Take the Detour, Your Life Will Be More Fun

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

Dalton Johnson Jumping off a cliff, star-fishing into a lake with the Grand Tetons in the background

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 

Inside the break of a wave at Cerritos beach in Baja Sur, 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 

Dalton Johnson standing up on the rock he slept on last night in his sleeping bag, staring at the sunset in Johsua Tree National Park

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 

Guy skate boarding around the bend at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park in California

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 

Dalton Johnson takes a photo of his friend mountaineering up The Thump on Mount Shasta

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.

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