“Right, two more,” I respond, smiling under my neck gaiter as we reach the top of the chairlift. Within our circle, taking one last run, or even speaking of it, is considered terrible luck. We have convinced ourselves that injuries occur most frequently then, and we all have stories justifying this healthy superstition. My own burgeoning ski racing career was cruelly cut short in second grade when I broke my leg on the last run of the day. Could the injury have been caused by the combination of the overconfidence of an eight-year-old and my utter lack of technique? Impossible! It had to have been the curse of the last run. Rather than face such a predicament again, I now take precautions to avoid the risks that come with the end of the day. The simplest solution: I take second-to-last runs, and then I come up with some excuse at the bottom for why I can’t board the lift again. This time, we unload the lift together and decide to ski King’s Landing, one of our favorites. Skating over to the run, I can’t help but think that this day went by too quickly. I wish we could stay overnight and ski more, but because of our obligations at school, the four of us had to concede that this trip would just be a one-day adventure.
I always enjoy big multi-day adventures when I get the opportunity to go on them. Admittedly, there are few other experiences that leave me so content and refreshed as getting away for a few nights to ski, backpack, or paddle with friends. However, these incredible overnight trips can often overshadow a simpler kind of expedition: the humble daytrip. While I most look forward to the grander outings that school vacations and long weekends offer, it is the single-day quests that hold me together during the most stressful times in a busy semester. Skiing right before finals started last semester did exactly that. With a week of papers and exams ahead, my friends and I could easily have spent our entire Sunday working in the library. Instead, we declared Sunday a day for motivation and recharging. In other words, a day for skiing. Some might have called it procrastination, but we preferred the term “self-care.” So, with our skis and our justifications in tow, we loaded up my friend’s car and set out early Sunday morning.
One of the most apparent advantages that daytrips have over their longer brethren is their simplicity. The sleeping gear, cookware, and food necessary for a longer trip are all absent, and only the essentials for a day on the mountain remain. Leaving school for just a short time also makes a trip far more agreeable to people’s busy and conflicting schedules. It’s often incredibly difficult to convince multiple people to get off campus for days at a time, and that option seems to disappear entirely once finals approaches. Skiing for the day meant we could comfortably set aside our responsibilities, enjoy our time outside, and get back for the study groups and review sessions that demanded our attention later that evening.
But my favorite thing about daytrips, regardless of the activity or when they occur in the semester, is the feeling of immediacy they produce. Each run, each chairlift conversation, and each attempt at hockey stopping late to spray one another with snow, feels more valuable than they do when I have several days for them. On that particular day, I took an extra moment to appreciate the bluebird sky, and the New England gusts that kept chilling me despite my layers didn’t seem so unpleasant. I knew that, in a few hours, I would happily trade the paper I had to write in the library for the chance to stand freezing in the wind on top of Sugarloaf.
We crammed in a ton of runs all over the mountain, but, eventually, the time came to take our second-to-last run of the day. Down King’s Landing, I practiced my turn technique, trying my best to use my edges and take wide, carving turns like a ski racer would. I’m sure my attempt was far less pretty, but at least I can blame that on a cursed run that I took twelve years ago. We skied the run without stopping and regrouped at the base, joking around and topping one another with the best excuse for not taking another run. With our skis off and over our shoulders, we headed to the car.
I thought more about our little adventure on the drive home that evening. The four of us certainly hadn’t caught the first chair, and we weren’t the last ones on the mountain at the end of the day. The wind had stayed strong, shutting down a couple lifts, and there wasn’t an inch of powder to be found anywhere on the mountain. None of that mattered. Despite the stress and hectic pace of the end of the semester, I had been able to step off campus and take ski day with some of my closest friends in the world. The day left me feeling far more relaxed and ready to take on the assignments ahead, and, with midterms already fast approaching, I am sure I’ll be taking another trip with friends very soon.
We made it into the dining hall just before closing. Still in our ski gear, we grabbed food from the buffet and found a few of our friends who had stayed late to wait for us. “How was the skiing?” one of them asked.
“Excellent, as always,” I replied, beaming.]]>
1. She has a Chaco tan (as I look at my own that has somehow miraculously lasted through this winter season). The Chaco tan is kinda like the goggle tan for outdoorsmen; the intensity of the Chaco tan shows that your girl actually gets outside and uses her Chacos for a purpose besides their obvious fashion perks. If you comment on it, be prepared for a two day slide-show about her rivertrip on the Grand Canyon this summer and several other brief anecdotes about outdoor excursions that leave no question she’s super rad.
2. She kills the costume life. Whether it’s a last day of the season gaper day or an 80’s party, you know she has at least four hot pink, retro jackets and some crazy leggings to break fashion barriers and absolutely own the day. If you ask nicely, you can probably borrow one and be the hottest couple out there any day of the year.
3. She always has a nalgene. And said nalgene undoubtedly has a ton of cool stickers with all the coolest brands. The stickers are probably organized very well because you know she planned out exactly where each sticker was going to go and how well it encompasses all her favorite brands. In case of overflow stickers, her laptop case is also undoubtedly covered with stickers in a similar organized fashion. Accessories gotta look good, and show exactly how rad we are.
