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Daily Dirt

More John Muir on PBS

American Masters takes a look at the icon in "John Muir in The New World

Didn'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.

Check out this preview: Read Full Story...
Thursday, February 24, 2011 in: News and Events
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Grand Canyon Uranium Mining?

Public comment period opens for BLM proposals to allow mining near the Grand Canyon

Well, 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.

Mining companies quite obviously want to re-open mining opportunities; everyone with even the slightest respect for the Big Ditch understands the massive environmental dangers of harvesting radioactive material near the greatest canyon in the world. Want to join the fight? Read Full Story...
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living
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The Science of Bear Hibernation

Scientists monitor hibernating black bears to look for solutions that could benefit humans

It'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.

Tøien and his team took five Alaskan problem black bears and provided them with artificial dens far into the woods—so far Tøien had to ski out to collect the data. The bears were fitted with sensors to capture temperature and heart rate, and researchers outfitted dens with infrared cameras and other sensors to monitor the bears' movement, oxygen consumption, and even their snoring. (Watch it here.) Read Full Story...
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 in: News and Events, Nature and Wildlife
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Five Friends, Five Weeks: Paddling From Vancouver to Alaska

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

No Experience Required_Full HQ from StuntBeaver Productions on Vimeo.

Five Canadian friends decided to make a small dream come true and kayak from Vancouver to Alaska in one five-week push—never mind that only one of them had much kayaking experience. They succeeded—and they made this cute short film. It's in need of some editing, but it's still great fodder for stoking your summer-adventure dream machine, and making it real.

Besides, we can think of way worse things to do in a kayak with no experience.

—Ted Alvarez

via The Goat
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 in: Destinations, News and Events, Weird and Funny
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Video: Obama On Outdoors Initiative

The President talks about preserving wild lands, getting kids outside, and Teddy Roosevelt

While 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:

Maybe BACKPACKER can introduce Obama next time? I mean, if REI can do it...

—Ted Alvarez via The Goat

Read Full Story...
Friday, February 18, 2011 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living
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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: Banff Edition

SI takes athlete models to Canada's marquee national park

This 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...
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 in: News and Events, Weird and Funny
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Finding Nordic Nirvana in Sun Valley, Idaho

Northwest Editor Mike Lanza explores the country's cross-country skiing capitol

The 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.

But I finally crest the hilltop and stop in an open meadow buried in deep snow. A view that’s become familiar over the years—and never less than exhilarating—spreads out before me. Central Idaho’s forested Wood River Valley, dappled with fields of white, meanders south for as far as I can see, and then some. Two long ramparts of jagged, snowy, 10,000-foot peaks frame the scene, the Boulder Mountains on the left and the Smoky Mountains on the right.

Every time I see this valley, I wonder how it can be that I don’t get out here more in winter. Little wonder this place has become one of the West’s skiing meccas. Read Full Story...
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 in: Destinations, News and Events
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Got Busted Gear?

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.

Read Full Story...
Monday, February 14, 2011 in: Gear
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Spray A Captive Bear, Go To Jail

Jackson Hole judge sentences guide to two days in jail, a fine, and community service for pepper-spraying a captive black bear

Animal 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.

But his crime didn't go unpunished: Federal Magistrate Jim Lubing accepted Steele’s guilty plea to animal cruelty and sentenced him to two days in jail, two years of unsupervised probation, 40 hours of animal-related community service and a $750 fine, and $250 in restitution to the Grand Teton National Park Wildlife Fund.
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Monday, February 14, 2011 in: News and Events, Nature and Wildlife
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Nature: More Powerful Than You

Amateur filmmakers capture raw power of January flood on Oregon's Sandy River

On 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:

Sandy River Flood from alexandra erickson on Vimeo.

