Pepper and I are gearing up again! We are getting excited to get back outside after a weather roller-coaster winter. It started off great but the ups and downs started in January. There were always signs and anticipation for more snow, but not much panned out. We are mixing it up a little on our latest trip and will put our hip flexors to the test…and hopefully get some good turns to accompany all of the elevation gain.
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.
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:
Happy 2013! With a new year comes new adventures--both big and small, near and far--and new outdoor skills and challenges to conquer. And since there's no better time to start planning the next big trip, conquest, or skill to learn, we asked this question of some of our beloved Falcon authors:
“What’s on your outdoor adventure wish list for 2013?”
I would guess that many of us are familiar with the Devil’s Tower National Monument, one of the filming locations for 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in northeast Wyoming? The volcanic neck tops out at 5,112 feet above sea level and juts up 865 feet from the ground with nothing but grasslands and pine forests surrounding it. Such an odd formation to be in this location that it is known as a sacred site to the Lakota and over twenty other tribes in the area. The tower is a popular destination for rock climbers and park tourists alike.
It was my third morning at the Grand Canyon and I still had a nagging cough and a scratchy, dry throat. No doubt my mother and cousin, who shared a double-queen–size room with me at the Maswik Lodge, were cursing me for keeping them awake with my constant hacking. But I woke with renewed vigor and the prospect of a short hike to Shoshone Point, manageable even while fighting a cold. My trusty copy of FalconGuides’ Hiking Grand Canyon promised “quiet solitude” and “truly dramatic vistas” of the eastern Grand Canyon. Though the park had not been crowded during the November weekdays, I anticipated much more traffic on this Saturday morning—which was confirmed by sounds of car doors slamming and luggage rolling on concrete sidewalks outside the lodge.
My cousin and I took the short drive up Desert View Road to an unsigned trailhead where ours was the only car in the lot. As soon as we exited the car and walked past the trailhead gate, brand new scents and sights assailed me. Ponderosa pines towered over us and a blanket of soft pine needles littered the ground. I glanced at my cousin. “I’m going to go smell a tree.”