The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Apr 2010

The Marathon Diaries: Adventures in Moose Country

Ride your bike on any major road in my hometown, Jackson, Wyoming, and there's a chance you'll ride past a row of stopped cars and dozens of wide-eyed, camera-toting tourists, gawking at moose, elk and bison. Animals are literally everywhere in this little northwestern corner of the state.

I don't like road running, especially in a place where tourists' eyes seem to never be on the road. Lucky for me, Jackson has a prolific number of off-leash trail systems where my dog, Santos, can sprint up a hillside and then dive bomb into a river. He's a very happy dog.

UnknownSantos is my trail running partner, my ill-advised pace setter, and my inspiration to run. He's almost the perfect little training buddy, until we run into a moose that is, which brings up today's lesson: How to Run in Moose Country.

Santos was nine months old when he met his first moose. We were running in town when he took off into someone's yard. It wasn't a squirrel he was after. The tables turned quickly and soon that baby moose was chasing my brand new mutt, kicking its double-jointed legs at him. He survived, unscathed, but he squealed like a frightened pig all the way home. Perfect!, I thought. He's scared of moose. And he was, for exactly one year and three months.

Unknown-1Then last week, my now two-year-old pup recovered from his post-traumatic stress and decided to enact revenge on the giant, four-legged, antlered creatures. Santos and I were training on Jackson's most popular dog-friendly trail, Cache Creek, which also happens to be one of the favorite hangouts of moose and elk. It's generally not an issue. They tend to ignore dogs and munch on foliage by the river. Dogs, on the whole, bored by the moose and elk's seemingly constant presence, ignore them, too. Santos, however, not only noticed the largest male moose I've ever seen but chased after it in ecstasy while simultaneously suffering from a rare case of instantaneous deafness. Funny how that happens.

I was appalled and embarrassed. It was barely spring. This moose was using up calorie-deficit reserves! Does Santos not understand the importance of the moose preserving energy in the winter? Does he have no empathy for wildlife? Is my dog heartless?

Santos and I had a long discussion and we decided that I will still allow him to train with me as long as he follows a more stringent set of rules: 1: Disobey me once and he's back on the leash. 2: Come back immediately when I call him and he gets a giant treat. 3: Don't run to me if a moose starts chasing him. I will be in or behind a tree.

And, you know what, he's actually getting better. Even Outside's dog guru and overseer of Outside's dog blog, Outsidek9.com, Grayson Schaffer, would be proud of his behavior.

--Christina Erb, christinaerb.com

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Advice From Adventure Travel Professionals

In editing our survival guide to adventure travel this month, I had a chance to speak with three star travelers who spend a good portion of their lives on the road. These were their top tips for staying healthy and in top shape in far-flung destinations, when food and professional medical care can be scarce. —JUSTIN NYBERG

I bring enough PowerBars so I can eat them three times a day if necessary. I bring gels, and I always travel with a few packs of all-natural turkey jerky, so I have protein.—Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods

It’s important to stay clean. Iodine to clean wounds. Purell. People make fun of Purell, but touching things, shaking hands—that’s how you’ll pick something up.—Antonin Kratochvil, photojournalist and former conscript of the French Foreign Legion

What’s got me in most places is heat exhaustion. I’ve made fun of this in the past, when I was a younger traveler. But I’m telling you, that’s it. When you’re at home, you’re not in the sun for 12 hours. This is what is right in your face that will sidetrack a trip really quickly. Wear a hat, drink a lot of water, and take a break in the middle of the day.—Robert Reid, U.S. Travel Editor, Lonely Planet

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The Gear Junkie Scoop: Inov-8 Roclite 285

Inov-8 Roclite 285 By Stephen Regenold

Loved to death. That was the case with my first pair of Inov-8 Roclite 285s, a shoe that I destroyed after a year of use and a couple hundred collective miles of trail traveled underfoot. The shoe--lightweight and flexible, with a sole of small, sticky-rubber teeth--proved to be fast and sure-footed on trail runs, at orienteering meets, and in a half-dozen adventure races I competed in over a season.

That was three years ago. The mesh uppers on my first pair eventually blew out. The sole started to come apart. I'm now on my fourth pair of 285s, which have not proven to be the most durable shoes ever made. But they do happen to be my favorite.

Of the dozens of trail-running shoes I have tested over the years, the Roclite 285s, which are a neutral-position, unisex shoe, fit the best and perform admirably across a spectrum of terrain. From sprints on trails to orienteering off-trail in the woods, the shoes have rarely let me down.

This is a niche product, priced at $95. Not everyone will like the minimalist feel. In my size 13, the Inov-8 285s weigh just 11.8 ounces per shoe--a third less weight than comparable models. There is a low-profile midsole and almost no heel padding. You can feel the ground, rocks and all, beneath your feet. Protection on the front of the shoe from stubbing toes is almost non-existent.

Further, for running on roads, these shoes are usually out. For me, they are too minimal to be used for training on pavement.

But in the mountains or woods, the "elite trail and adventure racing shoe," as the company calls it, feels like an extension of my anatomy. Each ground strike of the shoe is precise. There is no heel-to-toe roll at all. The sticky rubber and tread grip rocks, dirt, and mud (though it slips, like most rubber-sole shoes, on snow, ice, wet sticks, leaves, and fallen logs).

The "natural" feel of the 285s can be credited partially to Inov-8's unique sole design, which includes rubber channels or "fingers" that replicate the plantar fascia ligament in the foot. The design is touted to increase stability of the arch area, which in turn increases "the propulsive efficiency of the shoe."

Sounds gimmicky, but the 285 has proven solid in my years of hard use. The company markets its fascia-band design as a feature that can add efficiency and reduce fatigue. For me, it works. The shoe feels faster and more natural than anything else I have laced up and experienced underfoot.

--Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

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Getting Ready for The Eyes of Willie McGee

The Eyes of Willie McGeeFor the past few years, my Outside colleague Alex Heard--whose office is right next door to mine--has been working nights and weekends on a nonfiction book called The Eyes of Willie McGee, which is about a courtroom drama in Mississippi that took place between 1945 and 1951, a case whose real-life details share obvious parallels with the rape trial depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird.

 The book comes out next month from HarperCollins, and Heard has just launched a companion Web site, www.eyesofwilliemcgee.com, where he describes the book, writes original posts inspired by his reporting experiences, and serves up everything from archival photos to a rare news-radio broadcast that happened when the story came to its grim conclusion in 1951.

Read what Jon Grisham thinks about the bookAt the center of everything is a dramatic crime and, as Heard explained it to me, a nagging mystery about who was telling the truth during a saga that involved many accusations and counter-accusations. A white woman in the small city of Laurel, Mississippi, claimed she was raped by a black man named Willie McGee. McGee narrowly escaped getting lynched, and his first trial was a kangaroo-court affair that resulted in a guilty verdict and death sentence after only two minutes of jury deliberation. Behind the scenes, a Communist-affiliated civil rights group based in New York took over the case, hiring a young lawyer named Bella Abzug to help save McGee's life. During the next few years, the whole thing mushroomed from an obscure example of rough southern justice into a national and international cause that captivated hundreds of thousands of people. McGee eventually claimed that the real story involved a love affair, not rape, claiming that the woman had seduced him. Among those who believed him--and who spoke out on his behalf--were Albert Einstein, William Faulkner, Paul Robeson, and Frida Kahlo.

Having worked next door to Heard all this time, I can't wait to see the result of his efforts. He never missed a step during his day job, but when I would see him after hours, you could tell that the book was a bigger challenge than he'd bargained for. Usually, his floor was covered with papers--trial transcripts, old newspaper stories, letters, huge stacks of information he'd pried loose using Freedom of Information Act requests--and it's fair to say he didn't get outside much. (Or any.) Now that it's all over, his friends here are gently suggesting that he go take a hike. If that doesn't work, I'll just steal his keyboard.

Click to pre-order a copy of the book, e-book, or audio book.

The Eyes of Willie McGee

--Joe Spring

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Youngest on Everest: Heading to Base Camp


Watch CBS News Videos Online


Jordan Romero and his team are two days into their journey to Everest's north side base camp. The team left Kathmandu on Saturday and is currently in Nyalam, Tibet at an altitude of 12,000 ft. If all goes as planned, they should reach the Chinese base camp on April 15.

Jordan has also been picking up a fair amount of press, including a BBC story, an AP video, and a video clip on CBS's The Early Show with Scott Brown's daughter, Ayla. Of course, we still prefer Bruce Barcott's April profile of Jordan for Outside.

Team Romero has also posted another phlog (below)! The auto-transcription is only slightly better this week. "Jim Jordan" should be Team Jordan. And "Everest Space Camp" - as amazing as it sounds - is really Everest Base Camp.

-- Jonah Ogles

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