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FREE ADVENTURE MAGAZINE // SUMMER 2016

Our

National Parks


ALWAYS KICKIN’ IT …

MALIA MANUEL | ALEJANDRO MOREDA | SANUK.COM

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IT's all about Our Contributors David Powell (the illustration above), Amy Morrison, Camper Morrison, Justin “Scrappers” Morrison, Marjorie Skinner, Courtney “Coco” Ferguson, Matt Ord, Linnea Bullion, Sarah Eisenlohr, Noah Sahady, Madeline Baars, Juliana Johnson, Jeff Edwards, Jeremy Pawlowski, Jamie Charles, Nathalie Kossek, Dan Kuras, Shaun Daley, Randy P. Martin, Mirae Campbell, North, and the bad ass companies who work with us.

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My Two Dads

J OH N M U I R V S . T E D D Y R O O S E V E LT BY YOSEMITE “AHWAHNEE” NATIONAL PARK You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, we’ve all seen the photo of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt standing on the edge of my big old valley. They look like best buds, right? Wrong! Those two guys hated each other’s guts. True story! John Muir got off the boat in San Francisco and walked until he found me. He had been searching for a pure, wild, and beautiful place to worship. Papa Muir wasn’t the first to climb my cliffs or rest in the shade of my trees. The Ahwahnechee people thrived all over my valley and called me “Ahwahnee.” The tribe would have stayed had they not put up a fight with the gold miners, which got them evicted and killed. When Papa Muir moved into the valley he found work at a sawmill that helped a hotel bring more visitors to enjoy my sparkling personality. Aside from the Ahwahnechee, nobody knew me as well as he did. All his time and energy went into exploring every epic view and tiny hiding spot behind my waterfalls. He got so into me that he even climbed up into one of my trees during a storm just to know what it felt like to be tossed around in the wind. He wrote love notes that got published in magazines. He really loved me, and he wanted to protect me. Love is a funny thing, though. It can make people very possessive. It can make people claim “secret spots” or “private property.” Papa Muir could have gone the “secret spot” route and become a bitter old hermit who yelled at tourists,

but he didn’t. He realized that sharing me was the best way to protect me. He became my personal spokesman and fought to keep the bastards from turning me into private property. He started the Sierra Club in 1892 to protect wild places like me, but since the state owned me— my forests were still logged, my gold was mined, and my misty meadows were pooped on by domestic animals (you know who you are). While on a publicity tour in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sent Papa Muir a letter asking to meet him in my valley: Papa Teddy wrote, “I want to drop politics absolutely for four days and just be out in the open with you.” Papa Muir accompanied the entourage—which included California’s governor, the secretary of the Navy, the surgeon general, two college presidents, Papa Teddy, and his personal secretary—on the train ride from Oakland. “What a showboat,” Papa Muir must have thought. “Is this faker trying to use me to get street cred with the authentic folk?” The huge parade came into my valley and posed for photos with my old-growth Sequoia forest before heading to the hotel to party. Papa Muir and Papa Teddy stayed behind while the crowd wasn’t looking. Papa Teddy had a secret plan to ditch the party all along. He was like that. He loved secret plans. Presidents, right? Sitting around the campfire, awkward laughing stumbled around when Papa Muir asked, “Mr. President, when are

you going to get over this infantile need to kill other animals?” My two dads had a lot in common and a lot in conflict. They both wanted to protect wild places, but for different reasons. Not all conservationists are vegan. They slept tent-less under my trees, mountains, and the stars. They talked for days about protecting me and other places like me. They saw beyond themselves and realized that together they could do more good than they could apart. After that little campout, Papa Muir wrote, “I never before had a more interesting, hearty, and manly companion.” Eventually Papa Teddy had to go back to the train station to resume his press tour. At his next stop, the California State Capitol in Sacramento, he gave a speech about how, “Lying out at night under those giant Sequoias was lying in a temple built by no hand of man… They are monuments in themselves, [and] I ask for [their] preservation… We are not building this country of ours for a day. It is to last through the ages.” After that, California let me become federal property and if you pay taxes that means I’m yours. Right? I think so. Anyhow, in 1916 the National Park Service was formed and the government agency became my official protector. I am grateful for my two dads, because they saw beyond themselves and helped all sorts of people come together to care for me.


Valley of Death BY MATT ORD Last winter, I went to Death Valley and saw about 25 people, but this year, with the wildflowers blooming, the place was a zoo. Hundreds of people parked on the side of the road, trampling into the desert to take selfies, occasionally throwing up the peace sign/duck face combo. To escape the madness, I had planned ahead: We would drive 4x4 trucks to some remote sand dunes. But I hadn’t planned on the weather.


While filling up at the Furnace Creek gas station, we leached their WiFi to check the weather. It called for 50 to 70 MPH winds with a 45 percent chance of rain in the evening. Storms in Death Valley can be very severe, especially when rain is involved, but they’re also beautiful for photos. We said screw it and hit the trail, starting our drive over brain-rattling washboard roads. After an hour, we hit a huge dust storm. We got out and ran into the dust cloud hooting and hollering like kids. After a few minutes of getting pelted by gravel, we got back in the truck to drive through the mountains. Slowly we made our way through the pass on a narrow road skirted by a sheer cliff. The truck’s back end slid out on some of the turns, which made things tense. Once out of the mountains, it was a straight shot to the dunes. Seeing the dunes in the distance was insane. The wind whipped through the basin so fast it created whiteout conditions. The mountains of sand dwarfed us and the wind licked the top of them, throwing sand like off-shore winds throw water on a wave—they were dancing. When you

go out into the wild, there are certain moments when the elements all come together to create magical conditions; this was one of them. We covered ourselves head-to-toe in preparation for the sandblasting we were about to endure. We set out into the dunes dressed like a band of Tusken Raiders. The dune field was upwind, which meant we had to walk straight into the 60 MPH wind. After a few hundred feet up the dunes, I turned around to see if our tracks had been erased, and sure enough, it was like we had never been there. Reaching the apex of each dune was tough, with every step up the dune we slid back half a step. What should have taken seconds took minutes. While hiking, I had been snapping photos on a dinky little 35mm point-and-shoot. I finished a roll of film right before it died on me. (I don’t recommend changing film rolls in gale-force winds.) That’s when the storm clouds came in. Luckily, my other camera is weather-sealed. We stayed on the dunes for a few hours and tried to capture the rare beauty around us. I was able to snap a photo I had pre-visualized and was pretty stoked about the results.

Just before the sun set, the wind died and the rain clouds moved in. We had been hunkered in the truck for an hour or two to wait out the wind. Sand was everywhere. It got through the vents and cracks in the car and there was a layer of dust on everything. My buddies, tired from driving, fell asleep and I went back outside. I kicked off my shoes and walked back into the dune field, which was oddly silent after the windstorm. I laid in the middle of the dunes, feeling the cool sand on my back as I sunk into it. I stared at the twilit storm clouds circling above me, hypnotizing me into a limbo state between sleep and consciousness. I would’ve fallen asleep but a raindrop hit my cheek, snapping me back to reality. I sat up to see the last bit of light fade along the horizon. Hues of pink and red lit up the clouds, and I stayed there, watching, as the colors faded to the blues and blacks of night. Walking back to camp, I reflected on the epic day we’d just had. We took a risk heading off-road knowing a bad storm was coming, but with most risks come rewards.

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45

mph

BY NOAH SAHADY

I set out with three of my friends in a 1970 VW bus named Wendy on a summer road trip that spanned the United States through some of the country’s coolest national parks. We were in it to see if German engineering was everything it’s chalked up to be—we also feel the need to test our friendship annually with a crazy summer trip and thought, “Why not sit in a bus together for hours on end?” Turns out that with a little TLC, four fed-up dudes and one fed-up bus can make it across the country in a few pieces.


Badlands

Made up of sharply eroding buttes and beautiful undisturbed prairies, Badlands National Park in Southwestern South Dakota is a diverse place. We immediately looked for a spot with a view. The drive up to this point had been made up of small Midwestern towns filled with shitty drivers and corn… a lot of corn. We found an area clear of the mad-

ness that overlooked what seemed to be the entire park, and skated. It wasn’t long until we became an attraction for an older couple driving across the country with a camper and a big blue truck. Keith and Mary Lou were quick to introduce themselves and inquire about the bus, as well as our skateboards— they were the first of many people who ap-

proached us who didn’t think we were crazy for driving a 45-year-old death machine with spotty timing across the country. Something seemed familiar and honest about Keith and Mary Lou, and my interaction with them was the most comforting thing I’d had since the chocolate chip cookies back in Pennsylvania just prior to heading out on this trip.

Tetons South of Yellowstone, along Wyoming’s Wind River, is Jackson Lake, a large, high-altitude body of water located in the Grand Teton National Park. Peaks of some 12,000 feet rise from the lake. We were hungry, too hungry to notice a severe thunderstorm rolling in, so we silenced our groaning stomachs with chicken sandwiches and mint chocolate chip ice-cream at a restaurant. With a route mapped out and bellies finally full (both rare occurrences on the road), we found camp and decided a swim would complete the evening. Less than a mile from our hammock site was a small, mosquito-infested trail that led to the lake’s edge. On it, we were greeted by a female elk seeking shelter from the approaching storm, which we still hadn’t noticed. The timing could not have been more exact—the moment our toes touched the water, the rain came pouring in. In defiance of the wisdom our mothers had tried to instill in us since we were

boys, we dove in, basking in our decision. I’ve seen a lot of the beautiful country we live in, and I’ve experienced moments I thought were miracles, but I’ve never had a moment as truly epic as this one: heavy raindrops falling from parting clouds, leaving holes in the lake’s surface while the golden sun says “good evening” before dipping behind massive peaks. These beautiful sights in unison created the closest thing to heaven any of us had experienced in our twenty-some years of life. Swimming out to a buoy several hundred feet from shore, I was certain Nessie was going to snatch me by my toes, but I still wanted to go farther out into the lake. The following morning, we decided to take a boat out for a few hours. To all of our surprise, the boating center trusted a rented pontoon to us four hooligans, so we dove, swam, horsed around, drank soda, and told ourselves, “We’ll definitely be back to do this again.”


About 500 miles west of Badlands is Yellowstone National Park, a region known primarily for its dense wildlife and its famous geyser, Old Faithful. After setting up camp we beelined it to a spot we had read about, a hot spring located at the intersection of

Yellowstone

the Boiling River and Gardiner River. The hydrothermal Boiling River flows into the icy Gardiner, creating a pool of water perfect to kick back in while checking out the Walmart folks that gather there during hot summer afternoons. A better time to enjoy

the hot springs, however, is early in the morning, just as the sun is peeking over the mountain range. Waking up at 5 am proves completely worthwhile when a bald eagle flies several feet overhead to welcome you into a new day.


