New Website!

Well, everyone, it's finally happened. After years of saying I was going to finish a functional site, it has arrived. http://www.crossroadstudios.com. I'm currently migrating all the blog content over there, as well as photo and video stuff, so expect it to only get better and better over the course of the next month, but it is totally functioning as of right now. Andy and I are working super hard on a marketing redesign and branding mission to make the Wasatch Mountain Podcast (new working title, what do you think?) a huge success. We need your help though, so bookmark the new site, add it to your favorites, share it on facebook, etc. Heck, you could tweet about it everyday if you want, because we want everyone to know what we're up to.

The new blog looks almost exactly like the old one, and you'll be able to track down all your favorite blog posts using the handy archive tool found on the right hand site of the column navigation. Every post we've ever done will show up right there, regardless of whether it was only on the blogger blog. 
In addition, Wasatch Mountain Podcast (still haven't decided what we're going to call it) has its own section of the site, featuring photos and videos from the production, as well as all 12 episodes that we've posted so far. You can watch all your favorite episodes from Seasons 1 and 2, as well as watch all the upcoming stuff for Season 3, and since it's going to be 2011, we thought it would be fitting if Andy and I, along with our trusted friends, climbed and shredded every peak in the Wasatch Mountains over 11,000 ft. Get it? 2011; 11,000? 11:11? It's catchy, right? Makes loads of sense? Either way, we're stoked to get some peak bagging in, as well as some gnarly lines that have been on our hitlist for a few years. Get stoked, and tell all your friends about it, will ya? We need your help!


Lost in the Woods

There are some truly beautiful places in the world, and I personally think Utah kind of has a monopoly on scenery–the High Uintas, indeed, are no exception to this standard. I went to the Ashley National Forest with my backpacking class this past weekend, and had a marvelous time. I was, fortunately, able to finally field test my new hammock and mosquito net, as well as my new JetBoil Flash cooking system. All three performed wonderfully (just in case you were wondering).
(remember to click on any image for a larger view)
The Uintas aren't exactly what I'd call a "pristine" wilderness area, because there are fully established trails weaving all throughout over 450,000 acres of wilderness preserve, but the lush environment certainly establishes a real sense of wild wooded country. People do indeed get lost and die in the zone every season (most due to improper planning, and wilderness savvy), but all-in-all, it's a fabulous area to take your family, your pets, and loved ones. Or, in our case, your class.
Garth Tino was our instructor for the semester and shared a lot of insight with regard to gear and know-how when it comes to having an enjoyable time in the backcountry. One of the things that I thought was pretty awesome was Garth's dedication to the principles of Leave No Trace. It's something of a new experience for me, although a lot of the principles are not.
The Leave No Trace: Outdoor Ethics list is as follows:

Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4-6.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of rock cairns, flagging or marking paint.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsies, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes, streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
In popular areas
  • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when we or muddy.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
In pristine areas
  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
Leave What You Find
  • Preserve the past: observe, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. use a light-weight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
Respect Wildlife
  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do no follow or approach them.
  • never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
If you're looking for some great cross-country backpacking, look no further than the High Uintas. Everything from forests, to lakes, to 13,000 ft summits. It's an outdoorsman's dream location, and it's right out our back door.


Timpanogos 7/18/2010

This is one of the most memorable adventures I've had in recent years, and I think the video speaks completely for itself. I hope you enjoy it. For an additional writeup you can check out Andy Earl's blog.


Pelican Point

Pelican Point is home to a quarry where contractors glean all their structural fill rock for use in marshy or high water-table areas. It's a busy, busy zone during the day, with trucks coming to and fro starting from about 6 am until dark. But at night, it's a ghost-town, and the perfect place to have some solitude and setup an overnight time-lapse session. I've been wanting to do an overnighter for awhile, and I've been waiting for the right moment. It's hard to nail it perfectly, and a lot of of the time, you can end up with a full night wasted, and a relatively boring series. I got to Pelican Point about 1 am, and setup my camera only to realize that I had left all my Compact Flash cards at home. Fernanda and I cruised over to the Wal-Mart in Saratoga Springs and grabbed a quick 4GB. On the settings I was using, I only had enough memory space for 241 images, so I did some math and decided that a six hour time-lapse could be condensed into roughly 216 images, if played back at 24 frames per second, and end up as 9 seconds of video. So I took a picture every 90 seconds to get the time lapse you see below. I don't think I could have hit it on a better day, and I had a very amazing morning watching as the sun crept above the horizon and bathed my bare feet in warmth as I lay in the back of my car with the back hatch open to the air. Couldn't ask for a more pleasant time. Here's a few more pictures and then the video. It turned out so sick. The song is by Love As Laughter, called Coconut Flakes, and it's from the movie 180ยบ South, which is one of the best documentaries ever (in my humble opinion). Enjoy.


Happy Birthday, Chelsea!

Chelsea and I have known each other since 2006, and dated for a large portion of the time period, and she has become, by far, my best friend in the time since our last break-up (yes, there were several). We always go all-out for each other's birthdays, and this year I thought it would be fun to go up to Park City and do some hiking. We had initially planned on going up Guardsman Pass from the BCC side, then hiking up to Scott's Bowl and then down to Shadow Lake, which sits by the bottom of the Jupiter chairlift at PCMR. That didn't work out, because Guardsman Pass is still closed to through traffic, which I thought was weird, because I was under the assumption that all the gates opened at about Memorial Day. I was wrong. Instead we drove to the top ridge of the Park City Ridgeline that separates Deer Valley from Wasatch State Park, and the above photo is an HDR Panorama looking toward point 10,420 above Great Western at Brighton, but from the northeast.
We joked that if I had told her four years ago that she'd spend her 26th (ahem, I mean 21st?) birthday climbing mountains, she probably would have laughed in my face. But it was cool because we ended up parking in a Deer Valley parking lot, then hiked all the way over to McKonkey's Bowl, just east of Jupiter Peak inside Park City Mountain Resort. We thought about doing the peak, which only would have been another 25 minutes, but our timing was poor, and the sun had set, and we were improperly dressed, so the temperature was starting to dive. So we headed back to the car, she opened her presents (two seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a Star Wars poster, Muppet Wizard of Oz, a stretchy dragon, and a Big Hissy Fit). The best present is probably the Star Wars poster, and I told her that it's a celebration that she can finally admit that the geek lifestyle is superior to that of other media consumers. 
Provo Peak and Mount Cascade from the north.
The Timber Lakes area east of Heber City, UT.
After hiking and presents, we had dinner at Maxwell's Fat Kid Pizza in Kimball Junction. I think the rest of the world should take a lesson from these guys with regard to portions. We started with an appetizer of french fries. The plate of fries was bigger than most of New Jersey, and the pizza was probably five times the size of the french fries. Approved.


Red Bull Manny Mania

I recently stopped working directly with Red Bull Energy Drink as an employee, but have been kept on as a consultant and independent contractor with the brand to do photography and video work at key branding events, which is much more to my liking anyway. One of the biggest campaigns in the action sports community right now is the Manny Mania series, which is a skateboard competition that focuses on manuals (a trick where the skateboard rides on only two of his/her four wheels). There's a lot of different kinds of manuals (mannies) and a ton of variations that can lead into, or out from a manny, so the competition combinations are virtually limitless.
Utah has such a rich cultural heritage that ranges a broad spectrum of origins, and the Red Bull marketing folks in Utah always try to incorporate a sense of heritage into all the events that are thrown in the state, and it was really cool to have Manny Mania SLC taking place in the shadow of the old Union Pacific Train Depot. Such a cool building, if you haven't ever had a chance to check it out. It's on South Temple and 400 West in downtown right by the Gateway Mall, and directly across the street from the Energy Solutions Arena where the Utah Jazz have their home games (and coincidentally where we held the event). 
Serious hammers were being thrown down all day, and there was even a dude with no legs who totally rips at skateboarding. He's way better than I am and I even have legs! Overall I'm pretty stoked to be involved with such a cool company like Red Bull, and count my blessings each time I'm able to participate in an event. Look for my photos in their upcoming press releases, and get stoked on some of these images here.


