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Overnight Trail Running Lake Tahoe – Philosophy and Preparation

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

This post comes from Chris Cloyd, a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big race or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on foot or bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Chris just returned from a wild overnight run through Desolation Wilderness. We thought, You’re going to run through the night? He actually slept out there, but he packed ultralight gear and ran to and from camp, thus making this an ‘overnight run’. Here’s the first half of his adventure, Philosophy and Preparation. We’ll hit you next week with the actual trip report, so stay tuned.

overnight-running-desolation-wilderness

“It’s the best environment for solitary piece of mind that you can find. It’s why we go…” – Chris Cloyd, Mornings On Trail

 

Philosophy and Preparation

Distance running has never seemed all that appealing to me: monotony, pain, and a lack of grand scale (as a road cyclist, the ground you can cover in a single is much greater and, as a result, that undertaking has always taken preference with me). Living at Lake Tahoe, however, has redefined what possibilities exist by way of distance running for me. The bounty of trails and truly world-class wilderness here have swayed me, and the allure of running into the woods and exploring what our world has to offer has overcome me.

I’ve spent the better part of three years building not only the fitness but the wilderness readiness skill set to open up the idea of overnight trail running, unsupported. This is not a new idea – many have done this before me (including my small group of friends that agree this is a good idea) – but it is new to me, and I have taken many pains to progress at my own speed, slowly pushing deeper and deeper into the realm of possibilities this activity has to offer. Please, before you go running into the woods with no plan and just a bottle of water, take the time to build a skill set and game-plan that suits you and your goals.

When I first became interested in overnight trail running, it was a result of reading about fastpacking and the new options that existed therein. I am also exceedingly interested in ultralight alpinism, so the idea of pushing fast-and-light appeals to me. I lack the background at this time to pursue any sort of committed alpinism (and I know this) but I felt as though my background as an endurance athlete would suit pushing fastpacking to the next level. I felt (and continue to feel) that my greatest opportunity to see the Tahoe Basin’s wilderness expanse would be on foot, and that speed and mobility would open up more windows than persistence and time could.

This past weekend I put over a dozen trial runs and experimental pushes to the test before setting out on my most ambitious effort yet. My goals were two committed, long runs and a chain of two of Desolation Wilderness’ tallest peaks (Mt. Price and Pyramid Peak), all solo and unsupported.

In preparation for this trip, I built upon the “packing list” that I’ve developed over the last few months of trials. The “musts”: be light, be small, be sufficient, be reliable. I need my gear on these runs to be light so that my pace in the backcountry isn’t compromised. It needs to be small, so that I don’t have to run with more than an endurance running vest (a pack of more than a dozen or so liters, in my view, would compromise running gait and, as a result, speed and efficiency). My gear must also be sufficient: I need enough calories, water, electrolyte supplement, and clothes to last days and nights on my own. Lastly, I need my gear to be reliable (and this is the most paramount of all of my “musts”). Weight/space savings mean nothing if the gear I’m relying on fails me in the wilderness.

Making the cut:

- an Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest. My choice for a “pack”, due to its weight/size and features (bottle holsters, storage volume, ergonomics, etc.).

- a Katadyn Hiker Water Purifier. More reliable than a Steripen (I’m not too enthused about entrusting my life to an abundance of technology in the wilderness) and, to me, more tried-and-true than some other options on the market. I recognize that there are some smaller/lighter options (Sawyer makes a popular product), but for the time being the penalty on space/weight is small enough for me to stick to my guns. I am open to exploring other options in the future, though, and would love to find a new product that improves the experience. Beyond all of this, Katadyn filters make the water taste delicious. I anticipate drinking from shallow creeks, snowmelt pools, etc. when I’m out there, and the last time I swallowed some moss and silt while sipping I ran six miles with a pretty awful taste in my mouth (before I finally managed to cough it up). I’d rather carry a bit more weight than use an alternative (Aqua Mira is the high mark for weight savings in water purification) and tolerate that taste again. Moreover, I feel that if I can’t handle an extra 10-oz or so then my legs aren’t as strong as I think.

- a Grand Trunk ultralight hammock is my solution to the sleep quandary. Light, easy, and effective. I use two pieces of paracord to lash it to two trees, and try and set it tight and low to the ground (mimicking a stable sleeping surface as much as possible).

- a SOL Emergency Bivy. The best insulation for your buck: both in terms of cost and weight/space penalty. I’ll never do another overnight without one.

