Whether you love a relaxing hike on a Saturday afternoon or you participate in extreme sports on a regular basis, you need a pair of quality eyewear to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and to enhance your visual experience.

Many players in this retail space offer products they market as innovative but are really just packaging together the same selections as everyone else out there. We believe in freedom and adventure, and don’t think you should sacrifice quality just to find a reasonably priced option.

What Makes D•CURVE Unique?

Hailing from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, we put our products to the test to make sure they stand up to your most adrenaline-filled challenges. What Makes D•CURVE Unique? Our philosophy behind our products is pretty unique amidst our industry – rather than trying to sell as many items as we can, we want to truly serve our customers with sunglasses and goggles that will last just as long as your passions do. Whether it’s cycling, snowboarding, playing disc golf, or just hanging out at the park, we want your eyes to be protected without having to spend a ton of cash. The D•CURVE sunglass collection stands apart from other brands you might have worn before, as we use bio-titanium for styles that require function and durability. This material provides a flexible frame that will hold up to getting knocked off your face or thrown in the bottom of a bag while also being incredibly light to wear. We also offer stainless steel and thicker plastic styles for the times when you want a more casual look and don’t need a strictly performance-based product. Our sunglass collection is rounded out by sport performance styles that offer an enhanced peripheral view, making sure your activities aren’t impaired.

Lens Features And Replaceable Parts

D•CURVE places a huge emphasis on giving you the protection your eyes need while not draining your bank account. Our sunglasses and goggles offer proprietary lens technology using insights from NASA, giving you complete UV protection, 98.9% blue light blockage, and sharper visual clarity than you thought was even possible. Many don’t realize that just a little bit of sun exposure each day can add up to a plethora of eye conditions and diseases later on down the line. We’ve named this superior technology NASTEK P3, and we combine it with our ZAIO coatings to give you a pair of eyewear that’s dust-proof, grease-proof, and waterproof, as well as being polarized and incorporating one of four beautiful colors.

Since we’re outdoor aficionados, we wanted to make a huge impact when it comes to how people use and reuse their gear. This lead us to develop the industry’s leading washable and replaceable foam for your snow and bike helmets. Instead of calling it quits after one season because of dirt or smell, you can order extra foam or simply wash what you’ve got to exponentially extend the lifespan of your product.

Join Us On Our Adventure

If you’re into extreme outdoor adventures, you know that we’re a one-of-a-kind breed and can instantly feel at home when we’re in our element. We love seeing D•CURVE out and about during all of your activities, so be sure to share with us on social media how you’re using your eyewear.

At D●CURVE Optics we love creating products that really do what they say they’ll do – we make a promise of durable, quality, comfortable, and good-looking eyewear that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Our sunglasses are tested in real-life situations, whether it’s by the professional athletes we sponsor or by our own team taking them out to hit the Rocky Mountains near our Colorado headquarters. We know that sometimes seeing is believing, but we hope that reading can be believing too! Let’s check out the Cirrus and the Mini Piper, two of our Luxury BioTitanium styles.

CIRRUS

At first glance, the Cirrus might look like your average aviator style pair of sunglasses, but as you take the time to explore its design features and realize that it’s made for rugged adventures, you just might fall in love. Crafted from BioTitanium, the Cirrus achieves what many other manufacturers attempt to create – it’s a feather-light frame with clean lines and a thin profile. Not only does this material create a frame that’s comfortable to wear for long periods of time, but it’s a style that can stand up to just about any abuse you put it through. These frames bend and flex to nearly any position you can imagine, meaning they’ll stay right there with you if you take a tumble.

All D●CURVE sunglasses are equipped with lenses that offer full UV protection as well as polarization to give you sharp vision in even the most glare-filled environments. Our lens design takes a page from NASA with our NASTEK P3 technology and tops it all off with our ZAIO coatings, which work to keep your eyewear dust-proof, waterproof, and grease-proof. The Cirrus is a great choice for anyone who wants a lot of coverage from the sun and comes with adjustable nose pads and earpieces for your comfort.

MINI PIPER

Often times luxury sunglasses can take on the approach that bigger is better and end up leaving out those with a more narrow face. Instead of having to wear bulky frames that slide off your face the moment you work up a sweat, you can put on the Mini Piper from D●CURVE Optics and continue your activities. A smaller version of our Piper frame, the Mini Piper is crafted from BioTitanium to give you a lightweight style that bends and flexes with ease. Despite being so light, these frames hug behind your ears with just enough muscle to keep them in place during even the most strenuous activities. Another plus – BioTitanium is hypo-allergenic and a medical-grade material, so those with sensitive skin need not worry. Just like our other Luxury BioTitanium sunnies, the Mini Piper comes with nylon lenses with our NASTEK P3 polarized design and offers durable coatings that withstand smudging and scratching. We’ve built this frame to function well in bright sun as well as snow and rain, so you’re prepared no matter where you are.

