The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jul 2012

A Highlight Reel for Bodyboarders

Many people's backs will hurt just watching the above bodyboarding video. It's a five-minute montage of flips, turns, and wipeouts on thick slabs of crashing surf. For others, the video will be inspiration to get in the lineup. For others, the video will just lead to some grunting, and, possibly, swearing.

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The North Face Wants You: Become an Adventure Role Model

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For better and (only sometimes) worse, elite athletes are our role models. We admire their discipline and commitment; their strength and skill inspire us to reach higher in our own lives. When I talked to alpinist Hilaree O'Neill last month by cell phone from Everest Base Camp, I was blown away by her dedication to the mountains. Would I or could I spend 10 weeks hunkered down on the frozen flanks of the highest peak in the world? Probably not. But I can, would, and did spend 10 days finding my own edge in France, and whenever my conviction wavered, I thought of Hilaree. Badass.

But you don’t have to be pro to make a difference. Last week, outdoor gear giant The North Face launched a new Facebook app called Role Models, which encourages everyday adventurers to become outdoor mentors. The idea is simple: Make an online pledge to get outside this summer, and take someone with you.

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How to Earn the Title of 2012 Environmental Photographer of the Year

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Hui Yu Kim, "Boating Fun" (Atkins’ Young Environmental Photographer of the Year: Under 16 Highly Commended)

Don't let the incredibly long and clunky name turn you off: The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management's annual Environmental Photographer of the Year contest has a huge upside. The winner of the international competition receives a 5,000 pound ($7,800) grand prize.

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By the Numbers: The Rise of Mountain Lions in the Midwest

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Cougar. Photo: Shutterstock

Cougars are on the rise in the Midwest. From 1990 to 2008, the number of sightings confirmed by wildlife professionals increased. That's good news for fans of big cats, which were extirpated from most of that area around 1900. In a recent issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management, Michelle LaRue of the University of Minnesota documented sightings by state, courtesy of data collected from The Cougar Network. (While counting, she and her team left out numbers from two areas where cougars have established populations: the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Badlands of North Dakota post-2006.) We contacted LaRue to learn a bit more about her study, "Cougars Are Recolonizing the Midwest: Analysis of Cougar Confirmations During 1990–2008." She let us know that since 2008, the numbers have continued to increase. Here's a breakdown of the rise of mountain lions in the Midwest, by the numbers.

178: Total cougar sighting confirmations in 14 states and provinces in midwestern North America between 1990 and and 2008, using data only verified by qualified wildlife professionals.

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New Independent Toe Suspension Sandals

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Brought to you by Mark Thatcher, the guy who invented Teva's, Sazzis are sandals with individual toes cut into the sole. It's kind of like Vibram's Five Finger concept: Let your toes work independently and you get more traction, stability and agility on awkward terrain.

No one has applied this concept to a sandal ... until now. (Unless you count the ancient Anasazis.) Thatcher says his new “Toe Motion Footwear” was inspired by the pueblo-dwelling tribes of North America, whose goal it was to be light and powerful in both mind and body. He is striving for a similar result by building performance footwear “that better connects us to the environment and the outdoor activities we love.”

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