Backcountry Tips and Tricks, Gear Reviews, Roam, Tech, Travel
This was a weekend of firsts for the roaming retriever. First time camping, first time spending extended time with another dog (at least since being with us), first time seeing the ocean, and first time being in the car for more than an hour. The lack of crowding due to potential bad weather and relatively short drive to the ocean drew us to camp at Lake Sonoma. To be honest there was a bit of terror going into this weekend, there’s still a lot we’ve yet to learn about our new adventure pup. Thankfully, we were meeting great friends who have a great service dog and know a bit about the adjustment and training that goes into to getting a new canine family member. Folks, meet Zoomers. A lovable lab who is a service dog for Dogs 4 Diabetics. This girl has completely changed ours friends’ lives for the better, offering the freedom to adventure and do daily life with out the fear of an unexpected drop in blood sugar. Zoomers can sense a drop coming up to 30 minutes before it takes affect on the body. Amazing. She’s trained to alert our friend, Brit, and not leave her alone until she checks her blood sugar. Along with this epic task, Zoomers has excellent behavior and training in general…most of the time. She’s definitely still got some puppy in her. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Day 1 A 4 hour car ride to the coast, beautiful but nauseating. The question of the day between my husband and I? “Do dogs get car sick too?” But with windows down and an ever smiling pup in between us, we didn’t have to find out the answer to that question. That night after a cold brew and quick chat around the fire, we decided to for-go the tent and just crash in the bed of the truck. We’re car camping, what do you expect, effort? With the intent that Sauvie would sleep on the side of the bed and my husband and I in the middle, I laid out the sleeping mats for us and Sauvies foam thermarest on the side. Nope. That dog sprawled out on my sleeping mat just looked at me like, “thanks for the bed, human”. So after a night of dog cuddles, kicks, wet noses, and grumpy growling every time someone walked by our site, we woke up (un)rested and ready for the day’s adventure. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Day 2 But first, coffee. Having a 2 year old dog requires all your attention, plus some more, especially camping. After caffeine, a fantastic scramble complete with bacon and cheese, we set off for the coast. Now, as we all know Sauvie is a water loving dog, and the ocean is a big body of water. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concern he might leap into the ocean and swim out to sea. But the waves were enough of an entertainment for him, and as long as we were throwing a tennis ball or frisbee, the beach was his playground. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetA few hours running and playing at the beach and Zoomers and Sauvie were spent. We headed back, our pups smelling of wet dog and ocean. They were definitely in need of a rinse, but more so to wash off the salt. Salt, for too long on a dog’s paw pads, can be pretty damaging. We let them swim in Lake Sonoma for a little while and they were good as new, now only smelling like lake instead of ocean. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I’d like to give a shout out to Adventure Medical Kit. These guys have created a first aid kit for both you and your pup and it’s compact enough to fit in their pack. Now, thankfully I didn’t have to use any of it’s contents except for their medical book. Guys, this thing is a short novel, it has everything from dealing with gun shot wounds, to dog CPR, to diharea and vomiting. Surprise! Apparently, Sauvie hasn’t learned the difference between normal water and salt water. Also, pretty sure he ingested a pound or so of sand. Let’s just say over the next several hours he got a pretty good digestive detox, scrubbed clean. Sauvie vomited three times and fire hosed out the back a couple more. AMK recommended cooked rice and regulated amounts of water over the next day or so for both vomitting and diharea , they were right. After 12 hours of rice and water, Sauvie was cleaned out and back to his normal self. Poor guy, I think we’ll stick to lakes in the meantime. IMG_4871 That night our furry friends laid on their beds next to the fire as we chowed down on fajitas and the most epic s’mores you’ve ever heard of (Hawaiian sweet bread surrounding marshmallows and pretzely/carmely/chocolaty goodness). A tired dog is a happy dog. And yes, night two was identical to night one. Day 3 Again, coffee first, always. To end our weekend camping trip, we took the dogs, rested and ready for more adventure, down to the lake again. It felt like forever that we threw balls and frisbees and they retrieved again and again. Sadly, the Major Dog Frisbee we both loved so dearly is now floating out somewhere in the middle of Lake Sonoma after Sauvie missed it and went for a stick instead. Despite the guilt of unintentionally littering in a lake, I can’t help but hear the classic Sarah McLaughlin song, ‘I Will Remember You’ every time I see that toy in pictures. So long Major Dog Frisbee, you will be missed, I hope you’re able to be found by some other pup. image1-2 We finished up our trip with a stop by Bear Republic Brewery, an excellent establishment that welcomes dogs and has incrediblele food and brews. Make sure to keep an eye on how stimulated your dog is getting in public places. Thankfully it wasn’t until we were done eating that Sauvie started getting restless and uncomfortable with the other dogs in the place and we felt it best to leave. image3 Sauvie and Zoomers got along great this weekend, with the occasional irritated scuffle for stealing the other one’s toy. We have a feeling, a few more adventures together and they’ll be best friends.

Apparel, Gear Reviews, Outdoors, Roam, Travel
5 years ago, during a 10 day expedition, we hiked a section of road paralleling the Lost Coast of Northern California. We were 6 miles in and all of the sudden, a mountain bike rushes past us in the woods, not 10 feet off the road. “WTF??,” I thought. A couple minutes later a truck drives past with 2 all-mountain bikes and a moment later we came across a sign saying “Paradise Royale Mountain Bike Trailhead.” Later, after the trip, I researched the trail and what little I could find all said this trail was the epitome of what mountain biking should be. And thus the dream began of returning and riding those 14 miles. IMG_3381 And yes, it’s taken 5 years to get back there, because who the f&#k wants to drive 5 hours to ride 14 miles? This better be a damned good trail. Lucky for me, it was. We headed over for a quick weekend, taking with us our bikes and some essential gear to test out. Getting there in the afternoon, we hit the trail, excited to see what all the hype was about. And let me tell you, the hype was valid. IMBA has teamed up with the BLM of the King Range and Lost Coast of Northern California to create and maintain a spectacular, environmentally sustainable, and challenging, 14 mile single-track trail. With plans to build another 15 or so miles onto the existing one, this could be one of the best trails in the North State. Nestled in the King Range, this trail rolls and climbs, and flows through beautiful forest and past breath-taking views (as long there’s no fog). It has an ascent that lasting almost 3 miles, making even the most fit in your group break a sweat. However, your exhausted and cramping legs are rewarded with some of the most fun and flowy downhill I’ve ever ridden. Grinning and hollering would be an appropriate response during these seemingly endless miles of decent. Getting back to the truck, we were thoroughly exhausted yet feeling accomplished, pizza was the only thing left to make this trail complete. IMG_3352 Things I found to be important to remember about the Paradise Royale trail: This is a trail best for those experienced on a mountain bike. Though dismounting is rare, there are definitely technical sections of this trail as well as steep uphill and downhill. Be sure to know the riding skill of everyone you take with you. This trail is can be total sufferfest for those brand new to mountain biking. Give yourself ample time to ride this trail. The average time is 2-3 hours, however, this could greatly differ on your riding skill and level of fitness. You definitely want it light out to ride this trail (unless you’re specifically doing it as a night ride) and the fog significantly decreases your light as dusk draws near. Plan to be fully committed to riding this loop. There’s very few bail spots on this trail once you leave the paralleling of King’s Peak Rd, and cell reception is spotty at best. If you’re unsure about being able to ride PR, it’s best to play around on the King’s Frolic section of the trail. IMG_3324 Having good gear on a trip like this is also a plus, here’s what Trek Tech took to the trail: DiamondBack Mission Pro Mountain Bike: $5,500 This is true all mountain machine, and a great choice for this particular trail. With 27.5” wheels, fatter tires, and 160mm of suspension, this thing rolls and flows over everything. We got to the long 2 mile climb full of switchbacks and let me say, while not the most aggressive climber, it is certainly capable. I may have missed my light and nimble cross country bike, but I was seriously impressed with the way this beast climbed. However, once we got to the long decent, I wished for my XC bike no longer. This decent is built to be ridden fast, and this bike responds. Never have I felt so confident and stable on a downhill. This bike compliments the flow trails and commands the more technical trails. IMG_3362 Pearl Izumi Canyon Short: $80 Many of us mountain bikers can’t quite get on board with all that spandex look, but a lot of us don’t like all this extra fabric waving around and getting caught as we ride. The Canyon Short is the in between. This