We've seen solar panels, battery packs, and kits in all shapes, sizes, and prices. Usually the completly contained units are not large enough to power more than your phone, or they're too cumbersome to truly be considered 'portable'.Read More
As an Explorer of all things cold & steep, skiing & riding Lake Tahoe has always been high on my bucket list.Last week the Williams family got to check that one off at Heavenly Mountain Resort.Read More
Looking for something a little more amazing than your local MTB track this summer? Why not ride from Durango, CO to Moab, UT?Read More
About 5 years ago a few of us brainstormed during a backpacking trip to discuss an online adventure blog & magazine, which is how Adventure Insider was born. Today we're announcing a few changes to AI, some of which are pretty signifcant. Erick Pound, the driving force and founder of this little project is stepping down from day-to-day operation of the website and magazine, mainly due to a deployment with the military that will have him out of the country for the next few months.
The crew over at Elevation Outdoors put together a killer guide to Colorado resorts, just in time for season to start. They tracked down locals to spill the beans on how to experience each resort like an insider. We'll be working on a few of these tips this winter :) Read the full article here.
You are probably aware of the fire that has caused havoc on Colorado Springs, Colorado the past two weeks or so. According to National Forest officials, the source of the fire has been identified the cause is still under investigation. The Waldo Canyon Fire, as it has become known follows a string of deliberately set fires in the area so it probably will come as no surprise if the fire is determined to be caused intentionally. At it's peak more that 35,000 residents have been displaced and just shy of 350 homes destroyed. Many Adventure Insider contributors and friends were evacuated and rumblings of a few that lost their homes are abound. They are all safe at this time, something we are very grateful for. One photographer created a well put together time lapse of the fire nearly from it's birth. Watch in HD and be humbled by fire's destructive beauty.
Perfect day for learning to surf in Bondi Beach, Australia
The first mistake that people make who are new to the sport of surfing is attempting to buy a board way too small. As a surf shop manager, I have seen it happen time and time again. If you plan on getting into the sport (and you should!), it is wise to invest in a well built surfboard. Renting a board on a regular basis can get pricey very quickly, and it is good to have a consistency in a board while learning how to handle it in the water. If this is your first go at the sport, do not be fooled by watching experienced surfers, and then thinking it is easy. It takes time, commitment and the right gear. Size Matters A board under 6'6 is not conducive to learning how to surf. As a beginner, I suggest a board that is at least 7 foot tall, around 20 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches thick. When maneuvering yourself through the surf, buoyancy is your best friend. It provides more floatation for paddling and a more stable platform while standing up and riding. If you have a smaller board, you will be more submerged in the water, and therefore your paddling efficiency will be lost. Something that you cannot afford to lose. As a general rule, I would recommend a board between 7 feet to 8 feet long. Material While learning the sport, you will undoubtedly bang your board up a bit. I suggest purchasing a used board. They are less expensive and work just the same. Surfboards are made with several materials. The newest and most durable technologies are the tuflite/PVC materials. It is a bit less expensive to produce, more durable and lighter weight. This is a great combo for a first time buyer. However, the size and shape is more important. Go with what fits your budget, but get the right size. Where to buy Its always good to support your local shop. If they have attitude then leave, or ask for someone else. Retailers should be helpful and kind. They usually offer a decent selection of used boards, but the mid length (7-8 feet) often sell quickly. Don't be shy and stop by often to see whats in stock, as it changes nearly every day in the summer time. Post any questions you have on our Facebook wall; we'd be happy to answer. Good luck and have fun!
A couple years ago I spent a few days backpacking in Shenandoah National Park. I came away with rather mixed emotions on the park and the national park system in general. First let’s talk about the good. I was fortunate enough to visit Shenandoah in the fall and the colors of the foliage were simply amazing. Shenandoah has a nice feature on their website that lists backpacking trips by experience level and nights spent on trail (found here: http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/campbc_trip_plans.htm). However, make sure you find a trip and print out the PDF to take along with you. The ranger I dealt with at the visitors center wasn’t as much help as I would have preferred but none the less I managed to find a trip that seemed interesting and walked out of the ranger station with a back-country permit. I also applaud Shenandoah for allowing dogs on most of their trails. Other parks should take notice.
