Transcript for “Ryan Mallon: Bushwacking, Parkour and making your own path”

Episode, Ryan Mallon: Bushwacking, Parkour and making your own path

Ryan 0:05
And I think that’s always the mark of a good coach is when you can break down a skill and explain it to a level that you didn’t need it broken down for you to understand it. And I think that’s where a lot of like, you know, as far as athletes across any sport who are like really well accomplished, they tend to not be the best coaches because they were so natural. They could just pick up on things they didn’t need to like, have things broken down, so they have a hard time breaking that down for people who start at a lower point than them.

Craig 0:33
Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the movers mindset podcast, where I talk with movement enthusiast to learn who they are, what they do, and why they do it. This episode is with Ryan Malin, bushwhacking, Parkour and making your own path. Ryan Mellon is a Parkour athlete, coach, rock climber and general outdoorsman. His personal journey includes being an American Parkour sponsored athlete and an APK ambassador. He’s coached state champion and regional placing gymnasts and has competed in world Chase tag USA. More recently, Ryan spends much of his time in the beautiful mountains outside of Asheville, North Carolina, hiking, climbing, and photographing nature. Ryan, thank you for inviting me to your home. It actually never ceases to amaze me that people are often willing to like, get emails from us about 30 hours and sooner like, hey, this crazy dude named Craig, he’s gonna show up at your house with a backpack full of stuff and point recording equipment at you. Are you down for that? And Ryan’s like, yeah, what could possibly go wrong. So thank you for inviting me in. Thanks for taking the time. I, I keep looking to my left, there’s there’s like a rack of rock climbing gear. And so when I left them from Pennsylvania, and I’d been like driving for a week, when I left, I thought there is the chance that I might get to Asheville, and I’m not bringing my rock climbing gear, otherwise, I’ll be out here. I’ll never go home. I’ll be here forever. So I left it all at home and I’m bringing these shoes. So I don’t know whether I want to talk about rock climbing or whether I want to talk about let’s let’s let’s start with my understanding is that you spend a little bit of time outdoors around the I don’t know if it’s just Asheville or if it’s this is the Blue Ridge, right? Yes, which makes me double clutch because there’s a Blue Ridge and Pennsylvania and it’s probably the same Appalachian Ridge it was all the way up. But we have a Blue Ridge mountain where I’m from it actually looks very much like these. It’s kind of like old and worn off. So how big of a footprint? Would you call your stomping grounds around here?

Ryan 2:37
Oh, that’s a good question that I’ve been trying to figure out the Blue Ridge thing for 10 years now. I’m pretty sure it’s just this general term to describe the entire Appalachian chain that passes through just western North Carolina. I don’t think it’s really specifically like any set peaks. But I would say that my entire footprint is all over Western North Carolina. I mean, if I mean probably three hours of driving every day in any direction from here in Asheville.

Craig 3:11
How did you end up here? Did you come here for the rock climbing? Or did you come here for school? Because I know that you also basically built the Asheville Parkour sing to

Ryan 3:20
so yeah, so I grew up in New Jersey, and in 2011 I just couldn’t take it anymore over there. Just couldn’t do it anymore. Let’s

Craig 3:30
rag on New Jersey. Well, yeah,

Ryan 3:32
I mean, it was the last exit I lived on in case anybody was curious about that. It’s exit 105 Ocean Township, I was right, right on the shore.

Craig 3:41
Should we unpack that joke? No, let’s just let it go. 105 Okay, so your 105 kick on

Ryan 3:45
105? Yeah, those you know, well, no, yeah. And I just I just couldn’t take it any more. Just did it was really nothing going on. For me there. I was just caught in this like, weird transition point in my life where, you know, I had a full academic scholarship to nursing school started doing that for like a semester, realize that I could not do that for the next 40 years and keep sanity in my life. And I just, I was just in this weird transition point in my life where I was craving something that I couldn’t get New Jersey.

Craig 4:16
Probably a lot of things are right.

Ryan 4:17
Because yes, craving a cancer free environment. Jersey

Craig 4:21
is not that bad.

Ryan 4:23
Sorry. And, yeah, and you know, at the time, I don’t know how it came up, but somehow you know, talking with my father in Asheville, North Carolina somehow just came up he was in a similar situation of himself where he was trying to transition out of the state and I just didn’t really have a lot of avenues. I had nothing really holding me there and I just had this very strong pool towards just like, going and doing something different going somewhere out of there somewhere never been Asheville, North Carolina came up. I’ve never been North Carolina before that. didn’t even know Ash was in the mountains.

Craig 5:02
So the I don’t know if it says on all the license plates or just some of them. But I’ve been on the highway a little bit last week, I’m afraid to look at the total mileage. And as I’m driving along, I started noticing some of the plates, at least say, from sea to mountains, I think is on the plates. And, like I’m thinking, Oh, I mean, you know, there’s some hills in North Carolina, but you know, so I came all the way, basically from Raleigh today. So I drove and I’m like, oh, yeah, let’s get a little hilly. All right. Okay. And then I got to, it’s like, gateway or something is the name of the exit. There’s a town or something. And I’m like, oh, that’s suspiciously like some kind of Mount. Like when you see a town named gateway, it’s like over the Rockies or something. And then we started up that hill holding my little four cylinder van is like, are you serious? Like downshift? I’m over in the truck lane. One like 50. And it’s like six miles of straight up, which I’m like, okay, there are mountains in North Carolina. I was not expecting that. And then after you come over the top, it must be higher than it must be. It didn’t go down the backside as far as I came up the front side. And then I was like, oh, then all of a sudden there’s like flat I don’t know what you call it modalities. Yeah, there but the valleys are like they’re like filled in. And then there’s like farmland and grazing column like, well, this is different. It’s not Sandy. Yeah. So it was like a completely different space. And then you get the knowledge, probably a fancy name for when you look out you can see like four ridges into the distance. And then like they get hazy or and bluer as you look out on it was like, Oh, yes. Okay. Now I get it. Now. I see why there’s in North Carolina. Yeah. And you can see why they call it the Blue Ridge Mountains. Were you into climbing when you came out here? Or

Ryan 6:38
was no. So I had right before I left New Jersey, probably about a month before I had moved is when I would say I started training loosely, like Parkour. And it’s funny because a really good friend of mine at the time, that time so really, a friend of mine was saying, his name is Vinny nodo. And, you know, I used to live with them. Right before that point, too. And, you know, we were always just, we’re very adventure based. And we’re very into like, exploring abandoned buildings and just kind of searching around and what’s over there and what’s in there. But in New Jersey, there’s not a lot of what’s over there and what’s in there and any abandoned building you go into you’re like very paranoid that a cops gonna come in and rescue at eight second. Yeah. So we did a much as much as that as we could. In one day, we were at just a local playground, kind of between we lived a few blocks from each other. And there was a playground between the two of us. And we often like met there to figure out like, Okay, what kind of what we want to do for the mood? Yeah, what’s the mood and one day we were out there, and this playground was like, very, very painted, like just red and blue. But the way it was painted was like just looking at it, it just it just back in that you can we’re staring at and you see any big man, you know, the way they’ve painted everything red, you can start on this side of the playground, and end up over there. If you stay only on the red, and it just like you can see all the transitions and same thing with the blue, but it required like just something different. Yeah, blue is most of like the bottom level of the playground, whereas Red was like the top. And so there’s like, Oh, if you go red, you’re kind of like traversing above everything and, you know, go and blue. You’re like kind of climbing under and around things. So we just started doing that. And, you know, it was fun. So we’re doing it again, you know, day or so later. And, you know, after about, I don’t know, two weeks of doing by this point, we have just called it jumping around. Right? Like that’s I sent him a text message saying, Hey, you want to meet Robert Yeah, we call the park B is called Park Boulevard in ocean Township, New Jersey. We call it Park B. And it was really funny because he’d be like, Let’s go jump around. And you know, about a couple weeks after that, he were talking he was like, hey, you know, there’s there’s a local gymnastics like, right down the building. He was like, we should totally go there and learn some flips and we can practice more Parkour. And that was the first time I’d heard that word. But it’s funny because like, you know, like, I was like Parkour at first. So went back up a little bit there to my preferred style of music is like, like hardcore metal. And so it was so when he said Parkour, I thought he was making like a wordplay on the word hardcore, because we’re messing around in a park, right? Like, legitimately, right, right. I were just messing around in a park. And I thought he was, you know, doing wordplay there and, and I made a joke. Like, I was really clever, where he’s like, No, that’s, that’s the thing. That’s what we’re doing. This is a thing. And I’m like, why so you know, you get on YouTube and, and it turns out that I had been exposed to the media the but just never the word. I’m sure. You’ve seen the classic Russian jumper video. Yes. That started like somewhere in the early 2000s. And I’d seen that I think like 2007 When I first seen Alexei selection, you know, that’s, um, oh my gosh, I know the name and it’s Stop, skip it. It’ll

Craig 10:01
come to you in a minute. Keep going. So you see YouTube video. It’ll pop in. Oh,

Ryan 10:04
like, yes. It’s Oh, like, yeah, out of time. Yeah. So I get on YouTube and look it up. And I’m like, oh, yeah, I totally have seen this dinos called Parkour. And it was like, oh, yeah, it looks so cool. right up the alley, you see people doing flips, obviously, that’s like for a lot of people. That’s that initial draw. So I was like, Yeah, let’s, let’s check it out. And yeah, just started doing that. And then, you know, a couple weeks after I moved, reboot, yep. So yeah, so I came out to Asheville, North Carolina, never been to North Carolina. So I got here in a U haul, was pretty surprised that there were big mountains here too.

