Friday, September 5, 2014

proposal on the colorado


Joe Hutch Rapid, Desolation Canyon August 2014

This last weekend I went on the best river trip of my life - where I asked my girlfriend Danielle Brading to marry me! My friend Kerri and I had been planning this Westwater private trip with a few of our river guiding friends, and at the end of the canyon I surprised Dani with a ring.

We dated almost the whole summer while working together at World Wide River Expeditions. I had just left for school back in Logan a week earlier, and came down for this Westwater trip. Kerri, Joe, Todd, Dani and I put in at Loma, CO on Friday and floated for two days in the Ruby/Horsethief sections. Sunday we camped at the Westwater put-in, went to church in Fruita, and a few more friends joined us that night. Monday morning there was a total of nine of us, three in kayaks. Dani and I rowed the rapids, and right after the last one I stopped rowing and asked Todd (who was in on this) to take a picture of us. He started the camera rolling and I proposed right there on the front of the boat. Dani was so shocked that she screamed, "No! No no no no no! Are you serious??" She had me a little worried for a second! But speechless she nodded her head yes.

The biggest reason she was so surprised was because we had only checked out a couple rings - she didn't even know her ring size! But I had a pretty good idea of what she wanted. My great grandmother Andrew had actually passed on her heritage wedding ring to my family, and it was about the right size and perfect style. She loves it.

More to come with dates, but we're planning on getting married in December. Danielle makes me so happy, and I'm so excited to marry my best friend!

Monday, August 4, 2014

summer so far...

I kept thinking to myself that I still have plenty of summer to still write, but I realized that today is already the beginning of August.

Where did it go???

I suppose that I should keep up on my writing because this is the closest thing I have to a journal at the moment. Needless to say it's been a busy summer. Right after school ended I packed up and headed to CA to fulfill my lifelong desire to sell pest control door-to-door. . . . . . . . . . . .

Just kidding.

That lasted a few weeks (enough to see a few friends from my mission and visit Lake Tahoe with a great friend) and I realized that I left my heart in Moab and that's where I needed to be. So I woke up one morning, called and quit, threw my stuff in the back of my truck and dead-headed it back to the homeland. I was lucky enough to get my riverguiding job back that I had before my mission, and I've been working nights at Sunset Grill as a server.

So between whitewater trips and serving delish steak and seafood I've been climbing and camping when I can. It's been so good to be with my family (especially my brother Joseph who leaves on his mission to Brazil at the end of this month), hang out with old friends, and find new ones.

Anyways, the summer's not over yet, but here are a few of the highlights so far. One of the best trips this summer was a Desolation Canyon trip I did with Dani and Kayla (can you tell that Deso is my favorite?).

Lasal Mountains

Camp at Jack Creek, Desolation

Kerri on Nervous in Suburbia, Wall St.

Rocky Rapid, Fisher Towers section of the Colorado

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

yurt stoke

Yurt: a Turkish or Mongolian tent-like structure, the traditional dwellings of nomads in central Asia.

Pretty much, the coolest cabin you've ever seen.

This March a group of friends and I rented and stayed in the yurt up Green Canyon here in Logan, UT. It was incredible! The weather couldn't have been better and the hike in was beautiful. We left Logan late afternoon on a Friday, and the hike was pretty moderate. Total of 4 miles from the trailhead, and we hit snow about a mile in. During the summer this campsite is accessible by 4WD, but the road is blocked and the yurt is set up in the winter months for backcountry snowshoers and skiers.

We stayed overnight in luxury with four bunk beds, a wood burning stove, propane for cooking, and even an outhouse (in case your butt wasn't already cold enough from the walk over)! All we had to bring was our sleeping bags, personal gear, and food - everything else was provided. After bear creek soups for dinner that night we roasted s'mores and played campfire games.

The next morning we cooked pancakes and bacon for breakfast and melted snow for drinking/washing water. We left about 11 o'clock, and it was a little cloudy but we didn't have any snow or rain.

Katrina, Kelli, Kori, Braden, Jacob
Clarissa, Jame
me and Todd

Stoke level: through the roof!

Braden keeping it classy in sandals.

I'm happy to check this off the bucket list, but this will probably become a winter tradition. I think next year we'll rent it for a couple days and spend it snowshoeing and skiing some of the trails up there. This was an incredible experience and well worth doing again.

This yurt and two others up Logan Canyon are owned and rented by Powder Ridge Ski Tours. They keep their yurts well maintained and stocked. I would recommend them to anyone, check them out!

