Like a Bigfoot

Motivation, Mindset, Positivity, Endurance, Adventure, Perseverance, and Possibility

Month: September 2016

Colorado Week 2 Pictures

Hiking at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center

Purple Mountain sunrise seen from Mt. Galbraith

Lake Dillon Sunset

Family train ride on the Georgetown Loop

Aspens putting on a show

Aspens in fall

Hiking up the Lily Pad Lake trail

Backside of Buffalo Mountain

First snow over Summit County

Little hiker in fall

Rainbow Lake

Morning hike around Loveland Pass. Torrey’s Peak in the distance.

Grizzly Peak

Like a Bigfoot Podcast #4: The Importance of Adventure

No guest this week, just the ramblings of a severely sleep-deprived, exhausted dude who had just seen the most beautiful sunrise of his entire life.

The tale of my early morning, snow-covered, misadventure up Buffalo Mountain in Summit County, Colorado.

In this episode, recorded as my weak attempt at a beard thawed, I attempt to explain why I crave adventure in the wilderness, realize that camelbacks can and WILL freeze, surrender myself to the beauty of the mountains, and relearn the most important lesson- the present moment is always here and will always bring peace and happiness.

Riding high on my 4 week in a row streak!  Gonna keep this up for at least 48 more as per my “one year challenge.”

Hope you enjoy and hope you find your own adventure!

Like a Bigfoot Podcast #3: Aron Johnston

Aron Johnston is a husband, a father, and an artist.  After high school he fell into a construction job.  It was the safe choice- comfy, secure, and gave him a steady paycheck.  But it wasn’t his passion; it wasn’t what he saw himself doing the rest of his life. So he stepped off that path.  Left the safety of his job of 15 years and began to pursue his passion- art.

Oh yeah…did I mention he had two young boys and a wife (who was also jumping off her career path to pursue her dream)?  Did I also mention they had to leave their family and friends in Oregon to the unknown land of Iowa?

In this episode he shares his thoughts on taking the leap, pursuing his dreams, the challenges faced by him and his family, how he overcomes self doubt, the importance of a mentor, and much more!

Aron is seriously one of the best fathers I know and I have had the privilege of spending a couple vacations with his wonderful family….my wife and I with notepad in hand trying to figure out “how can we raise awesome kids like the Johnstons?”

He’s also the artist that designed the “Like a Bigfoot” logo.  He made my dream of “Bigfoot hang snatching a Redwood tree” a reality.  That’s literally all I emailed him…”hey dude I want Bigfoot hang snatching a Redwood…is that possible?” His email back “Of course!  But I think he should have his feet bursting out of trail running shoes.”

Please check out the rest of his beautiful art at his website aronjohnston.org.

Aron painting my wife and daughter on our Shenandoah Weekend last November

Scavenger- this is one of my personal favorites

Celebrating Jesse’s 13th birthday the best way we could think of….jumping into the Shenandoah River

 

Colorado Week One

Sunday: Left Danville, VA with my cat.  Drove to Charleston, West Virginia.

Monday: Drove 9 hours to my cousin’s house in Jefferson City, Missouri.  9 mile trail run around Binder Lake…saw the biggest rat snake I’ve ever seen.  Terrifying.

Tuesday: Drove 11 hours across the wildly entertaining Kansas landscape to my new home in Arvada, Colorado.  Received plenty of hugs from my two year old daughter and gave my one month old a bunch of kisses.  Spent the afternoon carrying all of our heavy s*** up the stairs.  Oh yeah, the cat made it without completely losing his mind.

Wednesday: Unpacked.  Ugh.

Thursday: Ran around the town of Arvada to begin to familiarize myself.  Took my daughter up to North Mountain.  She hiked the whole one mile up to the Golden Cliffs with her stuffed deer before I carried her down.

Friday:  8.5 mile trail run around North Table Mountain.  Holy crap this is only 15 minutes from my apartment!!! Awesome!  Took my daughters and wife on a hike to Lair O’ the Bear park.  It was Zoe’s first hike…proud dad!

Saturday: Ran on Ralston Creek paved trail through Arvada.  Sadly spent the morning watching Iowa lose…bummer.