Read Full Story...
Friday, February 11, 2011 in: News and Events
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The Pulse

Beginner's Guide to Winter Camping, Part VII: Winter Luxury

Final words on the luxury side of winter

My backyard, Capitol Reef in winter. pic:

Alright readers. Here’s my last winter camping post. I’ll keep it short since I suspect you’re all burned out on winter camping tech for the moment. This time, it’s about the luxuries:

--Hot water bottles: It bears repeating: For winter camping, these are the greatest invention EVER! By simply boiling a liter of water, filling a strong, solidly capped bottle, and burying it as close to your body as you can stand, you’ll stay warm sitting around in the harshest conditions. Put one in your jacket for sitting around the evening kitchen. Stick one in the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your toes warm and save the weight of booties.  Hold one in your hands to re-warm frozen fingers. And if it’s hot tea or chocolate, just wait until it’s cool enough, then drink it.

--Vapor Barrier Liners (called VBLs), are thin sleeping bag liners, or clothing items, made of light but tough waterproof nylon. You usually find VBLs used as liner socks and sleeping bag liners (pulled up to armpit level). Occasionally you see VBL vests or shirts, but they’re much rarer because few people can tolerate humidity and sweat build-up in their torso. The idea behind VBLs is to prevent evaporative cooling that happens when you produce warm sweat that later chills. VBLs also keep your insulated items like boots, jackets and sleeping bags from building up moisture inside their layers that can compromise their effectiveness. In ultra-dry polar environments, VBLs help prevent water loss and dehydration by slowing evaporation off the skin. Read Full Story...
Friday, February 19, 2010 in: Survival, Tips & skills
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Beginners Guide to Winter Camping, Part VI: Advanced Snow Shelters

Quinzhees and Igloos

Alright campers! Just in time for your weekend practice, here’s my penultimate installment to the Beginner’s Guide to Winter Camping: Advanced Snow Shelters – meaning quinzhees and igloos.

By ‘advanced’ I mean they take some practice to build correctly. It's probable that your first attempt will not end up in a usable campsite, but your second attempt probably will. This isn’t rocket science, and once you waste some effort on a failed shelter, you’ll definitely remember mistakes the second time around. But snow shelters are often worth the trouble, especially in subzero conditions, where they're much warmer than a four-season tent. Since imitation is the easiest form of learning, I’m hyperlinking to some great footage of quinzhee and igloo building – including the classic 1922 documentary Nanook of the North, one of the milestones of in-the-field  filmmaking history.

Quinzhee is an Athabaskan native term for a hollowed out mound of snow, kind of like a beginner’s igloo. They work great for areas where the snow is fairly shallow, or isn’t firm enough to make blocks. This is because you can gather loose snow from wide areas, and once it’s been shoveled, piled and packed, and allowed to set up, powder snow hardens through a process called sintering. The downside is that quinzhees are twice the effort of a snowcave simply because first you have to dig and pile. Then you have to hollow it out. It takes two people about 3 or 4 hours to build a quinzhee, which makes them better for multi-night camps than travel-thru overnight use.

First, find a spot where you know the underlying ground is flat, mark out a circle, and pack it down hard or dig it to ground level. Then shovel snow onto the circle to form a pile about six feet high and 10 feet wide, packing each layer down a bit as you go. Once you’ve gotten the pile big enough, put small sticks into the snow mound, shoving them to a one-foot depth. Let the snow harden for at least an hour, and then begin digging out the pile, using the sticks as a guide to make the snow walls thin (and hence safer if they collapse) while also keeping them thick enough to stay up. You should be able to see some light through the walls, since snow is fairly translucent. Read Full Story...
Friday, February 12, 2010 in: Survival, Skills & tips
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Beginner's Guide to Winter Camping Part V: Simple Snow Shelters

Should you use 'em? How to make 'em.

  Moonrise over Raimondi Glacier, Huascaran, Peru. Pic:

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.
Read Full Story...
Tuesday, February 09, 2010 in: Survival, Tips & skills
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The Not-So-Swiss Army Knife

In which we take a short break for some archeology

photo: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Whoa! Paradigm shift here! Usually archeology is rather, well, stuffy - just ultra-repetitive History Channel shows about mummies and flint spearheads, dressed up with flashier graphics year after year. Yeah, we get it. The ancients didn't have steel and they wanted to preserve dead bodies. Yawn. But occasionally these tidbits have relevancy to modern life - and in this case, backpacking.