Friday, March 21, 2014

corona arch rope swingin'

"So I just go???"
- the last few words out of my mouth before yelling at the top of my lungs as I took the 100 foot drop below Corona Arch.

This was possibly the craziest thing I've done in a long time, second to skydiving when I was 18. My roommate and I hiked to the top of Corona Arch while a group of people were swinging, inspected the gear and riggings, and jumped. If Clint hadn't jumped first I probably wouldn't have tried it. He jumped without hesitation! I barely had time to start recording with my camera. After watching a couple people swing from the arch it seemed pretty safe, but somehow that hike back down to the canyon floor didn't seem so bad! But I just had to try it and I'm glad I did. Try everything at least once, right?

You'll love my facial expressions mid-flight.

Spring break has come and gone too fast! Braden and I originally went to Moab to volunteer for and run the Canyonlands Half Marathon and Clint came down to have fun and see some family. Saturday after the race we all decided to hike Corona Arch and ended up jumping off of it. I don't think I woke up race morning and said to myself, "I want to jump off a cliff today," but it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Would I do it again? YES. 100%. It would be a lot easier the second time anyways. Sometimes I wonder if it ever gets old for some people, but I guess not, otherwise why are they still doing it? Whatever, call me an adrenaline junkie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


The weather has been BALMY lately (50s compared to temperatures in the teens), so my roommate Clint and I cancelled our memberships to the local climbing gym and started rock climbing up the canyon again. This week we climbed The Fairy, Babe-a-lishes, and Prelude to an Illness at the Betagraph crag. While Clint was leading Prelude to an Illness (which was wet from the snow melt), he took a pretty good whipper and the footage is priceless. You'll definitely want to click that fullscreen button in the corner. Enjoy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

amasa back

A couple weekends ago I went down to Moab with a roommate who was running the Moab Red Hot trail run. It was awesome to spend time with family and friends and the outdoor temperatures couldn't have been better! The morning before I headed back north for Logan my brother Joseph and friend Kerri and I rode the Amasa Back trail. The last time I attempted that one was about four years ago when I got sick! I was ascending the long uphill at the beginning when I was coughing and spitting out bloody mucus, and then my derailleur broke. So.... I figured it was a good idea to turn around and coast back to the trailhead. Little did I know at the time that a broken bike part was the least of my worries, but alls well that ends well right?

I've been experimenting with different angles and techniques with this little camera. This is a fun two minute video that I put together from the ride, and ends with a wreck and a broken GoPro mount.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

a moab christmas

Annual Andrew Christmas Day hike to Cowboy Hottubs
Christmas morning excitement (including a thoughtful gift from Santa to Olivia)!
Logan and Brooke

It's been hard to sit down and write about Christmas break because so much happened and I really haven't wanted to say that it's over, but in a nutshell, I...

...went duck hunting (I just need my duck stamp right? HEY DUCKS!! I hear I'm the best bird dog out there, so if you need a hound to flush out them ducks I'm your man), hiking, was the best man for my best friend's wedding, climbing on Wall Street, bearding (what happens when Olivia strokes your beard excessively), hiked, ate good food, snowshoed with Kerri, watched the Hobbit II and hung out in downtown SLC with my best aunt Naomi, more hiking....

Of course Christmas day wouldn't be complete without the traditional Andrew family hike. We went up the right fork of Mill Creek, and the stream was completely frozen over. I love ice hikes in the desert during the winter. Not very many people get to see Moab like this with thirty-foot icicles hanging from slowly dripping springs in the canyons and cliffs. As enjoyable as it is to cool off at Left Hand in the summer, I love it just as much in the winter.

And most importantly it was great to be with my family again after two years in California. This will probably be one of the last that we're all together, because Joseph will leave on his mission this summer, and then Anna will get married...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

GMOs - from the label to the table

The pulse oximeter beeped raucously, reminding me to breath deeply. I had just woken from a ten-day drug-induced nap that prevented me from causing any more damage to my hemorrhaging lungs. I coughed gently, my throat sore from the ventilator that I unconsciously yanked out the night before. Apparently my subconscious disliked invasive tubes as much as my conscious self. I exhaled, just grateful to be alive.

