Fortunate

Yes. I am so incredibly fortunate. Right now, as the country continues to examine itself in the most difficult way, I have a job that I love (especially the co-workers), my children are healthy and doing well in school, and I have my health. I’ve had some medical issues this summer – and I’m not going to elaborate on them – but I have a fantastic doctor (and team) who have made this process as easy as it can be.

I have nothing but gratitude for all of this and more.

That said, I am a student of constant improvement, and there is a lot I need to improve on .. like writing on my blog, for sure. But, in case you didn’t notice, I regularly add more photos of waterfalls. The best part of it all is that my photos are improving due to the regular study of techniques, continued study of available options on my camera(s), and practice!

Like, the latest photo from last weekend. Is this the most beautiful waterfall I’ve visited? No. But, was the outing special? Very much so. It was the first outing I’ve made in a couple months. Now that I can get out and hike again, I’ll be headed back out on weekends and you’ll find a lot more photos added to the site.

Avery Creek Falls
Avery Creek Falls

I am especially proud, though, of completing Kevin Adam’s 100 Waterfall Challenge this summer. I also want to complete the Carolina Mountain Club Waterfall Challenge (I’m at 75 of 100 right now) and, last, I am already working on Mr. Adam’s 250 Waterfall Challenge. The best part of challenges like this is that I have to visit waterfalls and areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise visited. In many cases it’s been reacquainting myself with western NC. And, in every case, I have really enjoyed getting to know not only the waterfall, but also the region.

I would love to increase my interaction with you, so, if anyone has a question for me, please ask.

Weekly Hiking

I have consistently been hiking one day a week for months. The beauty of this is that I get to see four seasons of our beautiful mountains. During these hikes I am visiting waterfalls (in most cases). Most of the ensuing photos are found on my waterfalls page. Check them out!

Raven Rock Falls
Raven Rock Falls

But, the hiking is one of the ways I am just moving more. It isn’t exercise, it’s just enjoying the outdoors. And, there are thousands of hikes and short trips to make before anyone could ever say “..I visited them all” ..

Of course, if you want to mix it up, you could plan a hike to a county highpoint instead of a waterfall. Or, do some street or mountain biking! Ever thought about kayaking? There are many other ideas you can find via Google, so get busy and find your passions. Should you want to join me, let me know!

Hiking

Most hikes in WNC are a time for a simple communing with nature. There aren’t significant challenges unless you look for them. Recently, I found some! Upon hiking to Dismal Falls the descent into the gorge was the steepest I have encountered to date. Ropes had been set up by previous hikers, and I brought some rope in anticipation of needing them, and I did. Hiking in November means there are a lot of leaves on the ground making it slippery. And if you go hiking after a recent rain, it is yet more slippery. But combining wet ground AND leaves and the combination makes a seriously steep climb into a gorge harder.

Dismal Falls
Dismal Falls
Upper portion of Dismal Falls
Upper portion of Dismal Falls

At the top of the gorge I set up my rope and knotted it every four feet (or so). Then I started down. Of course I slipped a time or two but overall it wasn’t too bad. I also was not happily anticipating my return trip, but I kept going. About two thirds the way down I looked up and was incredibly surprised to find a photographer making his way up. We chatted for a few minutes and he was very happy to have a second rope available to him. We also discussed being there at the wrong time of day for the best photographs.

Since I have my photos to show I made it there and back this hike is obviously very do-able. But I have to say that I am a planner. If I didn’t have my rope I could have made it anyway but the chance of an accident would have increased a lot. Just be careful out there. And be wary if you choose to utilize ropes that others have set up.

Color

Autumn colors are finally coming, but I don’t think they’re going to match any of the best years we’ve had around here. Nonetheless, I did get a nice Autumn photo of Looking Glass falls yesterday. Check it out! And, check out the other waterfalls I’ve visited lately!

Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls

More Photography

I have had a blast this summer getting outdoors, hiking, and taking photographs. I’ve taken some good shots, and some that capture the moment but don’t show it in the best light (pun intended). You can see many of the waterfall shots on its page (click HERE to go there).

I plan on continuing this each weekend throughout autumn and into winter. I hope that my timing proves good and that I get some exceptional shots.

For the few of you who actually read this, thank you. Here is one of my more recent photos.

Schoolhouse Falls
Schoolhouse Falls

Continuing the Summer of Waterfalls !

Well, I’ve been doing a lot this summer to exercise. Every weekday morning I run at least one mile and on weekends I head out to (re)discover sights across western NC. I thought I knew these mountains well, and what I’ve discovered is that I know some areas well but have neglected to spend time across the mountains. So, I’m making up for that this summer (and into the future). I plan on stopping at those sights you see advertised while one drives across the mountains … and I plan on having a lot of fun while doing it.

Below are some photos of the waterfalls I’ve been visiting. The pictures aren’t all great shots, but they do capture the beauty of these mountains. I will be continuing this into the Autumn and even Winter (for the inevitable icy shots). If you ever want to join me, email me!

Little Bearwallow Falls

The roughly one mile hike to Little Bearwallow Falls is not difficult, but the uphill can be strenuous. If you keep going the additional two miles to Wildcat Rock know that it IS strenuous. Immediately when you set out from the Wildcat Rock Trailhead in Gerton, NC, you encounter an apple orchard.

Then, you enter the woods on a clearly marked trail and cross a stream.

Little Bearwallow Falls hike
Little Bearwallow Falls hike

Next, get ready for some uphill hiking. But, the reward is the rock wall (you’ll see the waterfall is thin with little water on the day I was there, but the wall itself is great for both rock and ice climbing).

WDS 2019

Yet again I’ve taken my annual trip to Portland for the World Domination Summit. And, yet again it was a fantastic trip. This time, in addition to WDS activities, I took the time to hike to Ramona Falls on Mt. Hood. And, for one of my academies, I participated in a photowalk around downtown Portland. On Sunday night, instead of going to the closing party, I went to go see Carlos Santana play (with the Doobie Bros opening). Yeah .. you can imagine just how good this week was for me. I am recharged.

There are a lot of things I learned that I will pursue to advance both business and personal goals. And THAT is the only the second best benefit of WDS for me. The best is reconnecting with my friends and making new friends whose ideas make me think and offer me hope for my personal and professional tomorrows. If you have any questions about either the conference and/or its content, please email me!

Here are some images from the hike, and I have to say that it was one of the most scenic I have ever been on. These images didn’t capture the real color that jumped out at you from everywhere, in particular the manifold variations of yellow and green are still hard to describe.

The photowalk was also amazing. I found I was looking more at lines and colors than people. Here are some of the results:

Last, the concert .. wow! Great music played by classic musicians.

A Summer of Hiking

So, this summer I’ve made a decision to get outside .. as much as I can .. to hike and get to know the mountains I knew as a teenager. And, as a benefit, I get to swim in amazing swimming holes and photograph waterfalls. Life is tough…

I’ve added a menu link to photos of the waterfalls I’ve visited so far. And, of course, more will come. Here is one of my favorites:

Upper Catawba Falls
Upper Catawba Falls

Accountability

I’ve done something really cool. I always want to be someone who does what he says he will do. And, this year, I have fulfilled a promise I made to myself. Let me explain.

At last year’s World Domination Summit (WDS), I spoke with a young lady named Ekaterina about adventure races. You see, she is super fit and I’d always harbored a desire to complete a Spartan Race. Almost immediately after I mentioned my goal to her she said she’d be my accountability partner. My first thought was, “Oh crap! What have I gotten myself into?” Ekaterina went further to ask if I had looked into the races in my part of the world? I said, “no”. She replied that I now knew where I needed to start. Since this was on Sunday, the last official day of WDS, I knew I had to plan. I found a race in Charlotte, NC, and told her that I was forming a training plan.

