Six Days In The Uintas

After tackling one of my major projects for the year at work, I took my family up into the Uintas for six days of camping, trail running, climbing, hiking, biking, and fishing. With no cell service or internet connection, we were able to unwind and reconnect as a family; we even tried some new activities.

By no means are any of us fishermen. Even with a son named Fisher, we had no clue what we were doing as we found ourselves huddled on the lake shore every morning and evening. At least I knew how to tie the hook onto the fishing-line.

Our basecamp was located on the south side of Butterfly lake which was a perfect place to watch the alpenglow appear each evening.

My boys are getting burned out by all the climbing and trail running trips that we take them on, So I promised them that I'd buy the fishing poles and we'd teach them to fish. Their attention spans didn't allow for them to sit long enough to let the bait and hook to do their jobs. All they wanted to do was cast and reel, by the end of the trip they were professional casters. I eventually caught a fish with one of the mini-poles. Since it was Fisher pole, he claims that he caught the fish. I even caught a fish with my bare hands that was trapped in some shallow water full of lillypads. Indy even reeled in a decent sized fish all by himself, unfortunately it unhooked itself right when it got to land and swam away. Indy was psyched either way.

The Uintas are full of some of Utah's highest mountains. So Jennilyn successfully took the challenge of running the three tallest all in one push. I decided to dust off my running shoes too and hit the trail two different times.

I was mostly looking forward to climbing a bunch during our trip, but only got to do a little. This cliff is called Stone Garden. A very popular route called Sessions in located on the overhanging section. I was able to climb to the top without falling on my second try.

The boys had a blast. They got to bike around a large lake, get their feet wet, and do all other kinds of things that little boys to outside. They are the coolest little boys. I am a proud father when I look at them.

I could never find my shoes during the trip because the boys were busy wearing them all of the time.

A fun camping trip is never finished until you hit up the local ice cream parlor for a cold treat.

Closing Out My Twenties

It would be kind of hard to remember everything that I did during my first or second decade of life, but I have a vivid recollection of all the awesome things that happened during my twenties. The last ten years of my life were riddled with life defining milestones.

The Resume of My Twenties

  • Lived in Brazil – My first year in my twenties was spent living a selfless life in Brazil where I spoke fluent Portuguese and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone that would invite me into their home.
  • Summited the Grand Teton – When I was 21, I climbed to my highest point ever at 13,775 feet onto the peak of the Grand Teton. We did it from car to car in 14 hours.
  • Skydiving – I ticked off a big bucket list item when I was 21 by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.
  • Got Married – Four months after turning 22, I got married to a very attractive and awesome California girl.
  • Ran My First Marathon – With vary little preparation and not owning a pair of running shoes, I ran the Top of Utah marathon in just over 5 hours in my skateboarding shoes. 
  • Graduated College – At the age of 23, I graduated with a B.A. in Communications/Advertising from Brigham Young University—Idaho. 
  • Baby #1 – I was blessed with my first offspring, Indiana Laurence Eaton, when I was 23.
  • First Full Time Job – I was fortunate enough to have my internship at the City of Rexburg turn into my first full time job after graduating college as their graphic designer and events coordinator.
  • Bought My First House – Near the closing of my 23rd year of life, I bought—more like financed—my first house in Rexburg, ID where we lived for almost two years.
  • Elders Quorum Musical Chairs – I played what I like to call the “Elder’s Quorum Musical Chairs” during my 24th year where I pretty much sat in each seat of the presidency.
  • Baby #2 – Just seven days after turning 25, I was blessed with my second child, Fisher Jay Eaton.
  • Established myself as a Race Director – By the time I was 26, I had already been the race director of two marathons, two triathlons, two 5Ks, and two cyclocrosses…not to mention I landed a job being the race director of a major 200 mile relay race with Ragnar Events.
  • 4th Marathon – Right before I turned 27, I ran my fourth marathon.
  • The Climbing Trip of a Lifetime – At age 27, with a wife and two young boys, I embarked on a 2.5 month climbing trip where we were literally homeless and jobless—a status we proactively pursued.
  • The Colorado Curiosity – Most of my 28th year was spent experiencing what life is like in Colorado. (For some reason I always wanted to know what it would be like to live in Colorado, Washington, and Alaska.) During this time I worked one of my dream jobs at the prestigious rock climbing magazine, Rock and Ice.
  • First Big Wall Experience – In my 28th year, I was adopted by a recent acquaintance, now a life long climbing buddy that took me on my first big wall/aid-climbing trip where we climbed all nine pitches of the Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park. We slept on a port-a-ledge for two nights…another major bucket list item of mine.
  • Trailer, White Rim, Dream Job, Festival, 2nd House – My 29th year was packed full a lot of highlights including: my experience living full-time in a 5th wheel trailer with my wife and two boys, ran the entire White Rim Trail in Canyonlands in three days with my wife and friends, getting hired on at a dream company to do a dream job (Working as the Communications Specialist at Liberty Mountain), kicking off the inaugural Idaho Mountain Festival that had almost 200 people in attendance, and purchasing my second house…having previously sold my first one.
  • Hardest Aid Climb My Second Go Around – To cap off my twenties, I headed up the steep and gently overhanging wall of Lunar Ecstasy in Zion National Park with my climbing buddy. For being my second aid route ever, this route was a bit above my limits, but still within my reach. There is something about sleeping on a port-a-ledge that doesn’t get old.

