Friday, October 25, 2013

Discovering with Discovery Channel

Recently had the pleasure to meet the folks at Discovery, as they followed me out on a blackwater night dive. Only one of them would get in, but we had a blast as always! Love the limitless exploration left to be done! Here's the episode for you viewing pleasure: http://bit.ly/Hg7p9u

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What goes up.....

My helmet camera's POV from today's crash. Spliced with Ryan's angle as well. Please excuse the foul language.

Hard to tell but this was a pretty hefty leap. When I stand up and turn around you can see the distance I ended up from Ryan and the log. It's also higher than it looks. Note that the log is at head level on Ryan. Darn GoPros never do it justice.

This was my second attempt at this jump. The first one went pretty good, but I slid out on the landing. So I decided to give it another go and clean up that landing. Didn't work. Miss fired on a the take off and couldn't slow down in time to stop before the drop. Needless to say, I didn't try a 3rd time.

But mark my words, scary log jump. I will be back...... and I will conquer you.

This is the new cut trail other Jason was talking about, Jason. Don't do it, it's waayyyy more technical than Pig's Skull trail. This was the only spot we found on it worth checking out in my opinion. We turned around and hiked back up to Jurassic's.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Like riding a bike.....

Mountain biking was at one time one of my favorite pastimes as a teenager. Unfortunately my bike was stolen right before I came to Hawaii and I have not MTB'ed since. Recently there has been a lot of chatter about new trails here on the Big Island among some of my friends. One even offered to let me borrow his bike to come along when they went. The past two weekends have offered new views of Hawaii I have not seen in my 10 years of living here. If you would like beta on these particular trails, please contact me directly.

The first weekend I tagged along with an old friend, and a new acquaintance, to ride some of the Koloko trails. I was hoping I wasn't too rusty and I could barely sleep the night before in anticipation. On the day of the ride I found out "it's just like riding a bike",and it came back to me fairly quickly.  We took Jurassic's, up to Pig head Trail. This route was a technical uphill followed by about 15 minutes of flat out bombing down through jungle. Single track, and twisty, it made for an interesting reintroduction to the sport.

Here is my friend Ryan's video of the Area.

The second weekend, Ryan and I scouted a "new trail". It is actually a public access hiking trail located near Kona. I filmed this one from my Helmet Cam and posted the vid below. This is an arduous uphill with over 2000ft elevation gain. Took us 3 hours to make the top, though we did stop to make a jump and for some general sight seeing. Coming back down was about 20mins of solid riding. Here is the short version with most of the ride highlights in my opinoin. Definitely an area that needs to be revisited. I signed up to volunteer at the park, in hopes to scout more of this area and give back to the trails and land that give us so much. Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Every now and again there comes an idea so bad you just have to do it. This is the story of that idea.

A while ago a group of slacklining acquaintances and I were talking about the best mental motivations to stay on the line without falling. Different ideas were brought up including pretending the ground was lava.

 Remember, that game when you were little? You and your friends would run around and pretend something was lava and that if you touched it you would burn up and die?  Jump on the slackline and pretend the ground was lava. That would keep you on the line.

That's a good idea.

Then someone said, "Well ya know... there is a volcano on this island, we could actually set up a line over real lava."

Now that's a bad idea.

Nevertheless I couldn't shake the idea. After a brief conversation with my two fellow slackrades on island, the decision was made. We would visit Pele (the Hawaiian goddess of fire), and give offerings of gin, blood, and nylon. And that we did.

If you've never been to the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, let me explain it's gnarliness.  From Kona, where I live, it is a three hour drive one way. Of which the last 45 minutes is a one lane road in total darkness, through some pretty scary, middle of nowhere, "the hills have eyes" kind of backwoods, not-a-town. That road eventually dead ends into lava rock that flowed over the road years ago. The road literally just disappears under a huge slab of black rock. Creepy. Now it's time to walk. Creepier. But it's only just begun. This area is known for it's unforgiving nature. Rivers of lava breakout regularly, without ever giving warning. Sulfur vents open and close releasing noxious gases making it impossible to breathe.  Little shards of obsidian glass float around in the air and land on your skin, making you itch, but will cut you if you scratch or rub at their presence. The air stings your nostrils and scrapes at your eyes.The ground is uneven, and unstable. Every step your feet wobble and slide as newly formed rock breaks and crushes beneath them. After a 2 hour hike over this most unforgiving terrain, you reach the main ocean entry. This is where fire meets water, and can be particularly spectacular. Explosions happen as large as 400ft high, when hot magma cools rapidly where it collides with the turbulent waters of the pacific. Another concern here is that newly formed rock called a bench, often acres in width, can give way and slide into the ocean without notice. These bench collapses have taken several lives over the years. Not your average place to rig up a park line.