- thermal socks, long-sleeve top, tights, and gloves. I use winter base layers here, and they serve well to keep you insulated at night. I’ll bring a light beanie in colder temps, but use a running headband for warmer nights.

- Sunscreen not only saves you from skin cancer, etc., but it also keeps your hydration regulated and keeps you more efficient while running. If you’re running at elevation (everything we do up here), this is even more important.

- Fuel. This is largely personal, but my friends and I make our choices here largely based on calorie-to-weight ration. A good endurance trail mix, jerky, and small sandwiches (Nutella and almond butter on cinnamon raisin bread is my personal favorite) paired with bars and emergency gels get my vote. I know it seems challenging to do two strenuous days with an overnight in the wilderness with no cooking equipment or normal “meals”, but trust me, it can be done. This barrier was broken for me when reading about multi-day high-alpine climbs done in the mountains with no stove – if those guys and girls can get by without one, I’m pretty sure I can get through a single night in the woods without one.

pyramid-peak-lake-aloha-desolation-wilderness-photography

“Sunscreen not only saves from skin cancer, but keeps hydration regulated and keeps you more efficient while running.”

- Electrolyte replacement. This is (along with water purification) the most important part of my pack. I know I can go a day or two without much or any food (although my muscles would hate me), and I know I can survive a cold night, but without water and electrolyte replacement my muscles will shut down and limit my speed to a crawl. This lack of mobility in the wilderness could mean serious harm, or worse, and it’s not a risk I’m into taking. Nuun tablets are my product of choice, and on hot/humid trips I’ll supplement that even more with Saltstick tablets.

- a reliable headlamp. Purely a safety issue – you don’t want to get caught in the dark and not be able to move quickly to an overnight destination.

- MAP. Don’t be reckless and ever go into the wilderness without a map (and I do mean a PAPER MAP, not a .pdf synced to your phone – again, don’t leave your life in the hands of technology in the wilderness). This is the lightest/smallest piece of gear that carries the most benefit, and is a must-have. I recommend the National Geographic maps for topographic and trail detail.

- lighter, fire steel, and tinder/starter paper. If you’re going when the overnight lows get down close to freezing, this can be a lifesaver at best and a pleasant luxury regardless. Fires aren’t permitted everywhere, especially in high fire danger seasons, so be aware of regulations. Don’t be that guy or girl that burns the forest down.

- personal luxuries. Travel toothbrush and toothpaste, cellphone (in a waterproof phone bag for rain readiness, on airplane mode to conserve battery life), mosquito net, and compressible sleeping bag. This is the chapter of today’s entry where all of the weight junkies will crucify me. These items regularly make the cut on my trips, although they’re purely luxury choices. A toothbrush and toothpaste (travel sizes) take up almost no space and weight, and really go a long way to freshen you up in the morning. I bring my cellphone in case of emergencies, and for photography. A bring an ENO Bug Net for my hammock, because mosquitos are prevalent up here in the Tahoe Basin and they LOVE me. This is a humongous space/weight penalty, but it’s worth every once for me – it’s oftentimes the difference between a rejuvenating sleep or a handful of sleepless hours being eaten alive. It may not be for you – make your own decisions on your trips. On colder nights (below 50 degrees or so) I bring my Sea to Summit Spark 2 sleeping bag. It’s extremely light and compresses into very small, packable item. When I’m going out for multiple ambitious days, sleep is critical – it’s when the body can regenerate and support more effort the next day. Weight/space penalties that allow for a better/fuller sleep are worth it, in my view.

 

trail-run-overlooking-desolation-wilderness

“The allure of running into the woods and exploring what our world has to offer has overcome me.”

You may choose to bring more or less on your outings, but I encourage you to experiment. Start slow, with shorter runs and less-committing overnight destinations. Give yourself “outs” if things go wrong. Don’t try and superhero a huge run (or two) the first trip. Consider going with a friend, or run to meet friends who are out backpacking/camping – there safety in numbers and a silly mistake that could cost you while solo is sometimes easily mitigated in groups.

 

Now that you’ve enjoyed the first installment of Chris’s Overnight Trail Running Lake Tahoe, be sure to check back next week for the step-by-step adventure report. And if you haven’t subscribed to the blog, be sure to do do via the link at the top of this page. We’d hate for anyone to miss out on all our great content!

 

2XU Compression Calf Guards
2XU Compression Calf Guards
MSRP: $44.95

 

After Dark in Colombia – Trail Running with Brody Leven

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

After being continually denied permission to ski in Colombia, Brody Leven decides to take some of the country’s most popular mountain bike trails by foot.

Brody is a professional skier, author and all-around badass residing in Salt Lake City. His work has been featured by Red Bull, Teton Gravity Research, Freeskier Magazine, Powder Magazine,…the list goes on. Do your best to keep up with him on Instagram and Twitter: @brodyleven

trail-running-columbia-dusk

A beautiful Colombian countryside at dusk.

It’s the middle of the night and I’m trail running in the Colombian countryside. A local guy is hot on my heels. He has brought me here, though I have absolutely no idea where I am. It’s pouring rain, we’ve crossed multiple rivers, the trail is consistently ankle-deep mud, and I haven’t been able to lose him. He’s fast. My headlamp’s batteries are almost dead, so I’ve turned it off. I’m using the light of his trailing headlamp without his consent. We sneak through Colombian farms called fincas and the barn dogs bark as we try to silently open the barbed-wire gates. They are unleashed, uncollared, presumably unvaccinated, and loudly scamper alongside our bare ankles. He recommends crossing some fincas instead of others; he knows which dogs are meanest.

salomon-hydro-sense-soft-flask

Interesting finds in the foliage, for sure!

Alfonso isn’t a random Colombian, but a friend I met at a climbing gym that he runs in Manizales. He’s gracious to take me on one of his favorite runs, and I’ve brought him a specific pair of Salomon running shoes that he was unable to find in Colombia, but dearly wanted. Another puddle stretches the width of the trail, and his right foot lands directly in the middle of it with a splash deeper than I expected. It’s his first run in a pair of shoes that mean so much to him, but in Spanish he simply says, “That’s what they’re for.” He’s training for a prestigious 100-kilometer race in his home country.

I’m actually using new shoes, too: the new Salomon S-Lab XT 6. I only travel with one pair of running shoes, so when I decided to bring them, I questioned if their intense sole pattern would be overkill for whatever I’d be running in Colombia. As I nearly come to a halt in sticky mud on a section of jungle-entombed singletrack, I know that I’ve made the right decision. At no point do the lugs pack with mud, even given the variable trail surfaces, tacky and soft. I wish they also warded off whatever creatures lay beneath the thick blanket of jungle.

I am a staunch skeptic of waterproof clothing—such as the super light rain shell that I’m wearing—because I seem to be cursed. Nothing ever keeps me dry consistently. But this is doing just that. Ever the disbeliever, I decide it’s largely due to the comfortable temperature: I’m able to keep my Salomon Minim jacket on, fully zipped, with the hood (and its genius, inventive, elastic headband) up, and not overheat. But we stop to discuss route options for the first time after 5.1 miles and I notice that my torso is dry. My back isn’t sweating in the rain jacket, per my norm, and my arms aren’t soaked, also per my norm. This is most notable around the wrists, where I always get wet. Whenever I use a rain jacket, I think I’m not doing it right. I feel like there is a secret that I don’t know, because they never work for me. But this one is working. And I can’t believe I’m running this comfortably. We decide to head right, up a steep hill, to the highest point on the ridgeline. As our rest trot turns once again into a jog, he asks how far we’ve gone, as his watch has already died. “Ahh, Suunto,” Alfonso says with a thick Colombian accent. “Muy bueno.” I try to convert it to kilometers. Nine?

trail-running-columbia-countryside

You see so much more traveling by foot. Just imagine the possibilities out there.

I don’t look at my Suunto Ambit 2 again until we’re nearly done with the loop. The temperatures are ideal, Alfonso’s headlamp is bright, and he clearly knows where we are going. I don’t need to know my pace or elapsed time because, although this is a regular run for him, it’s as good as an adventure run for me. I’m running in the middle of the night in Colombia, so who cares? I have eight ounces of water in a Salomon Soft Flask in one hand. With as much motivation as it took to put my running clothes on after eating a delicious dinner of greasy Colombian food, and the additional motivation needed to get out of the car after it had started pouring cold rain on the way to the trailhead, I couldn’t be happier I mustered it.

creek-crossing-colombia-brody-leven

No pics came of our dark and rainy run…instead, here’s a random shot from horseback on a rest day.

