Summit Adventure

Bass Lake Travel Blog

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Base Camp. Inside is the Kitchen, meeting area, and offices. Sleeping happens outside...every night.
I have entered a movement…experienced a new kind of living…a community of authenticity spurred on by real love from real people with real feelings not pretending to be perfect. The past 12 days have been an awaking of my spirit to the joy that God willingly gives to those seeking him. To express my gut in this experience, I have to say I left my heart in California for a myriad of motives that multiply during every mental recollection. It has filled me with hope and excitement of living in a community of believers, loving, hugging, struggling, glaring, smiling, and farting as ways of communication. Summit Adventure is an answer to a longing that I’ve had since reading Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, or at least the hope and knowledge that this kind of honest and transparent community really does exist today.
Not to mention the most beautiful scenery ever designed.

They are beautiful people…beautiful people…(Marilyn Manson reference is completely accidental). Everyone at Summit Adventure showed me welcoming kindness that blew away my acceptance anxiety. I just went to make a little video and wanted to help in other ways too, but left with unexpected friendships and a hunger for more. Connecting with people was so natural; I felt like I could relate to everyone in a different way. The unhurried pace of life at the base camp was one familiar to me as well. Much of my Africa trip related to the way we lived at Bass Lake and out in the back country; everything from a chill timeline to pooping over a hole.

Upon arrival at the Fresno airport, I had an inquisitive thought of who was picking me up, and why they were over an hour late.
It would have helped if I’d remembered to save the phone number I was given in an email two days prior, but without that I just hung out with the information desk worker who was an elderly gentlemen with a thinning shield of white hair and a jolly expression who excitedly shared about the Yosemite area. After 45 minutes, I made a call home to get the Summit Base phone number so I could get the cell number of whoever was picking me up.

Ann. She pulled up in her tan Honda CR-V, I dumped my bags in and hopped into the passenger seat. During the hour ride to the Summit Base, we talked about a bunch of random shtuff and throughout the week I had an excellent time getting to know her, a fellow Midwesterner. She and Jon, the Base Coordinator, took me bouldering at Lewis Creek and to the Yosemite Valley on a day off, where my eyes could barely comprehend the surrounding splendid-ness.
The leadership course.
El Capitan, and Half Dome, the famous valley rocks are beyond beautiful. At the Summit Base, I frequented a game with mummy-ninja, and bubble boy, the captains of the foosball teams. The cooks were amazing, thank you Jess and Leigh. There are hammocks on the front porch and sleeping decks in the front and back to snooze under the stars. Snatching a moment from a busy day at Base, Ann seriously blessed my face by showing me Willow Creek. My zygomatic muscles are still fatigued. This creek, if you will, more like a magical land of falls and pools and rocks and foliage, was the creek I’ve dreamed of since I was a young child. (see pictures…in my Summit Adventure 2 album…they still don’t do it justice)

Since I had such a great time clearing brush and stuffing branches into a chipper, I was considering staying a few extra days.
Phillip and I transitioning to the next course.
I had plans to get back to Embarq on Wednesday, but thought the next Monday would be better. I went to the porch, lay back in the hammock to pray about it and about 20 seconds later I realized that God wants to give us our desires when they honor Him…peace came and I decided I would try to stay a few extra days. I emailed my manager to see if that would be alright without compromising my job in any way. Waiting for the response was torturous.

Oops, I haven’t even mentioned my project. I went out on course with three groups to gather footage to put together a promotional video. Adventures in Fatherhood was first. Camped with Tom, the wild man director of Summit Adventure and we spent a day and a half with Dads and their kids. I repelled of The Toad, a 200 foot drop where I locked off at about 75 feet down and shot some superb video of the others repelling while I slowly lost feeling in my feet from dangling from a rope in an unpadded harness for too long.
Chris. Go For It course for special needs people. Awesome time!
Collected tons of interviews throughout and really enjoyed getting to know participants.

The second course was the Adventure Leadership group. Teaching people how to teach a backpacking trip and safe climbing setup and bla bla bla. I caught an amazing sunrise time lapse shot. Phillip, a fellow motorcyclist showed me a few important climbing knots, how to properly place a cam and how to set an anchor. I appreciated Phillip for many reasons, but perhaps none more than his witty bicep comparison…Having someone flex for him, he looks impressed and comments on how that is a pretty big rock, then comes back with his arm flexing… “looks like it fell off this mountain!” During the climbing setup, near Lady Lake, a man sat on a rock at the edge of the water a long way off.
He stood up, slid off his boxers and dove in buck naked. That night, I saw the biggest, brightest shooting star ever. It had a tail as long as a sonic extra long chili cheese coney.

Bryce was one of the leaders on that course. Can’t wait to hang out with him more in Ecuador. I rode with him to town one afternoon in his Scout and we shared openly about our lives. So easy to connect with and we had quite a similar experience with the continent of Africa. He was hilarious and serious, sarcastic and sensitive, a real man. During a time lapse shot I had set up at the camp site he started curling the water bags in front of the camera and after the rock climbing was started, he perched on a big boulder in a werewolf style squat and howled loudly.
Mike and Sean. Go For It course.

The third course was the Go For It course, which is designed for special needs individuals. They were great. I shot way to much footage and helped set up shade shelter, walked with Shawn, who had a problem with depth perception, which makes hiking up rocks pretty dangerous. Most of the staff on this course was hooked up to the Chariot, a carrying chair for Justin because his wheel chair would not make it up such aggressive terrain.

It was Monday and my flight was to leave on Tuesday morning. I checked my email and sang a song. Jerry, my manager, said he had no problem with me returning on the next Monday. I rescheduled my plane ticket for Friday, giving me three more days. During those three extra days I realized to a fuller extent how much I love this place and these people.
Willow Creek. The creek of my dreams...pools and falls and boulders and pure awesomeness.
My desire to return next summer to become an instructor has been rapidly building and now I am certain that I will do everything I can to go back there for the next couple summers. It was…all my wildest dreams come true.

After Ann and I returned from Willow Creek, She and Jon and I headed north to the Touleme Meadows in the northern park of the Yosemite national park to climb Cathedral, named by John Muir after free soloing it and expressing that it was the first time he’d been to church in that area. The view is majestic at every tilt of the head. We met Curt there and climbed it in two teams. My first multi-pitch climb (700 feet), first Trad climb, using nuts and cams, not bolts for quick draws, and my first time leading Trad. I led 3 pitches and loved it.
Willow Creek.
The Chimney section was so fun. The climbing was not difficult at 5.6 rating, but it was awesome and I do mean I was full of awe. Thanks God. My feet hurt with a throbbing pummel of pain surging through my toes because I had never worn my climbing shoes for so long. They’re meant for bouldering, really tight. After getting passed by a couple free soloists and making our way back to the cars, we headed to the Mobile, a happenin’ gas station where a blue grass band called the Trespassers were playing. Great music. Saw a few more shooting stars that night. A rapturous day.

The next morning was my flight, so Jon, Ann and I had to drive home that night. Over three hours. Ann started the journey, Hot Tamales in hand, and cruised along for over an hour weaving along roads surrounded by a cascading curtain of trees, a natural wall as the headlight illuminated each trunk and faded upward to the star splattered sky.
It was a fun ride. Ann driving, me keeping her awake, then I drove and an kept me awake with random conversation and amazing bear stories, and then when desperation called as tiredness set in with greater force I exclaimed my need for Disney’s Aladdin soundtrack. Suddenly the car became a magic carpet and we arrived back at the base…scary how I blanked the last part of the trip. Oh well, we’re alive.

Packed quick the next morning and Ann drove me to the airport. It was full of bittersweet-ness as I realized I just had some of the best two weeks ever and now had to head home to the office job. I wished goodbye’s didn’t exist, and yet they are beautiful because they leave us with a sense of longing, passion and motivation.

I waited in the L.
A./Ontario airport in California for my five hour layover after my flight from Fresno, all the while yearning for my return to the Bass Lake area. On the first flight I zonked until the drink cart came down the isle and bumped my foot (I always leave my foot in the isle for that reason. I hate missing the drink cart or the pretzels). Apple juice, then quickly slid back into dreamland. There wasn’t too much sleep being had in the last 4 days. I took the blanket and pillow off the plane and found the next terminal I’d be leaving from so I could snatch a piece of floor nearby gate 210. As I was zombie-ing down the terminal toward gate 210 I stopped at Carl Jr’s for some lunch at about 12:30. Didn’t really feel like paying for the over priced food, so I ordered an Oreo shake and ate someone’s leftover taco salad.
They abandoned about half of it and left it on the table, that’s what I call good eatin’.

I laid down on the ground getting tired again after reading more in David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, fearing a nearby mom scolding her son to get off the floor because it’s not a place to sleep. Fun.

Those two weeks, full of edifying conversation, an amazing community of seriousness and joking, loving in a real way, tore at my heart to be involved. So, I plan on applying for an instructor position next summer. It helped me to realize that I’m not passionate about making money (though I do plan on paying my student loans off asap) but I’m passionate about seeking God with a group of people who truly love one another and living in a beautiful part of His creation and learning and teaching.
The Cooks.
  Perhaps flight school will be later.

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Base Camp.  Inside is the Kitchen,…
Base Camp. Inside is the Kitchen…
The leadership course.
The leadership course.
Phillip and I transitioning to the…
Phillip and I transitioning to th…
Chris.  Go For It course for speci…
Chris. Go For It course for spec…
Mike and Sean.  Go For It course.
Mike and Sean. Go For It course.
Willow Creek.  The creek of my dre…
Willow Creek. The creek of my dr…
Willow Creek.
Willow Creek.
The Cooks.
The Cooks.
Cool guy in cool car.
Cool guy in cool car.
my stoic camera
my stoic camera
during my time lapse shot of sun r…
during my time lapse shot of sun …
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photo by: colinhamel