Monday, August 18, 2014

Reconnaissance Loop - Uintas

   The Uintas are right out my front door and have provided us with years of easy access to mountainous adventures of all kinds. But I hadn't been up there all summer, and a quick retreat to Utah's largest wilderness seemed long overdue. Four days should do it. You could traverse the entire range from west to east in 4 days if you wanted, but that doesn't leave a whole lot of time for fishing. My summer itineraries are usually based around fishing, so I thought about a loop out of the Highline trailhead that would take us through some new terrain, over a few mountain passes, down and up a river valley, with plenty of scheduled stops to wet a line.

 Kalen and I took the highline trail about 17 miles east on the first day before we setup camp. We wanted to make it to a secluded basin on the far side of upper Rock Creek drainage where a fantastic scene awaited us. Halfway there, the weather changed and set the tone for the rest of the trip.
We came across these goats on Rocky Sea pass and I thought, "I should have a goat".

The hike went by quickly, and before I knew it we were in the basin, in the alpine. The joy of reaching such a spectacular place after a long day of hiking was short lived. Before we had a chance to set up camp, thunder claps and cloud to ground lightning strikes had us running for lower ground. A few hours later the storm pushed on, as they usually do, we built camp, and I raced with my fly rod to the upper lakes to get a few casts in before dark. 

Reconnaissance Lake is an alpine jewell that I was very happy to finally see for myself. 

The second day we came over dead horse pass which is where our hike officially turned into a loop. Crossing from the upper rock creek drainage to the headwaters of the west fork Blacks fork river, and then over another un-named pass into the Bear river was our plan for the day.

We decided to camp at dead horse lake. Getting caught in the lightning storm the day before scared us enough that we didn't want to cross another high mountain pass in the afternoon when the storms roll in

There are many things that make the Uinta mountains unique. All of the headwater systems provide refuge for two of Utah's native trout, the Colorado river cutthroat and the Bonneville cutthroat. You can fish for them both in a single day, separated only by a few mountain passes and a mile or so as the raven flies. This fish above lives at the source of the Colorado in a small lake at 11,000', feeding on anything thats been blown in by the wind.

Continuing our loop, we made our 3rd camp along the banks of the east fork of the Bear river. This drainage is home to the Bonneville cutthroat and the headwaters of the largest terminal river in the western hemisphere.  Our last day of hiking would have been a big one. My feet were cursed with blisters from not wearing shoes for a month, and the weather kept us from our intended pace. After a little debate, we hiked to the Christmas meadows road and down to the mirror lake highway where we hitched a ride from a friendly old couple back to the truck. We didn't make the full loop and the weather was kind of shitty, but it was still one of my favorite treks through the Uintas to date.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sunsets in Nicaragua... and waves

   Looking back on my first month long trip to Nicaragua, I have to say, at times it was pretty rough. On day 4,  I was coming out of the water after catching what had been at the time, the best wave of my life, only to get attacked by a sting ray. 4 more steps and I would have made it safely to shore, but no, the prehistoric animal stabbed me through the foot with his razor sharp, bacteria infested barb. At that point the most painful 4 hour experience of my life commenced as the poison pulsed through my leg. I was out for a week and a half, couldn't surf, and I thought my vacation was ruined. Eventually the infection began to dissipate and the gaping hole in my foot started to close up. I was able to get back into the water and surf, finally. More than five weeks later and my foot still hurts, and its still infected.
   Other than the bloody sting ray attack, the waves went flat for a short time. Mostly during the period when I was healing my foot which was ok with me, but still, that usually never happens. In a place known for having the most consistent surf in the world, it was kind of shitty. But for someone like myself who still doesn't know any better, it was awesome. Besides, when the big swells hit I can't surf those waves yet anyhow. 
   And then there was the fishing. We didn't catch a single fish on the fly on our trip. It was a huge let down. I went to Nica thinking we were just going to kill it! The locals said we were bad luck, but I think that someone told the fish that the Provo bros were coming and they all fled. But seriously, even the locals were catching jack shit. Even the seafood restaurants on the beaches of the pacific, at times had zero fresh fish to serve. Unseasonably cold water and relentless offshore winds were really to blame for our poor showing. But it was not for a lack of trying. We still cruised the beaches looking for Rooster fish, casted off the rocks hoping to lure in a big Cubera snapper, and headed to blue water in hopes of finding sail fish and Dorado on a bait ball. I will still bring my fishing gear every time I visit, because I know there is good fishing to be had in Nicaragua, it may just take a little time to discover. 

