Anything worth doing is worth Overdoing

In the last month I’ve probably tried to write a half dozen blog posts or more, each equally meandering through my current mindset, trying to pinpoint just how it is I’m feeling after 6 months of utter change. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my past in Outdoor Education, it’s the power of reflection. I’ve gone through a lot of emotions since arriving here, but any concrete conclusion would have been shortsighted and self limiting.

If I had to sum up my stint, the Louis CK bit that Everything is amazing and nobody is happy might have been a fair assessment for a good chunk of time. It is what it is and there been quite few positives and self realizations, which at this point I’m quite content I think!) with.

Mainly, and out of necessity, I’ve learned to embrace change. I’ve always been a type A personality, and the last few months have forced me to explore my limitations and use it to my advantage. I’ve grown into a fiercely independent individual, bordering on afraid to let people in close. But in doing so I’ve made major commitments and set lofty goals. At 24 I feel like I’m in a place to continue to explore what the world has to offer.

For now, even though I work at a desk from 8-5, as low man on the totem pole, It’s an experience I can’t take for granted. I work with some amazing and inspiring folks, but it’s also taught me what I want in life, and when the time comes, to not be afraid to shock people with the decisions I make.

So wherever the wind blows me in the near future, the point I want to get across to the 3 family members that read this things is I’m content, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be content to settle. The world has a lot to offer, and there’s a lot I want to see, do, and affect before this condition called life comes to an end. If I seem selfish, narcissistic, or distant along the way my apologies.

For now, I’ll enjoy living in trout Mecca, I’ve probably caught more of these critters than at any time in my life. I’ll enjoy it while I can, because I know at some point most likely, I’ll be off again.

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So we meet again

So back in 06′ my bro and I embarked on a 16 hour drive to the Gorge for our first Pearl Jam show, ever. It was the start of a long obsession that’s brought us a lot enjoyable moments as well as closer together.

Every so often life gets a bit iffy, and it seem in just these moments a show comes around that brings us together and rights the ship.

Life has been heading in that direction, and I got a call yesterday that we officially have pit tix for the next show. All seems right again.

When we arrived at the Gorge in 06′ we didn’t quite know what to expect. Things started off with this and the bond I hold most sacred was solidified.

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Survivor’s Guilt

In life there’s a certain amount of inherent risk that comes with the phenomena of existing on this planet. Human’s are one of the odd species that routinely bolsters this risk for reasons we may not fully comprehend. People ride motorcycles way too fast, jump off cliffs dressed like a squirrel, and climb mountains to altitudes where humans don’t belong; all in the name of living?

We humans have this predicament where the trials of daily life are no longer enough to stimulate the senses, and fully engage our brains. We have to challenge our existence in order to feel that primal urge for survival. What happens all to often, is a shortcoming, with fatal consequences. These struggles may be primal, but the brains of our loved ones are wired to the modern world, and people don’t understand why we end up in these situations.

Last week 5 experienced backcountry skiers/snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Colorado. Conditions had the making to be perilous. Part of the allure of the backcountry is the virgin snow, uncrowded spaces, and challenge to make decisions that mitigate danger. The backcountry industry is growing exponentially, new gear and equipment makes potentially dangerous places more accessible, and can provide users with a false sense of security.

When a slope fractures on you and the mountain takes control, you realize right quick that the consequences of one wrong step can be greater than you could have ever imagined. Your brain takes over releasing catecholamines, thrusting your body into overdrive. You soon realize its no use, things get eerily calm, and your focus drifts to what you’re potentially about to lose. Never kissing your significant other again, never being a parent, making your parents outlive their child. Perhaps your brain latches on to family for some sense of familiarity and love to block out the fear and terror. But ultimately you realize, no matter how prepared you were, that you fucked up.

Accepting death in pursuit of life is a strange paradox, and it’s one many of us claim to hold true. I beg you to reconsider. Most people will never have to face the consequences, and will keep living under the facade that this is acceptable. Each time somebody meets their untimely end I grieve for them knowing that in those final moments there was probably no peace. Just fear, regret, and hoping to some deity for one instance of help that won’t come. Perhaps a few will feel peace in meeting their maker in a way of their choosing. But I will grieve none the less, knowing I was able to walk away, realizing I was totally unprepared for the consequences. I was able to tell my family I love them and continue living, while others with more experience did not.

 

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So you want to work in the Outdoor Industry…

Pardon the silence, it’s been a long few months with some change, but I’m back on my feet.

Here’s a subject I feel like needs some light shed on it, working in the Outdoor Industry. I’ve been lucky enough to evolve from shop rat into a marketing position with a company at the very top of their field. Every day I get emails asking for sponsorship or how to get in a position like mine. People see you at trade shows and say how cool it must be to get paid to travel around, make Harlem Shake videos, or generally do cool shit, and how they want a job in the Outdoor Industry. Well quite frankly, so do I!

There’s an illusion out there, certainly one I once held as well, that the people who are the spokes that turn the Outdoor Industry are cutting fat checks to play outside. They live in some mecca, a Mount Olympus rising above all of the retail, guiding, and educational jobs to one day aspire for. Maybe that’s why I hardly saw those folks on the mountain or river, and when I did it was just for a few hours or during the shoulder seasons. Well there was a reason for that, they were working their asses off!

Here’s the fact of the matter, the Outdoor Industry consists of a lot of (by comparison) small companies that no matter how seemingly big or successful, have to make do with less. The really good ones anyways, are getting the most out of their employees because we love the industry’s we’re in. Sure you’ll bump into us on the Dean River or in Girdwood, but that’s usually our one big escape a year. The rest of peak season, when you’re out enjoying prime steelhead runs and pow days, we’re working to keep your days afield as enjoyable as possible.

Now I’m not complaining, I love what I do and there is it’s fair share of cool stuff, like product testing and video filming in the field. But that is certainly the exception where as the norm is answering 100 emails a day, digesting the mornings planning or production meeting and then getting the days tasks completed. I work with awesome people, the key word being work, because once you attain a real job in the outdoor industry there will be no shortage of it, and at a desk no less.

So be cognizant of what working “in the industry” really entails, if you want to be outside all the time stay a guide, photographer, shop rat, any combination of those. If you want a steady paycheck and benefits then prepare yourself emotionally to miss an epic powder day or hatch. Be ready to get creative and embrace dawn patrols and working weekends/long hours, and you just might actually make it without losing your sanity.

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Hankook Dynapro ATM tire review

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For the hardcore outdoorsy types, the quest for the perfect tires can be never ending. I spend a lot of time on and off pavement, in a wide variety of conditions, and not in the most capable of vehicles. This makes having an awesome all around tire imperative, and finding the right one isn’t always easy. Online tire reviews leave a lot to be desired and deciphering how a user review can relate to your driving can drive you crazy. A few tips I’ve found helpful in finding relevant reviews are to find online forums for either the vehicle you’ll be using or the types of activities you intend to take part in. Thus for my purposed the Honda Element forums as well as ski forums gave some good insight into my selection.

I ended up going with the Hankook Dynapro ATM because I wanted one tire to do it all, which for my purposes includes a ton of highway driving, driving to ski resorts or mountain roads several times a week, and scaling various dirt and fire roads. I settled on the Dynapro because it was noted for it’s snow performance, aggressive tread, and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than its competitors. I had considered running a dedicated snow tire in the winter but decided they wouldn’t last long with the amount of highway driving I do as well as in our milder climate.

The Results

I drive an 05′ Honda Element (toaster!) AWD. When I purchased it the dealer was about to put new tires on and I told them I wanted an aggressive AT so they slapped on Big O Bigfoot A/T. These were nice in all conditions at first, a little loud, and super expensive. I’ve had BFG Rugged Trails in the past as well. I narrowed down the the Hankook as it seemed to compare to a Toyo Open Country and Dueller Revo, both of which were almost $900 installed. The Dynapro’s cost me  $650 installed in a 225/35/16.

On the highway they are certainly quieter than the Bigfoot AT, but grip a whole lot better. In rain they don’t get squirrely or try to hydroplane, on dirt they grip and make things predictable. Where they really shine is on Snow. The Hankook Daynapro ATM snow performance is awesome, grips like a champ at normal snow speed and instills confidence. The tread flushes as it should and I don’t lose any traction whatsoever. Where the old tires were nerve racking, the Dynapros have no problem doing 40 on super snowy roads (slowing a tad for corners). On variable roads where I’ve hit snow or ice unexpectedly at high speed the tires bite so the car can doesn’t have to. I just completed a trip from California to Wyoming and back in variable conditions including Targhee on a storm day and am sold. These tires are way better than anything I’ve every tried. With 5000 miles on them they’re not showing any wear.

Hankook makes these tires in a wide variety of sizes so you can run them on anything from a crossover to an I’m Compensating monster truck. For the price they are simply awesome!

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Remembering Bill Carnazzo

It’s with a heavy heart that I’m preparing to attend the memorial services for my good friend and colleague Bill Carnazzo. Bill passed away earlier this week, and it came as quite the surprise and shock as he was one of the healthiest and most active people many of us know.

I’ve known Bill for close to 10 years through our involvement in the fly fishing community, many of those years as a valued employee during my time at Kiene’s Fly Shop. By the time I met Bill he was very much enjoying “retirement”, splitting his time between guiding, teaching, tying, and conservation efforts. In what he called his “past life” as city attorney Bill was noted for his fastidious, scholastic, and compassionate work ethic. All of these traits carried over and Bill was one of those people you could always count on for sound advice.

Bill had a passion for trout streams in Northern California, and although he traveled the world with fly rod in hand, he was always most eager to explore the nooks and crannies of his own back yard. I was fortunate enough to accompany him on several adventures of the years and visit some of the beautiful watersheds he fought so hard to preserve. Bill often would ask to take off from work an hour or so early, only to drive a good distance in order to attend conservation and licensing hearings for local waters. Using his legal background, Bill was a much needed voice for the rivers when it came to granting them fair treatment when it came to flow regulations and power production.

During one memorable trip Bill and I hiked a good distance during a particularly hot early summer day through clouds of mosquitos and avoiding a good number of rattlers. By the time we finally made it down the canyon walls I was disappointed to find a thick wall of shrubbery blocking access to the river. Never dejected, Bill smiled and reached deep into his rucksack  and produced garden shears. Bill blazed us a path to the river and a memorable day ensued. From then on I’ve carried shears for those early season adventures, sound advice indeed Bill.

Just this last winter, after getting caught in an avalanche while skiing, Bill was greatly concerned for my well being as being able to continue to explore the backcountry. Not long after this email showed up in my inbox:

Here is some info on a life-saving avalanche air bag. Have youi seen this thing?. Evidently, it is used mostly in the Alps, and is just getting some attention here in the US.  If those folks in Washington had bee using one of these, their chances of survival may have been

Bill was always concerned for his friend’s well being. He was quick to help me out and provide me with a wealth of advice over the years, and for that I will always be grateful. We had some great time on the river and in the shop, providing some great memories that I will miss. Just prior to passing Bill attended the ISE show in Sacramento and was as enthusiastic as ever in greeting all of his friends. If nothing else I’m happy that Bill was able to vist with friends for near and far one last time.

RIP Bill, you will be missed.

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New RIO Products for Winter Steelheading

RIO Products, manufacturer of awarding winning fly lines, leaders, tippets, and accessories has several exciting new products on the market for this winter steelhead season.

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The RIO Skagit iFlight is an innovative new skagit style shooting head that features a floating first 8 feet, while the remainder of the line sinks at an intermediate rate. The short aggressive taper is designed to easily cast heavy flies and sink tips. Because the majority of the iFlight head sinks it easily cuts under surface chop in order to achieve a deeper and slower swing. Available from 450-750 grains, the RIO Skagit iFlight is sure become a favorite for winter steelheaders looking to swing deep and slow. Don’t overlook this line for alternative applications like Shad and Striped Bass. Welded loops on both ends ensure easy rigging, and the line weight is printed on the rear end for easy identification.

RIO iMOW tips are a new family of sink tips based on the beloved MOW series. The floating sections have been replaced with intermediate sink sections, which are then joined to their respective sinking sections. The iMOW’s offer anglers precise depth control and work extremely well with the iFlight heads. Welded loops on both ends ensure ease of rigging. Available in T-11 (medium) and T-14 (heavy) densities.

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RIO Steelhead/Salmon Tippet is a new nylon tippet that is medium/stiff, making it perfect for steelhead, salmon, and spey casting applications. It offers great strength, abrasion resistance, and turnover for casting large flies. Available from 8-20lb breaking strengths.

Check out these, and other new products at your favorite RIO retailer or contact us for more information. Tight lines and happy winter fishing!

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