Highlander Magazine Volume 1 // Issue 2

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1 Volume 1 // Issue 2


Letter From the Editor Hey there, friend. Welcome to Highlander Magazine! My name is Mady and I’m the editor for this lovely publication. We’re still pretty new around here, so let me tell you a bit about us. Let’s start with how we got our name. You see, back in the ‘60s, a group of Utah State University students moved to make the university’s official mascot the “Highlanders” in an effort to show that USU had become more than just an agriculture college. According to the school’s history, the name was a nod to our longstanding “ideological tie to Scotland,” which was largely a result of our setting “on a hill in a high mountain valley.¹” The Scotsman is also a product of this tie, though it caught on a lot better than the Highlanders. Now, you’re probably saying, “Well, that sure is neat Mady, but we’re the Aggies now. Get with it.”

Alright, so maybe we were never officially the Highlanders, but the ideals live on! Thanks to a certain Mel Gibson movie (*cough* “Braveheart”), the Highlands of Scotland are most commonly known for their clans. These fiercely loyal and tight-knit groups controlled the North of Scotland. The Highlanders fought for their land, their language, and their people. They were dedicated to preserving their culture. I can’t think of one school that this applies to more than Utah State University. We are fiercely proud of and loyal to our Aggie name; no matter where you go in the world, that white and blue ‘A’ is the mark of a friend. It is my hope that as you flip through the pages of this magazine, you will feel the sense of pride that we have for our land, our culture, and our people. That’s what Highlander Magazine is all about. We may be Aggies in name, but we’re all Highlanders at heart. —M

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Mady Koller // Editor Hi! My name is Mady, I’m a pre-law student studying Outdoor Product Design and Development and I love the outdoors. Hiking, climbing, biking, camping, you name it; if it’s outside, I like doing it. If you have questions or concerns, you can contact me directly via: Email: redlandia17@gmail.com Instagram: @mastermiyagi

The Scottish thistle stands for strength, bravery, durability, and resilience, which is why we chose it for our logo.


Megan Nielsen // Designer, Writer, Photographer

Hannah Smith // Designer

Bennett Fisher // Highlander Guru

Chelsea Morley // Writer, Photographer Summer Vaughn // Writer, Website Manager

Sarah Powell // Writer

Zach Buffaloe // Photographer

Kyle Jensen // Videographer

Hannah Madsen // Writer

Chase Anderson // Writer, Podcast Host

Contributors // Sean Innes, Jacee Anderson, April King, Connor Petersen, Chantelle McCall, Joshua Wilkinson, Beaver Mountain Resort, Cayden Groicher, and Common Ground Outdoor Adventures.

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In This Issue

Chaco vs. Teva // pg. 06

Adventure Spread // pg. 16

Since the beginning of time there has always existed one debate or another...

A collection of photos from Utah State University students as they explore the outdoors...

Skiing on the Shoulders of Outdoor Giants // pg. 10

10 Tips for Living More Sustainably // pg. 18

A visual history of Beaver Mountain from 1939 to present...

The word sustainable has become very trendy in today’s discussions, and not because it’s a new idea...

Logan’s 5 Best Post-Slope Eats // pg. 14 Nothing works up an appetite quite like a long day at the Beav. Lucky for us Cache Valley residents...

There is No Planet B // pg. 21 Between September 20 and September 27, 2019, people took to the streets locally, nationally, and internationally to protest...

Do What You Want to Do Because You Want to Do it // pg. 24 It’s that time of the semester where everything seems dark and hopeless... Wear and Tear and Repair, Oh My! // pg. 25 A good product should withstand a lot of wear and tear... Accessibility in the Outdoors // pg. 28 The idea of an adventurer often conjures images of someone worn down by the outdoors...


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CHACO TEVA

VS.

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//Hannah Madsen Since the beginning of time there has always existed one debate or another that divides the human race, and whichever side a person aligns themselves with ultimately becomes part of their identity. There are “dog people” and “cat people”, Apple users and Android users, Coke drinkers or Pepsi drinkers; the list goes on. But as outdoor apparel has become more mainstream and “granolas” have found their place in history, an intense new rivalry has emerged: Chacos vs Tevas.

