It is not everyday that you get to explore the red sand and rock canyons of Moab, UT, but when you do you immediately understand why they call it â€œGodâ€™s Countryâ€. This past weekend Peter Olenick and his delightful girlfriend, Alana, invited me to the Utah desert for short escape from reality. Peter has been on the road to recovery for several months after needing surgery on his patella for tendonitis. Without skiing he was hoping to get his fun fix elsewhere. So it was time for a getaway to one of his favorite vacation spots. We got permission to take his motherâ€™s RV for the trip, which comfortably sleeps six people. Therefore we needed more bodies to fill the camper. We were joined by ski personality, Luke Van Valin and his girlfriend, Caitlyn. Hot dog extraordinaire, Henrik Lampert, was also an essential member of the weekend road trip. Especially for me, since we quickly realized that we had taken part in a coupleâ€™s retreat and we were going to get put in the smallest bed.
The journey began Friday night with a stop at Sonic and the liquor store. We eat a disgusting amount of food and then stocked up on party supplies. As we were checking out of the liquor store the woman at the front asked us how many weeks we were going to be spending in Moab. When we responded three nights her jaw nearly dropped to the floor. We drove through the night until we found a safe spot to pull over and camp. When we opened our eyes in the morning we realized we were surely not in Colorado anymore. Our camper was completely surrounded by red cliffs and canyons. With out hesitation we got up and took advantage of the outdoors. We hiked along Choice Creek Canyon for hours with no real destination. Our goal was to find water and catch small lizards. After making plenty of scaly friends we decided to head back to our campground. Being the daredevils we were, we created the gnarliest path imaginable back to the RV. Luckily there was no injuries as a result of our Bear Gyrlls survival tactics.
Our next stop at the campground was short because we were determined to hike up to the famous Delicate Arch to watch the sunset. Upon reaching the arch we pulled out 6 ice cold Keystone Lights and enjoyed a group shotgun. We then took some group pictures and relaxed as the sun sunk below the horizon. The only problem was getting down in the dark without a flashlight. Henrik and I decided to sprint to the camper in an attempt to beat the total darkness. The rest of the group took their sweet time making it down using their keen sense of direction and muscle memory. We spent the rest of the night eating hundreds of hot dogs and tell stories around the campfire.
After such a full day of hiking we decided to relax the next day. We went on an extremely mellow climb right off the backside of the campground where we found a lot of cactuses. Our fearless leader, Peter, demonstrated that you could eat the little fruit on the top of a cactus. We all scraped the skin of the desert fruit and enjoy the sweet taste. It actually had a very similar taste to a kiwi. Immediately after enjoying the fruit we discovered that mini needles had rubbed off of the skin and covered our hands and mouths.
The next stop was the car wash for some well-earned showers. It also proved to be an amazing place to wash dishes. With clean bodies and clean dishes it was quickly time to get dirty again. I packed my 50cc mini bike in the camper for some motorized fun, so we decided to create a track around the campground. Henrik Lampert managed to win three successful races in a row, while Peter crashed and got third degree burns on his legs.
Somehow we all woke up the following morning to pains and scrapes we didnâ€™t know were possible. This was our sign that it was time to pack up and drive back to Colorado. On our way back I decided to take shotgun and ask Peter some questions about life, skiing and the future.
Freeskier: Why did you want to go to Moab this weekend?
Peter Ryan Olenick: I wanted to be the best fearless tour guide ever! I also wanted to show my friends one of the coolest places in the United States of America, catch some animals, race some fifties, take great Polaroid pictures and shotgun a beer under the arch.
FS: What was your trip highlight?
PRO: It was either taking a shower in the carwash or watching Luke do naked pushups.
FS: How is the knee healing?
PRO: It is still sore. It has good days and bad days but time is running out as winter approaches. I have been doing lots of physical therapy, but weekends like this always screw it up.
FS: Are you going to be in full force for this ski season?
Hopefully I will be all good for X-Games but probably not by the first Dew Tour Stop.
FS: A lot of crazy pipe edits have been leaking out of New Zealand this summer. Are you nervous to have to jump back into the game after needing so much time off?
PRO: I am a little nervous, but I have been taking all this time to get stronger. Some of the new tricks coming out are crazy, but I can also see that they are all doable. So seeing these edits only makes me more pumped to get back out there and learn some new stuff.
FS: What are you doing this Thursday?
PRO: I am closing on a house in Dillon, CO. Then I will probably have some champagne to celebrate. After that I am getting a ride to Boulder to get ready for my flight to Whistler on Friday for a couple awesome weeks.
FS: Never a dull moment.