We Stand By Our Quality

All D●CURVE sunglasses come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects and many have replacement parts available, should anything happen. The next time you’re out on the trail or mountain, think about how much protection your eyes are getting from the sun, and then give D●CURVE a try to see the difference.

How prepared are you for the ski seasnon?

As ski season approaches, you may be more than ready to hit the slopes—but is your gear?

For some pro tips on prepping your equipment, RootsRated spoke with Zach Yates, gear guru and repair shop manager at Footloose Sports, a popular ski shop in Mammoth, California. The bottom line, Yates says: “You want everything as predictable as possible,” in order to prevent injury and set yourself up for a kick-ass season on the slopes. Here, Yates' tips on how to make that happen.

1. Start with your skis.

First things first: Make like the Karate Kid and start waxing. You’ll be waxing off first—as in, removing that grubby layer of wax you (hopefully) rubbed on at the end of last season to prevent oxidation and damage to the base of the ski. Then, grab some new wax—it’s designated for various temperatures, depending on where you’ll be skiing—and don’t skimp on applying it.

“You can never overwax a ski—the more wax the better,” Yates says. “For World Cup racers, their skis are prepped 20-30 times before they hit the snow. And beginners will sometimes say, 'I don’t want a lot of wax, because I don’t want to go too fast,' but wax really helps to just make the ski glide better. Whenever a ski glides very well, you won’t have any resistance, and it will make everything easier.”

2. Drop the cash on detuning.

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A few words on detuning (which basically means removing burrs and blunting the edges of tips and tails to prevent them from hooking into the snow): You can do it at home, but Yates points out that you can never get back the material you wear off. Detuning generally costs around $50, and as Yates says, “it’s worth spending the money to get it done right, just like with anything."

We tend to agree. But if you must attempt it yourself, check out YouTube for videos that show the process step-by-step.

3. Give your boots plenty of love …

Your boots are your most important piece of equipment, so be sure they’re in tip-top shape before the season starts. Start by removing the liners and foot beds, making sure no creepy-crawlies made them their summer home. After airing everything out, put it all back in and buckle the boots, to help maintain the shape.

Considering buying new boots? Start shopping now, when selection is still good, and keep in mind that boots should be snug. “Everyone has a misconception that, if my boots are too tight, it’s going to hurt,” Yates says. “But it’s actually the opposite. If there’s too much movement, you’ll get a hot spot.”

But expect your new boots to be uncomfortable for the first few days. And, if you notice any trouble spots, a professional fitter can use a technique called punching out, which involves heating and stretching the plastic shell where necessary. (Don’t even think about trying it at home).

4. … and your bindings, too.

Two words here: function test. This is a critical run-through that gear specialists perform using a torque wrench on the binding to make sure it’s releasing properly. It’s crucial to get a function test on a regular basis—at least once a season, or between 15-30 days of skiing—as the factors that influence the binding setting (more on that below), including body weight, fluctuate (like that weeklong après feast of fondue and beer, for example).

“The most common injury in skiing is a knee injury from a slow, twisting backward fall, and if your bindings are set too high – say you lost weight over the summer—then you can blow out your ACL,” Yates says. “A function test costs about 20 bucks, and ACL surgery is at least $5,000.”

5. Know your number.

If you’re renting gear, be sure to ask the rental shop what your DIN setting is, if you don’t know already. Generally, the DIN setting refers to a calibrated standard that indicates the force necessary to release your bindings and reflects several factors, including your age, weight, skill level and type of skier. It will be displayed on your paperwork as well as the binding itself.

Why is it so important to know your DIN number? Because it’s a good point of reference if you need your bindings adjusted. And, as Yates points out, “At a shop that’s doing everything by the book, legally they have to tell you your DIN setting, and if they don’t, a red flag should go up.”

6. Get the skinny on your skins.

Don't overlook prepping your skins for the season, too (no judgements if you just tossed them into the closet after your last backcountry excursion). To remove old glue and all of the gunk that sticks to it, Yates recommends cutting or tearing a paper bag in pieces, placing them along the length of your skins and running a hot iron over them. Slowly remove the bag pieces, which will also pick up the old glue and grime. (Here’s a quick video tutorial ).

Follow all these steps, and your gear will be as ready as you are for ski season. See you on the slopes.

Written by Blane Bachelor for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Ivan Dimitroff

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Heli-skiing is, without question, the snow-seeking pilgrim’s holy grail. Thousands of feet of vertical, bottomless powder, nonexistent crowds, endless terrain choices—it’s no wonder alpine addicts return to the shred meccas of Alaska and Canada for their fix year after year.

