On a very cold single-digit kind of winter morning, I was remiss in putting peanuts out for our friendly neighborhood squirrel. We have both a squirrel feeder and a bird feeder to keep all of our suburban wildlife happy, so when Earl the squirrel—who is very much a creature of schedule—found his peanut supply empty, he decided to resort to other means. Lesson learned; be sure to fill the squirrel feeder before nine!
I arrived a bit early to Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs in Ouray, Colorado to find the front desk manager deep in conversation with a group of women—guests of the lodge and locals, it seemed—about hiking boots and blister prevention. Joanne Salette told me to help myself to the light continental breakfast she had laid out for her guests, while I waited for the owner, Karen Avery, to arrive. The lobby ladies were soon off on a hiking adventure, and I had some time to chat with Joanne. I learned that she had climbed all the Colorado 14,000-foot peaks—the “14ers”—some of them multiple times, and had the kind of knowledge and demeanor that would attract the attention of both newcomers and veterans in the sports of hiking and mountaineering. The peaks were one of my passions, but I was here for the hot springs, doing research for a book, Touring Colorado Hot Springs 2nd, and so that conversation would have to wait.
For multi-sport racers in most parts of the country, the next season is starting up soon. You probably have been doing some off-season training of one kind or another. I live in the Northeast, and for me winter training focuses mainly on stretching, weight-lifting, and a 30-60 minute session or two of fast-walking/jogging on the weekends. My first race each season is the New York Triathlon Club’s “March Madness” duathlon, held in New York City’s Central Park at the end of March. I get into my race-training routine at the beginning of that month, once the weather becomes more conducive for it. But in addition to the physical work, there is a mental routine that I go through each year to get ready for the next racing season.
You’ve got to be seen to be safe—it’s a rule many of us who exercise outdoors at dawn or dusk don’t take seriously enough. Running in a white t-shirt at night, for instance, does not make you visible to drivers. If that sounds like an overstatement, just take 3M’s “No White at Night” video challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of reflective accessories and clothing on the market to help you stay safe on dark roads. Here’s some great, bright and shiny gear that stood out (so to speak) to me as I toured the floor at the recent Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.
Each summer and winter more than 20,000 people in the outdoor industry converge upon Salt Lake City at the Outdoor Retailer show. Over 1,000 brands of outdoor equipment are represented at the show, FalconGuides among them. It’s kind of like the world’s most gigantic outdoor store with all the coolest gear—except nothing is for sale. Not there, at least. The purpose of the show is for retailers to meet with gear manufacturers (exhibitors) and decide what gear to order for their shops, where the sales will eventually take place.
For the show attendees, the four-day event is a lot of work. Retailers ask about new products; exhibitors talk up the new offerings and do their best to sell, sell, sell. But along with the work come good times: The outdoor industry is a tight-knit group, and at the show friendships are made and kept for years. The festivities include music shows (up-and-coming Seattle hip-hop artist Macklemore performed this year), outdoor-apparel fashion shows, industry cocktail parties—even floor hockey games where brands compete with each other and hope to escape without injury!
When you stand in the booth all day, people-watching as the throngs file by, the buzz is palpable. Everybody seems energized by the common purpose of providing the products people need to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether they want to go hiking, climbing, skiing, paddling, running, snowshoeing, or just about any other outdoor activity you can think of.
Here, then, are some of the highlights seen and heard this winter:
This year's Winter Trails Day was a great success, thanks to the large turnout of people across the country looking to try their hands at snowshoeing and cross country skiing, many of them for the first time. The 18th Annual Winter Trails Day provided free snowshoeing and cross country skiing, complete with free equipment and free expert help to show participants the skills they needed to get started. Here, courtesy of SnowSports Industries America (SIA), is some behind-the-scenes footage of the day: