Just arrived in Buena Vista, CO. Awesome drive up, and as you’ll see, a dramatic look at the Crestone Group in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I’ll be north of there a ways in the Sawatch Range, but anyway, the view was spectacular.
The weather up here is great, and the forecast looks ideal for a climb up Mount Shavano’s east face on the Angel of Shavano couloir. This will be a climb up a snow route, which should be challenging and fun. Me and my climbing buddy will spend a day acclimating, then hit the mountain Wednesday. Stay tuned for updates and photos!
OK folks, here’s the deal: I’m going climbing next week, so the posts may be a bit more infrequent, depending on when and if I can get Internet access.
If I can get online, I hope to bring you some trip reports from the Sawatch Range in central Colorado. Going to try a couple of new things, so I’m hoping it all goes well. Stay tuned; could be some really cool stuff coming your way.
For those too unlucky get out into the countryside, here’s a couple book suggestions that will definitely prime the pump for adventure:
“A Man’s Life: Dispatches from Dangerous Places,” by Mark Jenkins. Jenkins is a frequent contributor for Outside magazine; he’s also a heck of a climber, mountaineer, biker and all-around adventurist. The book is a compilation of short narratives that describe epic climbs, surreal bike treks and adventures in places that none of us will ever get to see. What makes it cool is this guy is an excellent writer. So not only are his adventures gnarly, his descriptions of them are riveting. Definitely worth a read.
“A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush,” by Eric Newby. This is an older book, written in the 1950s when the British Empire was waning, but its subjects were still as adventurous as ever. Newby recounts his plan to leave behind his job in the UK, learn how to climb mountains in Wales, then set off to the Hindu Kush Mountains in Nuristan, a province in eastern Afghanistan. Fascinating to read his descriptions of the place, especially in light of our entanglements there now. Understated, humorous and very British. Still reading it now and really liking it.
Thanks to co-worker Robert Griffin for lending me these two books.
Until next time, see you all later!
It was Day 2 in a trek through the alpine forests of the Kit Carson National Forest. We’d gotten up a little late that morning for breakfast before heading out on the trail from Lost Lake to the summit of Wheeler Peak.
This was the first time for the group to be in this place, but I’d been here before. For most of them, every new bend in the trail and majestic vista created a new memory. My wife, Becca, was among the group and found countless flowers of various shades, all bright and healthy from a steady dose of daily rain the region had received all summer.
As we began hiking up toward the lip of a basin above us, tall pines obscured what I knew was on the other side. To everyone else, the expectation was probably more trail, more forest, more of what we’d hiked in for the past couple of days. But I knew better. I didn’t stop and tell them what was coming. Instead, I stayed quiet and let the landscape do the talking.
Once we cleared the lip and emerged form the trees, an immense amphitheater opened up before us. At the basin was a crescent-shaped body of water called Horseshoe Lake. On three sides were the vertical walls of Wheeler Peak’s immense summit ridge. And to our right was a grand overlook of the surrounding mountains and forest below.
Words and pictures don’t do it justice. Wheeler Peak is New Mexico’s tallest mountain. It is not hard to climb; there are certainly plenty of mountains in the Sangre de Cristo Range that are much more difficult. But its views from the lake are among the most grand in the Rockies.
I think about that day often and can only hope the rest of the group had the same appreciation for what they saw. The only way to find out was to take them there and let them see such wild places for themselves. The hope is that being there and soaking it all in will give people a new appreciation for the country’s wilderness areas.
It was — and still is — an eye-opener to me. Anything from the grandeur of the scenery to little things — like bighorn sheep nonchalantly walking through our campsite — make for an experience you don’t find in the manicured environs of the suburbs and the nightlife of the city’s entertainment district.
So I guess what I’m saying is this: If you love nature, take some friends out there and share the love. And if you haven’t seen the wilderness yourself, get out there and feel the love.
