Wadi Rum Sunset

Visit Jordan – Wadi Rum: Mars on Earth

I feel bad that I haven’t written more about my trip to Jordan quite yet. I’ve continued to post pictures of our journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep the stoke for this amazing country high. It’s just, spring time in Colorado is magical. It’s not too hot; it’s not too cold; and there aren’t any bugs. We have unicorns prancing from rainbow to rainbow, and pleasant little mountain nymphs playing their flutes.

Kidding. I’m just going through my annual re-fall in love with climbing thing where that’s all I think about every waking moment. And if I’m not thinking about it, I’m actually doing it. Also, camping. Mostly camping and climbing together all of the times.

Anyways, I was going through my Jordan pictures again (because that’s what I do nearly every other day it seems), and I saw the ones from visiting Wadi Rum. If you have no other reason to visit Jordan than Wadi Rum, you’re not doing it wrong. I could spend weeks just in this area alone. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, with it’s seemingly flat, powdery sand and MASSIVE sandstone features appearing out of nowhere, for no reason. It was Mars on Earth. And quite possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Wadi Rum Sunset

The sandstone was endless. You could spend a hundred lifetimes climbing here. And never make a dent. You could get lost ducking in and out of the various canyons of this 280 sq. mile reserve without a guide very easily. Though, that might be your intent. And I wouldn’t blame you.

There’s something freeing here. I can’t quite describe it. Maybe because this land was settled 10,000 years ago. And I can imagine probably looks the same.

Wadi Rum Hiking

The local Bedouin guides and hosts were some of the friendliest people we met the entire time in Jordan. They started playing pranks and jokes nearly as soon as we showed up. After they served the bottomless glass of tea, that is. We weren’t exactly roughing it, despite being in the middle of nowhere.

Wadi Rum Bedouin Tea

After tea time, I made friends and decided to partake in some traditional hookah.

Wadi Rum Bedouin Hosts

By this time, everyone was exploring. There were so many wonderful things to see. But while I enjoyed a comfort of the tea and the relaxation of the hookah, I was enamored by the sounds.

That soon wore off, and it was time for my own exploring. It didn’t take long to find everyone playing on the rocks above our camp site for the night. It wasn’t hard to understand why. I witnessed the most awe-inspiring sunset I have ever seen.

Wadi Rum Sunset

After that magical scene, it was finally time for a traditional Bedouin dinner. Our lamb and chicken were buried in the sand with hot coals and left to roast for hours while we were out playing in the desert all day. When it was time to eat, the meat was succulent, tender, and moist. Afterwards, our hosts started playing and singing more music. It wasn’t long until they were dancing. And then we were dancing. Not as Americans, but as the Bedouins.

Wadi Rum Bedouin Food

As the evening dwindled away, we watched Shaboola roast, grind, and brew fresh Arabic coffee with cardamom. And of course, more tea and hookah around the fire. The night ended perfectly with several of us deciding to sleep under the stars instead of in the tent. We stayed up just a bit later with our hosts and had a memorable time with more jokes and laughter that went on into the night.

The next morning was undeniably bittersweet. We weren’t ready to leave yet. But with Columbia running the show, you know it’s only going to get better.

We didn’t have breakfast at the camp, but yes, we did have more tea before we set off on our camel ride back to the bus.

Wadi Rum Bedouin Tea

Wadi Rum Camel Ride

I don’t know if my camel was a male or female, but I like to think it was a female. She was very loving and willing to get to know me, which is more than I can say for my real dating life.

Wadi Rum Camel Ride

And that’s Wadi Rum as best as I can put it. The whole Jordan experience is too surreal for words, much less the best part of it. I purposely wanted to say as little as possible and let the pictures and sounds do the talking for me. This is one place I will never forget and will absolutely be coming back. The climbing community is growing here rapidly with many developed routes and areas already, and as I said earlier, there is no lack of new exploration to be had. I highly suggest you do.

