As we wind down this whirlwind trek across the beautiful state of California, I’m reminded of all the amazing places this Chaga mushroom has taken us and wonder if it just wants to see the world. Maybe it was sick of the frigid cold Alaskan winters and its ubiquitous host, the white birch. Maybe it decided that its healing power should be shared with everyone, not just the Inuit people of its home turf. If so, we are willing travel companions.
Our challenge this week was to redo all the media on our website to reflect the name change of our main product from the “Health Shot” to the “Chaga Shot”. This means every image compiled from 50 other shoots and locations needed replacing. Terrain, background, look, style, motivation, action, content, everything. On the journey, the Shroomsmen (Tulsy, Prema and Doug) were joined by fearless young photographer Hawk Vacarro, who shot on behalf of our friends at 5.11 Tactical. 5.11 gear was essential to our success on this venture and we are grateful for their support and belief in the future of Chagit. Thanks for helping us look good!!
Our journey began in Los Angeles on Thursday 6/7/18, before dawn. We arrived at Red Rock Canyon State Park, just as the sun crested the sandstone bluffs, throwing their myriad columns into fantastic shades of red, white, gold and blue. We ascended the windy cliffs and shot the shot. Chaga’s ability to help the skin heal from sun and wind damage would be surely needed after this battle with the elements.
From there, it was on to Mammoth Lakes, high desert to high Sierras. We needed snow and there isn’t much of it left anywhere in the country. Our hopes to ride the gondola to the summit were dashed, it was shut down for line repair. So we adapted, much like the chaga mushroom does and we strapped on our boots for a hike. Fortunately we found a lovely patch of mostly clean snow and got the images we needed to showcase the cold-pressed extractions we make from this denizen of the frozen north. From there it was on to the lakes, Mary, Horseshoe and George for some gorgeous images of the still, clean waters at sunset. We finished with pizza, beer and a chat with lovely locals at my favorite Mammoth joint, John’s Pizza Works.
Dawn found us on the road again, past Mono Lake and up into Tioga Pass, heading for Yosemite National Park’s high country. The staggering verticality of its rock formations never ceases to amaze. Nature’s creations make anything that we build as humans seem insignificant and ineptly designed. We traveled along the Tuolumne River to Lake Tenaya, where we met one of the Park’s Rangers and learned about the delicate intricacies of filming in a National Park. Then it was down to the Yosemite Valley floor, one of the most majestic and stunning places on Earth. We didn’t really have time to climb El Capitan so we settled for pictures of it. It’s always a pleasure to watch a Yosemite newbie’s reactions when they witness it for the first time, Doug and Hawk got that introduction. We peeled ourselves away, thinking about what it must have been like for John Muir to see it untouched, that first time.
That afternoon we crossed the State, through the bountiful farms of the Central Valley to one of California’s iconic towns, Monterey. There, by the cool waters of the bay at Toro Park, Spartans were gathering. Our relationship with the athletes of Spartan racing has been amazing. The shot and the soap have been extremely well received since it has helped boost their endurance, bring down their race times and helped them recover faster from training or injury. We interviewed some of the top athletes in the sport of OCR, Veejay Jones who is dominating the sport at 19 years old and the 2 Figs, Cesar and Elia Figueroa, who in their 40s are blowing people away on the course. Seeing their reactions and knowing that our product has been part of their success was priceless.
Awake again at dawn to document the races, we were thrilled to be part of the event, capturing images of the athletes at their best, overcoming all obstacles in their path. It was also an opportunity to catch up with our friends from Fit4 gloves and make new friends as well. It’s humbling and incredibly gratifying to be the ambassadors for this amazing mushroom and share the products we’ve made from it with the top athletes in OCR. After the race, we headed up the coast to San Francisco, just in time to capture some stunning images of the Shot at sunset with the truly iconic Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop. It’s a reminder of what men and women can accomplish when we focus and persevere. I can only imagine how much faster they would have built that bridge if they had Chagit’s Products!!
On this, our final day of the journey, we rolled down Highway 1 along the Big Sur coastline. The magnificent rock formations, carved by millennia of the sea battering the coast, are a testament to the natural beauty of California and the raw power of nature itself. Prema worked out on the Cliffside using his TRX suspension system, while Doug and I enjoyed a rare moment of relaxation gazing out at the view.
Since a section of the highway was taken out by a winter mudslide in 2017, our only option was to drive directly up and over the mountains on the Nacimiento Road. It’s a dangerous road and not recommended for those suffering from vertigo as there is no guardrail and the drops are 3,000 feet vertical. But we thrive on challenges and found the perfect spot for Prema to run up that dangerous road. We also met some guys on the road, Sid, Tony and Ruben who were out on their Harleys for a Sunday ride. We introduced them to the Shot and were reminded once again how the chaga mushroom works for everyone and makes new friends wherever we go.
From there, it was down to the river for a quick dip and the final images from our trek. The soothing, cool water washed away all our concerns, just like the Chaga Shot washes away the damage our bodies endure. Now, it’s time for a quick stop at the Firestone Brewing Company’s Taphouse for a flight of their very best brews and a chance to reflect on our great fortune. Every day brings new revelations and the enjoyment of a job well done. I am eternally grateful for the roads that we travel, on behalf of the Chaga mushroom and the lives that we have changed along the way. RIP to one of our personal heroes, a true road dog… Anthony Bourdain. Your voice and presence will be missed. Until next time… May the Chaga Power be with you.