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.

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.

Adventure Time In Argentina

(We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast)

“No, we have the rip that off, it’s not going to get any better.”

“Wait, no really – can’t we just wrap it with band aid and then…” I pleaded.

“Nope, on three look at the view,” he said. (He being, Juan, my guide, double certified by the IFMGA (International Federation Mountain Guide Association).

“1, 2, 3…” I looked away as he tore off what was left of my big toe nail along with the chunks of skin falling off my heels. On the bright side, the view was amazing; we were sitting in the middle of a glacier in Argentina, Patagonia, and though my feet had seen far better days, I’d say it was well worth it! It was just Juan and I, and my restrained scream echoed on and then dissipated quickly into the cold, sporadic wind. The disinfectant spray brought on another yelp, to which Juan replied, “Well I was wondering when you were going to start saying something.” He mostly joked. “I don’t know why you are so strong…” It was either a statement or a question but I took that as a compliment coming from a 20 year, all-things-mountain veteran who had once seen three of his fingers cut off with a small saw after getting caught in a terrible storm while ice climbing a less explored side of Aconcagua, one of the Seven tallest summits in the world.

Brittany Taped Toe And Heel

He expertly taped everything up (clearly this was a part of his norm) and I slid my socks back over my cold, bloody feet and squeezed them back into my ski boots that were one size too small. We still had at least an hour of skiing left before the warming hut and at least half a dozen more crevasses for me to try and not fall into. Encouraging. Far less encouraging was the fact that I hadn’t skied in 10 years. I felt a wash of doubt and that “oh sh-t” feeling set in as I looked down the 45 degree glacier we had just spent hours climbing up; the skins were off and I was no longer connected to the snow through the science of friction. I would now be reintroduced to physics, after all, what goes up, must come down. I wasn’t leaving my guide in the dark though, he knew I hadn’t skied in ten years as well. “Esta Bien?” He asked, his eyes… concerned. “Todo Bien!” I was lying to myself but I didn’t have a choice, it all needed to be OK. My eyes got big and I threw two thumbs up and put a reassuring smile on my face as I turned my skis down the mountain.

Brittany Skiing

A few minutes later my childhood ski school lessons were coming back to me. My pie turns were just as awkward as when I was 8 years old but at least I was stronger and the relief I saw on my guides face was reassuring as he realized that he wasn’t going to have to carry me down the mountain.

“Good! Now, you are going to have to turn more because there is a crevasse there and… you don’t want to fall into that.”

To which I replied, “Well that’s one way to learn how to ski again, learn to turn or… die.”

The higher you go, the thinner the air, the greater the danger, the more important it that you try your absolute hardest not to fuck up. It’s a fantastic way to learn.

He carefully schooled me down the mountain, creating wide and sweeping turns for me to follow and used himself as a barrier for my mental as well as my physical stability when our paths came too close to cliffs and crevasses. I felt like a little kid again, arms wide and forward, skis tuned out like a pie, but the thought of what I probably looked like gave me enough of a sense of humor to find the situation more comical than scary, and humbling, so incredibly humbling.

I saw the hut getting closer, he kept reassuring me we were almost there and that I was doing great, and I believed him. When we finally reached our destination I collapsed in the snow, letting my twitching muscles and swollen feet rest in the cold. I laughed and I smiled and for the first time in a long time, I was really proud of myself. Juan looked at me and said, “So now you fall?!” He was giving me a hard time. We still had the other half of the mountain to go down the next morning and I knew that, but I had confidence in myself that I would get through it; that I would learn how; that he would help, and I felt nothing but incredible relief and pure joy as I let the sun wash over my wind blown face and fully alive body.

Warming-Hut

By that point, I had lost a toe nail, most of the skin on my heels and my right and more dominant leg was cramping and burning. On the other hand, the snow was softening and making it easier to turn and stop, my heart beat was slowing, the giant cloud we were coming down from was clearing and the majestic and beautiful Andes were glowing in the mid-morning sun, with gentle clouds dancing above them like long hair drifting in the ocean. Needless to say, a giant smile was now permanently slapped on my red and sweaty face.