Here are some images from the Playa Santana area:

(click on the images for larger viewing)
Popoyo outer-reef on July 5th. Barreling 

At this point we figured we weren't going to be catching shit. But, you gotta get your bait in the water if you want to have even the slightest chance. As long as the wind was calm, it was a beautiful place to cast a fly rod

Toña tour of Grenada

15th century colonial architecture in Grenada

every night was a different sunset 

my incredibly sexy girlfriend

my older brother Justin showing us how its done

finding a moment for myself

tidal pools reflecting color at Playa Santana

Land of the lefts, land of the volcanoes, land of the offshore wind, etc etc.. Sunset land?

the end of another epic session with my bros

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Provo bros go farming in Nicaragua

   When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I, along with the rest of my classmates had to do a research project on a country in order to move on to the 5th grade. I can't remember if we got to choose which country we wanted to do the report on, but one way or another I ended up with Nicaragua. I don't remember much from my report other than it was good enough for a pass, and Nicaragua was also very good at growing fruit, particularly bananas.
   Fast forward 20 years, and my brothers and I bought an organic fruit farm in none other than the country of Nicaragua. How it all came to be was through a long chain of events, something that my 10 year old self never would have comprehended. But with out passion, dedication, a little bit of luck, and a desire to follow our dreams, we would not be where we are today.
   Lets be honest, we didn't choose to invest in Nicaragua because we wanted to be farmers. We went there because we want to be surfers. Living in Utah, its hard to develop a passion for surfing when you hardly ever get the chance to go. My older brother Justin, who has lived in Hawaii for some time, was the one who had the vision, to bring our family to an emerging scene like Nicaragua where we could practice surfing and embrace a new lifestyle.
   When we found the farm for sale online last year, we knew we had to get it. It was an amazing business opportunity that could not be passed up.  Justin was ready to relocate his whole life down to Nica, and this past April he did just that. Neil and I recently returned from a month down there and I am completely sold. I enjoyed Surfing everyday, disconnecting from the internet and the rest of modern society, a slow paced lifestyle, and of course the bountiful tropical fruits of our farm and the surrounding area...

(click images for viewing)
Quinta Limon is the name of our farm. Its about 3.5 acres, and minimally developed. The old owner did a good job of getting things started, but now it's our turn to really make this place shine. Some of the fruit trees that are established on the farm, but are still young, include: limes, key limes, oranges, 5 varieties of mango, coconuts, pomegranate, avocado, grapefruit, bananas, plantains, and guava. We are planning to expand with more bananas, papaya, dragon fruit, passion fruit, pineapple, and more. We are also going to build out a mean vegetable garden and chicken coop. We plan to supply the local community as well as all of the restaurants and resorts with a sustainable, organic option. 

 Limes soaking up the sun. While not the best cash crop down here, it's what the farm is named after. We must have over 50 lime trees, all still very young, but producing some mega juicy fruits already. In the photo above you can see the rows of limes and valencia oranges. What do you do with all those limes? drink a lot of cervezas, lemonade, and mojitos.
 My brother has been busy with projects on the farm. There's always something to do. We are not at the point where fruit production is crazy, so we're doing things to get ready for the future. Like building this storage bodega/fruit processing area...
 Ariel lives on the farm with his family in a small Nica style house. In the past he has been a caretaker of the farm, but now that my brother is around he's got him doing all kinds of stuff like digging wells, building bodegas, and planting trees. He is an invaluable resource for us and we are so stoked to have him helping us along. Because for the most part we have no idea what we are doing. 

 It would seem like a shitty time to buy a farm, during the 3rd year of a serious drought. But we did anyways. We have faith that the rains will come! Besides, if we have to chop down all the trees, we're still 500 meters from some world class surf at Playa Santana. This year we will get 1000 mangos, if we're lucky. On a normal year we should get over 20,000.
 Some hawaiian style papaya seedlings almost ready to be planted. Down here in Nica they have the mexican variety of Papaya which are much larger, and not as flavorful. These Hawaiian papaya will be amazing. (non GMO of course :)
The view from on top of the water tank looking over the back 40, down towards the beach which is just out of view. The perimeter of the farm is lined with mango trees, which might reach heights of 100' one day. Thats a lot of mangos. 

   It's a really exciting project and I can't wait to see it develop. I never would have guessed we would be doing something like this but such is the case for many of the things we do in our lives. I'll be sharing most of our success and some of our failure along the way through this channel, as well as a new farm website that I need to build out soon. Farming, surfing, and fishing in Nicaragua will be heavy on my mind from here on out. I'll post some photos soon of the fucking miraculous sunsets that occur almost every night.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Skiing in Bolivia: the source of the Amazon

   The last week of our trip to Bolivia was spent in the capitol of La Paz and the surrounding peaks of the Cordillera Real. It was a beautiful, yet somewhat stressful experience. We were pressed for time so we felt like we couldn't fully appreciate the mountains in the way that we wanted. Our headaches lingered for most of the week as we tried to adjust to the altitude change coming from three weeks down in the lowland jungles. I'm glad we were able to get a small taste of the fascinating mountain culture and inspiring landscapes of the Bolivian Andes, and I really hope to go back one day to explore the skiing potential further. Not to mention the EPIC mountain biking.

read the full story here: