The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jan 2013

Expedition Watch: Hiking the Keystone XL Trail

There's no pipeline—or anything even resembling a trail or infrastructure—yet. And that's precisely why Ken Ilgunas decided to head out in September on a 1,700-mile hike tracing the planned route for the Keystone XL Pipeline—from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to Houston, Texas. He wanted to chronicle the opinions of the people who live along the proposed route.

Before he left, Ilgunas shared all of the logistics. He detailed his food supplies (6.5 pounds of mashed potato powder and 228 candy bars), his plan for staggering his supply pickups (sending individual boxes via Priority Mail to small town post offices), and shared his design of a homemade lightweight camp stove (tin foil and an empty Purina cat food can). He wrote a post about how he broke his pinky toe after tripping down the stairs in his friend's basement to add some pre-trip drama. He wrote another post about all of the gear he would take with him, 27 pounds of stuff that includes a can of bear spray he's had at the ready for plenty of non-bear-related incidents. He's been in defense mode a fair amount of the trip, something that becomes obvious after a quick survey of of his blog post titles: "It finally happens, I'm attacked by cows," "Finally get going, have an interesting bar experience outside the Alberta/Saskatchewan border," and "A posse of paranoid Montanans surround my tent."

Here's a bit more on his trek, in case you want to follow along.

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Searching for the Perfect Waterfall in Mexico

Whitewater kayakers Erik Boomer, Tyler Bradt, and Galen Volckhausen joined adventure filmmakers Tim Kemple, Anson Fogel, Blake Hendrix, and Skip Armstrong on a trip to a remote jungle in Mexico to find the ultimate waterfall. The resulting adventure short about their quest, Cascada, drops on January 14. Here's a taste of what's to come.

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Skier Andreas Fransson in 'Tempting Fear'

In September 2012, we posted the trailer for Tempting Fear, filmmaker Mike Douglas' surprise documentary on 29-year-old extreme ski-mountaineer Andreas Fransson. Douglas originally planned to make a short about Fransson, but after discovering how articulate the athlete was he set off to tell a much longer story. Douglas followed Fransson for 17 months—from January 2011 to May 2012—as the skier returned to the slopes after a 2010 neck injury that almost killed him. In October, the resulting 25-minute movie won the Best Action Film award at the Adventure Film Festival in Boulder. You can now watch the entire flick above.

For more from Fransson, check out this Outside interview by Kelley McMillan.

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Diving Underwater in a Wheelchair

In 2010, visual artist Sue Austin received a grant from Arts Council England’s Impact Fund that allowed her to transform her wheelchair into a propelled, finned, scuba-tank-outfitted craft suited for underwater exploration. She designed it so that she could move the foot pedals to control the fins and change directions. She unveiled a series of photos and videos showing off the creation leading up to the 2012 Paralympics. Though Austin's original motivation was artistic, outfitters have expressed interest in using the device for adventure-seeking clients. "We've had PADI [Professional Association of Diving Instructors] course directors and very experienced divers saying they would pay to hire it," she told Digital Spy.

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The Hottest Year on Record, by the Numbers

201201-201212January through December 2012. Photo: NOAA

Last year was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States since record-keeping began in 1895, according to a Tuesday announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Here's a breakdown of the 2012 measurements, by the numbers.

55.3: Average temperature, in degrees Fahrenheit, for 2012. The record is 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th-century average and a full degree higher than the previous record, which was set in 1998. NOAA

26.57: Annual precipitation, in inches, for 2012. The number is 2.57 below the average, making 2012 the 15th driest year on record. NOAA

11: Number of disasters that reached the $1 billion threshold in losses. The events are believed to have caused 349 deaths. The U.S. Climate Extremes Index indicated that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation. NOAA

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