Craters of the Moon

Of all the places I’ve been to, I’ve never seen anything like this. We pulled into the campground well after sunset and stumbled out of the steamy Volkswagen, dried sweat from an impromptu skate session in Idaho Falls covering 100 percent of our sunburned skin. Craters of the Moon was dry, hot, and eerily quiet. Volcanic ash covered the ground; it was too dark for the moon to reflect enough ambient light for us to see the nearby family-sized tent castles. We felt as if we were alone on another planet. Armed with a small

flashlight held by my four front teeth, we set up our tents and fell asleep to deafening silence and the smell of sagebrush and BO. A few hours later we awoke to a heavier heat and stuffy noses, but after a cup of coffee and a few cracks of the spine, we were in strangely high spirits. We realized how uniquely beautiful the area was, despite its unwelcoming climate. The loop circling the three lava fields that made up the majority of the park was only a few miles long, so we decided to see what it was about before

During the tail end of our trip, we found ourselves in California’s Redwood National Park. A skate through the tall Redwood trees outside of Trinidad was necessary. Hill bombs followed by a tow back up courtesy of Wendy lasted an hour. We found a place to camp along the coast. To the east of the road, an unimpressive, poison oak-infested campground, specifically marked with tent sites. To the west, an enormous, jagged cliff leading down to a secluded (and off-limits) pebble beach. It was a no-brainer. We quickly packed up only the necessities: tents, water, one can of soup each, root beer, and way too much film,

continuing west toward California. As we chugged along in our 1970 shag wagon, we hopped out every so often to get a better glimpse of the landscape: sagebrush, lava fields, sagebrush, weird-plant-I’ve-neverseen, lava fields. It was boring yet exhilarating. It was dusty and miserable, but also comforting. There are a lot of adjectives I could use to describe it, but I think you should experience it for yourself. It’s been almost a year and I’m still blowing ash out of my nose.

Redwoods

and hit the small game trail at the top of the cliff. A 30-minute journey through the narrow passage, down the steep embankment, and through more poison oak and jagger bushes opened up to a spot the four of us have decided to keep secret. Being on the beach was definitely not allowed, and the small fire we built on the rocks was highly illegal, but I’ll never regret our decision to make camp there. It was one of the most peaceful spots I’ve ever experienced, and I’ll never forget the mental, emotional, and spiritual clarity I felt watching the waves roll in at 6 am the next morning.

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Carlessness

I PU SH E D MY C A R O F F A C L IF F It was accidental, of course. A string of bad choices combined with awful luck led to the totaling of my car 30 miles away from civilization, and three miles from any semblance of cell service. My friend Tiffany and I were exploring the backroads of Carrizo Plain National Monument in California, four hours northwest of Los Angeles. I’d been to Carrizo twice before, and my 2010 Toyota Corolla had performed admirably. While trying to get up a hill, however, my car gave up––steep dirt roads and bald tires do not mix. I attempted to turn around to go back down and try the ascent again, but the car bottomed out in the soft earth. Each tap on the gas only dug the front tire deeper. Belly now fully immobilized, my car was a beached whale. As enterprising young women, Tiffany and I tried to gain traction by jacking up the car and stacking rocks beneath the tires. This failed. Knowing we were three miles from the main road with little chance of running into anyone on the walk there, we decided to try pushing the car, at least until the back tires made contact with the ground. We pushed, and the car inched forward. Again, and it inched forward.

We were making progress! Who needed cell service and tow trucks when you had elbow grease and gumption? With the car in neutral and the driver’s door open, ready for me to jump in, we gave one final push. Three… two… one! Gravity’s an ass. Technically, our plan had worked. The car was unstuck. Fifteen seconds later, in the most cinematic scene of my life, I sprinted alongside the runaway vehicle, quickly realized there was NO way I was going to make it inside, and fell to my knees, skidding in the dirt. Time ceased to exist; everything was at once slow and fast and real-time. The car was careening, gaining speed––then SLAMMED into the ravine at the bottom of the steep hill. Gone. This is one of the moments I know I will remember for the rest of my life, yet can barely remember at all. It must have looked hilarious. Here we had been so confident, so proud of solving our crisis. Just seconds later, we were staring, dumbfounded, shaken, and in shock. We ran to the car, fought off the airbags, and clambered for the necessities: insurance papers, wallet, camera, water. We scram-

bled up the hill and waited for an explosion that never came. (What would have been more movie-like than that?) On the four-mile walk (it’s only three if you don’t take a wrong turn) back to the main road, I took solace in the fact that I was in good company. When I lost composure, Tiffany quickly reassured me, and vice-versa. “When you tell people what happened, make sure you let them know how funny I was,” I announced to her. We were cracking jokes left and right. What else can you do? If I wasn’t laughing, I would have been crying; the tears rolled every time I stopped trying to make light of the situation. I make no claim that this was anyone’s fault but mine. Do I regret it? Of course. But now I have a story that I’ll tell until the day I die. Even five minutes after it happened, I turned to Tiffany in hysterics, and laughed, “In five years, this will be hilarious.”  And the best part is that, on our way through the park earlier that day, I had said, “I love this car so much. I’m going to drive it until I run it into the ground.”

STORY BY LINNEA BULLION // LINNEABULLION.COM // @LINNEABULLION ARTWORK BY SARAH EISENLOHR // SARAHEISENLOHR.COM // @SARAHEISENLOHR


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The Road Home STORY BY MADELINE BAARS // @MADELINEBAARS PHOTOS BY JULIANA JOHNSON // JULIANAJOHNSONDESIGN.COM // @JULIANA_JOHNSON

We happened upon it by accident. Looking for lunch, we got caught on a long, dusty road off the highway. Four hours northeast of Phoenix in rural Arizona—pretty sure it’s labeled the Middle of Fucking Nowhere on the map—is a 200 millionyear-old petrified forest. The Petrified Forest National Park, to be exact. A row of broad-chested brown horses were lined up in the parking lot, saddles making it clear they were Property of the U.S. Government. A plethora of signs told us to please, for the love of God and country, leave the park behind. DO NOT POCKET NATURAL WONDERS! THIS IS A FEDERAL CRIME, PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW! THIS SERIOUS OFFENSE IS PUNISHABLE BY FINES OR JAIL TIME! To be fair, pieces of a petrified forest make irresistible souvenirs: ancient trees frozen in time, broken into chunks of swirling, solid quartz. If you hold them up to the light, you can see the mineral deposits that run through them in unique patterns— brightly colored stripes, glittery primaries and pastels. It’s so hard to resist. I learned later that it is one

man’s job to prevent Triassic theft. He is dressed in plainclothes, and blends in among tourists, watching them slip bits of petrified trees into pockets and pants cuffs. He’ll take them aside in the parking lot, write tickets, confiscate the contraband. Piece by piece, the park loses one ton of petrified wood to quick-fingered tourists every month. These relics are irreplaceable. “Just take some sage,” my mom whispered to me out of the corner of her mouth. It was some good-looking sage, and seemed like a far lesser crime. I obliged, picking a small sprig in the parking lot, where it sprouted through cracks in the asphalt. That one strand of sage rode on the dash for the rest of the trip, drying and then curling, a tiny and pungent federal offense hiding in plain sight. Later, we witnessed the sun rising over the majesty of the ancient purple, red, and orange craters of the Grand Canyon, with only a handful of European tourists and their selfie-sticks to keep us company. Seeing the canyon was a lifelong dream, and it was a transcendent morning, hours spent in a place unlike any other in the world.


It was an experience that took our breath away, profoundly overwhelming us. We might as well have been on the surface of Mars. The informational video made us both cry quietly, in the safety of the dim theater, listening to Tom Hanks’ voice. We hiked along the side of the canyon, carefully climbing out onto the viewpoints that jutted out from the trails, rusty metal railings our only protection from a fall that promised to be long and fatal. My knees shook. We wandered the park for hours, almost entirely speechless. We kept returning to the parking lot in between views of the Grand Canyon, the asphalt providing us with an emotional palate cleanser. We left the Grand Canyon at lunchtime, and then drove all day. We wound our way around the South Rim, stopping at viewpoints to take in its glory. Along the road, we spotted a big buck. His antlers were giant, velvety and brown, two and three and four branches that rose higher and higher, the tips floating many feet above his head. It was unclear how he could even move with antlers that large, but he seemed happy, quietly munching away. His antlers were beautifully symmetrical, and far, far larger than any we’d ever seen. What a good life he must live, we thought. No fighting with other bucks, no danger from hunters. We hoped he knew better than to ever leave the park.

Soon after, we hit thunderstorms. The dusty hills reflected the sky’s dark grays and purples, cut with shards of lightning like a sharp knife. The clouds were low and angry, and we could see the storm rolling toward us in the rearview mirror. The universe was closing in on top of us, and it was suddenly dark as night in the back window, through the sunroof, and in the world unfolding in front of us. I turned the brights on, gripped the steering wheel, rain beating the windshield and body of the car. We turned the radio off, as if that might help. I didn’t say it, but I was scared shitless. My knuckles were white, my breathing became irregular. Mom sat stiffly in her seat and closed her eyes tight, both hands clasping the passenger-side handle, her face sallow and pale. An 18-wheeler popped a tire ahead of us with a loud crack that rang out like a shot. It was a sound so loud it affects your other sense—leaving a taste of metal in your mouth, your fingertips numb, an electric shock to the heart. The force of the tire popping and the sudden loss of speed had shredded the hood of the truck, and through the rain, we saw that the truck no longer looked white, but chewed up and blackened. Pieces of tire rolled across the highway like tumbleweeds. I couldn’t avoid them, and my body tensed as we rolled over it, rubber banging the bottom of our car. Just as quickly as the storm had come, it passed and we drove on.


By evening we’d been driving up and down winding, small highways for hours, and we were bone tired. We pulled into Zion National Park right before nightfall. We’d forgotten it was one of the great wonders of America, and not just a $25 fee and a pink mark on the map, a roadblock in between where we were and where we needed to be. We pulled our car into the park, ready to bat our eyes if necessary. We peered up at the ranger, perched in his station, and asked, “Is there any way for us to just get around the park and be at our destination before dark?” He blinked, not understanding the question. It was one he’d probably never heard. He just shook his head, took our money, and handed us a map of Zion. We drove through one of America’s most splendorous wonders, mouths agape. We rolled our windows down and inched our way through, cruising around its craggy corners as slowly as we could. We heard the sound of wobbly white baby mountain goats bleating on the rocky cliffs, and could see them in the distance following their mothers, balancing on spindly legs and stopping to chew the brush dotting their path. Tourists wandered the park in hiking shoes tied too tight, packs of children in tow. They had come great distances, some many thousands of miles away, just to see this place. We stopped to use the bathroom and buy postcards, and then we

moved on. I decided to always look forward and never look back. Along the Arizona/Utah border, we passed a herd of domesticated buffalo. We sailed by, me craning my neck across the single-lane highway. “Shit! Mom! Buffalo!” “Well, what are you doing? Pull over.” This was my favorite version of my mom, when she was relaxed and unhurried, ready for adventure. When she’s happy like this, the whole world lights up her face. She’s ready for mischief and learning, ready to see the world. And so we pulled the little car over into a rolling, grassy ditch. I ran 30 feet along the large white fence, just to marvel at the herd of buffalo: mamas and papas and tiny baby buffalo, necks naked and heads unadorned, nudging at their mothers’ sides. They were too far away to take a photo, so I just stood there, across the field, arms draped loosely over the fence posts. I was forced to just experience it, breathe it in, commit what I was seeing to memory. There is something majestic and sad and distinctly American about buffalo, and they stir up feelings: wanderlust, openness, a nostalgia for something I’ve never known. An urge to roam the wide wild plains that once existed, tumbling across an untamed land.


