After years of wanting to attend the Summer Outdoor Retailer show the timing worked out last fall. As usual, the road trip to Utah quickly turned into planning a bigger adventure, and by the time I left Vail the subbie was packed for a weekend of camping and paddleboarding in Wyoming with fellow AASI Snowboard National Team Member Eric Rolls.
With a couple of days of tradeshow exploration complete and a full tank of gas, we hit the road Friday afternoon and pulled in to Alpine a few hours later. After scouting around the National Forest Service dispersed camp sites we found a great spot by the river and set up our camp for the weekend.
Day 1 was a full day paddleboard float on the Snake River, starting in Grand Teton National Park from Deadman’s Bar down to the Moose Landing visitor center; the second time I’ve done this stretch. Grand Teton National Park is among my favorite of our national parks, one of the few that conjures the same grandeur and scale of Denali National Park (my backyard growing up). With every turn of the river the Tetons stand large, impressing themselves against the sky. I’m convinced it may be the most beautiful stretch of flatwater in the country.
With the boards inflated, board shorts on, and a few drybags of gear strapped down, we pushed into the current and began the 10 mile paddle. This part of the Snake is labeled Advanced but not because of rapids. The river braids extensively in this area, and downed trees create snags and strainers. The loose gravel bed shifts annually with snow, ice, and river flow, causing additional changes to the river. On a paddleboard, these changes are less of an issue, thanks to the portability and easy portage. Nonetheless, proper safety gear is important, and Eric and I both traveled with helmets, life jackets, and waist belt quick-release leashes.
Roughly halfway through we found the perfect gravel bar to grab some sun and eat lunch before continuing down the river. As we put back in, we found a little offshoot to river right and explored it, following it for a while before rejoining the main river. This is where we found a tree that had fallen across the river. It took a few tries, but I successfully stomped the first “hippy jump” I’ve seen on a paddleboard, jumping over the tree while the board traveled under. Further down the river we had to fully portage where a crafty beaver had closed off the river.
After rejoining the main river we quickly found ourselves at Moose Landing and hitched a ride back up to our car at Deadman’s before returning to camp. All in all, an awesome day on the river, and a great warmup for the next day.
Day 2 was the bigger adventure on the Alpine Canyon portion of the Snake, but that’s a story for another blog. Huge thanks to the companies like Big Agnes, Hala, Patagonia, Mountain Khakis, and Burton that help make trips like this awesome!
One of the awesome things about being on the AASI National Team is the projects we get to work on that impact the whole industry.
Earlier this spring, teammate Amy Gan and I met up with Burton’s Global Experience Manager Shaun Cattanach at Eldora Mountain Resort for one of those projects, a video to promote learn to snowboard programs for young kids to show at the National Ski Areas Association’s National Convention.
Not only was it a fun project to create and film, it carried an important message to ski area managers from across the country. I’m really happy with how the video turned out and love its message about improvements to children’s snowboard education through advancements in equipment, terrain, and teaching.
In this week’s First Chair Podcast George and I talked about the 20 year relationship between Burton and AASI, focused on improving snowboard education and equipment. We’ll be working together to tell that story and how it’s eliminated the barriers for 3-6 year olds who want to learn to snowboard. This podcast also dives in to the Burton Step-On binding which I’ve been riding for the last few weeks. Listen in to get my impressions!
With Burton’s big reveal of the Step On, snowboarding’s worst kept secret of the last year is finally official – the step in binding is back.
For the last few decades, many of us have been deriding step-ins. They were heavy, clunky, unreliable, poor performing, pieces of junk that were just as likely to accidentally release as they were to ice up and refuse to attach. Similar to binding “advancements” that swivel the front binding, add levered brakes, or automatically close the ankle straps, step-ins were just another great intentioned, but overly complicated invention. As a result, they were unable to compete with the simplicity, weight, and reliability of traditional straps.
Despite the disdain mainstream snowboarding threw at them, step-ins found a niche of die-hard followers that put new liners in their beat up old boots, search for replacement binding parts online, seek out gear at garage sales, and post in forums about their love for step-ins.
I was back East for a couple of weeks this fall, and took the opportunity to visit the Burton Headquarters in Burlington. In addition to visiting with old friends and touring the Craig’s prototyping facility, I saw a few things that I haven’t been able to talk about. Read more “The Burton Stone Hut”
Burton invited me out to Keystone for a couple of days to learn a bit more about their Learn To Ride (LTR) program. The two-day “Super Clinic” was a chance to dig deeper into the LTR program, and get a behind-the-scenes look at where Burton is going with it. During the two-day event a bunch of on-snow and indoor clinics, with topics including new technology, tuning, learning progressions, Go Snowboarding, Get Lifted, and the Burton Academy at Northstar At Tahoe. Read more “Burton Learn To Ride Super Clinic | Days 17 and 18 of 30 Days on the Road”