Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Desert stoke and season shakedown ride.

In a seasonal lifestyle there are endless firsts, the first cast, first ride, first skin, first wave, first powder day, first big drop..... you get it! With all of our complex toys it comes down to how they were put away "last season". Fortunately with a little extra time this Winter we were able to prep the dirt bikes for their first ride and what better testing grounds then the desert of mid-west Utah near the San Rafael Swell known as Chimney Rock.

With a quick over nighter and only one good long day of riding, we lucked out on some great weather with my favorite lighting scenario, dark storm clouds off in the not so distance. With just a light dampening of the desert floor camping was going to be prime.
There was a micro-tornado on the drive in and then an awesome full rainbow just before we got to camp, and then the wind subsided and the moon came out.
A big Thank you to Cousin Kate for the Big Agnes tent loaner and BA for the Pine Island 4 shelter design.
Not a bad spot to wake up in for the seasons first "shakedown ride".
We actually got to play tour guide with 2 new riders and 2 vets from Salt Lake and I almost forgot to shoot a few images until we came to this gem of a scene.
All we needed was to get back to camp, load the bikes and get off the clay before this monster hit us.
Thanks to my amazing riding partner and wife for the smooth throttling and great patience for making a few fun images.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Anniversary in Sayulita

Sayulita has been on my mind ever since our last visit 6 years ago for our honeymoon. At that time SUP wasn't even on the acronym map and street tacos were only at a couple locations. Long time away from the surf and simple pleasures of this rapidly growing little hot spot of Nayarit Mexico. This once sleeper village all grown up!
 It was a blessing to see this much green in March where everything is usually dried up and dusty from the Winter season.
We opted for a little extra culture this trip and stopped in at the local market in La Cruz for some amazing food and local artist vendors.

For most visitors it's about the beach, but without the surf utensils it's just another sandy swimming spot. is the place for SUP in Sayulita and has the best gear for both rental and retail in the area. They also support numerous pros and help promote the sport to every age group.
We quickly learned that sunset sessions were the least crowded and most consistent for waves. And if you want to paddle with some local pros like and Javier with his son evenings are best.
One of the quiter sections of beach just minutes from the main attraction has a steeper entry into the ocean, but less crowds.
This rocky beach plays host to some decent sunrise material and is a 3 minute walk from playa centro.
But my all time favorite is over by where I have done a bit of work with over the years. Muy fantastico!
For many, the attraction in Sayulita is the food. Just in the last 6 years the place has exploded with great and very affordable, creative and fresh options from juices, tacos (galore) and local fish, vegetables and meats. Sayulita turns on at night.
Another surprise for us was the mountain bike options here. The guys at have brand new front suspension hardtail 27.5 with dropper seat posts, helmets and guided tours. This was our guide Javier "dropping in". He races the Enduro circuits in Colorado in the summer time and is looking for some sponsors.
Our ride was a drop off shuttle that began down there to the left in the town of Higuera Blanca and brought us up to the summit of Monkey mountain with this pano of the whole gulf of Nuevo Vallarta. The decent out of here was all single track with natural and farmed structures all the way to the next beach. The finish was on smooth two track in shaded jungle back to Sayulita for a 3 hour tour.
We did not have mtb clothes or shoes but my wife sure rocked the tights like nobodies business.
Our accommodations were at Casa dulce suenos with an abundance of gatos that were all feral just last year. Our gracious owners took the liberty of getting the stray cats fixed and keep them fed so they are now all residents of the property. Thanks to the responsible people who now offer these services in Sayulita.
As mentioned earlier sunset was the time for the best waves and least crowds and the main time that the locals play on the water. For the locals SUP was the majority water craft by far and in just a few years, they have it dialed.
This evening proved to be the pinnacle of sunset sessions all week and the light show lasted forever.
Another local pro finishing his 2 hour distance training perfectly.
The water was spectacular.
You almost couldn't see this with the naked eye, but my sensor could. With a 6400 iso setting and a hand held 1/2 second exposure it really came alive.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Catching the corn before Winter returns.

My brother recently visited from our old home of Steamboat Springs Colorado with a couple of over-sized grown up toys to play with in the spring  like conditions of the Wasatch! Thanks to his wife for loaning her Specialized Fatboy to my wife, I then secured a Salsa Mukluk from the cool folks at Go-Ride sports. Conditions were mere guess work as this is a fairly new sport here and finding "daily ride" conditions is really hard. It only took about a mile of dry road before we got onto snow and even though we had a late start conditions were now great for the 4.7 inch tires with 6 psi.
The views are very impressive from the road, but we were hoping to find some firm corn which would allow for an almost endless choice of routes. Due to our late start, the higher we went the warmer the snow was feeling and the less our options became.

