GOLDEN TO GO | SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RETAILERS | TOP PODCASTS MAY 2020
E L E V AT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M
RESILIENCE! Climber Timmy Oâ€™Neill survived a stroke in the midst of the pandemic and came out with gratitude on the other side
+ WH AT TO EXPECT ON PUBLIC LANDS TH IS SUMMER + VIRTUAL ADVENTUR ES
VANLIFE DURING THE PANDEMIC
Making It Work in a Mountain Town
+ TH E G R EAT R ESET + CLIMBING FILMS
M O R E A DV E N T U R E . L E S S W O R R Y.
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1 0 5 C A LO R I E S
M A D E W I T H S K R ATC H L A B S
Beer. Sports. Music. Camping.
M AY 2020
burning can festival Lyons Outdoor games
Join us this year for a perfect weekend for lovers of adventure, beer, music, and camping. Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Lyons Colorado boasts a natural playground for runners, riders, kayakers, dogs, and climbers. Featuring adventures to see and do, a mountain-side beer fest with close to 100 breweries, world class athletes, beautiful camping, and a huge concert, the Burning Can Fest at the Lyons Outdoor Games is a don’t miss weekend!
OFF THE ROAD: Johnny Townsend and Dani Reyes-Acosta have mixed feelings about
trading vanlife for houselife. See page 22.
DEPARTMENTS 7 EDITOR'S LETTER Why we howl and support our community 9 QUICK HITS Osprey Packs pivots to making masks, virtual climbing film festivals, the best outdoor podcasts, the A-Lodge takes in those in need, social distancing and to-go food in Golden, new gear, and more... 12 FLASHPOINT Will COVID-19 close public lands this summer? Here’s what you need to know now. 15 HOT SPOT There’s no reason you can’t find virtual adventures—from touring national parks to learning how to climb Denali— while you stay at home. 17 NUMEROLOGY Sober details and reasons for hope when it comes to pandemics throughout human history.
19 STRAIGHT TALK The director of Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry office talks about how the state is helping outdoor businesses and how EO readers can help. 27 HEAR THIS Buy vinyl and merch from these hard-working bands. 28 THE HOME FRONT Coffee and community is helping a mountain town business survive during the pandemic. 31 ELWAYVILLE We have the chance to press reset on our lives.
FEATURES 20 STROKE OF LUCK Timmy O’Neill suffered a stroke that hit him like a thunderbolt while he was working on a film in Patagonia. As he recovered just as the pandemic was taking hold, he came to the realization that he has the power to help us all spread love and gratitude.
22 VANLIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS Dani Reyes-Acosta decided that in the face of COVID-19 she would re-evaluate her home. 24 GET OUT GEAR The best stuff to help you hit the outdoors while social distancing. 25 STAY HOME GEAR Outdoor swag that’s perfect for your porch— from axes to whiskey.
ON THE COVER Climber and humanitarian Timmy O’Neill breaks through at Denver’s Outdoor Retailer show last January. By Carlo Nasisse Website hapticfilms.studio Instagram @carlonasisse
WANT MORE? CATCH UP ON PAST ISSUES, YOUR FAVORITE BLOGGERS AND DAILY ONLINE CONTENT AT ELEVATIONOUTDOORS.COM
E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S / M AY 2 0 2 0
KEYSTONE SUMMER IS
COMING! KEYSTONE , COLORADO Get Ready.
C O N T R IB U T O R S | 05. 20
WHAT ABOUT THE OUTDOORS DO YOU VALUE NOW MORE THAN EVER?
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E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S / M AY 2 0 2 0
All the things I was sometimes moving too fast to see—from peregrine falcons nesting to crocuses blooming to finding new adventures out the front door.
Nature’s ability to remedy us in moments of stress and uncertainty.
Knowing that the mountain bike trails are about to melt out is an enormous joy that’s keeping my whole family happy right now.
That we’ve preserved so many beautiful places and that we can breathe it all in.
Space to breathe, to be fully present, to remember what’s important.
Coronavirus has forced me to slow down, experiencing the outdoors in a different way than before. It’s lovely.
At this moment in time, I feel as if I am in the “Upside Down.” Now more than ever, I value the escape of getting outdoors and pretending that things are still right side up to a degree.
Being cooped up inside during the pandemic has boosted my appreciation for the open spaces closer to home.
The outdoors force me to me bring only what I need and remind me to keep it simple.
One day into quarantine when I was getting dressed to go ski in my backyard, I was starkly reminded that all we have is now.
E D I T O R'S L E T T E R | 05. 20
HOWL AWAY S TAY I N G AT H O M E W E A R E FI N D I N G N E W H O P E A N D M A I N TA I N I N G CO N N E C T I O N S TO FR I EN DS A N D T H E OUTDOORS DURING THE C U R R EN T C R I S I S . by DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN
PHOTO BY DOUG SCHNITTZSPAHN
ike so many of us in Colorado and beyond, I have been howling every night at 8 p.m. I am howling for the doctors and nurses and other front line and emergency workers who need our support. I am howling for my parents who live just 20 minutes away but I have only been able to see on a Zoom screen. I am howling for my 10-year-old next-door neighbor, Jeremiah, who I had an over-thefence snowball fight with the other day. I am howling for my eldery neighboors who are alone during this time and feel connected when we bray like wolves for these few moments together every day. I am howling for my family, for my own broken heart, for the way it releases all this worry and frustration and remind me of nights camping that seem like another lifetime when I have heard the yips of coyotes and even the full, sad songs of wolves near Yellowstone National Park. I am howling because I can hear it up and down our neighborhood, because it's one way we all connect in this midst of this absurdity and tragedy upending our lives. The Black Cat Farm (blackcatboulder. com) truck showed up in our neighborhood the other night after we all let out a good howl and we flocked to it like kids to an ice cream truck (keeping six-feet distant and wearing masks and gloves). We bought bulbs of garlic, a green mole sauce, crisp kale. It felt right not just
TRUE COLORS: RADHA MARCUM SHOWS OFF HER CUSTOM GRYFFINDOR MASK, MADE BY FRIEND AND WRITER LATRIA GRAHAM.
to get this bounty in the midst of isolation but also to support a local business, to know that we will all find some way to survive and enjoy the good things in life. We have been trying to support the businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. We bought poetry books and coffee from Innisfree (innisfreepoetry.com) down the street on the Hill. I could have made repairs to our bikes on my own but instead I walked them down to Boulder Cycle Sport (bouldercyclesport.com). We have been drinking Lyons-based Spirt Hound gin (spirithounds.com), while the brand is busy helping the community in turn by making hand sanitizer. Our community is helping us as well. My friend and writing colleague Latria Graham made us face masks with Hogwarts house themes (Gryffindor!) and we have worn them on local bike rides or hikes from our doorstep up into the Flatirons. Our neighbors brought us a surprise bag of pastries from Le French Café (lefrenchcafeboulder.com). EO's parent company Summit Publishing has been working overtime to keep us employed. And you, our readers, have been here, supporting us, having this magazine mailed to you or going out of your way to pick it up and let us know how much we mean to you on your social feeds. When this is over, we will all need to heal. I keep going back to a line from Whitman: “I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete,/The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains jagged and broken.” So howl for what's broken, for the earth, and for how we can be complete again.
ElevationOutdoors ElevationOutdoors_Mag ElevationOut M AY 2 0 2 0 / E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M
Featuring ‘more space for trail snacks’ technology.
FLUX™ 1.5 L For long thru-hikes, the items you carry must earn their space in your pack. Lucky for the Flux, it packs down smaller than a deck of cards, weighs only 97g, and threads into 42mm water filters. Add in a spill-proof, drink-through cap, and it’s all that with extra space for kettle chips.
Q U I C K HI T S | 05. 20
CO RT E Z , CO LO R A D O - B A SED OSP R E Y PAC K S CO M M I T S TO M A K I N G M A SK S F O R H E A LT H C A R E WO R K ER S A N D FRO N T- L I N E R E SP O N D ER S .
With the ability to crank out
approximately 100 fabric masks per day, Colorado backpack brand Osprey Packs is using its warranty and repair team to support COVID-19 front-line workers by making durable and washable masks that can be used in tandem with N95 medical-grade masks. “In this unprecedented time, I am inspired by our team's response,” said Layne Rigney, President of Osprey Packs. “While our product team is committed to developing future season’s products, our repair team is mobilizing all of their efforts to support our regional healthcare workers. The repair team is giving our entire company something to be proud of and we hope this inspires others with available resources to take similar action.” Osprey will distribute masks to Cortez’s Southwest Memorial Hospital and City of Cortez employees first; then it will work with the Governor's office of Colorado to get masks to the rest of the state, with the effort ongoing as long as it’s needed.
PHOTO COURTESY OSPREY PACKS
PACK PIVOT: A WORKER AT OSPREY PACKS SEWS WASHABLE MASKS TO AID IN PANDEMIC RESPONSE.
M AY 2 0 2 0 / E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M
Q U I C K HI T S | 05. 20
VIRTUAL SEND H ER E’ S H OW C L I M B I N G A N D GY M CO M M U N I T I E S AC ROS S T H E CO U N T RY A R E S TAY I N G S T RO N G A N D U N I T ED D E SP I T E COV I D -1 9. ACCORDING TO CLIMBING BUSINESS
200 people. This is an incredible way to sync people across the world who wouldn’t otherwise convene.” Viewers had a five-hour window to preview the films but were encouraged to tune-in at a specific time for trivia with swag giveaways. Post pilot program, BCC co-led a second event, and NMLFF debuted a four-day virtual festival. Then, the scope grew: NMLFF partnered with climbing gyms, clubs, and philanthropic organizations around the globe to host tailored virtual film shows that can simultaneously financially support essential issues from human health to the environment. Beyond the screen, other pioneers banded together, too. Eldorado Climbing, a climbing wall manufacturer in Louisville, Colo., invited customers to choose a climbing gym for up to 30-percent of the sales revenue to be donated. At shoe brand Butora, 35-percent of each shoe sold went to a choice climbing gym, too. El Cap— the parent company of Earth Treks, Planet Granite, and Movement—held the Chalk Bag Fund online auction of climbing gear and in-gym climbing courses. The drive supported their employees nationwide from Portland to Denver to Baltimore. Many gyms launched online workouts, and California’s Touchstone Climbing kicked-off a Challenge-in-Place on
TECHNOLOGY BIOLITE HEADLAMP 200
With the light and battery built right into the headband, its easy to forget you are even wearing this little 1.7-ounce light. The design practically eliminates bounce, even while running, and pumps out 200 lumens of light. It includes a vertical pivot to aim as needed and a red floodlight. Plus, it’s Micro USB rechargeable. $50 | BIOLITENERGY.COM
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Instagram with creative, intellectual objectives like “Take a Honnoldingin-your-home photo,” alluding to the capture of Alex Honnold petrified on a ledge, 1,700-feet up Half Dome. As Dixon says, “From business partners to communities, climbers as a whole have really come together, supported each other, and found ways to help humankind.” —Morgan Tilton
ALL FINGERS : JENNY ABEGG WORKS HER
ADVENTURE FOR YOUR EARS
The Dirtbag Diaries: Storytelling is
T H E SE S I X P O D C A S T S W I L L G E T YO U E XC I T ED A B O U T T H E O U T D O O R S N O M AT T ER W H ER E YO U A R E. WE MAY NOT CALL IT MUD SEASON
anymore but there’s no question that May tends to be a bit questionable when it comes to going outside. Any given day could bring sunshine, May showers, or a healthy helping of spring snow. There are ways to cope, though. Technology is a wonderful thing and while falling down the scroll hole of Instagram and Facebook can deliver a serious case of FOMO, podcasts can
GEAR WE LOVE COSTA DIEGO
With incredible lens technology already in place, Costa took a good look at the standard sunglass frame and created a vented spring hinge system that provides a great fit, maximizes air flow, and includes integrated top and side shields to block light. It’s just as capable on the snow as it is in the bright glare of summer. Available with prescription lenses. $199-$279 | COSTADELMAR.COM
WAY UP MOONLIGHT BUTTRESS IN ZION NATIONAL PARK IN THE FILM “SPEAK TO ME SOFTLY,” FEATURED IN THE VIRTUAL NO MAN’S LAND FILM FESTIVAL.