After trekking out with our slack gear in the dark, we set out our offerings to Pele. Including pouring the gin into a crack of flowing lava. Flames shoot out of the crack as she thirstily consumes her gifts. We then began to search for anchors.The "rock" in this area is more like piles of glass lightly fused together, than the rock most people are used to. Needless to say, suitable anchors were hard to find. We searched for nearly an hour and things began to look grim. Most seemingly stable anchors, could be pushed over with just your body weight. Finally I ventured out onto the bench, closer to the active flows. (do not ever do that) Lo and behold two seemingly solid pieces of lava positioned in a perfect valley about 30ft from a small break out, and about 200 yards from the massive lava river entering the ocean.

After quick deliberation we set about rigging with a primitive. The rig went quick, and we were walking our first (and likely only) Lavaline ever. We took turns on the line until the sun rose and it began to rain.

Now I am not usually one to get emotional about things like "the beauty of nature", but this truly overwhelmed me. Standing on the line, just as day began to break, with the stars still above our heads, the cool rain falling on our faces, and being warmed by the lava flowing so nearby, was utterly mesmerizing. I'm not ashamed to say, I shed a tear.

After we had our fill of slacklining and gin, we derigged in the daylight, packed up and walked back to the car. I don't know if we'll ever walk another line like that. It's likely that the bench will collapse one day soon and retire those chunks of rock that held so well to the ocean. Thank you Madame Pele.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


If you keep up with my other online media outlets, you've undoubtedly seen my recent posts on Slacklining.  I have recently become enamored with this "sport". It involves balancing on a thin line or strap between two anchor points, typically trees. It is similar to tightroping except that instead of a tight rope  we are on a slack line. The line itself is pulled tight, but because if it's elasticity it sags under your weight and creates powerful movements that must be constantly counter balanced with one's own body weight.

The reasons to slackline are numerous. Besides it just being a generally fun activity, it improves both physical and mental acuity. It pushes you to find new and exciting lines, causing you to travel and see the world around you in a different light, and it gives yet another reason to meet and inspire people around you.

I first learned of slacklining more than 10 years ago while working with the boy scouts on rope courses in Texas.  One of the camp counselors set one up and recommended we add it to our course. We all tried it once, and scoffed at even encouraging the idea, as it was "impossible". The slack line went back into that counselors bag and I didn't meet it again for another decade and a half. About a year ago I watched a film called  "Flight of the Frenchies" by Seb Montaz (I highly recommend the film) and it reinvigorated my interest. Since my first attempt so many years ago,  I have become very involved in many balance sports like surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding and skydiving. (Yes Skydiving too requires much balance) So, I decided to try it again. I purchase a small piece of webbing, and rigged a 30ft line on the beach by myself.

I tried for about an hour with little to no success then suddenly it clicked. I could stand. A while later I could take a step, then by the end of the day I was walking and turning around. Now many months later I've upped my ability and my gear. I am just starting to do aerial tricks, and The longest line I've now walked is just under 300ft. and the fun is just beginning.

Nearly every time we rig a line, we draw quite the crowd. And almost every time we draw a crowd someone wants to give it a try for the first time. About half the time people that try it say it's impossible, the other half dig there heels in and are determined. Those people 100% of the time end up being able to take a few steps by the end of the session and are instantly hooked.  These folks always have questions about where to get a line at and what line to get.  So alas I am writing a post about my favorite types of lines and the differences between them.

Slacklining started with the rock climbing community repurposing their gear to create new challenges for themselves on down days.  It likely began in the Yosemite valley in the 1970's. Since then it has evolved a lot.

There are many different disciplines within slacklining. Some people only walk the line, meaning they start at one end and attempt to make it to the other side without falling, then possibly turning around and see how many walks they can make. Most begin with shorter lines (30ft - 100ft) and then graduate to longer lines called, imagine this, ..... a longline (100ft + ).  Some people have even walked really long longlines. The current record is 1600ft! There is also trick lining. This is what some consider to be the more impressive displays. Trick liners have a repertoire of tricks up their sleeves including jumps, butt bounces, flips, spins, difficult balancing positions, etc.  Then there are the highliners. These lines are setup at heights that could be dangerous or even deadly if a fall were to occur. Currently the highest highlines are setup more than 3000ft above the ground. Most highliners wear a harness to arrest a fall if it were to occur, but some do it without any protection at all, relying only on their skill to keep them safely on the line.  The equipment and skills required for each of these are very different so i'll only go over the gear needed to just start out and get you well on your way.

