Winter travel in yellowstone country

New article: 7 incredible winter experiences in Montana’s Yellowstone Country

My latest article out from Matador Network: 7 incredible experiences in Montana’s Yellowstone Country.

There are so many winter experiences you can have in Yellowstone country, it was hard to narrow it down to just seven. I had a great time writing about the places I enjoy in this area. And researching this piece reminded me how many places I still have to hit.

I’m getting the feeling that this winter is going to be epic. Enjoy!

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Finding Inspiration on the Road to (and from) the Wild and Scenic Film Fest

I TRY TO SPEND as much time on the road as possible, whether it’s going across the state to see family, or crossing state lines on an epic trek. There are a lot of reasons I’m attracted to long-distance travel. One of the best is that no matter what I might be worrying about, there’s nothing I can do about it while driving. This allows me to let go of a lot of stresses that I carry with me. It’s the letting go of the everyday that allows stories to come to me.

I’ve been toying with the idea of posting ideas that hit me on the road on my twitter feed with some kind of an #dailyidea hashtag. That didn’t happen when I went to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival last week, but I did want to share some of the places that served as inspiration while I was off gallivanting.

1. Nevada

On the road through Nevada. This is the first time I've been on this road. Who knew Nevada was so beautiful?

On the road through Nevada. This is the first time I’ve been on this road. Who knew Nevada was so beautiful?

I’d never been on this highway before. Long and wide-open, Nevada has a sense of the Old West that competes with Montana’s. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering was held in Elko a few days after I passed through. I’m already working on a screenplay set in the old west (kind of a departure for me), but I found myself thinking about famous cowboys and outlaws while driving through this wild landscape. As the dry landscape rolled by, my brain began constructing a bio-pic about Doc Holiday, the sickly dentist who fought along-side the Earp brothers at the OK Corral.

2. South Yuba River, Nevada City, California

I did get out to explore the South Yuba River on a trail that reminds me of an enchanted fantasy tale.

I did get out to explore the South Yuba River on a trail that reminds me of an enchanted fantasy tale.

I’m not sure who could walk this trail along the South Yuba River, and not be transported to another world. Soft ground beneath the feet muffle footfalls into silence. Trees seem to bend in overhead making a magical corridor. Then the trees part to reveal an almost other-worldly green river. This “enchanted” place inspired the film festival that I’m here to be a part of. Almost any magical story could be set here.

And, yes, the South Yuba River really does really look like this.

And, yes, the South Yuba River really does really look like this.

3. Ocean Park Motel, San Francisco, California

San Francisco's first Motel. Imagine what kind of stories could come out of this place.

San Francisco’s first Motel. Imagine what kind of stories could come out of this place.

I hadn’t intended on continuing all the way to the coast when I started out on this trip, but that’s the great thing about travel: Sometimes you just end up places. And this Motel (San Francisco’s 1st) is a destination all its own. Ocean Park opened in 1937, and has been no stranger to drama over the years. According to the newspaper article reprinted by the motel, “In its early years the Ocean Park attracted the ‘hot sheets’ trade…” aka “trysting lovers”. I’m sure that each room could tell true stories that would make any plot I came up with seem bland. But that didn’t stop me from imagining a noir detective uncovering an insidious plot hatched in room #7 (or, perhaps, being uncovered by a gorgeous femme fatale.)

kyle dempster badass adventurer

7 Things I Learned from the Best Travel Film Ever Made [Matador Network]

7 things I learned from the best travel film ever made

WHEN I FIRST SAW “The Road from Karakol” at 5Point Film Festival, my brain had already been numbed by dozens of killer films about people radder than I could ever dream of being. A film about a superstar mountaineer who rides his bike through Kyrgyzstan to make first ascents? Sure, I’ll sit through that. I expected to see a remix of the usual, highly produced “I went there, and wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, but I did” movie that we’ve all seen so many times before. Visually stunning, but predictable.

What happened onscreen, however, was a shaky, handheld mess of footage, bad audio, and an opening scene of Kyle standing in front of the camera naked. From there, what unraveled in front of my eyes was a story that was deeper, more real, and more alive than anything I’d ever seen. [read more and see the film here]

*Update: Kyle Dempster passed away in a climbing accident in 2017. He was a nice guy and a true adventurer. I only met him once, but he welcomed me into his circle easily, as someone who grants friendship easily. I miss him, along with the rest of the adventure community.

camping under whitetail peak, bear tooth mountains, montana

9 Montana Backpacking Trips that Will Blow Your Mind [Matador Network]

I had a great time writing this article. Putting the words down was like reliving some of my favorite adventures all over again.

