Tempest. from Dominic Crowley on Vimeo.

I never thought that Willie would be the one to do it, but he did. For years, I had discussed the idea of going off the grid with my best friend growing up. And we did, sort of.

Throughout high school we would take off as soon as the bell rung on Fridays to go camp somewhere for weekends that were spent climbing, surfing, mountain biking or just hanging out in the woods. We never exactly knew what was going to happen when we were driving out of town on Friday, but, we knew that we’d return home Sunday night feeling like we’d found what we were looking for.

So I guess in a sense, it wasn’t really a huge surprise when my best friend dropped out of school during his sophomore year of engineering school and moved out into a tent for the winter in the Sierras. There’s a sense of place that we discovered out there long ago when we unearthed the sense of freedom you get from doing what you want to do, without the expectations and constrictions of society to hold you back.

As I visited Willie throughout the year during the making of this film, I watched this sense of place manifest into something greater than I ever thought it would be. For the first time in our 15-year friendship, this was the first time I had ever known my friend to be content with his surroundings. Tempest is the first of my “As It Came To Be” series, a collection of three profiles that explore how different athletes have come to share a connection with their home in the outdoors.