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Archive for the Outdoor Sport Category

Adventure Awaits: 40 Feet Off the Ground

Posted by Alison Wu | July 31st, 2014 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Photography, Travel
firelookout

Photo taken by Ethan Furniss.

Every summer we pack our down jackets, cameras and mountain bikes and head off to stay for a long weekend at one of the many historic fire lookouts available for rent all across the US. These restored lookouts, with their 360-degree views of the surrounding area, rustic amenities and rather secluded environments provide an intimate and awe-inspiring alternative to other sheltered camping. A weekend at a lookout is a few days in which to seek adventure, reflection and the rewarding satisfaction of time spent with nature. Want to try it out? Read along for some tips.

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Photo taken by Ethan Furniss.

1. Plan ahead. There are a plethora of fire lookouts to choose from all over the US and Canada (some in Australia too!). Not all are available for overnight stay, and ones that are fill up quickly! Make your summer or fall reservations early, and keep in mind that the rental window depends on the location of each lookout. Learn more about rentals in the US, here. Information on visiting international lookouts can be be found, here.

2. Pack a puffy. Although summer days up in a sunny fire lookout can get pretty hot, the nights can get wonderfully chilly. You may decide to take a night hike or ride, watch for shooting stars or take some long exposure shots of the night sky, so remember to pack appropriately. You will be happy to have your Nau M2 Beanie and Down Stole or Sweater when the temperature drops.

3. Remember water. Most fire lookouts are rustic to say the least. Accommodations can include electricity, beds/cots, wood burning stoves or ovens, but amenities depend on each lookout. Most do not have water nearby, so remember to pack as much water as you will need for the entire trip, including drinking water for people and dogs, as well as water for doing dishes and bathing.

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Photo taken by Epiphany Couch.

4. Read up on fire lookout history. Most lookouts come with rich histories of their time as proud symbols of forest conservation. Spend some time looking at the log books, maps and reading materials in the lookout. Many lookouts still have Osborne Fire Finders that were used to estimate the location of a fire seen in the distance. Additionally, the Forest Fire Lookout Association has compiled a wonderful collection of books on the topic. 5. Enjoy! Fire lookouts are a unique way to enjoy the outdoors. The panoramic views from a lookout can be truly breathtaking. Depending on where you decide to visit, activities can include hiking, biking, berry picking, birding, star gazing and swimming. A visit to a lookout is unlike any other camping experience – unique in the fact that high above the ground, swaying ever so slightly, one can find a quiet solitude that is often missing in our daily lives.

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Photo taken by Ethan Furniss.

Words by Epiphany Couch.

Work Hard, Play Hard: Desert Quest

Posted by Bryanna | July 29th, 2014 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Photography, Travel, Who We Are

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Early this July, we had planned meetings with a few of our vendors in Park City. I joked with friends that I would go on a southern Utah vision quest before heading into a few days of line showings. The plan got put in place: three days, two nights and see where I end up. I’d have to say, it wasn’t a drug induced spiritual revolution, but it sure was an awesome three days in the sun.

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I made my way south to Torrey, Utah just outside of Capitol Reef National. I’d been through here on a past road trip and knew that I had to stop at Cafe Diablo, a local restaurant with stiff margaritas and a menu that changes nightly. I found a nice campground across the highway and rented a little cabin for the night, splurged on dinner and watched the super moon rise.

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I awoke the next morning and planned to get myself to Bryce Canyon, not without a few roadblocks along the way.

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The colors in southern Utah are what strike me the most. Often times I felt like I was driving through a distant planet, and the sight of water was incredible in such a stark, dry landscape. I threw on my suit and hiked up to this small waterfall for a dip. I watched an afternoon thunderstorm roll in and as the time between the flash of light and sound of thunder diminished, I decided I should make my way down the trail and back to the safety of the car.

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I reached Bryce Canyon National Park and found a tipi to rent for the night. The town of Bryce Canyon is interesting. I learned that one family owns all of the lodging and most of the restaurants at the entrance to the park. It felt more like the wild west theme of an amusement park than being in a national park. All the hotels had been fabricated to look like an old saloon or a barn; however, none of it could have been more than 20 years old.  I decided to leave my stuff and drive down all the roads that looked like they led to nowhere. I came out here to escape, not be hocked geodes from a man dressed like a gold miner.

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The next morning I had about a 6-hour drive back to Salt Lake. I wandered through the outskirts of Bryce Canyon, through all the farming communities and finally back on to I-15 – set towards civilization. With the dust of red rock covering both me and the car, I knew that the next two days of work would be just fine.

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Summer in the Utah Desert

Posted by Bryanna | June 24th, 2014 | Filed under Nau Events, Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Photography, Travel, Who We Are

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The trials of working in any sales-based industry are the annual tradeshows. The largest trade show in the outdoor industry, Outdoor Retailer, happens twice a year nestled between the Wasatch front and the great Salt Lake. After a week under fluorescent lights of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, we often need a few days of desert sun, spiritual searching, and a bit of team bonding.

This past August we snagged some of our favorite Spring 2014 looks, piled in Mark’s Defender and headed out for gear testing in the Capitol Reef National Park. We spent three days exploring through slot canyons, hiking up desert ridges and sleeping under the stars. The landscape in southern Utah is quite shocking compared to the Oregon wilderness we call home. Often times we felt like we ended up on the surface of a whole different planet. From the reddish hues of dirt to the almost pure desolation of life, we found ourselves ohhing and aahing around every turn of the landscape. Enjoy these images from our journey.

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Why We Travel: Offline on the Umpqua

Posted by Josie | June 27th, 2013 | Filed under Bikes, Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Travel, Who We Are

This summer, in the Thought Kitchen, we explore why we love to travel. First up in our series—Josie Norris—our beloved producer and wild queen of single track, goes offline on the Umpqua. 

En route to Ashland from central Oregon two weeks ago, I accidentally found my new favorite wild place in Oregon. The Umpqua River sucked me in and I never made it to Ashland.

On day one, I spent hours on the North Umpqua River Trail (79 miles of beautifully maintained single-track) and didn’t see a single person. In the absence of cell reception, I left a note on my car the second day that said “if you’re reading this note after 8:00 p.m. on Saturday June 15th please send help…..”.

Thank you Verizon and thank you Oregon, for reminding me what it means to be truly disconnected.

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Engineering the Perfect Ski: An Interview with Pete Wagner

Posted by leighann | January 8th, 2013 | Filed under Design, Outdoor Sport, Partnerships

Courtesy of Wagner Custom Skis

How do you build the perfect ski? All you need is some sugar maple, Kevlar and the world’s most badass computer algorithm. Oh, and you need Pete Wagner, too. The computer-nerd turned ski-craftsman who started Wagner Custom Skis is single-handedly changing the way an industry makes skis. This week in the Thought Kitchen, we sit down with the man behind the planks to learn more about the number cruncher and his coveted custom boards.

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Winter Respite: Oh, The Places We’ll Go

Posted by leighann | December 20th, 2012 | Filed under Design, Outdoor Sport, Travel

It’s dumping in the Cascades and there’s a blizzard heading for the midwest. Winter is here, my friends. And it’s a perfect time for our seasonal nod to cabin porn and the snowy escapes that help us find respite during the insanity of the holidays (and the end of the Mayan Calendar). Here’s a compilation of our favorite winter refuges. First stop: the Tin Hat Cabin.

Weekend Cabin: Tin Hat Cabin, British Columbia. Located on the midpoint of the Sunshine Coast Trail, a 180-kilometer route that runs roughly northwest-southeast along the Straight of Georgia (west of Whistler, people, east of Vancouver Island), and it was built just last year by a large and extended family of volunteers who make up the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society. Courtesy of Adventure Journal

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Heading South for the Winter

Posted by leighann | November 30th, 2012 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Travel

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In case you’re like us and need a little reprieve from all the holiday hullabaloo, here’s a visual meditation that will bring you back to what truly matters. A few guys traveling the vast landscape of SouthAmerica put together this beautiful montage of pampas, windy horizons, distant cultures, and waterfalls. It’s not hard to see why vimeo chose it as their pick of the week. Now for that one-way ticket to Patagonia, please.

 

Riding Big: The Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic

Posted by Guest | November 13th, 2012 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, surf

If you’re like us, you may have spent some time imagining what it feels like to ride a surfboard down the choppy face of a 30-foot wave. Hell, maybe you’ve done it and can tell us the tale. But for those of us who just dream about serious surfing, there’s something undeniably thrilling about knowing professional big wave surfers can conquer the unconquerable.

Some of the best big wave riders in the world may soon be arriving in our Oregon backyard if the weather gods cooperate. Until December 31, a surf competition called the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic is in a “holding period.” When forecasters predict swells of 30 feet or greater, competitors will have 72 hours to show up in Lincoln City, Oregon. They’ll arrive ready to ride.

Half a mile offshore, the Nelscott Reef produces legendary waves. For most of the eight years of the competition’s history, surfers were towed to the break by jet skis, but starting in 2008, some competitors chose to manually paddle to the waves so they could get the full drop, says event organizer John Forse.

That attitude mirrors the development of the sport. “Big wave surfing has evolved a lot. They [surfers] found out that even when they eat shit on a 40- or 50-foot wave, they could survive,” he says. “That was the biggest fear, handling the wipeout. So then they said, ‘Shit, let’s paddle it.’”

One of those big wave surfers, Dave Wassel, who competed at Nelscott in 2010 and spends his days life guarding on the North Shore of Oahu, said that while he was out catching the 40- and 50-foot waves on the reef, he saw a wave with a 70-foot face—the largest paddleable wave he’s ever seen.

This year, surfers will compete for a $10,000 purse and a chance to become the champion of the Big Wave World Tour, a series of five big wave competitions that includes the Nelscott Classic. Sign up for an email update about the start of the competition and find more info on their website.

Award-winning author and writer Lucy Burningham has been working as a journalist for the past twelve years. She covers travel, food, and craft beer for a variety of magazines, newspapers, and guidebooks.

Postcard From Slovenia

Posted by Alex | October 2nd, 2012 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Who We Are

Slovenian Alps

“Excuse me, but why would Americans come here?”

By ‘here,’ my Italian bunkmate doesn’t mean the attic dormitory of the Valentina Stamca Hut; he means Slovenia. We’ve met in one of high refuges of the Julian Alps, a range of dolomite just across the border from some better-known Italian peaks made of the same stuff. But while visiting the Dolomites conjures up images of flights into Venice, hand-pulled espressos and lasagna dinners, Slovenia…well, where the hell is Slovenia, anyway?

A pocket nation of just two million people squeezed between Italy, Austria and Croatia, Slovenia secured its independence from Yogoslavia in 1991 through a ten-day war. Yet while that conflict was largely bloodless, Slovenia still bears the scars of earlier battles. As in the Dolomites, Austrians and Italians fought in the Julian Alps from trenches and gun nests dug into the mountains. It’s here that Hemingway wrote about in A Farewell To Arms, where mountain peaks were crowned in barbed wire, and where 60,000 soldiers lost their lives just to avalanches.

Today in the Jullian Alps, the vestiges of that war remain: crumbling stone barracks, rusting gun carriages, blunted barbed wire. But it’s not this that’s brought us here. It’s the paths: beautifully graded army roads and fantastically engineered high-mountain via-ferrata. Built to give access to the high mountains, these war-time paths established new ways of moving through the steep and exposed terrain. The result is that Triglav National Park offers remarkable access to some of the world’s most dramatic mountains. What once was used to make war now accesses beauty.

Outside the bunk room window, one such peak rears up above the Austrian horizon. I point, and smile. Sure, it may not have Italian coffee, but after a long day in these mountains the goulash is pretty darn good.

Riding Across the Cultural Divide

Posted by Guest | June 26th, 2012 | Filed under Bikes, Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection

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Editor’s Note: Yeah, we like bikes. But our obsession for the velocipede goes beyond the obvious. This week, in the Thought Kitchen, friend, freelance writer and fellow rider, Ellee Thalheimer echoes yet another reason why we trade in four wheels for two—to experience something far better than cruise control and heated seats.

By Ellee Thalheimer

Throughout the wind-thrashed land of Argentina’s Pampa, the remote, bustling hamlets became ghost towns for three hours every afternoon. After the siesta, everyone from leathery-skinned cowboys to laughing women in designer jeans would huddle in groups sipping yerba mate from a communal gourd and metal straw.

On this trip and many others, my secret tool to bridge the cultural divide and nose my way into the heart of another culture was my massively loaded bicycle. At car checkpoints, Argentine police officers would invite me to share a mate, and curious onlookers approached me as a fascinating—and possibly off-my-rocker—oddity.

They wanted to know where I was from, where I was going, how far I’d come, and how many miles per day I rode. That inquisitiveness enabled me to ask intimate questions and wiggle my way into some pretty stellar conversations and cultural understanding.

People’s curiosity in exotic places like Argentina, interestingly enough, is not all that different than at home. Crossing over the West Hills, just outside of metro Portland, Oregon, the culture subtly changes; there are slight differences in how people talk to each other, variant political signs in front yards, and deviations in restaurant menus.

A bicycle, with bags slung all over it, seldom fails to pique folk’s interest, even if they are used to cyclists. So the rural Oregonian with a gun rack chats with the Portland cyclist toting Kombucha in a non-toxic metal bottle.

The bicycle ends up building a link between diverse people who might never have interacted. And when folks from disparate cultures connect and learn about each other, empathy is born, and the world becomes a better place. A two-wheeled device all of the sudden accomplishes more than anyone would have ever expected.

Elle is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her past work includes Cycling Italy and contributions to the Lonely Planet editions of Mexico, USA, Caribbean Islands and Pacific Northwest guidebooks. Learn more about cycle touring in Oregon in her new guidebook: Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-day Tours in Oregon by checking out her website www.cyclingsojourner.com. And stay tuned for her upcoming venture: Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, By Bike available in November.