Justin Simoni (photo credit: Justin Simoni)

Justin Simoni is an ultra-endurance adventurer who is most well known for his self-powered, long-distance tours that combine cycling, mountain running, and climbing. He is currently preparing for the “Highest Hundred” in which he’ll climb Colorado’s 100 highest peaks, accessing them all by bike, in 60 days or less. If he pulls it off (and I’m betting that he will), it will be the first time anyone has linked all of these peaks by bike in a completely self-supported style.

Most people would assume that Justin has been a hardcore cyclist for his entire life, but he actually started riding relatively late. He studied painting in college and worked full time as a professional artist for years, living in an art gallery in downtown Denver. Frustrated with his car that kept breaking down, Justin purchased a bike and began to ride it as his primary mode of transportation. As his rides became longer and longer, he enjoyed it more and more, and pretty soon he was completely committed to long-distance cycling. What followed was a barrage of impressive solo ultra-distance adventures: cycling the Pacific Coast, racing the Tour Divide mountain bike race twice, and completing the Tour 14er, which involved cycling to all 58 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains and climbing them… in just 34 days.

Thanks to his athletic accomplishments, artistic perspective, hilarious sense of humor, and infectious enthusiasm, Justin is truly one of a kind. We had a fun and funny conversation that covered a wide range of topics from his adventures to his time as an artist. We chatted about some of the techniques that he uses to stay upbeat during periods of extreme fatigue or fear, and we discussed how he balances his free-wheeling artist’s mentality with the monk-like discipline required to pull off such serious adventures. As usual, we discuss favorite books, films, and Justin shares the best piece of advice he’s ever received.

I appreciate Justin taking the time to chat during such a hectic period of planning and training. Also, thanks to the sponsors who are helping to make the Highest Hundred possible: Ultimate DirectionSurly BikesColorado Mountain ClubORSierra Designs, and La Sportiva.

This was a really fun conversation, so I hope you enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Justin Simoni


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:40 – How Justin describes his work
4:45 – “Highest Hundred” defined
5:10 – Significance of highest hundred
7:20 – Background of Justin’s self-powered adventures
9:20 – When Justin started seriously riding bikes
10:00 – Growing up in Connecticut
10:45 – His decision to move West
11:50 – Skateboarding and skateboarding advocacy
12:50 – Beginning cycling
14:15 – Pacific Coast bike tour
15:50 – Tour Divide
18:30 – Epic snowfall on the Tour Divide course
20:45 – Justin’s approach to hardcore adventure
21:45 – Positivity versus negativity in ultra-endurance
23:15 – Strategies for overcoming fatigue
24:45 – How he decides when he does need to stop
25:30 – Other techniques for keeping a positive mindset
26:00 – Justin’s ability to invent his own rules and challenges
27:00 – “Everesting” Green Mountain
29:30 – Enjoyment of truly knowing a place
31:30 – Justin’s approach to creating art
32:50 – The hard work involved in athletics and art
35:35 – How much art is a part of Justin’s life currently
36:35 – How adventures changes people
39:00 – Heroes and mentors
42:00 – Overarching goal of sharing these adventures with the public
43:45 – Favorite Books
45:00 – Favorite films
46:50 – Surprising activities
48:40 – Best advice he’s ever received
53:00 – Enlightenment through endurance
56:00 – Most powerful outdoor experience
58:50 – Favorite location in the West
1:01:00 – Justin’s request of the listeners
1:02:00 – Connect with Justin online and follow the adventure!

Bryan Martin

Bryan Martin and Elizabeth Williams work at Big City Mountaineers, a Colorado-based nonprofit that transforms the lives of underserved youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions. Through partnerships with community youth programs around the United States, Big City Mountaineers exposes close to 1,000 youth per year to outdoor adventures in some of our country’s most spectacular public lands. Not only do these young people learn outdoor skills, but more importantly, they learn critical life skills while also improving their self-confidence, communication skills, and leadership abilities.

Elizabeth Williams

Prior to assuming his role as executive director at BCM, Bryan enjoyed great success with a wide variety of conservation and outdoor-related organizations including the Nature Conservancy, Continental Divide Trail Alliance, Colorado Mountain Club, and the Land Trust Alliance. Elizabeth was a teacher in India and Nepal before joining BCM as a marketing intern—10 years and a lot of hard work later, she has risen through the ranks and is now the Director of Programs. Bryan and Elizabeth share a deep enthusiasm for the outdoors and a belief that outdoor experiences can be transformative. Their passion for the work and BCM’s mission is palpable, so I know you’ll enjoy getting to know them.

I met Bryan and Elizabeth at the BCM offices in the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado, where we discussed BCM’s mission, the details of their wilderness expeditions, and why outdoor adventures can be such life-changing experiences. We chat about Bryan and Elizabeth’s professional backgrounds and learn what drew them to careers centered around the outdoors and service. They also tell a heart-warming success story in which a student overcomes her initial fears to thrive on a weeklong wilderness trip.

Thanks to Bryan and Elizabeth for taking the time to chat. Hope you enjoy!

 


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

3:30 – Details of Elizabeth and Bryan’s roles at BCM
5:00 – Building teamwork through outdoor experiences
7:45 – Details of the wilderness expeditions
9:10 – Areas in which BCM operates
10:00 – Teaching students with no outdoor experience about wilderness travel
14:00 – BCM’s focus on personal development and critical life skills
15:50 – Ensuring the lessons stick when the students return home
17:00 – How BCM measures success
20:00 – Evolution of BCM’s measurements of success
22:45 – How BCM selects its mentors
25:00 – Areas where the expeditions take place
26:45 – Thoughts on public lands
29:00 – Elizabeth and Bryan’s personal backgrounds
34:30 – Bryan’s biggest surprise since becoming BCM’s E.D.
36:30 – Overarching lessons learned from their careers
40:40 – “Summit for Someone” program
44:45 – A recent BCM success story
49:00 – Favorite books
52:50 – Favorite documentaries
53:50 – Craziest/most powerful outdoor experiences
59:10 – Request of the listeners
1:00:40 – Connect with BCM online

John Dunaway – The Life and Times of a Merchant Mariner

John Dunaway – Life and Times of a Merchant Mariner


John Dunaway at sea

John Dunaway is a Texas-based merchant mariner who spends six months each year traveling the world as the captain of large cargo ships. Whether cruising the calm, warm waters of Central America or avoiding Somali pirates off the coast of Africa, John’s goal is the same: deliver the cargo efficiently while ensuring the safety of his crew—quite the responsibility for a 32-year-old. When not at sea, John is an avid bird hunter, surfer, and all-around adventurer who uses his downtime to explore everywhere from Jackson Hole to Canyonlands to Antelope Island with his wife and young daughter. Thanks to a talent for photography and writing, John has gained a huge following on Instagram, where he documents his exploits on his account, AbstractConformity.

So you might be asking, what does a ship captain have to do with mountains and/or prairies? Although John may spend most of his time on the high seas, far away from the American West, you’ll notice that his optimistic perspective, focused sense of purpose, and thirst for adventure parallel the attitudes and outlooks of many of my previous podcast guests. Also like other guests, he is well read, a deep thinker, and has a genuine conservation ethic thanks to his close connection to the natural world. Although the objects of our affections may be different, our underlying values and priorities are surprisingly similar.

After almost a year of recording this podcast, I was excited to switch it up a little with this in-depth conversation with John about a subject that was fairly new to me. We start by covering the basics of his job—how one becomes a ship captain, particulars on the size of the ships, and details of day-to-day life on a 90-day ocean voyage. Then we dig deeper into some of his thoughts on leadership, his rituals and superstitions, how fatherhood has changed his outlook, and how he manages the pressure that comes along with being responsible for a massive ship, his crew, and the cargo. He also tells a few crazy stories from Africa and India, and he shares some insights from his recent trips around the American West. As usual, we discuss favorite books, films, and thoughts on conservation.

I found this to be a fascinating conversation, and I’d love to hear what you think. If you have a moment, please shoot me an email and let me know your thoughts. As always, thanks for taking the time to listen; hope you enjoy.