Before we begin it should be mentioned that the gear in slacklining is made specifically for either slacklining or for life support in rock climbing. The equipment you find at the hardware store, or the tie down straps you use to haul trash to the dump are not the same thing, and are not made for the extreme tensions we put on gear while slacklining. The amount of force can be misleading. Someone that is only 150lbs can easily put 800 lbs of force or more on a line.

There are two main beginner systems of slacklines. There are the Ratchet kits that come with most everything you need to set up right away, and there are the "primitive" setups that typically need to be pieced together by the buyer. I prefer the primitive setup personally (i'll explain why in a minute) ,but the ratchets are far more popular for beginners. If you do an internet search to buy a slackline the main system you will probably see is the ratchet system like this one from gibbon:


Though many people think these are the easiest to setup, they are somewhat limited in their versatility and will likely leave you wanting more out of a line.  These systems are usually 2" wide and tend to be easier to walk at first. They also provide a very static (non moving) feel to your line. They are great for tricklining and are what most trick liners use. However it's unlikely you will be throwing a backflip off the line your first day and so that aspect of them is not necessarily important to the beginner. There are some issues to the ratchet systems, namely the weight of the line and ratchet, the high failure rate of the ratchet after a lot of use and the fact that the ratchet and line won't help you much in rigging different kinds of lines later on, as they are not typically used (or considered safe) in longlining, highlining, etc.

My favorite type of line for beginners is a 1" primitive. Now there are many different types of 1" webbing out there, but I am specifically referring to 1" climbing spec nylon webbing. This is the webbing often used by climbers and rappellers for making anchors, slings, swami harnesses etc.  It's rated for around 4000lbs and makes a perfect slackline webbing for shorter lines.

Climbing Spec is also one of the cheapest webbings out there, making it great for beginners who don't want to break the bank. In order to tension the climbing spec you must have a tensioning method. My favorite method is called "the primitive". It involves the use of a few carabiners and a bit of mechanical advantage knowledge. The 4 carabiners you require are usually lighter than the ratchets and take up less space. Another advantage of this method is that   They can also be used for other application like attaching your water bottle to you back pack, key chain clips, hanging gear in your vehicle and any number of uses. The video below explains it well.

The 1" climbing spec moves a bit more than the 2" ratchets, which I personally find more fun to walk because they provide a greater challenge and allow for a variety of weight shifts and compensations which is what makes slacklining so exciting (for me).

Another reason I like to choose the 1" climbing spec primitive, is due to the versatility of it's components. Because the ratchets are built purpose specific, they are everything they ever will be. But with a primitive you can use the components to incorporate into larger more sophisticated setups later on (which you will want later on)

Here is everything you need for a complete slackline setup. You can get away with less, but just biting the bullet and getting this gear will make it easier.


This video shows how to setup this particular type of setup:


Hope that is a thorough enough introduction to slacklining for those of you wondering. Feel free to ask any questions. And if you're on the big island come slackline with us! You can find out where at:


Friday, March 8, 2013


So I've decided to make an active effort at writing more here on the blog. And seeing as how I almost never do, it shouldn't be hard to do it a little more. This past weekends adventure seemed like a good a place as any to start.

If you follow my posts on my other media sites like facebook or twitter, you've undoubtedly seem me walking on a strap between trees, over water, in the sky, and most recently over lava. That's called slacklining. Contrary to it's name a good slacker is anything but. It requires strength, concentration, and some semblance of skill. But occasionally one wants to enjoy the excitement of high ropes, without the skill required by something like slacklining. So alas, a plan was devised.

Now before I go much further in this story I should warn that attempting to recreate this kind of "fun" without the proper knowledge and equipment could prove disastrous.  Hell, doing it with the proper knowledge and equipment could prove disastrous.

Swings are fun. Remember when you were a kid, and the most fun thing in the park was the swing. Trying to see how high you could go, how much air you could get off the launch, how much you could freak yourself out?  Those were the times. And I for one am not done with them yet.

I hate being an adult sometimes; bills, work, schedules, responsibilities. What happened to care free? What happened to never saying, "I have a bad feeling about this." and instead saying, "Let's do this thing"? What happened to wanton disregard and all it's rewards.

That's what this last weekend was about, and I'm glad I got to share it with a few of my good friends. So a few ropes, a bit of chain, and an old abandoned bridge in the middle of the jungle later, I give you: Our Good Time: