Yonder Blog

Chairlift Speed Dating: A Must-Do Adventure

Groggy from sleeping in my car to fuel up for first chair, I weaved through the parking lot. Nerves danced in my stomach as the reality that I didn’t have a close friend with me for moral support settled in. I usually love a good solo day, but today I wished my friend hadn’t bailed last minute. I wondered what type of people would show up for speed dating. Would I meet someone interesting? Would everyone be desperately seeking relationships? Would it be awkward?

I hopped in line to register. Still feeling mildly ashamed that “it had come to this,” I focused on breathing so I could feel like myself. A tall, wobbly, 20-something bro bouncing toward the line caught my eye as he asked, “Is this the line to meet hot girls?” I nodded. A giggle quelled my low-level panic. I figured everyone probably felt the same way I did.

            The last two years of my seven single ones, I’ve been dealing with men on the internet who have tried to FaceTime as a first date, used European hockey players’ selfies, and rescheduled dates multiple times because “they were still moving apartments.” Last winter I joked with my friends that I had a brilliant idea I called “sk-eed dating” where people would speed date on a chairlift. As it turned out LuvByrd, a dating app for outdoor enthusiasts, had the same brilliant chairlift speed dating idea and actually put it into action. So, I headed to Loveland Ski Area with 200 other singles to see if the reality matched the dream. In short: it did.

At the front of the registration line, I was handed a pink ribbon and told to come back at 10AM to get matched. Pink meant I was age 18-35. Is that a wide range? Sure. Would I rather be in an 18-24 range and risk spending my day with teenagers? I mean, the cougar thing could be fun for a day…but I was here for the long haul.

My warm up entailed skidding down icy slopes, through falling snow and flat light. My confidence ended up dipping, the opposite result I had hoped for. Nonetheless, I arrived back at the tent promptly at 10:03 to meet my first match.

Roughly 60 people uncertainly stood in a mass looking around for directions. An event worker was pointing at people and handing out raffle tickets - a tactic I appreciated. For every date we went on, we got another raffle ticket, which reduced my fear of needing to reject someone. I was just moving on to increase my odds of winning new skis later, duh. The girl next to me was paired off. I was next.

My first date was with a tall, former professional tuba player turned middle school music teacher. He’s of the hardcore outdoor variety - the kind that does skimo racing and ski flying. You know ski flying, right? That casual sport where people run up mountains so they can jump off cliffs while wearing parachutes and skis? Yeah, he was that level of hardcore.

His lower face looked cute. But, it’s hard not to be intimidated by the 180 days he logged last ski season. We did two laps together, I rolled down the hill during one, and we went our separate ways.

My second and third dates I call Music Guy and Whisky Guy because the first was playing hip hop out of his pocket and the second immediately started raving about his favorite drink. Music guy was kind of cute, but we weren’t vibing.  Whisky guy – well, I don’t drink anymore, so that was a one-lapper. We fist-bumped at the base, and I met my fourth date: Orange Jacket.

By this point, I’d ruled out three people in under an hour and a half. The New Englander in me was absolutely loving the efficiency of speed dating.

With Orange Jacket, something was different. This guy was an actual season pass holder, not a Loveland first-timer, for one. He suggested we hit a less-crowded lift off the beaten path.

I found myself drawn in by the conversation and wondering what he looked like while he told me that he attended art school to study design. We also shared an aversion for moguls. He asked if I wanted to go do his favorite groomed run on the other side of the mountain called “Awesome.” My heart wasn’t necessarily skipping beats, but hey he was intriguing. So I geared up for adventure.

The trek involved three more chair lifts of nice conversation, some cat walks, aggressive wind above the treeline, and some reflective moments on my part. Visibility was low, powder was accumulating, and we were nearly alone. I soaked in the silence.

“Awesome” measured up to its name with its smooth, yet powdery surface. Orange Jacket and I were the only two out there. I wished we had time to lap it more. 

The wind was vicious on that last lift ride, but I didn’t mind because my lovely date’s hand rested on my helmet pinning my hood down for extra warmth. Pretty nice after spending years chasing the hottest frat bros at the party.

He warned me about a sharp left on our journey back to the base. I watched him push his way up a slight incline and I skated with my skis to get a little speed. Suddenly, my left leg was on the side of a drop-off and my right leg rested on the edge of the catwalk. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen so casually.

 “NO ONE SAW!” I turned my head around to see two guys behind me laughing hysterically. I joined in with them wishing there was a video of the scene. Yelling through the wind they added, “We were wondering, ‘Is she gonna make it? Is she gonna make it?’ And no, you didn’t.” By this point I was dying laughing. Orange Jacket’s hand was outstretched with an offer of help, a smile on his face as well.

“Hold on, I think I’ve got this.” I pushed a pole into the ground and attempted to sidestep up the hill to safety. After four failed attempts, I finally grabbed his hand. I crawled army style like a mermaid, skis flopping over my head. When I finally reached safety, I couldn’t help but laugh. Neither could my date.

We exchanged numbers before parting and spent the evening texting about traffic and the anticlimactic activities of the night - laundry and Gossip Girl.

Dating apps are great because they connect us with people we wouldn’t otherwise meet. In adventure speed dating, however, things actually happen. Even if you only spend 15 minutes together, there’s a chance you’ll at least get to walk away with a story about the time you did a spread eagle in the trees. Also, rather than spending a few days wondering if the conversation would continue and if the guy would actually show up for our plans, I got to do two weeks worth of work in a matter of 5 hours. Not only was it more efficient, but we spent time focusing on finding things we had in common since our bodies were completely covered in snow gear. It felt like a different kind of blind dating.

This style of dating doesn’t come without challenges though. While full body coverage minimizes physical insecurities, insecurity about skiing ability sprung up in its place. The biggest challenge, however, was understanding if the joy I felt all afternoon was due to my connection with this man, or the adventure of exploring new trails. I’ve decided the only way I’m going to know is to hang out with him again. So, Greg, if you’re reading this, will you go out with me sometime?

New Yonder Intern!

We’re excited to welcome a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new intern to the Yonder team: say hello to Taylor Jackson! Taylor will be working with us over the next several months to supercharge our social media presence, overhaul our content strategy, and ensure that I don’t use too many weird jokes while drafting these blog posts(GOOD LUCK).

Rather than give you a bland overview of her history, how about a quick interview? Check it out:

Why did you choose to move to Boulder for school? What are you studying?

I chose to go to school in Boulder due to growing up in a small farm town where majority of people attend CSU. I wanted to break the mold and Boulder is a beautiful place with a great campus. At CU I am studying Communication and Advertising.

Nice! What’s your favorite kind of outdoor activity?

Being raised in the Great Plains, there were not a lot of options for outdoor activities as one can imagine. Although, since moving to Boulder I have really enjoyed adventuring new hikes and snowshoeing.

Snowshoeing is dope. What’s your favorite outdoor memory?

My favorite outdoor memory is hiking the long 20 mile trek to the Conundrum Hot Springs in Aspen this past summer.

That adventure sounds like it would be better if a dog was involved. If you could be any kind of dog, what kind of dog would you be?

I would definitely be a yellow labrador retriever. I have grown up with three yellow labs in my life and I have to say they are the happiest, most carefree, outgoing dogs around.

Good answer. Speaking of amazing things, what’s your favorite kind of coffee?

I am not very picky when it comes to coffee. I like to keep it simple. I buy ground coffee from the store and brew it each morning.

#DogsOfYonder 🐶

There are some universal truths in this world: clear skies are blue, water runs downhill, and dogs are the absolute best. These are assertions that no one can refute. Never. Not. Ever.

Our friends at Backpacker Magazine seem to agree, and we were inspired after seeing their excellent post on "The Dogs of Outdoor Retailer." As such, we've compiled some of the most popular puppers on Yonder over the past few months.

They're all good dogs.

@biggmellon
@shawng13
@luvmylife123
@badrep9
@outdoortraveler
@biggmellon
@wayflycaster
@ViewFromMyLens

Do you know a doggo that we missed? Please tell us immediately. Like, now. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Yonder (duh!).

Yonder Pro Features 😎

If you love the outdoors, you probably love gear. You love new gear. You love watching your gear age, looking at tears and scratches like they're medals of honor. And you love knowing your gear like the back of your hand (because no one can set up your tent faster than you, duh). Being a gear super-user is a hell of a lot of fun!

We don't think Yonder should be any different - if you're gonna use it, you should use it like a pro! In that spirit, we've gathered a few Yonder features that you might not have known about. Check them out below!

Access Yonder content super-fast.
Maps are the best.
The more blue pins, the better.
It's about time you knew how to do this 😜

#YondersOfTheYear 2016 🎉

2016 was quite a year, and we thought it'd be nice to take a minute and look back at some of the best Yonders from every month of the year. Enjoy! 

January: @austintrigg

February: @travelhappy

March: @Tinker

April: @Tinker

May: @rockymountainscrambler

June: @mountainpooper

July: @Augd007

August: @theHikingMermaid

September: @coolshax

October: @monkmoose

November: @veronichka

December: @Lobulu

Who Wants Stickers?

Yonder joined Active Interest Media just over six months ago, and ever since then, so many of you have asked us about one thing: Yonder stickers, and how to get them. Up until now, we haven't had a great answer for you - we just haven't had the bandwidth to open and operate a gear store.

However, fear not! We have stickers, you want stickers, and we think we've figured out a pretty easy way to get them to you. It's pretty simple, really: if you mail us an addressed envelope with postage (that is, stick one envelope with postage inside another envelope with postage and mail it to us), we'll toss a sticker or two in there and mail it back. Pretty simple, right? I'll spell it out again in three easy steps:

  1. Mail us an envelope with your address on it, with postage (one stamp should do it)
  2. We'll receive it, put a sticker in there, and mail it back to you
  3. Put your sticker on your water bottle, your truck, your laptop - whatever!

And... that's it! Here's our mailing address:

Attn: Yonder Admin, 5720 Flatiron Parkway, Boulder, CO 80301

Got questions? No worries! Shoot us an email (yonder@aimmedia.com) and we'll get you sorted.

While 2016 hasn't been the most, well, normal year, all of us here at Yonder couldn't be more grateful to have shared it with you and the rest of our community. Here's to 2017: a year sure to be filled with long hikes, warm campfires, good friends, and lots and lots of stickers! 🎉

Photo Credit: @Jay_Dreamer

Not All Who Yonder Are Lost

Last week, we announced AIM’s acquisition of Yonder. Since that announcement, we have been overwhelmed with positive response from the Yonder community. This community encouragement is a true testimony to what David Tyler and the Yonder creators envisioned years ago. To be honest, my staff and I have never experienced the engagement of the Yonder community. Thank you for your support and your willingness to help shape the future of Yonder.

Our mission is to continue to foster an environment where you can be inspired through your adventure. We believe your experiences may be unique to you and sharing them with other like-minded people is part of the fabric of Yonder. We have thoughts and ideas, most importantly though, we want to hear from you. What do you like, what do you want, what can you see as Yonder’s next move and how can we help? Please email our team back at yonder@aimmedia.com so we can listen and learn. We may not be able to respond to all the emails but we will read them all.

We look forward to seeing you on your next adventure.

Kent Ebersole

VP/GM Active Interest Media Outdoor Group

The Future is Bright!

Dear Yonder community,

I am thrilled to announce that today, Yonder is being acquired by the Outdoor Group of Active Interest Media (AIM), but first a quick history.

Yonder was born in the green mountains of Vermont almost three years ago to the day, Jun 4th, 2013. From day one, we built Yonder with a singular mission -- to Inspire and Enable a Love for the Outdoors. Over the course of the next three years we would release 28 iOS updates, launch Yonder for Android, and build a suite of web products and services to better connect the Yonder community to the outdoor industry. Three years in, Yonder has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to deepen their love and appreciation for the outdoors.

This is an accomplishment that's owed as much to the incredible Yonder community as it is to the Yonder team I've had the honor of working with. You see, while we can build a better, faster, oranger;) app, it's ultimately the aggregate community that defines its personality. You have all inspired us, and more importantly, each other, with your passion for the outdoors, your thirst for adventure, and your kindness to one another. These are qualities we never could have engineered into the product, but are instead characteristics of the broader outdoor community. But that's enough about the past, because today is about the future.

We have been close to the leadership at AIM for many years. In fact, our first meeting dates back before we even launched the app. AIM's commitment to quality, and authentic passion for the outdoors has been a model for us from the very beginning. I couldn't be more proud, therefore, that beginning today, Yonder will become part of an organization whose mission is so closely aligned with our own. The combination of the Yonder product and community, coupled with AIM's pedigree of excellence and organizational resources, create an incredible opportunity to inspire millions of people across the globe to love the outdoors.

My friend, Kent Ebersole, Vice President and General Manager of the Outdoor Group at AIM will be sharing more in the days and weeks ahead. In the mean time, feel free to reach out to Kent and the team at the Outdoor Group here: yonder@aimmedia.com

Forever bleeding orange,

@david