I am certain that I am leaving a lot of stuff out. These are just the milestones of my twenties. I have been blessed with a wonderful set of parents, amazing siblings, a fantastic wife, the coolest children, the most supportive friends, and some marvelous employers. Including God and Jesus Christ, I credit everyone in my life for providing me with the most memorable experiences in my life.

One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain that says, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do." Well, as I look back on my last thirty years, I can honestly say that I am not disappointed in how I lived my life.

I now look forward, into my thirties, with rabid tenacity. My age is only a number and that number does not have the power to tell me what I can or cannot do. In fact, to start off my thirties, I will embark on a solo backpacking trip along the entire John Muir Trail where I plan to fast pack all 200+ miles in no more than 10 days. Future posts regarding that trip coming soon.

My Job

I sometimes cringe when the first question a new acquaintance asks me is, “So what do you do for work?” Actually, it’s usually the third question; right after “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” It seems as though we define each other based on the answers from these three questions. I don’t like that.

It’s not that I’m ashamed of what I do as a profession, it’s just that I’d rather spend the first moments with someone explaining how I am a Christian, a father, a husband, even a rock climber. I might even tell them that I am a wannabe videographer and photographer. I’ve always considered my job to be the thing that funds my lifestyle, not define it.

Now that I’ve griped about that, let me eat my words and say that I have found a true dream job with a dream company that fits my personality and interestes. It not only funds my lifestyle, but it also enhances my passions. I am the Communications Specialist at Liberty Mountain.

Liberty Mountain is one of the largest wholesale distributors of outdoor and climbing gear. What’s a wholesale distributor? We act as the middle-man that traffics the gear from the manufacturers to the retailers. Instead of a retail store dealing with a different sales rep from each manufacturer, they deal with one of our sales reps to order products from hundreds of different companies.

As the communications specialist, I handle the media relations, social marketing, and content marketing for the company and for some of the over-seas brands that we exclusively represent in the U.S. In addition to that, I am also the project manager for Liberty Mountain’s presence at the bi-annual Outdoor Retailer Show.

Media Relations? Social Marketing? Content Marketing? Outdoor Retailer? What on earth does all this jargon mean? Let me give you a visual. (At anytime, feel free to click one of the photos to view them all in a large slideshow.)

I focus on getting information about our gear published in industry magazines by feeding them with press releases and gear samples for gear reviews and guides.
I manage a handful of social media accounts: 5 Facebook, 1 Google+, 1 Twitter, 1 Pinterest, and an account on both YouTube and Vimeo.

I write for two blogs where I post gear reviews, press releases, and trip reports from my co-workers: Everything For The Outdoors and Liberty Mountain Climbing.

I get to help out with the copy writing for the gear descriptions and essays in our two annual catalogs.

As the company’s Outdoor Retailer project manager, I coordinate the logistics of setting up our 40’ x 90’ tradeshow booth that displays loads of gear from some of our core manufactures.

Sometimes I get to go out and test the gear. Sometimes I even get to act like a model while someone takes my picture.

The Home Base Chapter

As most of you know, I’ve been bouncing around from here to there doing this or that for the last 2.5 years. My wife and I, along with our two young boys, have lived 2.5 months straight in a tent, braved our chances at becoming Coloradoans, and lived in a 35-foot fifth-wheel trailer for 1.5 years. Professionally, I spent this time unemployed, working security at the Winter X-Games, being a park ranger at the City of Rocks, selling ad-space for a prestigious rock climbing magazine, starting up a new climbing festival, and most recently been working in the marketing department for one of the largest and coolest wholesale distributors of camping and climbing gear.

