A month or so ago, we lost power to the house. There was absolutely no electricity and at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it was one of the coldest days you’ll find in LA. The fur-babies are used to adapting from the Boulder sub-zero climate but our cold-blooded python would have had a hard time surviving without his heat lamp. As a result, I got to enjoy a challenging but rewarding family experience. Without access to really anything except water and our library of books, I stayed in and let our snake hang out on my head all day. So what did I end up doing?
While I love supporting local businesses, I think that there is a growing divide between those who are handy and those who are not. DIYers are always willing to take risks and break something in the process while the vast majority of the population will call the maintenance man to change a lightbulb. I’m stuck somewhere between the two but on this day, I decided to go all out repairman. While it was nice to get a ton of chores done and leave the house in the best shape it has ever been in, I remembered something important.
What are summers for? Adventures. Beach-bumming, camping, road trips, cookouts, picnics, backpacking, and so on. Are you getting excited yet? I am. Tastes of grilled cheeses, s’mores, sangria, burgers, and ice cream. Now, you must be getting excited. Summer adventures are the best: the remaining shades of sunburn on your skin tingling as the sun dips down into nightfall where family and friends galore get together for some grub. Everyone has their own summer dream and that’s what’s fun about it: with everyone’s differing ideas, you get to experience a little of everything.
We apologize for our absence! We just did a big move–Colorado to California! Or more specifically…Boulder to Santa Monica! We had quite the trip. 25 hours of driving with two cats, a dog, and a snake! It was stressful, but we made it! Here’s a taste of our trip. Get ready and geared up for Hungry and Fit to come back rip-roaring!
This is a guest post by Ben Brown: Freelance writer, author and walking enthusiast Ben Brown looks at the best in breathable technologies – and why it works.
Breathable qualities are an essential characteristic for outdoor gear and modern materials and manufacturing processes ensure that this essential ingredient is built into most sportswear today. In fact breathable fabric could be argued to be more important than wind-proofing and waterproofing fabrics (or at least as equally important). However, there’s plenty of jargon to wade through (enough to get you into a real sweat) when it comes to choosing the right gear for your outdoor pursuits. In terms of breathable it helps to understand the basics.
Natural Cooling Systems – The Naked Truth
Breathable garments are designed to work in conjunction with the body’s natural cooling system; perspiration. “Garments” is a broad term and, in the case of outdoor gear, it includes everything from the tip of your headgear to the tips of your boots and shoes. As we overheat, our bodies produce sweat to cool us; the moisture evaporates, our skin cools and we return to our optimum temperature. This is fine if you’re not wearing any clothes at all, but not so great if you’re trekking up a mountain or running a marathon (in both cases clothes being more or less required) or conducting any other kind of sporting activity. For hikers, skiers, mountaineers and long distance trekkers. Balancing the need to stay warm and dry means that the body’s natural cooling mechanism can become a problem. Once clothing becomes damp from perspiration, it can remain so, keeping us cooling longer than we need to and eventually chilling us. While problematic at any time of year this can be a serious issue in winter when staying warm while outdoors can equal staying alive. Breathable fabrics operate to solve this problem by effectively drying quickly. Moisture is moved away from the skin and evaporates from the surface of the material, meaning our temperatures remain constant. While traditional materials, such as wool, have these qualities, modern polypropylene and polyester have been designed to create lighter weight garments with the same qualities. In terms of wool, often used in part in fleeces as an insulation layer, look for high quality merino wool products.
Wicking Qualities and Why they Work
While wool has been favoured as a breathable, fast drying fabric but the modern equivalents are considered more efficient. Today they are designed to incorporate ‘wicking’ qualities. Wicking describes the process in which moisture is moved from the skin and evaporates quickly, transferring it away from the skin in the same way that heat evaporates wax from a candle. For base layers, designed for a range of outdoor activities, materials with wicking qualities are ideal. For insulating layers material that is also breathable allows moisture to be quickly removed from between the layers and a final breathable waterproof layer ensures that excess moisture is drawn away from the body, while keeping out rain and or wind.
Horizontal Rain and Minuscule Vapours
Waterproof and breathable outer garments are now widely available and may seem an unlikely combination of qualities. These garments let moisture out and yet also stop it from passing through from the outside. The simple science behind this seemingly magical quality is the fact that moisture vapour from sweat is actually made up of smaller droplets, which can leave the fine mesh of the fabric, while droplets that form on the outer layer of the material (droplets in this case often being pelting, horizontal rain) are too big to enter, these run off thanks to waterproofing coatings. In many cases over time both the waterproofing and breathable qualities of this type of garment becomes compromised but regular treatments with recommended products help to restore and/or maintain jackets and coats.
Buying appropriate waterproof outdoor gear is essential. For winter activities robust, strong outer layers are advisable, especially for mountaineering, trekking and hiking. Summer brings it’s own challenges in terms of weather conditions and lighter weight coats are advisable, unless climbing to high altitudes. For cyclists and runners these lighter weight outer layers are often ideal, even in winter. However, in all case ensure the best quality (usually branded) items are chosen. At this time of year as the winter sales and Boxing Day sales beckon, it can be the perfect time to restock on all manner of outdoor gear, from tents to clothing and waterproofing products. Where possible always buy quality outdoor wear and kit, as apart from its effectiveness it can last for many years (and many adventures) to come.
