Where did the word UpaDowna come from?
UpaDowna started its life in the early 2000’s as a celebration of the classic adventurer’s tradition of enjoying a cold beer after a great day outdoors, hence our original motto: “Up a mountain, Down a beer” which is the backbone of many outdoor adventurer’s post celebration of a job well done.
UpaDowna’s mascot is the Yeti, which is also the nickname of our founder. This mountain-dwelling, snow-loving, adventurous creature is the true mascot of the outdoors. Some call him the “Abominable Snowman” and sometimes others think he’s a Bigfoot or Sasquatch. Make him who (or what you want…) to us, he’s just a big, fun-loving, hairy animal who loves his forest home, being in the outdoors, and wants to encourage you to do the same!
Nature’s Healing Powers
Founder, and past Executive Director, Steve “Yeti” Hitchcock first realized the true power of nature during training missions with his soldiers in Germany. The calming quiet of nature continued to sooth his nerves upon return to the states after his tour in Iraq in 2003.
Friends Help To Foster The Dream
In 2004, thanks to the encouragement of a dear friend, Steve starting writing a gear review blog with just the items in his closet and sharing thoughts of where/how to camp and hike on the first site, UpaDowna.com. Three years later, gear companies and PR firms started seeing the value in his reviews and sent more gear for him to test. During his time as an Outdoor Recreation Professor at Pikes Peak Community College, he met Robert “Bunny” Mitchell who helped UpaDowna become what it is today. With the addition of more gear reviews, trail reports, and the start of public events, Steve and Robert set out to make UpaDowna more than just a “blog”. UpaDowna’s first event in 2007, the “Incline Happy Hour” saw 40-60 hikers participate in the grueling climb, with a celebration afterward at the local watering hole, Kinfolks.
Growing Into A Community Service
Fast forward to 2011 when UpaDowna was approached by community leader, Michael Hannigan, Founder and then Executive Director of Pikes Peak Community Foundation. UpaDowna became a program under the PPCF name/501c3 number and Steve’s wife Randi (MtnMama) joined on to help with administration and programming. Together, Steve, Robert, and Randi worked tirelessly to promote outdoor recreation and education in the Pikes Peak Region and beyond.
Who We Are Today
As we have grown and come to fully understand that in order to create actual appreciable change in both individuals and our environment, we needed to expanded our mission from the focused 21+ age group to all ages and all walks of life. By understanding that the future of many youth’s lives are greatly dependent on their self worth, self confidence and self image, we see great value in our ability to expand our demographic to allow you, the adventurer, to own UpaDowna and make it yours. While UpaDowna’s founding mantra will always be around, we now have the freedom to choose our own adventure! As UpaDowna becomes your lifestyle, you can fill in the meaning to fit your personal story. This spectrum allows so many folks the opportunity to create their own personal appreciation and understanding of UpaDowna.
Now we like to say that ‘Upa’ refers to overcoming an obstacle or achieving a goal in the outdoors, and the ‘Downa’ refers to coming back to your everyday life a stronger, wiser, and more aware individual.
Since 2014, UpaDowna has been it’s own stand alone 501c3 nonprofit, has seen some amazing staff members come and go (sadly!) and now is on the verge of total world domination! Well, maybe not that extreme but we are looking to expand programs, locations, and offer more frequent opportunities to adventure with us! We are a free/donation based group with no paid memberships. We also provide the gear you might need to participate in Stand Up Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, and cycling! In the works is also a Library and Museum of Adventure where folks can come relax, learn about new trails, read adventure books, or explore new gear!
This nonprofit is based locally in Colorado Springs but serves folks globally as a means to bring people together in a celebration of like minded folks that have a need to cure “Nature Deficit Disorder”. By encouraging you to get outdoors to stop, listen, breathe deep, and become more aware of what it means to be alive. By reaching out through our community programs both educational and fun filled, we will show you the path into the hills by providing instructional classes as well as hands on experiences covering backpacking, hiking, camping, cycling, climbing, bouldering, wilderness survival, skiing, snowboarding, stand up paddleboarding and much, much more!
There are going to be deviations to the theme brought about by the adventures we take but all posts will be be based on enjoyment of the outdoors (or craft beer!). Enjoy UpaDowna as a place to come and learn about the great outdoors!