 

When Trying Stuff Goes Wrong

I’ve written quite a bit about Trying Stuff. It’s an absolute great slogan for Columbia Sportswear, and it gives me endless opportunities to write about it since I’m always Trying Stuff. I’m going to assume you all follow each and every single post with the same vim and vigor with which I write them, but juuuuust in case you let one slip through the cracks, here’s some recap:

What's that on my head?!?!

The first time I went off-width crack climbing with Pamela Shanti-Pack

My first post about “hiking for training” after becoming #OmniTen

Refurbishing Cast Iron Cookware – I had to try it for the first time to get good at it every time thereafter

Then I went to the OmniGames in Park City, UT and explained what Trying Stuff means to me

Then I started my first garden ever

And lastly, the best way to Try Stuff is to never say no to stuff

Trying Stuff isn’t always glamorous

A lot of us in the OmniTen love to promote our success and fun adventure, but trust me, we all fail A LOT too. In fact, my failures are sometimes a lot more interesting for you to read…and painful for me to relive. Constantly pushing yourself and constantly needing to be the best at everything you do means there’s going to be some pain. I’ve had no shortness of that.

Off-width chicken wingPotential brain damage from a history of head injuries

The first time I dropped off a cornice

That one time I ran into a tree on my snowboard

And the time I tipped a row boat in Class 3 rapids without a life jacket

 

Today I bring you the next installment of failure.

Despite the fact it looks like I lose control as soon as I launch (which would be an accurate observation), I actually landed this sucker cleanly twice before. As soon as the camera came out, all hell broke loose.

I was hoping to get some rad product shots for my new Niche Story 2.0 snowboard, but instead they got this, and I got a headache (to put it lightly).

So, my fellow outdoor enthusiasts, I’m well aware of what you’re all about, but share some failures with me, will you? Don’t worry, I’ll only laugh a little.

Favorite Columbia Gear While Traveling Jordan

I know, I know, you’re probably alllll waiting with abated breath to read about my experiences in Jordan, but my laptop has died and I can’t bring myself to post about the trip without my pictures to help tell the story. So for now, I’m going to steal from the other #OmniTen on this less than emotional topic.

Putting it to the Test

Over the course of the 11 days we were visiting the Kingdom of Jordan, we thoroughly used and abused our Columbia gear. We hiked and swam through miles of slot canyons. We toured the Lost City of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and ancient Roman, Greek, and Aramaic ruins. We rode camels. We scrambled up rocks. We spent time in two major seas of the world. And we dressed up nicely for Five-star restaurants. (Have I mentioned how diverse Jordan is?)

We floated. We walked. We ran. We climbed. We slid. We swam. It was cold. It was hot. It was wet. It was sunny. It was cloudy.

And everything mostly held up well. (That will be separate post.) I was really impressed by all of the gear, but a few things stood out more than others. Sometimes for fashion, sometimes for function, sometimes for both.

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Bahama Vent PFG boat shoes

These have become my go-to shoes for daily life. They’re vented incredibly well and help prevent sweaty feet. They’re loafers so they just slip on and off but still manage to stay on your feet while walking. This is important in your day to day travels so you don’t step on broken glass, rusty nails, and dog poop with your bare feet. That’s a free pro-tip.

The one downside is that if you wear them without socks, in a boating or other shorts-wearing activity, they do hold onto the stank a little more than I’d like. Nevertheless, that fact isn’t stopping me from listing them as part of my favorites.

Here is one of Seth’s photos of Caleb rocking the Bahama PFGs while mingling with the local children. They were pretty fascinated by the drone, but lesbi-honest, so were we all. The entire trip.

Bahama Vent PFG

Performance Zero Arm Sleeves with Omni-Freeze Technology

I tried these out a couple weeks before going to Jordan while mountain biking in Moab and Fruita. They worked great then, and they worked great hiking in slot canyons and Petra too.

It takes a decent amount of glisten (sweat) to activate the Omni-Freeze, but once it is, you can really feel it working. I think the Omni-Freeze probably works here better than anywhere else on your body because of how tight it fits against your skin. This makes having big gunz even more important. Or I guess you could just buy the size according to your arms. Either way.

The other main reason I love the arm sleeves is that I don’t have to cake on the sunscreen. They have UPF 50 protection so you can put them on before or after you’ve gotten your daily allotment of mocha skin inducing UV rays. They even look way cool like an NBA player, with or without a shirt.

I was like, this Cathedral thing in Petra is pretty cool. Let me do a handstand real quick. (You can also see them in my Saying ‘NO’ to TryingStuff post.)

DCIM100GOPRO

Royce Peak Pant

These pants are pretty amazing. Mostly, a lot amazing. They fall into the same category as the Bahama Vent shoes: perfectly functional for outdoors, look great for urban wear.

I mostly used them for the latter on this trip whenever we’d go out to a fancy restaurant. Because we had absolutely no idea what we’d be doing every day, I never wanted to risk getting stuck in pants if we were going to be active in the desert. However, before I left for Jordan, I wore them hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and when I climbed the First Flatiron in Boulder.

Not only do they fit better than any designer jean I’ve ever worn, but they are incredibly functional for outdoor use. I’ma buy at least one more pair.

Casey grabbed this one of Justin wearing his Royce Pants atop his noble steed. I’m pretty sure camels are considered steeds.

Royce

Zero Rules Short

I saved the best for last. When I got these in my box of goodies, I was a little leery but equally excited. They have a built-in [Omni-Freeze] liner so I assumed these were swimming trunks. Most shorts I wear come down to mid-knee or possibly below, but these fit well above there. I was like, “sweet! Short-shorts!!” But I also knew that might make me a little uncomfortable in the fashion department. They also have the weight of the super awkward, really short, I-can’t-believe-people-actually-wear-them running shorts most often seen on middle-aged men that think they’re still going to win the Boston Marathon.

Turns out, I kinda like ’em that short. At least for hiking and swimming. The liner makes sure everything stays where it’s supposed to, and since it’s made from Omni-Freeze fabric, we came up with a lot of really great slogans. Think: cold sensations and the family jewels. I’m sure you can come up with something.

The best part about these is that they really increase your tan above an oft neglected area these days above your knee. I’m fairly certain that’s the first thing people notice in the summer. AmIright?

They give Seth the power to backflips into the Red Sea. Otherwise I’m sure that wouldn’t be possible. (Also, don’t be afraid to follow me on Instagram. I swear I post cool stuff there too.)

 

 

Now, go #BuyStuff. In the meantime, I’m staving of jet lag.

Come as #OmniTen, Leave as #OmniFamily

 As I pondered how I wanted to close out this series of the Dickens Challenge (the final event that will help determine who wins the trip to Jordan), I couldn’t help but think of all the possible directions this post could take. At first I wanted to make a giant video montage of everything else I haven’t yet shown. Then I considered doing multiple posts per day on singular facets of everything we experienced.

But neither of those things are really how I operate. Yes, I’ve put together a video or two for climbing, and sure, there have been occasions when I post multiple times per week. But by and large, I tend to do longer, written streams of consciousness and more spread out. I don’t write outlines and plan posts. I don’t take multiple days to think them over. I wait for inspiration, lay my fingers on my keyboard, and let the words pour over my screen. I feel like if I were to pump out too much content, forcefully, all real meaning and emotion would get lost in the chaos and lack of inspiration. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be genuine, to bring you all with me, to feel the experience as I felt it. And I can only do that if I stay true to my “craft”.

And yet, I was still somewhat stressing out over how to wrap this all up. It wasn’t until Daniel innocently tweeted the following for it to really hit me:


And I coupled it with what he also said in an email:

Though, these stories you’re sharing aren’t just for us. They’re for your family, friends, fans, and future. Because when we all look back on this past week, we’ll have an amazing collection of stories from so many diverse perspectives, it’s like writing history from the present.

He was right. Yes, Columbia is judging us all on our storytelling abilities, but it’s not for them. Call me narcissistic if you want (I’ve been called much worse), but I enjoy reading my own writing, especially if it’s written while inspired. If I never get asked to join Columbia on another epic adventure such as this one, this post is for me. To relive the memories. To think of all the people, from different corners of North America, with exceptionally different backgrounds, that I bonded with solely through our love of the outdoors and desire to push ourselves to try things we’ve not done before.

I can think of no better way of sharing and concluding my adventure with Columbia and the #OmniTen families than through my keyboard and into your hearts and emotions. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I know I will enjoy writing it…

Assumptions, Inaccuracies, and Envy

I have been following #OmniTen since members of the first season stepped foot onto Arizona’s dry, arid, desert land. At that point, I was just re-starting my outdoor life after a very long hiatus to focus on college, playing football, powerlifting, becoming a strength specialist, and attempting to start my own business. I didn’t really know who these people were, on social media or otherwise, so I didn’t really care about “them”. I was simply envious of the trip and envious of the gear.

I knew they were just a collection of individuals that [mostly] had never met in real life before. They went on a trip, and in only 3 or 4 days, they were already claiming to be family. I didn’t tell anyone, but that made me snidely chuckle inside. I have been on many teams in my life of athletics that spent years and years together, going through much more difficult times, and sharing vastly more, diverse ranges of emotions than these 10 people had in those four days, and still had not considered some of my teammates to be family. But these ten people claimed they were? It sounded like feel-good marketing to me, but I let them go with it. It wasn’t hurting me or anyone else, so who cares? Besides, I was still only envious of the gear.

Then something happened – I continued to follow these people and interact with them and started to learn more about them. They were still only profile pictures and text on a screen, but they became humans. Season after season, Columbia continued to pick genuine people to represent their brand and inspire others along the way. After each and every seasonal trip, the cohort claimed to be family. Was it more than kitschy shtick? Was there something going on that made these people feel this way? As an outsider, I had no idea. I was incredibly intrigued but still apprehensive to actually believe them.

All the while, I continued following everyone. Interacting with all of them. Telling them secrets and inner fears that I rarely tell “real life” friends and acquaintances. I was definitely not part of their family, but these people were already becoming very close to me. I could not wait for the day to finally meet them, even if I never had become #OmniTen. I still would have bonded with them but not like after this trip. I watched them interact with each other, perpetuate inside jokes. make fun of each other like only families can, and it finally became apparent….these people were family. I now cared less about the gear and more about being able to join their family.

An Outsider’s Observations

In Season 1, there were people that lived in cars, climbers, peak-baggers, backcountry skiers and snowboarders, ultra-runners, and big-time social media influencers. This was the inception of #OmniTen and Columbia’s first attempt at trying something new. Since it was new, they had no idea if this was a one-time thing or if it would continue into the future. They picked the best they could to represent their brand at the time, regardless of background. A very good strategy for not having a crystal ball.

After the success of Season 1, it seems like they knew they were onto something good. In Season 2 (fall/winter), they picked mostly big time, hot shot skiers and snowboarders. People that could rip the slopes and shred the gnar. Several of these people lived in the same city or had already met due to their shared passion of skiing. Just the antics they portrayed on social media was enough to convince me the people of Season 2 were my people: goofy, dedicated, hilarious, driven, and passionate.

Season 3 once again saw people more apt to summer activities. There were a lot of hikers, trail runners, photographers (not that that’s specific to summer), and people that enjoyed warmer weather in general. By this time, I “knew” all of them. We had been socializing for years. And they had also been following the Omni-Adventures the entire time. I was very happy for all of them that they were chosen.

View from the Inside

And then came Season 4. “My” season.

Seth, Andy, and Wendy seemingly devote the vast majority of their time to skiing. Or at least if they could control the seasons of the year, they’d always choose “ski season”. Seth and Wendy alpine ski while Cobra Commander (Andy) teli’s like a boss.

Heidi is primarily a trail runner and inexplicably getting into ultras. She continues training throughout the winter, but always finds time for riding. She even bought a split board this season so is obviously a more than capable boarder. When her cats allow.

Derek has a love of wine and hiking and has been skiing (ice) for years. He’s hiked countless, countless miles and peaks. More than I could ever imagine hitting in my lifetime. When I see pictures, or read stories, about him sharing those experiences with his daughter, I somewhat question the direction of my life.

What can I say about Beth? She lives her life on the road with her husband, “F”, and dog, Sprocket. They both have a love of off-roading, hiking, and anything else they can get their hands on. Thankfully for her, she grew up skiing on the lovely slopes of Washington’s White Pass, Crystal Mountain, and somewhat less lovely Snoqualmie Pass. Then she went to college out east and maybe gave their notorious ice slopes a try or two.

Then there’s Patrick, Josh, and I. We’re climbers primarily that just so happen to all snowboard too. Patrick and I love long, “easy” summer alpine climbing. We can climb 10’s and 11’s at the crag, but if we had a choice, we’d love to find an amazing 14-pitch, 5.6 alpine route. Josh, on the other hand, crushes boulders. He sport climbs too, but he professed his affinity for bouldering a lot more. Bouldering is my least favorite type of climbing, but I can appreciate anyone that does it with passion. I’ll run out some 5.9 trad and risk blowing a piece, but if you put me on a V0 boulder 10 feet off the ground I freak the f*ck out.

Lastly, there’s Michelle, our one and only full-time Canadian member of the entire #OmniTen group. I honestly don’t know what she doesn’t do. This summer she plans to climb across the U.S. with her soon-to-be-husband for their honeymoon. She shoots archery, she ice climbs, she skis AND snowboards, she mountain bikes, she hikes, she backpacks, she does it all. And she does it all fearlessly. I think all of us dabble in all of these activities, but it seems like Michelle and Mike are constantly on the go, constantly doing something different, and not really favoring one activity or another. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Michelle is the only one who gets a picture due to the tenacity it took to join us in UT. Your efforts will not be forgotten, and we’re all so happy you made it. (Photo Courtesy of Dave Creech)
What's that on my head?!?!
What’s that on my head?!?!

Because this was “our season”, Columbia allowed us to show up two-and-a-half days before the other seasons. This allowed us to learn about each other and bond together like the previous groups before they showed up for the #OmniGames. We spent our days running laps on groomers, taking turns spraying each other with snow as we waited for our turn to be interviewed, and generally having an amazing time. There was never any downtime or awkward silences. The only time things got awkward was when Twister was taken out of the box. There were moments of uneasiness and “HEY, WATCH IT!!”, but to me, that was the moment we became family.

Over the next day, the others started showing up, but no matter how many splinter groups were formed, or how many people passed between them, it seemed like Season 4 was always together. Whether it was at 7:30am for breakfast, 9:00am for first chair, out on the mountain, or the nights that turned into mornings, we were together.

It saddened me to no end that we were without two of our members: Wendy and Michelle
It saddened me to no end that we were without two of our members: Wendy and Michelle (Photo by Daniel Green)

Family Reunion

It’s now Wednesday evening, and all of the #OmniFamilies are finally meeting for the first time. It was a crazy, bizarre feeling to be meeting people for the very first time, yet also feeling like a family reunion. We all knew each other so well, and there was always something to talk about. I met so many famous people, I could hardly believe I was apart of it. And when I say “famous”, I mean everybody. They were all famous to me because they came before me, and I had been following them for so long.

This was probably my favorite night of the entire trip. There was so much energy. So much stoke. So many stories. New friends. Old friends. Plaid. Lots of plaid. And party. More than a few of us got caught up in the moment, but I doubt there are very many regrets for that. The next morning might have been a little rough, but those were memories that will last a lifetime. Thank goodness there were no lack of pictures; I’m just sad it would be improbable to post all of the pictures that everyone took here.

Courtesy of Anne Carney
Courtesy of Anne Carney

 

Me and Little B

Weston is explaining how tall he is when he stands up.
Weston is explaining how tall he is when he stands up.
One of my favs
One of my favs
These two are tall. And have great sense of fashion.
These two are tall. And have great sense of fashion.
Plaid Party! Photo by Heidi Henry
Plaid Party! Photo by Heidi Henry

 

Pranks, Dancing, and Weird Things (with Beards)

Speaking for myself, I will only be as big of a goofball as the people around me. Until I’m comfortable around them. It seems as though no one else had that issue, or it was just that we all got used to each other so fast that it was completely a non-issue. It started with Brett trying to tackle me in the snow. Little did he know of my cat-like reflexes and extensive Junior High wrestling experience. I ended up with the upperhand, but I felt I needed to repay him. I turned on my GoPro and snuck up behind him, but as soon as we both hit the ground, the camera ended up turning off. I did see some other cameras around though so some documentation of this might surface at some point. Fingers crossed!

Later that night, unfortunately for Brett (again), Wes came up to me and asked, “when Brett’s giving his interview, will you push him over if I get down behind him?” I hesitated for one micro-instant and came back with a resounding, “yes!” We pulled in Gina to capture it for us. She was taking still photos so you can see Wes perfectly, but I’m just a blur that shows up in the middle for one picture as I go running by.

Unfortunately, I can’t embed the Flipagram so you’ll have to click here if you want to see it.

That same night, a spontaneous dance party broke out. Once again, Gina captured the start of it in a gif. Later, it would grow to be huge with the entire crew joining in. Bystanders were incredibly confused.

Flash Mob Dance Party! Courtesy of Gina Begin.
Flash Mob Dance Party! Courtesy of Gina Begin.

There was no lack of Shotskis either.

Courtesy of Weston Shirey
Courtesy of Weston Shirey
Photo courtesy of Josh Riggins.
Photo courtesy of Josh Riggins.

Which perhaps led to the following pictures, the next four taken by the fabulous Anne Carney.

Mix 'n Match

More weird

OmniYoga

I wish this didn't happen. But it did. And here it is.
I wish this didn’t happen. But it did. And here it is.

Then I saw Seth do this…

Jump splits

Miley Cyrus was played…


And Beth and I stole Anne’s phone to do a little photoshoot. We tried to upload them to all her social media accounts before she noticed, but we got busted.

Selfies!

Whatch YOU lookin at??
I have absolutely no explanation for why I giggle every time I look at this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Steve Weiss!

Who is Steve Weiss?

 Heather and Katie, always keepin’ it classy

Stay classy, Park City

Beard envy at its finest.

Beard Envy

As you can see, there were some fairly “intimate” moments captured during this trip. Intimate moments and moments that take so much comfort in trusting and knowing the people around you, that they would not be possible if we really were just a bunch of random individuals without a central core of beliefs that brought us all together. That is a very special thing.

