Outdoor

#016 Lindsay Bourgoine of Protect Our Winters Talks Education and Advocacy

Hey everyone, Doug Stetzer here, and thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.

Well the journey down the climate science wormhole continues.

This episode was again inspired by my earlier conversation with Eric Larsen the polar explorer whose last trip to the North Pole is likely to be the last.

Eric is a member of Protect Our Winters, an environmental activist and awareness organization founded by legendary snowboarder Jeremy Jones.  In fact, when Eric came over to record his podcast, he had literally just returned from a trip to Washington DC with Protect Our Winters where he was rooming with Jeremy as they spent a few days meeting with representatives and talking about climate change.

Of course, all of us who are passionate about our winter sports need to be very concerned with what’s going on relative to the climate, and POW takes a very interesting approach by talking about the financial implications of this change on the outdoor industry, tourism, and livelihoods that are produced by these industries.

Unfortunately, our government really listens better when it comes to talking dollars and cents, so this approach can be effective at opening doors and ears.

So I reached out to POW who recently relocated their headquarters to Boulder, right down the street from me actually, and was able to sit down to talk with Lindsay Bourgoine, their Manager of Advocacy and Campaigns.

Lindsay joined POW in 2016 and has a real solid background in environmental advocacy and conservation.

We get into what inspired Jeremy Jones to start POW, some of their key initiatives and where they are seeing success, upcoming leadership changes, and of course a really amazing story of how Lindsay came to be part of the organization.

Online, you can find POW at protectourwinters.org and on Facebook and Instagram @protectourwinters.

 


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Show Notes

[02:45] Visiting the POW offices in Boulder

[03:25] What inspired Jeremy Jones to start Protect Our Winters

[06:00] Aligning with industry; The $887 billion outdoor recreation industry throws its weight

[09:00] After 10 years, what’s working

[11:45]  Politics: A wake up call in 2016 – Colorado votes for new Gov in 2018

[15:40] New Executive Director

[17:00] How Lindsay joined POW (Read: How ski bumming can be good for your career!)

[22:00] Why POW relocated to Boulder

[25:00] Making climate science wonkery accessible

[27:45] Helping people get involved

 


Relevant Links

Protect Our Winters

Jones Snowboards

Eric Larsen

Outdoor Industry Association

Climate Reality Project

Alliance for Climate Education

Appalachian Mountain Club

Jim White – CU Boulder

Luis Benitez

Burton Sustainability

 


Related Episodes

A Life of Adventure and Polar Exploration with Eric Larsen

Jon Miller of Backcountry United Educates About Public Land Access

 


Transcript

 

Lindsay thank you so much for having me over to Protect Our Winters office to do this talk and take a little time to tell us what you’re all about.

Absolutely welcome.

As people are starting to get used to the format that I use I like to ask people at the end of the show who they like to have on the podcast. And you know one of my previous guests Eric Larsen, who had just returned from a Protect Our Winters event or campaign up in D.C. He really kind of turned me on to you guys so I really appreciate that we were able to connect.

Absolutely we’re excited that Eric was on the guest as well as he’s one of our favorite athletes don’t tell the rest of them.

So let’s just talk a little bit I guess historically about Protect Our Winters. Founded in 2007 by Jeremy Jones as many of us know and are fans of. So ten years like ten year anniversary. I know you’ve been here since like 2016 but historically do you know what was kind of in his mind at that time. What was lacking in, you know the kind of the .org world as far as climate change that really made him want to start his own.

Yeah for sure. So Jeremy actually took a trip snowboarding. Obviously that’s what he does and when he came back he was really feeling like he saw a lot of different changes in the mountains. You know whether it’s glacial recession or reduced snowpack and he was really concerned about that as an athlete obviously that’s really changing the game in his sport and changing the lives of many of his friends.

And so when he came back from that trip he really wanted to give a financial donation to an organization that would fight climate change on behalf of outdoor enthusiasts so he did a bunch of research he was online. To make a really long story short he didn’t find one and realized pretty quickly that if you know we needed a single issue organization to represent outdoor enthusiasts and this snow sports industry to fight climate that he was going to have to found one.

So that’s exactly what he did. And you know he worked with our first Executive Director Chris Duncamp to start 501c3 and follows paperworks through the IRS and get everything going and then obviously ten years later we have five full time staff in the offices to Boulder and have a lot of success stories under our belts.

Yeah. So it’s definitely one of those kind of scratch your own itch.

Yes foundation stories exactly like if there isn’t anyone doing this. Yes. I mean has taken on and I really commend him for doing that because I think a lot of professional athletes might just say hey that’s really scary starting a nonprofit or a cause. And you know he just attacked it head on.

Well not all professional athletes also kind of have his business side of his experience and usually that’s where people tend to start getting hung up. Hey let’s do this idea. Oh I have to register with the state. Oh I’ve got to get separate bank accounts. Oh I forgot to do that and the organisational side is what kills you.

The experience running Jones snowboards and having a little experience there as a CEO.

Well that’s interesting. You mentioned there in what I read on the web site about not only just having a desire to find an organization about climate change but about representing the outdoor athlete enthusiasts. You know that’s a really much narrower and a very clear mission statement and having an idea crystallize like that in your mind really makes it a little bit easier also.

Sometimes one is too broad it’s hard. But at the same time the more I started researching this the more it made sense to me because there’s a lot of power in speaking for and aligning with industry. As opposed to just saying hey I’m a snowboarder and I’m worried about the snow. Right. When you start bringing on Burton, North Face other corporations that are organized. So from your experience you know is that what makes this organization either different or is that’s what’s leading to success. Because we all know that when you go in and you speak to government in terms of impact on industry your voices may be heard a little bit louder.

Yeah for sure. I think the way I like to explain it is I’m definitely come from a background of you know wonky environmental non-profit world. And you know we talk about organizing and organizing people. We talk about grassroots so you know regular everyday citizens have me organize their voices and have them be heard and then kind of the opposite side of the is grass tops.

So who are those business leaders who are those professional athletes and I think that’s where POW really excels and that’s kind of our formula is how do we use a grass tops voice to lead our grassroots community. So how do we have Jeremy Jones speak on behalf of snowboarders everywhere and I think when you saw it right after the 2016 presidential election he did a Facebook Live about how he was feeling and saying you know I’m going to stand up and and you know continue to go to D.C. and voice my opinion and when we post a picture of him in D.C. it’s like that’s our most liked image because people feel that he’s representing them.

You know, he’s their voice on this issue.

And so I think by bringing CEOs in ski resorts those are other grass top leaders obviously have more of a sway with their political leaders. But you’re absolutely right about business bottom line like if we compare this to every other industry the outdoor industry is huge it’s in $887 billion dollar industry. And so when we look at oil and gas you know it’s bigger than that. And when you think about how many lobbyists they have in D.C. working on their special interests you know no wonder they are succeeding and so we have this really cool opportunity to leverage that.

But I think a lot of groups in the past few years have been really good at bringing that out and talking about the size of the industry. And I think we’re just at the beginning of seeing that power like when you look at the public lands fight it’s like oh there’s a lot of force behind our industry and it’s only just beginning.

And like you said that voice maybe there was there before but maybe it wasn’t just organized and organization is just such a big part of having success.

So you referenced 10 years and a lot of successes. What are some of your favorite successes the success stories are real good campaigns and then you know what are your goals for the next 10 years. What are you guys talking about saying hey this is where we’d like to be.

Yeah absolutely. So I think in terms of successes you know I think about POWs mission in terms of engaging sports in the broader outdoor community in climate change. It’s really we do it through two things – education and advocacy.  So I think when we look back at our successes one of our key programs is called hot planet cool athletes. And basically what we do is we work with our professional athletes and we bring them into schools and to talk about climate change to kids and to give a better perspective.

So or I shouldn’t say a better a different perspective than maybe their science teacher you know says when they’re talking about climate change and it’s a way to say hey this is what I’m seeing in the field and this is what I’m concerned about and if you love winter and if you love outdoor recreation you should really be concerned too.

You know we’ve reached so many kids through schools and bringing professional athletes and I think you know obviously many of our athletes are incredible public speakers and so it’s just been a really fun way to engage. And you know obviously that’s that’s kids are impressionable and that’s when we have you know some of the best conversations.

And I think also the exciting part to me is a lot of kids get it. You know it makes sense it’s about the changes that they’re seeing in the world like when Eric Larsen just went with us to D.C.

When we got to D.C. It’s like OK we’ve just had two major hurricanes we have you know the West is on fire. It’s raining ash in Seattle and Portland it’s kind of hard to ignore what’s happening in the world right now.

So I think that’s been a big successive on the education side. And then in terms of advocacy I think POW has just really perfected this you know niche in the specialty of making climate action cool. We joke about that all the time around the office. But the reality is like that’s what we want to do is figure out how to take this like really wonky complicated stuff that feels intangible right because it’s like OK as is happening down the road I don’t you know I don’t feel the impacts day to day.

So how do you encourage them to take action on that. If it doesn’t feel real and I think that’s something Protect Our Winter really perfected and in the last couple of years we did a partnership with Ben and Jerry’s in New Belgium Brewing. So we would go to places and have people write letters about the Clean Power Plan and about where their power is coming from.

But they’re at a happy hour. They’re drinking beer they’re eating ice cream and they’re writing their you know elected officials at the same time. And so it’s like OK that’s that’s fun. That’s cool. And that’s not you know this really you’re not getting 20 e-mails a day being like write this letter to your senator you have to do this give us money.

It’s just kind of a different niche and I think that’s why we’ve been effective in advocacy. And I think to your question about where are we headed. I think we’ve realized you know 2016 was a wake up call to us. You know we put somebody in the White House who thinks that climate change is B.S. and that’s obviously not going to farewell for our agenda in terms of trying to get solutions passed.

I think the good thing is that even though that feels like a really big roadblock there are things like clean energy that just make economic sense. And so I think there are a lot of ways. You know you see that the Trump administration really working on promoting coal you know coal plants are being shut down regardless of what the new administration is doing it isn’t cost efficient.

He saw and you know coal plants are closing in Michigan in Texas. It doesn’t matter kind of you know political aspect of where those places are so you know that’s the good news. But I think the bad news is you know we have a lot of elected officials that think climate change is a hoax and it’s really sad to us because you know they US Republican Party is one of the it actually is the only conservative party in the world that thinks climate change is real.

So it’s not it’s not just this conservative ideal it’s it’s really tied back to the fossil fuel industry and how much money is going into that. And so I think we realized that we need to step up politically and we’re really want to play significantly more in the 2014 midterm elections. And yeah really talk to people about the fact that there is really low voter turnout in midterm years especially among millennials which is our kind of consumer base and we’ve got a lot of work to do to get people to really think about climate change when they vote.

Yeah and you know it’s interesting that you brought that up. I knew it was going to be something that’s a big part of your strategy for the next year. Not only the midterms in Congress as a huge event and then just to kind of tie it back in to Colorado. We have gubernatorial race and the incumbent is up for his term limit so he will be changing. And you’re up there already forecasting that this is going to be one of the biggest most heavily spent state elections ever. Yeah and you’re already starting to see the people line up and there’s actually quite a few candidates I’m not first enough to know if there’s any favorites really at this point but I’m sure that’s something locally that will be interesting.

And that’s definitely something we’ve been watching and I think it will be an election that we play pay close attention to. In addition we’re also really interested in Maine and Michigan and Nevada also have the same situation as Colorado where they have an open seat election.

Governor that’s termed out and we feel like those four states are really crucial in terms of having climate leaders and maybe in the past some of those states have had you know people that have not been great on crime at all and so it’s an opportunity to elect somebody that’s really going to step up and obviously for Colorado.

You know we think about our outdoor industry and think about the importance of climates like we need somebody in Denver that’s really going to pay attention to that. And this seems like.

If anywhere is a place where this message of tying the advocacy with the industry where that is very powerful. You would think that Colorado is the place right.

Yeah we especially when talk about the ski industry it’s such a focus of the economy here and not only that but also the outer RECA economy. You know you think about we have the outdoor industry association right here in Boulder. We have Luis Benítez in the governor’s office focusing on outdoor recreation and we have so many incredible you know from Australia’s smart will become businesses all over the state that are huge and depend on this and you know that’s that’s one of the best allies we have in terms of folks like that that are like this is a business bottom line issue. You know if there aren’t places to play you know if wildfires are burning down our forests that then our products don’t sell it’s kind of like thinking of it like why would you sell a tent if there’s no place to camp, or you know same with skis obviously there’s no snow that it’s it’s pretty easy to tie back to business bottom line.

Sure and 2018 will be interesting for you guys also with this new executive director coming in. Yeah. And so know what’s exciting about having kind of a new a new person coming like that.

How you he and you director his name is Mario Molina and he starts with us November 1st so we’re looking forward to that just around the corner and he comes from the Climate Reality Project which is another national climate nonprofit. I think his passion for the topic and his you know lifelong commitment that he’s really made to effecting change in climate I think will be immensely helpful for us.

Before that he worked at a group called the Alliance for Climate Education are really thinking about how we talk about climate. And I think one of the benefits that he’ll bring to power there is you know how do we effectively message climate change and how do we talk about it in these complex situations where we have people of all different political parties. And I think his background in terms of education will help with that.

And then beyond that he’s spent a lot of time abroad and has done a lot of work internationally and I think that will also really help us think for 2018 2017. We’re really focusing on on U.S. elections and we have a lot of incredible international chapters and people that are doing great work and I think we wish we had more time and energy to help but we’re also like Look who’s in the White House. We have a lot of work to do here in the U.S. So that’s kind of where we’re focusing but I think over the long term Mario will bring a much more international scope to power to you.

Well that makes sense.

And he lives in Nederland and he’s a snowboarder so.

Well welcome to the only player that holds the check boxes are all being ticked off.

And speaking of coming to work for power let’s hear a little bit about your story and your background because you’re manager of advocacy and campaigns in the you know that will play into all of these efforts significantly in in the coming year as well and motivating.

So why don’t you tell us a little bit about you know of all the organizations that are out there and how you ended up with Protect our Winters and what you’re focusing on for the day.

Yeah I started so I grew up in Maine and I worked for my first environmental policy group a group called the Appalachian Mountain Club in the state of Maine. And while I was there I worked in the state house and I had this this bill that just wasn’t getting through and it was on state park funding and I was super frustrated I was meeting with you know grassroots folks and trying to get them to come and testify at the State House and working with businesses. And just really couldn’t get anything done and started to really think about OK how do we get you know a large business to say something in this.

And so I started working with L.L. Bean and they decided to speak out on the issue and say hey you know we need state parks and L.L. Bean is one of the largest employers in Maine.

And after they spoke up the issue was moot.

And I said that’s exactly what I to do is work for for that because as we talked about the beginning of this show it’s businesses have immense power when it comes to political clout and you know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing that people listen to business in terms of you know obviously they have economic weight to throw around.

That’s the reality. And I’m a realist and a pragmatist and I’m like OK that’s you know it was exciting so I kind of ventured down this path of you know what is this balance between environmental advocacy and our industry. And with that ended up at the Outdoor Industry Association here in Boulder. Get a job with them in 2013 and road trip down from Maine a little U-Haul and moved to Boulder at the weekend of the floods.

So I showed up at my house and signed a lease on Craigslist and my roommate who I wasn’t actually sure if he was my roommate or not because are like 12 people camping out there were like grab this shovel like this trench is about to burst your neighborhood and we’re going to dig it. And it was like OK here we are.

Welcome to Boulder so wow. It was funny though. People say it wasn’t that awful time to move but I actually think you know what an incredible time to see a community come together and you know from day one to be a part of something so yes spend time here working for the Outdoor Industry Association went to grad school after that just decided that it was time to study up a little bit and worked on a Masters of environmental law and policy to kind of really curtail this whole policy thing.

My undergrad degree is in geology. So you know I think at some point you’re like I haven’t actually learned what I’m doing in an academic setting. I think that’s important as much as experience too. So did that wrapped up and didn’t have a job and decided you know if there was one thing that I wanted to do when I didn’t have a real job it was ski bum.

And so I moved from grad school to Lake Tahoe and they coached alpine racing at Squaw Valley and I met this guy there named Jeremy Jones and some point on the lift. I actually did some kind of behind the scenes networking and was able to connect with Protect Our Winters and start in in Boulder shortly after.

And it’s kind of funny now because if I think about going back and you know being unemployed and if anybody had told me that working at Squaw would actually help me in the long run with my resume to get to power that would have been kind of funny because here I was taking a minimum wage job just for fun.

But yeah and obviously for me this was a dream. I mean I work on really wonky environmental policy stuff that I love. But I also do it in an industry that I love to and it’s kind of you know this really there are few of us I think that are that lucky to tie our professional passion with our personal ones.

Right. It’s an honor. Now that’s super fun. One of the things that I’m noticing about this podcast by reaching out to people is I’m starting to meet a lot of people like you who are able to tell you their passion with their profession and it’s absolutely inspiring.

And that’s something new with Colorado to just kind of the people that it draws we’re talking about this earlier about just people that love the outdoors and spend time outdoors and maybe there’s a everybody here works harder to connect that to their day job too.

Sure. Well we’re also talking about how I haven’t posted this yet but I did have a chance to honor Erik Larson’s recommendation go meet with Dr. Mark Serreze who’s the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center here in Boulder. And we were kind of talking about this earlier but in his interview. He talks about how Boulder basically is the ground zero for global climate research. And you know we get into a lot of the technical aspects of of why that’s the case and some of the other organizations in town.

But I was curious is that what brought you guys to Boulder or was it other things? why boulder of all places?

Yeah it was definitely an aspect of that we have about a 12 person board and seven of our board members are from Colorado so there were certainly a push to move from California to be like hey this is this is this day and this is the place. But you know obviously there’s a lot of organizations here that are connected in one of the ways that we work with the science community is through a program that we have called our science alliance and basically we have scientific advisers within the university community around the country and around the globe actually.

And our goal is to really communicate the research that they’re doing out to our constituency because we know they’re seeing incredible things in the field and you know some very unfortunate changes in the field and a lot of times you know it can be hard to distill that information from a scientific report.

So how can we do interviews with athletes and scientists and so we work a lot with Jim White who’s actually now the dean C.U. but he was formerly the director of instar the Alpine and Arctic Research Program at C.U. and a very well respected scientist. I really think you know how having that accessibility to just walk down the block and interview Jim is incredible.

I’m sure you talked about NCAR and Kevin Trenberth is another one of our advisers there you know and it’s a pretty cool opportunity to be able to take those folks to ski resorts or to you know some of our riders athletes training programs and have those people present. But I think I think you’re absolutely right. Like the front range is full of you know all kinds of different institutions that are looking at this.

One of the ones I actually was going to recommend if you want to know who I would love to hear from is the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden. I don’t really know much about them. I think you know I’d be really cool for the Protect our Winters community to connect with the research that they’re doing because I think it’s you know obviously on the front lines of where’s renewable energy technology going.

But that’s right down the road to you can see the windmills kind of turning in the distance up on the hill over there. I’ll definitely look them up. That would be a great conversation for sure. Now that’s Boulder’s just like really interesting it’s you know it’s got all the outdoorsy stuff but it’s got so much science and technology in town here that it’s you that that’s part of really what makes it pretty special. So.

You spoke about the science alliance and you know I was looking on your Web site it’s just really very clear. We are also speaking about how the NSIDC they’re doing the same thing they’re trying to make the data and all of the you know all this really wonky terminology more accessible because part of it is just flying over people’s heads and you’re trying to address a younger audience.

So I think that that’s you know really resonates as far as a really concerted effort to make that you know information and kind of really you know educational aspect available and I saw that on your website a lot love it it’s just the way it’s laid out.

If you click on any topic it’s kind of got you know here’s the purpose here is that people who are involved in here’s if you want to learn more. And it was labeled like like a ski slopes like a green dot or something he really like the blues or if you really want to dive deep there’s like a double black diamond. I guess if you can’t sleep at night that that’ll that’ll take care of that. I thought that was really interesting how you know education is such a part of it. You speak about influencers these days and a lot of times it’s just you know how many Instagram followers you have or something like that.

But I love the Riders Alliance. In the guys going out and speaking in schools and you know these these athletes they really do have a lot of influence over young kids. You know when one of these explorers or athletes shows up at a junior high or high school I’m sure you know kids are actually paying attention.

Yes definitely a different way to communicate and I think you know it’s kind of funny because you see the same like awe inspiring look on a kid’s face in whatever educational programs that you do when you walk into a congressional office and it’s like at the end of the day we’re all inspired by people that you know that push the limits and push the boundaries and do these incredible physical feats.

And you know we had a few of our athletes on our lobby trip in September were Olympians and brought their medals and you know we joke again about how that opens doors but it really does like people are so excited to hear about you know experience and I think the other thing that power really tries to do as your team to effectively communicate is talk about it in terms of experience like we don’t have a climate scientist on staff and I don’t like when people say well I’m not a scientist but because that’s like way over used but the reality is we connect through experience.

It’s like I testified at a hearing in Denver earlier this year and there was a senator on the panel who was a climate denier and kind of you know talked about how carbon dioxide is really good for plants and went off on that tangent and I just said him whats different than when you were a kid and he’s like oh yeah. And you know just dives right into it and it’s like it’s not about talking about that experience and we don’t have to you know get into.

I think we really do a disservice when we start debating science because there isn’t science to debate. We have a consensus like End of story let’s move on and just kind of you know talk about experience right.

And a big part of that experience with her organization is advocacy and really speaking of education really walking people through how to get involved including Hey click here. Here’s a script for what to say to your local representative. Here’s some of these ideas. Here’s how to get a hold of these people it’s really he was pretty impressed because I think there’s plenty of roadblocks in between saying hey call your representative and that message actually getting across including who is my representative.

