Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Late fall family time at Fairview, Bigfork, MN

Dead eye
The spoils of the CB4
Kids, fish and boats
Not sure if I could imagine a better morning
My captain, my captain 
The family that plinks together, stays together 

Its fall weekends like this that I live for.  Frost at night, sunny and clear during the day.  Its like the world has more clarity.

I can see from generation to generation.  The photos of my great grandfather hang on the wall, smiles, kids and of course there are a ton of hunting and fishing shots.

Fall is also the time for politics and while I hand my 6 six year old son his first Red Ryder I am forced to think about how ridiculous the idea of guns and rights have become.  What was once a family past time is now riddle with ultra conservative jargon and rhetoric.

I had to wade through a sea of AR15 Air rifles just to find a good old Daisey BB gun.  What a sad joke.

The BB gun is in my opinion as American as baseball and apple pie.  Its that first link to your future, to your father and to countless adventures in the big woods.  Its independence, its freedom and its safe (despite the Christmas Story and "You'll Shoot Your Eye out, which you will).  To see it bastardized and turned into an assault rifle makes me realize why there is such political polarization in our country, we have been forces to extremes on both side of the fence.

I handed over the Red Ryder on Friday evening and I will never know peace again until Tae is of the age that he can shoot it completely by himself, which he can't do now and will have to earn his right to. Its certainly a test, a test of respect, a test of listening a test of judgment and in the realm of a six year old its administered in small doses and with lots of supervision.

This was the year to learn that all that we have needs to NOT be taken for granted.  Life is fragile, its turns on the whim of the wind and all that seems stable, is really just about to fall apart, so get after it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Best weekend riding in Duluth ever......fall 2014

Kissing booth session 
Admiral Rockbar
Kostner hitting "Spread Eagle"
It there was a better weekend to ride in Duluth I don't remember it.  Perfect trails, prefect temps, perfect colors, you name it.

It was truly mind blowing.

I rode myself into oblivion Friday through Sunday.  Some big sessions for me at Brewers and Mission.  I am giddy over the fact that the epic tour from my home in Thomson to Mission is now replete with gnar on the old Mission Road to perfect swooping bermed goodness on Loki and Cathedral.

Not much more I think I could ask for in life really.....

Last Day at Spirit for the 2014 Season: Shredding Candyland and Happy Camper with Tae!


Happy Camper

When Spirit Mountain first opened for the season in 2013 I had a lot of local mountain bikers who questioned the need.  As hard core XC riders they told me point blank that they would NEVER pay to ride the lift up.  Like it was a spot on their honor to do so.

I just smiled and nodded.

Being myopic can happen in all things and MTB is as prone to it as anything I guess.  I will say that having Spirit in my city has been one of, if not the best, thing that has happened to MTB riding for my son.

Sure the DT is amazing and its awesome but from a father's perspective I can't say enough about how great it is to put Tae on lift and give him huge long downhills to sing, laugh and giggle on.

Regardless of easiness, Mission, Lester and Brewer still have significant climbs for a six year old on a single speed coaster brake bike that ways twice as much as he does.  That however is not an issue at Spirit.  Its nothing but pure down, pure fun and pure awesome from a kid perspective.

The fact that there is hot chocolate at the bottom does not hurt either (I am told)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Some MLT Shots on the "Louie" The Radio Tower Bay Clean up

So I am in a new world now.  The world of the Land Trust.  This is an amazing change with a steep learning curve.

The idea of conservation and recreation is nothing new.  However in hiring me The Minnesota Land Trust has most certainly made a step in the direction of the cutting edge in how recreation can direct conservation especially in the urban core.

That said, I am also learning a huge amount about how land trusts function and the world they exist in.  Much, much different than my work with IMBA I can tell you.  A week or so ago I was able to tag along and shoot some images for MLT on the Radio Tower Bay Clean up with Daryl Peterson.

This is an amazing project.  It was cool to learn what the St. Louis River was like before industry and the work that is now being done to clean it up after industry.  Both a sad story and yet a hopeful one.

Again this impacts recreation as we are looking at a Water Trail on this stretch of the River, and of course the fisherman was listening closely as John Lindgren of  DNR fisheries talked about his work on the restorations and of course his fish counts.....!

"Ice Flow 2" in Outside Magazine

Well this photo is alive and well and in the Exposures section of Outside Magazine.  While I am generally fully NOT into self promotion, I felt that this was a watershed moment I do have to acknowledge.

The common misperception is that I am new to photography.  That is just that.  A misperception.  My father was a photo enthusiast in the 1970's and being the tinkerer that he is put up a dark room in our basement.

From a young age we were developing film, rolling our own B&W and shooting a lot.  I fell in and out of love with it then.

Later I went in to film and to film school in Burlington VT.  In film school we concentrated a lot of time on composition and style.  Much of it in 16mm film.  I found myself shooting cinema, but thinking like a still photographer.  All that said I did not seriously return to the photography until 6 years ago when I started with IMBA.

I had a need to tell stories and tell them visually but not with the tech issues of film.  I always hated short clips in power points that tended NOT to work, always sucked in front of a room full of people!

In any case I quickly realized I had been not addressing something I have always loved in my life.  That year, with Margaret's help (thank god for her) I wrote down a lot of goals, one of them was having a photo in a national magazine and I jotted down Outside as that magazine.

The story of how this photo was taken has been told a million times.  But I think the way it is told in Outside represents it well.  The funny thing is that when I received the copy edit from Outside after my interview it was WAY over the top adventure.  I sent back my edit, way toned down, the reality is that this was taken on Park Point, less than 5 blocks from my office and that in itself is the real story...oh yeah and the fact that it was -10 and Casey was trying to ride on a way of frozen ice cubes.....

Slapping Leather on the Gunflint Trail

I can't say a whole bunch about the two days I spent on the Gunflint trail.  I can say though that it involved Salsa, guns, whiskey and Fat Bikes.

Blood was shed.  Cold water was jumped in, tents slept in and exhaustion achieved.  At the same time the trusty 5DMK2 was clicking like a beast.

Heres to getting lost on a bike in the middle of the woods where nobody cares just what you do....

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

COGGS Gitchee Gummee Galivant 2014! Duluth does dirt!



Beer stop #2

Advanced crew, on BOB

The kissing booth!

I have so many blog posts I have to get up but the way my day is going today I figured I would start with a quick one.

This Saturday we had the GGG here in Duluth.  What an awesome ride.  It started with around 70 people and since this ride is in town it grew and shrunk as people rode the sections of DT that they liked the most.

This is my favorite ride of the year.  Awesome people, awesome route and awesome time.  There were for sure a lot of new faces on the ride this season and it was great to see their faces as they rode the new trails!

The weather was perfect, if not too hot, which is a big deal this time of the year up here!  The advanced crew did a mini enduro on the ride and hit the Kissing Booth and BOB as part of the route.  The colors were amazing as I rode roll down after roll down, drop after drop and watched endo after endo on BOB!

Thanks COGGS this is the best ride going in the region right now!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A great weekend, full of fall fun and being a Father....

As an advocate for the Outdoors, conservation and recreation, the most powerful influence you can have is your children.

You can see the future in those eyes, in how that little mind grinds to comprehend the wind and the trees and the rivers all the myriad of things that live in them.

The bigness of it, the scale, the ways things interconnect.

Tae has certainly had that influence on me as a father.  Often as I sit in meetings or am thinking of a trail system, a place or an experience, my brain leapfrogs 40 years down the line and I think about what it would be like for Tae at that point in history and what I can do now, personally to make that experience be the best it can be, fully understanding all the external forces that are going to negatively influence the outdoors in the future.

Margaret was in Utah last week learning and seeing her sister in Salt Lake.  I spent the time with Tae and we ended spending most of it outside.

