Decisions, decisions

“The question isn’t what are we going to do, the question is what aren’t we going to do” ~ Ferris Bueller

I’ve often scoffed at the RVs and vehicles I’d see on roadways throughout the summer with every possible piece of recreational enjoyment strapped to them, like the Clampetts making their way to the mountains. The fact of the matter is though, I often feel this way when I’m loading up the truck for a weekend camping trip. For instance this past Labor Day weekend the packing list went something like this: kayaks and pfds, camping equipment, fishing gear, running shoes, packs, camera equipment (of course), and cloths for every occasion. All of these things were necessary of course as the weekend entailed camping, a concert, kayaking, fishing, volunteering at a running race, and multiple gatherings with friends. 

FOMO you say? Perhaps, but I think a lot of it is how I’m wired. So many people I know tend to really pour all their energy and time into one, maybe two activities. I sometimes find myself envious of this passion and accompanying skill level that comes with the time commitment. The reality though is that when conversations start to be dominated by the latest gear or plans to do the same thing for the 49th day in a row, my brain starts to wander and enthusiasm wanes. I am consoled though to know that I am not the only one who suffers from outdoor O.D.D (Obsession Deficit Disorder). Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and one of the biggest names in the outdoor world once characterized himself as 

I’ve always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession that doesn’t appeal to me. Once I reach 80 percent level I like to go off and do something totally different…

For me I think the draw to so many different outdoor activities is the enjoyment I get from engaging in the natural world through different experiences. For instance I can bike and run the same trail, but experience it in two totally different ways. On the bike there is speed and rhythm that creates a sense of flow to a trail. Running that same trail is much more cathartic and a totally different sensory experience. I’m also intentional in engaging in different activities at different times. One of the reasons I got into fly fishing was that I was doing a lot of high energy sports and felt like I needed something to slow down and take in my surroundings more…as well as let my legs rest! 

So while I might not be as fast or catch as many fish as others, I am always excited to get out and make the most of it however I can. Dana recently saw a sweatshirt that said Go outside and do something, to which she responded “I don’t think that’ll be a problem”.

Jellystone Park

A few weeks ago we took a little road trip from Boise to Missoula by way of Jackson Hole, Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. Having passed through a few years back I was excited to revisit two pretty amazing parks. However, my enthusiasm was tempered by the thought of visiting one of the most popular National Parks in the height of summer. Last time I visited Yellowstone I was witness to several acts of Darwinism, including sneaking up on Bison with iPads and parking diagonally across the road to allow vehicle passengers to photograph high cliff mountain goats. This apprehension was made only worse by the fact that only a week prior a nine-year-old girl was sent sailing twenty feet in the air by a charging bison. It really makes you wonder if we are on a social de-evolution.On our visit, an informative plack at the visitors center at Mammoth Hot Springs revealed quit the contrary. It turns out throughout the Park’s history, visitors have always used bad judgement.

Yellowstone was established in 1872 by Congress as the first National Park and signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant. But the designation did little to protect the approximately 3,500 acres of the park. Poaching was rampant throughout the park, some for profit and some just because the animals were there. In 1877 the Department of the Interior hired Henry Yount as the first game warden. Hard to believe that one man could cover so much area, which is why Mr. Yount quite within the first year. Poaching continued to threaten the existence of several species, vandals stole ornate travertine, and homesteaders illegally grazed cattle and set fire to surrounding forests. Such degradation led the Secretary of the Interior under the authority grant to him by Congress to call on the Secretary of War for assistance and in 1886 the U.S. Army took charge.

The U.S Army? You would think with military management and the establishment of the National Park Service 1916 that acts of idiocracy would no longer be a problem. Unfortunately, people continued to be people. By the early 1930s Old Faithful nearly stopped spouting because so much trash had been thrown into it. Since the 1960s the color of the Morning Glory pool has changed because of things that have been thrown into it. So much so that the Park Service has had to clean the pool on more than one occasion, even as recently as the 1990s. 

So really, it should be no surprise when someone crashes a drone into the Grand Prismatic,  tries to walk up to take a peak into Old Faithful, or put a baby bison in the back of their Subaru. Thankfully the National Park Service is there to continue to protect these great American treasures….from ourselves. If you appreciate Yellowstone and the other National Parks, watch this informative safety video and consider donating to the National Parks Foundation.

The Weight

“How do I get my backpacking bag to weigh like this?” That was the question Dana posed as we carried little more than water, rain jackets, and bear spray on a recent day hike in the Tetons. A few weeks prior to that we had done our first backpacking trip of the season and despite the hikes relatively moderate distance, we sluffed off our packs with a groan and shoulder rub both days. As we continued on our day hike around Jenny Lake, we discussed what reallyconstituted essentials and what some options were for lightening the load, including the promotion of an all Pop-tart meal plan and forgoing the tent for some slumbering under the stars.

Suddenly it dawned on me that through the discussions of sawed off toothbrushes and tentless sleeping, I completely ignored the most obvious poundage in my pack, camera equipment! I switched to a mirrorless system about a year ago in part because my DSLR was so dang big to be hauling around the mountains. Now granted when you pack in an extra lens, batteries, ect. the weight savings is debatable, but having a more compact system has certainly made it easier and more convenient to haul gear into the backcountry. There are still some tweaks and adjustments that I can make (or if Peak Designs wants to send me one of their amazing looking travel tripods!) to keep the weight down on the camera side of things, but once we are high up on the peaks or settling into a lakeside camp for the evening I’m usually more than happy to have my gear. 

As we continued on the trail I agreed that lighter would be nice, especially on certain trails. But at the end of the day isn’t an evening by the lake more enjoyable with a Pop-tart, cocktail, and game of backcountry bocce? I certainly think so.

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