While most of the world thinks of sunshine and beaches when you hear the words “southern California,” there are some charming, sleepy mountain towns hiding in the roaring hills of San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles alike. On the right day, you can be standing in a pile of snow while staring out at the glow of the Pacific ocean far off in the distance from a vista point on the side of a lonely highway. It’s possible to jog the coast in the morning, build a snowman in the afternoon and have a cozy fireside dinner as snow falls gently outside the window. Not every day… but certainly some.
Nestled among the San Jacinto mountains, Idyllwild, California is a popular destination for the weekend warriors of the world. Tall pines, sweet cedars and unique rock formations make this small town feel like you’re as far from the city as possible—far away from all the traffic jams and urban clutter; this, that and the other. It takes about two hours to get there, whether you’re coming from LA, San Diego or even the opposite side of the mountain from places like Palm Springs and its surrounding areas. Known for its nature, trails, hiking and mountain-town-charm, we felt it was the perfect place to spend a few days shooting some trail running and exploring for the first installment of our new Lasso video series, Out of Office—a series highlighting high-performing individuals as they unplug from their personal daily grind to engage with their desired subcultures as a way of finding balance to help them Stay Moving!
There was a mutual respect between the town and our goals. We were there to put our Lasso's to the test, log some miles, trek some altitude and bask in the benefits after each long day as our socks were the simple ingredient to our recipe of recovery. Safe to say Idyllwild delivered and we’re grateful for the experience.
Our creative director, Nev and cinematographer, Alex had never been to Idyllwild but arrived on a perfect day. They met me in the middle of town on Sunday afternoon—the Sunday after Thanksgiving—as I sat watching some live, local music. (Fun fact: I had actually just sang karaoke with the lead singer of the band playing the weekend before - ha!) I came up the hill from San Diego and had the entire Palms to Pines highway to myself. Nev and Alex drove up from Los Angeles on the north side of the mountain. Our paths crossed about seven miles south in Mountain Center. We said our hellos and—in true Lasso fashion—immediately got to business as we hit up a small lake trail and a few pull-off vista points about 12 miles outside of town. Some days feel like they are straight out of a magazine. It’s like we’re flipping through the pages of our life as we’re living it in all the best ways. I’m not sure if that’s considered living in the moment but I need no definition to define the lingering feeling of excitement we all felt those first few hours. This was bound to be a quick trip and we had a lot to squeeze in a short amount of time.
We spent Sunday afternoon shooting and exploring more locations for Monday. Sparing no time, we hit three different locations in the few hours we had before the sun set. Not a minute was wasted as we shot, explored and took some time to simply stare off and appreciate the beauty in front of us. We went into town that night and decided to keep dinner simple—pizza and beers at the local pizza joint in town. We carbo-loaded and had an early night as we eagerly prepared for our 5am wakeup call the following morning. Day one came and went. We were off to a great start.
Feeling like I had just shut my eyes, multiple alarms were heard like sirens in the quiet morning air. The day had officially started. Beep. Beep. Beep. We were up, Lasso's on and out the door for Part 1 of the day's shoot. We started the day with a seven mile sunrise run to ultimately to get our juices flowing. No stranger to shooting out the back of moving vehicles, Alex and his vision aligned as the sun was rising over the San Jacinto mountains. The energy was high and our endorphins were fully engaged.
We got back to the cabin around 8am and made another fresh pot of coffee as Nev chopped up sausages, fried up some bacon and a vegetable medley with asparagus, onions and mushrooms—pure fuel and energy for our bodies. The day had already been a success and most of the birds in the trees hadn't even began singing their morning songs yet. We shot a bit around the cabin and hopped on our laptops to do a little work before loading back up and getting back out. It was a beautiful morning, blue skies and perfect weather. We had multiple locations to hit on our list that we had scouted the day before, including one of Idyllwild’s most infamous trails, Suicide Rock—an uphill trek that offers views as far as the eyes can see once atop.
A sea of pines rested quietly below us and a chilly breeze caressed our sweaty shirts as we made the final turn on the trail and approached the peak. Suicide Rock wasn’t any easier or harder than I remembered, but all the camera equipment we carried certainly added to the overall experience. But, after all, that was why we were there! We each carried multiple bags, cameras, a tripod and of course some water and snacks, stopping now and then at locations to shoot photos along the way. Reaching the peak was as rewarding as I remember and we spent a decent amount of time at Suicide Rock before the sun began to set. The last mile and a half was trekked back in the dark. As every minute passed, deep orange and purple watercolors painted the sky, distracting us from time-to-time. We talked philosophy and ideals and a bunch of other stuff that is often better spoken in the dim light of the evening, the night vision on Alex's Hi8 camera acting as our only guiding light.
One small fact of life is we don’t get time back. We’re infants who turn into children who turn into teens who ultimately turn into adults and everything we do throughout the process happens and arguably disappears. At least in a tangible sense. Memories on the other hand, those can last forever, as they say. And it’s documenting, experiencing and putting yourself out there that allows you to receive these priceless gifts—whether it’s a shoebox full of photos, a bin of old videos or a hard drive full of files. These trips are merely pieces of that glorified puzzle, and at the end of the day, we’re on a mission to make you feel the same way. They're a reason to break out of your comfort zone, experience a little vulnerability and all the while, stay active and healthy.
There's no denying the hike (and long day in general) was easier with Lasso socks hugging our feet. Socks are often neglected as shoes and apparel seem to always steal the show, but they're not something to overlook. Strong foot and ankle health is so important and we were able to break through any obstacle that stood in our way. We're firm believers that better movement starts from the feet up. So if you’re itching for things like longer hikes, days that turn into night, breaking your next personal record or simply in need of some honest recovery, look no further than Lasso—your feet and ankles will certainly love you for it. Ours did.
It’s not the craziest thing in the world to watch a sunrise and sunset on the same day—in fact, most of you reading this probably do it daily, as do I most days admittedly. But all circumstances are different. All eyes see the sun rise and set in their own way. And we’re glad we got to share those moments together. Life can be so simple. So rewarding. It just takes that first step. Everything that follows is up to you—and that’s the beauty. Perspective. Ambition. Mix them up with some wanderlust and curiosity and there’s no way whatever you set out to do won’t bring fulfillment.
As we sat at the Lumbermill Bar and Grille on the outskirts of town on Monday night, heads in our hands, exhausted as all hell, there was a mutual, unspoken feeling of success. We had done what we set out to do. We felt we had earned our dinner and a few beers that night. Tuesday morning came fast. After shooting some interviews and enjoying a fire inside the cabin the night before, we all slept like babies as a small storm began creeping into town. We were up and out early, beating the rain and potential snow, and before we knew it, we were back down the mountain heading home in opposite directions.
At the end of the day, each of us here at Lasso are on a mission to make the world move better one step at a time. And as the Lasso family grows, we continue to do it together. So, let’s go scare the crows. Let’s make footprints on a route of our own. Let’s pause and appreciate the smallest moments that come through the desire to move better and live healthier—a gentle breeze mid-hike, singing birds at the peak, a sheet of mist caressing your cheek as you run through the pines. In an increasingly digital world, we need to remember to unplug, get outside, and stay moving as often as possible. And every product we design is built to inspire that notion.
With that said—we'll see you under the trees, by the creek, on the trails...
Just remember—the next time nature calls, answer.
Thank you, Idyllwild.
Unplug. Get out. Stay Moving.
Words: Brian Blakely
Photography: Ryan Nevarez / Alex Heller
Video: Alex Heller