We decided to utilize our apartment to its fullest and with our trip to New Jersey coming up at the end of the month, we wanted to free up some space. We are driving back to Colorado with some more of my stuff from back home, so the extra large futon that takes up our whole living area needed to go. It was our first piece of furniture here and we dragged it in from the garbage for something to sleep on our first night. I had serious lower back issues for the first month we lived here as a result.
It’s a Saturday and there is a winter “storm” going on (but it ended up just being a miserable wintry mix the entire day). It’s snowing, but not sticking, so it’s just incredibly wet. So it all boils down to us going to the Salvation Army store early in the day and seeing that everything was 50% off. We chose a love seat, our of four options, that only cost $35. However, we needed to get it home and the Taurus (our car) is not big enough. I decided, with permission from a boss, to use a van from work.
The winter has been harsh and the van has been seldom used, so after just a few blocks… it died. It was in the 20s/30s and there was a wintry mix of large wet snow flakes. It wasn’t sticking to the ground, but the ground was soaked and, by the end of the day, so were we. As the van’s battery (or alternator) died in the middle of one of the busiest and largest intersections in Boulder, I had to push it out of the intersection. It weighed at least a ton but a nice mother and son helped us push it to the Target parking lot.
Then, since it was out of gas, we walked a half a mile to a gas station and they let us borrow a gas container so we could give it enough juice to help it get going. Then once filled back in the parking lot (we’re soaked and Alana is cold) we ask a nice man to help us jump the car. We jump it and get it back to the shop’s parking lot. Here we push the van in reverse while steering past tight turns to get it back into its parking space. Game over.
That took about three hours, and laundry ended up taking five hours, costing $10.50, and leaving all of our clothes wetter and dirtier than when we started. Tough way to spend our one day off during the week, but we got to spend it together and we love adventures, even bad ones. We want to thank those two nice people that helped us push, the gas station attendant that let us borrow the container that we returned, and the man who helped us jump the car. We want to say thanks for nothing to the people who turned and sped past us while we pushed the van, and the people in the Target parking lot that cut us off while trying to turn a dead vehicle.
In the end, after some more struggles with stairs and the futon, we got the futon and all of its padding to the garbage (along with an old pillow), and the new mini-sofa in the apartment. The clothes are laid out everywhere air drying (I want my money and time back, Realty Company) and we got one tough workout so the muscles are sore. The apartment has a lot more room, we saved about 13 inches in length and 18 in width, and now we can move some new things in at the end of month. We’re aiming for a cardio machine like a spin bike and our PowerBlock adjustable bench for some home workouts.
For the past six or seven years (and we had no idea), the Reel Rock Tour has been spreading its love for “climbing” throughout the world (mostly the U.S.). This is obviously a big deal in Boulder, a hub for climbing and outdoor enthusiasts, so they decided to kickoff the tour here.
Marga and Megan were super nice enough to not only invite us, but also get us tickets to this amazing and popular event. The mini film festival started at 7:30 p.m. last night and we had made it just in time. One of Marga’s friends, Sheri, had saved us some great seats so we were very fortunate there because these were films you would not want to miss. They announced that the “theatre” at Chautauqua Park held 1300 people and that the event sold out for last night and tonight as well. On the trek up the hill to the big log cabin/barn where it was being held, we were given not one, but two free Clif bar samples! Awesome stuff Boulder. As Alana said, if Clif was trying to push their products, then they are in the wrong place since they’re already so popular here. And then the event began…
After some announcing and thank yous and introductions and what not they finally turned the lights off and began the show. First up was The Dura Dura, or the hard hard for our non Spanish speaking readers. Chris Sharma, a very “rad” American climber”, and Adam Ondra, a very not-rad Czech climber, competed against each other to conquer the hardest route ever climbed. It was old school vs. new school but in the end, they bonded and learned from one another. Afterwards, there was a short segment on the recent surge of powerful women climbers that have decided to not just sit back and do the easy routes, but get hungry and do the 5.13s and 14s despite the powerful moves that are required. It was a well-put together and informative film that capture some great climbing of the new hardest routes in the world that have been found in Spain. Really great stuff from amazing climbers.
Then they decided to show what I thought was the best film of the night, The Shark’s Fin. The Shark’s Fin is a part of Mt. Meru in India and it is a ridiculous climb for alpinists because of the weather and altitude. The film gives a lot of background on Conrad Anker, one of the greatest alpinists of all time. After failed attempts to climb the fin in his past, Conrad has some unifinished business with his deceased best friend. Conrad puts together his 2008 expedition, despite one of the three members having gone through a skull-shattering ski accident. Through strokes, broken equipment, -25 degree temperatures, and frostbite, the close crew tries to make it to the “center of the universe” (as Hindus dub it) in their final attempt. The emotion of the story and beauty of the mountain make this film one anyone, climber or not, cannot miss.
Then there was an intermission with poorly organized giveaways! We could have gotten free gear but they didn’t explain what was going on! There was a headstand contest for the best prizes, but we are both HORRIBLE at them, especially me, so we didn’t even try. Alex Honnold, the star of the 4th film, signed posters and Sheri got one for Alana! We just wanted the next films to start asap because, thus far, they were incredible.
Next was the Wide Boys, a shorter film about crag climbing (climbing off-width cracks, using and contorting your body to hang on). It’s an insane looking and painful sport that is far less common than other forms. It is like ultimate fighting against a rock, or so they say. The film highlights Pete and Tom, two Brits that decide to leave the weak off-widths of Great Britain to climb all the cracks in the American Midwest. After two months of training in a cellar, the boys conquer them all and even end their “world tour” with an attempt at the Century Crack, the hardest off-width (that we know of) in the world. It has never been done before. This film had some great footage, but it was short and failed to really develop their story; there wasn’t the same connect as the first two films had. The emotion didn’t emerge.
Finally, the film that had everyone’s hands sweating, Honnold 3.0. Climbing is actually very safe if done with proper prep and gear. Alex Honnold is the exception to that notion of safety. Alex is arguably the greatest soloist in the world, and not a shabby sport, speed or boulderer at that. This film shows his reclusive life living out of his van with his new girlfriend. Alex trains in Bishop, CA, where Chris Sharma lived for quite some time, in order to prepare his next big feat, something that has never been done before, a triple crown of Yosemite up Mt. Watkins, the Nose, and Half Dome, in under 24 hours. He’s done all three by himself but 7,000 ft of vertical walls with free soloing (NO GEAR) 95% of his climbs, and fatigue setting in, just how safe can this invincible fearless superman be? The footage of an amazing attempt at an amazing feat was top notch and Honnold is such an interesting character that getting to see him not in hiding is a treat. A great film.
Well that’s it, we left afterwards and forgot to support the Access Fund and the American Alpine Fund by joining both for 35$, usually it’s way more than that! Silly us, we were tired and forgetful. See if the tour is coming to a place near you because its worth it!
Yes, that’s us: desperately wedging our chalked, cramped fingers into the cracks of humongous rocks, boulders, and man-made wedges. We have started the awe-inspiring sport of rock climbing (thanks to Marga and Megan). It’s an unreal workout, working your finger tips, to your hips, to your toes and leaves you feeling incredibly sore the next day–especially in the forearms.
One of our first days of just arriving in Boulder, Marga and Megan took us to Boulder Canyon to do our first outdoor climbing. We had both done various indoor climbs, just for fun, and nothing serious. This was a whole different story. The fresh air whipping past you as you’re trying to figure out a reach to your next hold, the incredible view from all sides, the real-life feeling that gets you energized–all on nature’s rock. It’s great. You feel giddy afterwards, even us rookies on easy climbs, once you finish, because you look down from the top and feel pretty awesome that you climbed all that (with amazing belayers).
I think our first climb was a 5’6, a standard ‘easy’ one, and it was a blast. Now, Chris is afraid of heights (pretty much the only thing he’s scared of), and he crossed the tyrolian which is two ropes doubled over secured between either rocks or a tree or rocks and rocks which hangs over a river. And then, he goes ahead and climbs up a freaking mountain. Pretty awesome for facing your fears, I’d say. Anyhow, unfortunately we didn’t get pics of that climb, it was so much fun.
Our next climbing adventure was indoors at the Boulder Rock Club, a totally immersive climbing gym with tons of walls and a pretty unique gym area too. Tons of levels of climbing from 5’3 to 5’12+ (something I won’t be able to even try for at least a year). We had a chance to do a bunch of them, trying out our skill with no fear of falling. We also got to try out bouldering, an activity Chris really loves. It’s just climbing low to the ground (but still very hard stuff), so you don’t need equipment. It’s a killer workout and really fun to challenge yourself with it.
And finally, I got out on another trip with Marga, Megan, and Fred. We went to Boulder Canyon again, but this time in Avalon. For me, it was definitely a step-up difficult-wise. The climb was a 5-7+ and it was at a slant with less big boulders and rocks to grab onto and more just flat surface with cracks in the rock to jam your fingers into.
So on this climb, I struggled a bit more in where to place my hands and feet. It’s not about grabbing as hard as you can. It’s kind of like an art: it’s about grace, balance, and pressure. You just need to lightly snug your fingers onto a hold (even the smallest of holds) and you will find support. I also found that I definitely need to work on my flexibility as I almost pulled my groin as I was reaching up for another hold. But, again, that feeling when you get to the top is great. And if you know me, I love feeling sore or even having tired muscles the day of.
Marga very generously donated her old climbing shoes to me so I am slowly on my way to getting all the gear (kind of an expensive sport). We’re on the hunt for some shoes for Chris. Also, once we feel steady money-wise, we definitely want a membership to the Boulder Rock Club as they have great climbs but also a cool gym with equipment like rings, finger holds, and a rope. I am so grateful for my family introducing us to this sport, it’s something we will DEFINITELY be pursuing.