Craig 10:41
They kind of they come at you quick. They do. It’s flat. And then Oh.

Ryan 10:45
And when we first got here, we were kind of like an in between place for two months. Our south of Asheville proper, and it was very rural. It was just mountains rural, nothing else going on. So like that first, like initial two months, I did find one local gymnastics gym. And I just kind of wanted to keep up what I already started in New Jersey a little bit. And so I started doing that. And then I moved into Asheville, like proper, like near the downtown area. And just, you know, wanted to see if I could find a park or community out here couldn’t find one. But I’m pretty okay with just taking on challenges on my own. You know, I mean, if you wait around

Craig 11:25
with a bit of a click, but yeah, it’s still you know, just starting and somebody will show up.

Ryan 11:29
And that was kind of the hope. And that’s kind of actually what ended up happening is I was in downtown Asheville just kind of jumping around and like the main park downtown, it’s called Splash Ville, for those who have been to my annual jam that I host every year here we That’s the place where we trains we hold her Yeah, it’s where we hold our style competition and all that. And I was jumping around there. And this gentleman Terry came up to me and was just like, hey, you doing Parkour? Yeah. Yeah, like, Are you into it too, because I need some way to jump with. And he was like, you know, I just started this Parkour class at this gym. It happened to be in downtown, it was a national gymnastics was the name of the gym at the time. And he’s like, I just started this class, there’s like, three, maybe four kids there on a good day. That’s like, one day a week on a class. And he’s like, You should totally come by, check out this class. He’s like, I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, I need somebody to come behind me. And I was like, Well, you know, I’m kind of figuring this out. Just about I know, I’m only a few months in I don’t even know if I know, but, but let me check it out. When I go there. And then I really realized what he wanted was he needed somebody to help coach that he felt like I knew more than he did. And I didn’t think I knew a lot then but I knew marginally more. And yeah, so I started showing up to classes and started helping out coaching and then, and I have a very analytical mind. Like, I’m very drawn to things that are like more technical. Like, I like things that are thought provoking. Yeah,

Craig 13:01
I noticed your footwork like I can’t watch everything, but for a little bit, I watched there were like, Okay, there’s flips that are like, you have like a way you like sign with a flourish. Right? And but there’s a ton of like, wait, what? Well, there was one with like, car tires, and there was like a little crisscross was just like, Okay, you’re into precise and analytical thought.

Ryan 13:23
It’s funny that exactly what you’re talking about with the with the tire thing. I was in Long Island at that when that clip was filmed. And about two days before I clip I was doing a warm up precision, like I had to have been a three foot jump. I mean, you probably step across. It was like a foot off the ground too. But I was warming up and I was like, Oh, let me I could just land on like how much on the tip of my toes can I get on this edge and my foot slipped and I Shin the wall and ended up getting five stitches inside my leg and nine staples on the outside. And three days or two days later, two or three months I was filming a sequence it’s funny because I was very scared to put pressure on like to use my leg that had the staples. I was afraid the muscle would flex and like rupture a staple or something. But yeah, I stuck with it. Anyways. But yeah, I like I like things that are thought provoking and technical and I love developing processes and systems and in high school. I was I mean I did sports on High School. My main thing was I was a wrestler. I was actually pretty good at times I placed in national tournaments and then right for my senior year of high school, I had a major shoulder surgery and I just couldn’t really bounce back from that. Yeah, and I had it like way too close to my senior year and so my senior year of athletics was pretty, pretty lackluster but that was another reason I kind of drawn me into like wanting to get into some form of movement because I’d always done it you know, I did wrestling in high school I Paul vaulted as well. I was on state championship team for a minute there with pole vaulting. And then I just did soccer as an in between Sport thing just to kind of keep me moving. So I have to come yours have not really been in a very dedicated like kind of regimen where you train and your work and skills I was just started getting curious and wanting to find movement again. So when I linked up with Terry in this Parkour class, it’s just start to get the gears turning where I was like, okay, like, you know, I’ve done sports my whole life, there’s, there’s drills, there’s training, there’s technique, there’s standards, like surely this has have to have like, we’ll have something right, right. So I just started just really hammering in like, okay, what are skills that I feel like, are basic and Parkour. So like things like rolling and your vaults and just general like Wallwork, like caching and you know, climbing like quant wall tech and things like that. And then I just really started to break it down to like, the lowest level, like, even if I understood the motion, I was like, that’s not good, I gotta break it down further, because there’s always someone that needs it broken down below a level that you needed it for. And I think that’s always the mark of a good coach is when you can break down a skill and explain it to a level that you didn’t need it broken down for you to understand it. And I think that’s where a lot of like, you know, as far as athletes across any sport who are like really well accomplished, they tend to not be the best coaches, because they were so natural, they could just pick up on things they didn’t need to like have things broken down. So they have a hard time breaking that down for people who start at a lower point than them. So I started just thinking about drills like okay, what can I do to get these kids in shape? Like what kind of progressions can I create to get them to the goals that they were having and I I think I really needed a project to throw myself that as I was saying, I was in this like transition point in my life where I didn’t really have I had an option to go down like schooling for free you know, probably could have been much better financially off by now if I had stuck with that

Craig 16:51
rock climbing I was at work and

Ryan 16:54
I’m just gonna drop out of school to go jump on things and yeah, I got a lot of interesting opinions about that decision. But but you know, it felt right so I stuck with it.

Craig 17:04
There’s it’s important that you figure out how to keep your you know, how to keep the passion going, like if it’s, if you know, it’s gonna be a slog, then nursing isn’t going to be your thing. So I think that’s pretty wise early on. Do you remember the first day that you were out on real rocks like how did you do are you I just started scrambling and then one day I went and I bought an ATC and then I bought two carabiners and a cam are like, where did you start for real? If somebody took you out?

Ryan 17:30
Well, it’s kind of so it’s it started more of just like training Parkour, you know, like, obviously, and then being I live in the mountains really drawn the nature and just exploring. So it really started scrambling as far as like getting into like actual dedicated technical rock climbing, that’s probably only been about a year. Everything else has been like, you know, messing around bouldering things that kind of came when I was training Parkour, rather than but you know, when you mess around on the cliffs for, you know, the last decade, there’s, there’s got to come a point where you start getting curious about how the verbal part, right, yeah, so and that curiosity finally piqued for me, right around the time where I competed on world Chase tag last year. Congrats. Yeah, that was a really, really, really cool time. So yeah, when I got back from World J stag, I was kind of looking for a little bit of a break, but also another way to keep challenging myself and you know, climb in such a cross discipline.

Craig 18:24
Yes, indeedy.

Ryan 18:25
I was like, let me just get out there and start then I learned really quick, like, Okay, I need to actually have like, more gear. And then And then, you know, like, with, like, track climbing, it’s so much more technical. And as I said, I’m really into things that require a lot of thought in. Yes, system development, tread

Craig 18:39
climbing, definitely scratches, my, my, my analytical itch. You know, the guy that I climb with most often is like, you know, inches or miles, like, sometimes he’s like, can you figure out how to get one quarter of an inch and like, well, I could, you know, change which toe I’m standing on and shift my hips and Oh, I found a grab, you know, when like, and so it does force you to, like, run a microscopic, you know, check of everything. And I don’t teach people to climb, but when I talk about other people, you know, rock climbing, I’ll be like, have you touched, you know, yelling up, have you touched everything you can reach, you know, like, check it all. And then in fact, because there’s so much within, you know, the Vitruvian arm and leg wingspan, so many opportunities, unless you’re on a blank billboard, in which case oops. So it’s

Ryan 19:25
funny with nine years of Parkour training before like, you know, really be like, I’m gonna you know, call myself a rock climber and do it, do it properly. I kind of got to skip the whole route finding learning curve that you’re describing, because you know Parkour you’re just looking for things that aren’t there in architecture. You know, you’re taking something that was built with a designated purpose and completely putting your own purpose against it. So when it came to like, you know, climbing and route finding, like you were describing, it was pretty straightforward for me. Cool, because by then I kind of had a pretty solid idea of what I think I’m capable of and I know Oh, wait, you know, what features look like?

Craig 20:03
So what is your? Mark? I try to put this question, but I understand that there’s some sort of relationship between you and the state about, like the pulse of what’s going on in the mountains. And I’m just wondering, like, how, what’s up with that? Like, what is that relationship? And how, like, what are the kinds of questions that they ask you?

Ryan 20:22
What do you mean by like, a relationship with this? Well, I

Craig 20:25
don’t. My understanding was that there are people that ask you your opinion about what’s going on in the mountains? And what’s the status of? Maybe I’m completely wrong?

Ryan 20:38
I don’t know. I guess it would depend here from um, it’s a couple things that come to mind. Well, your question is, um, I’m definitely so hard to talk about yourself without feeling like you’re putting yourself on a pedestal, you know, but let’s talk about Brian in the third person, right? People. A very large portion of people in this area know me and refer to me as like a guru and someone who knows the mountains very well. So I’m often asked like, all the time, like, okay, like, if you need to go from here to here, how would you do that? Because I know you’re good at like route finding. I know you’re good at you know, bushwhacking and developing routes from like cliff to cliff or wherever or people just ask me all the time where all this hidden stuff is because I’ve spent a lot of time off trail and you know, I used to think all you anything that was worth seeing how to trail to it.

Craig 21:28
Unless we haven’t found it yet. Which case there’s no trail.