Only two miles before we end, I pull out the energy chews that I brought because I knew they’d be a treat for him. The main energy food that athletes use on the trails in Colombia is an assortment of gels. And if Alfonso is anything like me, he can barely stomach those things. He, too, enjoys the candy-like chews as we run side-by-side. After showing me a trail that I never would have found on my own, it’s quite literally the least I can do to show my appreciation.

We approach his car, parked under a streetlight in Lucitania. My Suunto reads over 12 miles, and I’m pleasantly surprised. For the last 10 miles, I’ve been asking him what we’re going to do—we are so dirty, and his car is so clean.  A mile ago, on the final dirt road, we crossed a creek that washed our shoes really well. Now he pulls out seat protectors designed for dogs, and it’s suddenly as if we hadn’t just run through a muddy jungle for two hours. After immersing ourselves entirely in the rainforest, its thorns and leaves and puddles and bugs becoming part of our being, it’s the clean upholstery and vacuumed floor mats from which we choose to buffer ourselves. I think Alfonso and I have a lot in common.

 

Brody’s Colombia night running gear list:

 

brody-leven-soaking-wet-salomon-trail-runner

Soaking wet and surely stoked.

 

Salomon Agile Belt
Salomon Agile Belt
MSRP: $64.95

AOTW: Camping and Bouldering in Washoe, Nevada

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.

 

supertopo

photo: supertopo.com

Who: Kevin, Jeremy, Eric and myself
What (activity/event): Car camping and bouldering
Where:
Washoe Boulders, N.E. of Carson City
When:
This past weekend
Gear: La Sportiva Mythos Shoes, Black Diamond Momentum Harness, The North Face 2-man tent, SOL Facestick

Did you know there’s a miniature bouldering heaven less than an hour from North Lake Tahoe? I didn’t either, until myself and a few buddies drove to the high desert east of Washoe Lake last Saturday night. We showed up after dark, found a sweet flat area with a fire ring and a killer view of Carson City, and pitched three different two person backpacking tents. Why not have three tents for four guys? After all, we were car camping and had the option to get as comfortable as we pleased. Once we had a good fire going (it randomly snowed as we left Tahoe and temps had already dropped into the 30′s), Kevin fired up his new JetBoil Flash backpacking stove. He and Jeremy shared dinner while Eric and I enjoyed a couple cold brewskies. We didn’t need to cook dinner; we had each crushed fatty burgers at Five Guys on our way through town and were already feeling a bit lethargic. This would come in handy the next morning however, when we would need as much energy as possible to climb rock after rock and sustain our strength through mid-day.

 

 

washoe-boulder-camping

When we woke up the next day I was blown away with all the climbing options just steps from our tents. Sure, it’s all somewhat sharp Tuff and can hurt the hands (Tuff - extrusive igneous rock that forms from the tephra ejected during explosive volcanic eruptions. – geology.com), but I appreciated how many holds there were…everywhere! You could stay on-route, or choose your own adventure. I chose the latter for most climbs that day, making each as difficult or simple as I wanted. Sometimes I would casually explore while preserving my energy for later, and other times I would max out and reach for more difficult holds in an effort to get as much of a workout as possible. I’m kind of back and forth like that. Thus, the beauty of bouldering; freedom to climb up, down, right or left at your own pace.

I took a quick walk-thru video of one of the rocks with the most routes on it. There were even some cool tunnels to climb through and plenty of overhangs to practice on. I got about a quarter of the way around before my phone died.


top-rope-washoe-bouldersAfter hauling around the crash pads for about four hours, we found a cool overhanging rock with a bolt on top. The rock was 20-25 feet tall and cast a nice shady spot where those who weren’t climbing could relax (and talk smack to whomever was). Since we planned to stop by Ballbuster (top roping area on the east shore of Lake Tahoe) on our drive home, we already had rope, harnesses and protection in the truck. Why not bust it out early and “hang” for a bit? It was the perfect opportunity to stretch out our time here even longer, so we hooked up and spent some time messing around with problems we knew we couldn’t finish. It’s nice to be able to push yourself past your limit and know you won’t fall to the ground.

jeremy-osburn-rock-climb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We camped out and woke up to warm, sunny weather. We climbed whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We saw three other people the entire day. It was epic. I felt like I was back in the Buttermilks near Bishop, only Washoe offers a lot less rocks – and they’re not granite, the climber’s favorite.

*Hopefully I don’t expose anyone’s favorite getaway via this blog post. I don’t mean to give away any secrets…just trying to share the love!