You all know the Swiss Army Knife, that iconic piece of little red cutlery, precursor to the much vaunted multi-tool. It's been around since 1897. Genius before it's time, no doubt. But it turns out the Romans had the same idea at least 18 centuries earlier.
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Tuesday, February 02, 2010 in: Survival, Funny/humor
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Beginner's Guide to Winter Camping Part IV: Taking Your First Winter Overnight

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.’

For your first winter camp-out, keep things simple. EZ routefinding. No long access. Don’t turn this into a macho thing. On the contrary, your goal should be to make it as comfortable and luxurious as possible. Just learn to live in, and enjoy, the winter season. Then, once you’ve dipped your toes in the snow, we’ll review some fine points for your next invernal adventure. So get ready. Winter awaits.
                                               February in Bryce Canyon. Pic:

Fresh Info:
Check the weather and conditions again before leaving. You need the latest updates. Refer to our last post for weather information resources.

Double check your stuff
: Make sure you’ve got your maps, compass, a copy of your itinerary for a trusted friend, Bic lighters, fuel, sunglasses and sunscreen - All the little stuff, as well as the big. If you’re heading for deep snow country, bring along a small piece of plywood or cardboard to set your stove on. Check your stuff, pack your stuff, then double-check it. Trust me here. Don’t scrimp on this last minute review. I once forgot the fuel bottle for a three-day ski mountaineering trip. We made do with campfires, but the smoke-flavored water we melted was almost as nasty as the abuse my two companions rightly heaped upon me. Read Full Story...
Monday, February 01, 2010 in: Survival, Tips & skills
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Beginner's Guide to Winter Camping, Part III: Planning Your First Winter Camp-out

Plan right and you're bound for the best winter camping experience possible.

        High Camp, 17,200 feet, Denali, Alaska.  pic:

Smart backpacking always involves planning, and in winter this becomes doubly important simply because cold temperatures are less forgiving of mistakes than most summer environments (outside of Death Valley, anyway).  In fact, winter is an excellent time to get into the habit of good trip planning, and organize your information resources so you can carry those safe habits into summer. So, class, in preparing for your first winter camping trip, here are your assignments. Suggestions in the comments section below get extra credit:

Pick your area: Choose a destination you’re familiar with, or at least one where trailhead access is simple and routefinding is straightforward. Stay close in to trailhead, you don’t need to go any farther than required for solitude, quiet, and land management regulations. If you need exercise, you can always explore around camp. If you really want a longer trip
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 in: Survival, Skills & tips
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Beginner's Guide to Winter Camping, Part II

Gearing Up for Your First Winter Overnight


We humans, Desmond Morris’s “naked apes”,  are not engineered to live in the elements without clothing and shelter. This goes double in cold weather. We need gear, and without it we can’t last long in temps below about 50 Fahrenheit, much less sub-freezing conditions. Hence this point by point gear guide to staying toasty in the winter woods. Techniques (equally important) will be covered in a later installment.

Money Tips: Fair warning, winter gear can get expensive. But hey, life’s expensive. Everyone complains about the price of outdoor gear, but we also complain if it’s too heavy, or doesn’t have enough pockets, or doesn’t fit well, or isn’t made of space age materials - and especially if it doesn't keep us warm. You CAN save money on winter gear, but you have two choices: Go heavy or buy used. If price is a problem (and it always is) then rent the gear, hawk eBay for deals (there are lots), or carry heavier, bulkier, cheaper gear. If the ground’s flat and the snow’s firm, you can haul a sled to deal with the resulting weight and bulk.  Even a toy plastic sled will work if you rig the traces right and pack the weight low, and toward the back, but on steep or sidehill terrain, sled-hauling is a nightmare, and techno sleds that are suitable for this terrain are expensive in their own right.