save you from the spiral. Listen from the couch, while you’re cleaning the house, or from a stationary bike. These six podcasts serve up a healthy dose of outdoor inspiration, even if the weather is crap. the backbone of this venerable 13-yearold podcast with two different types of episodes: The Shorts (short essays written and read by listeners) and Features, longer, interview-based and narration type episodes. Topics range from running with burros to tales of tandem bikes. dirtbagdiaries.com
The Wild: “The Wild” focuses more on wildlife and how it—and we—interact with the outdoors. Entertaining and educational, this one will please the kids (or your science-curious friends). Plus, show host Chris Morgan has an incredibly soothing voice. kuow.org/ podcasts/thewild
Out There: “Out There” may not
overtly make you want to get outside,
BOOKS STORIES BEHIND THE IMAGES
Adventure photographer Corey Rich reveals how he has nabbed so many stunning images over the past 25 years. His stories are profoundly honest and he shares lessons learned from mistakes he’s made along the way. He explains how he captured specific images and how he went from working for a local newspaper to spending two weeks with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson documenting their historic ascent of The Dawn Wall. $30 | MOUNTAINEERS.ORG/BOOKS
PHOTO BY HENNA TAYLOR / COURTESY OF NO MAN'S LAND FILM FESTIVAL
Journal nearly 600 climbing gyms nationwide have closed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and to abide by social distancing guidelines. Loveland, Colorado’s Climbing Wall Summit was canceled. The American Alpine Club closed its facilities and asked climbers to refrain from non-essential travel. Climbing, indoors and out, entered a never-before-seen holding pattern. The pressing question on everyone’s mind: How long will the COVID-19 shutdown last—and will there be resurgence? Climbing culture fundamentally thrives on creating community within place. Gyms depend on a steady revenue stream to survive closures. To help, the Climbing Wall Association created a petition advocating for federal emergency stimulus funds. And industry leaders launched new collaborative ways for climbers, gyms, crags, and communities to stay healthy and connected. The inaugural Virtual No Man’s Land Film Festival (NMLFF) is one such connection. With screening co-hosted by the Boulder Climbing Community (BCC), the free 90-minute show garnered $5,000 in suggested donations from 800 viewers. The funds will support BCC stewardship work ranging from building sustainable approach trails to rebolting crags and supplying wag bags in popular climbing areas. “This creative fundraiser allows our organization to keep functioning and lets people engage with their community while being entertained,” says BCC spokesperson Billy Dixon: “Inperson events are amazing for personal connection, but I hope that virtual events also become a trend. We can gather more people than we could ever handle at a movie theater, which fits
but it’ll certainly make you think about how lucky you are to have the opportunity. Comparable to NPR’s many offerings, these stories may make you introspective but can spark inspiration, too. outtherepodcast.com
Boldly Went: Helmed by husband-
and-wife duo Angel and Tim Mathis, “Boldly Went” shares stories of the outdoors told in front of a live audience. Not all of the storytellers are experts, but the podcast consists of the best of the weekly shows, so quality is higher than you might expect. boldlywentadventures.com
She Explores: It’s a circle: Listening
to stories of women who were inspired to get outside might convince you to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails yourself. Tackling themes like aging, diversity, conservation, and feminism, these tales range from adventures told by hotshot wildland firefighters, astronauts, CEOs, and (possibly) your next-door neighbor. sheexplores.com
G.O. Get Outside Podcast: With
episodes ranging from interviews with ultrarunners to profiles on folks working to increase inclusivity in the outdoors, G.O. has more than four seasons of inspirational (and funny) stories to keep you entertained. gogetoutside.com —Katie Coakley
EAT, SLEEP, PLAY: GOLDEN, COLORADO T W ELV E M I L E S N O RT H O F D EN V ER I N T H E H I S TO R I C TOW N O F G O L D EN , S O C I A L D I S TA N C I N G LOSE S A B I T OF ITS BITE WITH OUTDOOR R E C R E AT I O N , TA K E O U T, A N D C U R B S I D E B EER D EL I V ERY. AS PANDEMIC RESTRCITONS LOSEN THIS
PHOTOS COURTESY VISIT GOLDEN (TOP), COURTESY A-LODGE (BOTTOM)
summer, the town of Golden offers a close-to-home spot for resposible travel. Due to the constantly evolving situation, we recommend checking out jeffco.us/ open-space before heading out.
The City of Golden, Visit Golden, and the Golden Chamber of Commerce teamed up to promote TakeOut TakeOver Golden. Takeaway services are available at all of the town’s mainstays: Woody’s Pizza, Bob’s Atomic Burger, the Buffalo Rose, and Sherpa House. If you’re already familiar with these restaurants, it’s time to branch out. Bella Colibri (bellacolibri. com), a new Italian joint, is selling premade meals from one of the town’s most historic buildings, where the legislature used to meet back when Golden was the capital of the official Territory of Colorado. Can’t decide?
GOLD RUSH : A BIKER CRANKS THE 1,300 VERITCAL FEET IN 4.3 MILES ON THE ICONIC RIDE UP LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN. RIDERS WILL NEED TO FOLLOW TRAVEL AND SOCIAL DISTANCING RESTRICTIONS.
Order curbside pickup from The Farmer’s Market at Tributary Food Hall. If you’re visiting Golden in the morning, wake up to a to-go cup of coffee at Windy Saddle Café, followed by a fried green tomato benedict at Sassafras.
Many local hotels have temporarily closed their doors during the pandemic and the campgrounds at Golden Gate Canyon State Park are shut until further notice. But when travel restrictions are lifted, visitors will once again have access to some truly great accommodations. Start dreaming now of a stay in the The Golden Hotel (thegoldenhotel.com) a clean, creek-side property catering to the park-the-car-and-leave-it crowd.
From rock climbing at North Table Mountain to mountain biking at Apex Park, Golden has been (and will be again) a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Chimney Gulch Trail is a favorite hike, especially for low-risk and social distancing practices. It starts downtown with a leisurely stroll along the paved path beside Clear Creek (a destination for fly fisherman and tubers), and ends with the steep climb up Lookout Mountain. Golden’s museums were made for outdoorsy spectators. While the American Mountaineering Museum and Mines Museum are closed, it’s still possible to get your cultural fix with the Golden History Museum’s self-guided walking tour, a 1.5-mile circuit with 16 fascinating stops. The tour is outlined in detail online, at goldenhistory.org/ learn-do/walkingtour/. Art lovers can download the Public Art Commission Brochure (cityofgolden.net/media/ PublicArtBrochure.pdf), and enjoy Golden’s impressive outdoor art collection. —Jamie Siebrase
ADVENTURE ON HOLD B O U L D ER ’ S A- LO D G E SH I F T S G E A R S TO H EL P T H E CO M M U N I T Y. ASA FIRESTONE FIGURED HIS BUSINESS
would be booming with adventureseeking customers in April. But instead, just like everyone else, the CEO and co-founder of the A-Lodge watched everything come to a complete standstill because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2016, the quaint basecamp facility in the foothills outside of Boulder has offered lodging, camping, adventure van rentals, and a variety of spring and summer events like group trail runs, movies and live music. Instead, Firestone made his property with 27 private rooms and 12 hostel beds available to healthcare workers at
FUTURE IDYLL : THE A-LODGE WILL RENT VANS AGAIN WHEN RESTRICTIONS ALLOW.
