Cascade Mountain Tech News

Training Techniques to Prepare You for a Local Hike or the Seven Summits
October 24, 2019

Training Techniques to Prepare You for a Local Hike or the Seven Summits

Since I have taken on the challenge to become the first NFL player to climb the Seven Summits, I have learned that there are three essential elements that contribute to the success of any expedition. The first is mental preparation. The second is physical capability and endurance. The third is Mother Nature. After contemplating the odds of success over and over, the question becomes:  what can I do to better prepare? Train, train & train.

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How to Get Started in Night Photography
October 17, 2019

How to Get Started in Night Photography

There is a particular fascination that develops when the sun goes down and the night sky comes out. Perhaps it comes from the unknown of the darkness or the fact that we generally sleep when the stars are shining at their peak. Making photographs at night is no easy task, but I hope to give you some tips and tricks to help you feel more confident when you set out to give it a shot. 

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Views from the Top: The 5040 Hut Hike on Vancouver Island
October 08, 2019

Views from the Top: The 5040 Hut Hike on Vancouver Island

Climbing old growth root ladders to the top of a misty mountain is a quintessential Vancouver Island hiking experience. Spending the night in a cozy, heated, and well-lit hut at the top of that mountain adds a definite something. It makes you feel a bit guilty writing about it because, while the newly-opened 5040 Peak Hut is no secret, it’s special and hopefully will be respectfully preserved for a long time. The hut is accessed via the Cobalt Lake Trail, a steep climb through old-growth and alpine, not far from Port Alberni, in the traditional territory of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations. The hike is not for the faint of heart—literally, you climb and climb and climb—and you’ll need a 4x4 to get to it via Marion Creek Forest Service Road. The hard work pays off though as you hike alongside rushing waterfalls, the small and incredibly clear Cobalt Lake, and up to the top of the peak, about another hour’s climb past the hut.

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Preparation Meets Opportunity: Lessons Learned on a Summit Attempt at Mt. Rainier
October 02, 2019

Preparation Meets Opportunity: Lessons Learned on a Summit Attempt at Mt. Rainier

In my past life, I was a professional football player in the NFL, but today, my sights are set on climbing the Seven Summits, with only Mt Everest left unchecked on my list. This past August, I was invited to co-guide a bunch of guys up the slopes of Mt Rainier, a recognizable and majestic peak towering at 14,411’ and located a few hours outside of Seattle. My good buddy, former NFL & college head coach Jim Mora, trained an insane amount of hours alongside me in the month of July to prepare for this endeavor. Unfortunately, this was not the case for our entire group.

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What to Know When Buying a Sleeping Bag
September 25, 2019

What to Know When Buying a Sleeping Bag

With fall swiftly approaching, many are starting to venture outdoors to bid farewell to the humid dog days and to welcome the crisp autumn air. As the leaves start to change their hues and fall from the trees, our eyes are drawn outside as we are once again reminded of the beauty of our seasonal surroundings. But the romance of outdoor exploration can quickly be stripped away by neglecting the importance of what’s keeping you warm when sleeping away in your bed, namely your sleeping bag. Regardless of your level of expertise, sleeping bags can seem scientific and intimidating with their different temperature ratings, materials, weights and shapes. This short guide will shed light on the specs that matter the most and should help to demystify the process of buying a new sleeping bag.

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Exploring Colorado: A Look Inside Mesa Verde National Park
September 16, 2019

Exploring Colorado: A Look Inside Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park, a breathtaking expanse of both archaeological and wild landscapes, became Colorado’s first National Park in 1906, and it was also the first in the country established to preserve archaeological history. There are nearly 5,000 archaeological sites—600 of which are cliff dwellings—within the boundaries of the park. I spoke with Jill Blumenthal, Education Coordinator and Volunteer Program Manager for Mesa Verde National Park and Yucca House National Monument, to learn more about the park, her career in the Park Service, and some suggestions about how visitors can enjoy the park today.

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Easy Access Backpacking: A Trip to Shi Shi Beach
September 04, 2019

Easy Access Backpacking: A Trip to Shi Shi Beach

There’s a thrill that comes from seeing the edge of something – a cliff, a horizon, a coastline. That’s it. That’s where it all ends. What’s over the edge? You can google it, sure, or you can let your imagination run for a while. If you’re looking for an all-time edge – a place that really whips the imagination into a frenzy – head to Shi Shi Beach on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Sitting in the upper left corner of the continental United States (yes you can see Canada from the beach), Shi Shi is an accessible backpacking destination ideal for families, novice backpackers and veterans looking to warm up to or unwind from a gnarly season in the backcountry. 

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How to Build Out Your Camp Kitchen
August 27, 2019

How to Build Out Your Camp Kitchen

Cooking a big meal in the great outdoors can be a little intimidating. There’s prep work to be done, a fire to light, pans to clean, and somehow never enough table space to slice & chop or set down a drink. It can feel tempting to reach for a bag of dehydrated lasagna, pass around a box of cookies and call it a night. No judgments if that’s how you roll, but if you’re willing to do a little planning, sharing a homemade camp meal with friends and family is well worth the effort. We’ve compiled a basic set of guidelines to help you get started for a smooth (and delicious) meal on your next weekend camping trip. 

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Solo Backpacking in the Glacier Peak Wilderness:  A Journey of Self-Care, Summer Snow and Overcoming Fear 
August 21, 2019

Solo Backpacking in the Glacier Peak Wilderness:  A Journey of Self-Care, Summer Snow and Overcoming Fear 

The great outdoors provide us with the best experiential multi-tool in existence. They offer up a mind-blowingly diverse array of experiences for those who dare to venture out from the comfort of their couch. I go outside for so many different reasons: to have fun, reflect, push boundaries, confront fears, connect to people more deeply, and ultimately to put life into perspective, be humbled and feel small. It was in pursuit of some of these reasons that I found myself packing a bag on a warm Friday evening in mid-July for a trip into the Central Cascades.

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Surrendering to the Road – A Journey to Burning Man
August 14, 2019

Surrendering to the Road – A Journey to Burning Man

If you’re going to take a road trip, I believe that you should try to get as much as you possibly can from every single mile. That is exactly how my road trip to Burning Man turned into a week-long venture with daily mini-adventures. I was determined to breathe in as much as I could along the way. That said, my journey really began long before I started mapping out the route. 

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Exploring Colorado: Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
August 05, 2019

Exploring Colorado: Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, a 150,000-acre National Park located in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, is flanked by the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range to its east and the San Juan Mountains to its west. There are six types of dunes in the park—Reversing, Star, Parabolic, Barchan, Transverse, Nebkha—and the tallest reaches 755 feet above the valley floor.

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How to Make the Most of Your Super Cooler
July 22, 2019

How to Make the Most of Your Super Cooler

So you’ve finally updated your cooler by ditching your cheapo ice chest for something a bit more rugged and capable of ice retention. Congratulations! But how can you make the most of your super cooler? Breathe easy, because we’re about to drop some ice-cold knowledge to get you through summer’s heatwave.

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How to Motivate Kids to Hit the Trail
July 11, 2019

How to Motivate Kids to Hit the Trail

Honestly, if you looked at our Instagram or Facebook, you would probably think that every day over the last six years with our son was one big hiking adventure where we were always having a blast. Nope. Not even close. Want to know how we keep Mason excited about getting out there? Getting your kids motivated to hike is no different than learning to swim or playing the piano. You have to do it, and do it a lot.

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A Crash Course to Puget Sound Crabbing
July 01, 2019

A Crash Course to Puget Sound Crabbing

Crabbing is one of those activities you have to try at least once if you live in the Pacific Northwest and love spending time outdoors. If you do try it once, chances are you’ll be hooked. With easy access to the coastline from anywhere in western Washington or Oregon and especially easy access to Puget Sound for those who live in Western Washington, crabbing and other saltwater adventures are something to take full advantage of.

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Beer and Hike Pairings for Refreshing PNW Adventures
June 19, 2019

Beer and Hike Pairings for Refreshing PNW Adventures

Hike first, beer later. That’s been our motto since 2013, when my partner and I started a blog about “beer hiking” in Bellingham, Washington. It began as a simple hobby – we’d go for a hike and hit the nearest brewery afterwards for a celebratory pint. In the years since, we’ve sampled hundreds of trail-and-ale pairings, combining 50 of our favorites into a guidebook called Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest.

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Escaping the Heat at Cañón de la Zorra, Sierra de la Lagunas
June 04, 2019

Escaping the Heat at Cañón de la Zorra, Sierra de la Lagunas

Situated between the east cape and the Pacific Ocean in Baja California Sur is a sanctuary that, in contrast to the stark desert, is a perfect oasis to escape the dry heat. Baja has become a second home for me – a winter escape from the snow in Teton Valley, Idaho. Void of rain during these months, the southeast corner of Baja is a dry landscape where cactus and other desert-dwelling plants hold on to their reserves of water until the rainy season comes again.