4. She owns a lot of fleeces. Probably one of those Patagonia, retro looking fleeces everyone has, but also several dozen from various thrift stores and six either their mom or dad wore in college. And fleece goes well with everything! You’re taking her out to a five star restaurant and it’s a little chilly outside? Don’t worry she’s got her fleece to throw over her lil’ black dress!
5. Similarly, she owns a lot of flannel. The flannel is interchangeable with the fleeces, so everyday she’ll have at least one on. Bonus points for both, it’s all about the layering ladies.
6. You can do something outdoorsy and have absolutely no doubt that she’ll love every minute of it the same, if not more, than you will. There’s no stopping and waiting for her on any occasion ‘cause she charges and is never scared of a bit of a challenge. She sends it more than you and you’re proud to admit it.
7. Sometimes you can’t decide if she’s tanner looking simply because she’s been outside all day or because she’s been rolling in the dirt. She has no issues gettin’ down and dirty (in all cases if you know what I mean). On a rivertrip she’s the first one to find the sinky-mud, or complete coat her body in it, and the shower water will become dirt itself as soon as she washes her hair. This is a good thing guys, because if you ever do something cute like start a mud-fight she will 100% fight back and probably win, even if she has mud in her mouth.
8. She can hang with the bros. She knows all the lingo, can shotgun a beer better than all of you, can take all the shit-giving and dish it out equally well, and is really just one of your coolest friends.
9. She’s super passionate about the environment. I know all you outdoor significant others are too so that’s why you make such a great couple. There aren’t too many political divides between you and you both truly understand the implications of climate change. Sorry to get so serious all of the sudden, but it is a huge part of our lives as outdoors people and undoubtedly your girl is going to really care about being environmentally conscious. Along these lines she’ll probably only buy organic food and you’ll never see her set foot in a McDonald’s. She may also do yoga, since we’re on the topic of hippie clichés, and this will probably occur outside at sunrise or on a paddleboard and you’ll be quite impressed with her flexibility.
10. She might even be cooler than you. Outdoorswomen are a rare and awesome breed, so hold on tight. You could pick her out in a crowd in a second with her Chacos, fleece, braids, probably a nose-piercing, and just overall exuberance for the world around her. Makes sense that you’d spend this wonderful holiday (and obviously the rest of the year) doing something cool outside with a dope girl like her.
So there you have it, a small sum of the outdoors breed. I’m sure you already know how rad and outdoorsy your significant other is, but just in case you couldn’t quite peg them now you really know. And for those of us out there without a significant other, now’s the time to make the move! Or just spend February 14 with fellow single-pringles and relish in the fact that you can surround yourself with these outdoors people even without a relationship. So, happy Valentine’s Day to all you nature-lovin, flannel-obsessed men and women out there; I appreciate every one of you and your outdoor antics.
Part 1: You know you’re dating an outdoors person when…
1. He’s got a goggle tan. Since your radness as a skier is undoubtedly measured by the intensity of your goggle tan, you know he’s going to be tanning in the backyard with his goggles on to make sure everyone who looks at his face knows he’s the best skier on the mountain.
2. He uses terms such as rad, sick, sendy, shifty, boof, gnar, nutty, and jib in every sentence. This is the almost “mating call” of an outdoorsman, so he can make it clear to everyone around him that he clearly knows what he’s talking about it when it comes to dope adventures. Don’t worry: if you don’t understand a term he’ll be happy to explain it to you. And I’m sure soon enough you’ll catch on to all the lingo and you can communicate in your own slang language!
3. You’ve never seen him without a flannel. Even when you’re “sleeping” he probably has it on. Extra points if he wears those cargo/khaki tan pants and Chacos regardless of the season. And he hasn’t cut his hair in a few years and/or has a man bun.
4. His date ideas always include something outdoorsy. This can mean anything from wandering the bountiful heaven of REI for hours at a time to actually taking you on a cool hike or adventure in our great outdoors to watching a ski movie. “Netflix and chill” becomes “Dude did you see that sick Misty-Rodeo-12-Daffy-Back, he totally stomped it.”
5. He has the dopest sticker collection. How he continuously adds to this collection is a total mystery, and what he does with all of them is also a mystery. But, man they’re cool and you’ll probably steal them.
6. There’s gear everywhere. He may only have two bikes, but you swear that’s at least two-hundred and four crammed in every corner of the house. And none of them can stay outside because he loves them more than you. Your pillow is probably a climbing rope and sometimes you mix up your soap with ski wax. Why was it in the shower in the first place? No one really knows.
7. He KNOWS his brands and gear. And when I say knows I mean you could find the most obscure brand that two guys run out of their garage in Bluff, Utah and ask him about the 2013 model of the Seder 2000 and he would tell you every possible bit of information, why you should or shouldn’t buy it, and how much it costs. When you say something like, “I want new skis,” be prepared to listen to an entire presentation on your options and the best choice for you. Honestly, this ridiculous amount of gear knowledge could be one of the most useful things when you’re blindly buying something, so keep him around ladies (and gentlemen).
8. He’s hurt just about every day of the year. “Hon, you just hurt your back biking last week and almost drowned kayaking the week before that, don’t you think you should take a break?” The response is always no unless he’s in a full body cast. And have no doubt that skiing with him or climbing with him and watching him absolutely send something will terrify you to your very core. But when he sticks it you’ll admit how dope it really was. If he sticks it.
9. Most of his stories are exaggerated by like 300%, but also based on some totally impressive adventures. Yes, a lot of the stories have a fair amount of bragging, but he adds in enough anecdotes about how much he messed up or got hurt that it balances out.
10. He’s the coolest guy you know. There’s a reason you’re dating him after all, and all jokes aside, his flannel-loving, always dirty, story-telling, adventurous, rad personality is pretty great.
Part 2: You know you’re dating an outdoors person when…
The 5 Worst Outdoor Date Ideas:
1) Ice climbing
Some days ice climbing would actually make for a great date. However, you must first ask yourself a few questions. Is the temperature in the single digits or lower? Is the approach over an hour and all uphill? Does your date have rock climbing experience? Will your date have to borrow gear from you or share poorly sized boots and gloves? If you answered yes to any of these questions, prepare yourself for a short day with a long, silent car ride home.
2) Multi-pitch rock climbing
Like ice climbing, this can be a great date if it is with the right person. General rule of thumb: if it is his or her first time on real rock, a three pitch classic (aka sandbagged) route at the Gunks is a bad idea. Nothing facilities frustration and screams heard ’round the crag like your current and never again climbing partner/date fully weighting a rope for the first time as they dangle 200 feet off the ground.
3) Skiing Pow
You’ve been skiing since you could walk. Your date came to New England for college and is from Texas. It has been dumping snow all day and night, adding up to the deepest storm of the season. No matter how patient you are, and regardless of how endearing your date’s constant falling is, I guarantee that the powder turns will win out. If they really like you, they’ll understand right?
4) May Picnics
Specifically picnics in the hills of New England or the Adirondacks. The snow has finally melted and it is getting warm out, so you decide to hike up to your favorite overlook and have lunch. But wait, it’s black fly season. Instead of enjoying a peaceful afternoon of conversation and getting to know one another, the 3 minutes you actually sit still are spent being dive bombed by tiny blood sucking creatures. Lesson learned: unless your preferred fragrance is DEET bug spray, hold off on the mountain picnics until the black flies are dead.
5) Roadies going mountain biking or dirt riders converting to pavement
You both like to bike, great start! Unfortunately, 83% of roadies are scared of roots and that 15-mile singletrack loop is going to be more than anyone bargained for. Conversely, don’t underestimate a mountain biker’s ignorance when it comes to sandy corners and staying on your skinny tire bike. I’ve still got the scar from road rash that put an early end to my first and only biking related date.
The 5 best outdoor date ideas (sometimes dates in the out of doors actually work well!)
1) Going to the rock gym
So not exactly outdoors, but close enough! This can be a risky date, so be sure that you have the patience and teaching skills required. Go into it with an expectation that your lovely date will be crushing V6 by the evening’s end and you will be sorely disappointed. But if you both have clear expectations that the date is to try out climbing, not master it, it can open up the door to more future adventures.
2) Apple picking
Another relaxing activity that gets you outside with plenty of time to connect with nature and with one another! You would be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a crisp fall afternoon. And the best part is that if it goes well, you can arrange for another date to bake a pie with all those apples you just picked.
3) Full-moon snowshoeing
There is something about the tranquil setting of a landscape blanketed in white and shimmering in the moonlight that just makes for a perfect date. Looking at the stars and watching your breath rise into the pale moonlight will soften anyone’s heart. Additionally, the gentle rhythm of the snowshoes moving through the snow means that you don’t have to fill the whole time with conversation.
4) Stand-up Paddle Boarding
This is a more adventurous option, but still doesn’t require too much technical expertise. It is active without being strenuous. Plan the date for a hot summer day, when swimming and hanging out in a cool lake is the best option around, and you have all the ingredients of a great date.
5) Hot Springs
This is a pretty foolproof date. It is both relaxing and romantic. There is plenty of time for conversation and you aren’t spending half the date teaching some new technical skill. The injury risk is also very low. Oh yeah, and you get to start out the date half-naked. The one downside is that hot springs are few and far between.]]>
In the weeks leading up to my attempt of the Casual Route (at 5.10-, the easiest path up the face) I oscillated between stoke and nerves. I’d look over the route description to confirm it was well within my ability, then look at the mountain and forget it was in my range.
I climbed the route on a Saturday in mid-July with Salvador “Sally” Bastien. The approach began at a Denver camp, where I picked Sally up from his summer job. We ate gas station taquitos for dinner—proper fuel for serious climbers—and grabbed assorted bars for the next day.
We began hiking as the sun set, moving quickly through dense forest. The trees rustled peacefully, the last remnants of day filtered through their overlapping branches. As the air thinned, the trees grew smaller and eventually disappeared, replaced by alpine meadows. We saw the Diamond, glowing in the moonlight, towering above the land. As the trail faded into scree, we decided to call it for the evening. We slept soundly under boulders, regrettably close to the trail.
The Keyhole trail up Long’s Peak is startlingly popular, and we woke at 2 a.m. to a conga line of stoked hikers, headlamps visible—and almost uninterrupted—for miles down the valley. We dozed off and on for another hour and a half, then packed our bags and joined the train.
