Top 10 Spots for an Outdoor Adventure

We’ve compiled a small list of a few spots to check out this Labor Day weekend (or any weekend for that matter), if you’ve got the itch for an outdoor adventure!

  1. Outer Mountain Loop, Big Bend National Park, TX
    This 30-mile trail takes you through an array of habitats and scenery from pinon, juniper and oak woodlands of the Chisos, making the Outer Mountain Loop Big Bend’s signature multi-day backpacking trail. The Outer Mountain Loop is formed by combining the Pinnacles, Juniper Canyon, Dodson, Blue Creek and Laguna Meadows Trails. Click here for more information on this trail and others at Big Bend National Park.
  2. Teton Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, WY

  3. Mount Whitney, Sequoia National Park, CA
    The tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney is the most popular peak in the Sierra Nevada. Mt. Whitney is on the east side of the Great Western Divide that runs through the center of the Sequoia National Park and peaks at 4417 meters. Technical climbing gear is usually unnecessary between mid-July and early October but you may need ice axes and crampons during spring and early summer. Click here for more information.
  4. Endless Wall Trail, New River Gorge, WV
    One of the lesser-known hiking destination at New River Gorge National Park, the Endless Wall Trail provides great views of almost 1000 feet of the New River and some of the best rock climbing in the eastern United States. Click here for more information.
  5. Durrance Route, Devils Tower National Park, WY

  6. Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mnts, TN / NC
    Peaking at 6643 feet, the Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is one of the most popular park destinations. Providing beautiful views spanning over 100 miles, the Clingmans Dome is a definite must visit for any outdoor adventurer. For more information on the Clingmans Dome and other spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, click here.
  7. Highland Creek Trail, Wind Cave National Park, SD
    This 8.6 mile trail begins along the Wind Cave Canyon Trail and is the longest, most diverse trail in the park. Click here for more information on this trail and others at Wind Cave National Park.
  8. Half Dome Day Hike, Yosemite National Park, CA
    This strenuous 14 to 16 mile hike is not for the faint-hearted or unprepared due to consistent elevation gain most of the way up. The majority of hikers usually take between 10 to 12 hours roundtrip to hike Half Dome but longer hours are not uncommon. It’s best to leave as early as possible but at least by sunrise to make it back in time before nightfall. Read more about this hike and others at Yosemite National Park.
  9. Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, WA
    One of the most popular day hikes in the park, the Cascade Pass Trail provides spectacular views of glaciers and peaks, such as Eldorado, Johannesburg, Magic and McGregor. This is the shortest trail to the alpine environment. Continue on to the Sahale Arm Trail for an extended 6-mile hike. Find out more about this trail and others.
  10. Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
    This 14,259 feet mountain is the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains. Climbing Longs Peak is not for the inexperienced and requires technical climbing equipment for most of the year. Click here for more information on this and other climbing spots at the Rocky Mountain National Park.

These are just a few of the many places to check out on your next outing. Have you already visited some of these places? Let us know your experience or any other spots you recommend for others to check out.

How to buy a Snowboard

So you are looking for your first snowboard; whether it is your first board or the 5th one in your quiver, nothing is quite has the same combination of excitement and being overwhelmed. There are so many choices out there, how do you know what boards will work for you? This blog entry is designed to make the decision process a little less over whelming and to just add to the excitement of your purchase.

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when selecting a snowboard; what size boots/shoes do I wear, how much do I weigh, and what kind of riding do I want to do. Answer each one of these honestly and you are on your way to choosing the perfect board.

Snowboard Width

The first question to ask yourself is, “What size boots (or shoes) do I wear?” I understand that this may sound like putting the cart before the horse but there is nothing worse than getting totally stoked on a particular board, only to find out that it doesn’t come in a wide model. Most companies target their wide boards for riders whose feet are a size 11 or larger. Some boards are consider mid-wides and they are designed for that tweener 10-11 ½ rider (usually in freeride snowboards). Mid-wides are not quite narrow waisted and not quite a wide board.

If you get on a board that is too narrow (a size 12 on a narrow board), what happens is you get a lot of toe and heel drag. This will hinder the performance of the board, handicap the rider, and make for some pretty wicked spills.

If you get on a board that is too wide (a size 9 on a wide board), the board becomes too stable of a platform and causes the rider to have to over commit to get the board up on edge. Think of an ice skate tipping from one edge to the other, compared to if your shoes were nailed to a 3′ wide piece of plywood. To get the plywood to go up on its side, you would have to lean way over (using a lot more energy) before the opposite edge would come off of the ground, meanwhile it is almost effortless on the ice skate.

Snowboard Size

The second question is, “How much do I weigh?” This is a pretty simple and straight forward question that will get in the “size range.” Remember a board can only feel how much you weigh and not how tall you are (there are exceptions to this rule; short heavy guys and tall skinny guys). Every model of every brand will have a weight range for each size board (an generic size chart can be found here). For example, I weigh 160lbs. (size 8 boot) and I am looking at getting the new Burton Custom V-Rocker, the size chart tells me that I can ride the 151, 154, 156, 159, and 163…that is every size! How did that help? That is when we move on to the next question…

Style of Snowboard

Answering, “What kind/type of riding do I do?” will help you narrow down the board/brand’s size range. If the park is where you ride size down and fit yourself to the top of the weight range (151 or 154 Custom V-Rocker). If you are looking to do it all and kick it freestyle/all-mountain, stay in the middle of the weight range (156 or 159 Custom V-Rocker). Or if you are wanting to slaysh some big mountainy/freeride lines and have that extra float in the fresh, stay to the lower end of the weight range (163 Custom V-Rocker).

This is the hardest question to answer because of the “gray” areas, just remember: shorter equals less swing weight/more control at park speeds and longer equals more stability at speed/more float in powder.

Along with where you ride, the other factors that will help determine the size board that you get into will be is; board stiffness, level of riding, and height/weight anomalies. A stiffer board will handle speed better but it tougher to turn and manipulate at slow speeds and therefore can sometimes be ridden shorter. Novice riders can always benefit from having less swing weight or edge hold, a shorter board will help them learn board feel and turning. If you are tall and thin, you may consider sizing up just to balance out the amount of leverage that you will have on the board. Conversely if you are shorter and heavier, you may want to size down a touch so that the board is not too long and too hard to control.