Back in October of 2017 our Digital Content Director, Brennah Rosenthal, freelance photographer, Seth Langbauer, Director of Production McCall Sides, along with a group of Mountain Standard Field Agents and friends took off on an 8-day road trip to visit some Colorado’s most iconic outdoor locations. The goal was to bring Mountain Standard to life across the state we call home.
Where did the idea for the Colorado Road Trip come from?
Brennah: About 2 or so years ago Seth came into our office, and at the time we were making a brand book to really define where we were going with Mountain Standard as a brand. Seth saw our progress pinned up on the wall, and the idea stemmed from seeing that brand book. We were placing a lot of focus on local guides, and I think that sparked this idea of a Colorado tour/road trip to explore all of these places that not everyone has seen, that we wanted to bring Mountain Standard to life in.
Seth: The general premise was to gather a group of great people who work with Mountain Standard, or are associated with the company in one way or another, and basically travel around Colorado to all of these legendary spots. Along the way we would we try to set ourselves up for the most organic, authentic content we could produce.
The result was a great combo of content where we're using Mountain Standard product in the mountains, then going into coffee shops or breweries. It truly is what our audience is doing day to day. Personally, I know that on my weekends I'll go out climbing until 3pm then stop into a brewery on my way home and have a beer.
The main goal was to create as much authentic, genuine content as possible. Along the way we would meet up with people who were either local or had local connections, and have them show us around their #RIMBY while we captured everything that came our way. The idea was the ultimate Colorado road trip, capturing Coloradans doing what they love most.
Brennah: For me, the main goal was photographing these places that may be familiar to some, but are totally new to others. I've lived in CO for 6 years and haven't even touched half of the places that we went on this trip. To see new places and to meet new people in these places was the most important part about this trip. There was no point in time that anyone on the trip wasn't having fun exploring these new areas and playing in these areas in the state they live in.
Everyone who was with us on the trip lives in CO either in the locations we went to or came to meet us from back in Boulder or Denver. We met people that live in the areas, the locals. They shared knowledge with us, we shared some stuff with them and that was really cool.
How did you decide what locations you wanted to photograph?
Seth: We bounced around ideas for locations a lot before this trip. We were trying to decide what would logistically work and obviously what were some of the best and most beautiful places to shoot.
Brennah: We hit rivers, we hit mountains, we hit the desert. That’s 3 out of 4 of the terrain regions of the Mountain Standard time zone right in Colorado which is totally crazy. You can hit all these different landscapes in such a short distance and period of time.
THE ROAD TRIP ROUTE
DAY 1: BOULDER
Brennah: We started Day 1 off in Boulder super early in the morning, going hiking with Andy (who works for Mountain Standard), Mariel (Corbitt, Field Agent), and Evi (who designs and develops a lot of the product for MS). It was cool having Evi there because she’s super close with the product and how it all gets designed, worn, and styled.
That same day went bouldering up in the Flatirons with Mariel, Carl (Stahoviak, Field Agent) and myself. We did a bunch of super easy climbs, actually near some of the first bouldering I ever did in Colorado.
DAY 2: BOULDER to ASPEN
Brennah: The second day we woke up super early again and did some fly fishing in Boulder with Evi, and my friend Allie Murphy. I met Allie through some friends of the MS brand who are developing their own fly fishing company. Allie works at a local fly fishing shop in Boulder which is super cool because she knows the riverways and fly fishing better than anyone I’ve ever met.
I know nothing about it myself, but learned a lot from her that day. Allie offered right away to teach anyone and everyone how to fly fish cause she's super passionate about it. Evi's been fly fishing with her dad for years. She’s a native of Colorado, and comes from generations of native Coloradans (which is rare). She’s learned to fly fish from her family over the years, and now goes with her dad a bunch. You can tell she really loves it and is super calm while she’s in the water.
