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Paddling the Black Canyon

Paddling the Black Canyon

Paddling a kayak or standup paddleboard along the Colorado River, below the Hoover Dam, along the border of Arizona and Nevada, is a surreal experience. The hot desert sun blazes down on an arid landscape while crisp, clear water winds its way south through the majestic 2000 foot walls of the Black Canyon. What seems like an impossible adventure is actually a trip many make every year.


Exploring the 12 mile stretch of river between the Willow Beach marina put-in and the base of the dam requires a bit of logistics if you are flying into Las Vegas and renting a car for the one-hour drive. But the experience is far greater than any effort it takes to get there. Those who are within road trip radius have it easy. Pack up the car and go!


Whatever the reality of getting there is for you, the first mile of paddling leaves that world far behind. Exploring any new zone by human-powered watercraft has an ancient appeal. And when that zone looks as wild and natural as the Black Canyon, the connection can be downright mystical.

 

Go With The Flow Along the Black Canyon

The controlled flow of the river is mellow enough for novice paddlers but having someone along experienced with the area and river dynamics is definitely recommended. Along the river, herds of Bighorn Sheep peer curiously from the steep cliffside and each turn of the canyon reveals new marvels of the geography and prehistoric setting. As remote and inaccessible as the area feels, it is easy to find maps that highlight the must-see spots. Kayak and rafting tour outfits can be seen on the river but not frequently enough to affect the vibe of your crew.


A campsite with outhouses is located just below an area known as Ringbolt Rapids and sits right at the entrance to a dramatic slot canyon hike that leads up to the Arizona Hot Springs. The mineralized water flows lazily at about 30 gallons per minute, creating small, perfect pools for soaking in. Vertical canyon walls nearly block the sky and make delightful shade for a restoring soak.


On the river, there are a few spots for cliff jumping and rock climbing. Geothermal waterfalls shoot off into the river in spots and create an amazing hot shower-while-you-paddle opportunity. Basically, anywhere there is water running into the river is a signal that there is something cool to investigate. Boy Scout Canyon is such and a great stop to relax under more waterfalls or doze off to the soothing sound of trickling water.


The properly named Sauna Cave, just before the restricted area at the base of the dam is fascinating. The tunnel was drilled by miners working on the Hoover Dam in the 1930’s as a diversion route for the river. They abandoned the project when they hit a hot spring. The tunnel is narrow, pitch black and filled with shin-deep bathwater. Not for the claustrophobic, the cave runs about 40 yards underground and you have to creep along with a hand on the wall and in front of you. If you are looking for that inner-earth sauna experience this is the one!

That Time We flew Into Vegas and Didn’t Go To Vegas

Time spent in the Black Canyon flies by and a day trip will leave you wishing for more. Take advantage of the campsite and plan for an epic overnighter. If paddling, swimming and jumping around all day sounds like your kind of craziness, then skip the Vegas strip all together and let your amphibian side go wild.

Insider Tips:

The Colorado River water temp is consistent in the mid 50’s year-round in the Black Canyon. You may want to consider wetsuit booties for warmth and traction while scrambling around on rocks.

Inflatable paddle boards are perfect for portability on a trip like this and can easily be thrown in your car trunk or checked as luggage on your next flight.

Check the forecast. Wind can be a factor as the canyon acts like a wind tunnel and a strong headwind will make paddling much harder, especially when you are going upriver. 

The every day, controlled flow current is light unless the dam is releasing water for hydroelectric generation. The higher flow is still very negotiable but keep in mind that water levels can rise a few feet quickly.

The National Park Service has a Black Canyon Water Trail page and it’s a good resource for everything from warnings to renting gear.

Your Mother will always think what you consider fun is dangerous but having a First Aid Kit on hand never hurts. Quick pain relief is also important to staying on the water.




Learning to Snowboard

learn to snowboard

For many outdoor enthusiasts, spring, summer, and fall are full of fun and adventure. But during the winter months, when all the toys are stored away, much time is spent counting down the days to the return of warm temperatures. 


Learning to snowboard is a great way to take advantage of the short, cold days and breathe new life into periods of time that were once reserved for hibernation. With a little bit of patience and courage, a forecast of snow will take on a whole new meaning. Imagine if shoveling out the car or driveway was no longer a chore but a gleeful part of getting ready to head for the hills to celebrate a fresh snowfall.


Snowboarding has just the kind of laid-back culture that makes it very approachable for those new to recreation in the snow. The similarity to surfing goes beyond the mechanics of the stance. The vibe and steeze of the two board sports are a match for anyone looking to flow from the ocean, up the mountain and back down again.


Helpful Tips for Learning to Snowboard


Get in Better Shape

Before you decide to take a group lesson, a private lesson, or your bro-who-shreds advice that, “Brah, it’s easy”, you should be physically prepared for what lies ahead. Increasing your fitness or strength will benefit your snowboarding as a beginner and elevate your performance as you progress.


Let’s face it, you are going to fall. And the snow that you learn on is not the thigh-deep powder in the commercials. So falling can be painful and getting back up a few dozen times will be fatiguing. A simple daily regimen of push-ups, planking and squats will increase your upper body strength for recovering from spills and develop leg strength. Snowboarding is a great form of exercise but not without risks of injury. Prevention is key.


Check the Conditions

Snow comes in many forms and at different rates. Give the forecast a look before planning a day on the slopes. Heavy snow may be great for carving turns but difficult to navigate for a beginner. Extreme cold is also not the best environment for learning. Once you get it wired, body heat will be easily created. But at first, the name of the game is slow and easy.




Go With the Pros

The best way to learn to snowboard is to get a professional lesson. Mountain resorts have small armies of instructional staff at the ready to provide lessons for all ability levels. It’s a fast and safe way to begin. Although adults are vastly outnumbered by children on the magic carpet and the bunny hill, take pride in knowing that even seasoned skiers started somewhere similar when learning to snowboard.


Group lessons will be the most affordable option at the resorts and provide plenty of attention, and instruction to send you off on your own in a couple of hours. Not feeling that social when tackling a new skill? Half-day and full-day private lessons offer a 1-on-1 experience to lessen the intimidation and increase the attention. 


Want the next level? Book a day or two at the only Burton Snowboard Academy in the world at North Lake Tahoe’s Northstar resort. Sample the latest Burton gear during your lesson and receive cutting-edge methodology and teaching techniques. Experience the signature GoPro™ Movement Analysis program after your lesson in the luxurious comfort of the Burton Academy Lounge.



Snowboard Lifestyle


There is something for everyone in snowboarding. The groomed slopes of resorts are where many prefer to spend their time on the mountain. Chair lifts provide access to difficulty rated runs and mid-mountain villages complete the alpine scene. Terrain parks and half-pipes are an exciting element of the sport for the skateboarders at heart. And of course, there is the wild world of the backcountry for the skilled, adventurous riders. 


It’s going to snow. So when you learn how to have fun with it, the winter season will become one of your favorites.




Long-Distance Running Recovery

Tips for long-distance running

Are you a long-distance runner? Encyclopedia Britannica classifies distances greater than 3k (1.8 miles) as long-distance running. So chances are good that your morning run, lunchtime trot or weekend jog have earned you the long-distance runner badge. But who are we to exclude anyone! Maybe you simply hope to work up to a couple of miles, a few days a week. You’re in the club too. 


The human body is perfectly built for the activity of long-distance running. Over the course of evolution, our physique has developed traits like long legs to cover distance, spring-like muscles and tendons, and strong joints to absorb the shock of foot strikes to enable running longer distances at slower speeds. Other elements like wide shoulders and inner ear mechanisms contribute to stability and balance.


So, we run. As a species, we are obsessed with long-distance running. We run outdoors and indoors, on roads and trails, on beaches and tracks, rain or shine. We run for fitness, competition, and mental health. We have treadmills that make running convenient, watches that provide data, and devices to keep us entertained so we never get bored while we're running. There are shoes to help run further and faster, and now we even debate whether a shoe may be too fast.

 

Related: How to Run a Marathon

 

With all this running, there are also many options for recovering from long-distance running. Let’s take a look at a couple of the more interesting ones.


Tips For Recovering From Long-Distance Running


Compression Gear

Compression socks, sleeves and leggings are common apparel for runners of every ability. The goal of wearing compression gear during training or competition is improved performance. But the top manufacturers market their product equally as a recovery tool for increased circulation post-workout.


The Tip: Give compression gear a try for yourself. Look past the fashion statement opportunity and be mindful of how your body is responding to wearing it. If it increases your performance or even helps motivate you to train longer and more frequently, then awesome. Just do your housemates a favor and don’t cruise around the house “recovering” in the same gear you “performed” in.

 


Heat vs. Ice Therapy

You don’t need the latest study results to know that both can feel pretty darn good depending on the situation. Immersing in a hot tub after a cold-weather training session is a soothing experience for tight and fatigued muscles. While a big bag of ice might be the ticket to combat small muscle fiber tears and soreness from a threshold pushing run. The science seems limited and murky on which might be best for any specific condition. Traditionally, heat is best when blood flow needs to be increased, for example, to relax muscle spasms. And applying ice to acute injuries, like a sprained ankle, can reduce swelling and inflammation by slowing blood flow.


The Tip: Ditch the cold compress and ice pack and jump in with both feet to a lower-body ice bath. This Cryotherapy submersion theorizes to benefit large, intertwined areas of the body to constrict blood vessels and reduce tissue breakdown and swelling. And if turning up the heat in a hot tub or sauna is more your style, remember to stay hydrated, especially following a workout.