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.

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.

WINTER IS COMING; AND WITH IT A GREAT EXCUSE TO BUY NEW OUTFITS

Winter is rapidly approaching. I can already feel that familiar nip in the air. Thoughts of snow falling and pumpkin spiced lattes. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a pumpkin spiced latte. I’m more of a white mocha guy. As the season approaches and the mountain calls here are some new outfits you might want to check out. We’ve got new gear coming in daily.

Strafe is a new and exciting brand that we just started carrying. Daniel is wearing the Strafe Exhibition Jacket with the Strafe North Woods Bib. And to top it off he is sporting a Cole The Stanley Beanie.

And for you ladies, Kayla is decked out all in Volcom from top to bottom. A stylish Volcom Argentina Beanie for the noggin and to keep warm up on the mountain she’s wearing the Volcom Shadow Insulated Jacket. With an air of style and function the Volcom Species Stretch Pants fit great and give her the ease of movement to take deep turns in the powder. Looking good in the lodge, looking good on the hill.

This defiant outfit is totally Volcom. Daniel is sporting the Volcom L Gore-Tex Jacket coupled with the Volcom Roan Bib Overall. To keep his head, neck and face warm with a little incognito camo the Volcom Travelin Hood Thingy is just the ticket.

On the more demure side Kayla is wearing the warm and toasty The North Face Garner Triclimate Jacket with the The North Face Freedom Pant . To round it all out the The North Face Tech Glacier 1/4 Zip is a great moisture wicking baselayer.

Let’s not forget the crumb crunchers. We affectionately call our mannequin model little Jimmy Lipper. We didn’t have any 8 year old employees we could grab for the photo shoot. Nuts to those pesky child labor laws. To keep the cold at bay, but still looking cool little Jimmy is wearing an ensemble of The North Face and Orage. Gone are the days of layers upon layers of clothing to keep warm until you look like Randy, Ralphies little brother in The Christmas Story. I got a Red Rider B.B. Gun for Christmas when I was ten and never shot my eye out. I did shoot my friend D.J. in the head during the great B.B. gun war of 1992 when we were kids. But that’s another story. Back to Jimmy. He is wearing an Orage Kids Comox Jacket with the Orage Tarzo Pants. Underneath it all is the The North Face Glacier 1/4 Zip Fleece. And on top of his silver little melon is a The North Face Youth Bones Beanie. Winter is almost here. So come on down and do a little shopping. You won’t regret it.

Radventure RADtrospective: Have Board, Will Travel

After leaving Montana I made my way through North Idaho, passing some old family stomping grounds, visiting smoky bars, and being reminded that Affliction sells shirts. The area resorts had shut down earlier than usual, so there was no shredding to be had during this leg, just a long and boring road to travel through Washington and Oregon. At the end of that road, was Hood.

I got as far as Parkdale with a fellow Oregon shred blogger (Hillcrest), and got to stay with some old friends/coworkers from Mt Hood Meadows. The next day at Meadows was super fun, even though visibility was pretty rough and the storm had settled down quite a bit the day before. The snow didn’t look good, but it felt pretty good! It was a bit strange seeing Hood so bare, but in looking at the positive aspects, I was loving the abundance of stumps to bonk. I’ve been on an amazing trip and got some good days in, at awesome places, but that’s not to say that there weren’t things I missed about Hood (at all 3 resorts). One of those things was Shooting Star Ridge. I even managed to get a face shot in the trees, a hot commodity this season.

While riding down to Portland with another good friend and former coworker (whom I coincidentally met through ridesharing), I was reminded of the sheer beauty that our part of Oregon can exhibit. I travel an outrageous amount, and part of traveling (at least in my experience, but if you’re reading a US Outdoor blog I would assume you feel the same) is loving where you call home, and loving the act of returning to it. Passengering down 26 with a road soda in hand, I was blown away by the vibrancy of the imagery surrounding me, which started with lush greenery and gave way to the improved men to women ratio (a big improvement on the 15 to 1 world I’d been living in during recent months).

After barely being in Portland for 36 hours, I was off again. This time to LA for a small film festival (this is a piece I did for it last year). Even though I missed Portland so, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to travel for free, and booked my return out of SF. Though I’ve been skateboarding every day instead of snowboarding every day, the key elements are the same: travel and friendship. I’m in the city now instead of up in the mountains, but I’m still crashing in precarious places and living what I would call the dream.

Looking back on this trip, I’m reminded of a value that I have known often and hold very dear- The value of travel. My sanity would be lost to me without it. I’ve always been one who’s proud to have friends across multiple states and countries. I would be nothing without the people I surround myself with, and my trip would have sucked without those people. Thanks to all my awesome friends involved, and thanks to US Outdoor, Poler Stuff, Smith Optics, Tubbs Snowshoes, and Lensbaby for supporting me on my journey and helping to ensure that my trip did everything but suck. I may have missed out on some of the resorts and some of the activities I had in my original plan, due to less than average snow, but I had a blast and enjoyed writing about it. All things considered, I’d say 40-50 days on my snowboard and travel through 6 states in under 3 months qualifies as a successful journey. Thanks for reading!