Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dog Days and Dank Espresso

In an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, get some different perspectives and offer unique stories, we're excited to start featuring pieces written by friends and new authors.  Below is a piece written by our friend and Partner-in-Gnar, Amos.  Although I've written about Amos before, I'm stoked to have his voice join the chorus at Nature of Motion.  If you're interested in submitting a story of your own, consider getting in touch through

Dog Days and Dank Espresso

Amos Swanson

Dog Days and Dank Espresso

I'm riding my bicycle up a hill on a dirt track. It's as dark as possible in late summer Alaska and I don't have a headlamp. I'm headed into the heart of Chickaloon near my cabin. I've never actually been in this part of the community and I'm surprised at how adventurous it feels. Every sound registers and every shape stands out in the twilight. My wheel hits a dirt berm and I stop immediately and tip over. Faraway thoughts of bears and crazy locals crowd my head as movement halts. Quickly I right my bike and push off up the hill. At the top I turn left at the T and gain speed down a hill. I pass a few houses and many No Tresspassing signs, also a compound of campers and porches all built together seemingly with junk. Theres a metal trash can with something burning right next to the road. Dim lights and generators fill the background. A mile farther and a huge black shape darts in front of me and crashes off through the forest, I shift up and pedal harder. Finally I reach the pavement and a big downhill that will take me all the way back to my cabin and my bed, I can barely see but I keep away from the brakes and glide silently down the hill relying only on trust. Inside I light a candle and relax on the couch, my adventure is over for the night.

Exactly one year ago I was riding a bicycle in Chickaloon also, but that was the start of something much different. One year ago I was riding a bicycle loaded down with 100 pounds of food and climbing gear, and there was a girl right behind me with a heavy bike too. We were going south for the winter and everything was unknown and exciting, adventurous. I was unsure of the possibility of riding thousands of miles with ropes and cams strapped to our bikes, unsure of how long it would take, unsure of how it would go with a female partner, and unsure if we had enough money to make it happen. But after a few months, broken bicycles, bugs, not enough money, solo riding, lots of rain, loss of a tent, and total exhaustion I made it to Zion with two of my best friends. At that point I was sure about everything, looking at my best buddy Tim I said "This is the sickest shit ever man, the sickest shit ever!"

Adventure. No matter where I am or how far I go it seems to always be there if I look, a 4000 mile epic human powered climbing trip or a three mile ride in the dark though downtown Chickaloon. Can I really compare these? I think so. Adventure and life seem to ultimately be about feelings, and these feelings feel the same when you feel them right? Sometimes free time and money and friends all line up to allow giant trips to happen, and sometimes they don't. But if it's feelings you value then you'll never be let down, unless you feel let down.

Sharing. If feelings are the goal then sharing them is the key to that special feeling called happy. This is why we do things, I think. To share any feeling really just conjures up more feelings, usually good ones. This is why coming up in September I will leave my cosy cabin in Chickaloon and embark once again with friends and my bicycle in search of the best feeling, GNAR.

GNAR. It's a word that I think I started using to replace the word core. Both of these words are best used in the mountains or on some sort of steep ground, be it skiing, climbing, walking, or really anything outside. Ultimately I think these words should mean whatever you want. But to me GNAR is a special word, it immediately conjures up a thousand memories with some of my best friends on the planet.

Like my buddy Wyatt, who was really the first partner I had. We climbed the easiest routes in Hatcher Pass and got more scared than I can really convey.

Or my friend Bernie. EEEEEEOOOOOUUUU DOGGIE!!! Every time we found ourselves high up some frozen waterfall in Alaska I could count on this noise to let me know just how gnarly we were getting.

And Stu. That crazy Brit who bonded himself to me early by pointing his asshole straight at me and shitting. Mind you this was high on a glacier on the side of Mont Blanc. "Now we've done it AMOS, we're bonded."

Casey and Nick. My Mexican adventure team. We found the climbing heaven down there. Tu Es guys, Tu Es.

John. For years I've called you a douschbag, and I probably always will. But man we climb well together. I used to be an alpinist, and you wanted to be. Now your a real alpinist and I can barely comprehend the routes you've been sending. Cheers brother, Im truly stoked to share the GNAR with you.

And the Lizard. Your one of the raddest chicks I know. Every time I watch you climb I get scared, cause I know I'll have to try and follow! Your our secret weapon for sure.

Tim. MAN. The long haired pea picking prophet. Holy shit you changed my life. GNAR came from core and core came from you. For some reason we met up and I don't even think I can define that reason even now, but there's only one word for deep powder, steep granite, heavy bikes, fresh veg, and car free inspiration.

It's taken a few years, but I think I can finally define the word GNAR for myself. This is a good thing considering I live in the Gnarbase. Simply adventure sharing is gnarly enough for me. Espresso fuels these thoughts as the summer mellows, and I can't wait to fly along some desert road in search of the GNAR with my friends.

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