Ideas to Survive an Extended Shoulder Season.

8 01 2018

Many parts of the country may never experience a shoulder season for outdoor activities.  In western Oregon the shoulder season phenomena usually occurs in spring and fall as trails get too wet to ride, snow is too shallow to ski, rocks are too wet to climb and conditions are overall more challenging to deal with.  Normally by early January we are out of the shoulder season and full swing into winter activities, but this year that’s not the case.  The snow is refusing to fall!

There is an upside to shoulder seasons as most people are driven inside by the conditions and stay home.  Finding a partner to join in your adventure may be more difficult, but if you are seeking solitude this can be a great time to find it.  Gear to stay relatively comfortable and multiple activity options to match current conditions can allow you to remain outside playing all year long.

Kayaking and canoeing is the classic in-between season activity.  Whether whitewater or flat, paddlesports require water and water is often in high supply as it falls in autumn and snow melts in the spring.  With the correct gear, kayaking can keep the active outdoors person sane during rainy shoulder seasons that make many other activities not possible.


Traveling a short distance can show a significant difference in weather.  In western Oregon a short drive to the coast may bring warmer weather and no rain.  It can also bring large storms and wind so check the weather throughout the week to see changes in the forecast.  The shoulder season is a perfect time to visit the sand dunes if you have never been there.  Unlike in summer, crowds are few and noise is minimal.  A clear evening spent on the expansive dunes is similar to clear evenings on snowy slopes and it’s way easier to cook fresh oysters over a fire.  Florence and Winchester Bay dunes both offer camping on the dunes for $10.  Make sure to research the rules and regulations before heading out. Dunes Rec Guide

sand 1

Bike touring is a great activity that can take advantage of short two day breaks in weather.  The adventure starts directly from your doorstep and in many areas, 35 miles outside of town is all that’s needed for a great destination.  Depart Saturday at noon and return Sunday at noon with plenty of opportunity for stories in between.  Beware that winter clothing and sleeping bags take up much more space in your packs than traditional summer touring gear.


If you still can’t find the motivation to get out, use the time to check over your gear and fix the needs that are neglected during the prime season.  Explore maps and plan your next adventure or watch countless online videos that might help spark your next mission idea.

However you do it, don’t let this extended shoulder season get you down.  Try new things that fit the conditions, search out new places and find yourself alone in the great outdoors.

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Winter Projects: Organize it!

19 12 2017

As we approach the winter equinox, we have less daylight each and colder temperatures. Sometimes it feels like bedtime because it has been dark for hours, but you look at the clock and it’s only 7:30! Winter is not just the time to binge on Netflix. There are tons of little things you can do around the house that you would never have time for in the summer.

Take for example, your kitchen cabinets. If you have to shove a bunch of stuff around to find what you’re looking for, chances are your cabinets could use a little organizing. My favorite cabinets to organize are spice cupboards and tea collections. Here’s a photo of a spice cupboard I recently organized for a friend:

spice cab before


spice cab after



Remember to just do one project at a time and take a “before” picture so you can see your results.

Here’s how you can start organizing:

  1. Pull everything out of the cabinet. As you pull things out, get rid of anything that is really old. Combine same items, and take a mental note of categories such as “baking” “spices” “herbs” “use often” “use rarely” etc. Wipe down anything that has spilled.
  2. Measure the interior space, and begin to image how you would like it to look. Tiered shelves, rotating shelf, or other organizational method. Come up with plan. This might include moving some of your categories to a different shelf.
  3. Now it’s time to build or shop for your organizers! Many people are tempted to do this step first, but it’s important to do steps one and two so you know what to look for! For my friend’s cabinet, a spinning shelf wouldn’t fit, so I purchased a 3-tier spice shelf, a few nice looking spice bottles, and some gold washi tape. I love building custom stuff so it fits the space perfectly, but I didn’t have time on this one.
  4. Now the fun part. You get to put it all back together. Make sure that everything that is used often is easy to get to. Items used less often can be farther towards the back. Everything should be labeled too.

The key to keeping things organized is that it should be easy to retrieve and replace items. If you have to move a bunch of things to get the the one you want, everything will get jumbled again right away. Save time in the long run by having a good organizational plan from the start.

Good luck! And remember, always ask permission before organizing shared space or something that isn’t yours! My friend jumped for joy when she saw her new spice cabinet. She can’t wait to start cooking with her easy-to-find spices!