Come as #OmniTen, Leave as #OmniFamily

I feel as though if I were to ever venture into any one of these amazing people’s lives again, I’d have no problems asking for a small patch on their floor to sleep. And I can’t do that to just anyone that I’ve only spent two-and-a-half days with. It takes me a looong time to feel that connection with regular people. But with #OmniTen? That connection is instant. It’s electric. It’s real. I can’t wait for Patrick to tell me he’s coming to Colorado so that he, Justin, and I can go climbing. I can’t wait for any of the rippers from Season 2 or Gina or Steve to tell me to meet them at Berthoud pass to hit some backcountry turns. I can’t wait for Josh to setup a mountain bike ride in Moab and have Beth and F join us. One of these days, Heather and Heidi might convince me to hike a 14’er with them. The next time I’m in Florida for work, I’ll ask Julie if she’s around to hit a workout in the park. I’ve never been to Cali…Cali…Cali, but I’m guessing Derek and Casey wouldn’t have issues showing me around SoCal. And you better believe if I ever make it down to Arizona, I’ll be contacting #OmniTeam9 partner Heidi; the man responsible for making so many of us look good in all our posts, Dave Creech; and “Mr. I Hike Everywhere”, Adam Nutting.

I now understand what everyone from seasons past meant when they said they are now part of a family. It’s an honest statement. There is a gravity of calling someone family, one that I don’t take lightly. Because there is nothing more important to me than family. And I am proud to now be a member of this one.

This family isn’t limited to just #OmniTen. It’s also extended to the leader of this gigantic event, Mr. Daniel Green. I cannot fathom the amount of time, effort, and energy it took to pull this off, regardless of event planning contractors. I know we shared some drinks together on the trip, but my liver is still healthy, and there’s always room for more. Thank you for everything you did and making this run as smoothly as humanly possible.

And there’s Tori. I lump Tori in with #OmniTen because Tori IS #OmniTen. Season 3 to be exact. But she now also works with Daniel at Columbia Corporate on the social media team. She also had a huge part in the success of this event, making sure everyone had what they needed and teaching everyone how to take a proper GoPro selfie. Invaluable information for people like us. Thank you, Tori.

To everyone I didn’t mention, I am truly sorry. You’ve all left a lasting impression on me, and I enjoyed every second I spent with each and every one of you. As I said in the beginning, if I’m never lucky enough to join Columbia and the rest of you on another trip like this again, I will look back at this post and remember all the memories, all the relationships that were built these short days, and the exuberance we all felt being surrounded by such astonishing people from all different walks of life, coming together because of our love of the outdoors.

Until we meet again. #OmniTen

 

Climbing to the Top of the #OmniGames

Hello, again.

I’m going to keep this brief because the video pretty much says it all. (And because I’m sitting at work and have a TON of real world career type stuff to do.)

As I mentioned yesterday, Columbia Sportswear brought all four seasons of their #OmniTen groups to Park City to participate in the “#OmniGames”. They did a great job of mostly keeping us in the dark about what the games would entail until the day they started. As we pulled into Garff Ranch, nearly everyone in my shuttle van became as giddy as school children when we saw a plethora of snowmobiles and a gaggle of dogs.

We all gathered in the main meeting area, and fearless leader Daniel explained everything that was about to take place in detail. On the line was another sponsored trip to the country of Jordan. The #OmniGames were ON!

I was instantly excited when I drew Heidi’s name out of the hat. If you follow her blog and/or social media accounts, she’s just as goofy as I am. (I would later learn she might be goofier. Normally I’d up my antics once I saw hers – because I don’t really believe in boundaries, except to match those of the people around me, but since I didn’t have a voice, it kind of held me back. Poop.) She’s a runner and a desert person; I’m a climber/snowboarder and a cold-weather person. I wasn’t sure how well we were going to do in the games, and winning a trip to Jordan would be the 2nd most amazing thing to happen to me (this trip being the 1st), but I really just wanted have fun, get to know Heidi, and let our results speak for themselves.

For full explanation of all the events, check out Heidi’s post, The Art of #TryingStuff, and learn what challenges she faced and how she conquered them along the way.

Lastly, before you can click play, I have to tell you about some of the pictures. If you notice any of the still photos are NOT taken with iPhone or GoPro and look like they’re from a professional, that’s because Season 3 member @DavidECreech (Blog: Wilderness Dave) was unfortunately unable to play in the games. So instead, he took AMAZING photos. If that weren’t enough, he allowed any and all of us to use any and all of his pictures. Thanks, Dave, you’re really f*ckin cool!

