Hiking in North Cascades National Park

by Joslin Fritz
( July 29th, 2014 )

Hiking in North Cascades National Park

“The wilderness is a place of rest-not in the sense of being motionless, for the lure, after all, is to move, to round the next bend. The rest comes in the isolation from distractions, in the slowing of the daily centrifugal forces that keep us off balance. ” -David Douglas

North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite National Parks in the country. On that same note, hiking in North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite things to do in the park, as it’s easy to do and doesn’t require too much planning compared to backpacking or climbing.

Located just about two and a half hours away from Seattle, it’s not exactly a day trip, but it can be an excellent weekend getaway. I took on Cascade Pass recently with a friend, a reasonable high alpine hike that’s very popular for weekend warriors. We missed the crowds since we started rather early, and we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

This quote was on the trail map handout that we picked up at the Visitor’s Center, and I found myself reflecting on it while climbing the never-ending (but easily doable) switchbacks. Isolation from distraction. How true. I head to the mountains to clear my head and to better listen to my heart. In wilderness I realize just how small I am, and I remember just how magnificent this world truly is. Everyday we get bombarded with news of bloodshed, war, financial turmoil, and global climate distress. When I’m in wilderness all of this goes away, and it’s just me, the mountains and my steady breathing in and out. I just focus on my breath and taking in all of the beauty that’s around me. Everything goes still, but yet everything is moving continually.

Almost equally as satisfying as the actual hike is the drive leaving the park. I have the music loud and the windows down, I’m snacking and drinking something delicious, my endorphins are high from my activity, and I’m feeling much more centered than when I came into the Park. Chances are, as I drive away, I’m already planning my next adventure in the wilderness.

Adventure On, 

Joslin

Photo by Joslin Fritz

 

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Gear Review: Salomon X-Scream Trail-Running Shoes

by Joslin Fritz
( July 10th, 2014 )

Salomon X-Scream Trail-Running ShoesI’ve been loyal to Salomon for years as my go-to trail-running shoes. They’ve consistently fit my slightly wider feet well, and their colors are bold and bright,  just the way I like ‘em. The lug pattern on the soles provide excellent traction when jogging on the trail, as I mentioned here in my review of the XR-Mission shoes last year.

Being loyal to Salomon for their trail-running model, I was curious as to how their X-Scream trail-running shoes would hold up. Specifically designed for more of an urban environment, these shoes are a crossover between a pavement running shoe and a trail-running shoe. I tested the X-Scream in both environments, both hitting the paved trails in Boston and the dirt trails just outside of the city, to really get a feel for how the shoes held up.X-Scream Trail Running Shoes Salomon

As I hit the paved trail along the Charles River in Boston, I pulled the single lace to tighten the shoe, tucked it in the small lace pocket, and and quickly found my stride. The shoe is designed to cradle my foot and create a tight fit once I pull the single lace, which makes sure my foot won’t slip in the shoe while running. They were lighter than my XR Mission and the heel base was narrower, more like a traditional running shoe. The lug pattern on the bottom was also more refined and not as chunky as previous trail-runners, designed for smoother surfaces.

Salomon X-Scream ShoesWhen I reached the dirt trail for a jog in the woods, the shoes again held up well on the uneven surface. I jumped over roots and my foot didn’t move around nor did my footing feel unsteady. I was aware of the lack of ankle support on my trail run, but that is always a factor when running with ankle height shoes. I was aware as well of stepping in mud or wet surfaces, as the shoes aren’t Gortex-lined, but I had no problem doing this.

I did find that the shoes were a bit large for me than usual, which was a surprise, as I’ve had Salomon shoes for a number of years, and have always had a perfect fit with a 9 and a half. With the X-Scream model, I was much happier with a size 9.

What I loved:

  • Bold, bright colors. Very bright. (Did I mention they’re bright shoes?)

  • Single lace adjustment easy to use and supportive to entire foot

  • Lighter, more traditional “running” shoe than the previous trail runners.

  • No worry for pronation, strong support for heel to toe running style.

Not so much:

  • Needed a half size smaller than I normally do, shoes run a bit large.

 

Overall, the Salomon X- Scream trail-running shoes fit my running needs well, in particular if I was running more in the city than on the trails.

You can buy the Salomon X-Scream shoes for $110 here on the Salomon website. 

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Have You Heard of MeetUps?

by Joslin Fritz
( July 7th, 2014 )

I get overwhelmed with activities that I want to do in the summertime. There is simply SO. MUCH. To do. I’m fine with doing things by myself, like going for a hike, checking out a museum, seeing a movie, etc. But there are some activities that are much better to do with others. Volleyball, softball, rafting are some examples that come to mind, as do hiking, checking out a museum, and seeing a movie. :)

The trick is finding people that want to do these things with you. Sure, you can invite your friends, or check out a local community board, but sometimes you need more options that just those to meet up with people. The key phrase in that last sentence? Meet Up.

Flickr Creative Commons Photographer

Meet Ups is a free website that has literally thousands of groups that partake in different activities. According to their homepage, “Meetups are neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something.” You “find your people” based on your zip code, or also based on a calendar. In Somerville, Massachusetts for example, a quick search reveals hundreds of groups, ranging from the Ukulele Union of Boston, Boston Badminton, the Urban Homesteaders League to Ultimate Frisbee Pick Up Games. If you don’t find a meet up group that you’re looking for, you can start your own.

The cost of this service? Free.

I think of Meet Ups as the Craigslist of an activity board. Those that are familiar with Meet Ups are usually very active in them, and create long term friendships by those that they meet in their “club”. Let’s face it, as adults it can be hard to meet like minded individuals that share your hobby or passion, especially if you don’t have kids, and/or work a demanding job. Meet Ups provide a forum to organize and meet similar folks like yourself. It’s particularly awesome if you just moved to a new city, or are trying out a new sport for the first time. And, ahem, they have Meet Ups for females that live to travel. (Just sayin’).

 

Do you participate in Meet Ups? If so, what kind?

Adventure On, 

Joslin

Photo courtesy of Photographer on Flickr Creative Commons.

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