The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2012

Video: 'The Bone Carver'

Sylvester Ayek survives by subsistence hunting and by turning his take into art. The Inupiat elder carves the ivory from walruses into jewelry and sculptures. In The Bone Carver, the Nome, Alaska, resident shares how he learned to hunt and carve during a childhood on King Island in the Bering Sea.

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Why We Run

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Early morning burn at the Jemez Mountains Trail Run. Photo: Mark Schraad

I was going to write this post last week, but I was too busy eating my weight in chocolate chip cookies and lentil salad to get ready for the Jemez Mountains 50 Kilometer Trail Run. The race, which took place on Saturday in Los Alamos, was my first “ultra.” I’ve trained for other runs and mountain bike races, and always, in the days leading up to the event, I’ve felt immeasurable gratitude at the realization that, after it’s over, I can quit training and go back to real life. Not unlike the feeling you get after you give birth, and you look down and can finally see your toenails again and all you can think is, Thank God I’m not pregnant anymore.

But not this time. I can honestly say that I’ve had a blast these past three months, logging long hours on my favorite trails in the mountains around Santa Fe. So what was different? I’m still trying to understand what happened, but the best I can describe it is: I ran for the feeling, not for the results. I ran from the inside.

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The decsent's the hardest part? Coming off Pajarito Mountain. Photo: Jim Stein Photography

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Chris Sharma Reflects on His Early Climbing Days, Future Projects

Sharma_close_crop_may2012_interviewChris Sharma. Photo: Mary Catherine O'Connor

As we've reported before, California's state parks are in the midst of a crisis that could result in many of them closing on July 1. While the initial list contained 70 parks, many of these have received at least temporary reprieves thanks to infusions of cash from concerned third parties. Others, such as China Camp in San Rafael, are still hoping they can keep their gates open.

Castle Rock State Park, near Santa Cruz, is very close to being spared a July 1 closure thanks to an infusion of $250,000 from the Sempervirens Fund, a land trust organization based in Los Altos, California. The reprieve, which would only mean funding the park for one year and is therefore far from a permanent solution, is just a signature away from being official, says the fund's director Reed Holderman.

Castle Rock also happens to hold a special place in the heart of one of the world's most revered sport climbers, Chris Sharma. A Santa Cruz native, Sharma established many bouldering routes throughout Castle Rock. It was his first outdoor climbing spot. To help drum up support for the park, Sharma traveled to the Bay Area to give four slideshow talks over two days at Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville and at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz.

The night he kicked off the short slideshow tour, Adventure Ethics spoke to Sharma about the influence Castle Rock had on his early career and how it rates on a global scale.

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How Do Astronauts Lift Weights in Space?

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As astronauts spend more and more time in space, their bodies degenerate. Gravity doesn't exist as it does on earth, and so there isn't the same amount of resistance from weights. During space flight, astronauts experience a force of gravity one-millionth as strong as we experience on earth. In such conditions, a benchpress or Bowflex would be little more than a prop with which to record some amazing YouTube videos.

With nothing to simulate the resistance of free weights, an astronaut could lose muscle mass and bone density. One study found that after a six-month stay in space, astronauts lost 15 percent of the mass and 25 percent of the strength in their calves. It's for that reason that NASA spent a lot of time and money creating a fancy machine complete with sensors, pistons, cables, computers, balancing devices, and lots of high grade metal. They named it the Advanced Resistance Exercise Device, or aRED for short. Astronauts simply call it "The Beast."

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The Best American Bicycle-Friendly Lists of 2012

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Find out how your state ranks using this interactive graphic

In case you haven't noticed, May is National Bike Month, and with it comes a slew of annual bike lists. Here's a quick round-up of some of the best lists so far.

The League of American Bicyclists released its 2012 Bicycle-Friendly States Rankings. Washington wins again and Arkansas comes in last.

Bicycling ranks America's Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities. Portland wins for many reasons, including the fact that it's the only city given a platinum rating by The League of American Bicyclists.

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