lightweight, stretch pair of shorts were the perfect bottoms for this longer ride. The detachable chamois liner protected the goods while the outer stretch fabric protected the looks. IMG_3299 Pearl Izumi Elite Gel FF Glove: $40 For cooler weather, full finger gloves are a necessity for me. I don’t want to be thinking about cold fingers while trying to enjoy a downhill section. I also love having padding on the longer rides. My ulnar and radial nerves tend to get a little grumpy after a while, so that precise placement of gel padding the Elite Gel gloves protected those nerves. The gloves allowed me to fully focus on the trail and kept me from experiencing any distracting discomfort. IMG_3316 Giro Xara Helmet: $130 It’s ironic how a good helmet can make you forget you’re wearing one. The Xara is so light and so comfortable; I had to remember to take it off. Riding through soaking wet forest, the Xara deflected raindrops and any rogue branches that tried to hit me in the face. With a design for superior airflow, my head stayed cool when the rest of body was sweating on the grueling switchbacks. IMG_3313 Dakine Drafter 12L: $125 Everybody needs a best friend. The Drafter was mine on the trail. Enough space to fit the needs like a pump, chain lube, some food, and water, and a little bit more to fit the rest. It has a helmet carry system on the outside of the pack that can carry both a full face or a trail helmet. And because of the air mesh back panel and shoulder straps, my sweat marks were only a minor distraction when I took the pack off after the ride. The Drafter is the perfect pack on those short-middle distance rides when all you need to carry are the basics plus a little extra. IMG_3301 Oakley RadarLock Glasses with Trail specifc Prizm Lenses: $220+ These glasses are impressive. Not only do they enhance color, sharpness, and clarity, they enhance specific colors. The Prizm Lenses brought out the reds and browns of my surroundings, making the trail stand out more to me than anything else. These lenses enhance safety. They do, however, tend to fog up after you stop if you’ve been sweating, nothing most mountain bikers aren’t used to. The frame is a whole other thing by itself. Comfortable and totally secure, these bad boys are going anywhere on those fast or bumpy trails. IMG_3373 So, if you do find yourself hankering for a road trip, or just want to ride this trail so badly, you just don’t give a shit about the drive, here’s some things to make your trip worth it. Tolkan Terrain Park. Challenge your cycling skills and test your courage on this beautifully built terrain park. The guys who built the Paradise Royale trail designed a labyrinth of wall rides, jumps, ladders, a pump track and other obstacles, all of which range from beginner to advanced. IMG_3376 Treat yourself. There are several bed and breakfasts, VRBO’s, AirBnB’s, and Inns you can stay at. You don’t have to camp at a campground, though it is always fun to “rough it.” Eat right. Pizza and Fish ‘n Chips. Does a mountain biker need anything else? Okay, beer. But that’s why Delgada Pizza and Shelter Cove RV Camp Store & Deli have it all. Delgada Pizza has some seriously tasty pie and you can pick up a cold one and some ice cream at the same time. The RV Camp Deli, surprisingly has excellent Fish ‘n Chips that go great with several local 6-pack brews the Camp Store offers. IMG_3396 Go hiking. That 14 miles isn’t going to take you all weekend. Head over to King’s Peak (Further down the road from Tolkan Campground) and hit up summit. At 4000ft it’s the highest peak in the King Range. Or, if you prefer the ocean, head down to the Lost Coast for some incredible day hiking on the beach. See the sights. Shelter Cove is a truly beautiful place. Take a drive along Lower Pacific Dr. and stop off at all the different vista and beach access points. Finally, head over to Black Sands beach and watch the massive waves and hikers finishing the north half of the Lost Coast. IMG_3393 It takes a long time to get anywhere over here, so slow down, be patient, and enjoy the unique and incredible scenery the Lost Coast area has to offer.