Thursday, January 23, 2014

New post

Check out www.iescapeoutdoors.com for the new post "No Excuses"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New stuff found here.....

Please visit and support the cause at www.iescapeoutdoors.com!

Thanks for your interest, get outdoors, and try something new.
-Evan

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fishing in the Snow

iEscaped again this weekend.

To reclaim sanity I did what I do best: went fly fishing in the Canyon. I had went hiking earlier with my family along a small stream in a tight, tall walled gulch. I had inquiring thoughts about this small stream before, thinking that the larger brown trout could use it as a nursery for the fry and fingerlings. Some larger trout might even call it home. On the way out of the hike, Charlie looked over at a small pocket water pool and yelled out, "Look at all the fish!" My fate was sealed...



The next day after breakfast I set off for the small stream. As I went further into the Canyon, the "partly cloudy, calm wind" weather report became more false by the minute. A blizzard quickly blew in from the west, dark gray clouds spewed thick, heavy snowflakes by the millions upon the quiet canyon. As I pulled into the parking lot the wind was howling, snow flakes stinging my cheeks, but from over the snow pile I could see large browns swirling in the beaver ponds above the bridge. It was deathly quiet, beautifully intolerable  I rigged up a large stimulator with a small midge dropper and went off up the trail below the limestone cliffs that resemble towering fortresses. At the first pool I came across, I stumbled through hip deep snow to get into the water. I tossed a few casts up stream but a stiff gust of wind quickly over powered my little three weight rod. The line got pushed into some branches and I reluctantly walked up through the pool to get it untangled, watching for darting streaks of gold from under my feet. There were a few small ones, my hopes were actualized! I stumbled back up on the bank, essentially swimming through the snow to get to the trail. Out of breath, I kept going up stream, following the snowshoe tracks that were left by passers by before me.





Its these sort of small streams, the ones that everyone over looks and that go unnoticed while in the pursuit of trout, that I love to explore. They are technical, small, with small fish that can easily outwit me. They harbor the hidden gems of centuries past, like on this stream there is an old mine shaft dug into the base of the canyon wall along the stream bank. Its the intimate feeling you get, that primeval feeling of being watched when you're all alone, the bliss of exploration in water that's maybe never seen a fly before- all these facts are what makes these experiences so meaningful.

The stream made a sharp bend in the canyon after a small incline on the trail. At the top of the incline I looked upstream, the tail snugged up against the wall and pinched the stream in between the other wall. The blizzard was getting worse, wind was picking up. The stream turned into a series of riffles and pockets, and ended up at the bottom of a twenty foot slope from the trail. "God, this is awesome!" I thought to myself. I started down the slope but the snow sucked me in. Up to my stomach in the cold white stuff, I was squirming around like a fool trying not to slide down the rest of the way on my face, more importantly not trying to spook the shadows in the pool below me. Awkwardly, amazingly, I contorted myself out of the snow cave I had apparently fallen into, slid the rest of the way on my butt and stopped before the water. As soon as my feet smashed into the snow, most of the shadows burst from the pool. "Well Shi*...Ha ha ha, God I'm so fu**ing smooth!"  I sat in the snow on the bank for a long while, watching the last trout left in the shallow pocket of water. It was sitting on the far side in some slack water behind a rock, its light gold sides shimmering through the clearer than clear water, surely sizing me up as friend or foe. Snowflakes started bombarding the land once again, the wind was howling down the stream, and it was just me and the trout waiting for one of us to make the first move.



Being the smooth guy that I am, I grabbed by rod from the snow and went to make a cast, but as soon as my arm moved (like two cowboys in a duel, reaching for my pistol) the trout shot first and darted upstream into the pocket never to be found again by this angler. I had lost the tense standoff, but at the same time, I was never so happy (or lucky) to be alive. Just another day on the water, I tell people often times on my fishing outings, "Some people got it, some people don't." But what really counts at a place like this is that you try. It gives you an excuse to try again- come the next blizzard, to be humble, to forget the troubles of your busy week and learn from the little stream all that you need to know. Maybe I'm just an optimist, but fish aren't the point of fishing for me.

It took easily ten minutes to crawl back up to the trail, the slope was steeper after I plowed down a path in the snow. I prayed no one walked by to see me cussing and clambering for foot and hand holds, gaining a few feet, then sliding all the way back down to the bank. By some miracle, some inner strength I pulled myself up, got some of the snow out of my waders and walked back to my car. The blizzard hadn't stopped yet, but it just made the walk out, and the sweet defeat, that much better.



iEscaped to a small stream called iron creek. Even though I didn't hook a trout, I saw them, and they kicked my butt! I learned that I love that challenge and sometimes it pays to get a reality check- to realize that there is more to life than the goal at hand; to enjoy the experience more than obsess about fish that were way smarter than I was to begin with.          






Monday, January 21, 2013

Why? - My Research on Life

I've been doing a lot of research lately. Reading, watching, talking, thinking- true soul searching, I guess. And recently the pieces have all fallen together. One such research topic became clear when my brother threw a vast call out for the most thought provoking question someone has had, I answered it with, "Why?" The possibilities are endless, it may seem broad but a narrowed question has an answer- the broad question has many or none or one to be created, now that's thought provoking! I've been asking that a lot lately too, a lot towards how our world and daily lives operate.

You all know how much I believe in experiential education and the importance of reflection- so lets all take at least five seconds to think of a good question to ask ourselves. Something that's truly meaningful and containing the word, "Why," somewhere in it. I'll expand on my own question here to aid in reflection, but please hold onto your own. Alright, lets start!

...

Got one? Good.

My question is: What do you live for, and why?

I live for fly fishing- there's not a waking moment that its not on my mind. It connects me to the natural world and all the other dots in life like nothing else can- plus its fun to catch fish. But that is trivial, skin deep. What do I live for? Well- what do I want to do with my life- what's my personal philosophy on the "day in and day out?" Here's where a good majority of my (re)searching has come in. People are inherently here to "do something" with their lives, to fulfill a purpose. Humility and compassion are the only good things to pay and get paid with in my mind. Working for money is pointless, working for greater purpose and benefit beyond yourself is what's worth admiration- not six figures. Money is fickle and fake. I aim to live simply, humbly, in constant attention towards betterment- of myself and my society. I want to teach, teaching is an extremely challenging, inspiring, rewarding field that does "real change." A teacher does more work, for way less pay, in nine months than any lawyer will in twelve months. A teacher is constantly at the front lines of politics, family problems, mental issues and disabilities, standardized tests, piles of homework, all sorts of controversies- and then they have to go home and grade while taking care of their family... Yet they have the fate of the future in their hands. With their words and lessons, they shape how students perceive the world and help them know what they should do in it. The true heroes and saviors of this world are the ones teaching those who'll inhabit the future. Heavy stuff...scary stuff! But I love nature, I love students, I care for the future of this world we live in. What else is there to do but to teach my students how awesome nature is and how important they are, and how important everything and everyone around them is? Someone's gotta do the dirty work...

Alright, so I've narrowed what I want to do down to teaching kids about nature. I know that I want to live a simple life. I also know that I want to fly fish every chance I get. Easy- that's what I live for, right? Well we could suffice our answer there, or keep analyzing. We'll stop blabbing about me for a bit, but keep analyzing, sound good?

So there are many different ways to live these days. Ranging from "Bum" to "Billionaire," anyone can really pick their poison. Yet, I think there is a deciding factor- and that is your True Self. Not your Facebook/Twitter/Linked In profile, smart phone junk, or anything found at work, home, church, school. Your True Self, no matter how cheesy it may sound, in the words of a Dr. Palmer is "in your heart, its your soul." Its something that we know all to utterly well, so well that we can hardly even define it. I feel like truly knowing yourself is as important in finding the answer to the question, than the question is itself. Though this is also fairly paradoxical, it has merit. On matters concerning living life, you have to identify what you want to do, but along side or even before you have to know what you want, what's the point and goal of this whole ordeal? What are you living for as an end? You want to be rich beyond your wildest dreams, then pursue it. You want to be a dirt-poor bum with zero responsibility, then do it- but know the consequences with all your options! Being rich is stressful as hell, as is being poor. To live the good life or a good life- that's your call and to your own perception as well. What do you live for ends up becoming not only the ends, but the means for my question. It calls for truly knowing yourself and what will keep your passion a live. Happiness, in my mind, comes along with passion, but passion is not happiness- kind of like being friendly but not a friend- Passion is unadulterated sacrifice and commitment to what gives yourself purpose. I would suppose [good] parenting is akin to true passion, for a real world example. I know that truly being a good fishing guide, you need passion- committed months to learning the water, trial and error, good clients and bad, it rests on having passion, as does teaching and pretty much everything else out there.

What is your passion? Some may truly say, "banking," or, "law," though I'd venture few and far between really would, and its probably the same for guiding and teaching, that's why you get so many burn outs towards the two to twenty year mark. But doesn't that solidify my claim towards knowing yourself and your passion? Without those things, you're miserable, truly just "making the big bucks." I've seen it time and time again in my drift boat, once you live for the money, no amount of money, travel, or booze can save you! Therefore, I implore you, be true to yourself in your life! Use the beautiful mind that God gave you to reflect and to live how you want!

So, if you remember the question you had for yourself at the beginning, please email me it with your answer- I'd love to hear from you! More research to be revealed later, everyone- Do good until then!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

iEscape- Green, White, and Blue

What's white, blue, and green all over? ...Spearfish Canyon, of course! Winter is slowly wrapping its icy grip around the northern hills and I love it. The crisp air that makes you cough when you first breathe it in, the crunch of snow under foot, blinding sun by day-starlit by night, frozen snot in the beard, exhaling lofty-looming clouds, childlike exuberance on walks outside, cozy warmth under blankets inside. What's there not to love about winter?





Though, its been a busy road getting here. The past few weeks have been coupled with exhaustion and annoyance for me. Exhausted from school and work and annoyance with much of the same. I hate complaining and won't do it here because this is a place of realization and reflection, not moaning and groaning. However, to boil it all down, I've been met with a lot of time being wasted and opportunities not being met, created, or taken. There is nothing so irritating to me to watch rivers become dammed and left stagnant when so much else could be done- I'll put it at that. This is with people and organizations a like. I guess I really just don't like: Waste. This isn't about this matter though, to steer back on course, this has all taken a large toll on me recently, making me quite bitter at the right moments. This week was the last straw, I really couldn't handle it anymore but I really couldn't find the problem nor confront it head on. But this feeling of resentment is one that I do not like to feel nor ever want to. Finally I had an opportunity to take a break, not deal with anyone or thing that has been chipping away at my sanity, and took my inch approximately twenty miles up Spearfish Canyon, and I ESCAPED. (That's what Apple should come out with next- "Introducing the all new iEscape, free of all electronics and unnecessary junk- get outside and live life!" Ha!)

So with this ingenious new "iEscape" technology, I did what I do best- fly fish. Truthfully, the root of all frustration and anger for me is, in-equilibrium. When there's too much work, school, and annoying people/things and not enough adventure or exploration ("Outside Time" as Gretchen calls it) or simply not enough time to myself, I get pissed... Then I took a chance to slow down and decompress last night and saw how badly I was shaking, my hands literally were shaking. Some people shake from drug withdrawal or not eating for long periods of time- I shake from being out of balance in my life, from literally not fishing or going outside. Such a complex ordeal of anger has such a simple fix, and in fact I heard it best summed up by a Finnish fly fisher/jazz player last week when he said, "I'm a simple man: fish make me happy. Scarey simple."

Truly scarey.




