29. November 2012 20:33
The fifth Leave No Trace (LNT) principle is Minimize Campfire Impacts. This principle is important when it comes to protecting the environment; many forest fires are started in the summer when campers don’t control fires appropriately and in many areas the appearance has been degraded because of the increasing demand for firewood. [More]
21. May 2012 23:27
After returning from 11 days of climbing, backpacking and kayaking, I needed a couple of down days to recharge the batteries. Now that I am fully recharged, and have a little down time, I can tell you all about this amazing Outdoor Recreation Center led adventure.
The first few days of the trip we did some water preparation and climbing. Since we were all starting from ground zero and building skills within a curriculum, the ORC staff had us learn some basic safety procedures and water rescue scenarios in the Gibb Pool on campus. Conducting this training in a pool setting allowed for us students to get comfortable with the skills in a safe environment. After we completed a number of ways to right and enter a kayak or canoe in open water, we made our way to the climbing wall to learn some basic climbing skills and how to set-up a climbing area properly when leading a trip. The instructors were great at explaining not only how to get an area ready for climbing and the proper way to wear equipment, but they gave us reasons why this way is important for safety and uniformity within ORC trips. Each of our trainers taught these tasks a little differently and in their own unique way, while maintaining the basic principles. This type of continuity and cohesion from the staff gave us students a vision of how we should be working in the future.
The following morning we gathered at the ORC, packed our gear and headed out to Granite Point for some outdoor rock climbing. While on the way, roughly a 40-min drive, the instructors didn’t waste time, they gave us information regarding what to do during emergencies at Granite Point and showed us a couple of different launch points for kayaking trips the ORC leads throughout the year. Once we arrived at Granite Point, we gathered the gear and made our way up to the climbing location. A helmet area was designated first to ensure safety while the top ropes wer... [More]
30. April 2012 16:16
Being an outdoor enthusiast, when I heard about the opportunity to get trained in outdoor leadership, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. Aside from my personal desires to gain more experience in the outdoors, I currently work for University Recreation (UREC) Marketing as an intern assigned to the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) team and figured gaining additional outdoor leadership experience will only help me become a better UREC employee. Outdoor Leadership Training is an 11-day course provided by the Outdoor Recreation Center to instruct participants how to lead a group into the wilderness through training in backpacking, kayaking and rock climbing.
This past Tuesday was the pre-trip orientation where trainers from the ORC provided all of the students with an overview of what will be taking place during the training. Not knowing any of the other students participating in the course, I was glad when the staff trainers started the meeting with an ice breaker for everyone to get to know each other. They gave us outdoor activity scenarios and asked us to express our “comfort level” with the scenario provided. This was a great way for each of us to see where we are comfortable and where we still need some development. It was reassuring to see other people have some of the same situational comforts as I did. Next, the staff provided guidance on some aspects of the training like Leave No Trace, how to properly pack a backpack for hiking and what to bring and not to bring on outdoor adventures. We finished things up on Tuesday with a tentative schedule of events for the duration of the course (subject to change depending on weather).
Being a leadership course, each of the students teaches several aspects of the course. I chose to provide a brief history of Granite Point, where we will be conducting the rock climbing portion of training; how to read a topographical map, since maps ar... [More]
18. April 2012 21:49
What is a portable stove? – Portable stoves are small, compact, burner assemblies used during hiking or backpacking trips when normal cooking utilities are not available. While many different variations of portable stoves are available, this article will focus on non-self-pressurizing tanks and free-standing burners. This type of step-up allows for a minimal amount of items to carry in your pack and eliminates the need for pressurized bottles.
How do they work? – Typical portable stoves consist of a few different parts that, when combined, provide a powerful and easy to use stove in just about any environmental conditions. The main parts of the portable stove are the fuel bottle, pressurization pump, connection tube and burner. The fuel bottle contains a liquid fuel source in accordance with the burner, typically kerosene, gasoline, diesel or alcohol. Pressurization pumps allows for the user to pressurize the bottle for stove use. The connection tube provides a sealed connection between the pressurized fuel source and the burner assembly. Once these four parts are connected and properly primed, the stove is ready for use. Pressurized fuel is fed to the burner via the connection tube. Upon ignition, the assembly will burn the fuel, thus providing a gas stove for cooking. Many companies have unique fittings for the bottle, pump, tube and stove, so ensure you get matching equipment and test the equipment before taking it on a trip. Also, follow the instructions for the particular burner as steps may vary depending on individual burners.
When should you use them? – These portable units are great for camping, hiking and mountaineering. The set-up and tear-down for portable stoves is relatively quick and effortless. When hiking and mountaineering, size and weight are vital. These stoves allow for hours of use while minimizing the space used and weight added t... [More]
6. April 2012 21:24
Hiking and camping is in my blood. After all, I am a gnome, and we gnomes LOVE spending time outdoors. There is nothing quite as rewarding as enjoying a meal cooked over a camp fire after an exhausting day of trekking and exploring! That being said, there is also nothing quite as saddening as waking up and finding that your food has been eaten by a bear during the night. Need to know how to avoid this tragedy? Two words: bear canister.
You may be surprised to hear that bears have a sense of smell 100x that of a dog’s. They will go to extraordinary measures to get food once the scent is locked in. Bears have been known to break out car windows to get food left in a vehicle, climb trees to it stored in bags, and sometimes even hurt themselves in the process. There is no getting between a bear and food, except a bear canister. In fact, many national parks such as Yosemite, have banned bear bagging (raising a bag of food in the air using a tree branch and rope) because it is seen as ineffective. The only approved method is bear canisters.
Bear canisters can be made from hard plastics, aluminum, and carbon fiber. They are extremely heavy duty so that bears cannot break into them. However, they are not air tight, so the smell of food can still get out of the canister. It is important to store the food canister 100 feet away from your campsite so if a bear does attempt to open it, they will not be disturbing you. Some people worry that the canisters will be a hassle to carry while they’re camping, but the extra 1.5-4lbs is definitely worth it. The canisters can also have a great carrying capacity. A 700in3 can hold up to a week worth of food for the average hiker.
Another important reason to use a bear canister is for the bear’s own protection. Once a bear tastes delicious human food, they always want more. They begin going to extreme measures to acquire the food and can become a threat to campers and hikers, at which point they need to ... [More]
30. March 2012 17:41
What are Trekking Poles? – Trekking Poles are poles specifically designed for hiking, walking and traversing. They resemble ski poles in their design, but have some unique differences. For example, they are typically made to collapse down to a size that is easy to strap to the outside of a pack when not in use.
How do they work? – Trekking poles are a very intuitive thing to use. You will naturally fall into a rhythm once you begin to use them. For more detail I have posted a video below. This video can help you ensure that your poles are the right height for you.
When should you use them? – When you know you will be facing a tough or rough terrain, trekking poles may be a great addition to your balance and rhythm. Poles are not typically used on flat paths, but it is up to the user to determine if they are needed or not. Some hikers or walkers love the element of rhythm that trekking poles add. Another great reason to use trekking poles is for those outdoor enthusiasts with bad knees or ankles. Trekking poles do a great job of taking some of the stress off your joints, especially when descending.
23. March 2012 15:38
Living here in Pullman since February of 2000, I have had my fair share of outdoor experiences in and around the Pullman area. One place I really enjoy is Moscow Mountain-just across the border in Idaho. Some of my friends at the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) introduced me to a group of mountain bikers in the area who traverse the trails of Moscow Mountain on the regular. Being the adventurous gnome that I am, I quickly gathered a group of friends to check out the trails of Moscow Mountain. To my surprise, there are a bunch of interconnected trails all over Moscow Mountain. After my first trip to Moscow Mountain, I was hooked and have been going back often throughout the year for the past 10 years.
The great part about Moscow Mountain is the diversity. With a bunch of different trails weaving in and out of other interconnecting trails, the options are almost limitless. There are trail lengths and difficulties ranging across the spectrum, Moscow Mountain is a perfect place to learn the sport of mountain biking or to challenge your biking expertise. My first trip out there was more of a feeler, trying to get used to the terrain and ensuring I knew where I was and where I was going. Now, I hit the ground pedaling and don’t look back, it’s truly a great place to bike!
While the majority of the land is private, the Moscow Area Mountain Bike Association (MAMBA), a group out of Idaho, maintains 39 mountain biking trails. This non-profit organization conducts trail restoration events throughout the year. Their website requires a donation to access the most detailed information about the trails, but the free access to the site is sufficient for most (bikemoscow.org). Additionally, some information about mountain biking trails can be found on the Moscow Chamber of Commerce website (moscowchamber.com) and Trails.com website.
Having such an amazing place to go mountain biking just down the roa... [More]
2. March 2012 22:31
Get to Know Your Gear’s weekly update will get you familiar with 0°F Sleeping Bags & Liners.
What is a 0° Sleeping Bag & Liner? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are, as their name’s imply, very cold weather sleeping bags and liners to keep an outdoor enthusiast safe and warm when camping in frigid winter conditions. These sleeping bags are made of different materials depending on the needs of the camper, varying from heavy to ultra-light. Liners specifically are used to line the inside of the sleeping bag as another layer of insulation.
How do they work? – 0° sleeping bags can vary in type and material, but they work to keep body heat in and the cold air out. The outer shell of the sleeping bag is typically made of nylon, which is used to protect the outside of the bag from the environment. Inner shells are often made or nylon also, but can be a type of polyester blend. Both the inner shell and outer shell are both good at keeping air from penetrating their exterior. The inside of bags (fill) is often filled with down, polyester blends, or synthetic materials made to insulate the bag. This combination of fill, inner, and outer layers keeps body heat within the bag while protecting the user from the cold outer air. Liners are often a fleece or microfiber material used to add an additional layer of insulation within the sleeping bag. While liners are not made to deflect air, they are an insulator within the bag, retaining body heat keeping the user warmer. I personally have a bag with nylon exterior and interior shells with 800-fill goose down insulation and a fleece liner. They keep me nice and toasty at night during my winter hiking and camping adventures.
When should you use them? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are designed to be used in extreme winter weather conditions. Some sleeping bags are rated even colder than zero degrees Fahrenheit,... [More]
22. February 2012 20:01
Get to Know Your Gear this week will focus on Ice Climbing Tools.
What is Ice Climbing – Ice climbing is an adventurous sport that integrates rock climbing with winter weather covered terrain. The tools involved in ice climbing are similar to the ones used in rock climbing, but with the addition of an ice tool (ice axe) and crampons, and of course, cold weather gear.
How do you use an ice tool and crampons – An ice tool looks similar to a hammer, having a long “pick” on one side of the ice tool’s head and a shorter “adze” on the other side. The pick is used to impale the snow or ice during the ascent. When climbing, the pick should always face the snow or ice so it can be effectively used if the climber slips or begins to fall. The adze, the smaller shovel looking side, is used more for chopping small steps and can be used when self-belaying. Beginners are advised to use the leashed type, which has a wrist wrap to ensure the axe doesn’t fall to the ground if dropped. Crampons are attached to the climber’s boots and consist of multiple thick metal points protruding from the outward from the bottom of the boot. They greatly improve traction on ice and can be used to kick foot holds during climbing.
When should you Ice Climb – Ice climbing is a winter sport focusing on climbing icefalls, frozen waterfalls and cliffs or rock slabs covered with ice and packed snow. Once the free flowing water becomes completely frozen, the ice climbing season begins. Knowing when it is safe to climb comes with experience, but consistent below-freezing weather is usually a good sign ice climbing will start soon.
Keep in mind, crampons and ice tools are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center throughout the winter season. Ice climbing is a great form of exercise and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.
8. February 2012 21:38
My last 12 years living here in Pullman has been an amazing time in my life. Having had the opportunity to explore all the outdoor activities in and around the Pullman area has been exciting. One of my favorite places to hike happens to be in Pullman’s backyard. This place is none other than Kamiak Butte County Park, about 15 miles north of Pullman off Highway 27.
The Palouse area has a rich history and Kamiak Butte is no different. Named after Chief Kamiakin of the Yakama tribe, Kamiak Butte was thought to be part of the remains of an ancient mountain range destroyed by lava flows between 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. Kamiak Butte County Park was established in September 1979 and is one of nearly 600 landmarks to be considered a National Natural Landmark.
Being located close to Pullman, Kamiak Butte was one of the first parks I visited after moving to WSU. I was pleasantly surprised at the upkeep of Pine Ridge Trail, the 3.5 mile loop that begins in the parking area and zigzags through the forested area up to the ridge. From the ridge, breathtaking views of the Palouse can be seen in almost every direction. Following the trail around, the backside leads hikers through a steeper and more dense area of forest. To my surprise, on my first ascent to the top, I rounded a corner to find the ground covered in snow even though there was no snow in Pullman, (this reminded me of my original home in the German foothills).
In addition to the hiking trail, the park offers camping year round. The picnic area offers tables, cooking grills, campfire pits, 3 smaller shelters (Pine Shelter), and 1 larger shelter (Larch Shelter). Camping and shelter use both have a cost for use. Shelters require reservations and camping is first come, first serve. Its location about a mile from the highway and surrounded by trees, camping at Kamiak Butte is a wonderful get-away for a night or two to reconnect with th... [More]