30. March 2012 17:41
What are Trekking Poles? – Trekking Poles are poles specifically designed for hiking, walking and traversing. They resemble ski poles in their design, but have some unique differences. For example, they are typically made to collapse down to a size that is easy to strap to the outside of a pack when not in use.
How do they work? – Trekking poles are a very intuitive thing to use. You will naturally fall into a rhythm once you begin to use them. For more detail I have posted a video below. This video can help you ensure that your poles are the right height for you.
When should you use them? – When you know you will be facing a tough or rough terrain, trekking poles may be a great addition to your balance and rhythm. Poles are not typically used on flat paths, but it is up to the user to determine if they are needed or not. Some hikers or walkers love the element of rhythm that trekking poles add. Another great reason to use trekking poles is for those outdoor enthusiasts with bad knees or ankles. Trekking poles do a great job of taking some of the stress off your joints, especially when descending.
23. March 2012 15:38
Living here in Pullman since February of 2000, I have had my fair share of outdoor experiences in and around the Pullman area. One place I really enjoy is Moscow Mountain-just across the border in Idaho. Some of my friends at the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) introduced me to a group of mountain bikers in the area who traverse the trails of Moscow Mountain on the regular. Being the adventurous gnome that I am, I quickly gathered a group of friends to check out the trails of Moscow Mountain. To my surprise, there are a bunch of interconnected trails all over Moscow Mountain. After my first trip to Moscow Mountain, I was hooked and have been going back often throughout the year for the past 10 years.
The great part about Moscow Mountain is the diversity. With a bunch of different trails weaving in and out of other interconnecting trails, the options are almost limitless. There are trail lengths and difficulties ranging across the spectrum, Moscow Mountain is a perfect place to learn the sport of mountain biking or to challenge your biking expertise. My first trip out there was more of a feeler, trying to get used to the terrain and ensuring I knew where I was and where I was going. Now, I hit the ground pedaling and don’t look back, it’s truly a great place to bike!
While the majority of the land is private, the Moscow Area Mountain Bike Association (MAMBA), a group out of Idaho, maintains 39 mountain biking trails. This non-profit organization conducts trail restoration events throughout the year. Their website requires a donation to access the most detailed information about the trails, but the free access to the site is sufficient for most (bikemoscow.org). Additionally, some information about mountain biking trails can be found on the Moscow Chamber of Commerce website (moscowchamber.com) and Trails.com website.
Having such an amazing place to go mountain biking just down the roa... [More]
21. March 2012 22:11
Most would say that Theodore Roosevelt was just a president. But as an outdoorsman myself, I am able to recognize others that share the same passion, and Roosevelt fits the mold. Let me tell you a little bit about his environmentalist side.
During his time in office, Roosevelt created 4 National Game Preserves, 5 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, 24 Reclamation Projects, 51 Federal Bird Reservations and 150 National Forests! These conservation efforts are seen in some of the most naturally unique places in the United States. The total amount of land is about 230,000,000 acres of land or 359,375 square miles.
He was a big-game hunter who ventured west in order to hunt. However, when he went west he was startled to find how the big-game was being damaged along with the land itself. After being a first-hand witness to the destruction that was happening to America, conservation became his top priority. After entering office, Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service. I have to think that if it were not for Roosevelt, I may not have as beautiful of a home here in the northwest!
If you would like to read more on Roosevelt’s legacy and how he became the “Conservationist President”, visit here: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trenv.html
"It is also vandalism to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals -- not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening." Theodore Roosevelt
2. March 2012 22:31
Get to Know Your Gear’s weekly update will get you familiar with 0°F Sleeping Bags & Liners.
What is a 0° Sleeping Bag & Liner? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are, as their name’s imply, very cold weather sleeping bags and liners to keep an outdoor enthusiast safe and warm when camping in frigid winter conditions. These sleeping bags are made of different materials depending on the needs of the camper, varying from heavy to ultra-light. Liners specifically are used to line the inside of the sleeping bag as another layer of insulation.
How do they work? – 0° sleeping bags can vary in type and material, but they work to keep body heat in and the cold air out. The outer shell of the sleeping bag is typically made of nylon, which is used to protect the outside of the bag from the environment. Inner shells are often made or nylon also, but can be a type of polyester blend. Both the inner shell and outer shell are both good at keeping air from penetrating their exterior. The inside of bags (fill) is often filled with down, polyester blends, or synthetic materials made to insulate the bag. This combination of fill, inner, and outer layers keeps body heat within the bag while protecting the user from the cold outer air. Liners are often a fleece or microfiber material used to add an additional layer of insulation within the sleeping bag. While liners are not made to deflect air, they are an insulator within the bag, retaining body heat keeping the user warmer. I personally have a bag with nylon exterior and interior shells with 800-fill goose down insulation and a fleece liner. They keep me nice and toasty at night during my winter hiking and camping adventures.
When should you use them? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are designed to be used in extreme winter weather conditions. Some sleeping bags are rated even colder than zero degrees Fahrenheit,... [More]
24. February 2012 17:16
The Palouse offers an abundance of outdoor recreation areas and beautiful scenery. In the past few weeks we have posted blogs about Kamiak Butte and Palouse Falls, this week we will look at one of the best spots close to Pullman, Granite Point, also known as “The Cliffs.”
Located roughly 40 minutes Southwest of Pullman, Granite Point offers different types of outdoor activities that are geared toward summer fun. The area is well known for kayaking, boating, overnight camping on the cliffs and if you dare, jumping off the cliff into the Snake River.
Granite Point’s rock is also very well known to climbers as a great boulder to tackle. It offers a handful of sport climbing routes with a wide range of difficulty allowing climbers of all levels to enjoy. The rock type, in line with the name of the location, is granite, which is the norm for Eastern Washington.
Arguably the most appealing feature of Granite Point is the ability to dip into the Snake River to cool of when climbing in the summer sun. With spring approaching quickly, Granite Point Park and Granite Point’s rock climbing area are two great spots to visit.
22. February 2012 20:01
Get to Know Your Gear this week will focus on Ice Climbing Tools.
What is Ice Climbing – Ice climbing is an adventurous sport that integrates rock climbing with winter weather covered terrain. The tools involved in ice climbing are similar to the ones used in rock climbing, but with the addition of an ice tool (ice axe) and crampons, and of course, cold weather gear.
How do you use an ice tool and crampons – An ice tool looks similar to a hammer, having a long “pick” on one side of the ice tool’s head and a shorter “adze” on the other side. The pick is used to impale the snow or ice during the ascent. When climbing, the pick should always face the snow or ice so it can be effectively used if the climber slips or begins to fall. The adze, the smaller shovel looking side, is used more for chopping small steps and can be used when self-belaying. Beginners are advised to use the leashed type, which has a wrist wrap to ensure the axe doesn’t fall to the ground if dropped. Crampons are attached to the climber’s boots and consist of multiple thick metal points protruding from the outward from the bottom of the boot. They greatly improve traction on ice and can be used to kick foot holds during climbing.
When should you Ice Climb – Ice climbing is a winter sport focusing on climbing icefalls, frozen waterfalls and cliffs or rock slabs covered with ice and packed snow. Once the free flowing water becomes completely frozen, the ice climbing season begins. Knowing when it is safe to climb comes with experience, but consistent below-freezing weather is usually a good sign ice climbing will start soon.
Keep in mind, crampons and ice tools are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center throughout the winter season. Ice climbing is a great form of exercise and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.
15. February 2012 22:04
This week’s Get to Know Your Gear segment will focus on Climbing Skins.
What are Climbing Skins? – Climbing skins, also known as ski skins, are cross country skiing accessories which attach to cross country skis to restrict backward sliding of the skis.
How do they work? – When the skins are attached to the skis, the fibers in contact with the snow lay flat when moving forward allowing for unrestricted forward movement. Alternatively, when sliding backwards, the snow pushes against the grain of the fibers causing the skins to dig into the snow and hold the skis, and skier, in place.
When should you use them? – Typically, climbing skins are only needed when venturing into areas with hills, switchbacks, or any type of ascent where momentum will not carry the skier to the top of the next hill. While they are not always necessary to have on the skis, carrying climbing skins in a pack when cross country skiing is always advised.
Now that you know what climbing skins are, when to use them, and how they work, you are ready to get outside and try some cross country skiing! Remember, climbing skins for Tele Skis or Randonnee (Alpine Touring) are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center. Enjoy the great outdoors!
10. February 2012 16:57
This week’s Get to Know Your Gear will look into the adventures of Telemark Skiing.
What is Telemark Skiing – Telemark skiing is a type of skiing that is done with the heel of your ski boot unattached to the ski, see video below. So the ski binding attaches to the boot at the toe. What really makes Telemark skiing unique is the type of turn that you execute. The turn is done with your knees bent and one ski is pushed ahead of the other.
How do you use them – Learning how to Telemark ski is something that will take some time. It is best to talk with an experienced Telemark skier for tips. You can look at some step by step instructions online to give you an idea before you get on the mountain or check out the video below to see some skiers learning how to Telemark.
When should you use Telemark Skis – If you are already an existing skier and want to try a new challenge, this style of skiing might be right for you. Many skiers say they love the sense of freedom and control that Telemark skiing gives them. Anyone can try Telemark skiing, however it is easiest and fastest to learn when you are already comfortable on parallel skis.
8. February 2012 21:38
My last 12 years living here in Pullman has been an amazing time in my life. Having had the opportunity to explore all the outdoor activities in and around the Pullman area has been exciting. One of my favorite places to hike happens to be in Pullman’s backyard. This place is none other than Kamiak Butte County Park, about 15 miles north of Pullman off Highway 27.
The Palouse area has a rich history and Kamiak Butte is no different. Named after Chief Kamiakin of the Yakama tribe, Kamiak Butte was thought to be part of the remains of an ancient mountain range destroyed by lava flows between 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. Kamiak Butte County Park was established in September 1979 and is one of nearly 600 landmarks to be considered a National Natural Landmark.
Being located close to Pullman, Kamiak Butte was one of the first parks I visited after moving to WSU. I was pleasantly surprised at the upkeep of Pine Ridge Trail, the 3.5 mile loop that begins in the parking area and zigzags through the forested area up to the ridge. From the ridge, breathtaking views of the Palouse can be seen in almost every direction. Following the trail around, the backside leads hikers through a steeper and more dense area of forest. To my surprise, on my first ascent to the top, I rounded a corner to find the ground covered in snow even though there was no snow in Pullman, (this reminded me of my original home in the German foothills).
In addition to the hiking trail, the park offers camping year round. The picnic area offers tables, cooking grills, campfire pits, 3 smaller shelters (Pine Shelter), and 1 larger shelter (Larch Shelter). Camping and shelter use both have a cost for use. Shelters require reservations and camping is first come, first serve. Its location about a mile from the highway and surrounded by trees, camping at Kamiak Butte is a wonderful get-away for a night or two to reconnect with th... [More]
1. February 2012 23:22
Don’t let the snow covered ground (which is quickly melting) keep you from enjoying all of the hiking trails scattered around the area. This week’s Getting to Know Your Gear blog will show you how to enjoy hiking regardless how much snow we get this winter by using snowshoes and trekking poles.
Snowshoeing has been thought to be around for roughly 10,000 years. The basic principle of snowshoes is the ability to distribute body weight over a larger surface area allowing people two walk across snow covered ground with greater ease. In the past, snowshoes were used in snowy areas so hunters/trappers could continue to provide for their family during the winter months (and to escape the ever lurking Yeti). Now, snowshoes are more of recreation accessories so outdoor enthusiasts can hike in deep snow.
While there are a few different types of snowshoes available, the most common is the recreational/trekking type. Other styles include backcountry/mountaineering and aerobic/running snowshoes. Running snowshoes are usually shorter and less wide than both recreation and backcountry. Additionally, for the same size person, mountaineering are going to be a little longer and wider for more difficult terrain. Each of these types of snowshoe have either fixed/limited-rotation or full/pivot-rotation bindings. Racing snowshoes usually have fixed-rotation bindings which do not allow the toe to pivot below the bottom plane of the shoe. Unfortunately, fixed bindings have a tendency to kick snow up the back of the user’s legs. Full-rotation bindings are normally preferred for traditional and mountaineering snowshoes because they allow for greater traction and mobility.
One of the best accessories for recreational or mountaineering snowshoeing are trekking poles. Poles help hikers maintain balance on most types of terrain, can help with knee pain and often increase the speed of the hike.&... [More]