Overcoming Fear

There are a ton of obstacles –both real and imaginary – keeping people from doing things outside. Whether it's phyisical ability or emotional fear, the actual act of starting something is often the hardest.

Shortly after moving to Colorado and acquiring a season-long ski pass (with no idea how to actually ski), I kept avoiding going to the ski shop to pick up rental skis. I'd think, I don't know what I'm doing , I don’t belong here. I actually drove 15 miles to the recommended ski shop, walked in as it was buzzing with excited families trying on boots and pro looking dudes getting fitted, glanced around, and walked out. I just couldn't work up the nerve to go to the counter and say I have no idea what I’m doing and need help.


Overcoming fear is the absolute most important thing in the outdoors and, for me, it's the thing that sticks with me long after I leave a trail or ski run. I could spend all day thinking about a cliff, or the possibility of running into a snake, or successfully getting off a ski lift. Or I could just get out there and hope for the best.

And when you do actually make the leap, it becomes so much more meaningful with fear defeated by saying, WTF, I’m going to do this. And doing it.

It is not easy. It requires a daily reminder. Sometimes you try something and it really doesn’t work out. But it will always be better to try and fail then to never try at all.

Summer 2018 Goal: Climb 5 14ers

When I was writing New Year resolutions, I decided that climbing a fourteener – actually five of them – had to be on the list. Why fourteeners and why five? First, climbing a fourteener is the quintessential Colorado outdoor activity. Second, why just climb one when you could climb five? It only takes an hour or so to head west on I-70 and hit mountains, so I wanted to create a doable yet more challenging goal. I'm looking forward to documenting these hikes here on the blog, but ahead of actually lacing up and heading to the mountains, here are the first five that I think I should climb.

1. Mt. Bierstadt

 Photo from 14ers.com

Photo from 14ers.com

You can see the summit on the entire hike. It should take 6-7 hours. Seems like a great first 14er. 

2. Mt. Evans

 Photo from 14ers.com

Photo from 14ers.com

Unlike what Laura Pancost suggested, I do indeed plan to actually hike Mt. Evans ;) A lot of people do Evans and Bierstadt at the same time, since they are connected by the Sawtooth. I'll warm up to that idea perhaps after summiting a couple of 14ers. The only scrambling I enjoy involves eggs, so it may be a bit out of my comfort zone. Evans, though, I feel is an essential hike for a Denver resident. You see it every day and so it must eventually be conquered by foot. 

3. Quandary Peak

 Photo from 14ers.com

Photo from 14ers.com

A favorite for backcountry skiers, close to lovely Breckenridge. Seems like you can't go wrong hiking Quandary. 

4. Gray's Peak & 5. Torrey's Peak

 Photo from 14ers.com

Photo from 14ers.com

Also close to Denver, many people summit both in a day. If these are numbers 4&5, maybe I'll work up the courage to do so by end of summer. We shall see.

What do you think about these picks? Have you climbed any 14ers? Let me know in the comments.

Sixty Meters to Anywhere by Brendan Leonard

I received a random REI email that I otherwise would've ignored, but the title was "How to Run 100 Miles." Naturally, as someone who can barely run 1 mile, I was immediately interested.

"How to Run 100 Miles" is a short film by Brendan Leonard featuring his close friend Jayson, documenting why and how they decided to run a 100 mile ultramarathon. It was such a good story--watch it here:

After a little Googling of Brendan, I realized he was the guy behind an Outside Magazine column I enjoyed and also co-directed another short film, The Important Places, that I've watched a dozen or so times.

What a guy!

Definitely check out his work.  

Hello again

Thanks for checking out my blog. This has been in the works for a long time, but I never could hit publish and share. 

Yet here we are.

Now that I'm in Colorado, I'm sure there will be plenty of content to come. I hope you enjoy reading it. My goal is to just start writing stuff and eventually it will be worth your returning to read. 

Here we go!

You Can't Go Home Again

A few months ago, I traveled back down to the town from which I graduated high school. I basically hadn't been there since. My family had moved away and my connections to the place had mostly faded, minus a few notable exceptions (the reason for returning). 

You don't appreciate the South until you leave it.

A post shared by Matt Hansen (@matthansen) on

The trip was also extra special with my companion/lady friend, Lauren. When Lauren and I made our way down to the Cumberland Gap of TN/VA/KY, I just couldn't believe how stunning it was. With my new outdoor appreciation, I saw the place that I breezed through my final years of high school in an entirely new light. Cumberland Gap went from a place that I immediately wanted to escape to bigger and better places to a really charming small town with truly outstanding scenery. The people and memories didn't hurt either.

After asking my old English teacher where to go for a good hike, @laurensobolik and I set off. I couldn't stop thinking about how much I rejected this area from my identity, how I really, really wanted to leave and head North.

The town may not change that much, but you do. What was once considered unworthy is now worthy, cheap now valuable, a waste of time a treasure of time. My old school even moved. The campus is beautiful.

But most important, as always, it's always about the people.


After several months of pondering whether or not starting this blog was a good idea, here we are! Thank you for stopping by and I hope this proves to be a worthwhile endeavor. 

All of this (meaning my interest in the outdoors) happened in a Classic Hansen type of way. If you don't know me personally, then I should say it happened ... atypically.

I was sitting at a bar in downtown Minneapolis wondering how to spend my Sunday afternoon. This was a familiar scene. Ever since moving to Minneapolis several years prior, Sundays were always difficult. Too close to Monday. Not enough time to go somewhere. Do I just go to another restaurant, like I almost always would? Well, I could be productive and take a walk around the lake. Should I go for a bike ride?

Luckily I wasn't the only thing wondering how to spend the rest of my weekend. My then good friend Lauren was also feeling equally restless and wanting to do something a bit out of the ordinary. 

Then it just hit me : I should go hiking. I don't know why that thought crossed my mind. I swore off hiking long ago. In fact, I was quite proud of living in the concrete jungle of North Loop Minneapolis. But when you get an urge and have nothing better to do, why not? It also doesn't hurt to have a close friend who is just as willing to spontaneously drive an hour away for a random urge. So we set off for Taylors Falls, a state park located about an hour away from our urban homes.

There’s not a lot of great hiking in the area, but that didn’t matter. It was about just breaking the routine and choosing the outdoors. Getting out of the city, and perhaps a little bit lost, also allowed us to discover an amazing gem of a town: Marine-on-St. Croix. Through the car’s open windows we could hear some music, so naturally we had to stop and experience a good townie bar. It’s pretty safe to say that Brookside Tavern, with its $1 Hamms and merry seniors dancing, is truly a magical place.

The hike was largely uneventful but it sparked something in me. I couldn't explain it then. I can't explain it now. But it still means so much.

A quest to discover these gems began. I became a born again outdoorsman.