Like where do I find this person. Can I really just call these people and you know there’s just a lot of hesitancy there and so your Web site is really amazing and you can see where the priorities are because when you look at the. When you log on to the Web site there’s only like four tabs at the top and the first one is take action. And here’s how. Yes. So that seems really important.

Yeah and we definitely try to break down those barriers because you’re right it is. I think you know a lot of nonprofits do say you know call your senators it’s like OK great. Where do I find their number. Who are they like what do I say.

And that’s been one of our goals is to kind of break down those barriers and you know we do assume that with our constituency in terms of sports industry and the outdoor industry you know not necessarily everybody is members of 20 nonprofits and has gone through that process before and so how do we break that down for the beginner and even the expert to to make sure that it’s easy and clear and we felt really fortunate because we have an awesome advocacy tool that we use called phone to action but it’s actually gotten it’s so precise that we can actually have people text a keyword to a number and it will send them a link that will connect them with all of this information.

So we just really think about how do you break down these barriers so if you’re if you said the burned us open this winter and we want you to send a letter to your senator you can literally just text a number and take care of it right on the spot and not have you know this big barrier. And that actually kind of reminds me of another one of our favorite success stories is we actually built a phone booth. I’m not sure if you saw outside of her office down there.

But we take that to ski areas and you know literally while people are waiting in line to go skiing to help the chairlift you can actually just make a quick call your senator and you have a list of what you should stay in there and in kind of you know how this issue relates to climate change in their number.

And it’s like just take three minutes make a call hop the left and I think a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is and I think a lot of people also think that someone’s going to pick up the phone and maybe debate them back. And the reality is it’s like a message machine you call in there say OK what would you like to pass on to the senator. And it’s really you know it’s OK to read one of those scripts and no one’s going to say what you think that like. Take that back. This is wrong. It’s you know it’s really it’s a message machine. And so it’s really cool to be able to teach people that it’s not that complicated and it feels pretty good afterwards to be like OK I’m an active citizen.

And it is a bit of a numbers game right. We all know that we have these really low rates of turnout in elections and has really skewed towards older generations and. It has no effect. I mean the numbers are skewed in a lot of different ways but a lot of it’s just getting people to kind of show up. I mean that’s just historically that’s where you know the retired associations are great at getting people to show up and the people who know the 18 enough crowd they 18 to 30 or whatever. You know there we just don’t show up.

Right. And it’s all the organization I think a lot of people get you know not to get into something too political. People get frustrated about gun control and why isn’t legislation changing or passing in the NRA is an incredible organizing entity and they’ve done an incredible job at that. And you know we’ve heard things like ratios of people that care about gun control.

You know call about that ten times to as to one call of somebody else’s and it’s like that’s you know there is a staffer sitting in that congressional office taking a toll of how many calls are about this and how many calls her about that. And the reality is we have a lot of work to do to get to a place where you know people are like OK there were you know 50 calls today about climate change.

Right. But like you said it is just about making that call it’s not you’re not going to be have to put up a PowerPoint presentation and argue the science.

Yes exactly. And it’s also again counting backward to what we said earlier just your experience like hey I’m a skier and I’m really concerned about the future and you know we always say to that if we don’t have powder days that’s that’s the least of our concerns. We obviously know there are going to be significant impacts and a lot of you know pretty terrible human suffering and you know with the expense of climate change and I think you know we definitely know that and it’s you know you don’t need to go into the depths of that you can talk about the changes that you’re seeing in your backyard and what your concern is going to bring on.

Right. Well you know I think if there’s is there anything else that you want to make sure that we’re mentioning to the audience before we sign off that. No I say I really appreciate the time tonight. Like I said I always ask who you want on there. And you know we’ll go to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to see we can find unless you can also think of somebody else.

But yeah I would also just say you know you know join us. Check us out at protector Winters dot org and also you know as we talked about we really do break down the barriers to take action. And so if that’s something that you’re you know as a listener interested in doing you know will help you figure that out.

And I think the other thing is you know in the past when Jeremy started POW you know we are protect our winters and we have traditionally been about snow sports in the last few years we’ve really moved to the broader outer industry and are starting to get a lot of outreach from from five fishermen from climber’s saying hey this is impacting me too.

It’s not just about our winter sports it’s about you know how much snowpack was there that led into our streams and our streams navigable by kayaks or boats or are these rivers too hot to fly fish or is it a rock too hot to go rock climbing like these are actually all real issues so it’s not we’re not just a skier and snowboarding club where we’re all of the above and actually stay tuned for some pretty cool research that will talk about impacts of each kind of sport that we think of when we think about spending time outside.

Oh so there’s some good stuff coming in. You’ll have to definitely share it with me when you get it. Absolutely. Please. You know I’m happy to come back anytime. If you if you guys ever want to talk about what’s kind of the latest and greatest for sure. Yeah

I would also recommend Jim White who is on our Science Alliance but he’s just an incredibly well-spoken scientist and have been really impressed by his ability to communicate with the masses about what he’s seeing in the field and is obviously spent a ton of time and in the Arctic and traveling so he’ll be a good.

He’s right here in Boulder and these guys can literally talk about what they’ve seen with their own eyes it’s it’s amazing. So Lindsay thanks again so much. I really appreciate it. Great to learn more about what you guys are up to and kind of connect with you guys and hope we can do it again sometime. All right thank you. Thanks.

Hard everyone. Thanks for listening. And I hope you enjoyed this conversation. As we mentioned in the intro you can find the links to any related content in the show. Note to this podcast episode. If you’re enjoying this podcast.

Thanks again. I really hope you enjoyed this episode and we will see you next time.

Please subscribe over on iTunes or Apple podcasts at it is now known as leave a review. If you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via e-mail or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android you can learn more at Colorado.FM/subscribe on how to hook up with these services.

 

#015 Jon Miller of Backcountry United Educates About Public Land Access

Backcountry United - Jon Miller

Hey everyone, Doug Stetzer here, and thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.  

For this episode, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jon Miller, founder of Backcountry United.

Backcountry United is a really interesting organization in that its real mission is to open and enable dialogue about access to our national lands between different constituents with a focus on the human-powered vs motorized camps.

In this conversation, Backcountry United represents the motorized side, particularly snowmobilers who use these machines to access the backcountry.  

However, on the business side they offer some amazing products inspired by the needs of people who play on these toys, such as ski and snowboard racks for the back of your sled and avalanche safety gear.  What you’ll find out from this conversation is that while these products pay the bills and allow them to keep going, the true mission is education and collaboration.

In fact, I need to mention these products here since Jon completely forgot to plug them until the very end of our conversation when we were wrapping up!  He is just really into what is going on with our public lands, and it shows.

I hope you learn a lot from this conversation, I know I did.  The intricacies of our public spaces are something I just am not that informed about, yet it is of vital importance to so many things we Coloradoans enjoy doing.

This is a pretty long and winding conversation, but if you’re into using our public lands and are curious about how they work, you’re about to get an education.

Online, you can find Backcountry United at backcountryunited.com and on both Facebook and Instagram @backcountryunited.  

As always, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Jon Miller of Backcountry United.

 

**Update: Jon forgot to mention Spin, a creative agency in Denver, as one of his really strong supporters.  He wanted to make sure they were recognized!  

 


Show Notes

[03:45] What is Backcountry United / Roots in Colorado

[14:00] Human powered vs Motorized: Bringing different sport cultures together

[18:00] Why is backcountry access an issue

[26:30] ‘You should talk to Jon Miller’ – Being at the center of the conversation

[31:00] An education in public land designations

[42:00] Conflict is happening in the parking lot; An ‘I hate snowmobilers’ conversation

[50:00] Colorado’s growing pains

[1:03:00] Some key supporters

[1:12:00] A future in politics?

[1:16:00] Craig, Colorado

[1:24:00] The products that support the mission

 


Relevant Links

Backcountry United

Spin

US Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management

National Parks Service

National Forest Foundation

American Institute for Avalance Research and Education – AIARE

Outdoor Retailer / Snowsports Industries America

Weston Snowboards

The Public Works

ToBe Outerwear

Hay Days

Mountain Skillz

Book: History of skiing in Colorado

Craig, CO

Todd Williams – Photographer

 


Related Episodes

Venture Snowboards

Romp Skis

Irwin Guides / Eleven Experience

Polar Adventure with Eric Larsen

Lindsay Bourgoine of Protect Our Winters

 


Transcript

 

 

Hey everyone thanks for tuning back in to Colorado.FM, the Colorado podcast today.

I am sitting down with Jon Miller of Backcountry United. And you know I’m really looking forward to really learning more about what this organization.

Jon and I got connected through a mutual friend and I can’t believe I’m giving this plug actually to Todd Williams. Exactly. Exactly. Great photographer amazing amazing guy ToddWilliamsUSA.com. There you go man. Don’t say I never did anything for you.  One of the best photographers I’ve ever worked with. Exactly.

So he is out of the Jackson Hole so not a Colorado but they’re like a you know we all kind of drink from the same water.  Kindred spirits.

Well Jon man I really appreciate you taking the trip and coming over to the studio. I’m just going to read a blurb from your website to kind of get this thing going.

All right I hope it still rings true.

Exactly. So Backcountry United. Promoting balanced mixed use public land access avalanche awareness education and social responsibility through collaborative efforts between backountry users influencers and brands.

You know that’s still sounds good.

Read More...

You know when you look at your web site backcountryunited.com. You know three things kind of jump out at you. There’s this awareness education. You know the back country respect respect that’s your word. So why don’t we.

Why don’t we just get into that part because honestly you know we talked earlier in a lot of the issues that you’re dealing with as a back country snowmobiler predominantly and motorized back country access you know person and I just don’t know too much about it and so it’s really great to learn to wound in your words man. What’s what’s happening with backcountry united.

Yeah you know it’s. Well thanks for having me. First of all it’s really good to be here. I’m also a guy that lived in Colorado pretty much all my life and you know and I set out on this mission. A big part of it was promoting other people that do things that I care about. And one of those things I think is supporting Colorado based companies as well. So I really believe what you’re doing and stoked to be a part of it.

Thanks.

And so yeah you know again grew up in northwest Colorado in a small kind of a coal mining ranch town and we are surrounded by mountains.

My dad has probably hiked me you know hundreds if not thousands of miles all over northwest Colorado when I was a kid hunting and fishing and camping and you know Arrowhead hunting and hiking and just all sorts of you know kind of a traditional Colorado outdoors sportsman kind of upbringing and you know grew up near Steamboat so snowboarding I guess I started snowboarding at about maybe 9 or 10 years old and you know snowboarding kind of became the religion for me so to speak and there were a lot of people who rode snowmobiles.

I mean Colorado sorry Craig where I grew up is kind of like a little Minnesota and Colorado just a lot of working class people and you know it stays pretty cold typically year round and you know so people would ride snowmobiles around town and friends with sleds and you know you typically see them at the snow like the sledding hill and so I’ve been exposed to snowmobiles all my life and you know just living in the mountains.

Most of my life. So yeah. You know all these things are kind of happening in little ways around me. Back to my childhood. You know it didn’t really crystallize until 30 40 years later. But you know we’re all kind of a product of our own environment I suppose. And then the other thing is I’m I’m an artist. I always aspire to be an artist when I was a kid.

You know so those were kind of the big things like snowboarding and art kind of led me down a career path that ended up working in advertising and I got to work on a piece of business a snowmobile manufacturer and spent the next ten years working to to build this brand and my passion was always like man I want to bring snowboarding and skiing into the sled industry and a was kind of looking at it more of a market opportunity like an untapped segment of a market that nobody had really paid a lot of attention to historically.

So that was kind of my my passion and then it just evolved from there I started you know getting out and writing a lot with professional athletes and you know producing media with some pretty incredible people out there and Todd Williams being one of them. And you know so became very passionate about snowmobiling and got to travel a little bit and get up to Jackson Hole and.

Alaska and sort of at this point I’ve you know been snowmobiling for as far as owning my own snowmobile and being out there you know doing it for I guess about maybe 12 years now maybe a little longer but you know just fell in love with the freedom of being able to just go out into spaces that you know you think about how few people get to experience just how vast and magical it really is like when you get way out there especially when it’s a snow covered just Dreamland the city is unbelievable.

I mean if you know for somebody who’s not only like newer to Colorado and you know really more of you know definitely outdoors my whole life but just like that kind of access where you have this machine that can get you miles into the back country like I had until I went snowmobiling one time like up in Jackson like I had never experienced anything like that you know in my travels because it was mostly human powered or kind of like side country I guess more often than not.

Yeah. It’s incredible.

Yeah. Well it’s funny because that’s kind of where it all started for me was.

You know I grew up skiing steamboat and snowboarding and my grandparents actually had a house. You know my grandfather just passed away this last summer. So but the house is still in the family it’s at the base of the Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City. And so you know up until I was about 18 years old I only knew of Snowbird Brighton and steamboat that was my my ski area experience was a little bit of a powder snob.

And you know when I got into when I moved to Denver and was an art school and stuff like you know Vail Resorts started putting out the Epic pass and I was you know just blown away by you know the Back Bowls of Vail and you know places like Aspen Highlands like you know just experiencing wide open steep untracked snow. And you know it’s almost like a drug addiction.

The more I got the more I wanted the less I thought like I could get in. And that’s what pushed me into the side country as well. You know and of course Colorado’s just been growing you know phenomenally over the last 15 years. So you know it’s kind of like becomes this competition to go out and get a powder day.

You have to be there. You know an hour before the lift opens at at least like on a powder day to get that first hour of untracked turns and then the mountains just beat by 10:00 you know. Sure. So you know all these things kind of came together in me getting into snowmobiling and kind of combining those two sports so that I could you know access that that untracked experience all day long.

But then of course the snowmobile humbled me very quickly and it became clear that I had to learn the skills required you know not only the skills but have the equipment and you know some experience and training and you start getting invested in a lot of ways you know beyond financially and just with your time and relationships.

And I was really blown away by the snowmobile community the people that you would meet and this was kind of before right before social media was really happening and so you’d meet people on the sled forums and you know typically it’d be like OK I don’t know how to why my snowmobile won’t run or why my shock is broken or somebody please help.

And you know some pretty awesome people would show up and be like yeah you know I live in Empire stopped by my place and you know I’ll fix your sled for you and you’re just like wow. Who are these people. And that’s so awesome. And they take you out show you around and show you. You know there stashes.

And I started to realize like the incredible personalities that would kind of you know you’d meet like on this wavelength so to speak. So yeah I totally fell in love with the snowmobile community the people I was meeting I was working in the snowmobile industry. I was still snowboarder at heart. But I wanted to bring it all together.

And initially I just wanted to know if truth be told I wanted to bring my snowboard and ski heroes into the sled industry so that we could shoot content and you know basically be in the mountains and make cool stuff together.

And then that obviously evolved and so yeah basically in the corporate marketing world working for you know a global snowmobile manufacturer building brands making cool content meeting amazing people.

And you know at some point wanted to just push it and take it to the next level.

And really bring that that snowboard culture mountain culture element into the snowmobile community and industry.

Interesting yes interesting that those when you look at them you would think they were kind of historically more integrated than as an outsider myself. You know that they always are kind of symbiotic but it’s interesting to learn that there was room for those two communities to kind of be talking to each other a little bit more and maybe realizing how they can work together. You know things like that. And there’s kind of trying to share some of the same resources I guess.

Yeah absolutely. Well you know it’s funny even when you look back historically at skiing and snowboarding as cultures and industries.

You know also culturally siloed and even from a retail perspective you know a snowboard shop was really like the impetus of a snowboard shop was really a skate shop that sold snowboards in the winter time right.

So you know culturally we were more born out of kind of the Southern California surf so you know and where skiing is a much older sport and you know Skewes.

I mean you could I really geek out on like the anthropology of it all because you know skiing has this rich history that dates back to you know especially in Colorado around you know World War II and what was going on up at Camp Hale 10th Mountain Division.

I’ve read a cool book about that like the history of skiing in Colorado actually if people want to learn how these towns came to be what they are and how they got started they’ve got these amazing photographs of people on like 20 foot long two by fours basically in stories of guys who were taking the mail from the Crested Butte in the winter kind of thing.

And of course like one out of ten of them actually made it or whatever but they were in like was out everywhere. So if you’re into that it’s a good book it’s super fun to read. But yeah I know.

I mean it’s funny because I can kind of go off on a lot of different tangents and you know I don’t I don’t experience any of this in a linear way. It’s like a geek out on the history on the culture. How. How we’ve all kind of evolved as human beings in the mountains like over the last half century and you know so it’s interesting it’s kind of fun to be you know I’m I’m a skateboard kid snowboarder you know action sports oriented Gen X or you know. And whereas like I’d say the snowmobile culture and the industries that that serve them tend to be more Midwestern.

And so you know even there like there’s a cultural gap just like there’s a cultural gap between skiing and snowboarding there’s also a cultural gap between you know the Midwestern kind of Lake racing like NASCAR kind of sensibility as opposed to you know more of the mountain town type of culture that has grown up around ski areas and you know getting into the side country and you know of course accessing the back country around you know the different ski towns well.

And we kind of touched on something already and which was that you know Colorado is is blowing up. Absolutely. And to a degree you know mountain towns are all growing. These industries have been growing really fast. The idea of going into the back country that was super foreign and fringe not even 10 years ago is becoming way more popular. You know it’s really stressing the infrastructure and kind of the rules that were in place. So why don’t we kind of get into that and what you’re seeing and what you’re trying to do about it. As far as you know why is bad country access such an issue. And maybe one that’s not being addressed properly. And I think you’re one of the things we just touched on also is a cultural divide. Great day skiers versus snowboarders. The No. So Cal versus Midwest. I mean these are natural phenomenon. Totally. And anyone that you’re trying to have identified and are trying to create a conversation between is human powered versus motorized. Right. And so like how you know what. What

made you recognize that this conversation needed to be had and was being ignored or that we have more these people have more in common than they they know. I mean does that make it a little bit of an assumption. No

absolutely.

Like how it inspired you to kind of get organized around this.

And I use the word organize kind of leave I guess as time progresses we get more and more organized.

But yeah I mean I would say the short answer to that is just experience being out in the mountains.

You know I’ve been in most snowy western states in the United States and have access you know at least side country or back country or have snowmobile you know in a lot of different places and I’ve seen some of the different dynamics. You know you’ve got places like Jackson Hole. You know I grew up near Steamboat Springs Salt Lake.

I’ve been up to Valdez and Idaho you know and there’s all some very subtle differences depending on you know the economy the people the the terrain the ski area how they like. It’s kind of crazy how intertwined it all is. But you know some places are different than others like you know Valdez is an interesting situation because you’ve got these just ginormous.

I mean you can’t even explain how vast and huge the mountains are in the Chugach. And you know the cultures around that area around Valdez it’s like you know oil and gas and then a lot of fishery and you know so there’s a there’s a grit to the Alaskan people you know and they don’t have a lot of ski areas up there. So the mountains are huge. There’s no ski areas there’s not really a lot of lake left accessed terrain. And you know you like in the early 80s they started accessing those mountains using Bush planes which became then helicopters and that’s kind of where the the big mountain heli access skiing was born and a lot of ways.

But a lot of the people that were going there to do that came from Jackson Hole and you know Jackson has its terrain and these these crazy craggy mountains and you know it’s funny Jackson has a sign at the bottom of the trance like this mountain will kill you. You know that’s that’s lift accessed. Right.

And then you know you come down to Colorado and we’re more like rolling hills and a lot more meadows and you know trees and you know Valdez has like almost no trees on their mountains down here in Colorado like there’s trees everywhere. You know the snowpack is different from whether you’re on the coast or intercontinental you know. So you’ve got the warm wet dense snow that sticks to steeper slopes the closer you get to the ocean.

But intercontinental we get a lot more dry high pressure a lot of sunshine in-between our storm cycles. So you’ve got different avalanche dynamics cultural dynamics social economic dynamics. You know blue collar white collar dynamics. You know a place like Aspen there’s not a whole lot of blue collar people that are accessing the mountains around there is a lot more tightly condensed so there’s there’s actually a lot less snowmobile access around there as well.

And I think that’s a reflection of how gnarly the mountains are around Aspen. Avalanche Terrain and then obviously there’s a lot more money as well so people can buy you know swaths of land and so I know I’m kind of like jumping around in a lot of different ways but I guess the more I would travel to different mountain communities I noticed Lake you know like I was attacked by an older woman with who was snowshoeing up groom trail up Independence Pass in Aspen.

I had slowed down to you know stop and wave and you know try to keep space between me and her dogs. No no I was being respectful in my mind. But she just saw a robot on a snow machine and she came at me with her poll and you know I’m wearing a helmet and body armor and stuff so it didn’t hurt me.

Except it just kind of hurt my feelings that had you know that that that kind of a thing would happen or you know so it just you see a lot of people and how they relate to each other and I just I became almost obsessed with this like gap of understanding between you know a lot of the times between the the blue collar kind of hardworking entrepreneurial you know business owners who can afford things like snowmobiles and diesel trucks and you know there’s a grit to the way that you know that they can access the back country with their resources.

And then you know there’s those who have crazy money who could just go anywhere like they’d go to the Alps or they could go heli skiing and B.C. right. But when they come back to Aspen like they want a quiet kind of experience and you know so it’s funny like you just start to kind of see that there’s this gap of understanding between these different types of people who really want to go to the same places.

Right. And then you add to it like avalanche dynamics to that kind of a thing and the more people you get into the places that are mixed use you know it you can have situations such as you know groups getting up you know they woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning and they’ve been you know skinning all morning long and they get up onto a slope and four hours later the sun comes out and you know a group of snowmobilers comes into the valley and you know one snowmobiler breaks off and starts high marking on a slope next to the people who are have been skinning all morning and neither of them understand each other.

The snowmobiler might not even have any avalanche education. And he’s putting those people at risk. The people who are skinning up are just frustrated because he’s putting them in danger but they can’t have a conversation because he’s on a machine he’s got a helmet on. He doesn’t look like a human you know so you don’t have like a human dialogue an in person kind of connection going on as well.

