ZEAL Optics Welcomes Donnie Vincent To The Team: Explore More! It was in Connecticut where I grew up that my love of wildlife and hunting really developed. It was snapping turtles, leopard frogs and garter snakes that instilled my passion for exploration and biology; I couldn’t get enough books about them or all the other animals of the world, however, it was my father’s stories of hunting northern Maine and his collection of Jack O’Connor books that inspired me most. Those stories of mountain hunts, grizzly bears, pack trains, hunters taping out their dall sheep horns by lantern; it was all I ever wanted to do. During college, I continued to follow my passion and studied Wildlife Biology where I received an opportunity to study Bengal tigers in both Bangladesh and Nepal. I found the travel, the element of danger and the exposure to new cultures and wildlife intoxicating. I then went on to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska collecting genetic and age class samples of Pacific salmon. I spent long summers living in a 1 person-backpacking tent through all the Alaska weather and wildlife; I lived for it! These adventures inspired me as a hunter and fisherman to explore the world. Today I’m driven by my own adventures if for no other reason then to find my own great stories.   This is my adventure.     - Donnie Vincent
September 18, 2014

Exploring The World Through Sean Ensch’s Lenses

September 17, 2014

Sean Ensch is without a doubt one of the most inspiring photographers, and people we’ve come to know on our journey to Explore More. His journeys around the globe and the images he captures are so compelling, that they demand that you get off your ass and take life by the horns. We caught up with Sean to here more about his journey, process and mission.

I’m a landscape and adventure enthusiast photographer from the sunny beaches of San Clemente, California. However I’m currently residing in the fjordlands of western Norway after a wild and unexpected journey that led me to the north.

It began with an unending urge to get out of California for a while. The grind and the crowds of everyday life growing up in southern California wore me down and I needed to get out. So I quit my job of eight years, sold most of my belongings, packed up and headed out to do some searching with my girlfriend.

I’m an avid freediver, spearfisher, and general beach bum, so our first adventure took us to the eastern Caribbean for some warm, clear water and tropical paradise. Stopping off in Puerto Rico to explore old San Juan for a few days, we then landed on the strange, undeveloped island of Dominica. A less-traveled island in the eastern Caribbean, it’s rugged exterior of mountains, lush rain forests, endless rivers and waterfalls, and open nature drew me to the place.

We spent two months living on the island and exploring it’s nature before heading to the other side of the Caribbean—Roatan of the Bay Islands in Honduras. A pure tropical paradise of white sand beaches, cays, and one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. We spent the days diving, talking with locals, exploring the island, visiting the neighboring islands, and visited one of the local Eco parks. After Roatan, it was back to the States to do a great road trip. For two months we made our way from Southern California, up the coast to Oregon, to northern Washington, heading back south and across to Utah and Arizona to visit all the national parks along the way.

The next stop was Norway, where my girlfriend is originally from, for a big change in scenery and culture in the small towns that line the fjords and mountains. The massive and seemingly endless nature keeps my drive for photography and adventure fresh. Since living in Norway, I’ve also explored Iceland’s magic, Amsterdam, Turkey, and Ibiza, and I hope to continue my travels and adventures, sharing the magic with my images. One of my passions is sharing  experiences to others with photos — I strive to tell a story of a location, person, or event through those images so that the world can see and hopefully feel it.

I’m very fortunate to have these continued opportunities of exploration in life and believe that getting out and leaving home for awhile in a completely different place is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It teaches you what is important to you and makes you view other people and cultures in a different way. It can be very exciting, very difficult, and humbling.

At the end of the day, I’m very passionate about storytelling through images, conservation of our oceans and nature, and exploring.

Check out Sean’s images on Instagram!


The Alps Are Calling: Summer Goggle Testing

September 16, 2014

ZEAL test pilot Eric Tollund recently returned from a goggle testing mission in the Italian Alps and all he brought us back was this amazing write up.

So it’s summertime in Colorado and it’s hot.  I’ve been in flip flops and boardshorts mode for quite some time now.  It was about mid June when I received a call from a friend of mine who has been designing some very innovative and truly awesome ski gear way, way up in the far north of Norway where there really aren’t any lifts to serve the skiers.  Pretty much everyone climbs up what they go down.  Needless to say the gear is progressively lightweight and built for earning your turns.  He called to ask if I was interested in doing some ski testing in Italy, high up on a glacier at a place that only opens for skiing in the summer and that they had just dug the lifts out to finally be able to operate.  WHAT??? It sounded too good to be true.  Even my wife agreed and said I simply “needed to go!’  Yessss!  A few weeks later I was packing up ski gear in my boardshorts and flipflops and trying to wrap my head around going to test out some rad gear in Italy in the middle of the summer. 

The plane landed in Milan and all of a sudden I was surrounded by like minded dudes who were equally as stoked as I was on this crazy experience and we, in turn were surrounded by the Italian culture where ski bum types really stand out….  We loaded up in some rented mini vans and headed north towards the famous Passo Dello Stelvio where we followed hundreds of bicyclists up the road known for its seventy five hairpin turns. 

Each time I visit Italy I find I am enthralled in the great contrasts of it’s modern haute couture found in the metropolitan, urban hubs and the simple yet elegant mountain life that seems to exist just a few hundred kilometers away in the high mountain valleys where generations have lived humbly among the high peaks.  For many, mountaineering, skiing and climbing in these mountains is simply a way of life, like “of course we’ve skied that line….why do you ask?”  

We arrived at a 1930’s era hotel high up on the pass to find lavish cyclists reveling in the victory of making it up this iconic mountain pass and an old ski resort waiting for us to get acquainted.  The evening greeted jet lagged skiers from all over North America, Scandinavia and Europe with beers, authentic Italian cuisine and a brief talk by the Moonlight Mountain Gear crew who were hosting us on this adventure.  For me, it was exceptional because I was able to catch up with some very dear friends whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time and all the more exciting because we would all be able to do some skiing together.  

Each day presented us with different challenges of testing out the touring gear, the powder boards, the telemark bindings and the AT bindings. The tiny resort surprisingly offered a great amount of options from fast groomed runs along side the many race teams training on site, to steep north faces, to features where the “new schoolers” could huck themselves through the air doing things I could only dream of doing.  When the visibility was good, it was truly great skiing in such a unique setting, high above the lush green valleys of the Italian Alps in full summer swing.  When the visibility wasn’t good….well…the espresso was excellent!  

We were roughly twenty skiers brought together to evaluate, test, break and provide all kinds of feedback on a new brand of skis and bindings.  However, after the first day of skiing, it was obvious that this trip was much more.  We were backcountry skiers, world cup racers, professional photographers, filmmakers, guides and athletes who were quickly forming new friendships and making connections that were sure to carry on into the future, all because we shared the common thread of the love for carving turns in snow on these things called skis.  I am always inspired at the bonds created through these unique experiences that are so ofter centered around skiing.  

In a flash the week was over and we were all saying goodbye, heading back to our “real lives” of summer heat, jobs, families and hanging on to the stoke of making turns with new friends high up in the Italian Alps in the middle of summer.  The gear performed great and we loved some styles and disliked others and put bindings to the test as best as we could manage.  It was an honor to be a part of forming the future of a young ski company.  I admit, I am biased, but it really is exciting to see first hand how the designs are changing and being pushed forward, moving the market towards better and better gear.  Gear that we will soon be using to make turns, to put in skin tracks, to create those common bonds and share that unique love of skiing with our friends who head out to find that moment of bliss in the best run or the deepest turn or just simply being out with your buds, sharing the experience that is skiing.

Check out for some unique gear coming out of Norway.  Also visit where my good friend, Fred Buttard shows he can guide you to just the right places.  Thanks to Flylow for a huge stoke on pants and jackets and to Zeal Optics for stylin’ sunglasses and goggles that allowed me to feel like I was flashing a little of my own “haute couture” while representing in Italy.


Welcome To The Family Sandra Hillen

September 15, 2014


Next time someone tells you that playing video games makes you lazy, send them a link to this page. Not only did Play Station get a young Sandra Hillen to push her parents to take a snowboard vacation in Colorado, it also set a chain of events in motion that landed her on the Mexican national team and the road to the Olympics.

“ZEAL is such a rad company that emphasizes going out there and experiencing life—getting lost on earth and exploring more. I think more people need to take that attitude toward life. ” –Sandra Hillen

While most Olympic snowboarders grow up in the heart of a resort town and are groomed through private mountain schools during their formative years, Sandra Hillen first got turned onto riding when she was 16 and living in Kansa City, and didn’t start putting down tracks regularly until she was 18 and moved to Boulder to attend university.