Like a Bigfoot Podcast #2: Calvin Johannsen

Calvin Johannsen is in the middle of an epic quest to summit the 100 tallest mountains in the continental United States in….100 DAYS. It is called the “14ers Project.” No doubt about it, he is on an ADVENTURE. One most people don’t have the strength to endure. He has faced adversity, self doubt, gained incredible physical strength, solidified his adventure mindset, demonstrated super human endurance as he has pushed himself beyond what he thought was possible.

Follow his progress from mild-mannered dude to kickass mountain goat at calvin.johannsen on Instagram or at www.14ersproject.com. The man is the most inspirational person I know! Keep pushing forward.

(NOTE: he was through 64 mountains when we recorded this but is now well past his original goal of 75.  Go Calvin!!)

 

 

2013- Calvin and I at the summit of Mt. Bierstadt

2016- Joining Calvin for his 14ers project on Mt. Massive (the first mountain we climbed together in 2012)

Life Seasons

Time is moving.  That is the only thing that is certain in life- my life, your life, everybody’s life.

As I’m writing this I’m looking across the street at the house I’ve lived in for 3 years, rocking on a chair on my neighbors front porch (a skill I picked up in the south).  I’m awaiting to checkout from Virginia, load the cat into the car, and take off down the road.  Literally driving off into the sunset….with my cat. (So not entirely like a cowboy)

Next adventure, new season of life.

Sitting here has me reflecting back on my life in Virginia, thinking about how my life has changed in what seems like such a short amount of time.

Time passing can be overwhelmingly sad.  It happens so gradually that, for the most part, it goes by unnoticed, unobserved.  You wake up one day and all of a sudden your teeny tiny baby is a two year old or you look in the mirror and wonder “where the heck did these grey hairs come from?”  (Two things that are not mutually exclusive by the way)

Time is always moving.  Every second, every day.

Big events force you to take notice.

“Holy crap!  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were moving into this house?” You think as you pack the last box into the Uhaul and slam the door shut.

Then ALL the memories come rushing back.  Kissing your wife goodbye on her first day of work, bringing your daughters home from the hospital for the first time, seeing the look on your two year olds face when you discover tadpoles by your favorite running trail. So many, many more.

The big moments are BIG but they aren’t the only ones that hit hard.  You are especially affected by the everyday moments- the things you got used to  Watching the seasons change as you do the same weekly walk around the neighborhood, the front door hugs you are greeted by after a long day of work, cooking a delicious meal with loved ones in the kitchen, playing dinosaur in the living room with your little one.  These are the times you took for granted in the moment but now can’t help but look back on with a weird happy-sad nostalgia.They may not have seemed like significant moments as they happened, but you realize that they are the MOST significant.  It may be cliche but they are truly what make life worth living.

Sometimes you look back on a season of life in sadness, because that time is gone.  Time moved too damn fast, it seems.  Other times you just have to smile.  You are grateful for the time you had.  Great experiences, beautiful life lived.

And you understand that you will have many, MANY more of these moments, of course.  In fact, the next season of life will probably be the best one yet!

Most times you are not in control of when your season will change.  You don’t know when your eyes will be opened and you will think to yourself “Oh crap…that went quick.”  It really does sneak up on you.

So let this serve as an important reminder!

A reminder to stay present and aware of all the beauty that is happening to you right now, in this season of life.

Appreciate the day by day.  The little things ARE important!  Live your routine, of course, but live it with awareness and purpose.  Treat each moment with the respect that it truly deserves.  Fully love what you are doing right here, right now.  Live each day with passion and you will have no regrets.  Do not let self doubt hold you back from becoming the person you are meant to be.  Express your gratitude daily.  Treat people better than the day before.  Love more.  Smile more.  Laugh more.  Give a ridiculous number of hugs.

Time will be moving.  That is a fact of life.  Make the most of it!

Crown Traverse Inspiration

Need inspiration for your next big adventure?

Check out North Face’s new video about Montana’s ultra running “Mikes”- Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote as they race along deadly ridges, through thick wilderness, past giant moose, and over glaciers as they traveled the 600 mile “Crown Traverse” from Missoula Montana to Banff National Park.

Wow!  Try to watch this and not start planning your next big crazy challenge…..come on!  I dare you!

Like a Bigfoot Podcast #1: Brady Manriquez

Episode #1: Rediscovering health and the art of sustainability.  

For the last 9 months, one of my best friends, Brady Manriquez has been on a quest to become a healthier, more active version of himself. By using a focus on SUSTAINABILITY he has been able to drop 60 pounds, find a passion for running, and benefit in all areas of life from his new found self confidence. Listen in for advice about how taking it day by day and celebrating the little victories can help you in the pursuit of your own goals!

Also, how did Whoopi Goldberg guide him down the path of self improvement? (My favorite inside joke is attempted to be explained at the end)

So I’m starting to embrace some of my life philosophies in ALL areas of my life.  For example, being comfortable with discomfort.  I’ve wanted to start a podcast for YEARS now.  It has always been a goal of mine to become comfortable talking to people who inspire me (whether I personally know them or not)  In fact I had previously started one and made it two whole episodes before being overcome with self doubt…  Thinking I wasn’t good enough literally stopped me from simply pursuing a goal.

Instead of waiting for the perfect moment or “once I this finally happens, then I can….” I decided just to jump in feet first.

Is this perfect? Heck no!

Am I great interviewer?  Not yet.

Do I know what I’m doing all the time? Nope.

But you can’t wait around expecting those things to happen to you when you are not willing to put in the work!  Your goals don’t just magically get accomplished without you consistently putting in the effort.

So here I am, putting in the work.  Being comfortable with releasing something that is finished not perfect.  

I listen to a lot of professionally produced podcasts which is probably one of the reasons why I held off on this project for so long.  I hold myself to a high standard.  I can be extremely self critical.  It’s as if I believe “if my podcast isn’t as good as a professional one, there’s no point of releasing it.”  This belief can, has, and will hold me back.  So this podcast is helping me work on letting go of this disruptive thinking.

You won’t be an expert at anything on your first attempt.  Instead its the magic of repetition- the act of showing up consistently- that will propel you towards a higher level.

If you don’t understand this at the start of pursuing your dreams, then you will never take that terrifying first step. So today’s episode represents my terrifying first step.  

And then here’s the second principle to goal achievement: BEING CONSISTENT.

My lofty goal is to release one episode a week for the entire year.  Putting in the work and shipping a new episode every Monday. 

So here we have arrived at step one.  It might not be pretty (although I think it went pretty well and Brady, as always, is fascinating, inspirational, funny, and FANTASTIC), it might not be perfect, but it’s finished and it’s shipped.  I’ll evaluate what worked this week and apply it to next week.  I’ll do that over and over and over again and see where I end up.  

That hard, painful, embarrassing work, my friends, is the ONLY path to true success.

Hope you enjoy and that you start down the scary path of pursuing your goals!

The Ultimate North Carolina and Virginia Roadtrip

Ok…enough with the sentimental “I’ll miss Virginia boo hoo boo hoo” posts.

My wife and I were on a  walk discussing where we would visit on a future return to the east coast.  This post is what we imagined would be the PERFECT 11 day roadtrip.

Seriously…I want people to actually do this trip and tell me how it goes!  I will be so envious.

After 3 years of exploration you can trust me that this trip would absolutely be one of your favorites of ALL TIME!

I’m calling it the Like a Bigfoot Ultimate North Carolina and Virginia Roadtrip.

DAY 1: ASHEVILLE, NC

Our favorite town in North Carolina (and quite possibly the country).  Good food, good beer, any outdoor activity you could possibly want, there’s always something going on but it still feels like a small town.

Drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway (particularly as the leaves are changing color in October), hike up some high bluffs around Black Balsam Knob, cool off by jumping into your choice of waterfalls (Skinny Dip Falls is our favorite), grab a late morning breakfast at Sunny Point Cafe, tour one of the thirty craft breweries in town, pick up some tacos from White Duck Taco and drive north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to experience the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, Mt. Mitchell, for a gorgeous sunset picnic.  COME ON SON! PERFECT DAY!  (Huge smile on my face writing this!  Seriously this would be the absolute perfect day)

Black Balsam Knob

Sunrise off the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville

DAYS 2-4: LINVILLE GORGE

Spend the next few days backpacking around the Linville Gorge.  You will find solitude and adventure as you hike around the “Grand Canyon of the East”.  I ran Shortoff Mountain to Table Rock one day this summer and would highly suggest making a nice long 22 mile loop by traversing form there down into the gorge and hiking back along the Linville Gorge Trail next to the river!  You could probably do this in two days, but should extend it into three so you can take in the views, cool off in the river, boulder up a few of the rocks, and really experience all the Gorge has to offer.

