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The Alaska Project

Fourteen years ago today my wife and I were twenty something days into a very long voyage through the upper reaches of North America. We were living strictly out of our truck at the time pushing as deep into wild country as we could. Far from hotels, restaurants or running water for that matter. Just our trusty truck, stocked with food and film. It was a special time in life, one that taught significant photographic and more importantly life lessons that I am confident could have never been learned any other way.

 Why do I bring this up? Over the last twenty something days I have been reflecting on this past journey, retracting my journal and photographic collection day for day. Thus far it has been a very engaging mental exercise; one that keeps flooding my heart with memories and emotions I have not felt in years.

 I pause for a few moments, look out the window and see the clouds below rushing past our wingtips once again en route to the wild lands of Alaska. I realize today marks the exact day fourteen years ago that Allison and I first made our way into the southern reaches of Alaska.  Fitting, as I stare out the window.  I come for a different reason this time, but the mental anxiety and excitement of Alaska never seems to fade.

The allure of flying some fabric and string across some remote ranges of Alaska is too much to resist. We have been planning this adventure for some time, and it is thrilling to see it finally come together. This adventure is simply called The Alaska Project for now, but will likely morph into something more dynamic as it gets underway….these such adventures always do. As I continue to stare out the window and reflect on the life changing adventures of the past, I am energized to forge some new ones over the next several dayS. Stay tuned!

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Raining Memories

I watch the lightning flash across the blackened sky once again as the thunder rattles between the canyon walls.  It is a scene that is the daily norm around here as it has been raining now for over three weeks. I do not mean the occasional afternoon thundershower….I mean rain!  It feels more like the Pacific Northwest these days rather than the high desert mountains of Utah.  Normally, the Wasatch mountains are just releasing their snowy clutches offering us the first bigger XC flights of the year.  Not so this year…those flights actually happened months ago!  Up until the last three weeks the weather, and equally the flying, has been out of this world amazing.  So, I guess I am not too surprised at the sudden onslaught of bad weather.  I knew the day of reckoning would eventually come, but it does not make it any easier as I stare out the window and watch the light flash across the sky.

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Before the memories of winter completely fade from my aging mind, I want to summarize a few quick thoughts looking back.  Winter along the Wasatch just never showed up this year.  The lack of snow made for horrific ski conditions in our mountains, but it created an “Endless Summer” mentality for a few of us pilots not afraid to do a little hiking.  I kept waiting for the cold, calm air to show up, but it never really did.  Every flight seemed to reveal some type of bubbling air with just enough energy to let me fly somewhere else.  I am reminded of the many flights above Mt. Olympus and above the summit of Grandeur Peak looking down and realizing it was December, January, or February.  I remember flying alongside a friends as we pushed onward across the entire Wellsville Mountain range in northern Utah under clear February skies.  I remember circling alone high above snow covered Box Elder peak looking down into the dark shadows of American Fork; or flying along the upper faces of Lone Peak, listening to the melting water cascade over the granite rocks just feet below.  I remember several days so far this year above the familiar terrain near Twin Peaks, or flying into the upper reaches of Bells Canyon.  I remember flying side by side friends as they realized some of their own goals, and watching the smiles on their faces expand alongside my own.  This year so far has produced some great flights, great adventures, and great smiles and with it a plethora of memories I do not wish to lose.

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Keenan and I after an amazing XC across the Wellsville Mountains in February
Clark and Shane after Shane’s first successful “Milk Run”
One of the many memorable flights across the Wasatch this season.
One of the many memorable flights across the Wasatch this season.

The consequences of all this rain, and lack of flying has offered a chance to sit back, reflect, finish a few projects, and thus plot a few more.  As I reflect, I realize I have not actually written anything of substance in awhile, not due to a lack of adventures, just a conscious effort to fly a little more quietly these days.  Honestly, I wanted to push expectations aside for a season and refocus on flying my own way, for my own reasons.  The results have been refreshing and I am excited once again to push forward towards my own vision of flying, my own goals, expectations and adventures.  With my eyes now squarely set on a few new “projects”, it is going to be an exciting year!

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Flying Under Fabric

If you have ever wondered what Paragliding is, what it feels like, or perhaps why people like us pursue it with unrelenting passion, I present Flying Under Fabric.  A short film explaining why we do it, and what draws us to fly with nothing but some fabric and string.  I hope you enjoy:

Latest video project “Flying Under Fabric” now complete.

In the making of this project I am extremely thankful to all those who have participated.  Thankful to Clark for helping make some of these unique shots “possible” with all his inventions and talents.  Some of these shots have been years in the making and development of the “right way” to capture the moment.  It just wouldn’t be possible without Clark’s dedication to finding ways of “capturing the shot.”  Thanks to all those who were willing to sit down and share their thoughts about paragliding.  Also, thanks to everyone who was willing to get out and fly with us, as it is always a pleasure rubbing shoulders with so many great, friendly, and fun to be around pilots.