Saturday, March 08, 2014

Almost Alpine...

Some would say I wasted my twenties.
If I look at myself on paper, I start to wonder if they’re right.  Instead of paying down a mortgage, I’m still chipping away at the old college loan…  But looking back, the wasted days of rock-climbing and mountain guiding were truly fantastic!  The personal battle to overcome a difficult or dangerous climb is a growth experience I cannot describe, and teaching someone else to fight through to complete a challenge is an unforgettable victory for both parties.  Etched in my mind forever is the view from the top of the Old Rag, the Matterhorn, Seneca rocks and the Almost Alpine traverse.  Alongside the memories of peaks climbed are those of doubling over in laughter with groups of middle schoolers, looking in the rearview at a van full of sleeping scouts, and the smiles of clients and friends.  On top of a mountain I met the love of my life, my fiancĂ©e, Liz.  Finally, I am so proud to have helped in the founding of a stewardship organization (Old Rag Mountain Stewards) that gives back to a place I care about so deeply.

… And then there is Almost Alpine…

Not sure whether or not to be proud here.
It was to be the best climbing film ever!  I still personally believe it is, but its been on the shelf for a while now.  The unfinished version of the mockumentary film I may have wasted my twenties on met rave reviews at a Senaca Rocks annual chill cookoff, the grand opening of the Vertical Rock climbing gym and several National Park Service technical rescue courses where Jeremy Tooley (the films real creator) and I were instructors.  It seemed we were on our way to superniche film superstardom!

Then life and jobs got in the way.  We hit final digital mastery roadblocks. Production looked really pricy for a dream we had already put way to much into.  Our guide’s tip money and the magic was gone.  Our pride got in the way of asking for help.  

Something funny happens to youthful pride when you go from your twenties to your thirties.  It’s like climbing a scary, dangerous ice route, it just starts to look a tad less appealing.  So here I am swallowing my pride.  Almost Alpine needs your help. This movie is one skip away from making it across the river.  If you loved climbing in our little mountain mid-Atlantic or really anywhere.  If you want to support the no budget local climbing scene, revive a dying dream, or if you just like stupid fun movies!   I am asking if you got a few bucks to throw in the pot.  Jesse Von Fange (the third core creator of Almost Alpine) has put the film on  This means that in a short window of time the film will be either done and in your high def player or gone for good and you get any donated money back.

Thanks so much for the consideration,

Chad Heddleston
aka Rad Chad
aka 5.Chad
aka Chad from Almost Alpine

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Times They Are A-changing'

"Anticipation is a stronger stimulus than satisfaction." 
-Legendary climber and caver Herb Conn

 Well the times have been changing for yours truly, and unfortunately it has been reflected in the lack of updates to this blog.  As the guiding season slowed for the upcoming winter I took on another full time job and am currently guiding on the side.  So here's a few pictures from the fall that I have mostly missed as an outdoorsman.   

Late summer with the dog basking in the cool breeze of the changing season.

Since I last updated the flowers have gone from this...

and this ...

to this ...

and finally to this...   
(from the summit of Hawksbill five days after hurricane Sandy)

The mountains have changed with the leaves and the storms.

The animals are preparing for the winter.
 No matter if they live indoors... 

...or out.

And I am preparing for the road ahead as well... 
Even if it means guiding a few less trips.

Monday, July 23, 2012

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

 The above is a Velvet Ant that I was (bug nerd that I am) very excited to see yesterday!   This crazy creature is actually a wingless wasp with an especially painful sting.  This female is known to have one of the most excruciating stings in the world and backs it up with the red color and the nickname - the Cow Killer!  This inch long insect is facetiously said to sting painfully enough to kill a cow!  At least with the bright red color she exhibits aposematic signals that alert predators to avoid the potentially harmful sting. 

 The next harmful critter doesn't even usually give us the helpful bright color warning as she is usually solid black except for the red hourglass on the underside.  This one in particular is very exceptional though.  This venomous neurotoxin toting Black Widow spider can potentially (very rarely) kill a human and has markings on her back ...

And they seem to be hearts ...

 ... I told you that you'd get that warm fuzzy feeling.
(I did not find her in Shenandoah)

Now it's time for a real warm fuzzy...

...Ahhhhh that feels much better.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Splashes of the Blue Ridge

A mountain style slip-n-slide hits the spot on these hot days.  This trip guest is the only one I have ever seen consistently bounce over the rock "speed bump" and take it from an awesome thirty foot slide to a SUPER awesome fifty foot slide. 

Rock scrambling and climbing with big sky behind you makes for memorable days in the mountains.

Bumble bees take shelter from the approaching rain under an umbrella with a view. 

 On the way down to cool off in a cool blue mountain stream!

Enjoying the Blue Ridge views is a great way to spend your before and after  rappelling and climbing time!

Wondering if we are going to get caught in the storm but not really caring either way is part of the beauty and mystery of the summer.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

This is Summer...

...well, it's a slice of the last four days of summer at least.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Keepin it Cool

 Rappelling in waterfalls keeps things cool.

 Tubing also does the trick.

 If you're canyoneering with us the hotter outside the better; cause really, who wants to wear a wetsuit.

Time for a fun game:  Where's Whatever? (the game where you find Whatever it is... Wherever it is)!
 This time it's a climber on a two hundred foot rappel!

 If you didn't find him yet he is hidden by a leaf.

Moving on...
OK this one is scary,
... really sssssscarrry.
 ...also kind of hard.

scroll down and I'll zoom it in for ya.

 If you're not scared scroll back up and pretend like you're bushwhacking. (yea, it's venomous Copperhead)

 One more round, with a more pleasant subject matter.

 This one's really hard...

 She's protecting her eggs.

It's a Blue-headed Vireo chillin in the nest, thanks to the expert who informed me what type of bird this was.


That's all of the game for now, it's time to go back to the keeping it cool pics.
Cool moth

Cool Caterpillar on a Rhododendron.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

104 Degrees!

 And on the day it was ONE HUNDRED and FOUR (in D.C.) we were in the water a lot.  SNP is full of cold spring water and well, personally I shivered. 
Rappelling a waterfall during a triple digit day on a Canyoneering trip is an amazing way to cool off.

If we are not in the water on these hot days we can usually be found on a shaded trail or a breezy mountaintop, such as was the above girl scout pictured rock climbing.  Isn't that what every girl scout camp should look like?

 Guided up the trail  by an eight point Buck!  He lead the recent climbing trip about half way to the cliff.  I know my place and stepped back to let him guide, but had to take over when he headed off trail (I think that's why he didn't get tipped!)  

 Winding our way through some rarely climbed terrain in Old Rag's backcountry and Mega-Low angle slabs.  

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