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Climber: Scott Bennett Location: Glacier Gorge, CO Photo: Garrett Grove

Rider: Sasha Yakovleff Location: Kingdom Trails, Burke, VT Photo: Justin Cash

Kite Surfing Location: Mayflower Beach, Dennis, MA Photo: Justin Cash

Rider: Unknown Location: Fruita, CO Photo: Mike Horn

Swimming hole Location: White River, Pittsfield, VT Photo: Chandler Burgess








Eye-Popping Images


The Ingredients




There’s surfing in Michigan


Cold feet at the New Haven River Kayak Festival


Spring suds and salve


Lib Tech launches surfboard line


Some cool stuff we’re stoked on.

the ingredients

StokeLab Via Facebook we asked you, the readers, to help us out with this issue’s Ingredients by filling in the blank: “Spring ______ gets me stoked.” Here are some of our favorite responses. Matt Tripp “POWDER (It’s still gonna happen!!)”

Vin Faraci “Fly fishing and skiing in the same day.”

Gabe Castagna ”Spring next year gets me stoked cause it means the next ski season happened.” Chris Cardone “Spring riding on soft snow in the woods gets me stoked.”

Geb Souhan “Après beers in the sun at Sugarbush.”

Kathy Horn Eldridge “Grilling, driving with the windows down, wearing flip-flops. The dogs get stoked soaking up the sun on the deck.” Mark Johnson “Spring shenanigans get me stoked.”

Gattis Tyler “Spring BIKE SCHRALPING gets me stoked!”

Follow us on facebook 4

FOUNDERS + EDITORS Justin Cash4 | Mike Horn4

ART DIRECTION + DESIGN Randy Elles4 | Jeff Wainer4



Lavada Bramlitt4

COPY EDITOR Seth Mensing4

STOKE CONTRIBUTORS Chandler Burgess4 Jim Deshler4 Andrew Maguire4 Sean Prentiss4 Adam Broderick4 Garrett Grove4 Jason Kelley4 Seth Lightcap4 Luke Mehall4 Simon Peterson4 Tom Winter4 CONTRIBUTE TO STOKELAB If you are a photographer, film maker, writer, artist or Stoke enthusiast and you are interested in contributing to StokeLab, contact us at ADVERTISING WITH STOKELAB For more information on advertising and partnership opportunities with StokeLab Magazine, contact us at

Words by Sean Prentiss Photos by Andrew Maguire

BURLY SURFING Riding Winter Waves in Michigan

From 1991 through 2008, I meandered the West, moving through Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. I backcountry skied Oregon’s Wallowas in January and mountain biked thin ribbons of trail in May outside of Crested Butte. I backpacked the 500-mile Colorado Trail and slept beneath crystalline stars for hundreds of nights in every western state. Then in 2008, I accepted a job in Michigan, a promotion, a career move. During my four years here, I’ve learned to deal with aching for craggy mountains and dark canyons and churning rivers with names I hold in my soul—Animas, Colorado, Green, Gunnison, Quartz—but I have yet to find a home in the thrumming and strobing of urban living, in a quiet existence in flatlands. I search for community but find pleasant and kind people who own a worldview so different from mine, which I’ve stole from Thoreau, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” What I am trying to say is that I am heartbroken. What I mean to say is I’m falling into myself with loneliness during quiet nights (like tonight) at home after a three-mile run through suburbia. I’m ready to fit into Michigan as I fit into the West, so for the next few weeks, a new friend, Andrew Maguire—a man who also knows the magnetic pull of the West—and I will talk with a few Michigan-based companies that make outdoor gear and then go play on their gear. Through immersion, I’m hoping to find our people.

Grand Rapids sits 934 miles from Gloucester, Massachusetts and 2,419 miles from Eureka, California, the closest places from here to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Instead of driving to either coast, Andrew and I head three miles south from Andrew’s apartment to a neighborhood with potholed streets and vinyl-sided houses. We park outside a modest brick home, knock on the door and meet Justin Bruursema, owner of Burly Surfboards, a one-man board building shop. Justin stands tall and wiry with a thick beard. Over the next two hours, Justin, Andrew, and I linger in his garage on this below-freezing February day and share Two Hearted Ales as Justin proselytizes about Lake Michigan waves. His joy for lake surfing comes out in his voice as it climbs higher and louder, in his hands as he rests them gently on his boards, in a smile that breaks from beneath a thick beard, in the way he says, “Bingo, Bingo,” when I talk about how a great day of surf is like a powder day.

Under fluorescent lights, I ask Justin how he got into building surfboards. He tells this story as if it’s the only story he’s ever told:

“I started surfing six or seven years ago when I was visiting a friend in Rhode Island. We were supposed to go skiing, but it was so warm out that water just poured down the mountain. So my friend said, ‘Let’s go surfing.’ I had never surfed and the Atlantic was freezing, but you know how it is when something just feels right the first time you do it?”

I nod, remembering the day fifteen years ago I first dropped a knee to telemark. Surfing just felt right. I knew I’d do it for the rest of my life. He reaches into the corner where he keeps his quiver of surfboards and pulls out some of the boards he’s built—longboards and thrusters and fish and mini-Simmons and fist pumps (a self-designed style). All handmade and resin tinted in ocean blues and sunset oranges and dawn yellows, colors shocking against a gray Michigan sky. I rub

a hand across the smooth epoxied surface. I’ve never surfed Lake Michigan waves, but I want to if it means I can ride one of these, even if I have to surf 35-degree water. “I’d love to surf here,” I say. Justin’s eyes light up. “We’ll get you into the water. We’ll check the forecast before you leave.” We head to the basement where he epoxies and resin tints his boards. As we stand on the resin-splattered floor that looks more art than cement, I ask Justin why he loves surfing the mitten state.

“The original surf culture was very loving. But generally speaking, you no longer get that in a lot of surf areas. But you get it here. It’s a totally different vibe surfing the Great Lakes. We shouldn’t be able to do this,” he says and spreads his arms to encompass this region, this Midwestern landscape, this area that has confused me since I left Idaho’s mountains for it. He continues, “Fuck, we’re on a lake. We’re in the middle of the country. We shouldn’t be able to do this.” Justin shakes his head and smiles. “Now let’s go check the forecast.”

Resin splattered floor is “more art than cement�

After six days of looking at a forecast that shows nothing but flat waves and bad winds, I’m visiting with a friend on the outskirts of Grand Rapids when my phone rings. It’s 9:44 a.m. and Andrew is calling. His voice is urgent. “The waves are here and they aren’t going to last long.” I’m reminded of powder days. The rush to get ready, to get there before the powder has been skied off. I hang up the phone, tell my friend goodbye and race through suburban traffic to Andrew’s, blowing through one red and four yellow lights.

By 10:05, we’re outside Justin’s house. He’s got two Burlys strapped to the top of his mint 1988 AMC Eagle with faux wood panel exterior—Michigan’s version of the old surf woody station wagon. As we drive this “big floating sofa,” as Justin calls it, toward Holland (a lakeshore town), I worry. I’ve surfed Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico, and though I have the résumé of a surfer, I don’t have the talent. Mostly, I get bucked off a wave to the ocean’s sandy bottom.

I’ve also never surfed winter. I’ve never sat on my board in 35-degree water and 30-degree air, but that’s when the waves are best in the Mitt—November through March. The only advice I’ve been given is from a friend who surfs out of Milwaukee. Tyson said, “You just gotta learn to deal with the first bitter slap of wave against bare face. Always have a Thermos of hot water in the car to pour down your wetsuit before and after ... and a flask of whisky.” Justin packed the hot water. I carry the whisky.

By 10:40 we’ve slunk into a gated community with a borrowed code to get past the gate. When I first spot Lake Michigan it looks exactly like the Atlantic. A wide beach of tan sand. A maroon beach fence. An expansive algae-green swatch of water that stretches (to these eyes) forever, except if we were to paddle across this inland ocean, we’d end up in Racine, Wisconsin.