Again today and last night, I had a startling realization. Just as the Jews in the old testament fell from God time and time again, I fell away from the things that make me happy and give me purpose. Yet, as God is benevolent, so is your passion- so are the fish. When you forget about what really makes you happy and fulfills your soul, then what else is making you happy?! Facebook, work, your iphone? Hell no!!!
This week was a wake up call, I went to church on Sunday (an awesome little Antiochian Orthodox Mission built into a house in Rapid City) and had a lot taken off my chest by meditating on whats been on my mind. It was first then that by putting a block back in its rightful space that there was still more that had to be done! But what, what hadn't I been doing? ...fishing, exploring on my own, thinking deeply. "Duh, Evan! You've been ignoring your passion again! You let things get to you, you got too much going on, you're supposed to keep it simple, remember?" I do now!

Forty degrees and sunny- no school, no work, no friends or family. In short terms, "Heaven on Earth." Not to sound like I aim to not spend time with friends and family, but I need my own space sometimes. I went way down to Cheyenne Crossing to scout Yates Ponds. Grabbed my trusty Sage and headed out. I've fished here a lot, its a favorite spot of mine and I loved to take my clients here back in the fall for the prime chance of hooking a huge fish. But there's more to this spot, and it's hidden by tall spruce trees.

Well the ponds weren't fishing too well today, or rather I was throwing a huge streamer at fish that prefer tiny nymphs, and so I decided to take a look in the woods. I saw a glassy blue run, etched through dazzling white snow and slates of ice inside a tall green wall of spruces. For a moment- just a split second- I thought about throwing my phone away, giving all my cash to the poor, and never leaving that spot. Its amazing how quickly you remember how to be happy, what a profound and instant effect it has on you. I made a few casts across the current with my streamer and as I was ready to leave and find a new place to fish and was stripping in my line, I noticed a giant trout come from under a weed mat and slowly follow after the fly. I twitched it up stream a little faster and he sped up to chase it. In a ray of sun through the branches my bright white streamer stopped and the giant fish came from behind and engulfed it. I set the hook and the fish twisted, turned, and splashed- ran for branches and sticks. I locked my rod in my wrist and lifted his head out of the water and knelt down to net him. The water stung as I reached in to clasp him and take the hook out. And as soon as he was in my hand he was gone again, invisible under the clear, blue water. Then again the urge to never leave came sweeping back, "Why would anyone do anything else with their lives?!"

I went to a few new spots in the upper canyon today, where the spruces reign and the stream is much more intimate. I never get too many chances to fish up there, but I'm always excited and surprised when I do. The big fish was the only one I got today but that wasn't the reason why I went out. I needed a break, I needed to get out, I needed to get back in balance and to be happy again. There's nothing like pulling over at some random point on the road and walking into the woods and stumbling on something beautiful- be it fish or water or rock or something else, maybe just an idea. No one is ever perfect, but to at least be balanced, that is all we can ask for! Happiness is found in equilibrium, as is perfection.




I'm sure I'll find myself in a few months or years or days realizing this all over again, its just the nature of our daily lives. Though this realization isn't a scarey one, more helpful than anything, what's scarey is how out of balance and mad I've been for so long (at most a month, I'll be it.) And I'm never mad- ever! It just goes to show that little things add up and big things take their toll. That life today is so much more inclined to make you mad, that there really isn't such a thing called an iEscape- even though that's really what the world needs. The saving grace is that the iEscape isn't found in stores though, its inside us, and maybe we just forgot about it as I did. Pull that sucker out and go for an adventure, do what makes you happy! Its such a scarey, simple fix! I can literally feel my soul being happy right now...

 










Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spare Change.

The last time I visited Hay Creek- my dearly beloved stream, my Nirvana, my Valhalla; close connection between some of  my first memories, family members, and life lessons; a hidden gem that I've called mine for years and many more to come- I arrived to unimaginable change.

