Quest Update: As Summer Adventures Come to a Close

I haven’t been blogging or vlogging in quite a while.  I put a pause on this while my friend was supposed to update my website, but since my website still hasn’t been updated, and while my Quest inches closer to completion, it is time to bring you a compelling story of… well, okay, it’s just an update on things that I’ve been up to.  Super provocative stuff here, guys!

Prelude

I am down to the last couple weeks of alcohol-free living.  I feel fantastic overall, and had an incredible summer full of camping, hiking, peak scrambling, biking, backpacking, a wedding, but mainly, working.  Much of my time in the last few months has been dedicated to growing my real estate business, maintaining my fitness, staying consistent with my Quest objectives, and some hiking/adventures when they could be squeezed in.

The Last Little Bit

So, let’s rewind a month when I was in the Enchantments for five days and then came home, grabbed my pre-packed bag of wedding garments and jumped on a plane to Cincinnati to celebrate my friends, Zach and Meghan, tying a knot.  I stood beside Zach as his (co-) best man and had a wonderful time meeting his friends and family.  Also that week, I saw my friend, Steve, who I had not seen in years.  It’s odd how with certain people it doesn’t matter the duration of time that passes between visits, when you get back together with those people, it’s as if nothing has changed.  Zach and Steve are two people in my life that that applies to.

Going back about nine years to when I met them, I was not too keen on Mister Zach.  I determined he was a pompous know-it-all ass before I properly got to know him.  I figured out, however, that he was just socially inept and had a pretty tough initial guard up.  However, once I broke through that guard we became great friends.  We even ended up all living in the same apartment building.  During that period I was their “Kramer,” not because I used the n-word on stage like some raving lunatic, but because on a daily basis I would just open their door and walk into their abode without so much as a door knock.  Much has changed in our lives since I had last saw them… especially with Steve who now has a toddler.  Together, in a group again, it was as if it no time had passed at all… with the exception of Zach’s ability to grow a beard, my inability to retain my hair, and Steve getting … errr… a little rounder.  Ha.

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Zach on his big day biting my girlfriend’s arm

After Zach’s beautiful vows, and my appropriately hilarious and oh-so touching speech that shattered the expectations of everyone involved, but most importantly, the bride and groom 🧐, Steven and I woke up the next morning and drove my bishhh to the airport.  We proceeded to kick her wiggity-wack ass out the car and then drove to Cincinnati’s very own King’s Island.  King’s Island is a theme park.  I’m 34.  Steve is like 38 or some shit?… Basically, two full grown adult males had a date going on all the rollercoasters and rides that a midwestern theme park had to offer, and it was the best day ever!

But let’s not so quickly leap over the Enchantments, as it was an incredible trip through a beautiful, albeit smokey, region of the Cascades.  During our stay we visited all the different alpine lakes, swam in a few of them, climbed Little Annapurna, night hiked up Prusik Pass to watch a very unimpressive meteor shower, slept next to mountain goats  with their rambunctious kids in my hammock, and did some other miscellaneous scrambles.  We were very lucky to get permits, and although the smoke was a hinderance, it could have been much worse.

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Brandi’s signature hiking pose.
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My towel and his vistors

 

Full Enchantments Post coming soon with video footage.

So, that was a month back.  This past week Brandi and I attended a double header baby shower (one after the other) for two of my dudes.  I, then, packed up and went camping near Winthrop, WA, on Monday with my good friend, Adam.  We hadn’t spent any time together this summer so we had planned a couple days in the North Cascades.  The weather decided to be a cranky biotch, so we shifted our trip to the eastern side of the park where it is not quite as rain prone.  We hiked along the PCT and spent a couple days eating, as Adam likes to say, some “good food” in the woods along a creek.  With the weather starting to change, it’s probably the last multi-night camping trip for a while, but I was able to not miss much work at all.  It’s somewhat convenient taking most of your days off in the middle of the week.

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During one of those weekends in there we went camping with our friends Jon and Bre.  On this camping trip we found an amazing riverside camp spot that was completely isolated from other passer-byers.  Jon was generous enough to bring along some delicious stogies he had picked up in the Dominican Republic.  Unfortunately, I had Open Houses to attend on both Saturday and Sunday that weekend so I had to drive back into civilization both mornings and didn’t get to disconnect on this particular trip like I normally would.  It was a very long and deliberate route that I wish had been avoidable on Saturday morning… but, hey, when duty calls.  Clearly getting outside hasn’t been much of an issue for me lately, so no harm no foul.

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My dooooood Jon and I thumbin’ up & hangin’ loose

Beyond that… work + gym + plus a random weekday outing here and there is what my life currently consists of, and I a pretty okay with that.

The Quest

As for the Quest… As I had stated earlier, and as of today, I am two weeks out from completion.  That’s a huge benchmark and I am getting pretty excited to, again, be able to drink a cold and delicious beer.  Although, I am admittedly still wrestling with the idea of continuing with the absence of alcohol, that is seemingly a wrestling match I will lose.  Not because of some innate need to drink, but instead, because I do like having beer and a certain amount of alcohol is probably beneficial to things like my career and social life.

What has changed? 

There is more that has changed than that I recognize, but, simultaneously, not enough has changed for me to give up and go back to my post-Quest life.  Many of my new habits will stay with my for the remainder of years I have left.  Especially meditation, journaling, consistent exercise, hot and cold therapy, writing, and reading.  In fact, a couple weeks ago I realized that I am a completely different person than when I started this a year ago.  I, also, found out what doesn’t work and what I was just doing to say I did it.  Having some crazy journaling schedule… yeah, that did not come close to sticking.  Reading a ton of books a month became more of a chore and hindered performance in other areas.  Not watching TV sounds fun until you get bored out of your mind.

I am, however, in drastically better shape, I feel smarter, better read, more consistent with my mood, less anxious, less depression, I have started a completely new career where I work for my self, and I am better fit to deal with adversities that I face.

I do have a few new Quest concepts that I will further define and start once this one comes to fruition.  My next quest will focus on my shortcomings and areas of my life I wish to further improve.  Unfortunately, my current quest will not be 100% completed quite yet, as I still have some saving to do until I will be able to afford to make it to Patagonia.  That is still going to happen, however, and hopefully at some point in 2019 I’ll make it a reality.  Of course, it has to work out seasonally as well.  Stay tuned.

Summer is out, Fall is in

The seasons changed rather quickly this year, going from incredibly hot to rather cold overnight.  Summer is officially over this coming Saturday, and I am stoked to see some yellow and orange leaves and have some cooler weather to go hike in.  I used to call the fall shoulder season, now I just look at it as the cooler time of year to go hiking.

Lastly, congrats to my sister and her boyfriend on their engagement.  Ditto to my friends Jake and Jen!

IT’S ALMOST SKI SEASON!!!!

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

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a Single Day Trek Through the Enchantments

Yesterday was an incredible experience and we happened to catch that experience at the exact right moment; right before the snow started falling.  The Enchantments is a hike normally split into a multiple day backpacking trip, and, rightfully, it should be as it is one of the most gorgeous places you will ever lay your eyes on.  We, however, did not have a permit to camp and instead hauled ass through the entire hike in 11 hours and 15 minutes.  I’m no marathon runner, but this seemed like a pretty solid time to hike approximately 19 miles and 6000′ of elevation (reports differ, but it’s at least 18 miles) especially considering the breaks and photo ops we took during the trek.

There’s something about mountain therapy that really refreshes the mind and connects you to your surroundings and nature.  This summer, partly due to wildfires and weddings, I didn’t get into the hills as much as I normally do, so this was a great last hurrah before the season turns overly snowy and it becomes time to throw my freshly waxed skis on my feet.  Which I am also extremely excited for.

My friend Austin and I reached the Stuart Lake Trailhead around 10:30/11:00 PM on Monday night.  I slept in the back of his truck in the open and, notably, cold air.  4:45 AM came quick and we were up eating a big breakfast, drinking cold brew, and packing our daypacks before we hit the trailhead at 6:05 AM.  A little slower of a start than we anticipated, but early enough not to fret.

The first section of this slog is just a foot in front of foot hike to the stunning Colchuck Lake which is seated at the bottom of Aasgard Pass.  I think we arrived at Colchuck around 8:00 AM.  If I’m not mistaken it is about 5 miles to the base of Aasgard and approximately 2500′ of elevation gain from the trail head.  It’s another 2000′ of elevation gain from Aasgard to the Upper Enchantments in a single mile.  We stopped for a bit and ate a quick second breakfast, which for me was a banana and Clif bar and for Austin was half a turkey sandwich and a banana.  We chugged some water, finished off our cold brew, threw on some microspikes, I took a poo in the woods, and we started up the pass around 900 AM.

