|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
American Masters takes a look at the icon in "John Muir in The New WorldDidn't get enough John Muir in Ken Burns' PBS National Parks series? You're in luck: Mighty Muir returns to the network with the documentary American Masters: John Muir in the New World. The show premieresMonday, April 18 from 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) in honor of Earth Day and John Muir Day.
Public comment period opens for BLM proposals to allow mining near the Grand CanyonWell, this seems like a no-brainer: The Bureau of Land Management just opened up a public comment period to weigh the positives and negatives of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. They'll host several meetings throughout Arizona to share data and see what the public thinks.
Scientists monitor hibernating black bears to look for solutions that could benefit humansIt's no secret that bears hibernate in winter—so it's a little surprising how little we know about it. A new study by Øivind Tøien of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks sheds a little light on bear dens in winter, and it turns out what's going on with a bear's body is way more complex than just passing out. The results could even lead to innovations in medical treatment.
Five friends with minimal kayaking experience take five weeks to kayak from Vancouver, B.C., to Alaska, stoking wanderlust dreams for everyday Adventure Joes and Janes everywhere
The President talks about preserving wild lands, getting kids outside, and Teddy RooseveltWhile Obama's track record on wilderness is mixed (let's face it—he's had a pretty full plate), he's regularly expressed his intentions to keep it top-of-mind in his administration. To wit: He gave a press conference on Wednesday covering nature preservation, getting kids outside, and the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt. Watch:
SI takes athlete models to Canada's marquee national parkThis year, Sports Illustrated skipped the sandy beaches and palm trees in favor of Doug firs, glaciers, and 10,000-foot peaks. The magazine chose to shoot three athlete models in Banff National Park, Canada. Read Full Story...
Northwest Editor Mike Lanza explores the country's cross-country skiing capitolThe groomed white track tilts sharply upward and continues for a discouragingly long stretch before disappearing around another bend in the lodgepole pine forest. Climbing this relentless hill on my skate-skis, my heart wails loudly enough to scare off birds, while alarming sounds and fluids spew from my mouth. I feel like I’m locked in mortal combat against gravity and the battle isn’t going so well for me right now.
Gear editor Kristin Hostetter is working on a new book and she wants your dirty, broken gear to fix up.Our gear editor, Kristin Hostetter, has a book project in the works. It will be an all-inclusive gear repair manual, with step-by-step photos on how to fix everything. And we mean everything—including packs, tents, boots, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, shells, base layers, fleece, puffy jackets, cookware, stoves, water treatment devices, trekking poles, outdoor electronics, and hydration systems.
Jackson Hole judge sentences guide to two days in jail, a fine, and community service for pepper-spraying a captive black bearAnimal lovers, get ready for your blood to boil: Back in October, 27-year-old Jackson Hole hunting, fishing, and float trip guide Tyler Steele emptied a can of pepper spray on a 177-lb. male black bear caught in a culvert trap. Grand Teton NP officials placed the trap to capture the bear after it had been investigating nearby cabins and a lodge.
Amateur filmmakers capture raw power of January flood on Oregon's Sandy RiverOn January 16, Tyler Malay and Alexandra Erickson were around to capture Oregon's Sandy River as it filled with rainwater, overflowed its banks, and washed away roads, houses, and trees. The result is a mesmerizing short film that captures how tame rivers can become uncontrollable monsters when they collude with a powerful raincloud. Check it:
Final words on the luxury side of winter
Quinzhees and Igloos
Should you use 'em? How to make 'em.
Moonrise over Raimondi Glacier, Huascaran, Peru. Pic: howephoto.us
Sooner or later, most winter campers end up sleeping in shelters dug out of, or sawed into, the snow. Tree-wells, snow trenches, snow caves, quinzhees, and igloos can be secure to live in and fun to make. But snow shelters aren't for everyone or every trip. Read on to learn the fortes, foibles, and a few tips about making and living in various snow shelters. Here's we'll start with the simple stuff, then deal with igloos and such in my next dispatch.
First off: Snow shelters versus tents
Tents Pro: They're quick and easy to pitch. You can put them anywhere that's flat, dug out or packed down. Good ones can stand up to most any weather.
Tents Con: They’re cold in subzero conditions, noisy in wind, and heavy. Four-season two-person tents usually weigh 6 to 9 pounds once they're rigged with guys, stake-out loops, or deadman anchors.
Snow Shelters Pro: They're secure in wind and quiet in noisy environments. Even in frigid weather, caves, quinzees and igloos are very warm (usually just above freezing inside). They're fun to build and rewarding to live in. They can save your life in an emergency. The can make great base camps and wilderness ‘forts’ for repeat visits.