But there’s one glaring issue with heli-skiing: it’s super expensive. If you’ve got cash in the bank—or are cool with siphoning money directly from your kid’s college fund into a helicopter fuel tank—then go ahead, drop $10K on the best week of your life.

However, for the adventurous powder skier or splitboarder who’s operating on a (relative) budget and doesn’t mind earning their turns, there’s another option entirely: heli-accessed ski touring.

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Flying over snow-capped trees en-route to Sentry Lodge.

Drew Zieff

Most heli-ski packages will shuttle you out to a lodge, and then fly you up into the surrounding peaks each day. With burning fuel being the biggest financial factor on a heli trip, it’s no surprise that the price is as steep as the peaks you’ll ski. On a heli-accessed ski touring trip, however, you need only rely on the chopper to bring you to and from the lodge, while the skiing you do is entirely human-powered, hence the minimized cost.

On a recent weeklong trip with Pacific Alpine Guides to Sentry Lodge outside of Golden, BC, I learned firsthand how awesome a heli-accessed ski touring trip can be.

6 Reasons to go on a Heli-Accessed Ski Touring Trip

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Carefully loading up the helicopter with “necessities.”

Drew Zieff

1. Lower Cost: These types of trips are drastically less expensive than a full-on heli-skiing package, meaning you can stay longer and pay less. A heli trip, for example, will often cost more than $1000 a day, while a trip to Sentry Lodge as supplied by Pacific Alpine Guides costs $2250 (early bird pricing) for a full week. Included in that price is gourmet yet hearty fare whipped up by a professional backcountry chef, a hut custodian to keep the place clean and the sauna stoked (yup, there’s a sauna), plus the services of two expert ski guides to help you make the most of your trip.

2. Get to Know the Terrain: You get a more intimate feel for the surrounding terrain and snowpack stability by skiing uphill. Sentry Lodge is located near treeline—above which you’ll find soaring peaks and below you’ll score the best pillow lines of your life. Touring this terrain with Tyler Reid, an avalanche educator and the lead guide/owner of Pacific Alpine Guides, will help you learn more about safe travel in avalanche terrain and all manner of backcountry decision-making.

3. Less Environmental Impact, More Connection to Nature: There’s less mechanized transport, which means less fuel required and less harm to the environment, at least relative to an 8-flight per day heli trip. You’ll also find more opportunity to connect with nature when you’re relying on human-powered ascents and helicopters aren’t constantly roaring overhead.

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Touring just above the hut supplies great views of the Canadian Rockies.

Drew Zieff

4. Take Advantage of the Storm Skiing: Every pro skier has horror stories of pulling their hair out and playing endless games of cards during the “down days,” stormy periods where the helicopter can’t fly. While you can certainly get snowed in at a hut, if you’re prepared to ski tour, you can make the most of your trip by shredding the trees when visibility is low and the chopper can’t fly.

5. No Lugging Supplies: Unlike pure human-powered hut trips, you don’t have to lug in all of your gear, food, and booze in your backpack. At Sentry Lodge, we brought in a full bar, boxes upon boxes of delectable grub to be prepared by our remarkably talented chef, and other hut trip “necessities” like board games and portable speakers.

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Pacific Alpine Guides team member Phil keeps it tight when dropping some of the pillows underneath the hut.

Drew Zieff

6. (Ski) Boot Camp: Of course, on any ski trip, you expect to get a fair amount of exercise. However, when you’re strictly relying on ski touring, a 7-day trip is a great way to whip your body into shape. We averaged between four and five thousand feet of vertical per day at Sentry Lodge: on some days, we did longer tours into the alpine, on others we knocked out 6 or 7 leg-burning laps through classic BC pillows.

4 BC Heli-Accessed Ski Touring Huts near Golden, BC

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A full bar! Notice the Havana Club Cuban Rum—Canada doing things right.

Drew Zieff

All four of these lodges are run by Golden Alpine Holidays outside of Golden, BC. You can contact them directly regarding availability, though my recommendation is working with a guiding outfit like Pacific Alpine Guides, as that way you’ll be covered on the guiding, cooking, and cleaning fronts and can focus solely on the skiing.

1. Sentry Lodge:

To call Sentry Lodge a hut is like calling the Palace of Versailles a hovel. Ski huts tend to be remote, tough-to-access cabins far off the beaten path, lauded for their life-giving warmth more than their luxurious amenities. Sentry Lodge, however, sports a ping-pong table, a flat screen TV, leather couches, and a wood-stoked sauna. The only thing better than hanging out in Sentry? Exploring the legendary terrain around it.

2. Meadow Lodge:

Perched high in the Esplanades, the Meadow Lodge is ideal for those skiers looking for steep (and hopefully deep) terrain. North-facing shots hold snow long after storm clouds dissipate, so chances are you’ll be able to find some powder even if there’s an uncharacteristic drought in the forecast.

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Why go to bed early? Well, for sunrises like this one.

Drew Zieff

3. Sunrise Lodge:

Sunrise is the first of the Golden Alpine Holiday’s lodges to snag the morning light—making it perfect for early risers. The early bird, as they say, gets the turn. The two-story lodge also sports a sauna and offers insane access into the Esplanade Range.

4. Vista Lodge:

Big views and big terrain characterize the Vista Hut. With five linked drainages to shred, touring skiers can chart their route through some of British Columbia’s most breathtaking terrain. A must for spring skiers looking to tackle bigger lines and couloirs.

Written by Drew Zieff for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Drew Zieff

Outdoor enthusiasts don’t have to look far to find adventure in Taos Ski Valley. Boasting some of the best rafting, skiing, climbing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and hiking in the world, the area draws visitors from near and far looking for a taste of the great outdoors. Taos Ski Valley is tucked into the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, the southernmost subrange of the Rockies. Most of the peaks exceed 12,000 feet in elevation (including Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico), and the mountains make for a high-elevation outdoor playground that is unique to the Southwest.

Of course, there is more to the region than skiing, hiking, and biking. Off the trails, a Taos-area vacation showcases soul-warming New Mexican cuisine, a rich cultural atmosphere, and friendly accommodations. It’s unlike any place on earth and is a wonderful vacation destination for people who love the outdoors. Here are nine reasons why Taos Ski Valley is a true outdoor mecca.

1. The weather is perfect year round.

At Taos Ski Valley, everyone looks forward to a good snowstorm. When the weather outside is frightful, locals and visitors get ready to take to the mountains on skis, snowboards, or snowshoes. The snow-covered mountains offer a winter wonderland with plenty of opportunity for adventure. Because Taos sees an average of 283 days of sunshine per year, the days are fabulous in every season, even winter.

While Taos is known for its winter sports, it’s also an outdoor mecca during warm months, when people take to the hills to hike and bike, and the rivers draw paddlers and anglers. When autumn arrives, the aspens in the mountains turn brilliant shades of gold, and Taos becomes an ideal location to launch day trips to view fall colors. Rain or shine, warm or cold, there’s always an adventure waiting for you in the Taos Ski Valley.

2. It’s easy to try something new.

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From snowshoeing to climbing to paddleboarding, Taos is a great place to learn new outdoor activities.

New Mexico Tourism Department

If there’s a certain outdoor activity you’ve been dying to try, Taos is a great place for beginners. The area’s landscape and favorable weather offer excellent terrain and conditions to learn kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, paddleboarding, hot air ballooning, and even llama trekking! And, if you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of local guides that can ensure you’ll have a safe and fun experience.

3. Top-notch local gear shops provide everything you need.

Whether you’re trying skiing or snowboarding for the first time or if you’re a seasoned pro, there’s a good chance you’ll need to pick up some gear, clothing, and other supplies before you hit the slopes. Stop by one of Taos area’s local gear shops, which are spread throughout Taos and Taos Ski Valley, and include Le Ski Mastery, BootDoctors, Taos Sports, Alpine Extreme, and Cottam’s. If you’re visiting in the summer, Cottam’s, BootDoctors, and Taos Sports can fix you up with warm-weather gear.

4. The Taos Ski Valley scenery is in a league of its own.

You can expect to be rewarded with gorgeous views in just about any mountain town around the world, but the colorful desert landscape, breathtaking mountains, and sweeping horizons you’ll encounter in Taos Ski Valley set the region apart. A chairlift up to the peak of the ski area is a wonderful way to encounter stunning views quickly, and you’ll want to make sure you have your camera for all of your adventures either in the river, on the mountain, or in town.

Also, make sure that you’re outside during sunrise and sunset. You’ll get to experience the brilliant palette of colors that make up the New Mexico sky, and the mountains will adopt a stunning red hue when the light hits them just right. Once you experience a sight like that, you’ll truly understand why New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment.

5. The trails aren’t crowded, and folks are friendly.

Although the opportunities for fun and adventure are endless in Taos, the mountain never seems to be that crowded — at least not compared to other mountain destinations in the West. Visitors can truly enjoy connecting to nature and wandering the European-style hamlet without feeling rushed by others waiting their turn. Plus, the locals you encounter will be friendly and willing to share tips about their favorite trails, restaurants, and nearby hotspots.

6. It’s impossible to get bored.

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Taos offers a seemingly endless list of things to keep visitors occupied and entertained.

New Mexico Tourism Department

You could spend days in Taos Ski Valley without ever doing the same thing twice. Between the hundreds of hiking and biking trails, the endless snowshoeing or snowmobiling routes, and the vast ski area, there are unlimited opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. Even if you choose to just sit and take in the gorgeous scenery, you’ll still be wowed and entertained.

7. Taos Ski Valley is constantly evolving.

No trip into Taos Ski Valley is ever the same, in part because the area is always evolving. Every season, the area sees new bike trails, new chairlifts, new rental options, and new opportunities for adventure.

8. There’s always a refreshment waiting after your adventure.

After a long day on the slopes or exploring the trails, nothing hits the spot like a hearty meal and a refreshing beverage. Fortunately, Taos Ski Valley’s local bars and eateries are overflowing with great food, drinks, and good vibes. Stop in at The Bavarian for delicious German fare and craft brews in an Alpine-inspired dining room, or at the Stray Dog Cantina for a soul-warming bowl of green chile and a gigantic margarita. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, there are plenty of fine dining options available in nearby Arroyo Seco and the town of Taos, including Common Fire, Sabroso, Salt + Wine, and De La Tierra. Regardless of what you’re craving, you’ll find a place that caters to your tastes.

9. When the day is done, you’ll have a comfortable bed.

Check your worries at the door in one of the Taos Ski Valley’s unique accommodations. Whether you prefer to stay at a cozy mountain cabin or a luxurious alpine resort, you’ll find an enticing combination of plush bedding, crackling fireplaces, hot tubs, and even spa treatments to help you recover from the day and rest up for the next one. You’ll need your energy if you’re going to make the most of your Taos vacation!

If you pause for a moment and try to imagine the ideal destination for outdoor adventure, it probably looks and feels a lot like the Taos Ski Valley. With its exceptional weather, diverse natural areas, high-quality food and entertainment, and friendly vibe, this mountain town makes visitors feel as if they’ve arrived in a sort of real-world Shangri-La. While no place on Earth is perfect, folks who love the outdoors will discover that the Taos Ski Valley comes pretty darn close.

Written by Sarah Strohl for RootsRated in partnership with New Mexico Tourism Department and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by New Mexico Tourism Department

Colorado has 53 mountains over 14,000 feet with an additional five summits that make most peakbaggers’ 14ers rosters (the rule is that mountain tops must have 300 vertical feet of prominence between neighboring summits). While they are all scenic, some are less-than-wonderful to scale: rotten rock, tedious boulder fields, and private land ownership issues make some of the Colorado's highest peaks a chore.

So when it comes to selecting the best 14ers to ascend, the journey is every bit as important as the destination. These ten summits range from simple hill walks to thrillingly exposed class 4 scrambles and they embody some of the most enjoyable, challenging mountain adventures in Colorado.

1. Mount Elbert – ** 14,433 feet – Class 2**

From the summit, Twin Lakes, and Pikes Peak on the horizon.
From the summit, Twin Lakes, and Pikes Peak on the horizon.

Michael W. Murphy

Colorado’s highest summit is a grandfatherly gentle giant, at least by Rocky Mountains standards. Elbert’s large, rounded dome is easily accessed by several trails, all of which begin in vanilla-scented pine forests and emerge from treeline with stunning views of the Sawatch Range. That’s not to say it’s a walk in the park — there’s a matter of 4,400 feet of elevation gain over 4.5 miles to deal with — but the paths are well maintained and easy to follow. Reach the top and you’ll be in the heart of the highest mountain range in the lower 48 US states.

2. Capitol Peak – ** 14,130 feet – Class 4**

The famous knife edge on Capitol Peak.
The famous knife edge on Capitol Peak.

James Dziezynski

Amongst the most challenging 14ers, Capitol is tough for the right reasons — solid rock, heart-in-your-throat exposure and tricky but fair route finding. It’s an 18 mile round trip to complete this epic journey — and that’s part of the joy. A long approach along Capitol Creek passes through gorgeous aspen forests and ends at Capitol Lake, where the real work begins. After navigating a steep pass, honest class 4 rock makes for a spectacular path to the summit, including the notorious knife edge traverse. Savvy climbers know the top is only the half-way point — the way down is just as fun and demanding as the ascent.

3. San Luis Peak –** 14,014 feet – Class 2**

On the approach to San Luis Peak on a cloudless day.
On the approach to San Luis Peak on a cloudless day.

James Dziezynski

San Luis Peak is located in a remote portion of the San Juan Mountains near the town of Gunnison, Colorado — almost smack dab in the middle of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Its isolation is part of its charm. A summer venture to San Luis follows several peaceful creeks and the area is regularly festooned with a vibrant field of wildflowers. Views are expansive throughout the adventure and as the alpine grasses yield to the rocky terrain of the summit block, the trail remains in tact and easy to navigate. The summit views are pristine, rolling and nearly absent of any man-made landmarks.

