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.


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.



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.



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.


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


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

Even you Kenny.


Alex Z., his wife and Dizzy moved to Portland two years ago from Chicago. He came to Oregon for the love of the outdoors. As a young man Alex became an Eagle Scout. This is where his passion for hiking, camping, and rafting began. One of his other passions is art. He has a B.F.A in glassblowing and sculpture. He has spent eleven years blowing glass all over the U.S. What he likes most about glassblowing is that it’s a strenuous activity with all the heat and weight of the glass. Alex believes that stress brings out the best in people. He originally came out here to blow glass, but his priorities shifted and the US Outdoor Store became a better fit. It gives him the flexibility to pursue his Masters in Education. Plus, at the US Outdoor Store we can bring our dogs to work. How could Alex and Dizzy resist.

Dizzy is a nine year old Australian Kelpie. Alex raised him from a pup. This breed is highly intelligent and has the need for lots of exercise. A perfect fit for Alex and his love for all things outdoors. Dizzy is his constant companion for hiking, camping, biking, even snowshoeing. Dizzy likes to barrel through the snow like a little torpedo with legs. He is in his element. One of Alex’s favorite memories was when Dizzy was still a pup and saw snow for the first time. He got so excited and started jumping in the air to catch the snowflakes. They spent hours on a trampoline they had in the yard bouncing and catching the snow.

Alex and Dizzy have criss crossed the country several times. Like Mad Max and his dog driving and having adventures throughout the countryside. Only without freaks in leather outfits trying to kill them. They have visited the Appalachian Mountains, the Smoky Mountains, Rocky Mountains, and the Cascades Mountain ranges. One of Dizzy’s favorite things is water. Going through Colorado one day they stopped for a hike. Dizzy was having a great time splashing and swimming in some streams. Then he decided to jump in the Colorado River proper. It was a scary moment for Alex. But Dizzy, a professional, pulled it off.

Dizzy at the shop

As summer turns to fall; Alex and Dizzy’s favorite time of year, because winter is coming. You should come down to the shop and check out all our shop dogs, but make sure you go down to camping so you can meet Dizz the Fearless. Stay gold Dizzy.


I first went to Smith Rock State Park in the late 1990’s. It is truly one of the most beautiful and unique places that I have ever seen. As with all things cool, it was born out of a volcanic eruption. 300 million years ago the eruption shot ash and debris into the air. When it settled Smith Rock was created. Then half a million years ago lava flowed into the area and hardened the rocks. Over time erosion and the Crooked River formed magnificent Smith Rock State Park.

There are many things to do in Smith Rock State Park. There is a first come first serve camping area with bathrooms and showers, and it’s vast 621 acres provides hiking and horseback trails. From these you can see massive amounts of amazing animals. There is a family of River Otters that live in the Crooked River. Mule deer, marmots(I took a quiz online and this is my Smith Rock spirit animal), lizards, and rattlesnakes all dot the landscape. If you look into the sky you will see bald eagles, canadian geese, northern harriers, ospreys, great blue herons, and one of the biggest birds of prey in North America, the golden eagle. But most come here for the climbing.

Smith Rock State Park

The thing I love about climbing is the adrenaline rush you get with minimal risk. I know, minimal risk you say; have you seen Cliffhanger with Sly Stallone. That scene where that woman’s harness buckle breaks and she plunges thousands of feet to her untimely death. No wonder Black Diamond was going to sue. That would never happen. Anyway, I’ll go climb, but I would never ride my bike downtown; too risky. It’s also relatively cheap to start climbing. All you need are some climbing shoes, harness, belay device, about five locking carabiners, fourteen quickdraws , a rope and rope bag, some chalk with a chalk bag, an anchor and a personal anchor. All this will run you about six hundred bucks. Small change for a new and exciting passion in your life. And if you live near Portland, Smith Rock is only three hours away.