Snow Shelters Con: You need waterproof shell clothing, spare mitts or gloves, a shovel, or a snow saw to make them, so figure those items into your ‘ultralight’ shelter weight. They can be slow to build, and you can get soaked doing it. The insides are humid and steamy, so you need water resistant gear. Be very careful cooking in a snow shelter, it’s easy to get carbon monoxide poisoning. Last but not least, you need the right snow conditions.
The upshot: Be careful of relying on snow shelters for committing thru-hikes, where you might not find suitable conditions, or have the time to erect one each evening. Always take along emergency shelter, like a tarp or tarp tent. That said, here are your snow shelter choices, from simple to elaborate.Tree well pits: In decent weather or moderate storms, a pit dug into the ‘tree well’ beneath any large evergreen might be all the shelter you need. The overhanging branches provide a shield from spindrift and the chilling effects of open sky, while the snow walls protect you from wind. In ideal conditions, you can shovel the snow walls high enough that they support the tree’s lower branches, forming a completely enclosed space.
In which we take a short break for some archeology
It's a big step. Here's how to do it right.Happy Groundhog Day campers! Time to pull the trigger on your first winter camp-out. In the previous three posts, we’ve reviewed general tips, gearing up, and planning. Now it’s time to ‘do.’
Plan right and you're bound for the best winter camping experience possible.
Gearing Up for Your First Winter Overnight
Our Rocky Mountain Editor drops some wisdom and gets you inspired in this beginner's guide.
Igloo at 14,200-foot camp, Denali, Alaska pic: howephoto.us
It’s that time of year again, time to think about winter camping. And why was I not posting this in December or early January, you ask?That’s easy! Because the dark winter solstice sucks even for Eskimos, and in most regions there wasn’t enough fluff to give the snow-dusted look that makes winter attractive. Let's face it, darkness and brown forests do not pluck the heartstrings unless you’ve got a really, really bleak psyche. Besides, there were Christmas leftovers to eat.
Now we’re rapidly approaching the cusp of February, when celebrity rodent Puxatawny Phil, like myself, traditionally sticks his nose out of the hole. Shadow or not, I’m not going back down that tunnel. My burrow’s getting skanky and I could use some fresh air. I suspect you could too.
So, here are my recommendations for those readers who've been wondering about winter camping, along with some motivational tips for old hands trying to polish their Inuit/Yupik cred. I’m breaking this into six dispatches to offer more detail and give y’all the tools to actually do this, rather than just offering the usual internet fluff-up. First off…
Planning and shakedown:
Make this fun: Choose your trip wisely. Spend some time thinking about where you’d like to go. Use this time for motivation, fantasy, and good planning. You won’t have to get all punch-it-into-the-hinterlands misanthropic, because five-star spots that are a zoo in summer are deserted in winter. Pick a beautiful, sheltered destination that doesn’t involve steep avalanche-prone hillsides, or ice-choked stream crossings, and isn’t far from retreat.
A video exploration of the link between skill and survival valueYes campers, there are valuable lessons on survival here (along with a few understandable expletives) but I'm still trying to process it all. First the schadenfreude. Then the inspiration. Enjoy your MLK weekend! We'll get serious in the next post. --sh
Too many cameras and not enough food: Change that.
Hey Campers: Normally I’m not a cause-oriented guy and this isn’t a cause-oriented blog. But we do cover Survival, and right now that’s a very relevant subject considering the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. This disaster that hits close to home - about 600 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, to be exact.
Haiti certainly didn't need this. It's a country already ravaged by poverty and corrupt dictators, where the poorest often eat mud cookies because they can’t even afford staples like rice or corn. You'll be hearing tons about this situation from the media, but it's the same old problem: As the old Police song "Driven to Tears" goes: "Too many cameras and not enough food."
The scale of this disaster makes the problem of logistics overwhelming, triage in it's most pressing form. Right now the biggest needs are for rescue personnel to extract victims from the rubble, medical personnel to help the injured, transportation to get those resources to the island, and money to pay for those operations.
People are being asked NOT to send donations of food or clothing that would arrive too late and merely end up in piles that needed sorting. Later there might be need, and a pipeline, for all that, but not now.
Like any freelance writer, I live month to month, and assignment to assignment, but I just donated $100, roughly the price of a pair of high-end sunglasses, or a weekend of lift tickets at a ski resort. I challenge you readers to do likewise. My money went to Doctors Without Borders.
Below is a short list of aid organizations that have experience and personnel on the ground in Haiti, and have a proven track record for effective use of donations. Give what you can, and if you or someone you know has the skills and experience to make a difference in this situation, inquire as to how you or they might effectively volunteer. The effects of this disaster aren’t going to go away soon. Thanks for your time. – Steve Howe
all natural ski and snowbaord wax won't polluteThere are more than 11.5 million skiers and snowboarders in the U.S., myself included. All of us who ski and ride have wax on our skis for the best glide on snow, and many of us rewax periodically throughout the season as our wax wears off. Where, might you ask does it go? As you ski, the snow gradually rubs off your wax. As that snow melts, the runoff, and your old wax, flows into the nearest mountain stream. Read Full Story...
freak event or new hazard of global warming?TMPL_VAR MEDIA_FILES.USE.22742 In the midst of heavy rains in central Australia two weeks ago, fish fell from the ski in an Australian community located hundreds of kilometers from large lakes (Lake Argyle and Lake Elliott) and even further from the coast. According to eye witnesses, hundreds and hundreds of small white spangled perch dropped out of the sky two weeks ago in the community of Lajamanu, about 550km southwest of Katherine, Australia, according to The Northern Territory News reports. Read Full Story...
Here's what to doLast weekend a couple of friends were ice climbing in Vermont's Smuggler's Notch near Mt. Mansfield and they were benighted. When they returned to their car their window had been smashed, and one of the climbers wallet had been stolen from the glove compartment. Any way you slice it, getting your wallet stolen sucks. But there are steps you can take pre-theft to protect yourself and make the process of dealing with it easier.
worlds best ice cream subs in fair trade ingredients wherever they are available across flavorsThough I may get some flack from my editors for writing about Ben & Jerry's as backpacking food, I think it's a legit claim based on my personal consumption of the stuff post hike. Not to mention that I know backpackers who are passionate enough about Ben & Jerry's that they've packed it into camp on dry ice for the ultimate treat at the end of a long, hot hike. So, now that it's settled that Ben & Jerry's can be considered backpacking food (not to mention ski racing food--the newest flavor is named after Hannah Teter--Maple Blondie), I am pleased to announce that by the end of 2013, from Cherry Garcia to Chocolate Fudge Brownie, all of the flavors in all of the countries where Ben & Jerry’s is sold will be converted to Fair Trade Certified ingredients. Read Full Story...
cutlery from a renewable resourceMetal utensils scratch non-stick pots, and I find plastic melts around the fourth piece of french toast I'm flipping. But bamboo won't rip up non-stick pots, and unless you actually light it on fire, it'll flip your french toast, stir your spaghetti, and spoon cereal into your mouth for as many days on the trail as you can muster.
new study shows that higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere makes trees grow fasterForests in the eastern United States seem to be on steroids. They're growing faster in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, two to four times faster according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It won't be long-term sustainable according to one of the study's authors, Dr. Geoffery G. Parker. Eventually growth will outpace availability of water and nutrients, said Parker in an interview with the New York Times.
A 100% recycled, waterproof breathable four-season shell.Whenever the topic of green gear comes up, some company will inevitably claim that they haven't gone green because they're not willing to sacrifice performance. With the Cyclone Eco, Sierra Designs proves that you don't have to. Read Full Story...
the first outdoor industry end of life cycle recycling program that takes back everythingToday, GoLite launches its m its Take Back program. The Company is now take back anything it's ever made since its first production run in 1998. It's part of the company's commitment to keep its gear out of landfills and to help educate its customers on how to extend the life of their gear. On the I'm Not Trash page of GoLite's website, you'll find tips on giving your gear a long life and a second life, from repairing it to donating or selling it, to repurposing it. No time or no inclination? You can also now send the GoLite gear you're done with back to GoLite, and GoLite will donate, reuse, repurpose, or recycle it. If GoLite can't figure out how to recycle or reuse a part of an old pack or bag, it will store it until the company finds a use/solution. What's in it for you? Read Full Story...
reusable hand warmers reduce wasteLike many women, my hands get really cold in winter. I often carry hand warmers with me, but I am hesitant to use them except in the most dire situations for a couple of reasons. First, once open they are basically instant trash; and second, cracking open a disposable handwarmer feels like throwing money out the window.
a new take on public transportationThe town of Telluride Colorado has taken an interesting approach to the conundrum of public transportation to connect the town of Telluride with Telluride Mountain Village, the base of the resort, and home to many restaurants and shops. It built a public gondola connecting the two villages (actually there are three gondolas, including one that stops at a free public parking garage) that run from 7AM to midnight, and that anyone can take for free. The gondola is open 275 days each year during peak seasons. When the Gondola is not in operation, public buses transport people between the town and the village. They provide noise and air pollution-free travel with a view. Gondola towers are low profile, which keep them operational on windy days, and which keeps them out of sight and doesn't interfere with mountain views.