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Archive for the ‘Adventure of the Week’ Category

Blitzkrieg: An Assault on 4 High Sierra Peaks in One Day

Friday, December 5th, 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.

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A perfect day to bag four peaks!

I’ll always remember this past summer fondly, and with great reverence. This was the season that redefined sport and what is possible (for me) in the mountains. It was an exciting season, and one that I look forward to building on in 2015 and beyond. By far the most ambitious day on my calendar was October 19th, 2014 – a planned single-push assault on Mt. Carrillon, Mt. Russell, Mt. Whitney, and Mt. Muir in one day.

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Hiking Yosemite’s Bermuda Triangle: Tenaya Canyon

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

The emerald pools and gigantic boulders of the Inner Gorge

Who: Rachel, Theresa, Tom, Denis, Mat
What: Tenaya Canyon ascent
Where: Yosemite National Park, CA
When: September, 2014
Gear: Sawyer Point Squeeze Filter,  Altra Lone Peak Trail Running ShoesBlack Diamond Primrose Harness

All photos by Rachel McCullough unless captioned otherwise.

Disclaimer: Hiking/Canyoneering in Tenaya Canyon is dangerous. This blog post is not a recommendation for you to try the route.

There were many reasons NOT to go to Tenaya Canyon. For starters, there is its reputation as the Bermuda Triangle of Yosemite. Then there is the curse that Chief Tenaya invoked when white men killed his son. If you don’t believe in that, there is a Google search results page plastered with stories of helicopter ride exits, as some sort of proof. Not even John Muir escaped unscathed on this 10+ mile journey. He found himself slipping, somersaulting, and then losing consciousness, only to be spared by the dense shrubbery on the route. Then there was the forecast: 40% chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

If all that wasn’t enough, closer to home, Alpine Meadows was charging their snowmaking system as the King Fire scorched tens of thousands of acres less than ten miles away. Facebook lit up with talk of being ready to evacuate. The list goes on. So what possessed me to leave a list of what should be saved with my husband in the event of a fire evacuation and make the six-hour journey to Yosemite?  It was the lure of the remote off-trail experience, the promise of emerald pools, glacier-carved canyon walls, unparalleled views, time with good friends, old and new, and the challenge.

And while we didn’t emerge from Tenaya canyon unscathed, we did emerge having had the adventure of a lifetime. Just not one to be repeated in the same fashion, ever again.

Most people approach Tenaya Canyon from the top as a canyoneering route, rappelling through waterfalls and landing in ice cold pools. Seeing as in my ten years at Lake Tahoe, I’ve only swam in the lake once (gasp), a water-logged adventure didn’t sound appealing, and neither did the toe-crushing slab descents. So, with all of us having a rock climbing background, and in true John Muir form, we decided to go up.

The evening before our planned trip, as I arrived at Olmstead Point, which overlooks Tenaya Canyon, I saw, well, nothing. The King Fire smoke had followed me to Yosemite, and was so thick that the normally prominent Half Dome was invisible. We hoped it would clear before morning and we weren’t disappointed.

We started at Mirror Lake at around 7am, only a half hour behind our planned schedule. Our crew is not known for our timely morning departures (more about that here: http://bit.ly/TuolumneHike).

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Gorgeous Day Hike from Lukens Lake to Tenaya Lake in Tuolomne

Friday, September 12th, 2014

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Cathedral Creek canyon

Endless granite on the descent into the canyon of the South Fork of Cathedral Creek

Who: Theresa, Tom, Garrett, Rachel
What: 26 Mile Day Hike
Where: Ten Lakes area, Tuolumne high country, Yosemite National Park
When: A Saturday in August, 2014
Gear: Altra Lone Peak Trail Running Shoes, Nemo Losi 3 Person Tent, PowerPot Charging Package, Sawyer Point Squeeze Filter

All photos by Rachel McCullough unless captioned otherwise.