Skyline Drive, Shenandoah NP
So what’s not to like? There are over 500 miles of trails in a park that, although is about 70 miles north to south only measures about 7.5 miles wide. That leads to a network of trails where the word back-country becomes a bit of a misnomer. If you are looking for true solitude Shenandoah may not be the best place. In fact looking outside of the National Park system altogether may be the best bet. I prefer to use my miles to put distance between myself and others. In Shenandoah, however doing loops just for the sake of making miles seems to be the name of the game. Now comes the real kicker. Apparently Shenandoah has received a sizable chunk of money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus bill passed during the recession) and is putting that money into Skyline Drive (the road that runs the 70 miles from end to end) and refurbishing their overlooks. While that sounds all well and good it of course comes at a price, in addition to the money. Traffic, delays, and the noise can be heard even after being on trail for days. But those are just inconveniences. The real question is that of the sustainability of what I have taken to calling the ‘development in the name of conservation’ policy. Does it make sense to find a place you want to protect and build a road right down the middle of it sprinkled with tourist shops where you can buy silly t-shirts, hamburgers and refuel your RV? If we really care about conserving the wilderness areas for future generations than we should put effort into saving them from development, not going out of our way to develop them. There are plenty of beautiful miles you can drive your RV and stop for a hot dog on your whirlwind tour of postcard worthy photos, the National Parks shouldn’t be one of them. If you are planning on heading to Shenandoah check out The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (http://www.patc.net) publishes great topographical maps of the area that you may find very useful planning and during your trip.
We are pleased to announce the release of the Spring 2012 issue of Adventure Insider Magazine. In this issue you'll find an interesting article on seal hunting, tips on diving in Vancouver, BC, all the info you need for the North American Mountain Film Festivals in 2012, and much more! We hope you enjoy the Spring issue! Download the Spring Issue Here Check it out and let us know what you think.
In 1993, I was a second-year wilderness guide leading day trips on Admiralty Island for brown bear watching. Brown bears are the same bear as grizzlies. Many decades ago, a hunting club decided any grizzly living within approximately 100 miles of saltwater would be called a coastal brown bear, while the interior bears kept the name grizzly. For those not familiar, Admiralty Island holds claim to having the world’s highest concentration of brown bears, with a little more than one bear per square mile. This population of bears is higher than the total grizzly population of the lower 48 combined. Native Tlingit call the island “Kootsnoowoo”, which translates roughly to “fortress of the bear”. On a typical day we would fly in via floatplane from Juneau, pick up canoes at a cache, and paddle over to prime bear-watching areas. We would then spend the day taking advantage of prime sightings, photographing the bears up close and personal – often within 10-20 feet of multiple bears, sometimes dozens at a time. On this particular day I was to take two clients to an area known as Windfall Harbor. I obtained permits for this area as the rules of Admiralty Island, a National Monument, and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, are tightly regulated. An area known as Pack Creek was the normal part of the island for our entry point, but today was different. Pack Creek was full, with another guided group and several independent observers already drawing the spaces for viewing the bears. While Pack Creek is frequented by sows – female bears – and cubs that are habituated to human presence, Windfall Harbor is known to have larger, non-human habituated boars. This presented a new facet of guiding and directing my clients for safe bear viewing. I was going to have to bring out the skills learned from years in the field, and a training class known as “bear school” I had to undertake for my guiding privileges.