So I use that example because that’s one of quite a few situations that have happened out there that you know when it gets laddered up people are like well what should we do. Oh you should talk to that John Miller guy. He’s trying to solve stuff like this and then I get the call and I’m like OK well let’s let’s think about this thought about it.

And you know and I think that’s where I’ve had the opportunity to start to get myself out there more because a lot of people are either on one side or the other and they can’t speak to the different perspectives.

And so I find myself in a lot of like you like arbitrarily and it happens in more ways than I ever would have imagined. Because I’m looking at it almost from a U.S. perspective. You

know like thinking about how one group you know sees the terrain and like the dynamics of there the realities of you know how they pack and how they travel and how they their group dynamics work and what happens if something goes wrong and you know thinking about it from that perspective but then also to be able to think about the same thing from a motorized perspective and to think that they’re all out there they’re all human beings that want to be in nature.

And you know the at the end of the day there’s so much that they can benefit one another. You know and I try to tell a lot of snowmobilers this that you know people are frustrated with the noise and you know just misunderstanding of what we’re out there to do on the machines. And I try to help the motor as people realize like Hey you’ve got actually a very valuable tool and resource that can be helpful and beneficial in so many ways to people who probably don’t understand that about you.

Right.

It’s like an avalanche forecasters use snowmobiles to get to their snow sticks or you know if if I see somebody out in the middle of nowhere what is it going to hurt for me to you know go up to them and take off my helmet and say hey I’m everything.

Killer day is good can I you know haul your your pack you know up the hill for you. Is there anything I can do to assist. And it’s funny how it changes the conversation and when people start using their their tools and their resources like in a positive way it starts to undermine those negative perceptions.

So you know I’ve been trying to find ways to get that conversation out there as well.

Interesting. What are some of the like. Are there any like real forums where this conversation is like what are your like.

You know I see you know I follow you on Facebook and I just kind of see some of the things you’re up to and and enjoy following your posts and your voice always you put out your good educational and awareness stuff as well. But I like to see like you know these events that you’re always like go to this event or I’m going to this event. And you know it helps me kind of get it again and a new perspective on different things that are happening around here that just aren’t really part of my normal kind of sphere. And so what are some of your like. Where are some of these conversations happening. Are there any a favorite or most.

Yeah. You know I think involved I think the thing where I’ve really been developing this brand over the last three years is by creating my own sort of social channels and building my own audience that has these people mixed together. And I’ve been doing it through mixing content that’s relevant to these different perspectives all in the one place.

So I think that’s probably the biggest way that I’ve been building this conversation as far as under the banner of my awareness.

 

What I didn’t do because your community will have snowmobilers but also just any other examples dirtying things mountain biking you know taking my family camping and simply focus on that we talk about the winter sports a lot but it really is more than that.

Yeah. And so you know one of the things I learned even from you is some of the rules are of how our food service works and how our know the designation between wilderness and forest land and parks and I’m just again I’m just not that familiar with the of different access that’s I call on a whole bunch of other things that it’s like a whole different thing. You have to educate yourself about it in order to really just to use utilize to to its fullest extent all these amazing resources that we have around here.

Well I think that’s probably become probably my my biggest passion that’s emerged out of you know when I started back country united I was thinking about stewardship education respect stewardship being in relation to the land education you know being mostly focused on avalanche awareness respect being more about people relating to one another respecting one another even if they might not be using the land in a way that you think is appropriate.

And then innovation I’ll get to that. Like toward the end of our product line you run away is that I’m trying to find ways to capitalize to fund me to continue to work on you know the first three tenors.

But yes so the public land piece I guess I kind of became aware of it about what years 2018 is now.

So it was 2014 that I became started becoming aware of some of the public land issues. And I think they were happening but it was still kind of people weren’t as aware of it. When I first started tuning into it the general public still isn’t really aware of it. And you know I started. And so basically I left the corporate world working for you know one of the leading snowmobile manufacturers for decade and then found myself sitting at a table in a boardroom with a bunch of Forest Service and National Forest Foundation leadership and I had the opportunity to work with them on another.

You know I’m a creative I’m an advertising creative director so as brought in for a project to get people aware that we had a media opportunity at Beaver Creek for the FIA World Ski Championships in 2015. And you know it’s kind of like it’s crazy it’s like they build a freaking Super Bowl stadium at the bottom of birds of prey for this event and you know draws a crowd from all over the country and the world really.

And you know so as all of these people were coming to these races they saw a media opportunity in partnership with Vail resorts to just educate people.

Hey did you know that you’re standing on your national forest right and you know so I have a lot of passion for that and I knew that you know our national forests are really the only place that’s still left for motorized use. A lot of sportsmen’s group I mean really it’s it’s our greatest.

As far as you know winter access goes especially winter access. From my perspective that the Forest Service lands were really the only place where we could you know experience freedom the way that we do out there.

And so it instantly like connected with my passion. I had already started back country united as a Facebook page a year and a half prior to that. And so my mind was already kind of working toward the idea of stewardship and. But yeah I started to become aware of bigger you know kind of public lands problems that these land managers were thinking of and that we had to kind of figure out how to create messaging communications that would represent you know the the the mission of you know like the Forest Service as a land management agency.

But then also just where society is trending right.

You know like Colorado was a great example because people are coming from all over the country right now. The Front Range of Colorado is I think the third fastest growing metropolitan area in the country right now. And I mean we’re seeing it pretty painfully. You know our infrastructure can barely handle the traffic that’s showing up and you know people are coming here for the Colorado lifestyle.

Sure the powder days the sunshine the mountains that are just right there out your back door. And you know it’s starting to feel like we’re reaching critical mass already.

And you know I’ve seen some some data projections that look like the Front Range of Colorado will be the largest megalopolis in North America by 2050 right.

So these are like issues like gas so the stuff we all came here for.

Absolutely.

Everybody came here for it.

And you know luckily that you know we have things like National Park Service and BLM lands and you know Forest Service and there’s a lot of wilderness you know.

And I started to become pretty you know I wouldn’t say that I can recite to you like what the Wilderness Act says word but I know.

But there’s differences and subtleties in what the definitions of all those different lands are and it’s very important that the American public knows and we really most people don’t know.

Yeah I certainly don’t. And let me ask you a question. Oh here we go. What’s your favorite national forest. My favorite national forest. Don’t

be afraid that something I’m going to go ahead and say just because I’ve driven through there are a couple of times I believe. How do you pronounce it the one where you like when you’re on your way to tell you right and come on think about that a national forest.

You can work. You pass it pass that you like.

You know it’s funny a lot of people when you ask that question What’s your favorite National Forest. They’ll just blurt out Yosemite. Right. Yellowstone Johnson you know like well that’s National Park Service. They said under the Department of Interior totally different department of the government.

And so these things don’t even sit in the same silo.

Now they have to work together because a lot of the lands are adjacent to one another. And when you’re talking about Lake Watershed and you know forestry and stuff like that like you know it I’m sure there’s a lot of gray areas. I can’t speak to the shore millions of intricate technicalities that you know the land managers of all their different roles could say. But you know there’s absolutely a difference between like Rocky Mountain National Park for instance which has some wilderness attached to it. I think it’s mostly wilderness. We may have to edit this out because I can’t speak specifically. But then like you know Indian Peaks Wilderness just right here in our backyard like most of these front range mountains are not motorized. Right. Frankly we wouldn’t want to ride snowmobiles on them anyway because the snow pack just typically isn’t isn’t there. He’s over. So that’s a convenient human powered corridor that you know there’s not a lot of conflict there.

But they have even had to regulate like cycling. I mean like the. Yeah.

And then you get the you know the crazy people who hate the mountain bikers that put spikes you know in the trails and you know are literally endangering people’s lives over you know selfish ideal that you know the way they perceived that land is more righteous than the way those people perceive that land right now.

And really all we’re trying to do is get some exercise and enjoy the clean air and you know the scenery and the challenge the physical challenge the mental challenge. You know a lot of the human power people say will tell you that the snowmobilers are just fat and lazy and you know they don’t you know anybody can just sit on a snowmobile and go up the mountain.

Well I I’ve tried it once and I can tell you is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. You’re not going to be fat lazy by in that 400 pound thing around or how much it weighs you. Like you said earlier even the humbling way to put it silly.

I mean these cultures you know is such a good word that like these different cultures and so you know if you break down and that’s like the conversation that I guess you’re trying to have which makes so much sense which is that. No it’s not. It’s not hard to draw a similar line between human powered and motor powered when they’re having the same conversation within human powered between hikers and bikers.

And so it’s like well they may be like well take a bike or over a snowmobile. It’s like you’re still having that same conversation. There’s there’s space out there that has limited access. I mean there’s tons of space out there but most of it is hard to reach.

And and thankfully I think it’s good that some terrain manages itself that way that you know we almost couldn’t conquer it right.

You know and you’re predominantly probably going to reach land that’s out of reach of a hiker or snowshoe or generally you’re late for a little while you’re in the same place.

Yeah and that’s and it’s typically where a lot of the conflicts happen at the parking lot right. I went to a South Lake Tahoe a year ago for my level one instructor training course with every American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education.

And we had a couple of days out in the field and you know I was blown away by how many people of all use we’re sharing the same parking lots and and that that to me and a little bit to some of the dynamics of you know the Tahoe area. As far as the human powered motorized. And then a few weeks later I was at S.A with a snowmobile on display for our products with our partners Westend snowboards. And it was pretty interesting the conversations I had with people for four days at that event was just a real quick snow sports industries of America. So it’s you know the largest ski snowboard retailer here show OK which is in Denver now.

And yes you know it.

I clearly remember an older gentleman probably you know late 50s came up to me checking out the snowmobile and you know it took for for whatever reason he felt it necessary to tell me how much he hates snowmobilers. Right. You know total stranger walking up to me to say I hate you. Right.

And then it’s like oh OK well let’s talk about that you know and he’s like Yeah you guys are just you stink your smoking up the place. You

know you’re so loud you’re driving every you know wild land creature away. You guys are just trashing the place like I hate snowmobilers.

And I was like well you know.

Have you ever talked to snowblowers it’s like Yeah there’s just just so inconsiderate they’re rude.

You know they litter in the parking lot you know. I mean he just he couldn’t say anything good. And I was like well you know I would challenge you to to realize that most snowmobilers are family oriented community oriented like you know that trail that you skin effortlessly up you know who pays for that Snowmobile registrations. You know who grooms that trail. Probably a snowmobiler is probably paid for by a snowmobile club.

You know who gives you your avalanche forecasts. Probably a guy on a snowmobile. You get lost out there. Guess who’s gonna come and save you in the middle of night in a blizzard of search and rescue can’t get in there with a helicopter. It’s going to be a group of local snowmobilers that will gladly you know put themselves in harm’s way to rescue you. And I was just like you know you got to understand how much value the snowmobilers bring to your back country experience.

And the second that you need them are going to be there. And and I hope that you can see that you know by the end of the conversation I mean we probably talked for you know 45 minutes and he was shaking my hand and he was you know just super grateful and we just had this really amazing conversation and I didn’t even I wasn’t there for that conversation. I was there to you know hopefully get people’s eyes on my product line right.

But while I was doing you know just got to have a really powerful conversation that I think you know I would imagine probably changed his perception a lot of ways.

Surely you know at least opened his eyes and he was he didn’t. Didn’t sound like he approached you he was really open to really having conversations there’s no way that he wanted to invite in the beginning. But you know and then you never know where that guy takes that conversation.

Absolutely. And so because he goes up in the mountains with his friends and you know they’ve probably been grumbling about it for years every day when they get to the parking lot or whatever but you know maybe it maybe changed things a little bit.

It’s funny even in you know in Colorado I have the conversation quite a bit where if I start getting into it with somebody who hates snowmobiles in Colorado especially in the front range especially people from Boulder I don’t know what it is. You know I can very easily say you know you probably drove past 100 trailheads where snowmobiles weren’t allowed before you got to this place that you’re so angry about snowmobiles right.

You know you know everybody goes to El Paso like when it like Vail passes like the you know I think actually I learned that Vail passes the most utilized mixed use. Winter

back country recreation area in North America maybe not North America. But in the United States it’s interesting to see the conflict that exists there right. You know when on the you know the Eagle’s Nest area the Gore range that’s all human powered. You can’t get a machine in there.

There’s plenty of terrain all day long if you don’t want to smell snowmobile smoke you’re only going to smell it when you’re in the parking lot at the parking lot. And you know the the trail network is all funded by snowmobilers you know. And then there’s you know snowcat operator there who does power guides. You know he’s frustrated now because skiers and snowboarders are now realizing that the snowmobile can take them to where he’s been taking his clients for 20 years.

Right. You know and I mean it just and there’s now there’s you know speed flyers you know skiers with parachutes they go there to learn that.

And there’s there’s timber sleds now so snow bikes motorcycles that are getting converted into snowmobiles basically. And you know you don’t even have any skills you can just go anywhere you want to go on those things. Really. Yeah.

And then there is you know the guys who have been going up Vail Pass for 30 40 plus years who truly believe that the people who have aftermarket exhaust on their snowmobiles did it purposefully just to piss that person off and so you just got all these different people that don’t realize that like OK if you’ve got a problem there’s a thousand other places you could go within 20 minutes of here where you wouldn’t even have to deal with that problem.

You know and there’s far more options. Yeah. Like you said like you’re have limited options.

Yeah I mean it probably seems like we have a lot of areas to ride but you know each year goes by and it gets cut down less and less. There’s there’s a lot of groups that their sole nonprofit groups that their sole mission of their organizations which have become very well funded very well organized have a lot of political influence.

Their sole mission is to create more wilderness which closes off even more and more riding areas. And you know and then in a place like Colorado where more and more wealthy people are moving you know they’re buying plots of land that that border you know national forests as well. So you know it’s literally like closing in on us while our population is exploding.

Well the ski resorts have become so crowded that more and more people are going to the side country when more and more people are going inside country.

More and more of the people who used to go inside country are now going into the back country. And you know you can see how this thing is just growing and you know now we’re seeing a lot of these public land issues really coming to fruition. Maybe I wouldn’t call it fruition.

It’s more of a say a negative history of reaching kind of a tipping point like under the surface a little bit.

Yeah I mean you know in a few weeks we’re going to have the outdoor retailer an essay. So S.A was its own show before. Now they’re combining the two and I mean it’s going to be the largest outdoor industry retailer show. I mean I think the only one bigger is ASPO in Germany. But yeah I mean it’s a big deal and it’s going to bring a lot of business. Colorado Malatya startups in the outdoor space are going to start happening more and more in Colorado.

You know the state of Colorado is very focused on growing the outdoor industry. And as you know as a giant right there with aerospace and you know M-M J. Yeah. So you know I think we’re going to see a lot more of that industry growth in Colorado and the political weight behind it is significant.

You know the the Outdoor Industry Association I believe they’re based in Boulder. They have and I haven’t seen the actual itemized breakdown of numbers but you know they’ve basically come to the conclusion that the outdoor industry is eight hundred eighty seven billion dollar industry. The third largest economic driver in the American economy twice that of oil and gas. Right.

And you know you can see why that organization of statistics makes so much political sense because it gives state governments like Colorado a lot more clout weight to swing around in attracting that type of industry here and you know outdoor retailer has moved Colorado because of how the state of Utah was handling public lands issues.

And so it was that the May I read about that move being made. I didn’t understand I did. I’m just not knowledgeable about that industry enough to understand. I figure is more like population or economically based but I wasn’t sure like that.

It’s not the short of it is basically you know the people who are running Eutaw government are predominantly fighting for state management of their public lands. And what that has done historically from what I’ve heard is that the states can’t afford to manage that kind of resource.

Yeah.

And you know and I mean you could take use the metaphorical example on a more micro level of like what happens if I can’t afford to pay my mortgage right. I have to sell my house or I have to find a way to subsidize the cost of my house by renting out the basement or something. Right. It’s like that except you know if they can’t afford to manage those lands you know they’re going to put in extractive industry in there where they can make money off of it. Profit off of it.

And you know so it’s just too tempting like the day if you know if there there’s a budget gap or there’s you know there’s things you want to pay for and you know there’s always people whispering and you’re like well if you we just do this then yeah we’ll get this like rent you know basically absolutely you know.

And then once you start like opening the Pandora’s Box of public land issues you start realizing You know the snow that we ride on in the winter is the water that in under served community in Detroit.

Yeah. That’s their clean water. You know the air we breathe that we take advantage take for granted. You know the thing about like China where there’s so much air pollution right. You know they just wear masks and they assume it’s normal. All right we have a brown day in Denver and you know it’s like it’s noticeable you know we. So we take our clean air and our clean water for granted.

I mean those are like the two most elemental you know life support systems of our our way of life our lifestyle our quality of life as Americans. And yet had another thought. But I’m kind of going down the list.

I mean well this public lands thing like you said it’s such a big issue and it’s super complex. You’re dealing with national level issues state level issues all these different bureaus. The land is in all these different groups there aren’t even in one spot.

It’s all in the lands literally serve everyone right in some way that’s vital to the very life that we take for granted you know and then you get into like you know native tribe issues. Yeah you know and it’s just I mean the rabbit hole is endless on this stuff and you start going historical as well. And you know there’s a lot of different perspectives clamoring for access right when it comes down to it.

And well I think one of the things it sounds like you’re saying is like you and people need to be open to the fact that there’s a lot of different ways to access and enjoy this land this not doing like any permanent damage to it or anything like that. And you know. No. No one is right. And a lot of communication just respect kind of needs to be had there. And you know this kind of sounds like what.

Well yeah there’s something for everybody already without having to like by just staying status quo. And that’s my wish. I wish the you know the wilderness that exists.

It doesn’t change the multiuse that exists doesn’t change the way over snow vehicles travel in the winter doesn’t change national parks they don’t change like you know of course private property. That’s a whole different conversation that I had. I mean I don’t even have the bandwidth to think about those implications. But there’s just the more that it changes the crazier it’s going to get.

You know it’s going to become just another one of the many political divides that are going on in our culture right now. You know spiritually energetically you know this divide between people that you know and and that’s when it starts getting political and you know it’s just you know it’s funny because recreation was kind of an accident. When you look at it like when you know the U.S. Forest Service started the reason why the Forest Service sits under the USDA is because trees grow their crop.

You know General like I’m generally speaking there’s a lot of intricacies beyond that. And BLM is about what’s under the ground. So it’s more about mineral rights and you know I’m sure there’s BLM lands that you know worry about forestry and I’m sure there’s Forest Service lands I worry about mineral rights but you know generally speaking I think that’s why they were designated the way that they were.

And it was a totally different business model profit center that was set up under the Department of Interior. You know and if you kind of compare the differences you know again it’s like if you want to understand anything you follow the money right. Yeah and you know it operates because like you go to Rocky Mountain National Park. What do you have to do before you even enter. Yeah we have to pay you know U.S. Forest Service lands what pays for that water usage timber.

You know probably some mining in certain places certain states probably some natural gas extraction in certain places a whole lot of outfitter like guiding permits you know hunting fishing and this is where it starts getting back into the recreation space right. You know OHV trail permits.

You know Vail Resorts for instance is the largest I think they’re the largest per Mitie hike in the recreation space. National Forest land.

So you don’t have to imagine when you think about like how much terrain they they use. Right.

Right. So how do you all well and how do you compare the dollars coming in through permits and stuff like that.

And the dollars that come in through the traffic jam at Yellowstone right that you know two totally different models. You know and and you know I think like Utah has a lot of BLM lands. You know it’s it’s I think more BLM than Forest Service but you know you think about how much mining is going on in Utah and I think that’s a big. Another big reason why there’s so much turmoil in Utah is because there’s so many minerals under the ground there.

Then when they go extract in those in that context I mean they’re changing the landscape right now in Colorado like I mean we actually need more trees cut down because of the beetle kill problem here you know. Right. Whereas like in the Pacific Northwest you know they’re cutting trees down and then they grow so fast you know they just re vegetate the area. Right. You know 20 years there’s a new forest that looks like more like a grid. It’s less organic but right you know.

So there are all those differences but when it comes down to it there’s skiers and snowboarders and snowmobilers and dirt bikers and mountain bikers and kayakers and rock climbers mountaineers and families that want to take their Airstream.

It’s crazy. I took a trip to Moab recently and if you want to just see like motorized access in the country and just go out there you get to your hotel the parking lot is a little out of control. Just full of rigs with huge trailers with like 10 side by sides on the back of dirt bikes and driver and you go to breakfast and everyone’s there at 6:00 in the morning and that like 7 o’clock in the morning that parking lots empty like they all scatter all over.

And you know that just goes to show like that. That’s you know that’s kind of what. That’s one of the freedoms we have right there. This land is paid for and a lot of different ways including all of our taxes. And things like that.

You know that’s part of the picture in which we should actually be grateful for any form of way that preserves our freedom. You know. Yeah. Like yeah we don’t want to change the landscape.

But maybe there’s some crappy flatlands. You know it’s OK if we drill that stuff you know.

But let’s not destroy the Rocky Mountains or the road you know Escalante Canyon. Right.

And you know and just to you know it’s complex man. It is like the Organization of the land. Is complex. The issues are complex. The cultures are complex and varied. The demographics of all of these things are complex and so I think it just gets back to what you’ve started here as a method of communication. And usually that’s where things need to start. And that’s where problems get solved. So

you know you’re like if I have solved any problems you’ve brought you’ve had that conversation with one guy that show.

Like that’s one that’s how grassroots things happen.

And especially if it’s you know in your particular your main focus which is you know keeping access for motorized access is you know it’s just you know is under represented and so you know I’m curious. You know you said you’ve come across some really good supporters as you’ve a view as you’ve started. You know this thing kind of organically grew from a Facebook page today to what it is now which is really interesting you know when to go check it out. You know again back country united ICOM.