The vertical face of the Diamond begins a third of the way up the wall, guarded by loose lower angle climbing. We opted to hike through boulder fields and then rappel into the base of the vertical section, a method I do not recommend. It felt disrespectful not to climb from base to summit, and it also took a lot longer with the added hiking.
By the time we arrived at Broadway ledge, there were at least 10 other parties vying for various routes. Luckily, only one team was ahead of us on “The Casual”. We didn’t start climbing until 9 a.m.
At the top of the third pitch I was ready for a snack. We’d split a breakfast muffin, (from the aforementioned gas station) at 6 a.m., and I was starting to get cranky. I looked through the pack and didn’t spot the food. After some reflection, Sally realized he had left the snacks back at our camp. “Drink water?” he asked with a smile.
We were on the wall for seven hours. One of the members of the team ahead of us had only been in Colorado for a day, and vertical crack climbing near 14,000 feet is strenuous. As a result, we spent as much time sitting on small ledges as we did climbing.
The Casual Route is a true classic, and surprisingly casual given the imposing face it ascends. Go figure. The climbing is an excellent instance of what I’ve come to appreciate in the alpine climbing of Rocky Mountain National Park. Diverse movement on solid rock provides passage up marvelously exposed terrain. With only two 5.9 pitches, and one 5.10 move, it is a delightfully safe and simple path up the most sought after alpine wall in Colorado, and possibly the lower 48. We summited Long’s at 5 p.m. and rappelled the old Cables Route. On our way out, we begged some campers for food to break our fast. The dark forest felt menacing in our exhaustion, and we were delighted to see the car and parking lot water spigot when we returned at 9 p.m.
Nachos have never tasted so good, nor sleep felt so sweet. The next day I was back in reality, waiting tables and sleeping in my car, worth it for those moments of alpine serenity and the adversity that brings us closer to our friends.
Despite our miserable night sleep and our lack of food, we managed to turn what may have been an utter failure into a true adventure. Maybe it was nerves, or maybe it was lack of experience, either way, next time we’ll be sure to come better prepared.
Studying abroad can be one of the most powerful experiences in your educational career, regardless of what you intend to study or where. It often provides you with the opportunity to surpass the typical tourist stereotype and to learn in a more meaningful way about the host country’s culture, language, people, development, infrastructure, etc.
One thing that can be difficult, however, is being an outdoor enthusiast in another country and lacking your usual connections and access to adventure. Suddenly you are at a loss. You have no clue how to get to the crag, where to rent the gear, how to trail run in a city, or any number of suddenly altered realities that quickly become pressing issues for students who might be driven mad by the challenges of a foreign home.
My first piece of advice is simple: try your best to take advantage of where you are because it is an incredible opportunity to experience a different region of the world for an extended period of time. Being homesick is natural. Being happy to get away from home is also natural. All these emotions are valid and it is important to feel them and live in the moment with your program, irrespective of physical location. Spend time with your new friends, try all the coffee shops, go to that one weird museum, and explore the places that make your city unique. You will only be there for a short while in the grand scheme of life.
However, once your pinings for the outdoors become unbearable, the first thing I recommend, whether your program has a language component or not, is to pick up a phrasebook. They are usually cheap and in many shops and can come in handy when your conversational, “survival” language from class is suddenly no help in the context of outdoor exploration.
The next step is to ask your program for advice. There are students in similar predicaments every semester or year, and I can almost guarantee they will have advice or recommendations for where to go, who to meet, and how to do it in the most economical, efficient, and safe way.
After that, network and smile. Hit up likely places for making connections: bouldering gyms, tour companies, hostels, Google! Search for climber hangouts, skier digs, runners’ havens, etc. Some coffee shops or restaurants will even have themes: backpacker’s salad bars, runner’s smoothie joints, climber’s big-calorie dinner places. A friendly demeanor and gracious attitude, while hopefully using some of your new language skills simultaneously, can go a very long way in finding and making connections in any outdoor community. Get people’s names, phone numbers, facebook friend requests, business cards, because you never know when you’ll need Jill or Joe’s contact information in order to remember that one trail they said was by that one sign on that certain road down the highway. You might even get some adventure buddies out of it!
Next, I advise you to learn the ins, the outs, the upside downs of local transportation. Few things are more frustrating that being stuck and/or lost because you misunderstood the bus system or said the wrong direction. This is especially important because that nearby crag might really be two hours away and when it comes time to head home, you should know whether the red trucks run past 7 pm (yes, I speak from personal experience. Although, I was thankfully saved by a climbing guide I had befriended the day before who drove me home in his renovated van. Shameless plug for networking!)
Along the way, don’t forget to ask about student discounts! Many companies will bend over backwards to acquire student business because of its potential: there are usually a lot of you and they will often lower the price the more friends you bring along. Some will do the same as soon as you show your fancy new ID card.
On your adventure, have fun, be safe, bring a camera, have some pocket money, and remember your common sense. Remember to be present and to put the technology down once and a while and see through your own lens, too, because you’re a beautiful human exploring this beautiful earth and taking advantage of what other outdoorists before you have set in motion.
Best of luck to you all!]]>
Chris Burkard is a leading outdoor photographer. He is based in Coastal California and posts photos of landscape and lifestyle photos of his travels. His photos will definitely fuel your wanderlust. He is one of the top outdoor photographers on Instagram and one you should know.
