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I gave up hope a long time ago...

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Big City Mountaineers

Working in Aurora at a small experimental highschool right off the freeway, I had the pleasure of tutoring basic Algebra with a population I couldn’t believe.

“Hey Meester!” they would call in the hallway as they walked into the room to tell me about their stagnant weekends. Some kids had gone to the movies and seen the latest flick while others had just stayed home to watch TV or play the latest video games.

All but a rare few would moan and groan when PE should have been their favorite subject. They coud only run for several seconds at a time before they had to walk to recuperate their atrophied muscles.

Cheetos, Fritos, Maltodextrin and Pectin… These kids live off of gas station food ad McDonalds.

Daniel was always the exception. Daniel would come in with a big smile on his face and tell me about how his Dad had taken him fly fishing in Wyoming that weekend. He had learned how to clean a fish and it was gross.

Daniel would always come to class prepared and excited to learn. Even when his eyes were rolling into the back of his head because he had stayed up all night with his crying little brother, I could tell he was trying his hardest to figure out those integers and mixed numbers. Daniel was different because almost every weekend, he got out of the packed urban jungle and experience the value that nature has to offer.

He breathed fresh air and cooked over an open fire under the stars.

I think if every child could even have one weekend in the wilderness with good people, at least some of them would have something to dream about.

 

http://www.bigcitymountaineers.org/

I recently signed up for my second triathlon, this time challenging myself with an olympic distance. Half of the entry fee can be a donation to a charity of my choice and Big City Mountaineers was not a hard decision. There are a lot of charities out there, but very few that I feel like could have a directly positive influence on my community.

A blurb from Big City Mountaineers’s website:

“Big City Mountaineers transforms the lives of under-served urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills. We partner with community-based youth organizations and caring adult volunteers who act as mentors in the field to help young people realize their potential. Our curriculum improves integrity, self- esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities and communication skills in close to 1,000 youth annually. BCM has a proven track record of improving young peoples’ lives with:
• Increased likeliness to stay in school
• Reduction in violence
• Reduction in drug use”

If you want to donate to help me race in a triathlon and to benefit so many kids with potential, please go to this link:

https://www.flatironsevents.com/members/fundraising?id=10413

I will post more about my training and Big City Mountaineers in the coming weeks and hopefully I can inspire others to give to BCM or just to go outside.

 

 

 

Long’s Peak Highline

Photo by Scott Rogers

Photo Credit Scott Rogers. Click photo to see his whole album. If you can’t see it, friend me on Facebook and I might let you see it.

My alarm starting yelling at me. I could already hear Richard stirring in his sleeping bag outside. It wouldn’t be light out for at least 4 hours, a little bit more than I’d just slept. We had to be up early to make it up to Chasm View Lake, where Scott, Scotty and Finn were already bivying.

Hiking in and Pointing

Look!

About a year prior, Scott and I had scouted a gap in Rocky Mountain National Park across The Notch, a prominent feature between Mt. Meeker and Long’s Peak. Training, planning and brain storming ensued in the following months. The first time we stood in The Notch, neither of us could have walked that line, but in the back of my mind, every time I stepped on a slackline, high or low, I was training for the steps that would occur 14,000 feet above sea level across a gap visible for miles in every direction.

Alone in the pitch black parking lot, Rich and I listened to Royksopp as we packed our bags with the necessities of a long day in The Park. Hiking briskly, we arrived at the bivy just in time to see the crew climbing out from underneath their rock. What a ragtag crew! Finn was adorned with his finest outerwear and the others were sporting excited grins ready for the day to begin despite a general lack of bacon for breakfast…

A Marmot's Perspective

A marmot’s perspective of the antics to ensue.

410′ long lines, too many trips up to Stoked Bowl, and a lot of time spent up high had hopefully prepared me for the fatigue that is accompanied with being in the high country. Growing up at an elevation of about 5 feet in Huntington Beach had it’s advantages, but my red blood cell count (kind of important for transferring oxygen to your cells hemo-something or globo-whatnot…)  is not one of them. Luckily, with enough training anything is possible.

We seemed to hike up talus forever. What is normally a frozen couloir called The Loft, was an endless scree field waiting to be endured. The excited smirks on our faces that morning had switched to open mouthed gasps for thin air. No one knows how long it took us to get to the top, but we made it and began to rig.

Spanning the gap, the line was quickly set, and ready to walk. Scott Turpin was the first to rage. Stepping on the line like a greek god taking human form in ancient Greece, he strolled back and forth across the 130′ gap. A gathering of gaping hikers atop Long’s Peak assembled. Cheers erupted from the summit when he completed the first ascent walk, but Scott’s own bellow, full of emotion and conquest, effortlessly drowned out their enthusiasm. What a moment… Full man was a piece of cake and he stepped off the line handing me the leash.

