August 28, 2014

Good job, Laird, for going viral and saving a man from drowning all in one week.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Laird Hamilton Has the Best Week Ever

Shoots the pier, saves a man's life

It's no secret that we think Laird Hamilton is great. Really great. And the 50-year-old surfing legend is still at it, making the news twice in the span of two days as Hurricane Marie brings huge surf to Southern California's beaches.

First, he gave onlookers at Malibu Lagoon (also known as Surfrider Beach) quite a spectacle Tuesday when he decided to go out into the massive waves and "shoot the pier." That means he rode the wave through gaps in the posts beneath the Malibu Pier—and all on a stand-up paddleboard. Onlookers caught it on film, fortunately, as shooting the pier is not an easy trick (some have even died attempting to do it).

Hamilton just kept on going Wednesday morning, showing up at Malibu beach in time to help two other men save a distressed surfer. The man had lost his board in the strong surf and was swept toward some rocks, a witness told Los Angeles' ABC7 News. After swimming the man back to shore, Hamilton said, "Oh, he was happy, he was thankful. His eyes were big, and he was appreciative that he was back on the land."

Suffice it to say there's a lot going on at Southern California's beaches at the moment. Thousands continue to flock to the shore as category 5 Hurricane Marie, spinning in the Pacific, kicks up waves reaching 15 feet. The huge surf has been a recent highlight for some, but it looks like it's been one-upped by a surfing great who just won't quit.

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Views like these won't come easily for Grand Canyon hiking and running groups by mid-September.     Photo: Morgner Felix/Flickr

R2R Permits Required at Grand Canyon

Beginning September 15

The National Park Service announced yesterday that noncommercial groups organizing rim-to-rim and extended day hikes and runs through Grand Canyon National Park's inner canyon will require interim special use permits as of September 15, until it releases a revised Backcountry Management Plan to deal with park congestion and visitor behavior.

Running the 21 miles separating the canyon's North and South Rims, and even running the distance twice, has become increasingly popular during the past few years. Rangers estimate that up to 800 people gape at the park's storied red rock during peak spring and fall weekends, with 400 to 600 of those being rim-to-rim runners and hikers hauling up and down 4,000-foot drops and climbs.

This increased appreciation for America's wild places has resulted in some problems for the park—increased litter, abandoned gear on trails, overburdened search-and-rescue teams, overwhelmed infrastructure, crowded restrooms, and unprepared or injured runners, to name a few. Enter the interim guidelines.

"With rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running increasing in popularity, we needed to find an interim solution that would give us the tool to educate hikers and runners on best practices until we have a longer-term solution in place," park superintendent Dave Uberuaga said in a statement. These practices include Leave No Trace principles and trail safety guidelines.

Interim permits will remain in play until the park completes the update to its 1988 Backcountry Management Plan. A draft of the plan is expected this fall, after the park completes an environmental impact statement. Those interested in contributing to or monitoring the BMP should visit the park's website.

Thinking of running rim-to-rim or rim-to-rim-to-rim, like our correspondent Katie Arnold did, as part of an organized group? Here's what you need to know:

What qualifies as a noncommercial, organized group? "Any group, regardless of size, which has advertised to the general public, required individuals to sign up prior to participation, or that has an organizer who has been compensated for their services, including subsidized participation, will be required to obtain a Special Use Permit."

How do groups get permits? Groups should apply for permits, which cost $175 each, through the Grand Canyon National Park's website. Groups are allowed one permit per day, and there is no limit to the number of groups that can get permits each day.

How many people can be in a group? The park is limiting groups to 30 people. Of note: In a group of seven, at least one member should be a Wilderness First Responder or have certification in emergency response, CPR, or first aid. Groups exceeding seven people need two certified members.

Can commercial groups get permits? No. The park isn't considering extending the opportunity to commercial groups after the interim period either.

What's it like to run rim-to-rim? Arnold waxed poetic for us about her experience:

"The wonder of the Inner Gorge made me want to cry. The rock was so old; it was indifferent to joy and pain, success, or failure. I could be anything in this canyon, and it wouldn't matter. We were tiny and new, specks on the landscape. This was true freedom. This is why I'd come. This is why I run."

Those interested in running the canyon are encouraged to review Arnold's full report, as well as her tips for planning the best route.

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Is it really even a choice?     Photo: Jamie Grill/Thinkstock

Junk Food Rewires Your Brain

Makes healthy diets unappealing

A study published Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Psychology suggests that eating junk food keeps you from trying new foods and rewires the brain to make healthy, balanced diets unappealing. “Eating junk food seems to change the response to signals that are associated with food reward,” study co-author Margaret Morris told Newsweek.

The study was conducted on two groups of rats. One group was fed a healthy diet of rat kibble, and the other group was fed unhealthy human foods such as cookies, cake, and pie. The junk food group continually overindulged in the food they had just eaten, while the healthy diet group stopped responding to the food they had eaten. “Exposure to this Western diet appears to change the way the brain responds to these cues,” said Morris, according to Time. “Their ability to discriminate what they’d just eaten is impaired, and we think that might contribute to overconsumption. If you don’t remember what you just had, maybe you keep eating.” 

Because this study was conducted on animals, the results cannot yet be translated to human responses, but for the sake of your workouts and your waistline, pass on those potato chips.

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Don't be so caught up in capturing the moment that you miss the moment.     Photo: EpicStockMedia/Thinkstock

This Is How You Stop Looking at Your Phone

Moment app tracks tech time

According to a recent Nielsen study, Americans spend an average of 270 hours per month staring at screens. When it comes to digital detox, the first step is awareness. That's where a new app called Moment comes in. 

Launched this summer, the app automatically tracks how much you use your phone each day. Moment also lets you set daily limits and nudges that will notify you when you near or surpass your self-allotted number of minutes. App creator Kevin Holesh says he wants people to find a balance of "connected and disconnected" that's right for them, according to the Washington Post.

Holesh used to spend 75 minutes per day on his iPhone. He's now down to 40 minutes per day, according to the Moment website. "Moment's goal isn't to get you to put down your phone and go live in the woods," writes Holesh. That might not be the goal, but it sounds like a pretty good idea to us. 

Moment is available in the iTunes store for $5.

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