Written by Misha Fuller



Thurston Hills Mountain Bike Trails to Open Spring 2018

15 12 2017

Trail Work Day, November 18, 2017

Willamalane Park and Recreation District and Disciples of Dirt partner for trailwork day at Thurston Hills Natural Area.

Springfield’s first mountain-bike-specific trails are set to open in Spring of 2018. The project is well underway, with the trailhead area complete, including a paved parking lot, bathrooms, and a bike wash station! The North Access Trail, two miles of compacted graveled trail, is now open for hikers. Downhill mountain biking is not allowed on this trail, so mountain bikers are discouraged from riding the trails until the downhill sections are complete in the spring. IMG-2348

On November 18, 2017 Willamalane staff directed over 60 volunteers at the first official volunteer trail work day at the Thurston Hills. Disciples of Dirt, the local Eugene-Springfield area mountain bike club, was joined by members of neighboring mountain bike clubs Salem Area Trail Alliance and Team Dirt. The trails are to be machine built by a professional contractor, but volunteers were able to clear trees and brush from the areas marked for trail. Disciples of Dirt has pledged 1500 hours of volunteer work and $13,000 cash to the over $200,000 project.  This is just the first of several phases of trail design and construction in the Thurston Hills area.

Community support for this trail development has been overwhelming. “We’re excited to hopefully take our youth mountain bike summer camps up there. It will be great to have something so close to town,” states Zane Wheeler, Program Coordinator for  River House mountain bike summer camps.

A grand opening event is being planned for February 3.

A map of the area and additional information is available at the  Willamalane website.

Get involved with local trail building efforts with the Disciples of Dirt!

Written by Misha Fuller

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14 12 2017


It is a proven fact that campfire food is pretty much the best food on the planet. Even though I’m not into roughing it anymore (glamping is more my style) I still love to sit around a fire pit and indulge in some good old fashioned campfire food.  A long time ago before I had a mess of kids, I used to go camping with my friends as often as I could. We would load up the trucks, pack all the supplies and rough it for a weekend. The best part was sitting around the campfire and roasting marshmallows, hotdogs and these easy and delicious Campfire Cinnamon Roll-ups.

These sweets treats are made with just 3 easy to pack ingredients and only take about five minutes to cook over an open flame. These make a fabulous camping breakfast, especially combined with some campfire scrambled eggs and orange juice. Seriously, yum! Doesn’t that sound amazing?!


  • 1 package crescent rolls
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Wooden Skewers


  1. Combine cinnamon and sugar in small bowl
  2. Separate crescent rolls and wrap them around the skewer
  3. Roll it in the cinnamon sugar mixture
  4. Cook over campfire for 5 minutes, rotating frequently
  5. Optional – Mix 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 tbsp water together to make a glaze and drizzle over cooked roll-up


Author: Jordyn


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Deception Pass Dash, Dec. 2, 2017

27 10 2017

A curious boat race involving sea kayaks, SUPs, outriggers, rowers, and surfskis in spicy open-water conditions at Deception Pass State Park in northwest Washington.

Starting and finishing at Bowman Bay, the course is a six mile loop out and around Deception Island, then east past Pass Island and around Strawberry Island, then back west past Pass Island and Deception Island a second time and back to Bowman Bay.

Registration for this unique event is open for both participants and volunteers at:

Image result for deception pass dash photos

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‘As long as you have two hands and you can see, you’re pretty much ready to sail’

12 09 2017

EUGENE, Ore. – A heat wave in the Willamette Valley means excellent weather for sailing at Fern Ridge Reservoir in Eugene.

About a dozen students completed their week-long youth training course Friday afternoon.


The classes are offered by the City of Eugene’s River House Center every summer.

“They can steer a boat, they can trim a sail, they can dock and undock. They know how to beach a boat,” said instructor Connor Shirk.

The classes are not just offered for middle and high school students. Adults are also encouraged to participate with weeknight and weekend classes.

“The main difference is that the adult classes all take place on the big boats,” said Shirk.

Youth courses start on smaller boats, referred to as dinghies. The skills are easily transferable to larger boats.

“The worst thing that can happen in the small boats is that they flip. But, then you flip them right back up. Adults don’t like that quite as much,” added Shirk.

They leave daily from the River house at 9 a.m. and return at 4:30 p.m.

Participants say the best part is that anyone can join.

“In things like gymnastics, it’s hard to do if you’re not flexible or if you don’t know certain things. With boats, as long as you have two hands and you can see, you’re pretty much ready to sail,” said Nina Persins.

The youth camp continues for one more week, with a cost of $265.

There are scholarships available to help bring the cost down.

The adult classes continue until October.

For more information, click here.

Original article and video can be found at:

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So You Want To Start Running Rivers on a Stand Up Paddleboard?

7 08 2017


You want to start running rivers on a board?

With all of the recent attention toward running rapids on a stand up board,  2017 is certain to see an explosion in paddlers giving the river a go. What was once seen as a fringe discipline of SUP, whitewater paddling on stand up paddleboards is quickly becoming a sought after adventure. And although flat water and ocean paddling are similar to river running, there are several differences that should be known to get SUPers prepared for the river.

While thinking about this article on a recent trip to California, I went back and forth on where to begin this series for StandUp Journal. It came down to two.”How to choose the proper stretch of river?” or  “What gear do I need to ensure I have a more successful river trip?”  I picked the later. And with that you know what our next edition will cover. Being dressed correctly along with the right board, paddle and leash set up is crucial to having a more successful trip on the rio.

Let’s get dressed. I’ll help. Heres the first thing you notice when getting into the river (falling off your board), its generally cold and rocky. One characteristic that really sets the river apart from oceans and lakes is it’s continuos flow.

You fall in and you keep moving in the quick, cold and sometimes shallow stream. Hypothermia is an ever present concern in river sup and dressing appropriately will not only aid in reducing this risk but will help protect you from any obstructions you may come in contact with.

You’ll find there are two different kinds of gear most commonly worn on the river; wetsuits or drysuits. Wetsuits work well and most paddlers are already comfortable in them. Fairly inexpensive, give the user an additional layer of skin when they scrape rocks, keep you warm(ish) and even offer some floatation. They work but I’m a firm believer in the next option.

The dry suit. I call it my safety suit. Key word to notice, dry. Paddling in the dead of Winter, surrounded by ice and snow I have found being dry is important to keep it fun but more importantly for safety. Rubber gaskets line the neck, wrists and sometimes ankles to ensure your body and warm base layers stay dry when you swim.

ken hoeveBecause you’re going to swim. A lot. Although, a drysuit keeps you dry, alone they don’t keep you warm. Wearing fleece layers underneath is a must. Some dry suits come with built in nylon socks. This is preferred and usually more efficient at keeping your feet warm allowing you to wear socks underneath. Other accessories include gloves and a neoprene beanie under your helmet. When I layer properly I am often roasting in conditions that make many shiver.

A brightly colored drysuit is encouraged giving your paddling partners an easier visual in the event you get swept away. Most dry suits come with relief zippers so when the cold water or a difficult rapid makes nature call, you can quickly take care of business.

Regardless of wetsuit or drysuit pads are nice. Rocks make rapids. Fall off in the middle of a rapid, even an easy one and land on a rock, it is going to hurt. River running is a lot like big wave shallow reef surfing without the wave chasing you. But this break has exposed reef heads you have to navigate around.

And remember, the river never stops flowing. There are no lulls between sets. The ocean is aggressive but the river is relentless. So be prepared. Not all runs will be as menacing as others. With a little research you can find a run that suits your paddling abilities.

For casual cruising and warm temperatures I go boardshorts, thin neoprene top, a pfd and helmet as well as a good solid river shoe. But when its time to fire it up with the boys I dress for a battle.  My whitewater career began 22 years ago and I have survived a lot because I wore the correct equipment. Its important to be prepared rather than just getting a board and jumping in. Here’s a quick run down of the gear I dress myself in before a paddle on the river.



    1. A properly fitting helmet designed for whitewater. Not a bike or hockey helmet (I have seen it). For mine I prefer carbon fiber with no vents as it keeps you warmer. For warmer weather paddlers a vented plastic helmet works too. I also like it with a brim to block the sun as well as create an air pocket in the event I get pinned. Helmets can range from $45 for plastic to $200 for a composite. And keep an eye on kayak and raft shop swaps. Great place to find used ones for less. Mine is a WRSI Ttrident.


    1. We have already covered it but look into them. If you get a used one remember the gaskets can be replaced. And the suit can also be patched. Get the relief zipper if possible. For myself its a Kokatat Icon model. I have used their products for 20 years and know with no doubt they are superior. Tough, dry, and last for years. Use 303 Protectant on your gaskets to get them on easier and to keep them lasting longer.


    1. If I was to have only two choices for river gear #1 would be a pfd (life jacket) and #2 is proper shoes. With those two things I know I will float and when I get my ass to shore I can walk. Part of river running is walking on the bank. Scouting, portaging, chasing run away boards and hitching shuttles are all part of it. Get a river shoe that covers your ankles, has good support and traction on rocks and feels good when you are standing on your board. There are several styles depending on the conditions. But for the majority of runs I like my Sperry SON-R Pong.  They drain water, are light and have good traction when walking on slippery rocks.


    1. Yep, river SUP can be a contact sport. Thankfully lots of manufactures make all types of padding. Now, I don’t wear all this stuff all the time but if I know I’m going to get hammered in shallow water I wear forearm/elbow pads, hip pads, knee pads and shin protection. Personally I use GForm. They are beyond light, very flexible, take big hits and don’t absorb water. If you are on a budget, go to Goodwill. Especially in mountain towns. Our local thrift shop always a variety of second hand pads.


    1. Get at the minimum a coast guard approved type III. Whitewater is aerated. Its less buoyant. You want a jacket that fits snuggly as it will float with or without you. And since you are getting one, pick one with a safety harness and quick release. The reason is you are going to attach your leash to that quick release. NOT YOUR ANKLE!! Again, don’t EVER put a leash around your ankle in the river.The reason is that if you get tangled or entrapped by that leash you want to be able to free yourself of it immediately. Reaching down to your ankles in moving water is nearly impossible, it doesn’t matter how strong of a swimming you are.   You want to pop that quick release right on your chest. If you don’t have one with a quick release BadFish SUP makes an aftermarket one that works well called the Re-leash.Order one. My PFD is a type V Kokatat Maximus Prime. Has a quick release built in, keeps me high in the water, has a pocket for the basics and even has reflective material for extra low light visibility.


    1. The wider and thicker the better. Flotation is your friend and with all the variable currents, waves, holes and rocks you should have one adjective in mind when choosing: Stability. The material is your decision. There have been great strides in the inflatable market from brands like Starboard and Badfish. You can use composites and lightweight boards but they get hammered and probably won’t last you more than a couple of seasons.That said, Badfish makes a composite board with an extra layer of durable skin which increases cost and weight but also adds to the life of the board. My personal ride is the Jackson Kayak SUPerCharger, a rotomolded board that is specifically created for river running.  We are on rivers where things take a beating and the most proven craft for running this stuff is a plastic kayak.Rigid, nearly indestructible, shedding decks, rubber fins, several grab handles, areas to lash gear and insanely stable. They weigh a few pounds more but are the least expensive option. Board designs are evolving every year so be sure to do your research, demo, and make sure you’re picking a board designed to cater to your needs and abilities.


    1. I keep talking about rocks. You are going to hit them at some point, not just with your board and body but your paddle too. Don’t bring your $400 ultra lightweight carbon/kevlar/kryptonite reinforced custom made stick to the river. Get something durable and inexpensive for starters. And put your name and phone number on it right away! Makes it easier for that fisherman that finds it to get it back to you. Your paddle is used nearly as much to push off exposed rocks as it is to propel you down stream. Werner paddles Stinger is a solid design for river running. Its fiberglass and tough as nails. You will wear the blade down before you snap it.


  1. I saved the most controversial subject for last. Personally I hate them, but they are fairly necessary. While we sometimes run local class III stretches of the Colorado without a leash, its a good idea to use one as keeping a paddle, board and yourself together in moving water can be difficult. When I do use one I have a short straight leash. NOT a coiled one. When I fall in I have found its better to have that board on a short leash so I can get to it quicker and there is less line in the water to tangle on anything. And again, NEVER PUT IT AROUND YOUR ANKLE. Use that quick release on your fancy new PFD or Re-leash.

Remember that list of the two things I said I always want? A PFD and shoes. This one is right in there. Never, ever paddle alone.  Go with someone that has experience and better yet, take lessons from certified river outfitters. In our area we have shops like Alpinequest Sports and Colorado Kayak Supply that can introduce you in the right way. And look for paddle classes and clinics when guys like Dan Gavere or Charlie McAurther come to town. There is no way I can tell you everything there is to know, because as much as you learn from others you learn more through your own personal experiences.

The key is to start on the easiest water possible. Class 1, barely moving water. What I call “floatin’ down the road” type conditions. Deep, slow, warm water works well when getting started. We will get into that more on the next installment. For now make sure you have proper attire, board and paddle so that your first experience is pleasant.

SUP river running is growing quickly and for good reason. Its fun! And there are so many great stretches of water to do it on. When we return, we’ll find the right one for you. From never evers to experienced rivermen and women that want to try something new. Spring is coming, lets get after it!

Author: Ken Hoeve


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