 

Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag
Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag
MSRP: $16.95

What To Do When There’s No Snow Around Lake Tahoe

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

I don’t need to tell you. If you’re here, you know it. If you’re not, you’ve probably heard. The snow conditions are seriously pressing on our nerves in Tahoe. It hurts. It hurts the bottom of your skis, it hurts local businesses and it hurts the local morale.

no-snow-year-tahoe-things-to-do

This is where I could mention some hurtful stats about this year being California’s driest winter on-record or drop some depressing figures regarding snow- and tourism-related economics. Instead, I’ve got some great news! Lake Tahoe has more year-round outdoor fun than any other ski town…probably anywhere. The lake itself offers a plethora of activities, from stand-up paddling, kayaking and boating off-shore to countless foot paths and bike trails on-shore. Although, you may need to stay closer to lake-level to find completely dry and clear trails. If you’re into fishing, the local tributaries will offer you a challenge in beautiful terrain. If you climb, you’re in luck; we’re completely surrounded by granite. You may not find as much ice to climb this time of year, but there are plenty of frozen ponds to go for a skate.

When you’re fortunate enough to see the views that I do every day, it’s possible to eventually take advantage of the fact that you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I’m not saying that I do, just that it’s possible! Since I make it a point to Do Something Awesome Every Day, I figure sharing some ideas for adventure would be appropriate. Especially given these “winter” conditions and the notion that we’re all thinking the same thing: “What do I do around Tahoe when there’s no snow?”

Run On The Beach
The fact that a sandy stretch of shoreline is available to our free use is almost unbelievable. In the winter months, when the sun’s shining and the temps are in the 40′s, the weather is perfect for running and you’ll often have much of the beach to yourself. So get into some cold weather running clothing, seek out a public access point and take a jog. If the amazing views, solitude and the pleasure of an aerobic workout aren’t enough to keep you moving, then think of it as “late-season ski conditioning”.

running-beach-north-lake-tahoe


In-Bounds “Backcountry” Skiing
You got all your backcountry skiing gear ready for the season, and now you have no powder fields to explore. Sure, the lifts are running from 8:30-4:00 daily, but that’s just not good enough. You want a workout, and you want to slap on those climbing skins that hung out in your closet the past nine months. Skin up the resort! Most ski resorts let the public use their groomed runs during non-operational hours (4:01 p.m. – 8:29 a.m.) *If you have information that proves me wrong, please correct me before you fine me for doing something awesome every day. So, if you want to get some exercise on your touring setup or you’re itching for some softer snow, take advantage of the man-made morning corduroy at the local resorts. Bonus: Starting a little after 4 p.m. and climbing an hour or so to the top usually rewards with a killer sunset. Pack a headlamp for skiing just in case; if you want to be off the mountain by 8:29 a.m. and don’t want to move too fast uphill, or you want to take your time watching the sunset before descending, you may be required to travel in the dark. And once again, Leave No Trace so we don’t ruin our reputation with the resorts. In my case, I bring extra doggy bags.

inbounds-backcountry-skiing

 

(more…)

AOTW: Backing Down In Downieville – Mountain Biking Mishaps

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

 This Adventure Of The Week comes from Adam Broderick, a silly goose who could have seriously injured, or even killed himself, last weekend while visiting the world-class singletrack trails in Downieville, California. Thankfully, his mom scolded him enough as a kid…and he’s hit his head on enough rocks and trees…that he’s learned his lesson.

downieville-mountain-biking

Sunday and Monday were awesome. We took our annual October adventure to Downieville, California, for two days of some of the country’s best downhill singletrack mountain biking. 15 miles of downhill sweetness, with a little rolling ups and flats mixed in. It’s pretty dreamy, and even during the short climbs the scenery distracts you, so you tend to forget how much climbing you actually do. At least, I do. I’m on a cross-country bike. My buddies on downhill monsters weren’t so casual about the climbs, but then again, they purchased their bikes with the intention of climbing less often. Nonetheless, everyone most certainly enjoyed the downhill. We all took our fair share of falls, too. Fortunately, none were very serious and everyone only brought home scratches and bruises.

downieville-biking-creek

Fails:

I went over my bars. Upon deployment my shorts got caught and my bike came along for the flight. We went over one full rotation and landed on my feet. Well, I landed on my feet, but my bike landed on my shoulders, so I proceeded to slide another thirty feet down the steep canyon, toward the river. It came to the point where I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stop before the rocks and water below. Things got scary for a few moments. Finally, I was able to self-arrest and wait a few moments for Israel to get to me and help me untangle myself from bike and branches. Unfortunately, nobody got a photo of how far I slid downhill. I would have liked a copy of that image to look back on years from now. Top 3 most memorable bike wipe-outs of my life, for sure.

Heather went over her bars, but surprisingly that was her worst fall, and she came out with just a scratch. This was her introductory mountain biking trip and she impressed us all (Heather’s a quick learner). She’s been on a dirt bike for years, so after learning how to efficiently work through the gears and a few other cycle-specific tricks, she picked it up quickly and really enjoyed her first time on a mountain bike. Actually, we’re pretty sure she’s sold on the sport and will get her own bike next season.

Israel usually goes over the bars. That’s probably because he goes bigger and faster than the rest of us. At one point, and I know this because I was behind him when it happened, his front tire caught on a rock and his bars jerked to the left…away from the trail and down the hill. His bike did a 180 and stopped, upright, leaning against a short and skinny Aspen tree. Israel, on the other hand, kept moving through the air. He pretty much did a misty flip. The fact that he came out unharmed was sweet. The sight of him flipping through the air and down the hill, only to land on his butt in a pile of dirt, was even sweeter.

downieville-downhill

Eric went down twice in twenty feet. We’ll let those ones go, because he was exhausted and navigating a technical rock field, and sometimes when you’re delirious you fall. I think we can all agree to that. But what Eric did do that was most memorable was get a flat – immediately after helping Israel repair his, and they were all out of spare bike tubes by that point. So Eric got to walk the last three miles downhill on the second afternoon. I’m sure he slept well last night.

Bails:

The next day when we returned to the summit ready to repeat the awesomeness of the day before, something went wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. My helmet wasn’t in the car. (more…)

Fastpacking: Packing Lighter, Moving Faster – Desolation Wilderness

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Want to see more wilderness in the same amount of time? Try lightening your load. The more experience under your belt, the more comfortable you become in the backcountry. The more comfortable you are, the less luxuries you require, thus enabling you to carry less weight and, in turn, cover more distance in less time. They call it “fastpacking”, and it offers grand reward for those willing to push a little harder.

lakes in desolation wilderness

I stopped jogging and stood here for a few minutes taking in the view.

Backpacking fast is really all it is. Carry a smaller backpack (30-40 liters), wear more agile boots or trail running shoes (or even fastpacking shoes as of Spring 2014!) and cruise at a quicker pace. I prefer to run most flat sections and quickly hike the ups and downs. Remember, this is my personal opinion. I tend to get bored just ‘walking’ and find myself wanting more, so sometimes I throw in an aerobic workout. I probably move faster than most other ‘fastpackers’, but I’m usually solo (and a trail runner on the side).

 

waterfall desolation wilderness

Nice place for an afternoon coffee break.

People knock the idea, convinced I don’t soak up as much natural beauty along the way because I’m moving too fast. I disagree. I take in more scenery, and I choose which scenes to stop and enjoy and which to enjoy on-the-move. Not everyone would find this sufficient, but hey, I cover more than twice as much ground by ‘fastpacking’, and occasionally this can be very beneficial. This past weekend, for example, I had one day off of work and wanted to make the most of it. My backpack weighed 18 miles when I started, including 60 ounces of water and dog food. I covered 23 miles in 23 hours, including time spent sleeping, eating, swimming, enjoying afternoon coffee, and really not having a care in the world besides wondering how long it would take to hitchhike home in time for work on Monday. When I pack light I can do more in one day than most backpackers can in two, and being more agile and light on my feet I have access to things most people wouldn’t otherwise find. Like a waterfall on the far side of Lake ______ that requires a curious, wandering eye and a 40-minute boulder scramble to access. When was the last time you made coffee from a waterfall?

 

 

pct echo lake aloha

Lake Aloha, Echo Lake, Pacific Crest Trail

dog hitch hiking

Tired pup needs a ride home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what I packed for this trip. 18-lbs included dog food and two liters of water.

This was an overnight run in mid-summer at 8,500 feet. High of 80, low of 50. The colder (and wetter) it gets, the heavier your bag gets.

A Different Kind Of Paradise – From Lake Tahoe To Roatan, Honduras

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

roatan west bay panorama

A few weeks ago I left my beautiful home for a week on white sand beaches, eating fruit from a hammock and exploring the underwater ecosystems off the coast of Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. My girlfriend and I brought back some really cool photographs, which I usually do my best to capture during travel. Enjoy the pics and the short film. It’s difficult to tell such a great story in so little time, so I’ll let the visuals do most of the talking.

yoga in paradise

Tamara is really into yoga. The sandy bottom was tricky to balance on, but she did a great job holding this pose for over a minute so I could draw as much color into the frame as possible.

roatan west end west bay

 

map of bay islands honduras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roatan is between Utila and Guanaja, north of mainland Honduras. We stayed at the upper-most end of the white sand strip, but we traveled all over the island. I snapped this from the plane window on the way out.

 

las rocas resort roatan

Yep, we got the room with the view. Las Rocas Resort was awesome! Wonderful hospitality, the best cooking in West Bay, dive tours and water taxis from their private dock, coconuts ripe for the machete,  privacy at the end of the sand strip, and all at $100/night.

macaw roatan

We hung out with Macaws and monkeys, and had a look-see at the different insect species on the island. Check out the Dalmation-lookalike butterfly!

monkey play in roatan

butterfly dog lookalike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also shot some video footage with my iPhone, using a waterproof LifeProof case, which was fun to edit but frustrating to export from my computer – hence the incomplete subtitle during our crab encounter and the premature ending during the credits. Hey, it was good enough to be recognized as the LifeProof Video of the Week, so it must at least be kinda cool!

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I Freakin’ Love This Place – Outdoor Recreation In North Lake Tahoe

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I live in Kings Beach, California. I freakin’ love it here. There are so many options for fun and adventure. I do web content and marketing work at Tahoe Mountain Sports, and I freakin’ love it there, too. Working in such a beautiful place with so many opportunities for outdoor recreation is a luxury I hope I never, ever, ever take for granted. Working in the outdoor industry is a big bonus, as I have knowledge of, and access to, top-tier outdoor equipment, making it easier to get out and explore the greater Tahoe region at my leisure.

stand up paddle board

Cruisin’ the lake.

 

Tahoe is a magical place. I just had two days off work, and I want to explain how many awesome things I was able to do during those two days. Well, since the following events began Saturday evening when I got off work, make that two days and a night. I also want to thank Tahoe Mountain Sports for letting me take several pieces of demo equipment along with for the ride(s).

WARNING: This blog is about a butt-load of awesome outdoor gear and how much fun I have with it. It is ‘hyperlink-heavy’ because everyone should be able to benefit from great gear. Simply don’t click the links if you don’t want to be distracted from the story.

First, when I got off work Saturday at 6:30 I rode my bike across the street to the beach and got on a stand up paddleboard. As soon as I took a few strokes and was gliding across the surface of the lake my mind felt at ease and much of my stress left my body. As I coasted along inspecting the random treasures visible through clear blue water on the lake bottom, I noticed I was the only soul on the water as far as my eyes could see. Paddling is a very tranquil way to enjoy nature and simultaneously cleanse the spirit.

Then we raced over to Alpine Meadows Road and found the trailhead for Five Lakes. It’s up between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts, and only a bit over two miles uphill to a beautiful granite and pine setting with tolerable swimming temps and great views of the Granite Chief Wilderness. We sat around the fire that night with dinner, s’mores and a good Shiraz.

snow peak trekker kit

Breakfast and coffee with a view.

I also got to use my Snow Peak Trekker Kit, which includes a Gigapower stove and Trek 1400 cookest. They’re all incredibly lightweight and the stove boils water in 3-4 minutes. I’ve been waiting to get this stove for a while now, and was stoked to finally try it out myself. The next morning we sat on a Thermarest Z-Lite sleeping pad and enjoyed coffee from a rock overlooking the lake. Then I called dad and wished him ‘Happy Father’s Day’ – love you, dad! We took a dip in the lake, filtered drinking water with my Katadyn Hiker water filter, which took half the advertised time to filter one liter (34 seconds, 60 pumps), and went for a beautiful trail run among the wildflowers out toward Barker Pass.

It was hot and dry up there, so I was stoked for my Platypus soft water bottle. I like how portable and packable it is. It’s great for trail running, and easily fits in a jacket pocket so I’m also excited to try it backcountry skiing this winter. On this overnight trip I got away with only packing the 1-liter soft bottle, and used my fast-acting filter for refills. That saved me the weight of a hard water bottle and excess water.

platypus soft water bottle

Saw a Platypus in a creek along the Pacific Crest Trail.

