it’s interesting spending all this time in California, I was down here a lot as a kid, sitting in the back of the bus with my Dads basketball teams. those trips had a lasting impact on me, shaped my relationship with my Father, made me a lot more mature than kids my age. from when I could walk I was on the sidelines, summers were spent with a mess of guys in their late teens. If I wanted to earn trust I had to keep my mouth shut, it taught me to listen and be discerning, learned how to read people and situations. Dad wouldn’t coddle me, he let me do my thing, it was always like that, I grew up with independence thrust upon me, can’t thank my parents enough for that. driving down the highway today I was thinking about the past, the little stuff, little stuff like when he caught me looking at myself in the rearview mirror, he’d ask what I saw ‘a handsome boy with his whole life ahead of him’ and what I was going to be when I grew up ‘anything I want’. It was clockwork, recited those sentences a lot, enough times to believe it, and I must’ve because ‘anything I want’ has become quite literally what I do. It’s funny the labels we give to arbitrary days, usually I think it’s all pretty stupid, I hope both my parents know how grateful and appreciative I am for everything, I’ve always known my dad absolutely doesn’t give a damn about presents or recognition, so I’m writing this more for me. reflecting back on the formative times and his part in them. from how much he instilled education in me, the books we read together, the story’s he would tell. coaching almost every team I ever played on, being harder on me than the other kids, helping develop a work ethic that has served and defined a lot of my life. lending support through the turbulent shifting of adulthood, always believing in me, always ready with the prescient answer but having the wisdom to let me come to it on my own. I admire the sacrifices my Father made for the family, the selflessness he shows on a daily basis, his absolute aversion to anything material, genuine disregard for the opinions of others and his laser-like discipline. love you Pops, the caption wont fit any more, otherwise I could keep on.
I was six when I had my first pen-pal, it was a girl from Brazil, we had no concept of each other, few ideas of how to write a letter, kids talking to someone from a different place. her name was Amanda, I won’t forget, she might’ve been the reason I fell in love with writing. I wrote and read so much my grade three teacher gave me books every week, I’d finished the Jules Verne catalogue before Christmas, thanks Mr. Kling. Amanda helped me express myself, I thought writing and being smart were dorky, she made me feel important. since then, since technology changed the world, sending a letter changed, changed because it was slow; but it didn’t change for me. I’m writing letters to you wonderful folks tomorrow, hopefully you tuck them away, hopefully we can laugh at the past. If Amanda is out there I wish I could tell her how important our conversations were, I hope she’s as happy as our kid selves planned on being. I hope this helps you remember how much a few words can mean, how much the stories matter, I hope it inspires you to make some yourselves. life is funny, it takes turns, enjoy the turns, be present, remember it’s simple. just fucking smile. #shotoniphone
the thing I’m drawn to most about climbing mountains is the reflection of real life, the microcosm of everything else. we spent most of a gruelling thirty six hours pushing ourselves mentally and physically, thousands of feet gained and lost, some tricky exposure, brutal heat and real altitude for a kid from sea level; all for a few moments of bliss. pure, unadulterated contentment. watching the sunrise from the ridge made every step worth it, and that’s a lot like life, you get out exactly what you put in. not everything is easy, it isn’t supposed to be, the harder you work, the greater the reward, maybe not right away, maybe not when you expect it, but at some point it all comes around. every time I’m dragging my feet up a long approach or thinking about turning back when the goal seems out of reach I’m reminded of that, reminded why I climb in the first place, reminded of how I can apply that feeling to my work, my relationships, my passions. reminded of the process and it’s part in the reward- that it is.
this is going to be me today, rinsing another load, third time at this cool little spot, probably the last. I look a lot prettier when I fold my clothes but unfortunately Hayds isn’t around to take photos of me, so you guys are stuck looking at her. which is hard, believe me, I know. this was some of the most fun I’ve had on the trip, running errands around Bishop, and by errands I mean finally cleaning clothes, bartering to use motel pools, hanging around estate sales so long the ladies at the till knew us by name, buying books, then more books and taking out cash to clear out the vintage shop despite hardly having enough space in the truck to begin with- so it goes. if you want to see the face Hayds makes when she realizes we were out of service so long she missed a ground-breaking Aussie bikini sale, scroll to the end.
headed back toward these lakes early next week, only this time I won’t be so near the lakes, after a great ‘acclimating’ mission further south three of us are shooting for the short palisade traverse. it’s the last hurrah on an amazing five weeks in the Eastern Sierra. I’ve fallen in love with it out here, these small towns filled with big, wonderful, contagiously honest and true folks has made me feel at home. the shops and boulders in Bishop, slanging gear in Lone Pine, it’s all been brim full with the type of stories I’ve been hunting for. taken so many images walking streets on my phone, written so many lines in the shade of cottonwood trees, it’ll be tough to leave, tough enough that I know I’ll be back. when I left home I had an idea of what I was looking for, finding it has been the most exciting period of my career. I hope you’ve appreciated the turn my work has taken, I hope it continues to turn, the goal through this platform has become sharing my life in its entirety, I want to share the towns, the mountains, the cities, the people, the soul. thanks to everyone who reached out about postcards, I’m excited to plant myself somewhere and think of words that might resonate and connect. people attach a ton of stigma to social media, and for so many tangible reasons, before I left I had thought about deleting my account, really seriously thought about it. then I thought some more, thought about how I was in control of sharing anything I wanted, telling any story, for a long time I’ve felt that story was shallow, I’m ready for a new chapter. one that is about connecting with you, inspiring myself and maybe others, connecting the dots on all the multitude of things I feel define me. so on that note, never forget that I’m an open book, I want to be here for you, I’ve responded and failed to respond to a lot of emails, I don’t want to have any more fall through the cracks. my writing is wrapped around humanism, for whatever reason I’ve been given a platform to reach all of you, I want to attempt to use that, use it to grow myself personally and use it to truly connect with whoever might want or need a friendly voice. stay beautiful folks, keep smiling.