Photos courtesy of John Dunaway


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

3:00 – How John describes his work
4:20 – Details on the ships
5:40 – Length of the typical ocean voyage
8:35 – How John became a ship captain
10:25 – A typical day on an ocean voyage
12:40 – John’s morning routine
19:00 – Superstitions on the ship
21:00 – Details on the crew and boat
22:15 – How John leads his crew
25:20 – Comparing leadership methods of old-timers and younger captains
27:20 – Ernest Shackleton
28:40 – Common misconceptions
30:35 – Most dangerous areas John has visited
31:00 – Adventures with Somali pirates
33:50 – Robberies at port
36:15 – Getting a gun shoved in his chest in Mumbai
38:40 – John’s early years in Brazil and Texas
39:10 – Family ties to ships and the ocean
41:00 – John’s decision to pursue ships as a career
41:55 – John’s advice to young students at the Merchant Marine Academy
43:45 – How fatherhood has changed his perspective
49:30 – How John became a well-known photographer
54:45 – Background on John’s ability as a writer
58:00 – John’s recent adventures in the American West
1:03:30 – What was most striking about the American West
1:07:30 – Favorite books
1:10:15 – Favorite documentaries
1:11:00 – Best piece of advice he’s ever received
1:12:30 – Biggest challenge facing the oceans today
1:15:00 – John’s request to the listeners
1:15:40 – Connect with John online

Bernice Ende

Bernice Ende is a horsewoman and adventurer who has ridden over 28,000 miles on horseback throughout the United States. Back in 2005, without any significant experience in long riding, Bernice set out by herself from her home in Trego, Montana and headed south—2,000 miles south, all the way to the Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the following years, her rides became more and more ambitious, and her most recent trip stretched 8,000 miles from Montana to the coast of Maine and back, a journey that took over two and a half years to complete!

I was surprised to learn that Bernice is relatively new to long riding and never had life-long dreams of making long riding a full-time vocation. She grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm and spent the majority of her adult life teaching ballet in cities such as San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Seattle. In 1992 she moved to Trego, Montana and opened a ballet school in a historic community hall building. After a decade of teaching there in Trego, she made the decision to take her first long ride. Since then, her story has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and even on the Today Show. More importantly, her rides have inspired people of all ages to follow their dreams and pursue lives of adventure.

Bernice is extremely gifted at telling her her life story, so we had a fun and in-depth conversation. We discussed her background and the decisions that led her to strike out on her own on her first long ride. We talked about the mental challenges of pursuing such ambitious adventures and how she manages the emotional ups and downs of years on the road. She breaks down the specifics of her long rides—how far she rides each day, what she eats, where she sleeps, and all the other details. She also shares some heartwarming stories of people she has met on her rides—stories that will restore your faith in humanity in the midst of our current volatile political climate.

Thank you again to Bernice for taking the time to chat. I hope you enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Bernice Ende


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:35 – How Bernice describes her work
3:45 – “Long ride” defined
4:15 – Quick summary of all the rides
4:40 – Bernice’s background and family
5:40 – Bernice’s mother and her influence
6:45 – Her attraction to horses
9:00 – Career in ballet
11:50 – Bernice’s family history in Montana
14:30 – The genesis of the idea for her first long ride
17:50 – How Bernice learned to Long Ride with no experience
19:40 – How to manage the highs and lows of long rides
22:20 – The transition from the life of a teacher to a long rider
25:00 – The technical details of long riding
28:30 – Heartwarming encounters with kind people
33:00 – Details of the most recent 8,000-mile journey
37:00 – Inspiring women of all ages through her journeys
39:15 – How Bernice has changed since becoming a long rider
42:30 – How Bernice defines conservation
44:45 – The importance of public lands
46:45 – Favorite books
48:30 – Unexpected hobbies
49:30 – A memorable event in the outdoors
50:50 – Biggest challenge and opportunity facing the West
54:00 – Words of wisdom
54:30 – Connect with Bernice online
55:10 – Bernice’s next adventure!

Mike Reilly (Photo: Chris Douglas)

Mike Reilly is the Veterans Program Coordinator at Heroes and Horses, a Montana-based nonprofit that uses expedition-style horse pack trips through wild landscapes to help veterans overcome the challenges of life after the military. Prior to his work with Heroes and Horses, Mike was a Navy SEAL and served as a member of SEAL Team 1 in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. As he was transitioning out of the military, he heard about Heroes and Horses and signed on as a student. The program offered a perfect blend of service, teaching, helping others, and adventure that spoke to Mike’s strengths and interests; after completing the program, he was hired as a full-time member of the team.

Heroes and Horses is not a vacation. It’s a rigorous and hardcore three-phase process that takes veterans with no prior horseback experience and, in the course of a summer, turns them into expert horsemen and wilderness travelers. Through the hard work and focus required to make it through the program, veterans are able to forge lasting bonds and discover a renewed sense of purpose—which gives them the skills and confidence to thrive in the civilian life as they begin their post-military lives. Amazingly, this program is offered at no cost to veterans.

Mike hard at work (Photo: Chris Douglas)

Mike was nice enough to take a break from a morning of training wild mustangs to chat with me about the program and his personal story. We discussed how he initially connected with Heroes and Horses and how it helped him through some of the challenges of post-deployment life. Mike explained the organization’s upcoming 500 Miles Project, in which they are training horses from the BLM’s Wild Mustang Program and planning to take them on a 500-mile ride later this summer. He also talks about his military career, and how a collegiate baseball injury was the catalyst that led him to pursue his dream of becoming a SEAL.

Mike is a humble guy with a deeply ingrained passion for serving and helping others, so I know you’ll enjoy this episode. I encourage you to check out the Heroes and Horses website, visit their GoFundMe page, and consider supporting their important work.

 

Photos courtesy of Chris Douglas


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

3:20 – How Mike describes his work
4:00- Heroes and Horses explained
7:45 – Importance of the bond between the veterans and horses
9:10 – Why H&H so effective compared to “traditional” PTSD therapy
11:15 – The circumstances that led Mike to H&H
13:30 – Why Mike chose H&H over traditional channels of help
15:25 – Mike reaches out to H&H founder and E.D. Micah Fink
16:00 – Personal powerful moment during Mike’s student stint at H&H
18:30 – Mike’s attraction to the military
20:00 – From enlisting to trying out for the SEAL teams
22:40 – Why teaching suits Mike’s personality
24:00 – Personal mentors and heroes
25:00 – Importance of purpose and community
27:55 – Ensuring that H&H lessons stick when the students return to “real life”
31:00 – Success stories from H&H
32:35 – Val from Unbranded
33:55 – The 500 Miles Project
36:30 – The BLM’s Wild Mustang Program
39:35 – Training wild horses
42:25 – How Mike defines the word “conservation”
45:40 – Favorite books
46:55 – Favorite movies
49:10 – Favorite place in the West
50:50 – Mike’s request of the listeners
image1

AD Maddox

AD Maddox is an accomplished artist who creates some of the most spectacular and memorable paintings of trout that I’ve ever seen. Using bright colors and unique perspectives, AD depicts trout and the fly fishing lifestyle in a way that is completely original, yet so authentic you’d be hard-pressed to find an angler who doesn’t love her work. Her art has been featured widely throughout the fishing world, including on the cover of Gray’s Sporting Journal, Patagonia apparel, and even StealthCraft drift boats.

I first encountered AD’s work when I moved to Jackson Hole in the mid-2000s. I’m not an art connoisseur, but I was instantly taken away with how she managed to capture the beauty and realistic details of trout with a contemporary and unconventional style. And just like her work, AD is a one-of-a-kind original—she spent years as a super-competitive athlete, studied exercise physiology in college, taught herself to paint without any formal art education, and rips around backroads on a Ducati motorcycle. Despite a fun-loving and easygoing exterior, she approaches her work with discipline and rigor that seem more fitting for a professional soldier than a professional artist.

Thanks to AD’s outgoing and hilarious personality, we had a very fun and wide-ranging conversation. We chatted about her many years living in Jackson Hole and how the people, landscapes, and natural beauty of that valley influenced her art. We discussed her upbringing and her parents’ role in giving her the confidence to pursue art as a full-time career. She also talks in detail about the importance of facing challenges (both in work and life) head-on and proactively, with a positive attitude and relentless work ethic. Whether you’re an artist or not, there are many wise lessons in the conversation that anyone could apply to their work and life.

SIBERIAN_RIVER_BOW

“Siberian River Bow” by AD Maddox

hopper-snack

“Hopper Snack” by AD Maddox

Photo and images courtesy of AD Maddox


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:45 – How AD describes her work
4:30 – Why AD focused on fly fishing as a primary subject
5:50 – Selling her first piece of art
7:20 – Using photos to learn to paint trout
8:45 – How her art has changed over the years
10:30 – Knowing when a painting is truly finished
12:15 – How AD learned the technical aspects of art
14:00 – AD’s artistic influences and mentors
16:00 – Lessons learned from painting mistakes
17:15 – Advantages of not waiting for permission
19:00 – AD’s optimistic attitude
21:00 – The constant quest to reinvent her art
24:00 – Writers/Artist’s block?
26:40 – AD’s early years in athletics
29:00 – Parent’s influence on her confidence
31:20 – Haters: the sign of success
34:00 – How living Jackson Hole shaped her art
35:50 – Importance of schedule, routine, and discipline
41:00 – Discipline versus inspiration
42:20 – Riding motorcycles
43:40 – How motorcycles helped her overcome personal challenges
46:00 – How personal challenges affected her art
50:00 – Favorite books
52:31 – Craziest outdoor experience
54:54 – Favorite place in the West
1:02:13 – Connect with AD online

JeffAnnJeff Lee is the co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, a residential library located on a historic ranch in one of Colorado’s most beautiful and dramatic high country grassland basins. The Buffalo Peaks Ranch, as it is known, will eventually house a collection of over 35,000 books related to natural history, conservation, and the American West. These books will be dispersed throughout ranch in houses and agricultural structures that have been preserved and restored by a growing team of enthusiastic volunteers. The ranch will become a place where individuals can immerse themselves in a natural setting, surrounded by books, for days at a time to read, write, and work on projects related to the West’s unique landscapes.

The idea for the Land Library came to Jeff and his wife Ann (the library’s other co-founder) when they visited a residential library in Europe during the mid-1990s. Given their deep love of books and land, Jeff and Ann immediately saw the potential for a similar concept in Colorado that centered around the history and landscapes of the American West. More than 20 years and tens of thousands of books later, their vision has become a reality—the Rocky Mountain Land Library is open for business and continuing to grow and evolve.

For anyone who has listened to this podcast, you know that the Land Library is my dream come true—it combines ranches, conservation, nature, and books—so I was obviously extremely excited to chat with Jeff. In a little over an hour, we covered a ton of interesting information, including the project’s backstory, the history of the ranch, and Jeff and Ann’s long term vision for the Land Library. Of course, we discuss books, and Jeff has many excellent recommendations that were brand new to me. It’s worth noting that the Land Library is in the midst of the a fundraising campaign, so I encourage you to visit their KickStarter page, watch the video, and donate to the cause… I just did, so you definitely should too! Links to everything are in the episode notes.

If you love the West, love books, and love the land, I can guarantee you will love the Land Library and this episode. Enjoy!

Photos courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Land Library


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:40 – How Jeff describes his work
3:45 – Back story on the Land Library
4:40 – Jeff’s introduction to the West
7:00 – Lake Powell, water, and differences between the East and West
7:55 – The early beginnings of Jeff’s book collection
10:55 – The initial idea for the Land Library
13:50 – Challenges of storing tens of thousands of books
17:00 – South Park, Colorado described
19:30 – Early search for a Land Library site
23:45 – Unique experience on a ranch versus pristine wilderness
25:45 – Current state of the Land Library
28:10 – Cook’s House restoration – Kickstarter Campaign
29:40 – History of Buffalo Peaks Ranch
34:10 – How Jeff defines “conservation”
35:30 – Interesting people and groups who have visited and volunteered at the ranch
40:00 – How Jeff and Ann were able to take the Land Library from an idea to reality
42:20 – Jeff’s recommended books about the West
44:45 – Recommended biographies
51:00 – The interconnectedness of historical figures
52:25 – Purchase these books at your LOCAL bookstore!!!
53:20 – Books that Jeff has gifted or recommended
57:40 – Jeff’s most powerful outdoor experience
1:00:10 – Favorite location in the West
1:03:30 – Jeff’s request of the listeners
1:04:40 – Connect with the Land Library online

* Please buy these books at your local bookseller!!!

 

 

CREDIT: David J Swift

Christian Beckwith (photo credit: David J Swift)

Christian Beckwith is the director of SHIFT, a Jackson Hole-based non-profit that is building a powerful coalition to protect our nation’s public lands. By bringing together climbers, skiers, hunters, anglers, land managers, and countless other stakeholders, SHIFT is finding common ground and harnessing these groups’ collective power to ensure that public lands—our birthright as Americans—remain safe during this tenuous time in political history.

After a distinguished career in the publishing world which included editing the American Alpine Journal and co-founding Alpinist Magazine, Christian experienced a profound change in priorities when one of his close friends was killed in an avalanche in the Teton backcountry. At that point, Christian decided to focus his resources and energy exclusively on work that makes a “substantive difference in the world.” From there he founded the Center for Jackson Hole, SHIFT, and, most recently, the Emerging Leaders Program which brings together a diverse group of early career leaders in conservation.

DSC_6628-1

Christian in his element

Christian’s career is inspiring in many ways, but I especially admire his willingness to set audacious goals, put himself on the line, and not wait around for permission to make things happen. We dig into all of these topics in our hour-long conversation, and he shares some interesting insights into his career and the future of conservation. We also discuss Christian’s early childhood experiences that led him to a career focused on adventure and the outdoors, and he talks about his relationship with Yvon Chiounard and how Chiounard has influenced him both personally and professionally.  We chat about Christian’s favorite books, documentaries, and how fatherhood has focused his thinking on the importance of conservation.  There’s a full list of the topics we discuss in the episode notes.

Given the current fights surrounding our public lands, this is a timely and powerful episode. I hope this conversation spurs you to continue educating yourself on threats to our public lands and to take appropriate action to protect them.

Photos courtesy of Christian Beckwith


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:40 – How Christian describes his work
5:10 – Changing demographics in conservation
8:30 – Genesis of the idea for SHIFT
13:00 – Avalanche in Apocalypse Couloir
15:20 – Christian’s decision to shift from publishing to conservation
18:00 – Evolution of SHIFT
20:30 – Importance of encouraging people to fall in love with wild places
21:40 – Overview of the current public land debate
25:40 – How becoming a father changed Christian’s mindset
28:20 – Collaborating with non-traditional partners of recreation
31:20 – Defining the word “conservation”
31:50 – Conservation heroes and Yvon Chouinard
35:50 – The importance of Chouinard’s internal compass
40:45 – Childhood experiences that led to a career centered around the outdoors
43:10 – First experiences climbing
45:40 – Advice to his younger self
49:30 – Favorite books
51:30 – Favorite documentaries
52:30 – Unexpected activities
54:00 – Christian’s most powerful outdoor experience
58:00 – Christian’s request of the listeners
59:00 – Connect with Christian and SHIFT online

Information Referenced

Hail_Mary_Boots_0014

Tyler Sharp

Tyler Sharp is an adventurer, sportsman, conservationist, and world traveler with a gift for telling stories through images and the written word. While he may be best known for his photography focusing on Americana and Western lifestyle, travel, and adventure, Tyler has built an impressive resume that includes filmmaking, directing, writing, and creative strategy. His work has taken him to some of the most spectacular and far-flung regions of the globe, with an emphasis on East Africa, Montana, and his home state of Texas.

As a devoted hunter and fisherman, Tyler has chased game in some of the world’s wildest regions, giving him a global perspective on the importance of natural resources, game management, and sustainable hunting practices. As you’ll hear in our conversation, Tyler has thought deeply about the practical and ethical implications of hunting and fishing both abroad and here in the American West. His sincere devotion to conservation and adventure shines through in his work and has made him the go-to photographer for iconic brands such as Filson, Cabelas, and Stetson, to name a few.

MT_August_2016_2116

Photo by Tyler Sharp

Tyler and I met up in Estes Park, Colorado, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, for a fun conversation that could have gone on for hours. We discussed his beginnings as a professional photographer, which started in earnest when he moved to East Africa just out of college—he’s got some intense stories from his travels that include run-ins with lions and leopards. We covered his thoughts on conservation, and how his time traveling abroad has given him a clearer understanding of conservation issues facing the American West. Then the conversation took an unexpected but interesting turn when we chatted about his commitment to Kung Fu (yes, Kung Fu!), meditation, and eastern philosophy.

Feast_001

Photo by Tyler Sharp

Be sure to check out the episode notes for the full list of topics covered, because we touch on a lot.  This is a wide-ranging conversation that takes many surprising twists and turns.  Hope you enjoy!

