North – Adventure #3

My dad never travels anywhere without his trusty yellow legal pad. No matter what trip he goes on, there are always notes jotted down on the legal pad. Sometimes it is an itinerary, other times it has his gear list. But this time it became the rule book. We had been staying at a lodge on Makoop Lake, Ontario for about five days. To spice things up, everyone was putting money into the pot for a little competition. And on his legal pad, Dad wrote down all the rules: Biggest pike wins $10. Biggest walleye wins $10. Most fish caught wins $20. As if catching 75 fish a day was not enough motivation to enjoy the day on the lake.

Dad sans legal pad, in his element.

Dad sans legal pad, in his element.

When I put my 10 bucks in the pot with the 9 other men in our group, I did not know that the next day would be the greatest day I would ever have with a fishing rod in my hand. My partner in crime for the day was my brother in law Eric. I knew that regardless of how may fish we caught, we were going to have a great day. Eric is always 100% in and willing to explore and look for adventure. The sun rose at 4:30am so we were not the first boat out on the water, but we were the most ambitious. We took off to the North looking for adventure.

"Roads, Where we are going Marty, we do not need any roads"

“Roads? Where we’re going, we do not need roads”

No frills. Just the facts. This sign greets you once you land at camp.

No frills. Just the facts. This sign greets you once you land at camp.

Makoop Lake is only accessible by float plane. There is only one place to stay on the lake. Makoop Lake Lodge. It becomes a private lake for those that make the journey. There is something special about being someplace far away from any other humans. Seeing places that you are sure are only ever seen by less people than can fit on a city bus. When you see wildlife, you are pretty sure they are as excited about seeing a human for the first time as you are about seeing a wolverine for the first time.

We are easily distracted from fishing by awesome things. Like giant beaver lodges!

We are easily distracted from fishing by awesome things. Like giant beaver lodges!

10 hours later we returned to camp to report on one of the greatest days of my life. 202 fish caught between the 2 of us. Break that down and we caught a little more than 1 fish every 3 minutes. In between the outrageous amounts of walleye and northern pike, we witnessed a wolverine take a swim, countless bald eagles, discovered a gorgeous waterfall, and did not see another human being.

Fish # 103

Fish # 103

In todays adventure world it feels like everyone gets pulled to “hotspots”. Depending on the type of adventure you desire, it is easy to only look at the famous places. I am always intrigued in finding places that no one else have ever heard of. Or have looked over it on a map and written it off. When you do this, you run the risk of missing so many special places. Thanks to my dad, I now know not to overlook places like Makoop lake. It is one of those places that you drift off to when you are sitting at your desk and your phone won’t stop ringing, or the email won’t stop piling up. A place of solace, wilderness and unbelievable fishing.

The eternal sunset of the north.

The eternal sunset of the north.

Bugs in Canada have the power to blind you if you are not careful.

Bugs in Canada have the power to blind you if you are not careful.


The crew. Old and new

The crew. Old and new


I only posted this picture because my wife loves to see me in Carhartt overalls.

I only posted this picture because my wife loves to see me in Carhartt overalls.


You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose. Just don’t pick your friend’s nose!

One of the biggest factors in ensuring a great adventure is choosing the right partner. Because getting to know someone better is sometimes the only positive result. The greater the potential for pain and suffering, the more careful you have to be in your decision. You kind have to look to your judgmental side and start rating all your friends. Pros and cons, virtues and vices, I find myself labeling my friends and putting them into make believe categories and groups. Does that make me an inconsiderate piece of trash? I guess I better put myself in the jerk category.

The funny thing is climbers, skiers and kayakers do this very thing with almost everyone. For example a typical conversation between climbers goes something like this.

Pitt : “Hey Mark”
Mark : “Hey Pitt. Do you know anyone with a really cute dog, I could borrow to pick up chicks?”
Pitt : “Hmm. I think Justin has one. Do you know Justin?”
Mark : “I don’t think I do.”
Pitt : “He totally crushes. He is a super strong climber. Anyway I will ask him about his dog.”

It’s almost like people’s surnames don’t matter. They are only known by their first name and how hard they push it at their chosen passion.
Justin “the total crusher” Roth
Jackson “the ripping skier” Couch
Tyson “the gnarly paddler” Titensor

Listen for it in your next conversation with a climbing buddy or ski partner. You will find yourself referring to others in this way. But be careful, you can’t always rely on the opinions of others. To help me make better decisions when choosing an adventure partner and not rely on their pseudo suffix, I have created a flow chart to reference in my adventure notebook.