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Perfect Excuse PHOTOS AND STORY BY JEFF EDWARDS The National Park System is America’s perfect excuse. It’s an excuse to get off the fucking couch, to drive for hours while having insightful conversations with old and new friends. It’s an excuse to skip showers, to pee in bottles ‘cause you don’t want to stop the car. It’s an excuse to shell out 60 bucks to stay at a sketchy tweaker motel, or to stop at a Walmart in the middle of nowhere to buy bug spray. It’s an excuse to call in sick on Monday because you want to see one more sunset behind the mountains. It’s an excuse to keep photos of your ex-girlfriends, to buy Kodak film even though it’s not vegan. It’s an excuse to wear obscenely short swimming trunks or spend $100 on a vintage one-piece. It’s an excuse to drink

Coors or Miller or Budweiser, because you can’t find a decent IPA that comes in a can. It’s an excuse to call someone you haven’t spoken to in years to score weed while in Wyoming, ‘cause you don’t want to get caught with your own stash at the agricultural inspection. It’s an excuse to take a deep breath, to wake up at dawn to do Warrior Pose. It’s an excuse to buy a folding chair and to make up your own constellations, because you don’t know any besides the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt. It’s an excuse to stop in a tiny town to get lip balm or an air freshener. It’s an excuse to wave or smile at the person next to you while you share a moment in awe of a natural water feature. It’s an excuse to fall in love with someone you just

met, or with yourself. The National Park System is love, it’s longing, it’s addiction… it’s life.  It’s easy for us to take it for granted because we didn’t have to fight for it. Our generation was born with the park system, and hopefully it will be here for the next, but not without a fight. Vested interests would love to drill, frack, tap, or graze it, and they are paying off lots of lobbyists to do so. So next time you see a Sequoia, or a Redwood, or a Joshua Tree, or a Saguaro, don’t forget these things can easily be taken away if we don’t fight back. Anyone who has truly been in love knows it’s a constant battle.

LOSANGELESSWIMMIN.COM // @LA_SWIM


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The Monster

of Crater Lake

STORY BY JUSTIN “SCRAPPERS” MORRISON // SCRAPPERSTOWN.COM // @SCRAPPERS PHOTO BY DAN KURAS // KURASPHOTO.COM // @DANKURAS Wizard Island floats in the middle of Crater Lake like a wizard hat floating in the middle of a lake, but Wizard Island is really the tip of a volcano rising 2,700 feet from the lake floor. The lake was created about 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted. It is the deepest, bluest lake in the USA and the crown jewel of Klamath County, Oregon. There are more than 40 caves in Crater Lake National Park, but be careful if you go exploring… you might cross paths with THE MONSTER OF CRATER LAKE (dun-dun-dunnnn)!!! The first crawdaddy probably splashed into the lake around the same time non-native fish like trout and salmon were tossed in for tourists to catch. Since then, crawdaddies have become monsters destroying the habitat of the peaceful Mazama newt. The newt and crawdaddy eat the same food, live in the same shoreline habitat, and compete for the same sunbathing spots,

but the big difference is that crawdaddies eat newts. Crawdaddy claw versus squishy newt paw? No contest. Park biologists say crawdaddies have taken over 80 percent of Crater Lake’s shoreline. As they invade the lake further, they push the newt closer to extinction. The lake has no stream running in or out, so there is no escape for the newt. This native critter evolved to live in this lake, and can only live in this lake. Some believe the Mazama newt’s greatest hope lies in the hands of park resource management, but I think it’s the responsibility of all of us. So how about we get in the car and go hunting for the Monster of Crater Lake? Fishing is encouraged since it helps remove invasive species. You don’t even need a license, and there is no limit to how many of these little monsters you can catch.


Motos in Moab WORDS BY JAMIE CHARLES // @JMESGOTAGUN PHOTO BY NATHALIE KOSSEK // @NATHALIEK Marketed as “the worst moto campout ever,” no one really knew what antics were in store when they signed up to be part of this year’s Motos in Moab, Volume 2. We’d all heard stories from the previous year: being kicked out of a Mormon campsite less than 24 hours in; taking shelter in a farmer’s field only to be greeted by multiple feet of flash flooding; tents erupting in flames that wandered over from from gasoline-lit fires—fires started with good intentions, if also with drunken ineptitude. Those stories, however, only intimidate the faint at heart. Over 800 others blindly agreed to be part of whatever would be thrown their way. People from all over the US rode through red rock canyons and lush desert flora to one of Southern Utah’s most beautiful terrains for a weekend that will forever remain in infamy. As the sun began to set and dusty plots became temporary homes, campers were called to a stage for an introduction. Ozzy Osbourne’s voice echoed off the canyon walls as “Iron Man” blasted from the speakers, and a creature straight out of a sci-fi movie emerged from the woods. He slinked toward the crowd, shooting flames 10 feet into the night sky out of a Vietnam-era war weapon strapped to his back. Like literal moths to a flame, we all followed to the 30-foot-high bonfire

that would set the tone for the weekend. With the inferno as its centerpiece, the field was transformed into a flat track full of dirtbikes, Harleys, and mini bikes with sidecars, carrying two, three, or even four riders at a time. People crashed, bikes and bodies were mangled, but no one got seriously hurt, and we all laughed at what will probably go down as one of the most ridiculous scenes of the summer. While the nighttime was reserved for whisky drinking, hell raising, and lighting what seemed like anything and everything on fire, daylight hours were for tracking down swimming holes and taking rides through some of the country’s most beautiful national parks. My group’s final ride of the weekend led us through Arches National Park just before dusk. We were humbled as the setting sun illuminated ancient rocks that the wind has spent millennia carving. No amount of Snapchat or Instagram filtering can capture the feeling in your chest when you gaze upon thousands of years of nature’s artistry glowing in the golden hour. As we shifted gears through twisting roads and expansive views, my breath was stolen when I realized the wind that whipped my face, and the desert sun that warmed my skin were the same artists that had sculpted everything in our path.

MOTOSINMOAB.COM // @MOTOSINMOAB


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Big Bend Y’all

PHOTOS AND STORY BY JEREMY PAWLOWSKI Driving through the brown and barren land of West Texas, it’s hard to imagine that much more than an oil rig or cattle ranch could exist out there. Even when you begin to see signs for Big Bend National Park, there is still no indication of the beauty that lies ahead. As you pull up to the ranger station to pay the entrance fee, you may ask yourself, “Are we really here?” In a world where national parks have their own Instagram and Facebook accounts, it’s not uncommon to see a line of cars waiting to get in. I once waited over an hour to get into Utah’s Zion Park, slouched over my steering wheel and inching forward at a snail’s pace, with a mile-long string of brake lights in front of me. It felt like I was at an amusement park, not a place people go to

celebrate the outdoors. Luckily, Big Bend is different than most parks. The closest major cities are eight hours away, it encompasses more than 800,000 acres, and once you enter, it’s at least an hour’s drive before you get to the visitors’ center. Even during its busy season, you might only see a handful of people over an entire weekend. Many times I’ll explore a park for a single geographic feature—maybe it’s a mountain, a canyon, or a body of water. Big Bend has them all. You can spend the morning walking through the arid Chihuahuan Desert trying to find tarantulas, hike all afternoon to the top of Emory Peak and dangle your feet high above the Chisos Mountains below, and watch

the sun set over Mexico while taking a relaxing soak in the hot springs along the Rio Grande. Never before have I seen so many ecosystems come together in such perfect symbiosis. And once the sun goes down, another part of the park quite literally shines: the night sky. With no cities or towns nearby, there is near-zero light pollution, and I often sleep without the fly on my tent so I can marvel at the Milky Way and stars shooting overhead.   They say everything is bigger in Texas, and as you drive down the miles and miles of dirt roads that run through the park, it’s easy to see that Big Bend is no exception. Come here to get away, come here to sightsee, come here to hike—and most importantly, come here to feel dwarfed by the earth that surrounds us.

AMERICAYALL.COM // @AMERICAYALL


Volcanic Family Vacation BY AMY, JUSTIN, AND CAMPER MORRISON We stood together holding hands in the dark. Looking into the red-hot glowing center of a volcano. We were far from home, but we had never been closer together. When an opportunity for family fun arises, take it. Don’t weigh the pros and cons, just say yes and go. Take your seven-year-old out of school, tell the office you’re going on vacation, get a pet sitter, don’t worry about the money, and allow your family to become the adventure. Our family recently said yes to Hawai’i. Not for the postcard-perfect landscape, the warm clear water, the shaded sandy beaches, the poolside refreshments, or the genuine locals and captivating culture, but yes to the hot, dusty, unpredictable, high-altitude, majestic, and unforgiving volcanoes. The Hawaiian island chain is all volcano. Not the exploding, red-lava volcano that might come to mind, but the geological consequence of the hottest part of our planet’s core deciding to pay a visit to the surface, creating a series of land masses that slowly become mountains, valleys, shores, and homes. The national parks of Hawai’i are a lot like mainland parks. They’re big, weird landscapes full of tourists trying to get that photo that sums up the whole thing. No photo can capture the layers of cultural and geological history in any national park. Our family kept this in mind and went forward hoping to personally connect with places that are much bigger than our tiny lives.


Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park National parks were established to preserve natural wonders, but they also do the same for cultural heritage sites like this moody little tiki park on the big island of Hawai’i. The Pu’uhonua protected kapu (law) breakers, defeated warriors, and anyone else seek-

ing sanctuary during wartime. No physical harm could come to those who reached the boundaries of the Pu’uhonua. Camper explains, “It was a place that was really sacred. Real Hawaiians lived there. If you do something bad you have to go there, and then

you’re done with the curse. Then you can go back to your family.” We sat at the black rock shore, silently sharing a passion fruit soda and watching the sun dance on the water’s surface. We were not seeking refuge, but we found it.


Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park If the Hawaiian Islands are all one family, the Big Island of Hawai’i is the youngest sibling. This one is still forming, still growing, and has the most recent volcanic activity. The Big Island is really big. So big that you need to see it from a helicopter to understand its volcanic landscape. Seen from the ground, volcanoes gently roll across the skyline. Viewed from above, that landscape comes to life. Red-hot lava flows into rain forests that have never experienced fire before. There’s smoke and destruction that you can’t see from ground level because of obstacles like dangerous terrain and poisonous gas. From the air, you can safely witness the continuous chaos and creation of land below. Trees topple over because of the lava flowing under and around their trunks. The forest becomes a sea of dark, hardened lava. The lava meets the ocean and continues to form an underwater landscape of reefs, caves, and future islands. Our son Camper’s great-grandchildren won’t even see this island finish growing. To get more up close and personal, we headed to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. While we were at the ranger station checking out maps, Camper became a junior ranger. “I got a badge. I did all this stuff. It was pretty fun. It was like homework, but a tiny bit funner.” It’s worth checking out all the designated

stops in the park. With each one you learn a bit more about where you are, and up your chances of finding a personal connection with the place. For us that was at the steam vents. From a distance, the steam looks like little clouds clinging to the ground. The vents are surrounded by hardy native shrubs like the ‘Ohi’a Lehua and its red bottlebrush flowers. Buses unload large groups of international tourists who lean on the railings around the vents with selfie sticks and camera phones. This might sound sad to some, but the easy access helped us feel the invigoratingly hot, damp, and slightly stinky clouds soften our skin. Standing in the wafting hot clouds of steam coming from Earth’s core, we were cleansed by the sacred breath of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. Camper wasn’t that impressed, though. “It burned my eyes. It was cool. It felt like air.” Either way, during that moment in the steam, your glasses fog over, you drop out of sight, and all you see and feel is steam. You get lost in the wonder of it all. You’re not thinking about plane tickets, sunscreen, unanswered emails, or homework. Or maybe you are. Maybe in the same moment your adventure connects you to something deeper, something bigger, the adventure offers you a moment to accept it all.

The park has much more than current volcanic activity—it’s also overflowing with volcanic history. As our first grader ran through a large, dark cave, he pointed out, “A lava tunnel is like a tunnel underground that goes to the volcano. Imagine lava in it. That must have been a lot of lava in this giant tube flowing through it. That would be like 60 hundred gallons. Now, like 60 hundred people walk through it.” Like most national parks, this one gets crowded, but it’s easy to get away and do your own thing. We walked to the rim of the Halema’uma’u Crater of the Kílauea volcano and looked into it. The ashy gray apocalyptic landscape was kind of bland and voggy (volcano smoggy). Camper read a sign out loud for us. “Warning: Hairyous Hot Lava Deep Cliffs Roughen Suckers Flash After Dark.” (Give him a break, he’s just learning to read.) On our way out of the park, a ranger strongly urged us to come back after dark. Had we not come back after dinner to stumble to the crater’s rim with the help of our tiny phone flashlights, we would have missed the family experience we came for. We have never seen anything more awesome than the mountain-sized red glow of the volcano rising out of a crackling bubbly crater and up into the dark sky toward the stars and universe above. We stared into the planet’s core and, together, saw way beyond ourselves.


- National Park Haleakala Maui kicks some serious beach ass. You’ll find white, black, red, and green sand beaches. Beaches with rocky tide pools, waves, no waves, sun, no sun, or even rain if that’s your thing. Just plop under a kiawe tree and listen to the sound of ocean meeting land all day. Turn away from the beach, and Haleakalã demands your attention. The smooth, winding drive up to Haleakalã takes you through upcountry farms and fields with stunning views of the island. Rising above the trees, the birds, and the clouds, the top of Haleakalã National Park feels very close to the sun. Which is one of the reasons its Hawaiian name translates to “House of the Sun.” You can’t always feel the sun’s warmth. It’s pretty cold and windy up there. You can feel the thin air in your lungs and the pressure in your ears. The clouds move fast and reveal pocket-sized views of the crater. Camper described the clouds: “The mist comes at you, then disappears. It’s really weird and all going in different directions. It’s always changing.” Always changing is right, and you never know what you’re going to get. Pack like you’re going to the rainforest, the mountains, and the desert. You’re likely to get rained on and baked by the sun on the same trip. Conditions are constantly and drastically changing. The super accessible Sliding Sands Trail can take you as far as you want to go into the crater. Walk just a few feet and you’re eye level with the crater rim. Walk a few more and the quietness of the crater’s landscape

pulls you in. The stomping sound of Camper’s feet running down the steep trail left a cloud of red dust in the air behind him. We speculated how far we’d be carrying him on our way back up. For us, the adventure wasn’t hiking all the way into the crater, but heading in, picking a spot to sit, and experiencing the changing show of clouds swirling within. Haleakalã’s crater has been dormant for centuries, and its central landscape is dotted with smaller craters, cinder cones, eroding outcrops of rock, and loose red gravel as far as you can see. Few plants or animals call this place home. The most eye-catching plants are the glowing silverswords. Native to this mountain, silverswords easily steal the show, like stars in a red gravel sky. Despite their metallic glow, Camper points out: “Silverswords are cool because if you touch one it’s really fluffy. If you tried to cut someone’s face it would just be furry.” We’re pretty sure he just imagined touching them, because these plants are endangered, and were well beyond his reach. Farther down the volcano, we wandered through the Hosmer’s Grove of black peppermint eucalyptus and Japanese cedar. We had gone from Mars to rainforest within two miles. Bird songs stopped us in our tracks, and we noticed the tiny red berries on the native ‘Õhelo ‘ai (Hawaiian blueberry). We saw flashes of red feathers and the long curling beak of the ‘i‘iwi (Hawaiian honeycreeper) rushing from bush to bush looking for berries. The ‘i‘iwi’s red feathers reminded Camper

of a story our Hawaiian friend Anu Yagi told him. “They’re super rare. They’re not endangered because there’s still 160 out there. [We have no idea why he picked this number.] The people [specialized Hawaiian bird-catchers] that get that bird don’t want to kill it. They just want to take, like, one feather. There’s a nut [breadfruit]. Inside there’s, like, this glue stuff. They break the nut and put the glue stuff on a tree branch and then when a bird sits down on it they get stuck. Then they [the bird-catchers] climb up and take a little feather off it. And then, ummm… they make those feather cloaks for King Kamehameha. Those birds eat the Hawaiian blueberry.” The feather cloaks, or ‘ahu‘ula, were made for Hawaiian chiefs, or ali‘i. These cloaks took thousands of feathers to make, and since each feather was harvested one bird at a time, the cloaks took forever to complete. Aunty Anu said Kamehameha’s feather cloak was worked on for nine generations before it was draped over his shoulders. The cloak that Chief Kalani’Õpu’u gifted to Captain Cook in 1779 was returned earlier this year to Hawai’i from New Zealand. The cloak is made of more than 20,000 feathers and is currently on display at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Haleakalã is huge and could be difficult to connect with on a personal level, but seeing how the park preserves habitat for the berry that feeds the birds that grow the feathers that pre-contact Hawaiians wove into cloaks, we got to witness how this national park also preserves a story deeply connecting people to this place.

THIS ADVENTURE WAS MADE WITH HELP FROM THE HAWAI’I VISITORS AND CONVENTION BUREAU @GOHAWAII // GOHAWAII.COM


One Night in Jtree PHOTO AND WORDS BY SHAUN DALEY It’s approaching midnight at the Hall of Horrors in Joshua Tree and the desert is way colder than I thought it would be. Our crew has already made two “oh shit” stops for keepwarm supplies, putting us over our blanket budget. However, nobody feels the temperature dipping more than Ryan Paul Robinson, who’s suspended 200 feet in the air, balancing on a wobbling piece of nylon… barefoot.

@SHAUN_DALEY // #LEDBYLIGHT


TWO GREAT ENERGY FOODS COMING TOGETHER

ORGANIC | NON-GMO | LOW GLYCEMIC © 2016 CLIF BAR & COMPANY.


Your Place is My Place

THE N AT I ON AL PAR K S A R E S T O LE N P R O P E R T Y ART & STORY BY JUSTIN “SCRAPPERS” MORRISON

There are more than 600 tribes native to the area we call the United States of America. Most of these tribes have had their sacred places taken away and turned into national parks. Whether by sneaky treaty or bloody war, their ancestral land was stolen and turned into a tourist destination. So cool your Jet SkiTM for a minute and look into this deep, murky water with me.

ised to the Lakota Sioux in an 1868 federal treaty2, but the government kinda forgot to keep the promise when gold was discovered. Then, in 1927, some men showed up with drills and dynamite to carve big white faces into the Black Hills—big white faces of federal government employees. What a burn! They may as well have nailed up a sign that said, “Your place is mine.”

“Early park officials quickly realized that Indians could prevent tourists from experiencing all the benefits and enjoyments that Yellowstone had to offer the American people.”1

Heck, even Yosemite National Park is named after a tribe removed from the valley.

But don’t think for one second this kind of bullshit goes on without protest from tribal members. One of my favorite videos is a black-and-white 1970 CBS news broadcast reporting, “Another dawn rises above Mount Rushmore and a small band of American Indians who cling not only to the craggy edges of the mountain, but to the hope that someday this land will be theirs again.”3 Professor and activist Lehman Brightman lays it out hard to the reporter: “We’re sick and tired of sitting back and turning the other cheek, then bending over to get those other two kicked.”

This sort of history goes so deep it’ll put your brain’s butt to sleep, so let’s just look at Mount Rushmore. It’s the most awesome example of turning a sacried, natural place into a tourist trap. The Black Hills in South Dakota were prom-

Members from different tribes sat together on top of Mount Rushmore shouting, playing loud drums, and photo-bombing tourist’s snapshots by hanging a huge flag that said, “SIOUX INDIAN POWER.” Tribal protesters occupied the top of

The Blackfeet were banned from hunting and gathering food in Glacier National Park, like they had sustainably done for thousands of years, to preserve game for tourist hunters.

Mount Rushmore for three months until severe winter weather forced them down. Mount Rushmore is a national memorial overseen by the National Park Service. It’s pretty cool. You should check it out, but if you’re in the area, swing by another part of the Black Hills, Crazy Horse Mountain. The name honors a chief who kicked the shit out of General Custer when he tried to take the Black Hills before the gold rush. Chief Henry Standing Bear took to the idea of carving big faces into rocks, and hired one of the Rushmore carvers to do a depiction of Crazy Horse that’s even bigger than the dead presidents. It’s so freaking huge it’s still being carved, and its purpose is to honor the “culture, traditions, and living heritage of the North American Indians.”4 I love it, but I wish they’d carve Crazy Horse flipping Rushmore off. Here’s the punchline, though: Nothing is forever. We can fight each other over property rights and even carve our faces into mountains to claim ownership, but nobody owns this planet. Long after we’ve killed the air, the water, and our beautiful cultures, nature will keep dancing to its own song. It’s a slow song. Listen up, and you might be able to hear it if you turn off your fucking Jet SkiTM.

SCRAPPERSTOWN.COM // @SCRAPPERS 1. Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks by Mark David Spence, pg. 56 2. Google: Treaty of Fort Laramie 3. YouTube, “United Native Americans Reclaim Mount Rushmore,” posted by Quanah Brightman 4. https://crazyhorsememorial.org/mission-purpose.html


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Parques Nacionales PHOTO AND WORDS BY RANDY P. MARTIN // @RANDYPMARTIN National parks are one of my favorite things on the planet. Learning about their history, exploring them as much as possible, and crossing each one off my list are the most fun things I can think of. Last year I got to experience some of Colombia’s best preserved spaces when I visited a handful of their Parques Nacionales with my 35mm camera on my hip and a tent in my pack.Â

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona: This place is exactly why national parks exist. No development is taking place in this jungle paradise, which is still home to native tribes, howler monkeys, ocelots, sloths, and 40 different species of bats.


Frailejón plants start their spring bloom under the snow-capped peak of Pan de Azúcar.

After getting rained on and scrambling up an embankment in Chorro Aguabendita, the clouds cleared and two bright blue, glacially fed alpine lakes came into view.


Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy (The Bogeyman): Above the clouds at 15,000 feet without another single soul around. Don’t stand up too quickly or you might find yourself face first in the dirt at this high of an altitude.

Cocora Valley boasts the tallest palm trees in the world. Walking around under the 200-foot wax palms made me feel like I was on the set of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.


Meanwhile, in Canada... J OF F RE L AK E S P R O V I N C I A L PA R K BRIT I S H C O L U M B I A PHOTO BY MIRAE CAMPBELL // @MIRAECAMPBELL


The County thejamesbrand.com


PEOPLE ARE BEGINNING TO FIND OUT THAT WILDNESS IS A NECESSITY John Muir, Our National Parks (1901), chapter 1, page 1.

Stay Wild // Summer 2016  

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