It wasn't quite Spring in 2010. I had had a recurring cold all winter and couldn't seem to get rid of it for longer than two weeks. Finally, my body had enough and I became severely ill, coughing up alarming amounts of blood. It took doctors weeks to figure out what was causing my lungs to bleed. I was self-destructing. I had p-ANCA vasculitis, a rare autoimmune disease that causes, in my case, antibodies to attack the blood vessels in my lungs. After an internal battle that took me to the intensive care unit by life-flight to the regional hospital and nearly two weeks of unconsciousness, my life was spared with the help of hefty drugs and lots of machines. There I laid wondering, what sparks autoimmune diseases to wreak such havoc? Little did I know that genetically-modified foods play a part in cases like mine.

Courtesy of
Genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, are very prevalent in our grocery stores today. Over 80% of the processed foods you see in the market have genetically-engineered ingredients (Non GMO Project). GMOs are produce, grains, and other plants that are engineered for desirable traits, such as resistance to weed-killer, insects, and drought. Scientist have found a way to remove segments of DNA from organisms like corn, soy, cotton, and other crops and replace them with another organism's DNA (Improving Agriculture). This process has been a controversial subject since it's beginning due to health and environmental concerns. Bioengineering these new plants is a recent technology, and I believe that GMO products should be labeled.

Before my encounter with p-ANCA vasculitis, I had a pretty care-free life. It didn't matter to me what foods I ate, as long as they tasted good. I led a pretty active lifestyle, in fact, I was ascending up a mountain bike trail when my bloody cough became severe. I really didn't even know what autoimmune diseases were or how they affect us. Autoimmune diseases are unlike any other disease because the immune system becomes confused and attacks parts of one's own body, mistaking the body's tissue for a foreign invader.

According to research by medical author Donna Jackson Nakazawa, autoimmune diseases have been on the rise for the last forty years. Most common conditions include type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, celiac, fibromyalgia, psoriases, and lupus and there are more than eighty known types of autoimmune diseases. And the rates of these conditions keep rising. Lupus and multiple sclerosis have nearly tripled over the past four decades. Type 1 diabetes has increased during the same time period. Approximately one in twelve Americans have an autoimmune disease (Nakazawa, 2008). Traditional medicine really can't pinpoint the cause for this epidemic of autoimmune disorders, but this dramatic increase over such a short period of time must be caused by things other than heredity. Virginia T. Ladd, President and Executive Director of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association said, “With the rapid increase in autoimmune diseases, it clearly suggests that environmental factors are at play due to the significant increase in these diseases. Genes do not change in such a short period of time.” (Rattue, 2012).

Despite the lack of concrete causes that trigger autoimmune diseases, there is evidence that food allergies could be the culprit. I'm not talking about IgE-mediated allergies where you eat seafood or peanuts and your throat swells shut or you break out in hives, but a much less-noticeable battle going on in your digestive tract. Hidden food allergens reduce the digestive system's ability to absorb nutrients of certain foods, leaving them undigested. Undigested food particles can leak through the wall of the intestines, becoming foreign invaders that the immune system creates antibodies to attack. This sparks inflammation in our bodies, weakening our immunity. Prolonged exposure to these allergens confuses our immune systems, so that they attack us instead of the offending food, resulting in an autoimmune disease (Lopez, 2007).

So how do genetically-modified foods affect our bodies? In GMOs, the DNA that is being inserted into the target organism's genes is from a completely different species, often from bacteria, animals, and humans. This creates a transgenic organism. These species wouldn't usually mate or have offspring together. Jeffrey Smith, an expert in GMOs, explains why this is a problem: “The process of genetic engineering can cause hundreds or thousands of mutations up and down the DNA and up to 5 percent of the existing natural genes can change their levels of expression. And these are not evaluated in the superficial studies that are being done before the crops get on the market as food,” (Phillips, 2012). Now the problems that can occur with these new organisms are health issues caused by unknown allergies from things that normally wouldn't have to be tested for because humans naturally wouldn't be consuming them. Do you think that you would like to know which of your foods are made with GMOs?

Proponents for GMOs argue that humans have been genetically altering our crops for thousands of years, since the beginning of agriculture. But there is a difference between cross-breeding and genetic engineering. Cross-breeding is natural and produces traits without any lab experiments. Genetic engineering has begun within the last 20 years and has minimal safety studies on its impacts upon our health and the environment.