Now, onto the video!

 

Chasm Lake in snow

Training Hike and #TryingStuff Volume I: Chasm Lake

Of the few people that read my satirical post about hiking being horrible, I think most of them thought I was joking. But in reality, the joke’s on them! I really do not like hiking, and if you follow me on Twitter, I’ve probably told you as such many, many, numerous times. I just don’t get it.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do it. If I want to alpine climb, there’s usually a long approach: hiking. If I want to go winter camping, it’s not very fun to camp right at the car. So, hike (snowshoe). This winter, I hope to con someone/people into taking me backcountry snowboarding. More snowshoeing/hiking because I don’t have a split board. And if someone invites me on their weekend backpacking trip, guess what, I need to keep up. More hiking in my life.

Who disappeared the mountains?
Who disappeared the mountains?

As much as I may dislike hiking, it’s always going to be a part of what I do outdoors. And as I learned on a failed attempt at the Grand Teton, I need to be in hiking condition so that I’m still physically capable of doing the climb once I get there.

Now, with all that pish posh out of the way, I forced myself to go on a hike on Sun. Alone. Something else I never do because I can’t motivate myself to do so and because I’m an extrovert to the max. I did it anyway. In order to do this, I just needed to get into the frame of mind that this hike is a “training” hike. Because I will do a lot of things in the name of training, in order to be able to perform better at a more “important” activity. I guess every hike will be a “training hike” from here on out.

I really wanted climb Mt. Audubon, but the trail head was already closed for the season, adding an additional 3+ miles (one way) to the hike. No way. Instead of climbing a mountain, I decided to drive a bit further to the Longs Peak trail head and hike to Chasm Lake.

The weather said it would be mid-twenties, a sustained 15 mph wind with 35+ mph gusts, and 1-3 inches of snow. I was excited! With that combination, I thought for sure it would get down to the low tens of degrees (if not lower) with the windchill. Perfect conditions to try out my new OmniTen gear.

To start the hike, I was wearing my Columbia base layer, lined with their OmniHeat technology, my Arc’Teryx Beta AR pants as windproof, and a Nike DriFit t-shirt. That’s it. But I did have another layer of insulation (top and bottom) and the Columbia Millenium Flash shell for windproof in my pack just in case. I also had a hat lined with OmniHeat.

This is how I normally feel about hiking.
This is how I normally feel about hiking.

I started the hike hot ‘n heavy. Way too hot ‘n heavy. I needed to slow my pace about a half-mile into it. By the end of mile 2, I was bored out my gourd (as per usual). So then I tried something else new: I listened to music.

I don’t know if I’m more annoyed that I listened to music, or that I liked listening to music.

But either way, the hike went a lot better!

The weather conditions held true to the forecast. In fact, it got so windy and snowy that Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker literally disappeared. However, I never did put on anymore layers except the hat. The OmniHeat base layers (with a little windproof help on the lower half) were fine enough, especially with the hat. That’s one benefit of being really “hot blooded”, but now I’m going to have to wait until the temps drop even more to try out the OmniHeat Millenium shell. Other than in-bound snowboarding, I’m not sure when I’ll get to wear the insulated pants they sent too. I can already tell those suckers are going to be hot!

So, yes, I hiked. Yes, I went alone. Yes, I listened to music. Yes, I wore my first set of Columbia’s technical winter-wear. And yes, I think I might find myself doing this again. It wasn’t completely horrible. Just don’t think I’ll be cancelling “better” plans (like I mentioned in the beginning) in order to hike.

Oh, and I made it to Chasm Lake and back (8.5 miles) in 4 hours, including breaks. Eh. Not too bad for someone that despises this game, right? 😉

Chasm Lake in snow
Longs Peak is only a hundred yards away or so, but you still can’t see the peak. Nifty, eh?