Backpacking! Unlike hiking, or trail running, backpacking is something that carries a bit of mystique - and a bit of fear for the casual adventurer. While there are many reasons for those - and other feelings, the main reason is that until one learns what to bring - and not to bring, the sport can seem a little daunting. In my opinion, backpacking is a great way to experience all of the unique spots around the world. I also think that, generally, once one gets a little experience in the sport it gets progressively easier and progressively more enjoyable. In this video I cover what gear I carried for a basic two-day trip up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek in the Eastern Sierra. While the gear in the video is somewhat specifically tailored for the trip, it would also be great example for other two day trips, like the one I discussed a few years ago to May Lake. Got any suggestions or comments about what you like or dislike about backpacking? Let me know in the comments below!
Skydiving. Unlike many outdoor activities, skydiving is something that everyone has an opinion on, whether they have experienced it, considered it, or ruled it out as something that will never occur in this lifetime. Also, unlike many outdoor activities, skydiving is an “extreme” sport, and something that has a higher barrier to entry than many outdoor activities. One of the main costs that impacts the sport is that unless one happens to be USPA Certified, one must take their first jump with an instructor in a tandem rig. It is also worth noting that in 2016, with the advent of base jumping, wingsuits, bungee jumping and other newer extreme sports, skydiving is not perceived as “extreme” as it was twenty years ago. But, for the casual adventure-seeker, or for someone who has never participated in an “extreme” activity, it is something that still provides a huge rush of adrenaline. Even though I had participated in many “extreme” or “adventure” activities over the years, skydiving for me was something that was always off on the horizon – meaning that while it was something that I wanted to do, it wasn’t something I was going to do right away. However, a couple of weeks ago, I decided that it was time to make my future plans presentplans, and took my first jump.
For many people, the terms "Lenin" and "Communism" evoke dark memories of the Cold War, and the potential for mutually assured nuclear destruction. For other people, however, the remnants of the former Soviet Union are noteworthy for their cultural significance in the world's larger historic picture. Irrespective of how one feels about the former Soviet Union, its art, propaganda, and iconography, one can view some of it with ease in Seattle in the form of a giant, sixteen ton iron statue of Lenin which now sits on Fremont street corner. Originally designed and constructed in 1988 by Emil Venkov, it was later consigned to a trashheap (literally) after the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended. Slightly before it was scheduled to be melted down, a Seattle resident, Lewis Carpenter found it, and felt that it should be preserved. For $41,000.00 Carpenter was able to purchase the statue, and move it to Fremont, where it has resided since, despite mixed feelings about its presence. Since Carpenter's passing in 1994, the statue has been for sale on numerous occasions, however, as of the present date, no party has stepped forward to make an artistic purchase of this magnitude.
Whether one is a casual mountaineer or climber, or a veteran outdoor enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard of Ueli Steck, or as he is generally known, “the Swiss Machine”. With two Piolet d’Or Awards, innumerable fastest known ascent times, and the recent accolade from National Geographic in 2015 as one of their “Adventurers of the Year”, Ueli Steck has a list of honors and accomplishments that most people can only dream of. Recently, in an interval between climbing trips, Ueli was touring the United States in connection with the American Alpine Club’s 2016 National Athlete Tour. During the tour’s stop in San Diego, I was fortunate to sit down for a few minutes with Ueli during his day and quickly learned that being a professional alpinist calls for busy days both in the backcountry and in urban settings. Prior to chatting with me, Ueli had arrived in San Diego late the prior night before from his previous tour destination, and had spent the day climbing, getting his hair cut, eating tacos at San Diego’s well-known Lucha Libre, and of course preparing for his nightly presentation and the next stop on the tour. Despite his hectic schedule, we were able to have a relaxed conversation about mountaineering and travel, and where he sees the sport going over the next couple of years.
While all of Costa Rica is stunning, one of the more popular regions in the country is the Arenal/La Fortuna Region. With a nearby lake, a national park, and many adventure opportunities the area truly has something for just about every adventure traveler. Without a question, however, the high point of the area is Arenal Volcano, both literally and figuratively. Although the volcano has not been active since 2010, and climbers and hikers are not allowed on its slopes, it is a must-see location in the area. One of the best locations with unobstructed views of the volcano is also one of the area’s historic sites, the trails at Arenal 1968.
For most people, Washington is the land of trees, mountains, rain, waterfalls, and the Space Needle. While Washington is more than all of these things, it is a state with stunning waterfalls. Like any location, all of the state’s waterfalls have the own unique charm and features, which makes rating them a subjective task at best. However, in my opinion, the one of the best – if not the best waterfalls in the entire state of Washington is Sol Duc Falls, which is easily accessible by a short hike in Olympic National Park. If the “best waterfall of Washington” claim wasn’t enticing enough, the falls are also located in a historic area of the park, the Sol Duc region.
One of the more interesting pieces of public art in Seattle can be found in Fremont; although technically, if one’s being honest, a lot of interesting things can be found in Fremont. In case you’ve never heard of Fremont, it is a suburb of Seattle that was its own town until it was annexed in 1891. Today, Fremont is known for its claim that it is “the Center of the Universe”, for its unique and funky vibe, and for its street art. Even though the reclaimed giant statute of Vladimir Lenin is fairly impressive, the Fremont Troll is by far the most-well known piece of art in Fremont.