One day I decided to walk 55 miles. In a day. Not just any 55 miles, but the entire High Sierra Camp loop in Yosemite National Park, with over 8,000 feet in elevation gain and loss. I hadn’t hiked more than 15 miles in a day, but that didn’t seem to matter. So, I did it. And I dragged along my then boyfriend, now husband. Maybe for company, maybe to see if he was crazy enough, maybe to see if he could keep up. And that was my first taste of the yet to be named sport of hiking a lot in one day. [Please tell me in the comments what you think it should be called: long-distance day hiking, ultra day hiking, plain old craziness, a John Muir saunter…?]

I’ve kept it under 45 miles since then, but still get all sorts of looks and questions on these long hikes. “Wait, where are your big backpacks?” “You are going where?” “You mean (put any much closer destination here)?” All you need is a light pack, trail running shoes, and enough water to make it to the next stop. It’s amazing how much you can see and how far you can get without a lot weight, wilderness permits, or advanced planning. I get my gear at Tahoe Mountain Sports. But more on the advanced planning later.

So, that leads me to my most recent hike in Tuolumne, a follow-up to my “Let’s walk from Wawona to the Valley hike” this spring. This one came in at about a marathon distance – 26.6 miles says the map. We started at the Lukens Lake Trailhead and passed through Ten Lakes before arriving at our destination, the Murphy Creek Trailhead. We added a short detour to Grant Lake because 26 miles sounded better than 24 miles.

The crew. I’ve had many adventures with this group: Garrett, my husband, and Tom and Theresa, our good friends who live in Yosemite. As usual, we set our starting time, slept in a bit later than we should have, and then slowly got ready. A group of mostly night owls should not rise before 6 a.m., but we can certainly try! We hit the trail late, around 7:30 a.m., which meant that if we wanted to finish by dark, there would be no dilly-dallying.

00 the crew ready to go

Crew selfie: Tom, Theresa, me, Garrett. Bright-eyed and ready to head out into the crisp morning air. Photo: Garrett McCullough

But, we forgot that we were in a hurry, when just a half-mile in, we arrived at Lukens Lake. It was perfectly still, except for the layer of fog dancing along the surface and then rising before disappearing into the warming morning air. John Muir once said about hiking: “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike!”  So, we stopped, took our time, then we sauntered along.

Lukens Lake

Morning fog rising off of Lukens Lake.

The next gem we found was a slightly nibbled red fir cone, which revealed the brilliant red inside. Two things were amazing about this: none of us had ever seen this before and red firs are apparently named for the color of their bark, not the inside of their cone!

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The inside of a red fir cone!

As the morning passed, (more…)

Canoeing, Fishing (sort of) and Camping at Faucherie Lake

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

This trip report comes from Robyn Embry, a local pro downhill racer living in Kings Beach, California, for the past seven years. She can be found climbing rocks and skiing powder when not enjoying life on two wheels; Fine more from Robyn at http://therobynator.blogspot.com.

faucherie lake camping

Faucherie Lake had been spoken of highly by several friends who spend time there yearly, and we had always thought it would be fun to check it out. It’s hard to get far away from crowds by car on a busy summer weekend, but we took a gamble figuring it was a bit out of the way and the road is quite rough. Looking for a paddle-in campsite is also a good way to avoid the masses, and gave us an advantage over the car campers.

Getting to the lake required 2 ½ hours of bouncing up rock-studded dirt roads. After nearly losing the canoe off the top and fearing the destruction of other key items, we finally reached the lake, intact. Off came the canoe and we began stuffing gear into waterproof dry bags. Though sleeping under the stars is nice, a tent seemed ideal for this trip if we intended to keep mosquitoes away. Inflatable sleeping pads went in as well, which had not been used in at least a few summers since I’ve been too busy with bike racing.

For food and kitchen we went for luxury, packing a cooler full of good eats and hauling along the old 3-burner camp stove. The canoe should still stay afloat, and it would be worth carrying the weight since the paddle to camp is short. It might be ideal to pack lighter for a longer trip on a river or larger lake, bringing a backpacking stove and maybe some dehydrated camp meals, though the advantage of a canoe is being able to carry a fair amount more than would comfortably fit in a backpack. We did, however, pack a water filter instead of lugging in a full jug. After all, we were camping near a pretty decent water source.

campsites faucherie lake

Upon launching the canoe, (more…)

Overnight Trail Running Lake Tahoe – Across Desolation Wilderness

Saturday, August 30th, 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.

As I touched on in “Philosophy and Preparation“, this was to be my most ambitious outing to date: a 29-35 mile run (depending on which map/GPS/hearsay you choose to believe), an overnight at Lake Aloha, a summit of two of the highest peaks in Desolation Wilderness (Mt. Price and Pyramid Peak), and an 18-22 mile run to return to the real world. Per usual, I sat down with my maps (the Lake Tahoe Basin Trail Map and the National Geographic 803) and plotted my days (and night), planning every step before I set out. As a good friend once detailed to me: failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

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Chris Cloyd, Trail Runner.

I chose to set out from the Meeks Bay Trailhead (the northernmost entry point into Desolation Wilderness), and was thrilled with the trail from the outset. The Meeks Bay Trailhead gains you access to the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail – a continuous single track from Meeks Bay to Yosemite National Park. Every bit living up to its billing, the trail was in immaculate condition. At the trailhead, you can procure a day permit into Desolation, but I had to obtain an overnight permit from their website (or I could have gone to the Meeks Bay campground). If I may stand on my pedestal for a moment and preach: obtain a permit before overnighting in Desolation. I’m sure you can avoid getting “caught” (you are meandering through the wilderness, after all), but the funds go to supporting trail stewardship and other amenities that we all enjoy, so swallow the $5. Our support goes a long way toward maintaining and providing access to the Wilderness that we all enjoy.

The Tahoe-Yosemite Trail progresses steeply beginning from close to the trailhead all the way up to Lake Genevieve, gaining almost 1,500 in those initial miles. Lake Genevieve is the first of no less than seven lakes that you’ll encounter in your first eight or so miles, and kicks off a beautiful section of scenic running. Of these lakes, I found Stony Ridge Lake to be the most engaging – I was very tempted to pull off the trail and dive in for a swim. That being said, I was on a mission, and had my sights set for Phipps Peak before I stopping for a break. The running continued along these alpine lakes before starting the ascent to Phipp’s Pass. In my planning, I noted that my first day included two very notable mountain passes – Phipp’s Pass and Dick’s Pass – and was prepared for a slog up a number of single track switchbacks. Although not too steep or unrelenting, Phipp’s Pass is indeed worthy of respect and is sure to sap the leg strength of all who choose to ascend it. Upon reaching the pass proper, it’s a short and quick scramble to the top of Phipp’s Peak, and is well worth the effort. I enjoyed some rest and a sandwich at the summit, and admired the expanse of Desolation in a stunning 360 degrees.

“I geared down and buried myself for what seemed like an hour – it was indeed much less, but time has teeth under such scenarios”

Continuing on, I was treated to a blissful descent from Phipp’s Pass toward Middle Velma Lake. I enjoyed this section of running very much, and found a comfortable tempo that helped quiet the mind and brought considerable joy. I chose to stay on the Pacific Crest Trail in order to catch a glimpse of Fontanillis Lake, and that decision was validated in spades. My overnight destination on this day wins the award for my “favorite” lake on this route, but Fontanillis Lake is gorgeous and has a very unique alpine feel to it, framed defiantly by Dick’s Peak and its equally proud neighbors. I stopped here to filter some water and take in the ambiance, gearing up for the next push. Fontanillis has earned an earmark for a future overnight destination, for sure.