US Outdoor employee Dan G. sport climbing Smith Rock

Smith Rock is the birthplace of sport climbing in the U.S.. Sport climbing is a type of climbing that relies on the use of permanent anchors, or bolts fixed to the rock for protection. You climb up the route, clip into the bolt with a quickdraw, clip the quickdraw to your rope and move up to the next bolt, and on and on. Alan Watts, the father of sport climbing, started climbing Smith back in the 1980’s. Back then there were only a small group of core climbers at Smith, now it has become a destination for climbing all over the world. One of the great things about Smith Rock is the diversity of places to climb and the amount of routes, there are close to 2000. Monkey Face, To Bolt or Not to Be, Five Gallon Bucket, Crybabies, and Just Do It, a 5.14c that at one time was the hardest sport route in North America, are just a few of the famous climbs of Smith Rock.

You can see why Smith Rock is a world renowned climbing destination. Which is why the American Alpine Club is having the SMITH ROCK CRAGGIN’ CLASSIC, a 3-day climbing festival at Smith Rock. It’s starts September 15th and goes to the 17th. It’s a celebration of climbing one of the great crags in the world. There will be food and beer, and you can stop by for some of the clinics taught by professional climbers. You should probably go before the beer. Two US Outdoor climbers, Alex H. and Dan G. will be there, you will be able to spot them by the US Outdoor shirts they will be wearing. Dan’s got a pretty impressive beard, and Alex, well, he’s pretty. So stop by the pop up tent, pick up some swag and talk to those guys about climbing. They know their stuff. And like I said, the beard.

Labor Day Weekend – Things to do in Oregon

Labor Day is fastly approaching, and for some of you it’s the last hurrah of the summer. So let’s go out with a bang.

Labor Day, or the working man’s holiday, was first proposed by labor union leader Peter Maguire in 1882. It was celebrated in New York City on September 5th of that year. It gained popularity across the nation in 1884, and in 1887 Oregon became the first state to legislate Labor Day as a holiday. I guess we really were Trailblazers. In 1894 Congress follow suit and declared the first Monday in September a legal holiday. Why the first Monday in September? It was halfway between Independence day and Thanksgiving. Clever. Oh, and by the way, you can’t wear white after Labor Day. This means you Michael. Here are some things you should consider doing Labor Day weekend.

Nothing says summer like floating the river. When I was a teenager every year we had the “Unboat Race” in August. It was the highlight of the summer. We would make the Unboat, which was basically a deck on inner tubes, the day and night before the race. Then at the crack of dawn we would haul it down to the river and put in. Boiled down, it was a great excuse to hang out with pretty girls in bikinis. I know, a little creepy, but give me a break here, I was a dork with a mullet, it was one of the few chances I had to hang out with girls.

There are plenty of places to float in Oregon, but you must have the basics. First, the float tube. You could go old school and get a dirty old inner tube, or you could up your game and get a float tube with a backrest and beverage holders like this one; Airhead Fiji Float Chair. For a bald guy like me I usually wear a booney hat to protect my dome from the sun, but when it’s hot out I end up taking it off. The resulting peeling on my head looks something like a reptilian/alien hybrid. Not pretty. You should bring along some sunscreen. Some type of water shoe is a must. You could wear a pair of old tennis shoes, but they fill up with water and tend to weigh you down. Flip flops would be gone a in minute. I prefer Chaco’s or Teva’s, they stay on your feet, have good traction, and work great in the water and on land. Plus you’ll look cool with the criss cross tan lines on your feet.

Sandy River

One of the best rivers to float is the Sandy. It’s close to Portland, slow and does not have a lot of rapids. There are many public beaches along the way and lots of houses, so you will have some company to give cheers to. The best route is Dabney State Recreation Area to Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site.

Clackamas River

The Clackamas River is a little more adventurous. It has more rapids than the Sandy, and it’s more secluded. The most popular launch is from Milo McIver State Park. Here you can float down to Barton Park or Carver Park.