That chapter of life has since passed—minus that part about working for Liberty Mountain—but the memories and enlightenment that it provided will still live on. It felt amazing to have any setting we desired be my backyard. The unconventional lifestyle was definitely a dream come true. It wasn’t the easiest lifestyle to live, nor did it come stress free. Living where we wanted, when we wanted provided many battles that tested our commitment to adventure…battles that were well worth fighting.

Living that way, as a young family of four, made me feel unique and different. It gave me a fun story to tell leaving many people slack-jawed. Echoing what a cheesy Mountain Dew commercial once said, “I don’t seek out to be different. I seek out to be me and some people find that to be different.”

After trading in the tent and mini-van for the diesel truck and trailer, we have now traded in the trailer and truck for a house. A HOUSE. How conventional can you get? It’s only been 14 days and I’m already feeling normal and less unique. I don’t regret buying a house. I’m actually really excited to have a house that I can customize to fit our personalities, even a home base that our friends can use as a hostel. We’ve positioned ourselves in the middle of everything…everything within the western states.

So what next? What does the Home Base Chapter have in store for the Eaton Family? What do we have up our sleeves to feed our adventurous appetites? Are we going to finally give into life and make our house, work, and kids our scapegoats for never doing what we aspire to do? NO!! NEVER!!

We are going to use our house, work, and kids as reasons to get out and live our dreams. With Jennilyn’s plans to run her first 100-mile trail race and my plans to fast-pack all 200 miles of the John Muir Trail while also breaking the 5.13 barrier, I think we are off to a good start for this year.

“To life, to life, l'chaim!”

Snow Cave

Childhood winters were spent digging snow caves. I didn't make that many snowmen, but I sure made a whole lot of caves and tunnels. The best caves I made were in the ditch across the street from our house in Rexburg, ID. My bothers and I would wait until the ditch filled in with snow, after which we would dig a hole down and then start our cave. The fact that the cave was practically underground made it even more cool to us.

My boys are now at the ages--6 and 4--where I can now teach them all the fun things that life has to offer them. In my opinion, snow caves are one of those things. Today was a milestone with my boys. I introduced them both to the snow-cave-concept for the first time. They loved the idea. Although they didn't understand the engineering of how to make it, they definitely watched, helped, and took mental notes. I wouldn't be surprised if I catch them making mini-caves by themselves now. The seed has now been planted.

2012 Recap

I started 2012 in a slightly tough situation and now finished it in a very pleasant one. I was an unemployed entrepreneur in Logan, UT who was working hard to put together a brand new event from scratch. My loving wife took one for the team and brought home the bacon and put bread on the table. Then I scored a very cool job as a park ranger in our “dream town” of Almo, ID where we lived right outside of the City or Rocks. That dream was short lived—only 1.5 months—after I landed a dream job with a dream company in SLC, UT as the communications specialist in Liberty Mountain’s marketing department.

I can now say that I am starting 2013 in a very awesome situation, especially with all the rad adventures and accomplishments during the year:
  • White Rim Trail Run – 80 miles in three days
  • Lived right outside of the City of Rocks for 1.5 months
  • Landed a dream job with Liberty Mountain
  • Reached the one-year mark of living full time in a 5th-wheel trailer
  • Pulled off a successful first year for the Idaho Mountain Festival
  • Climbed over 150 pitches
  • Watched my wife take the podium on a half marathon, 50K, and 50-mile race
Now I am sitting here thinking of all the radness that I am going experience this year. I have so much I want to do and achieve that I’m having to place some in the queue for 2014. Here are just a few of the things that will happen in 2013:
  • John Muir Trail – 200+ miles in no more than 10 days (ETA: Aug 24)
  • Buy a house in Sandy, UT (ETA: Feb 11)
  • Concentrate on exploring the bounteous climbing crags between Ogden and American Fork, with occasional trips to Idaho, southern UT, and Wyoming (All year long)
  • Redpoint my first 5.13 (ETA: ASAP)

Ugly Christmas Ornaments

It is amazing to see what kind of Christmas tree ornaments exist out there. I can't believe that some of them would even be thought of, let alone made.

Last weekend, we were invited to a Christmas party at a friends house where we had a while elephant gift exchange. The rules for this exchange was that the gift had to be a tree ornament and you have to decorate your tree with the one you win.

The ending result when all the gifts were open was a slew of some of the nastiest ornaments I have ever seen...all captured and displayed in the above photo. Jennilyn and I were the lucky winners of the energy snack garland and the Jacob fron Twilight ornament.

Maybe I've found a new holiday tradition. I think I might start giving ugly ornaments to those I love as a humorous gift for Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Looking Back: Cross Country Skiing With Toddlers - 1st Time

Two Years ago on this very day, Jennilyn and I took advantage of the free admission day at Harriman State Park in Idaho. Our oldest boy was 2.5 years old and our youngest was 9 months old. We borrowed two pair of cross-country skis from my work, grabbed a two-person plastic sled at the Cal-Ranch Store, and took along our

Kelty Kid Carrier


It was a cold day. Luckily we were able to dress ourselves and the boys in our warm clothes in the back of our Toyota Sienna with the back seats laid down. Fisher was awake, so we started him out in the kid carrier first while Indy was sitting in the sled with a blanket wrapped around him. Jennilyn and I took turns wearing the backpack or pulling the sled. At one point I was handling both the backpack and the sled so that Jennilyn could zoom ahead and feel the winter breeze run through her winter cap before it ran through her hair.

We had a lot of fun just staying on the Road Trial that is 1.2 miles one way. We started at the parking lot of the main lodge and skied into the Becker Warming Hut. We were able to make ourselves warm, eat lunch and let Fisher fall asleep.

On the way back, Indy was in the backpack while Fisher laid asleep in the sled covered with the blanket as it snowed ever so lightly on us.

We had so much fun on that trip, that we decided that we'd try to gear ourselves up with the proper equipment to be able to do that more often. We have yet to buy our own set of cross country skis and all, but we did buy a

Nordic Cab

that converts into a bike trailer, jogger stroller, or a ski chariot. This nifty contraption allows us to run, bike, snowshoe, or cross country ski with our boys and it keeps them dry and warm.

Where there's a will...there's a way.

The Father and Son Hybrid

Irish obsessions and punk music. My father always tried to expose his small percentage of Irish blood whenever he could. This obsession of his has also shown through many, if not all, of his children.

I have always liked punk music. Ask me any time and I'll probably say that punk is my favorite type of music. One reason why punk is the best is because the bands love to include the classics and other cultures in their tunes. I have been able to include my mother with my love for punk by introducing her to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, who cover oldies songs from the 50's and 60's.

Well, if my dad was alive, I'd include him as well but not only with the before mentioned band. I'd also make him listen to Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.

Here's to you Dad...

Stupid things we say in junior school

Sometimes we think we are being funny or smart with some of the things that we said in Junior High. Today I was reminded of a time I blurted something out in Junior High and have since been haunted by it.

I was in math class and we were doing story problems. The teacher read aloud one of the problems...and that is when I opened my mouth.

Teacher: "If you have a bathroom that is 5 feet by 7 feet, how much carpet do you need to cover the whole floor?"

Ben: "Why would anyone be dumb enough to put carpet in their bathroom?"

Teacher: "What's wrong with putting carpet in your bathroom?"

Ben: "Well, if you accidentally pee on it, it will get gross and is hard to clean up."

At that moment I thought my classmates were going to back me up and I'd hear a bunch of "yea"..."yea"..."good point."

I didn't get any of that. I just got a whole class of junior high kids and my teacher looking at me like I was an idiot.

Why didn't I just say that if the bathtub overflowed the carpet would be ruined?

My Rock Climbing History

Every since I moved to Rexburg, Idaho in 1994, I have been intrigued with the sport of rock climbing. It all started when my good friend, Ken Klingler, invited me over to his house to climb on his small rock wall that was fastened to his dad's shed. The wall seemed tall for an 11 year old. The wall was probably 15-20 feet tall, but we used ropes. I though Ken was Spiderman when we would climb to the top of the wall without a rope. The funniest memory I have of climbing on the shed was when Ken taught me to rappel off that wall. I looked like an idiot rolling my body over the edge in order to hang on the rope.

After I got hooked to the sport, I had to wait for friends or scout groups to take me. I had no equipment and no knowledge on how to even start. Sadly to say, I don't think I even earned the rockclimbing merit badge. What was I thinking?

I would hound Ken and Jedd Mumm into taking me to the local crags (Heise Rock and Paramount). I was lucky that they took me and put up with my wimpy efforts to top-out. Heise and Paramount is were I started to get into the sport and learned how to climb.

In 2001, Ken, Jedd, and I drove to Pocatello to try our hands at the Pocatello Pump climbing competition; I ended up placing second to last. Here I was, a novice climbing and an avid snowboarder that decided to compete in a rockclimbing competition before ever competing in one for snowboarding. Even though I placed really low, I fell in love with the competition and the free swag that they give to all the participants.

After my two years of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in Brazil, I bought my own harness, shoes, and quickdraws. In 2004, I joined my my friends and some others in participating in the Pocatello Pump, which is now an annual favorite. In 2005, I was given a phone number of a girl that claimed to be an avid climber. When I called her, I found out that she indeed had an extensive climbing background. Our first date was watching a climbing video, with our second date being a session on the Paramount wall.

I have since married that girl, Jennilyn Fisher from Upland, CA, and have learned a lot about climbing from her. One of the best lessons I have learned from Jennilyn is how to have a strong passion for the sports I participate in. There is more to a sport than just doing it, you have to also love it, think it, breath it, sleep it, and know everything about it. Jennilyn and I now share rock climbing as our favorite thing to do together, even with our children.

I can now say that climbing is more than a sport to me. It is a social opportunity as much as it is a form of recreation or exercise. I have created some great friendships through rock climbing that I know will never end. Rock climbing has made us more than just friends, we are a support group. We don't compete against eachother, instead we encourage and work with one another to accomplish our goals.

Somebody asked my wife if she climbs in all the national parks. This caused me to reflect back on my climbing history and the places I have been and climbed. This list is not to brag, but to remind me of the great memories with friends and family.

  • Heise Rock - Rexburg, ID
  • Paramount - Rexburg, ID
  • Ross Park - Pocatello, ID
  • Box Canyon - Arco, ID
  • Blackfoot Canyon, ID
  • Hot Potato - Idaho Falls, ID
  • Logan Canyon - Logan, UT
  • Mapel Canyon - Nephi, UT
  • Joshua Tree National Park, CA (we were only able to boulder for a couple of hours)
  • Teton Canyon - East of Driggs, ID
  • City of Rocks State Park, ID
  • Massacre Rocks State Park, ID
  • Black Wall - Boise, ID (I could be wrong on the name)
  • Derkies Lake - Twin Falls, ID
  • 26th Street Boulders - Ogden, UT
  • South Park - Rexburg, ID
  • Midget Widget Wall - Ririe, ID
  • Baxter's Pinnacle - Grand Teton National Park, WY
  • Grand Teton, Owen Spalding Route - Grand Teton National Park, WY
  • Darby Canyon - Victor, ID
  • Moab, UT

I have also started to compete more in local competitions:

  • Pocatello Pump - 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • Sticks and Stones Boulder Competition - 2008, 2009
  • USA-Climbing SCS in Pocatello, ID at ISU Reed Gym - 2009

Now you see it...Now you don't.

As a kid, everything is magic.

I always wanted magic trick sets or prank sets when I was a kid. My father loved magic and would entertain our family of seven kids with the talking hankie or the flame throwing paper match. One of the best tricks that he did was the "secret message".

My father, Anthony Eaton, would pull out a piece of scrap paper from his pocket and call one of us to tell him a secret in his ear. He would then write the secret on the piece of paper; not letting anyone see what he wrote. He then placed a match under the note and in a half-second flash the paper was gone; never to be seen again.
I always loved that trick, because it would surprise me every time. The paper would be consumed quicker than fire normally burns paper. It was awesome.

Because of my Dad, I liked and still like to watch things disappear. When living in Saratoga Springs, New York, our house had a random bucket of tar sitting to the side of the house. Every day, my brothers, friends and I would approach the bucket with an object; sometimes is was a rock and other days it was a toy.
The cool thing about this bucket was you could place the item on the tar and it would just sit there. So we would leave and come back to find the item gone. Sometimes we would come back to soon to see Luke Skywalker half way submerged in the tar. It was like quicksand but black and glossy.
If anyone wants to find some collectables or antiques, you could probably find them in that cold bucket of tar. I always had the desire to dip my hand in that bucket and see what I could grab and pull out.

The first time I felt the STING

When you look at this pictures, what do you see? If you say a kick-stand, then you are a boring person. I look at it and I see a weapon. Anything can become a weapon, but not everything can become a prehistoric tool for destruction.

When I lived in Rigby, ID (ages 0-5) I loved to play with the kick-stand from my mom's old bike. For some reason it was off the bike and in our back yard. When I placed that piece of metal in my hand, I became a cave man. This shiny thing was my club.

One day I went into the back yard to find my club. I didn't have to search far nor long, because is was sitting right outside of the back door. I reached down to grab "artifact", anticipating the transformation of body and personality. As my fingers curled around the shaft of the "club" a firery sensation burned my hand. It wasn't because the kick-stand was hot, it was due to the yellow-jacket with whom I tried to shake hands.

That was the first time I got stung by a bee. I don't know how old I was, but I do know that I was 5 or younger. My mom dumped Arm & Hammer baking soda onto my hand, this was the coolest part of it all. After it dried on my hand, it started to crack and I couldn't help but look at the cool patterns made as I opened and closed my hand.