“Even though I didn’t grow up riding I was still fascinated by the sport,” explains Hillen. “In College I joined the CU snowboarding team and then I really started accelerating at the sport. I had such a fun crew to ride with and I dedicated every moment I could to snowboarding.”

 Fast-forward to 2014, and a passion that began with Cool Boarders 2 earned her a trip to Sochi with a spot on the Mexican snowboard team, supporting her family’s roots.

We had a chance to catch up with Sandra on her way back from Kansas City to get the back story.

What are you into other than snowboarding? What motivates you?

I love cameras, and movies! I have a degree in Film Production and telling visual stories is so fun. Plus, it’s a feast for the eyes!   I also recently became obsessed with surfing. I’m pretty terrible and spend as much time falling as I do riding, but I love every moment I get to spend out in the water. 

Tell us a little about the Mexican Snowboarding team and the Olympic experience.

It was definitely the most amazing experience ever!  Where do I even begin….I mean everyone loved the Jamaican bobsled team. I had never competed at that level before so it definitely pushed me to step up to the occasion. I had been friends with some girls in the circuit for years but competing with everyone I got to meet more people and become close with people on a more equal level. That being said I am still in awe of everyone out there every time we ride together. Even with high stakes and pressure everyone was so supportive towards one another. All the athletes were so positive, honestly it was more of a battle with yourself to perform than against other riders. 

Having a country supporting my riding was completely mind blowing. I was getting calls from so many different newspapers, radio stations, producers for commercial shoots, and my family in Guadalajara made sure to tell me every time I popped up in the media. I had not been used to that much public attention! Also, at the last stop of the tour the Head of the Mexican Winter Olympic commission flew out to Quebec to cheer me on. Let me tell you Latin men know how to dance! He cut a rug at one of the after parties and all the other athletes were cheering him on! None of us could keep up with his moves!


How’d you get into snowboarding and what is it about the sport that continues to get you excited?

So no joke, I got a playstation one Christmas with the game Cool boarders 2 and I played it obsessively.  Then I bought “True Life” a snowboard video and watched it daily even though I had no idea what tricks were going on.  I lived in the flat lands so I begged my parents to take a family trip, and Colorado was our destination.  

I love how the sport evolves! Tricks go out of style then come back with vengeance.  It’s cool how you can literally ride however you want and when you are having fun it shows. Plus it’s always a challenge. Even the best riders have rough days and it’s always exciting to land a new or big trick. 

Tell us about your first day riding.

Horribly Awesome! We stayed in Winter Park, and looked at the mountain and thought that the runs were way too gnarly!  Not realizing that green runs and bunny hills existed, we decided to drive down the road to a smaller resort, Sol Vista. I was seriously too excited to sleep I was thinking I was just going to bomb down the hill and kill it but instead I got destroyed. I fell constantly, but honestly loved every moment of it. Falling didn’t discourage me one bit, I was having the best time ever! Then I started linking turns and knew that I was hooked.


What are your favorite places to ride? People to travel with? Why?

Where ever the snow is good.  But I do love Jackson Hole and Silverton for powder.  But honestly I love my home mountain Breckenridge.  The park is pristine, an absolute luxury.  It’s such an amazing place to progress.  But when the snow God’s bless us with powder, it is so fun to explore that mountain.  I keep finding new fun spots so it’s hard to get bored.  

I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just a couple of friends that I love to travel with. It is too long of a list, but I love all of my friends that make me laugh. Laughing is my favorite. And smiling. And food. 

What are some of your accomplishments that you’re most proud of?

Besides having the fantastic support of Mexico, I am stoked I keep getting asked back to Miss Super park and that I have really rad companies that want to support my snowboarding. Plus the places that snowboarding has taken me has just been such a humbling experience.  


What are a few things that most people don’t know about you?

I used to be a professional yo-yoer when I was 14. I was on a team and competed and traveled and it was awesome. I had to find a way to keep busy in Kansas. I quit in order to make human friends, but I still yo-yo from time to time when asked to perform. 

What’s next for you as far as trips, goals, etc?

Trips that may happen in the near future…..Alaska!  I have never ridden out there and I am planning meeting some good friends out there and riding pow in the spring!  As for goals, I just want to keep progressing!  Learning new tricks is what makes snowboarding so addictive. 

Last new trick you learned:

I will say my last new favorite trick I learned was a back 3 japan.  Grabbing and tweaking is always cool.  


