My new GoPro Hero 2 takes its first adventure to Beer Can Island in Tampa

In preparation for the mysterious #ProjectZ trip with the OmniTen crew, Columbia Sportswear teamed up with GoPro to supply us each with the new Hero 2 HD camera – and naturally, I figured I ought to put my new toy to the test before taking it out to Sedona for an epic adventure.

While tagging along with Niko during a trip to visit family in Tampa, Florida, we made a trip out to the coast for a day spent at one of the neatest beaches I’ve ever experienced. The spot is called “Beer Can Island,” and while it may conjure up images of littered shoreline strewn with discarded aluminum, it’s actually a pristine slice of coastal wonderment unlike any other beach in the area.

Rather than the usual stretches of shadeless Floridian sand that line much of the Gulf Coast, Beer Can Island is home to a sprawling landscape of enormous driftwood pieces, including one upright tree that boasts a little wooden swing – and by swing, I mean a chunky, splintered log tied haphazardly to a suspiciously fraying rope. 

We set up our little beach camp a few yards away from the temptress swing, and it wasn’t long before I was lured towards the idea of swaying above crashing waves and creating my own little breeze on the particularly scorching day.

Initially, I hopped right on the swing with my feet planted on the wooden base, and my fingers clasped around a series of knots along the upper part of the rope. I attempted to swing myself back and forth – but quickly realized I wasn’t going to make any significant movement on my own. Niko lent a hand and sent me soaring through the sky (and a few times directly into the tree beside me).

While playing on the swing, we decided to sample a few of the many settings found on the GoPro Hero 2. We took still shots, video footage, and used a unique feature that takes ten photos in a one second burst.

While reviewing all my footage from the day, I had originally come across a short bit filmed by Niko while we were splashing around in the shallow sea. It started off great, with Niko swooping the camera in and out of the water like a leaping dolphin as he snagged footage of our group meandering in the saltwater. Suddenly, the clip became a no-go as someone decided to pull their pants down while the camera was peeking underwater. I figured it would be inhumane to subject my readers to the pale sight of that soggy behind, so instead, enjoy this clip of me fooling around on the swing. Enjoy!

[youtube clip_id=”zF7miEKu2T8″]

It ain’t too fancy, I’ll admit that much.

Stay tuned for way cooler clips, photos, and stories as I embark on a wild adventure this week in Sedona!

Join me for a month-long trip down to sunny Florida and the southeast – if I can figure out how to pack…

After two cross-country climbing trips, one epic seven-week solo trip, and countless excursions around the country, you’d think I’d be a seasoned expert when it comes to packing my bags and gearing up for traveling – but this upcoming trip has me stumped. I’ve grown so accustomed to road tripping that the idea of fitting everything I need in a small suitcase and backpack is befuddling. Not to mention that this will be the first time I’m traveling via airplane in over two years.

In less than 24 hours, I’ll be boarding at plane at Denver International Airport to head south like a migrating goose escaping the cold. My first stop will be a brief layover in Atlanta, then I’ll hop another flight that will leave me in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The plan from there is to scoop drinks on the bay with my dad, then make the short drive home to Miami – to do lots of this:

I’ll be spending the first ten days of my trip in my hometown of Miami, sipping cocktails while tanning by the pool, feasting on real Cuban cuisine, hiking through the Everglades, and catching up on all the sunshine I’ve been missing. After Christmas, Niko will be driving down from Tampa to spend a few nights in Miami before whisking me away to the panhandle. We’ll make a pitstop in Tampa for a night, then it’s off to Tallahassee for two weeks of hanging with hipsters – and copious amounts of time spent at Tally Rock Gym.

Somewhere in all that Floridian exploration, Niko and I hope to find time for a climbing trip somewhere in the southeast. Chattanooga, Alabama, Georgia, who knows.

Follow my travels in real time on Twitter @themorningfresh!
and stay tuned to The Morning Fresh for adventure updates, photos, and more. [Read more…]

Congratulations to the climbers of FSU for crushin’ the competition at the first CCS event of the 2011 season!

While I was out catching snowflakes on my tongue at Horse Pens 40, a stellar group of climbers was representing Florida State University at the first Collegiate Climbing Series competition of the 2011 season.

The results? The ladies scored an impressive 131 points, bumping them up to second place overall. The men came in fourth place with a combined 61 points. Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Here are some snap shots from the competition, which was held at Vertical Ventures in Tampa:


Special thanks to Montana’s mom for snappin’ these photos while everyone was competing

Plenty of Horse Pens 40 updates shall be heading your way – but first, I’ve got 500+ photos to edit, a sore body that needs recovering and a lunch that needs to get in my belly.

The Collegiate Climbing Series warms up for another season of competitions!

Climbers, it is time to kick your training up a notch in preparation for the upcoming series of CCS competitions. Held throughout the nation, these regional events are an excellent opportunity for climbers of all skill levels to showcase their abilities and gain invaluable insight into the world of competitive climbing.

I’ll be heading out to the February 5th CCS event, which will be held at Tampa’s popular rock gym, Vertical Ventures. This is a great introduction to the realm of climbing competitions outside of my familiar Tallahassee Rock Gym; I’ve climbed at Vertical Ventures before, so while I’ll be working entirely new routes, I’ll still feel slightly within my element.

My training for this competition officially began yesterday. There is a killer V8 that was set in the cave at Tally Rock Gym, and Niko has offered 3 one-hour massages if I can send the route by the next Climbing Club meeting. I have yet to send my first V5, but this V8 just feels right.

Warm up, chalk up, and get ready for an exciting few weeks of competitions!
For information about registration and event dates throughout the United States, check out the USAClimbing.net website.

Get your handmade Kendal Jackson backpacks, chalk bags and more!

To tide you over while I’m away at Horse Pens 40, treat yourself to the hand sewn backpacks, chalk bags, satchels and even yoga mat bags created by the talented Kendal Jackson. I met this creatively gifted man while visiting Niko’s hometown of Tampa. When I was finally able to move past how awesome Kendal’s blond dreads are, I fell smitten with his personally designed bags. His chalk bags are sold in rock gyms around the nation, including Boulderdash in California, Michigan’s Rock-On in Grand Rapids, Vertical Ventures in Tampa and of course, my second home at the Tallahassee Rock Gym.

Niko is the proud owner of Kendal’s prototype backpack, and I begged him to get me one of my own. Spoiled as I am, Niko purchased me a custom-made backpack for Valentine’s Day. Since the day I received my pack, it has been my #1 bag. I use it every day to go to class, tote my laptop to work with it, and it’s the best sack for a day at the boulder fields. Each of Kendal’s bags are sturdy and beautifully sewn. They declare their individuality with boldly printed fabrics and unique design features.

Kendal recently sent a new shipment up to the Tallahassee Rock Gym, and I was lucky enough to get one of the first looks at the batch. A mushroom printed canvas chalk bag immediately caught my eye, and it only took a few minutes to decide that it was well worth the small investment of $24.00 – this bag had to be mine. I still haven’t stuffed my new bag with chalk; it’s too beautiful!

While I still refuse to abandon the pristine condition of my unused mushroom bag, my reliable backpack will undoubtedly be my trusty companion this weekend at Horse Pens 40. It will hold my AE-1, my digital camera, fruit leathers for munchin', my climbing gear and everything else I need.

Find your ideal chalk bag, laptop sack, yoga mat case, purse-style bag, satchel or backpack at the Kendal Jackson Bags website. You can choose from pre-made bags, or order a custom piece. Kendal strives to use as much recycled material as possible, and can create a bag using any fabric you may desire. I know many climbers who love his chalk bags, and a bunch of my close friends will swear by their Kendal Jackson backpacks. These bags were built for exploration and adventures.

For more images of Kendal Jackson’s bag creations, and fun updates about the company and Kendal’s climbing adventures, check out the Kendal Jackson Bags Facebook page.