Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Grand Canyon - Inspiring the Possible & Knowing your Limits

The Grand Enormous Canyon.  The Father of all Canyons.  The Alpha, the Chief, the Omega of all Ravines and Canyons that ever hoped to be formed on Planet Earth.  You just can't fathom how Grand, how Majestic this place is, until you have beheld it with your own eyes.  The Grand Canyon commands respect, the landscape unforgiving, and the level of reverence required for this place is clear as the cuts in the cliff faces.  With 1,000 ft. drops, you come to realize how anything is possible.  If this place can be formed, could exist, then anything is possible.  This is the ideal that was inspired in me as I gazed upon one of the most mighty wonders of our Earth.  The whole experience is humbling, and should you choose to venture here, on one of the most beautiful yet treacherous landscapes ever formed, then take into consideration my fellow friends - know your limits, because your life depends on it.

On our way to the Grand Canyon we crossed the Colorado River.  I suddenly felt filled with inspiration.  This landscape inspires you - makes you feel bigger than what you are, because you are in the presence of something so incredible.

Just look at all that Canyon!!

Seeing the Grand Canyon at this angle was insighful.

Insight is exactly what I achieved on this trip.  Just seeing this place is an adventure, but choosing to move through this environment, to take on this landscape is a whole other undertaking.  For one, danger lies everywhere.  If you decide to descend into the Canyon just know that you need to be sure of your footing.  Steep cliff faces sneak up on you, so it's important to trek slowly, carefully, and be completely aware.

The landscape is oh so taunting.  There is just soooo much to do.  As you hike the rim (I was on the South Rim) you see so many opportunities to venture off the path to what I call "Peninsulas", which are parts of the canyon that jut out into the larger expanse, creating a 360 degree view.  There aren't any official map trails that take you to these peninsulas, but they are there, and many of them are fairly accessible.  Others, not so much.

This lovely shot was achieved because I ventured out onto a peninsula.

I prefer to stay a body length and a half away from the edges.
The important thing to remember though, is that just because you can climb down into the Canyon, does not mean you know or have the ability to climb back up.  On one of my treks down to a particular very tempting I could not resist peninsula, involved me descending around 100'.  The arena - I must admit looked sketchy from the rim, but I had to try it, see for myself if it was doable.  I ended up around 100' down, to find that there was a 14' drop or so, with no clear visibility. I would have needed a rope, to see if the drop was something I could climb down/up.  Instead I stood a few feet away from the edge, eyeing the drop with one arm slung around a tree, leaning as far as I could (safely).  Here's the thing.  The Canyon terrain has alot of loose gravel, and it's really, very steep.  If you were to take a tumble, lose your footing, even on one step, your dead.  The terrain is absolutely unforgiving.  There is no coming back from a fall, so everything you do you have to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN you can do it.  If not, don't even attempt.  At this point I was uncertain if I could move down any further, safely.  So I came to that point. That point where you say to yourself, "I know my limits, and this is it."  So I opted to go back.

Going back was interesting however.  There was one section, a 6' drop that I came down, very easily. Getting up 6' is no big deal for me... when I have a bit of a run up.  But if I have to do a muscle up to get up, ha!  Think again.  This was a big fail on my behalf. I realized that I had absolutely no run up, because of course, I'm on the Grand Canyon.  I also wasn't going to attempt a cat, not on smooth rock without ledges or holds, and the only way I could get up was if I jumped into a support.  Hmmm no thanks.  I will not be doing any jumping on any ledges.  So I found another way back.  At this point however, when I realized I wasn't going back the way I came, I felt a strike of fear within me.  And fear... is BAD news.  I quickly composed myself with my go to breathing exercises, and knew I needed to act fast but CAREFULLY.  It's not good to be in a bad situation for long, because being out there can be very, very unnerving, and it will play with your mind.  I knew it was important I got out soon, within 15 minutes.  Otherwise what can happen is your brain starts to release oxidative stress, and can cause panic, nausea, and all types of problems.  So I focused on problem solving.  I knew I could create a switch back pattern if need be. And so that's what I started to do.  I kept myself on sure footing, and started creating places using my right hand, digging into dry soil on more flatted areas, to make it more flat, and less gravel ridden.  Wherever I moved, I was certain I'd have sure footing to get to where I needed to go.  I created one switch back (sort of, more like two foot holds), that's really all it took, a few foot holds and the rest is history. I scrambled and climbed back to the top, and when I got to the top of the rim sighed with relief and said out loud, "Oh Thank God."  

The point of all this - I made a miscalculation that could have costed me BIG.  What seems like small beans, is not small beans when it comes to terrain at this scale.  But luckily I was able to stifle my curiosity with reason - "I know my limits and this is it".  When I reached the top, I knew I had pushed the boundary.  I had done something that pushed the envelope for me, but I still listened to that voice - that inner wisdom that tells you when it's time to stop.  Sometimes, in certain situations, it's just better to quit, and by doing so, you'll end up on top.

Which brings me back to possibility.  Everything and anything can be possible.  But you have to avoid set backs that will end you.  And that's an important life lesson.  Most lessons we face in life give us some elbow room, to come back from our mistakes.  But there are some mistakes that cost too much, that are too crippling to us, to ever allow us to live up to the potential we had in the first place. It's important to know when we face those lessons - to be aware of what is really before us.  It's my hope and prayer that we all take the time to seek out that wisdom for ourselves.

- Elle Beyer

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Zion - The Promised Playland

Did I just land on Mars?  Nay - it's ZION!!!

Zion National Park - out of all the places I have been in this world, this is one place I KNOW I will see again, because it's one of those places that you MUST visit again and again.

The terrain is out of this world, and a mover's ultimate playground.  From the moment you set eyes on this place it will take all the willpower you can muster to stop yourself from stopping in the middle of the road and abandoning your car, so you can run and frolick on the hills.  Only these hills are not some prairie land. These hills look as if you just landed on another planet.  From tones of red and orange, to the deepest and richest shades of brown, adorned with the evergreens, you find yourself on the faces of smooth sandstone, enriched with caves, rock climbing holds galore, bouldering, rock scrambling and hopping, tree climbing, and canyoneering.  What's more is the lovely Virgin River that flows through the canyons, offering a cool place to swim and wade.  You can hike up the river for the famed and scenic "Narrows" hike, or give yourself a thrill of a lifetime on the "Angels Landing" hike.

A view of the trees being highlighted by the sun among the lovely rockscape (Riverside Walk).

The point of this blog post however, is to give you some insight on what you can do with the family - in particularly small children, anyone needing a stroller, or in a wheelchair.  As and adventurer and explorer there is much more to tell, and much more to do and see, but for this post, we did that which was fun for the whole family, and focused on the fun and safety of our smallest explorers.

Check us out!  2 couples and 9 kids to our names.  Teaching our kids about exploration, sustaining and protecting our beautiful lands, and having some family oriented fun.  Our youngest explorer was my niece Contessa who is 2 years old, and is quite possibly the cutest thing on the planet.

Cute kids right here.

Camping is always a great option - and is very affordable in Zion, however because of our Family Reunion and wanting to make sure our 90 year old Grandma and Grandpa felt comfortable, we stayed at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.  This place was beautiful, and they had tent sites, RV, cabins, and vacations homes all available.  They are actually outside of the park, if you exit via the East entrance/exit of the park.  We stayed in a 5 bedroom vacation home that could house up to 24 people.  We were very comfortable in this beautiful custom made log home, and enjoyed the scenery and comfort of this lovely handcrafted sanctuary.  Prices started at around $770/night, included towels, laundry facilities, full kitchen (furnished with dishes and glasses), bedrooms downstairs (important for folks with canes and/or in a wheelchair), cable television, game room, large patio, balcony, fire pit, and access to the property open use amenities - a two tiered swimming pool with 2 water slides, basketball, volleyball, tennis, recreation barn with billiards and ping pong tables, and then plenty more activities that you could add on/pay for at a reasonable $11 per activity such as zip lining, ATV, horseback riding, jeep tours, and much more.

Our lovely custom log vacation home - fits up to 26 people very comfortably.

The boys knew what to do.

The two tiered pool and water slides were a great way to relax and get away from the summer heat.  There is also two hot tubs, picnic tables, and hot showers.  The amenities were clean, well kept, and the customer service was excellent.  Water was served pool side regularly, a refreshing addition, and kept the whole family happy and hydrated.

But OH THE PARK!!!  We enjoyed a full day on the Riverside Walk and ventured on the first part of the "Narrows".  It was an easy 1 mile stroll (2 miles roundtrip), paved and level most of the way, stroller and wheel chair accessible, and only takes a 1-2 hours to complete.  However, taking the free shuttle bus from the Visitor's Center to the drop off point (Temple of Sinawava) took nearly 40 minutes.  So take into account that you'll need an extra 2 hours for shuttle bus time.  My tip is to go as early as you can to avoid the parking hassle at the Visitor's Center (which is packed by about 9am).  If you end up going later/mid morning, you'll likely need to park in town (Springdale) which is only 5 minutes outside the park and you can shuttle back into the park.  Side Note - Springdale is adorable and has lots of great eateries, and shops.  So plan on 4 hours to be safe, plus you'll want plenty of time to enjoy the River and all the rock climbing/hopping, and bring some water and snacks.  Pack out all your garbage, as there are no cans and don't feed the animals (even though they are super cute and friendly).