9 Montana Backpacking Trips that Will Blow Your Mind 

THERE’S SOMETHING about waking up deep in the backcountry, having carried all of your gear in to camp near a quiet lake or alpine cirque with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

You can find dozens of places like this in the Big Sky State. These are nine of my favorites, the ones I consider the “ultra-classic” Montana experiences.

Montana has incredibly varied terrain, so I’ve included different regions as well as different levels of difficulty and distance. [Read more here]

 

Stalking the Summit of Mt. Rainier

My good friend Jeff Handlin and his brother Scott just fulfilled a dream by attempting to summit Mount Rainier. “We found out there is no such thing as conquering a mountain; it can flick one off like a piece of lint anytime it feels like it,” Jeff said in an email to me. “But if one perseveres respectfully, it may deem worthiness and grant passage for a short time.”

Jeff and Scott battled steep slopes, crevasses and 50mph winds to earn their summit view at 7:30am Wednesday, June 15th.

“We agreed this was pretty much one of the hardest things we’ve ever done,” Jeff wrote, “but we were treated to one of the most grueling and rewarding experiences of our lives.”

Here are a few of Jeff’s photos from the climb.

camp, muir, rainier, snow, wind, sky, summit, mountain, mount, washington

At Muir Camp. Photo by Jeff Handlin

climb, camp, muir, rainier, snow, wind, sky, summit, mountain, mount, washington

On Disappointment Cleaver Route. Photo by Jeff Handlin

climb, camp, muir, rainier, snow, wind, sky, summit, mountain, mount, washington

Worth the Effort. Photo by Jeff Handlin

climb, scenery, camp, muir, rainier, snow, wind, sky, summit, mountain, mount, washington

A New Day on Rainier. Photo by Jeff Handlin

Congratulations, guys!

JC’s Special Sauce (Arteries of America)

Real travel is when you put yourself in a position where the unexpected happens. Which is something I sometimes do accidentally.

While driving around Dallas with the cast of “Paulie & Me” and Donna, our awesome Keller-Williams real estate agent guiding us through potential sites for a brewery, we happen by a restaurant called Sol Irelandes. The restaurant’s host runs outside to say hello to our guide and ask if she’s coming in for a bite. We look at each-other and silently agree. What the hell, it’s lunch time and the scent of chipotle wafting from the little Irish-Mexican restaurant is making my stomach ache for something with a little kick.

Click HERE for the rest of the story.

Paulie and Me

“Join Paulie and Loren, long-time friends and hilarious duo, as they embark on a journey to build a microbrewery. Together, they hit the road to meet America’s top beer gurus, and learn what it takes to craft unique beers.” This is the tag line of a new TV show I’ve been working on for the last few months. The show is currently “in-development” (what TV-land calls a show before it has anything to show). Today I head to Dallas to film something to show the rest of the world and begin the process turning “in-development” into “in-production.”

This might be a great place to throw in some background on the show. “Paulie & Me” is what’s called a “Follow-doc” reality show, meaning the camera crew is going to follow these two friends as they work on building their brewery. This is something I happen to have a little knowledge of, having written articles on beer and breweries. In fact, that’s how I came to be part of the show. After Loren and Paul read my Matador Network article on breweries around the US, they contacted me to act as their on-camera brewery expert. Obviously, I’m not an expert on the building of the brewery, I more closely resemble an expert on breweries around the country. Why have a breweries expert? Two words: Road Trip.

That’s right, these guys, who don’t know anything about building a brewery, but love beer and want to craft it, are going to hit the road to see how breweries really do their magic.

This first shoot is to get some footage for the website, but when it’s done, it should show this friendship of opposites in its natural (and funny) habitat. These guys have been compared to “The Odd Couple” being polar opposites, Paulie being loud, unkempt and perpetually late, and Loren being routine-oriented and quiet. I don’t know how they’ve been friends for twenty years, but I guess it works for them. What it means for me is that, no matter how much Loren (or any of us) plan the day’s events, it will almost certainly derail without warning.