You see the focus like there’s this you know we spent most of our time talking about these issues because that’s what you really mainly talk about. There’s avalanche awareness stuff on there as the most. It’s like a resource page for other really good resources that are out there. You’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything like that.

And then there’s your products that help support this effort also. But you know we were speaking just briefly before we started here. And you really wanted to make sure you had a chance to kind of pay for and get some.

Just like shout to some people because I guess you know why you’ve been having these conversations and as you’ve been on this journey you know you’re coming across a lot of headwinds and so anybody who’s ever started a new project or new business or knows what that journey is like. And people who get behind you like really make all the difference in the world. So let’s talk about some of the people have got behind you on this. Oh

man. I could take another hour knocking about people you know. I got to get to know some of the legends of the snowmobile sport guys like Randy Sherman Chris Brandt Dan Adams Keith Curtis gosh Jeremy Mercier there’s just so many great snowmobiler professional athletes snowmobiler personalities out there that have all just been so awesome I’ve gotten to work with people like that.

You know again Todd Williams. You know photographers tend to get together with a lot of athletes and media producer type of people so no one would know what you guys were doing back there.

Yeah they were part of our own problems.

I really like all you see is the parking lot you know you and you want to go see you like what these guys are doing snowmobiles in the back country.

Yeah the mystique is gone.

But as it continues to you know rapidly evolve as well. You know there’s a lot of people in Colorado as well the guys over at the public works Mike arts Ian Foreman both those guys are photographer phenomenal photographers they shoot a lot of stuff and like Warren Miller and you know Red Bull and Levis and do some cool stuff out there. The guys from and snowboards Mason Davey and Leo.

You know their grassroots snowboard brand that’s focused on split boarding. I connected with them because they got into snowmobiling and now so they’re they’re kind of more on the human powered side and I think that I’ve been like the snowmobile guru in their network.

And you know we we really value our relationships with one another. I worked on the Vail Pass taskforce which is a nonprofit that supports the bill past winter recreation area. So you know they were a human powered motorized committee that got together in the 80s when same things were going on back then.

I mean people were stringing up barbwire to you know decapitate snowmobilers and choose guns getting drawn in. So you know we’ll pass taskforce kind of came up as a way to bring people together to solve some of those same issues. You know this was 30 years ago. Right. And let’s see. To be outerwear there a Swedish company I met the founder I guess about 10 years ago at an event called heydays in Minnesota. It’s a big snowmobile it’s like the Sturgis of snowmobile.

I only imagine what that’s like. Oh man it’s pretty rowdy. But we hit it off. He

came out to Colorado. I took him to Wolf Creek Pass you know for a few days in late spring. We had one year let him use one of my sleds and you know made a lifelong friend and actually met another guy named Matt ense who’s has a company called Mountain skills with Matt ense.

He’s pretty phenomenal snowmobile athlete down in South Fork. He does avalanche training and also guides a lot of people. Man I could just go on I think I’m like forgetting a thousand people. Yeah there’s just a lot of really incredible people and you know and then in the last few years I’ve been working with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation.

As you know this is like Creative Director side work it’s not even really under technically under the banner of backcountry united,  backcountry united it has kind of created my my voice and my my thinking and my relationships. And so it’s been a natural tie and to you know be working on my passion project. But then also working toward conservation efforts for the forests that we enjoy got to work on. You know I was talking about a little bit about that campaign.

It’s called. It’s all yours. And you know it’s really special for me to be a part of that voice creating that message. You know that can relate to every user every American you know whether you’re you know that inner city kid to the you know somebody at a ski area a snowmobile or to a hunter to you know whatever walk of life you come from the public lands belong every one of us.

They don’t just belong to one group who happens to be hiking into it more than other people. Right. We just all have access to it and some are more privy to it than others. But you know it’s really important for me to get involved and work like that. And you know and so it’s informing back country united and back country united is informing that work and you know I’ve been I’ve got a wife and three kids I’ve been very blessed to have survived.

You know four years out on my own since I left the corporate world you don’t do work that I really am passionate about. And you know I got to go to D.C. last summer and got to meet with some of the you know top leadership from all sorts of different perspectives with the United States Forest Service the agency and the Forest Foundation and you know it’s interesting for me as a small town kid from a coal mining town in northwest Colorado who’s passionate about snowmobiling to sit in a room with people who are coming from all over the country you know really they’re the ones steering the ship and guiding how these lands are managed and all their infinite ways. Right.

You know I’m probably I’ve probably seen more places that they manage in person as far as you know winter back country goes than I think a lot had. So I think just my experience and my background I know even those on the ground. I mean these people I mean these people are just so brilliant and they’re like on a on a level that you know super humbled in their presence to even be having conversations you know.

And I realized that I have a great perspective that wasn’t really especially represented and right in a collaborative conversation like that now and I think a lot of the snowmobile you know advocacy groups and other motorized advocacy groups you know they’re so focused on fighting lawsuits at the federal level that at that point there’s no collaboration. It’s just everybody is on the defense and they’re just two forces fighting against one another.

Where I’ve got this really cool opportunity to kind of bridge the gap and be able to like sometimes like like a spy a secret spy that you know relate to two different sides of the issue and it’s kind of funny I was actually speaking with a pro skier this girl Lindsey DYAR pro skier up in Jackson doctor yesterday actually and she was saying you know you really should think about getting into politics and I’m like yeah you know quite a few people have been saying that to me lately.

And she’s like No seriously dude you get off your ass and go step up and I’m like oh yeah OK I guess I’ve come so far down this path.

Right.

You know again I don’t know where any of it’s going but just gaining like this collective knowledge is a start because it’s so complex.

Having conversations with a bunch of dick constituents in a debate is another huge leg up because that’s where movements happen. And that’s really where progress happens. And you’ve got to have passion for it because you know it’s so much energy and it’s so much commitment.

So not everyone you know everyone’s just so much easier just to go into defense mode and protect your interest. And then just not. It takes energy to look at things from all the different angles it takes energy to go like twisted down and have a collaborative discussion and try to like let’s get to know each other you know and so live in it. I

mean there’s a lot of situations I’m really uncomfortable in because I feel like I’m strongly advocating one side more than the other. And so I get tested in ways that I didn’t even see coming and you know and it applies to all facets of life. You

know it forces me into a lot of uncomfortable situations that I have to just take a breath and have faith and you know come into it feeling positive that the other people I’m talking to have good intentions to write you know and you know I certainly have a lot of things that I’m still working through.

You know just from a personal growth standpoint. And we didn’t even talk about the business entrepreneurial side.

You know so you’ll have men I think you know when you come back when you’re you know running for office and you want to talk to the audience you know. We’ll see. You know we’re all those things live it. I mean it sounds like you know again you put yourself out there and you know that’s kind of part of what this podcast was about. You

put yourself out there and you start meeting really interesting people and having conversations about what they’re passionate about it really. You know you learned so much I learn so much from from talking to my guests and people like you and I get to just tap into your wisdom and just get a little bit of the cliff notes version and record it so I can listen to it again because if we are I’ll have a few beers and had this conversation going like what was that thing you mention go down all sorts of different tangents in so you don’t so if you have to do it again some time you know we will.

And I’d love to Yeah. And so. So you mentioned a couple things I just want to ask and these are quick ones. And at the same time they can be very difficult. First you said you have spent so much time actually out there in the land and you know different access points different you know recreational areas and things like that.

We’ll keep it to Colorado and Colorado focus your favorites are hard man is there is there a favorite. Do you have like a. Sometimes it’s like it’s my favorite because it’s where I can go one step at a time. You’re turning around on me.

I am getting your local knowledge man and you mislead me you know but that’s also. Yeah. And so Kansas is great the city of Kansas snowmobiling though you know again like I don’t know a lot of hikes.

But at the end of the day my favorite ones like the one that’s in my backyard because it’s what I do when I have limited time but if I have a week drink that’s that’s a different thing. But anyway like anything out there what you’re just like man or maybe a surprise where you’re just like wow like I didn’t think this is going to be something that sticks out for me.

It’s funny.

And I never thought I would have answered the question this way when I was younger but the place I grew up is kind of has become this like really special place that you know I spent my whole life trying to get out of Colorado. Now that I have you know a family three kids and two dogs and you know it’s some slides of your own.

Yeah there’s a part of me that wants to go back and there’s still so much land unexplored out there and you know and now that my my dad he’s not really in the health to go to a lot of the places he used to you know give me piggyback rides ride to get me the last you know three miles back to the truck you know.

Now I kind of want to take my kids to those places and kind of backtrack and figure out you know oh that was that was that place that you know I caught that one fish or that place where I’d lost my shoe in the Green River and had to wrap my T-shirt around my foot to hiked for ten miles.

No. Yes.

You know northwest Colorado Moffat County Browns Park Dinosaur National Monument. You know these aren’t even places where you snowmobile. There really places where you know I wish I had a big RV camper and you know a couple of dirt bikes and a side by side and some mountain bikes and you know take my family and camp out for a couple of weeks.

I mean there’s still wildlife wild horses running free out there and I mean just I mean you can get lost you know. A lot of it’s sagebrush country. But you know it’s kind of the last frontier of Colorado and a lot of ways and you know and it’s also a kind of a depressed town because you know the hit that the coal industry has taken. So you know there’s a part of me also that that cares a lot about the community that I grew up in and you know I’m wondering if maybe that’s where I get into politics or right. You know there’s ways that I can help them from a marketing standpoint to drive more tourism if you know Colorado is growing in the tourism segment and you know maybe there’s other ways to boost their economy and help a lot of the people that I grew up with.

And you know so and it’s funny because you know as much as the state has changed you know especially in the last five years. But I mean I left Craig Colorado in 94. And it really hasn’t changed that much. And I like that right now. So yeah I think that’s kind of like full circle you know.

Yeah and that’s fun.

I think I want to you know move to Alaska or Idaho before you know those are kind of like bucketlist things but I could see myself going back to northwest Colorado.

Gacha that’s awesome. And then you know and then the last thing I know you gave me a when we talked about some of these supporters you know to make sure we dig up resources and put links to make you can find it. You know all that kind of stuff. But if you could pick one or couple for different reasons that you’d like to hear their story on this podcast man who would you like to hear on this or who do you think the audience would really benefit. You

know I’m going to just throw a dart in my head and it’s going to land on Mason Davey of West and snowboards.

They’re great little grassroots snowboard and split Ward brand focused on back country travel. You know they’ve they’ve really grown a lot in the last couple of years and you know I’d say Mason is probably my biggest champion out there. Nice you know one of my biggest supporters and so you know I’m I’m calling you out Maysam.

Maybe you can help put us in touch fit. We’ll definitely love to meet those guys. I definitely feel like I’m seeing their stuff around more.

Yeah they’re doing great.

They’re just really special people and you know they’ve figured out a way to make you know their following is their family. It’s less about like hey we’re the cool snowboard company like you wished you could hang out with us. It’s more like oh hey you want to come along. Absolutely. We got a Snowcat Yeah. You know we’ve got sleds like let’s go split boards. You’ve never done it before. No problem like we’ll teach you everything you know. It’s just that sense of community that you know you can see how that’s a reflection of all the energy that I’m putting out as well and you know I think the further down the rabbit hole I go you know the more people like that that I tend to attract to what I’m doing and again those are those are the kind of people that I want to be around too.

Yeah for sure not. That’s a powerful powerful thing. So you know and I just I know we could go on. These

are again you know this is just the tip of the iceberg. You

know a lot of times when you know you’re talking to somebody about their company and they your or their you when I talked to the people more about at a nonprofit or some like that tends to be super complex.

You know and people’s stories buying companies are are really amazing. But you’re really in a complex space and so it’s harder Les educate all of that and in this span of time and you know I just appreciate having these conversations because when we spoke on the phone we were just calling just to like catch up and touch base again after you know we had met a couple of years ago. And I ended up just getting just like you know education about you know what you’re up to. And I was I again I was I wish I was just running a tape recorder then because it’s something that really impacts us all. Like you said we were you know I I’m pretty new to Colorado three years or so and you know there’s a lot of people like me move in here and a lot of people say well like we’re part of the problem. But we’re all moving here. It’s happening and there’s a lot of issues that affect us all and that we don’t know about. And

that’s why it’s so important to make connections like this because you know had you never met me or if you didn’t know Todd Williams you know you might also think that snowmobilers were you know the devil incarnate in the back country and you know now that you’ve got those relationships and you know that there is a community out there that cares about the land despite what you know the political divide says crime. You know it’s just it just continues to spread that way you know.

It’s all we can do. Like just keep talking totally man. Again I appreciate you taking the time to come over and sit down and talk about what back country united is up to. We’ll be sure to put all the links to everything Backcountry United at backcountry united on Facebook and Instagram.

And we also have some products for your snowmobile accessories for the skier and snowboarder and then we’re trying to expand our branded merchandise because not everybody owns a snowmobile. You know so. Sure. And I’m you know creative art director background so you know my big strength and all this has just been I can design logos tagline.

So that’s probably been the coolest part of you know all of this from the beginning and have an outlet for your creative juices.

Yeah. So you know if you if you have a snowmobile or you’re getting into snowmobiling and you want to learn about how to access that way and you know curious about some of the tools and equipment to enable those adventures hit me up I love making new friends I love sharing this this amazing life. And you know these amazing places with. With other people who are stoked to.

You know go on an adventure. And yeah that’s you know probably the biggest reason why I’m doing all this.

Hey that’s a good reason to get outside right. Absolutely. Awesome. Thanks again. I appreciate it. I look forward to just like fall on this journey. More and we’ll talk again sometime soon. Thanks so much.

Thank you.

All right everyone thanks for listening. I hope you join this conversation. I know it was a long one. But again it’s a complex topic and you know but it’s really an important one to us. As we mentioned in the intro you can find links to any related content that we talk about in the show notes to this podcast episode.

If you enjoyed the episode you are enjoying Colorado FM please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave review if you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via e-mail or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android. You can learn more at Colorado dot fm slash subscribe. Thanks again. I really hope you enjoyed this episode and we will see you next time.

#009 Venture Snowboards – Finding The Soul of a Snowboard Company with Klem and Lisa Branner

Venture Snowboards

Venture Snowboards on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

 

Thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.

So for this episode I made it out to Silverton, Colorado to visit Klem and Lisa Branner of Venture Snowboards.  

First of all, I had never been to Silverton before so it was really exciting.  Not only was the drive from Ouray just spectacular, I also took the time the drive out to the infamous Silverton Mountain Ski Area, which of course is a double chair lift and a couple of old busses.  No lodge or anything like that.

It was super cool to have a chance to wander around Silverton.  It’s just everything an old western mountain town is supposed to be.

As far as meeting Lisa and Klem, the founders of Venture Snowboards, it was really just a highlight of my trip.  You just couldn’t meeting cooler people, really creating and living the dream out in Silverton.

We get into some history of Venture and how it grew from basically a garage operation to a factory in Silverton, but don’t let the word factory fool you.  These boards are completely hand made.  They have just been able to create a process to ensure a product of the absolutely highest quality – A fact that isn’t lost on guides all over the state.

We talk about new products and what they are riding this year as well as some awesome events to look forward to, notably a winter kickoff party with Ska brewing in Durango on November 4.

Online, you can find Venture at venturesnowboards.com and on instagram @venturesnow.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Klem and Lisa Branner of Venture Snowboards..

 


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Show Notes

[2:45] What brought you to Colorado / Silverton?

[6:10] Venture moved to Silverton in 2007, how that move has helped hone the brand

[9:30] Having a business in Silverton

[10:45] It’s all about the core

[12:45] Product development, backcountry testing

[14:00] Upcoming events – Demo days, Splitfest, Avy Level 1

[19:19] Partners speak to quality

[21:40] What’s new – Why they are riding the Paragon / Oracle this season

[24:50] Rough Cut Series – Showing the process

[27:00] Ska Brewing – Season kickoff party

 

Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Venture Snowboards:

On the Web: venturesnowboards.com

On Facebook or Instagram @venturesnow.

Youtube: Rough Cut Series

Events:

Season Kickoff Party with Ska Brewing – Nov 4, 2017

Avy 1 for Splitboarders – Feb 9-11 & March 9-11, 2018

Spring Fling – March 31, 2018

Splitfest Silverton – April 12-15, 2018

Beartooth Sessions – May 25-28, 2018

Demo Tour – Stay tuned!

 

Partners / References:

Ska Brewing

Silverton Mountain

Silverton Mountain Guides

Silverton Avalanche School

AIARE Level 1

Irwin Guides

Silverton, Colorado

Farmington Hill

 


Transcript

 

Lisa, Klem thank you so much for taking some time to sit down talk with me about Venture snowboards. But before we kind of get into the boards themselves in you know what people are actually right now and what they’re coming here for.

What brought you to Colorado? I’m not exactly sure where you are from. If you’re from Colorado but. And then specifically how do you get up in Silverton and what made you aside from the beautiful view. Like what made you want to kind of put some roots down in Silverton.

The beautiful view that’s definitely part of it. Yeah we’re we’re not from Colorado. We’ve been in Colorado for like 20 years now. I came originally to Fort Collins and then Denver after that and then Bayfield and finally Silverton then the excuse to come to Colorado we had met in New York.

The excuse to come here was grad school but really we came for the mountains. Clem’s been a diehard snowboarder since he was in his early teens and had been out here on family vacations and just had it in his head that this is where he wanted to be. And so officially the reason was grad school but unofficially it was to get into the mountains. And we’ve been here ever since.

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Yeah. Nice. Yeah. I mean I think you know the first conversation I’ve had this week for people that there’s another guy the guys from Romp. I think they started New Hampshire came out to Western and it was like I just wanted to get to the mountains.  So schools are a great opportunity to make that kind of move. And then once you’re in Silverton you know what is it about this town that made you want to stay because it sounds like you’re slowly like kind of making your way to this southwestern part of the state.

Yeah we had our eye on this part of the state for a while and it just took us a while to figure out how to actually make it happen even in the days when we were living up in Fort Collins and Denver area. We would watch the snow forecast and when we saw it was puking in southwest Colorado I’d call Klem from work and I’d be like load up the car we’re going and we’d come down and ride and Wolf Creek was actually the place that we would go the most.

At that point in time but as we started coming down here and getting more familiar with the other ski areas and learned about Silverton mountain opening up that was kind of the clincher that clam just latched on to that idea. You know getting to know these mountains better. And the idea of this untracked terrain and big mountain terrain that you could get to with just that single chairlift and lots of hiking that was that was the appeal.

And yeah we bounced from place to place until we could figure out how to make it work I had been working a day job for years and when we made the leap down to Bayfield because we couldn’t afford Durango. And prices have only gotten worse since then. We were you know scouting the area and trying to figure out if we could make Silverton actually happen. And when the company got to a point where it was sustaining itself enough that we could both work for it full time better when we took the plunge.

So and you can just look out the window and see why. And you know I appreciate you taking the time to just show me around and give me the tour and one of the things that we were talking about was that. Venture actually started in 1999 when you were still out in Fort Collins and you were. But really when you got here and this is when you were able to I guess kind of step it up and get the real manufacturing process in place.

Exactly.  That was kind of the jump from just being in the garage and basement and all that kind of stuff to being in a real industrial space and be able to have employees and make noise and turn you into or make more of a factory than a home workshop kind of thing. Right.

And that was like 2007. You said you’ve been here 10 years. It’s grown.

Yeah yeah. We’ve been in Silverton just about a decade now.

That’s awesome. So. You know is that the moment I had it written down here you know when you go through this entrepreneurial journey it’s you know high highs and lows and all sorts of things like that. Was that was that moment when you were scouting certain was that and I guess you had built Venture Snowboards up to a certain kind of capacity at that point or was that the moment where you were like yeah like this is really kind of happening we don’t need other jobs and things like that is this how it happened before that

It was when we moved from Denver to be a field that was kind of OK. We are doing this for real. But financially we weren’t there for it wasn’t really a viable business.

Want but not always when we really just said OK this is this is a great time and I had a you know a day job that was a real pill. I was working on this around the clock trying to make it all you know. Trying to figure it all out. So that was kind of when we really made the commitment. But I would say the move to Silverton and that was that was when it kind of became real. That really cemented it.

And that also shortly after we moved to Silverton is when we started building split boards. So I really I think that being here helped us hone the brand and really define ourselves a little bit more what it was that we were about. And for us for a long time now it’s been about powder riding. It’s been about big mountain riding in back country and Silverton being surrounded by public lands and you know some of the steepest terrain in Colorado some of the steepest terrain in the lower 48 that really helps shape the boards and shape the brand. And I think help it blossom I guess you know from what we we were feeling like it was but it wasn’t quite there. And that just cemented it and really crystallized it.

Yeah well I mean Silverton mountain has this mystique right. I mean it is just totally different than anything else that’s going on in Colorado. It’s basically just like lift access back country and riding that terrain all the time being associated with that mountain. And what’s going on here. Definitely like you said I can see how that hones your brand. You definitely getting a lot of that country product testing.

I’m assuming less about her days memories many years later. It’s never good.

So it has to work or a look. Well so. So how big is venture now like as far as like how many boards are you making at this point and also how how big is your team. We had kind of spoken about this a little bit and then I guess on on top of that you know what does it mean to have a real viable business and employ people in Silverton. I mean does that mean you guys.

Were not as big as probably a lot of people think. I’m going to blame Lisa for that.

Because she does really well with all of our marketing stuff like because we do things professionally think people just think our scale is way bigger than it is. And you having walked through this place you know you get an idea of our real size here but that is for us it’s not like we’re not going for world domination here. We’re not looking to be Burton or whatever. It’s so all about just living here and building boards we want and creating jobs for our employees and. That’s about it.

You know it’s a hand-built process. So I mean when I walked in you were crossing the top sheet on the board yourself. And so you know that’s still you know a big part of your process and actually when we first started emailing about getting together the first thing you sent me was a link to a blog post that you have that outlines you know the process of the hand-built core where like how important that is and that I mean the core is the central component of the snowboard.

That’s what’s going to give it its flex and its feel it really determines the way that the board rides. And that’s definitely a point of pride for us. I mean we do everything in-house but course that’s probably close to half of the amount of time that it takes to actually build a board and we start with a pile of raw lumber in the parking lot and then we take it all the way through to a finished core.

We do our own top sheets we I mean we do it all here and you know for us I think it’s about paying attention to detail and making sure that we’re putting out the best product that we possibly can because we’re going to ride those boards to our employees are going to ride those boards. And because of that everybody cares and everybody really pays attention.

And when you live in a place like this to be able to do that in spite of the fact that it’s so remote in spite of the fact that there’s only about 600 year round residents here in Silverton it’s pretty miraculous and it takes a lot of tenacity and you know as we alluded to earlier it hasn’t been an easy road we’ve had to work day jobs we’ve had to do other things to make ends meet and make it happen. But it’s all been in pursuit of that dream right. And and being able to live the lifestyle we all hear about the lifestyle but truly we’re doing it. You know we can walk out our front door and go snowboarding. So that’s what it all boils down to that.

And I think you know sharing that passion with other people.

So I mean you walk out not only right here and go snowboarding. You go snowboarding on something you built which is pretty sweet. I mean that’s got to be a pretty cool feeling.

Yeah especially when it’s something new that you just trying out and you get to you know go and ride it for the first time. Right.

What’s that look like like you know new products. Is that just kind of an organic constantly evolving. Hey I wish this board was you know we could tweak it a little bit. Is that kind of how you come up with that is cards.

Our advantage is that you know we do it all here like we saw this thing from scratch. So anything that we want to change we can you know we make all the tooling everything. So that’s that’s that’s often a big advantage for us.

Well it’s true. I mean I just walked in and you know the new line of yours is on the wall and it definitely they’re beautiful and it really made me want to get bindings on a pair. I went out so I didn’t have to come to one of your demo days or something like that. I saw on your website you have you know some cool events throughout the year. You’ve got quite the split first in the spring playing and you know some other things like the songs like really cool opportunities to come out here first

Sure. And we’re we’re going to be putting a demo tour dates up on our website shortly. We’re still working on that schedule but typically we hit a handful of resorts at least in Colorado as well as throughout the Rocky Mountain west hopefully we’re going to be able to expand our reach a little bit this year. Hoping to get out to the Pacific Northwest and possibly even the East Coast. We’ll see.

And then you mentioned split fast which is a really amazing event for anybody who’s into split boarding. There are a bunch of them that happen all over the country. They’re largely put on by volunteers who are just passionate about split boarding. And so they organize an event in their neck of the woods and invite people to come out and tour. And we’ve had an event here for the last several years that was organized by some volunteers who have become good friends and at a certain point they just said we’re kind of done with it.

They don’t want to deal with the organizing anymore. And so we took it on last year and we had about 130 split boarders descend on Silverton the second or third weekend and April I forget what it was. And just you know get out in the snow packs a little safer at that time of year so people are able to get out into some of the bigger lines and just a lot of camaraderie a lot of you know friendships built. You know in the skins track and then you know we do we invite other manufacturers to come and demo their product out.

So it’s really it’s kind of a gathering of the tribe and it’s a really cool thing. So nice. Yeah. Looking forward to hosting it again this year. I think the dates are the 12th through the 14th of April if I’m not mistaken.

That sounds very catchy. Yeah. By the way huge shout out to John and Jason are the guys that started that it was like six years ago. So they came to us when they first got it going Really. Yes of course we’ll do whatever to get this going. But they they really built this to what it is.

The got to a point where they just didn’t want to do it anymore they just wanted to come play and not be involved in or who can blame them.

Yeah. You find out when you get your hands dirty on projects like that how much it really takes to get them organized and set up and roll right. Yeah. There’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes pressure. You see you guys will take the reigns for a few years and then who knows.

Right. Exactly. Well speaking of the safety and the safe snowpack I saw that you also teamed up with the Silverton avalanche.

Yeah the silverton avalanche school that’s a partnership that’s been building over several years and last year we offered their first ever in conjunction with them a split board specific Avy one class and we’ll be doing two more of those with them this year seemed to really be a concept that people were interested in. I think a lot of skiers have been getting out into the back country for longer than snowboarders have just because the gear wasn’t quite up to par and with slip boarding really a lot of advances in slipway technology we’re seeing a lot more people taking up supporting a lot more snowboarders wanting to get into the back country but not necessarily having the education or the confidence to do that and even not really knowing how the gear works.

So the focus of that class was to help them get comfortable not only with their split boards set up but then also get them that ABC1 training so that they have some knowledge when they go out there and can be smart about it because the single most important piece of equipment you have is your brain when you’re in that country.

So yeah not to mention you know when you’re if you are mixed in a crowd and there’s guys on skis and you’ve got your board they kind you kind of move at a different pace. Right. And so it’s nice to be with a crowd of people I’m sure that’s everyone’s kind of similar gear. You’re moving along. Everyone’s kind of has to do this go through the same process.

So essentially when you’re just getting started I think that’s what it’s really nice to just be with fellow split boarders and it’s kind of part of the attraction with that class. Right. But I don’t know I mean I think as you go you know like there are more probably skiers and snowboarders in Silverton and here is just a mix. You know like you remember back in the day when there was a big conflict and all that kind of stuff. But these days I probably go with as many skiers and snowboarders when I go into the back country and it’s right.

Splitboards have come along to the point where it’s not like it takes that much longer to put our stuff back together at the top. And they’re complaining and waiting for us or whatever. Right. So it’s we all just kind of get along just get out there and if you enjoy sliding down snow and you know that’s it.

Right. It’s good to hear. I like that. I mean I kind of started. Most of my snowboard on the East Coast also and so I remember the days of not being allowed on the hill and you know having to have have.

Yeah take your support on the hill so you know I carry some of that with me. You know it kind of dates you when you start talking about things like that.

But you know I you know kind of just getting back to what we talked about with the corn. You know the real quality of the product.

You know what I think it shows in the partnerships that you have you know just speaking of being involved with the ivy training program you know they’re not going to want to go out there with a bunch of people who are new to it on junky gear.

And then and you know we had kind of been talking about how earlier in the trip when I was in Crested Butte I had a chance to interview Alan Bernholtz from Irwin guides and 11 experiences. Then when I said I was coming out to talk to you guys he was like oh we use their boards in our guiding programs so say hi I know those guys around the world and you know your relationship with the with the mountain here which is extremely technical difficult terrain guided experience you know so you must feel good at it.

It really talks to the quality of the product that you’re putting out. If people like that are going to use the the tool that you’re creating. Right. I mean so you must be kind of hitting what you want to. You must be creating what you want to create. If you’re getting that that kind of feedback

Well definitely I mean I think that both of the you know the groups that you’re talking about Erwin guides and Silverton mountain guides those guys are abusing their equipment. You know there they are putting it through its paces and so to have them say yeah this is our gear choice this is what we use is a pretty big statement because it does hold up and the terrain around here especially up in Crested Butte as well is really rocky and it can really do a fair amount of damage to a board and I can’t tell you how many times people have hit something and turn their board over expecting to see you know a giant course shot and we hear the story again and again they’re amazed that it’s maybe scratched just slightly. But durability has always been a big part of our focus as well. And so yeah having those guys on her equipment and having them be happy with it does speak volumes.

Yeah some good feedback right. Because the good guys have out there testing like you said it’s getting treated the worse so. So what about you. So for this year there’s. No what’s new with the lineup.

Is anything particular. You know you’re really excited about. The lineup of boards for the season.

I’m excited about my new board. which you is riding the Paragon which we introduced last year.

But we started out just doing it as a solid. And then it got really good feedback from everyone that was on it and I really personally enjoyed it and we decided to just throw that into the mix as a split as well. So that’s yeah I’m excited about the thing that is my go to board.

Nice. Yeah and that’s that particular model we also have a women’s version called the oracle. And both of those are designed to be a little bit more versatile than what we’ve offered in the past. We actually were designing it more with east coast riders in mind. Just trying to branch out a little bit and not be so you know specific to Rocky Mountains and big terrain but we found it rode so well in this terrain that both of us that’s kind of what we’re leaning toward righting ourselves now.

But the feedback’s been great from people on East Coast West Coast and up and down the Rockies so yeah. Super fun ride. And then the other thing I should mention is we have started focusing a little more on making some women’s specific stuff in the last couple of years which for many years we had taken the stance that there’s no such thing as women’s specific gear. It’s just gear designed for your height your weight your shoe size.

But there are some things that we’ve done with the women’s specific stuff that I think make it a little more approachable and ridable for ladies shortening up the stance tweaking the flex a little bit more. The assumption is it’s going to be a smaller lighter person on it. So to be able to flex the board personally we need to just soften it up a little bit more in the response to those has been great. This year we’ve got the tempest which is our freeride shape for women and the Oracle which is more all mountain and both are available solid or split.

And we also started playing with some different glass combinations this year and some of the boards that are half Klem you want to talk a little bit more about some of the tech around that gel we just used the same Tri-X fiberglas for many many years which is kind of just a workhorse of most snowboards built really but we just wanted to try to play around with just making them a little bit more for lack of a better word accessible just easy fun to write.

You know it’s not supposed to be something that is just going to buck you and it’s just you have to be a super tough guy to ride this board. Snowboarding is about fun so. We added some different and that’s actually in the paragon as well some different fiberglass which makes a little bit more torsional forgiving and so far so good. I really like that stuff. So that’s there’s going to be more of that stuff coming out to just playing with different materials.

Cool. And then you’re also launching this new video series this year the rough cut series. Tell us what’s going on.

Yeah that’s an idea that we’ve had for many years that we wanted to give people a window into what it’s like to work at Venture Snowboards right to actually see the boards being built. You know that’s something pretty unique most skis and snowboards are not handcrafted by snowboarders in the mountains right. So that’s one of those things that. I don’t know I just think it’s really cool for people to get to see. So

we’re going through our entire production process and videoing little clips of it and or have been releasing them on social media.

And ultimately the goal is going to be to put together a longer video. But right now it’s just little clips. And so you can you know watch the core kind of going through all its different stages and. And then the board you know coming into being I don’t know if you want to say more about that claim.

 


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Yeah. I mean it’s just not a it’s not a super organized like oh we’re going to show you from you know beginnings and how the snowboard is built or whatever. Just like when there is interesting parts of the process we just always looks from this this is kind of fun. Just to give people a little taste of all the different stuff and there are many building a snowboard.

Yeah it takes a long time when you build all of your components before anything even starts to look like a snowboard. Right.

Nice. And so I mean like you said when people are you know getting a home made her handmade product I think that’s you know people want to see what’s kind of going into it. And so that gives them some some insight in to really know why I think such a high quality piece of gear. So I look forward to seeing some more of those that will be fun.

Well I don’t know if there’s anything else that you specifically wanted to mention before we kind of wrap things up. You know I really enjoyed going to learn more about your company and meet you guys here in on your turf as I just stare out these huge windows. By the way I keep looking outside but we’re talking. It’s amazing. But you know the last thing I wanted to ask and this is what I ask all my guests you know who would you like to hear on this podcast.

Is there any recommendations you would give typical brewery folk. Yeah. So you have a nice fridge full of their stuff over here. Actually they have the new you know the euphoria. For me it just came out this year is this. Yeah. Last week for this coming year. But yeah it’s. And you have a board that euphoria right. That’s the origin of the name of the beer.

Yeah these Eurphoria’s are powder boards so they brewed a beer to kind of give you that euphoric feeling that you get a super deep day. And we’ve got a great partnership with Ska brewing. They’ve been super supportive ever since we got to this part of the state and there are good people.

Yes. And speaking of which we are planning our 13th annual season kickoff party with them getting going on November 4th Saturday November 4th at Ska brewing world headquarters in Durango. So anybody who’s in the southwest. Come on out for a good time. We’re going to have live music from Farmington Hill who is a longtime favorite playing if this event will be giving away a customs sky venture snowboard and raising funds for Colorado Avalanche Information Center and some other good causes so. A great way to start the season.

All right. And I can’t think of a better way to end this. It sounds like you know we’ll make sure we get this out before November 4th so people would know about it. But again thank you so much for taking some time. And you know I just really appreciate it. Great to meet you guys.

Our pleasure. Thanks for making the trip down to this part of the mountains. Thanks for coming in. Thank you.

Thanks for listening I hope you enjoyed this episode of Colorado.FM, the colorado podcast. As we mentioned in the intro you can find links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode and if you’ve enjoyed it.

Please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and leave review if you have a moment. Of course if you want to share it I really appreciate it. If you prefer to get our updates via email or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher know you’re on Android. You can learn more about how to subscribe to these different services at Colorado.FM/Subscribe.

Thanks again. I hope you enjoyed this episode and we’ll see you next time.

 

 

 


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#007 A Life of Adventure and Polar Exploration with Eric Larsen

Colorado.FM Interview with Eric Larsen

“Adventure really strips bare the person that you are.”

Thanks for tuning in to this really special episode of the Colorado.FM podcast.

Photo Credit: Sam Bricker

In this episode, it was my privilege to speak with world renowned adventurer and polar explorer Eric Larsen.  Eric is included in Men’s Journal’s list of ‘The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years.’ and coverage of his exploits have appeared in Time Magazine, Outside Magazine, the NY Times and many other publications.

North Pole expeditions are widely considered to be the most difficult adventures on the planet. Eric has been to the North Pole three times, with the first being in 2006.  The next time in 2010 was part of his Save the Poles expedition in which Eric became the first person to make it to the North Pole, South Pole and top of Mt Everest in a single year.

Finally, Eric’s 2014 North Pole expedition was documented and can be seen in the series titled ‘Melting: The Last Race to the Pole’ on Animal Planet and can be read about in his book On Thin Ice: An Epic Final Quest into the Melting Arctic.

Have Fun, Do Good

Our conversation ranges from Eric’s activity in groups that are working to bring attention to climate change issues, such as Protect Our Winters, to why his expedition was very likely to be the last time anyone stands on the North Pole.

I can’t recommend watching the documentary enough.  It is truly amazing to see what it takes to make this kind of feat a success and what is happening to our planet in places that are rarely seen. I was totally gripped.

Online, you can find Eric at EricLarsenExplore.com and on instagram @elexplore.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links find Eric and all the related content, videos, his book, and group’s Eric supports in the show notes below.

 


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Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Eric:

Web: EricLarsenExplore.com

Instagram: @elexplore

Facebook: @EricLarsenExplore

Twitter: @ELexplore

Others: YouTube & Flickr

 

Books, Articles, Video by Eric Larsen:

Documentary: Melting: The Last Race to the Pole – Animal Planet

Book: On Thin Ice: An Epic Final Quest into the Melting Arctic – Eric Larsen

In Praise of an Unforgiving Arctic – Outside

Alone on the Ice – Outside

How to Weather a Storm – Outside

 

Other Media:

Listen to a phone call from the North Pole – Redbull.com

This guy goes to the coldest places on Earth so you don’t have to – Time

The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years – Men’s Journal

Will this man be the last to trek to the North Pole? – Outside

This is the most difficult expedition on the planet – Great Big Story (Video)

Follow the explorer who tackled both poles and Everest in one year – CNTraveler

 

Other References:

RyanWaters.net

Protect Our Winters

Big City Mountaineers

Skratch Labs

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

 


Show Notes:

[2:35] Protect Our Winters:  Just back from Washington DC

[6:00] Growing up in the Larsen household in Wisconsin

[9:30] Connecting the dots – The path to a career in adventure

[10:30] What brought Eric to Colorado

[14:00] The supportive adventure community in Boulder

[16:30] The expeditions – Because they might not be there in the future

[17:30] Seeing climate change first hand

[23:00] Recording the most difficult on the planet

[24:30] Choosing the right expedition partner – Expedition partner newlywed game

[29:00] Doing one thing for 2 months

[30:30] Needs vs wants – How adventure clarifies decisions

[32:00] The ongoing process of digesting lessons from adventure

[33:15] Life between expeditions

[38:30] Coloradothon!  What’s next…

[42:15] Favorite spots and activities in Colorado

[45:50] Wrap up – Who Eric wants to hear on the podcast!

 


Related Episodes:

Lindsay Bourgoine of Protect Our Winters

Jon Miller of Backcountry United

 


Transcript:

 

Hey Eric Thanks for swinging by. Really appreciate you taking the time out of your pretty busy travel schedule to be on the show of course. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. That’s really kind of a real Explorer here I must say it’s something I was hoping would happen on this podcast. I didn’t know when or how soon. So again I appreciate it. You just flew in from Washington D.C. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing up there.

Yes so I you know I work with a lot of different nonprofits. You know realistically bigger answer. Most of my expeditions are really platforms to talk about ideas and issues that are just bigger than myself and as someone who’s been focused on cold places for nearly all my life. A huge part of what I want to do is protect those places and so I work with a lot of climate change based organizations on a variety of initiatives and one of those is Protect Our Winters which is also based in Boulder.

And so there is a bunch of us who are kind of athletes ambassadors and the snowsports industries that were in Washington D.C. just kind of knocking on Congress doors and saying hey what are you doing about climate change. What legislations are you working on and how can we move the needle on on kind of the things that are going on in Congress that are going to facilitate clean energy renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.

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Yeah it was funny. I just totally coincidentally saw I guess Gretchen Bleiler. Yeah and post about a silver medalist and I think half pipe is. Yeah I think so. And you know she was mentioning some attempts to kind of go across the aisle like was that was it. Were you feeling anything from yeah.

You know I think I think everybody who was there I mean there was like a list of like pretty impressive winter athletes from like Gretchen to Alex Deeble who is like a bronze medalist in in border cross and a bunch of big mountain skiers and Jeremy Jones and Matt Segal who is a climber based in Boulder as well.

So there’s a bunch kind of heavy hitters in the outdoor space and I think all of us were were definitely impressed with our ability to one just have a conversation and also kind of like be direct about you know asking those legislators What are they doing. Can they get more involved and I think a lot of people you know Republicans were really interested in in you know trying to find a path into that arena so to speak.

So I think it was a super positive outcome for all of us. We were everybody was really pleased and I think the other thing is in terms of the auto industry and kind of that idea of activism through adventure I think an association with Protect Our Winters I think a lot of us are kind of as a group starting to find our collective voice. You know there’s a lot of influence that exists there through social media and otherwise and I think you know being able to flex those muscles to help kind of protect the places that we recreate and play I think is really important. Right

Well that was definitely something unexpected that you know we were able to just chat about since that just happened. Yeah right. I guess yesterday I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning got on plane and on here.

Right. Awesome. So let’s kind of back up and get into your story a little bit. I was really curious what was life like in the Larsen household growing up as is everybody and explorers everybody climb and you know it was just craziness. I don’t know if you have siblings or or you kind of the black sheep when it comes to this stuff.

Yeah it’s interesting you know I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I am the way I am and I’m not totally sure that I have the answer. But I do think my background and my upbringing has a lot to do with it. You know I grew up in a in a house that was very focused on being outside and you know we went to a lot of family trips as kids like camping trips. You know we would never stay in a hotel at any stretch.

And my dad was actually very much involved in just environmental issues he was the director of a nature center. So I grew up as a kid like collecting prairie seeds and and banning birds and like my friends and one of my friends were like What are you doing. Like they had no idea and it was actually as a kid it was pretty awkward for me.

My parents were very focused on that and that natural aspect of the environment and I was very much drawn to the your side just as as on an individual level. And so I had a lot of support in that arena. But you know back then in Wisconsin there isn’t this bigger network of adventure and it’s always fun for me or funny I guess to compare like the world now versus back then and we just didn’t have this bigger perspective that a lot of people can really get through.

You know Internet media social media today. And so I didn’t know I knew that I like to do these kind of outdoor trips. And I was just trying to find my way to adventure and whatever I could you know like when I was in eighth grade I got a paper and saved up enough money and got a bicycle you know and then I was just able to go.

That was like I allowed me to go out and just explore on my own because that’s what I wanted to do. So I would grab a map and I would write 60 70 80 miles you know and stop at a bar and grab a Coke and you know keep riding I mean this was this as a 12 year old kid you know. Sure. And so that was like me kind of like trying to discover the world for myself. And it kind of progress in there. But like I said in Wisconsin there was no kind of infrastructure set up for somebody like myself to be able to kind of get more in those skills and so I just kind of did it on my own.

You know I was lucky enough to be involved in a few kind of youth groups that were doing adventure trips and you know I was able to get a taste of some of these things and then just started kind of planning my own trips from there with friends and you know we would make up adventure in any way we could we would like canoe down the river in our town we’d portage down a canoe down main street in my small little town you know and then keep going just because we wanted to do a fun adventure.

We’d you know take our bikes and go somewhere or whatever it was so we were just trying to find adventure and whatever way we could. And it just kind of went outward from there.

Sure. I mean now everybody like you said they have so much influence to things like this you look on Instagram and people are out there campaign and posting pictures and everything I guess. When we were kids. It was more about having those old National Geographics laying around and things like that.

Yeah. That was literally it. And there was no like path.

Like a career. So for somebody who’s passionate about nearly anything today if your passion a rock climber there’s there are people that are professional rock climbers and you can see that. So there’s a line that you can connect and even in a lot more abstract careers you just have access that information you understand that you know you could be interested in photography and potentially be a you know professional photographer.

But you know I just those those avenues weren’t all open or didn’t exist. And we and a lot of those careers didn’t exist at that time. So for somebody like myself who was really passionate about the outdoors I always say I wanted to be a professional camper. Like I just loved camping but that job didn’t exist at all no. You know it still does. But it was it was kind of what my goal was and you know I was lucky enough that I just kind of believed in that idea for whatever reason long enough that it was able to come to fruition.

Sure. So where does Colorado kind of come into the picture of what what brought you here was you know and you know when kind of in your life would you like I’ve got to get to Colorado. That’s where I need to be to keep this exploration career going. Or was that kind of a decision or was it just you know to be in the mountains of you know kind of take.

Yeah well you know the funny thing about growing up in the Midwest is is that Midwest is very focused on the Midwest and I love being from that area. A lot of great friends there’s a lot of great things about the Midwest. And as a kid I remember seeing a Colorado license plate and just being like you know just the license plate alone like you know the Green Mountains it’s so different than any other license plate in in our country and very emblematic of the state as well.

And to me that represented just the ultimate wilderness and realistically for my entire life you know I’d read a lot of historical exploration books and I was just fascinated by this idea wilderness. And so I had that idea of Colorado being one of those really iconic wild places and when I graduated college roommate of mine had a job as a whitewater canoe guide out here and I had been up in Alaska at that time and doing a few other trips.

And and he’s like come on out. I think I can get you a job and without any certainty of a job I you know loaded up my 1985 Subaru Geo wagon and you know drove out I-70 for 17 hours and landed in Denver and lucky enough just kind of like talked my way into packing food for those trips and then getting on the trips and eventually guiding those that summer and that was way back in the day like 95.

So I spent a couple of summers guiding those Whitewater trips here in Colorado and just through various work left and kind of settled in a remote area of northern Minnesota and was kind of going about my thing but as I started planning for my trip in 2010 to the North Pole South Pole Mount Everest I realized like I don’t really know anything about mountains.

You know I had kind of set this goal of climbing Mt. Everest with doing this trip to both poles and being from the Midwest. Again we don’t really know much about mountains and while I had been out in Colorado previously I you know I hadn’t been on the water most of the time. And so I was like OK I think I think I need to be in a place where I can be at altitude where I can train and concurrently had also met my now wife. And so a lot of factors just kind of came into play. I’ll say it’s for my wife but it’s also just as important just for mountains. Sure.

And it was a great trip. It was a great transition for me. I’ve been living in northern Minnesota a place that I really love but it’s very again I kind of I didn’t realize it at the time but for someone who was involved in adventure there just wasn’t that bigger community. I mean there’s a lot of I had a lot of friends that we did find trips but there wasn’t this bigger community of people who were really involved in like leading edge expeditions. And so for me to come out to Boulder was a really eye opening experience and a lot of levels in it. And quite honestly it opened a lot of doors and facilitated me basically being where I am today.

Right. And I. I get that feedback from a lot of the people that I’ve spoken with in totally different areas that you’re one of the things that’s really you know Colorado is kind of on fire right now and one of the things that’s making it great in that way is obviously people are moving here for lifestyle but they’re getting real support professionally in all sorts of different fields it’s just a very open kind of collaborative environment. And so you know you’re not the first person who’s who’s mentioned that. And again everything from obviously tech type things going on here food and it’s a place to be for professional adventuring.

Oh yeah.

I mean you look at I mean just Boulder alone. It’s crazy. I do a lot of biking. So my game that I always play when I’m biking when I see somebody else bike and I just go pro or not pro you know because there’s so many professional athletes that are very professional bicyclists you get triathletes runners climbers skiers snowboarders you know you name it. And so and that’s just in the sporting community. And obviously you have all these other industries that are here too but from an adventure perspective you know there’s world class rock climbing here and you’ve got access to world class skiing out an open air mountaineering as well. And you know Alpine environments and so it and there’s good access in and out. So a lot of today a lot of modern adventurers do a lot of traveling. And so like I was telling you earlier you know I arrived in the airport today and fly out tonight.

That adds a lot you know like we’re coming and going. A lot of people are coming and going and so being able to get to the airport you know as much as those are a part of my actual adventure it’s it’s a facet of life the life as it stands right now.

Sure. Nothing like being able to get good access hopefully even a direct flight it saves on time every day. You know we all are looking for that and I love how you mentioned the license plate because I remember when I moved here and got my license plates transferred and they were like well which ones do you want because they have all these options down like I just want the green and lights. Yeah. You

know that’s why whenever I see one whenever I see the white ones I’m like What are you doing. Hi Green. There’s only one license plate that you should get. Exactly

Exactly. That’s amazing. So like kind of getting into your expeditions. The I was doing research and you know one of the things that you’ve been saying you know so George Mallory said you know famously about why are you going to climb Mt. Everest because it’s there. You know what you’re the message you’re kind of getting across now with your expeditions especially in the Arctic is that you’re doing it not because it’s there but because it it might not be there in the future. Do you have some really unique perspective like your first North Pole expedition was in late 2006 I believe and then the most recent one was in 2014 and there’s a lot of arguments why.

You know you’ve stated why it might be the last one. Yeah. And so I guess the documentary that you were able to let me watch which I appreciate it was amazing I’m yelling at my computer screen and I was watching it. It’s on Animal Planet I believe.

Yeah it was on Animal Planet and Discovery.

And it’s actually still playing globally on Discovery channel so I every once in awhile get like an email from Argentina or Japan or whatever. Like oh we just saw the documentary so it’s cool that it’s still cycling through right and getting shown.

So so for for people who haven’t seen it though like walk us through you know what had changed in in those years since when you first started going and now. And you know some of the I guess no obvious climate and technical reasons why that 24 expedition might be the last one.

Yeah yeah. I mean just taking a step back. You know I kind of arrived early at this love of adventure but also as someone who really likes to be outside just the love of our environment. And I also you know really like winter. And so it seemed like a pretty direct step to use my adventures as an advocacy tool as well as well as you know ultimately like back in the day it was just like firsthand observations you know because so often we were you know getting questions about you know is this is the melting really happening like they say it is.

And so it was just kind of bearing witness to those places. But also you know Arctic in Antarctica and a lot of cool voices are really abstract to people. And so you know we don’t have much of a connection to those places.

And so for me a lot of my adventures were really important to be to put a human experience to kind of overlay that physical journey in that emotional kind of journey as well that we’re going through to build that connection to what that place is like versus It’s just an abstract place that if it melts it doesn’t matter. And I like it if it’s two degrees warmer I want to put on you know snow pants in the winter.

So that’s kind of like the background of where things are at. And I’ve been kind of on this like mission for a long time and you know a lot of my wife and all my differences like why are you going back to the north pole so I first Mannatech for 2005 we reach the North Pole and in summer in 2006 and it was a it was an incredible journey.

It was very unique a world record and to me that kind of just solidified how this adventure component can really work in to telling this bigger story. And so I kept trying to go back and reach more people because I. Because you know politically that I odd ideologically in our country we kept having this conversation that was kind of cycling around. Is this science real. Is it really melting.

And so as this conversation is still spiral with no real action taking place I’m observing that and trying to figure out how I can get people to notice this place that because I’ve been there and spent a lot of time there and am seeing these changes firsthand. And so that’s kind of the thing that kept me coming back. And ultimately you know between 2006 and 2014 the character and the nature of the CIA is very different you know.

So from our summer expedition we had big sheets of ice that we could ski across for several hours. And in 2006 in 2014 where it’s just a surface of rough ice much thinner ice and much more sporadic movements of the ice to the point now where the ice is so unstable that the that you know the real limiting factor of North Pole expeditions isn’t so much the ice although that’s changing dramatically it’s the logistics network that’s shutting down so the ability to get a plane in and land safely no longer exists. So in reality know our 2014 North Pole expedition will be the last human powered land to North Pole expedition history right.

Yeah because you otherwise have to be able to go out and back.

Yeah there is.

There’s logistically it’s it’s like almost impossible the conditions are changing so much. You know we have overall the temperatures are warmer in the Arctic now which kind of makes things easy but you have this kind of type of ice it’s much different and so it’s and it’s a really difficult. And for me it’s probably one of the most unique expeditions on our planet.

And so that’s another reason why I kept going back up because it’s an amazing challenge and you can you can do that journey you know every year and it’s going to be different every time because the ice is constantly changing not only just year to year but minute to minute because there’s all these drift patterns and currents that break up and and fracture the ice.

Right. Yeah and that’s you know what you pick up from watching that documentary. There’s just so many things and you know I don’t want to give it away to people. They should watch it. It’s amazing.

I was totally gripped I was actually traveling last weekend when you sent it to me and I was in my hotel room and I pulled up on my laptop I was like let me just check this thing out for like you know I got to watch like five minutes. But you know I wanted to kind of get outside wander around because I was you know having fun in Chicago and it was an hour and a half and I couldn’t stop. I had to sit there and watch the entire thing and like I said by the end of the thing I was just like lose my mind.

Yeah it was. It was hard.

I mean that was it’s I called the most difficult expedition. It’s a really hard trip and people have a hard time understanding why that’s the case. But it’s a really hostile environment. And and for that to ever feel like it felt like everything was stacked against us. Well those ice conditions logistics pullovers our food you know you name it.

And yeah it’s hard. And I and I feel very lucky that we were able to record that. It took a lot of effort in a very real way. You know like I’m kind of on an anti fluff campaign overall in terms of you know we live in this world where we’re where we’re constantly barraged by these like ideal moments. And it’s very easy in adventure to want to put. Or as you’re talking about things that put your best foot forward.

And that’s just not how life works. You know like we’re not always our best people and you know the really unique thing about adventures is it really stripped bare the person that you are. And at a certain point there you are. And so that’s really unique I think it’s compelling for people. It’s that emotional connection that I have and try.

But the hard part is trying to film that in that moment when you’re like worried about almost getting in by a polar bear. Do you really want to get the camera out or would you just like Wanda leaving. Get out of there. And so our inclination is to get out of there or versus film. Right

And then what you’re mentioning right there really leads perfectly into another question. I really wanted to ask which was you in that movie leading up to this moment and having that human side of things. How do you find the right partner for an expedition like that. I mean when you say I want to do an unsupported trip to the North Pole how many people are raising their hands and how do you know that if there’s only a handful you know that you’ve got the right guy because I would imagine you know there’s not that many people who want to do it. But you need them. You know it obviously is an important dynamic when you see like the psychological side of an adventure like that.

Yeah that’s a good question. You know the team aspect there what I view is really important you know I always say like I’m just completely average person like average height average or below the average intelligence and intelligence. So I rely a lot on other people to help me achieve these things. And you know for our 2014 trip there is and I was just talking to Ryan about this the other day as like you know I we couldn’t have done that trip without one another. You know I had a lot more experience than Ryan did and I was able to kind of step up from navigational and just overall planning perspective and but at a certain point like everything becomes non-important when it’s so difficult.

And I think Ryan’s focus and Dr. help me out because I serve what I’m like. I’ve already been an oracle Why am I out here suffering in a life threatening situation I got it at that time I wanted to have a kid like that something like doing an expedition isn’t the most important thing.

Being a dad is the most important thing. And Ryan’s focus really helped me out. But the team the team member thing is interesting actually. I just did a funny thing. We did a live video Ryan and I just had this idea and we did what I call expedition partner Newlywed Game.

So we were just like we put all these questions in the hat and we just pulled them out.

And because we spent so much time together on expeditions that it’s like you know it’s like a marriage almost. Sure. And so we you know we were kind of asking each other like who knew more about you know whatever it is favorite food or you know and it was kind of fun but the teammate thing is hard. You know I do think there’s a lot of people who would be interested in the trips I do. I always say be careful what you wish for because it might come true.

That said like the skills required for these big types of trips we just lose a lot of people that have them and not that they’re impossible to learn. But to step into an environment like the Arctic Ocean with no prior experiences that’s a that’s a that’s a big ask of someone and you know.

So there’s a lot of different things for me. I think the priority is personality. We need to have compatible personalities. We don’t necessarily need to have the exact same skill sets because I don’t think that’s necessarily the most effective. But we want to have complementary skill sets and Ryan and I have absolutely complementary Ryons much more home in the mountains. I’m much more home in the poorer environments.

I’m a little better on the fundraising side. You know Ryan’s got this kind of steadfastness that works out really well you know it’s crazy we have been doing adventures together for I don’t know like eight years or something and we’re still great friends. You know he just texted me before I came over here so and I’m just working on this other project where we’re I have a videographer friend of mine and I was literally Also driving over here on like what is it that makes the perfect partner.

28:13 Because it’s hard. And the rewards are so abstract that you have to have this in this more individual motivation. So there’s a lot I mean I could talk for like 10 hours on this thing but I think about it a lot. And

28:29 like I said just today and you know it’s it’s interesting just because you know life today is so crazy and there’s so many different facets and so for me focus on these adventures 100 percent and then trying to get somebody who has that equal opportunity that like stop what they’re doing go away for two months or two weeks or whatever it is like. That’s just that’s just not necessarily the easiest thing for anybody to imagine. And then you’ve got this other issue for the bigger trips. You’re doing one thing for two and a half months.

 


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28:59 I mean that doesn’t happen at all. I imagine in your life where you wake up and you don’t see anybody else and you go to sleep. You don’t see anybody else and not just for a day or a week but nearly two months. I mean that’s like old school acceleration where they were gone for three years. I mean we’re like a day without getting a text. You know if you text somebody they don’t text you back in an hour you think they’re dead. Right. So and not that I don’t I mean I don’t I don’t I sound like a Luddite like I love modern life. You know I don’t want to go back in time but that’s the cool thing about these adventures and I’m kind of getting off subject but they offer this unique perspective on our planet that we don’t get as much anymore. And I think that has a lot of value. No

29:38 I mean there’s definitely some aspects of your life as an adventurer that embody what people are really trying really hard to achieve right now is thinking about this earlier. Unplugging is definitely one of them. Your

29:52 unplugged when you go on these things I mean more or less is surprisingly we’re actually pretty connected right.

29:57 But from her you know.

30:00 But you’ve got 12 hours on the ice at least where you’re just walking along. And then that idea that you know people are finally starting to wrap their brains around the idea of prioritizing experiences over over things. Right. And that’s definitely what adventure is all about. By

30:16 definition basically totally.

30:19 So I always say the best way to determine what’s important to yourself is to remove everything in your life. And that’s exactly what these adventures do because you’re stripped down of everything and very quickly you get to understand what you need and what you want right. And it becomes very clear and that’s why the expedition to heart because at a certain point somebody determines that and say and they see that this adventure doesn’t matter. And that’s a hard point but it’s also a good realization for them. Or you say yes this matters but there’s these other things. And so you come back from those trips like really forever changed and you have this really clear understanding of priorities in life. And it goes to a resource side as well because if you look at it like we’re self-contained for nearly two months everything that we need is and that is in that slot.

31:13 So that’s another need versus want you look at you know and I’m the same way. I mean I love photographers are a bunch of cameras bikes over a couple bikes you know and this is a great shirt or whatever and everything that we have for two months is in that slot. And you know it’s uncomfortable at times but for the most part we’re making it happen. Right. So those are some lessons that you just can’t help but learn. Right.

31:36 And you know that’s I think one of the one of the many beautiful aspects of of adventure when it sounds to me was interesting that you know you mentioned right there that you were catching up with Ryan and still kind of going over what you got out of this expedition a few years later you’re still I mean are you still kind of.

31:57 Oh yes. I just yeah I mean these are a lot yeah.

32:01 And the lessons I think like they’re ongoing right now. And you know there’s definitely like some immediate takeaways and then there’s the things that just you know happen over time and and there’s also just with Ryan there’s a shared experience like we went through a really hard time. You know one of my newlywed questions around was like who cries more. And because you know we’ve seen each other at our worst our lowest and our most like kind of bear so to speak. So you know I think the lessons are ongoing and you know again sometimes it takes me a while to catch up on things. But there there are those moments where you’re like oh yeah this is what this is or you’re in your life situation you know doing you know washing the dishes. And you kind of remember that one moment and how that applies to the situation or whatever.

32:50 So it’s it’s kind of an ongoing process and I wouldn’t say like on this completely change person. It’s just kind of this continual thing and you know some of the lessons that I have learned that 150 50 times and something sometimes like oh yeah I’ve never realized that before. Right.

33:05 Like getting in the shower you’re like water on your shoulder. Seriously. That’s exactly it.

33:12 That’s amazing. So what’s life like in between expeditions like that. I know it evolves as your family is kind of changing and it’s changed even since that documentary came out. Is it always kind of planning the next thing or do you always have the next adventure kind of in mind or sometimes are you waiting for the light to go off and then start planning around that or.

33:36 Yeah it’s a lot of things you know it’s constantly on my mind. You know I always say when I’m on an expedition all I can think about is being home with my family and when I’m home I just am thinking about trips. Funny enough I was just saying what Jeremy Jones were in D.C. and I was talking to him about some of my early trips and we were kind of just exchange stories and I was said you know back then I was just like an animal for stuff like I would wouldn’t let anything get in my way. You know no risk was too big. And I just I don’t know if it was blind ambition or what it was but it was this sense of this is where I want to go and I’m going there no matter what. And I remember one of my expeditions partners asking me Eric when is it going to be enough for you.

34:27 And I said I don’t know. You know like I don’t know what is going to be enough but I’m so going. And that perspective has changed a lot for me. You know having kids I never really thought much about being a dad prior and when we kind of started having discussions about having kids as I go you know we’ll see what happens. Is like an expedition. We’re like we’re right and I just go up there and see what happens. And I am uncomfortable with unknown’s. And but it’s been easily the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life I love being a dad. I love taking care of my kids. I love you know seeing the world through their eyes and you know taking them on adventures and trying to facilitate their interest not just mine but see what they’re interested in.

35:12 Try to find ways that they can you know meet the world or whatever. So it’s it’s and it’s harder now to be gone awry and I were in Nepal 2015 we’re on this ridge line going up and to nowhere where nobody had been before and things down like this one hundreds and hundreds of feet. And I’m just like I shouldn’t be here you know but I still have that drive to do adventures and I have kind of these ideas that are that are kind of far reaching. I have a list officer’s adventures I want to do for the next four or five years and then and then but then it takes a while to get the passion about it. So it’s just kind of like sitting on things and I’m kind of at that point again now and it seems to be on that for the big trips is kind of like a two year cycle or whatever.

36:02 And then the other part is like you know there’s a lot of logistics and planning and fundraising goes. The big polar trips and some of his other ones. And financially that’s a huge burden and it’s a scary one. And so if you kind of throw it out there. My thing is like you got to do it and you’ve got to make it happen and so that’s whole lot of stuff that goes into that. And you know there’s a lot of sacrifices that come along and you know with the family it’s a little harder to think about some of those sacrifices words like I don’t mind if I eat ramen noodles for two months you know because I don’t have any money.

36:37 But the kids might.

36:39 Although my son does love ramen so that’s hopeful. That’s you know that’s the business side of that career right. Yeah. Fund fundraising and things like that. Not every you know kind of getting back to what we were saying about the Instagram world not everybody is you know Red Bull sponsored guy who’s got they don’t have you know the helicopter shows up when they need it and there’s nothing like that a lot of you know for a lot of different sports and a lot of the most different realities is that a lot of work to put all those resource.

37:12 Yeah I think even the Red Bull guys you know how a lot have a lot of work to do there’s obviously a bigger sport now or you know it’s easier now than what it was.

37:20 There’s a lot of the same structure. I have a bunch of great companies that I work with that support me and have for many many years I’ve built up a lot of great relationships so it’s not the hardest thing but it’s it’s a challenge because you know you’re still doing big budgets and you know for a company to back a trip that has an uncertain outcome. It’s a risk and you know they’re on tight budgets. Everybody there is working hard. It’s it’s it’s but it’s a fun puzzle that I like. I mean I love the adventures but the the nice thing about what I do now is I like all the other parts too. So I like trying to find those pieces I like trying to you know tell my story unique ways I like trying to take a really good picture that has an emotional side to it. You know I like writing something that explains my perspective a little bit more relates to something that I’ve done so a lot of it is all fun. It just is constant and and it’s a hustle but life.

38:22 Well one of the things you mentioned was making some of these adventures be a little closer to home. So what are your next ones I think is this Colorado triathlon is that.

38:32 Yeah.

38:33 So I was I was I’ve been thinking about this all morning we’re we’re trying to figure out the name and I think it’s going to be called the Colorado a thon.

38:41 I don’t know if I’m necessarily the branding guy for this stuff but you know I often wonder if I’m really change or if I’m just the same person I think I might be just the same person because I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of these things forever and back in the day. You know I live in the Midwest I was just trying to have adventures and I was trying to be original. And and I.

39:06 And in that sense we would you know get our mountain bikes and we would mountain bike and then we would get to a lake and we brought you know we got these inner tubes and we’d inflate the inner tubes and we’d put the bikes on there stripped down swim across the lake and then keep biking and you know and just trying to put these arbitrary parameters on things just so we could have a fun time. And so we could you know it wasn’t any sort of world record. We

39:31 just wanted to have an adventure we wanted the challenge we wanted to kind of push our physical limits a little bit in not this crazy way. And so we would just do those things. Not not for any greater reason than it was fun and you know sometimes we got really cold and sometimes you know we got lost or whatever. But that’s what it was and I think not that adventure has strayed away from there but I think it’s important for us to remember that adventure can be whatever we want and we also have this ability to do these unique things we don’t have to follow everybody else. And so that’s kind of the mindset that I’ve been in recently and this idea of like how can I do that in Colorado this place that I really love where we kind of set some of these arbitrary parameters that are a little more severe. So

40:18 I thought wow I really love biking. I love backpacking and I you know haven’t been in whitewater canoe got. I like being on the. I love water. And I grew up in canoes and whatnot so I had this idea of kind of traveling across the state of Colorado on this human powered way with these arbitrary parameters of biking from the eastern border up through the Rocky Mountains and then getting over towards crumbling and switching to backpacks and back into the flatout wilderness and then getting down near a rifle and then having some pack rafts and inflating those and then and then paddling towards the Utah border just as this idea of adventure and I feel like I’m drawn to these kind of expeditions and adventures that have these bigger themes to them because I feel like I’ve gotten so lucky from the things that I have learned from this event so I want to pass along some insights not like you need to do it this way but the like hey here’s something you may not have realized like you could be in Boulder and you could you know bike up to Brainerd lake or something or you could swim somewhere.