greatly reduced rates and has provided a temporary women’s shelter for those in need. In the meantime, despite putting the regular adventure business on hold, he worked on projects around the property to get ready for a delayed spring/summer season. “We’re all in this together,” Firestone said. “The shelter-at-home orders have certainly been hard on small businesses, but you can either take the approach that you’re going to go out of business or you can think positively and work to make things better, make changes or somehow be a productive part of the community. And if you choose a positive approach, you’ll be more grateful and happy whenever the new normal emerges.” —Brian Metzler
M AY 2 0 2 0 / E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M
F L A S HP O IN T | 05. 20
COVID-19 SHUT DOWN THE SKI SEASON AND LIMITED OUTDOOR RECREATION THIS SPRING. WILL THINGS BE BACK TO NORMAL ON PUBLIC L ANDS THIS SUMMER? by DONNY O’NEILL
ummer recreation in Colorado will be abnormal. Between the lingering trauma of indoor isolation and a litany of restrictions and closures implemented by local, state, and national authorities, outdoor enthusiasts are facing a new normal as the days grow longer, the sun stronger, and the landscapes lush with wildflowers and emerald forests. Since Governor Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 26, which ran through April 26, residents have adjusted the way they embark on outdoor adventure. The order was updated to a “safeat-home” plan beginning April 27. The new order maintains 60-to-65percent social distancing, restricted gatherings to 10 people, and could open recreational facilities where adequate social distancing controls can be implemented. While outdoor recreation for the
purpose of exercise was deemed an essential activity, in conjunction with Center for Disease Control guidelines (CDC), the order urged people to limit travel and recreate close to home, avoid crowded trailheads, maintain six feet of separation from non-related parties, wear non-medical face masks, and refrain from high-risk activities. To mitigate crowding, county open space and mountain parks rangers and local sheriffs’ offices implemented temporary and rolling closures for parks that were at capacity. Trails within Colorado State Parks (CPW) and National Forest (FS) jurisdiction remained open, however, developed recreation sites like campgrounds, picnic areas, and trailhead facilities were closed indefinitely for CPW and through May 31 for FS. Dispersed camping is banned on CPW land, and while it’s allowed on FS areas, it’s discouraged. Four rural counties in Colorado’s mountains, San Juan, Hinsdale, Gunnison, and Chaffee, went so far as to close to non-residents altogether. River permits are null. And
E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S / M AY 2 0 2 0
the National Park Service closed Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, and Great Sand Dunes national parks, as well as Dinosaur National Monument. The mandates have hand-cuffed Coloradans, especially those in the Front Range Urban Corridor looking to recreate farther into the mountains or engage in higher-risk activities like climbing, ski mountaineering, or mountain biking. As the curve flattens with ongoing social distancing measures, there’s optimism that these restrictions will ease as summer approaches, but outdoor recreationists have to be prepared for the new guidelines and restrictions to linger in some capacity, and should be flexible when planning their outdoor adventures. Data released on April 20 indicated that the population must maintain at least a 55-percent social distancing program to stay under peak ICU needs through November. “We really need the community to buy-in to all of these trail safety guidelines,” says Bridget Kochel, public information officer at CPW. “These are still going to apply through May and
"Based on the feedback we get from the regional park managers, we might have to close narrow trails, boat launches, or fishing piers where social distancing is impossible.” —Bridget Kochel, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
SOCIALLY DISTANT PHOTOGRAPHER LIAM DORAN SETS UP CAMP HIGH IN THE EAGLE’S NEST WILDERNESS PRE-COVID-19. FOREST SERVICE RESTRICTIONS THIS SUMMER COULD LIMIT ACTIVITY ON PUBLIC LANDS.
it could be into the summer before we get confirmation from the CDC or Governor’s office that some of these guidelines can be loosened.”
There Will Be Crowds... And shutdowns
Despite a relatively snowy start to spring, Coloradans have already taken advantage of additional “free time” afforded by the stay-at-home measures, heading to local trails and open space in huge numbers, which is an indication that traffic could be above average this summer. “We have noticed about a 30-percent higher visitation to parks in April compared to [previous] years,” says Kochel. “It could stay that way. Usually people don’t really get out until the summer, but people are now, despite it being cold, because they want out of their house.” This spring, CPW increased staffing at places that have seen a surge in visitation in order to more strictly enforce the social distancing guidelines as well as turn people away from parks that are too
PHOTO BY LIAM DORAN
Summer on Hold
crowded. We can expect those social distancing strategies to continue into June and July. “Based on the feedback we get from the regional park managers, we might have to close narrow trails, boat launches, or fishing piers, where social distancing is impossible; if visitors aren’t doing their part, we’ll have to close those trails off,” Kochel says. The ability to meet CDC guidelines is the biggest factor in rescinding closures and restrictions as the weather gets warmer. The crowding issue was one of the main concerns taken into account when shutting down Rocky Mountain National Park in late March. It’s the third most visited national park in the country, and offers little breathing room for successful adherence to the social distancing guidelines. “As we start to see a shift in terms of what the state mandates and CDC guidelines are, we’ll follow suit. If the CDC guidance says we can have crowds of 50, for example, we’ll be mirroring that to see where we can achieve those numbers,” says Vanessa Lacayo, public affairs specialist for the intermountain region, National Park Service. Regardless of how the restrictions evolve moving into summer, Colorado’s outdoor community should prepare for a quickly changing landscape. Popular recreation points, like many of the state’s 14ers, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Chautauqua Park could all
see heavy restrictions, closures, or user metering. Education about local restrictions should be the first step in recreation planning this summer. According to Barbara Khan, USFS regional press officer for the Rocky Mountain Region, “the most recent Forest Service direction is to align with local health and safety guidance, such as local curfews or shelter-in-place guidelines.” These guidances will vary from town to town and county to county. Eagle County, for example, requested an exemption from provisions under the stay-at-home order in an April 16 letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. After seeing a flattening of the curve locally, the county sought to allow for gatherings of 10 people, non-essential travel, and “permit the opening of outdoor recreation facilities,” where adequate social distancing measures can be maintained. The governor was expected to grant this exemption prior to the April 27 lifting of the stay-at-home order. Other Colorado counties will act individually to ease these health ordinances.
there’s an app for that To further improve the “Know Before You Go” mentality, both the National Park Service and CPW recommend using the Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) app to
plan adventures and execute swift changes to those plans when needed. COTREX is a collaborative project between CPW and the Department of Natural Resources to provide a comprehensive trail map of Colorado’s trail systems using data from more than 230 trail managers. COTREX has implemented real-time COVID-19 trail, campground, and visitor center closures, alerts, and restrictions in order to better inform trail users before they head out. “There are so many accessible trailheads all over, so we’ve really worked with state parks, and county and federal partners to try and ramp up this app,” says Kochel. “Because of COVID-19, we’re actively putting the park closure information into the app, so people can plan their outdoor recreation before they go. If social distancing is not followed and the trailhead is closed for a weekend, then our community knows ahead of time not to head that way, but to test out a different area.” The COVID-19 pandemic puts an indefinite restriction on where and how Colorado residents will be able to get outside this summer. And while it reduces the freedom to experience many of the state’s unique natural treasures, it also opens up opportunities to find adventure in places you’ve never thought of before. Tools like COTREX provide intel on trails all over the state, allowing users
to seek out the road-less-traveled in their own backyards. Though the CDC and local agency guidelines urge people to recreate close to home, many camping, backpacking, and hiking objectives don’t allow for that, and people will still travel into the mountains under the guise that they can achieve their goals responsibly. A deep knowledge of local, state, and federal restrictions and closures, as well as the understanding that emergency personnel and services will be limited to non-existent, are both needed if you should feel the urge to set out far from home. Self-reliance will be key and adapting to ongoing fire bans, overpacking food and water supplies, careful consideration of where to refuel on the road, bringing your own fuel sources, and individual first aid preparedness should all be taken into account more than normal. As the world and greater outdoor community continues to navigate the impact of the pandemic, take it as a chance to adapt. Improve your self-reliance skills, avoid the crowds, and catch a few sunrises and sunsets, improve your local trail knowledge, or explore a part of your town or the state you’ve never seen before. Our behavior will evolve as a result of the pandemic, but evolution in the outdoors is a constant, and will continue to be long after COVID-19 goes away.
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This isnâ€™t just an acorn. Itâ€™s sustenance for all woodland crittersâ€“a far more appropriate meal than your keto-friendly trail mix. Feeding wildlife puts us all at risk. When animals become tame, they migrate closer to towns, bringing natural predators along with them. So by tossing that deer a nibble of your protein bar, you may be inviting a mountain lion to your next neighborhood potluck. Whether youâ€™re glamping, camping or hiking, keep your snacks to yourself.
H O T S P O T | 05. 20
courses for 40% off!” Use coupon code: STUCKINSIDE40 and once you finish your first course during lockdown, you can get another one for 60% off. Recognizing the economic impact of this crisis, Smiley has also started offering need-based course scholarships. Learn more at: mtnsense. com or contact Smiley through his Instagram feed @smileysproject or website smileysproject.com.
the Virtual Outdoors H ER E A R E T H E B E S T WAY S TO B E AT T H E Q UA R A N T I N E B LU E S AT H O M E —A N D P R EPA R E TO G E T B AC K O U T T H ER E W H EN T H I N G S O P EN U P AG A I N .
Tow The Starting Line
In the wake of massive race cancellations for spring and summer, Run the Edge, an organization cofounded by Olympian Adam Goucher has launched a new series of free virtual races called the “Un-canceled Project.” Participants can complete up to 5 different races, ranging from 5K to Ultras, that you run on your own each week. There will be an inspirational weekly theme that reflects the best sides of humanity. A dedicated Facebook Community (facebook.com/ groups/UncanceledProject) also offers a series of optional activities and reflections. runtheedge.com
by CHRIS KASSAR
e are movers. We travel, climb, ride, hike, and even power through yoga. We always have a bag packed for somewhere (even if it’s just the climbing gym). We feel most ourselves when we’re immersed in nature, and we normally don’t spend extended periods of time being cooped up at home. Since that’s all changed, we offer the following options to help you reconnect with your passions and the great outdoors— until you actually can get out again.
Explore the Great Indoors
each film and a link for where to watch: docdroid.net/lR9Mzcw/banff-moviefestival.pdf
Legendary outdoor survivalist Bear Grylls has released a series of indoor adventure ideas aimed at helping keep kids engaged, entertained, and growing while schools are closed. Grylls highlights the importance of adapting to these times, “The people who really thrive in life are those who, when the storms come, they don't panic, they keep focused, they keep moving forward and they adapt to their new world.” In this vein, the Great Indoors project features 100 missions and tasks including an origami challenge, making hot air balloons, developing coding skills, problemsolving, learning about the impact of habitat loss, designing your own virtual campsite, practicing mindfulness, and honing photography skills. scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors/
Sharpen Your Skills
PHOTO COURTESY STACY BARE, SCREENSHOT FROM SMILEYSPROJECT.COM
Explore Our Public Lands
Need a mental health break? Thanks to Google Earth you can now explore 31 national parks (bit.ly/2xO0ynu) from the comfort of your couch. Drop into the heart of Denali, take in sweeping views of the Grand Canyon, visit waterfalls pouring over granite cliffs in Yosemite, tour Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser, wander beaches and cliffs along the sea in Acadia, or get up-close and personal with alligators in Everglades, all while following government guidelines to stay home. For those of us missing the parks right in our backyard, these innovative virtual tours also include a few Colorado faves. Peer down the steep canyon walls to the river in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, explore Mesa Verde’s countless famous ancient cliff dwellings, climb Rocky Mountain’s Longs Peak, and revel in views of the divide from Trail Ridge Road. Another great option comes from the Bureau of Land Management through #ArmchairAdventures, a virtual trip including stunning images from Bureau of Land Managementmanaged #publiclands. Follow along via @BLMNational on Twitter and Facebook and @mypubliclands on Instagram.