Head:  Thanks to numerous small blood vessels close to the surface of your scalp, you can lose more than 50% of body heat through your head. For winter camping purposes, think of your head like the radiator on your car. Cover it, and your engine runs warm. Expose it, and the engine cools.  Strip the hat when you’re climbing hard up a steep hill, and when you’re sedentary in winter temperatures, keep your head covered. I usually carry a bandanna/sweatband or an ear-warmer headband to wear while I’m hard on the move. Then, during stops, I’ll don a thick wool hat with a synthetic liner. For hanging around in... Read Full Story...
Sunday, January 24, 2010 in: Survival, Skills & tips
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Beginner's Guide to Winter Camping; Part I: Get Outside! You Are Not a Groundhog!

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:

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.

Read Full Story...
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 in: Survival, Skills & tips
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Surviving is a strange and wonderful thing

A video exploration of the link between skill and survival value

Yes 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

via: Today's Big Thing. Read Full Story...
Saturday, January 16, 2010 in: Survival, Skills & tips
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Help Haitians Survive

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

Doctors Without Borders

Medicine for Peace


Hospital Albert Schweitzer

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Thursday, January 14, 2010 in: Survival, Skills & tips
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Green Scene

Green Scene Gear: Green Wax

all natural ski and snowbaord wax won't pollute

There 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...
Saturday, March 13, 2010 in: Environment and Green Living, Gear
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Fish Fall from the Sky in Australia

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...
Saturday, March 13, 2010 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living
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Stolen Wallet?

Here's what to do

Last 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.

Whether your wallet is lifted from you pack, your car or your's what to do before and after to lessen the impact: Read Full Story...
Saturday, February 27, 2010 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living
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Ben & Jerrys Embraces Fair Trade

worlds best ice cream subs in fair trade ingredients wherever they are available across flavors

Though 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...
Friday, February 26, 2010 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living
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Green Gear: Packit Gourmet Bamboo Mini Utensil Set

cutlery from a renewable resource

Metal 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.

Those are just some of the reasons that I love Packit Gourmet's Bamboo Mini Utensil Set.
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Friday, February 26, 2010 in: Environment and Green Living, Gear
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Trees on Steriods

new study shows that higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere makes trees grow faster

Forests 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.

Parker's research and his conclusions are based his monitoring of 55 stands of eastern hardwoods in Maryland over a 23 year period. His study indicates that the local forest is adapting to the rise in carbon dioxide (levels are 12% higher in that area than 22 years ago when Parker first started keeping track) by absorbing more CO2 and growing like a teenage boy on summer vacation--in other words, significantly faster. According to the Times, "Dr. Parker said he had ruled out all causes for the sustained nature of the recent growth except for warmer temperatures, a longer growing season and the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."
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Friday, February 26, 2010 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living
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Green Gear: Sierra Designs Cyclone Eco Jacket

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...
Monday, February 22, 2010 in: Environment and Green Living, Gear
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GoLite Announces Take Back Program

the first outdoor industry end of life cycle recycling program that takes back everything

Today, 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...
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living, Gear
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Green Scene Gear: Wonder Warmers

reusable hand warmers reduce waste

Like 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.

Wonder Warmers provide another option. These hand warmers are reusable, and contain non-toxic re-activatable ingredients (inside is a salt solution and a small steel disk). To activate the warmer, you click the disk back and forth a couple of times and the salt solution crystallizes releasing heat in the process. Once they're spent and you're home, you wrap the pouch in an old sock or some other piece of cloth and boil it for about 10 minutes or until the inside solution is totally clear and it's ready for reuse. Read Full Story...
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 in: Environment and Green Living, Gear
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Telluride's Gondolas

a new take on public transportation

The 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.

On the Gondola it takes about 12 minutes (with one no-wait transfer) to get from Telluride Mountain Village to the town of Telluride and visa versa--significantly faster than taking the bus. The gondola s funded by the Town of Mountain Village tax payers, and the Town of Mountain Village manages its daily operations. Check it out next time you are in Telluride. The skiing is worth the drive from Denver, or take a direct flight to Montrose, CO.

The long term plan: to connect Telluride with neighboring Silverton Mountain via gondola, though right now it seems more a dream than an imminent possibility

-Berne Broudy

Telluride. CO free public transportation is a gondola

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Monday, February 08, 2010 in: News and Events, Environment and Green Living
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