Category Archives: Adventure

Outfound Series in Oregon Finds Its Outdoor Voice

Outfound Festival

There’s a new three-day festival coming to Hood River next week and if you love playing in the outdoors and think you maybe, could, really wanna try making a living doing what you love, you just might want to head to Oregon for the inaugural Outfound Festival, June 9-11.

Event Organizer Antonio Aransaenz did exactly what he’s offering to attendees. The native New Yorker with a background in event planning decided he loved the outdoors so much, why not create a space for like-minded outdoorsy types to meet up, play and engage in their passion.

Aranasaenz likes to say his new baby Outfound is SXSW for the outdoors. Just like in filmmaking and music, “there are so many innovative and passionate people in the outdoor world, and with OUTFOUND we set out to create a festival that brings them all together. That just can’t happen at a traditional trade show or expo event,” said Aransaenz. “There’s a push in the outdoor industry for more authentic experiences and opportunities where people can really connect and hear the stories behind adventures and products.”

The Outfound Festival will encourage that dialogue while also offering a lot of playtime kiteboarding, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, SUPing, and more. “It’s a hands-on experience where you are in this outdoor venue along the Columbia River Gorge. Brands can meet directly with consumers…network, have a myriad of activities at your fingertips whether it’s networking, outdoors or entertainment focused.”

Outfound Festival

If your idea of roughing it is a three-star hotel, Outfound Festival isn’t for you.

The Outfound Festival is the only event of its kind. From the looks of the schedule, it’s a bit more than a sports fest for athletes. There are games, a speaker series of outdoors professionals, music, movies, workshops like VanLife, Feeding The Hungry Hiker and Yoga and a pitch competition like Shark Tank for outdoor ideas. There will also be an Expo: an adventure sports consumer show where brands showcase and demo their latest products. All of these activities take place on a scenic, 30-acre waterfront playground where most will camp.

“The people who get the most out of [Outfound] will be those inspired to network and leave with new friends and relationships,” said Aranasaenz. “We hope to give you ideas of where to start in the outdoor industry.”

Outfound Festival

But Aranasaenz still wanted to keep the recreational festival experience. “That’s why we kept it open to everyone,” he said. There are already 500 people signed up for the event and the special half-off promotion could double or triple those numbers fast. “We have tons of space. We’d like to see it become a yearly thing for Hood River and possibly roll it out to other places. “It’s really all about the experience and having fun and meeting new people in a fun creative way,”

OUTFOUND Series sports and outdoor innovation festival in Hood River, Oregon, runs from June 9 to 11, 2017. The half-off sale ends Sunday.

Confirmed Speakers:

– Bryan Pape (Founder Miir Water bottles)

– Damien Leroy (Professional Kitesurfer/Waterman)

– Sally Bergesen (Founder of Oiselle)

– Kevin Rutherford (CEO of Nuun) 

– Mark Healey (Big wave surfer and conservationist)

– Stephan Jacob (Co-Founder of Cotopaxi)

– Alison Vercruysse (Founder of 18 Rabbits)

– Bill Worthington (Founder of Olukai)

– Joe Desena (Founder of Spartan Race)

– Rex Burkholder (Scientist and Social Entrepreneur)

– Cedar Wright (professional Nat Geo climber)

– Steve Jones (Founder of Teton Gravity Research)

– Jamie Danek (Founder of Humm Kombucha)

– Rob Little (Founder of Cairn)

– Boone Speed (pro photographer)

Valentines For The Adventure Chick

valentine's day

My boyfriend announced yesterday that we won’t be celebrating Valentines Day. Uh, not an option. It’s not like he comes home every day with flowers and a bottle wine. He’s a great guy who represents quite well but sometimes a girl likes a little extra. And, so, we have a national holiday that boosts retail sales and our feminine egos. The women of the world deserve a day of love and sweetness even if it has to be forced upon the male populace.

The problem is that most people hate mandated gifting days because all of a sudden they have to buy the perfect gift. Being an outdoorsy partner can also present its obstacles. Flowers and chocolates? Nice, but unoriginal and zero energy. If you dig a little deeper, however; nothing terribly traumatizing like open heart surgery, you can find some tender, little, “I love you!” trinkets, that get the message across the way we would want.

P.S. Guys, DO NOT give your gal workout wear for VDay. No matter how great (or expensive) those shorts or yoga pants are, you might as well have handed her a card that says, “You’re looking a little fat. Please exercise more.” On the flipside, however, we  wouldn’t complain about a PrAna or Athleta giftcard.

Get out of the doghouse:


Phunkshun Wear infinity scarves and neckgaiters– Keep her warm, dry and still fashionable with these uber awesomely designed “neck tubes” from Colorado. The thermal tube with Polartec on the inside is water repellant and freeze resistant on the outside. Bonus: a portion of the sales go to the High Fives Foundation. $19-29.


Bodipure Keratin Hand and Foot Gloves– If a spa giftcard feels impersonal, fix up a little basket of these combo moisturizing glove packets for a stay-at-home mani/pedi. The waterless, self-activating keratin treatment will pamper and bring life back to dry, winter-damaged hands and feet. $9.95 for a pair of each.

valentines valentines

Maria Shireen Hair Tie Bracelet– You ever notice those indents in her wrists from hair ties? Give her something that’s both stylish and functional with these gorgeous bangles. The unique design cleverly hides the band and creates a fun fashion accessory. $35-120



Il Morso coffee chocolates– Energetic chicks love caffeine and they love chocolate. A gift of these little artisan tabs loaded with up to 18 mg of caffeine mix romance with fun. She’ll remember you every time she pulls one from her pocket for on-the-go pep. $60 for 40/ct.



Cairn Subscription Box– Make it a surprise for both of you if you aren’t sure what to get for your adventurous other. The company delivers outdoorsy type products – anything from socks to lanterns for a flat $25 per month. You never know what’s inside from month to month. Go for a three to 12-month subscription for the gift that keeps on giving.



Barefoot Eco Outfitters Red Moose Jogger Pants– While it’s unseemly to present exercise gear on Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing wrong with loungewear. But be careful. If you gift these unisex pants made of soft Eco Tri-blend fleece, organic cotton and rayon, you may never get her out of them. Well, at least they are more form-fitting than most sweatpants. $45




Park City Snowshoe Excursion: Gracing Guardsman Pass

park city snowshoe


I’m thinking steak sandwiches…or maybe the fish tacos. It’s not that a Park City snowshoe adventure along Guardsman Pass in itself isn’t rewarding but there’s something to be said for a cold brew and one of Deer Valley Resort’s freshly made New York steak sandwiches with Jack cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions, (mmm), after a robust trek in the mountains. And, as foresight would have it, we were positioned perfectly for both.

If you’ve ever considered snowshoeing as a way to embrace winter- or at least tolerate it- Empire Canyon via the Guardsman Pass Trail near Deer Valley is one of your most civilized outdoors experiences.

As one of the few paths near Salt Lake City to allow snowmobiles, this Park City snowshoe trail is regularly groomed in sections and well-packed down everywhere else thanks to cross-country skiers, shoers and beelers cruising it every day of the winter season, traveling between Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon.

You’ll still want to check with the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center website before leaving as new snowfall or drastic weather changes may create hazards even on popular trails, but this one is doable on just about every day of the year and you do have cell reception for the first 2.5 miles thanks to the demands of DV’s clientele.

We started our day at the crack of 10- Park City snowshoeing breeds a relaxed attitude.  Sure that the sky would remain azure blue and the views unguarded by clouds, we layered up, packed water, sunscreen, shades and shoes and headed for the trail.

You might not get that same adrenaline rush you would from downhill skiing, but snowshoeing has something skiing doesn’t. A short learning curve. If you can hike, you can shoe. Oh, and it’s free.

My Australian shepherd, too, appreciated the opportunity to join me on a winter day. He bounded from the car, eager to start the moderate climb. You’ll ascend 500 feet in the first .5 mile to your first crest.