After the overnight camping trip and day hike / trail run I met some friends at Moon Dunes, a local beach on Lake Tahoe’s north shore. We threw discs on the beach and drank a few cold cans of Tecate, then went to Tahoe City for some shuffleboard at Pete N’ Peter’s followed by a delicious Hop Song IPA at Tahoe Mountain Brewery. I’m an IPA kind of guy, and I’ll tell you what – this was a good beer. My buddy Eric had their Hop Dragon Double IPA, but at 9.5% it was a bit strong for me at the particular moment. Still, I had a couple sips and it was fantastic! Perfectly balanced, robust yet well-balanced hops a smooth finish. Both of our beers exceeded our expectations (I’ve only been in Tahoe for nine months).

The next morning I went for a trail run from the top of Mt. Rose Summit. I’m trying out lightweight overnight backpacks for a fastpacking trip coming up in mid-July. We’ll be running around Evolution Basin near Bishop, CA, and I need a good bag I can cover lots of ground with that will wear comfortably and hold enough supplies for a few days on end. This particular evening I took a Boreas Muir Woods 30 pack for a test run out to Galena Falls. I’d prefer it a little less rigid for fastpacking, but it may end up working out in the end. It’s a great pack, and I understand that it’s a bit stiffer so it can carry more weight and remain stable when doing stuff like whipping around turns on a mountain bike. We’ll see…I still have some time to figure all that out.

That afternoon I met a buddy for a bike ride in the wicked-awesome network of singletrack trails behind Kings Beach. (more…)

Last Ski Of The Season(?) – Purple Mountain, West Elk Wilderness

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

This guest post comes from Josh Whitney, a Boulder, CO-based pro mountain biker, cyclocrosser and lover of all things alpine. Josh occasionally contributes his trip reports, reviews and inspired mountain ramblings from the Rocky Mountain West to Tahoe Mountain Sports. His blog at josh-whitney.com blends bike racing and mountain adventures with musings on his day job in business, technology and sustainability.

purple mountain panoramic

My good buddy Mark and I woke at 5:30 on Memorial Day with the goal of climbing and then skiing from the peak of 12,958-foot Purple Mountain. The pyramidal peak, iconic and visible from downtown Crested Butte, offered nearly 3,000 feet of sweet corn skiing – if we could reach the top in time before the late spring sun softened the snow to the point of mashed potatoes and unsafe conditions. A moisture-rich April had given the mountains a serious recharge and conditions had finally settled, allowing for some bigger lines to be skied safely.

Following a fun fjord across the braided Slate River in the 4Runner, we donned hiking shoes and walked up the Daisy Pass road to snow line, around 9,800 feet, and put on our boots. Waterfalls cascaded all around us, and as we ascended up and through a small gorge the sunlight opened to gorgeous views up the valley and all around. Crested Butte is no doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth and we had arrived in time for the goods. A long slog on skins took us to a ridge-line bootpack and some class-3 scrambling put us on top of a nearly cloudless, windless, perfect day. (more…)

Surfing: Reef’s Shawn Dollar Paddles Into 61 Foot World Record Wave

Friday, May 17th, 2013

shawn dollar cortes bank

In case you didn’t hear the wave heard ’round the world, let us turn it up a notch for ya. Our Reef sales rep – that’s right, our sales rep - just took the Billabong XXL Big Wave Award for surfing the biggest wave of the year. He also paddled into this 61-foot monster, earning the Pacifico Paddle Award and setting the new world record for the largest wave ever successfully paddled into.

Cortes Bank is located 100 miles off the coast of San Diego. Massive ocean swells break on the bank, and if you pay close attention to the weather patterns and can a way there, you can score some of the largest waves in the world. That’s just what Shawn did on December 21, 2012, when he paddled into this beast:

“That wave was the biggest, craziest ride I’ve ever had,” Dollar explained. ” To be a 100 miles out to see and to catch an open ocean swell that is 60′ + is unreal.  Everything came together for me and I’m so stoked that I had the opportunity to be there.  That ride was by far the longest most difficult wave I’ve ever surfed.  It was also the most rewarding ride of my life.”

Shawn Dollar XXL paddle wave

Congratulations, Shawn. Don’t spend it all in one place.

 

Check out our selection of Reef Men’s SandalsReef Women’s Sandals and Reef Kid’s Sandals, in stock at Tahoe Mountain Sports thanks to Mr. Dollar.

 

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