Ryan 21:31
Yeah. And there is a lot of things that are that have no trail to it. Yeah. worth going to. Well,

Craig 21:37
I saw hundreds of square miles of stuff just on my zip by on the highway and every little nook and cranny. And it never done a couple of things in the Red River Gorge where my friend and I drove you know, and we’re like, we’re trying to follow the, you know, we get like some, like little one sentence description in the book. And then we’re at Miguel is really does anybody know where this is? Like, I grew up, make two left and right. And then there’s a pullout? Like, oh, yeah, that’s unique. And stop by the tree. Yeah, right. Exactly. We managed to find the pullout. And then and then it’s like, well, there should be a trail across the street. And I’m like, what year was the book printed? So we found the trail, but I think we were the first people to walk up that trail in like 10 years. I mean, there was a it was completely overgrown, we kept occasionally we found like a water bar or something we’re like, you could see people had put effort in, they’re moving a rod. Okay, this was definitely intended to be a trail. And then we hiked over the top, and it was like this, like a cul de sac. And we walk up to I’m not I’ve I’m trying to avoid becoming a geologist, because I do not need another hobby with a million things. So it was this gorgeous, I would guess granite, really dark rock, and it was kind of leaned back and a little slabby. And I’m looking at it like, Oh, this is interesting. And Mike, like, tapped me on the shoulder. And he like points up, you know, I hadn’t I hadn’t done the 90 degree I look up, like this overhang we’re standing under, it was like three, you know, three pitches high. So I don’t know, maybe 150 160 feet or something is this huge thing. And there are trees growing on the part that sticking way out. And then I realized all around us, you know, like in the woods are these giant blocks of I think it was sandstone from this. You know, I mean, that’s when you realize it, geology is really slow. But that block fell on Sunday, you know, and then like, when’s the last time it rained? You know, because if it was yesterday, I don’t want to be here. So we spent like the whole day climbing there in this thing. And it was, it was like walking into another world when we like whacked up the trail and like stepped out to the base of the cliff. It was just like, oh, and then we spent a whole day there. Like, you know, maybe 100 yards, all the sights. And there were just a couple little notes in the book about different things. So there’s, and we had no clue because we’re walking in the woods. So you can’t you can’t even see it. I think as we were driving to the valley, we might have saw that feature. But once we were in the woods, there’s no clue was there. So how do

Ryan 23:47
you and that’s and that’s what makes it great about that. Personally, it’s what I love about the mountains as I said, you know growing up in New Jersey on the beach, it’s one I’ll be honest, I’m not the I’m not the biggest fan of swimming in the ocean. It’s a little intimidating. I’m a little intimidated by the ocean, especially new chairs. Yeah, but yeah, just I don’t want to come out of a third arm or something like that and needles stuck in my needles stuck my eye. But you know, you go on the side of a mountain and you know you can operate in a quarter mile radius and spend days and days just seeing all these different things.

Craig 24:21
So do you go back to the like, do to that to like, go there. This is my current spot that I’m scoping out I like to do sketch like to take notes or just jam it all in your head or like how do you vote? So first of all, when you want to, I’m going to say get acquainted with an area what what exactly do you do? Like the whole process? Like how do you decide this is an area I want to explore? Through like a topo map like what’s the whole process for finding and then getting to know an area?

Ryan 24:48
So good question, multifaceted answer. Yeah, so it all just depends what my goal is. Um, you know if I’m really big in the waterfall lean as well, you know, I have spent a few years here recently really on this kick. There’s a small like handful community of people around here who love documenting previously undocumented waterfalls and making them publicly known. And then naming it, that’s kind of their end goal, I think is for the naming process and the naming rights. So when it comes to like waterfall, and yeah, I would look at a taco map, and I would just start looking for where those lines start pinching really close together. And if there’s a Blue Creek over it, right, and, you know, as those lines start getting closer, you know, the terrain is getting more and more vertical. And if there’s a blue line going over, there’s a really solid chance that there’s going to be a waterfall there. Some people will, you know, pull up like Google Earth and try to get like a satellite view on it. And sometimes I use, I did that originally in the beginning, but I just like the unknown aspect of it, too, you know, so I’ll see a spot on the map. And then I’ll immediately like, you know, zoom out on the map and start looking around like, Okay, where can I access this from?

Craig 26:00
That’s, that’s gonna say, what’s the farthest refer that you can remember what’s the farthest from like, I had the part over here that you’ve gone in, because I don’t really have a sense of how, you know, there are places in Maine where like, if you go the wrong way, you’re gonna run out of food and water before you get to anything. And I have no sense of how big the open undeveloped spaces are here. So like, what’s the farthest you regularly go from, you know, a parking spot?

Ryan 26:25
It’s very easy to go double digit miles. Okay. It’s very easy. It’s very, I’ve been on like, seven eight miles of pure bushwhacking like just pure route finding crawling through Rhododendron, dog hobble and doing miles of that is not fun.

Craig 26:40
I don’t know what dog hobble is, but I’m guessing because a hint, yeah. torrents.

Ryan 26:44
Yeah, no, it’s like Rhododendron. They’re just low hanging trees that like, you know, you imagine, you know, a secret agent trying to work his way through like laser wire. And that’s what you’re doing in the woods for, you know, seven miles. But yeah, so you just find a spot. And you know, going back to I said, I like technical I like thinking I like thought provoking. So zoom on deck. Okay, this is where I want to go. Where’s the nearest like, public access land? And you know, how can you are there any trails that I can always use to get close to three miles, then turn left to right, yeah. And then just at this point, the trail, you just dive off the trail and go down this embankment. And then obviously, you’re going to do things like negotiating cliffs and navigating that kind of terrain, which, generally when it comes to waterfall, and if you’re exploring a creek, it’s a little easier to go upstream, bottom up, because you can judge how to scramble from the bottom up a lot easier. Down, climbing is a little harder. Yeah, especially if you don’t see the entire down. But sometimes, sometimes there is no access from the bottom, sometimes, you know, access from the top is the most the more feasible way. And a lot of times you don’t know what you’re gonna do after you get there. And that’s what I like to is that unknown exploration where you’re like, Okay, I have a destination, but how I’m going to get there, it’s just going to be dictated on what I encounter along the way. So I’ve made a lot of waterfalls public, and actually one of them. So you know, I’m sure you’ve heard with hiking, there’s trail names, right? Yeah. So people was in western North Carolina kind of gave me a trail name. And it’s mountain cat. Because I’m always just bouncing around the trails is running down rivers rock off, because I used it as a training ground for Parkour. So that’s what people who don’t train Parkour that I hang out with and, you know, go on adventures with, that’s what people call me. And there’s one in South Carolina, the Upstate South Carolina, so really close to the border of North Carolina. It’s like a 55 foot waterfall. It’s got like a nice vertical freefalling section with like a grotto behind it. And then like a really nice, beautiful, undisturbed spray community of moss, which is spray communities and also pretty sensitive ecosystems. And they’re very, like specific to like that, that place, oftentimes have rare plants there as well. And I made that public and it was really pretty. And a lot of people that knew me started going and then they just started calling it mountain cat falls. And then like, I don’t know, like a year or two after that after like a bunch of people are going I was looking at my mapping app which I use Gaia GPS, and that’s what most people use. It’s pretty good. Yeah, use Gaia GPS guy if you hear this sponsor me. And then I looked at it one, you know, I was I was looking at that waterfall and at some point, it got name it gotten a mountain cat falls and like with a legitimate icon on it, and now I’m thinking hiking groups I’m a part of on social media. I’ll see people go there that I don’t know who they are, and they talk about it as mountain cat fall. So that’s kind of cool. It’s nice to have a mark.

Craig 29:46
It’s neat to see well, the fruits of your labor. It’s also I mean, on one hand, you know you’re risking, you know, where wherever people go, the ecology gets whacked, but on one hand, you’re risking that the other hand, it’s the opportunity to share that with them so they can see it and experience it.

Ryan 30:00
Hmm. And that’s a pretty complicated subject. As far as like off trail, high hand, bushwhacking goes, you know, impact is a big thing, you know, leave no trace. I’m really, especially here recently, in last couple years, I’ve been very heavily involved with wanting to get involved with more like managing impact. And I’ve been doing a lot of trail work volunteering here in the last week, year or two as well, when I can. I think all that’s kind of important to give back. So yeah, it’s it’s a complicated subject of impact. And I think the best way I can whittle that down, and I think a lot of people tend to agree with this is bringing things to the public attention always is a double edged sword. Like you said, you’re going to Yeah, I think, you know, people should see these things. You know, I think they’re beautiful. They’re worth seeing, I think the more places people know about and can spread out to will lessen impact in a singular spot. A good point. Yeah. But also, as more people visit places, it just tends to get ruined time. Yeah, there’s

Craig 30:57
also the aspect of, well, where’s this place? You know, like, if the place is more than a half mile, you know, that people are gonna go there just for random to make out what beer cans like it’s a little particle stomping because we get out at nine and then we’re like, it’s too far. Right? You know, so if it’s, if it’s a mile and a half wanted some trail, then you know, first of all, at least people aren’t going to show up and flip flops, usually. And so that’s like, the sounds like that one is not real right next to the road, or people would have seen it. So there’s also a balance too, if it’s not super accessible, it keeps it under control.

Ryan 31:31
Exactly. And that’s an Yeah, you nailed it. That’s what I was about to say is typically, people who respect nature and are stewards of it will not put in the effort of bushwhacking. Like if it’s hard to get to it’s there’s no trail you got to find it. You’re gonna be crawling under Rhododendron crawl. Yeah, they’re not gonna go you might have to negotiate like a cliff and scrambled down steep gullies, like people who are willing to put in that kind of effort. Respect it.