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Exploring Colorado: A Look Inside Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
May 23, 2019

Exploring Colorado: A Look Inside Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Known as Colorado’s Grand Canyon, the 30,950 acres that make up Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park do no less than wow visitors who venture to its edges or into its depths. 2,700-foot sheer-walled cliffs tower over the Gunnison River below – two million years of rushing waters carved out the formidable canyon, exposing metamorphic rock from Earth’s Precambrian era (more than 540 million years ago). Today, the more than 300,000 visitors per year can hike along the rim and in the canyon, raft and fish the Gunnison River, and enjoy scenic drives along both the North and South Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 

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A Mother's Advice for Enjoying the Outdoors with Kids
May 08, 2019

A Mother's Advice for Enjoying the Outdoors with Kids

I want my children to value the awesome memories they will create in the outdoors over the latest toy or electronic device. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but if you are regularly planning camping trips and outdoor adventures, eventually those wish lists will start turning into outdoor adventures and an overflowing storage closet of gear.  My kids have gained so much confidence and pride because of the crazy adventures we regularly take them on. Here are my top tips for keeping your sanity with kids in the outdoors… or getting kids excited about the outdoors – whichever way you choose to look at it.

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A Visit to Joshua Tree Post Government Shutdown
April 25, 2019

A Visit to Joshua Tree Post Government Shutdown

Nestled amongst the boulders in the heart of Joshua Tree, we watched as the sun crested over the outcrops of the smooth granite rocks, bringing life into Hidden Valley campground. Early risers were already scaling The Old Woman, one of the countless formations that dot the park’s otherworldly landscape. It's March. The rains have mostly subsided, as have the icy winds that kept many away during the earlier part of the month. Daylight savings has also ended, which means more sunlight, warmer weather, and of course, more visitors.

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Savoring the Tail End of Ski Season
April 15, 2019

Savoring the Tail End of Ski Season

Not too many years ago, skiing an envy-inducing number of days was easy—I lived near a small-but-entertaining ski hill, had an industry deal with most of the Northeast’s major resorts, was surrounded by people stoked to ski tour, and had a job that didn’t mind if I turned up with my ski boots on, so long as I was on time (or at least close to it). In fact, I could even find a few minutes to give my skis a quick tune at work if I hustled. In recent years, though, life hasn’t allowed triple-digit ski days, ski boots don’t cut it as appropriate workwear, and dull edges and dry bases are more common than I’d like to admit. But one thing that’s remained true through the passage of time is that skiing is still as pleasurable and addictive as ever.

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Views from the Top: Fremont Lookout – Mt. Rainier National Park
April 02, 2019

Views from the Top: Fremont Lookout – Mt. Rainier National Park

Mondays are for the mountains…

As my wife and I make the transition back to life in the Pacific Northwest after a handful of years in Nashville, we made the decision to dedicate our Mondays to the mountains. After all, the Cascade Mountain Range was the leading reason for us to move back to Washington State. It only took a few years away from these great mountains to realize exactly how much they really meant to us, so this time around we are committed to spending even more time in and around these majestic peaks. 

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A Thru-Hiker's Tribute to Trekking Poles
March 18, 2019

A Thru-Hiker's Tribute to Trekking Poles

“Hey, are you taking walking sticks?”

Big Cat’s voice purred over the telephone, his Great Smoky Mountains diction like a good fiddle to my ears.  We were planning to hike from Mexico to Canada along the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  The famed National Scenic Trail climbs into six national parks, 48 federal wilderness areas, and some of the country’s most scenic and beautiful mountain ranges in California, Oregon, and Washington state. 

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Views from the Top: Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Louise
February 11, 2019

Views from the Top: Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Louise

Still half asleep, we sipped our warm coffees watching the fluorescent rainbow expand over the mountains. It was a chilly, cloudy morning, but Kaitlin and I were determined to get an early start on our day. This easily may have been the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. I enjoyed that it took patience; though we arrived just before sunrise, we had to wait for the sun to move up over the adjacent ridgeline before it began illuminating the mountains around Lake Louise. 

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Ranger Notes: What to do When Encountering Wildlife
January 21, 2019

Ranger Notes: What to do When Encountering Wildlife

Welcome to the first installment of our new ”Ranger Notes” series. In this post, US Forest Service Ranger Jess Trimble shares some tips for staying safe when encountering wildlife. Disclaimer: his is not foolproof advice. Always follow local rules and regulations and consult local ranger stations about how to handle wildlife in the area.

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