The Giant Cloud

It’s a feeling that keeps bringing me back to the mountains, that feeling of being alive; of being scared sometimes but pushing through and conquering mental doubt and physical strain. It’s not necessarily the feeling of reaching the summit, it’s everything you go through to get there. The journey. You must be strong, humble, steadfast, willing to accept change and also have a pretty good sense of humor! You must be open to being a kid again and to learn and trust those whom are willing to support and help you. It’s the recipe most of us need for life and the mountains seem to have all the right ingredients.

Andes Mountains 2

So, now that winter is in full force in the Pacific Northwest, get out there and try something new, be prepared to fail, to succeed, to have a great time, and to gain a little confidence and happiness along the way. Chao!

Thumbs-Up

Top 9 Skis for 2015

This is a very tricky time of year and you’ve got two choices. You can either let the web cam shots posted by your local ski resort drive you crazy, or you can channel that energy into something productive and read up on the top 9 skis for 2015. Browse the best of the best skis and be ready when those lifts fire up at your favorite hill.

Line Sick Day 95 SkisLine kicks things off with a set for him and a pair for her that do nothing but destroy. The Line Sick Day 95 Skis and the Line Soulmate 90 Celebrity Skis both strike that magical balance of powder playfulness and downhill righteousness. It isn’t often that a duo of planks comes around that you can mount up and duck the lines to slash the fresh in the backcountry or launch up and out of the halfpipe. Both the Sick Day and the Soulmate are that once in a lifetime opportunity. Get some.

The Volkl Mantra skis beg you to forget everything you thought you knew about all-mountain models and point them at any piece of the mountain for a truly unique performance.  A masterful blend of girth, precision and power allow you to smear some snow wherever you go.

Blizzard Bonafide Skis

No top ski list is complete without at least a couple mentions of Blizzard goodness. The Blizzard Bonafide Skis once again rule the mid-wide roost with their supernatural combo of speed, versatility, and grip. If the mountain isn’t offering that ideal powder situation, the Blizzard Cochise Skis are the ones you want. Never again must you fear chunked up, tracked, rutted out snow, because the Cochise was forged in the fires of adversity.

Most skis ride well in good snow, but the Atomic Theory skis  are the set you want for every condition. When others are heading for the lodge because of iciness, you’ll continue to crush, cut, and cultivate massively fun runs.

 

 

Rossignol Experience 88 SkisRossignol is basically the grandpappy of skis. Old and wise, this brand has the history and wherewithal to deliver all kinds of top 10 action. Dudes, here is not one, but two amazing options for you: the Rossignol Soul 7 Skis and the Rossignol Experience 88 Skis. Both sets are basically a magic lamp that expels a genie each time they touch snow, but you get unlimited wishes!

 

 

No matter what conditions or terrain lies in wait, you’ve got the magic carpet to ride it all with the Rossignol Soul 7 and Experience 88 Skis. Ah yes, and for the ladies, the Rossignol Savory 7 Skis are equally equipped to handle it all with an authority that will undoubtedly shame the boys who will be relegated to sucking your snow dust.

So, which of the top 10 skis for 2015 calls to you? Heed their voice, take them home, and dial in the perfect wax job so you are ready to ride once the snow is piled up.

 

2014 Portland Ski Fever & Snowboard Show

The annual Portland Ski Fever & Snowboard Show is more than just an opportunity to buy new, used and close-out ski and snowboard gear at a great price, it also signifies the coming of winter and a time when the chair lifts start operating again. It is a time we look forward to, because once the snow blankets Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor and the surrounding areas, we have the opportunity to escape the city and enjoy the fruits of precipitation at higher elevations.

On November 14th, 15th and 16th, the Expo Center will once again play host to the countless snowsport brands and retailers that help shape the proverbial landscape of PCNW culture. Come join us in the SW corner of the Expo Center. You can’t miss us, we have the biggest house on the block! Click here for more details and special offers from US Outdoor including a coupon to redeem your price of parking with a purchase of $100 or more.

2014 Portland Ski Fever and Snowboard Show