So I watched last night’s episode of “Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment” with anticipation, as it was the season finale. Five volunteers left, trekking their way through the wilds of southern Alaska, trying to find their way back to civilization while following a map to shelters given to them by the show’s producers. I’ve enjoyed the show, as it demonstrates how hard it is to stay alive when you have to survive in a wild place with nothing but your wits and what you’re carrying on your back. The experiment started with nine people, which quickly got whittled down to five. Some of the highlights from the finale:
(SPOILER ALERT, READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT)
- Carolyn Yamazaki calls it quits. Unfortunate, as she was an interesting cast member who came so close to finishing. But I understand her reasoning. She said that she got to the point where she just didn’t care about anything related to the challenge anymore and wanted to leave. Such apathy toward the goal was definitely a sign of depression, IMHO. It’s a shame, though. She came so close.
- Producers messing with the cast. I love the fact that with the group totally worn down, they were presented with a lousy shelter and assigned their longest, steepest and coldest trek of the experiment… just before they’d reach their first sign of civilization. I loved this. Enjoyably cruel. But the volunteers looked like they were ready to tackle it. Kudos to them.
- Finding the railroad and getting a ride back to civilization. This is the one part of the show I did not enjoy just because it seemed a little too staged. Reality shows have a lot of staged scenes, for sure, and it was no accident that the producers would take the group right by the train tracks. But the train showing up, dragging just a couple cars, stopping and taking them to Talkeetna… where their families were waiting… was just a little too cheesy for me. It seems having them actually use the tracks to get somewhere where they could hitch a ride would be a little more authentic to the spirit of the show.
Overall, good series. They took a different tack than last season. Both, I felt, were good formats. Here’s hoping for a third season and a new casting call for hardy, adventurous souls.
- Bob Doucette
Somewhere between six and seven months ago, a group of Shawnee gals got this crazy idea. Needing some motivation to get off the couch and into the gym, they decided to enter a triathlon.
This past weekend, that group — the Red Dirt Divas — saw six months of hard training come to fruition in Austin, Texas, at the Danskin Sherox Sprint Triathlon. This was a pretty amazing event, and for the women who were able to compete, an incredible achievement. With the exception of a few, none of them had ever done a triathlon. Few had any real experience in competitive swimming (or swimming any sort of distance, for that matter).
First, let me give you some background about the event. It takes place at a lake in east Austin. The competition includes an 800-meter swim, a 12-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile (5k) run. The swim is in the lake while the bike ride is on a hilly course with few flat stretches. The run is mostly on a trail. This particular event is for women only.
Most people participated for the sake of completing it or possibly improving times from past competitions. A select few were out to win their age groups or, in the most elite classes, with the thing outright. A lot of groups just like the Divas entered and competed together. Women of all ages, physiques, shapes and sizes crossed the finish line.
As for the Red Dirt Divas: They’re an eclectic mix of endurance athletes, former athletes and first-time athletes. The group expanded to include team members from Tulsa and some other areas of the state. One team member won her age group. The rest finished the course in times ranging from two hours to two hours and 49 minutes. Their theme for the event was “Tri Baby Try.”
They overcame a lot. The open water swim spooked a few of the ladies. Injuries, illnesses, crises of life and other obstacles confronted them. A nasty stomach virus did sideline two team members (they vow to compete in a future triathlon), but those who were able to participate all finished.
I’m proud to say my wife, Becca, was one of those who embarked on this journey and saw it through. I think she’s hooked. Moreover, she’s rediscovered a love for biking and swimming that is likely to contribute to a new and lasting active lifestyle based on outdoor sports. I couldn’t be more proud! And the same could be said for other husbands who traveled to Austin to support their wives.
I got a lot out of this, but or the purpose of this blog, I’ll just say this: Go out and try something new. Challenge yourself. Do what the Divas did: Get off the couch, get outside and push the limits of what your think you can do. You may end up discovering something new about yourself and what you can accomplish.
When you’re looking for a job or heading out on the town, there’s a saying: Dress for success. Surely you didn’t head into your last job interview wearing cutoffs and a wife-beater undershirt, right?
As funny as that imagery is, there is a serious side to this when it comes to backpacking. Clothing is a serious issue.
It’s not a question of looks, labels or anything of the sort. But it does concern, at the very least, comfort. And in some cases, survival.
Taking a day hike in a state park wearing jeans and a T-shirt is probably no big deal. But if the environment in which you’re going is going to get cold and/or wet, you have to rethink what you’re wearing. So here’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.
If you expect cooler temperatures or temperature fluctuations, think twice about wearing and bringing cotton. That includes most T-shirts, denim and cotton socks. Cotton absorbs a lot of water and it takes a long time to dry out. Working up a sweat during the day, for example, could leave you pretty damp. At night, that soaked shirt suddenly becomes ice cold and stays that way. Same for any cotton socks or pants. Hypothermia danger suddenly becomes a real danger.
Cotton socks are doubly bad in this respect: By trapping moisture from sweat, they can cause major blisters on long treks. Blister can cause a lot of discomfort and, if they burst, there is a risk of infection.
Instead, choose moisture-wicking undershirts and synthetic fiber fleece pullovers and pants. If possible, find moisture resistant pants and bring some sort of rain gear (preferably something that’s breathable to prevent excess sweating). Staying dry is a good way to regulate your body temperature and make your trip more enjoyable and, in extreme circumstances, survivable.
It’s nice to bring along some sort of hat to protect your face from sunburn or, in cooler climes, a wool hat to keep your head warm. Your body loses a lot of heat through your head.
Footwear depends on the ruggedness or the terrain. Trail runners are fine in many cases, but any bushwhacking or rockier environs may require a sturdier boot. A lighter boot is better (less fatiguing to wear over time), and try to find a pair that’s waterproof.
Lastly, plan to pack/wear layers. That way you can shed clothes when it gets warm and add clothes when it gets cold.
There’s always exceptions. Desert backpacking has different needs than mountain backpacking. Same could be true if you’re trekking in the Kiamichis instead of the wild lands of New England. Do your homework and be prepared. Dress for success.
— Bob Doucette
Might be a good night to tune in to the Discovery Channel. Even if you’re not a fan of Bear Grylls, you can only imagine how funny the combination of “Man v. Wild” and Will Farrell is gonna be.
Sure, it’s a stunt to promote the show and Farrell’s “Land of the Lost” film. But it should be pretty entertaining. The duo will be roughing it in the Scandanavian wilderness. Here’s a promo clip:
I’ve been hit and miss on these, but I want to get opportunities like this out there when I can. Check out the information below, get ready to compete and do it for a good cause!
Oklahoma Baptist University’s Division of Music, in conjunction with the Pedalers Racing Team and the Greater Shawnee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, announces the Bison Bicycle Classic to be held in Shawnee on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. The event will include 10-, 25- and 50-mile bicycle tours, as well as a 50-mile non-sanctioned road race.
All proceeds for the weekend will go to Habitat for Humanity of Shawnee Inc. to build the Division of Music HFH House. This project’s goal is to raise funds to build a complete home for the local HFH affiliate. In addition to the Bison Bicycle Classic, the Division of Music also holds an annual concert fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity.
St. Gregory’s University will also sponsor a 5K run/race to offer an event for those who would rather run than ride a bike. Last year’s combined events brought in nearly $3,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
The Bicycle Classic will include 10-, 30- and 62-mile fully-supported bike tours for cyclists who wish not to race. In addition to the sporting events, Downtown Shawnee will host a “Back on Bell Street Jazz Festival” for local and out-of-town participants to enjoy at the conclusion of the sporting events.
For more information regarding volunteering or participating in the Bison Bicycle Classic, contact Jim Vernon or Thresa Swadley at 878-2305 or e-mail email@example.com.
Keith from New Hampshire wants to be a volunteer in any new season of “Out of the Wild: The Alsaka Experiment.” Here’s what he had to say: