Join Morris Hogan and Austin Johnson as they conquer the Elk Range on their mission to hike and bike all of Colorado’s Fourteeners - with PedALL The Peaks.
— Written By Morris Hogan and Austin Johnson
It was Wednesday morning and the 4:45 alarm woke the lot of us. We crawled out of our tent and strapped on our packs. Today was day one of our to be seven day trek through the Elk Mountain Range, which hold some of Colorado’s deadliest peaks. We were on our way up Pyramid Peak, our second summit of the range-Castle happened a few days prior.
From the get go we caught up to a mountain goat, the keeper of the mountains, whom showed us the way towards the east ridge of Pyramid. From here we parted ways with animal and began our own journey towards the summit. We scrambled and navigated the loose upper section but arrived safely at the summit around 9 am, we had it all to ourselves. After a quick lunch we began the decent back down, which is always more exciting than the ascent on these technical climbs.
Around 12:30 we arrived back at Crater lake, located at the base of the Maroon Bells, and we were starving. We went through our food supplies and realized that even if we rationed properly we could maybe consume about 2,000-2,500 calories a day, which is suitable for a 13 year old, but here we are burning about 4,000-5,000 a day and we’re lucky to re-nourish half that. Shit.
We ate dinner and crawled into our tent. Throughout the night, numerous animals came to pay us a visit. In the early morning, Austin was startled by an odd noise, he woke the two of us and we spotted a porcupine nibbling down on Morris’ pack. A quick yelp and the animal lazily scurried off. In the morning we wrapped up the shoulder strap of the pack with athletic tape, which would hopefully hold it through.
At around 5:30 we were back on the trail towards South Maroon peak. Steep and dirty; the trail was unrelenting. We were burning calories we didn’t have, but that didn’t matter, there is no place we would rather be. Around 7:30 we hit the ridge of South Maroon, where the technical aspects of the day would began. We crossed numerous gullies of loose limestone. Kyle unfortunately stepped on a microwave sized block that was everything but solid, the block broke loose and tumbled down into oblivion, fortunately Kyle stayed put.
After that little scare we continued up to the summit of South Maroon, from here we gained a great perspective of the traverse over to North Maroon. We enjoyed a quick snack and began the traverse around 9:30. The decent off South proved to be loose and scary. Towards the saddle we endured a solid 30 foot down climb into the bell cord. From here we quickly regained the elevation with the 50 foot climb back up the blocky ledges.
The remainder of the traverse involved navigating wet, loose, and steep limestone. We safely arrived on North around 11. After a quick lunch we began the decent down the steepness that is North Maroon Peak. It wasn’t till around 2 when we arrived back at camp, starving as usual.
For whatever reason, these more difficult peaks were extremely clean compared to most other mountains we’ve seen this year. We found some trash, but really not a lot. Maybe these mountains require more experienced climbing abilities, and with experience comes the respect for the mountains that results in clean trails.
Back at camp we took a quick snooze next to Crater Lake and awoke right in time for dinner. We ate what little we had and went to bed still hungry, per usual. The following morning we packed up camp began the trek towards Snowmass Lake. We couldn’t get there soon enough, we knew there would be fish in that lake and those fish would soon be our dinner.
We passed over Buckskin pass at around 11 and arrived at Snowmass Lake no later than 1. Along the way we scooped a good bit of trash compared to the amounts we found on Pyramid or the Bells. The weight of our packs nearly threw out our backs each time we bent down to clean up nature, but as always it was worth it.
Once we arrived at the lake we were greeted with an infestation of mosquitos and people alike. We quickly set up camp then moved lakeside. Within 20 minutes we reeled in the first catch, and then another, and another. Before long we had four decent sized fish. Head, tail, and guts, all that was left was tender succulent meat.
We kindled up a fire a decent distance from the water and cooked the deliciousness. When it was all said and done we had nearly a pound of fresh fish, the perfect additive to our freeze dried meals. After dinner we crawled back into the tent and caught some much needed rest.
That evening our friend and Morris’ brother showed up-Mike. We had no idea he was going to join and it was quite the pleasant surprise. We groggily greeted but were soon fast asleep.
Knowing that Snowmass was slightly less technical than the rest of the Peaks throughout the trek, we allowed our selves the luxury of an extra hour of sleep. After a small, quick breakfast, we finally set out for the day’s mission around 7:00 AM. We somehow managed to find ourselves off trail and inhaling a fresh bug-hatch as we bushwhacked through the swampy landscape. Twenty minutes of hell brought us to some steep scree which we quickly scurried up. A little tundra, glacier, and more scree travel brought us to the top of the ridge around 9:00. And thirty minutes later, the four of us were celebrating on top- peak 31!
A short discussion on the summit led to the decision to descend the opposing North Ridge rather than what we came up. It was a tad more sketchy, but it was a short route down to a long glissade. We were down in no time and hanging out around the beautiful Snowmass Lake around noon with cold, delicious beers in our hands (Mike was an animal and carried em’ up for us).
A few hours later we were greeted with another surprise, and yes, it may have saved the lives of a a few fish. Another group of friends had heard that we were up at Snowmass that night, and they knew that we were extremely hungry. All of the sudden, we were rich in ramen, it was a salty and satisfying filler to add to our freeze-dried’s. We finally went to bed full, it felt amazing.
It was a late start for us the following morning, and we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Shortly after 10:00 AM we marched down from Snowmass Lake to set up camp for the next days summit of Capitol Peak. Six miles down, an extreme creek crossing, more than enough bushwhacking, and 5 miles of up finally brought us to the base of the east side of Capitol around 5:00 PM. We set up the tent, cooked dinner, and passed out before sunset.
The alarm sounded forty-five minutes before sunrise, which allowed us just enough time to break tree-line as the light peaked over the horizon. It was a perfect morning. A couple hours later, after scrambling up large boulders and steep snow, we were enjoying a snack at the start of the true ridge to Capitol, which starts from K2. The exciting class-4 traverse took us another couple hours or so, and before we knew it the summit was all ours. We high-fived, relaxed, ate an early lunch, and then realized it would be the last thing we would eat until we made it all the way out and back to the trailhead.
The descent, as always, was more testing than the way up. We took our time and stayed focused on the technical sections, but as soon as there was solid ground under our feet, we were going for gold. Not ordinary gold though, this gold consisted of Wings, Burgers, Philly’s, Beer, and Ice Cream- all the cravings we had been waiting to satisfy.
ZEAL Optics Ambassador Seth Andrew shares some amazing insight on taking amazing photos in the first of a series - this week we kick things off by “Thinking outside the box”
Broken down into its simplest form, photography can be described as the act of capturing light. As simple as it may seem, it is actually vastly complex to use the light to capture a beautiful moment in time. Here are a few tips that can help you get the most out of the moment.
If you are a photographer, then you have probably heard of the “Golden Hour.” This phrase is used to describe the soft natural light given off within the hour of sunrise and sunset. As a general rule of thumb, the Golden Hour will be your best bet for getting the most out of your photos. And honestly, who doesn’t love a good sunset? But this doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t go after a shot outside of these times. Some of my favorite shots were taken at various times throughout the day. It just depends on where the light is located and what surroundings it is effecting.
For example, there is a beautiful waterfall located on the Sacramento River near Shasta, CA that faces west. I chose to wait until mid morning (far past the Golden Hour of sunrise). This location is heavily shaded due to the shadows from the rising sun. There would have been too little light to bring out the bright greens and yellows that I was looking to capture. Even though the light in the sky was technically less desirable for shooting, waiting for the brighter, mid-morning light allowed the trees just behind my position to help illuminate the scene. Think: bounce flash off of a ceiling or wall, but on a much larger scale. This ambient light is what made the shot possible.
Another time that I shot using “less-than-desirable” light is when I went to the lava caves in the Mojave Desert. Some of the lava caves have open portholes, where sunlight can shine down into its chambers. The trick here is to know where the sun will be in the sky and at what time. Once you know this, you can use it to choose when you need to be ready at your location. In my case, it happened to be right around mid-afternoon, which is normally not ideal. Had I taken the shot any earlier, the beam of light would have been too bright. It would have filled the entire chamber with far too much light, creating less of a “beam” look and washing out the entire scene. On the other hand, had I waited any longer, the beam would have disappeared altogether. Waiting for that perfect moment got me the exact results I had envisioned… and in photography, there is no greater feeling than looking down at the camera and saying to yourself, “Got It!”
Sometimes it’s a good idea to bend rules and think outside the box. So get out there and explore some new locations. Maybe even check out a few places that you have already shot at different times. Who knows? You just might find a hidden gem by using the shade, clouds or a certain time of day to really capture the light.
Name: Tyler Quigley
Hometown: San Clemente, CA
Current Location: San Francisco, CA
Sport: Skateboarding was never a sport until recently. Thank you Street League…
How long have you been skateboarding? 15 years
Hobbies other than skateboarding: Grilling, biking, cruising, scooting and dogs
What do you love about ZEAL? I love the technology behind the sunglasses and how aware of the environment the company is.
Favorite ZEAL product and why? I enjoy the MEMPHIS because they are sleek and light.
What inspires you? Friends and the ‘lil groms who shred way harder then me.
Top 5 songs on rotation on your iPod right now:
Check out time - 2pac
DJ Cam - Summermadness
Duangdao Mondara & Chailai - The Black Superman
Janis Joplin - Summertime
King Diamond - Charon
7 days, 260+ miles, 32,000+ feet climbing…
Scenic mountain vistas, rolling plains, dense pine and aspen forest and the desert would be the setting for this 7-day journey. There were 8 of us (3 women, 5 men) who would share this incredible week together. Each night we would spend in a different hut. These huts were stocked with canned and dry items from your grandmother’s pantry, coolers full of bacon, eggs, cheese and beer. The sleeping arrangement was a cozy bunk set up, but most of us opted to pull the mattresses outside to sleep under the stars. Since our food and water was taken care of each day and night we didnt have to worry much about the days ahead. Forty-ish miles a day was our average.