We stuck to the snowmobile tracks as these had the most stable base to keep us floating, but once we hit the highway summit we realized our tour was hitting it's return mode. The next day would change dramatically with lower temperatures and a lake effect[ storm.
Wow, what a day can do in the mountains! We actually made it to the summit of Guardsmen pass in the blizzard and decided the visibility was only getting worse, plus we were both ready to dry out,warm up and find some breakfast.
Meanwhile, back in the valley we had to get Blue out on at least one trail as the Wasatch canyons are all watersheds and do not allow dogs up any of them. The reliable Bonneville shoreline trail is always fun and even funnerer on a Fatty!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's skiing like April

I truly don't have anything to complain about in the BIG picture, so I will try to sound optimistic on this short post. Even with the lack of fresh snow deposits on a consistent basis and above "normal" temperatures the higher ground always holds a revitalizing sense of place. Today at Solitude Mountain Resort I watched these 2 ski patrollers scaling Fantasy ridge to test the snow stability of the honeycomb cliffs.
While we couldn't wait for them to summit my new skier athlete friend Jason and I went to see how the 3" dusting would play out this beautiful morning.
Solitude is home to a ton of these twisted, gnarled Bristle cone pines that can be great for a backdrop of powder skiing. Real fun snow for just a few inches.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunday with friends.

Although this hasn't been a banner year in or out of bounds, touring with friends is always good!  Today was another first for me to this little mound of goodness up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  My tour guides chose to return  back here from the previous day saying there was plenty still to be enjoyed.
 Leading the haul was my awesome cousin Kate Kopischke along with brothers Ralph and Bill Becker.
Playing around with some settings on the Fuji X-T1 I found you can move the "tilt-shift" to any where the focus point is.
Ralph Becker taking the lead for a bit while I admire the  aspens..... I think I see my line!
And for all that, you are often rewarded with stellar views of the surrounding Solitude.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Still finding Solitude.

Solitude Mountain Resort is a new and unfamiliar playground for me. Finding the ideal shooting spots can often take years to learn and I have a hard time with that. Fortunately, the other day I was  introduced to my new favorite action hero, a veteran athlete and Big Cottonwood local by the name of Jason West.
This was going to be a great day!
A locals knowledge is good, but a veteran athlete's is really good! As a bonus some new terrain was opening and with the warmer temps and clear skies it would be a challenge to find the lighter snow.
After a big traverse we found some surprisingly light and unnoticed lines to work with.
Solitude is a quaint ski resort soon to experience some upgrades from the recent acquisition with Deer Valley.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mindshift gear bag review

I was recently fortunate enough to test out a unique new photo backpack style bag by the makers at a sister company to The particular model I got to work with is the rotation 180  Panorama, and is the smaller of the 2 photo dedicated models. After sizing it up with my Canon 5D MK III and lenses I decided to use my "lighter rig" Fuji's mirrorless X-T1, 10-24 F4 ois and 18-55 F2.8-4. I had been using a Lowepro 200 AW bag all summer long with this kit for lighter shoots and a lot of mountain biking and would now try similar lighter Winter adventures with the Panorama.
I had to test this bag in bounds at a ski resort before it goes in the back country so I opted for the world class runs of Alta ski area, with the towering Mt. Superior in the back drop.
I decided to make some "mark ups" to the areas I liked and dis-liked on the bag to help with the visuals.
Let's start with the straps, ample padding and great curvature to stay snug around the neck and comfortable on the shoulders when loaded down.
I had to utilize the tripod attachments in order to mount my skis in case Main chute opens and I have to dash up there. This eliminates bringing a tripod though. Would like to see the typical "snack pouches" I've gotten used to on all my other packs? It shouldn't hinder the rotation 180 at all and would keep the idea of not taking your bag off for access more consistent.
There is a top strap on both sides for what I hoped to hold a pair of skis, there just isn't a lower strap to stabilize the skis. The top strap seems more for extra clothes or for tightening a lighter load. Also would like to see a shovel slot somewhere. Once again I don't think ski mountaineering was the intention for this sized bag I just wanted it to compete with my Lowepro 200 AW that does hold a shovel in the back compartment. Great zipper pulls though and easy to grab with a ski glove too.
This is the whole concept of the bag, to not remove your back pack every time you use your camera! The apex of this bag I believe is the speed and unique way at which you can access the main camera compartment without taking the bag off. To get the full schematics please visit the site to see in greater detail how this works and the accessories you can add on at .
The hipbelt can be used separately for smaller trips and I also found that if you rotate the hip bag forward before loading a lift you can keep the back pack on while the lower compartment compresses enough keeping you deep in the chair instead of feeling like your getting pushed off the whole time. Not fun!
There is a hydration pouch on the left side (2 liters or smaller) which I didn't get to test because all of my bladders are 3 liters and I did try all of them with no avail.
It would be nice to have seen a strap system underneath the main bag for extra clothing or a lighter tripod attachment too.
I think this bag is revolutionary for "fast access" photography when time constraints are against you like in bounds ski-action on a powder day, mountain bike rides with impatient riders or even back country skiing where a speedy exit in hazardous conditions would keep your gear with you? Mobility and speed are the advantages with this system.
 Will this totally eliminate my other bag and be the end all to the perfect smaller bag search, not yet. If you want gear protection while hiking, the fastest access ever to your camera with room for a day hike I would highly recommend the Panorama! My take is a very critical one because this helps progression and I realize there is always room for advancement in man made objects.