41:24 Who knows what you know like I just think there’s a real opportunity and we’re in a really unique time to do fun things that can also challenge us but that are also unique to each person. And so that’s where that idea came from. And and you know I have this other big philosophy which is like have fun do good. So with any of my bigger trips I think we all have a responsibility to kind of leave the world a better place in whatever way and I’ve gotten so many great gifts out of wilderness experiences that I thought for this trip and this conversation about adventure we could work with the big city mountaineers and on a fund raising because they’re big city Mountaineers which is based in gold and is really focused on wilderness programs for disadvantaged youth.

42:07 So being able to give some of those other people experiences that I’ve had because I feel like I’ve gotten so much out of those wilderness adventures throughout my life.

42:17 So what say you know when you’re not on a big adventure and I love that idea of just like what’s in your backyard and you know that’s where you are kind of day to day and that’s what you choose to live in a place like this where some of these things are right in your backyard and you know it doesn’t again it doesn’t have to be the hugest thing or the craziest thing. You know just going for a hike. You never know where it’ll lead you totally never know when you’re going to come across a snake in the path or you know anything that gets to your heart kind of going. So when you’re not a you know off somewhere else like where where in Colorado you know what are some favorite spots like what are you kind of doing.

42:56 Yeah I mean I have a lot of responses and we’re pretty lucky because we were able to spend the summer across the butte and I love that town. I

43:05 love that area and it seems like every day I’m there I’m discovering a new place like we were just a Blue Mesa reservoir with our kids and it was like we call a beach day because there’s you know you wouldn’t expect to be able to have them in Colorado but we did and the kids loved it but I love Crested Butte for its access to wilderness. I’ve been a bicyclist forever so I love road biking the mountain biking and so the mountain biking in Crested Butte is ridiculous as is just like I do a lot of photography so being able to just get out and snap a couple of pictures just for fun. So that whole Ganesan Valley to me is like one of my favorite places in Colorado living in Boulder. Obviously we’re right here at the front range. I’m in North Boulder so I tend to stay that direction.

43:53 But you know honestly one of my favorite things to do is hike up Cinny this lake. I love the hike up and eat this because you can literally just walk out your back door and hike up that mountain and I love that. And there’s a lot of times when nobody is up there you know if you hit it in the right time or I go up there a lot in the wintertime when I’m training I put a pack full rocks and I just hike up serious. And there’s been a lot of times where it’s just like you know it’s like 20 degrees and everybody’s like in all their clothes or whatever and you’re the only the only person up there even like you can head an evening or morning or just sometimes. And you’re the only person up there you can kind of hear the buzz the traffic and you just look out at that flat plane you can see the flat irons Either way it’s a beautiful spot and it’s so accessible you know in town I think that’s one of my favorite things to do and I do a lot of road biking so I’m up and down the front range and Left-Hand canyon right up toward peak to peak like I could do that every day.

44:53 You know it’s just I just love it. I never get tired of looking at it. All those things.

44:57 Yeah it’s it’s real special. And that’s the news because I’m on the same side of town as you know and when people are in town that’s the first thing you do is you take them right there. So it’s right out of the backyard and then you can end up right in town grabbing a beer afterwards. So we were very fortunate. I definitely think so.

45:18 Yeah I mean Colorado is amazing because you know you kind of like as an outsider you think of the Rocky Mountains as just being the Rocky Mountains.

45:26 But each little area has a super unique personality. You know and even like from Crestview to Telluride I mean those are two completely different sets of mountains. And so to me it’s fun to like get to know a warm place but also kind of reach out and find a bunch of others as well. Right right.

45:46 And the last question I’d like to ask people when they’re when they’re on the podcast. Who would you like to hear on this. Who do you think our audience would just you know get a great story out of here.

45:56 I mean like there’s there’s a huge list of people in Boulder you know obviously I’m more connected in the outdoor world. And so as well as like a lot of my partners are here I mean there’s the guy from scratch labs that are that are based in Boulder. I’ve got a good friend. He’s he’s a little on the periphery but he’s doing a really cool archaeological work down in Peru His name is Preston Sol. he’s a great guy. I feel like I would be really interested as well as a bicyclist to know a little bit more about kind of living and training here in the front range from either pro biker I know Taylor Phinney and lives here right. Or any of the triathletes that are here. I mean I feel like that that perspective of like training here on that level to me is really interesting.

46:49 I mean I’m involved in it. I don’t necessarily equate myself with like a pro bike racer who’s got a you know an exponentially level higher of discipline that I do. So and then you know there’s some amazing scientists here that I think are really interesting you know like I’ve done some work with NSIDC the National Snow and Ice Data Center and that is another unique aspect of all of that I think sometimes gets overlooked is like all the science that goes on here. You know from like there’s guys that see you that are like working with NASA and there’s like any car that’s doing this incredible you know Atmospheric Research and Environmental Research and the ice guys that I see and this I do see I mean I can make a list like. Hunter is long. Right. So but those are the things that I’m personally interested and I would love to to hear more about for sure.

47:43 Yeah. When I first moved here you know I knew about the outdoors the stuff from the high level. It’s a great place to be outdoors. Very accessible. I didn’t know that all of these awesome science labs were here and things like that so that was something that I just wasn’t on my radar. You know the people who are living here and having access the outdoors and you know the brainiacs are just going crazy in these science labs it’s amazing.

48:10 Totally yeah. I have a friend ironically who’s from my hometown who I hadn’t seen in like 15 years and I was up at Luckies market one day a bunch years ago and there he was standing and he was like almost my neighbor. Ironically I just ran him to the airport today. Come coming in and he has a funny phrase he’s like you know East Coast he’s like people there with the biggest pocketbook wins. He says Colorado it’s the best lifestyle that wins. And you know I tell people that a lot of out here it’s like people work very hard and are very focused on their careers and and their families. But it’s not up to us. Nobody is willing to sacrifice their lifestyles.

 


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48:52 Well and I think I think you know kind of going on with their discussion what adventures and lessons I think and an idea of being connected to the environment and outside I think that’s one of the beautiful things about Colorado and I think obviously while a lot of people are here.

49:08 Right. But I think that sums it up. And I think we can leave it on that note again I really appreciate you being here. It’s really fascinating to meet you and we’ll try to get some of these other people on the podcast as well. But thanks a lot thanks for your time. Awesome. Thank you. Appreciate it. All.

All right thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Eric Larson on Colorado.FM, the Colorado podcast.  as you can imagine it was a real treat for me to have the opportunity to sit down with him as we mentioned in the intro.

You can find the links to connect with Eric to find any related articles or content the show notes is up to if you enjoyed it please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave review if you have a few moments. It really helps get the podcast and of course I learn a lot from your feedback if you prefer to get our updates email or use a podcast service of stitcher or Android. You can learn more at Colorado.FM/Subscribe. Thanks again. I really hope you enjoyed this episode and we’ll see you next time.

 

#006 Building a Family Nature Club with Jason Sperling

Colorado.FM Interview: Jason Sperling

 

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Colorado.FM.  In this episode I will be speaking with Jason Sperling about his latest book titled Unplugged: 15 steps to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature, yourself, friends and family.

This is Jason’s 3rd book on the subject of getting your kids outside, and while many of you Coloradoans out there are thinking that you’ve got this outdoor kid thing under control, we all know that this is a real societal challenge that we face right now.

And as someone who is raising kids in Colorado, I can tell you that Jason is committed to getting not only his kids, but all the kids in his neighborhood or circle of influence if if you will, outside.  And his latest book offers a blueprint to making this happen in your community, no matter how big or small.

As always, we get into what brought Jason to Colorado, or in his case, back to Colorado.  And as someone who’s day job is in tech, this conversation really gets into some of the great things going on here economically as well as lifestyle-wise.

We get into how nature as the quote-unquote “third parent” can actually make raising your kids easier.

And as someone who is dedicated to getting the family outside, Jason offers some great tips on where to go here in the Boulder area.  So whether you live here or are visiting, I think you’ll get something useful out of that.

Finally, our first give away.. I’m pretty excited!  Jason has very generously left me 3 copies of his latest book to give to our listeners.  So we’ll have some details on how you can get your hands on that at the end of the podcast.

Online, you can find Jason at JasonRunkelSperling.com and on Instagram @jsperling.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to connect with Jason or find the resources he mentions right in the show notes to this episode.

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jason Sperling, author and pied piper of getting kids dirty.

 


Subscribe to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast – on iTunes


Selected Links from the Episode

Jason Sperling

Unplugged: 15 Steps to Disconnect from Technology and Reconnect with Nature, Yourself, Friends, and Family

Mud Kitchen in a Day

The Backyard Play Revolution

JasonRunkelSperling.com

Instagram: @jsperling

 

Other Books & References

Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv

Children & Nature Network

Playborhood – Mike Lanza

Bobolink Trail Boulder

East Boulder Rec Center

Laughing Coyote Project

 

Boulder Startup Accelerators

Techstars

Boomtown

Unreasonable Group

 


Show Notes

[3:00]  Why Colorado? Boulder to Los Angeles and back to Boulder

[7:00] Making change happen: the power of setting deadlines

[11:00] Tech ecosystem in Boulder and how it made change possible

[11:45] Unplugging and building a family nature club – the inspiration for the book

[20:45] Nature as a ‘Third Parent’ and how being outside makes parenting easier

[23:00] Never saying ‘No’.  Risk vs. Consequence

[25:45] The ‘How’ of creating a family nature club

[27:30] What’s next?  Managing after school time

[32:00] Favorite spot:  Why South Boulder Creek / Bobolink trail rules!

[32:00] Who Jason wants on this podcast:  Neal Ritter from Laughing Coyote Project

 


Transcript

 

Colorado.FM – Colorado Podcast Interview with Jason Sperling

Hello, everyone. Doug Stetzer here, and thanks for tuning into this episode of Colorado FM – The Colorado Podcast. In this episode, I’ll be speaking with Jason Sperling about his latest book titled Unplugged: 15 Steps to Disconnect from Technology and Reconnect with Nature, Yourself, Friends, and Family.

This is Jason’s third book on the subject of getting your kids outside. While many of you Coloradans out there are thinking you’ve got this outdoor kid thing under control, we all know it’s a real challenge that we face in society right now, and as someone who’s raising kids here in Colorado, I can tell you that Jason is committed to getting not only his kids, but all the kids in his neighborhood, school, circle of influence, if you will, outside. His latest book offers a blueprint to making this happen in your community no matter how big or small a group you really want to get involved with.

As always, we get into what brought Jason to Colorado, and in his case, back to Colorado, and as someone whose day job is in tech, the conversation really gets into some of the great things going on here economically as well as lifestyle wise. We get into how nature as the “third parent” can actually make your life or raising kids easier. As someone, like I said, who’s dedicated to getting family outside, Jason offers some great tips on where to go here in the Boulder area. Whether you live here or visiting or thinking about visiting, I think you’ll get something really useful out of that. He’s got some great ideas.

Finally, our first giveaway, and I’m pretty excited about this, Jason has generously left me three copies of his latest book to give to our listeners, so we’ll have some details on how you can get your hands on that at the end of the podcast.

Online, you can find Jason at jasonrunkelsperling.com. That’s Jason Runkel, R-U-N-K-E-L, Sperling dot com, and on Instagram @jsperling. Of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to connect with Jason or find the resources mentioned right in the show notes to this episode.

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Here we go. My conversation with Jason Sperling, author and pied piper getting things dirty.

Thanks for coming to the studio today. I have been looking forward to talking with you about projects you are working on, and in particular, we’re going to get to your latest book Unplugged: How to Build a Family Nature Club, and this is something that we’re kind of involved with personally and through the school and everything, but before we get to that, why Colorado? I know you’re actually from Colorado, but something about the state and what’s going on here, I guess, brought you back. Why don’t we get into that a little bit first, and then we’ll move into what started your interest in these books.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, that’s a great place to start. I’m happy to be here. Very excited. Good to see you again. I grew up and was born and raised here until, I think I was around 20 or so, and then I left after finishing college and lived around the world a couple of different places. By the time I ended up getting married and having children, I was in Los Angeles. Me and my wife lived in a one bedroom condo and didn’t really think about having a kid at that time when we bought the place. When we did, there wasn’t really any place to put her. We had a really big walk-in closet, and for the first two years of her life, Nyla was sleeping in the walk-in closet, which was sort of awkward and a little strange, but it was a big closet.

Doug Stetzer:                       Having the great outdoors in the closet.

Jason Sperling:                   Right. We had a balcony, like a, you know, eight by four balcony with some plants on there. I would go, for the first two years of her life, very frequently to the marina in the mornings because she wasn’t a big sleeper, and she didn’t sleep through the night for years. She would wake up at around 5:00 in the morning and not go back to sleep, and Michelle had been up for most of the night with her, so I would go with Nyla down to the beach, at Marina Del Rey, and we would walk the beach.

Every time I drive back to the condo, I was just like, what am I doing here? I had a great job, great friends, great family nearby, and it was wonderful when we were adults and not parents.

Then my grandpa passed away, and I went to a funeral in New York. On the plane ride back, I was with my brother, and we were talking about life, all those big conversations that you have, and it just struck me that I should be not returning to Los Angeles but going back to Boulder where I grew up so I could be close to my family. My mother and father still live here in Boulder. I took about a year or so thinking about things before we made the move, but the main idea was to come out here to be closer to nature and to raise our children really in the mountains and with nature and close to family and friends.

We made the move, and I remember the first day we were here, we were living near Wonderland Lake and walked to the lake, and it was just this amazing experience. Like wow, we did it, and we’re here, and it’s beautiful, and the waves are sort of lapsing on the shore, and there’s birds flying. Just amazing.

Coming from a one bedroom condo in LA to living out here, my commute was 5 or 10 minutes long, and now we’ve been able to do so much stuff out in nature, and it’s really been, I think, profound for the children, whereas if we had stayed in LA, we’d be trying to escape to the mountains, which were 45 minute drive away from our place. The beach, of course, is wonderful, but is also 20, 30 minutes away. I just think that the quantity and the quality of time for the children in nature would’ve been way different. It’s been just pretty amazing being here.

Doug Stetzer:                       You’re actually from Boulder. Did you go to CU right down the road?

Jason Sperling:                   I did go to CU, yep.

Doug Stetzer:                       Oh, okay.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah.

Doug Stetzer:                       Like you mention, you still have family here, which is obviously helpful when you’re making these big moves, it’s … We’ve had to move around a lot, and we haven’t really been able to do it with family, so it’s always kind of harder trek.

Just a year to go from that cathartic mindset of, “Hey, I want to make a change,” to actually making it happen is actually pretty short and spectacular. I mean, that’s something that takes people a lot of time to do, sometimes. Is there something about … Were you able to just transfer your job here and work remotely or is what’s going on in Colorado from a business perspective economically part of what allowed that to happen?

Jason Sperling:                   I mean, so I couldn’t transfer the job at the time. What’s happening in Boulder, as you probably know, is the amount of start-up activity and the activity in the technology sector is really vibrant here right now, and so it’s growing quite a bit. It’s way different than when I was growing up here. The cafes are just bustling with people, talking about ideas and making things happen. As part of that, there’s a support ecosystem, and my profession is in the technology sector, and so that did allow the transfer for me really easy because there’s a lot of companies I could work with.

What I did, which was one of those experiences that gave me shivers, is I wrote down the actual date that I wanted to start here in Colorado. The date I was going to move here, and the day I wanted to have my first day of my new job here, which was, I think, the 23rd of may. I wrote that down, and when I started networking in Boulder, I would tell people, “This is the date I’m going to be in Colorado,” which was a year out, which is a weird thing to say.

What’s different than the big cities where I had been working is that people in Boulder just open up their networks. I would talk to one person, and then they would introduce me to three, and so on, and it was just the most welcoming community to come into. I had some 30, 40 conversations with different businesses, and then eventually, I found one that was looking for someone with my background and skillset, and the start date was on that date. It was just a very other worldly experience. I was crazy.

I think that really helped, having a really concrete plan because people also responded to me differently than saying, “Hey I would like to come out there at some point. I don’t know when, but at some point,” instead of emailing and telling people, “I’m going to be there on the 24rd of May,” and … I think that helped make the transition.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, and that really helped make it real in your mind. It helped with your job search. It just helped people respond well to deadlines, obviously-

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah.

Doug Stetzer:                       Instead of that kind of up-in-the-air out in outer space, “I want to move one day.”

Jason Sperling:                   Right, right.

Doug Stetzer:                       Now, that’s really interesting. I think it’s just as important about … It’s an important quality of what’s going on here in the sense that, and I didn’t know this about Boulder before I moved here. I had just knew it was a town near the mountains that was popular for its outdoor activities and had the university. I knew that much.

What I didn’t realize was that, that university’s cranking out PhDs, and people here have had good jobs for decades, not just ski-bum jobs. They’re working at NOAA and National Science Laboratories, and they’re working at the big IBM campus north of town. I mean, these people have had what, to me, was like a really great secret.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, yeah.

Doug Stetzer:                       But now the secret’s kind of getting out, obviously, not just for Boulder but for Denver as well, but that idea that you can have this well-balanced lifestyle, be outside, get your kids outside, but that there’s jobs. I mean, that’s part of the magic of what’s going on here and is what’s making these conversations really interesting.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, and like the early stage start-up ecosystem is growing. There’s, I think, three incubators now. You’ve got Techstars, you’ve got Boomtown, and then the Unreasonable Group is doing a bunch of stuff, so there’s a, becoming a really good ecosystem in Boulder, in Denver as well, and everyone is just very, very friendly, and that is attracting bigger companies. Google, of course, is coming in, expanding their campus here. There’s a lot of really great intellectual capital in town, and yeah, it’s a fun place to be with family, and it’s just great all around.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, right. Well, let’s move in the direction since we talked about tech, and we’re going to talk about un-teching. Getting the kids away from it, getting the family and even ourselves. We’re all are battling with our own screen time issues and just trying to unplug.

You have written three books. Mud Kitchen in a Day, The Backyard Revolution, and then the latest one, Unplugged: How to Build a Family Nature Club. Let’s talk about this latest book. Just tell us, what is a family nature club to you? What inspired this idea?

Jason Sperling:                   Sure. The inspiration for the book is from another book, actually, written by Richard Louv, The Last Child in the Woods, and in that book, it’s not a footnote, but it doesn’t have a lot of attention, but that’s where is sort of introduced to the mainstream. I think that’s where the label came from, but the concept of Family Nature Clubs is piping around for forever or for quite a while where basically, it’s a group of people who are committed to going into nature. It’s family oriented, so you have the parents and you have the children organizing to go into nature and to try to really inspire children and parents to make a deep nature connection.

I read his book, and then put it on my bedside table for a couple of years, and then as our children got a little older, decided to try to make it happen. There’s not, at the time, there wasn’t really any good books on here’s how you do it. There was some support from the Children Nature Network, which is the organization that kind of grew out of the work that Richard has been doing. There’s some great support from them.

I started out by asking parents at the school where Nyla goes to if they would be into this idea. I explained it to them and said, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this thing. We’d organize an event every two weeks to start,” and I just wanted a small group of people. I didn’t want to create something huge. I had no desire to create a thousand-person organization. I just wanted to build something around Nyla’s community so it’s really centered on her community, and now, my son’s community. We basically organize events. Originally, it was every two weeks, now it’s transitioned to every week when we’re in town.

I try to have the events be a combination of just having unstructured time in nature where the idea is to try to recreate the experience that children have more frequently in the past where they could be outside and do whatever they want in nature.

Then the other ones are more adult-guided activities like go skiing or mountain biking or boating. Some of it requires some adult leadership. Because we’re in Colorado, the opportunities for amazing things to do is just so huge, and so we do things from skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, boating, playing in the streams, just going out on hikes, and the snowshoeing. I mean, the list just goes on. Everything you can think of in snow and in summer except for surfing. You don’t get surfing or scuba diving or snorkeling.

It started off really small with just a few families coming, and it’s grown. I think the biggest event we’ve had is some 27 folks or something. Most of the events are a couple of hours, and then we do some overnight camping trips, backpacking trips. I think my sense of the purpose of it has changed over time. I think I can be more articulate about the outcomes, which is that the children have these really profound experiences that are just what you would expect in a childhood, but you don’t see as much today.

For example, the last one we went on, we climbed and walked up a stream, and they caught a toad. We found a bunch of feathers. We tried to catch a crawdad but failed. We saw a snake. It’s the kind of things that you would expect and maybe you remember from your own childhood, but that is happening less and less because kids are spending less time outdoors doing nothing.

That’s a big emphasis of what I love is the idea of going out there and doing nothing always turns into something amazing. Going snowshoeing was one of our really fun experiences last year where we go into the woods, it’s snowing, it’s quiet, you’re sort of traipsing through the trees, and then we find this lake.

For the children, it really was this discovery of a lake because they didn’t have the map in their hands, they didn’t know where we were going. They just went over a ridge and dropped down to this lake, and the lake was covered with ice. They were wearing snow shoes, and then when you go on the ice with snowshoes, it makes that creaky sound that sort of is like scratch. We had a sled with us, and we were sailing across the ice in the sled because it was really windy.

That is the kind of stuff that I just love giving those experiences to my children. Part of it is for wanting them to have a connection to nature. The other part is that I really see their behavior a lot differently when they’re inside, indoors versus when they’re outside. I think the indoors is architected for adults very much and not for children.

