Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Ohio River Way Paddlefest

Let’s Paddle
The Largest Paddling Event in the Midwest
Written by: Bryan Wolf

This weekend it is happening again, a tradition like no other, Paddlefest. OK, so I totally stole that slogan, but for almost everyone that walks down the boat ramp Saturday morning they feel it is exactly that. Paddlefest has a huge sense of tradition behind it. The entire event continues to grow with 2,200 paddlers simultaneously on the river in 2012. Paddlefest hasn’t just captured the local paddling community though. It also includes two days of events and celebrations before a boat even hits water.

I think this is one of the most understated and most missed opportunities in the tri-state. The week kicks off with an amazing opportunity for tri-state kids. The Kids Adventure Expo is a free to the public event at Coney Island the Thursday before Paddlefest. This year’s expo sets up 4 villages: “Let’s Move”, “Let’s Explore”, “Let’s Splash”, and “Let’s be Green”. Events like this change not only our community outlook but also our world’s future.

Friday night takes a 180 degree turn and turns up the speakers. A free concert featuring acts like “Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band” and “Jake Speed and the Freddies” promises to please. Both food and beverage are available featuring delicious local brews from Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. The event draws several local specialty shops with goods available and there is a Gear Swap for cheap finds on used gear. RRT sets up a booth and donates the grand prize for the raffle, a brand new Liquid Logic kayak! Hamilton County Parks brings in a climbing wall and Camp Joy utilizes a climbing tree.

The mist is barely lifted off of the Ohio when the first boat hits Saturday morning. People have traveled from afar, many from several states over for the event. Once everyone hits the water, it is an 8 mile float from Coney Island to Sawyer Point. You might be thinking, “Why is there so much passion for a slow Ohio River paddle?” Well, I’ve got to be honest; the Ohio does not have a single rapid, there is not a single cove or stream on this section to float down, the water as we all know is anything but pristine and I have yet to see any whale or puffin splashing around. All that aside, I have a blast each and every year!

PaddlefestI get the same sensation during Paddlefest as I do from a big race. You are surrounded by people with a common cause and purpose. You also are physically exerting yourself, perhaps not to the limit but to the point of bonding. You are all equal and together, you are no longer strangers, but partners in a grand event that may near 2,500 strong this year. Looking far in both directions and all you can see are colorful kayaks sprawled across the Ohio River. We are after all in the paddle capital of the U.S.A.

Go out to the Ohio River this weekend, tip your head back and let the sun warm your face, relax, and appreciate the life force that a river provides. Thank you to the Ohio River Paddlefest and the Green Umbrella for all you do to share our resources for opportunity in exploring and protecting what we have.

Get Outside Cincinnati!


Book Review: Born to Run

Secrets of The Copper Canyons
Book Review: Born To Run by Christopher McDougall
Written by: Bryan Wolf

I seldom have the time to read, but a nine hour car drive was looking me in the eyes and promising to be every bit as boring as you’d expect Pennsylvania toll roads to be.  About a month ago, I decided that the first step to reading a book was buying it: so after many recommendations I picked up my own copy of Born To Run.  Despite my obsession with minimalist running and countless conversations on the topic I had not yet read the book that turned so many people onto natural running.  So I bought the book and immediately put it on the shelf next to the others.  Glancing over my collection of half-read books I realized that step one isn’t my problem, nor is step-two where I open the book.  I needed to commit to finishing one of them, and stubbornly I chose the one that had not yet been started.

I’m somebody who enjoys short stories, and I’ll jump into one after another every day.  Born To Run captured me with just that; I read this book one story at a time. The author captured me in not just one place or one period but in stories that travel the globe and date back to our early evolution as a species. Instead of drifting off in neck-twisting sleep or playing pointless games on my smartphone, I sunk myself in what I would now call my new favorite book.  When we first stopped for a bathroom break, I was several chapters in and couldn’t stop talking about it.  I searched for a placeholder and found only some thin fast food napkins tucked in the van console.  Chapter after chapter I proudly shoved the napkin back into the book.  I’d set the book at my feet to marvel at the story I had just been told.  When I had replayed the entire story back in my head I was drawn to the book again; “What happens next?!”

So how is this a gear review? I think that this may be the best gear review yet, because we already have the needed gear: It’s your body. This book is about the very fantastic and complicated make-up of our bodies, our evolution, and our history as a running people.  I wrote an article before reading this book, already exclaiming my passion and love for running in minimalist shoes, and I’ll attach it at the bottom of the review.  The book didn’t help me discover being barefoot, nor did it help me discover running, it did, however, help me identify why and how I embraced minimalism.

The author, much renowned, travels in search of the “White Horse” or “Caballo Blanco”.  His journey takes him into the Copper Canyons of Mexico and close to peoples that have been nearly untouched by modern civilization; the Tarahumara.  His friendship with this ghost of a man, Caballo, not only opens his story but it opens his world up to one of pain-free and natural motion. Through this journey the author himself becomes twisted in a world of ultra-marathons and ultra-marathoners where he discovers what propels each of us to run both physically and mentally.  He follows leads to interview lead biologists, anthropologists, doctors, runners, coaches, corporations, and Olympians.  All signs point in one overwhelming direction: we were born to run.

If you enjoy running but suffer from injuries (like the vast majority of runners every year), or if you are looking for the passion in running and can’t seem to find it I would seriously recommend this book.  For those of you that have found the thrill of minimalist running I have formed a facebook group under the group name “Raramuri” for sharing minimalist insights, suggestions, and posting group runs.  Or on under “Raramuri Minimalist Running.”  Raramuri means “the running people” and was the original name of the Tarahumara.  You can pick up your copy of “The Guide to the Outdoors” free publication or your own copy of Born To Run at Roads Rivers and Trails in downtown Milford, Ohio.


Silence in the Mind & Adventure in the Heart

Silence in the Mind & Adventure in the Heart
A UCMC Goosedown Gazette Original
Written by: Louie Knolle

John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Before coming to college, I would not have given much thought to this statement. However, that was before I ever truly experienced all that nature had to offer. A few weeks after I graduated high school in 2010, some close friends and I went backpacking for 3 days in Shenandoah National Park, located in northern Virginia. We wanted to go on some sort of trip, and one friend (a former boy scout) suggested hiking. And we figured, why not? It would be a good challenge and most importantly, it would be cheap! Little did I know however, I would be coming back from that trip with a changed perspective. Growing up, I had never camped for more than one night, and that was only car camping. My family was never one to venture deep into the outdoors, just the occasional walk in the park or visit to Eastfork State Park to go to the free public beach located there. But after returning from Shenandoah and not seeing a road, car, or building for 3 days straight, I was thrilled by the prospect of going and doing it again. And that was even with 90+ degree days, too much in my pack, and pushing myself to new limits, but that’s all part of the fun! And in the years since, I have gone on numerous weekend backpacking trips (2-3 days) and more recently a 6 day/75 miles hike on the Appalachian Trail, climbed mountains, whitewater rafted, kayaked, rock climbed, and even gone caving.

The feeling and kind of person I am when I am doing these things is hard to explain. The best way I can think of describing is that it just feels natural (no pun intended, not even sure if that is a pun). There is a sense of calm and serenity, the likes of which I have never experienced before. When you wake up in the morning, peer over the edge of your hammock and see light refracted through dew covered spider webs, dawn breaking through a mist blanketed lake, nothing compares. It’s both the small sights and the large vistas alike that draw me back time and time again. You feel ever the accomplishment when you realize that the only way to see these sights is to walk away from any road or parking lot, and nothing can take that away from you. I always like to imagine that every sight or object that I’m seeing is being viewed in a completely original manner. Whether it be because I climbed a tree to get a better look, the stream was running especially high and fast that day, or even standing two feet to the left of a friend, what I am taking in is 100% original.

Enough about me though! You can be having these feelings and revelations too! First thing you have to do, is go outside of course. One of the most positive things I find I get out of hiking is a closeness to the earth that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. In this day and age, the average person spends eight hours in front of an electronicscreen, in some form or another, each day. Ironically, that is what I’m doing in writing this article… But despite this slight hypocrisy, I am an advocate of removing oneself from these screens. All this screen time really accomplishes is separating yourself from the world around you, numbing the wonderful machine your mind can be, and not making use of each and every person’s unique skills. I know when I spend too much time on my laptop whether it is on Facebook, Netflix, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc. I sense an inner restlessness within me and am much less productive as aresult. Not only are these websites time wasters for me, but they are motivation killers too.

One of the most therapeutic benefits of hiking is the sense of peace it brings you. You totally forget about work deadlines, trivial personal matters, and anything else that may worry you on a day-to-day basis. I know the best sleep I ever get is in a tent or hammock after a day or days of hiking. And of course you can argue, sure you sleep soundly after hiking 15 miles with a 30 pound pack on your back, but I’m referring the silence in my mind as I am closing my eyes for the night. We all have those nights where we toss and turn because it doesn’t seem like our mind wants to turn off, but rarely will you find that as a problem when you simply let your mind exist. I’m not saying you need to strap on a pack and carry 3 days’ worth of gear off into the wilderness to achieve this, I can reach the same level of inner calm by simply walking my dog in the park for an hour (a black lab/border collie mix named Korra, she’s adorable). And once you have done this a few times, you can bring this state of mind into your daily routine, whether it is through meditation, yoga, counting to 10, or whatever it is you do to calm yourself after a stressful day. And as a side note, if you don’t do some sort of meditation, I highly recommend it!

Perhaps the most important part of all of this is to be happy. Look deep down and find what makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be hiking. It could be any sort of activity you truly love doing. Every single human being is born with an adventurous spirit, it is up to you the individual to utilize it. For me, going on adventures helped me find a purpose in my life. Not that my life was destitute and directionless before, but planning hikes and other adventures with both myself alone and friends helped remove me from a state of silent acquiescent acceptance. I did not think deeply about most things, just took them as they were and did not question them. I was not able to realize all the blessings I had in my life.

I learned what it truly meant to live in the present and fully enjoy what I was doing, instead of simply going through the emotions. Without adventure in our lives, life can get stale really quickly.

And what’s worse than not using our natural adventurous nature? My wish for you reading this right now is that if you have not already found something you truly love to do, that you keep trying new things until you do find it.

And even after you find it, keep trying even more new things. No one ever loses their childlike sense of curiosity; all they need is a kick in the rump by something that truly invigorates them to clear the film from over their eyes and see the world how it truly is again, a wonderful and spectacular place.

Louie 2

Gear Review: Ibex OD Solo Shirt

Trail to Town
Gear Review: Ibex OD Solo Shirt
Written by: Bryan Wolf

In the backcountry I could care less what I look like. You can bet that on this year’s trip to Gates of The Arctic NP I will have some Ibex Woolies and Rab MeCo long sleeve available for their unbeatable function. It is not that they look bad, but I don’t typically wear skin tight shirts when I go out on the town. What about the trip that ends with a cold beer at a local eatery or takes you back through town for errands before heading to your cabin rental, hostel, or B&B? There are a million trips that run on this schedule; a perfect example is my recent trip to Bar Harbor, ME inside Acadia NP. Queue the OD L/S or OD Solo.

Bar Harbor is a perfect outdoor mecca. If you have not been to Maine this is a hell of a spot to start. Packed full of cycling, hiking, boating, birding, sightseeing, camping, climbing, and kayaking the National Park can fulfill your nature needs. A cozy small town feel can be found inside any of the Harbor towns. Due to its unique creation, Bar Harbor is one of the only cities you’ll find inside a National Park, although not technically part of it. So when you are done with a morning trail run to Bar Island during low tide you can run back through town and stop at the local café. When you return from a mid-day hike and take main street just a few minutes back into town you can stop at any one of the fresh lobster seaside restaurants and tip back one of their many local beers. Like I said, it’s a pretty awesome place.

So, when you don’t want to be camp gritty or if you don’t want to smell stronger than the lobster house Ibex has the fix. With every wonderful property you have already found in merino wool, Ibex delivers it with a style and casual look. Merino is wicking, quick drying, odor resistant, insulating when wet, soft and comfortable. Offered in long sleeve or short, it is a casual fit collared button up made with 18.5 micron merino, which is the measure of how fine a wool fiber is. It is a lot to pack into one shirt but I had the confidence to scale the Beehive Trail (amazing) and head straight to town with my mountain swagger. Simply said it feels good and it looks good.

As you can expect, the OD Shirt by Ibex is proudly hung at Roads Rivers and Trails in Milford, OH. If you need that cross functioning piece for an upcoming trip this is it.