The Fun Scale: Ep 2 // Bushwhacking

Activity: Bushwhacking

Fun Scale Rating: Type II Fun

Colorado has a lot of trails. A LOT. But for some reason unbeknownst to most hikers, the intrepid few continue to head into the bush in search of pristine campsites and secluded lakes. While the rewards are bountiful, charging up a valley and then climbing a mountain without a trail is no easy task. The constant navigational requirement takes a huge physical and mental toll compared to zoning out on a trail and stomping one foot in front of the other.

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Miles of Type II Fun in exchange for a few nights of remote backcountry camping is a small price to pay for Andy, our main character for Episode 2 of The Fun Scale.

Not sure what Type II Fun is? Read our Levels of Fun Ranking System >

Deep in the San Juans of Colorado lies a lake named Leviathan. It sits below a peak of the same name and features one of the best cliffjumping spots I've ever seen in Colorado. That being said, it's extremely difficult to access. We approached from Hunchback Mountain starting at 10am, and found ourselves at the base of the valley 6 miles later. After crossing Vallecito Creek, you can expect to enjoy 3 miles and 2600' of thick trees and steep boulder fields. We found the river to be the easiest route up, jumping from rock to rock and scrambling up the waterfalls. 

leviathan lake map
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After 7 hours on the trail, we found our destination right in time for a hail storm. Waking up the next morning however, we fired up our Alpine Start instant coffee and waited for the sun to greet our cheeks.

Alpine Start Foods Instant Coffee

The weather windows are short in the San Juans, but for a few hours we were treated to enough sun for a day on the water.

leviathan lake swimming

Bushwhacking is not easy, but it's always worth it when you wake up in paradise.

The Fun Scale: Ep 1 // Barefoot Waterskiing

Activity: Barefoot Waterskiing

Fun Scale Level: Type 1.5 Fun

Barefooting is a water activity unlike any other. At 40+mph during the morning calm, you have the ability to walk on water. Episode 1 of The Fun Scale introduces you to Wes Gabel, a Wisconsin native that's been playing in the water his entire life. After joining the Minocqua Bat Amateur Waterski Club, he continued to hone his skills and develop an uncanny sense of poise at high speed.

While barefooting is incredibly fun and nearly anyone can learn to barefoot waterski, Wes did rate it a 1.5 on the fun scale, because to be frank, there is no easy way to stop barefooting. Your only option is a controlled crash landing. The quickest exit is to simply let go of the rope, but regardless of the dismount, it's a tumble.

Not sure what Type 1.5 Fun is? Read our Levels of Fun Ranking System >

  Author, barefooting at sunrise

Author, barefooting at sunrise

I'd agree with the rating. As a barefooter myself, it's an absolutely addictive adrenaline rush to skip across the water at high speed on your bare feet. However, the rogue wave or segment of choppy water can sneak up from anywhere, snag your pinky toe, and send you into a cartwheeling splash. As you learn to read water and anticipate messy waves that might take you down, you get better at recognizing when to tuck and roll to avoid tomahawking faceplants.

 

How to Try Barefooting:

1. Go out in the early morning. Calm water is the most important part. Even small ripples from a soft breeze can cause problems when you're just learning.

2. Try a boom, or just use a ski rope. Some people think you have to learn with a boom, but the purists know how to get up "long-line" using a long rope and either stepping off a ski or starting in the water.

3. Floor it! The faster the better. There is no benefit in finding a sweet spot between 37 and 39 mph because you're scared to fall at higher speed. You're gonna fall no matter what, so if you go 42mph, at least you won't sink beforehand.

4. Feet wide, knees together, hips back. See the photo above? I look like I'm about to sit down and use a toilet. That's where you want to be. The farther back you can shift your weight and the longer you can keep your arms, the less likely you tomahawk.

5. Don't look down! There is nothing cool happening down at your feet. Your eyes need to be focused on the water in front of you. If you're getting spray in the eyes, try pulling your feet a little closer together and standing taller.