Craig 31:57
Yeah, they do their best to follow where’s the care out? We’re going this way. Or you know, where’s the stuff that doesn’t slough off?

Ryan 32:02
Right? It’s the roadside stuff that just always gets the worst kind of a tension.

Craig 32:07
I’ve only ever done one honest to God, bushwhack. It’s my rock climbing friend again, we’d like we camped at the extreme eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, right in Estes Park. And when you’re in the campground and you look to the east or these two, there’s a McGregor slab is this beautiful thing on the north side and deer Ridge buttress is on the south side. And it just like sticks up. And apparently it had been climbed. So we decided we were going to try this. So we got up like, oh, dark 30 in the morning before sunrise and went below the campground,

Ryan 32:39
right? The Alpine start. Yep. Exactly. Oh, you

Craig 32:42
know that. So Mike’s like, Oh, if I started with Jamel our stuff in our bags, and it’s basically head for the pointy silhouette where there are no stars. You know, like it just look for the place that you don’t see the sky. And we like tiptoeing through people’s campsite because we need to go with directly you need to go that way. And then it was like climbing over split rail fences and walking through, like, you know, waist deep grass and you’ve like, you can’t see anything and then it was just a bushwhack through the talus field of trees. And when I tell people the story, I mean, you’re like guess how can I go? But everyone else in the world is like what is wrong with you? I mean, I was and this is you’re in Colorado, so I don’t know you’re probably maybe like 7000 feet or something so I’m worried like the whole way soaked in sweat I wasn’t in the greatest shape still aren’t. And I have all this gear you know everything for a whole day I think I had the rope he had all the all the climbing Trad gear. But when we got out of the tree line, it’s just the trees don’t grow or the real rockets we when we came out of the tree line, Mike had intentionally timed it perfectly. I swear we were there for like a minute and a half and the sun came up. So we have all these photos of just just being at the base, you know, and like, taking the picture of like, this is actually the thing that either you know, like in your case I thought would be here or like in our case we had been staring out of a binoculars from like two miles wherever like that, that oh my god, that’s a thing that he’s like, Is that is that a crack you and it was there was like an 80 foot hand jamb crack that went basically five, eight, you know, like up the front.

Ryan 34:06
You had me at talus field. Yeah, you really had was hand cracked. It was

Craig 34:10
beautiful. And I really wish I could have climbed five ate that day. But no, it didn’t. We didn’t manage to go up. But, you know, for people who may not have ever had the chance and they’re thinking why would you what do you like that half get up? You know, it is one thing that it’s one thing to let go betrayal. You know, you’re like, yeah, man 12,000 people have seen this view. But when you when you actually have to decide, you know, like, oh, man, look at this scramble. All right, this one will go last. Next scramble will go right, you know, so you’re kind of going in a straight line or around this or out looks like a bear cave. What’s going around that you know, all these things. But when you get there even for the view, which is pretty much all we got, because Craig waved off. It was unbelievable. Then we’re like standing there on this thing called stag way. There’s like a shoulder a sloped shoulder at the base of the actual client. So we were like below this little fall. And then we like went around, it was actually a pillar, something like, like out of Devil’s Tower, there was this pillar which we seriously contemplated just climbing the pillar. As we went around that and up. And I have a photo of, you know, those little wooden it looks like a house, it’s a square sign with a little pointed top and they put little notes in it, you know, like, info kiosk Yeah, little info kiosk I think was like six inches square. And the post that it was on was like on a 45 degree angle because the talus field has been moving, you know, since that’s like, this thing’s on an angle, and the sign is completely gone. And it probably said something like, you know, danger, fall hazards, or Hexton was, you know, and like serious rock climbers only gear required. But the sign is the papers gone. It’s just like this empty thing. Like there should be a warning there. And the post is on an angle, I took a picture of it. Like that’s the best warning I’ve ever seen. Like, it’s it’s so dangerous here. They didn’t even come back the replace this size. Yeah, sign isn’t even maintained. But

Ryan 35:52
I mean, even the sign can stand up for long there. Yeah, exactly. It

Craig 35:55
was just everything you know. And like, as you’re moving, things are all crawling, and we’re purposely ascending on like, you know, an offset echelon. So the nuts stuff he’s knocking down has fallen on me. And then once we got up on the upper part, it was just solid rock. And there were trees up there, and a little bit of grass and a nice tumble home. But it was a nice big area. I’m off on a tangent, but what I wanted to say was like, I was trying to, like explain to people like the feeling you get, and I’m guessing or have the same way the feeling you get when you actually go like, Oh, it’s actually here, like the thing I was looking for.

Ryan 36:24
Yeah, yeah. And I think there’s something to be said about, um, you know, as far as like bushwhacking, and like you said, you get to this, this challenge essentially in front of you, which is like, Okay, I need to scramble up this goalie or this cliff was like, okay, which way I’m gonna go and go. And you know, everybody’s gonna see that differently. And everybody’s gonna have their own agency to decide what makes sense for them and how they want to proceed. And I think there’s something to be said about the reward value you get from, like finding your own route. Yeah. And then, like you said, especially like, if you’re aiming for a specific destination, that you’re not even sure what you’re going to find when you get there. But don’t get me wrong, don’t me wrong, I’ve gone I’ve put in some pretty hard days to go to what I thought was going to be a very rewarding waterfall and get there. And it is just like, oh, it’s like, oh, it’s like a Brook at best, you know what I mean? Or it’s like, oh, this would be a really cool drop. But there is no water flow on this creek. Because I’m so high up. And as a learning curve I had there too. As you know, as you get higher up on the mountain, you get closer to the headwaters. And obviously water is not going to be as strong flowing up into the top of the headwaters.

Craig 37:29
The blue line is the same with on the map no matter what, you know, what are we going here?

Ryan 37:34
There’s no There’s no step by step book for that. So but that’s really waterfall and when it comes to like, you know, a lot of water you’re venturing to is you can see and when you’re driving up, you see all these peaks, and sometimes you’ll you’ll just see a big rocky expose summit or an outcropping of some kind. And, you know, if I see it, if I can at least make a mental note where it is, I’ll try to remember but if I can, like pull out my map, I’ll like throw out a waypoint to where I think it’s gonna be. And then, you know, Jake, have one day I’m going to figure out how to get up there. Here’s where I am. And here’s the Baron. I can find it right. Yeah. I mean, I have on my on my GPS app, I have probably at least 2000 waypoints of like, potentially something cool. So like, when I’m, when I’m bored, I’ll like, I’ll just pick what I want to do. I’ll go on my phone, just like search that and then see all these different things have like random little projects I’ve had where I’m like, oh, what’s up there and over here, but yeah, it’s like so a lot of times too, it can be just looking at maps, topography maps, sometimes just you just see it as same thing when like your training Parkour. You’re walking around the city and you find a spot all of a sudden, this

Craig 38:38
is what I was fishing for. It’s like so we all know I mean, not we all but like people know Parkour vision as and there’s definitely a well, there’s rock climbing vision. There’s like, mountain was a bushwhacking vision, but there’s like, mountain exploration vision. And even if you can do eight climbing, it’s there’s just Yes, that that peak looks interesting. Have you given me good? I’d love to collect stories. Do you have any good stories where it was like you work really hard and you’re on the wrong you know, like, oh, it’s the next one over you know?

Ryan 39:07
Not not the next ridge over however, I do have a very funny like, Oh, I’m gonna go this waterfall. I’m looking at a map thinking like, like, How come I’ve never heard of a waterfall on this creek? There’s got to be one. Like it’s super obvious. I mean, it’s like, we look at the topography, like there’s got to be 150 foot waterfall. And I was like, Oh yeah, I’m gonna I’m gonna go check it out. You know, I got I got an afternoon of myself and whatever. So I’m gonna go check it out. And I go over there and I really botched it. I misread which direction the water was flowing. So I here I was thinking, you know, I’m gonna come up this creek and come to the base of this massive waterfall and what I ended up doing was I got to the I came to the top of this massive waterfall and got clipped out. Oh, it’s just up there. Like yeah, so the water is not going to direction I thought it was gonna go I was like well maybe I can start scrambling down so I probably make it like between like kind of scrambling on fourth clashes terrain on on rocks and just dipping out into the woods when you know to like because the roto rotors make good handholds. It’s so dense that it’s hard to like fall through it all. You know what I mean? Like sometimes it’s so dense, you can walk on top of it, just walk on the top of the canopy. But yeah, I probably made like 50 feet down between, you know, go and dive in the woods getting out on a rock when I could and I just kind of got like two Clift out and I was just really straddling that line of comfort. And, you know, and I’ve had this bad habit of like, no one really knows where I’m at in the woods. I was

Craig 40:39
gonna ask, Do you have any further I don’t know if he was the purpose on land. That’s a sailing thing. But yeah, do you have a do carry? I’m guessing there’s a national beacon for

Ryan 40:50
No, I don’t have any emergency like SOS type beacons. It’s actually been on my shortlist as I’ve gotten into more technical type adventures, like rope work type stuff. And that’s kind of been something where I feel there’s more of a need for that. When it’s just like, kind of, you know, off trail scrambling exploring. Yeah, I’ve feel pretty confident that nothing’s gonna happen. For the most part. Like I said, I had a bad habit of not telling people I was going,

Craig 41:16
have you changed this habit? Because I might recommend

Ryan 41:18
telling Yeah, typically, typically, I’ll let my girlfriend know what’s gonna say at least leave

Craig 41:22
a lat long, and you know what time you should be checking back in.

Ryan 41:26
But People just expect that on me. Like, it’s not uncommon that, you know, I tell people all the time, I take about one to three business days to respond to text messages and emails, and I’m just out doing stuff. You know, it’s just it is what it is. You know, I have a running joke with with my significant other right now. And, you know, there’s a lot of times where, like, she makes this joke that she halfway expects I just don’t come back on any weekend day. Like, I might just go out for an adventure in solid chance. I might just like, you might get a text. It’s so random point. I’m like, Yeah, I’m just gonna stay. It’s been so good out here. I’m just gonna stay the night. Having a great time. It’s gonna keep it going.

Craig 42:00
I brought a bivy sack and some water. I’m good. I have a powerbar three.

Ryan 42:03
Yeah. Yeah. So that’s, that’s That’s definitely how that goes.

Craig 42:08
Was there anything on your mind that you were thinking about, you know, leading up to me arriving over here that you were wondering or that you wanted to talk about? Or questions?

Ryan 42:17
Yeah, it was just kind of thinking about like, kind of chronicling really briefly, like kind of my journey where it started. And we kind of touched upon it in in New Jersey. And then when I moved out to Asheville, I started picking up that class. And then I really started that’s when my my, my brain shifted to like more of a coaching mentality. I was like, okay, I can develop like, progressions for different like, we’re, we’re different students are physically and mentally with their skills. And then as I started doing that, and the class before I took it over, it wasn’t that it wasn’t structured. Well, it just, I just think the I mean, the instructor said he didn’t really know Parkour, so he just didn’t really he knew, like very basic things, but didn’t know how to like, keep progressing skills, you know, like, able to teach people like a step full, or, you know, a common goal. And but then after that, it’s like, I don’t know what other Parkour skills are out there. You know, and then at that point, I was starting to learn a little bit Acrobat, which most most students and in a Parkour class, that’s what the majority of them are after the flashy stuff. Yeah, and I understand it’s the flashy stuff. So yeah, I started shifting that. And you know, probably about within six months, yeah, was about six months of when I took over that class. We went from one class a week, you know, like I said, might have had four kids on on a really good day, too. I was having classes with up to 40 kids in it. And I was the only coach and we’re in like, a really small if, for all the people who have taught Parkour in a gymnastics gym, you always know you get some really small corner in the very back.

Craig 43:54
You get the broken balance being

Ryan 43:56
broken balance, we can’t touch that. Can’t touch that or that, but run a Parkour class. And yeah, you know, yeah, we had a very small section like a downstairs section was like 20 by 20. We had like one box that was like, that the owner of the gym built before I got there, it was like something he designed to have like a eight foot slat wall on one side, it will cut out in the middle of the I guess he thought maybe someone will die roll through at one point. But it wasn’t like very feasible to do. But yeah, it was a very, like minimal setup. But anyways, I took basically nothing and then got to this point where, you know, I was having classes up to 40 students at one point and then at this point to, you know, the original group of kids I had started working with six months prior where their skill sets are way above a lot of kids who were just coming in. We have to split the class and now we Yeah, so then I parlayed to and at this point two as they saw in tendons rising in the gym at that time, the owners are really great. They really saw like what I was doing and they really saw how I was able to build and develop the program and they were super supportive like once it started taken off. And also I just never complained about anything like all the other coaches did. You know, I’m just there. It was like, you know, it was an obstacle. Yeah, it was just part time thing. I was doing side. I was just happy to have a place to train. Yeah, you know, and I was sort of pay me hot damn. Yeah, right. Yeah, you paid like eight bucks an hour, but it’s okay. Pizza money. Yeah, I was just happy to have a space to train. I was happy to start having people to train with you. Because like I said, I didn’t have anybody to train with. And

Craig 45:27
did you? Yeah, I was gonna say, Yeah, you get to start sifting through all the people, you know, all the people in the area. And like, who was interested in the thing and comes to the class to look who stays or when did you find anybody else that came to those classes that you became fast friends with? Or fast Parkour? training portal? Yeah,

Ryan 45:43
yeah, definitely a handful of people, for sure. And actually, as the classes got bigger, I moved up some of those people to like assistant coaching and stuff. And the trade off was and worked out for them. It’s, you know, a lot of these high school kids, you know, they’re paying out of their own pocket for the class. And some of them I was able to work out deals where it’s like, hey, you know, I need help in our beginner level class. You know, if you’re willing to come in, you know, in this day to help out, you can stay for the classes for free, you can stay after the classes are done and train with me in the gym, for however long we want to stay at one point, they just kind of gave me a key and they didn’t care if I stayed to like midnight training, you’re making money. Here’s the key. Yeah, so it got to the point where the classes got split, where I was able to set up like a true beginners class where I can really start like vetting people as they come into the program, and just a place where I can get down basic skills, so they can be safe to be in a more open training style format. And we see that now a lot of Parkour gyms, they got to make sure like to go to their open gym, you have like a minimal set of skills. And that’s what that beginner class was for me at that time. And that started just filling up all the time, too. So it turned out that we ended up setting to we went from one class like four kids, and six months later, we had two beginner classes that had at least 30 kids in each class, every class every week, and then a to intermediate classes. And then I think wasn’t about six months, but probably shortly thereafter. Within the year though, I had an advanced level class, which was basically the people who, at this point, there are students I had trained up that were probably that were surpassing me and skills at this point. And they were already like developing their own personal goals and things that they wanted to individually train work on. And those are the people that I would train with outside. So I basically just kind of set up a quote unquote advanced level where it’s just like an open gym for the people that I can actually train with. And I can work my skills with and develop with them rather than just coaching all the time and not working on myself. And that went really well. And you know, in the gym would do like performances. And then the gym had a lot of involvement with the city, you know, doing like the holiday parade, so doing demos for schools on field trips, so we started bleeding into that and anytime the gym had something come up like that, they’d always be like, Hey, Ryan, you know, your your wow factor, like bring a demo, right? Get the guys together, bring a demo. And we would we would like practice like choreograph routines and like performing doing things off each other. And the more we did that around the city, the bigger the programs are getting, we’re really drawing attention. And then it kinda like I love Asheville, but if you’ve ever been here, it’s pretty small. And compared to a lot of like other major cities, the opportunities for training aren’t as obvious. Like we have like a couple spots that are like an actual area where there’s just tons of things to do. But the vast, the vast majority of our training is like pocket spot, kind of, you know, like very, like, alleyway type things and a lot of spots only have like a few specific challenges. And we kind of started to get to a point pretty quickly there where we were kind of maxing out the challenges our skill sets were able to do on top of feeling like we didn’t always have a lot of options. And but we live in the mountains and and that’s when that crossover really started to make a lot more sense. It’s like yeah, we might not have a big downtown city but we have miles and miles of Boulder choke rivers. So it’s like, you know, we can just run down the river and like create a car shuttle, start at one drop another car at the other and we’re gonna time ourselves and we’re gonna run this whole river without like getting out of the river at any point and we’re gonna do in less than like say like say an hour you know, we’ll we’ll set like a goal on a time and you know, we’ll train using the mountains because it’s something unique that we have here. And that’s when I really started develop my personal style of like,

Ryan 49:44
trying to blend the outdoor adventure to like the training of Parkour and the things I enjoyed I like these are all things I enjoyed and I’m type person where it’s not like a one track mind for better and for worse, you know, jack of all trades master of none. Yeah, but Um, I’ve always think about how I can tie my passions into each other so they can start working for each other. I was really into or really wanted to get into the idea of like videography and photography. So obviously, videography and Parkour go hand in hand. You know, jumping around in nature goes hand in hand with videography and photography. So that’s where we start shifting our training to is like, Okay, well, let’s, you know, like, we don’t have a lot of like running, you know, priests or setups where you could do like long stride lines in downtown, but we have miles of that on the road miles of straight lines over here. Yeah, I’m just continuous stride lines. And so we would do that and we’d start incorporating your knots. When we started doing like more scrambling getting in the cliffs, there was really really, you know, infamous jump around the area called Pride Rock. And basically, it’s this mountain where you start at the bottom in the caves of Fisher cave series. So you go through the series of Fisher’s deep in the mountain, then you start ascending probably about like 300 feet through the mountain, through a sphere and it’s like it’s very level changing. So there comes a point where you start like not realizing you’re going up, and you’re squeezing through like real tight holes. One of the final squeezes, we call it the birthing hole, because it’s so tight, you have to go in very specifically, its left arm in first shift your hip to the left, like you have to you have to move your body this exact way as you’re not gonna get through the hole or you might get stuck in a hole. But if you go through all that you come out onto this like overlook, like three quarters of the way up the mountain that just overlooks this, like beautiful valley with a really nice lake below. But right at the top like of that, right, overlook probably about six or seven feet out. So it’s not a big jump is this monolithic? Pillar? Oh, there’s

Craig 51:45
a piece breaking off working its way. Oh, no,

Ryan 51:48
no, it’s a free standing pillar. It’s not even attached to what I mean, it would have

Craig 51:51
been moving further, probably getting further over the centuries as it drifts away. Yeah, probably who even off right. Yeah,

Ryan 51:57
yeah. It’s like a big monolithic pillar, the top of it’s like this flat circle spot. Maybe like two and a half feet wide. Six, seven feet out.

Craig 52:10
I was thrown a couple 100 feet too far enough that it doesn’t matter.

Ryan 52:15
Yeah, no, it’s Yeah, far enough that it doesn’t matter. It’s it’s a it’s a fatal drop for sure. Yeah. And we first saw that it you know, you see something like that, and it just screams, it just

Craig 52:26
gradually figure out whether the pillar was stable, because my first thought is, you know, at some point that’s going to fall over, right. So somebody jumps out, how much would it suck to stick to position to like, hey, it’s moving, you know, and then it was really

Ryan 52:37
funny. I think a lot of people who don’t mess around on like real rocks, just assume they’re like, the most solid things in the world hadn’t thought of that. Yeah. Because you just don’t have the experience. Yeah, no,

Craig 52:47
I’m I’m totally down with like, sometimes this stuff is balanced, there’s like two and a half hours from me is the shower gunks the gunks are so I can drive to the gunks and climb that and drive back. Nice. And then there’s like a little place called Peters keel, which can go top roping which so I can set up gear. And I was climbing up this one thing one day, and there was a six sided die like, but like, sofa sized, you know, like four feet on an edge. This this block that was sitting like inside a little, and not really a chimney. But this this little niche. So as I’m climbing up, I’m, I put my hand on this thing, and I’m facing the other way. And I’m doing like a little stem with my feet in my hands and want to lean on the rocket moved. Not real far, just like a Coke, you know? And then I’m like, What does move? You know, like, because it wasn’t really obvious was which hand or foot was that? And then I’m like, Okay, well, I’m gonna undo this, you know, so I undid the move, and then it went clunk. And then I realized it was my left hand, and I’m like, this block moves. So then cuz my belayer is at the bottom. Right. So right, it’s been a couple of minutes. Like, is it and then I realized, I don’t think it could come out of there. But it’s was it wasn’t attached, and it was just sitting there, and it had a bit of a rock to it. And like, like a rocking horse. Rockman an ROC? K? Oh, that’s the same word anyway, Greg. Yeah. And I think that kind of thing or like, climate with my friend, Mike and heavy, like, this last parts a little loose, and like, what parties are all of it? You know, when you like, you. People think that rock climbing is like in a gym. If anything moves, there’s something wrong, you go and get the Allen wrench and you fix it. But there’s lots of stuff outside where you’re like, Well, this is really easy. Except that if you really pull you could pull any one of these rocks out of the wall. And it’s like, you grab it, and you’re like, I only need like 40 pounds. I think it’s good for 50 So I have to just kind of like move through there. And yeah, so I’m guessing you guys eventually did the pride. The pride job.

Ryan 54:40
Yeah, so we looked at it and it was Pride Rock is what we called it and yeah, it’s like said it’s very aesthetic. It’s very obvious, very obvious challenge, and probably took us at least a year of just looking at it.

Craig 54:54
Can you get to that overlook any other way other than coming up through all the squeeze holes?

Ryan 54:57
No. And you can’t go up that way more either because Have the white nose fungus syndrome for bats. Oh, all all wild caves are pretty off limits and in their population was brought to the like the realms of extinction in last 10 years. So I do respect that I respect like closures and nature and just you know the ecosystems and everything. So unfortunately we can’t get back in there right now might be able to repel in from above. I’ve never explored that option, but I’m pretty sure it could be done that way. But I just kind of like leaving it as this like thing that used to be that can’t be anymore and you know, it has that like, what is that status behind our

Craig 55:36
famous rock pillow I want to say it was like Devil’s pulpit or something. There’s a famous rock pole that pillow that fell down like that somewhere. And it was this iconic thing that stood on a ridge and everybody climbed it all the time when they just fell over. And there were people who were hiking up to it to go climb on it that day. Just like fell over and like some local school kid caught it on cell phone video or something. It’s like yes, this stuff is I mean, if you if you sped it up geologic, the geological time. I mean, things are moving continuously shifting the mountains are melting, they’re being pushed up.

Ryan 56:10
Yeah, we’ve here in the last couple years, we’ve had a lot of heavy rain in the western North Carolina area, and we’ve had a lot of subsequent landslides and huge major like rock slides like major ones, literally in the last three years. In fact, actually just about a month maybe month and a half ago. Tropical Storm Fred came through the area brought historic flooding to the area and devastated the landscape there is a really popular waterfall might have been easily the top five most popular waterfall like around the Asheville area it is one of the busiest hikes around the actual it’s like so busy that you just don’t go there because you don’t want to deal with you don’t want to share her you don’t want to share that trail with you know, your 4000 closest friends.

Craig 56:59
COVID Right. Right. Outdoors anymore. We got a mask up for crying out loud.

Ryan 57:03
Oh, I mean, seriously, it was like that, but the storm came through and it shifted the landscape so much and redirect the water that the water and collapsed it that the waterfall doesn’t exist anymore. Whoa, like Wow, a major waterfall that was like a tourism pinnacle, the area,

Craig 57:20
something collapsed and broke off. And now it’s just a cascade of Yeah,

Ryan 57:23
it’s barely even a cascade now. And it used to have like a swimming pool that people would jump off like a little eight to 10 foot rock into super popular, no more swimming hole. Completely gone. It’s amazing. So to your you know, to what you’re saying like, yeah, this landscape is still moving, things are still shifting, things are still changing. I mean, I have a lot of photos of places that you know, like from years ago, I have a photo of it major rockfall that has happened and no longer looks at like, and have like before and afters. If

Craig 57:54
you’ve noticed any or don’t have ever thought about this, I was just bopping around with something. And people are starting to compare born before born after, before and after photos of tree lines. And one of the things that they’re wondering is like, well, if things are getting a little warmer, and the co2 is getting a little bit more parts per million, the tree should be moving up the slopes. And I’ve seen some interesting before and after photos of like, where the slopes are a little more general. And it’s like, man, there’s a lot more trees moving up. You know, moving up the slopes? I don’t know. Have you noticed any of that around here? I didn’t think I don’t think so. I don’t think I saw anything that wasn’t topped out like their trees go over the top.

Ryan 58:30
Yeah, our highest peaks here are just there, like 6600 feet. I think the highest the trees could grow all the way to the top. Yeah, yeah. Now you have like that high elevation, like for type trees. Yeah. But yeah, I don’t know. But I have seen the erosion of soil go down. Because it’s just increased water flow, as our watersheds have become more saturated over the years. But um, yeah, it’s really cool to think that, you know, like a waterfall, like a legitimate, like, significantly sized waterfall can just go away, because it’s just a day or two of heavy rains. But yeah, so with Pride Rock, once we finally made that jump, it actually became like, this thing that when people would travel through the area to come train with us, it’s like, Oh, you gotta go to pride. Like that was the mountain adventure was really good. You’re going to come to the area, we’re going to train, but I also got to bring you some mountain adventures, you know, that’s just always how I play host for the area. You know, it’s like, hey, I’ll show you the city. But while you’re here, you’re gonna come in the mountains with me and we’re gonna do some stuff, because this is the unique thing that we offer here. And yeah, we started so then a lot of like, well known Parkour Parkour athletes would come and want to take on Pride Rock in it. So it’s been it was a fun thing while it lasted for sure. And yeah, that’s so so we started switching our training mythology to like out here in the mountains because we just have so much more opportunity to that and that really had a huge impact on the style I ultimately developed. We’re, you know, I’m very technical and I like Very precise footwork and handwork as you mentioned or

Craig 1:00:04
if you run it down boulder now I get it I’m like oh that would that would make your footwork be Primo.

Ryan 1:00:09
Yeah What’s wrong with

Craig 1:00:10
this one’s dry this one’s sloped the wrong way is that moss you know like Yeah,

Ryan 1:00:15
yeah and sometimes like things look dry and not and not mossy or slick and you touch it and you take a pretty hard fall so yeah, that really and abroad a lot of our style to like more of like a natural type movement using like animal mechanics. Again, you’re running through the woods, no trail and you’re coming up to a rhododendron patch. Now you got all these low hanging branches that are like at your stomach way. So now you’re diving through them, vaulting, doing a vault landing, Quadra paddling right out of it to go wander another series. And so that’s

Craig 1:00:48
really do it. I don’t remember the exact sequence but it was like, did like a fairly simple dive calm. I think there was a torpedo on a stand, which made me go okay, whatever. But it looked like like a cylinder. So guessing was a torpedo. But you did like a dive calm. But when you came out of the car, and you know, here comes this brainer, overhead shot from this thing you were going to go under, and you transition from, like finishing the con to a like lateral sideways movement. And it’s a pretty simple as far as things go, like just step on your with your head while shuffling to the left. But the way it was connected, I was like, Okay, that was really, I mean, like, obviously, you saw it before you did it. But it really showed me like, oh, there’s no way I could do that. Like, it’s just no way that I could connect those two moves together because one is perfectly forward. And the other one is a completely sideways like deep side to side range of motion in the hips. And I’m like, Oh, now I see where he got that from. Like, if you did that under Rhododendron a couple 1000 times it would become a natural movement. Yeah,

Ryan 1:01:50
well, thanks. I appreciate that.

Craig 1:01:51
I wish I could remember what like what the video was called, or where I saw it. But

Ryan 1:01:54
it was, I know, the area talking about was actually Long Island, that that specific clip you’re talking about? I was training in an area in Long Island that the community out there refers to as the memorial. So but yeah, that’s that’s, that really influenced my style of movement. And I never really got too hard into like acro because there wasn’t on a VIP being on the rivers didn’t always make sense. You know, like

Craig 1:02:22
a Webster out, never go to the car. It’s like, you know,

Ryan 1:02:24
it didn’t always make sense on the edge of the clips either unless, like, you’re going for like a showy kind of thing to grab attention for views. So but yeah, that’s that’s, I would say, That’s how this you know, for us in Nashville Parkour area, our movement style was definitely more like, like I said, animal mechanics was big, something we trained a lot, because as you’re saying, you know, we got to transition from like being on just our feet to like just our hands and feet now and crawling under things and standing and rising again,

Craig 1:02:53
a modality of bail, like if I can bail on my arms and my QM are good enough, then while I can convert this, oh, this is alright, we’re going sideways. And then back to you know, bipedal again, you know, instead of like faceplant, when your hands aren’t strong enough.

Ryan 1:03:07
And, you know, I’ll train in the mountains, there’s just so much little detail. There’s like, you know, there’s the tree, but on the side of the tree is just like four inches of a little knot of a knob of a branch that broke off at some points, like, oh, I can tack off that or I can, you know, I can lightly set that or I’m gonna like stride this route system.

Craig 1:03:25
Yeah, I know, honestly, I saw, like, I watched, you know, each person before I talked to my watch as much as I can. And I saw you do a tag off of, like, you know, let’s describe Parkour in words. But they almost look like a stairwell next to a building. And there’s like a wall, there’s two walls perpendicular to the building’s wall. And the brick work looked like more like stacked stone than bricks. And the like, the stride to cat leap on the far side of this thing was like stupidly impossible. And so when I saw you, you watch things in real time, you’re like, where’s the Oh, that was an interesting solution. So you did this drive, and I’m like, There’s no way that you’re going to make it. And you did attack off of the brick wall with your right foot, and then went on, I think it was to a cat, you know, a cat grab on the far side. And it was just an interesting little, like, it wasn’t the most upward tack in the world. But it was just like enough to like, bump that parabola on the whole arc up to get to the firewall. And when I saw that, I was like, you know, I mean, there are only a handful of people, I think that could actually pull that tack off, but it really just looked like something you had done a million times and when you’re describing like tacking off, and I would call those you know, Punji spikes sticking out of the side of a tree like a broken branch will be a danger point but but like tacking off of trees and tacking off of rocks, that were that would open up a hole, you know, even if you’re only imagining a 10 foot, I’m trying to do an eight foot stride, but you know, I could put this tack in here that it’s too little puny forefoot. eyes and ears just a neat, there’s just it’s, I could just tell that wasn’t something that you had to really work hard to figure out to put that tag in the middle of those two pieces. So just yeah, now I’m starting to connect. Some of the movements that I saw on the very in my mind are beginning to connect, like where some of those movement patterns that I saw in videos are coming from. So mad props on that, although you probably weren’t thinking I’m gonna go out here and stride these boulders and then I can be better at, you know, ducking under torpedoes.

Ryan 1:05:23
Right. Exactly. It’s all transferable. So yes, it’s all transferable. Yeah. And, and I will say to like, I, you know, while I’m thinking about this, and we’re talking about it, a really big benefit training a lot nature gives us a lot of the stuff we were doing moved still. You know, like, like you brought the point you said the, you know, tacking off a little broken knob of a branch on the tree. You’re right. I think it’s dawned on me before, but I think I’ve just kind of like gloss over your I could break again, from talking. I was, like, once it’s already compromised.

Craig 1:05:54
So well, you kind of step a little more on the tree. Right? Yeah. So

Ryan 1:05:57
and we know dealing with that type of variable all the time. It’s not something that I feel like you deal with. So yeah, I mean, you get like a wobbly rail pre every now and again, or I just feel like things are unstable in the city setting, it’s very obvious, and people tend to just very much avoid it.

Craig 1:06:12
Well, and people are always and I think this makes sense, when you’re very new, you know, check your surfaces always, you know, check things First, don’t dive onto the roof unless you know, the roof is load bearing or whatever, right. But yeah, you’re not in the natural environment, you start to get a feel for that you kind of feel for that it’s going to be slippery, or that it’s going to move. So

Ryan 1:06:31
yeah, and things like you know, you’re tacking off a tree, you might grab a branch to swing between two boulders, just little transitionary type motions to kind of just keep your momentum going. Branches move. Yeah. And then they’re flexible based on the type of tree. So that’s something we learn to like, you know, we see a row coming up, and it’s going to be low, but you could swing on rodeos all day,

Craig 1:06:52
right? So it’s kind of like it’s semi open chain, instead of like a concrete built environment, everything is you’re either doing something intentionally open chain, or everything I tag or job or push or pull on is fixed. And if you’re messing around and wet rocks, or you know flexible branches, then it’s going to be more like everything shifts. And I think that would build up a cipher proprioception that would build up a ton of, you know, I think it was, somebody can remember the name of the guest, somebody was talking about training in the mid range. Oh, that was Sean. And he was saying, like, Yeah, you don’t necessarily necessarily want to get stronger in the middle, you want to try and like, broaden the range of motion where you feel comfortable. So when I do this tack, and the thing shifts, you know, do I have some spare pelvic, you know, strength to counter the additional torque, you know, or, or is it like, I can only do this hack, if I know exactly how my foot is going to interact with that thing. Right. So I think there’s a huge benefit to constantly I was gonna say, torturing yourself constantly exposing yourself to these, you know, natural environments that are going to challenge you in unexpected ways every time.

Ryan 1:08:00
Yeah, and a lot of times to, you know, you’ll be approaching something like that in a natural environment. And a lot of times, I just anticipate it’s going to move. So I go ahead and assume, I just assume it’s going to shift a little bit, at least a little bit, something’s always shifting a little bit. So but I will go ahead and like kind of be one step ahead of that. And I had myself on it by making sure my body is in a position where, you know, if I’m going to, you know, tack off this rock on the side here, and that rock tips over, you know, do I have as you’re saying, Do I have enough mobility in my hips to like, recenter my weight, or to even just or I’m anticipating that rock to move and I’m going to use the movement of that rock to redirect me in the direction I’m going. So that that was a whole nother fun process. And I think that that has a lot of value was trained, like, you know, you train in the city. And there’s just different things like you’re saying everything’s fixed, and trained, the city is really nice, but then sometimes you just, I just need to be out in the woods. And I just need a little bit of unknown variables. And when I train the woods to its, I really feel like I don’t train like lions the way you do in a city. You know, it’s like, oh, here, I’m gonna start there, do that move there, do that move there. We’re gonna practice it, maybe walk through some of it feel someone’s out. It’s like outside, you just go. You go very like thoughtlessly. But move Mary move very methodically. So you kind of answered that flow state more, or at least I do. When I’m outside train, I kind of hit that flow state more. And I think a lot of people like think most folks have been on like a trail run at some point in their life. Yeah, you know, when your trail running, you’re constantly having to like watch out for a little roots. Yeah, the ankles, right, and you’re watching your feet. So you got to, but it’s not like you’re slowing down your pace when you’re turning around. So those are all things you just have to take when they’re coming and that’s how we trained outside a lot too is like we’ll just go and not necessarily plan something out. But just keep taking it as it as it keeps coming at us. And our most for fault planning would be like, we’ll just set up like a shuttle and we’ll know we’re starting here or any area and we’re just not really going to stop anywhere in the middle.

Craig 1:10:00
So what’s so either what we want to talk about next time to talk about what’s next for you? We haven’t touched on Chase tag. We haven’t touched on APK we haven’t talked. There’s a lot going on. Yeah. So just be mindful of your time what any one of those things jumped out at you as something might go on neck.

Ryan 1:10:19
Yeah, I’ll kind of jump around with it. So, yeah, that was kind of our beginning here. And that was kind of how I built the Asheville Parkour community or at least, tried to build as much of commune as I can. And like every community that comes and goes as far as how many people are actively involved, but I would say there’s always been consistently at least like three people that you can always rely on to train within this area for the last 10 years. Actually one’s about to move Kentucky so it’s gonna get a less than that. But we needed a replacement. Yeah, so as we started developing more of and really feeling confident that we’re good movers. Then we learned about the Greenville Parkour as dominant as like, oh my gosh, there’s other people in other parts of the world that trained like you not to be in the fight dawned on us, but there’s other cities close to here, which

Craig 1:11:04
is like an hour and a half away. Greenville is

Ryan 1:11:06
like Greenville, South Carolina is ours. Now. Greenville soccer is about one hour.

Craig 1:11:10
Okay. Yeah, I just follow the navigation computer. I think I drove through Greenwood relative.

Ryan 1:11:16
There is a Greenville, North Carolina, which I think is like two and a half hours. Oh,

Craig 1:11:19
okay. Sorry. You said South Carolina south. Sorry. Greenville, North Carolina which I drove through today is pretty far from here. But okay, so there’s a Greenville, South Carolina.

Ryan 1:11:29
Yeah. So there came a day, I think it was like 2013, I want to say, I heard about a gym. It was my first never been to a gym. You know, we just been trained up here, we didn’t really know there were other communities that were in a reasonable distance from us to train with and found out about a Greenville, South Carolina, Parkour gym thru might have been 2012. Now I’m losing time, I found out through American park where they had like a schedule of upcoming gyms and they were maintaining that information on their website. So using using that information, went out to the gym and actually started connecting with people from like other communities and other communities all have different styles of training. And, you know, it’s really funny, whoever tends to be like a community leader that most everyone tends to kind of train about that same style. And that’s where I met Bob Reese. Everyone knows Bob Reese. Now. That’s funny. He wasn’t a big name back then. But yeah, so you know, met the Greenville community. And they were, they had a lot more people involved. And they’ve been more established, they were just kind of further along and training than we were here. I also find it hard. It’s like, it’s hard to train yourself and learn at the same time, right? Like when you’re, when you’re the one doing all the things first in an area. It’s like who’s pushing you Right? Right. So you go into another community. And there’s like, all there’s all these guys. And these guys are definitely like, they’re better movers, they have more technique, they have more skill down. So that’s when we started like, that’s when we really start branching out and training with both communities. And sometime thereafter, meeting a bunch of those guys, there are a couple of them who really want to get into stunt work. And they were telling me about this stunt job through Six Flags America in Washington, DC. Six Flags only has one stone team and their entire thing. And that’s at their corporate location. And I remember I was holding a mini jam. It’s my first like, kind of mini jam I ever hosted. I had a lock in at the gym, I was coaching at the time, and it was about four and you know, jams are in a gym, it’s four in the morning, there’s someone’s doing giants and people throwing down a forehand, you know what I mean? And that’s what’s happened. I remember sitting by our high bar, and someone’s going up, they’re just doing giants and work in some dub. flyways and I was talking to couple guys in Greenville, and they’re telling me how there’s this stock gig in Six Flags and made it sound like this is big world class thing. And they’re like, Yeah, we got this. We’re driving down there for this audition. And like, I think it was like, literally like next week kind of thing. It was within two weeks. It was between a week and two weeks out. And they were like you should go and I was like, I don’t know and they’re like No, no, like, make a real like, here’s this guy like email them tell him that like you know, you know us like just just just try and I was like I got home later that you know after the after all that so it must been like the next night. And I was like you know what, I got nothing to lose. Let me just throw together a little something like I’ve been collecting some clips I was pretty proud of at that time that I was holding on to so I was like, let me just throw together like a minute thing. And I did and got called in for an audition ended up just bumming ride with those guys from Greenville went out there did this audition for something and then a couple days after that got offered this position so basically found out between when I found out about this potential stunt job thing and when I just left and moved to DC to do it was probably like a three week span dropped my whole job everything I was doing just go there just had an opportunity and I was like wow, that and it kind of really came together in a way that was fell on my lap. Like I said like I didn’t hear about that. This just happened to be talking about some people they convinced me into it just happened in bum a ride with them to the audition, got offered the part and went for it so that I went out to DC and I joined their stunt team for a contract. And that was I learned very quickly that live entertainment is not what I was into live entertainment. It’s hard

Craig 1:15:21
to sit woowoo sit every night do exactly what you’re supposed to do and lay on the

Ryan 1:15:26
tape. Every time Yeah, and there’s just some days you just get up. And you know, my body does not want to do a backflip today. But I don’t have that choice. My body doesn’t have the choice anymore, either. So I moved out to DC, beginning of 2014 to do that. And that’s when I went to my first viscose gym. And that’s how I started really linking up with American Parkour. And that’s when I met Mark. And yeah, just went out there. My first Pisco jam is such as my first like, huge jam on like a national jam on that level. And, you know, everyone’s first national jam is it’s just always like this amazing time. And you know, as with all these friends and from all over the place, and people and you know, the jams, you know, you only see these people at jams once a year. And yeah, had a great time and, you know, really tried to strike up a relationship with Mark. And then once I finished my contract with Six Flags, I just kind of stayed communication, I really want to try to help out American Parkour in any way I can. By that point, I was editing a lot of videos, and I was kind of developing a good reputation for putting out good video content, like being a good editor. And so I started to try to offer those services mark and then kind of trying to start representing APK. You know, I really enjoy what they’re doing, especially like what they’ve done with like bringing Parkour to public school systems, and DC, I think that was monumental for what they were doing. And I just wanted to be a part of that. And so back then their their ambassador program was structured differently then than it is currently today. But yeah, they made me an ambassador. And then I was ambassador for a couple years. And then they changed it to more of like a true sponsorship type style, like program. And by that point, I was I’d actually had a pretty major back injury, I don’t know what happened, I know, causation by a fracture mile three. So I had to take some good amount of time off. And that also kind of forced me to train a little differently. So I kind of just started falling away from like, wanting to, like, do these huge things all the time, you know, like, you know, trying to do 15 foot priests all day, every day, you know, there’s just a point where like, that wasn’t sustainable, you know, on a long term level, especially after like a major back injury like I had. So I just kind of like adjusted the sails of how I can train and just kind of fell back on to just more like smooth tech natural type movement. Yep.

Craig 1:18:02
It’s a heck of a journey.

Ryan 1:18:03
Yeah. It’s been a long journey. And then yeah, so did that and move to after the stone contract, I’d had a year stint on Long Island and got to train with, like, people like Max Henry and David Ehrlich. And just a lot of people, I think, at that point had a lot of and I was recovering from a knee injury at that point, too. And they really, like taught me a lot about long term technique, and how to just have better technique to just handle impact and training for a very long time. And I think, you know, even training such a physically demanding thing. Like, eventually, in terms of longevity, like I think, to be able to train Parkour for 1020 years, you’re not going to be able to go, like super hard that entire time. Right? You know, you’re not going to, you can’t take like 20 foot height drops or 20 years. Like there’s there’s a cap to all that

Craig 1:18:59
sort of domitor. You know,

Ryan 1:19:01
I mean, I remember I remember I had this conversation with Bob Reese couple years ago, and, you know, we’re like, Yeah, I mean, you can’t do double backs outside all the time, you know, just comes a point where you just are not going to be doing that outside, you know, so how do you continue to move and train, if like, all your training style was just like throwing down these huge banger tricks every time you went out? You know? So I learned a lot about from them, like just smooth technique and just how to like really just, you know, and it’s funny because again, move parallels back to just moving to nature, you know, where you’re not worried about throwing a big flip or anything that you’re just like, I’m going from here, I’m going to there and I’m going to put my hands and feet on all these different things in between. And I’m just going to make it smooth. And, you know, every hand leads to the next one, every step leads to the next thing. There’s no stutter. There’s no pause. It’s just motion. And so yeah, I had small stint in Long Island and then I moved to Greenville, South Carolina and I spent a couple years down there as well. At that point, I started coaching full time I started coaching, picking up like coaching gymnastics in Long Island. So when I moved to Greenville, I was able to just coach full time between doing Parkour classes, tumbling classes for like, cheer, whatever, like recreational. And then I was coaching competition gymnastics for women’s for a couple years. And I trained a couple state champions on bars. Like first year competition, gymnasts, bars was kind of like my main main event that I trained, and I had a state champions both years. So that was pretty cool. I felt pretty accomplished about that. And working through the shake a stick at Yeah, yeah. And yeah, it was really nice to coach full time and everything and, and just being involved on all these different levels. At this point, it’s been so many years of involving, and I like to talk to people, you know, I like to connect with communities and often connect people together and as as a community leader, myself, you know, and have been, and just, it was just kind of like, roll I have, like slipped into over over that timeframe. But yeah, because of that I, you know, most people, at least have heard of my name at some point. Yeah. And yeah, and then I had opportunities come up, like, you know, Allen Tran over it. And so brought me out for summit in 2019, as a guest coach and Enzo movement, had a team for World Chase tag last year, which was going to be the first time it was in the US. And they really wanted to get a lot of like some of the best of the best together to really put on a show to bring it to the to the public guy out here and got offered an opportunity to be on Enza movements team that way as well. So yeah, just kind of taken it as it comes.

Craig 1:21:47
So that’s a terrific story, I think. And I don’t just mean like the very, I mean, like the whole thing, the whole that you’ve basically been telling episodes just so different, some episodes. You know, we’re like, get philosophical over on one topic, but it’s interesting how your episode, the whole thing here is like one, I don’t mean long, like, I just mean, like one long arc, you’re just built that basically ends at today, and an hour and 20 minutes later. Oh, that’s impressive. So yeah, that’s fun. It’s been a delight to have, you know, hanging out a little bit and chat. And I’ll be mindful of your time, as much as I hate to say it every time I will just say and, of course, the final question, three words to describe your practice.

Ryan 1:22:31
I knew this was coming. I was warned a couple times about this. And here we are at the bridge and the pride job. Yeah. So hard, you know. And, um, it’s, and my particular journey has been diverse in a lot of ways. You know, it hasn’t been just one specific discipline. I’ve kind of for me, you know, I like to be a student of movement. And something I often like to say is that, you know, movement to the body, or like what words the mind or, you know, the body needs to move, and it’s the language of the body. And there’s just so much different types of movement. You know, like, with our, our language, we have so many words, we have so many words to describe the same thing. But just in varying extents of that same thing. And there’s just so much different movement to speak the language of the body, you know, which the body’s whole function and purpose is to literally move. And so, to me, just movement, like I said, movement to the body or like words to the mind. And yeah, I can encompass this whole journey of just different things. And it’s like, things are so different, but they’re all interconnected in their own pulse. And three words, natural for sure. Like, though that’s not the very word just natural being one of them. natural, natural, for sure.

Craig 1:24:03
Not it so

Ryan 1:24:07
third scribe might, just my movement, natural, precise, and thought provoking. Thought provoking hyphenated.

Craig 1:24:18
Exactly. I always say Hyphens are free. Right? I think those are not only terrific words, but they do sum up. I think the story arc so far of your journey, and I wish you all the best and thanks. It’s been a distinct pleasure. Thanks.

Ryan 1:24:32
It’s been fun being on show