Braaaaaaaap! The sound of Andy’s YZ two-stroke engine filled my ears as he grabbed a handful of throttle and took off down the trail. With a smile from ear to ear, I quickly put my little machine into gear and headed after him. Up the mountain we went – over big, knarly roots, around winding switchbacks and through endless rock gardens. When we finally got to the top, the trail took us along the cliffside – with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains, it’s pretty hard to not stop and take in the beauty of the moment… and that is just what we did.
As professional photographers and athletes, Andy and I spend a large part of our life together adventuring – sometimes close to our home in Naches, WA, other times far, far away on the other side of the world. In the winter months, skiing takes priority for both of us. White Pass is our local playground but a yearly trip to Japan to shred their endless powder as well as trips to Europe, British Columbia and snow-laden states (Colorado, Alaska, Utah, Montana, etc) takes up most of our time in the colder months. Sometimes we tour in the backcountry to our shooting spots, other times, we get lifts from helicopters and/or snow cats.
When the spring flowers start to blossom, we are usually switching gears a bit – corn snow in the PNW and powder in Alaska are still on our radar, but mountain biking starts to play a larger role in our daily adventure activities. From building our own free-ride trails to pedaling through forests in search of new terrain, shredding our local trail systems to spending afternoons shuttling downhill trails with our friends, we truly enjoy time in the saddle.
Summer sunshine and hot temps mean time on the river for Andy and I. The Naches, Tieton and American Rivers (as well as Rimrock Lake) near our home make insane playgrounds when we want to get on the water with our SUPs. From shredding the rapids of the rivers to catching waves on the coast, we spend a lot of time checking out new terrain (via Google Earth) and then exploring these new waterways via our paddleboards.
The hot, hot heat of the summer in Eastern Washington also means truck work for Andy and yard/house work for the both of us. Whether he is switching out the transmission on our old ’79 toyota pick-up, putting new brake pads on our Subaru or working on the wiring for our Toyota 4×4 off-roading machine, Andy is in his happy place covered in grease and listening to underground R&B in our shop out back. We both also get insane famer’s tans while harvesting rocks for our flowerbeds, getting our garden and berries in check and keeping the flowers and grass lush and beautiful even in the crazy 100+ temps.
Fall colors and cooling temps means moto time for this couple. The trail systems near Naches are endless – and the views from the ridgelines are breathtaking. Hill climbs, switchbacks, and dusty, rocky terrain make both the ascent and descent fun – and definitely keep us on our toes.
Following Andy down the last ridgeline, I follow his lead and shut my engine off – coasting down the last little bit of trail that shoots us out at the truck. As I take my helmet off, I smile, looking over at Andy. As always, my dirt mustache is epic – I love seeing the look on his face when he takes in the artistic masterpiece of my post-ride “facial hair”. He looks up and can’t hold in his laughter – works every time.
From exploring backcountry terrain and shooting photos in Japan together to embarking on adventures near our home in Naches, to working in our yard or having a few brews with our friends post bike ride, our work and play lives are intertwined. Our shared passions, goals, morals and aspirations are the glue that keeps us together. Andy and I love the outdoors – and having wedding rings that allow us to enjoy every adventure (and every crazy aspect of our life together) is a pretty amazing thing.
Written by Shannon Skouras -QALO Team Member