The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Feb 2012

Trekking A Wild, and Not So Wild, Path Through Florida

A team of biologists and filmmakers is 32 days into a 100-day, 1000-mile trek, via kayak, bike and foot, from the southern tip of Florida up to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia. And should you think that sounds like a bit of a pleasure cruise, check out this video:


The trip is an effort to explore, document, and ultimately protect the wildlife corridor that creates vital habitat for important species such as the Florida Panther—which is slowly rebounding after near extinction. Click here for a map of the current and proposed corridor.

Wildlife corridors are increasingly important area of focus for conservation efforts. Development and roadbuilding often squeeze and sometimes cut off natural migratory routes or habitat ranges. In Florida, this means that species often must traverse wide swaths of private land in order to do things such as seek a mate. 

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The Find: Avalanche Ranch Backcountry Lodge & Hot Springs

Skiing at Spring Gulch

By late February, you reach a point where you need the promise of warmth just to get outside. The hot springs at Avalanche Ranch and Nordic trails at nearby Spring Gulch, outside of Carbondale, Colorado, will give you the kick you crave, and then some. Kids and adults can ski all day on groomed track and afterwards soak in thermal pools. If you’re so relaxed you can’t bear to drive home, spend the night at one of the ranch’s 13 rustic but cheerful log cabins.


With over 700 acres of land and a 13-mile network of Nordic trails, Spring Gulch, about 15 minutes from the ranch, has something for everyone. For those just learning how to cross-country ski, there are plenty of beginner and intermediate trails, including Rafter-T, Rabbit Run, and Lazy Eight. There are also longer tours, like Finlandia, and steeper climbs like Highball for the more advanced skiers in the family. 

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The Rock Climber's Ultimate Multitool

16377-EvoWood Nail Clipper 580Wenger Evowood Nail Clipper: Swiss Army Knives and Leathermans are handy, but any committed climber will tell you that the tool they're most often pining for at the crag is a nail clipper. Ever tried to jam your feet into climbing shoes having forgotten to cut your toe nails? Crimpping, gripping or jamming without a fingernail trim is just as ugly, and can turn a redpoint into a bleeding fingernail hang on the rope at the last hold.

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Shredders, Start Your GoPros

I snuck away on Saturday for a ski day at Taos, my first of the season. The mountain was in fine form, thanks to a storm track that dumped nearly two feet of snow last week, and my little posse and I started the day with a hike to 12,481-foot Kachina Peak. From the top, we had stellar views across the valley to Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s high point, and to an avalanche-swept bowl on Lake Peak, just to the south. Our run down Main Street was chunky on top, but softer towards the bottom, and we followed that with another couple laps on the Ridge, skiing foot-deep powder in the trees of Treskow and Billy Sol—the kind of hero snow that made me wish I had a helmet cam. 

If I had, I could have filmed our turns and put it up on claimMYrun, a new “purpose-media” website where skiers and boarders post POV videos of their favorite lines on their favorite mountains. CMR went live two weeks ago and its more than 250 original videos have been viewed 35,000 times, arguably making it the fastest-growing collection of DIY, user-generated ski flicks on the web. You might think the biggest user group are dudes in their 20s and 30s, but the kids are moving in fast. “Ten and 11-year-old boys love it!” founder Brett Hills told me when we met up for après ski beers at the Stray Dog. “They don’t want to just ski the sweet lines, they want to document them and claim them." Like this clip from Coop and his gang of 12-14 year-old freestylers from Snowmass.   

Snowmass Jib from JF Bruegger on Vimeo.


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Inflatable Snowshoes for an Emergency


Have you ever left your snowshoes home because they were too bulky to carry, only to regret it mid hike when you were postholing to your thighs in deep snow? Stories of stranded snowmobilers mired in the woods after they ran out of gas inspired Alaskan oil field worker Rick Stafford to create Airlite inflatable snowshoes. Made from the same bladder material used inside inflatable rafts, these puncture proof snowshoes are 36" long and about 16" wide, big enough to support around 200-pounds. In your pack, each deflated shoe rolls up to the size of a tallboy. The shoes inflate with a hand-held bike pump or with a compressed air cartridge via a schraeder valve, the valve used in most bike tubes.

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