Video: A week in the desert

Follow along as the gang from Mammoth Media go on a week-long trip through the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon once, and Wife of Mine and I visited Arches, Zion, Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands just after we got hitched. It is a beautiful part of the country and this video captures it well — and it looks like they had a ton of fun, too.

(Mammoth Media on Vimeo)


Patagonia and your favorite piece of gear

“When you have children, everything that’s yours is theirs, but nothing that’s theirs is yours.”

Michael “Nick” Nichols, National Geographic photographer



We all have it. A favorite piece of gear. A favorite piece of clothing. If you are person who spends a lot of time outdoors, that piece of clothing probably shows some wear and tear. But each abrasion, each scuff, each rip also tells a story. A story that triggers something only inside of you … or a story that has to be poured out to others, “There was this one time that …”

Patagonia is latching onto this idea like Proust latched onto his madeleine. In a new video online, the company is telling the stories of customers and a piece of clothing that means a lot to them. Not because it has the classic Patagonia label on it, but rather because it has been through so much with them. It kept them warm, dry, comfortable. It may have already been passed down to the next generation. What matters is the function. What matters is that it is made to last.

I have several things from Patagonia, but my favorite, and oldest, is a Snap-T Synchilla jacket that I bought in high school. It has survived college, frosty mornings hiking, cold evenings around a campfire and more than one friend who tried to make off with it. It has served as a pillow, a seat, a camera wrap, a towel. It is still the most comfortable thing I own — physically and psychologically.



One of the best quotes from the Patagonia film is from National Geographic photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols: “When you have children, everything that’s yours is theirs, but nothing that’s theirs is yours.” He is describing how his son likes to borrow his old gear, thus making it new again.

I plan to hold onto my jacket until my son is old enough to have it. I’m sure it will keep him warm just as it did me. I hope it triggers as many good memories for him down the road as it has for me.

I think Patagonia is onto something during the annual startup of the “want-itis” around the holidays. Do you need that new jacket? Do you need those new shoes? Or, do you have something that works just as well, even if it is a little older, a little dustier? I recognize that it is a pretty smart marketing idea to sell your customers on the idea that they shouldn’t buy another item from your company. At Thanksgiving in 2011, the company placed a full-age ad in the New York Times saying, “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” Since then annual sales for the company have grown almost 40 percent. Watching the video reminds you how much you’ve enjoyed that thing from Patagonia and maybe you should just check and see what new things they are selling. But still, the message that we are consuming the Earth just because we want something new, even when it is not needed, is a good one. And makes for a wonderful video.

No other word for it: Idiots

I’m sorry, but there is no excuse for the behavior of this group of guys.

Three Boy Scout leaders knocked over one of the “goblin” rock formations that give Goblin Valley State Park in Utah its name.

The 20-million-year-old rock formation, created by the weathering effects of wind and water, was knocked over Oct. 11, and the three men posted a video of the act online.

Glenn Taylor, the star of the video, told the Salt Lake Tribune, “I put my hand on a rock and it moved. While we were sitting right there we thought, ‘Man if this rock falls it’ll kill them.’ I didn’t have to push hard.”

Watching the video, though, it looks like Taylor needed to do more than give just a push. To cheers from the cameraman, identified as Dave Hall, and another individual, identified as Taylor’s son, Dylan, the elder Taylor leaned against another rock, braced his legs and shoved.

“We have now modified Goblin Valley, a new Goblin Valley exists,” Hall said on the video. “That’s crazy that it was held up just by that little bit of dirt. Some little kid was about ready to walk down here and die and Glenn saved his life by getting the boulder out of the way. So it’s all about saving lives here at Goblin Valley. Saving lives. That’s what we’re all about.”

Hall and Taylor, leaders of a Boy Scout troop and a Varsity Scout team sponsored by their LDS Church, were with eight youths and two other leaders on the trip.

Now they are potentially facing felony charges — and, according to Hall, death threats. “I’ve got over 100 death threats on the Internet already. I’ve got people all over the world telling me they are going to kill me because I made the decision that lives are more important than this rock staying here a few more hours,” Hall told the Salt Lake Tribune.

In a statement, Deron Smith, public relations director for Boy Scouts of America, condemned the action:

We are shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior. For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America has been a leader in conservation—from stewardship to sustainability. We teach our 2.6 million youth members and 1.1 million adult members, who collectively spend more than 5.5 million nights outdoors, the principles of “Leave No Trace.”

These principles stress a commitment to maintaining the integrity and character of the outdoors and all living things. The isolated actions of these individuals are absolutely counter to our beliefs and what we teach. We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action.

I was a Boy Scout, and much of what I learned about the outdoors started with the monthly camping trips my troop organized. I am sure we did dumb things when were kids and broke a fair number of Leave No Trace ethics, but we never would have done something this stupid. While Taylor appears to be hiding behind a public safety defense, the video makes clear there was no immediate danger or need for his action.

Grizzly eats a GoPro camera

What it looks like when a bear decides to eat your GoPro camera.

Hmmm…needs Tabasco…

Related: Video: Bear steals Dumpster h/t Girly Camping

Related: Photographer has his Canon 5D Mark II kidnapped and killed by a lion

Image from Ed Hetherington via

Weekend Inspiration: ‘The Road from Karakol’

Tagline: When the road ends, will you keep going?

This is one of the best videos I have seen in a while. A winner at the 5Point Film Festival, “The Road from Karakol” documents a journey by Kyle Dempster, a two-time Piolets d’Or award-winning alpinist, to Kyrgyzstan in 2011 by bicycle. During the solo journey he also did some climbing in the surrounding ranges.

The film grabs you from the opening scene: “Hello! My name’s Kyle, it’s 7 o’clock in the morning, and I’m naked in Kyrgyzstan. You might ask, ‘Kyle, why are you up so early?’ Well, it’s because I have to cross this river and it’s the lowest time during the morning. So, I’m naked, and here we go!” With the water rushing and crashing in the background, you see what it is like to step into the blank spots on maps.

This old, blue tarp

Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River State Park

I don’t remember where I got this blue tarp. Campmor? Wal-Mart? I’m not even sure when I bought it, but it must have been when I lived in upstate New York, so that was more than 15 years ago.

What I do know is this thing has been with me on many, many trips and has saved a lot of them.

I attract rain when I go car camping. It’s been this way since I was a kid. My father and I joked about renting ourselves out to farmers in need of rain for their fields.

So when you are dealing with a rainstorm nothing makes life better than a tarp over your head. It isn’t very fancy – no cantilever wings, no super lightweight silicon impregnated fabric. Just good old ripstop polyethylene in an 8’ x 10’ size. I have a ziplock bag filled with odds and ends of rope that gives me all the options I need for rigging it among trees (or occasionally to a picnic table or a roof rack).

I don’t think about the tarp that much – other than making sure it is packed for the trip, rigging it is it isn’t too stressed by wind or water pooling and then making sure it is dried out before being put back into storage. But when the rain starts to fall, I am really happy to have it overhead.

Some tips for setting up a tarp:

There are a number of tarps on the market that are designed to provide better protection and easier setup than the traditional square/rectangle. Here is one and another

A Fitpacking trip I went on used something similar to this, which was nice because of its multiple anchor points.

The knot I love about all others – even more than the figure eight – is the taut-line hitch. Perfect for tarp lines, tent lines, even moving all your furniture in the back of truck.

Here is pretty nice illustration and website:

Here is a good video, with some know illustrations, on how to pitch a tarp:

Have a great day.