Hopping Around the Rockies

Day 1 and 2: The Open Road

There is not much more of an open road than South Dakota. Ok maybe Nebraska but I tend to take the SD route. That way, if I want to stop in the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, or go say "Hi" to Crazy Horse. Like to have the options.  My goal was to get somewhere on the east side of Wyoming, Jeep sleep, woke up, work, and finish out the drive to Jackson, WY.

  • Time to head west!

    Time to head west!

  • Oh yeah I am working remote. Got to say the middle of South Dakota is pretty remote...

    Oh yeah I am working remote. Got to say the middle of South Dakota is pretty remote...

Was working through out the day. I was shooing to get into Jackson around sunset, then pick up Matt from the airport. He had to work that Friday and was meeting me after work, joining the whole next week of the trip. Super cloudy day in Jackson. So no sunset. Then, I find out Matt's flight was delayed until Saturday. Well guess I'm going to Sake River Brewery for dinner and a pint. Then headed into the Grand Teton National Park for the night.

Got to Grand Teton National Park pretty late. Found a roadside parking spot next to Jackson Lake. Was hoping for a better night sky but this is all i could get.

Got to Grand Teton National Park pretty late. Found a roadside parking spot next to Jackson Lake. Was hoping for a better night sky but this is all i could get.

Day 3: Skinning Around 

Woke up hoping to catch a sunrise but the two days of straight driving prevented that. I slept like a rock! Loving the suspension bed in the back of Lana. Anyways, I had a few hours to blow. So I tossed on the skins on my skis and hit the trails. I was on the Hermitage Point trail, when I stared to look for some sweet mountain backdrop shots. Figured I would play around with my Time Lapse mode and take some actions shots. Plus ski around a bit. 

I was loving the view so much I had to setup my hammock. Just chill for a bit, maybe take a nap. Just before I fell asleep I got a text. "I landed" Oh shit! I need to pack up and get to the airport ASAP. Matt is waiting for me and I am like a 5 minute skin from my Jeep and 40 minutes from the airport.

With it being mid afternoon, there was not point getting on the slopes. So we drove the Teton Pass over to Idaho. Stopped off at Grand Teton Brewery for a pint. We thought there was going to be food, but they didn't have anything. So after a few pints, we headed back over the pass. Looking for a place to grab dinner before heading to our Motel. Oh remember that good BBQ place. Yeah let's go there! And so we did :)


Woke up early and hit the road. Ate on the way because we wanted the most time on the slopes. We had no clue what the conditions were like. Heck, it was two free days of skiing anyways. Thank you Warren Miller Movie showing, back in MN. Scored two consecutive days skiing for both of us. So we spend the whole day ripping it up! I only took a few photos because we were having to much fun. Plus it was spring skiing, so no powder shots, or anything crazy. Just a lot of groomer time going fast and hard. In the trees was solid ice like 80% of the time. 

After a fun ass day skiing, we headed to Snake River Brewery for a pint or two. Talked about the awesome day on the slopes, but most importantly we figured out our game plan for the next two days. We needed to get to Arizona by Tuesday night. After our pints, we headed towards Grand Teton National Park to Jeep sleep for the night. 

We caught a sunset while making dinner

We caught a sunset while making dinner

Day 5: Back for More!

Woke up to Matt, "Pete Pete check that out!" Looked out over Jackson Lake seeing an alpine glow from the sunrise on the Tetons. Didn't get a photo but I will remember that moment for sure. We figured it was time to leave the park and find a place to make breakfast. While Matt was cooking, I was knocking out some work, being Monday. Was connecting this one last day before having PTO over the next two weeks!

Hung out in the parking lot kicking the shit while out stuff dried out. Plus we paid the $20 for parking and wanted our money worth lol. Figured out our next move, beer, food, and grab a place to say mid Utah. That would put us more than half way to Kingman, AZ, our next X. Hopped over the pass and off at Grand Teton Brewery for a 6 pack to enjoy later. Then pushed 6-8 hours before we grabbed a hotel. 

Day 6: Making Some Pit Stops

I was happy how far we got the night before. This set us up to hit up Bryce and Zion National Parks. I love showing these places to people. Yeah you could spend hours, days, weeks, in each of them. But we only had a coffee stop at Bryce, aka we made some on top of the cliffs. Then headed into Zion, which we both got hungry and decided to stop for lunch. But before we got to the park, I had to take the top of Lana. Best way to see Zion is topless :)

After Zion, the push really begins. We needed to get to Kingman, AZ by night. That was our meeting point with our other buddy Pat and his girlfriend Andrea. Us 4 were going to be hiking to Havasu Falls the next few days.

Day 7: Wait.. That Really is the Color of the Water?!?!

I've been looking forward to this hike since Pat asked me to go, last 4th of July. He said, "Pete you're my B. You are the only crazy fucker I know that would do this hike, but I want to do this before I leave Arizona (been working on his PhD)" Showed me one photo. Me, "Fuck yes!" And so, I planned it out in my road trip and waited to buy a permit. Took me 8 attempts to get a permit within the first 30-60 minutes being offered on Feb 1. Then our days were free. Someone muct have backed out, didn't fully book, or changed their mind. Either way I scored 4 permits for us!

Game on baby! Havasu Falls here we come!

So the hike begins at the top of the canyon. You start with a 900+foot decent down a switch back over 0.5-1 mile, before hiking the next 8-9 miles to the village. From there you have another 2 miles to the camping area. Passing Navajo Falls and Havasu Falls. We got one of the last campsites available. Setup camp, made some food, and hiked back to Havasu Falls.    

Day 8: Let's Explore!

Woke up the next day, in my hammock, excited for what is to come. We are going to hike 4-5 miles further down to Beaver Falls. This means we are going to pass Mooney Falls, which has a sweet down climb next to it. As we were gearing up to setoff, it started to rain. Well grab the rain jackets and let's go!

After about 8 miles of hiking, down to Beaver Falls and back, we were ready for some food. Made some dinner played some card games, hungout for a bit before heading to bed. We had to wake up and hike back out.

Day 9: Hike it Out

Yup, the sad day had come. The one you have to hike out from Havasu. I have to say this place is amazing! Just a gem in the world of awesomeness. I will be back. So we started off on the 10-12 miles hike back. I kept saying "Lightweight", "This is easy", and stuff like out loud to push through. It's a pretty easy hike, just takes it toll when the last 0.5-1 miles is pretty much straight up. I loved it! Love the "challenge" of it. After reaching the top, we all agreed it was time for a burger and a pint. Headed back to Kingman area for just that. Afterwards, we all pushed onward to Las Vegas to meet up with our other buddy Rob, for the weekend.       

Day 10 (I Think): Vegas

Yeah the title says it all. Rob was there for the Wild vs Golden Knight hockey game on Friday night. The rest of us were meeting up with him that night and all sharing a hotel. Next day, was a day walking around for St Patricks Day, I believe. Oh March Madness just starting up too, so bets were placed on that. It is all a little fuzzy, dang beer, by beer I mean beersssssssssssssssss. I do know we saw Carrot Top Saturday night, which is always a good time. I gathered that all from this one and only photo I took in Vegas, oh minus the Hotel Room/Floor number incase I got lost hahahah.

Bahaha the only photo I took in Las Vegas. Ha oh Vegas

Bahaha the only photo I took in Las Vegas. Ha oh Vegas

Day 11: Parting Way... But Paddling!

Was a love hate kind of day. The day I say goodbye to everyone as Pat, Andrea, and Matt drove back to AZ. Both Andrea and Matt had flights to catch, Pat lives out that way. Rob and I grabbed brunch, before I dropped him off at the airport. I then, looked at the map and noticed Lake Mead is not far way at all. I still have time to get there, paddle, and still have day light to make dinner. So I headed that way!

Day 12: Paddling Some Canyon of the Antelope 

Buddy Pat said, "You got to paddle Lower Antelope Canyon". Ok buddy sounds good to me. I knew I wanted to paddle something around Lake Powell. So why not paddle a sweet canyon section off of it!

What a kickass paddle that was! I am so happy I made the stop. Nala loved it! I still had plenty of daylight which was great. I wanted to get on the other side of the lake. I first headed to Crosby Canyon, per BLM personals recommendation, when I stopped off for a map. She said since I have a 4x4 it is safer for me to go. Sometimes the river bad (when there is water or post rain) and can be really soft. So I drove down the canyon to Lake Powell. Saw others peacefully enjoying the water, so I move onto the next X I wanted to get to. Some place called Alstrom Point

Day 13: Views on Views on Views

Woke up to the sun was just breaking the horizon. I popped out of the Jeep to snag some photos. Made breakfast, with coffee, of course. Before taking on the dirt roads across Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand - Staircase National Monument. Going up and down plateaus, twist and turns on narrow roads, little "off-roading" and finish with some open roads to cruise. Off pavement, through two parks, back to pavement all towards a national park. Talk about a win!         

