Mission Viejo

About a month ago I was hanging out in Springville, UT with my buddy Ryan Hong. At the time, he was living with his sister Lisa who was engaged to be married. We somehow got on the subject of photography and I peeked at their engagement photos, which were done by Jonathan Canlas, one of the most highly sought after film photographers in the western states. I commented on them, and it came out in the course of the conversation that I am a photographer, and they asked me what I charge to do just a reception, since they had all their Utah stuff planned out, they were still on the prowl for a photog to cover the California reception, because Lisa and Ryan are both from Mission Viejo, in Orange County. I sent them a bid, and was hired. Crashing at the Hong home and eating delicious food, and visiting interesting places with the grandparents has been really fun. Here's a few photos that I took while we were at the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon.



That's how it started. The next morning Grant and I met up at the mouth of Little Rock Canyon in Springville, UT, just north of the Three Sisters, and started headed up the gulch. It's a pretty interesting hike because there haven't been too many people in there over the years, and the trail is pretty much a minimalistic game trail that has the occasional human footprint.
6 AM was looking especially beautiful with some high soaring clouds up over Loafer Mountain and Spanish Fork Peak. Grant slept through his alarm, and as a result was about 20 minutes late, but it was fine because the trail was really sketchy and I kind of wanted a partner and some more light before I started up into the "wilderness." I really enjoyed the area though. I was eating at a little restaurant in Springville called La Casita with my dad last week, and I was looking over at the mountains and realized that I had never been in Little Rock Canyon. In fact, I didn't even know what it was called until this morning when I pulled up a USGS Topographical map online. But from the valley it looks crazy and filled with spines and jagged rocks and stuff, and it reminded me of Mordor from the Lord of the Rings movies. It didn't disappoint once inside. I decided to shoot pretty much everything inside the canyon as an HDR image. Some images have three shots comprising the composite, but most have 5 or 7. Enjoy.
 This one made me feel like Shelob, looking down into Cirith Ungol. Except I was looking down into Springville.
 It's amazing to me the lengths to which living organisms will go in order to exist.
These two images of grant were composited using three exposures.
Grant took these portraits of me and I like them.


It's Not Over

So, I know my last post was all about how the season is winding down, and everyone is in summer mode, etc etc etc. Fortunately for me (and maybe for all you?), Daryl is still in winter snowboarding mode, and it definitely stoked to be alive. We've been trying to get up to Grizzly Gulch the last few days but my schedule and the weather have been conspiring against all our efforts. Today we were lucky enough to make it to the feature for a sunset session, despite the fact that the rest of the crew was doing gay bike races and stuff (just kidding Andy, just had to rub it in).

I'm so stoked on how these images turned out. In addition to the photos, Daryl and I lugged my track/dolly up the mountain, and got some pretty amazing looking video footage. Big ups to D.Young for holding down the fort and stomping some heavy tricks. Even though it's winding down, the snow season is definitely not over yet.


Spring Is Here

As the snow retreats further and further toward the sky, I am sadly resigned to the fact that the winter is over. Granted, there is still some excellent riding to be done in the mountains, and every little rain storm in the valley means good solid snow at 10,000 ft, but most of the resorts are closed (Snowbird being, to my knowledge, the only Utah resort still operating), and a lot of my friends that I normally film with have fled the state, or are in summer-mode, pulling out their longboards and their slack-lines and chomping at the bit to go backpacking and rock climbing in their Chacos.

When I was growing up, I did a ton of backpacking and bouldering with my family, and spent a lot of time in Southern Utah and the Wasatch exploring trails and ravines and various aspects of the wilderness lifestyle. I learned early on how to efficiently pack, how to set up a tent, how to choose non-perishable foods that are high in protein for camping, etc. When Jr. High and High School rolled around, however, my family kind of stopped doing these things together, and none of my friends were interested in doing things other than jumping on the trampoline and going to the public pool (which is rad, by the way. That's not meant to be derogatory).

My major regret is just that my social circle moved away from the mountains if it wasn't snowboarding, and I just didn't spend that much time doing outdoor activities in the summer, and busied myself with working and attempting to save money so my winters could be more enjoyable. I remember waiting for the 50% off sales at Milosport so I could buy all my gear for the next season.

With that rather long preface, you can understand why the diminishment of Spring, and the approach of Summer has always been something of anathema to me, and I usually spend my summers counting down the days until the snow starts to fly again. I hope to make an emotional transition this summer, though. I'd really like to have the same passion for the mountains in the Summer and Fall that I do in the Winter and Spring, and I've been taking steps in the appropriate direction to reignite that love I used to have.

Last Sunday I went for a walk with my friend Erin McMullin down by Utah Lake. She's been my friend for about a year and a half and she's always keen for a good adventure, so we went and watched and listened to the images and sounds of Spring pushing its way into summer. I've never taken pictures of the reeds down by the lake, and I'm super stoked with how these ones turned out. Enjoy, and get stoked because I hope to have my blog filled with impressive images of God's handiwork all Summer long.


