Cascade Mountain Tech News
Rocky Mountain National Park, a breathtaking 415-square mile National Park located just west of Colorado’s Front Range, is an American icon. Jagged peaks soar above alpine lakes, elk herds graze in mountain meadows, and wildflowers takeover the grasslands in summer. I recently caught up with Barbara Scott, a 20-year National Park Service veteran and Supervisory Park Ranger of Interpretation & Education at Rocky Mountain National Park, to talk about her career in the Park Service, her passion for Rocky Mountain, and what makes this Colorado National Park so special.
“Let’s go for a hike!” is a declaration my kids usually don’t want to hear. They’ve been drug out on hikes and marched down trails since our twins were 10 weeks old (Washington’s Lake Lillian hike was their first ascent, although they hitched a ride up the mountain snuggled firmly in a baby carrier). You’d think that eight years of hiking expeditions would have taught them the lesson that though these trips initially sound like a lot of work for little legs, they will enjoy themselves thoroughly. They may have hundreds of trail miles under their belt, but pre-hike griping seems to come naturally. Our destination was Mason Lake, a pretty little hike just off the I-90 corridor that switches back and forth up and away from the valley and over the ridge to a little mountain lake that gets just enough sun all summer to make it tolerable for a swim on a hot day after the ascent. The round trip is 6.5 miles in total.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Solo Backpacking in the Glacier Peak Wilderness: A Journey of Self-Care, Summer Snow and Overcoming Fear
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.