The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Oct 2012

What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?

What would you like to do if money were no object?

Philosopher Alan Watts asked that question of students getting ready to leave school and enter into a career. He's dead now, but thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can listen to his three-minute lecture. Nevermind if you're not a student. It's a fun and important exercise to try at any age. Who knows? Maybe the answer will change your life.

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The Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4: A Two Bedroom Tent Fit for a Family

Eggbar_wiOctober solitude on the Rio Chama. Photo: Katie Arnold

Last weekend we went camping on the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico. This wilderness canyon is one of our favorite places in the Southwest, and we figured it would be one of the last warmish weekends of the year. Time to sneak in one final night under the stars before winter.

It was snowing in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains the morning we left, so we debated bringing our 1961 Airstream trailer. We have a tumultuous love/hate relationship with the Airstream. I love it once we get to where we’re going, but Steve hates towing it. Something’s always falling off or breaking, and it’s an absolute bear to get up the driveway. Steve jokingly named it the Broken Capillary after he burst a blood vessel in one eye trying to back it up the gravel hill. In the year and a half since we got it, we've taken it on (mis)adventures in Marfa, Crested Butte, and Colorado, and at some point during every trip Steve threatens to put it on Craigslist.

This time, though, because we were only going for a night, it seemed far simpler to leave the Airstream at home and bring the next best thing: the new Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 tent.

Eggbar_wiNot your typical family tent. Photo: Courtesy Big Agnes

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Expedition Watch: Kayaking Around South America

Screen Shot 2012-10-19 at 9.08.39 PMFreya's blog. Screenshot:

The patchwork of multi-colored, multi-sized sponsor logos; the bold orange, yellow, and incredibly small, white text littered against a black background; and the tiny photo thumbnails on Freya Hoffmeister's blog offer all of the appeal of a used car dealership homepage circa 1998. The headlines are little more than dates. The fact-packed location readings are heavy on the numbers. And the time estimates on how long it will take you to read, say, Hoffmeister's 929-word dispatch that leads with a cat eating her garbage (3:43) or the story behind a picture of a kitten poking its head out of a Christmas tree (0:28) aren’t so click-inducing either. But you should still go to her site and tap on the headlines.

Screen Shot 2012-10-21 at 12.37.47 PM"Trailing seals at Punta Lobos" —Freya Hoffmeister. Photo:

They will lead you to bigger pictures and posts that take you inside a school of giant red jellyfish, the homes of coastal Chilean families, and onto remote beaches with decaying cannons and sheer cliffs where Hoffmeister calculates whether a mutant wave crashing in during the middle of the night could sweep her away. It’s a sometimes weary, often jovial sea log filled with plenty of photos and a tough German’s deadpan musings on the exploratory life. Even her friends aren’t spared from her camera and honest spillings. Take, for example, her journal entries on Peter Unold, the companion from Denmark who joined her on the paddle from Valparaiso, Chile, to the middle of Peru.

We were conveniently launching off the sheltered beach, and were soon again on our way. After the last weeks being “plug in free,” Peter decided this morning to use his MP3 player again, which locks me out of communication. Can’t say I like it, paddling next to a deaf person ... and I decided to paddle as close to the rocks as Peter never dares to do any way.... —October 4, Day 288

She may have regretted writing that last bit, given what happened to Peter’s boat on October 11, Day 295.

Screen Shot 2012-10-21 at 12.34.46 PM"Peter's boxer nose kayak :-)" —Freya Hoffmeister. Photo:

Long story short, Peter caught a small swell wave paddling just through the gap entrance, and couldn’t help getting a bit turned and was hitting his bow quite ugly on a rock ... bad enough, but he also got turned sideways on this small swell wave, fully 90 degrees in the only about 4m-wide entrance, and was lifted up with the damaged bow and stern on the rocks on both ends ... he was now sitting high and dry and quite helplessly locked in! If it hadn’t been so serious, I would have almost been laughing....

Peter was OK, but he put a huge hole in his kayak, which Hoffmeister had to spend a lot of time repairing. Instead of grumbling Peter's name over the next few days, she used the occasion to have some fun on her blog—ribbing him in the caption of her next photo.

Screen Shot 2012-10-21 at 12.29.31 PM"On the next rock gap landing, Peter will pad his kayak nose like this! :-)" — Freya Hoffmeister. Photo:

Maybe she offered the same sort of ribbing while paddling? If so, it's not hard to imagine why Peter brought those headphones.

Hoffmeister emailed us from Iquique, Chile, to share additional information about her expedition. Find out more below, and then spend some time on her blog.

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Adventure Video of the Week: The Gimp Monkeys

When climbers Jarem Frye, Craig DeMartino, and Pete Davis met at the 2006 Extremity Games, an X Games-style event for amputee athletes, one of them proposed tackling a big wall in Yosemite. "The three of us are all climbers first, and then second, we're disabled," says Arc'Teryx athlete Craig DeMartino. "And so, if climber is what you are, one of the best things you can do as a climber is to climb El Cap."

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A Minimalist Running Shoe You'll Want to Wear All the Time


For years, runners have been told that technology—bags of air, gel, shock absorbing and overbuilt arch and heel support—is supposed to make running better. Still, there is no proof that overbuilt support systems reduce injury or make running better for you. In fact, there are many studies now that show just the opposite.

Skora began four years ago as a passion project of founder and CEO David Sypniewski, a longtime runner. He set out to design a shoe that would allow him to run more naturally.

"There is indeed now a movement toward products that encourage more natural running form," says Sypniewski. Some call it barefoot, minimal, natural or free. "We believe that the best technology available is the human body, and design our products to respect this. Skora shoes allow the human body to function as naturally and efficiently as possible."

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