Bring the Outside In
Many film festivals have come up with creative solutions to counter canceled screenings while still distributing their jaw-dropping content. Put your phone down, grab some snacks, find a comfy seat, and dive in for a dose of art, inspiration, motivation, and hope. Here are a few favorites: Get stoked on wild winters to come
THE BIG TENT: THE ADVENTURE AT HOME PROGRAM TURNS YOUR LIVING ROOM INTO A VIRTUAL CAMPGROUND.
with the Backcountry Film Festival from the Winter Wildlands Alliance. Stream it for free from your couch of back patio, and show your gratitude by donating (through a button on the page) to hosts that had to cancel their screenings (and become a WWA member). winterwildlands.org Bringing together the outdoor community since 1979, Telluride Mountainfilm isn’t letting anything get in the way of its 42nd annual celebration. Instead, it will put this beloved festival online. Stay upto-date as the festival irons out the details of this new experince by joining the mailing list and following on social media. mountainfilm.org This year, the organizers of the Banff Film Festival World Tour have put over 100 adventure films online for us to watch right now. Check out the entire list, with brief explanations of
IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide Mark Smiley is offering fun, concise, and easy to understand online mountaineering skills courses—from anchors to backcountry skiing to climbing Denali. “Inside sucks,” Smiley writes on his website. “I want to help ease the pain of not being able to go outside by offering all my online mountaineering skills
Adventure United is a non profit that makes sure people of all ability levels and backgounds can get out and enjoy the outdoors. In light of stay-at-home orders, the group created Adventure at Home, a three-day virtual campout with daily Zoom campfire gatherings and encouragement to get outside. adventureunited.co
N U ME R O L O G Y | 05. 20
A 100-year period, according to anthropologists, when a cluster of diseases brought to the Americas by European explorers and including smallpox, contributed to the collapse of the Inca and Aztec civilizations. One result: The Euros had a much easier time conquering and settling (read: ravaging and stealing) the Western Hemisphere. Yay. Not.
THE NUMBERS AND O N G O I N G S TO R Y W H E N I T C O M E S TO P L A G U E S , PA N D E M I C S , R E S P O N S E S , AND RECOVERIES T H R O U G H O U T H I S TO R Y. by TRACY ROSS Plagues and pandemics have ravaged humanity throughout its existence, and yet, here we are. Below are some of the worst— and how humans clawed their way out of them not only to stasis but also to health (as hopefully we’ll do in this pandemic).
April 14, 2020
America’s top political figure announces plans to stop funding the World Health Organization.
April 17, 2020
Said leader encourages some state to lift restrictions meant to contain COVID-19.
April 21, 2020
Officials discover earlier coronavirus cases—on February 14 and 15—in California. And as of the printing of this magazine, the scenario continues to change daily.
PHOTO CREDITS SVARTAREGNDROPPAR/CC BY-SA (TOP), OTIS HISTORICAL ARCHIVES, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF HEALTH AND MEDICINE (BOTTOM)
Victims who died of bubonic plague, or The Black Death, in the pandemic that started in 1347 and has lingered on for centuries, with the most recent outbreak in Madagascar in 2017 killing 2,300 people. Scientists say the bacterial infection, which is found in rodents and their fleas, readily jumps from them to humans. The children’s song “Ring a Ring o’ Roses,” which American kids subsequently butchered to “Ring Around the Rosies,” had several meanings, but since the Second World War, it’s been associated with The Great Plague. A rosy rash was a symptom of the plague, and posies of herbs were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was a final fatal symptom, and “all fall down” was exactly what millions did. After death, victims’ bodies were cremated and their houses burned (“ashes, ashes”). Fun stuff.
Number of pandemics disastrous enough to be listed in the “Worst Pandemics in History” list on livescience.com.
Roughly the year 100,000 Athenians died, in an epidemic that started during the war between Athens and Sparta and lasted five years. “People in good health were all of a sudden attacked by violent heats in the head, and redness and inflammation in the eyes, the inward parts, such as the throat or tongue, becoming bloody and emitting an unnatural and fetid breath,” wrote the Greek historian Thucydides. Modern-day scientists postulate that it could have been anything from typhoid fever to Ebola (our worst nightmare). Good news: The outbreak came about 300 years before the “culture” that inlcuded the poet Homer (according to writer Adam Nicholson) arrived, so we still got The Iliad and The Odyssey.
Length of the 1918 Flu Pandemic, caused by an H1N1 virus with genes most likley of avian origin. Although there is no universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it was first identified in military personnel in the spring of 1918. An estimated 500 million, or one-third of the world population, became infected with the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, while the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood. With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations on public gatherings, which were applied unevenly. Sound familiar? Let’s hope we don’t come close to those 1918 numbers.
Roughly the year an epidemic, the type unknown, wiped out a prehistoric village in China. It wasn’t that big, because the find included just 97 human bodies—juveniles, young adults, and adults—and the site was described as “smaller than a modern-day squash court.” Although an anthropological team at Jilin University in China surmised, “The dead came in faster than they could be buried. The human bone accumulation was formed because ancient humans put remains into the house successively and stacked centrally.” The mass death “possibly related to an outbreak of an acute infectious disease.”
Spanish Flu Redux? In September of 1919, after city officials insisted mounting fatalities were not the “Spanish flu,” but rather just the normal flu, hosting a parade which tens of thousands attended, 200,000 people became sickened by the disease. And by March of 1919 (date echo another?), 15,000 citizens of Philadelphia were dead. But hope abides… In the Summer of 1919, the Spanish Flu pandemic ended, as those who were infected either died or developed immunity. Word is still out about whether we will for COVID-19, however, with some scientists saying that some antibody tests have not been validated, that even those that have been can still provide false results, and that an accurate positive test may be hard to interpret because the virus is so new that researchers cannot say for sure what sort of results will signal immunity or how long it will last. So be smart, everyone, because how long this pandemic will last is anyone’s guess. M AY 2 0 2 0 / E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M
TINCTURES AND TOPICALS
Tenderfoot Health Collective, (THC) is a locally owned and operated boutique dispensary located in Salida, Colorado since 2009. We are dedicated to raising the bar for what you can expect from a retail marijuana dispensary. We are committed to providing a unique and compassionate environment where all of our customers can access the highest- quality cannabis products available.
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S T R A I G H T TA L K | 05. 20
Nathan Fey CO LO R A D O’ S TO P O U T D O O R R EC R E AT I O N O FFI C I A L D E TA I L S H OW T H E O U T D O O R I N D US T RY I N T H IS S TAT E C A N SU R V I V E T H E PA N D EM I C A N D H EL P W I T H T H E R ECOV ERY. by DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN
PHOTO COURTESY NATHAN FEY
he outdoor recreation industry in Colorado is a $62.5 billion community that employs 511,00 people in the state—but it has been hit hard by COVID-19. As the director of the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation, Nathan Fey is front-and-center in making sure this industry that is such an integral part of the economy recovers strong and helps get everyone back on their feet. Here’s what he had to say about the state’s plans. How can Colorado’s outdoor industry help us recover from the pandemic? The outdoor recreation industry can and is helping Colorado to recover from the pandemic in many ways, foremost by being a major contributor in the state’s recovery efforts through the production of PPE. It is also important for the industry to model responsible recreation by ensuring its employees are complying with the Safer at Home directives. Finally, the industry is working to inform policy decisions at the federal, state, and local level. This includes advocating for funding critical outdoor recreation support in future economic stimulus efforts, including recreation infrastructure such as roads and trails. That means contemplating how any changes in federal revenues, such as the US Forest Service and the Department of Interior, are not further complicated by declines in local government or agency budgets. We are also closely watching S.3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, which would be a significant investment
in the outdoor recreation economy throughout the nation. At the local level, we are working with our partners to fund programs and community relief efforts in areas of the state that depend more heavily on an outdoor economy. How can people start getting outdoors responsibly as restrictions begin to lift this spring and summer? The challenge is balancing the desire to get outdoors with the necessity of not overwhelming our mountain communities and their limited medical resources. For the short term, it’s important that people continue to recreate within 10 miles of home. In all environments—near or far— social distancing protocols are critical as we return to trailheads and open spaces. When our public health team determines that expanded activities are suitable for our public spaces, Colorado will work with outdoor recreation offices in surrounding states to ensure we are all consistent in our approach so as not to unintentionally mobilize a disproportionate volume of outdoor enthusiasts in any one state. What is the state doing to help Colorado outdoor businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic? Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) continues to engage and educate outdoor recreation businesses so they can access critical federal assistance programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. We’ve also led the way in understanding industry needs and hearing their voices. In April, we completed an economic impact assessment of Colorado’s outdoor recreation businesses and we are using these responses to identify short- and long-term economic recovery strategies as well as reveal gaps where state
or private dollars can serve pressing industry needs. We also support the deployment of a modern Civilian Conservation Corps, which would offer a combination of jobs for Americans and restoration and stewardship of our public lands while providing crucial mental and physical health opportunities nationwide. How can Elevation Outdoors readers support these businesses? We want to see EO readers supporting the brands that have stepped up to meet Colorado’s immediate needs for PPE, and to shop local. Buy your equipment from local retailers so that when the time comes, you can return safely to the outdoors. Whether it’s bear spray, sun protection, or the latest award-winning products unveiled at Outdoor Retailer last January, show your support for those local companies that have put Colorado’s public safety ahead of their very own needs. What economic resources are out there for businesses and individuals in the Colorado outdoor community to get help? COVID-19’s impact is as widespread as the scope of businesses and individuals in need. The federal assistance programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans are the first line of defense for Colorado’s small businesses, nonprofits and independent contractors. State, local and private sector support is designed to fill the gaps. We have a running list of other economic resources available on the OEDIT website at choosecolorado.com that are updated daily. How have you been able to responsibly spend time outdoors? Getting outside is important for all of us and Governor Polis frequently cites the
STAYING AFLOAT: FEY, WHO WAS THE DIRECTOR OF COLORADO RIVER PROGRAMS AT AMERICAN WHITEWATER, REFLECTS DURING A SOCIAL- DISTANCING SUP.
benefits of his family’s daily walks. As for me, I am a sixth generation Coloradan and father of the seventh generation, so being outdoors is who I am. My family and I take daily walks, bike rides, or stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) sessions on the lake. We have also been cleaning and putting away our winter gear, enjoying watching the spring river levels and prepping our raft for when the time is right to return, sorting fly boxes, and pouring over maps to plan our next adventure. What gives you hope looking to the future now? I see hope in my neighborhood when people are picking up trash while on their evening walks. The hope is that we have all realized the importance that our parks and open spaces have to our daily lives, and with that comes a renewed sense of responsibility and a shared commitment to take care of them. As we re-open public lands, my hope is that ethic remains strong and that view is universal. I see hope in people making renewed efforts to wave at neighbors or howl at 8 p.m. for caregivers and those on the front lines battling this pandemic. Our communities have come together through this and that bodes well for our future. Finally, I see hope in that the OREC industry remains innovative through all of this. Just last night, across the globe, people tuned in to the first of three unlocked screenings of the 5Point Film Festival. The organizers were able to bring our community together, not in Carbondale for the festival, but safely at home. We were inspired and challenged, and reminded just how human we all are. I know I need that and I’m sure we all do.
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T HE L IF E | 05. 20
Stroke of Luck
PRO FE S SI O N A L CLI M B ER TI M M Y O’ N EI LL H A S H A D PLENT Y O F CLOSE C A LL S W ITH DE ATH BUT W H EN H E SU FFERED A SU DDEN S TRO K E I N PATAGO N I A , H E D ISCOV ERED TH E W ISDO M O F H OW TO B RI N G LOV E A N D PU RP OSE TO A B RO K EN WO RLD. by TIMMY O'NEILL
jumped at the chance to come back to Patagonia this February to climb the peak along with her, Rick Ridgeway, and a film crew led by Jimmy Chin. We returned from the peak and I headed down to the main lodge where we were staying. I was finishing a set of twenty pushups when I felt a sudden burning within the back of my head. It felt like my brain stem was being dipped in hydrochloric acid. Within an instant, the pain was spreading across the surface of my brain. I stood up and gripped the back of my neck and my forehead, trying to squeeze the pain away, to keep my head from splitting open.
E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S / M AY 2 0 2 0
I"could not make
sense of why something so intensely painful was happening to me. I staggered out into the open, not knowing if I only had seconds to live. the quivering leaves of the trees and tall, waving grasses that lined the marshy area in front of me.
As I gasped in anguish, it dawned on me that I might be dying. I could not make sense of why something so intensely painful was happening to me. I staggered out into the open, not knowing if I only had seconds left to live. I took in the quivering leaves of the trees and tall, waving grasses that lined the marshy area in front of me. I took in the view of mountainous folds draped in soft greens and browns. Towering, broken cliffs capped the ridge lines beckoning to my climber’s eye. Bird songs reached my ears. Guanacos grazed indifferently. I took it
IRREPRESSIBLE: TIMMY REACHING FOR THE LOVE WHILE STUCK IN BED FOR THE LONGEST DURATION OF HIS LIFE AT CLINICA SANTA MARIA, SANTIAGO DE CHILE.
all in and then said calmly out loud, “It’s been an amazing life, I guess this is it.” I took what I thought was my final breath and waited for a moment as another wave of intense pain hit me. (I was to discover later that this was the pressure of the blood being pulled between the meninges, the multi-layered lining that covers the central nervous system.) I peeled my eyes open. The pain reminded me that I was indeed conscious, so I staggered away in search of relief. As I rounded the corner of the lodge, assistant producer Teague Wasserman pulled up and said, “What’s up Timmy?” “Something’s wrong with my body,” I replied in a weak attempt at being nonchalant.
PHOTO BY SARAH LEE STEELE
My close calls with death have been short conversations—they have taken no longer than the time it takes a toaster-sized rock to kiss the hairs of your head as it rockets past or the duration it takes a car to flip multiple times down a concrete and rebar spiked embankment at 50 miles per hour or the span of time it takes a tethered body to fall a hundred feet down a rock face before coming to rest unscathed. These are quick talks with the Reaper: Hello. Not so nice to see you. Goodbye! But the conversation that started with a thunderclap inside my head and continued through weeks of uncertainty and complications was something new, something that made me listen. Ten years ago, while filming “180 South” I missed out on the first ascent of a peak that would be called Cerro Kristine, after the co-founder of Tompkins Conseravtion, which has given millions of acres of land to Chile and Argentina for national parks. So I
A HEAD ABOVE: THE AUTHOR STANDS
Within one hour I was in a small Cessna, flown by an expert bush pilot, headed to a regional hospital in Coyhaique, Chile, where I got the stark brain bleed diagnosis. The next afternoon, I was on a medical jet, jacked on fentanyl, headed north to Santiago and an ambulance ride to Clinica Santa Maria and an evening angiogram.
ATOP A SANTIAGO LANDMARK STATUE GRAFFITIED BY CLASS PROTESTORS BEFORE HE SUFFERED HIS STROKE.
PHOTO BY JIM HURST
I was lucky. Most likely a vein had suddenly opened up in my head and the pressure of the surrounding central nervous system had just as quickly closed it off. I had bled a significant amount, a 4 out of 4 on the Fisher Grading Scale for Subarachnoid Hemorrage. When the cerebral arteries bleed, they cause ischemia, brain cell death from lack of oxygen. Luckily for me it wasn't an artery that burst in my head, but a vein. I received multiple scans searching for the cause and possible further complications. My neurologist warned me that my stay would be protracted as we waited out dangerous post-trauma vasospasms for at least 10 days. I’m not a person who just sits in bed and I was eventually asked to sign a self-restraining order. It stated that I could not get out of bed alone and wasn't allowed to move anywhere without supervision. If I didn’t listen to the techs and follow the protocol, I would be physically restrained in my my bed and strapped to a chair when sitting. The people with the least amount of power seem to hold onto it the strongest: The docs would laugh, the nurses would shake their heads and the techs would grab onto me and move me as if I was a sickly sack of sorry-ass potatoes, which I kind of was, but I still didn’t want anyone moving me around. I would feign indignation and inform the beleaguered tech that, “Soy un adulto,” ironically since I was acting like a chid. When I signed the paperwork, I was told there would be repercussions, and I didn’t think they were kidding. I could imagine myself struggling against a straight jacket as I was trying to break out of my prison cell, hospital room 712. I was often in a distant mood, a twilight where I was simultaneously okay and on the verge of dying. During my hospitalization, the class turmoil that had racked Chile for the past five months began again after the summer holidays. I could hear the drumming outside my window, where a park connected the uptown bourgeois to the downtrodden. When we first arrived in Santiago before my stroke, the film crew went downtown to visit several protest sites and get footage of the graffiti and mementos such as the paper mâché eyeballs thrown up to drape over wires and street lamps to serve as monuments to the many who had lost an eye to the rubber bullets and
I ran across the street and up onto the pedestal and then used a rope tied to the horse’s leg to pull myself up. I shimmied up the rider’s leg, onto his shoulders and finally stood atop his bronze hat with my arms outstretched, perched 30 feet above the ground. metal shotgun pellets fired by the police into the masses. I have spent a good amount of my life climbinig not just rock faces but also urban structures and statues. When I was a kid, I was allowed, and even encouraged to climb up high with no safety, so as soon as I see something interesting I think how can I get to the top that? Seeing a classic national monument, the stoic hero atop his horse in Plaza Italia, which has been the hub for the class riots, instantly piqued my interest. I ran across the street and up onto the pedestal and then used a rope tied to the horse’s leg to pull myself up. I shimmied up the rider’s leg, onto his
shoulders and finally stood atop his bronze hat with my arms outstretched, perched 30 feet above the ground. I flashed back to this scene from my hospital room as thousands of protestors gathered for the International Women’s Day march. It struck me how quickly you can go from being super capable to super fucked. It wasn’t unfair. I didn’t feel as if something happened to me that I didn’t deserve. It was more like something happened to me that I didn’t expect. The unknown has always fascinated me, be it a summit or the the bend in a river, but this was different. I have always imagined ways past and around the obstacles—now I was imagining the obstacles themselves and not the ways past. So much of medicine, as well as life, is the unknown. Sometimes it seems the only certainty is death, so if things feel uncertain it must mean that you’re still alive. In my case, I was fighting to remain so.
During the ordeal and as COVID-19 began to hit the U.S. in early March, I received messages from family and friends: Always they would declare love, deep love, and a wish that I stay alive to continue my life and work of creating and curating love. As I lay in bed connected to heart monitors and bags of intravenous fluids and medicines, I became quite connected to my sense of purpose, my understanding that I didn’t need
to necessarily change my life as much as I needed to change the way I was sharing and amplifying my life. I explored again the places and people who brought this love and wisdom. For me, the initial seed came from my brother Sean, who transformed the crisis of his paraplegia into the challenge of climbing. Eventually, I co-founded Paradox Sports, a non proft dedicated to bringing accessible climbing experiences to people with disabilities. I harvested the hard-earned wisdom of blindness via Himalayan ascents with the brilliant, blind adventure athlete Erik Weihenmayer. I have spent a decade volunteering with Cure Blindness and the indefatigable Dr. Geoff Tabin in sub-Saharan Africa, curing preventable blindness via high-volume cataract campaigns. These deep roots continue to bear the fruits of meaning, compassion, and love in my life. I got back to the States just as COVID-19 was disrupting not only travel but every aspect of how we gather in person. I traded the sterile isolation of the intensive care unit in Chile for the less severe, yet collective quarantine of the Bay Area. Suddenly the state’s entire population joined me in recuperating at home in a mandated act of radical empathy. A couple of days ago, I showered, shaved and put on this Paradox Sports t-shirt and I felt like I fit into my body again, as if I suddenly landed back inside myself. Each day I recover physically allows more time and space for the mental and emotional healing, to accept my new abnormal, and move forward. I have been talking with Sean every day during the quarantine. He is the most prolific thinker and he often toggles between arcane math and astrophysics, whether it’s applying the golden mean or tracking the transit of Venus. We were discussing my current state of patience and humility, and he said, “That’s a hard earned perspective, make sure you hold onto some, don’t put it down too quickly.” And I felt he meant that not only do I need to recognize the need for it but more so accept the fact that at this point I have no choice but to slow down. Thankfully my journey continues. Our lives are appraised not only by our personal actions but also by our communal impact to inspire and empower others to action. After I rolled out of the hospital, I stood up and felt the sun on my face. I hadn’t taken a single step but I felt like I was summiting a significant peak. I realized how little I needed to feel happy, human and whole and immediately I felt the urgent gratitude of simply being alive.
M AY 2 0 2 0 / E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M
M A K IN G I T W O R K | 05. 20
Vanlife •IN THE TIME OF CORONA •
A DA P T F O R A B E T TER FU TU RE ne thousand dollars: It could change everything. This time, though, I wasn’t choosing between new Pergo floors or a diesel heater in my van. These funds weren’t a down payment on next year’s multi-resort ski pass, either. That easy G, withdrawn from an ATM on the semi-abandoned streets of a popular mountain town in Idaho, wasn’t part of an investment toward ski bumming next season. No, this cash in hand would go straight to my new landlords, a lovely young couple who would rent me an apartment so I could follow the shelter-in-place orders issued in over 41 states in the face of COVID-19 in March. I had been self-quarantined in my home, a 1995 Ford E250, since March 13, 2020. This van, an older, mid-sized rig built to function as my home office and gear closet, had
seen the Sierra, San Juans, Rockies and Tetons so far this season, and proven itself to be a sanctuary in even the nastiest of winter weather. Yet the onset of the novel coronavirus— and social pressures that have accompanied it—left me questioning if public lands really could be my sanctuary. Maybe I needed to conform to a more traditional model of living, even if winters before this in my van had taught me the value of divergent thinking. Things were different: I needed to adapt to a new paradigm, if only temporarily. If I ignored signs to change, I would just continue feeling anxious, trapped, and isolated as society shaped itself to fit into a new normal. Remote work and ski bumming while vandwelling could very well jeopardize my ability to pursue my passions in the future.
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Powder to the People
Vanlife (and truck-life and Subielife) is about minimalism, rooting my happiness in experience and exploring the realm of my possible. For me, adventure travel— splitboarding, climbing, and running through the mountains—isn’t about wanderlust or escapism. Instead, it’s been about finding and creating the personal agency that comes with moving through beautiful, high-consequence mountainscapes. That agency, independence, and freedom has also helped me build my dream career. As a
strategist and consultant, I’ve been able to build my business without the massive overhead that a brickand-mortar shop would incur. Even though I don’t always have a plan for where I’ll sleep in a week, I do have the security of knowing that my career path—diversified for economic resilience and mapped for future planning—follows an intentional, selfdetermined direction. I haven’t owned a mega-resort pass since April 2018, which means that the past two snow seasons have been purely human powered. Even though this is my sixth season as a backcountry
I felt pressure to leave the public lands I loved so much, to conform to a traditional model of living, even if winters before this in my van had taught me the value of divergent thinking.
PHOTOS BY DANI REYES-ACOSTA (LEFT), iain KUO @MTNIAIN (RIGHT)
by DANI REYES-ACOSTA
As a vandweller, I’ve been a hesitant outlier—in the past. Yet as our society evolves to place a higher value on seclusion and social distancing (for good reason), I’ve started to see just how insular the container of community can be. I’ve started to see that land ownership is inherently exclusionary, that those who do not ascribe to its paradigm can become objects of coercion and even intimidation.
THE PERKS OF BEING A VANDWELLER: DRIVING "HOME" FROM SKIING (LEFT). THE AUTHOR DROPS INTO A CHUTE ON A SPLITBOARDING MISSION (RIGHT).
splitboarder, I realize that the more I learn, the more I need to root knowledge into experience. On dark and stormy nights in the van, friends have caught me poring over my original AIARE I manual or books like How to Stay Alive in Avalanche Terrain just as often as guidebooks and video edits on Instagram. A big part of my winter vanlife is about plotting next steps (and I don’t just mean where I’ll park at night). Where I’ll ski in the coming days is just as important as figuring out the skills I need to support alpine dreams. I’m blessed to have friends that love a good sufferfest or off-seasonslog just as much as a bluebird powder day. Living in a van has taught me that I can find the types of people I want in my life only by putting myself out there. Four out of five of my best friends are people I’ve met at trailhead parking lots. COVID-19 has changed everything about how I plan trips or find friends, though. Gone—for now—are the days when random conversations might lead to an impromptu adventure. After the resorts closed, it seemed the mania of powder panic poured over into the backcountry. I saw trailheads closed and locals-only policies enacted. I watched two men nearly get into a fistfight over parking and overhead several nasty smack-talking conversations on the skin track. During the early days of coronavirus, I would quietly go ski with a single backcountry partner, avoid posting on social media about it, and do my best to “do my part,” even as norms shifted daily. But I noticed that I’d started parking to obscure my out-of-state license plates. Flying under the radar is one way to be a successful vandweller— but was I erasing myself for fear of judgement or because I was engaging in behavior that seemed wrong?
Finding The Gems
I moved out to the country, up to the mountains, and into a van because inserting myself into places where people prioritize these experiences, daily, has helped me find (and support) my version of community. Living in a van meant I could volunteer as an adaptive ski instructor for Achieve Tahoe (support our program here, won’t you? bit. ly/AchieveTahoe2020) in a region known for its astronomically-priced rents and housing scarcity. Vanlife also introduced me to a group of friends who work with the Coombs Foundation in Jackson, Wyoming, where I got to volunteer as a youth ski mentor for a day.
Luck and Privilege
The community of friends I have, far-flung as they may be, are the ones who called to ask how I was doing when shelterin-place orders first took hold. They’re the ones that offered extra rooms to sleep in, land to park on, or virtual shoulders to cry on when their broader communities shunned non-locals and I worried, desperately, about what I’d do next. “Where would I park?” I asked myself after a woman harassed me. “Go home!” she had snarled angrily. I’d been in this location for nearly two months. This was home. It’s easy, I think, to feel displaced, isolated, and trapped when my lack of a home base means I don’t have a “home” to go to. But the phone calls, video chats, and memes have made
a difference, even if I couldn’t always join the latest Zoom call (because I had to start using my data plan 100% for work since libraries and coffee shops are now closed). My biggest preCOVID-19 vanlife fears involved “the knock,” (late night rousings from authorities) or big storms that could spell dangerous travel conditions. Throughout the past months, my fears have been a lot different: I’ve had to learn how to face dirty looks and overtly rude comments, typically not something I find when slow traveling through AdventureTown, USA. The human factor, something I’ve typically only considered risky when in avalanche country, is now part of my everyday life.
As a vandweller, I’ve been a proud outlier—in the past. Yet as our society evolves to place a higher value on seclusion and social distancing (for good reason), I’ve started to see just how insular the container of community can be.
Living in a van is a choice. It allows me to pursue my passions and prioritize personal growth over choices society (or my mother) would prefer I make. This nomadic lifestyle, driven by a search for good WiFi and light powder, has enabled me to work on growing into the self I want to become. And yet, this life is still a choice. But I want to be clear: It hasn’t always been a choice. I haven’t always had the savings (or social connections) that would enable me to rent a house, easily. I don’t have a family or a trust fund to back me; I don’t have a fancy van or a huge quiver of skis. In fact, as a woman of color with one deceased parent and another with a disability, all signs indicate I should be doing something much, much different with my life. Looking back on this journey, I recognize that my lot in life has given me opportunities not everyone gets. In the face of a global pandemic, I don’t want to see more public lands closed or trailheads shuttered; outdoors spaces give all of us the reprieve we so badly need, maybe now more than ever. This is me recognizing my privilege: The resources (like time and money) that I have require responsible expenditure. At the end of this all, I’ll get exactly what I invest into caring for these lands, trailheads, and greater society. This responsibility isn’t just to myself and making sure I stay sane through selfcare and responsible recreation. This is a time to tend to ourselves, those we love, and the things we care about. This time is an investment in friendships, work, and community. This is spring, after all, a time to begin planting what we hope will blossom into something beautiful. Like all things #vanlife, this is a time to accept that most things are out of my control. The sun may not always shine and the rains may not always come. At the minimum, though, I need to try, and I hope you do too. Remember: vandwelling is not always a choice. Support your friends: Offer a couch, but also do your part to keep our public lands open. Please, recreate responsibly: follow the rules and keep it local.
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Get-Out Gear E V EN W I T H S O C I A L D I S TA N C I N G M E A SU R E S I N P L AC E, YO U C A N S T I L L R E S P O N S I B LY EN J OY T H E O U T D O O R S . H ER E I S T H E G E A R T H AT W I L L G E T T H E J O B D O N E. A N D R EM EM B ER TO T RY TO SU P P O RT LO C A L R E TA I L ER S W H O A R E STILL DOING CURBSIDE A N D O N L I N E B US I N E S S . by DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN
F LY F IS H I N G
P A D D L IN G
ORVIS WOMEN’S PRO WA D E R A N D U LT R A L I G H T WA D I N G B O OT
O R U K AYA K I N L E T
Fly fishing is the perfect social distancing activity: Everyone wants their own personal space on the water away from other anglers. Breathable and super-tough, these waders can handle a wide range of temperatures on the water as well as rambling around off-trail to find the right spot. Best of all, they come in a wide range of sizes for a fit that feels a bit stylish. A waterproof front pocket that holds essentials and fleece-lined hand warmer pockets seal the deal. Top them off with comfy the Ultralight boot, which feels more like a hiker and provides the grip you need on slick rocks thanks to a Vibram sole and a river-bottom-specific lug pattern. The mens’ versions are just as good. $498 waders, $169 boots; orvis.com
GRAVEL G R I N DI N G S AG E T I TA N I U M S TO R M K I N G
This titanium frame beast will eat up gavel roads with the plush handling of a mountain bike but deliver all the speed and precision of a road ride. It’s the perfect steed for these days of social distancing when you may be limited to adventure out your door, but it’s also the perfect race bike come fall. Sage offers up a variety of build options and the bike can handle beefy tires up to 700x50mm or 650×2.4". Internal routing allows for a seat dropper, too. Get out and explore on it. $8,630 complete, $3,500 frame only; sagetitanium.com
If you face limited storage in your house and vehicle, kayaking seems out of the question. Hold it right there, because Oru specializes in “origami kayaks,” which pack down to fit in tight spots and fold out to get you on the water. Take the new Inlet: This beginner’s flat-water boat weighs just 20 pounds and will hold 275 pounds of paddler plus gear and it all breaks down into a neat 42"-by-19"by-10" traveling box. $899; orukayak.com
H Y D R AT IO N N O M A D E R B OT T L E
There are plenty of water bottles out there, but the smart, packable Nomader puts a new spin on the outdoor essential. This soft, BPA-free bottle rolls up to fist-size when empty, making it simple to stash in a pack or in your crowded cupboard. A locking screw top makes it easy to drink out of on the go and prevents spills while it's in your pack. We are also looking forward to taking it backpacking when we get back out in the woods. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty. $25; nomader.com
T R AIL RU N N IN G T H E N O R T H FAC E U LT R A T R AC T I O N F U T U R E L I G H T
Futurelight is The North Face’s answer to Gore-Tex, a lightweight, super-breathable membrane that the brand spent a long time developing and claims is lighter and more effective. Put it to the test yourself in these spry, 10.6-ounce trail runners with a
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lug pattern that features alternating heights between 3.5 mm and 4 mm that will chew up slick rocks and roots. They are the perfect vehicle to run off your cabin fever no matter the conditions out there. $155; thenorthface.com
HI KI N G VA S Q U E B R E E Z E A L LTERRAIN GTX
The new classic when it comes to a hiker needs to be a boot that has all the beef of a traditional backpacking shoe but none of the bulk, weight, and break-in time. Voila. Weighing in at two pounds, 11 ounces, this surprisingly light boot can tackle the nastiest of trails thanks to a leather upper and Gore-Tex membrane that
sheds slop and wet. Meanwhile, the sticky Vibram MegaGrip outsole breezes up scree and talus but also feels right at home when you are cruising on hardpacked dirt. It’s a boot that will stand up to big trips but feels just fine out on a casual hike. $190; vasque.com
SP EED HI KI N G C A M E L B A K O C TA N E 2 5
Even as we recover, the COVID-19 era has forced us to seek out responsible adventures that are close to home and far from other people. This light (one-pound, six-ounce) hydration pack proves the perfect companion whether you are hiking, bushwhacking, or off on an adventure run. The bladder
holds 70 ounces of water and the pack can haul a jacket, lunch, and other essentials. $145; camelbak.com
B IKE HELMET T H O U S A N D C L I M AT E SERIES
You may be riding your bike more than you are driving your car these days and a helmet is just as important as that face mask— but there’s no reason to look like a dork. Coming in three colors, the line features pluses like vegan leather straps and a special Poploc system that allows you to secure your helmet with your bike. Buy one by May 17 and the brand will donate $10 to nonprofit 1% for the Planet. $89; explorethousand.com
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Stay-In Gear T H E SE DAY S T H E C A M P O U T I S I N YO U R B AC K YA R D O R L I V I N G RO O M . D O N ’ T FE A R , T H ER E’ S A LOT O F O U T D O O R G E A R T H AT W I L L H EL P M A K E YO U R T I M E AT H O M E M O R E CO M F O RTA B L E. A N D R EM EM B ER TO T RY A N D SU P P O RT LO C A L R E TA I L ER S W H O A R E STILL DOING CURBSIDE A N D O N L I N E B US I N E S S . by DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN
C OOLER T I TA N D E E P F R E E Z E R OTO C O O L E R
If you are like us, your cooler had become your backup fridge during quarantine, storing everything from cold drinks to fresh veggies. The only problem is long-term cooler use can cause things to get stinky. Not to fear, this roto-molded cooler includes an anti-bacterial treatment—and keeps ice chilled for up to four days. $150 20 quart, $245 55 quart; arcticzone.com
C OOLER A C C E S S O RIE S R OV R K E E P R A N D I C E R
Organizing your cooler can be an exercise in futility, but the handy KeepR fits snug inside a RovR cooler so that you can haul your stuff to the picnic table without having to rummage around. The IceR is a stainless steel container that nests inside the RovR and will hold ice or goodies that need to chill. $119; rovrproducts.com
C AMPFI RE BIOLITE FIREPIT CARBON NEUTRAL NEUTRAL EDITION
This smokeless fire pit is the ticket when you want to light things up in the backyard during the days of shelter-athome. A solar-powered feature sucks smoke away and a grill makes it easy to roast brats. Plus, the entire product design was offset to help cut down on carbon emissions. $250, bioliteenergy.com
C HAIR E N O LO U N G E R D L
these days, deck—requires a comfy chair. With the ability to adjust the height from 10 inches to 3 inches depending on where you want you butt. Plus, it’s easy to pack down and stash in any vehicle and the cup holder keeps your cold beverage handy. $125: eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com
AXE H U LT S B R U K A N E BY H ATC H E T
This beautiful Swedish hatchet is a godsend when you are seeking firewood or just want to vent out some COVID-19 frustration and split a stack that’s sitting in your backyard. The perfectly balanced tool harkens from a Swedish facility that has producing since the 17th century. $144; hultsbruk1697.se
S L IP P E R S M O N TA N E I C A R U S HUT SLIPPER
Comfort is king when you are on your feet all day in your home and these Primaloft-insulated kicks are just the ticket whether you are staying in a backcountry cabin or just don’t want to wear you shoes (like ever) during quarantine. $50; montane.co.uk
BEER O S K A R B LU E S C A N - O - B L I S S T R O P I C A L I PA
Lyons-based Oskar Blues is making sure you can sip new releases on your deck until you can hoist one in their pub with friends. The new Can-O-Bliss series takes the edge of a day of homeschooling and Zoom meeting after you get that bike ride in. canarchy.beer
B OO Z E DEERHAMMER BOURBON
A good drink has helped us mellow out during stay-at-home. It’s also improved our 8 p.m. howling prowess. This local bourbon from Salida is a treasure, easy to sip and ideal when you want to mix up an old fashioned or Manhattan. $55; deerhammer.com
CBD N E D F U LL S P E C T R U M HEMP OIL
Self care is the buzzword these days. And this CBD tincture carefully crafted by this Nederland brand helps you get a good night’s sleep or just takes the edge off the stream of outrage and bad news on your social feeds. $84; helloned.com
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EPIC IS OVERRATED. You could go shoot rapids, get wet, get cold, and spend an hour hanging on for dear life, all for the low cost of…that’s a lot of money. Or you could float. Sitting in lawn chairs, in a cattle tank. Sure it’s a different way to go, but if you’re looking for a leisurely way to get eight friends and a big cooler down a river, tanking is the way to go. Epic is overrated, adventures aren’t. Find your next adventure. Come to Western Nebraska.
The future is
Walden Steamboat Springs
Grand County 131
Summer adventures await in Grand County.
From boating and stand up paddle boarding
Rocky mountain national park
in Colorado’s largest natural lake to the breathtaking sights of open spaces and nature, the end of one adventure is just the beginning
of another. The future is Grand—start planning your ultimate getaway today.
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FRASER • GRANBY • GRAND LAKE • HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS • KREMMLING • WINTER PARK
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Save Music G O V I N TAG E: B U Y N E W V I N Y L A N D C DS FRO M T H E SE H A R D -WO R K I N G B A N DS W I T H N E W R EL E A SE S TO H EL P T H EM G E T T H RO U G H T H E COV I D -1 9 C R I S I S . by JEDD FERRIS
ith so much touring income—the lifeblood of most musicians— lost over the past two months, the time to buy a physical album from your favorite band is now. It’s no secret that for musicians streaming income doesn’t pay the bills, so while that model unfairly is what it is, independent bands need direct support from fans through the purchase of records and merchandise. Here, we highlight some stellar new releases from acts that usually make a living through the nightly grind of playing clubs across the country. These artists could use your support right now.
TOP PHOTO BY DUSTIN CHAMBERS
The past two months have been filled with brain-scrambling what-ifs, but John Moreland puts the futility of worrying in perspective in “A Thought Is Just a Passing Train.” The meditative head-bobber—full of comforting wisdom—is a standout on an album that’s an optimistic career breakthrough for the introspective Tulsabased tunesmith. His raspyvoiced ruminations often evoke Springsteen, if he’d been raised on red dirt, and with help from producer/multi-instrumentalist John Calvin Abney he’s found an atmospheric, slightly experimental space for his words to linger. Among mystical, airy arrangements, Moreland comes to grips with selfacceptance in songs like “Let Me Be Understood” and offers welcome solace in uncertain times. Moreland had a Colorado date on the books at the Bluebird Theater on May 16. Hopefully it’s rescheduled soon.
WA X A H ATCH E E “ST. CLOUD”
Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield made some big life changes— getting sober and moving to Kansas City—on the way to recording her stunning new
album “St. Cloud.” With the selfcare comes a sweetly reshuffled sound that sheds some of the vintage fuzz of past efforts in favor of soulful, country-hued Americana arrangements that intentionally draw on her admiration of Lucinda Williams and Linda Ronstadt. The shift goes extremely well with Crutchfield’s usual soul-baring lyrics, as personal revelations patiently unfurl with intimate details (“Can’t Do Much”) and idyllic imagery (“Lilacs”).
GIVE ‘EM A SPIN: AMERICANAINFLUENCED JAM BAND FRUITION HAD PLANNED ON A BIG TOUR TO SUPPORT TWO NEW ALBUMS. PICK THEM UP ON VINYL.
H I S S G O LD E N MESSENGER
FRU ITI O N
“WILD AS THE NIGHT” AND “BROKEN AT THE BREAK OF DAY”
Versatile roots-rock outfit Fruition has been steadily building its fanbase in the worlds of jam and Americana since forming a little more than a decade ago. The group warmed up the stage at Red Rocks for the Wood Brothers last fall, played a sold out co-bill at Mission Ballroom in January, and, before coronavirus cancellations, was set to embark on a big spring tour in support of two recently released companion albums, “Wild as the Night” and “Broken at the Break of Day.” Both records showcase the quintet’s evolution away from early acoustic, stringband leanings towards a fuller harmony-fueled sound that at times evokes classic Fleetwood Mac. The title track to “Wild as the Night,” which was recorded at Denver’s Silo Sound Studio,
highlights this new direction with a slow-building arrangement, twinkling piano fills, and an emotive, soaring chorus.
C A LE B C AU D LE
“BETTER HURRY UP”
North Carolina native Caleb Caudle fully embraced the vibe of his new home in Tennessee while making his latest album “Better Hurry Up,” which was released on April 3. To follow up 2018’s heartfelt indie-folk effort “Crushed Coins” Caudle recorded his new effort at Johnny Cash’s rural Cash Cabin Studio, soaking in the lore of the Man in Black and
enlisting an all-star cast of guests to contribute, including Elizabeth Cook, John Paul White, Courtney Marie Andrews, and Willie Nelson’s harmonica ace Mickey Raphael. The latter makes his presence felt in the joyous “Let’s Get,” a buoyant country-funk jam that exemplifies the album’s main sonic realm—loose, soulful roots-rock that recalls the vintage heydays of Little Feat and Leon Russell. With eight albums to his credit, Caudle is a prolific songwriter, who specializes in down-home sentiments, and he’s found a sound that suits him.
Once the moniker for singersongwriter MC Taylor to release lo-fi folk tunes, Hiss Golden Messenger has evolved into an electrifying live band with songs extended and enhanced by gritty guitar breaks and soulful piano runs. A document of the group’s stellar growth from hard touring came unexpectedly in late March with the surprise live album “Forward, Children,” recorded just months earlier at a hometown show in North Carolina. The effort is full of uplifting versions of staples from Taylor’s back catalog, including “Southern Grammar” and “Red Rose Nantahala,” and a peak moment comes during the poignant crowd sing-along during “Heart Like a Levee,” a reminder of music’s unifying power. While physical copies of the live set aren’t available, Taylor released the album on Bandcamp (bandcamp.com), and he’s donating all proceeds to the Durham Public Schools Foundation in support of where his kids are educated and his wife works. “It’s my duty as a dad of students and the spouse of a teacher,” Taylor says, “to give what I can.”
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My Kind of Paradise
FEELS LIKE HOME: NEDERLAND'S SALTO COFFE WORKS IS MORE THAN A CAFÉ. IT'S A GATHERING PLACE WHERE LOCALS AND VISITORS GATHER TO CONNECT AND SHARE STORIES WHEN THOSE DAYS RETURN.
T RY I N G TO K EEP A M O U N TA I N TOW N CO FFEE B A R RU N N I N G I N T H E M I DS T O F T H E PA N D EM I C I S A C RUSH I N G C H A L L EN G E — B U T T H E CO M F O RT O F CO FFEE A N D CO M M U N I T Y C A N K EEP YO U G O I N G . by KARINA LUSCHER
alto Coffee Works has been a hub for the surrounding area residents and visitors alike, providing a welcoming vibe to gather and commiserate. We provide craft-roasted coffee and a café menu with beer and wine on tap. May 5 will mark our eighth year of being in business. It has been a roller coaster of a ride and an insane amount of hard work.
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We survived the floods of 2013, the fires of 2016, the canyon closures of 2019 and 2020 and now the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought the business to a virtual screeching halt.
We survived the floods of 2013, the fires of 2016, the canyon closures of 2019 and 2020, and and now we are surviving the Covid-19 pandemic. Like most in this industry, our tables have literally and figuratively been turned upside down, stacked along with the chairs in the empty corners of our beautiful gathering space. The expansive patio and fire pit was a place for bands to play live music. Now it serves as just as a waiting place for to-go customers. There’s ample room outside to comply with the sixfoot rule, for our guests to pick up their orders from our makeshift service window. But this once vibrant and bustling center for our community to gather, my business, for the time being, is a much quieter, bizarre version of what it should be.
know well enough to seek ways to calm myself down so that hopefully the negative impacts of fight or flight don’t take hold. I find calm in the ritual that inspired me to start Salto. I turn the roaster on to begin my weekly dance of crafting small-batch coffee. Coffee provides solace in these upside down times— for me, for our customers, for our staff, and for our community. The sound of the roasting drum spinning, the swish
PHOTOS COURTESY KARINA LUSCHER
iving in these mountains is paradise, but not in that kind of dreamy, out-of-a-TV-series way. In the winter it’s f-ing windy up here. Like, kid you not, blow the doors off your car if it’s parked the wrong way or launch your trampoline onto your neighbor's property or gusts so strong they take the only cell tower town has and snap it in half. That kind of paradise. Nederland is a paradise with challenges. In the summer, the weather gets more idyllic and as a community we all seem to calm and breathe a little deeper. We come out of the woodwork and reconnect, share our stories from the winter season. Our streets blow up with dust and the gutters fill with gravel leftover from winter plowing. The tree pollen flies in May and it forces some of us to hide out for weeks until it passes. Warmer weather means more traffic through the town and tourists driving the wrong way down one-way streets so often that it’s a favorite pastime to keep count. Despite all its rough spots, my paradise is a deep breath that brings my shoulders away from my ears. It is a place that I long to be because of how it makes me feel. It is a small town where I know most of the people in line at the Post Office and the Mountain People’s co-op. It’s a safe yet somewhat wild place to raise kids and have a lifestyle that keeps me mostly outside. I can gather with my family around the fire pit and sing along with an ’80s playlist and roast marshmallows or hop on my bike and access the trails out my door. I have trusted that this lifestyle will keep me grounded and sane, so starting a business here seemed a the best way to invest in that home.
With the pandemic hitting us hard, I am asking my staff to do so much: Take a pay cut, reduce hours, pick up the slack from the holes left by employees we couldn’t continue to pay, do laundry to offset the cost of linen service... I am asking them to stick with it, hold on and trust that it is all going to be ok. The reality that I work through every day is that I don’t know if it is all going to be ok. The uncertainty of what lies ahead can be paralyzing at times. Searing stress of the unknown courses through my body and manifests randomly throughout my days and nights. The unexpected chills (no, it’s not COVID-19), sharp stabbing pains in my neck and shoulders that make me move more like a robot than a human, the restless sleep and the dreams of trying to cross an eight-lane highway as if I am playing a bad game of Frogger are all now becoming the “new normal.” Being a small business owner has always been taxing, but the current landscape catapults once manageable stress levels into the stratosphere. How will my business look when the cloud cover clears? What strategic changes should I make now to ensure success in the future when I don’t really know what the future looks like? How can I provide for the community that relies on Salto’s services while protecting job security and profitable balance sheets?
MOUNTAIN MAMA: THE AUTHOR FINDS LOCAL ADVENTURE WITH HER DAUGHTER BRITA (RIGHT) AND HER TRUSTY HORSE.
of green beans getting gently tossed around, making their way slowly toward the magical change of color and sweet aroma of the sugars starting to emerge all provide a break from the daily stresses. The heat of my Diedrich roaster warms me like a dear friend would do with a simple hug. It makes me feel like it’s all going to be alright. At the precise right time, I release the perfectly brown beans into the cooling tray. It never fails me. At this moment, I always welcome them into their new state of being and say, “Hello, beautiful.” I get to soak in the creative when I am roasting. I get to realize the fruits of my efforts through those who seek my coffee from near and far. I am able to provide warmth and routine during a time when we all need it the most. Having someone tell me they just had the best cappuccino they have ever had or to be emailed with a request to send 10 bags of Salto Blend to Boulder because they can’t live without it right now, lights me up and smoothes out the stress bumps in my body. Customers coming by specifically to let us know
how much they love us and want us to be around when COVID-19 subsides feels so good. And taking inventory of what feels good and right is the only way to survive these crazy moments. I see my staff making sacrifices, staying positive and creative. Collectively we are coming up with new protocols that change almost daily to keep us compliant, crafting new menus that utilize all the ingredients we have in-house, and keeping the smiles on our faces under our masks (handmade by one of our loyal customers). I am blown away, brought to the verge of tears, and I am filled with so much gratitude because I was right to trust in this lifestyle and this business and this community. The feel-good-trust-this-will-all-work-out vibe hasn’t just emerged because of the banding-togetherbecause-we-are-in-a-crisis-together, it is always here. The streets may be empty right now. The dirt is still getting kicked up by strong spring winds. There’s an uncomfortable and awkward distance between friends, co-workers, and community members, but we will come out the other side and it will all be okay. The challenges of living up here are precisely why I live up here. The challenges that are a part of running a business are exactly why I chose to start my business. Even now, the rewards are still deeper than I ever could have imagined. Karina Luscher is the co-owner of Salto Coffee Works (saltocoffeeworks.com) in Nederland, Colorado, and the former editor of Women’s Adventure magazine.
PHOTOS COURTESY KARINA LUSCHER
e r u t n e Adv Aircontact Lite Series
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notes from quarantine I T ’ S T I M E TO RE SE T. by PETER KRAY
am writing this column about two weeks before it will be published. So in these quickly changing times, I am trying to think of what might be of the utmost importance to us 14 days in the future. Maybe it is exactly the same as what I would say right now: #1) I hope you, your family, and your friends are healthy and well. #2) I want you to know that you belong to a community that cares for you, and one of the most rewarding things you can do right now (and always) is give that community the same care in return. #3) This event is a reset. It is a chance for us to decide what matters most to us in this world, and make sure that decision informs our next steps. The community thing is 100-percent true. We all have a series of meaningful, ever-altering relationships built around our neighborhoods, our childhoods, the jobs we’ve had, best friends and best enemies, sports we love, food we cook, and music we listen to. It is what shapes the stories of who we are. For a lot of my friends, that community is skiing. So much so that even in the summer it’s the second—if not first!—thing we talk about. “How’s your dog? Are you skiing anywhere?” It’s a pale lament alongside the crushing human tragedy occurring around us, but the ski community’s regret was our collective missed opportunity to enjoy one more seasonending run together. A “closing day,” filled with good friends, blue skies, corn snow, and cold beer. When Governor Jared Polis correctly closed down Colorado liftservice, most areas still had six weeks of skiing, and in some cases maybe another three months of lift-served access to go. In our unfulfilled future, there were still days of turns ahead, each filled with the possibility of spring bliss, or late pow. That’s one of the main things we talk about, us ski geeks: all of the mystifying untracked lines still out there, looming in our minds like pictures of untouched, in-bounds favorite frontcountry spots that have been left ungroomed, and which successive spring storms have now made as variable and dangerous as the backcountry. Then in the same next sweet breath we’ll say, “Hey, we’ll ski them all next year.”
ILLUSTRATION BY KEVIN HOWEDESHELL KEVINCREDIBLE.COM
e’re lucky that way, us quarantiners, with our Internet and our refrigerators, and all of the dogs and cats happy to have us home. I am lucky to have a friend in Golden who sends me pictures of how she is practicing her climbing moves on a nearby brick wall. We’re lucky that a ski bum buddy in Palisade has been sharing blackand-white photos of the peach trees in blossom, empty skies, majestic mountains, and the aerial grace of the local hawks and crows. I am lucky that each day I can call my mother in Tacoma, Washington. The same with one of my truest friends, who is holed up by himself in Jackson Hole, face-timing with his daughters in Connecticut and identifying the variety of avian wildlife visiting the bird-feeders in his backyard that he fills every afternoon. I called my college roommate. I called my cousin in the Bronx where he is a school teacher. I called my best high school buddy in Capitol Hill. We talked for hours, about everything and
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nothing at all. If I had your number, I probably would have called you, too. It feels good to be together, even while we are all alone. The truth is none of us know what the future will hold. We don’t know when this fever will break and we can have a beer again at The Ship Tavern in the Brown Palace, a deliciously spicy plate of costillas at Efrain’s II in Boulder, or pull off the highway in Idaho Springs for a pizza at Beau Jo's. Worse, we don’t know how many of our fellow citizens this pandemic will claim, when we might have an effective vaccine, or if this might be something that re-erupts every year. What we do know is that our nation’s first responders, police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, grocery store checkout clerks, long haul truckers, and produce pickers are some of the finest, bravest people in the world. They have all stayed on the job, putting themselves at risk so that the rest could stay safe—and fed—at home. And local companies, like Hestra and Phunkshun, have
generously donated to them, with much-needed gloves and stylized personal face masks so they can stay safe as well. We know that nature got a muchneeded break from human meddling— with foxes, bears, deer, and elk roaming the prairies and mountains more freely than normal for a few free weeks since we’d vacated their range.For the first time in decades, pollution is so low from India to Salt Lake City that residents have clear views of the Himalayas and the Wasatch. And instead of sitting in gridlocked traffic right now, most of us are with the people and creatures that matter most to us. I appreciate what I have more than ever, and can only hope that this list will still be relevant to your life when you pick this issue this May. —Elevation Outdoors editor-at-large Peter Kray is the author of the God of Skiing. The book has been called “the greatest ski novel of all time.” Don’t believe the hype? Buy and read it here: amzn.to/2lmzpvn
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