Here I am with one of my boys - Adriel age 7.  We conquered this large boulder.  And the rest of the kids did too.  And husband Lon as well.  We just couldn't resist.

The glory of the Virgin River - We swam, we climbed, we rock hopped, we basked in the sunlight.

I was inspired to do a straddle headstand.  Can you spot me?

The kids learned team work as we crossed the River.

This place is a MUST stop if you are looking for handcrafted items made from local Navajo tribes.  We ended up buying 4 large arrowheads at $6/each for our 4 boys.  The craftsmanship in Southern Utah is world class, from jewelry, to knives, to blacksmith/metal art - it's all pretty amazing work, and affordable.
I hope I gave you some insight as to the many possibilities that await you in this wondrous canyon paradise called Zion National Park.  I was amazed at all the incredible views, fun things to do, and versatility of this place.  It's a true gem, and I found it to have a great energy about it.  I felt a great sense of awe and excitement everywhere I turned.  One last bit of info (and I apologize in advance to all my Vegan friends and clients who may not find this helpful) but I know my Paleo peers would love this bit of insight - just outside of the East entrance, there is a FANTASTIC restaurant (farm to table) operation that serves the most delicious buffalo steaks and burgers EVER.

Ooookkkaaayyyy!!!  Now go to ZION people!!  And as usual - don't forget to invite me along :)

- Elle Beyer

Some fun videos for your enjoyment

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why Surfing and Stuff is an Adventure to be Had

This weekend I went to LA & San Diego for a business seminar and while I was there I embarked on a movement adventure that encompassed a few of my favorite things to do.

- Trained with beloved colleague Terry Taneie at his Hollywood Action and Fight Choreography class held on Wednesday's at Barnsdall Park 5pm-7pm.

The View of Hollywood from Barnsdall Park. The smog covers the famed Hollywood sign in the distance. But it was still a lovely sunny day sporting temperatures in the lower 80s.  Can't complain about that. 

- Trained at Tempest Freerunning Academy SouthBay. Their facility is INCREDIBLE, inspiring, the staff professional and friendly, and the vibe was really supportive and positive.

It's truly difficult to capture the awesomeness of this facility, especially when you are discreetly taking pictures as to not look like a tourist. This is their tribute to Santorini, Greece - famed Art of Motion location within the freerunning community. 

- Rode bikes to the Queen Mary in Long Beach with my bestie, and we did headstands on the beach.

A backbend for the Queen? Sure why not.

Some headstands seemed appropriate.  

- Surfed with my childhood bestie - Harmony Silverman - Athletic Trainer - in the beautiful San Diego seaside.

And finally, a moment to capture the title of this blog post.  
So among all these movement adventures, I'd have to say the surfing really challenged me, and inspired me. For one, I'm terrible at it, so my immediate curiosity sparks many questions in my mind as to what muscle groups I have neglected to train?  What stability exercises have I not addressed in my movement bubble?  What awareness and adaptability skills have I yet to explore and develop?

At which point I realized that surfing is a cross-movement discipline.  It's a combination of swimming, parkour, pilates, and endurance training. It's also a consistent HIIT workout (high intensity interval training), and the ultimate form of resistance training. In addition, the required balancing skills and ankle mobility is not to be ignored.  Not only that but it also requires a high degree of intuition (gained through experience only) and knowledge of oceanography, and wave patterns is especially helpful.

Who should surf?  Well, if you love movement, you should definitely at least try it.  Surfing works the shoulders and upper back, as well as requires core stability and strength. But for me, the most important takeaway is that your transverse abdominis, as well as your internal oblique muscles are engaged and strengthened to a high degree. Here is where I get excited. If you are a parkour practitioner, fighter or martial artist - core strength and stability is really extremely important, and finding fun, functional, cross training activities that are working out those deeper core muscles that stabilize the spine is exciting news!! What this means is that I can spend days or even weeks on a surfing adventure, and consider that an extremely productive and health oriented activity that will help keep my back strong, and even increase my fighting skills. So there you have it! Go have yourself a surfing adventure and don't forget to invite me to come along.

- Elle Beyer