Happy New Year

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New Year’s day is quickly approaching, and many are making plans for their resolutions.  Resolutions traditionally include things like weight loss, healthier diets and other extreme lifestyle plans.

This year, what about putting that motivation toward the lifestyle you really want?  Resolve to spend more days outside, resolve to go camping at least 20 times this year, resolve to learn a new sport.

Here’s to a Happy 2016!

Happy New Year

Everything You Want

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Everything You Want

 

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

 

It’s easy to let fear get in the way of our dreams, our adventures and our potential.  Learning to acknowledge the fear, the procrastination and the doubt, push past it and follow your dreams is hard work.  Like a muscle, flexing the power to push past your fears grows easier over time.  Kill your fear, and follow your passions.

Simplify Your Life To Find More Time for Adventure

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As a busy couple with plenty on our plates, we still find time to take at least one big adventure day a week (think a day-long hike, snowshoe or camping adventure).

We are often asked how we find the time.  The answer: simplicity and efficiency.  We pair down our obligations, our possessions and our expenses.

Find Time for Adventure

Money:

Being smart with the money we have means we don’t need to dedicate our time to extra hours, additional part-time jobs or hectic corporate ladders as if often the case in mountain towns.

Consumables:

We have a routine for our household consumables.  We check in on them about once a month, and order or buy more as necessary.  We never wait until we’re down to the last tube of toothpaste before buying more.  This avoids last minute store runs that could otherwise take up our time.  This is also good practice in a mountain town, where one bad snow storm could potentially shut down interstate access of supplies into town.

Food:

We eat at home, saving time and money.  We pick out a few recipes for dinners, reviewing what we have on hand and looking at the calendar to see how long one grocery trip should realistically last.  Adding snacks and breakfast to the shopping list ,we then make one efficient shopping trip, sticking to the list.  This saves time and money throughout the week as we know what we can make, and we have all of the necessary ingredients.  We also keep a stock of trail-friendly snacks on hand at all times, making it easy to grab and go.

Obligations:

If you want to spend more time outside but you don’t know where to find the time, something has to give.  Letting go of commitments, clubs, social obligations is real.  We prioritize our outdoor adventures over most things on days off.

Possessions:

The more ‘stuff’ you have, the more rent or mortgage you will pay and the more time you will spend maintaining your possessions.  We choose to live in a small efficient apartment instead of a large palatial home, saving money on heat and reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ we can possess.

Ironically enough, taking the time to setup the systems to be more efficient can be time consuming in itself.  But taking the time to do so can be rewarding, leading to more time for adventures.

10 Reasons to Try Snowshoeing

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Snowshoeing is an often overlooked winter recreation activity.  While the skiing, snowboarding and even sledding get all the attention those in the know head out snowshoeing when the snow begins to fall.  Read on for 10 reasons to go snowshoeing this winter.

1.  The views

Just like hiking, the best snowshoe adventures have incredible views.  Even without a vista point, just walking through a snow covered forest or meadow is an experience like no other.  If you are lucky enough to find a trail with a view, it’s an amazing thing to look out over a snow covered landscape.

Try Snowshoeing

2. Blaze your own trail

Once snow covers the trails, you can make your own way.  Want to head off route to check things out, or head the easy flat way through the valley?  Go for it.  The snow creates a blank canvas, letting you blaze your own trail and pick your own hike.

3.  The silence

The silence found in a snow blanketed forest in incredible.  The sound underfoot is likely the only sound you will hear: the crunching of the soft snow under the weight of your snowshoes.

Beginner Snowshoe

4.  Human Powered Adventure

Unlike the ski resorts’ chair lifts, partaking on a human powered adventure is rewarding in a whole new way.  Partaking in an adventure powered by your own two feet, feeling the strength of your own power is a great feeling.

5.  Budget Friendly

There are no lift tickets to buy, no fancy boots needed, and no limitations to snow shoeing.  Rent a simple snowshoe setup and get going.

6.  Easy to Learn, Beginner Friendly

As the saying goes, “If you can walk, you can snowshoe.”  There are no lessons needed, no time-consuming learning curve to master.  Strap them on, and off you go.

Try Snowshoeing

7.  Adventure

Snowshoeing is an adventure around every corner.  Any trail, and snow covered field is your’s for enjoying.  Snowshoes once you make the one-time investment, allow any park or wilderness to become your playground.

8.  Get away from the crowds

Without question, every big weekend is going to be crowded on the slopes.  The lodges will be packed, and that’s not even to mention the roads to get to the resorts.  With snowshoes, you can head the opposite direction of the masses and avoid the crowds.  Pick that little-known trailhead you found last summer and explore it in a whole new way, under snow-covered trees.  Find a well-known summer hiking spot and realize you’ve got it all to yourself now that snow is covering the entire trail.

9.  Get outside in the winter

Once the temperatures drop it’s easy to stay inside, using the lack of recreation opportunities as an excuse.  Strap on this snowshoes and get to know the nature around you.  Snowshoeing is a great, low-impact way to get outside instead of staying behind doors.

10 Reasons to Try Snowshoeing

10.  Fun for the whole family

As mentioned above in number six, “If you can walk, you can snowshoe.”  Unlike other winter sports, family member of all ages can participate.  Grandma can make it out, as can her grandson.

Rent or buy a pair of snowshoes and poles, and you’ve got a whole new world at your fingertips.  Avoid cabin fever, save money and have fun enjoying a family friendly activity this winer.

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Am I in the Backcountry Yet?

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Backcountry, Wilderness

Backcountry, wilderness, the bush.  Wherever it is you may venture, if you’re heading away from the masses, chances are you are heading there.

If you step beyond the boundaries of a state park, spent an overnight in a non-developed campground of a national park, or duck underneath the ropes at a ski resort you may have entered the backcountry.

Generally speaking, backcountry refers to areas not easily accessible by car or an easy stroll.  Though, given the nature of the english language the term backcountry has evolved to mean many things.

For winter and avalanche purposes if you are out of bounds of a ski resort, you are in the backcountry and need to be aware of avalanche safety protocols.  Outside of ski resort boundaries snow packs are not mainteined or managed to reduce the chance of avalanche danger.  Outside of ski resort boundaries the ski patrol isn’t responsible for getting you to safety (though if they do rescue you, you may receive a hefty bill for the ordeal).

In National Parks, such as Yosemite, spending a night camping outside of an established campsite is considered spending time in the backcountry.  You can hike all day, and spend time on many of the established hiking trails, but to spend the night there you’ll need a backcountry wilderness permit.

Much like Alexander Supertramp, many of us seek the ubiquitous backcountry experience.  Walk a little farther, venture a little deeper, and you’ll find it.

What is Pitch?

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Pitch, as it is infamously known on the trail, can cause lots of problems for hikers and campers.  Pitch is an ultra-sticky form of tree sap or resin. Pitch is a social term for the sticky material.  

Tree Pitch

Take a seat off the side of the trail during a hike, pitch your tent under some nice looking pine trees, reach out to touch a tree at the wrong time, and you may find yourself a victim of pitch.  It’s often stickier than imaginable, and will quickly become covered with dirt, pine needles, etc.   

Attempting to remove pitch can be an exercise in frustration.  It sticks to anything and everything and will spread itself more as you attempt to wipe it away.  Luckily, to the best of my knowledge, it is not truly harmful in any way – just troublesome.  

On a recent hike we both ended up with pitch all over ourselves after stopping for lunch.  We used a handful of snow to scrape off what we could, then cleaned our pants thoroughly upon arriving back home.

While on the trail it is best to use anything you can to create a barrier between your hands and the pitch.  We’ve used snow and sticks before, but you can only do so much before you get off the trail.

How To Remove Pitch

91% isopropyl alcohol has been what we’ve discovered to remove pitch the best.  Spray it, douse it, just get it between the pitch and your pants, tent or hands and you’ll be cleaned up in no time.

The one benefit to pitch: it can be used as a fire starter.  Collect pitch on a stick, toss it in with your kindling and watch your fire grow.

