the end I had one bitching backcountry closet that didn’t break the bank.
I stand there, frozen, unable to speak, pinching a ledge of rock about a knuckle deep for dear life. We had bushwhacked our way up a Castlewood Canyon to hang out on some walls and get our climb on – however at that moment it was the last thing I could bring myself to do. Half way up a route where the holds went from gentle 5.9 jugs to a grueling 5.11a. finger killers. There I was, stuck in my sick fantasy on how was I going to fall to certain death. Tears started to trickle down my face.
Pristine sapphire waters lap gently against the steep peaks of the Sierra Nevadas. Dramatic views unfold between pines and you hike along the ridges of the mountains. Perhaps hiking isn’t your thing, you’re more of a beach bum, that’s ok because there are countless nooks and crannies to find hidden patches of beach leading to sapphire waters you have to see to believe. Where is this obtainable slice of Shangri-la you ask? Oh, it’s closer than you think, this is Lake Tahoe like a local.
The 3:30am wake up call came with some ease this go around. Surprisingly, my eyes naturally popped open without an alarm. It’s as if my natural body clock knew what was coming. I rolled out of bed and got moving for today’s destination: Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park. Who doesn’t want to ring in a new year watching the sun rise dramatically over the snow caped mountains?
As I finally clear the boulders and begin to rip my spikes off Nina does a happy dance and starts rolling furiously across the patches of snow. She’s happy to be outside enjoying the great white wonderland. Seeing her joy brings a warmth to my heart. I look up at the beautiful lake snuggled against the steep couliors of the 13,000′ peaks surrounding me. Life is perfect. This is why I snowshoe with a dog.
It’s cold, well below freezing. You’re a few miles in and the weather is starting to roll in quick. 40-50mph freezing winds whip down the steep face of the mountain your hiking next to. You lose sight of your partner in front of you. Despite the seemingly brutal conditions you’re warm. The wind actually feels good. You’ve been working hard through the drifts. You stop, look at the swirling landscape around you and you’re overcome with pure joy, even though you know you can’t go on. You aren’t making it to your intended destination a mere 1.5 miles ahead. In that moment, you realize that you’ve arrived at the day’s destination. You are here.
It’s tough to shop for an adventurer. When it comes to gear we can be pretty particular. Those unfamiliar with the scene often feel intimidated with all the options and the steep price tags. Furthermore, we typically seek out experiences not things. Adventurers are a particular breed that can seem difficult to shop for once the holidays roll around. However, the reality is we are actually quite easy to please. In fact, many of us would rather prefer the company of those we love to any material thing. So here’s an adventurer’s gift guide to spark some inspiration for the adventure lover close to your heart.
5 miles deep in some tougher terrain. The trail was slick with ice and snow and at times littered with rocks and boulders. Overall it was nothing too difficult, but I had been the only person I’d seen all morning. Just me and Nina walking along this beautiful valley soaking in the early morning sun. Steep snow dusted cliffs towered above the east side of the valley, while sun kissed steep hill covered in burned trees flanked the west. I took a deep breath and smiled as I watched the steam from my breath on the exhale I heard it.
Despite the challenges, reaching the base of Jones Mountain while being enveloped by the weather at Ptarmigan Lake made that extra mis-mile of hiking worth it. Sitting next to a roaring fire with some of your closest friends, laughing so hard it hurts kept the cold at bay. Watching my severely socially challenged dog chase a young pup around the fire erased whatever she was thinking by sitting next to a stream and refusing to move in 34 degree weather. The morning sun after 2 days of nothing but cold and clouds felt like a gift sent from the heavens. Being in the mountains is a beautiful balance. Beckoning you in for more, but just as often reminding you that you are a mere mortal; humbling you to the fullest.