Scott Turpin

Currently training in the Dagobah System.

Despite a lack of recent slackline training, I felt calm and ready to take whatever this line could throw at me. With clouds swirling all around us, but blue skies overhead and not a breath of wind, I stepped out into the space between. Under my feet, the line responded to my movements. One step at a time, one breath at a time, I simultaneously got farther away from and closer to solid ground. If you highline, you know what it is like for your vision to fail purely because you are scared. If you highline, you know what it is like to forget to breath just because you are focusing too hard on trying to put one foot in front of the other. If you highline, you know what it is like to have an idea of mental clarity. If you highline, “I could never do that” is not a grammatically correct sentence. To be clear, I think highlining is beneficial.

Quinn "Me" Carrasco

This is what they mean when they say, “Don’t look down”.

After I was done walking, Scotty Rogers, our fearless photographer and epicness extraordinaire  stepped out and crushed. Rich and Finn went next, both wrestling with the line and succeeding in their own ways. Unlike other highlines I’ve done, walking across the whole line was such a minuscule part of the day compared to the massive scale of this project. Everyone involved in this project is such a beast and props to Finn for carrying up the lines!

Scott Rogers

Scotty “Ragers”. The unassuming badass.

Richard Webb

Richard Webb enjoying the sights on A Walk in the Park.

One more trip out on the line to try some double drop knees and exposure turns and I ended up practicing my back diving skills. Feeling confident that the line would hold and certain that I may never get this experience again, I leapt off the line and tested my nerve as well as the rigging.

A different perspective.

Photo Credit Scott Rogers

Before we took down the line, with storms encroaching from all directions, Scott walked out confidently with only a swami belt to hold a potential fall. I held my breath and got nervous as he strode across more confidently than a competent pedestrian might cross the street. With only a thin piece of webbing around his abdomen, a fall could result in the worst. I could barely watch. He stepped off the line and bellowed again, happier than a clam. We all were. What an accomplishment a long time coming!

Endless Talus...

Ok we’re done now…

Hiking out, we got another taste of the endless scree field and found ourselves scrambling to get under the bivy rock as some serious weather rolled through. It was hailing as I pumped water from the crystal clear chasm view lake. A very naked Finn ran by and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of him dive into the frigid alpine body of water. He never misses a chance to take advantage of the situation and live a little bit harder than everyone else around him.

GoPro Face

Chasm View Lake

The day was an amazing experience and I can’t be more thankful to our wonderful crew. Without the support of an awesome community of friends, I would never be able to rage as hard, nor would it be as fun to try.

To everyone that might have the means, I hope you repeat this line, “A Walk in the Park”. Slogging included, this is one of the best.

or something!

And the Lord said, “Let the visible light refract upon the molecules of water as they fall from the Heavens”!

The Golden Classic (The Thaw (or who really knows?…))

This past weekend, the School of Mines Slackline Club along with Slackline Visions and many other wonderful sponsors, held a slackline event and competition in Golden, CO. Competitors, athletes and general slackline enthusiasts flocked from far and wide to enjoy the 20 or so slacklines scattered around the center of Kafadar Commons (Mines’s main grassy mall). Mickey Wilson and Josh Beaudoin put a lot of work into organizing this event and the result was a spectacular showing that got me psyched on tricklining hardcore.

I’ll mention upfront that the pictures I use in this post were taken by  Scott Rogers who can be found behind the lens at all of the epic highlines going down in the southwest.

Here are some of the photos that were posted on Facebook from the event.

SICK LINE

Big Butt Bounce!

Of course I had to start with a photo of me!

Josh "Slacks with Wolves" Beaudoin keeping his toes pointed on the chain!

Did you remember to use sunblock?

Is that 2" webbing?? Where can I get that??

Getting our Yoga On

Lindsay Gonzales led us through a brilliant yoga classe to warm up for the competition.

And there was this...

Larkin Carey and James Jensen (Boulderites) brought out their newest toy to film the event!

Marcus just killing it!

Showing us his tricks in several minutes...

In the final round, Frankie Najera came out on top with Mickey Wilson taking second.

The competition was really world class with everyone throwing down their hardest tricks on the slackline. I think slackers and nonslackers alike had a fantastic time playing in the sunny Golden weather.

If you would like to see more of the photos that were taken at this event, enjoy them on Scott Roger’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rogerss or visit his website: slacklineshots.com.

Growing Up

This weekend, I spent some time with fourth and fifth graders while slacklining at a school. I watched in wonder as these kids sat on the floor and watched me trickline. Raising their hands to ask the circus performers questions they had about our passion, I noticed their uninhibited nature. In about a year’s time, many of them will lose their thirst for knowledge, wonder and excitement. They will slowly become jaded and lost in a huge world that sucks the life out of everything that manages to struggle against it.

