Changes in the Season

Without snow weighing them down, evergreen limbs sway in the wind under winter’s grey blanket. Rain showers roll through the valley and I wonder if conditions are right today for snow on the mountain. I incessantly check the cams and stations at varying elevations.

The season is off to a slow start. A few teaser snow days, rumors of fresh tracks and the occasional picture of gear or a group heading uphill gets posted on my feed. One ice storm. The usual reports on the evening news of trees falling down in the metro area. If you believe the news, there are no trees left standing and the relatively warm temperatures are a blessing. Nonsense. “El Nino!” “Windstorm!” “Pineapple!” the weather forecasters claim. If this early winter weather were a person, it would be the sloppy relative with a comb over who had too much eggnog… it really needs to get its act together.

In one week I’ve been snowshoeing, fishing, mountain biking, and road riding. My neighbor went cross-country skiing yesterday. While grabbing coffee in town I overheard a tale about a group hiking for early season turns during the last storm. The local mountain bike guru forecaster has issued a brown pow alert several times in recent weeks. As I pull up to trailheads this time of year, I get excited if there are other vehicles. Kindred spirits – unfazed by the colder, damp conditions – know that dressing for it makes all the difference. My dog’s coat is thicker now. She’s obviously advanced in the ways of enjoying the outdoors (she is always happy on the trail) so I follow suit and grab a thicker insulation piece to wear under my shell. Digging tires into loamy winter goodness is a nice consolation for winter being slightly delayed.

All this input has me running in circles, inducing a gear management and laundry marathon. It seems every piece of long underwear has been used in the last two weeks.

Wait, didn’t I have a thicker merino top in the gear closet? Or did I wear it on that early season Lewis River ride last spring? It’s not in my riding pack… oh, the other closet with the thicker mountain bike gloves. Bingo! Eww, into the laundry with that one too…

This process repeats itself several times, burning countless hours, until I’ve located the majority of my favorite gear from last winter/spring. There is always something missing, so I pull up my handy web browser, type my search term, and start combing the results to ensure I fill the ever-changing gaps in my gear.

While online, I check the cams again. Soon, I think. I hope. I have faith that winter will deliver. I dig my skis out and admire the thick coat of summer wax that went on them last June. I fight the urge to scrape them off and become OCD about tuning perfect edges. I’ll wait ‘til the snow really falls. In the meantime, I’ll take the pup for a walk, gather with my fellow outdoor aficionados, do snow dances, and continue to watch the sky for the signs. Faith comes in many forms. It will come. The sooner the better.




Hot Times Summer In The City

There’s no doubt that many of us have switched from complaining about the rain to complaining about the heat. And with some of our hottest days on the docket, how do we curb the enthusiasm to blurt out our disdain for such conditions? Well, there are a few things that will help take the edge off so you don’t feel like a fried egg cooking on the sidewalk in the summer sun. I’ll name the obvious solutions first: WATER! FIND IT. BE IN IT!

Float The River!

This is a time honored tradition that has nestled nicely into the summer pocket. On the banks of both the Sandy River and Clackamas River, onlookers basking on the beaches watch as a parade of party barges comprised of cheap rafts, inner tubes and dinosaur floaties cruise by at a speed of 2-3mph blaring music and enjoying a fine summer beverage. Although this sounds extremely relaxing and awesome (which it is both) there are some obstacles that leave the shores draped in the shredded remains of rafts once afloat. So, be mindful when you’re out of your mind on the river. Enjoy it and you’ll forget all about how hot it is. Here are some details to help get you on your way:

Suggested Sandy River floats: Dabney to Lewis & Clark. Estimated time of float: 2-3hrs (depending on the flow of the river and stops)

Suggested Clackamas River floats: Barton to Carver Park / Estimated time of float: 3-5hrs (depending on the flow of the river and stops)

Swimming Hole

The surrounding area is riddled with swimming holes that offer both scenic views and cool refreshing, shaded areas to take a dip. Head out to the Washougal River or Lewis River just across the bridge in Washington. Moulton Falls is a popular destination with a monstrous 85′ bridge that we don’t condone jumping off of… but many do (insert winking emoticon here), and like all mountain runoff, the water is frigid and clean and oh so refreshing. There is the local option of Sauvie Island as well. A popular destination only 20 min away on the Willamette River.

Of course you can always head toward Mt. Hood, our Graceland, to seek out and try your hand at Timothy Lake, Lost Lake, Clear Lake… the list goes on. Set out early, take a hike, work up a sweat and find yourself in seclusion with some fresh water and the call of the wild. There’s good camping, too. Make a weekend out of it.

Days End

Of course, if you’re not camping, you’ll eventually return to a house/bedroom that has been cooking in the summer sun. This makes for a miserable nights sleep especially if you’re sun burned. So if you have a water bottle (or many preferably), fill it up and throw it in the freezer when you get home. When you’re headed for bed, fetch the frozen water bottle, put it in a zip lock bag and throw it in bed with you. This will give you a little relief and when it melts, you can drink it! Magic. Spray bottles and fans are also an option, and when you combine them all you’ll have yourself a merry little sleep.

So there you have it, options that will keep you from cooking like a fried egg on the street. Most of you know of such options but for those new to the area or just visiting, there you go! Enjoy the sun, be safe and don’t be dumb. Wear sunscreen and have a proper water-to-alcohol ratio for staying alive. Here is the extended weather forecast for Portland, Oregon.

Beyond Snow Sports

The wide world of snow sports (skiing and snowboarding, specifically) is an arena that, historically, has tried to corral commonalities within their individual niches. Snowboarders will do as they do and the same goes for skiers; subtle nuances help keep each sports individuality, there’s no doubt about that, but just as a bad secret will eventually find new ears, so will the commonalities of each of these major sports leak out and bleed into one another as a wash of complimentary colors. It is a product of the present.

The analytics of the information age have discovered that “the niche” is having a difficult time confining skiers and snowboarders to their respected circles. Skiers aren’t just skiers and snowboarders aren’t just snowboarders. Weird. Apparently there are other interests that go beyond snow sports that everyone can share in equally, like art and music? There’s also surfing and skateboarding, camping and the overall pursuit of happiness derived from an addiction to adrenalin that put both sides on common ground. It’s not to pit one against the other, it’s just lives being lived. What a world!

At this point, you might be asking, why, why am I focusing on skiing and snowboarding and their relationship to one another now, it’s damn near summertime, you dummy? The answer is that there is a popular misconception hanging around that U.S. Outdoor is just a ski and snowboard specific shop. That is not entirely true. Yes, we do shoulder a business model that relies on snowfall, but if we were to focus on snow sports and snow sports alone, we would be doing the Pacific Northwest a great disservice. My point being, we know that there is more to an individual than just one or two planks. There is a lifestyle that reaches beyond snow sports that keeps us rooted on the banks of the same rushing river. A primitive heartbeat that drives us to take risks and live beyond our front doors. An aesthetic that puts us in close proximity, not entirely the same, but close enough to hi-five and clank brews around a fire; close enough to perch as the next set rolls through; close enough to posse up and roll through town on skateboards and beach cruisers. This is the glue that helps solidify a wonderful mosaic of individuals, not just those who ski and those who snowboard. So in the end, when you think of U.S. Outdoor, think beyond snow sports. For some of you this is anything but new. For others this is just a friendly heads up from your neighborhood outdoor retailer. Happy trails!

Sunset Skateboard Co.

“… They hit the streets glued to a four-wheeled, California Dream; their wheels lit up like cosmic rays that cut through the dark of night. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t frying on acid because those lights would have sent me into deep space, although deep space is a good place to be, given the right circumstance. I couldn’t help but watch as this roving band of miscreants terrorized the patrons as they cruised by, weaving in and out of traffic as though they were knitting a blanket that would eventually swaddle everyone but them. Freedom; they were the very embodiment of the word. I wanted to yell it out for them, but why beat the dead horse they just feasted on? They were bound by nothing more than a wild desire. Maybe I wanted to yell it for myself? I dove back into my beer and pondered that pack of cosmic wolves: what carnage would they descend into next? What weird, alternate universe would they rip into and explore?” – Jasper Petigrew

Sunset Skateboard Co. Cruiser

With the power of kinetic energy harnessed, the Sunset Skateboard Co. designed a wheel that lights up once the wheels are in motion. Oh, science. The translucent polycarbonate deck and flair LED, polyurethane wheels waste no time getting the party started. Once the sun sets, the wheels really start to pop; lighting up the clear colored, old school inspired deck in an array of colors. Pretty cool. These vintage, throw-back cruisers are prepped and ready for the midnight ride. Pick one up today and paint the town red… or green or blue.

Rise And Shine

Rejoice, for the second coming of the sun has renewed our subscription to park life and easy living! This second coming will cure the Vitamin D deficiency you developed when the 9 Month Sog set in and obliterated your reserves. Not cool, bro. It’s been 9 months; 9 long months devoid of some of our favorite things… Until now.

In this transition, Wild West rules apply: find a park and stake you claim. Outdoor BBQ’s? Everyday. Fenders? Take them off of your bike and ride feral through the streets. It’s a party, people, so gather round! GORE-TEX? Not today my friend; Patagonia Baggies and a river. Outdoor seating? Now available. Like Milhouse, I’m freaking out…

… And that “something coming back“? It’s the sun! I feel like the Koolaid Man ready to bust through walls that I have been scratching at for some time now. Rise and shine you big and beautiful ball of fire! I’ll be sitting outside, raising my glass in celebration of your return. Who’s coming me?

Want a Good Cinco de Mayo Party?

Want a Good Cinco de Mayo Party?

Come To Portland…

Believe it or not, but Cinco de Mayo is considered a relatively minor holiday in Mexico. In the USA, its historical and cultural significance has pretty much been drowned in shots of Patron and frozen margaritas.

There is one city, though, that really takes its Cinco de Mayo seriously – so seriously their festival’s URL is Portland, Oregon. For the last 30 years, our city’s Annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, which kicked off Saturday, May 3rd, has attracted thousands of visitors.

Don’t just take our word for it, read what Jessica Montoya Coggins from NBC reveals here: