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Outdoor Project | 08.22.2019

You've been training since the spring, racking up those trail miles, ticking off incremental objectives, and fine tuning gear and packing lists. Now, with summer moving into its final stretch, you are honing in on your crown-jewel adventure for 2019. You've planned, prepped, and sacrificed. The timing is prime but fleeting; the colder days of fall will be here soon, closing the window until next year. This is the season to step up your game. This is the season to go harder.

As outdoor adventurers, we froth with anticipation and often plan our year around this current window of time to ensure we make the most of the ephemeral offerings the wilderness has bestowed us. The notion to "go harder" during this time is something that need not be said; it comes naturally and is experienced in myriad ways. We challenge ourselves to expand what we thought was possible, be it completing our longest trail run, bagging that higher peak, or running a river of consequence. We attempt and sometimes succeed, and other times fail at these endeavors. We lean on the support of others that share our vision and the gear we rely on to safely achieve our goals.

Where will you go to "go harder" this season?

To honor the spirit of pushing ourselves and striving to take on new challenges in the outdoors this time of year, we've compiled five bucket-list-worthy trails, peaks, and rivers that we invite you to explore as a source of inspiration. These might be a single day trail run for some or a multi-day backpack for others. The challenge in the endeavor is all relative. What's important is that you step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself with adventures like the ones you'll find below.

 


Kevin Murray.

For the Backpacker or Ultra-trail Runner

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Teton Crest Trail is a 40-mile hiking trail encircling a large portion of Grand Teton National Park. Arguably one of the most scenic high-country trails in the country, the Teton Crest Trail rarely drops below 8,000 feet while it circumnavigates the most prominent of the jagged Tetons, including Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and South Teton. Most people hike the trail in 3 to 5 days with a permit (required for overnight trips), however, trail runners are known to complete the full Teton Crest Trail, or one of the slightly shorter trailhead options, in a long day. Note carrying bear spray is recommended on this trail as this is grizzly bear country.

 


Jessica Heart.

For the Motivated Day Hiker 

Specimen Ridge Trail, Yellowstone National Park, Montana

The hike along Specimen Ridge is often rated one of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park. It's a long day hike over some of Yellowstone's most iconic terrain. The trail gains the long ridge early in the hike and ascends over 3,000 feet to Amethyst Mountain before dropping back down into the Lamar Valley and ending at the Soda Butte/Lamar Valley Trailhead. The views and wildflowers are in every direction, and there is a good chance of seeing elk, antelope, bear, and deer during this hike or trail run.

Note Specimen Ridge requires some route finding via cairns and blazes along the way. At times, the trail becomes faint and overgrown, and game trails also crisscross the main route. At mile 16, there is a ford across the Lamar River. Check with a park ranger about river flows and fording prior to setting out on the hike.

 


Kevin Murray.

For the Peak Bagger

Longs Peak: Keyhole Route, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The Keyhole Route on Longs Peak (14,255 ft) is a highly coveted Colorado 14er that ascends the tallest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. The class 3 upper portion of the route requires scrambling through the "Keyhole," "Trough," "The Narrows," and "Homestretch" sections, which stretch over the last mile of the climb. Typically, all of these sections are climbed without ropes during the summer climbing season; additional climbing equipment is recommended once ice and snow forms in early fall.

Many climbers ascend Longs Peak in a single day with an early alpine start. Total trail distance is 14.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,100 feet.

 


Jesse Weber.

For the Mountain Biker

Porcupine Rim Trail, Moab, Utah

Located outside the town of Moab, the Porcupine Rim Trail is a scenic, jaw-dropping singletrack mountain bike trail that follows the cliff, or rim, above Castle Valley overlooking its sculpted sandstone towers. The 17.5-mile Porcupine Rim Trail is the lower half of the Whole Enchilada downhill ride that beings in the La Sal Mountains and finishes at the Colorado River. The trail follows the top of a 1,000-foot escarpment above the valley and is downhill with the exception of a few short climbs, and somewhat technical with plenty of uneven rocks, drops, and tight turns. The trail is typically shuttled with multiple companies in Moab offering shuttles for the full Whole Enchilada trail.

 

Halvor Tweto.

For the River Runner

Selway River, Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness, Idaho

The Wild and Scenic Selway River is an extraordinarily dynamic river. Depending on the time of year, the snowpack from the previous winter, the fire season, or the prevailing weather patterns, may alternately terrify or coddle river runners lucky enough to float its waters. Late season presents low-flow puzzles and technical rock-strewn rapids that require a highly agile and attentive boater.

Permits aren't easy to come by for this multiday trip; they are issued by the Forest Service via the Four Rivers Lottery, which includes the Main Salmon, Middle Fork of the Salmon, and Hells Canyon on the Snake River, in addition to the Selway. Those who are rewarded with one will embark on a river adventure of a lifetime. Most boaters take 6 days to run the section between Paradise and Race Creek. Rapids go up to class V during peak flow, and remain healthy class IV+ during lower flows. Guided trips are available.

 

Got the Right Gear?

Going harder isn't solely about exerting physical and mental toughness in the outdoors, it also means you have to be prepared with planning and have the right gear to help facilitate your adventures and related goals. In addition to the activity-specific equipment you'll need—from backpacks to boats—we recommend the following products to help keep you safe and in top form during your outdoor endeavors this season:

Sawyer Micro Squeeze Water Filter

The Sawyer Micro Squeeze water filter is a small and lightweight filtration system (3.8 oz kit) making it a great option for trail running and ultralight backpacking. Water is collected in a durable “squeeze bag” that screws onto the filter making water instantly available for drinking. The filter is also made to directly attach to some water bottles. Best for personal use.

Casio Pro Trek WSD-F21HR Smart Watch 

The new Pro Trek Smart WSD-F21HR smart watch provides GPS and route functionality, color map display, heart rate measurement and activity data so you can keep track of your location and performance while training and when out on your next big adventure. Both built-in and third-party apps provide data for a suite of outdoor activities including trail running, hiking, cycling/mountain biking, paddle sports, snow sports, fishing, surfing, and more.    

Somewhere Global Hotspot Personal Satellite Messenger

The Somewhere Global Hotspot is a small and affordable two-way satellite messenger device that enables both emergency SOS messaging and non-emergency two way messaging from the field. The device’s small size, reliable communications network, and affordable subscription plans make this a good option for backcountry use. Requires smart phone to operate. 

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7  First Aid Kit

When weight matters, the Ultralight/Watertight .7 First Aid Kit from Adventure Medical Kits should be the kit that makes it into your pack. The reduction in packaging reduces weight and allows the kit to retain essential supplies without the bulk. 

MSR Pro Bivy Sac

MSR’s new lightweight, packable and durable Pro Bivy provides assurance that you won’t end up without shelter when you need it most. Designed for serious adventures, this quick-pitch Bivy Sac features weatherproof breathable fabric and an Extreme ShieldTM waterproof coating that takes up minimal space in your pack. 

 

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Casio Pro Trek

Powered by Wear OS by Google, the Casio PRO TREK WSD-F21 comes equipped with a variety of features ideal for adventure, including GPS, Location Memory, Moment Setter, and more. It is outfitted with a heart rate monitor for pace management during activities from road and trail running, to cycling, climbing and more. Packed with Casio’s Triple Sensor technology, dual-layer LCD and water resistance, PRO TREK Smart is the rugged, stylish and versatile timepiece to enhance any outdoor experience.

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