Stomping Grounds

a geovisual tour of my favorite places

Anchorage, AK and the Chugach Mountains

On January 31, 1991, I was born in Anchorage, Alaska. While I didn't know it at the time, this city would eventually become my base camp, serving as the starting point of many adventures.

Anchorage provides relatively easy access to multiple mountain ranges, but the Chugach Range serves as the city's closest outdoor playground. Within these mountains lie endless possibilities for backcountry skiers, hikers, climbers, and all who enjoy high places and fresh air.

The Moose's Tooth is my favorite restaurant because it serves the best pizza I've ever tasted, on planet Earth. They also brew an array of tasty beers.

View of Mt. Susitna from Flattop Mountain. This was taken at midnight during the summer.

Socorro, NM

In 2009, I moved to Socorro, NM. Socorro is a relatively sleepy desert town, roughly 80 miles south of Albuquerque, which is home to the thriving research university, New Mexico Tech. While attending this university, I discovered a wide array of delicious New Mexican flavors and also took some time to explore the surrounding desert.

This is Speck and Kiri, also known as the Franklin Street Patrol. They were my only roommates in Socorro who didn't pay rent, but they made up for it by looking tough and keeping watch over our residence.

Box Canyon, NM

Just outside of Socorro lies Box Canyon, a high-desert climbing destination featuring multiple styles of rock climbing: sport, traditional, and bouldering. Over the years, I probably spent just as much (or more) time climbing on Box's featured rhyolite as I spent in the classroom.

Box Canyon is home to a wealth of interesting climbing on rhyolite, tuff, and a little bit of sandstone too.

Taos, NM

Both during and after my undergraduate, I spent a total of 3 years as a woodworker and/or ski bum in Taos, NM, the most enchanting place I've ever lived. Taos is well known for it's art scene, delicious food, and its wealth of natural beauty. With the plunging Rio Grande Gorge to the west and the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. I've officially adopted Taos as my second home.

The Rio Grande Gorge, also known as the Taos Gorge, is well known for it's whitewater rafting and kayaking. However, for the less extreme among us, it is also home to several natural hot springs and excellent fishing.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains, NM

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, just east of Taos, made easy work of capturing most of my attention while I lived in northern New Mexico. While working and skiing at the local ski resort, Taos Ski Valley, I also made time to explore the less traveled areas of this region.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Blood of Christ, in English) get their name from their typical red hue during sunset. In this photo, my friend Timmy walks the ridgeline of No Name Peak, eyeing perfect corn snow on the faces below.

Corvallis, OR

After spending a healthy portion of my life exploring the southwest, I made the move to Corvallis, OR in 2016, to attend Oregon State University. I'm currently pursuing an M.S. degree in geotechnical engineering. When I'm not studying, I make time to explore the landscapes of Oregon and the greater Pacific Northwest. My current infatuation is the Cascade Mountain Range, but the trails around Corvallis offer plenty of fun without a 3 hour drive to the mountains.

This is the East Ridge Trail that leads to the summit of Mary's Peak, just outside of Corvallis. The mountain biking on Mary's Peak is difficult and exposed, but pays off hugely with nice views in the old groth forest.

The Cascades, OR

The Cascades are a picturesque reminder of Oregon's volatile geologic history. About 200 million years ago, the Cascadia Subduction Zone formed, setting the stage for widespread volcanism in Oregon. This volcanism is the source of the Cascades, Oregon's renowned alpine playground, which features ample opportunities for hiking and backcountry skiing. Furthermore, Oregon's volcanic history is also responsible for the formation of Smith Rock, which is known to the worldwide climbing community as the birthplace of American sport climbing.

On this particular day near Santiam Pass, the snow was light and soft, due to particularly low temperatures during the last storm.

Despite it's reputation, sometimes the clouds will part in Oregon, and the resulting views make it feel quite vast. This captures Mt. Jefferson and The Sisters from Mt. Hood on a high-vis day.

Storymap and Photos By: Nick Mathews

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