Its a confusing time of year for the outdoors enthusiast.  You have the best riding ever right now, the fishing is awesome, the hunting has started, paddling is still fun....holy smokes its hard to choose!

So as always, we decided to double and triple stack.  We hit the water in the canoe and paddled to some fun fishing, then hauled out the shotgun and walked a nice walk for some grouse.  Tae was asking questions like 10,000 miles an hour.  We spent a lot of time catching frogs (which were everywhere), poking things with sticks and going over our rubber boots in the mud.  We even hooked into some smalls and Tae got to see what a 12 gauge can do to an old beer can (as the grouse were not in cooperation yet).

Many times as a fun hog and adrenaline junky it is easy to get caught up in whats next on the agenda and not relish in what is either going on, or just went on.

This weekend I found myself completely happy to live in the moment, to enjoy the questions of a six year old and to watch his face when picked up a tiny turtle, or watched a flight of ducks or hooked into a nice fat smallmouth........we won't have that time again and because of that I will cherish it forever and forever fight to conserve places for recreation so Tae can bring his kid there when I am gone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two weeks out of the tumult, two weeks into the maelstrom.........

Adam's big laugh!

There is blog life.  There is real life.  When the shit hits the fan on real life, blog life takes a solid back seat until the dust settles.

Suffice to say rolling over from my old gig at IMBA, to my new gig at the Minnesota Land Trust has been eventful.

Change is always rugged, but in this case change is more than just occupational, its cultural, its environmental and its personal.

That all said its going well.  The learning curve is steep, the stakes are high and the possible return on investment higher.

Where else would you want to be in life?

I have to say I have been recreating more in Duluth than I have in the past six years.  I have been spending a lot of time with Margaret and Tae, even got them out on Mission Creek last week for their first rides (they loved it).

My first real challenge in the new role was organizing and guiding BIKE Mag across Duluth for five days and that was really special.  Good guys, they were stoked to see the progress and were obviously impressed with the project.  Of course we drank beer, we talked shop, we talked turkey, we saw music and we enjoyed Duluth..........something that in my former, travel laden job was tough to do.

I am not going to disclose what we did and where we went as that is part of the story that they are going to tell.  I can say that we put together a pretty sick adventure for them when they were here.  It was replete with high drama, multi modal transportation, dirty needles, NIMBY's and Candylands.  Even Loki himself showed his face in the dark.....

Life is changing, and as it has in many ways, this blog will reflect that.  I am committed to it though so please be patient as all of this evolves and for sure get out and enjoy the fall because it feels like another big winter is coming close behind it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Copper Harbor Fat Tire Festival 2014: Beers, Bikes, Bandages and Bluegrass..............

The peoples choice

End of the Harbor

Man what a crazy assed August I just survived!  Trek World in Madison, BWCA, Duluth Bike Fest, IMBA World Summit in Steamboat and finish it up with the best Copper Harbor Fat Tire Fest I can remember......non-stop insanity for a good solid month!

I stepped off the plane on Saturday, got in the IMBARoo for its last gig on Sunday and rocked CH until Labor Day.

The mad craftsman himself

Wonder twin powers

Getting there

And the winners are....
Ask any competitive racer what they covet the most in prizes at Copper Harbor and they will mention "the wheel".  These prizes go to the overall winner of the long and short xc races.  These things are truly works of beauty.  Spun out of Keweenaw Birds eye Maple, spoked and outfitted with disk brakes and coated with Lake Superior rocks for tread they are truly pieces of art.

I have always wanted to see how the wheels were made and this season I had a chance to shoot John Meilahn as he built the 2014 Grand prizes.  John does this as a volunteer and it truly illustrates how passionate people make a place and an event like the one in Copper Harbor special.  John has created 20 of these wheels in the last five years and puts 50 plus hours a season into creating them.  Amazing work for sure!


Tae picked the clothes.... to match his bike
Tae stoke
The best ride of the trip, and most certainly the season was with Tae on Bullwinkle and Garden Brook. Margaret, Tae and I shuttled up to the Mountain Lodge and then descended back down eventually to Copper Harbor.  Tae killed it on his single speed coaster brake bike.  It was pretty amazing what he could get up and down comfortably.  The only drama on the whole ride occurred when Tae blew over the top of a berm near the terminus of Garden Brook.  It was the classic crash, so many of us have had when we are over heating a berm.  Too hot, too fast and full eject over the lip.  Tae however, feet off, cowboy style rode it out for about 30 feet in the woods.  Eventually he came to a halt and looked around in amazement that he was still in one piece.

Still life Belle Vista #8

Fall is here
Last Enduro Climb up to Overflow


Waiting my turn on Dowtown.  Hardest line on the hill.  Waiting in the rain, listening to the hundreds of people roaring for the crashes and close calls below was a bit nerve racking!
Eventually the town of Copper Harbor started filling up with people and the quiet little town started to really bustle.  No longer were the trails all to ourselves and the fishing all our own.  However that is not a bad thing, it just creates more excitement and brings more old friends back into out lives.

I decided to race the Long Enduro as it was the final race in the Lake Superior Gravity Series.  I was lucky enough to have raced the May CH race, the Duluth Bike Festival Race and wanted to finish out the season with the fall finale.  However, unknown to me the final points race had to be the long race, not the short.  That meant I had to hit Downtown, a trail I had never ridden.

I sessioned Downtown on Friday after hanging with the family all day, and in the dry conditions I was able to ride about 90% percent of it.  Enough to warrant signing up for the race.

Race day however proved to be extremely wet and because of that my time and the times of all the racers were much, much slower.  My ultimate goal was to finish in one piece, especially on Downtown.  I ended up racing much slower than expected but cleaned Downtown and in those conditions that is saying a lot!

A sucker is born every day

The annual Dan Wissman memorial dock jump was held on Saturday as well.  There were a surprising number of takers, despite the 63 degree air temps and the 52 degree water temps, but then Mountain Bikers are not known to be very tuned to numbers.....

My annual b-day party followed the dock jump and I have to say thanks to all the folks that came and especially for the many presents I received, pretty stoked to have such amazing friends around myself and my family.

Unfortunately the Kids race was scheduled at the same time as the DH race so I was not able to shoot much of the drama.  That being the bummer of Phil Ott taking a crash on his second run on Overflow.  Phil crashing and losing is a rarity but I was not privy to it as I was watching a bunch of 3-6 six year olds teetering across an open field.  You cant have it all, but I do hope next year there is some separation on these two key events!

Ross, back in the UP

The Vet

Fire Dancers day job
The XC race was fun to watch.  It was much less eventful than last season, but then again how can you beat the drama of a technical XC race in the pouring rain?  Jan Roubal, continued his bad luck streak with a flat early on in the race, but rallied back from 10th to second and kept us all on the edge of our seats.  One day I hope Jan's luck will all pull together, I mean shit dude, we are not getting any younger here.....

Burhito showing the love

Full circle
The awards were complete with booze, photo opps and props.  It was great to see so many locals and especially Duluthians heading up to receive recognition.  There are a lot of dedicated and talented riders in the region and they were put in the spot light in a special way in the harbor.

Bluegrass and bandages

For sale: Did not win race.....

2am light show

The peoples choice logged out for the eve

As is expected, the awards ended and the evening erupted into drinking and song.  There was a killer blue grass band, tons of friends lot of stories of wonder and woo and plenty of bandages to go around.  Thunderstorms were on the horizon most of the night but held off, being just a wonderful light show.
Eventually it all devolved around a campfire and we all stumbled off to bed.

I awoke groggy the next morning, loaded of the Roo and headed for home thus closing a chapter of my life that I will always cherish.....

Until we meet again