Or at least, that’s how so many people look at their lives.

People fear death, ignore it or make up ideas about what might be after it. Life may very well just be the path to death, but I want everyone to take a look side to side and realize there is magic everywhere. Your capacity to enjoy the wonders of this universe increase with every step you take towards death. Just as a tree can see farther on the horizon as it grows taller, a more experienced human can savor a moment with undistracted efficacy.

With practice, I told these kids, you can achieve anything. If you focus an effort with proper attention, you will become the astronauts, doctors, fire fighters and super heros you fall asleep dreaming about.

I held hands for their first steps on the slackline and when I let go, I hope they felt like they could do anything.

 

Thanks for reading, here is one of my latest videos:

 

 

 

Slackline Visions: Brainchild of Slacklines with Wolves

Upon moving to Colorado, I was given several names of prominent members in the local slacklining community. One day while stumbling around Golden (I was currently living in Aurora), I met some high school kids slacklining at Parfet Park. They asked if I knew Josh and wove me a tale of a great man who was somewhat of an underground legend in the Slackline Community.

As soon as I got home, I searched for Slackline Visions, a blog run by Josh, and left him a comment to find me on Facebook so that we could hang out.

He can get anyone to walk the line!

The rest is history and less important to the point of this post. Slackline Visions is an organization that is dedicated to supporting the slackline community through education and demonstration. As you’ll see in the Mission/Contact page, Josh strives to “cultivate the slackline community small & large, and seeks to help all people realize the fun, challenge, and illumination that is slacklining” through his blog and the events that he puts on. If you go through the rest of his blog, you’ll find sections for videos, slackline info, how to tips, interviews and so much more. Slackline Visions has been all over the country spreading the lessons that the line has to offer. Today, Josh has aligned with Gibbon Slacklines to bring slacklining to an even larger group of people. What was once a “vision,” is now a reality with the Gibbon sponsored Slackline Scholarship Challenge. Josh and affiliates are running a tour all over Colorado that “includes slackline workshops, hands on experience, presentations, and opportunities to meet the Pro’s.” 

 

Busy with Gibbon and the Slackline Scholarship Challenge, Josh still manages to find time for private workshops. Let him know if you’re interested in learning how to slackline and maybe I’ll even get to help him with the lesson. ;)

Slacklines with Wolves

Just to be clear, this is by no means the most exciting or all inclusive biography of Josh. One day, maybe he will sit down with me and tell me how he got to be so cool. Until then, I hope he keeps on dreaming up his life and making his vision come true.

Thanks Josh!

60m Rope Jump

 

“101A off the highdive”

Here’s a clip of me jumping off a cliff at Gobble Gobble Bitches Yeah!. I recently acquired this footage from a chance encounter with a Boulderite by the name of Steve-OH (Stephen Burt). The line was rigged up by the somewhereelseland crew over Thanksgiving and I couldn’t help, but to tie in a practice tracking a bit ;)

To all my old diving coaches, thank you for teaching me not to drop my chin off 10m ;). Check it out! I didn’t even balk!!

 

Joshua Tree Highlining

Photo Credit Chris Tota

I opened my eyes and there he was. Dressed in basketball shorts with his name written on them and a baggy tee shirt, the first words out of my mouth that Saturday morning were, “You’re not wearing that.” I was taking Morgan, my 14 year old brother, to his first highline today. After several tries, he was dressed in pants, layered shirts and a warm jacket. I have learned from experience that it is always better to have too many layers than not enough.

After my mother gathered us some juice boxes and snacks for the road, we embarked for Joshua Tree aboard a stylish Mazda minivan.

On the way, Morgan and I discussed how he could do better on his next math test by keeping up with the homework and staying organized on paper.

When we got there, the 90′ highline was rigged and the 60′ was going up. I knew David Kingston and Jon Fait, but I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Tota, Sami Gross, Tom Widdison and several other awesome highline enthusiasts out there to enjoy the good times!

I could spend hundreds of words describing what it was like getting my brother up to the highline and across it and then back down, but moral of the story is that he rocked it. His prior climbing skills from boy scouts had not let him down and he was able to focus on the daunting task of getting out on his first highline.

When I asked if he was ready to tie in he didn’t stop to hesitate. I could tell he was nervous, but he trusted me enough to let me tie him to a rope and send him out into the abyss. Only he could tell you what was going through his head at that time, but the fear of the first highline far surpasses that of your first job interview, your first date or even your deepest phobias. The fear of falling to your death is genetically programmed. Hardwired into our brains to keep us safe, this mechanism is an instinct that has kept the human race from falling off of things since the beginning of history. Turns out, it can be a lot of fun to go against your instincts :)

 

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