All photos courtesy of Tyler Sharp


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Google Play

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:40 – How Tyler describes his work
3:40 – Tyler’s niche in the creative world
4:25 – Tyler’s background
5:35 – Heading to Los Angeles from Texas for college
7:00 – Post college adventures in Africa
8:10 – The shock of moving to Tanzania from LA
10:30 – Learning how to “grease the wheels” in Africa
11:25 – How time in Africa changed Tyler
13:20 – Threat of people versus wildlife
14:10 – Craziest experience in Africa (spoiler alert – it involves a lion!)
20:40 – Showdown with a leopard
22:20 – Transition from Africa to American West
24:15 – His choice to focus in on his passion
26:30 – Specific actions that have allowed Tyler to separate himself from the competition
31:10 – Tyler’s personal brand
32:00 – Tyler’s conservation ethic
35:00 – Discussion about conservation and hunting
39:00 – Hunters and others coming together to save public lands
40:00 – Details on The Modern Huntsman
41:55 – Blowback from posting hunting photos online
44:35 – Importance of having conversations versus fighting
46:30 – Tyler’s definition of “conservation”
50:00 – Kung Fu and other martial arts
52:50 – Physical and mental benefits of Kung Fu
56:00 – Favorite books
1:00:50 – Advice to take better landscape photos
1:03:50 – Favorite place in the West
1:05:30 – Tyler’s request of the listeners
1:09:50 – Connect with Tyler online
speaking-to-colorado-rocky-mountain-school-high-school-students-about-river-restoration

Connor Coleman

Connor Coleman is the founder of Resiliency Lands, a progressive, conservation-minded land management and advisory group committed to promoting ecological and resource resiliency. Prior to starting Resiliency Lands, he held a variety of positions closely connected to the land, jobs that would be on the wish-list of anyone who loves adventure and the American West—wildland firefighter, cowboy, bison manager, and conservationist, just to name a few.  Connor is currently based in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, and he resides on a spectacular ranch just outside of Carbondale.

You may be surprised to learn that Connor was not born and raised in the West or on ranches.  On the contrary, he grew up in Ohio, went to college in North Carolina, and after paying his dues in east coast conservation and earning two master’s degrees from Duke University, he headed West to focus his energy on western landscapes. Thanks to an insatiable curiosity, a rock-solid work ethic, a service mindset, and a willingness to insert himself into new and uncomfortable situations, Connor has carved out a professional niche for himself in Colorado doing rewarding, exciting, and important work.

lighting-a-prescribed-fire-in-nc-on-right

Connor during his firefighter days.

Connor’s education and unconventional career path can serve as a great blueprint for anyone who loves the American West and wants a life centered around land, conservation, and natural resources. When I was in my early twenties, I would’ve loved to meet a guy like Connor who could point me in the right direction. So in this episode, we talk in depth about his career and his ability to “put himself out there” to create exciting professional opportunities.  We dig deep into his thoughts on conservation in the West, as well as issues related to forest fires throughout the country.  Connor loves to read and learn, so he also has tons of great book and film recommendations.

connor-fly-fishing-grand-mesa

Connor enjoying evening fly fishing

We cover a ridiculous amount of information, so be sure to check out the episode notes below for the full list of topics we discuss. Enjoy!

All photos courtesy of Connor Coleman


Click Here to Download on iTunes

Click Here to Download on Stitcher


Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:32 – How Connor describes his work
3:55 – Importance of conserving working ranches
7:55 – Grazing as an vital part of conservation
13:40 – Examples of some of Resiliency Land’s projects
16:35 – Where did Connor grow up?
18:50 – Connor’s decision to make conservation a career
22:45 – Brief history of NC barbecue
25:00 – Early career in conservation
29:10 – Grad school at Duke
30:30 – Difference between conservation in NC versus CO
32:20 – How easterners misunderstand public lands in the west
33:30 – Time as a wildland firefighter
36:30 – Fire policy in the east versus west
40:00 – Longleaf pine book recommendations
41:15 – Adventures at Camp Lejeune
42:20 – Moving out west to work on ranches
45:40 – Challenges of adjusting to the demands of ranch work
48:30 – Working with bison on the Zapata Ranch
49:50 – Bison and bison book recommendations
55:20 – Transition to the Aspen Valley Land Trust
59:20 – Lesson learned working in conservation in different parts of country
1:01:20 – Thoughts on service and giving back to the community
1:06:15 – Favorite books about the American West
1:10:15 – Favorite films
1:12:50 – Surprising activities
1:14:35 – Craziest experience in the outdoors
1:18:45 – Favorite place in the West
1:20:20 – Biggest challenge facing the West
1:23:00 – Connor’s request of the listeners
1:25:15 – Connect with Connor online
1:25:55 – Bonus book recommendations!

Information Referenced

Connors Book Recommendations

Connor’s Film Recommendations