The Six Thousand Mile Summer
Every spring, when summer is right around the corner, everyone wants to know one thing:
What are you doing this summer?
I’m going to pack my car with everything I need to go where I want.
To be more specific, I was going to link up some of the most breathtaking landscapes in a giant loop around the west coast in my car, on my feet, and on my mountain bike. After sharing my summer plans with several friends, “my road trip” turned into “our road trip” when the one kid that is excited about everything, especially the outdoors, decided to hop in the passenger seat. Mat and I spent weeks researching and day dreaming about where we were going to go, and even when we left on June 20th, we only had the first week roughly planned out, and the rest was even rougher. What we had was a long list of destinations; plans would inevitably follow.
It turned out there was more in California than the waves, bros!
Step one: Drive to Twin Lakes, California, then connect two trails by crossing a 11,300 foot saddle to make a loop around Sawtooth Ridge before heading back to civilization to check on the status of Mat’s Chilean visa that we would be picking up in Los Angeles.
Elevation gain: 6,000+
What did we do after we spent nine hours in the car? We hiked for five miles in the dark and placed our tent in a perfectly flat spot that overlooked a moonlit landscape.
We woke up to a much more illuminated landscape, celebrated with a large breakfast (as always), and hit the trail.
The light colored soil at the bottom of this lake really made the turquoise color of the water stand out.
One of the most relieving sections of this trip: making it past those seemingly beautiful lakes. I had never been swarmed by so many mosquitoes in my life.
It’s the little things that matter.
Up and down.
After crossing the pass, our view of Yosemite National Park was conveniently accompanied by a full moon. We did not see another soul in one of the nation’s most visited National Parks; we were about as far away from Yosemite Valley as you can get while still being in the park.
When the trail ended, so did the zigzags. Mat going right where we needed to.
It’s hard to sleep in when you wake up to this.
This pond reassured us that it was more than crossing the ridge to the right that put us in our sleeping bags before it got dark. It was so cold that night this small lake froze half way over!
Certainly a sudden and dramatic change in rock from the endless granite that we were surrounded by the three days before.
Looking back at where we wandered without a trail.
A storm started to roll in as we were rolling out.
Despite the temps being in the 50s, we couldn’t pass up this rope swing into Lower Twin Lake on our way out of the backpacking trip.
After our strenuous backpacking trip, it was nice to take a rest day with an off-road adventure.
Mat’s first decent off this cliff at over 10,000 feet.
After grabbing Matt’s Chilean Visa in LA, we made our way down to Newport Beach to get back in the ocean for the first time in years.
Where land meets the unknown.
The Pacific Coast Highway.
A moment of disbelief.
A pleasant welcoming to Redwood National Park.
Sometimes, mistakes workout.
A fire burned inside of these giants, yet they live on. By far the most astonishing thing I have ever seen.
After the Redwoods, we headed to Bend, my home town, to catch up with some friends and show Mat around the area.
After taking Mat on some of my favorite adventures, we headed up the Cascade Lakes Highway, spent the day kayaking at Sparks Lake, and then headed up to camp near this small unnamed lake before we went to summit Broken Top Mountain, which you can see in this photo.
Mat heading up Bend’s Glacier with the Three Sisters in the backdrop.
An early morning view of Mt. Bachelor, where I grew up skiing, from the top of Broken Top.
After spending a week in Bend, we made our way north to check out some of Oregon’s notorious waterfalls.
Mat making his way down to the 37 degree water in Tamolitch Pool on the Mackenzie River trail. Although it looks really shallow from above, it was about twenty feet deep where we were jumping. The water is incredibly clear after being filtered for miles underground before it seeps out of the rocks in the depths of the pool.
While searching logging roads for a scenic place to sleep for the night, we stumbled upon a large billboard type structure that bounces radio signals around the mountains. We made our way to the top for a sunset at Mt. Hood.
Clear cut scars in the forest battle the beauty of the sunset around Mt. Hood.
By far the most astonishing waterfall I have ever seen. The best part about this place is that it is rarely visited. Instead of bushwhacking down an overgrown, unmarked trail for miles, we decided to cross a river to quickly get to this gem.
After getting our mountain, lake, and waterfall fix in Oregon, we kept making our way north to the Olympic Peninsula for our final backpacking trip together. We met up with one of Mat’s friends Asa, a Seattle local, and headed down a muddy trail though the forest and to the ocean.
Mat shooting photos of that night’s dinner.
Mat rock hopping over tide pools.
So much in one place.
A mother and baby deer came by our campsite and added an awesome component to this shot.
Mat and Asa chatting on our way out from the Point of Arches.
We took a shortcut on the way to the Seattle Airport, where I dropped Mat off for his flight to Chile.
After Mat flew out of Seattle to study abroad for the semester in Chile, my brother Geoffrey drove up from Oregon and met me in Seattle. From there, we drove strait to Whistler, where I met up with the Far From Home crew and shot some photos of Brolin Mawejje for an upcoming article in Snowboard Magazine.
Phil Hesler, producer of the Far From Home Movie, throwing down a backside seven-twenty japan at Camp of Champions on the Blackcomb glacier.
The wild berries in BC were delicious hiking snacks.
Lower Joffre Lake was too easy to get to- this girl brought her stand up paddle board there.
Despite the ease of access of the first lake (on the left), it was still shockingly beautiful. The upper lake (to the right), was certainly more difficult to reach, and was well worth the effort.
You know you are in a beautiful place when a 10.5mm fisheye can hardly fit everything in the frame. It was my first time seeing a glacier that dramatic, and a lake that vibrant. I was in heaven.
Exploring ice caves during the middle of a warm day is not the kind of spelunking you want to do. Well, unless you have a death wish.
Watch your step.
Sometimes nature outdoes itself.
As much as I love this picture, I wish I haden’t taken it. My ears would not have been ringing for 15 minutes if I’d had my hands on my ears rather than camera while the train driver laid on the horn.
Our final backpacking trip was quite the adventure. A landslide took out the road in 1988 as we learned from two Canadians that were making a trail of their own up to a set of lakes. We thought that if they were attempting to take ATVs up there, it would be no problem on our feet. Wrong. The bushes were so dense and thorny that we ended up making our way up the creek.
Once we reached what we’d thought was a going to be a remote and pristine lake, we found this blown dam and a lake that was filled with cut down trees and stumps. Once we got back into the small nearby town for some poutine (a classic Canadian dish), we learned that the damn was blown in 1992, and they used a little too much dynamite. Water rushed out of the lake, down the valley and flooded the town. It’s sobering how much humans destroy.
Our campfire was extinguished by a torrential downpour soon after this picture was taken. A big thanks to lightweight waterproof fabrics.
And that’s a wrap. I’m glad you took the time to look and read about the best summer of my life. I hope you make the time to chase what you love.