Home Sweet Home

Home has varying definitions for different people. For some, it is where they were raised, for others it's where they settle. For others beyond that, it's wherever they rest their head. "Home is where the heart is," being the common idiom. The lovely above picture was taken in Easton, Pennsylvania while I was serving my mission. If memory serves, it was taken from the Smith Street bridge over the Lehigh River near its confluence into the Delaware, on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I lived in Easton for nearly six months, and can't, for the life of me, figure out why someone would choose to live there, over living where I call home. Now I have to take one step backward and state that everyone has a different value system as to why their choice for "home" is great, so I can only measure based on my personal value system. But let's compare two pictures:

First, this one from Easton.

This picture was taken about 20 minutes from my apartment on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River looking back at the downtown area of Easton, and you can see the Lehigh River flowing into the Delaware. It's beautiful, and I can definitely appreciate how green and amazing the scenery is there. But when you stack it next to a picture like this:
This picture was taken about 20 minutes from my home in Utah. And about 5 minutes from where I lived when I was in high school, and the home that my family lived in while I was on my mission. Why anyone on earth would choose the east coast over the majesty of the mountains escapes my understanding. Granted, everyone has their preferences, and I'm not saying those preferences are wrong or bad in anyway, I just don't understand it. It doesn't makes the remotest sense in my simple mind.

Here's another fun contrast; while I lived in Easton, I baptized Jenni Fehr. This was six years ago. She'll probably hate me for posting this, but it's entertaining for me. Well, she came to visit last week so here's a few more pics, plus a rad foggy/cloudy shot of the western cliffs of Mount Cascade from approximately the Hope Campground region.
Jenni Fehr, Me, and Erin McMullin Wojcicki
Jenni six years later with a radical backdrop.
Epic shot of Mount Cascade.

Ultimately, the definition of home will come down to what the Lord has said, and there's a passage in 3 Nephi 21:28 that I really like, and I'll leave you with that:

Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.

Learning Experience. Period.

The next two and a half years, for me, at least, is going to be filled with triathalons. I'm going to be the principal cinematographer on a documentary featuring James Lawrence (shown above after finishing the Boise 70.3 Ironman race) who is planning to break the world record in 2012 by doing 20 full Ironman triathalons in order to raise money for Kenyan famine relief. We shot the Boise event and I learned quite a few things about shooting swimming, running, and biking. Things that I hadn't known before, and it's really interesting. Hopefully everything I do from now on will be better. Here's a few images from the race. Most are still frame grabs from the video I was shooting. I love my camera.
The Tri And Give a Dam folks
James rounding the loop of the halfway point of the run portion of the Ironman
Approaching the finish line and looking strong.
Showing off for the crowd and the cameras. My shutter speed on the video was a little bit slow, I'm coming to find out. I want it to look a little crispier.


Round One: Fight!

Boise is gorgeous this time of year, and the 70.3 Iron Man Triathalon taking place on Saturday 6/12 couldn't have picked more gorgeous conditions. Primarily shooting video for this one, because it's a trial run for the project I'm working on in 2012. We're attempting to work out the kinks and figure out the best way to cover these events because we're going to be traveling the globe shooting James Lawrence doing 20 Iron Man races in one year. I'm pretty stoked. Boise is round one. Let the battle begin.
Kyle, James, Ryan, and Kyle after check-in.
Ryan Rudd is along for the ride, and ended up doing maintenance.
Rob Schopke just got his new 5D Mark II setup and is stoked.
We couldn't decide if he was flexing for this picture, but ultimately we decided that because he's a triathalete, he's always flexing.