A Dream Birthday

When we heard about a Nevada County local and Wild & Scenic attendee who planned an epic birthday adventure inspired by a 2017 Wild & Scenic Film we asked him if he’d share his story; enjoy!

Dan King with Emily and Archie, Castle Peak

Dream Birthday
by Scott Beesley

The stated mission of Wild and Scenic Film Festival is to “inspire activism.”  While I cannot speak to the success of that mission, I will personally vouch for the fact that it inspired one hell of a birthday party.

“We are here in Truckee, California to experience one of the craziest days I’ll ever experience in my life,” said one pro athlete as he ascended Donner Summit on alpine touring skis.  The scene was the opening from Dream Day, a nine minute short featured in last year’s block of adventure films.  In it, four pro athletes would ski, rock climb, mountain bike, and surf their way around northern California – in one day.  And it would all begin right here in Nevada County.

I left that film with two thoughts.  First, that was totally rad.  Second, I could do that.  And I could do it any old Saturday I want, without a professional videographer, Clif Bar sponsorship, or  $100,000 conversion van.  That’s why I moved here.  (Though if any of the aforementioned resources could be thrown my way they would be gladly accepted.)

The fifth sport was bushwhacking

It did not take long for a mimic Dream Day to materialize. I found myself floating the idea to Dan, a new acquaintance from the local gym who appeared to be about a decade younger than me and really fit.  Basically, I was looking for a training partner to kick my ass.  I told Dan that I wanted this adventure to go down on my birthday, June 2nd.  That was also his birthday.  It was on.

Given the amount of snow accumulation this past winter it would be one of the few June birthdays we could celebrate on the white stuff.  With the help of Tom and Isaac, two of my teammates on Nevada County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue, we plotted our course.  We needed the perfect amount of snow to ski yet a reasonable amount of melt to open up the mountain bike trails.

Finish line at Scott’s Flat boat launch

We skinned up Castle Peak to watch the sunrise.  From there Dan would snowboard, and I ski, down to the trailhead.  Snow made trails above 5,500 feet impassible by bike, so we road biked old Highway 40 for a bit until we could take it off road and mountain bike Pioneer Trail down the hill.  After a brief stop at our only aid station (read: chai at Harmony Ridge Market) we descended Scott’s Drop trail to Scott’s Flat Lake where Dan’s family provided paddleboard support for us to safely swim the 1.2 miles across the lake.

Our original plan was to run to town, but with guests already arriving at the local campground on the other side of the lake for the after-party we cut it short.  A younger, more stubborn version of me would have pressed on.  The older, more experienced version of me recognized the value of trading in my trail run for a cooler full of Ol’ Republic Chocolate Stout.

All in, our adventure covered just short of 50 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing for the four disciplines.  A Dream Birthday indeed.

Scott Beesley lives off grid in Grass Valley, California.  When he is not grinding away at his day job as a Certified Financial Planner, you can find him in the backcountry of Nevada County where he serves as Team Lead for Search & Rescue’s Crisis Intervention team.  He can be reached via email or Followed on Strava. 

Conflict of Interest Disclosure:  Mr. Beesley serves in an official capacity to the film fest as Back Up Dog Sitter to the Festival Director. Oh, and he’s serving on the official selection committee for the 2018 Wild & Scenic Film Festival.


Watch the film that spurred his adventure.