Though this may look like a very serious matter, I want to remind you that risk is part of the journey. Remember that it is not really an adventure unless something unexpected happens. So next time you are looking for just the right partner, maybe you should throw the flow chart in the trash and take a risk on new potential partner. Who knows you could have a great weekend with the future Dave “the guy that dragged my butt back to the car and bought me a burrito on the way home” Sherman.



Keep the momentum going

People adventure differently and that is okay. For some, adventure means pain and suffering. For others, adventure means just doing something out of the routine. Sometimes it means doing something minimal, and other times it requires the logistics of a large UPS hub. Which is correct? Who am I to judge.  What I do know is that the most important part is being prepared to jump on it when an opportunity presents itself.

This past weekend I travelled to Vail Colorado for work. I packed a huge duffel bag full of random gear so that I could seek out an adventure and take any opportunity that came my way. But nothing really came to fruition. I got a trail run in one morning, some rock climbing the next day and about 20 minutes of kayaking.  Nothing super exciting but enough to feel like the trip was not a full waste of recreational activities.   But nothing that I would really consider a great adventure. More like training for what is to come. As my summer begins to unfold, I have been stressing about being able to accomplish all that I want to. Sometime plans fall through, illness sets in or someone I love needs me more than I need an adventure. That is when I have to step back and just be grateful that I have all the opportunities I have and the great web of friends and family that encourage me.

On that note. I wanted to share a great video. MEC is a huge retailer in Canada and have always been great to work with in my past jobs. It is great to see a large corporation really produce fantastic content that makes you laugh. Who wins, I am not to judge. In my eyes MEC wins with this great commercial.




I’ve Got Ideas Man!

Almost every one of my friends has a special creative talent. I seem to like surrounding myself with artist, photographers, musicians, designers and others. I think this is because of my complete lack of artistic ability.  My drawings looks like a giraffe got a pencil stuck in it’s hoof and tried to ballet dance on paper. I have tried my hand at music since I was 10. Let’s just say I am yet to write a song about anything other then my favorite snack foods.  My five  year old puts me to shame with our Lego creations. He comes up with a solar powered, rocket fuel, camping van with a special mac and cheese oven, while I build a square 3-story hotel. My point is that my creative outlet is not easily displayed for others to see. I have to get creative about showing how I am creative. Luckily I am not easily discouraged. I recently read a great quote.

“I have always recognized myself as being a person of modest abilities. My achievements have resulted from a goodly share of imagination and plenty of energy.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

5 years ago I reached out to my best childhood pals. I told them that we need to have an annual “Manventure”. The only requirement for the excursion is that we are together and we do something that will remind us of life as teenagers when we all had imagination and plenty of energy.  It has not happened every year since but it has caused us to always stay connected and pass ideas back and forth. I love the process. An email, a text message, just a few words gets ideas flowing and minds racing. It engulfs me. I start researching, looking at maps, dreaming and imagining.

This is my creative outlet. This is how I can let my mind run wild. Whether it is finding a river that would allow us to re-enact Huck Finn and float all weekend on a home made raft in knickers and  a straw hat. Or planning a adventure based off a text that only said,  “4 dudes, 2 vespas, 3 national parks, Go!”  Finding ways to fit adventure in my life and doing something new is my creative release. As I have mentioned before, this is one of the greatest aspects of adventure.  You feel a greater sense of accomplishment when you complete something you have created, even if it is small.  But when you do something completely new and different, the unknowns increase the potential for needing to improvise. That is when the real adventure begins.

Remember, if you are like me, you do not really need to be an expert at anything in particular. I am not an elite athlete or a trustafarian with unlimited time a resources to get things done. But I do have plenty of imagination and energy. And with that, I have all the resources I need to have an adventure and come home tired, soar and smiling.

– Pitt

One of my many "ideas" that did not end the way I planned.

One of my many “ideas” that did not end the way I planned.

Adventure #2 – My Permanent Adventure Partner

About 10am in the morning on our second day on the river, I asked Becky if she could name every place we have been for our previous nine anniversaries. The list came out something like this.
1. Tokyo
2. Mexico
3. Washington DC
4. Switzerland
5. Home
6. Costa rica
7. Fisher towers
8. Pregnant
9. Vegas

Ten years ago I was young and in love. So we got married.  Most people cringe and the thought of being married so young, but for Becky and I it was ideal. We had very little commitments (except to each other) at that age and flexible jobs that allowed us to do whatever we wanted. I pretty much had a live in adventure partner. We travelled the world and looked for weekend getaways constantly.

Becky has learned that if I come up with an idea, it is better to let me go with another partner first to test it out. If it is not a complete suffer fest, then she will consider letting me take her.  When I have persuaded her to be the guinea pig and join in on round one, she knows there is a high probability of unexpected hardship, and I know there is a chance of tears. But for me there is the chance of having a complete unique experience with my wife which is 10 times more special then experiencing it with my dirt bag buddies.(sorry guys).

For our 10th anniversary we tried something completely new to us both. We have been on paddle boards a handful of times but never gone much further then a couple of miles on a lake. I concluded that we had sufficient experience to take our skills to a river and rally a self support trip. Why not? What is the worst that can happen? We quickly learned that one of the worst things that can happen is up canyon winds. My torso quickly becomes a sail, posed and ready to destroy all progress.  As I look to check on Becky and how she is doing, I see here kneeling on the board, head down just trying to make any forward progress. I instantly start to worry. I am not worried about our safety. I know winds change and we will be okay. I am worried that my wife, who was so willing to follow me on this adventure because I masked it as an anniversary trip, is deciding that this is the last time she joins me on one of these ideas.

We turn a corner after 2 hours of slow going and see whitecaps coming up river. We push slowly to the sandy beach and assess the situation. Luckily we landed right at a great campsite protected from the wind. We discuss the situation.  “Let’s hang out here for a minute. The wind will die and we can make it to the next camp ground before dark.” I said.  We hop back on the boards after about 15 min and dig in. Becky instantly starts moving upstream while I dig into the river taking the spray in face while not gaining an inch of momentum. Five minutes later we find ourselves back on the beach defeated. “I guess we were meant to sleep here tonight”.

When I wake up in doors it takes at least 20 minutes for me to really open my eyes. But when I wake up outside, my eyes seem to spring open due to the instant smile that forms on my face. Nothing gives me energy like seeing the morning sky from the comfort of my pillow. We were instantly energized by the tall red walls of the canyon and calmness of the water. We quickly broke down camp and started paddling peacefully down river. All my worries about Becky refusing to go on another adventure disappeared with every stroke of the paddle.  There is not one person on this earth that could take in the view of the canyon and feel the stillness  of air and think that it was a bad idea to be there.  I will let the pictures describe the beauty and inspire you.

I took a risk in doing something completely new with probably the only partner that I worry about impressing,  in a place that I knew nothing about.  These aspects of the adventure could have totally sank the success and shut down the momentum and support for this summer long project. That is one of the risks you take when you sacrifice the not so important things to chase what matter most to you. Together with the woman of my dreams, my permanent adventure partner,  we learned that if adventure could have a level of perfection, we were damn near close to it.








Trip details

Gas – $85
Food – $45
Jetboat service – $90
Departed SLC – 6pm Friday
Returned – 9pm Sunday for a total of 51 hours away.
6 hours driving each way
24 hours on the river

Check out my other less lovey stories and share them with your friends. Who know you might convince them to join you.

– Pitt


Adventure #1 Escalante Exploring

Micro adventures really are endless in their possibilities. They work as a catalyst for bigger and better things.
They serve the same purpose as the sample tables at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. A quick jolt of yumminess and a lingering flavor that makes you think about it continuously for days or until you finally return and get a better taste. 

About 6 weeks ago I took off on a solo mission to explore a creek in southern Utah. I bushwhacked, wandered, and spent a lot of time singing to myself. But what I found was an amazing creek in a stunning desert landscape that  I pulled a few brown trout out of. I was convinced I had found something special in the fly fishing world. I came home, pitched the idea of writing a story for some fly fishing magazines and they showed interest. I knew I was about to put my mark on the fly fishing community. So this past weekend I persuaded 2 friends to return with me and help me form the story. Expectations of fishing were high, we were driven to put in a big day on the creek. The results did not mirror our expectations. But our appetite for adventure was fully satisfied.  

One of the most common outcomes on an adventure is that our initial expectations are not met.  But rarely does that lead to disappointment. I have the tendency  of thinking up great experiences where I am going to get to my location, ski bottomless powder and then return home without a hitch.  Or maybe I see something on a map and think to myself, “Self, you are fit enough, you can get to X in about 2 hours, and really enjoy some time there”. Four hours into the endeavor, I have slowed to a snail’s pace and am still not even close to my destination. Well, just because my expectations are not met, does not mean that the adventure did not serve its purpose.