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The idea for each company was born from river guides in Colorado, both wanting to design a durable sandal that would do well on the water and in the outdoors. Mark Thatcher, the inventor of the original Teva, rigged two Velcro watch bands to an old pair of flip flops and created a shoe that wouldn’t float away. Mark Paigen, Chaco creator, wanted a shoe that would support his feet while allowing them to dry so that they wouldn’t be wrinkly after a long day of rafting. With such similar backgrounds it’s no wonder that each shoe is used for a wide variety of purposes. Along with rafting, users also wear them on hiking trails, boating, camping, between climbs, to concerts, and around the town. Though both companies have incorporated other types of shoes into their brand as well, for the purpose of this article we will just be examining their sandals. When surveying the general public via a very academic Instagram poll, both sides brought up good points as well as valid concerns. 54% of people chose Chacos and 46% selected Tevas. A common complaint for Chacos was that they were more expensive and gave people blisters. BUT people also said that they were more durable and gave

you a cooler tan line. Tevas are more affordable and comfortable, but some people felt you couldn’t do as many activities in them. People on both sides liked the look and design of each shoe, so what it ultimately came down to was functionally and price. Something I noticed when I was asking people to weigh in on the debate was that a lot of the people who chose Chacos were also rock climbers. It would make sense that a community of people who spend a lot of their free time cramming their feet into shoes that are two sizes to small would be fine wearing chacos. Anything is more comfortable than climbing shoes. As the owner of both, I decided to go on two hikes to put the sandals to the test. Both were three mile hikes up Logan canyon and the same level of difficulty, and each time I came back with blisters. After the hike in my Tevas I had two blisters, one on each foot on the outside near my pinky toe. I wish the same could have been said for my experience with Chacos. After that hike I came back with FIVE blisters. One on each of the bottoms of my big toe, one on each of my arches, and a bonus one on the side of my left foot by my pinky toe. As for the hike itself, they seemed pretty equal until we started going downhill. I felt like I was going to slide out of or break my Tevas whenever the trail started to decline. I tried adjusting the straps but nothing seemed to help. But my Chacos felt just fine! The toe strap provided my foot with extra security, though I did end up stepping on it in attempts to avoid getting a blister which, as we know, was futile. Both shoes handled rocky terrain well and I never got any rocks or twigs caught in either sandal. Just like with all these other rivalries, it is all based on your personal needs. With cats and dogs, you either like the unconditional love of a dog or you like the independence of a cat. It’s all about preference. So the next time you’re in the market for a new pair of recreational sandals, there’s a few things you should keep in mind: First, it’s all about your needs. Figure out what your plans are for the sandal and buy accordingly; Second, there’s no right or wrong answer (despite what some people may say) so try them both! And third, if you’re still unsure of which to buy, flip a coin and rock whatever you get with confidence. // Photos by Mady Koller

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Anderson

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// Chase

1939 Logan Canyon opens to year-round traffic. Rope tow was installed at Beaver that fall.

1949 - 1000 foot tow rope opens to the public.

1941 Tow was moved to the "Sinks", also called the "Summit" or "Summit Valley".

1961 Harold and Luella Seeholzer form Corporation and install the Beaver Face Lift.

1945 Harold Seeholzer takes over tow operations

1967 Service expands with the Poma lift allowing for increased capacity from 600 an hour to 2400

1947 Tony Grove and Beaver Mountain considered 1968 Harold Seeholzer passes away in April. for future ski sites by Jim Stewart of the Cache National Forest. highlandermag.com 1989 Power was brought in from Garden City. 1948 County Commissioner, El Ray Robinson, Prior to that, the mountain had been helps secure water and roads for mountain running on generators. development.


A History of Beaver Mountain

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1992 Phone lines were brought to the mountain from Garden City. They had been using radios prior to that. 1997 Ted (Harold / Luella’s son) / Marge Seeholzer buy out the business and become sole owners. 2003 Marge’s Triple Lift installed 2006 Harry’s Dream expanded to triple lift increasing capacity to 1400 skiers an hour.

