Monthly Archives: November 2007

Doing Stuff Outdoors-29

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Photo by Dennis Hickey

Our feature story today is about the absurd adventures of William Jans. He’s a professional photographer from British Columbia who travels the world seeking out of the ordinary adventures. And he usually finds them. William puts it all together in a live multimedia show that gets rave reviews where ever he goes. From trekking in Tibet to chasing his luggage across the globe to the worst train rides in the world, he documents them all in his unique story telling style. If you crave outdoor adventure on the unusual side you’ll enjoy this interview.

Also on the podcast we launch our ‘Where To Get Stuff’ segment. This is where you tell us who your favorite outdoor retailer is. As outdoor enthusiasts we all need gear. Sometimes it’s difficult finding the stuff you need. So if you have a favorite shop, either local or online, where you get great service and a good price we want to hear about it. Today we feature a shop called Pack and Paddle in Louisiana.

If you’d like to recommend an outdoor store or leave a comment about anything you hear on the show call the comments line at 206-600-4557 or email us at doingstuffoutdoors@yahoo.ca or leave a comment on our webpage. Be sure to check out the Doing Stuff Outdoors website for regular blog posts and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes .

Next week we’ll hear about an organization dedicated to promoting telemark skiing in New England and we’ll listen in to an audio trail journal of a three day hike in Yoho National Park in British Columbia.

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Filed under Adventure, Adventure Travel, Hiking, Louisiana, Outdoor Gear, Outdoors, Skiing

Doing Stuff Outdoors-28

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On this edition of Doing Stuff Outdoors we go to the Sunday River ski area near Bethel, Maine for some early season sliding. Sunday River was the first area to open in the northeast with skiing on Halloween. They opened for the season a short time later. Gary and his skiing buddies wanted to get in some early turns so they traveled to Sunday River for the weekend. Gary speaks with Sunday River’s marketing guy who gives him an overview of the area while riding up the chairlift. Gary then talks to skiers and boarders who came for as far away as San Diego for some early season snow. Finally Gary and his buddies review the weekend on the drive home. If there was one theme that came up again and again it was the growing popularity of telemark skiing everywhere this year including at Sunday River. If you haven’t been able to get some skiing or boarding in yet this year you’ll enjoy this little teaser of what’s to come.

We’ll also tell you more about our ‘Where To Get Stuff’ segment that we’ve just launched. We’re asking you to tell us your favorite place to get outdoor gear. Where do you find good quality, good service and a good price? We’ll feature your picks on the podcast. Email your suggestions to doingstuffoutdoors@yahoo.ca. Call the comments line at 206-600-4557. Or leave your comments on our webpage.

Also on the show podsafe music from living in a loop and an email about the Hood to Coast Relay.

Next week we begin ‘Where To Get Stuff’, audio notes from a trail journal and absurd travel adventures.

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Filed under Adventure, Maine, Outdoors, Skiing, Snow, Sunday River, Telemark

Through the Eye of the Needle

I know I’ve done a podcast on this (DSO-25) and I’ve written a short post about it but it is a fabulous hike. Here’s the column I wrote about this special and mysterious place in the New Brunswick wilderness.

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I’ve been to the ‘Eye of the Needle’ three times and I’m still not sure where it is. But it really doesn’t matter. The ‘Eye’ is either a waterfall or a narrow opening between cliff walls. Either way it’s a natural attraction in one of the most spectacular areas of New Brunswick. I know I’ve seen it even though I can’t pinpoint its exact location.

I’ve heard about this place for years from hikers and others who have explored the Fundy coastline between St. Martins and Fundy National Park. The first time I hiked the Fundy Footpath we were supposed to visit the ‘Eye’ but ran out of time. Since then the three times I’ve been there were during day hikes specifically to the site. To get there you drive past Poley Mountain ski area and then continue to Adair’s Wilderness Lodge and after a few twists and turns on the back roads where I always get lost, you end up at the trail head to Dustan Brook and the mouth of the Little Salmon River.

The trail takes you down about 7 or 800 feet to sea level and the Little Salmon. This is a popular camping spot for hikers on the Footpath. There are a number of good sites and access to drinking water. When you reach the river it’s time to switch from boots to sandals as the walk from here on is mostly in water. The scenery is incredible and you pass by remnants of the former logging and shipbuilding heritage of the area. Partly hidden in brush beside the river is part of an old boiler. There’s wildlife around every turn. This fall when I was there we saw a big deer cross the river just in front of us. Another time we encountered two moose in the stream ahead.

The trail takes you up river for about half an hour and then up a tributary of the Little Salmon. This is where it really starts to get interesting. The water is faster and the rocks are bigger. You’re walking through a gorge that gets narrower the farther you go. At one point you can almost touch the cliff walls on either side by spreading out your arms. They tower a couple of hundred feet straight up. This is what I used to think was the ‘Eye of the Needle’. It still might be.

From there you continue up stream and round a bend and the going gets even tougher. Eventually you end up at a major waterfall. There is supposed to be a rock formation somewhere here that forces the water to shoot out of a hole in a peculiar way. This too is supposed to be the ‘Eye’. I’ve probably passed by it and not realized it. At this point you’re at the bottom of a canyon surrounded by cliff walls. High above another waterfall shoots over the cliff face and this also I’ve been told is the ‘Eye of the Needle’. From here you join a trail that climbs up a few hundred feet and eventually leads to the top of the canyon and an incredible lookout. This is a popular spot visited not only by hikers but also by ATV riders. It’s called the ‘Grand Canyon of New Brunswick’. And it lives up to that bill in every way.

So that’s the hike. Pick whatever ‘Eye’ you want because they’re all worth seeing. It’s a place every person who loves the outdoors should experience. Visit the webpage at doingstuffoutdoors.com to see pictures of the area and listen to the Doing Stuff Outdoors-25 Podcast for a special program on hiking to the ‘Eye of the Needle’ and the ‘Grand Canyon of New Brunswick’. And if you know where the ‘Eye’ really is, be sure to let me know.

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Filed under Adventure, Bay of Fundy, Eye of the Needle, Hiking, New Brunswick, Outdoors, Waterfalls

Doing Stuff Outdoors-27

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Today on the podcast we meet a man from Virginia who looks at a backyard and imagines a ski hill. Travis Roberts has a website called skiingathome.com. He is an advocate of doing your skiing at home and making your own ski runs and lifts. He’s had his own backyard ski hill since he was a kid growing up on the family farm. Now with his website he helps others do the same. He’s also into backyard snowmaking. We have a feature interview with Travis on todays show.

Last week Rex McInvale of Georgia told us about his fabulous outdoor adventure hiking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. He took some incredible photographs and you can view them at Rex’s Public Gallery. On this podcast we hear from Rex again with more of his thoughts about the outdoors and being an outdoor enthusiast.

Also today more of your comments and suggestions about the show. We also launch a new segment and we need your assistance. It’s called “Where to Get Stuff”. We all need gear in order to participate in the outdoor activities we enjoy. The more you do, the more gear you need. As we all know, outdoor stuff can be expensive and difficult to find. We want to know the best places to get those backcountry skis, snowshoes, packs, bikes, kayaks, sleeping bags and so on. Where do you find the best prices, quality and service? Is it a major online retailer or a small specialized local shop? Where do you get your gear? Call or email us with your picks and we’ll feature them on the show. Our comments line is 206-600-4557 and our email is doingstuffoutdoors@yahoo.ca.

Podsafe music this week from Justin Gordon. Be sure to check out the Doing Stuff Outdoors website for regular blog posts and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes .

Next week I hope to have a feature program from Sunday River in Maine.

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Filed under Adventure, Backyard Skiing, Outdoors, Skiing, Sunday River, Wind River Range

First Freezing Rain

I don’t want these posts to become weather reports but when you’re dealing with the outdoors you have to be aware of and concerned about the weather. We had another dusting of snow a couple of days ago but it wasn’t enough to ski on. Most of it is gone by now but it’s been cold enough that little patches still remain on the grass in shaded areas. My hardcore backcountry skiing buddy headed off to a special place we go where the snow comes early and stays late. He tried to get in his first slides of the season but I don’t know how he made out. This is a guy so determined to ski he can smell snow flakes and if there’s snow to ski on he will find it. I hope he did.

This morning we woke to that dread of winter… freezing rain. The weather forecast said it was supposed to rain with only a chance of freezing rain. They got it wrong. I live on a hill. My driveway is on a hill. I worry when the driveway and road turn into a skating rink. It happened early this morning and I had a heck of a time getting the car down to the bottom. From there the drive wasn’t bad for me but many others found themselves sliding off roads and highways. There were plenty of accidents this morning, not what you want to hear to kick off the winter driving season. As outdoor enthusiasts we usually have to drive somewhere before our adventure can begin. I think we all prefer snow over freezing rain but the latter is becoming more and more common every winter. We need to know how to drive in it and more importantly when not to.

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Filed under Accidents, Adventure, Driving, Freezing Rain, Outdoors

Doing Stuff Outdoors-26

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Our feature interview today is with Rex McInvale of Canton, Georgia. He tells us about an outdoor experience he had in Wyoming. Here’s the way Rex described the trip….

Last August, five friends and I hiked a modest loop in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. (We were just south of where the fellow mapped the section for Backpacker.) We started from the Big Sandy trail head and hiked through the Cirque of the Towers over Jackass Pass and Texas Pass. For most hikers, the Cirque is a destination, or something you pass by. I found a few references to an unmarked trail over one of the high passes and decided our trip should cross the Continental Divide twice.

Living — and playing outside — in the North Georgia mountains, all of us were accustomed to hiking well used and established trails. A cross country route, with a known beginning, a known end, and lots of question marks in between was exciting to say the least. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to pack as much “wow” into our limited time as we could.

As the trip planner, I was the most familiar with the route. When we arrived in the Cirque for our first night’s camp, we were beaten down. Altitude and a very strenuous hike over extreme terrain and the largest boulder field I had seen to that point (It would be bested the following day.) had taken their collective toll on our weary band. I had hiked the last few miles with the least experienced of our group — an avid cyclist, but he was on probably his fourth hike ever. I showed him the snow covered pass on the far side of the Cirque that we would go over the following day. Later that night he went to pump water from Lonesome Lake, which we thought to be 200-400 yards away. It turned out to be closer to two miles away. As he and another of our group pumped water, a deer ambushed them and spooked them pretty badly. While they were recovering from the scare, he confessed that I had shown him where we were going the next day and said, “Dude, we might die.”. They made their way back in the dark as, in camp, the rest of us plotted the progress of the tiny flickers of their headlamps.

The day that followed was one undoubtedly the best day of hiking I have ever experienced. I am not a climber, but I love to hike up mountains if I can do it safely. After making our way around Lonesome Lake and stopping there for lunch, we started one serious climb from 10,100 feet to 11,500 feet. We started out in low brush and stunted trees. That gave way to grass and then to the most unbelievable boulder field I have ever seen. There were house and car sized boulders for at least 1,000 vertical feet up. We had to follow ducks (cairns) and frequently had to backtrack to the last duck to find the next. If you’ve ever looked for a stack of granite in a huge sea of granite, you can understand the challenge. Eventually, we reached several high meadows before the grass and wildflowers gave way to snow and finally Texas Pass on the Continental Divide. Standing on the Divide for the second time in as many days is awesome! Then the really scary part started…..

We now had to get back down to 10,700 feet and the valley floor on the other side of the pass. We had to lose almost as much vertical as we had just climbed, but in less than 1/4 of the distance. The north side of Texas Pass is essentially a scree field on about a 60 degree slope. A secure footing could almost not be found. We slid from switchback to switchback for most of the distance. Again, we had to find the ducks previous hikers had left and work out for ourselves the best way down. Doing this with a pack does not make for a confident hiker! When we finally reached the valley floor and Texas Lake, one of our group stripped to his underwear and leaped off a house sized boulder into the lake.

We camped at Billy’s Lake that night. The following morning we broke camp early and tried to beat the thunderstorms to our final camp at Dad’s Lake. Now facing west, looking out over Wyoming’s high desert for hundreds of miles, we could watch the weather roll in. Storms in the Cirque and the Washakie basin to our north sounded like military artillery. It was surreal. But, we made it to our camp and amazingly dodged the bullet on the weather. The rest of the trip was a relatively easy, slow descent back to Big Sandy.

We begin a new feature today called ‘Where To Do Stuff’. We’ll check in with Sunday River ski area in Maine, the first to open in the northeast for the season.

Podsafe music on the show from Bob Hughes and some of your comments including one from Claire Walter about Nordic Walking.

Be sure to check out the Doing Stuff Outdoors website for regular blog posts and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes . Call in your outdoor adventures and story ideas to the comments line at 206-600-4557 and email the show at doingstuffoutdoors@yahoo.ca.

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Filed under Adventure, Hiking, Maine, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Skiing, Sunday River, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Darklight Savings Time

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Photo by Dennis Hickey

I didn’t get my afternoon run in today. Just ran out of time and daylight. I miss the afternoon sun since we switched back to standard time last weekend. I leave for my morning radio shift about 6:30 am every weekday. I like driving in the dark because I know that when I get home there will be daylight enough for a walk or paddle and soon a x-c ski. But since the switch in time my window for afternoon outdoor adventures in the daylight is getting smaller all the time. In a few weeks as we approach the shortest day of the year, I suspect my window will be closed entirely.

I know it’s important to have some light in the morning when the kids head off to school. And if you’re able to hit the ski trails early in the day it doesn’t matter anyway. But for us working stiffs who just want an hour or two of daylight to play when we get home, forget it. It’s gone for a while, at least until the days start to get longer again and the times goes back to Daylight Saving. I don’t get it though. Doesn’t it make sense to have Daylight Saving in the winter when there are fewer hours of daylight and we should be saving as much of it as we can?

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Filed under Adventure, Daylight, Outdoors