Though the dead end trail was still overrun by the natural process, something about it seemed even more formidable, I knew something was array- there was a feeling in my gut that somewhat halted me from proceeding down the old stage coach road. In my mind, I accepted that the land could change. That trees would fall and weeds would reign. But even I, who first told the River Story and who has immense passion for the power of water on land and mind, neglected the power of it's forces on the little stream of mine. This past spring was a wild one in my sweet homeland of Minnesota. As much of the world was dying of thirst, we had more than our fair share! The same forces that created the place I loved over time I thought was something that was a legend of old. The twisted and mangled concrete bridge, the railroad trusses, all old ruins that hearkened a distant and turbulent past. But as all things, things of which we have no control, the past became renewed. That spring, massive floods- I dare not say "destroyed"- but totally altered the headwaters of the stream. Limestone boulders, still crisp and yellow, were strewn across the entire stream bed, pools totally purged, riffles moved, runs widened or filled in. Upon seeing my little stream, a pristine ribbon of blue amongst gold and green, it seemed now oddly foreign to me...

But just thinking of it now, I feel ashamed in myself. Ashamed because when I looked into the turquoise pools, I saw no fish. Ashamed because I swore a lot and was angry at what had happened. Ashamed because I lost hope and feeling for my stream. I left within an hour of starting, disappointed and disheartened at the sight. I'm ashamed now because I broke my own rule: I turned my back on a lifelong friend. Change is a natural process, as is trees falling, floods coming, and rivers constantly shifting. I forgot that change can happen even to me.

If I could go back to that day- and be my own shadow- I'd slap myself and say, "What are you thinking? This is normal! This is just a little bit change!" It's simply a matter of time before the "new normal" settles in.

It begs the question, how come change is such an easy thing to think about, yet when it happens- we all think the world is going to end? I know we've all dreamed of new homes, new jobs, new relations, but that sort of change is trivial, and frankly usually never happens. Change that shakes us to our core is when we seem happy, content, and familiar. When grandma suddenly dies, we lose our job, or we maybe even want to switch our majors, and take things for granted. There is nothing so terrifying when someone loses their i-phone! But what about people from slums getting a good degree and getting high paying jobs? Positive change? To me- that's another beast named, initiative. Similar effects but of another kind. Change is a frightening word to people. Unknown means leading to unknown ends. Total loss of control.
Though it is usually for the better in the end, like getting dumped then finding a new, more perfect lover, it all comes down to time. When it hits, when you react, when you crumble, when you rebuild. All factors between life and death- figuratively.

 Notice the underlined phrase, "...take things for granted." Why is it when everything is hunky-dowry, feces always seem to hit the fan? My grandmother was progressively losing her mind. It was a real and hard fact, a fact that truly scared me and turned me away from her in the final years. I accepted and took for granted the fact that my grandmother was getting old and had forgotten my name and I would stop in from time to time to say hi and give her a kiss. From out of nowhere change happened, she got hurt and finally entered the Kingdom of Heaven. That event shook my family. Reflecting, without remorse or anger, perhaps I should have done more with her. But that change brought about many positives as well, one thing was to bring the family from across the world back together to a small waiting lobby in the hospital, there to help and support each other. Something Grandma had always wished for.

It hurts us to be humble if you dig down deep enough. To accept loss of control is the hardest pill to swallow. To admit to laziness, lack of gratitude, false pride- there is no thing so unimaginably hurtful to do. But through change, we are forced to- forced to stop and look face-first into our own lives. That is what we are afraid of. We are creatures of comfort in an ever changing world.   

I don't think change will ever be an easy thing to "do." But we can learn to how to live better, to understand all things as a Gift. To say, "Thank you" to God, friends, family, strangers, places or objects, or even just yourself. To smile during good and bad times, to look for hidden meanings and ways to grow. Change is terrifying but the result of it shouldn't be.

For all those friends and families that I've neglected to check in with- please I know that I haven't forgotten you, you're in my prayers, and I'll get around to it soon! Everyone please have a happy and safe holiday season, be unceasingly grateful, and try to reflect on ways to grow.

As for my stream, I know it will only be a matter of time- as Rivers embody Change.