The Grass is Always Greener Within

The last days, weeks, months, even a year or two leading up to my departure from my “real” job, I dreamt of living on the road. Everyday I followed other travelers, looking at their photos and reading the articles they wrote about their travels and the articles written about them, the whole time envying their lives. Now I kind of living their lives and I’m caught thinking that maybe, just maybe, the grass is greener on the other side.Justin Fricke riding an elephant brand skateboards downhill in Nort Carolina

Photo: Adam Fricke

What I’m doing, I love it. Not going to lie, the first four days were rough, but now Adam and I have navigated the valley and we’re reaching the promised land every day.

Last week I was talking to a friend back home, as we caught each other up on our lives I said “Man I wish I were back home. It feels like I’m missing out on so much.” To which he responded, “Well we all wish we were with you doing what you’re doing.” It’s kind of funny how it all comes full circle. For well over a year I dreamt of doing what I’m doing and now it doesn’t feel at all like a dream. Am I happy? You bet your bottom dollar I am! Do I feel like I would be happy doing something else? At times I wonder if I would be happy back home doing something else.

Going into this year I had this unrealistic thought that I’d be happy all the time. Driving—happy, being cold—happy, taking photos of places you only see on a postcard—happy, camping out in a Walmart parking lot—happy. What I didn’t think would happen is when my brother and I would fight, how we would never get into a sticky situation, or how tough it’d be to find reliable wifi.

As the saying goes: The grass is always greener on the other side. And the saying continues if you let it; however, I think

Essentially it’s us choosing to be happy and play the hand we’re dealt. Even when Adam and I fight or we’re sleeping in another Walmart parking lot for the 10th night straight, I’m learning to be happy. Believe it or not, these fights have actually made us talk more and become closer as brothers. And for Walmart? Let’s just say I have a newfound appreciation for the chain and I’ll always, gladly, feel indebted to Walmart.

While my life back home was safe and comfortable, this new phase of my life is fun. This whole experience is awesome and while at first I didn’t like having to be resourceful all the time or chill out a little more often, I’m learning to love being uncomfortable and find the green grass within.

0 to 14,060 feet–Trekking up Mt. Bierstadt–My First 14er

Seven years ago, I went to Colorado and caught sight of 14ers for the first time. On that trip I knew I had to summit a 14er.

When I found out the company I work for was sending me to Colorado for a few days, I knew I had to make time to trek up a 14er, in addition to the work I had to do at the conference.

After a few conversations with some Colorado friends, I set my eyes on Mt. Bierstatd (14,060 feet) to be my first 14er. I didn’t think it would be too bad since it’s Colorado’s lowest 14er and it’s only 7 miles round trip with only 2,850 feet of elevation gain. I figured the only thing I had going against me was the potential for bad, cold, weather since it was a little late in the season for peak bagging.Guanella Pass Trail Head

I flew into Colorado Friday evening and met up with Andy and Chris (two rad dudes that work for Sierra Trading Post) early Saturday morning, a day before the conference started. We piled into Andy’s car and were off to the Guanells Pass Trail Head that’d lead us to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt.

We got there right before the sun came up and it was cold, but the forecast was calling for beautiful clear skies all day. That’s a good sign, right?

It was everything I was hoping for, hiking through meadows, over a river, blood flow warming me up, and Chris was filming a trip video for Sierra trading Post. Andy and I were walking casually and Chris was a freakin’ ninja. Walking behind us, in front of us, popping out of the bushes to get shots. I’d never seen anything like it and I was cracking up part of the time.Mountain lake

Hiking up hill wasn’t so bad at first, hit a few switchbacks, take a breather, and repeat. I started feeling the headaches everyone warned me about, but they’d go away uber fast when we’d take a break. Andy told me that since I was in “good shape” my recovery time was fast and that was a good thing.

We kept going and once we hit the snow pack around 12,000 feet, the altitude really started to get to me. My headaches were worse, but they still went away fast. My decision making was a little off and I was told ahead of time that’s normal, I maintained focus trekking up the slippery ice and snow and felt fine.13,800 ft. ridge of Mt. Bierstadt

At 13,800 feet we were on the ridge and looking up at the final 260 feet worth of scrambling through boulders to reach the summit. I was in some pain, but couldn’t wait to be on the summit. Tears started welling up in my eyes as we scrambled through the boulders, just thinking about everything I had gone through this past year, and what a journey it had been to get to that point.Mt. Bierstadt final scramble

The three of us stood atop the summit of Mt. Bierstadt around 12:00 pm MDT on Saturday, October 18, 2014. A day that’ll be ingrained in my memory forever.

And if you’re keeping track, I went from an altitude of 0 feet to 14,060 feet in under 20 hours.View from the summit og Mt. Bierstadt

Andy and Chris sure aren’t going to forget that day, at least for a while, because shortly after we sat down and Chris set up his camera for a time lapse video…it hit me. I started feeling the effects of altitude sickness.

No matter what I did, my headache wouldn’t go away, then came the fatigue and nausea. There were a lot of people on the summit at that point, so I scrambled into a rocky corner, dug a hole in the snow and proceeded to give back all the water and food I put in my body earlier that day. I made my way back up once I buried everything that had left my system and told the guys I needed to start descending pretty quick.

We snapped a few summit pictures, gathered our things, and started our descent. My decision making became worse as time progressed and I really had to think about where I was placing my feet. I quickly realized why people say the descent is always the most dangerous part of the trip.Summit photo of Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior atop Mt. Bierstadt

We got below 14,000 feet, then 13,000 feet, then 12,000 feet, and finally we were below the snow pack. This altitude sickness was staying with me all the way back to the trail head, making me give back things in my stomach that I just didn’t have.

At one point I saw a helicopter fly by and just wished it was coming to take me off the mountain. Another time I remembered I had funds for a backcountry rescue through my American Alpine Club membership, but I wasn’t about to ask Andy or Chris to call in a rescue. I wouldn’t be able to call it a successful summit unless I made it back to the trail head under my own power.

3:00 pm MDT was when we made it back to the parking lot and I still felt like I was in hell with an upset stomach, seriously fatigued, dizzy, and the worst headache of my life. I was wishing I had a hangover at that point and not altitude sickness.

During the ride back to my car (an hour away in Golden, CO) I had to ask Andy to pull over once to give my last heave. Thoughts of making a trip to the hospital were beginning to seem like a great idea, but how could I call my mom from a hospital bed and convince her I was fine?

Eventually I fell asleep and like a hangover, slept it off and felt much better back at 5,000 feet. The guys dropped me off at my car and made sure I was good to drive. We parted ways and I drove to Colorado Springs for the conference without a hitch.

Hiking up Mt. Bierstadt was so much harder than I thought, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat with those guys. Even if they were talking about beer and food on the way down as I was puking my brains out. 😉

Next time I’ll give myself some more time to acclimatize.

Here’s the trip video I mentioned earlier

Don’t forget to click here to read Andy’s recap of the trip on Sierra Trading Post’s Social Hub

Have you ever hiked a 14er? Mt. Bierstadt? Which one(s)? How was it?

Have you ever felt the effects of altitude sickness? I want to hear all the details!

Brooks Running HQ Tour, Pikes Place Market, and Race Prep.

Click here and here to get caught up with the previous recaps

Once we got done devouring Top Pot Doughnuts in the hotel lobby we all hit the showers real quick. We had to clean up and smell halfway decent for our tour of the new Brooks Running HQ!Brooks Running HQ

The Brooks Running HQ is massive. I think there’s something like six floors, a gym, cafeteria with outside seating, a sun deck on the roof, and tons of individual and collaborative space. Best part, in my opinion, is that the building’s LEED Platinum certified and is the pioneering project for Seattle’s Deep Green Pilot Program with energy efficient windows, sensors that flick the lights off when there’s enough sun to light the building,  toilets that use recycled rain water, and more, all helping to reduce their energy use by 75%.

On our tour we even got to have a private meeting with one of the Product Line Managers. We got an in-depth look at the entire shoe research, design, and production process. The amount of time and effort it takes to make one simple pair of shoes is inconceivable! We even got to check out some of the shoes that’ll be on the market in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015. We were sworn to secrecy and that meant no picture taking, but I can say that you’re definitely going to want to stay tuned to see what Brooks has up their sleeves.Brooks Running Conference Room

By the end of our tour and meeting, our stomach’s were growling. Nuun treated us to lunch at Pyramid Alehouse, one of the best places to eat according to my buddy Mike. With pitchers of beer on the table, I had my new friend Liz fill my glass with the Thunderhead IPA and it was delicious. Next up was their Hefeweizen with a lemon. It was a little different adding a lemon, but when in Seattle right? For lunch I chose the Ultimate Beer Burger solely because the bun had some Thunderhead IPA in it and to that I dropped what would become one of Megan’s favorite quotes:

I’m ’bout to get drunk off this bun herePyramid Alehouse

 Most of us decided to explore Seattle after lunch. We broke off into groups and my group went to Pikes Place Market, I realize it’s a major tourist destination, but it was pretty cool seeing that place. The fish throwing was pretty interesting to see in person, completely different than from what I’ve seen in movies. Yes we also saw the very first Starbucks, but the line was so long we didn’t even bother going inside.Pikes Place Market

Later that evening we made our way over to Nuun HQ where we got to check out where all the electrolyte magic happens. We were all enthralled by the amounts of Nuun we saw, it was pretty rad and evident that everyone who works at Nuun truly does live the brand. Once we regained our composure we all got hooked up with a swag bag with a Nuun Energy Tech-T and hoodie to wear during the race, along with some other Nuun goods.Nuun Heart

While we were munching on our catered Chipotle dinner and sippin’ on beer, we got a breakdown on the race schedule, what we could expect, what to do in a worst case scenario, and some other “logistical” stuff. After that we took some time to go all out decorating the vans we’d be living in for next 24+ hours. Boy did those vans look flashy.

Back at the hotel we made our way to the bar (what else is new) and had a pre-race drink. Our bud Doug made a toast to the race, fun we’ve had to that point, and to the fun we’d be having the next day on the race course. With that we all called it in an early night in preparation for an early morning to get racing.

Next up: The race!

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I moved – And The Weekend Warrior’s got a sleek new look

Ok so I myself didn’t actually move, but as you can see, my blog’s been moved. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time now, but have been a little afraid to do. So I finally took the leap of faith, bought my domain, and started hosting this beautiful website you see here. This has been a long drawn out process with countless hours of work put into it and it’s all been worth it because now I get to finally share this with you.

What’s new on JustinTheWeekendWarrior.com?

First off, everything’s organized and not just out there for the world to see. You can check out my Featured Posts, Popular Posts, and search through the different pages to find what you’re looking for. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, you can head over to the Contact page and shoot me an email. If email isn’t your thing, you can direct your attention to the sidebar and find all the different social media outlets that I’m on and reach out to me there. Did you ever want to get updates emailed to you? Again, look over at the sidebar and you’ll find my subscribe form and I won’t share your info with anyone else and you’ll get a cool email from me…I promise!

We moved sign

Your browsing experience might very well be the highlight of your day. It features a responsive design, so when you change the size of your window everything moves accordingly and keeps looking good. Go ahead, give it a try! I dare you.

Have you seen my new logo and slogan? I have my brother Adam Fricke to thank for that. He’s a bit more creative and talented than me when it comes to graphic design and I think it looks pretty sick. If you think so to, you should go check out some more of his work at Adam Fricke Photography.

I hope you’re all as excited about this as I am and there’s more to come! Did you know I have a Facebook Page? Yea, I’ve got one of those, see I’m not joking when I say there’s more to come. Go “Like” my Facebook Page and stay updated with everything that’s going on with The Weekend Warrior. Really though, I’ve got some fresh new things coming and I can’t wait to share everything with you.

What do you think of the new look?

Should an Outdoorsman Grow a Beard?

This year is turning out to be “The Year of The Beard.” While I wish I could grow a beard like Drew Holcomb or one like the boys from Duck Dynasty, I’m not sure that I would. It’s not because I think girls like a clean shaven man, personally my girlfriend wishes I would grow one. For me, it comes down to functionality.

Drew Holcomb

Memorial Day has come and gone, marking the beginning of summer. This means the outdoors thermostat is getting turned up and it’s about to be hot and muggy outside. I’m one of the few who enjoy the hot and humid weather, but when a beard’s on my face, a bushy one at that, it starts to become unbearable. Some guys can put up with the itchy scratchiness, but lets face it, during the dead of summer, it’s tough for any man to have a beard.

While we’re on the topic of summer, it’s the perfect time for vacations. The wildlife is teeming, the kids are out of school, and everyone wants to go on vacation. In order to fund that vacation, one needs to have a job. Most employers aren’t a big fan of the beard. If your boss is cool and allows you to have a beard, it typically has to be trimmed and “well kept.” If you’ve ever had any hopes of having a full, thick beard, they’ve pretty much been dashed right there.

Now, if you have a job, and your employer’s cool enough to let you have a full, thick beard, you’re going to want to show it off at the crag, on the trail, or in another country on surf trips. That’s when your next problem comes into play. Why do you thinks your dog gets ticks and you seem to come out clean? It’s because man’s best friend is typically a lot hairier than you and it’s easier for a tick to find a home and go undetected. When you have a lot of thick hair on your face, a tick is more likely to jump on and take hold of your face. The danger is, you typically won’t feel a tick bite and it could be carrying Lyme Disease or  another disease, and you don’t want that.

Nasty tick

I understand beards look cool, manly, and are the new “hip” thing, but are they really that functional for an outdoorsman? If you enjoy spending your time in the city, then a beard would work out well for you. However, if you enjoy spending your time out in the woods after work and on the weekends, then unfortunately a beard may not be the best idea for you.

Digital vs. Vinyl

Record players and vinyl records have started to emerge again, thanks to the presence of hipsters. Not many folks have them, but they were actually a hot commodity back in the day. I own a record player, have started my own record collection, and personally think vinyl is better than digital.

130604_VinylBlog-004

  1. Vinyl can be cheaper: If you know what to look for, you can actually find some good deals. A lot of people don’t realize that some vinyl is actually worth something and just want to get rid of their or their parent’s old record collection. A local antique shop, flea market, or Craigslist are great places to start looking. Sometimes you can even work a deal and get a lower price.
  2. Start a Collection: A record collection is a great conversation piece to have out in your house. It also shows the time and effort you’ve put into it over the years.
  3. The Sound and Feel is Unbeatable: When you truly love the old school music feel, you know what I mean. When you listen to a record, it feels like you go back in time and relive what’s going on at that point in history.
  4. Record Players Look Awesome: Most big box retailers will sell record players and they’re great because you know you’re getting a working machine. Not to mention that some even come with all the bells and whistles like an AM/FM Radio, CD Player, Cassette Deck, Audio Port, etc. However, if you have some room in your house and know someone that does top notch restorations, you can find some pretty cool vintage record players on the internet. They can range from small end tables to big cabinets. Again, an antique shop, flea market, or Craigslist would be great starting points.
  5. There’s so Much History: When you buy an original issue of an album, you’re not only getting the album, you’re also getting the history. If you get an album from, say the 1970’s, you’re holding 40+ years of history in your hands. That album has seen one other owner or numerous other owners. If it’s in rough condition, there’s always the mystery of how it got that way. If it’s in great condition, it makes you appreciate the previous owner(s) and the love that was given to that record to keep it so nice and pristine over all these years.
  6. The Search: In order to find some of the original albums, you actually have to go on a record hunt. It can take days, weeks, months, and if it’s extremely rare it can even take years to find that album that you’ve been looking for.