That afternoon we left Boulder and drove to Aspen to meet up with the rest of our crew. We were joined by: Michael (Rosato, Field Agent), a climber friend of mine who I met years ago at a campsite in Joe’s Valley, UT; and Stephen Martin, who crushes 14ers and runs an Instagram account for his super cool dog, Ollie.
DAY 3: ASPEN
Brennah: Before the trip, we sent out an invite email hoping to meet up with as many Field Agents as we could along the route. Ashley Martin was one of the people we connected with prior to the trip. We knew that she was super passionate about trail running, and we wanted to shoot trail running in the Aspen area so she picked one of her favorite trail running spots, and we met her on the trail with Stephen, Mariel and Ollie. She was super fast and had a smile on her face the entire time. She would have kicked all of our asses up that mountain if we had let her.
That same afternoon we drove up Independence Pass to go bouldering. I have been a climber for 13 years and had never even touched any of the climbing in Aspen. The bouldering is incredible. It's right off the side of the road, the landings are pretty good and there’s a bunch of different grades. You could see Michael's eyes just light up when we pulled off into the parking lot. He wanted to climb everything. We all spent the rest of the day climbing together, and Michael ended up finishing a super cool overhanging climb.
DAY 4: ASPEN to FRUITA
Brennah: I got got sick so hard all of a sudden at the end of Wednesday night. My body was so excited to do all these things that I drove myself into the ground after just a few days on the road. I stayed in bed on Thursday morning while Seth, Evi, Stephen, and the crew went for a hike. It's all they talked about for 3 days after the fact. I was super jealous.
After their morning hike, we packed everything up and headed to Fruita. We camped that night and made Doughboys around the fire (toasted biscuits filled with marshmallow, peanut butter, and chocolate. Amazing.)
DAY 5: FRUITA
Brennah: Friday was a rest day for us while we scouted locations for the next portion of the shoot, and waited for our next group to get into town.
During that day, we had stopped in Best Slope Coffee to juice up when McCall (our Director of Production) ran into an old friend, Hannah, that he knew from college. We asked her if she wanted to hang at camp and join the photoshoot and she jumped right in. We had a super good time time with her cooking dinner and bs-ing around the campfire and now I have a contact in Fruita to climb with next time I’m in town.
DAY 6: FRUITA PT. 2
Brennah: By the time we woke up on Saturday, the rest of the crew had arrived at camp. Everyone got their asses out of their tents super early that morning, and we shot mountain biking and trail running with the whole group.
Matt (Nesmith) and Seth’s cousin, Reed, are both experienced mountain bikers so it was awesome to watch them ride the more technical downhill sections of trail and see their eyes light up with excitement. I’m super new to mountain biking, but Fruita is such a MTB playground that everyone can find something incredible to ride. We had to wrap up the shoot when Reed’s chain broke, but got to spend the rest of the day exploring Fruita and enjoying the town. We had our last campfire of the trip that night and chowed on Mountain Standard salsas, grilled up some hot dogs and brats, and reminisced about the trip with s’mores around the fire.
DAY 7: TRAVEL & SILVERTON
Brennah: The next morning everyone went their separate ways. Me, Seth, and McCall took off towards Durango and ended up stopping in Silverton where we met Mariel (Corbitt) and her husband, Brandon. Silverton looks like an old mining town straight out of a Western movie surrounded by huge mountains. I’m totally obsessed with the town after my first visit. The detour was quick, and we stopped in Avalanche Brewing for food and beers before finishing the drive towards Durango where we would spend the night.
DAY 8: DURANGO
Brennah: A couple months back, Mountain Standard was at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival as a vendor when we met John Hartley and learned about his company, Tonto Trails. We ended up keeping in touch with John and met up with him in Durango this Monday. He was an incredible guide, and took us on a hike up the Animas Mountain Trail before we into town to stop at Durango Roasters for a morning coffee.
John and his wife, Julie, are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and their company Tonto Trails rents out Sportsmobiles to people looking for some unrestricted, off-the-beaten-trail travel. They let us borrow one of the Sportsmobiles for the night, and we tested out the set-up on a quiet stretch of private riverfront that John calls The Beach.
