Written By : Dalton Johnson
There are few things more exciting than a non-motorized adventure with a sprinkle of deadly thrill. While to most, this might not sound fun, but to me, there is no sweeter dessert than returning after a 26-hour summit, steep drops into overhead waves, or simply trying to run as far as I possibly can in a single day. Luckily, over the last five years, I have had the opportunity to live this way, almost daily.
After graduating college I took a delightful detour, ultimately changing my life’s trajectory by moving onto a bicycle and pedaling to anywhere I wanted. Without a plan, I unlearned the need for plans and goals that were omnipresent throughout my childhood. Along the way, I picked up a camera so I could share my adventures, with friends and family. At first, I only wanted to photograph the thrills of life, like big wave surfing or climbing mountains, but along the way, I made another detour and decided to focus more on the human experience than the thrill.
These detours lead me to where I am now and here’s a little sample of what the ride has been like:
Grand Teton National Park, WY
From the aestheticism of the Grand Teton itself to star-fishing off cliffs into a lake, this subrange of the Rocky Mountains is a safe haven for all those who want to play outside. Cold plunges, trail running, and rock climbing are my summer activities of choice, but if you want to paddle down a river, relax on a beach, hike, or fly fish that’s available to you as well. While in the national park, you can jam-pack your days! The best example I can give is a personal one, and it goes like this:
-dawn patrol trail run
-a quick breakfast in the van
-edit some images
-noon I headed out for a climbing session
-take photos of a few friends on their projects
-evening hike to a cliff, so I huck my body into a lake
Cerritos Beach, Baja, Mexico
Between swimming in the ocean and surfing in waves, the spot which holds a spot in my heart is this break, Cerritos Beach in Baja Sur, Mexico. It is here where I learned how to stand on a foam surfboard in the backwash 20 years ago. The wave here is magical as you can be surfing on a longboard, riding 2-foot waves off of a point break one day, then, the next, you can be tucking into overhead barrels on a beach break. The water is warm and clear. The locals are friendly. If you decide to visit, tread lightly and be kind in the line-up.
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Of all the places that I have slept in the dirt and under the stars, this might be one of the finest. The skies are clear and the lack of humidity cools the hot days once the sun disappears. When tucking into my sleeping bag, I drift off into dreams of climbing on funky granite and long run-outs. Once I wake, I realize that dream is soon to be a reality, thus I pack my bag and head back to my van to meet up with a climbing partner.
Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, CA
In the land of awe, trademarked by granite monoliths, Glacier Point is one of those places you can sit and stare, probably for a lifetime. As a climber, Yosemite is a place I often visit in search of testing my skills and endurance on rock. The Yosemite climbing culture has an obsession with pushing your limits and finding your current capacity. These climbers come from all walks of life, but a few common threads are lacing us all together; dirtiness, commitment, vitality. If you have the chance to visit this place, make sure to look beyond the awe and find a place to play.
The Thumb, Mount Shasta, CA
Mountaineering is one of those activities that I have trained for my whole life, without knowing. Growing up, I was a long-distance swimmer, so all I did was swim and swim and swim, just like Dory in Finding Nemo. Once I was done competing in a pool, backpacking and following a trail
was an obvious transfer of monotonous skill. That relationship blossomed as I entered the mountaineering world. This glorified spiky-shoe hiking was my new addiction. For some reason, waking up at 2 am and walking with a pack all day was glorious, I mean, the summit views and struggle to breathe made me feel like a sugar addict in a candy shop. The Thumb, photographed above, is a marker when climbing Avalanche Gulch on Mount Shasta, marking roughly the halfway point of the ascent. I was fortunate enough to be here for sunrise.