As we crossed under a skiers’ bridge, Bogner-clad men and women waved to us on their way from Deer Valley’s “Northside” to Empire Lodge. Giant aspens and conifers line the trail, occasionally distancing themselves to allow for short (t)romps in the untracked powder. We moved aside to let snowmobiles pass but it didn’t happen so often to be obnoxious.

When we reached the place where the land opened up and you could see from Heber Valley to the Timpanogos to Park City, we had a choice. It was almost 11 a.m. and 30 minutes into the hike. We could a)turn around and head back down, b)go .2 miles past the car and head to the Empire Lodge for an afternoon of ‘deck shoeing’ or c)we could push on.

Big Cottonwood Canyon is four, crow-fly miles from Park City but in the winter, that becomes a 44-mile drive (along the foothills and back up I-80); or a five-hour snowshoe each way. Seeing as how the Lodge stops serving lunch at 2:30 p.m., we knew dropping into BCC wasn’t happening.

Both steep and gentle slopes surrounded us.  We chose to continue another 1.5 miles to where the trail forked. To the left and beyond was Heber Valley; to the right, Big Cottonwood Canyon. Behind us were the Lodge and our mouth-watering steak sandwiches. I parked the dog in the car and trotted the last section, flipping snow everywhere with my shoes. With only minutes to spare, I had my tray, my sandwich and my self-satisfied buzz from my four-hour excursion to Bonanza Flats (where the roads intersect).

At this intersection, where SR 224 meets 190 to Brighton, the elevation approaches 10,000 feet. There have been talks over the last few years of completely paving Guardsman and maintaining it year-round. When and if that happens, we will lose a favorite winter backcountry experience. Like that steak sandwich, get it while you can.


Getting There:

Utah routes 190 and 224 traverse 9,700-foot Guardsman Pass to connect Park City and Brighton in the summer, but neither are maintained in the winter.

From Park City, take SR 224, turn left onto Deer Valley Dr.  Enter the turnabout and take your second right to continue south on Marsac Dr. Marsac veers right to become Guardsman Pass/SR 224. Continue approx 1.3 miles until you are facing Deer Valley’s Empire Canyon Lodge. Take a hard left to continue on SR 224.  A small, brown sign on the right confirms “Guardsman Pass” with an arrow. At about .2 miles, you’ll hit the avalanche gates that bar vehicles. There is pullout parking to the right and left of the road.


5 Great Beginner Park City Snowshoe Trails along the Wasatch Back:


Park City’s Rail Trail

Spans up to 28 miles of relatively flat terrain. The wide-open trail allows plenty of room to walk side by side through wetlands and valleys. You can often spot wildlife or at least interesting art projects along certain portions of the path. There are six trailheads- Park City trailhead; Jordanelle trailhead; Star Point trailhead; Wanship trailhead; Coalville trailhead; Echo trailhead. Dogs are allowed on leash.


Round Valley

8 miles out-and-back of mostly flat terrain. Sixteen hundred acres of open space where vistas and meadows abound. Three trailheads- National Abilities Center trailhead; Park City trailhead; Old Ranch Road trailhead. Dogs allowed on leash.


East 224 Connector

2.3 miles one-way if you start from the main trailhead at Willow Creek Park. There’s also a trailhead at the Redstone Complex at Kimball Junction. Park City’s Mountain Trails Foundation grooms the trail in winter so that it’s used for skiing, snowshoeing, or walks to the store. Spy sandhill cranes, spotted frogs, and other wetlands wildlife as you skirt alongside the Swaner Nature Preserve. Dogs allowed on leash.


Daniel’s Summit

A four-mile groomed loop with a strenuous start and finish but a long flat valley in-between. You’ll travel through aspens, pines and conifers. Be careful to avoid the connecting Foreman Trail Loop as it is not groomed or well-traveled. Dogs allowed.  Because the TH can be hard to find: Go 15 miles east of Heber on U.S. Highway 40. Pull into Daniel’s Summit Lodge. Take a hard right into the lot and park at the far west end.  Don’t bother asking staff for directions, they’re clueless.


Soldier Hollow, Wasatch Mountain State Park

When you’re looking for something more civilized, purchase a snowshoe pass and pick up rental shoes to traverse the more than 16 miles of trails flowing through the Olympic “monument”. Trek through trees and hills amid awesome views of Mt. Timpanogos. At day’s end, grab a hot chocolate and snack in their day lodge. Dogs allowed on leash.

A Wandering: Beachwood Canyon’s Secret Stairs

Just because we are in one of the most populated cities in the country I wasn’t going to stop hunting for adventure and exercise. The gist of Los Angeles is that you spend more time in your car than out of it so your views are often limited to metallic rear ends, movie billboards and palm trees. Yelp to the rescue. Turns out there’s an urban adventure that lies just beneath the Hollywood sign.

Hiking to the Sign itself should be on every Cali visitor’s To Do list but that’s not what I’m talking about. We parked the car across from the Beachwood Market in the Hollywood Hills. It was 92 degrees and my already overtired 9 year old was whining that she’d rather get a slushy than walk. My sister was her backer. I pressed on. I have three days left here, dammit, and we’re doing The Secret Stairs. All over the city are these steep staircases of 100-plus steps. In fact there are some 450 staircases scattered throughout Los Angeles.

Back in the early 1920s, before everyone had wheels, the “Hollywoodland” people would move between their homes and the city via these challenging stone staircases. The real estate boom at the time centered around the burgeoning movie business. Movie stars, industry folks and investors were relocating to the Golden State to “make it”. Developers Tracy Shoults and S.H. Woodruff saw an opportunity to create a new neighborhood for celebrities and upper middle class to hide away in a secluded canyon. They carved out winding roads, built retaining walls and planted a 45-foot high sign complete with 4,000 light bulbs to advertise it – Hollywoodland.  At night, people from miles away would see it flash “Holly,” then “Wood,” then “Land” and then the entire word, “Hollywoodland.” The sign fell into disrepair by the Great Depression and it wasn’t until the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce restored the sign, minus the last four letters, in 1949 that it became somewhat of a monument and replaced and repaired over the years.

Actors, writers and musicians like Madonna, Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Heath Ledger, Busby Berkeley, Kevin Bacon, Anna Kendrick, Keeanu Reeves, Peter Tork and Jack Black all lived among the staircases of Hollywoodland at one time or another. Musician Moby has a three-acre estate at the top of Belden Avenue overlooking Lake Hollywood.

Most of the existing LA staircases like the one in the Pacific Palisades have become outdoor gyms where hoards of yoga-panted pretty people line up to stretch and do vertical laps for their quad workout. These particular steps in Beachwood Canyon, however, are extra special; for one, they’re quiet; for another, they are a hike through Hollywood history.

The stairs are unmarked and if you’re not looking for them you won’t find them. Some brilliant “explorer” decided to link them (and publish the trek) on a connect-the-dots sort of walk that creates a marvelously cool 2-mile loop of uphills, downhills, bends and steep climbs.

These enchanting granite and wrought iron staircases weave in and out of winding narrow roads that carry you among the whimsical homes and fortresses of the original Hollywood elite and provide inspiring views of Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood Sign and all of the LA basin depending on the street. I’m not going to give you a detailed map of these stairs. You can download it here. That’s what we used.

Instead, I will tell you about our walk which ended with Sage telling me it was one of the most fun hikes she’s ever done. We came armed with a small water bottle, Camelbak backpack, my PDF map, a camera and the dog, and off we went. We looked like the tourist cliché. Sage groaned at the site of the first stairs. I didn’t pull punches. I told her we had about five more similar shots to tackle before we got back to the car; over 800 steps. She wasn’t happy with me. Tough.

The heat and the effort were enough to make any couchsurfer whine but after the first flight and the banter we shared about the historic architecture, the houses we loved and those we didn’t; the trek became like a game. You had to keep your eyes peeled as you didn’t know what you might see next; Buddhist statues, precarious hillside homes on stilts, yucca trees and Prince Valiant murals.

The stairs have somewhat fallen into disrepair despite being designated a historic landmark so be careful if you hike them. They are still solid but eroded and cracking in spots and often covered in pine needles and dead leaves that might make the careless falter. When you pop onto the narrow, curvy roads also be wary of cars. You would hate to have your pooch run down in such an enchanted locale.

There are warning/no trespassing signs planted in front of the majority of homes but the few folks we encountered were nothing like their literal watchdogs. They were warm and friendly; interested to hear where we were from and what brought us on this makeshift hike.

The map eventually spit us back at my car. In less than two hours we passed away the hot afternoon as if going on a scavenger hunt. Auntie Julie, Sage and I had so much fun they nearly forgot they were forced to exercise. My plan worked!

P.S. If you aren’t up for a workout take a drive but I will call you a pansy if I hear about it.

Winter Glamping and Gear For Cool Comfort

My job really sucks sometimes. January is here and that means a slew of events that I just have to attend. The Outdoor Retailer Show (OR 2016), Sundance Film Festival and the SIA ski show in Denver, Colo., to call out the majority.

There is also teaching at Canyons over Martin Luther King weekend. Between OR moving their dates up by two weeks to accommodate retail buyers, and Sundance pushing back their first weekend to accommodate Park City ski tourism, I’m “forced” to do it all instead of having to choose. Oh, lucky me. Oh boo hoo, right? When SMAK PR and Allied Feather and Down invited me to a preview winter glamping event do you think I considered saying no?

Not one to miss an opportunity, I said yes and hopped on a Scott fat bike to begin my afternoon of adventure.

Starting Your Winter Glamping Adventure

Scott bought us all lunch at Park City Bread and Bagel to make sure we had the fuel for our ride on the snow-packed, East Canyon Ranch Road, just past the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course in Park City. I’ve never ridden a fat bike in the winter time and in general I’m not much of a biker so I was curious to see how sketchy it would be.

winter glamping starts with a Scott fat bike adventure

To my delight I had just the right number of layers to stay warm and the tires had just enough nubs to keep me upright. We rode for about an hour out and back, and the dog finally got the exercise he needed.

He was in heaven and it dawned on me that if ever there were a place to rent fat bikes it would be a great winter activity for us. Unfortunately the shops in Park City put away their bike gear in October and haul out the ski gear; never the twain shall meet. At least not yet.

When we wrapped up, we drove to East Canyon State Park to commence glamping. Deer dotted the landscape as the light waned on our snow-covered site near Henefer. I had no idea these yurts even existed. down pillows and spreads are a must for winter glamping

The potbelly stoves were blazing and ample beds dressed with Allied down pillows and comforters provided the ultimate luxury winter camping stay. I would have fallen asleep right then had not the gourmet table been set and the cask uncorked.

Farm to table food was coming at us rapid fire, prepared by Allied’s own creative director and former sous chef Matthew Betcher you quickly forgot you were in a state park in Utah.

The Gear For Winter Glamping

The best part of the evening (aside from curling up in a responsibly sourced down comforter) is getting hands-on playtime with new products and gear:

Farm to Feet adventure hiking socks– 100-percent American-made socks with seamless toe closures.

Uco headlamps– a simple, lightweight non-bulky headlamp that burns an adjustable 120 lumens.

Outdoor Research beanies

Light My Fire MealKit 2.0

A killer flask setup from Stanley 


An Allied Down throw (with a Track My Down QR code to see where my particular group of feathers came from and how it got to me) doubles as a seat cushion to keep our bums warm.

Helly Hansen balaclava, and YakTrax to keep us from slipping in the parking lot.

We retired to our yurts to play with our new toys. Eventually, it was lights out. I slept like a baby until the howling of distant coyotes wrestled me at 3 a.m. I donned the Uco headlamp and stumbled to the bathrooms to return unable to sleep. As I lay wide-eyed and staring at the bottom of the upper bunk I wasn’t frustrated.

Instead, I cherished the quiet night in the wilderness and my brief moment of stolen time before the chaos began. It was then I realized that ultimately this is what the OR Show is all about; giving us the tools for nights just like this.

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