Last new mountain you rode:

Remarkables in New Zealand! It was sweet as.

Last book you read:

Chasing Pablo….it’s about the capture of the famous drug lord Pablo Escobar. 

Two sentence description of your approach to life:

Getting out of your comfort zone keeps you young.  Travel more.

Why are you down with Zeal?

Zeal is such a rad company that definitely emphasizes going out there and experiencing life. Getting lost on earth and exploring more. I think more people need to take that attitude toward life. 

What are your favorite goggles/sunglasses and why?

My favorite shades are the ACEs right now.  Such a casual stylish look and the lens quality is insane.  And I love the SLATE goggles!  They just have such a perfect classy fit, they are upbeat yet mellow and the lenses are on point.  Clear vision without distortion is so important when you are riding hard.  image

Join ZEAL Ambassadors Jussi Oksanen and Kimmy Fasani as they blow minds and hype souls for the winter to come in the preview for Burton’s new 9-part web series. Be sure and catch Jussi’s part on Tuesday and Kimmy’s release on November 18. Winter is coming!
September 14, 2014
Leila Hurst just released a great new film on her new website on her sister’s Spinal Bifida and their work with Life Rolls On to fight this horrible affliction. Check out the video and Leila’s blog post here
September 13, 2014

Anton Krupicka On UTMB 2014

September 12, 2014


Anton Krupicka just came back from the grueling UTMB 2014 with stories to tell. Here’s some insight on one of the world’s gnarliest races direct from the man himself:

I didn’t commit to running UTMB this year until two weeks before race day. During the second week of July my historically-troublesome right shin became a worry once again, and I was able to do very little true running for all of July and August. In early August, in hopes of keeping my Hardrock Qualifier chances alive, but wanting to buy myself a little more time, I had even signed up for the Bear 100 and given up on racing UTMB altogether. However, my shin unexpectedly experienced a turnaround a couple weeks before the race, which made the opportunity to head back to Chamonix too appealing to pass up. So, in some ways, it felt like a bit of a victory that I was even going on the trip and planning to toe the start line. After a solid week of training in the Chamonix Valley—including a summit of Mont Blanc itself as my last long effort 10 days before the race—I tapered the final seven days and eventually departed from in front of the church in Chamonix with 2500 others for a trip around the big mountain.

Pre-race, I repeatedly told myself (and, occasionally, others) that I was fit and prepared to compete for the win. I’m a competitive guy and racing 100mi through the Alps is a daunting task, so it would’ve been difficult for me to line up with any chinks in my confidence. Of course, cold objectivity would have outlined a different story. Sure, I’d been able to log plenty of steep, high-altitude vertical in Colorado’s Sawatch Range for the previous two months, but the longest continuous run that I managed since my effort at Lavaredo at the end of June was an hour on the creek path in Boulder only hours before I jumped on my flight to Europe. A bit too much proper running in Chamonix had re-tweaked my shin only one week before the race, and even though this had been rectified by the taper, it was proof that even with minimal actual running I was still just barely striking a very precarious balance between health and injury.

As such, there was no question that I needed to conduct a reprisal of the conservative start that I’d employed at last year’s UTMB. I jogged through the rain to Les Houches amongst the masses and top women before finally beginning to move up a bit on the first climb to Col de Voza above St. Gervais. The descent down the other side into town was a bit disheartening, which has become typical for me. It’s steep in an awkward way that always leaves my quads unexpectedly wobbly, and I’m still so far back in the field that I don’t feel at all part of the action amongst the contenders.

Even so, the supporting cheers in St. Gervais certainly felt as deafening as ever. And I’m using the word literally here. It is loud. If there is a spot in ultrarunning more charged with energy and emotion than St. Gervais during UTMB, I’d like to know.

Descending the steps behind the pink church that marks the Trient aid station.

Descending the steps behind the pink church that marks the Trient aid station.

The run up the valley to Les Contamines (30km) passed much the same as last year—trying not to push too hard, passing a couple runners here and there—except that this time it was pouring rain and getting dark (the race start was an hour later than last year). I arrived at this crew spot in 20-something place, ~13min off the lead, but feeling totally in control. Joe gave me my nighttime headlamps, stuffed my vest with gels, and sent me on my way.