Packed on our backs were a couple clothing items, rain shells, flip flops, bag liners, safety and repair items. with eight of us we could split up the load. Of course we (the guys) would sherpa more gear in our chivalrous manner.
All the days were tough in their own way. Day one was getting used to the added weight of rider and bike. The first 40 miles of the journey gained around 8,000 feet in elevation. The last 100 yards being a hike-a-bike up a loose rocky trail to the Last Dollar Hut. This day would be the benchmark for the rest to come.
The following day was pretty straight forward. Double track through high plains zigzagged to the Spring Creek Hut. Days 3 and 4 would be spent riding deep in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Remote, primitive and simply amazing single track. Coupled with some dirt road in between, encounters with disrespectful trucks, and a friendly rancher named Whimer. Whimer didn’t heed us from travel but we were sure he was scratching his head at what the hell 8 of us were doing about to descend into the woods. He said if anything happened and we needed shelter from the looming storm to stay at his ranch (somewhere down there he pointed). Cow pies, downed trees, straying off course a few times and we made it back to the road unscathed. As we exited the trail Whimer came driving the other direction. Thumbs up from the old rancher rejuvenated us and it was off to Graham Ranch to celebrate the 4th of July. Showers, BBQ and a re-up of supplies were awaiting. A few of us overindulged in the party and luckily the next day was overcast and cool as we would ride the remainder of Uncompahgre sweetness before taking the descent into the town of Gateway, CO. The only saving grace of this hut was the river 50 feet away. An oasis from the 100 degree heat.
It wasn’t getting easier. We were still a shit show. And motivating a group of 8 in the morning was our struggle. We knew leaving early on day 6 was the smart thing to do. After cooking breakfast and cleaning, not to mention some bicycle repairs that had been neglected for the past few days, we departed at high noon.
This day’s route was 22 miles. Uphill. Starting temp of 108 degrees and it never got cooler than 95 before our first regroup at the CO/UT border. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat that much. It was as if i had a faucet turned on from my face. We all made it to the final hut (Jabba, named for its green color) in the La Sal Mountains. We made our last canned food dinner top some pasta, had a group yoga session before all falling asleep under the stars for the final time. The final day we rode the ever familiar Porcupine Rim, finishing off the day cheers-ing margaritas & Burritos at some Mexican joint in town.
I can speak for all of us when i say this was a trip of a lifetime. We all had great focus and determination coming into this ride and exceeded our mental and physical expectations. Each day knowing what was ahead and where we came from the previous day was mentally exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Now that I know what a trip like this takes i’ll be embarking on more. I’ve been a cyclist my whole life and have countless hours in the saddle. Whether it be, racing, training commuting or an adventure like this, I cannot wait to Explore More! Pedaling two wheelers makes me smile.
Life is about broadening your horizons. Finding what’s over the next hill, whether that’s figurative or literal, and that’s where ZEAL Optics lives. So when we touched base with Paul “Turbo” Trebilcock, host and star of "Boundless", a TV show with a title that truly resonated with our wanderlust souls, we couldn’t help but get behind this kindred spirit.
We caught up with Paul as things are gearing up for the second season of Boundless to learn more about a man on a mission as he and long-time friend Simon Donato travel the globe competing in the toughest endurance races they can find.
Tell us a little about your background and the idea for the show…
PT: My background is ultra marathoning, I also ran a bike courier business in the ’90s which originally hooked me on adrenaline. Simon put together a short film a few years ago called “Go Death Racer” about four characters running that 125 kilometer race. The editor of this film, Josh Eady, loved the idea for a television show and the two of them pitched it. It got picked up and here we are two seasons later.
What went down in the first season?
Season One< Simon and I hit seven different countries. We started in Hawaii then hit Iceland, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, back to the US in Utah before heading to Thailand and Cambodia.
Give us some of the highlights.
Season one challenged us to three 170mile/220k week-long stage races, through unseasonable cold Icelandic terrain, the scorching heat of the Sahara, and the killer humidity of Cambodia. We were a little out of our element Stand Up Paddling from Molokai to Oahu and down the Fish River on a tandem K2 kayak in South Africa. We enjoyed a MTB bike race in Utah and ended the season with a half ironman in Thailand.
No big deal. What’s new for Season Two and where can we catch it?
In season two, we step it up with bigger, longer and more demanding races that take us to another nine countries. These include Austria, Mongolia, Scotland, Holland, Peru, Costa Rica and Canada. Catch season 2 on Esquire TV in the US and Travel and Escape in Canada.
What drew you to ZEAL?
If you know me from the show I love my glasses. Glasses are an extension of your personality. I was super stoked to find ZEAL’s super sexy Rx sunglasses. I’m getting old and need progressive lenses and these new sunglasses have polarized lenses that enable me to look good, shade my eyes and still be able to read my iPhone and the signs on the road!
Favorite styles and why?
The last thing you want in the middle of a race is glasses that fog up or slide down your face. ZEAL glasses fit the bill.