2011

Little Beaver was replaced with a triple chair and a realignment.

2013 Ted Seeholzer passes away at 81 years old 2013 During the Winter, Beaver Mountain celebrates its 75th anniversary in operation. 2017 AMK Foundation/BIO-WEST, Inc. Adaptive Center for Common Ground Outdoor Adventures


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Logan’s 5 Best Post-Slope Eats // Mady Koller

1. For the breakfast food junkie: Stacked Pancakes I mean, have you tried their buttermilk syrup?

2. For the ambiance: Factory Pizzeria Two words: live music.

3. For the variety: Sabores Can’t decide between Mexican and Vietnamese? At Sabores you can have both!

4. For before and after the mountain: Herm’s Inn Legend says their famous cinnamon rolls are even better post-slope.

5. For the tradition: Angie’s ”It’s where the locals eat,” and for good reason. // Photo by Jacee Anderson

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Nothing works up an appetite quite like a long day at the Beav. Lucky for us Cache Valley residents, Logan has the perfect selection of post-slope eats—and we’ve compiled the best ones for your eating pleasure.


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maintain a balance that can be perpetuated. In the environmental sense, I see it more as being a part of the biotic community and living within the means that contribute to the success of all other beings,” said Rachel Chamberlain, a senior in Conservation and Restoration Ecology and QCNR Senator. Social Development

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For people to care about sustainability we need to understand why it’s important. Social development requires educating the public about sustainability as well as safeguarding people’s access to basic resources, public health, and quality of life.

10 TIPS FOR LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY // Megan Nielsen The word sustainable has become very trendy in today’s discussions, and not because it’s a new idea, but because it’s becoming abundantly clear that living more sustainably is essential for the preservation of quality of life on this planet. So what is sustainability anyway and how can we incorporate sustainability into our lives? Sustainability is often looked at in three main elements: Environmental protection, social development, and economic development. Environmental Protection To have a sustainable relationship with the planet, we need to be aware of how our use of the environment affects the environment. Environmental protection means examining those effects and finding ways to minimize the negative ones and maximize positive ones. “Sustainability to me means living, working, and being in harmony with other systems as to

“It is important that everyone understands sustainability and incorporates into their lives because we all live on this planet. As a society, we have to acknowledge the damage we have done to this planet that has the potential to make this planet unlivable, it already is for countless species. Everyone should incorporate sustainability into their lives to give the future generations a livable, healthy, bio-diverse planet,” said Audrey Lidgard, a junior in biology and the co-president of the Student Organization for Society and Natural Resources. Economic Development Sustainability cannot succeed without economic development to incentivize people, communities, and organizations to invest their resources in sustainable ways of living. “I think sustainability has a bad connotation with some people, but understanding that its purpose is to ensure livelihood for humanity as a whole helps people see that it isn’t just an inconvenience,” said Maria Catalano, a junior in Conservation and Restoration Ecology and co-president of SOSNR. This big idea of sustainability can seem overwhelming, but students at Utah State University believe it doesn’t have to be. “When I started getting involved in sustainability, I saw it as a very mechanical exchange of resources. Reducing plastic consumption by x kilograms, driving x less miles per week to take out x pounds of emissions, making buildings energy efficient to cut their energy usage by x percentage. As I’ve grown in my understanding of sustainability, it becomes more apparent how it works itself into the more qualitative aspects of life… These really have made a huge difference and has shifted my view of sustainability into more of a lifestyle instead of just something that happens externally, to some other entity besides myself,” said Bryce Johnston, a junior in Conservation and Restoration Ecology and Engagement Intern in the Student Sustainability Office.

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Living a sustainable life doesn’t require us to eliminate all luxuries, but it urges us to be aware of resource consumption and reduce unnecessary waste. While there are so many ways, both big and small, we can live more sustainably, we talked to USU Sustainability Coordinator Alexi Lamm and came up with a list of 10 simple things you can do to get started.

1. Walk or use Aggie Blue Bikes to get to campus Vehicles are America’s biggest air quality compromisers, producing about one-third of all air pollution in the U.S. And the toxins are emitted from vehicles at street level, where humans breathe the polluted air directly into their lungs. Instead of driving to campus and adding to Logan’s already poor air quality, put those legs to work or check out a bike from Aggie Blue Bikes. Aggie Blue Bikes is a bicycle share program where both daily checkouts and three-month checkouts are available to students for free. “One sustainable choice I made this past summer was to get a bike,” Johnston said. After finding an old bike in working condition at the landfill mall, Johnston was able to use Aggie Blue Bikes’ shop and technicians to get the bike in working condition.

2. Travel with the Aggie Shuttle or the CVTD

USU also has a subscription to a rideshare service called Zimride, this can connect you with drivers and riders going in and out of Logan. It helps split the gas bill and the environmental effects on those frequent drives down to Salt Lake City every USU student is making.

3. Eat meatless on Monday’s or try a plant-based diet “About three years ago I decided to go vegetarian to cut down on my carbon footprint. Since then, the amount of delicious and innovative vegetarian dishes I have found is incredible,” said Lidgard. Regular meat consumption is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, ecosystem destruction, and other global ills. As more people are making the personal decision to eat plant-based diets, we’re seeing the market respond. “It’s all a cumulation of smaller choices, but across a larger population, it makes big impacts,” Johnston said.

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About two-thirds of students already bus, walk, bike, or carpool to campus. If walking or biking doesn’t appeal to you, try out one of Logan’s public transit options. They’re great tools for getting to campus, and around the rest of Logan!


sustainable options, including discounted prices when you bring your own mug or thermos on campus.

4. Shop secondhand Rewearing clothes reduces waste and pollution. Not only does reusing clothes keep it out of landfills but every product purchased secondhand is one less new item produced. The production and transportation of new clothing can be costly to the environment. Zane Williams, USU Design student, and his friends sell clothing on Depop, a peer-to-peer social shopping app, and decided to host a yard sale type thrift event to get people interested in thrifting and buying secondhand. “I think sustainability ties into fashion because every new idea that is created has been influenced by a style that has been done before,” Williams said. “Any type of style you could want to go for is already out there, so you should look at your local thrift store or second-hand clothing website before purchasing something new.”

5. Bag the plastic bag and other single-use items Logan city council member Herm Olsen proposed a plastic bag ban that would prohibit Logan stores from distributing single-use plastic bags. In February, the city council chamber was overflowing into the lobby with Logan residents wanting to express their opinions. While the ban is still in the works, the support for the ban from students was overwhelming. As people become more concerned about the environmental impact of plastic, we’re seeing more and more options for reducing plastic waste. Next time you go grocery shopping, bring your own reusable bag. Replace your plastic sandwich bags with Tupperware or reusable sandwich bags. Grab a reusable silverware set and keep it in your backpack for when you dine on campus. The options are pretty much endless.

6. Bring your own mug or thermos for cheaper drinks on campus and around Logan According to earthday.org, the world uses 500 billion disposable cups every year. 500 billion! That’s a depressing number. USU Dining Services has partnered with students to try and find more

7. Pick up locally grown food from the Cache Valley Farmers Market Shopping out of season means your produce probably came from California, Mexico, or Florida, and it came with a lot of “food miles”, or the emissions it took to ship your product the hundreds, or even thousands, of miles it likely traveled to get to the grocery store. Buying locally, in season, and organic is a good way to reduce that footprint. Mother nature has all sorts of delicious produce that come with each new season. The Cache Valley Farmers Market is a great place to go get some locally grown and seasonal produce to add color to your plate.

8. Wash clothes in cold water and hang dry when possible Along with being generally better for your clothes, washing your clothes in cold water and line drying saves a lot of energy. According to GE Appliances, an estimated 75 to 90 percent of all the energy your washer uses goes to warming up the water, and according to a 2007 Time Magazine article, an estimated 6% of all U.S. household electricity comes from running a dryer.

