A Total Solar Eclipse – The Chance Of A Lifetime

In case you haven’t heard, on August 21st there will be a total solar eclipse that will march it’s way across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. It will be the first time that has happened in 99 years. Pretty cool huh? What is an eclipse you ask? I’ll spare you all the nerdy talk about nodes, umbras, and penumbras; mostly because I don’t understand what they are, and give you the basics. A solar eclipse is where the moon’s shadow falls on the Earth, and a lunar eclipse is where the earth’s shadow falls on the moon. We’re talking about the upcoming solar eclipse.

This solar eclipse can be seen, at least partially, by everyone in North America. If you’re lucky enough to live here in Oregon there are many viewing options. Oregon Live has a great article 17 places to watch the 2017 solar eclipse around Oregon on the best places to view the eclipse. I’m going to view it in Portland(my wife has to work), where I’ll see 99.1% of the eclipse. If you live in the path of the totality, or you plan on traveling there, you’re in for a once in a lifetime spectacle.

Oregon path of totality.

Let me be clear, you will need special eclipse sunglasses Celestron Eclipse Solar Shades that stop 99.99 percent of the suns rays. Without these you can cause serious permanent damage to your eyes. The eclipse will start around 9:00 a.m. P.D.T., reaching totality around 10:15 am P.D.T. and leaving Oregon around 10:27 am, going on it’s way across the continent and ending it’s journey at the coast of South Carolina around 2:45 pm E.D.T. The path is approximately 70 miles wide and will be traveling 3,400 mph and slowing down to about 2,900 mph because by then it will be traveling higher in the sky. If you are in the totality, with the special eclipse glasses, you will see the shadow of the moon moving across the sun. This is what they call the “diamond ring effect.”

Diamond ring effect

After the “diamond ring effect” you are almost in totality. Then the phenomenon called the “Bailey’s Beads effect” will appear. Bits of light creeping through the various valleys, mountains and craters on the surface of the moon.

Baily’s beads effect

Then comes the totality. It only lasts around two minutes. Now you can take off your protective eyewear. The moon will completely cover the sun. Next you will see the corona, or the sun’s atmosphere. In that moment the birds will stop chirping and there will be a slight dip in the temperature. This is what you’ve been waiting for, the whole enchilada.

Total Solar Eclipse

Will seeing the totality change your life? Some people say it produces such a profound sense of awe that it changes your perspective on life forever. I for one am not hoping for an existential epiphany, after all I’m only going to see 99.1% of the eclipse. Maybe next time. However, this is the first legitimate excuse to have a beer in the morning in my life, and I’m going to take full advantage. I’m not saying I haven’t had a few pops in the morning, quite the contrary. In my college days when we had a 11:30 a.m. football game, my friends and I would throw back a few before we headed to the stadium. Go Cougs. The solar eclipse excuse is the ultimate.

So come on down to USOUTDOOR and get your eclipse sunglasses. It could change your life. Cheers.

-written by usoutdoor employee C.Tyrell

There’s no art like Snow Art

Well, one thing is certain, French Artist Simon Beck is a snow bound, geometric shape creating god. I don’t know the man personally, but the precision of these works are so on point that I have no choice but to assume the French Artist that uses the snow laden lakes of Savoie, France, as his canvas is one of two things: Either his brain is a Texas Instrument Graphing Calculator or he is an alien or both. Though these assumptions do not give t(his) work justice. In a world that is seeking out new forms of expression, Simon Beck seems to have taken the concept of the snow angel to a new realm of consciousness. The picturesque landscapes have been documented, but imagine yourself on a journey across snow capped terrain only to summit and bare witness to this awesome sight? The experience would undoubtedly stick with you for the rest of your life. Most impressive is its lack of permanence if not documented through photograph. Here today and most certainly gone tomorrow. So here’s to you, Simon Beck, your work if not just amazing, teaches us that time is fragile and should never be taken for granted and that for a fleeting moment this world can be transformed into your own work of art. Touche!

Simon Beck Snow Art

Simon Beck Snowflake

Simon Beck Snow Art

Simon Beck Snow Patten

Simon Beck Snow Art

Simon Beck Snow Pattern sun down


Simon Beck Snow Art

Simon Beck Profile with Snowflake


Redbull Supernatural: The Future of Snowboard Competitions

Red Bull and Travis Rice have combined forces and have created a snowboard competition that is already being called the future of snowboarding competitions. Set in at Baldface Lodge, one of Canada’s Premier backcountry opertation, Travis and 18 of today’s to pro snowboarders will compete on a course that is unlike anything seen today! Check out this sweet teaser trailer and prepare to hit record on your DVR’s because this is going to be an event you will not want to miss!

Adventure Awaits: National Geographics Best Adventure Destinations for 2012

National Geographics Best Adventure Destinations for 2012

Biking in Bosnia


If that pesky travel bug is starting to itch, but you’re having a hard time figuring out where to jet off to, then take a look at this list of amazing adventures that National Geographic has come up with to suit your adventure needs. From swimming with whale sharks in Western Australia to hiking Newfoundland, this list is sure to have something that will get you excited for next year!

National Geographic Best Adventure Destinations for 2012

Which spot on this list are you dying to travel to? Or is there some other amazing destination that is on your dream list to visit next year?


Cave while you can!

Apparently, natural beauty has it’s price. No one knows that better than Oregon spelunkers. In the last couple decades, the myriad of caves left behind by ancient lava flows have been gated and restricted. You can still explore them if you are willing to pay.

“I remember when I could hang out and party in Skeleton Cave with my buddies on a hot day,” remembers my dad who grew up in Bend, OR. Yeah, that’s probably why entry is restricted today. Thanks for that legacy Dad!

Still, there are a few FREE easily accessible caves that you can check out and are even family friendly for the first few hundred yards.

These Bend caves formed when Newberry Volcano was active thousands of years ago. After the lava flows cooled, the ground beneath was still molten and continued to flow. Once the lava drained, the ground was left riddled with long, tube shaped caverns. Many of the caves are home to little more than hibernating bats or ice that was once harvested for Bend’s iceboxes. 

Boyd Cave is still open and free. Bring a flashlight/headlamp per person and even a latern. You’ll begin your hike on a path which very soon becomes rippled rock and even boulders. The ceiling is high for almost a quarter mile until you reach a rockfall. You  can either turn around or scramble over the obstruction to complete the final 100 feet. 
Fun with or without kids, caving is the perfect way to escape the heat on a hot desert day. Bring a jacket like the Mountain Hardwear Super Power Hoody if you plan on spending much time subterranean. It can get chilly!

To get to Boyd Cave, follow Hwy 97 east to the outskirts of Bend. Due to a barrier, you have to go past China Hat Rd to the Baker Rd exit and double back to China Hat Rd on the right. Follow China Hat Rd for 9 miles, turning left just before the “Pavement Ends” sign. You’ll see a smile sign for Boyd Cave and a looped parking lot. The entrance to the cave is a simple hole in the ground with a metal staircase leading into the earth 50 feet from the lot.

Go Hard and Go Home

Bucket List: Backpack on the Pacific Crest Trail, CHECK!

We returned home last night safe and sound . . . and sore. So you can call off Search and Rescue.

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that the initial plan was for a two night, three day trek around Three Fingered Jack. However, ominous clouds forced us home a little early since we didn’t prepare for the dark clouds that were headed our way on Day 2.

Still, we logged our milage and busted it home on the second day. We went hard and went home with blisters, band-aids, and smiles.

Things I learned:

1. My eyes are bigger than my stomach.

I packed way too much food. Thank goodness my tent made up for it. This thing is lighter than a feather! Mountain Hardwear Skyledge: If you don’t have one, get one! This tent is amazingly light, airy, waterproof, and easy to pack. LOVE IT!

2. Dangerous shortcuts usually aren’t worth it.

This is a leason I seem to have to learn over and over. But with a sprained wrist, chewed up hand, and torn up elbow, I’ve decided to stick to switchbacks from now on.

3. If John Wayne can do it, so can my husband.

I was worried about his choice of Levi’s. Turns out they were just fine. It was the trashed running shoes I should have been worried about. Ryan’s blister count totals out at 6. Ouch.

4. Butane is the way to go.

I felt pretty smart jerry-rigging a tin can and sterno stove. Great for warming up canned chicken. Useless for boiling water. Thank goodness we had purification tablets. Still, I’m going to make sure I have a butane hiking stove for next time.

4. Quick drying, well ventalated shoes means you pick-up a little dirt along the way!

5. Plan for rain.

Even if the weather report calls for sunny skies, rain can happen, especially in the mountains where weather is created! We brought rain jackets but no covers for our packs. Lack of planning effectively cut out day 3 and we busted back to the trailhead barely missing a major down-pour.

6. The more things I cross off my Bucket List, the more things I add. I already have my next Backpacking trip planned.

First lookout. First rest.

Three Fingered Jack

Three Fingered Jack – backside

Mt. Jefferson

Wasco Lake below Three Fingered Jack

What are some of the things you’ve learned in the outdoors?