In a steel-gray chill, Justin and I snake into six-millimeter wetsuits. We grab our Burlys (Justin lends me a 9’4” Log Jammer; he rides a 6’ mini-Simmons) and we (with Andrew taking photos) head down the sandy beach, empty except for a dog walker. My heart beats as it does when I’m atop a steep and narrow chute. This. Is. Exactly. What. I. Need. Justin gives me a few pointers then says, “You’ll feel some cold, especially your feet,

but it won’t be too bad.” We wade into February’s Lake Michigan. The wetsuit keeps me warm, at least until we hop on our boards and the lake slaps my face. But even that sting lingers only a moment. Soon we’re looking over our shoulders for waves. Justin points out a loon. I stare at Saugatuck Dunes where my girlfriend and I have swum in autumn. A wave comes in, waist high. Justin shouts, “Rip it!” I paddle and the wave drives my board and I’m gath-


ering speed and I haven’t done this in two years but the wave is pushing me toward shore and my Log Jammer is skimming the water so I hop goofy-footed to my feet and expect to fall, but this board is calm like dawn when the world is at peace and the surf drives me toward shore and I arc the Log Jammer and follow the wave and I am surfing Lake Michigan, surfing this lake 662 feet above the ocean, and I ride and ride until the wave peters out then I dive into the big lake and feel that sharp bite of winter water.

I paddle out to Justin. “That’s impressive,” he says through a huge smile. I smile in return and we float on our boards and talk. “One thing I love about surfing here is you have to work for everything. You have to always check the weather and still you get skunked half the time,” he says. “I love it because when you do hit the jackpot like today, it’s a score. Our waves are elusive. Like I said last week, we shouldn’t be able to do this. We’re surfing in winter on a lake!”

I turn to say something to Justin, but he’s riding a wave to shore. Once he returns, he asks, “You cold?” “No colder than a cold day of skiing,” I say as we bob over small waves, the blue and orange tips of our boards pointing toward sky as if they are trying to tell us something about the sun. The cold is not what will chase me out of the water. It’s my arms and shoulders that bring my day to an end. I’m out of surfing shape.

After an hour and a half, I need to return to shore even though here is where I want to be, floating these small sets of waves with a northwestern breeze at my back, staring at Saugatuck Dunes that rise 200 feet above the lakeshore, talking with Justin about surfing, until one of us paddles off to catch a wave and the other cheers. But I don’t have strength in my arms to paddle out for another set. I wait until my wave comes in. It’s not perfect or particularly clean, but it will carry

me to shore. As it nears, I paddle, my arms singing of fatigue and pain against the undercurrent. My Log Jammer fights against the pull of the lake until we reach some unknown point where the board becomes part of the wave or maybe something larger. We gather speed and I pop to my feet, slowly carving this beautiful board—this extension of myself—onto our wave, which now is also a part of us or more likely we are a part of it, a part of this entire 22,400-square-mile lake.

With my feet wide and my hands spread for balance, I think about how I am riding waves where I shouldn’t be—on a lake above sea level. If I were more practiced at riding waves, I’d smile, but all I can do is work to turn my board, keep this ride going, try to ride it to shore—to hot water and a shot of whisky. The sun sparkles off the water. The beach stands empty and speckled with traces of yesterday’s light snowfall.


Burly Surfboards: Welcome to the world of surfboard building and surfing in the Great Lakes. Though our waves can’t compete with most major breaks in the world, we do get plenty of decent surf, without the crowds. Some people compare surfing on the lakes to what surfing used to be on the ocean in the 60’s and 70’s. We are still trying to figure out what type of boards work well in fresh water, there are many undiscovered surf spots, and the community here is among the most welcoming. So here we are, enjoy. Website: Email:

Andrew Maguire is a Midwest commercial photographer specializing in sports, lifestyle, editorial, and portrait photography. See more of his work at Sean Prentiss is a writer who splits his time between a small city in Michigan and a small cabin in Colorado. He can be reached at

Words and Photos by Jim Deshler

COLD COURAGE The New Haven River Festival The thirty-eight degree appendage-numbing water flows down from Vermont’s Green Mountains—chunks of ice swirl in eddies, waterfalls drop into deep, cold pools, and thick ice clings to the north-facing walls of the gorge... Spectators watch cautiously from the overhanging ledge as racers plunge off of Toaster Falls and give it their all to be the first across the finish line. In New England, the winter of 2011 boasted a substantial snowpack. This was great for the local ski areas, and even better for a group of diehard whitewater kayakers stoked to paddle in the New Haven River Kayak Festival in Bristol, Vermont. Spring flows on the New Haven River, a small, high-gradient mountain stream, are unpredictable, sometimes peaking at a dangerous 1,300 cubic feet per second (c.f.s.) or drifting along at a dull 300 c.f.s. The 2011 competition came together perfectly with warm weather, sunny skies, and a decent flow of approximately 450 c.f.s.

The New Haven River Kayak Festival is the creation of local paddler Dave Packie. Packie wanted to bring local paddlers together to compete for bragging rights and swag. The first race, held in 2009, drew 14 competitors. The next year word spread and they nearly doubled the number of participants with 25 racers. Come 2011, sponsors were lining up and organizers were feeling overwhelmed; 62 competitors were competing for a stack of cash donated by Bliss-Stick Kayaks, with $1,000 going to the winner of the head-to-head, double elimination kayak race. Local Hugh Pritchard won the cash prize while nearly a dozen boaters ended up submerged in the river, and a few swam their way across the finish line.

Location: Toaster Falls, New Haven, VT

New Haven River Festival Information: This year’s race, limited to 50 paddlers, will be a timed event with the fastest paddler taking home the goods. It takes place on Saturday, April 21 at 10 a.m. (weather dependent). All participants must be proficient Class IV+ kayakers; the course is roughly a half-mile long, dropping approximately 245 feet per mile. All competitors should have experience paddling this section of river. If you’re interested in learning more or registering for the 2012 race visit: Jim Deshler is a student of the outdoors. He grew up moving from Rhinebeck, NY, to South Windsor, Connecticut, and finally settling in Northern Vermont. He attended Johnson State College and received a degree in Outdoor Wilderness Leadership and Environmental Education. Being outdoors surrounded by nature is Jim’s passion, whether ripping a line through fresh snow or quietly searching for a picture perfect moment. Jim is dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural environment and has worked as a rock and ice climbing guide, hiking guide, professional ski patroller, and a stream surveyor for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State of Vermont. His love of photography has led him to combine photography and the outdoors to deliver them to the eyes of the world. His publications include Backcountry Magazine, Vermont Life, Mountain and Ski Vermont. See more of his work at



and a big sun beams down on the second-level deck, toasting milky arms and necks as ice cubes melt like waning glaciers into cocktails, and beer bottles sweat like we’re sipping in the Sahara. These first days of March warmth and sun have people crawling out from under their collective winter rocks. A typical post-hibernation conversation carries on to my right. “Hey Joe, how ya been man, haven’t seen you in months?!” “Yeah Brian no shit right? Just been workin’, skiin’, you know the drill.” They clink glass, cheers to “the drill” and a new season, and tilt their heads skyward. The same conversation happens ten times

over amongst a boisterous Thursday happy hour crowd. Daylight Savings just sprung us forward and cold-blooded snow worshippers are now sunning themselves like Floridian retirees. People warm and shuck a winter wrapped in layers, no longer sheathed like corn on the cob. Now we’re into the kernels, and locals are touting stories of peaks bagged and corn harvested. Coveted corn snow, frozen in the darkness softens by sun into lubricated diamond layers reflecting Abalone rainbows and stellar glitter. Temperate snow days give reason to pause, wait for the corn to ripen, savor the moment and ponder what’s next. Turns, turns, turns …

Justin Reyher harvesting corn over Lake Tahoe Location: Lake Tahoe, CA

Elsewhere, snow is long gone or never really came during this meek winter. Many state a willingness to wash their hands of this season and move on to the next, but with snow in the forecast they may have to wait. Transitions, ups and downs, we’re all part of the seasonal ebb and flow. All of the sudden there is time to think rather than just “do” and this spring I’m feeling more nostalgic than most. Nostalgic for bottomless powder runs and clear-headed days; for seasons that used to drag along and now blur on by; and nostalgic for lives lost to the pursuit of stoke in recent months.

It’s another sunny day in the neighborhood, and I contemplate driving to the desert, or slinking up valley for an afternoon skin. Instead I grab a hoodie, pat the dog reassuringly and walk out the front door, and head for the sunny side of town. I know friends will be there; we’re all anchorless, floating objects locked into this spring’s gravitational pull. We revel in the sun till it creeps below treeline and disappears behind the ridge and the air and snow turns cold. We salute friends new and old, here and gone, and go our separate ways.

Skier (Both Pages): Justin Reyher Location: Lake Tahoe, CA

Rider: Jim Zellers Location: Lake Tahoe, CA

StokeLab co-founder Mike Horn found inspiration for this story in his hometown of Crested Butte, Colo. In addition to StokeLab, Mike is editor of Kronicle Magazine, snowboard editor for Backcountry, and is a contributor to Outside,, Mountain Magazine and so on. StokeLab co-founder Justin Cash holds down the Eastern Seaboard from his home in Woodstock, Vermont. His photography has appeared in numerous magazines and websites, including Men’s Journal, Outside,, Powder, Ski and Skiing. See more of his work at

Lib Tech Waterboard

ds. Made with Love. by Mike Horn

Mike Olson, Waterboard mastermind. Photo: Cassio

Little known fact: storied snow brand Mervin Manufacturing (makers of Lib Tech, Gnu, Roxy snowboards and Bent Metal bindings) got its start as a surf company, according to co-founder Mike Olson. “We actually started by selling surfboards before snowboards in the early 1980’s,” Olson recalls. “Surf shaping paid the bills in the beginning.” Three-plus decades later they’re shaping the future of surfing by launching the Lib Tech Waterboarding Division, featuring three series and 14-plus shapes. Olson provides more insight below. SL: Why are you getting involved in manufacturing surfboards? Mike Olson: It may sound like a long drawnout R&D program, but we’ve been working on alternative surf constructions (non-polyester, non-sailboard) since the early 80’s.

There are 5 important reasons why we are launching the Waterboarding Division now: 1) Industry standard surfboards are too dang fragile. Lib Tech will set a new standard for durability. Squeeze our rails! 2) Industry standard surfboards are too dang toxic to the craftspeople and the environment. Lib Tech will set a new standard of responsibility to surfboard craftspeople and the environment. 3) Current industry standard shapes can often be a bit retro-whacky and underperforming. Lib Tech will handcraft unique, progressive, high-performance shapes that excel in inverted skysurfing or just trimming down the line (Huntington-Hop not necessary).

4) Much of the surf industry is outsourcing boards to the cheapest labor markets in the world. All of our boards are handcrafted one at a time by us in the USA with love. 5) Our factory is located four miles from world-class point breaks and we are very passionate about surfing and still get butterflies when thinking about it. SL: What else is unique about your waterboards? Mike Olson: “We have completely redesigned the surfboard manufacturing process from the bottom up. Our new process shares nothing in common with contemporary surfboards or snowboard manufacturing. Over 30 intricate pieces go into each board, yet only the 10/24 stainless fin screws are status quo to the surf world.

“With our new process called “Isotropic Fusion” we are building super ding-resistant boards that have high energy return (liveliness) and a silky-smooth timbre even in choppy surf. We have a new foam chemistry, new fibers, new vibration dampeners, a new matrix, new fin boxes, our own fins, even our own lightweight leash plugs, and much friendlier manufacturing methods that have eliminated sandpaper, tape, paintbrushes, dust clouds and toxic solvents.” SL: Where will they be available for purchase? Mike Olson: “We plan to start shipping this spring to Sam’s Clubs and Woolworths, or any box store big enough to have a buffet cafeteria or soda fountain. [Some lucky surf retailers may be able to get a few if they aren’t within a 500-mile radius of the nearest Sam’s or Woolworth’s exclusive territories.]”