While out in the woods, keep an eye out for pitch.  Watch the trees around your campsite, and check the ground before you take a seat.  Stock a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol at home to clean up what may happen.  Happy trails!

 

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun In the Mountains

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Have you ever spent a weekend on the slopes when time flew by in the blink of an eye?  Do you ever get the feeling that time moves faster when you’re in the mountains?

Time Moves Fast in the Mountains

Einstein has an explanation: gravitational time dilation.

It’s all part of a theory you may have heard of: the Theory of Relativity. My layman interpretation of this part of the theory is that time, along with gravity, weakens as you get farther from the earth’s surface.

Scientist proved the theory by separating two synced atomic clocks at different altitudes.  Sure enough, the clock at the higher elevation came back with a faster time.

Now, in the big scheme of things the time difference is negligible (think nanoseconds), but it’s there.

The depths of the science that explains the natural world around us are limitless. The more we learn, the more respect grows for the intricacies of our world.

So the next time you head up the hill, think about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and know that gravitational time dilation is at play.

Thankful

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This week in the US is Thanksgiving, a holiday to slow down, spend time with friends and family and enjoy great food and drink.

Thanksgiving Tahoe

It’s also a time to for us to reflect upon what we are grateful for.

We are very lucky to have the means and opportunity to live in an amazing mountain town in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Endless hiking trails, wilderness, forest roads and parks surround us.

Tahoe Kayak

We are also grateful that our lives allow us to spend time in the outdoors.  It wasn’t long ago that daylight hours away from work were unheard of.  A shift in priorities and a career change have allowed us to devote our days to the outdoors, and for the we are grateful.

The outdoor community around us, both in person and online that supports and inspires us everyday are something else we are grateful for.

Tahoe Truckee

This Holiday week, let us know what you are thankful for.

Trailside Tavern: Beer

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It’s a time-honored tradition to enjoy a sip of whiskey around the campfire, or a beer at the trail head after a long trail ride.  Alcohol, when consumed in moderation, can provide a welcomed reward at the end of a long day.

Trailside Tavern, Chris Binkley

This is the first in an on-going series, Trailside Tavern, where we will discuss the best backcountry bartender mixes, beers and spirits to reward yourself after a day in the woods.

Beer is most certainly one of the de facto choices for those pushing themselves in the outdoors.  Great after a day of snowboarding, and perfect after a hot day spent hiking.  The natural carbonation is uplifting, refreshing after the water drank all day in the trail.

Some even say the nutritional benefits help with recovery by providing magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, chromium and B vitamins.  Not to mention, the high carb content “liquid bread” provides.

The beauty of packable shatterproof canned beer, allowing us to carry it in, and crush the container once the contents have been consumed, is hard to beat.  (To learn more about the ingenious design of the aluminum can, check out this video.)

Torpedo

On a warm day we like to freeze one of our water bottles and nestle it deep in a pack, sticking the beer cans nearby to stay chilled.

With the craft beer boom in full swing it’s easy to find a can of beer for everyone in your party.  From a light watermelon beer to rootbeer flavored beer, to strong bitter IPAs, there’s something for everyone.

To top it off, the number of beers named after outdoor activities seems to never end.  Try a Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Bell’s Winter White, Mammoth Brewing’s High Country Pilsner, or the Base Camp In-Tents I.P. L.

Fireside Chat

Outdoor meccas like North Lake Tahoe are  even using beer as an enticement for getting out on the trail.  They’ve created the Ale Trail, connecting recreationists with pubs, bars and brew houses along or nearby popular trails.

Toss a can or two in your pack for your next adventure, and let us know what your favorite beer is to enjoy after a day in the outdoors.

Winter Trip Report: Donner Lake Rim Trail to Drifter Hut

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Donner Lake Rim Trail

We headed up Tahoe Donner to the Glacier Way trail head late Sunday morning, just as the snow storm was beginning to bear down. 

We don’t always get to pick the timing or weather of our trips, and we’ve learned to kit up and make do to make the most of our time available. 