I caught no fish this time, Dave caught 2, and Andy didn’t even pull out his fly rod because he could not put his camera down. We hiked 6 miles by the light of the moon and our Petzl headlamps, We spent an amazing night in a location that sees very little visitors. We were able to gaze across a landscape that holds endless possibilities for exploration. It was the best 30 hours of my week. 

If my words are not enough to convince you, check out the beauty of the trip captured by Andy Earl. Follow him on instagram @wasatchandy.


Hiking in the dark is like Christmas eve. Everything is hidden from sight but when you wake up in the morning, you can’t help but grin from ear to ear.


No cheesy John Muir quote needed.


I will take 5 hours of poor sleep under this roof anytime.


Favorite past time since I was 4 years old. Hopping on rocks!

Here are the details of the trip as promised
Depart SLC – Friday 5pm
Return SLC – Saturday 10pm
Total time away from home – 29 hours
4 hour drive each way
15 miles hiked round trip
6 hours of less than deep sleep
$30/each for gas
$15 in food/supplies

A great start to a summer of adventures.

– Pitt


You want to do what?

 When I was 18 years old a friend and I loaded our kayaks on my van and headed to Jackson Hole for 5 days to play in the river. We had spent a lot of time there growing up and felt like we knew everything to do. But after 3 days of paddling, the flows were not cooperating and we were ready for a change of activity. We stopped into the local shop to talk to a friend that had been living in Jackson for a few years. The conversation went like this:

ME: “Hey dude, what do you do when no play waves are in on the river?”
FRIEND: “Do you guys have some swim goggles?”
ME: “No. Of course not.”
FRIEND: “Bummer. Cause when I get bored, I like to dive down to the bottom of eddies in the river and then swim out towards the current and let it zoom me off down river like a speeding fish!”
ME: “ Wow! I would never think of that. I don’t want to do it. But way to be creative.”

At the time I was laughing on the inside at my friend. I was so focused on only doing “cool” things that I had seen others do and I knew looked fun. I never took the time to think of something completely out of the box. Over the next 12 years my attitude and focus on adventure would change completely. Today I might consider a trip to Jackson with just my swim goggles and leave my kayak at home.


A young aspiring artist might go to the Louvre or the MET to stare at the works of masters. While they are there a reoccurring thought about what their potential is and what they will one day be able to create runs through their head.  They are not thinking about ways to copy a master and create a beautiful portrait of women so they can name it the Mona Lucy. They are thinking about their own masterpiece.

Everyday at work I see requests for support from people who are about to embark on an adventure. I am always looking to see if they inspire me and make the gears in my head turn. In my eyes adventures are about creating an unforgettable experience. It is about doing something unique and making people tilt their head in wonder when you explain it to them. It does not have to be big and require a year of planning and preparation. The only requirement for adventure is that it needs to inspire you to get after it.  It will cause your creative juices to flow and your heart rate to increase just thinking about the possibilities. What makes an adventure an adventure is that it is unique to the pursuer. That you cannot google it and find all the answers.  Wikipedia will not tell you how to have an adventure. And you can’t pull your recipe book out of cupboard just to make sure you have all the ingredients. 

Today we can almost find information anywhere we look. I have a question, I ask my phone. I wonder if anyone has ever done something, I google it.  We are an info rich culture. So when I search “Climbing in the Tetons” I am bombarded with ads, offers, and trip reports from people who are willing to sell me on an adventure. I am glad people are able to make money showing people magical places. But I get more excited when I search something and very little pertinent info come up. That tells me there is a blank canvas. An opportunity for my mind to run wild. Whether you hire a guide, or find a trusted friend to show you how, the important thing is that you have the opportunity for your dreams to run wild and your thoughts to wander about all the possibilities. Then you choose to pursue them.  There is a reason why the popular books from my childhood were called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and not “Participate in your Prescribed, Mass Produced Activity”

Of my most memorable adventures over the past decade, some big and some small, they stand out because they were unique and memorable from concept to completion. They required research, creativity, and changing plans in the moment. And at some point in preparing for it, at least one person told me they thought it was crazy, dumb or a waste of time.  Not one of these adventures went totally as planned but everyone of them ended better than expected. To me, they became baby ideas that were conceived and then born, and then became my precious little memories that no one will ever be able to convince me were a bad idea.

Don’t get sucked into the world’s idea of what an adventure should look like. Look at a way to do it differently and do it.   In the words of Yann Martel “Be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater”.

Show me your creative side and share some ideas for adventures. If your idea makes my heart skip a beat, I will work with you to make it happen. You just have to promise to take me with you!

– Pitt