4. Crestone Needle – ** 14,197 feet – Class 3**

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Scrambling on Crestone Needle.

James Dziezynski

Crestone Needle is a stunning mountain to behold and a vexing peak to navigate. Despite sporting a well-worn trail to its upper reaches, the rocky gullies that offer passage to the summit are easily confused. However, the knobby stones that make up the hide of the peak are impressively solid, and the standard scramble to the top is arguably the best in the state. Vigilant navigation will unlock the secrets of the Needle’s imposing passage — one nearly all climbers brag about after the experience.

5. Longs Peak – ** 14,255 feet – Class 3**

Hiking the narrows on Longs Peak.
Hiking the narrows on Longs Peak.

James Dziezynski

Longs is far and away the most popular difficult 14er — most climbers would put it around the 10th most challenging summit on the list. Yes, there will be crowds and only 50% of those who attempt Longs make its broad, flat summit. But the adventure of this Front Range classic is without peer. After a long 5.5-mile approach, hikers go through the magical Keyhole rock feature and enter a new world of dark rock bands, steep scrambles, narrow ledges and a wild crawl to the final summit. Despite over 14 miles on the round trip standard route, most people will attempt this burly mountain in a single day.

6. Blanca Peak – ** 14,345 feet – Class 2**

Blanca Peak.
Blanca Peak.

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A trip to Blanca Peak is as much about the approach as it is the actual peak. At the foot of this impressive massif are the great dunes of Sand Dunes National Park (a feature easily admired from the summit on a clear day). Hikers must travel through a wonderful shift of eco-systems, starting with desert-like tundra all the way to lush, alpine lakes. A rocky, rugged trail to the top brings hikers to the ultimate view of all the landscapes they have traversed along the way — not to mention contrasting vistas of gentle farmland and the rugged summits of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

7. Windom Peak – ** 14,082 feet – Class 2**

The summit blocks on Windom Peak.
The summit blocks on Windom Peak.

James Dziezynski

Windom is one of a trio of officially ranked 14ers (and one unofficial summit, North Eolus) in Chicago Basin. Its neighboring 14ers — Sunlight Peak and Eolus Peak — are class 4 and 3 ascents respectively, so modest Windom sits alone as the “everyman” mountain in the area. What makes this one a true classic is the access — most often done by the coal-powered train that runs along the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Midway through the adventure, hikers disembark into the mountain-goat friendly San Juan mountains. Windom itself is a steep climb, accented by blocky boulders and easy scrambles. While easier than its counterparts, it may have the best views and the most enjoyable route to the top.

8. Uncompahgre Peak – ** 14,309 feet – Class 2**

Uncompahgre Peak's distinct profile.
Uncompahgre Peak's distinct profile.

James Dziezynski

Uncompahgre’s famous sinking-ship profile is flanked by rolling fields of deep green grass and patches of colorful wild flowers. Because it is located in the San Juan range, it tends to get more rain than northern and central peaks, meaning it is awash in color. Trails to the summit travel along long, expansive meadows and fun, scrambly corridors. Atop the peak, nearby 14er Wetterhorn Peak cuts a crooked profile and southwestern hues of yellow, bronze and orange stripe the landscape in amazing relief.

9. Pyramid Peak – ** 14,018 feet – Class 3/4**

Traversing below the Green Gully on Pyramid Peak.
Traversing below the Green Gully on Pyramid Peak. James Dziezynski

Pyramid Peak may not be as scenic from a distance as its neighbors, the iconic, beautiful Maroon Bells , but up close it’s quite a treat. Whereas the twin summits of North and South Maroon peaks are made up of crumbly, unreliable rock, Pyramid is made of slightly sterner stuff. The upshot is a solid scramble that is less unpredictable and stays along a path that minimizes exposure (though there are a few spots that will get your attention). Handholds and footholds are always available and the summit is often shared with resident mountain goats, who make scaling the cliffs of Pyramid Peak seem way too easy.

10. Huron Peak – ** 14,003 feet – Class 2**

Descending Huron Peak.
Descending Huron Peak.

James Dziezynski

The final 14er in this list is cut from the classic, mountainous contour of the Rockies — a high, triangular peak that juts into the clouds. Huron has one of the best trails to any summit in the state. As it runs through pine forests and into broad, alpine meadows, views of nearby Sawatch Peaks and Hope Pass are pure Colorado. In the autumn, the colors in this area are a photographer’s dream. The last section of the trail to the top has a few easy scrambles that politely lead climbers away from from the drafty edges of the peak. Summit views are of course glorious, especially for those ambitious enough to catch a sunrise or sunset from the apex of Huron Peak.