Standing on top of Shortoff Mountain with Table Rock in the distance

Linville Gorge

DAY 5: GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK

Next I would drive north past Boone into Southern Virginia and spend a day and night backcountry camping in Grayson Highlands State Park.  Hang out with wild ponies (who doesn’t want to do this!), check out the Rhododendron blooms and take in some of the best views in all of the Appalachian Mountains.  The park is almost exclusively on balds (what Easterners call mountain tops without trees) so the views are jaw dropping.  This would be a great place to spend a night just chilling out by the campfire, eating snacks made with a mountain pie iron!

Wandering around Grayson Highlands

You can see for miles and miles

 

DAY 6: HIGHWAY 58

Next, you HAVE to drive the Crooked Road (Highway 58) through southwestern Virginia.  This is known as Virginia’s Musical Heritage and was significant in the history of Bluegrass music.  Here’s an awesome New York Times article about this drive.  Trust me though…gorgeous.  This is what the south is all about- Maple tree-covered mountains, hills dotted with grazing cattle next to tiny red barns, winding rivers, quaint churches…the drive is absolutely perfect, so take your time and take it all in.

 

Lovers Leap off of Highway 58

DAY 7: APPALACHIAN TRAIL (MCAFEE KNOB AND DRAGONS TOOTH)

Eventually you will veer north to Roanoke where you are within hiking distance of two of the prettiest spots on the Appalachian trail.  Mcafee Knob is the most photographed spot on the 2,000 mile trail for a reason and, if you happen to get up there for a sunrise, get ready to experience nature at its best! Strap those hiking shoes on for a long day though…as a hike up and back Mcafee is 8 miles and Dragons tooth is at least 6 (Dragons Tooth is shorter but a lot more challenging as it is definitely a steeper and more rocky).  If you get down in time then head into Roanoke and get dinner at the River and Rail restaurant.  I’m adamant that it’s the best fried chicken in Virginia and I will arm wrestle anyone who disagrees!

Mcafee Knob

 

DAY 8-9: SHENANDOAH VALLEY

You can’t go to Virginia and not visit the most popular national park in the nation.  You can do more hiking along the Appalachian Trail and summiting Old Rag Mountain or you can choose to do what my family and I did every year….get a cabin and chill.  Hang out in the forest next to the twisty and turny Shenandoah River and simply relax with a cup of coffee for the perfect morning.

Cabin in Shenandoah = Perfect Day

Canoeing on the Shenandoah River

DAYS 11-12: FALSE CAPE STATE PARK

Ok this is pushing it and a trip here will easily be the longest drive on the trip, but, as an Iowa boy, I feel like traveling to a coastal state necessitates a visit the ocean.  So wake up early, drive 4-5 hours to the coast, and…this is super important…speed past the tourist trap that is Virginia Beach…as fast as possible!  In my estimation, if you want a beach then you gotta earn the beach!  People are not allowed to drive into False Cape State Park so you must earn it by backpacking in the 4 miles or by taking a boat.  This park is a rare place of isolation on the east coast, which means you will have about 6 miles of pristine beach to YOURSELF!  This has to be one of the only spots in the country where you can experience this, so a visit here is a MUST.  Relaxing by a campfire with a bottle of wine on an empty beach sounds like the perfect way to end a vacation to me!

A secluded beach is the best way to end a vacation

Hope you enjoyed this!  If you want more specifics about trails, campsites, restaurants, directions etc, you can always comment below or email me at chrisaward51@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to help you plan a trip!

As you can tell, my family and I have really enjoyed exploring this beautiful area of the country and writing this post has made me SUPER EXCITED to vacation here someday in the future(when my girls are a little older).   Can’t wait to come back!

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