I was checking out the state/national forest I was passing by. I was hoping to make it to a lake and maybe paddle. Kept being shut down. So I said, "screw it" lets head to Capitol Reef National Park. At least there I know I will have some views, see an arch, maybe go for a dip.

Day 14: Decision Time

After having a blast in Utah, I made my way to just outside of Vail. I was planning on using my Epic Pass to ski a day. Got there and the snow looked like shit. Fuck that. I am not going to just ski goomers again. I wanted some POW in the trees. Groomers I always end up getting hurt on, doing something stupid. So I passed on skiing. I head up and over a pass to Twin Lakes, Leadville, and decided to head towards Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Day 15: Houston aaaaa We Have a Problem!

Spend the night sleeping in Lana, just outside of the overnight parking restrictions by Bear Lake, in the national park. I work up and drove up to the parking lot, aka trailhead. Looked like short hikes to a few different lakes. I was planning on hiking Nala (my SUP) to the lakes and paddling them. But before I load up all my gear I want some info. Stopped an older couple coming up and asked about the lakes. They thought I was nuts (typical) but said they were all frozen solid. People are walking across them. Well crap...

I then headed to Sprague Lake, which is much lower in elevation, figured maybe it would have a section open I could get the photo. Well it did! But when I got back to my Jeep, I noticed fluid running down the driver rear tire.. I don't remember driving through any water..? Oh fuck! That is brake fluid! I completely lost a break pad and looked to have over extended the caliper piston, this means the piston is doing the stopping on the rotor! I need to get out of the mountains ASAP, but first I need to get to an auto store or a gas station to fill up my brake fluid, all without touching the brake. Did just that and mapped out my route. I am going across Nebraska because it is long, flat, and open. Would have little to no braking and I can easily downshift (manual transmission) to slow down/stop. I got out of the mountains with only touching the brake 4 times, others brakes were still stopping, so I was ok. I knew my one was shot, but my only options were to go to a shop, fix it road side, or make my way home. I opted for the 939+ miles home. 

Got home at 04:45... I am beat and ready for bed. We will see what the heck really happened tomorrow. 

Day 15: The Rub

Alright here is the rub of my situation. I head a squeaky break around day 3-4 in my trip. I originally though it was a rock. By the time I got into Utah it was still taking place. Ok this is not a rock, it has to be my pad, but I should be able to get through the road trip Just a squeaky pad right..? Well I must have worn all of the pad away and ended up grinding on just the metal part. After a couple more thousand miles, the problem got worse (duh), until it stop making noise all together. Just like I thought I lost the pad and was using my caliper piston for stopping. Thankfully, I have a manual and can engine break my way home. I made the call to make the push home and I am happy I did. Nice to have an auto part store, filled with Jeep parts, a mile from my house. Friday afternoon, I pulled apart both sides to replace everything that was needed, aka rotors and pads. Oh plus the caliper on the ones aide. WOW! Here are some pictures of the carnage. 


Man oh man. What a trip that was. I am so happy I have the ability to take trips like this. Love seeing all the small towns, tasty food/brews, breath taking views, and have some fun adventures with friends. I was so happy Matt got to join the first half too. He got to see a crazy mix of terrain, snowboarded, hiked Havasu Falls, and experienced Las Vegas for the first time. Talk about an awesome trip for him. Then toss in driving, eating, and working out of the Lana (my Jeep) to really get an idea what it would be like full-time, win for me. Not to mention, the PADDLING!

Learn what areas I need to make adjustments, improvements, and just better my constant adventurous lifestyle. I was born to be on the water and on the road/trail. I feel those things just hit home with me. The ability to pretty much go anywhere is insane, which Lana allows that. Plus carries all my gear and I can sleep in the back?! I am looking forward to what is going to be coming my way. This was all just a test, yet have an awesome time, to see if I am on track. The real full-time adventure is to come :)