Surfer: Noe Mar McGonagle Photo: Cassio

POLER THE NAPSACK $130 Sometimes a product comes along that truly offers the best of both worlds. With the Napsack, Poler created a multipurpose, microfiber cloak that doubles as a coat and 50-degree rated sleeping bag. Think puffy jacket jump suit or sleeping bag snuggie with features like: a full hood; zippers on both sides to stick your arms out; a draw string bottom so you can cool your feet and walk around (or draw it tight at your waist like a jacket); the chest pocket fits a phone and has a pass-through hole for your headphones to run internally. Why we’re stoked: Whether you’re sitting in an ice-cold office or been out slaying wet pow all day, slipping into Poler’s Napsack is like a little slice of heaven. Or rock it for summer camping, couch surfing and sketchy hotel stays. It comes in medium and large sizes, and is available in black or orange. —Justin Cash

“Slipping into Poler’s Napsack is like a little slice of heaven”

ANARCHY EYEWEAR MCCOY $45, $65 POLARIZED Look like a movie star for under $70?! Well, almost… Named after Steve McQueen from the 1972 movie The Getaway, Anarchy’s McCoy sunglasses have that timeless look and style that cycles through eyewear year after year. The polarized lens quality is up there with sunglasses twice their price, and there are eight different lens choices overall. Flexible Nylon framing is lightweight but durable so far, and sits comfortably on the bridge of my nose. Why we’re stoked: They fit snug enough that the McCoys can double as lifestyle and “sporty” shades, and overbuilt hinges make it a lot harder to lose a wing. We’re backing ‘em. —Mike Horn

“Look like a movie star for under $70?!”

SKA BREWING COMPANY EUPHORIA PALE ALE, 6.1% ABV Ska Euphoria, brewed in Durango, Colorado, is not your ordinary Pale Ale. It rides on the boundary of IPA territory, but with a slightly easier drinkability than Ska Brewing’s more pungent Modus Hoperandi. The beer pours a murky amber color, reminiscent of the copper creek beds that run through the mighty San Juan Mountains. Lower carbonation and a medium body produce a smooth and clean Pale Ale, with a nice light head (about 1/2”) that moderately laces the glass down to the final sip. Aromas of grapefruit, smoky pine and malt play consistent with the taste, which comes off sweet, then balances deliciously with strong, toasted hops. The malt definitely takes a backseat to the hops, but is not overwhelmed, as would be the case with most IPA’s. Why we’re stoked: Hints of caramel, toffee and pepper add a nice, subtle touch to the beer’s dry, bitter finish. Euphoria is surely a session-able Pale Ale, but a 6.1% ABV keeps you from pounding ‘em like they’re PBR’s. So does their “winter-seasonal” status, unfortunately. —Adam Broderick

“Not your ordinary Pale Ale…”


NIKWAX TENT & GEAR SOLARPROOF $13 (150ML POUCH) Over the years, I’ve used Nikwax products for everything from washing odorous base layers to recharging the waterproofing on a pair of snowboard pants to cleansing down jackets. They’ve recently added Tent and Gear Solarproof to the line, which is designed to both block UV rays and maintain water repellency. It’s good for tents, backpacks, awnings etc. Combined with 350ml of water, it makes 500ml of applicable solution that, once diluted, can be sprayed, brushed or sponged on. We’ll be putting this to the test on a 10-year-old tent while camping this spring. —Mike Horn

“I’ve used Nikwax products for everything.”


STANLEY CLASSIC FLASK (8OZ.) $20 Long revered for their bomber construction, Stanley (Est. 1913) products range from all types of Thermalware (including insulated bottles and mugs) as well as the classic, must-have 8oz. Classic Flask. Disclaimer: I might carry this tequila-filled flask into an event this evening where there’s a hefty cover charge and spendy drinks. After all, it’s sleek enough to slide into a pocket, the cap doesn’t leak and it’s got a touch of retro styling that will make people go “Hmmmm.” Why we’re stoked: Odorless and tasteless stainless steel construction makes it easy to clean out last week’s whiskey dregs, and the wide-mouth opening equals easy filling and drinking. See you at the show. —StokeLab

“Sleek enough to slide into a pocket.”


Superstar in late day spring light, Killington, Vermont. Photo: Justin Cash, Canon 1D MK4, 1/2000sec @ F2.8

StokeLab Magazine // Issue 7  

In Issue 7, StokeLab Magazine goes surfing in Michigan, cold-water kayaking in Vermont and spring corn harvesting out West. Get the low-down...

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