For many folks fall is the most popular of seasons and perhaps more than any other has its own distinct experiences. Vivid color displays put on by Mother Nature, the opportunity to break out the sweaters and boots, and pumpkin spiced everything are signs that fall is in full swing. While I do enjoy a good pumpkin stout (weird I know) and love my flannel, there is something more fundamental about fall that makes it my favorite season. As days become shorter and the weather less predictable, fall is the season where there is a heightened sense of appreciation because every ride or run might just be your last for the year.

One of my favorite rides in the Boise front is Around the Mountain (AtM), a circumnavigating cross country ride at Bogus Basin, our local ski resort. It has also become one of my favorite end-of-season rides, with cooler temperatures, fall colors, and fewer trail users. AtM also embodies the uncertainty that comes with the fall season, more so than trails closer to town that can be ridden well into December. Still September, I wasn’t sure I was going to have the opportunity to ride AtM one last time. An unexpected front plummeted temperatures and brought snow to the mountains. While winter was still several months away, if we continued on a cycle of storms it could have easily made the trails too muddy to ride and brought the season in the high country to a close. For the next few weeks I intently watched the forecast and routinely checked in on the resort’s condition camera. Conditions were looking promising and then in a moment of celestial alignment, temperatures rose and the sun shined through on Columbus Day, a federal holiday of all days. 

I waited until early afternoon to head up the mountain in hopes of warmer temperatures, dry trails, and smaller crowds. As a rounded the last of the many turns up to Bogus, the parking lot was pretty empty save for two trucks with bike racks and a handful of visitors taking pictures. My excitement grew as I got everything together and headed up the start of what had shaped up to be a great ride. As I switched back on the opening climbs and my heart rate rose I was quickly reminded that the season was a little farther advanced at that elevation with cooler temps and lingering snow in the shadows. Many of the leaves had past their peak, no doubt a result of the early freeze. The trails were in great shape though with the previous week’s moisture providing just the right amount of traction. I quickly found myself lost in the trail as it rolls in and out of the woods giving way to great views of distant snowcapped peaks. I stopped multiple times to take in the views, take a few shots, and generally appreciate how good of a day it was. 

As the trail flowed on I found myself at the apex of the ride, that point where your endorphin levels are at their peak, the gas gauge is just starting to dip, and the legs are just starting to feel the climbs. As is often the case, it was at this point that I ran into the “closed trail ahead” sign. Crap. Luckily the resort is small enough and I’ve spent enough time there to generally know what route would get me back to the parking area. As I began the grind up the fire road I was reminded of the fleetingness of fall. The sun began its decent lengthening the shadows and dropping the temperatures. I was confident I’d make it back before dark, but with the climbing ahead and my lack of additional layers I wasn’t interested in testing that theory. After a few more switchbacks the fire road intersected a familiar trail from ski season that would take me towards the lodge. I finished out the ride cruising down one of the resort’s flow trails, my face grinning and by that point my legs burning a little more. 

Back at the parking lot, I sat on the tailgate and gave myself a mental high-five. I couldn’t get over how lucky I was to have such ideal conditions for my favorite fall ride. Looking up at the mountain I was even more thankful reflecting on a summer full of riding and knowing that before too long I’d be swapping out bike shoes for ski boots. The day was a great reminder that fall is fleeting and fickle, giving you one more week or one more month. It certainly has a way of making you appreciate the here and now though, which is why my favorite season is fall. 


Black and white – Monochrome. To me black and white captures all that I love about photography. It is the medium that strips away all of the flashy excess of our techno-colored-AI-pro-filtered world and isolates a photograph to its basic element. All other aspects that make a great photograph are revealed within black and white; leading lines, contrast, texture, and composition are elevated to the viewer’s eyes. One of the most powerful element of storytelling with photography is tension and what easier way to express it than with black against white.

Photography is of course rooted in black and white, as the first photographic technology and films were only capable of capturing these two primary elements. It wasn’t until Kodak produced its Kodachrome film in 1935 that color photography was given to the masses. Since then black and white has continued, albeit in more niche venues. For those of us old enough to even remember film (*sigh*) black and white was THE starting point for any classroom photography student. Beyond a more simplified development process, black and white forced us to focus on and drill down into subject, composition, and lighting. However, as the days of film photography have faded, black and white becomes an even rarer form.

Despite the ability of digital photography to give us ultimate control, I often find photographers pushing color so far that it becomes a detraction rather than a major element. This may have something to do with my luddite tendencies, but when I search for inspiration in my own work I tend towards great monochromatic artist such as Ansel Adams (too obvious?), John Sexton, and Sebastiao Salgado. Even within the outdoor/adventure photography realm I find some of my favorite photographers utilize black and white to express moments within stories. Sterling Lawrence, one of the first action sports photographers I looked up to, used black and white to capture the texture and mood of mountainbiking on Vancouver’s North Shore. One of my all-time favorite photographs is a mountain scene captured by ski photographer Grant Gunderson.

As with all good things, if you wait long enough it will come back around and photography is no exception. Film cameras and photography seems to be making a bespoked comeback, particularly amongst those with felt hats, Danner boots, and Syncros vans. Sarcasm aside, there are some fantastic contemporary artists reviving historical methods of photography to make some stunning photographs. If you’ve never seen work by Ian RuhterRob Kendrick, or Lindsey Ross, I highly recommend checking them out. I’ve even found myself on a throwback kick having recently purchased a 35mm prime for my film camera, I’ve been enjoying the simplicity of slowing down and being more intentional with every frame.

So next time you find yourself mindlessly thumbing through the Gram, stop for a moment and seek out some black and white photography (#monochromephotography). Better yet go analog, pick up a book or stop by a gallery and take it in the old fashion way.

Home season

Shoulder season in many mountains towns refers to those weeks and months between long summer days on the trails and the crisp powder days of winter. It is often the time of year when fanatics pine for the next season - skiers waxing their skis for the eighth time or cyclists cranking out another interval session on the hamster wheel trainer.  For Dana and me, we’ve decided shoulder season is home season. A time of year to unload the gear from the truck and focus a little more locally. Perhaps it is an instinctually ingrained desire to prepare the den for hibernation or perhaps we’ve finally grown tired of uneven steps and sticking doors. In either case I’ve found myself wanting to engage in a few more projects around the house and afternoon rides on our local trails. 

As someone who has bounced around the country for the last fifteen years (including five road-trips across the country), my roots are pretty much nonexistent. Mostly I blame my ancestors the Scurlocks who were like Where’s Waldo in American history. More recently though I’ve found myself a bit envious of folks that I meet whose roots are like an oak tree, completely immersed in their community and their home. There is a lot to be said for having a home place to hang your hat and a community to connect with.

Like the seasons of the year, I think it is all about balance.  Sure there are folks out there that have found ways to do the wanderlust traveler gig full time, but go beyond the dreamy coastal-morning-coffee product posts on the Gram and you’ll see the same road wear and mundane task-time that all of us go through. Even Foster Huntington one of if not the person responsible for starting the vanlife movement has parked his….well, van and invested in a homeplace. On the flip side, I continue to be a firm believer that getting out and experiencing different places provides a well-rounded life. Both are great, but I think the sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle of road and home. 

The trip list is still a mile long and we’re still shopping for a pop-up camper. However, for now I am looking forward to a few months restocking at the fly tying table, foothills runs with friends, and trips to Home Depot. Shoulder season is here.

Using Format