The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2012

The 10 Best National Park Adventures With Kids

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High on the trail in the Acadia backcountry. Photo: Kurdistan/Shutterstock

By Michael Lanza

Day Hiking Acadia National Park, Maine
Ages: All (depending on hike)

Acadia seems designed for hiking with kids: Numerous trails deliver constant views many of the best hikes are relatively short; and the steep, rocky terrain often requires exciting scrambling. The 1.3-mile hump up and back down The Beehive involves an exposed ascent of a cliff via ledges and iron rungs drilled into the rock. The easy, 1.6-mile walk to Great Head leads to the top of cliffs rising straight out of a pounding sea. The relatively flat and popular 3.6-mile Ocean Path follows the rocky shore from Sand Beach to Otter Point, passing by Thunder Hole, where waves crashing into a pocket in granite create an explosive popping noise, and over Otter Cliffs, the tallest sea cliffs on Mount Desert Island. The 4.2-mile loop over the rocky domes called North and South Bubble climbs just a few hundred feet to reach postcard-like views of Jordan Pond tucked between surrounding hills. Families gunning for a more serious challenge—and views stretching from Frenchman Bay to the hills and ponds of Acadia—can take a 13.5-mile, east-west traverse of the park’s six major peaks, linking trails (and crossing some roads) from the Bear Brook Trailhead on Champlain Mountain to the parking lot north of Upper Hadlock Pond on ME 198. Blackwoods Campground is across the street from the trailhead to Cadillac Mountain, the park’s highest, and has great access to carriage trails.   

Plan your trip: http:///www.nps.gov/acad.

Exploring Ancient Ruins in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Ages: All

Before having kids, I never visited Mesa Verde. The park, in the southwestern corner of Colorado, is known for its 600 cliff dwellings and 5,000 archeological sites dating back nearly 1,500 years—but long hiking trails or climbing routes were my focus back then. My wife and I finally went with our kids when our son was three and our daughter was one, and we were amazed by the 150-room Cliff Palace and other dwellings on this windswept mesa. Pitch your tent at Morefield Campground, four miles inside the park, and take the kids on the guided tours of Spruce Tree House (a half-mile) and Cliff Palace (a quarter-mile)—the latter featuring my son’s favorite moment: climbing a series of wooden ladders up a 100-foot cliff face.

Plan your trip: http://www.nps.gov/meve.

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Outside Television Acquires Rights to 40,000-Mile Trans-Oceanic Pursuit, the Volvo Ocean Race

Immediately off a new national distribution agreement with Comcast XFinity TV, America’s active lifestyle leader, Outside Television has entered into a new partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race to provide America’s TV audience high-definition action coverage of all 10 in-port legs of the worldwide event, beginning in June.

This year’s regatta, the first ever to feature teams representing China and the United Arab Emirates, is one of the closest in the 11-time history of the event, with Team Telefonica leading Groupama Sailing Team, and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand and PUMA Ocean Racing fast at their stern, entering the Port of Miami. After its last brief dock in U.S. waters, the race heads east on its final 6,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic to ports in Lisbon, Lorient and the final July 8 in Galway, Ireland.

“The Volvo Ocean Race has a staggering history of pitting the best of each nation’s sailors against not only one another but also against the natural elements,” says Rob Faris, senior vice president of programming for Outside Television. “This is one of the truly rare spectacles of the open sea that challenges the will of anyone who possesses the combination of skill and bravery to enter.”

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Two New Tools to Help You Climb Like Chris Sharma

Screen Shot 2012-05-22 at 2.21.53 PMWalltopia will team up with Chris Sharma to design a gym. Above is a previous gym design with a 360-degree tour.

Those that have dreams of climbing like Chris Sharma have two new tools to help them reach their goal. Last week, Rock and Ice teamed up with Sharma to put out the first video in a series of climbing tutorials. Then, last Friday, Sharma released a video sharing news about Sender One, his new climbing gym in Santa Ana, California.

Screen Shot 2012-05-22 at 2.22.26 PMMany Walltopia-designed gyms feature creations that appeal to children

Sender One will open in this fall and feature designs by Sharma and climbing wall manufacturer Walltopia. The 25,000-square-foot gym will feature 50-foot route walls, 18-foot bouldering walls, an IFSC standardized speed climbing wall, an LED backlit and translucent "Space Design" wall, and a Funtopia wall for kids.

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The Economics Behind One of the Deadliest Jobs in the United States

Over parts of the last decade, cell-phone tower climbers were 10 times more likely to die on the job than construction workers. As cell-phone carriers struggled to keep up with new technologies, fix their towers to work properly after company mergers, and make sure their networks could handle rising demand, the climbers often paid a price. From 2003 to 2011, 50 climbers died while working. This news is coming to light thanks to a cooperative investigation by Pro Publica and Frontline. Some of the details in their investigation, listed below, show a lack of regard for safety and an economic scheme that favored middlemen, rather than the men putting their lives at risk.

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Auto-Wheelies and Mind Control: The Tricked-Out E-Bikes of Tomorrow

Electric bikes are for wussies, right? They're alright for commuting but they're not for sport. That might have been true in the past, but if Audi's Wörthersee e-bike and the Parlee-Toyota Prius X concept bike are any indication, things are changing.

Audi introduced the Wörthersee e-bike just last week and Toyota partnered with Parlee Cycles on a electric-assist road bike last year. Unlike other carmakers—Volkswagen, Mercedes, Lexus, Hyundai and Daimler/SmartCar—that have made recent forays into the electric bike niche, these concept bikes are not designed for commuting or easy transport inside the car. They're all about pushing technological boundaries.

Audi packed its e-bike with bells and whistles, including a setting that assists the rider into a wheelie, then helps him balance the bike and sustain one-wheel momentum. The rider can pedal with or without the motor's assistance, but when using it she can adjust the throttle by leaning her body forward or backward to control the motor speed. The bike has integrated LED lighting and an air-sprung front fork with 5.12 inches of travel. Plus, there's no need for a bike lock. A smartphone disables the bike while you're not on it.

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