NYE – OUTDOOR EDITION

I know, I know, New Year’s resolutions are cheesy. We all make them, at least in our heads, and hardly ever live up to them. But this year is different because I’m talking outdoor resolutions. My New Year’s outdoor resolution is inspired by, or rather in spite of Kenny. Kenny works in the board shop. He’s a snowboarder and surfer, but his true gift is fly fishing, and thus he is my arch nemesis. Now if you know Kenny you would say how can he be anybody’s arch nemesis, he’s no Darth Vader or Lex Luthor, but you see Kenny has caught three Steelhead on a fly rod, and I have caught exactly zero. So my New Year’s outdoor resolution is to catch a steelhead on a fly.

Kenny on the Clackamas River

I spoke with three of U.S. Outdoor’s most intrepid outdoor explorers and these are their hopes for the New Year.

Kareen is a 27 year old native Oregonian that works in the camping and climbing department. This year she has three goals. She is planning a trip to Glacier Park in the spring with a good friend. She also picked up a used whitewater kayak last year and is planning on taking classes to learn the basics before she takes the plunge on going down a real river. But the thing she is most looking forward to doing is ski jouring with her dogs Gucci and Floyd. Gucci is a Husky German Shepard mix, and Floyd is a Black Lab and Rottweiler mix. These dogs were made for the snow.

GUCCI AND FLOYD

Ski jouring is where you harness up your dogs and they pull you in the snow. Ruffwear even makes a harness specifically for ski jouring. She plans on going to some of the mountain lakes around Mount Hood like Timothy Lake and Frog Lake. I asked her if she has anymore goals for the new year, she said, “Not get broken.” She broke her ribs last year snowboarding and it took her five months of rehab to get better. Not get broken. Good advice. Have fun this year Gucci and Floyd.

KAREEN AND GUCCI

KAREEN AND GUCCI ON THE TRAIL

Jen is another 27 year native Oregonian that works at U.S Outdoor. She works in the board department. Her main goal is to come back stronger than she has been in the past five years. She has had a full knee replacement and ACL reconstructive surgery in that time. Two summers ago she was skateboarding a bowl in Alaska when she went up to the top of the bowl and did a feeble, a skateboarding term for all you squares out there, as she came back down she landed wrong and heard a loud pop. A blown ACL. Since her surgery last year she has been on the road to recovery to accomplish her main goal this year. Splitboard Mount Shasta.

JEN SKATING A BOWL

JEN AFTER ACL SURGERY

She has been biking, walking and even doing a little running in her preparation for Mount Shasta. She is planning her trip for October of this year. I asked her what the hardest part of recovery was for her. It was not being able to do the things she loves the most, skateboarding and snowboarding. But she gave some great advice, “Surround yourself with positive things”, she said. She told me she has other things she loves to do, watching movies, doing her artwork, and just hanging out with friends. She also said that loving where you work helps. She may not be able to do the things she loves right now, but she gets to help people get into one of the activities she loves the most. Snowboarding. Surround yourself with positive things. More sage advice from another young lady at U.S. Outdoor. Good luck this year Jen.

JEN AT THOMPSON PASS IN ALASKA

Daniel is another U.S. Outdoor employee with an adventurous spirit. I’ll let him tell you in his own words.

DANIEL AT THE SOUTHERN TERMINUS

Plans for Summer 2018, The Pacific Crest Trail

This summer, Starting on May 18th, I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon and Washington.

My first encounters with “Thru-Hiking” came in the summer of 2000 when my science teacher, Mr. Ryan sponsored a backpacking trip through the Three Sisters Wilderness Area in Central Oregon. The route was a simple one, heading south on the PCT from Lava Lake to Devils Lake 26 miles away. When we were unloading our gear and checking our equipment, two ragtag bearded men came to the parking lot looking for a ride into town. My Father, who was shaperoning the trip had been reading the Oregonians articles covering the journey that the two men were on, ironically. We gave them Snickers bars. They talked about their life for the three months the had been on trail. We said our goodbyes and on the final day of the trip in Wickiup Plains near South Sister I had decided that the seed had been firmly planted, and that I should probably hike the trail someday.

Fast forward to 2013. I had recruited the help of my dear friend M. Charlie Garros of Toulouse. I had met him in Turkey and whilst I was in Peru during the new year I had made the goal to shoot out around May 1st of that year. He flew in after reading my Facebook post. We hiked from Campo, where the the southern terminus is located, to Bishop Pass together, 846 miles in. I distinctly remember the Joshua Trees of the Mojave and the Western Junipers that grew ancient in the High Sierra, along with the many beautiful and dynamic individuals who shaped my ideas of friendship along the way. A combination of physical, mental, and financial stress had gotten me off the trail as Charlie continued to nearly the border at Manning Park, British Columbia, until an early winter storm cut off the final stretch in early October for him and many others.

Now, in 2018, I have felt a debt to the dream of hiking the trail. Spending not weeks but months in the wild is such a demanding goal that it has changed my reality in the city. Saving every penny, quitting smoking and drinking, and getting into a physical condition that would warrant hiking 30 miles a day for months are not only goals but necessities if success is possible. The gear that I’ve accumulated from a life suited to outdoor living will carry me to the southern terminus, but food resupplies, budgeting, and discipline will hopefully carry me to Manning Park. I look forward to the desert section of 700 miles with great anticipation. Crossing through 25 National Forests and seven National Parks, I look forward to long days and quiet nights in the backcountry. With some light mountaineering I can climb several non-technical peaks along the way for views, and the trail passes by Portland, my hometown, for inevitable beers with pals. When or if I finish will determine future plans to possibly accomplish the Triple Crown of hiking, which combines the PCT, the Continental Divide Trail (3100 miles) and the Appalachian Trail (2180 miles).

Wish me luck!

DANIEL AND CHARLIE ON THE TRAIL

Daniel asked us to wish him luck. I wish everyone luck in all their endeavours this year.

Even you Kenny.

THE SEASON IS FINALLY HERE-TIPS ON GETTING STARTED

It’s finally here. The mountain has opened. Now is the time to prep for an epic season. The first thing you’re going to do is try to find all of your gear. Which bag has your gloves in them, how about your goggles and base layers. Is your jacket and pants stashed in your pack or are they in the closet. Once you pull out all your gear it’s time to check it out. Do your base layers look good or do they have a blow out? Maybe it’s time to get new ones. Are your gloves in working order? A lot of times the leather on your gloves will dry out. You can recondition them with Hestra Leather Balm or Nikwax Glove Proof . Speaking of Nikwax, you will want to reapply the water repellent coating on your jacket and pants. I use Nikwax TX Direct Spray On. It’s easy to use, just spray it on. It works every time. You will probably need new socks. I don’t know about you but my dryer consumes at least three or four a year. A goggle check is a must. Did you step on them? Are the ventilation holes still protected with foam? Is the lens scratched? By the way, don’t use the squeegee thing on the thumb of your glove to wipe your goggles. It’s bad for your lens. Alway use a chamois or the bag that came with your goggles. I don’t know why they put those things on the thumbs of gloves and mittens. It’s probably collusion with lens companies and glove companies. Oh, and you should probably buy a new beanie. You deserve it.

The next thing you should do is pull out your skis and or snowboard and your boots. Is everything in working order. If not you should bring it down to the shop for possible warranty consideration. The warranty guy is amazing. Go to Amber, she’s the best. She will write you up. Brenden is O.K., but his handwriting sucks. Next you should check your edges with your fingernail. If you feel any burrs you should have them sharpened. If the base of your skis and snowboard is a little white you need a wax. You should probably get a wax anyway. Some wax their boards every time they ride. If you want to do it yourself we have everything you need. You can come on down and have one of our expert technicians look at your board or skis and they can tell you what needs to be done. We can test your ski bindings with our electronic binding tester to make sure they are safe. Yes, electronic binding testers are a thing.

The consensus around the shop is that the most important thing for getting ready for the season is snacks. Jen likes to make her own trail mix. Michael is a die hard Clif Bar guy. Chuck likes beef jerky. Andrew likes Milky Way bars, but he warns the structural integrity is not great, so if you fall you will have a mess. So to err on the side of caution he suggest Snickers. The peanuts shore up the rest of the bar. Now if you have read my other blogs you know I am opposed to Snickers. I just don’t like nuts in my candy. There you have it. Some great tips for the start of the season. Oh, and don’t forget to buy a Sno-park pass.

WHAT’S IN YOUR PACK-SURFING

Winter not only graces us with snow on the mountain, but with big waves on the beach. I remember surfing with my friend Arsenio at Shortys in late November. Both of us had lips that had turned blue and we were shivering. We kept looking over at each other saying, “One more wave”. Then a nice overhead wave came towards me. I turned, paddle, paddle, paddle. I felt a sudden rush of speed, the wave picked me up, I popped up and turned left, my hand dragging on the wave. It was awesome. Actually, I “pearled” and ate it hard. Pearling is a surf term where the nose of the board goes under the water when you are trying to catch a wave. it sucks. When I got back outside to Arse in the lineup he looked at me smiling and asked, “One more wave”.

If you plan on hitting some big surf this winter these are some things you might consider. First you need a pack. The Creatures Of Leisure Dry Lite Voyager 2.0 Pack is a good one. It’s got a compartment to keep your wetsuit from getting everything else in you pack wet. The Dakine Cinch Mat Bag is another good idea. You can change on it, keeping sand out of your wetsuit and booties, and if you don’t have a pack with a waterproof compartment the Cinch Mat Bag doubles as one. The average temperature of the ocean off the Oregon coast in winter is 45 degrees fahrenheit so you will definitely need some booties and gloves.

Of course you need a good beanie for when you get out of the water. A warm noggin is alway a great comfort. Always have extra fin keys on you. You need them for your fins of course, but you will find it’s a nice little tool to have with you in a pinch. An extra leash is a must. If you snap one, it does happen, then your day of fun is over. Wax is very important. Traction on your board is imperative. Michael, one of our surfers, likes Sticky Bumps. I grew up on Mr. Zogs Sex Wax. My favorite is strawberry then the grape. I just love the way they smell. Willy, one of our surfers, taught me a great trick. He puts a bar of his favorite wax under his seat in the summer. It melts and his truck smells great all year. And last, but definitely not least, you need a good water bottle. You get mighty thirsty after tasting the sea all day long. Sol, another one of our surfers, told me he likes to drink ice cold chocolate milk after a surf session. A great idea. I’ll have to try it.

STARVATION CREEK FALLS-WATERFALL HUNTING AT IT’S FINEST-CONCLUSION.

I made a promise that I’d blog about the second half of my hike at Starvation Creek State Park. If you haven’t read the first half yet, you should check it out. This hike is every waterfall hunters dream. It offers up a 2.6 mile hiking loop that has amazing views of the gorge, beautiful creeks, and passes by three stunning waterfalls. Like I mentioned in my last blog, if waterfalls are what you seek, then there is no need to hike the full 2.6 mile loop. All three waterfalls are just an easy stroll through the woods. But if you’re looking for unforgettable views of the gorge, taking the full loop is a must. Last spring I took my dogs here and from our experiences there is definitely some need to know before you go information.

When I first arrived at Starvation Creek State Park I was a little confused as to where the trailhead began. There was a paved trail that ran right next to the parking lot. Do I go left or do I go right? On the right hand side the trail was boring. There were no trees, no bushes, and it took you right along the side of the busy highway. On the other hand heading left on the paved trail took you through a deep lush green forest with wildflowers, creeks, and a picnic area with waterfalls. It seemed like an easy decision to head left but everybody there was heading right. So we followed the crowd.

Cabin Creek Falls

The dogs and I walked along the busy highway for only a short distance. Trees soon separated us from the road and our lovely hike in the woods began. Or so I thought. As we made our way along the paved trail we soon started to hear peaceful sounds from Cabin Creek Falls. My excitement began, but right before we got there I saw a sign that said head left for the 2.6 mile loop. I looked at the trail and hesitated for a second. It was narrow and steep. It practically went straight up a mountain and the sounds of loose rocks tumbling down made me realize danger might be ahead. “Mmmm”, I asked myself, do I continue following the easy path through the woods toward the sound of waterfalls? Or do I head left up the scary dark path with spider webs and creepy noises? As I stood there looking back and forth, I began to feel like I was in some crazy teenage horror movie. So sure enough I made the obvious decision and headed left up the scary trail. About half way up I began to wonder what I got myself into. It was a tough climb. My legs were burning, I was sliding on rocks, but there was no turning back. Going down this mountain would be even more dangerous than going up.

View of the Gorge

We made it to the top! It was well worth the climb. The views were unbelievable. Around every corner we turned we got hit with another stunning view of the gorge. For the next hour and a half the dogs and I had the whole place to ourselves. Now I don’t mean to sound all gushy, but something special happens when you have complete solitude in a place like this. And once you experience it you begin to crave it. You want more. You’ll do stupid things like climb scary trails up steep mountains. All for the thrill of experiencing Mother Nature at it’s finest. But be careful out here It can be dangerous. For every great view I stumbled upon, there was a steep cliff below. So leave the kids at home and keep the dogs on a leash.

After a peaceful hike along the edges of the mountain the trail began to head down hill. The views disappeared and the sounds of rushing water grew louder and louder. Soon enough we came to this lovely creek. It was gorgeous. The dogs got excited and jumped in for a refreshing drink of ice cold mountain water. It was a perfect spot for a quick break so I threw down my pack and chugged some water as well. Then it hit me. There’s no bridge over the creek. Oh crap now what. Within a matter of seconds this lovely little creek turned into a monster river with water crashing down and slamming into rocks over and over again. Now what. I had two options at this point; turn around and head back and risk going down the dangerous steep trail. Or find a way to cross the creek. Well off came the shoes and socks because there was no way I was turning back now. Luckily we found a safe place to cross. The dogs had no problem. I on the other hand had to tip-toe barefoot through the icy cold and rocky water. I crossed my fingers hoping I wouldn’t step on anything sharp or stub a toe. I made it across alive! Thank goodness. Man that water was cold.

Soon after we crossed the creek the waterfall chasing began. The first waterfall we came to was Landcaster Falls, Shortly after that was Hole-In-The-Wall Falls. From there the trail went back to being nicely paved and we soon passed by the third waterfall, Cabin Creek Falls. I then knew our full 2.6 mile loop was almost over. We were exhausted, but felt refreshed and relaxed at the same time. It’s funny how hiking can do that to you. It took us roughly 3 hours to hike the full loop. Overall it was a great day.

If you plan on heading out there, be sure to check out my “need to know before you go” list below.

*Take the 2.6 mile loop in a clockwise direction.
*This trail is NOT kid friendly. Please bring a leash for the dogs.
*A pair of water shoes like Chaco”s would have come in handy.
*Hiking boots are a must. And a trekking pole would have been nice too.
*A medical kit is a smart idea. I spent a good hour and a half out there all by myself.
*Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic next to Starvation Creek Falls when you’re done.

-written by U.S. Outdoor employee Shawna B.

CLIMBING MOUNT SAINT HELENS

The first time I heard of Mount Saint Helens was when I was 10 years old. It had just erupted and my family and I were getting ready to move to Seattle from Detroit, Michigan. It was both excited and frightened. The wild west coast was something with mountain ranges and oceans and erupting volcanoes. Twenty years later I was living in Portland when I first climbed Mount Saint Helens. My friend Jim and I drove to Cougar, Washington, and went to the local bar and grill where they held a lottery for permits to climb the mountain. Nowadays you can go online a purchase the permit; ahh technology. We won the lottery, got our climbing permits, and slept the night in his Jeep, which sucked because Jim neglected to tell me snores a water buffalo. Now I don’t know if water buffalos snore, but I imagine that if they did they would sound like Jim. The next morning we headed out on the trail with spirits high. The hike was about 5 miles and gained 4,500 feet. The trail wove through the woods until we got to a huge field of boulders. Hopping from boulder to boulder for awhile it finally thinned out. Next came the pumice and ash. It was slow going. You would take one step and slide back half a step. It was overcast and snowing. We kept going for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly we pushed through the clouds and it was bluebird sky. It was a gorgeous day on top of the mountain. We could see Jefferson, Hood, Rainier, and Adams poking out over a sea of clouds. We sat for awhile soaking in the view and headed down. Looking back it was one of the best days of my life. I highly recommend it.

Andrew and Dan ascending.

Recently I was talking to two guys from the shop, Andrew and Dan, who climbed Mount Saint Helens back in June. Both moved to Portland a few years ago from New York state. They didn’t know each other, but weirdly attended the same college. Andrew has been snowboarding since he was 8 years old. He loves pizza. His favorite topping; just cheese. He’s a purist. Dan has been skiing since he was 5 and snowboarding since he was 13. His favorite food; chicken wings. Favorite sauce; the time-honored Hot Buffalo. Another purist. Pizza and wings. Classic New York.

Andrew on the ascent.

They camped overnight and hit the trail at 4:00 am. They took the Worm Flows Route which is almost 11 miles and ascends nearly 5,700 feet. Andrew was using his Arbor Coda Splitboard with Burton Hitchhiker bindings. Dan was skiing on Rossignol Soul 7 HD Skis and Marker F12 Tour EPF Bindings. Dan actually hiked up in his Rossignol Alltrack Pro 120 ski boots. They both had Dakine Heli Pro 24L Backpacks loaded with water, snacks, shovels, avalanche probes and Pieps tranceivers. The ascent took them about 6 hours. They were on the summit by noon. It was perfect weather. Blue sky all around. They hung out awhile drinking it all in and then came the fun part. The descent.

Dan at the summit.

Andrew contemplating his descent.

They took their time enjoying the ride down. It took them about and hour and a half to cover about a 4000 ft. descent. For both of them it was their first real big mountain. They both said they had the time of their lives. Cheers Gentlemen.

Dan and Andrew at the summit.

WHAT’S IN YOUR PACK-SNOWBOARDING

I remember back when I used to go snowboarding, I don’t anymore, too many gapers on the mountain. I would get up at 4:30 a.m., turn on the T.V., pop in a snowboarding video to get stoked, and pack my pack. Since I don’t snowboard anymore, I had Michael, a U.S. Outdoor snowboarder, tell me what he puts in his pack.

The first thing you need is a pack. Michael rocks a Burton Day Hiker 28L. It has enough room to carry everything you need for a day on the mountain. One of the most important things that I always have on me is a beanie. Probably because I’m bald. There is nothing worse than cold raindrops on a bald head. Michael likes the Burton Waffle Beanie. Always carry an extra pair of socks. He likes the Burton Merino Phase Socks. Always go for the Merino wool. It just sounds cooler. When it comes to keeping your hands warm I would go for gloves. They give you the freedom to give certain gestures. No not that one, the hang loose sign brah. But Michael likes the Dakine Team Baron Mitt. Mitts just keep your hands warmer than gloves. Next for a good piece of layering clothing he wears the ThirtyTwo Rest Stop Polar Fleece. When he gets too warm he just takes it off and stashes it in his pack. One of the most essential pieces of equipment a snowboarder has are goggles. Michael likes the new Anon M2 Goggles. You can change your lenses quickly with the new magnetic lens interchangeability. You need a good tool if something goes wrong with your bindings on the mountain. Like when your beginner girlfriend decides she is actually goofy foot on the top of Palmer. A good one to use is the Dakine Stance Driver. Hydrate or die. You need liquids when you are riding. The Hydroflask water bottles are the best. They keep hot things hot and cold things cold. Trust me I have two. Now we come to one of the most important things to have in your pack; snacks. Michael alway carries Cliff Bars. Now personally I’m a Milky Way man. I can hear all you Snickers people out there, but I just don’t like nuts in my candy. It just seems weird to me. These are just a few suggestions for things you need in your pack for a day on the mountain. If you take issue with any of them, don’t tell me. Take it up with Michael. It’s his list.