Posts in Category: Uncategorized

A trip to NYC

We just got back from a week in the city. Here’s a small glimpse into what we saw.

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Central

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ready for the city

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rockefeller

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from the highland

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read me

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bird at the tower

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Subway 1

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Subway 2

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FDNY

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behind the scenes

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the times square

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the library

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the met

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Christmas

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Red Rocks Friendsgiving 2016

 Each year, a small group of friends gets together to play in the desert outside of Las Vegas. This was the 5th year, and again, another successful event of being outside with friends.Climbing, playing,dinosaurs,drinking, laughing, eating and fireworks were involved this year. Already looking forward to the next.

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Farkle. New features this year.

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turkey maestro. never disappoints

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Didn’t disappoint.

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Another trip to that place. Grand Canyon 2014

” Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it”

This Fall I was asked to row a baggage boat through the Grand Canyon with OARS. I’ve managed to keep a foot in the door here and try not to turn down opportunities for multiple reasons. Working full time with the Colorado Outward Bound School, as an administrator,it can be difficult to sneak away for two weeks to go and “work” on the river.

The head boatmen had given me a call on  Friday and was able to pull it off to be there Tuesday night, rig and drive to lee’s Ferry on Wednesday. When he mentioned the trip, he talked about it being  a dory trip. Having seen dories on the river and reading about them through out the years, especially Kevin Fedarko’s book The Emerald Mile., I’ve already been intrigued by them. Ultimately I’d love to build one, and be rowing it down the Grand. That was before even being on a trip with them and the guides that row them.  Easy to say that now I want to do so even more.

I met the other crew members the morning that we rigged. At that point I knew I was going to leaner a lot. if you’ve read anything about the history of the grand Canyon you’ve probably heard the Dale name come up at some point. If there was ever a river family this was it. Regan had been rowing on the grand for 45 years and quit keeping track after 250 times down. His son Duffy, was the trip leader,and according to Regan, had gone down the Lee’s ferry when he was one years old and sit in the dory in his lap and row around. You could say somehow the Colorado river got into their blood veins and circulate throughout.  Nick was about as good of a mash up of a mad scientist and librarian and river guide you could imagine. He also knew when to pull out the bottle of pendleton at just the right time as conversations got lost into the night. Rio. He was always game. Whether to go on a hike, to teach, to learn, to play, to grill the pork, to sew someones shoe back together..he was game. Combined amongst them, they had nearly 100 years of experience in the  grandest of canyons. There were three more to round out the crew. Jimbo and Josh. They could’ve been brothers from another mother. They each brought their own piece of flare to trip. And Bob. Bob was a marine that had entered into a contest for a dream job. He had won through votes of family and friends  and showed up at the boat house to jump on this trip. It was pretty great to see  someone who fights for the country get to experience this place so intimately. Thanks Swamper Bob.

Now, the trip, I’d love to tell you every detail about this trip. But I can’t. I’m not going to tell you about the diversity of people that show up. The ones who showed up and couldn’t swim, or the one who survived the bypass surgery or cancer and wasn’t going to let a hike stop them to see the view from Nankoweep, or that Canadian guy that threw some good horse shoes and was so grateful everyday, or the fathers and sons that bonded, or the couples that found romance again, or that guy who fished everyday and caught one fish, finally, or that boater who was more lucky than good,the friends that chose to reunite down there, the stories on the dories at night as the bourbon was passed around, or the times of solitude, or as a group laughing and reminiscing, or the beads,or when the passengers gave gifts to the crew for appreciation, or the ones that came back later somehow frustrated, or that sunrise, or that bighorn or…..

Get it?

There’s too much to share. So how do you? Through some pictures, or by going down there yourself. Go experience it.

PSA. For those of you who see this, and are interested in more photos for purchase or an album, contact me at c_montandon@yaho.com

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securedownloadphoto by Christine of me and a Dale through Crystal.


 

Kaitlin and Chad’s Wedding

I’ve been to a fair share of wedding in multiple roles. In the party, or just to be at the party, everyone has a role and play apart of someones big day.

Being the photographer brings a whole new level of intimacy to the scene. Being there as the groom is getting ready, just with him and his father watching the level of intention that was put into the small details from buttoning his shirt and tying his shoes.You feel automatically thrown into the wedding party.(and realize how much you really don’t want to screw it up too )Chad and Kaitlin both live in Moab and had decided on getting married amongst their friends in the La Sal Mountains just outside of town. Immediately upon driving up to this place it was going to be a special day. The weather was perfect and the backdrop of the mountains created a special place to be witnessed. A good friend (of mine and the bride)with tons of talent helped with photos of the bride getting ready.Check her stuff out at emilyklarer.com  .

Below are a few photos from the day.

Chad and Kaitlin, thank you for including me in your day.

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La Sal Traverse

Tuesday, June 17th

So, another couple of days off from work. Its funny to think of all the tag lines that go out about living authentic, or making the great days better, or live the life you’ve imagined…you get the idea.

Sometimes they can be kinda cheesy. Yet, often they still ring true.

A co worker/ friend and I had been talking about traversing the La Sals in a day for a few months. Looking to have a big day out of the office. I feel like there’s a few themes in  my posts lately.

The goal was to start in the North and head South through the range and summit all of the peaks above 12,000′. There’s 12 of them. Our planning consisted of talking about it at work every once in a while and putting a date on when we would do it. Last weekend we actually looked at a calendar and realized that instead of having a couple more days to think a out it and plan, we needed to head up there the next night. So that day we finally looked at a map. Roughly. I was trying to avoid actually looking at a map to figure out miles and elevation gain and loss. We both knew the La Sals pretty well just from working in them a fair amount with Outward Bound.

On the night of the 16th we drove out to Bear Creek on the North side of La Sal peak. That would be our first peak. The road there was pretty spectacular. Driving away from Moab we headed out HWY 128 up the Colorado River and then to Castle valley. Driving past Castleton tower and gaining elevation into the La Sals. Within an hour we had passed some of the most classic desert scenes, landscapes, rivers, towers, and mountains in the American West. That alone is good enough for most people who fly in from around the world and rent an rv for the week.

We found our road that would take us eventually to Bear Creek. On the way we would scare up about 15 Elk that were in the meadows encompassed by the Aspen trees. Already it was worth just getting an hour from town. We found our way up the 4wd road and parked the truck where we would start the next morning.

Night came fast and we crawled into our bags as the cool mountain air surrounded us. The stars and the moon lit up the valley and the horizon line that we would be making our way up the next morning. I remember dreaming that night. Vivid dreams of hiking in the mountains. Random. With people that were on my mind quite often. Loved ones that I hoped to be spending time with in the further. The dreams that make you wake up and wonder if they were real only to see stars and the moon above. Maybe it was just the energy in the air for the following day.

4 am came. We stuffed our bags and grabbed our day bags that would have our essentials for the day. A couple of layers, sunscreen, water, lots of bars, jolly ranchers, and chocolate covered espresso beans. The essentials.

We made our way up the horizon line pretty quickly. Navigating by headlamps was pretty easy. As long as we were going up, we were headed in the right direction.Quickly , we warmed up and delayered as we gained altitude.

Then we hit the talus. These loose , sliding, stacked, asymmetric, sharp, pieces of fractured mountain, would be our pathway for the next 17-18 hours.  The little ankle biters that would roll underneath you. That was our path.

We made great time as we traversed the Northern range of the mountains. Walking and scrambling up on top of 7 peaks by 10 am. La Sal peak,Castle, Manns, Waas, Tomasaki and 2 other 12,000′ peaks.

A front was moving in and all day there were sustained winds of 20-30 miles per hour, with gusts of 40-50.  This was an element that we hasn’t really thought of. I mean all day. Having to fight to walk down hill?

Coming down from Tomasaki we ran into one of the Outward Bound patrols that was in the area. They were stoked to see us and likewise to see them. It seemed to bring some new energy to us. At least a little. From there we would travel down from Burro pass, up geyser pass, and make our way to the base of Mt Mellenthin. This was one of the few times that Steve and I could actually hold a conversation. The wind was calm, the Sun was warm, We could actually hear each other, and ourselves. If anyone knows Steve, you know what a great individual he is and how he empowers others to do great things. We walked along the trail, and up the road, discussing life, relationships and the challenges, some plans in the future. All while the 2,000′ stair master 5000 was looming above us. By this time we had already been going for about 8 hours. A lunch break was in order.

We stopped and ate and took a 15 minute siesta in the Sun and watched the clouds soar over us as they crested over mellenthin.

We made our way up the ridge line of Mellenthin gaining another 2,000′ of elevation. The wind was still blowing as we made the traverse across and  ridge to the top of the summit. From there we  can easily see the rest of our route. Laurel, then Peale, Talking, and then finally Tuk.

By far the most talus I’ve ever done in one day. The rest of the day was spent traveling up and down talus, leaning into the wind. Celebrating briefly the feeling of being on top of the La Sals before heading down and then back up. Finally we found our way up Tukuhnikavitz. Supposedly this was an indian word for ” where the Sun sets last”. Well, nice work on naming it. We got up there a few minutes before the Sun set. What we had accomplished was really perfect timing. If we had been there any earlier or later we would have missed an amazing gift.  As we gained the top of the peak, the wind stopped and we were able to have some time to reflect on the day, take some photos, and kinda smile.

Traversing the La Sals is not some sort of record or something that National Geographic will probably write about anytime soon. But it was something that people talked about doing for a long time. And we wondered if we could do it . And we did. And that felt good. It was a great day that got better, it was living authentic, and it was a day that we imagined. So, there’s that. Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the photos. and even a link to a quick edit of some footage at https://vimeo.com/98825488

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The gift from up top of Tuk. lasal traverse-10Making our way from Peale to Tuk. Last peak of the day.
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photo by Steve Creech, when we were still smiling.

 

Kokopelli?

A week ago I had a couple of day off from work.As I transition into a new type of work environment, I find myself looking for more grand scale adventures or challenges. Maybe its some sort of way to prove that I can still get off of my ass and have some big days.  But, its also taking advantage of the time I do have to enjoy the nature that I surround myself with. Thats why I live in Moab right?

The kokopelli trail is something that I’ve always wanted to do. Its a mountain bike trail the goes from Fruita, Colorado and winds through the desert to eventually end in Moab. 140 miles of 4wd roads and some pavement. Outfitters in the area will help provide support for people to ride it in 3-5 days. Since i only had 2 days off, I figured I would just do it in a two days. A friend of mine, Emily, also had some time off and would join me for the second day.

I drove out to Fruita the night before, just outside of Grand junction, CO.   Figured I’d get an early start to make some miles before they day warmed up. If you haven’t ever rode bikes out there, the single track really is pretty great. Some flowey sections and some challenging technical riding as well. The first section of the Kokopelli is on a trail called Mary’s loop. Beautiful. Fun. As you make your way from the trailhead, you are traversing along the Colorado River.  I do wish I would’ve had some coffee before I started riding that day. Maybe it would’ve helped my riding ability. Maybe not.

Once past the single track, you’re more or less on gravel/sand roads the next 60+ miles. Traversing along I70 through the desert. This part of the West really is beautiful. Desolate.

Riding for 80 miles by yourself gives you lots of time to think. I purposely did not listen to music so that I wouldn’t be distracted from what was wandering through my head. A time of reflection and planning, moving forward with every pedal of the bike.

Until my rear derailleur cable snapped.

Coming out of Rabbit valley and moving toward West water my cable snapped. Knowing enough to at least piece it together, I connected what I could back to what I thought would work. For the next 50 miles I  would have 3 gears.  Which is pretty great. But I know people who do this trail on single speeds. Though that sounds like an awful idea, I had 3 gears, not one. So I had that going for me, which is nice.

There were very few people out there which was great. I saw one other dirt biker, and couple of other mtn bikers in rabbit valley, an a boat taking out from the Westwater takeout.

I arrived at Dewey Bridge around 5 o’clock. The Sun was definitely still up and it was warm. I cooled off by the river and then took a siesta in the shade of a truck in the parking lot. Body felt pretty good actually for 80 miles through the desert. My friend Emily showed up around 6 with cold beer and food from town. The plan was to get up early the next day and ride the last 60 miles into town.

We pulled out the maps and began to look at the trail for the next day. So, we’re on mtn bikes. Which I’m pretty sure are meant for trails, not roads. And these are my days off. They should be fun too, right?  Looking at the map it was on 4wd roads and even paved roads for the next day.

At this point, we had already gone through our 2 beers each. It was 8 o’clock.

If we drove to back to Colorado, we could hit a brewery before it closed. and then ride some of the best single track the next day. This was looking to be more enticing.

Its great to be challenged. I had just spent the day riding 80 miles by myself, in the desert, with 3 gears. Of course the kokopelli is a classic ride, but not sure I’d put it in the fun category. But road tripping to Colorado, riding classic single track, and finishing off with a local IPA….I mean, thats a day off.

So, this entry, for me makes me think about the balance. The balance of the challenge, and of the fun, and the enjoyment of both. The satisfaction of knowing you can push yourself and also recognize when its time just …to play.

Photos below. Enjoykoko and gjkoko and gj-7koko and gj-6koko and gj-4
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Dino photo by emilyklarer.com

 

a Little Moab Rodeo

 

This past weekend the rodeo came to town here in Moab, Ut. We had to go.

While I did grow up in Texas, I can’t say rodeo was a big part of my life. Its amazing to see what these people do.  To crawl onto these animals that are nothing but muscle and want nothing to ride them, and then just hang on……8 seconds I’m sure feels like a lifetime.

What I was more impressed with were the bullfighters. They were there to protect those who had fallen off and give the bull something else to go after. Trying to imagine those times when the adrenaline is so high, and there is action surrounding you and stimulating every sense, and to focus on someone else and put their safety before yours. Those are the people I find I’ve looked up to.  Whether it be in the rodeo, police force, protection services, rescue services, and those times when its a friend or a raft guide in big water. They put themselves out there. Vulnerable…

Here’s a few shots from the other night. Trying to capture the speed,  the feel, the emotion, the vulnerability, and the grit is something I’m working on.  Oh, and trying to do that in photography too.
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Cars and cars.

This past weekend was one of the many busy weekends of Spring here in Moab. It was the annual car show held at Swanny Park in the center of town. Hundreds upon hundreds of cars, trucks, trailers, and motorcycles make their way into town. Some are vintage, from the 1940’s and 50’s and all the way to the brand new 2014 models. I’ve always been interested in older cars, bikes, and trailers. Even had the opportunity to restore old airstreams at Texas Vintage Travel Trailers located in New Braunfels, TX. Check some of the trailers we worked on at the link——>(http://picasaweb.google.com/117405366874232731194?gsessionid=rBflyQXDXEPlPtA9p2aCHw) Even one of my own that myself, my partner, and my dog lived in for about a year. It was good work, where you can see what you’ve done at the end of the day. Often times at the end of the day, covered in dirt and grime, or cuts on your hands and arms. It was worth it, because you were bringing something back to life.

So walking through these vehicles this past weekend, it was easy to appreciate the work these people had put into these pieces of art. Imagining most of these people,retired, or not, working after hours on something they loved doing.  Working by a lamp, or inside in a garage.Splitting time between actually working and talking about it with their partner, whether it was a significant other, best of friends, or a random stranger.Something that brought rust to a polish and putter to a rev. Its an art.

This was really my first time trying to capture these through a lens.

 

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White Rim in a day….

Last week a friend/co worker, Vic , was in town  for some work and to get out and play on bikes. After a few days of looking at pay scales, excel spreadsheets, and schedules, she brought up what she called an “off the couch random adventure”.

 

Biking the White Rim in a day was something that we had spoken about before. Up until this point this season, I think the longest ride I had been on was a Spring ride of around 15 miles.  This one would be about 92-93 miles by the time we were done. Why not d0 it in a day?

It was a beautiful ride through Canyonlands National Park and a great challenge to ride that far in a day, on a mountain bike, through  soft sand, mud, and snow.

The ride allowed us amazing views of the Green River , the canyons, and the snow capped La Sals and Abajos. We started under a full moon, rode underneath overcast skies, and ended underneath a waning moon. 16 hours. phew.

The next day we were pretty surprised that we were not to sore and could walk pretty well. It did feel like a hangover after a night of binge drinking though due to the amount of processed goods that were ingested to keep us going. I think I’ll take a break from cliff shots and goos for a little while. Here’s a link to Vic’s page  http://www.seasonalnomad.com/2014/02/white-rim-in-day_19.html

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This kinda sums up the day.

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Early morning mud and heavy bikes

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The Green River

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Protein and sugar lunch. We  would feel that later.

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The yellow line  was our route. Not too far , right?

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Headlamps are back on and the moon is back up

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winter 2014-whiterimand then there’s this guy (no, he didn’t run it)

hut trip? HUT TRIP!

 

 

 

 

So this was one way to start out the year. I had never been on a hut trip before, not even had skins on skis before. Why not try new things?

A friend of mine Chris and his lady friend, Rachael had invited me on a hut trip outside of Aspen. And another longtime friend from Denver, Karl,  came up to join me. What a great way to start out the new year. 7+ miles and over 2500′ in elevation gain to a winter wonderland hangover. It took us a little to get started, and to let the night before sweat out of us.

Being up in the mountains, in the winter, may be the closest to solitude I’ve been, especially being with other people there. it  is quiet and calm, peaceful and dangerous. The stars as we skinned into the hut were spectacular. Truly. I would have to remind myself when i was hunched over my ski poles to look up and see the creation out in from of me.

We skinned up to the newest hut in the 10th mountain division hut system, the Opa Taylor Hut.  This place was beautiful. And amazing to see at 7 at night, with a fire in the wood burning stove, with warm miso soup. What a treat. We all had our own spaces as the hut slept 8 and fell asleep after catching and warming up by the stove. The attention to detail  did not go  unnoticed in this place. Large windows, plenty of spaces to dry out, the cleanliness from past stays, everything trimmed in pine, and the amount of effort it took to build this place up in the mountains

Thankyou Chris for coming out and route finding our way back, and Rachael for the exquisite meal.

 

The next morning we woke up to another beautiful Colorado sunrise over the mountains, with coffee and eggs to follow. Then it was sliding back into our ski gear and heading out where Chris and Rachael began to skin circles around us. Athletes and humble. We got to the pass and Karl and I decided to get our turns going down over a different saddle  and into the valley we came from as Chris and Rachael skied on.

Needles to say, going down hill was much quicker than the day before. At one point after making a few turns we stopped and ate our cheese and pastrami, Karl worked on his ski poles with his rigged Ragu lid, (which worked  great), it was easy to smile and feel the  mountains around us, giving us a preverbal “good game”.

Skied the rest of the way down and made our way too the house, where we found the sofa and star wars, and a few blisters to take care of.

 

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Opa Taylor Hut

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Cold and windy up top.

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Making it work. Thanks Ragu.
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