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(Photo One: Me, pointing up at Aasgard Pass from Colchuck Lake
Photo Two:  Austin on the way up Aasgard Pass
Photo Three:  Austin in front of Colchuck Lake
Header: Colchuck Lake and Aasgard Pass Panoramic Photo)

I threw some music on my cell phone that seemed to fit the mountainous Alp-esque setting, folk artist Austin Basham, and started the climb towards the top.  The trail was well defined but we did, somehow, get off of it at one point and just hiked straight up the gut.  We also stopped more than a couple times to take some pictures, drink some water, and record some video.  Honestly, it was an absolute cakewalk compared to the ice skating rink the pass resembled at the same time last year (we did this hike October 13th last year) and it was not even remotely dangerous in comparison.  We reached the top at 10:40 AM and were greeted by the glaciers and peaks of the Upper Enchantments.

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(Photo One: Me, heading up Aasgard Pass
Photo Two: Photo of the prominent peak next to Aasgard Pass
Photo Three & Four: Upper Enchantments)

We passed some hikers at the top who had hiked down to the beginning of the descent towards Snow Lakes (the end of the Enchantments) but turned around due to conditions.  They said we should be fine with our microspikes but they did not feel safe without them.  We chatted with them for a few minutes and then enjoyed a lunch in the Upper Enchantments under some craggily peaks and ice covered lakes.  From there we started down to the Core Enchantments after talking to some campers and observing a billy goat.  All the while I was logging it on video, with Austin’s help, and taking plenty of pictures.  Going from lake to lake we took in the scenery and the awesomeness of our surroundings.  Then came my favorite part of this hike; the descent from the Core Enchantments to the Lower Enchantments.

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(Photo One: Prusik Peak with Golden Larches
Photo Two: Me with Prusik Peak in background
Photo Three: Austin with Prusik Peak in background
Photo Four: One of the Lakes of the Core Enchantments – I’ll update this properly)

We hiked up a vaguely defined trail to the top of a large sloping rock/mountain that falls to the lake below.  At this point you are right in the center of it all.  Here, peaks engulfed me in every direction, Prusik Peak sat right behind me with climbers in a saddle near the summit, waterfalls and streams spit water into the lakes below, and the yellow larches speckled the intermittently snow covered slopes of the surrounding mountains and edges of the lake beds.  I am 100% positive that this was NOT the actual trail that we were on, as I did not see any cairns, but it is a spectacular way to descend and alone made the hike worth every step.  This is also where my left knee and feet started bothering me.

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Once at the bottom, another banana was consumed and we prepared for the hour or so descent from the last lake in the Enchantments, I believe it is called Lake Viviane (DISCLOSURE:  I thought it was Vivian, but Google was happy to correct my inaccurate assumption) to the Snow Lakes far below.

I despise this part of the hike, it is grueling on the body and will make the strongest hikers knees, hips and feet hate them.  It took about an hour or so to get down to Snow Lakes and we lost the path at one point and had to scramble down a sketchy cliff face without ropes or proper gear.  In hindsight, it would have been smart to put the microspikes back on the boots and break out the rope Austin had rolled up in his bag.  There’s always next time.

We got down to Snow Lakes and continued our hike around to the end of it, which is about a mile, where we stopped for our last refuel.  The snow started falling on us here and it got quite cold.  We were relieved to be down from the top as we watched what looked to be a storm rolling in, but were very aware of the miles still ahead of us.  It was about 3:15 PM.  We decided that once we got past Nada Lake, the last lake (or first depending which trailhead you enter from), that we would run for a bit.  Once we got there, we put our poles away and started running… We didn’t stop except for the occasional breath to take pictures and video of the crazy colored fall foliage.  At 5:20 PM we reached Snow Lakes Trailhead, completely stoked at the time we had made.

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Today, according to the weather, the snow moves in and I do not anticipate the conditions to be as easy as they were yesterday again until next year.  A full video edit is underway and coming soon.

Rock on peeps!  Thanks for reading ✊ 🤙

~Dane

According to the Forest Service: 

The Whole Core Enchantment Loop, Stuart Lake Trailhead to Snow Lake Trailhead: approximately 19 miles / 6000 foot gain and 7800 foot loss