Trading Cold for the Canyon

First round RIMBY Scholarship winner Gregg Boydston decided to escape the harsh Eastern Sierra winter and head to the desert for a few weeks of sun and sand across the American southwest. We caught up with Gregg afterwards for a little chat about the winter, the desert, and his unreal dream trip.

For those who don’t know you, what’s your deal? Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Southern California. Eager to be in the mountains, I made the move to Mammoth Lakes, California where I can step outside my house and explore the Eastern Sierra right in my backyard. When I'm not fighting wildfires for the U.S. Forest Service, or traveling and camping with the best of them, I'm out and about adventuring the Eastern Sierra with a camera, cooler, and positive attitude. I started my creative work in animation, drawing, and photography. I worked for Apple Inc. for some years, exercising my creative side. Now I am a Hotshot Firefighter for the Forest Service, but I still express my creative side through outdoor photography, on the fire line or otherwise.

What’s your favorite part about the Snow Dream Season (February & March)? How do you normally make the most of it?

While living at 8,000 feet in the Eastern Sierras, winter isn't hard to find. There are so many options for snowy-weather fun just minutes from my doorstep. From hot springing to ripping some laps at the ski resort, I hit the winter months pretty hard. That being said, I don't mind leaving the snow for a bit to enjoy some of the mild desert weather. Thats why I went for the wild card spot with this trip.

Give us a brief timeline for the trip. Where did you go and when?

The end goal was a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon, but my mode of getting there was an adventure in itself. Instead of flying to Arizona, I made a car camping road trip out of it. After about 2 weeks, 2,000 miles, 4 states, and almost 10 different National and State Parks, the trip was complete. From Mammoth Lakes, to Death Valley National Park, to Valley of Fire State Park, to Snow Canyon State Park, to Horseshoe Bend, to Grand Canyon National Park, to Mojave National Preserve. Little stops here and there between tied it all together. Met a bunch of people, made some new friends, captured tons of photos, and created colorful memories.

What was your motivation for getting out into the desert rather than up into the snowy alpine?

The winter dream season is my everyday from about November to March. I spend most of that time doing the typical winter adventures. I kind of wanted to toss in something different and show that some of those adventures you save for summer can be done through the winter months as well. Desert destinations are busy and crowded in the warmer months, but are totally overlooked in the winter months. I opted for less crowds, mild weather, and a unique adventure.

Even in the winter, the Grand Canyon is a pretty heavily trafficked place. We know you can’t give up all the secrets, but what are one or two spots you’d recommend to find some solitude despite the crowds?

The second night in the Grand we left the comforts of the main trail and bush whacked up to an area called Utah Flats. I didn't hear nor see anyone from the time we left the cantina in the bottom of the canyon to the time we returned to water up the next afternoon. Solitude, for sure.

Describe the most delicious meal you ate during your trip.

This one is easy. My hobo foil packs over the campfire were so good. Made dinner for myself and a new friend I met along the way. Red taters, onion, bell peppers, and carrots, all in a foil wrapper and tossed on the campfire. What better thing to have on the side of my beer and onion boiled dutch oven beer brats right?

Multiday trips rarely go as smoothly as planned. What was the most challenging part of the trip? How did you overcome it?

Going in to this trip I knew I wanted to go about it with an attitude of, “slow down, don't get sucked in trying to take a ton of photos and see everything along the way.” Well, That was fairly hard to stay true to as everywhere I explored left me wanting more days to see it and more time to take more photos. Everything was gorgeous. It was hard not to haul my camera everywhere, or not to have my nose stuck in the map looking for the next sweet spot to check out.

What piece of gear or clothing would you consider absolutely indispensable on this trip?

The weather was honestly perfect the entire time. Mild and dry. I wore the MS014 LS Performance Tee the entire backpacking portion of the trip. While the weather was warm, the MS020 Hooded Down Jacket still served me well on those crisp mornings over a cup of coffee. Did I mention it makes a super cushy pillow?




Field Agent Gregg Boydston is a backpacker, photographer, father, and wilderness fire fighter nestled in California's Eastern Sierras. To keep up with Gregg, check out his instagram and website. For information on how to become a Mountain Standard Field Agent, click here.

What the heck is a RIMBY Scholarship?
Mountain Standard is stoked to fund a handful of badass Field Agents on dream excursions across the country. Each season, agents can apply for a RIMBY Scholarship to cover some of the gear costs for their proposed trips. Gregg Boydston's Southwestern trek is just one of the trips we helped fund this season. For more information on how to become a Mountain Standard Field Agent, click here.

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