Notre-Dame de la Gorge a couple of miles later is one of my favorite spots on the course. For me, it marks the beginning of climbing into the alpine, the terrain that allows me to catch up. However, everyone gets to experience the rowdy atmosphere marked by manic, Tour de France-style crowds lining the bottom of the steep climb and wild, leaping bonfire flames that light the way. UTMB is madness, but often in a really good way.

The rain intensified on the bottom half of this climb, and shortly before the La Balme refuge at treeline I caught and passed the American duo of Mike Foote and Jason Schlarb (who I didn’t recognize in the moment). Foote came with me and we chatted briefly before I was alone again, picking my way up the washed-out trails to the Col du Bonhomme. The fog was thick on the short traverse over to the Croix du Bonhomme and I spent a lot of time fiddling with my headlamps trying to give myself the best vision possible. Thankfully, we soon dropped out of the cloud on the descent to Les Chapieux and I was back in hunting mode.

In all the confusion of the mass start, rain, and night, I had no idea what place I was in or where any of the other Americans were other than Footie (and Hal, who I had passed before Contamines). So, after passing someone (maybe Sondre or Antolinos?) on the drop to Chapieux I was surprised when just above the refuge Brian Metzler informed me I was in 5th place and about 8 or 9min off the lead pack of Francois, Iker, Tofol, and Luis.


Descending to Chapieux. Photo: Thomas David.

In Chapieux, there’s a quick obligatory material check, and then it’s ~30min on an uphill asphalt road to the base of the Col de la Seigne climb. I was fairly determined to catch the lead group on either this climb or the next (Mont Favre)—mostly because I had last year—and my effort up and over these two hills was probably just a little too hard as a result. I managed to cut my deficit to only 4min, but then on the drop into Courmayeur (77k and the sort of symbolic half-way point of the race) I had to make a pair of pit-stops, so the gap had grown back to 8min by time I reached the gymnasium in town.

I was still feeling good as I headed out of Courmayeur, and my spirits were boosted by the enthusiasm of Kim and Topher Gaylord and Nico Mermoud just as I left the road and stepped onto the trail—thanks guys! In an incredibly ironic bit of foreshadowing, I remember one of the last comments I made to Toph was that my stomach was still feeling great but that maybe by time I got to Arnuva I’d get a little Coke for the long climb up Grand Col Ferret. Oh, how that statement would soon be proven so incorrect.

At first, marching up the hill to the Bertone Refuge was a pleasure. I was all alone, enjoying the still, clear night and the spectacular view of town’s lights receding quickly below me. Gradually, though, my stomach began to rebel at the thought of a gel, and by the time I made it to the aid station, I was full-on nauseous. As such, I quickly filled my flask with Coke there and continued on my way. For a while, I could sip on the Coke, but things only got worse with my stomach, and even though the trail here is a gently rolling contour over to the Bonatti Refuge, I wasn’t running nearly as much as I would had I managed to get more sugar into my bloodstream.

Somewhere in here I began to have distinct flashbacks to Leadville 2010 when I passed out on the summit of Sugarloaf Pass at mile 81 with hypoglycemia and hypothermia. Doing so all alone in the middle of the night here in Italy was a decidedly unsavory prospect, so my new goal became to just make it to Bonatti without losing consciousness. My physical abilities continued to be exceedingly weak.

When I finally staggered into the Refuge, though, the single bowl of soup (saltwater, essentially) I managed to drink and the info that Iker wasn’t looking too good and that I could probably catch him jazzed me up and for the few minutes out of the aid station I moved with some renewed pep. Alas, the physical realities of my (non-) calorie situation quickly set back in, and it was back to the same dizzy struggle to make it the few mostly-downhill kilometers over to the Arnuva aid at 95K.

The thought of heading up Grand Col Ferret—the highest, longest climb on the course—without fuel was terrifying, so I made sure to stay in the Arnuva aid a long time. This meant that I drank two bowls of soup (these even had a couple noodles in them) and re-filled my flask with Coke before heading back out and up into the night.

Leaving Trient. Photo: iRunFar.

Leaving Trient. Photo: iRunFar.

Getting my body up to Col Ferret was a nightmare, an act of sheer will. The usual term “bonking” doesn’t really begin to describe how tapped out I felt. I simply needed calories. But the nausea continued. Miraculously, right before the top of the hill, I passed Luis Hernando in a cloud of fog, moving myself into 4th place. The officials who scanned my number told me that the leading group was just ahead (this was wrong…the truth was that they were ~30min ahead); passing Luis gave me a meager but woefully short-lived boost of energy (he was even more defeated than myself and would drop at La Fouly) and within minutes I settled back into a depleted downhill wobble. I was amazed that no one had passed me yet.

Although I’m sure things were even worse for those further back in the pack, any energy afforded by the rising sun on the descent into Fouly (108k) was more than negated by the almost comically slick and sloppy nature of the downhill singletrack. Somehow, I managed to only go down a couple of times. I was desperate to get to Fouly as I knew my body needed some kind of sustenance to keep going (anything bland sounded vaguely doable), but my nausea was rendering any of the gels or Coke I had non-consumable.

Running the road into La Fouly (108k). Wasted.

Running the road into La Fouly (108k). Wasted. Photo: Thomas David.



Climbing The Seven Summits To Fight Cystic Fibrosis

September 11, 2014


Each month, ZEAL Optics galvanizes the Boulder Community for its Industy Night series of events, a forum to bring together outdoor, active, and lifestyle brands, along with friends, and family from the Front Range for an informative and fun evening of networking, education, and libations. On August 28, ZEAL and the community joined ZEAL Ambassador Tommy Danger, founder of the More Than Just Me Foundation, for a talk on his team’s efforts to raise funds and awareness to fight Cystic Fibrosis through a mission to climb the planet’s Seven Summits. With live music by ZEAL’s own Nate Hrivnak and beverages by Sanitas Brewing Co., it was an amazing and inspiring evening that helped raise nearly $500 for MTJMe’s mission.



Wilderness Wednesday: Elephants Perch With Louis Arevalo

September 10, 2014


Join Louis Arevalo as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act with a trip to Elephants Perch deep in Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness.

In 2014 the Wilderness Act celebrated 50 years with 109,511,966 million acres of protected wilderness in the United States.

"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson

This August I had the chance to head into the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho for an alpine climbing, backcountry camping and hiking experience. Joining organic chemistry PhD student Shiho Kobayashi and English Professor Bo Earle at the Redfish Lodge near Stanley, Idaho we boarded a motorboat carrying packs filled with food, camping gear, ropes and random items to see us through the next few days. Dropped at the Redfish Lake Inlet we entered the Sawtooth Wilderness Area and began the approach to Saddleback Lakes home of Saddleback Peak, aka Elephant’s Perch.image

On the trail our conversation drifted from literature to poetry to philosophy and even to beliefs. When asked what I believed in I could only respond, “Energy.” Personally, I lean toward the Buddhist thought that everything in the universe is connected. I even wear a tattoo on my back of an endless knot as a reminder.

In the morning twilight we awoke in camp high above the lowest of the Saddleback Lakes. Coffee was brewed and our spirits were high. Up to the golden wall we started up the line named Myopia. Climbing as a party of three could have been a struggle, but it wasn’t. “We’re a well oiled machine,” became our mantra as we managed the constant cluster of two ropes, dehydration and nerves all while committing to the climb.


Looking out from the belays we could see the other lakes and marveled at their marine color rimmed by a surreal turquoise. The jagged ridgelines surrounding us held occasional pine tree that stood in utter defiance of the inhospitable terrain. It is remarkable to think this can remain untouched by development.

The next morning had us up early and to the rock for another route. I traveled only a couple pitches up before descending. I’d climbed the Beckey route before and with a forecast of afternoon thunderstorms I didn’t want to slow Shiho and Bo down.


From camp and the lakes I watched their progress as clouds rolled in. A brief shower fell from the sky. Thunder rumbled from the unknown to the south. Pitch after pitch they continued up. The thunder ceased and the ceiling of clouds lifted some. As they disappeared on the summit dome a gust a wind rippled over the dark surface of the lakes. Hail fell from the sky then the sun appeared. The west face of Saddleback Peak burned amber in the late afternoon light while they made their final rappel.

The following day we managed one pitch before being rained off the wall. We rolled our camp into our packs and shouldered the weight. Walking down, out of the Sawtooth Wilderness we wore content smiles. I was still thinking about the question of what I believed and recalled a quote from Aldo Leopold.

“Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.”

See more from Louis at Scenic Bylines.imageimage


See more from Louis at!

Join us for an eleven day float down the remote Kanektok River in southwest Alaska for the fishing trip of a lifetime. Shot and edited by Chris Morgan (
September 9, 2014