"Ahoy! End of season in sight, cap'n!" 

Seems like this has been the prevailing attitude among pretty much everyone (except me and Andy). As I've been trying to organize spring park shooting, it's been like pulling teeth to get people together to shoot stuff. Eventually we were able to gather at Park City Mountain Resort, but it was graybird, so we ended up sessioning the pole jam feature that they put in for the last couple days. Such an amazing piece of metal, and it gave you a lot of opportunities to send it. I hit it the next day while shredding with my friend Rob and I thought I was going to die because you could charge it super deep into the transition. Big ups to all the guys who sacrificed their bodies for the shot, even though we didn't really get very many shots.


I feel terribly negligent, and just realized that when I made the post about going hiking with Andy Earl and Forrest Shearer I forgot to include any high resolution images that weren't taken with my iPhone. Whoops! Here's just a few of the zone around the cornice that we were sessioning. Super cool day. Video of Andy will be in the new podcast episode, and the video of Forrest.......who knows. But he's sending it to his sponsors and to the TGR folks, so that's pretty cool. He got some pretty good looking drops.
Andy and Forrest atop the cornice after hiking back up.
Forrest Shearer hiking up for another drop.

First Time

You'd think that being in my family would entitle you to snowboard lessons very early on in life. You'd be wrong. I did, however, finally manage to take my sister Elanor, who just turned 9 this month, out for her first day of snowboarding at Park City Mountain Resort. My dad scored a super cheap complete setup for her, and the trouble was just dialing in some time when I wasn't coaching, shooting for the podcast, or traveling. I guess good things come to those that wait, because we had a killer time.

We got there and it was a bit firm, but after about 30 minutes of practicing one-foot stuff, the snow started to get really slushy. El was getting really bummed out because my mom has been telling her for months that she was just going to jump on a snowboard and be ripping up and down the mountain. Now, my mom has never snowboarded before, and doesn't really know that there's a very basic progression that needs to take place in order for a person to learn how to snowboard, and it's very different from strapping into your buddy's whip at the local city park. Elanor's expectations were somewhat different than the reality of snowboarding, and for a few minutes I thought maybe she was going to quit. She just couldn't figure out how to do a toe-side traverse. Finally, after quite a few tries, something clicked and we were able to do toe-side and heel-side, and then start linking those turns together.
We grabbed some lunch in the lodge and then rushed back out for some more ski-boardin' because she was so stoked to finally be able to go about 50 feet without falling down. The rest of the day was just working on gaining better edge control and ripping down the First Time slope. By the end of the day, she could ride the entire First Time area without falling once, and at a pretty decent speed making toe and heel-side turns. I was pretty proud.
Sadly it's the end of the season, and she'll have to wait until the '10/'11 season before she can get back on her board, but she was pumped and ready to keep doing some more. I got a few slashes in the slush, and did some 180's (for the awe and entertainment of those riding the chairlift), and El promptly fell asleep before we even got on the highway. Learning to snowboard is tiring!


Busy Week!

Ten consecutive days on snow as its way of taking a toll on your body and your mind, especially when those ten consecutive days mostly involved hiking for fresh snow. This most recent storm cycle dropped over seven feet of snow in the Cottonwoods, according to some data charts, and my body can only handle so much dawn-to-dusk shredding before it decides it's had enough. Fortunately, the last ten days have certainly been the best powder days of the season. I've already posted some images from Brighton and Park City on Monday and Tuesday, and here's just a few more pics from my days at The Canyons on Wednesday, Snowbird on Thursday, Davenport Hill/Days Fork and Brighton on Friday for the Red Bull Buttercup Contest, then back to Park City on Saturday. I certainly love living in the Wasatch. The photo above is my friend Todd Stay and I driving through Heber City, UT on our way to The Canyons. Nearly 3 feet of fresh that day. I initially had intended to shoot a lot of video with the GoPro, but that didn't really happen. Too much fun.
Todd and I on the lift with Justin Olsen and his buddy at The Canyons
About 3/4 of the way to the top of Davenport Hill in LCC. 10,092 ft.
Looking down at the upper Alta Resort parking lot and the Albion Basin from the top of Davenport Hill.
Forest Shearer scoping a line for next time. I'm squishing his head.
I didn't sleep at all on Thursday night for some reason. Just tossed and turned the whole night. After climbing Davenport Hill with no sleep and no breakfast I needed a rest, so I crashed for a couple hours in the Park and Ride off 6200 South and Wasatch Blvd
The drop-in tent for the Red Bull Buttercup at Brighton.
My buddy  Blake Stephenson nailing a super fast blunt slide.
The winners of the Open: 1st Parker Worthen, 2nd Ted Barland, 3rd Jason Heckle
Words to live by.