We loaded our gear into the De Havilland Otter in Juneau and flew to the canoe cache. After unloading and saying goodbye to our pilot and airplane, we watched the airborne “security-blanket” break the water’s surface and head east toward Juneau. We loaded out gear into the canoes and enjoyed a wonderful paddle over to Windfall Harbor, seeing harbor porpoise and dozens of eagles as we made our way through the calm, briny water. The weather was unseasonably hot, with temperatures approaching 85F degrees and blue skies; not exactly prime bear watching weather. Think of it this way, if you had a fur coat on, would you go out in 85F weather? Knowing that I had my work cut out for me, we began our search for the bruins. We found plenty of fresh tracks on some tidal flats, but no bears. Around lunchtime we decided to head over to the designated lunch area, set up by the rangers, where we had tied off our bear boxes containing our picnic lunch. After a jovial lunch filled with jokes, tall tales and flat out lies we decided to head back out to the tidal flats in hopes of sighting bears. My concern was mounting, however, as I know that these clients pay considerable amounts of money for the opportunity of a bear sighting and I feel obligated to do everything in my power to get make that happen. Shortly after lunch and back on the flats, one of the clients spotted what he thought were two bears in the distance, coming over a small knoll on the exposed tidal ground. Immediately my clients began assembling their gear and cameras. I focused my attention on the bears as they began coming toward us. Knowing that a bear’s eye-sight is very poor and thinking there was no chance they knew we were here, I told the clients to enjoy and get ready for the bears to get very close. As I continued to watch, the bears began to run towards us. As a guide, I had witnessed bear charges before, and knew that most of the charges are ‘false’ charges, where the bears charge to within ten or so feet of you and then stop, look at you and continue about their business. So I was alert and on guard, but not necessarily concerned as the bears started toward us. That all changed, however when the bears started bearing down at us at full tilt. Now, they were about 1000 feet away running full speed in our direction. At this point I told the clients to get to the treeline, and if possible, get up a tree. I also told them not to run. So, naturally, the clients ran. I turned towards the bears, and for the first and only time in a career that has now spanned almost 20 years, brought my shotgun into the ready position and advanced a round into the chamber. The bears were coming, I had five rounds in a shotgun and I knew I had little chance of stopping one bear with the weapon, let alone two. I remember distinctly thinking at this point, “I quit. I don’t want guide anymore.” I remember thinking about writing a letter of resignation. Still, here were the bears and I had no choice but to deal with this situation.
The bears stopped about 300 feet away. They stood there for several long, drawn out minutes and I was shaking but trying to hold my ground. As time passed I remember thinking that perhaps this was bluff charging after all, and that we would be fine. Then all hell broke loose. The bears started coming at me full tilt again. My internal voice told me this was different, this was not a bluff. Against all training and better judgment, I too turned and ran. I was about 60 feet from the treeline and I went for it. I could swear I covered the distance in three steps. I made it to the trees, and was about eight feet past the tree line where I found a small dogwood tree and tried feebly to hide behind it. It provided a psychological respite even though it would do no good against the bruins. The bears were now at the tree line but for some unknown reason they would not come into the trees. They did, however, show all the classic signs of aggression - popping jaws, flipping the hump, and pounding the ground. I was horrified. I also had to find my clients. I turned and looked into the trees, and there they were, each up their own small hardwood tree, rarities for the region. What snapped me out of my fear and into anger was seeing one of the clients taking pictures of the whole affair. I was incensed by the thought of them profiting from photos of my impending, gruesome death by bruin. I barked at them to listen to me and proceeded to give instructions of what we would do when, or if, the bears left the area. We waited five or so minutes, an eternity in a situation like this, and I then had to go out onto the tidal flats to see if they were still there. I summoned all my courage and went. The bears were gone, I instructed the clients to come down. We made it to the canoes, paddled over to the rendezvous spot, and waited for the floatplane to take us back to the urban safety of Juneau. Back in Juneau we parted ways. I had paperwork to fill out and an extensive debriefing to go through, but we arranged to meet at the Red Dog Saloon that evening. When I met them later they already developed the film, this being pre-digital days. They gave me a set of the prints, which to this day are some of the most cherished pictures and possessions I own. Having a visual record of this bear charge is a gift. One of the clients then gave me three crisp, fresh, hundred-dollar bills and a business card. It turned out he was the manager of a very upscale hotel in New York City I was told to give him a call if I was ever in New York. A year later I was flying back from Turkey through New York City and called him. I ended up being put up in the hotel and had a grand time. When I was brought into his office, he proudly displayed the picture of the two of us, after the encounter. Not a bad finish truly remarkable adventure. Eric Cedric is a former mountain guide and expedition leader with 20 years of professional experience. Cedric has worked on Denali, Elbrus and a handful of Himalayan peaks. In addition, Cedric is a private pilot and professional environmental and conservation writer. Cedric splits his time each year between the Adirondack Mountains, Southern California and Costa Rica.
We are pleased to announce the release of the winter issue of Adventure Insider Magazine. You have two options to get a copy. 1) Download a copy 2) Buy a print copy from MagCloud In this issue you'll find our (admittedly last minute) holiday gift guide, a story of a wilderness guide who had a brush with a large bear, our mountaineering boot and crampon buyer's guide, and a photo essay of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. In addition you'll find out standard sections: canine corner and exposed. Check it out and let us know what you think.