Subaru American Outback DiarySpecial to ESPN SportsZone
Diary 7Skiing record
Have you ever thought of how exhilarating it would be to ski Mt. Everest from top to bottom? Not to base camp like people usually think of when skiing or snowboarding the world's biggest mountain. I mean literally top to bottom.
All 29,141 feet -- 5½ miles above sea level. It's impossible to do, but just imagine the feeling. Now imagine the pain of skiing its equivalent, 11 times in 10 hours. I don't think you can.
We had the opportunity to be part of a world-record attempt at the most vertical feet skied in one day, sunrise to sunset. You can be part of it, too. At least as much as any of us will ever be because what you see is not done by mere mortals.
At an average speed of 70 mph, Rusty Squire must complete a run every three minutes. That means ski the 8¼-mile course, get in the helicopter, return to the top and do it all over again, without stopping for 10 hours.
Of course this can't be done alone. Over 60 staff members are on hand, flying the chopper, grooming the course, waxing and rotating the 10 pairs of skis. Take a look at something that may never be done again.
By the way Rusty didn't do it just to get his name in the record books. All the publicity goes to charity (kids with cancer). Athletes really can make a difference.
Ski Joring in Wyoming
In the 1928 Olympics in San Moritz, there was an event called ski joring. Who knew that in 1998 we would be doing it, too?
Joring is a word with Scandinavian roots. It means "to be driven or propelled by caribou or reindeer." Skiers have also used dogs and snow mobiles but in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and who knows where else, ski joring has been Westernized. Bring in horses and cowboys, mix them with skiers and you have the makings of a wild, fast, no-holds-barred sport.
It's a one-of-a-kind event: a quarter-mile oval with four jumps of 5 feet, each intermingled with gates. To get around and over this course, you're being pulled by a cowboy and his horse going at full tilt. By the way, there's no handle to hang on to - just a rope. Told you it was Westernized.
How do I know it's a one-of-a-kind event? I did it! And I've never been behind a horse I trusted. But when you're launched and you land, you'll forever trust your horse and its cowboy. You'll feel such a thrill that you'll never be able to put it into words.
Diary 5Montana, Gallatin River and Powder Eights
What do you do in Montana in the dead of winter? If you're adventurous, anything you want and if you're lucky enough to hook up with guide Brad Darsch from East Slope Anglers, you'll be fly-fishing in heaven.
That's right -- in the dead of winter so you'll have to dress a little warmer but the rewards are worth it because you're all alone because only one in 10 fly fisherman actually brave the winter elements. That means more fish for your flies, and don't forget: The fish don't know it's cold.
We were on the Gallatin, a postcard river that meanders through Big Sky country to Yellowstone. You can just imagine the beauty and there is no shortage of holes to drop a line in. Snowflaked trees border its banks; the ice-covered rocks can make walking tough but with the right gear and the right guide, you'll be pulling in so many rainbow and cutthroat trout that the ice will only add to your sense overload as the fish sparkle off its shine.
Aside from the fishing, you'll ski but what we left that to the seasoned vets. Dridger Bowl was the site for the Powder Eight Championships. What's that? High speed synchronized team skiing through fresh powder, over moguls and bordering trees.
When the pair is good, you'd swear they were attached. Ballet on snow at its finest. When you see the best do it, it looks easy. But don't let your eyes fool you. Try it and you'll have an idea of just how good these skiers are.
Diary 4Mazatlan, Mexico When you're doing an outside show, you are obviously caught in the whims of nature. You need snow to ski, clear skies to sky jump and if you're doing a segment on fishing, you better catch some fish.
At the beautiful El Cid Marina in Mazatlan, Mexico, you want to take advantage of all the types of fish that are there. You know they exist, but the ocean is a big place so you better have someone who knows where they are or you'll waste a lot of time.
Geronimo Cevallos knows these waters like we might know our children: blindfolded. He was born here. His dad had shrimp boats here. For Geronimo, the ocean is a walk in the park.
We wanted fish. He promised fish and boy did he deliver! We were looking for sailfish once we got on the water, and if you've ever gone deep-sea fishing you know why. Quite possibly the most beautiful and majestic sight is a sailfish on the end of your line. Every postcard of billfishing shows a sailfish catching air. That's what we wanted and that's what we got.
But we also wanted variety so the next day, forget about going 20 miles to sea; we went to fish 20 yards offshore. That's it!
What a concept and what a change from the comfortable fishing boat. We jumped aboard a 14-foot Panga, which is a real fisherman's boat -- bare bones. And we're rooster fishing. Once you see a rooster fish you know its name could not be anything else.
The fin on the back is its rooster tail, and what a fighter. The fish ranges from 25-35 pounds, but when you hook three in about 40 minutes, you really feel it. When Geronimo hooks one and takes on the fight, he maneuvers around the little boat as if he's on asphalt. When the best do it, it's poetry.
The best part of these two days of hooking different fish in extremely different waters is that they're still there for you to catch.
Diary 3Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Just because this is "Subaru American Outback," it doesn't mean we should neglect our neighbors to the north. After watching this show, you'll be glad we didn't. And from now on, when you think of an outback vacation, British Columbia will be on the top of your list.
Did you know that Vancouver Island is bigger than England? I sure didn't. The size of the island means there's that much more water to fish, and we took full advantage. The town of Tofino is tucked away in the Northwest corner, and getting there was one of the most scenic drives I can remember. If you're lucky, it will have just rained, and maybe your rainbow will match ours.
The town is a beautiful, rugged, year-round fishing port. Twenty miles from its shore is a floating barge -- The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. That's right, a barge. This ingenious creation is a fisherman's dream, with canoes, kayaks, zodiacs, speedboats, fishing cruisers and seaplanes to drop you into your fishing destinations. Once you get there, you won't be disappointed.
Randy Goddard, my fishing partner and also the managing partner of Clayoquot, took me to one such place. The spring salmon were plentiful as we alternated hits to compare the fight and size of our respective catches. We both wanted to be the first to hook a halibut. The waters of Northwest Vancouver Island are famous for halibut, and if you have ever had one on the line, I'm sure you haven't forgotten it.
It was Randy's lucky day. He knows these fish very well since he lives in Tofino and is there year-round. When he brought the halibut close to the boat, he handed me the rod and told me to let it run. And run it did.
The halibut sure put up a good fight. I was in awe of the strength and will of this titan, and it even allowed me to win the admiration of all those on board.
So whenever any of you get the chance to fish the waters of Tofino, go with the people at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. They'll bring you to the fish. It's up to you to catch them, though, and if you're fortunate, you may even hook this halibut.
Diary 2Madison River, Montana
Sometimes, waking up in the morning is hard enough. And when you must be awake before the sun rises, it could be an added burden. But when you're going to fish the Madison River in Montana, the ringing alarm clock couldn't come soon enough.
Fishing is what we're going to do: fly-fishing in the dead of winter, the kind most don't do. Before the sun comes up, you put on the warmest clothing you have because you're going to need it. You step outside, and your breath is forming icicles. Fortunately, the coffee is therapeutic. The steam from the cup warms your face so I hold the cup with both my hands to keep them toasty.
I jump in a pickup truck with my guide Charlie Immenschuh, and the adventure begins. The first order of business, he promises, is to catch some fish. As the sun rises, we make an 1½-hour drive through heaven to a corner of Yellowstone that is untouched. Elk watch our truck pass by, and even the elk look relaxed. There are no words to describe the vastness and tranquility, and the ride goes by too quickly.
Putting on waders in freezing weather is not for everyone, but this type of fishing forces one to put up with the elements. The trek then begins. Two miles of waist deep snow, and when you're not cutting angles along the river, you're at its edge, negotiating massive, covered rocks and others that are frozen over. One false step, and you're having the worst day of your life as opposed to the best.
Never mind the fishing -- we're also filming. The camera, tripod, tapes and every other piece of equipment must be here or there's no show. Tim Brockman and Jimmy Howard don't work for an Emmy-nominated production company because they're nice guys. They don't just talk the talk. They walk the walk -- there and back.
For those who have experienced winter fly fishing, we recommend it highly. To be in the middle of nothing and everything simultaneously is sensory overload. Running, babbling water; clear, crisp air; snowflaked trees as far as the eye can see; and there's not a soul around. As for the fish, Charlie was right on. Every other cast was getting a hit.
After a successful day, the hike back seems faster. Being on such a high, I wonder why more don't partake in this great sport. In fact, only about one out of 10 fly fishermen can brave the elements for the day we enjoyed. Leave it to Charlie to put it in perspective: "If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!"
In everyday life, 30 miles doesn't seem like a lot. It's not. But when you're in a fishing boat on water that's more than one mile deep, 30 miles can seem like forever.
You look in all directions, there is no land. You wonder which way home is. You feel as though you can see the curve of the earth, and you can. You're at sea and there are no mountains, smog, trees or buildings to impede your vision of everything around you. It seems like nothing, but it's everything.
Below that surface there is so much we never see. Birds fly by, making passes at food. A whale shark hangs out by the boat. He's a peaceful visitor, but I don't trust his motives. Off in the distance, the periodic breaching of a whale adds excitement.
Then, in an instant, the tranquility is broken. One of the lines takes a hit and the boat becomes an organized fire drill. The first mate Francisco grabs his fishing rod. Captain Augustine Ramirez starts the engine and I tighten my fighting belt. I don't have any idea how much I'm about to need it.
As the fight begins, I know this is not just any fish. It's a blue marlin, a trophy fish, a dream of every saltwater angler. My producer, Tim Brockman, moves around the boat getting every angle imaginable with a 45-pound camera on his shoulder. Don't try this at home!
At one point, Tim's assistant Jimmy Howard is overboard getting underwater shots of my fight. That's right, he's in the same water that the whale shark considers home.
Ten minutes becomes 20, which becomes 30 and finally, the fastest and yet longest 40 minutes comes to an end. My left arm is numb as is my right hand. My back is cramping, and so are my legs. I'm soaked, looking like I just took a shower with my clothes on. Don't forget - it's a sport for me, but for the fish, it's life and death.
The blue marlin is finally at the boat. I should be glad the fight is over and it's time to release the 12-foot, 400-pound fish, but another fact of nature slaps me in the face. This beautiful creature from the ocean below didn't make it. When a blue marlin is hooked, it dives. The fight and the pressure of the depths that we are in were too much.
It's an unfortunate feeling to see a fish that cannot be revived. However there is a bright side, if you can call it that. Not everyone is as unfortunate as we are. The captain and the first mate were not only able to stock their freezers, but their friends' and families' freezers as well.
The ocean is the fish's home. To our crew, it's their life and in 30 miles, you can learn a lot.