Deschutes River

The Deschutes River is one of my favorite places to fly fish, and depending on where I am on the river I see a lot of people floating or rafting. Plus, if you launch in the town of Bend there’s lots of things to do, including visiting the many breweries Bend has to offer. This link will give you the skinny on floating the Deschutes from Bend. I know it’s cliche, but “Float On.”


One of my favorite lakes in the Mt. Hood National Forest is Timothy Lake. It’s probably my favorite because I’ve actually caught fish here. It has everything to offer, including; camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, you get the picture. Plus it has an awesome view of Mt. Hood. Can I still say “Awesome”. When I was a kid we said “Rad”. Now I know I can’t say that.

Oregon State Fair

You could also head to Salem for the Oregon State Fair. It starts August 25th through September 4th. What can I say about the Oregon State Fair. Weird fried foods, plenty of adult beverages, and hoping you don’t blow chunks on one of the many rides they have to offer. There are also plenty of concerts. To name a few; Dwight Yokum, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Eddie Money, and if you want to relive the “Caddyshack” soundtrack, Kenny Loggins will be there. What I like about that movie besides the dancing gopher, are the names of the cast. Ty Webb, Al Czervik, Dr. Beeper, Judge Smails, and my favorite – Lacey Underall. And for the kids there are over forty carnival rides. There are also Pig Races, Mmmmm bacon, Pony Rides, and a petting zoo with a wide assortment of baby animals; deer, ducks, wallabies, and miniature donkeys. It wouldn’t be a state fair if there wasn’t a pie eating contest. Count me out. Remember that scene in the movie “Stand by Me”, boy that was rough. I know, two movie references in one blog, but indulge me. Anyway you should check it out.

-written by usoutdoor employee C.Tyrell

The ten essential items for car camping that you probably don’t think about.

For those of you who are hardcore backpackers you should probably move along. But if you’re car camping and want to take it to the next level, here are ten things that will open up a whole new world of automotive outdoor dwelling.

Camping Hygiene

Camping on the Deschutes River a few years back the Nemo Helio Pressure Shower was something I never thought I’d need, but by the end of that night I would have given anything to have one. My wife and dogs left camp that night for an evening hike along the river. When they got back she said, “They rolled in something,” and by the look on her face I knew it was bad. Then the stench hit me, something like newborn baby diapers and chinese food. I started to gag. Fearing I would hurl, I grabbed a beer, ran to the car and got in. I know, I’m a coward. I sat there, drank my beer and watched Shawna go back and forth countless times, down to the river, filling her water bottle, dumping it on the dogs and scrubbing them with Dr. Bronner’s Soap , over and over again. It took over half an hour before camp began to smell half decent. I should have grabbed two beers. Needless to say, lesson learned. The following Monday the first thing I did when I got to work was run down to the camping department and grab a Nemo Helio shower. Now that thing goes with us everywhere.

Nemo Helio Pressure Shower

Campsite Lantern

A lantern. An obvious must. But two lanterns is the way to go. I use a Coleman Propane Lantern for the picinic table and my Black Diamond Apollo L.E.D. lantern to help me navigate through camp during the night. Hang it inside your tent or bring it with you to the outhouse. The best part is, it’s small, packable, and easy to carry.

Coleman Propane Lantern

Canteens & Tumblers

A Hydro Flask is always a good thing to have on a camping trip, and I’m not talking about your standard water bottle. I’m talking about a Hydro Flask Tumbler . When you’re chillin’ around camp, it’s easy to hold in one hand, so you can keep that other hand free for slapping mosquitoes or throwing a stick for the dog. It’s best use, as US Outdoor employee Pat once said, “It good for cocktails and such.”

Hydro Flask Tumbler

First Aid

You absolutely must have a first aid kit. I know it’s boring, but it’s essential. I have two kits, the first is an expedition size. It has everything and it comes with a backcountry first aid guide book. It spells out with great detail how to take care of everything from a tick bite to a sucking chest wound. The other kit I carry in my backpack. It’s a smaller Adventure Medical Kits . I augment it with a tourniquet;
Quikclot trauma pak
, it helps to stop bleeding fast; and duct tape, it has a million uses, not literally, but you get my drift. Remember what my Grandma Shirley used to say, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”. Good advice.