Credit: istockphoto
GMO producers claim that their products are more nutritious than regular crops. Monsanto, the world's largest GMO producer and seed company, uses the sample of Benefort√© broccoli on their site to show how they are making food more nutritious. Benefort√© broccoli is bred (read: not genetically modified) to contain three times the amount of glucoraphanin than regular broccoli. Glucoraphanin is a nutrient that naturally boosts the body's antioxidant enzymes and maintain levels of vitamins A, C and B (Improving Lives). The hyperlink used in Monsanto's page takes the reader to an article on USA Today about scientists in the U.K. who developed the broccoli by cross-breeding a traditional broccoli with a wild Sicilian variety (so the result is NOT transgenic like most GMOs). The article clearly states that, “No genetic modification was used” (U.K. Scientists, 2011). The U.K. has the strictest laws and regulations concerning GMOs of any country, and all GMOs for human consumption there are either banned or labeled (Foods in Britain and Europe). At best, GMOs are no more nutritious than regular produce.

GMO producers also claim that GMOs help to reduce world hunger. Due to modern agriculture, we produce much more food than we need. So it's not the lack of food that is causing world hunger, but limited access to it. GMOs like Golden Rice, which was bioengineered to contain beta-carotene, helps the human body produce Vitamin A. But the very countries that need these foods the most are also the ones that can't afford the additional irrigation systems and fertilizer that these crops require to grow properly (Robbins, 2011). Also, Monsanto and other biotech companies patent their seeds and use what they call a “Technology Protection System” - their crops produce seeds that are sterile, preventing farmers from saving some from the harvest and planting them for next year's crop. These “suicide seeds” keep customers coming back year after year to get the desired seeds. Will GMOs really help end world hunger?

Are GMO crops better for the environment and do they pose a more sustainable way to grow than traditional crops? Proponents of GMOs claim that because GMOs are engineered for resistance to insects and weeds, they require less insecticides and herbicides. But Monsanto's “Roundup Ready” seeds are engineered with chemicals in them so when the herbicide Roundup is sprayed on the fields, the crops survive and the weeds die from the toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, we are now seeing super-weeds developing greater resistance to Roundup and other herbicides and more toxic levels of herbicides are being used. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) crops are engineered to contain a bacterial gene that kills insects when eaten. Again, we are seeing super-bugs evolve with resistance to Bt (GM Crops).

Courtesy of
If the claims are true that GMOs are more nutritious, will help end hunger, and are better for the environment than traditional crops, it raises the question: why wouldn't biotech companies want to label their products? If they are more nutritious than organic produce and they were grown sustainably, wouldn't that be a great selling point? Or are large biotech companies trying to hide something by fighting laws that would require labeling of all GMO products? In 2012, biotech companies poured 23.7 million dollars into the campaign against California's 37 Coalition requiring labeling on all GMOs (Phillips, 2012). Many states, including most recently Connecticut and California, have had coalitions to mandate GMO labeling. Each time, they have been shut down by enormous campaigns funded by biotech. With evidence that GM crops are not more beneficial than traditional crops, what is the future of GMOs? I feel that people have a right to know what's in their food, and that the labeling of all products containing genetically-engineered foods is the only responsible thing that biotech companies can do.

Works Cited
1. “Genetically Modified Organisms - FAQ.” Non GMO Project. n.d. Web. 6 December 2013.
2. “GM Crops and Foods in Britain and Europe.” GeneWatch. n.d. Web. 7 December 2013.
3. “GM Crops – Just the Science.” Non GMO Project. n.d. Web. 7 December 2013.
4. “Improving Agriculture – How Are We Doing It? Biotechnology 101.” Monsanto. n.d. Web. 6 December 2013.
5. “Improving Lives – What is Monsanto Doing to Help?” Monsanto. n.d. Web. 7 December 2013.
6. Lopez, Len. “Food Allergies, Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases.” The Christian Post. 12 March 2007. Web. 18 November 2013.
7. Nakazawa, Donna Jackson. “The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance.” AlterNet. 18 March 2008. Web. 18 November 2013.
8. Phillips, Camille. “Link or No Link? Controversy Simmers Over Allergies and Genetically Modified Food.” Harvest Public Media. 22 August 2012. Web. 19 November 2013.
9. Phillips, Camille. “The Money Behind the No on 37 Coalition.” Harvest Public Media. 17 August 2012. Web. 19 November 2013.
10. Rattue, Grace. “Autoimmune Disease Rates Increasing.” Medical News Today. 22 June 2012. Web. 4 December 2013.
11. Robbins, John. “Can GMOs Help End World Hunger?” Huffington Post. 1 August 2011. Web. 7 December 2013.
12. “U.K. Scientists Grow Super Broccoli.” USA Today. 26 October 2011. Web. 7 December 2013.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Tonight we had the annual friendsgiving dinner with the girls across the hall and other friends. It was amazing! We had a turkey named Norbert, stuffing, delish sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, and I cooked some dutch oven cheesy bacon potatoes (river style, thanks Karen). We finished it off with homemade pies and decorating our Christmas tree. Yesterday Clarissa and my roommate Clint and I picked up a real tree for our apartment. We decorated with ornaments from Walmart and lights from aunt Julie.

.............aaaaand Clarissa's food baby.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

49hr Deso

Last weekend we had a 48hr Deso reunion! Three years ago Karen, Ammon, Kerri and I did a 50 (not quite 48) hour Deso trip on the Green. Since then, Ammon and Karen got married (that trip started it all), I served a mission, and life went on.

So, we planned a reunion trip! The government opened up just in time to check our permits and let us on the water. Former guides Joe and Caity to joined us and we rowed all day, into the night, ate on the boat, slept on the boat.... and broke our record by an hour, making this the forty-nine hour Deso trip. It was a amazing to see the fall colors and different autumn sun on this river.

Monday, October 14, 2013


I've wanted a GoPro camera for years, but just couldn't justify dumping a wad of cash to get one. But, my sense of frugality finally broke down to my carnal desires and...

...I got one.

I love it!

I took it out the other day when me and my buddy Clay climbed in Logan Canyon. I bought the helmet strap, so I just slapped it on my brain bucket and tried it out. I'd say it did pretty darn good. I made this video (first video edit with this software, not the greatest in the world but still stinkin' sweet). Check it out:


This is Illusions 5.10b, Fucoidal Quartzite. You can see a couple times where I forget the camera's on my head and bump it on the rock. Good thing it's indestructible.

There will be many more to come!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Hobbit Caves and Fucoidal Quartzite

This weekend Todd and I camped-out at the Hobbit Caves (so named for the small caves that pocket the limestone bedrock). There are a couple of bolted, one-pitch climbs there that we worked on that night. A few friends joined us for s'mores and a game of "what are the odds?" It was the perfect weather - a little chilly but not butt-freezin' cold.

The crew in the morning - Savannah, Todd, Mercedes, and Martina

Martina, Mercedes, and Savannah came back up in the morning to climb at Fucoidal Quartzite range on the other side of the canyon. None of us had climbed there before, but the Logan Ranger District sign helped us out a ton:

Illusions, 5.10

We got a couple good climbs in. I am surprised by my ability to lead a 5.10 even after not climbing for two years. Blessings from heaven.

Mercedes the rock eater grasping for crimpers on the crux - just doing whatever it takes.

Hey Todd - what are the odds you'd climb barefoot?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Up the canyon...

This place is simply amazing! I love Logan Canyon. And the best thing about it is it's about 4.28 minutes from where I live. I can see a tint of color in the leaves as the temperatures start to drop at night. I'm only just beginning to discover the beauty of these mountains. I'm looking forward to many more adventures here.

Martina on the Crimson Trail

Todd and me at the Hobbit Caves.

Trailhead shot at the Wind Caves
Wes, Maddie, Emily, me

On top of the Crimson Trail


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Camping at Hyrum Res

This weekend Wes (Elder Mangum, mission buddy) and I decided to get a group together and go camping at Hyrum Reservoir. The plan was to stay the night and swim the next morning, but we didn't quite make it that far. We got to the lake, found a secluded campsite, saw a screeching owl, and had a weenie roast. We neglected to bring a tent, but I checked the weather before and it was only a 20% chance of precip so I figured we'd be fine.

Yeah, right.

It sprinkled on and off all night, but about 2am it started to dump. I was a little concerned because we were in kind of a wash, and pretty soon all of us were soaking in our sleeping bags. So we packed back to Logan and by the time we got there around 3am, the rain was done and it didn't rain again all night. Needless to say I was a little bitter, but I got an excuse to wash my sleeping bag and it was worth it.

Emily, Wes, Mackelle, Rachel, Kevin, Cassidy, and Chris
We'll be back out before too long! This time maybe a little more prepared.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The best two years!

I'm home!!!

President and Sister Lewis, me, and mom and dad

This has been the greatest two years of my life! I cannot think of a better place to have served the Lord than Sacramento. After two years of teaching the gospel, working with the saints, and helping others, my parents came to pick me up and see the greatest mission in the world. We visited people that I had taught and become friends with and it was incredible to share such spiritual experiences with my family. 

I spoke in sacrament meeting the day I arrived and spent the next six days hanging out with my siblings, friends, and reconnecting with the desert and mountains I love so much. Now I am in Logan, UT for school at Utah State University. Life is great!