The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

UltraFishing Part 1. Genesis

I started fishing when I was 5 years old with my family.  Each summer we would go to the Uinta Mountains in Utah for a week of camping and backpacking.  I dreamt about that week all year.  In my zeal my mom began driving me to the mountains for the day and my dad would squeeze an extra weekend to teach me how to backpack by going deeper in the mountains.  It was my favorite thing in the world being in the Uinta's.

Moving into adolescence I was convinced I wanted to move from regular fishing to Flyfishing.  So my parents gave me my greatest childhood gift I've ever received when I was 12...a flyrod!  It was harder then I thought but thanks to the local library and a dozen VHS tapes, I began the arduous process of learning the art of fly fishing.  The Provo River was 1/2 mile from my house and I began riding my bike to the river as often as possible.

By age 16 I was very proficient and in the summers I began ever deeper adventures into the backcountry with friends while the weeklong trip with my father stayed an annual tradition.  I explored nearly every major basin in the Uinta's as well a trip into the Wind Rivers of Wyoming.

I had also began dappling in track and crops-country.  I was a natural runner and found a fondness for trail day.  Over the next few years my focus went from fishing to running.  I was highly competitive and loved the feeling of churning out the miles.  Back and forth my focuses went.  Desert backpacking, Alaskan summers, a NOLS course, and going farther in the mountains. Regardless I was meant to be in wild and remote places!
Ultramarathoning was in its infancy in 2005 when I ran my first ultra, the Goblin Valley 50k, at the age of 23.  I was immediately hooked!  By 2008, when my first child was born, I'd run 15 ultra's and a year later I started Altra!  Life was getting busy.  Too busy for a young father and entrepreneur.  I just didn't have time for 3-8 day backpacking trips, 30 mile mountain runs, and fly fishing all my favorite places.

The same year Altra launched, 2011, I was swamped.  I hadn't done a race the entire year and hadn't been flyfishing once.  I was stressed and had a family reunion in my favorite place, the High Uinta's! I took my running stuff and my fly fishing stuff.  Somehow I threw them together on the final day and went out.  It wasn't the first time I'd done a long run in these mountains.  In 2007 I'd run the entire 70 mile Uinta Highline trail in one go.  But it was the first time I'd taken my flyfishing gear.  On a 27 route that previously had taken me 4 days, I did it in a single day.  And caught about 40 fish in the process!  3 weeks later on a business trip through Idaho, I did the same thing in the Sawtooth Mountains.  When people asked me what I was doing I responded unknowingly...ultrafishing.

Since that date I haven't done a backpacking trip!  I still run and fish in isolation but the combination has opened up a whole new world.  With 3 kids and managing a rapidly growing business my time is more squeezed than ever before.  So I've been forced to prioritize my hobbies.  Ultrafishing is my way of combining 3 of my favorite things- trailrunning, fly fishing, and backpacking.  It's not uncommon for me to head into the mountains at 5am for 25+ miles and catch 40+ fish while getting home by midnight.  It makes for some long days but talk about adventure!  I now know that several other people do something similar.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to go for a run and take a flyrod but as far as I know I'm the first to use the term ultrafishing as well as one of the first to promote this unique adrenaline filled activity.

Ultrafishing/ ul-tra-fish-ing / noun

1- Running a substantial distance and catching fish throughout the run.
2- The greatest thing in the world

So yeah I guess I started a thing called Ultrafishing.

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