So many continents, so little time

Unlike our other adventures around the world, our recent trip to Morocco meant more. That trip marked the end of an era filled with adventure, leading to Sean backcountry snowboarding all seven continents, and me skiing five. The end of that journey marks the beginning of a completely new one for us. (One that we’re excited to tell you more about in the coming months!) To honor that chapter of our lives, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane today—bear with me… 4 years is a long time.

I began my journey with Sean in 2010. He, having taken part on major backcountry snowboard expeditions on many continents at the time (including Antarctica twice), wanted to see more. He wanted to ride all 7 continents before the age of 30, all via the backcountry in remote mountain ranges. And me? I was stoked to be along for the ride… I didn’t even have a passport! And thus, to adventure with Sean, meant I would learn to backcountry ski along the way.

90

105
We…er I, began in New Zealand, and then Australia while Sean was guiding a backcountry trip in that region. Testing my boundaries for adventure at my own pace the backcountry of Australia allowed me to push a bit further; it was wildly foreign for me at the time but comfortable and safe, with kind, English-speaking locals, kangaroo poo scattered along our snow-covered skin track, and a descent in crusty slush - a first for me.

DSC_0884

DSC_0950

IMG_5718

 

300353_10150373555555804_1241271777_n

 

IMG_5739

Then, a ski expedition to Iceland was in the cards. Cheap tickets were booked and we managed to convince our friends Russ and Brittany (who would much rather travel to warmer climates and rock climb) to visit this exotic climate with us in the dead of winter for “spring break.” Of course, they served a special purpose in addition to great company—they carried the ring that Sean proposed with. I remember that morning, Sean was in such a hurry to leave our lodging, we packed our car, and he had a brief conversation with Russ at the trunk of their rental car, presumably to discuss where we would meet up later that evening (but actually to get the ring). After he positioned the camera in front of Godafoss, a massive, frozen waterfall on the north central part of Iceland, he got down on one knee and I made it official by saying yes.

IMG_5217

 

DSC_0057

DSC_0164

DSC_0150

DSC_0222

P3260813

20110323-IMG_9156
20110325-IMG_9334

IMG_4627-modi

So, amidst wedding planning began the planning for our honeymoon to ski and ride Romania’s and Bulgaria’s backcountry. I remember lighting candles in a Romanian church on Christmas night, and praying for the health and happiness of all our friends, family, acquaintances, and for our own future as a couple. I remember ski touring in Bulgaria and feeling for the first time that we had ascended true wilderness, far from the creature comforts we had on previous trips.

IMG_7657

IMG_7737

IMG_7996

IMG_8146

IMG_8484

IMG_9072

IMG_9311

After that, it was onto the next adventure, which also involved Russ and Britt. We procured a 1977 Dodge Travel Queen motor home and Russ (with our assistance) spent five months repairing her and converting her to run on waste veggie oil and solar power. During that winter before the travel queen’s departure, I joined up with Sean on his return from an expedition in Canada’s Newfoundland while in route to the Canadian Yukon with our friend Alex, getting us even more stoked to drive ourselves to that part of the world in June.

GOPR1141

IMG_2705

IMG_2747

IMG_5436

IMG_2345

IMG_2363

Without going into too much detail (click here for a day by day account) we left Utah at the end of May 2012 and spent 32 days in the Travel Queen—Sean, myself, Britt, Russ, and their dog, Ava. We drove from Utah to Alaska and back, skiing, climbing, and biking along the way. It was a trip none of us did for anyone else - there was no ring carrying. The trip was purely about seeking out adventures together, and learning more about just how far friendships can be tested, and just how far a 1977 motorhome could carry us. We can proudly say the TQ is still alive and kicking, and we’ve purchased the rig from the Hopkins’ and she lives on our land in Montana, waiting for her next big voyage.