working some problems at sunrise. it’s hot out here, which means short hours on the rock, wake up at five maybe mess around until nine, even by nine it’s shade dependant. good way to avoid the heat is to get up high, that’s the plan for the next ten days, starting tonight with a mission up Mt.Russell and some surrounding peaks. It was cool taking a weeks worth of shifts at the gear shop in Lone Pine, writing during the day, sleeping in Alabama Hills, stretching, meditating and working out every morning; but it’s time to do what I came here for, permits are sealed up and it’s looking like one magical night after another migrating up the 395.
the past is shouted from signs like this, an era walked over and slowly forgotten, when the American Dream was wrapped up in relative prosperity, in community, in building a better life. eye-catching vibrancy that would become the staple of an advertising industry plaguing people to choose familiarity and convenience over intimacy and quality. signs like this are a relic of American life, an artifact, a window. like sixties blues and linear ford trucks, beat poetry and Cool Hand Luke. they reveal something from before it was distorted, before it was fried in consumption and excess. a time when everyone had a story, a job to do, a place to be and an ideal they sought. everyone has an opinion about America, and they’ll tell you, but America itself never had some singular identity, it’s an amalgam, a plurality of people who saw opportunity. it isn’t without flaws, without systemic injustice, without racially provincial freedom; but what it was supposed to be built on was liberty and the power of each individual voice, on limited government and the bond of community. when I see a neon sign like this I see the America that was a fountain of twentieth century art and culture, I don’t see the corporate oligopoly that drained the sustenance and vitality like pulling a bath plug. I see this sign and I don’t just stare wistfully, but see it as hope, of imagining a time gone by and visualizing how to actualize it again, in a new more inclusive and progressive form. I see it as a statue to the American Dream. . Also I shot this on my iPhone which I’ll probably start doing a bunch more, because it’s always in my pocket and because why not.
not every day is shiny and bright, it isn’t supposed to be, sometimes you’re faced with tough decisions, sometimes you screw up and other times don’t go as planned. those times, as much as the sunny times, the simple times, matter. they matter because they make up a whole, fit together like a puzzle. It’s the tough times that define our attitude, build our character, chisel our form. once those walls are defined and the foundation laid you learn to take things as they come, to embrace everything and anyone. you build up a patience and an empathy that carries with you, things don’t make you bitter, they make you better, you exude it, that positivity becomes contagious. happiness isn’t an eternal flame of euphoria or a perpetual feeling of satisfaction. happiness is a state of mind, a way you react to what the world tosses out, how you respond to pressure and challenges. It’s that subtle feeling of confidence that things are as they are, that you aren’t in control of everything and that you don’t need to be. happiness is waking up with a smile engaged and ready to tackle whatever comes at you, happiness is an approach.
places like this provide me an inescapable sense of calm, a lever and pulley for all the whatever piling atop my shoulders. a place to be present, to listen to the echo of space, of nature churning, ticking, changing. an alarm of birds singing at the warmth, wind disrupting the reflection of calm, icy water needling weary muscles, light dancing, kissing, colouring. if you stop long enough to feel part of, precisely insignificant and whole, the world, your world, becomes a half full glass of whatever tonic suits you. it gives perspective, shape you might otherwise miss.
Matty and I parked the houses at his spot out in the hills, camping here for a couple days, gonna spend the next week accessing fun between the Hills and up Whitney Portal, hopefully sneak in some sport climbing before the rocks melt, have a few peaks I want to check out, hopefully try to solo up some class 4. been about a month on the road, and it’s flown, always does.
from a hike with no expectations, it was Memorial Day weekend so we figured it best to find somewhere off the beaten track. found these lakes on a map and thought the topography looked interesting, turns out that was a good call, nearly had it all to ourselves. only people we met were some folks at the top celebrating a twenty first birthday, friggin cool place to do it too, not Vegas, not the bar, but backpacking and fishing up in the High Sierra. Hayds was sneaky and asked what vehicle he drove, told me most of the way down the trail we were leaving him some beer, I’m still a little bitter it wasn’t my idea, great friggin idea. we left a case thinking they’d use it better and because when the two of us were twenty-one we weren’t close to cool enough to spend it out in the backcountry.
from a couple days on the central coast when the cloud hung around and a wind pummelled surf took riding out of the equation. so it goes on the road, sometimes the conditions are go and sometimes not, on those times you get to settle in. read, meditate, write, play music, kill time the right way. this is @matthew_tufts in the back of his steed playing songs he wrote on the crash pad couch. these memories are as much a part of the journey as the rest, need to start documenting all the shades better.