We know this trail well, having taken it many times this past summer.

Parking at the Glacier Way Trail Head, we realized we wouldn’t be alone on the trail as two other cars were already there.  Gotta love dedicated Tahoe residents!

We began to make our way down the access trail, over light snowfall on the ground.  As we made our way up the first incline we felt the brunt of the wind beginning to pick up, knowing that the wind would be in our face until the first bend in the trail.  We swapped our sunglasses for goggles, zipped up our jackets and continued on.

Reaching our first breaking point, the picnic bench at Negro Canyon Overlook, we could barely make out Donner Lake below and I-80’s traffic moving up Donner Summit through the snow and clouds.

The wind was strongest at this point, and we briefly hesitated before deciding to move on towards the Drifter Hut.  Knowing we would be heading toward an indoor location (no matter how basic) made it easier to push through the steady strong wind and stronger gusts.

On we went, stepping through the shallow snow accumulation, which became snow drifts every so often.  We each pulled up our wool buffs to cover our faces, tucking under our goggles. 

While the wind was intense, my shell protected me, and the air temperature hovered in the low 30s.  Stopping behind a large tree I de-layered, removing my insulating puffy and moving forward with my base layer underneath my shell.

Being familiar with the trail, we knew where we were headed and knowing made us more confidant along the trail through the intense wind and snow.  We knew as soon as the trail began to drop and lead away from the mountain’s edge that we were close.  One hundred yards through a meadow, the first area we questioned if we should break out the snow shoes, and we were at the hut.

It’s funny how uplifting a simple little hut can be in intense cold, driving wind and snow.  Stepping inside, as the wind ceased, I was struck by the realization of how loud the wind had been in my ears.  I removed my shell, while Chris stayed bundled up.  We took off our packs, laid down our poles and took a seat on the benches.  The three large windows overlooking the Johnson Canyon helped to make the small room feel giant.  We turned on our radio, and listened to the local station for a bit before checking the weather to ensure no major updates.

Drifter Hut

We hung out in the hut for almost two hours, watching the snow pile up and the wind blow ever stronger, before deciding to head back.  Our little mountain oasis, as no one else ventured out as far on this day.

Drifter Hut

We packed back up our packs, opened some new chemical hand warmers and suited up to head back into it.

Snowshoe Donner Lake Rim TrailHaving carried in our brand new snowshoes, we knew we wanted to give them a try on the way out.  On the way in there hadn’t been sufficient snow to avoid damaging the snowshoes along most of the route, aside from the meadow just outside of the hut.  We expected to snowshoe through the meadow and then pack back up the shoes.  However, we were pleasantly surprised to find the snow piles didn’t end after the meadow.  We continued along the trail’s ledge, snowshoeing our way back.  It felt great to feel so stable and firm in piles of powdery snow.  We were making tracks, thinking of how miffed those who might head out early tomorrow morning may be to find our tracks in the ‘fresh’ snow.

Never having snowshoed before, it was a surprisingly easy feat.  Stepping just a touch wider than usually ensured I didn’t step over myself.  Powdery snow ensured any falls that may come would be softened by pillows.

Snowshoe Donner Lake Rim Trail

The picnic bench at the overlook came faster than expected. The snowshoeing lent a new sense of adventure to an activity my mind and body know well: hiking down a trail.

Turning the bend onto the access trail toward the trailhead saw the wind die down, and the snow rate slow.  With still plenty of snow on the ground below, we continued with our snowshoes. 

With the trail now as wide as a road, we were able to snowshoe side by side.  With the wind having let up, we were able to take off our goggles and pull down the buffs off of our faces.

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Suddenly it felt downright spring-like, compared to what we had trekked through.

As we approached the parking lot, we were greeted by two very happy huskies whose owner decided the break in the storm was as good a time as any to get his dogs outside.  After playing with our trail greeters for a few moments we made it to the car, feeling happy and accomplished.

After the extra-day winters we’ve seen over the past few years we’ve been in the Tahoe area, it was great to break out the snowshoes so early in the season.

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