On a recent Tuesday evening in Santa Fe, a handful of people gathered at Collected Works Bookstore to hear Dylan Tomine read from his new book, Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, in the Woods and at the Table. It was one of the first really cold nights of the season and half a dozen members of the audience were clad in sheepskin and down. Tomine, a father of two from Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, Washington, showed up in standard Pacific Northwest attire: a crinkly, bright blue rain jacket. Every so often, he'd interrupt himself to take a big swig of water and say, “I’ve never felt so dry in my whole life.”
Fish story: The author with Weston and Skyla on Puget Sound. Photo: Dylan Tomine
Tomine and his family are avid adventurers, but their sport of choice isn’t climbing or paddling, cycling or surfing. It’s foraging. In all weather and seasons, they take to their motorboat, the local beaches, forests, and trails to hunt for crabs, king salmon, razor clams, chanterelle mushrooms, oysters, and blackberries. Listening to someone describe the outrageous edible bounties of the Pacific Northwest while landlocked in the high desert is a little surreal, to say the least, and the experience was much like that of reading Tomine's book: Saltwater seemed to drip from every word; I could taste the brine in the pages.
Is Hari Mix a mountaineer with a science habit or a
scientist with a mountaineering habit?
"I'm not sure," says the 27-year-old Ph.D.
candidate in Environmental Earth Systems Science at Stanford University. "They're
definitely related, I've always been drawn to the scale and beauty of the
earth's processes, so I want to go and interact with them directly, and
mountaineering is a great way to do it."
Mix climbed a number of peaks in the Pamir Mountains, mixing his summit pursuits with scientific
study. At the top of Mount Lenin, a 23,406-foot peak on the border of
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Mix collected microbe samples from the highest elevation
to date for a climate change research project. (Actually, he bagged several small
rocks, in which the microbes live.) Dragos Zaharescu, a research associate at
the University of Arizona's Biosphere 2 research program, is now analyzing the
samples that Mix collected on Mount Lenin as well as from three other nearby peaks.
and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a Bozeman, Montana-based citizen science
organization that seeks opportunities for climbers and other outdoor athletes
to contribute to scientific research, connected Zaharescu and Mix.
also analyzing other samples, collected from high on Mount Denali, an
archipelago in Artic Russia, Kilimanjaro in Africa, and other peaks around the world. His research
focuses on how
climate change may be impacting the way biotic communities in high altitudes
colonize rock and break it down, initiating nutrients transfer through the ecosystem.
Historically, installing chains on your car to get over a mountain pass has been an awful task. Nearly always it involves crawling around under your car, usually in the middle of a storm or in deep and cold snow drifts, freezing your hands off. It's typically wet, cold, miserable, and dirty—and unavoidable. Chains are required on many Western passes and ski area access roads. No chains, and you head home or wait until the road is plowed and clear, and others get first tracks.
There are three easy ways to put the chains on, all of which you can do without taking off your gloves: 1. Extend the rigid arch,
which means popping the chain open; 2. Lay the chain on the tire starting from
the top; 3. Open up the pedal and push down with your foot to tension the chain.
And it’s just as easy to get them off.
Still don't believe how fast these are? A month ago, Thule snagged a Guinness Book World Record for most snow chains put in one minute. It took the Thule team about nine seconds to install each chain.
To make sure that even the most mechanically challenged can be successful, Thule packages the product in a nylon bag that you turn inside out and use as a mat when installing the chains. It has printed instructions and even marked dots where you should kneel for best positioning. It’s one more way Thule makes sure installing the Easy Fits is easy—and that you don’t lose the directions. Available now, $450; thule.com.
The best articles, videos, and photos I didn't post this week—until now. If you only have time to click on two links, check out "BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion," from The New York Times, and "Tunnel Vision," a haunting and thoughtful look at a fatal avalanche, from Outside.