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.

Mt. St. Helens Suprise

Running Toutle Canyon

Running Toutle Canyon

During late July, 2012, I took a couple of co-workers on a small backpack trip to Mt. St. Helens. I had been putting off trips there for years since I always assumed it had a homogenous landscape, was busy with tourists, and that special permits were required. I was pleasantly wrong on all accounts.

To begin with, no special fees or permits are required for lower elevation wilderness travel. All you need is a Northwest Forest Pass or Snow Park pass to parking, which you can purchase at the US Outdoor. Climbing fees and permits are only necessary for those who are attempting to summit the mountain. When the mountain is snow covered in winter and spring, the fee required is worth the price considering the pristine nature of the Mountain. The neat thing about Mt. St. Helen’s is that hikers reach timberline below 5000 feet. This makes accessing alpine environments less arduous than many of the other volcanoes in the area.

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush

Regarding monotonous unchanging terrain, the mountain has undergone a massive transformation since it’s eruption on May 18, 1980. The trail systems include canyons, waterfalls, old growth hemlock forests, prairies, grasslands, and alpine flower environments. Traveling paints a picture of the destruction and rebirth of the many ecosystems surrounding the Mountain. Evidence of the explosion is apparent everywhere, but so is the magnificent succession of new species reoccupying the landscape. The flowers and ground covers are more diverse than any of the other Cascade volcanoes I’ve hiked. The dust and ash I expected instead seemed to nourish a rich botanical diversity with unique textures and color tones. The story that unfolds as you hike provides a new dimension to backpacking that no other wilderness can match.

West Side of St. Helens North Viewing

West Side of St. Helens North Viewing

Finally. Privacy. We all want to know where the secret places are that no one else goes. They don’t exist as we envision them. However, my visits to Mt. St. Helens typically include fewer visitors than I expect. My vision of tourists swarming the mountain has vanished. The only people I see are nature lovers with a mellow attitude and an appreciation for the beauty of the land. No ski lifts. No cash hungry mountain towns. Just the Mountain its self. Camp sites are available, and use is minimal. Serenity abounds at Mt. St. Helens during all four seasons. Hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and mountaineering all await those who choose to venture out.

If you have not yet hiked around Mt. St. Helens, then a wonderful opportunity awaits. A great way to see the whole mountain is the Loowit Trail. It circles the entire mountain, and offers views of all the amazing features and ecosystems surrounding the dramatic history of the place. Of course, any supplies or gear needed to maximize your experience can be found at US Outdoor.

Saturday School: How to Pack a Backpack

Hey kids, today’s lesson focuses on how to pack a backpack for extended trips into the wild blue yonder. Jimmy Chin from The North Face breaks it down like Tetris; using logic built from experience, he explains the benefits of packing efficiently so you can always be on the move and never stop exploring.

Sunday School: Backpack Fitting with NOLS

With weather on the mend, it is time to get out and fitted with the right gear for summer.  So take a gander at this NOLS video on pack fitting. Pay attention and take notes! It is extremely important that you outfit yourself with a backpack that is comfortable and that fits your needs as an explorer. Getting fitted for the right backpack can save you from unnecessary fatigue, muscle aches and pains.

 

What’s New: A Look at the Renovated Osprey Atmos and Aura Packs

NEW Redeisgned Osprey_Atmos 65_Back Country Backpack
NEW Redeisgned Osprey_Aura_Back Country Backpack Women's
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here, at US Outdoor, we have been carrying Osprey Backpacks for some time now, and with every passing season comes the changing of the guard; new lines, new conditions of focus, but never a loss in the quality and craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Osprey Packs. They never lose sight of the fact that innovation plays a key roll in the success and ongoing development of their brand in an ever expanding and competitive market driven by form and function. With that said, the Men’s Atmos and Women’s Aura packs have been a staple in the Osprey line, carried over from season to season in a seamless transition of the guard, and this year the Atmos and Aura got a boost with new innovations and updated features that help further customize your fit for full on comfort and support on the trail. For those of you who are well versed in the art of back country treks and expeditions, you know that fitting for a pack can be a great pain in the backside (literally and figuratively); as goes with personality, the human body comes in many shapes and sizes. Osprey Packs have brought their quick and agile frames to the forefront of free-roaming humans and they keep getting better.

Let’s start with the updated Airspeed Suspension with LightWire frame and 3D tensioned breathable mesh panel. This update carries its weight in gold by providing you with optimized pack balance so you don’t go tromping through the back country looking like Captain Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean. Furthermore, you’ll experience superior support and ventilation that can only be described as divine intervention between the pack and your back.

Moving on, Osprey left no stone unturned when they designed their gender specific, dual density foam, Fit on the Fly adjustable Hip Belt. This magical hip hugger works wonders. Utilizing spacer mesh for increased breathability, the Atmos and Aura are outfitted with a hip belt that adjusts without having to remove the pack altogether. Keep walking, keep talking, don’t stop believing, and hold on to that feeling. Get it? Last, but certainly not the least when it comes to innovative features, is the Torso Adjustable Harness. This innovation makes the newly redeveloped Osprey Atmos and Aura Backpacks better because it allows you to truly get down to brass tacks when it comes to customizing for individual pack comfort. No more generalizing! Your torso may fall into a certain frame size but that doesn’t always mean that the pack will fit you perfectly. The gender-specific interchangeable and adjustable slotted foam harness, with adjustable sternum strap, hones in on an individual level and helps eliminate the little things that can create bigger problems down the road… or more appropriately, down the trail. Alongside the features that have made the Osprey Atmos and Aura Packs a mainstay, these innovations make the ever-so-daunting task of finding “the right pack” a lot easier by putting under the microscope the individual’s need for absolute customization. Cheers!

View the men’s Osprey Atmos 50 and Osprey Atmos 65 at USOUTDOOR.com.
View the women’s Osprey Aura 50 and Osprey Aura 65 at USOUTDOOR.com.

Saturday School: Maximizing Stove Efficiency

Ok, everyone listen up! Today’s lesson is geared toward minimizing gear by maximizing efficiency. In this video, brought to you by NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School), you will notice that a few simple steps could save you from carrying excess weight as well as keep your carbon footprint small. This is a short video so you won’t have to take notes.