Christin Healey is a photographer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s refreshing to find an East Coast Outdoorsy Instagrammer, because so many live out West. Along with her colorful photos of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she posts pictures of her travels across the country. I had the pleasure of meeting Christin last winter, and I can say with confidence she is as authentic and down-to-earth in real life as on her Instagram. And if you love dogs, she has two beautiful pups that she loves to bring on her adventures and feature on her feed.
One of three triplets (check out their joint Instagram: @hopeyoulikefreshair), Kylie is a high-energy, hat-loving outdoors woman. Living out in the mountains always has her capturing lifestyle photos from all sorts of adventures. Her photos provide all the right vibes to inspire you to have a great time no matter where you are. Also, her Snapchats are some of the most entertaining things I’ve seen, definitely go follow it @kylieturley!
Kyle is a designer and photographer from Boulder, Colorado and the lead designer at The Outbound Collective, which, if you don’t know, is one of those sweet sites that help you turn your images into adventures. He is always off hiking, backpacking, or something rad.
Ashlee is one of my favorite Instagrammers. She has a great eye for photography and her edits are beautiful. She genuinely makes me want to go out and explore more. She fishes, climbs, backpacks — somehow able to do it all. Whatever outdoor activity you love, she will inspire you to do more of it.
Joey Schusler is one true outdoorsman. From mountain biking in Belize to shooting videos New Zealand, he’s done it all. As an ambassador for Yeti Cycles, he lives a wild life. His desire to experience diverse and invigorating experiences in far off places is clear from his Instagram — good thing he never leaves for an adventure without his camera.
This is for all you climbers out there. The intense adventures that Alton goes on will make you lust after the climber lifestyle…or be absolutely terrified. He is definitely what you would consider an adrenaline junkie. In addition to the photos of him and his friends scaling mountains and mountain biking, he also films videos that captivate his adventures in a thrilling way.
Growing up in the PNW, it’s no wonder Jeff is an outdoor enthusiast. His photos of the outdoors are able to capture the true vastness and beauty of the world. He posts a variety of photos from all different landscapes and activities. Some of his photos make you question if he really was hanging off the cliff for a photo, or if it’s some Photoshop magic.
Andy Mann is a director and photographer. One of my favorite things about his feed is his ability to capture emotion and wildlife. A lot of the outdoor photographers listed above focus on people and landscapes, but Andy has up close photos of a fever of stingray and photos of him swimming in the middle of a pod [JE1] of sperm whales. His Instagram makes you appreciate the wonders of nature and what it has to offer.]]>
Plan it out – Count how many meals you need to prepare for and whether you’ll have extra water to spare for a meal when you stop. Running out of food is never a fun thing. It’s always good to have some extra snacks in case of an emergency.
Count your calories – I know this is often frowned upon, but for backpacking, it’s a special case. Backpacking is no joke. It definitely takes a toll on the body and it is so important to make sure you are eating the right amount of food to ensure you have the energy to last the trip.
Snacks are important – Snacks are a key part of backpacking. Although it might be tempting to pack a couple big meals to save the back, it might not be the smartest way to eat. Snacks are easy to store and are also key in maintaining proper blood sugar throughout the trip.
Bring fresh food – Dehydrated foods are easy, long-lasting, and light to pack — that’s why they’re so popular, but they can be unsatisfying and unhealthy. In mild weather, fruit and veggies last for a surprisingly long time. They might get a bit beat up in the pack — but the juiciness of fresh foods always beats dehydrated meals after a long day of hiking.
Length of your trip – One thing to make sure you keep in mind while planning for a trip is how long it will be. If you are going on a short trip, you can often pre-cook most of the meals. This means you will be able to eat a greater assortment of foods.
Granola – Granola is a quick and easy option that is high in calories and flavorful. Most grocery stores now have a large assortment of different wonderful, nutrient packed granola that actually tastes good. You can also opt to make your own to cater to your favorite flavors. This vanilla almond granola recipe is one of my favorites.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a classic breakfast choice. Companies like Quaker Oats have created convenient instant to-go oatmeal in the shapes of cups and packets that are perfect for backpacking trips. Oatmeal is also a good source of carbs, protein, and fiber.
Bagels – Bagels are another easy-to-pack food for backpacking. Top it with your choice of nut butter and you are good to go. The combination of bread and nuts will fuel you with plenty of energy to start the day.
Breakfast Bars – I love breakfast bars for a quick on-the-run breakfast any day. These are a yummy, sweet treat that will also fill you up. There are so many different recipes that incorporate all sorts of seeds and nuts. You can customize it to fit your taste. One of my favorites is a banana quinoa breakfast bar, but a quick Pinterest search, and you’ll find yourself with a whole variety to choose from.
Wraps/Bread – Tortilla wraps and bread is a great thing to bring to top with all sorts of food. It’s perfect to eat with beans, peanut butter, anything you want if you just try it! They are very versatile and fill you up quickly.
Ramen & Noodles – Ramen isn’t the most calorie dense food, but it definitely is an easy and quick meal. Heat up some water, and you are good to go. Some ramen brands don’t even need to be cooked over heat, they can easily rehydrate with some water. Pasta and noodle dishes are a go-to meal for me on a weekly basis and it definitely still is when I am backpacking. You can pack the dish with all sorts of veggies and you are good to go.
Prepared Meals – Mountain House is a freeze dried food brand that is popular among many backpackers. Unfortunately, they don’t make any options for vegans. Outdoor Herbivore and Good-To-Go are two other dehydrated camp food brands that have vegan options.
Wheat Thins, Fritos, Oreos, Swedish Fish, crackers are all surprisingly vegan snacks. I get that not everyone wants to sustain off Oreos for an extensive backpacking trip, but when you need that little bit of sugar to bring up your energy, it’s good to have a stash in your bag. If you just look at the ingredients of the various snacks in your grocery store, you might be surprised at how many of them actually fit a vegan diet. Here is a list of some of my favorite snacks to bring backpacking:
I hope this guide is helpful in preparing for your next backpacking trip and hopefully make food prep less daunting. Just remember to always listen to your body, it knows best.]]>
At midnight, hours before, the florescent lights in the refugio shattered the pure calm I’d sealed inside my sleeping bag. I curled tighter into a fetal position, fending off the bitter cold. I hadn’t slept well. This stone-built refugio, known as “high camp,” was smaller than the “low camp” refuge about 3,000 feet down the mountain. The main room, packed with twelve bunk beds and lined with one long, skinny table, housed the assemblage of expedition teams making their last stop before Huayna Potosi’s summit.
At almost 20,000 feet, Huayna Potosi is one of the most accessible, thus popular, technical peaks in Bolivia’s portion of the Andes, the Cordillera Real. During peak season in August and early September, the mountain sees dozens of climbers a day. This particular night, only five of us occupied the refugio’s beds. Still burrowed deep in my sleeping bag, I heard the other four groan in near-unison. I didn’t know them—all four burly Australians, with broad chests and thick facial hair. I’d embarked on this trek by myself, which had started two days before from the lower camp. At the time, I was four months deep in a seven-month solo-backpacking trip.
Weeks prior I’d met two French men on a bus to La Paz, Bolivia’s cultural capital. They were returning for another try at Huayna Potosi, which looms like a watchdog over the city. “Altitude sickness man, it’ll get you.” They’d only made it to the first base camp before one got so sick they’d had to turn back down. “But the mountain man, she’s a beauty. There’s nothing that beats a killer mountain.”
I wasn’t sure exactly what he’d meant by killer—which definition his French had translated to heavily accented English: destroyer or amazing?
I emerged from my sleeping bag cocoon and immediately slid into my second puffy jacket. It must’ve been well below zero. I shivered head to toe, and pulled on a hat to cover my ears and a messy braid that I hadn’t bothered to redo since leaving La Paz. That day I was the only girl on the mountain. I tip-toed into the adjacent gear room where Rocky, my guide, was sitting. With dark features and a strong stature, he was only 23, three years older than me, but about five inches shorter. He sat on one of the benches, lacing up his boots. “Buenos dias chica, ¿lista para las aventuuuuras?”
I sat down to pull my own boots on. Putting my head down between my knees I could feel my pulse, thick in my temples, rapid and fierce. Nervous or the altitude? In addition to icing my lungs, the air was noticeably thinner, so I found myself taking shallower, more frequent breaths. From a medical Wilderness First Responder course, I remember that a major cause of mountaineering-related deaths is high altitude pulmonary edema, where fluid gathers in the lungs, restricting breathing and oxygen absorption into the blood stream. A cough and dizziness can manifest in even the most experienced hikers, but severe conditions can lead to a deadly combination of symptoms.
“Lista,” I said, intentionally taking one full deep breath. Today was our big day, the final push to the summit.
When we breathe in, oxygen molecules pass through our lungs into air sacs, or small pods where purple oxygen-deficient blood cells come to refuel. Once revitalized, the cells metamorphose red and return to the bloodstream highways, delivering the essential fuel for bodily function. Being at high altitudes, the air pressure, and thus oxygen supply, is significantly lower than normal. This drastically increases the risk that blood vessels begin leaking—either resulting from the unfamiliar pressure levels or changes in their permeability, no one really knows. What scientists do know is that climbing too high too fast primes the perilous conditions for pulmonary edema, or excess fluid in the lungs. Such a state can be deadly, and can only be corrected only by returning to low elevations and increasing the oxygen supply.
I shouldered my pack, thankfully light compared to the previous days’, now only filled with our tools and a couple snacks. The four burly Australians and their guide entered the room, hee-hawing about racing to the summit. “You ready sister?” they asked me, maintaining their joking intonation. I smiled at them and then at Rocky, who winked at me, inspiring my confidence. I said, “See you at the summit.”
To prevent and combat high altitude pulmonary edema, mountaineers typically spend days or even weeks acclimatizing incrementally to high altitude climates. Around 17,000 feet is when the exposure to alpine environments becomes more severe; sleep loss, muscle wasting, and weight loss are significantly exacerbated, more often than not resulting in signs of full-body deterioration.
The month before this trek, I’d done some high-altitude hiking in Peru, reaching over 15,000 feet. Feeling strong then, I figured something higher and more technical was the natural next step.
I’d spent a week adjusting to the Bolivian mountain altitude, which, in La Paz, already sits around 11,500 feet. While I’d been running six miles without a problem down at the beach in Peru, I could barely make it three miles without wheezing and feeling dizzy. That people live there, and in even higher communities throughout the surrounding mountains, amazed me. I found out that their genes are structurally different from those living at sea level. After centuries of permanently occupying high altitude territory, both the Andean and Himalayan folk, have developed key physiological differences, such as low hemoglobin concentrations, that tame altitude sickness. While each day got a little bit easier for me, I could tell it would take a long time before I’d be cruising my normal six miles.
I got a job bartending at the Adventure Brew Hostel, famous in the Western backpacking circuit for their daily batch of free and endless (read: not tremendously tasty) pancake breakfasts. During the day I’d wander through the city, and by night I’d post up behind the bar to serve drinks to the foreigners, listen to any stories they were willing to share and eavesdrop on the rest. Many were there to party, but more than I’d expected were there for Huayna Potosi. Some would regale with wild stories of success; others would embellish failures with hilarity or severity. My curiosity was beyond piqued. “It’s easy compared to other technical mountains,” I’d overheard a bearded Australian guy with tattoos lining his arms say, but he’d been flirting with a girl all night, so I couldn’t gather how seriously I’d take his comment.
I promptly signed up through an expedition company recommended by the hostel. For just about $100 they provided my guide, transportation, food and outfitted me with supplementary equipment: cramp-ons, mountaineering boots, an ice pick, insulated pants, a helmet, and an old smelly fleece I could use if needed.
At 12:45 a.m. outside the refugio, I fastened a figure eight knot into my harness, tethering myself to Rocky. The Australians emerged and we all paused to fasten our crampons. I leaned back against my pack and gazed above me, watching my breath swirl fuzzy, weightless molecules across my headlamp’s stream. Our position thousands of feet above any other light sources opened a window into the universe. No cloud was in sight, just a huge sprawl of glittery stars, the cleanest expanse of the Milky Way I’d ever seen.
Two hundred meters up the slope we could see another cluster of headlamps outside another, newer refugio. “How many people are going up today?” I asked Rocky.
“I think there’ll be 12 of us,” he said.
The Australian group stepped up ahead of us, assuming they would begin first. I rolled my eyes, annoyed, before putting it behind me. We all fell into single file zig-zagging up the slope. Starting out behind everyone was slow, but after an hour, a group of three turned back. As soon as they were out of earshot, Rocky turned to me. “We’re making it to the summit, right?” It wasn’t so much a question as a statement. I could only nod.
The other groups bobbed ahead like little LED ants. We hiked endlessly under the stars’ glow, traversing staggering cliffs and avoiding deep crevices. The moon climbed along the sky in tandem, racing us to the summit. As we entered the world above the clouds, a thunderstorm brewed across the valley underneath us, allowing witness to the birth of lightening from above: sparkly golden electricity gathering, deep purples and grays and golds coalescing before striking down on earth—the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
At 2:38 a.m., nausea blended in my stomach and I fought to keep down. The novelty of the adventure wore off, and the reality of the bitter cold, biting wind, and thousands of anticipated steps sank in. Ice clawed at my gloved fingers. Another group turned back; only six of us remained. I had all the corporeal sensations of sprinting—fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest tightness—but felt like I was moving through molasses, laboriously in slow-motion. Would we ever get there?
Rocky paced the hike well, but from his strong and meaningful gait, compared to my haphazard trudge, I could tell that if he’d untethered me, he’d be at the peak in a flash. Every time he glanced back at me, he flashed a smile, you’re doing it Chiquita! Later, Rocky told me that he during the peak season, he summits the mountain three to four times a week, often staying up at the low camp in between clients. Nothing tires him anymore.
At a flat pass we caught up to a group taking a water break. One of the guides looked at me. “¿Chica Americana?”
I nodded as my unforgiving breath slowly returned during the pause. “Si, soy yo.”
He laughed. “¡Bueno!” And held his palm up: high-five. Rocky and I continued before them, overtaking the other group ahead within a half hour. Now I reckoned only one, maybe two parties were ahead of us.
At 6:02 a.m., the sight of the summit rounded into our vision. A small burst of much-needed energy jolted into my system at the thought of being almost there. Another climber was at the base of the short vertical ice wall that led to the final traverse to the peak. “¿La chica joven?” he asked Rocky, his face completely covered by a blue balaclava.
The little girl? How did everyone know about me?
The peak was right behind him. All I wanted to do was finish and stand on it, that pinnacle of physical exhaustion and beauty. The sun was creeping up and my energy further waning. An emptiness crept inside me as I paused to breathe between each step, though my heart kept racing, pulsing throughout my whole body. I tapped into my annoyance at being called a little girl and urged Rocky to begin again. I just wanted it to be done.
Along the exposed traverse, sheer drop offs on either side, I kept my gaze down and tip-toed behind Rocky. The wind came, whipping my hood back and I turned around to see the sun birthing the horizon, illuminating the grand expanse below. Five more steps to the summit. Ice crunched. Breath hard, dry, cold. The wind bit at every part of me.
And then Rocky stopped. I almost ran into him. He stepped aside. Two more steps. All of a sudden the breathlessness at almost 20,000 feet, the thousands of steps, the head-down trudging, the equal exhaustion and exhilaration, the everything it took to get up there became insanely, instantly worth it.
At 6:32 a.m. the sun, diffused by the lingering morning misty clouds, wound its rays in between the lower peaks. I occupied the highest point within our periphery. While the sun beckoned a new day for the rest of the world thousands of feet below, I whooped and hollered directly at its fiery giant orb, celebrating how much of the day I’d already lived.
I felt so alive, invincible and mortal all at once. Does Rocky feel this way each time he summits?
Okay, maybe “bears” isn’t actually climbing lingo, but you get my point. Rock climbing utilizes a, shall we say, special vocabulary. Sometimes climbers are yelling strange words of encouragement, other times they’re offering rapid-fire advice with super specific terminology. To help you understand what the devil’s going on, we’ve compiled a vocab list for you as a sort of climbing cheat sheet, defining types of climbing, moves and holds, and miscellaneous slang.
Top roping: Climbing a route on top rope means the climber is secured to a rope that runs through the anchors at the top to a belayer on the ground. All you have to focus on is the rock in front of you. So zen.
Sport climbing: A style of rock climbing in which the climber clips to pre-installed bolts spaced out along the route as they climb. The climber is attached via rope to a belayer, and secures the rope to the bolts via quick-draw as they ascend.
Trad climbing: A type of rock climbing in which the climber brings and installs pieces of specialized protective gear designed to fit into holes and cracks in the rock. When the climb is complete, the protection can be removed from the rock. Trad, an abbreviation of traditional, is the “leave no trace” version of climbing. Example: “Nah bro, I respect the rock so I only do trad.”
Bouldering: Ropeless, partnerless, climbing for the maverick-minded. Normally limited to relatively short climbs (see “highball” below for exceptions), this type of climbing needs only a crash pad or stolen mattress for protection. Grab one of those, scramble up some stone, and boom, you’re bouldering.
Dyno: Defying gravity. A dynamic, powerful move where you jump from one hold to another, accompanied by both feet leaving the wall and a burly yell.
Heel hook: A move that involves you placing your heel on a foot hold, perfect for balance or leverage during a hard move. Now you can say “throw a heel, dude” and know what you’re talking about.
Match: The do-si-do of climbing moves. Matching happens when you bring both hands or feet to the same hold, allowing you to switch which hand or foot you move next.
Jug: Not what you’re thinking.. These are large, comfortable hand holds that you can hang on to for days. (Get your mind out of the gutter)
Crimper: The sour patch kids of climbing holds. These tiny holds are both sour and sweet, terrible to hold on to yet they allow you to climb the most seemingly impossible of faces. Depending on your strength and skill, they can be as narrow as a pencil or a butterfly’s eyelash.
Pocket: A deep yet narrow hold, good for one or two fingers. If you’re really lucky you’ll come across a mono, or single finger pocket, which is basically the dream for pocket fanatics and sloths.
Sloper: Ugh, you know you’ve encountered this kind of hold when you reach to grab it and slip right off. You think you’re holding on to something but there’s nothing there. Securely hanging onto a sloper requires a lot of hand strength and maybe some spiderman gloves.
Highball: Beginner Alex Honnold-ing. Highball refers to a boulder problem that is a little higher than one would like. Sometimes climbers will practice a highball route on top rope before going for the send.
Chossy: Used to describe a route that doesn’t have a clean rock face. Some grass tufts here, a brittle patch of lichen there, and usually raining rubble onto the belayer. This fun word usually comes with a connotation of the precarious. Synonyms include: questionable, crumbly, less-than-ideal.
Send/sendy: Get sendy. I sent it. Send train. A versatile climbing term that basically means DO IT when spoken as encouragement, and DID IT when used in the past tense. Sending a route means doing the entire climb without falling or taking a break, and it feels damn good.
Spotting: Using fellow climbers as protection. When bouldering, the spotter stands below the climber with their arms extended, guiding the climber onto the pads if they fall. Commonly heard from a spotter: “I gotchu.”
Pumped/pumpy: The feeling you get in your forearms on a particularly long or overhung route, when your muscles feel like lead and the battle to stick to rock is on. Simultaneously the best and worst feeling in the world, some say.
Beta: Any information about a route that helps you get to the top, including rock type, difficult sections, style of climbing, prime weather conditions, best nearby cafe, etc. etc.
The project: Ah, the current love child of a climber. The route that you’ve been laboring over for a month, a summer, five years, however long it takes. The route that essentially owns your soul, keeping you up at night as you hypnotically go through the movements of climbing it. If a climber tells you about his or her “proj,” look out for that manic glint in their eye, the sign of obsession, the ultimate love-hate-love relationship.
Tssssah (or a variety of other noise, including grunts, yells, and intense breathing): Forget words, often times the crag or gym is just a cacophony of animalistic sounds, from the shrill roar of a climber sending for a dyno, to the controlled in-and-out puffs of someone gently treading up a precarious slab section. Feel free to unleash your inner creature as your climbing career unfolds, as these noises help with breathing techniques, getting psyched, and being a climbing beast in general.
Crag dog: Faithful, floppy-eared climbing companion, any shape, any size.