Fontanillis precedes the second big climb of the day, Dick’s Lake to Dick’s Pass. Perhaps it was my tempo (maybe a bit too full of ambition for my legs to accommodate), or perhaps it was the miles themselves that preceded it, but this climb hurt my feelings. I geared down and buried myself for what seemed like an hour – it was indeed much less, but time has teeth under such scenarios – and with much labor and more than a little self-deprecation I took the pass with much relief. As though it was placed there with intention, a perfect sitting-stone is perched at the Pass and it concedes a spectacular panorama of much of the Wilderness.

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Chris didn’t take this photo of Desolation. His editor had to pull it from a free image site after accidentally using the original in Round 1.

Descending from Dick’s Pass requires technical running, and was a true test of my reflexes this deep into the day. Cascading down toward Gilmore Lake, I was treated to glimpses of Mt. Tallac and my day’s destination of Lake Aloha, and my spirits were buoyed. Nerves and light were fading, and a reassurance that I was nearing my “finish line” for the day was greatly appreciated.  (more…)

Backpacking Bishop Pass w/ Friends from San Diego & Deuter Packs

Thursday, August 21st, 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.

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Last Thursday night I met four childhood friends from San Diego in Bishop, California. In case you’re unaware, Bishop is like the Gateway to Heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. A geological hotspot lying on the San Andreas Fault, what lies beneath ground is intriguing and unpredictable. If you’re the type who springs for a nice dip in a naturally heated tub, the countless hot springs near Bishop should do you just right. The terrain in this area (think Mammoth Mountain, June Lake, Mono Lake) offers world-class rock climbing, hiking, biking and, in winter, skiing and snowboarding. So, to say my friends were pleasantly surprised with the views they woke up to Friday morning in the high desert above town would be an understatement. That afternoon, after a couple hours of bouldering at a popular climbing zone called the Buttermilks, we made our way to 10,000’+ in Inyo National Forest.

Looking west toward the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range from the town of Bishop, or from anywhere along Hwy 395, most would assume only dirt and rocks could survive in such harsh, dry places. But drive up Hwy 168 to 9,000’+ elevation and it gets incredibly green in the high canyons, where creeks flow to and from high alpine lakes full of beautiful, yet oblivious and tasty, trout. We did a two-day, three-night, out-and-back trip from South Lake. The water level at South Lake was disconcerting, but from then on we were happy to find plenty of sources to fill our hiking water reservoirs from, cast fishing rods into, and even send some 30’+ cliff dives into.

 

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I have to give a shout-out to Deuter for supplying the 60+ liter backpacks so my friends from San Diego could carry some extra luxuries and really enjoy themselves out there. They don’t go quite as lightweight as this seasoned backpacker (mind me while I toot my own horn), but they truly impressed me with their abilities to keep moving forward as their bodies fought the altitude change and physical demands before them.

 

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Charges while cooking via USB

 

 

We only ate one fish between the five of us, although Brandon must have caught at least fifteen. We had plenty of dehydrated camping food and other snacks ideal for backpacking, so consuming something wild for the helluvit seemed silly. Still, the guys wanted to cook one up so I went along with it. Plus, I wanted to try charging my phone (set to Airplane Mode, but I still use it as a camera) with the new PowerPot from Power Practical.

 

 

 

 

 

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My BBB (Best Backpacking Buddies – cheesy, I know, but we had fun acting less our age) pose on some of the steeper switchbacks of the hike. This is part of the climb over Bishop Pass; we spent our nights at awesome lakes on either side.

 

 

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A little yoga to get the juices flowing before breakfast.

That’s my favorite jacket for cool-weather camping, my Mountain Hardwear lightweight puffy. It keeps me warm (60 grams of synthetic insulation), packs down small, doubles as a pillow and doesn’t get torn to shreds when I rough it up on rocks. It’s usually too warm as a mid-layer under a ski jacket in the Sierra, but ideal in colder weather than California sees and perfect for three-season backpacking.

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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.

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“It’s the best environment for solitary peace 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.

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“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.

 

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“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

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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.

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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

 

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