9. Join a club like Aggie Sustainability Club or SOSNR “The connections I’ve made through being involved in sustainability circles here have taught me so much about environmental and social issues, and have become lifelong friends,” Chamberlain said. “This community has been super accepting and it’s fun trying to find new ways to live sustainably.”

10. Vote! Get involved with politics and social action. Talking to representatives and creating awareness is one of the most important forms of action, Catalano believes. “Things need to change,” she said, “and I felt drawn to the movement and have developed a true passion for organizing and working towards change.” // Photos by Mady Koller

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// Megan Nielsen Between September 20 and September 27, 2019, people took to the streets locally, nationally, and internationally to protest the lack of action in dealing with the looming climate crisis. This global climate strike built on the youth climate strikes that have been going on around the world for the past year. Swedish born climate activist Greta Thunberg’s one-person strikes in Stockholm, Sweden helped ignite this global movement. Beginning August 2018, Thunberg, then 15, sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school-day for three weeks to protest the lack of action in dealing with the climate crisis. On September 18, 2018, the movement #FridaysForFuture began when she decided to continue striking every Friday until Swedish policies

changed. Youth and adults around the world were inspired to begin striking at their local government buildings. The global climate strike was the largest international climate mobilization in history. Between September 20 and 27, estimates of 7.6 million people in 185 different countries took to the streets to strike for climate action. Here, we give you a peek into three cities that participated in this momentous strike, demanding changes to international climate policy as well as awareness of people’s personal habits and emissions. // Photos by Diana Perez, Chantelle McCall, Megan Nielsen

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THERE IS NO PLANET B


// DEN HAAG, THE NETHERLANDS

// LOGAN, UTAH

// SAN D

// SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

// DEN HAAG, THE NETHERLANDS

// SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

// SAN D

// DEN HAAG, THE NETHERLANDS

// SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

// DEN HAAG, THE NETHERLANDS

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// DEN HAAG, THE NETHERLANDS

“We’ve known about climate change for so long, I mean 40 years at least we’ve known quite a lot, but nothing has changed. So unless we take matters into our hands and show up to demand the government do something about it, nothings going to happen.” // Alejandra Duenas, Den Haag, The Netherlands

“We’re here to ask that Utah State University, Logan City, the state of Utah and the country switch to clean energy, raise energy efficiency standards, support the Green New Deal, implement a carbon tax and make the other robust systemic changes, so that we can ensure a healthy future for all generations.” // Maria Catalano, Logan, Utah

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// SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

// LOGAN, UTAH

// DEN HAAG, THE NETHERLANDS

// SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

“It looks pretty grim okay, I think we all know that, and I think the first thing we need is awareness. A lot of people just flat out don’t know, they are not informed. Being informed is essential and acting is essential, doing things like this.” // Paul Ross, San Diego, California

// Greta Thunberg in her address to the UN Climate

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DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now, is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”


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Do What You Want to Do, Because You Want to Do it Words of Wisdom from a Warren Miller Cameraman // Mady Koller It’s that time of the semester where everything seems dark and hopeless. The end of the path seems much further than the beginning, and the career plan that most of us have set for ourselves can seem like a far off dream. Graduate, get the job of your dreams, and live happily ever after. That’s what we’re all working for, right? But I have to say (at the risk of sounding super cliche), life isn’t usually that linear, and if it were it would be boring. Gary Nate is a prime example of a non-linear career. The successful Warren Miller cameraman, known for incredible outdoor films like Freeriders and White

Winter Heat, Nate started his career as a running back for the University of Utah. After a careerending injury pushed him toward another degree, Nate graduated to find himself in a job in which he was unhappy—teaching motivation to a bunch of unmotivated people. “I was writing on the board and reading aloud, ‘Motivation is doing what you want to be doing because you want to do it,’ and I spun around and looked, and no one was even paying attention. So I said, ‘and I’m not [doing what I want to be doing], I’m done,’ and I walked out.” So, he did what he wanted to do: he made a movie. And one day, when the opportunity presented itself, Gary Nate walked up to Warren Miller and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I said, ‘I’ll sit up here in Utah and I’ll shoot the perfect day, and if you don’t like it, don’t pay me.’ After that I filmed full-time for Warren.” So let us all remember as this semester crawls to a close that even though the path in front of us may not be a straight line, it’s ours to choose. So do what you want with your life, because you want to.

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A good product should withstand a lot of wear and tear in its life, a good gear head should know how to prolong the quality of that product. Outdoor equipment and apparel goes through a great deal more than most of your everyday items; they are often exposed to a lot more extreme environments. This, coupled with the sustainability trend, leads to a lot of innovation in products and techniques to maintain your well-loved gear. It’s really exciting that companies are promoting extending the life cycle of their products. There is a lot you can do at to help prolong the quality of your gear and we have a few tips for how to do so.

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WEAR AND TEAR AND R E PAI R , OH MY!


W

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//Chelsea Morley ashing: Proper washing is, in my opinion, the best way to keep any softgood looking new. The best remedy for technical gear is NikWax. They make a wide range of products for every textile from wool to down and for tents to hardshell jackets. I always recommend hang drying all of your shirts and pants, especially cotton and wool. When it comes to down, only wash 1-2 items at a time and dry them on low heat with a tennis ball to help keep the feathers or filling from clumping. All this given, the most important cleaning tip is to not overwash. Sometimes things hold scents from being trapped in stuff sacks. If there is no visible dirt or debris, let it air out for a while, then determine if it needs a wash. Most products shouldn’t require washing after every use. A lot of gear comes with a durable water repellent coating, commonly called DWR. It can be applied to most anything and causes water to bead up and roll off. I’m always shocked by the number of second hand jackets and shoes I find that are in near perfect condition that just need a touch up on their water repellant. If you start to notice your once waterproof items soaking up water, there are a few things you can do. The simplest solution could just be a proper wash. Some avoid washing DWR for fear of wearing it out, but a good wash can actual restore the repelling properties. After washing, you can put clothing in the dryer on low heat for up to 15 minutes for further restoration. Finally, DWR isn’t made to last forever. Depending on the quality, coatings will last between 10-100 washes; some manufacturers will list their effectiveness rating online. If your DWR is worn out, it’s as easy as buying either a spray-on or wash-in DWR revival, NikWax is my personal favorite. The great news is you can do this as much as needed throughout the life of the product.

Designs, and Osprey incentivize clothing and gear repair by offering options from websites loaded with tutorials, reimbursement, and mail in repairs. You can buy really basic sewing kits online or at any big box store. There are a lot of online resources for mending clothing, but if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, find a seamstress. You might be surprised at how affordable they can be. Even with shoes, you can have them repaired and resoled. Vibram has a resoling program, and you can get

R

epair: If you’re buying gear online you’ve probably seen ads for repair programs. Brands like Patagonia, Topo

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Proper care of your gear is essential to prolonging the life of the equipment you love. Waterproofing your equipment can seem intimidating, but often times it’s as easy as spraying it down. // Photos by Cayden Groicher

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their soles put onto any shoes. If you are into backpacking and camping, it would be in your best interest to keep a roll of Tenacious tape around. This is the go-to product for easy tent and backpack fixes. It costs less than five dollars a roll and is portable to keep with you on the go. You can just stick it right on to holes to prevent further damage.

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aintenance: Keep up on the wear of your products before they need extensive repairs is vital to the longevity of your gear. The way you store your gear can have a big impact on its wear. Don’t keep sleeping bags and tents in compression bags at all times- especially if they are down. Make sure to keep things out of lots of direct sunlight and don’t leave things outside for ease. Plastics become brittle in the sun and wood and metal deteriorate quickly from staying in cold, wet conditions. Be sure to keep up on those little care tasks, waxing your snowboard or oiling your bike can have a major impact on the quality overtime.


