Archive | July, 2012

A guide to the Outdoor Retailer summer show with #ATQA

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so I hear. The annual Outdoor Retailer show is gearing up to begin its popular summer event, and I’m gearing up for my first ever attendance at this legendary gathering of outdoor brands, reps, and industry enthusiasts.

So what can you expect from the OR Show? Well, frankly, I haven’t a clue. Fortunately, last week’s #ATQA Adventure Travel chat took an in-depth look at the event – and in lieu of the standard chat recap, I thought it would be much more fruitful to turn our conversation into a mini guide to Outdoor Retailer’s summer show.

Read More…

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Tips for beating the heat during summer adventures

I have always been a summer gal. Winters were never my thing, and nothing pleased me more than the promise of a hot summer – until I started climbing and camping. Now that I understand the torture of sleeping in a tent that’s steamier than a sauna, and the agony of hiking up the side of a mountain with sweat puddling in my boots, I’m not quite as big of a summer fan. 

Despite the heat and brutal sun, summer remains a prime season for adventure. You just have to know how to cope with the summertime swelter.

After a recent trip up to Tennessee for a weekend of bouldering, I found that one can effectively battle the side effects of summer – you just have to employ crafty tactics for beating the heat. Here are my top tips for staying cool while embarking on summertime adventures:

Stay hydrated.

Let me say this again – stay hydrated. After working on the Hydration Summit with GeigerRig, I learned how incredibly important it is to continually be pumping your body with water. Nothing will zap your outdoor chutzpah quite like dehydration; and it’s all too easy to forget to drink enough.

Personally, I’ve found that a hydration pack is key to making sure you’re drinking enough, and drinking regularly. I used to solely carry a Naglene bottle around, but it’s such a hassle to drink from while you’re on the move. A hydration pack with a convenient tube allows you to take a quick sip without slowing down. (Pssst, stay tuned for a GeigerRig hydration pack giveaway coming up this week!)

Don’t want to take my word for it?
Check out my interview with Gatorade Institute veteran John Seifert for an expert opinion.

Take it slow.

Where’s the rush? Niko tends to practically sprint during crag approaches, and always leaves me panting in his wake. Overexerting yourself is a waste of energy, and will only serve to get you real hot, real fast. Get an early start, and alleviate the pressure of “getting out there in time.

Slow your roll, keep an even pace, and remember that whole hydration thing. Stop to sip water frequently – your body will thank you.

Take a siesta.

Summertime swelter isn’t just hard on your body; it makes rock downright impossible to hold onto. Those sexy sloped crimps on Cleopatra at Stone Fort? Forget about it once the sun hits that sultry slab of sandstone. Attempting to project a boulder that’s been baking like an oven is frankly a waste of time – so save your strength, and go take a nap.

Seriously. Niko and I hit our heat threshold around noon, just in time for the sunshine encroach on even the shadiest of spots. We hiked back out to the car, drove to a more appropriate parking lot (napping on the gravel at a golf course is kinda frowned upon), and quickly settled in for a nice afternoon sleep session. With crash pads splayed out on the ground, we enjoyed a nice lunch break and rest before heading back to the crag to finish up our climbing conquests.

Did it help me climb better? You’ll have to judge for yourself, but I’ll tell you this – after a satisfying nap, I returned to a route, Super Mario (V4), that had plagued me for over two years, and quickly sent it.

Seek the shade.

This one feels like a no-brainer. When you’re out in the boulder field, hang out under trees and overhangs. You’ll likely be sweating either way, but keeping your body out of the sun helps to prevent the bright rays from zapping all your energy out.

My favorite shady spot? Certain caves, boulders, and cracks tend to offer unbelievably cool pockets and drafts of air. I’m talking a stiff 70 degrees of refreshing bliss if you find the right little nook. The boulder problem Cleopatra is one of those spots. Snuggle up in the corner, and you’ll notice a huge temperature drop.

Keeping your cool and maintaining a hydrated body are key elements to making the most out of your adventures into the heat. Do you have any tips or tricks for staying cool while hiking, climbing, or exploring outside? 

REVIEW: The ultimate climbing balm showdown – banishing the looming fear of flappers

You know that feeling. The one when you throw a little too hard for a big crimp, or pull just a bit too forcefully on a sloped dish – and then suddenly, you feel that familiar ripping sensation as your callous tears from your hand to hand like a stinging battle wound. During the victorious weeks and months between flapper episodes, our hands remain battered and beaten as we slap slopers, dig into jugs, and work endless on hangboard training.

Let’s face it – climbers just ain’t too kind to their hands.

Along with dedicating your body to the art of climbing, we must also make a genuine effort to take care of our skin – torn fingertips don’t exactly create an ideal situation for spawning to awesome sends. To help you in the quest towards maintaining smooth calluses and strong hands, I’ve reviewed three different balms to determine which offers the best solution for shredded skin.

Climb On!

Before the era of being sent samples for product reviews, the first hand salve product I had ever heard of was Climb On. We sell it at Tally Rock Gym, so it quickly became a must-have item in my pack. This was my first experience with a balm for climbing calluses, and with nothing else to compare it to, I was thrilled by the pure fact that someone out there was selling a product designed to help me avoid flappers and cracked knuckles.

Housed in a small metal container, the ‘block’ of waxy balm is thick and smells pleasant. Not too strong, but still with enough of a scent to trigger a cozy, familiar feeling whenever you’re rubbing it into sore fingertips. The dense product rubs on in hefty layers, and easily spreads wherever you knead it.

My only qualms with Climb On are the inevitable sticky-hands sensation experienced after you initially put it on, and the doomed frustration a Floridian feels upon realizing you left your tin of Climb On in the car – a melted hunk of waxy goop is a total bummer. But these issues have reoccurred with every hand balm product I’ve tried thus far.

In my opinion, Climb On is the classic American callous repair system for climbers. The brand is known, trusted, and builds great relationships with its customers. Like an old friend stuffed at the bottom of my backpack, I can always count on Climb On to get the job done, and put my stinging skin on the path towards healing – and there is always an extensive line of related products available for any other skin related issues! (The chapstick rocks.) Read More…

On taking big risks, embarking on new adventures, and getting out there

So there is this guy I’ve known since high school. Handsome kid, hardworking college graduate pursuing a career as an investment banking analyst. I’m always flattered to see comments and ‘likes’ from him as I document all my adventures, but he recently surprised me with the biggest compliment I have ever received.

Yesterday morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see a declaration from him in my news feed. It read:

“Holy crap! I just told my boss that I’m quitting my job to go travel the world. I’m either insane or just made the best decision of my life…I’m gonna say the latter! Wow, It’s all happening.”

Naturally, I jumped to congratulate him on his bold decision. I told him the truth: He had just made the best decision of his life. His response?

He told me that I was a part of his inspiration to quit his job and head out on a journey of worldly adventures. 

That, folks, is what this is all about. Maybe it’s the obscenely early morning and the lack of coffee flowing through my body at the moment, but I’m admittedly a bit misty-eyed to think that I contributed even the tiniest fraction of motivation for him to take such a daring leap into the world. Inspiring others to embrace life as an adventure is the reason I document my trips, spend endless unpaid hours writing, and take photos of every glorious little moment that enchants my life. And apparently, it worked.

Readers, consider this a call to arms. I dare you to leave your comfort zones, ditch the doldrums you’ve resigned yourself to, and get out into the world. Evan is choosing a truly courageous journey to experience destinations far beyond our country’s borders, but any adventure will do.

Can’t quit your job? Take a sabbatical. Take a long weekend – hell, just take the afternoon off. Drive outside of city limits, head towards the mountains, and get some dirt on your boots. Life is calling, and you can either sit around and let it pass you by – or you can take advantage of the adventure that awaits you. Go. Be bold. Take big risks, they tend to reap big rewards.

Seriously, you can do this.

Evan, congratulations again on following your intuition and seeking a journey that will ultimately change your life forever. I wish you all the best of luck and fortune during your travels – and can’t wait for you to unveil your own travel blog so I can keep up with all your worldly adventures. I am beyond honored to have been even the slightest inspiration for your decision to get out into the world. Cheers, buddy!

And the winner of the climbing swag giveaway is…

After nearly 200 entries, dozens of comments, and a few weak attempts at bribery, The Morning Fresh’s first ever giveaway has officially ended – and the winners have been selected by Rafflecopter. So who won the climbing swag giveaway? The winners are:

Bob Rosenbaum and Kam Altar!

Bob’s grand prize winnings come with a funny little story. Mr. Rosenbaum is a regular climber at Tallahassee Rock Gym, and has a bit of a playful rivalry going with his two buddies, Dakota and Charlie. Determined not to let Bob win, Dakota put a lot of effort into tweeting, ‘liking’, and commenting – but he forgot to enter himself in the official Rafflecopter entry form! I knew he would be enraged if Bob won, so when “Bob C. Rosenbaum” popped up as the first winner for the giveaway – I nearly died laughing. Congrats, Bob! 

Read More…

Introducing “Simply Adventure” – Reinventing the art of adventure in 2013

In May 2011, Niko and I embarked on a five-week trip across the country to climb, explore, and gain a new perspective on living. My leg of the journey began along the Atlantic coast in Miami, and together we traveled across mountains, prairies, and forests until reaching the Pacific ocean. After over a month spent living out of my parent’s Pilot, waking up with the rising sun, and spending afternoons splayed out in the sunshine of boulder fields – we returned home entirely changed.

It was quickly realized that we needed more.

We spent the next six months apart, with Niko studying in Tallahassee while I voyaged out on a seven-week solo trip and moved out to Denver for the fall and winter seasons. Upon reuniting, we decided our lives were better spent together – but that togetherness had a purpose.

We were built for a life of adventure.

And so, the plans began to form for a yearlong trip across the entire length America. At first, we dubbed it “The 2013 Trip,” but this epic journey deserved a more proper name – and thus, Simply Adventure was born. 

What are we doing?

We’re two perfectly regular people, proving that adventure is within anyone’s reach – all you have to do is choose a trail and follow it. We’re selling everything we own, buying a used van and building a home on wheels, simplifying our needs, and traveling America to discover everything that the land of the free has to offer. Our strongest passion is climbing, and through our journey we plan to support and advocate for local climbing communities and organizations. We also want to revive a love for living locally, focusing on local eateries and farmers markets.

Why are we doing this?

The common thread in all of our passions? The land.  We’re going to spread an appreciation for the unrivaled nature that sprawls across our country, and we hope to inspire others to embrace the values of land stewardship, conservation, and taking full advantage of what the outdoors has to offer. Whether it’s working to ensure access to a climbing crag in Tennessee, or supporting local farmers in California, we want to give back to communities who love the land.

We also want to demonstrate that what we’re doing isn’t some special journey reserved for a handful of folks daring enough to break free. Simply Adventure is a journey for EVERYONE. This experience is accessible to anyone – and we want you to come along for the ride. We hope to inspire you to forge you own path, dream about your own epic trips, and hit the road towards your adventure.

Where are we going?

Frankly, we want to go everywhere. Our map is still evolving, but we have a rough idea of our seasonal destinations. The adventure begins in January 2013, with a few months of climbing around the southern states to avoid the brutal winter up north. Once spring has sprung, we’ll begin meandering towards the mid-west and Pacific coast. Summertime will be spent in the northwestern region, and across the northernmost states. As the heat resides and the colors of autumn begin to blossom, we’ll follow fall along the northeast, and back down to our beloved southeast. The trip will conclude with a circuit around our favorite southern climbing areas.

For Katie, this trip will be the cherry on top of a lifetime of American travel. With only a handful of state lines left to be crossed, Katie will fulfill her goal of visiting all 50 states by summertime. And Niko? Well, he’s always up for exploring new territory.

So, how can you get involved?

Without you, our trip is meaningless. Simply Adventure is about inspiring, challenging, motivating, and educating others. We want to bring you along during our adventures, and we want to provide everyone with the opportunity to take part in the journey. By sharing our experiences, providing valuable tools and resources, helping local communities, and spreading the good tidings of adventure, we hope to create a new breed of explorers. We want you to adventure.

You can keep up with us through social media, personal contact, the blog, and even joining us during the trip. We’ll be documenting the trip as we go, via The Morning Fresh, and will be collecting material for a series of books, including photography books and a guide for creating your own epic adventure. (Stay tuned for an upcoming Kickstarter to help us fund the dream!)

Check out all the ways to stay in touch with Simply Adventure and The Morning Fresh:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SimplyAdventure
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SimplyAdventure
Instagram: http://statigr.am/themorningfresh
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/themorningfresh/
Yelp: http://simplyadventure.yelp.com

The journey has just begun – and we invite you to travel with us during every step of the way. Updates shall begin flowing, plans will solidify, the dream will inevitably grow, and Simply Adventure will soon come to full fruition. Will you join us for the adventure?

Eating local in Tallahassee is easier (and tastier) than it may seem

Call it ignorance or naivety, but I always carried a stigma that Tallahassee simply wasn’t the place to indulge in a locally-minded lifestyle. Places like Chattanooga and Boulder are rampant with the local mentality, but Florida just doesn’t seem to have hopped on that train yet.

After checking out the Locavore Index 2012, a chart that ranks states based on commitment to locally-sourced foods, I was disappointed to see that Florida not only ranked poorly – we were at the very bottom of the list. Not cool, Sunshine State. So, to further my adventures in local eating, I journeyed to three different places this week that showcased some of the best locally grown and owned destinations in town. Check ‘em out:

The Cool Cow

The vacant space next to Fat Sandwich on Railroad Avenue has seen many eatery ideas, but it wasn’t until an ice creamery popped up that the void was finally filled. Walking into this joint isn’t exactly impressive – but the simplicity is part of the experience.

The Cool Cow offers six flavors daily. Chocolate and vanilla are always on the menu, but the four other varieties are swapped out every two days – a total of 200 flavors rotate through the soft serve machines. On the day of our visit, we were offered Georgia orange, kiwi frozen yogurt, berry sorbet, and mocha hazelnut.

I went for the mocha hazelnut – and it was outrageous.

Topped with rainbow sprinkles and marshmallows, my cup teeming with creamy mocha ice cream was beyond tasty, but Niko’s treat took the cake. He ordered a banana split, and got everything on it – which was a solid decision. His chocolate, vanilla, and mocha hazelnut ice cream plops were layered thick with hot fudge, caramel drizzle, waffle cone bits, fat dollops of whipped cream, and even a cherry on top. It was pure perfection.

The mocha oreo milkshake my buddy ordered also deserved an honorable mention, but the part of our cool experience that deserves the biggest ovation is the service we received. Our ice cream guru was not only a wizard with a can of whipped cream, he handled everything with the best attitude I have ever encountered in the food industry. He was kind, courteous, and complimented Niko’s choices of toppings. He’s the kind of guy you leave a 40% tip for. Kudos, Cool Cow – we’ll be back.

The Tallahassee Farmers Market

I am a huge fan of produce markets – so much so that I am dedicating a portion of the 2013 trip to exploring as many as I can. Niko and I have made a few trips out to the Thomasville Farmers Market in Georgia, but we had never taken the quick trip to the convenient one located in Market Square.

After a few weeks of failed Saturday morning attempts, we finally made it out to explore the covered pavilion loaded with local goods. Some of my favorite farms were in attendance, including Turkey Hill and Orchard Pond Organics. The pavilion wasn’t huge, but it was certainly big enough to hold every bit of produce I needed.

We strolled around the stands before making our final selections, feasting our eyes on a huge assortment of goods. There were plump peaches, thickly husked corncobs, freshly cut sunflower stalks, ripe heirloom tomatoes, and more. My bounty was a harvest of ripe blueberries, Japanese eggplant, okra, lemon and lime, and more tomatoes than I know what to do with – plus a little rosemary plant!
 Hands down, this is the best fresh produce market in town, with friendly farmers, great edible offerings, and unbelievably reasonable prices. Whoever said eating healthy and local is expensive clearly never stopped by a farmers market. Read More…

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