Monday, February 23, 2009

Split-Boarding in Glacier National Park

If anyone has ever been to Montana's illustrious Glacier National Park, imagine standing atop Apgar Lookout overlooking Lake MacDonald and the plethora of wondrous peaks stretching over 10,000 feet into the big crisp blue sky. Now imagine standing there with a snowboard, and having the pleasure of riding down engulfed in that incredible view. If you haven't been there, well just look to the left and you'll get an inkling of an idea of what it feels like.

The hike up (or "skin" as we call it in the back country snowboarding world) was actually more pleasurable than the ride down, although it's hard to determine which takes the cake...

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to reach the Apgar Lookout, and about 30 minutes into the hike, the magnificent view came into focus. Zig-zagging up steep pitches generously covered in spruce trees and perfect quality snow, I occasional verified with Canyon that we were on the right track. He had done this tour once or twice before and, as usual, was cruising at a much quicker pace than I. I huffed and puffed pushing my over sized skis (actually two halves of a snowboard) up and over fallen branches and around tight turns.

Once we entered the clearing finally out of the dense trees, I turned around and to my surprise, saw the most beautiful vista I'd ever seen. I was quick to deem this the best snowboarding hike I had ever done, and we weren't even at the top yet!

We rested at the lookout for a half hour, sipped in the 360 degree views and had some snacks to refuel for the ride down. We carelessly slashed turns throwing snow into our faces momentarily obstructing the breathtaking view.

Once at the bottom, we hooted and hollered, and switched back over to ski mode to get out of the woods. When we got to the car, we high-fived, and in all the excitement of a day well spent... accidentally locked the keys in the car. Figures.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's a small world...

So it turns out that the world is an extremely small place...not that we didn't already know that.

Sarah put me in touch with one of her friends (who happens to have graduated from Quinnipiac) who is thinking about returning to SE Asia to do some volunteer work in Cambodia at an orphanage. I of course told her of my experience while I was there, and said I wished I could remember the name of the place so I could send here there. I looked it up, and couldn't seem to find the name in any of the lists online.

Turns out, the name of the orphanage has changed due to some corrupt businessmen, and her two girlfriends have financially taken over the orphanage...the same exact one that I went to. To give you an idea of how much of a coincidence (or not!) this is, there are thousands of orphaned children in Cambodia and a surprising number of them are infected with AIDS. There are also at least a dozen orphanages that cater to these types of children. Amazing how the world works.

She (Regina) sent me the link to the new website for the kids, and low and behold...there they all are looking healthy and beautiful. Some of the girls who were really sick while I was there last November look wonderful. They all have new clothes, school uniforms, and plenty of food in their bellies. Doesn't that make you feel good? It made me cry. You could imagine my surprise to see pictures of the kids over a year later.

You may remember the photo above of me with the kids. Check out the website of the new "Sunflower" orphanage:

See if you can notice the difference that a year makes in some of those beautiful faces.

Life is beautiful.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Road Trip!

Canyon and I decided that the best thing we could possibly do was drive to Salt Lake City Utah to get the work out about YONink and the documentary project that we are working on. We packed up the car, and drove for 10 hours to Salt Lake. We were greeted with a wonderful exclusive party in Park City that featured the film "My Own Two Feet" that we worked on last winter and all the free beer wine or champagne you can drink. Needless to say, it was a good night.

We stayed with out friend Forrest who treated us like gold. Forrest is one of those people that would just do anything for you despite his busy schedule as a pro-snowboarder. He really took good care of us.

The reason for the trip was the Outdoor Retailer show in SLC. Forrest got us passes (usually $400 each) and we snuck in with our project proposal in hand and our name tags covered by business cards. We talked to a lot of big outdoor companies that seem very interested in the project, so we'll see how it goes. I think we can seriously get some funding for it and make it happen. It's pretty much Canyon's baby, I'm just trying to rock it off the ground.

While we were in Utah, we got to snowboard a day at Solitude mountain. On the second run of the day, we followed a local up what he deemed "one of the scarier hikes in the Wasatch" where I almost peed my pants and cried at least twice. We were hiking along a ridge with exposed rock faces and certain death on either side. Not so fun. I guess the ride down was worth it after we got past the super steep drop-in. The trees were untouched and there was plenty of powder for all.
I guess it was worth it.

It was that experience that lent some eye opening realizations to me. I realized that I don't really have much desire to put myself in situations where I don't feel safe anymore...well, as far as adrenaline sports are concerned anyways. I don't really like being scared anymore. I always say that the reward is worth it, but I actually don't think it is. I must be getting old...

Anyways, from there, we decided that we should go visit my old friend Scott Smith in Jackson Hole where he works at the top of the tram selling waffles. This kid is pretty much a legend at Jackson Hole thanks to his stellar waffles. We had an amazing day of fresh snow, all the waffles we could eat and free drinks at the end to boot! Doesn't get much better than that. It was so good to spend some time with Scotty. I forgot how good of friends we were. He's hilarious.

A ten hour drive back, and here I am in Montana again. Back to work!