Accessibility in the Outdoors The idea of an adventurer often conjures images of someone worn down by the outdoors: sunburned skin, dusty hands, and a toned body. However, adventurers come in all shapes, sizes, and capacities, and in today’s society including those with different abilities in the outdoors has become more important than ever. Adaptive adventures are popping up left and right, and Logan’s own Common Ground Outdoor Adventures actively works to include those with a wide-range of abilities in all things outdoors.

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// Summer Vaughn Starting out in an adventure sport as a person with a disability can be difficult and intimidating. According to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2018 survey, 14 percent of people who do not participate in outdoor activities say it is because of a disability or limitation. The outdoor community has begun making strides to be more inclusive. According to vistiutah.com, there are eight adaptive outdoor organizations surrounding the Wasatch, providing adventures all over the state. Logan has joined this effort with Common Ground Outdoor Adventure. Common Ground was founded in 1993 by AmeriCorps*VISTA, according to cgadventures.org. They provide adaptive gear for all types of adventure sports, including skiing, biking and rafting. They also have skill classes such as dutch oven cooking and they host nature craft days. A few times a year they take week long trips to places such as the San Rafael Swell, Bear Lake and National Parks. Their goal is to provide

people with disabilities opportunities to grow while experiencing the therapy of nature. “Common Ground means fun,” Program Director Alex Ristorcelli said. “Common Ground means a break down of all social stereotypes. Other adaptive companies I have worked for in the past do not have the same community atmosphere and community environment that Common Ground does. We are able to work with the same participants over and over again. You get to know the participants, you get to have fun and they do not feel like they have a disability. They feel like they are among friends having a good time and they are just one of the crowd.” Twenty-year-old Shawnie Christensen has been going on outdoor adventures with Common Ground for around three years and loves canoeing, biking and hiking. “It means the world to me,” Christensen said, speaking of the Common Ground community. “Sometimes, I am lonely being the only wheelchair kid in my neighborhood and Bridgerland. I sometimes think that I am the only person in the world with a disability. But when I’m with common ground, I get to know I’m not alone and that really helps me—more than you can

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ever know—and I feel like I have a family that truly understands.” Christensen believes that activities like these give people with disabilities a chance to try something new and build their confidence. “[The reason everyone should have access is] because there are no limits in the outdoors,” Ristorcelli said. “The outdoors does not judge, you can go as far as you want and you can always go farther. It is literally open to everyone. I love taking people rock climbing because your goal can be absolutely as high as you want. I could put a piece of tape on the very first hold up and if you grab that you achieved your goal. You did rock climbing. You climbed the wall. There is a stereotype you have to get to the top, [but] you just have to get to your goal.” In 2017, Common Ground opened an adaptive center at Beaver Mountain where they offer ski and snowboard lessons to people of all abilities. The center is open year-round, also offering a climbing wall and adaptive rentals for cycling, canoeing, and hiking.

The approach to improving inclusivity in the outdoors is getting the information out there. Common Ground encourages Cache Valley to speak up and take pride when they see the organization out in nature. They would like you to ask what they are doing or how you can get involved. They expect the same things from the participants as the volunteers: show respect and have a blast. Volunteers for Common Ground will find a caring and inclusive environment. Instead of the pressure of having responsibility as a volunteer, it is easy going and fun. “I really want to push that idea of the Common Ground community because if we are trying to break down barriers and look past social stereotypes then we shouldn’t be making it so strongly ‘come volunteer,’” Ristorcelli said. “Come be a part of our community, come learn from our participants, they can show you something and you can show them something. Come be a part of the family.” If you are interested in volunteering, you can find more information on their website, cgadventure.org. // Photo Courtesy of Common Ground Outdoor Adventures

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“The outdoor community in general has really gotten a lot better [providing for people with disabilities],” Ristorcelli said. “But where it can grow is availability. Why would you build a

mountain bike trail that is only good for a single track when we could create it just a little bit wider and anybody can ride it?”


“Take a moment to remove the headphones and listen to nature; a bird singing, snow falling, a creek babbling down a canyon. You may learn you had a new favorite song around you all along.�

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// Bennett Fisher, The Highlander Guru

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