DSC_0004

IMG_6006

DSC_0543

DSC_0573

DSC_0574

 

IMG_7174

IMG_7395

IMG_6302

Screen-Shot-2012-09-24-at-4.59.06-PM

Then, with a sense of urgency (Sean turned 28, and I, 26) we realized we needed to get to Asia. And while Japan’s nipple-deep powder was tempting, Sean was taken by a small country called Kyrgyzstan due to it’s remote location in Asia. I remember the day he brought it up to me: “Mollie. It’s a country that’s 98% mountainous.” And so the planning began. There, we realized that some ski trips aren’t just about the skiing or the summit shots. Rather, the people we encountered… the kids so passionate about skiing and the families that took us in, cooked for us authentic food and took time to chat with us about life in America and tell us more about the depth and beauty of Kyrgyzstan. We hope to return to ski with the guys we met there, who embody the closest thing we’ve found to the true spirit of skiing.

IMG_7594

IMG_7687

IMG_6087-copy

IMG_6136

Then a trip to Norway was seemingly booked overnight… Sean had convinced three others to join us in April 2013, in a small town called Lyngseidet above the Arctic Circle. The trip delivered exactly what we promised ourselves… A comfortable part of the world featuring some of the most incredible alpine/splitboard touring we’ve experienced in our lives and 24 hours of daylight. Although we spent 2 weeks there, we could have stayed much longer, as the draw of the midnight sun pulled us deeper and deeper into her hold. (Photos below courtesy of Andrew Meehan Photography.)

AMP_6216

AMP_6317

AMP_7727

AMP_7742

Then two trips at the end of 2013 emerged. A trip to China and a trip to Japan because, well… you can’t resist nipple-deep powder forever. As the Hopkins had traveled with us to Iceland, we combined our powder search to return the favor and traveled to China to learn what the heck they’re doing over there, as they’ve been living in Beijing since August 2013. Life in China is certainly different, dynamic, and filled with a culture so different from our own. But perhaps the best part, to see them in action—thriving and happy—we felt at ease. And excited to see where life takes them next. (Sorry for this next awkward family photo at the Terra Cotta Warriors… it’s the only photo I have of the four of us!)

IMG_7194

Lack of snow in China had us seeking out lift-served terrain. Getting some turns in at China’s man-made ski resort, surrounded by the Great Wall of China on three sides:IMG_6624

IMG_6719

Japan was a treat, and we got to see the country from the comfort of a rental car and our own two feet… Exploring mountains and earning some of the most incredible, deep turns of our life. Straight up snorkeling…

IMG_6442

IMG_6511

Then, the culmination of this four-year journey - Africa. After getting through Marrakech, Morocco and into the Berber village of Imlil, I can tell you my conscious was weary. A lot of pressure was riding on that expedition, and Sean had worked so hard to pinch our pennies (not my forte), and to plan a trip that was both meaningful and safe. We poured four years, so many countless hours, and a massive chunk of our savings to make this dream happen. A 6-hour hike, to an elevation of 10,500 feet into the remote High Atlas Mountains was all that stood between us and skiing Africa. I’m not going to lie and tell you the hike was easy. It was more… epic than anything. But as I trudged up and up through rocky fields and snow-packed paths, the African sun beating down from a blue-bird sky, the trek started to feel like the perfect metaphor for my last four years. An epic journey on which I’ve always “gone with the flow,” following behind Sean on his quest. It didn’t take long for me to recognize that I, too, have accomplished a goal.

IMG_0783

image_1

photo-1

photo-3

photo-4

What started as Sean’s quest to ride seven continents, spurred my own journey to ski five (Australia, Europe, Asia, North America, Africa….someday six, though Sean says I should just go big, and do all seven). That’s not something that all women are blessed with the drive, or the support to do. Not to mention, the willingness to sacrifice one’s own concept of “adventure” and intertwine it with someone else’s. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity, and for the first time in a long time, I feel proud of myself AND of Sean. We have accomplished this goal together—finished. It’s DONE! I read somewhere that the places we visit are often extensions of ourselves… places of peace and tranquility—the things our souls crave. Morocco absolutely filled that void in my life, and I’ve come away energized and excited for our upcoming Busby projects and goals.

I’ll never forget the look on Sean’s face after our first day of skiing the High Atlas Mountains in Africa, his seventh continent. He grinned (a grin I hadn’t seen since we arrived in the country) and said, “We did it.”

So proud. So humbled. So stoked to be back in Montana — and ready for the next big thing!

No comments

Inspired? Tell us about it...