 


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Children like to fun fast. They like to have big movements. They like to have their volumes at different levels, and they like to manipulate their environment. When you’re outdoors, that’s very possible. When you’re indoors, and that happens, it turns into just, giant mess. Children don’t love cleaning up messes, and it’s very loud. It becomes less, I think, less beneficial to them, whereas outdoors, everything really interoperable. For example, the toys all interact with each other. You can play with a stick with other sticks or a sticks with water, stick with mud, but indoors, the toys tend to be things that you use in a very linear and fixed way.

I just find their behavior outdoors is really, they seem happy, they seem engaged, they’re not frustrated. That’s one piece, and then, I think, maybe a third is I really want them to have a sense of grit, being strong, being able to overcome challenges. A lot of the things that we do, even when it’s unstructured, they tend to find challenges that are appropriate to their age, and they also take risk, which helps them learn things.

I was on this road trip that we just took. We were at my stepbrother’s, or brother-in-law’s place, and I was just saddened to see his children, bright sunny day, cousins visiting, and they’re all indoors, each in their room, each on their own computer. Their house backs up to this amazing woods. They’re up in Washington, so beautiful, dense, thick, lush woods. I went out there with my children because that’s what we do is we go outside and explore. Only the youngest of his children came out with us.

There’s a rickety bridge that went over a little gully, and the gully’s only a foot or two deep, and the rickety bridge was really just two logs with some unsecured crossbeams going across. My children just walked across it like you would, but then their daughter, who I think is, she must be five, five or six, was scared to walk over it. Then when we finally convinced her to walk over it, and it’s maybe two feet of walking, she had very difficult time balancing.

That’s something that we also see. You hear, talking to school administrators and folks at the schools who work with children, is that the development, physical development, motor skills is all happening a lot later with children now because they’re just not doing as much physical stuff anymore.

I think that’s another piece is having the children doing these things outdoors really gives them the opportunity to use their muscles and climb up rocks, climb up trees, all the stuff that was more common in past childhoods.

Doug Stetzer:                       I think, just getting on one of the things you said, and also, one of the things I read in one of your bios or on some bit about you somewhere was that getting into how house play just doesn’t fit like that. It also lends to disciplinary action because they’re just, they’re doing the same stuff they were doing outside, but your house doesn’t fit that. Again, it’s like, “Oh, man, be … Keep it down. Stop jumping off the bed. Stop doing all these things.”

One of the things that really caught my eye was when I was reading this blurb was that you were making the argument that it actually makes parenting easier. I think a lot of people initially, at least, see it the other way. One of the benefits of the club and just interacting with you that we’ve gotten is that when you do get that weekly or bi-weekly email, “Hey, we’re going to go to this river,” even if it’s for unstructured play, it’s like, all right, well, I now have an activity that I didn’t necessarily organize. I know that there’s going to be kids there that my kids know. They’re just going to play, but we’re just going to get them in the right spot.

If we’re probably geared up, then I don’t have to tell them not to go in the creek or not to get wet or not to get dirty or not to … They’re there to do all of those things that “the no machine,” the parenting “no machine”-

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right, that’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       … is always talking about, and you’re really more worried, at that point, about safety, but not the dirt or the water or things like that. I thought that was an interesting blurb that, you do go there, you relax, you’re less in charge of directing everything, and also less in charge of stopping them to do stuff, as long as it’s safe.

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right. Yeah, I mean, maybe I’m really just a lazy father. I just want to go do something that’s easy for me as a parent, but I there’s also this helpful concept of nature as a third parent, and that there’s so much that children learn from being in that space that’s hard for me, as a parent, to teach them, but nature is doing it seamlessly and effortlessly.

I think when we go out there, there’s this exercise I like to do for myself, which is just to never say no. Of course, you can’t do that all the time, but understand that idea of risk versus consequence where you … Let’s say we go out and we play in the ice, and my son who’s now four, but earlier, would be playing with a hatchet. You think to yourself, well, that hatchet is dull, so if he hits himself, it’s not going to slice his arm. It’s going to hurt a lot, but how’s he going to learn how to use a hatchet if he doesn’t have that opportunity.

The risk is high. I think he’s probably going to hit himself. The consequence is low, versus, let’s say we’re climbing on rocks. It’s really easy to climb up some rocks that you could fall 30 feet down from, especially here. There’s tons of beautiful rock to climb on. That is lower risk, perhaps, because it’s not a very steep incline. It’s not going to be that likely he’s going to fall, but the consequence is he may go to the hospital and not come back in the same shape.

Those kind of things will, I’ll really look and be careful to have low consequence activities, but I’m okay with risk. He’s hit himself a lot with that hatchet, but he also now knows how to use a hatchet. I think that’s probably what I try to express in the book is that my experiences doing this is going outside of the home is much easier parenting.

Also, if you think of having to schedule a play date or something, this is kind of like a play date in that there are other children coming, which is great for the social aspects for the children, but it’s a lot less work for me than trying to coordinate. If I’m trying to coordinate with you, we’re trying to find something on our calendars, something shifts, now the play date’s ruined because I can’t come or you can’t come. Now, I gotta find someone else to do this play date with, whereas the Family Nature Club is organized using Meetup. You could use Facebook, any sort of event management type thing, and I’m inviting 30 people every time, and maybe 5 of those 30 families come, and that’s in a great community for play for my children.

The work for me, I’m not managing schedules with 30 people, I’m just saying, “Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s the time we’re doing. Here’s where. We’d love you to have you join us,” and if we get some, it’s great. It’s also easier from a scheduling perspective, which is huge, so I don’t really do play dates, like the more traditional play date type thing. In a lot of ways, this has become that for the kids. It makes a lot easier parenting.

Doug Stetzer:                       That’s kind of some of the things that you mentioned there that you actually talk about in your book that I thought was interesting when I took a look at it was that not only, it’s not only just a why do Family Nature Club, it’s kind of a how. It actually is a guide to how to set up your own, some of the tools and successes, things that worked and didn’t work.

For example, I thought it was really interesting how you mentioned Meetup, but how it didn’t work for you because you were getting all these requests for invites from people you didn’t know, and you were just interested in keeping it with people you knew from the school and things like that, and you wanted to keep it at that scale. I thought that was really helpful, again, that idea of things that are working for you, but also things that aren’t, and that’s what the book brings you.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, that’s right. I mean, the idea of what the book is to try to demystify how to start a Family Nature Club because there are resources out there, but I feel like I wanted … There wasn’t really this step-by-step guide of like, what do I do on day one? What do I do on day two? What do I do when something doesn’t work as planned?

The book basically chronicles my experience in starting it and offers a lot of tips and advice for how to do it. It’s been really neat to see people read this and then contact me and say, “I’m starting one, and your book helped me feel confident to start one, and it did demystify what I thought was going to be a really hard, complex process into the simple steps to just make it happen.” That’s really neat to see other clubs popping up and people feeling like, from reading this, they’re able to start their own, which is very cool.

Doug Stetzer:                       Well, one thing I’ve learned, also, from writers is that by the time book comes out, you’ve already been working on it for a couple of years, right?

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right, that’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       It’s so new to other people so by the time that’s kind of the end of the process for you, where it’s just the beginning of the process for the reader. What are you working on now? What’s the next thing?

Jason Sperling:                   Right, so I think the Family Nature Club is all about the weekend. When I think of the time my children have, there’s the time they’re in school, there’s the after-school time, and then there’s the weekend time. I think that the Family Nature Club has been great for the weekends. Really helps get them out there.

But I’ve been frustrated that, and sorry, just to backtrack into school, also, I think I found a great school where they’re at. It’s a Waldorf school, so they have a similar philosophy of connecting with nature and making sure that children have those kind of experiences, but the after-school time is really challenging. This is a, I think it’s a social problem that we have where it used to be in the past that children could just go outside and there’d be other children outside to play with, and they could play with them for hours. Then you ring the bell and the kids come back for dinner. That’s how I grew up. I think previous generations, my parents and so on had that experience, but children today don’t, and they’re not playing outside.

There’s a book that I’ve just started last night, which is a book called Playborhood by Mike Lanza that addresses this exact problem. He had the same feeling that he wanted to his children to have an outside-the-home experience as they were growing up, playing in their neighborhood. He worked hard at researching it and then testing out different ways to make that happen. I started it last night, literally, and-

Doug Stetzer:                       Nice.

Jason Sperling:                   … but I’m really interested in that and trying to figure out how to do that for my children and our neighborhood so that they can go outside and play with friends during the week. I don’t know. That may not be a writing project, but it’s a project that I’m kind of working on.

Doug Stetzer:                       Well, like you said, it fills in … It’s, when you block your week into times and how you connect all of these things, that’s the next missing piece, and it’s really more of like a mental exercise at this point trying to figure it out, the we’ll have to … If you decode that a little bit, then you’ll have to come back and tell us what’s working for you because it is a, interesting problem. We live in a great neighborhood with lots of kids, but you don’t see them in the front yard, for sure, and so you kind of wonder where they are.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, I mean, that’s been my … I spent the first two books talking about how to make your backyard great, and now, I’ve just realized the kids should be in the front yard, not the backyard.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, right. Yeah, that’s interesting. When we lived out in California before we moved here, we were in kind of your typical little town home. Everything’s really narrow there, but it had a front patio, and at first, you kind of thought the front patio was weird, but you came to realize that the front patio was awesome because you just met all the little people who shuffle by your street. I’m out there with babies and so people stop and talk and other people are pushing carriages around, and old dudes are walking, and it’s super fun to get to know the old dudes in your neighborhood, but spending a lot of time out in the front is what allowed that, so that’s really interesting.

Jason Sperling:                   Just imagine if the design of homes was, instead of having a backyard, move the backyard to the front, and move the homes to the very back of the property, and you do that along all the street, then you have this huge park on the-

Doug Stetzer:                       Basically. Yeah. Every block’s-

Jason Sperling:                   Every block-

Doug Stetzer:                       … a park.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah. That would be amazing.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, right. Well, I think that’s just a really interesting topic, and it’s just really something that’s obviously that’s, even in a place like Boulder or even in Colorado or whatever, people are still struggling with, not to mention, the well-known problem, societal issues that people are dealing with. Really recommend the book. I think it’s interesting, and I thank you for your efforts with the Family Nature Club, personally, so that’s really awesome.

Before we wrap up, I do like to ask people just a couple of specific things. With your background, I think this is really, will be great information. What’s your favorite spot with all these things? Like what … I know favorite spots are hard, but with all the organizing of these things, what has become maybe a repeat, like a go-to, what’s a real win when you just are out for the day with the kids and everything like that? What’s an example of a really great spot around here?

Jason Sperling:                   In Boulder, there’s a challenge because the Open Space Mountain Parks area gets a lot of visitors, and because they get so many visitors, they really want you to stay on the trail, which makes sense because otherwise, everything would be trampled. Likewise, there’s not tons of water. There’s some creeks. But in the summer time, actually this is really my go to for all seasons, there’s a creek, South Boulder Creek has some access points that the city’s made along the Bubble Lake trailhead, which is off Baseline. You can go there with the kids. There’s about a mile, mile and a half stretch from Baseline going south. What we do is we go into the creek. There’s three or four access points, and we just go in the first one-

Doug Stetzer:                       Nice.

Jason Sperling:                   … and in the summer time, the water’s shallow enough that you can walk in the creek going up, and that’s just an amazing, amazing experience.

In the winter time, it’s frozen, and you can actually do the same exact thing. It’s beautiful walking up a frozen creek with ice on it, and then in the shoulder seasons when the ice is melted partially, you can have the kids going on to shards of ice. They can break and cut through the ice.

Doug Stetzer:                       Okay, breaking ice is like a win every time.

Jason Sperling:                   It’s a huge win. Huge win. It’s kind of like this nice little nature corridor that has just amazing access. It’s really easy to get to in Boulder, and it is really fun for the kids. It’s shaded by trees, so when it’s hot, it’s great. It’s just a all-season, wonderful spot, super close.

Doug Stetzer:                       I think one of the interesting things about that area, that if you were visiting, like whether you’re visiting Boulder or you’re just coming up for a day trip or you’re following this advice and you’re looking for something to do, just go give you a bit more of a picture is that it’s relatively flat out there. You’re not going into Chautauqua. I mean, you go to Chautauqua you have to be ready to just start doing the StairMaster, right?

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       It’s hard with, when you have kids of different leg lengths and even for me, like say when my parents come into town. You’re like, “Let’s go for a hike,” but they’re not really up for the big elevation hikes and things like that. So when grandparents are in town, and you’ve got little kids, and you got middle kids, one of the interesting things about that area is that you’re not dealing with steep trails and-

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       … a thousand steps and things like that. It’s a nice flat area just to go stomp around.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, and it’s a little less crazy, like parking wise. You can usually find parking. You can access it from the other side, which is at East Boulder Rec Center, so there’s tons of parking there. But yeah, it’s great for different skill levels and all that.

Doug Stetzer:                       Yeah, see, I like that. That’s a great recommendation. Finally, the last question I like to ask people, who would you love to hear on this podcast?

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, I’d love to hear Neil from Laughing Coyote Project. They’re doing some amazing things with children. They’re teaching them primitive skills. They have a beautiful property. I’ve just recently got to know him. He would have a lot to share. That would really be interesting for folks.

Doug Stetzer:                       Yeah, and we were talking about this a little bit. I’ve researched it. I don’t know, there’s … It looks amazing, and they’re out in Longmont-

Jason Sperling:                   I think that’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       … I believe. They do all sorts of just really cool hands-on type kid stuff.

Jason Sperling:                   Yep, yep.

Doug Stetzer:                       All right. We’ll reach out to him, and if you know him, if you can help make that happen, that’d be awesome.

Jason Sperling:                   Absolutely, absolutely.

Doug Stetzer:                       Awesome. Well, hey man. Thanks for coming in. I think this is just really awesome to learn more about, not only what you’ve done but what you’re up to and the impact it’s having. These are just real societal challenges that people are facing, and it’s … But it’s something that I think people are moving to Colorado to consciously address those things, and so I think it was super relevant to not only me to learn stuff, people who are listening, like people who are moving here, they’re making those types of lifestyle decisions. I think that’ll be really interesting to see how it pans out.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, it’s a great place to do it. Really is.

Doug Stetzer:                       Awesome.

All right, everyone. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Jason Sperling. As we mentioned in the intro, you can find links to connect with him or find resources, books, trails, whatever in the show notes. Also, if you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to this Colorado podcast on iTunes, and leave a review if you have few moments. It really helps get the podcast found, and of course, I learn a lot from your feedback. If you prefer to get our updates via email, you can subscribe at Colorado FM.

As far as the book giveaway is concerned, we’ll keep it simple. The first three people to subscribe for email updates will get the copy, and I’m happy to send it free to anyone here in the US, lower 48 states. Thanks again, and I hope you enjoyed this episode.

 

 

#005 3 Guaranteed Wins When Entertaining Guests in Boulder

Hey everyone! Thank you for tuning in for this episode of Colorado.FM – the Colorado podcast.  In this episode, I recap some things that made having guests in town a true success.

When you live in a place like Colorado, people are bound to start showing up.

In addition to some of the things I had already figured out after a few years of living here, I was also able to apply recommendations from previous guests.  This new local knowledge has really made an impact on my quality of life, so I’m super excited to pass it on!

I hope you enjoy this episode.  It’s a bit different.  But be sure to let me know what you think, and be sure to pass on your can’t-miss strategies for entertaining guests when they show up!

 


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Selected Links from the Episode

Tin Shed Sports

Salto Coffee Works

Chautauqua Cottages

Kitchen Next Door

Mt. Sanitas Loop

Royal Arch Trail

Podcast: Fanny Toorenburg on Nederland

 


Show Notes

[1:15] Chautauqua cottages for the win

[3:45] Escaping the heat in Boulder Creek and Nederland

[6:35]  Our family day hike: Sanitas – Red Rocks – Lunch at Kitchen Next Door

 


Transcript:

Hey everyone. Doug here from colorado.fm. Thanks for tuning in. I’ve been between guests here for a little while but I did want to just discuss something that I think we probably all have in common here in Colorado, especially in the summer, and that’s having guests. I just had some friends in town and of course you’re always under the gun to come up with really amazing things to do, so I wanted to touch base on a couple of things that really made for just a can’t-lose vacation both for you and your guests, since having guests isn’t always that easy. What I was able to draw on was even some of these recommendations from our prior guests on the podcast, new things that I’m learning about the area, and already just getting to know these people and picking their brain is starting to pay off in my life. Of course, I’m here to pass those recommendations on to you.

Let’s just start off with the first thing that really made this a success. In this case, my guests, they come to town every summer. What they have done for the last few years is rented a cottage at Chautauqua here in Bolder. The Chautauqua cottages are just amazing. You’re really stepping back in time. Of course, Chautauqua’s been there since the late 1800s. They started off with canvas tents and wooden floors. Those evolved into cabins and some of those cabins have been renovated into little cottages over time. They’re just amazing. They’ve stayed in a few different ones and each one is unique. What that allows us to do is, first of all, of course it’s hard to have guests in your house and sometimes it’s just impossible to have a whole another family in your house. This gives them a simple and affordable way to stay right here in Boulder. Second of all, the location, you just can’t beat it. If you’re coming in from out of town and you can stay right in Chautauqua, then you don’t even have to drive in the morning. You just hit the trails. You’ve got restaurants and the ice cream place. Music is playing every night. It’s just amazing. That’s just a total win as far as location.

What it also allows for is us to kind of have like a vacation, staycation, little home away from home. Since they have a place to kind of home base out of during the day, we would hang out over there, go for hikes, have a place to come back to. Again, the kids are just running around because there’s no cars driving through there. We even pulled off a nice sleepover, which led to a great day. Here’s the day, kids sleep over at the cabin in Chautauqua, get up in the morning and hit the trails, maybe head up to Royal Arch. Nice, long hike. Come back, grab some ice cream. That’s it. It’s a total win for both of the families involved. Lots of fun, lots of things to do, location right at the foot of the Flatirons just can’t be beat. If you have some guests, if you’re in Boulder and you have guests coming to town or even if you’re just in the area, you might want to check it out and head up, get everybody to stay over at Chautauqua for a few nights. It’s just really super fun and lends something unique to your trip.

The next thing we did that was an absolute win was escaping the heat. Pretty hot in Boulder when they first arrived, so we headed up canyon towards Nederland. Just getting up there, you drive in half an hour but it [inaudible 00:04:08] feet of elevation, dropped the temperature 20 degrees. Of course, everyone around here knows that, if you just head into the hills. But sometimes you forget just how easy it is. You don’t have to head two hours to Breckenridge or something like that. We just head right up into Nederland, stop at one of those pull-offs along the way and jump in the river, pull out some chairs and have a couple of Colorado’s finest beers. It’s just really a great way to spend the day.

What I was able to add to the Nederland trip … Nederland is, if you haven’t been there, there’s a funky little town well-known for having the outdoor ski resort in the winter, of course. But it’s really a great town in the summer as well. When I interviewed Fanny Tornburg earlier in the podcast, she recommended and just enlightened me to a place in Nederland that I had never heard of. It’s this great combination, the Salto Coffee Works and Tin Shed Sports, which is owned by a family and it’s got the coffee shop and the bike shop right next door. But I finally had a chance to check it out and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been going there for the last few years. It’s amazing, patio, shade, everybody’s hanging out. They’ve got amazing Mexican food in this place, which totally blew me away, a real authentic Mexican menu, great coffee, and again, we were able to escape the heat from up there. Already, my interviews with some locals paying off with that.

One of the reasons why I was missing their location was that it’s just kind of off the drag just enough that you can’t really see it, so even if I stopped in Nederland on the way home from Eldora, grabbed a pizza or a bite to eat, I wasn’t seeing this place. Definitely worth checking out if you’re up that way. That was kind of day two of a total win, hitting the river, getting some elevation, and cruising around Nederland. Of course, there’s great, eclectic, fun shops up there, but my new favorite place up there is definitely Salto Coffee Works.

As you know, I like to ask my guests where some of their favorite things to do, what’s their perfect day if they have the kids, if they have nothing to do, if they have a day around town. Here’s mine, and we were able to pull this off with our guests. It’s just a hike and walk to town that we love to do and it really creates a win for the day. I live on the north side of Boulder, so what we’re doing is heading into Sanitas, but via the Goat Trail that starts up on Third Street and Forest. That’s not always a convenient place to start for everybody, but if you’re on this side of town, you probably know about that. And if you’re looking to switch up your hike, it might be worth parking up by North Boulder Park and starting from up there, just to mix it up.

You head up the Goat Trails, super fun way to start the hike, nice and steep. Some nice little places to scramble up for the kids. Once we get up to the top of the Goat Trail, we tend to just head down the Dakota Ridge, because I’ve still got kids with little legs so I’m not heading up to the peak at this point. Obviously, there’s plenty of people in town who are dragging their little kids up there but that’s just the way we like to do it. We’ll head down Dakota Ridge towards Napleton and then head up Red Rocks, go climbing around on the Red Rocks for a little while, head back to Pearl Street, and hike it right on into town and grab something great to eat on Pearl Street. That’s really the thing that is amazing about living in Boulder and a lot of places in Colorado is that you can take a hike like that and end up right in town and grab a good lunch and a cold beer. It just makes for a really enjoyable day. One of our favorite places is Kitchen Next Door. You start throwing some kale chips and garlic smashers at people and everyone seems to be pretty happy. We’ll loop around and just hike right home and that kind of completes the loop.

Having guests in town, like I said, is always a challenge. It’s fun to have some of these things that you can just kind of have in your hip pocket. If you’re heading to the Boulder area and you’re not really from around here, there’s three ideas I think that can really help make your trip, whether it’s and overnighter or even just a day trip, a total success. Part of it’s drawing on my experience and part of it’s just drawing on some of the recommendations from guests. Little bit different episode today. I hope this is informative and I look forward to bringing you some new guests soon.