We finished up the road trip drinking beers with John and Julie around the campfire and getting to know their story. I think we saved one of the best nights of the trip for the very end.
THE ROAD TRIP RECAP
Seth: We set out on this trip knowing things would go wrong. Sometimes when things go wrong it makes for an even better time. Those moments, or just after them, are the most fun. We designed the trip pretty loose and were able to meet up with new people like Hannah, and John; make small location changes like stopping in Silverton and having beers there instead of spending the evening in Durango. Everything that went wrong, went wrong on paper but I think some of the content we got couldn’t have been better.
Brennah: I think when we had originally planned the trip we wanted to use all these people who were hyper affiliated with Mountain Standard -- brand ambassadors and Field Agents. At the same time, we ran into and invited a bunch of different people that maybe didn’t know as much about the brand as they do now after being on the trip with us.
It's cool to meet the people who are working in the breweries and coffee shops that lend the best information. You can think you're organized going into something like this but I think the curve balls that the trip threw us ended up being kind of a blessing in disguise. One girl in one of the coffee shops along the way said she saw all of us wearing this Mountain Standard stuff and looked us up and bought something online right after we left. Having the rub off in these towns was really important for us.
Seth: When we first started this project we didn’t have a real story in mind. The general idea was to set ourselves up to document a story that would unfold. We had a great group of people that would be meeting along the way, and different locations around the state. Within that, hopefully a story would come about.
Seth: On the last day, we decided to go to a hot spring that a friend of mine from Montana had recommended. We didn’t have a need to shoot anymore, but i really wanted to check out this area so we ended up taking a dirt road 45 mins out of the way and walked 1.5 miles not totally sure where this thing was. We ended up finding this sweet little hot spring that’s got all these pools right on the edge of a river. I needed to see that or I was gonna regret it. If you're somewhere beautiful, you should try to experience it.
Brennah: This trip proved that everything we make at MS is pretty versatile for every different town and location in Colorado. There's a piece in our line for every use whether you’re mountain biking, climbing, hanging out at camp, walking around town, having the right layers you need when it gets too cold, having a shell for when it rains. This trip proved that our stuff is reliable in the mountains, and in the mountain towns.
Brennah: For me, being new to mountain biking, seeing Fruita for the first time was really awesome. I texted all my friends who I know love the sport and said you have to come back here with me. I had a smile on my face all the way down the trail. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with mountain biking because I’ve been a climber for 13 years and don’t remember what it’s like to try something new. It can be frustrating having to take time to get good at something that’s also scary as shit. Having the right people with you in those learning scenarios is awesome. I’m comfortable riding slow with Matt (Nesmith) even though he’s an amazing ride. He’s not gonna care.
Seth: Explaining the feeling of being outside is tricky. There are times it’s awesome, but also times when it’s exhausting and you’d rather be home in bed. It’s really hard not to get sucked up into photographing every moment, but I always find that the moments you can’t capture usually result in the best memories. I always make a point to recreate without a camera. Sometimes I regret it, but that’s also what keeps me coming back to get that shot I missed. Those memories that are there just for yourself seem to stick a little longer though.
Brennah: A lot of the times I want to capture the moment with my phone or camera and share it with the world. But there’s other times where you kind of have to sit back and soak it all in for yourself and commit it to memory. Commit it to the stories that you tell about the people you were there with, the stories you're gonna tell to the people you come home to. Looking back at a photo can spark a hidden memory that maybe you couldn’t capture with a camera.
Here's a list of places we stopped at along the way that we highly recommend!
Avalanche Brewing Co.
All photos by Seth Langbauer, video by McCall Sides.
Huge thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible, from the Field Agents who volunteered their time during our shoots,
to the countless locals who welcomed us into their RIMBY for the ultimate Colorado experience.
Power On Compadres!