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My Third Year of CrossFit: Lessons from the Pandemic

I have been doing CrossFit for three years now, and I thought it would be a good time for another recap. Without a doubt, the thing that went well this year in CrossFit was my lifting. I made pretty solid gains in most of my lifts as you can see in the chart below. I’m not too proud of my gains in the strict press, but I am still working hard at it. I am learning that shoulder strength really takes time.

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The Slot in Anza Borrego State Park

I heard there was a Slot Canyon in Southern California, so I did some investigating. To my surprise, I found one on Alltrails.com. It’s called “The Slot” and it’s in Anza Borrego State Park. Bec and I had a free Saturday for a small adventure, so we headed out to the desert.

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Baxter Pass to Sixty Lakes Basin Loop

I reached Baxter Pass by 1pm. It was like being on the surface of Mars, with its vast, desolate red landscape. It was quite beautiful. The vastness of it all gave me that strangely comforting feeling of being insignificant. I lingered at the summit a little longer than I typically do, just to take in the stark beauty before heading down toward Baxter Lake.

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Tackling the 220-mile John Muir Trail with Lance and Anna Wood

My colleague Lance Wood, and his daughter Anna, recently completed a hike on the John Muir Trail. Two hundred and ten miles in 28 days! Many people, including myself, tend to train hard for something this ambitious, but Lance and Anna set out on this great adventure together with almost no preparation. They started slow and “trained on the trail” – eventually getting up to the 10-12-miles-a-day pace that most JMTers keep.

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55-mile Solo from Mineral King to Nine Lakes Basin

By 11:40am the sky had turned dark and I felt the first drop of rain on my head. Contrary to the weather report, my instincts told me to turn around and get lower, so I headed back to the lake where I thought I’d wait it out for a while. When the first thunder came, it was close and powerful, followed by more of the same. Now my instincts told me to run, so I did. As I did, nickel-size hail rained down in almost biblical fashion.

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Mount Whitney Team Day Hike 2020

We started out at midnight just to make sure we had enough time since I had not hiked with most of the folks on our team. In hindsight, I’m really glad I did. We ended up needing the extra time. More on that later. On the day of the hike, I drove up in the late afternoon and slept in the back of my Subaru Outback until 11:30pm. After breakfast and coffee, I met the rest of the guys at the trailhead.

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The Ultimate CrossFit Home Gym

I started CrossFit about three years ago and I set up this gym in a spare bedroom we have because I always seemed to miss a CrossFit session. I wanted to be able to do at least 95% of what I did at the gym at home. Six months into this, it’s proven to be a great setup, and I think it would really benefit anyone who is just trying to stay fit at home. I attend Centric Athletics, and at the moment, because of the Coronavirus, we are closed. Like all of us, I needed a solid way of staying fit at home right now.

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The North Ridge of Mount Conness!

…soon the class 2 ridge turned to class 3/4 so we roped up alpine style and continued walking. There were a few sections of the ridge Neil climbed ahead and gave us a hip belay, but we never needed to set up any belay anchors along the ridge. This place was so beautiful it was hard to take it all in. And I got to do this with my son – who gets to do that?

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Road Trip: Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park & The Sawtooths

A few years ago, we took the Grand Circle road trip, hitting all of the big national parks in Utah, plus a few more. This year, we decided to take another road trip that would take us north, all the way to Glacier National Park, hitting the Tetons and Yellowstone on the way up, and Sawtooth National Forest on the return. Little did we know that, given the COVID pandemic, about a million other people had the same idea.

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The Palisade Glacier Day Hike

The trail eventually disappeared into a large slope of talus on the flanks of Mount Gayley. Fortunately, there were a lot of cairns along the way so it was pretty hard to lose the route. The route turned into bigger and bigger talus until it finally ended on a ridge that overlooked the Palisade Glacier. And as I expected, it was truly awe-inspiring and huge. A ridgeline of 14ers – Mount Sill, Polemonium Peak, North Palisade, Starlight Peak, and Thunderbolt Peak – towers over the glacier bowl. It is hard to put into words how beautiful this place is.

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My 20-mile Mount Julius Caesar Day Hike

…The trail headed up switchbacks that gained about 2,000 feet of elevation over a few miles. I passed a large mining operation, then a spectacular waterfall that rumbled so powerfully I could feel it in my chest. Stunning. As the sun came up, it caught the large granite peak next to me with a bright orange alpine glow. The Lord knows how much I love to see a good alpine glow. I felt myself waking up and coming alive. I felt a surge of new energy to push to the summit of Mount Julius Caesar.

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20+ Miles in Buckskin Gulch

I had been to Buckskin Gulch 10 days before with my friend Manny and hurt my back a few miles from the trailhead. I saw just enough of this amazing slot canyon to know I HAD to come back and see all 23 miles of it. When I showed my family some of the pictures, they all signed up and we planned a trip for the following week. Cold, muddy, waist high pools of water made it tougher than most of us had planned on, but no one was disappointed.

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You MUST have a Sport to Stay Fit Over 50!

There was a study done on men in Ireland over a span of 20 years, involving 3,400 men. The study had two significant findings. First, the men who were active in middle age were three times more likely to be active in their senior years. Second, men who had played a sport for 25 years+ were five times more likely to be active in their senior years than their counterparts who didn’t play a sport.

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Fear, Loathing, and a Little Joy in Death Valley

We were in a slot canyon in a remote area of Death Valley. I heard Manny say something, but I couldn’t make out his words. I got that sinking feeling in my gut. We were in a tight slot canyon and he was 20 steps ahead of me – just around the corner. I rounded the corner and walked up to a huge boulder wedged between the walls of the canyon that extended a hundred feet above us on each side. That nagging fear I had all day was now fully realized. I was in disbelief. I stared down at a perfectly polished 30-foot waterfall. It was completely impassable…

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Dreamy Views on Cloudripper

I had been wanting to do Cloudripper (13,525′) for a while, so last year I took the family to make an attempt on the summit. My son Wes and I made it to what I thought was the summit of Cloudripper, only to discover from our GPS tracks that we had summitted the wrong mountain! We summited Vagabond Peak, not realizing that we came about 1000 yards short of Cloudripper. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to do it again.

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Meet Fred Murphy, an 81-year-old Crossfitter

Fred Murphy, 81, is not your average grandpa. He has served more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and holds an 8th-degree grandmaster rank in Taekwondo. After 7 surgeries in one year, and being forced out of the gym for 52 days…Fred is back in the gym, breaking a sweat and inspiring others nearly half his age.

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