Posted in Reflections

Reflections – Joshua Tree

During my 2011 Spring break, I spent the week visiting Joshua Tree National Park. During the time spent there we met all different kinds of interesting people. Our crew consisted of me, my friend Ryan, and two girls from my photography class. One of the girls was a foreign exchange student from Japan named Kazumi, the other was a foreign exchange student from Denmark name Juli. You can imagine it was an interesting dynamic.

The Road to Hidden Valley

The days consisted of climber’s coffee in the mornings followed by yoga for Juli, a long makeup ritual for Kazumi, usually going back to bed for Ryan, and sometimes the same for me! But as the day went on we all found our separate ways out into the dessert. Most of my time was spent climbing. The bouldering there is world class. Very interesting and powerful moves on almost every problem. The beauty of the climbing also inspired a couple class four and five free soloing missions.

The top of a dome in Hidden Valley

By the time the trip had ended we had managed to lock the keys in the car four times! And while this caused the rangers to begin to know us by first name, it also caused some of the highlights from the trip. Along the way we met a few groups of people due to the key incidents. Among them was a group of college guys out there on a climbing trip for their spring break as well. They showed us a couple very cool, very classic climbs including this high ball at the entrance of Hidden Valley.

Towards the end of the trip I once again had to ask myself, “Why am I here?” Why did I choose to spend my spring break out in the middle of the desert, freezing my ass off at night, and not taking a shower for five days? At times I even began to start regretting not just going to the beach and raging my face off like a normal college kid. But in the end it all comes down to the experience for me. This trip provided more than just fun times. it added a sense of involvement in the ongoing learning process of life. During this week many times reminded me of how to work with people from different backgrounds and viewpoints. At other times I would be overwhelmed with the beauty and simplicity of nature, at times even feeling as if I could simply become a part of it all if I focused hard enough.

One of the many trees the park is named after.

A combination of climbing, yoga, coffee, a lot of Top Ramen, a little bit of meditation, and a few phone calls to the ranger’s office and that was spring break. I am thankful for all the trips quirks, each sunset and sunrise, every time a coyote howled at the moon, every time I topped out a climb, every campfire and  everyone who was there. Whenever I visit a national park, something inside me clicks and I know I am supposed to be there. These places are sacred and should be respected by all. Hope you get a chance to take your own trip soon!

Sunset at Joshua Tree

Thanks again,

-Kyle Simmons

Posted in Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week Oct 30-Nov 5

Down at the docks in Santa Barbara, CA you will find a thriving fishing community. One of my first weeks living there in early 2011, I spent some time taking photos down in the harbor. I was lucky enough to snag this one, which I enjoy because of the pure contrast and simplicity of the subjects.

Posted in Living in...

The Rim of the World

Hey there!

Yesterday I had the privilege of riding the Rim Trail from the top of Mt.Rose down to the entrance of the Flume Trail (about 20 miles total). It was by far the best mountain biking experience I have had to date. The view along a good portion of the rim is astounding! It is called the rim trail because it is literally on the rim of the mountain range. The view switches back and forth from the barren desert of the Carson valley to the blue Lake Tahoe Basin. Absolutely outrageous if you ask me.

The Carson Valley
Lake Tahoe

The bike I rode came from someone I have been working for a lot recently. He is super nice guy and I have been helping him plant trees and such around his house. Glad I accepted his offer because there is nothing I would have rather done that day. Along the trail the man kept pointing out different photogenic sites. At what he called, “Kodak photo point number fifty five,” he made me stand on top of this rock and do the “victory pose” with the bike in the air! One for the fridge I guess.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to go outside today!

-Kyle Simmons

Posted in Living in...

Living in…Tahoe

The Lake Tahoe region of California/Nevada affords some of the best mountainous terrain the United States has to offer. From mountain biking to rock climbing and everything in between, Tahoe has some of the best land to fulfill your fancies.

My roommate and the the two snowmobiles in the garage.

I first came to Tahoe with a few friends who were visiting me in Yosemite. It was love at first sight! From the instant I saw the lake I knew I had to settle down here for a little while. After that things began to slowly fall into place. I am starting work at Northstar Resort in November and it is going to be my most epic winter to date. No doubt about that.

The snowboard rackSummer was epic! I ended up spending the later half of summer right here in Incline Village. Parties at the beach and girls in bikini’s all day never gets old. I could deal with that face of Tahoe all year with no complaints. But as most of you probably know, Tahoe does not stay sunny and warm forever.

Kayaker by Chimney Beach

A solid portion of the year in Tahoe is spent surrounded by snow! We already got a very small first taste earlier in October. This will be my first winter in Tahoe and trust me, you will be hearing me bitch about the cold a lot! Although I am looking forward to breaking out the shred stick for the first time in two years and taking her into some powder.

Snowboarding in October

It is fall now, and winter is approaching fast. The missing passenger window in my Jeep is a constant reminder of that. Tomorrow the ski resorts will open up for the first time. It is a fun time of year. Ski/snowboard movies are the only things playing on all the televisions and it is all anyone can think or talk about. A new season approaches us, and with it a new experience!

My house in the Fall

All in all, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Having the opportunity to live here is a gift, and I am learning it is a gift you have to work to earn. I am looking forward to the next year or so (you never know with a climbing bum) living in Tahoe, and I hope you will be reading along with me!

-Kyle Simmons

Posted in Reflections

Reflections – Yosemite

Anyone who has spent time in Yosemite knows it is a special place. It is clear from the moment you drive into the park that things are different there. Things are BIGGER! But what you take away from a trip to the infamous valley is up to you.

El Capitan at dusk

Having spent a relatively short period of time living in this mystical land, I have spent countless hours pondering life, love, religion; any topic that sprouts up has potential to spread it’s seeds. However, two questions overwhelmed my thoughts day after day. “Why am I here?” and “Where do I go next?”. These questions ran through my head like a broken record.

Aaron Shober slacklining by the Merced

Sure, I spent my summers in the valley because it provides an abundant availability of climbing, cheap living situations, and friendly like-minded individuals. But beyond that, beyond the obvious, beyond the self-explanatory, I needed something deeper.  I needed a catchy concept, or a witty phrase to sum up the learning and growing that takes place in the valley (if you approach it right). Could it be done? Is there anything so simple that can comprehensively capture the essence of a place so much larger than us?

Merced Pass and Half Dome

Approaching the end of my 2011 summer, the answer began to reveal itself to me.  Still, no all-inclusive statement can even begin to touch the experiences and the people and the waterfalls and the river and the list goes on and on! But I believe what I benefited most from my summers spent sitting lazily by the river is a new sense of humanity. A sense of connectedness to the world around me. A sense of generosity towards others. A new understanding of right and wrong, simple actions establishing new levels of influence once done over and over. From the benefits of training for climbing, to the impact of humans on our environment, it all began to take new meaning down by the river.

Down by the river is where I find my peace, it is where I find my hope, and its where I find my inspiration. So a big cheers to Yosemite and a big cheers as well to the people fighting to protect it!

-Kyle Simmons