Accountability Partner
Accountability Partner

I returned home and started exercising. I hadn’t exercised regularly in some time and, honestly, knew I had a ways to go to be strong enough to complete any kind of race. So I got on my bicycle and started pushing my 20 year old Cannondale mountain bike.

A co-worker had also recently started exercising so we talked about it a lot and I learned a lot from his experiences. He has started dating a serious runner and triathlete and started gearing up. Being techies, that was a natural response to anything. You ask yourself a question, “what gear do I need to be successful?” Granted running shoes and a bicycle are the only two *true* answers, but there was a lot more information we wanted to track, so onward we went. My friend purchased a road bike, a Garmin sports watch and related gear, as well as modern athletic clothing (you may or may not believe how technologically advanced our clothing is today!!).  This meant, though, that I, too, needed to “tech up”. Fortunately for me, my friend had accidentally purchased two road bikes (that’s a story for another time) and he GAVE me one.

I really had no excuses.

So I started running and biking! It was really ugly at first but, with time, became easier and easier. My regimen became exercise classes three times a week and biking at least two times a week for distances between 5 and 10 miles. Using the gear that I started accumulating I was able to track my progress. Not only was I able to continually increase the distances but also my times.

Bike Selfie
Bike Selfie

The race I settled on was a Spartan Race in Charlotte, NC, to be held in April 2017. It was a “Sprint” which means it is roughly a 5 mile race with up to 25 obstacles. I really didn’t know what to expect so I stuck to a regimen of exercise and healthier eating (meaning less alcohol as well). It showed. I lost weight, discovered muscles I didn’t remember, and noticed a shift in my work too. I was able to better focus at work and accomplish more. You hear things like this but don’t understand the impact until you do it yourself.

Next, I recruited a friend of mine to do this with me. His name is “Uli” (short for Ulrich) and as you can imagine from his name, he is German. I studied in Germany while in college so we have a lot in common. We asked others to join too but almost everyone responded with a comment like “..maybe next time.” We named our team the “Germinators” and just kept asking each other how much we were exercising. Uli is a great runner. I am not. My body type is better suited to weights. But what we realized is that we complemented each other really well! This would be really evident when the race actually took place.

April quickly arrived and I drove to Charlotte to stay with Uli the night before. We joked about the pending race, knowing that this would be a first for both of us. Saturday morning came quickly. After a brief drive, we parked then went through registration. Our race time wasn’t for another couple hours so we got some lunch, checked out the vendors, and settled in to stretch out and limber up for our race. Yes, I was also getting anxious.

Finally, they called our starting time and we grouped up at the start. To reach the start we had to jump over a small 5′ wall and we were not alone in laughing while trying to just get to the starting line and not fall down! When the announcer kicked off our group we were off and running about three quarters of a mile to the first obstacles – a series of walls of increasing height for racers to go over, under, and through.

Obstacle
Obstacle

The race continued for 4.9 miles and 23 total obstacles. There were some that I could help Uli with and a lot of support he offered me with the running. I didn’t know it, but a neighbor of Uli’s came out to cheer us on too. By the time we saw him, there was less than a mile to go but still a creek run and three more obstacles. We were feeling good, really enjoying the experience.

At last, we jumped over the fire and crossed the finish line. I couldn’t have been happier because I had done what I set out to do. More importantly, a valuable lesson was reinforced – enjoy where you are, but if you want to do something you have to plan it out, strive to get there, and then enjoy it once it is completed. On a recent Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness podcast Kyle Cease said, “the biggest illusion of your life is that when something happens you’ll be happy.” This process really made me happy, and the sense of accomplishment is huge! Now to do it again…

Spartans
Spartans

I’m planning on doing this all over again next year. If you want to join me, let me know! I’m still working out and I feel good! The best thing of all was when I sent this text back to the person who really made me think about goal setting, my accountability partner Ekaterina:

Accountable!
Accountable!