Adventure Medical Kits

Basecamp Shelters

Cordage and tarps go hand and hand. I always have a tarp and at least fifty feet of cordage
with me. You never know when the Pacific Northwest sky will open up and douse your camp with a vengeance. With cord and tarp you can set up a nice awning over your picnic table, thus saving your weekend. However, if you’re on the Deschutes River you’re screwed. No Trees. I’ve had that happen a few times. But at least you can practice your knots with your cordage while you ride it out in your tent.

Tarp and cordage.

Campsite Utensils

I love my Snow Peak Titanium Spork. What can I say about a spork. Half spoon, half fork. Need I say more. Yes, it’s titanium.

Snowpeak Titanium Spork

Camping Cookware

My wife needs her coffee in the morning. I know it’s cliche, but she does. She says the only thing good about morning in camp is coffee. You have to be quiet, it’s cold, and you can’t drink. At least not until noon. So she fires up the stove, boils some water, and grabs the Java Press and presto, coffee. I like to Irish mine up a little, wait until noon, please. We’re camping.

G.S.I. Java Press

Camp Tools

One of the most important tools I carry when I go camping is my Leatherman. Leatherman is synonymous with the term multi tool. Having pliers is essential. It’s definitely gotten me out of a jam a time or two.

Leatherman Multi Tool

Basecamp Essentials

My favorite item that you’ve probably never heard of is the Little Buddy Heater . It uses the same propane tanks that my Coleman lantern runs on. Just screw one on and press the ignitor button and you have a nice heat source for over seven hours. I’ve had some cold nights on the Deschutes River in February and March, and that little thing cranks the heat. It is such a psychological pick up to have warmth in the midst of numbing cold. I know it seems like a luxury,” but if you have the means I’d highly recommend picking one up.” A blatant Ferris Bueller reference, but how great was that movie?

Little Buddy Heater

-written by usoutdoor employee C.Tyrell

Tree Camping Above Salmon River by Jenna Kuklinski

The first time I found myself higher than six feet in a tree happened as my second summer working at High Cascade was coming to an end. I was helping to pack up skate ramps, move vans into storage and deep-cleaning all of the houses that campers and staff had lived in for a whole summer season. At the end of one of these long, tiring days, my friend Anastasia called me from Portland and asked if I would want to camp out in the branches of a giant old-growth tree for a night. What? Yes. Of course I would.

After spending another day or two scrubbing, sweeping and packing, I was finally freed from my summer post. Anastasia cruised up to Government Camp, swept me away from the place I’d been living for the past 2 ½ months, and steered us out towards the Salmon River. We made a quick pit-stop at a climbing spot called, “Salmon Slab,” a mild face of rock set against the woods and overlooking the nearby Salmon river. [I’d taken my La Sportiva Miuras with me to camp and though I’d left them in the back of my closet all summer, it felt great to lace back into them and find myself on a rock face once again.] We happily sent a few routes while her ornery shitsu watched us from the open hatchback of her Saturn. Once we’d absorbed as much of the view as possible at the top of the route, we loaded back up and drove further into the woods.

Jenna kuklinski climbing

Tree Base Camp

Big tree arboristEventually, we reached a small dirt parking lot. After parking the car, shouldering our packs and hiking about a mile in, we found our group of enthusiastic arborists. They were happily milling about the wooded floor, chatting about the amazing arborculture that surrounded us. They were excited to see us and immediately took us over towards the tree we’d be sleeping in that night. It was massive. It stood just over 200ft tall and our friends estimated it was somewhere around 500 years old. That’s a highly respectable tree in my book.

After learning some quick information about how we’d be sleeping and checking that we had on hard-toed, high-ankled hiking boots, we were shown exactly what we’d be sleeping in. The beds, or as they’re better known, “tree boats” looked like army-green reinforced hammocks. They were ridged around the edges, holding themselves out to be rectangular and giving the sleeper some room to roll around in. They were currently lodged 190 ft up in the branches of this old growth doug fir; tucked so far away that we couldn’t see them as we squinted up from the ground.

Tree Boat

We were also told that we should try to drink minimal liquids over the next couple hours leading up to our airy camp-out. Our friends explained to us that we’d be wearing a harness the whole time we’d be up there (meaning, yes, even when we slept). If we had to pee, it’d be an awkward endeavor of scooting our butts to the side of the boat, shifting the harness to the side of our thighs and getting our pants out of the way. Not so easy to do in pitch-dark at 1am. Other than that, our friends gave us few warnings. They were taking care of all of the technical stuff, all we had to do was listen to what they told us and enjoy our evening.


Pretty soon, it was time for Anastasia and I to leave the ground and begin making our way up to the topof the tree. We grabbed our packs, slipped on the harnesses and clipped onto our friend that would be running us up the “elevator.”As I was slowly hoisted into the air, my surroundings changed dramatically. The world became simultaneously quieter and louder. You know how trees sound when they sway in the breeze? From the ground it’s a low, comfortable creaking. When you’re in the tree itself, that same noise becomes far louder and far less comforting. You move with the tree. You’re in space, in the air, over 100 ft from the ground. You have one lifeline and it begins to move. And so you move. You’re softly swaying together, undulating in the breeze. It’s at the same time a very unnerving very amazing feeling.

Jenna and Friend On Tree Elavator

We reached our beds easily, slid into our respective tree-beds and allowed our friend to unattach us from the elevator line and then link us in to our individual safety branches. Once looped in, we’d be anchored to the same branch until morning.

We brought snacks to share and even a little whiskey. We giddily munched on some cookies while we took in the rest of our surroundings. Looking out from our beds, we could see across what seemed to be the entire Mt. Hood wilderness, with tree tops stretching out in front of us for miles upon miles. We chatted as the sun dipped lower on the horizon and although we broke out our headlamps to continue keeping each other company into the dark, we soon all fell into comfortable silence, allowing ourselves to be rocked to sleep by the swaying tree that was delicately suspending us above the ground.

Jenna asleep in treeDaylight came fresh, crisp and beautiful. There is no greater way to be greeted in the morning than by the energizing mountain air above such an expanse of wilderness. One of our friends had a jetboil and brewed us coffee in the branches of this ancient doug fir. I don’t remember if it was instant Folgers or hand-ground Stumptown, but I know it was one of the best coffees I’ve ever had in my life. There’s no better place to sip dark coffee and nibble leftover cookies than after sleeping in the branches of an ancient doug fir.

Jenna awake in tree boat

Finally the time came to lower back down to the forrest floor (Anastasia and I couldn’t deny the fact that nature was finally “calling”). It was sad watching our temporary beds shrink away and get swallowed by the mass green needles that steadily grew above our heads. We were leaving behind the first experience of something so unique and inexplicable. But of course, we were overcome with excitement of what we’d just done and couldn’t wait to talk with our other friends about what we’d gotten to do!

Once we’d reached the ground, we spent the rest of the morning playing around with some silk fabric and drinking as much water as we wanted. After a few hours, we loaded all of the gear back into our packs and hiked back out to our car. Anastasia and I happily tossed our bags into her car and clambered into the front.

As we began the dusty drive back to the city, I watched the trees slowly shrink and change outside the car window. I couldn’t help but feel I had a new and deeper understanding of the woods around us, one that I would hold onto for the rest of my life. There are no words to describe exactly the feel that I have about this adventure, except for the words that urge you to make friends with a talented arborist and convince them that you need to spend a night suspended in the arms of a Doug Fir that’s last nearly half a century.