Written by James Dziezynski for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by James Dziezynski

A healthy body is one of the most valuable assets you can have. With proper exercise and nutrition, you can wake up every day feeling more vibrant than ever before. While maintaining your health can be easy, getting started is much more challenging. If you want to have the body you always dreamed of, make sure you avoid these 5 common excuses.

I Don’t Have Time for Exercise

When you’re looking into a fitness program, you’ll see plenty of people that dedicate hours to the gym every day. But there is a big difference between being a body builder and making a few healthy changes to your lifestyle. Even though it’s hard to balance your family, your career, and your personal time, everyone can find the time to squeeze in a little workout into their day. All it takes is a very small change in your lifestyle such as walking to work or going for a twenty-minute run. While this won’t take much extra time, you’ll surely notice a major difference.

I Don’t Know How to do The Workouts

There is no doubt that some of the exercises take the time to learn the proper form and procedure. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get started today. There are plenty of fitness guides that give you step by step directions on how to properly complete a workout. There are so many resources available, that not knowing where to get started is a poor excuse.

Healthy Food is Too Expensive

Walking through the aisles of Whole Foods can make you feel as if healthy eating is a luxury reserved only for the wealthy. But you don’t have to eat only locally sourced organic foods to make a healthy change in your diet. Getting the nutrients your body needs can actually be much more inexpensive than eating pre-made, processed foods. When you shop carefully, eating well can cost the same as buying junk food, and you’ll save plenty of money on healthcare in the future.

I Don’t Have the Right Body Type

Sure, not everyone can look like a supermodel. But that doesn’t mean that health is out of your reach. No matter what type of body you have, you can always strive to be healthier. There are hundreds of examples of people who have gone from severely overweight to slim and happy in as little as a few years. The most important thing is to take that first step, and you’ll find that everything else comes naturally.

Results Take Too Long

The important thing here is to decide what you consider results. When many people first start working out, they don’t see themselves losing weight right away. But muscle weighs more than fat. Although the numbers on their scales stay the same, they’re actually losing a lot of fat while getting stronger and healthier. When you first start to make healthy choices, you can start feeling better within a week. Start with small goals. Try your new lifestyle for a day. Then two days. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier.

Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Djim Loic

A long distance hiking path is typically defined as anything that takes longer than one or two days to complete. Well, what if we took that idea one (to five million) steps further and proposed a list of 10 of the world’s most epic long distance backpacking trips longer than 500-miles? Sure, we’d leave off quite a few amazing hikes across the globe, but we’d be left with a list of some of the most insanely beautiful, geographically intoxicating, culturally stimulating, and physically demanding treks this planet has to offer.

Note: We’re not responsible for any ensuing desire for adventure or debilitating sense of wanderlust.

1. Appalachian Trail

First, one that you’ve all probably heard of: the Appalachian Trail. The AT is a classic American walk in the woods, stretching 2,185 miles from lowly old Springer Mountain in Georgia to the grandiose summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Along the way, hikers pass through 14 states, 8 National Forests, 2 National Parks, and countless rural resupply points. This ancient mountain range, once the size of the Himalayas, has since been weathered and whittled down over time. But hiking the entire route is still equivalent to summiting Everest 16 times; so don’t underestimate this sleeping giant.

2. Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,663 miles of diverse and epic hiking, which begins in the desert and follows the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges through California, Oregon, and Washington. It passes through some of this country’s most spectacular parks and wilderness areas, including Yosemite, John Muir, Crater Lake, and Goat Rocks. The trail itself is graded for horses, meaning that hikers can typically bag high mileage days. But lack of water and infrequent resupply points pose their own set of inherent challenges.

3. Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail is a transcontinental route, which stretches 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the craggy spine of the Rocky Mountains. While technically considered only about 70% complete, there are still a handful of hearty adventurers who set out each year to conquer what many consider to be the toughest leg of the US Hiking Triple Crown (the other two legs being the AT and the PCT). The CDT is a rugged trek with high elevations, exposure to the elements, and wildlife hazards, yet the wild western landscapes are truly jaw dropping.

4. Greater Patagonian Trail

This trail is so underdeveloped, isolated, rigorous, and remote that only a few hikers have ever attempted it, never mind completed it. Requiring just as much orienteering, map reading, and logistical planning as actual physical endurance and hiking, this roughly 800 mile route, comprised of horse trails, local paths, country roads, and even pack-raft river sections, traverses the Patagonian Andes along the border of Chile and Argentina. It is an unofficial route in its early infancy, but the pristine natural beauty of this region will surely attract intrepid backpackers in the years to come.

5. Grand Italian Trail

For a whopping 3,832 miles, the Sentiero Italia (or Grand Italian Trail) extends from the Northeastern port town of Trieste, into the Alps, and all the way down the Apennine spine of the Italian peninsula, before island hopping to Sicily and then Sardinia. The subalpine scenery along much of this route is simply spectacular, featuring jagged peaks, glacial tarns, and gouged out valleys. Add to that the bonus of quaint hamlets and ancient Roman history, and you’ve got yourself a bella formula. Oh, and of course, carbo-loading will never be a problem.

6. Wales Coast Path

Officially established in 2012 as the world’s only footpath to cover an entire country’s coastline, the Wales Coast Path is an 870-mile trek that combines some of the UK’s most romantic aspects. As it snakes its way up the shore, along coastal cliffs and verdant hillsides, past medieval castles, and through sleepy seaside towns, hikers get to experience the magic of this area in a truly intimate way. Just imagine wrapping up a rain-soaked 20-mile day with a bowl of warm lamb stew and a porter at a small local pub.

7. Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail

One of the only officially documented sections of the proposed Great Himalaya Trail, the GHT High Route in Nepal is a roughly 1050 mile trek scaling the world’s highest peaks from the eastern edge of the country to the western border with Tibet. Hiking this trail is a demanding adventure requiring mountaineering experience and roughly five months of time, but the rewards of passing through rarely visited villages, reaching some of the planet’s highest altitudes, and sleeping under unfathomably starry skies makes it an unforgettable experience.

8. Great Wall of China

Didn’t expect this one, did you? Sure, the Great Wall of China has sections that are jam-packed with khaki-clad tourists, but this celebrated structure also has some very remote sections with rarely seen beauty, including deserts, mountains, bamboo forests, and more. Government restrictions, time requirements, extreme weather conditions, and the sheer enormity of this 5,500-mile trek across China makes a thru-hike an extremely obstacle-laden adventure, but if the Mongols and other nomadic tribes could overcome their barrier to entry, so can you.

9. Tokai Nature Trail

Japan is increasingly becoming a world-class place to recreate. With its mountainous terrain, powder-packed ski destinations, and unprecedented biodiversity, it’s only natural that there should be a long distance trail. And the Tokai Nature Trail fits the bill. Running 1,054 miles from Tokyo to Osaka, this generally level and easy footpath takes hikers past iconic Mt. Fuji, through Imperial gardens with cherry blossoms and Japanese maples, and along fertile hillsides, lush wetlands, and hollowed out river canyons.

10. Te Araroa

Ah, the Te Araroa Trail (Maori for the Long Pathway). Obviously, any long distance footpath that’s located in New Zealand is always going to make the list — especially one that so fully encompasses the diverse natural beauty of both islands. Beginning at Cape Reinga in the north and winding 1,864 miles to Stirling Point in the south, this trail almost has too much to savor. Beaches lined with seals and penguins, impossibly lush rainforests, frequently active volcanoes, precipitous mountains, and electric blue glacial lakes. To coin a local Kiwi phrase, this trail is truly “Sweet As!”

Written by Ry Glover for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by David Evans

Columbine, by D•CURVE Optics

We’re fortunate to live in a small mountain town that boasts awesome hiking trails out our back door, and a 7-mile paved trail along the river that’s perfect for a mellow bike ride. So it’s not unusual for my husband and me to spend time in both places — on the same day.

I’m somewhat of a minimalist, so I look for outdoor gear that can take me seamlessly from one activity to the next. The good (and bad) news is that there’s a lot to choose from these days. To make it easier, I’ve come up with 3 cross-over essentials, whether I’m in my hiking boots or on my bicycle. Here they are:

1. Healthy snacks

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Healthy snacks aren’t gear.” But if you’re prone to low-blood sugar like I am, you don’t underestimate the importance of having some noshing goodies on hand. There are a lot of energy food and drinks branded separately for cyclists and for hikers. But I’ve found that my essential healthy snacks for both activities can be broken down into to what I like to eat, what’s easy to carry in my pack (see #2), and what won’t melt in the hot sun. My current go-to snacks include raw almonds, dried apricots, and BoBo’s oat bars.

2. Hydration pack

In addition to being preoccupied by food, I am a water-drinking junkie. So it’s super important to make sure I have enough of the precious liquid close at hand during all my outdoor activities. Although my bicycle is equipped with a couple of water bottle cages, I prefer using a small backpack with a bladder. It’s much easier to drink from, plus it gives me a place to store the ever-important snacks (see #1). As for the cross-over piece, a good hydration pack will work just as well for a short day hike. I really love my small hydration pack from Osprey.

3. Sunglasses

No matter the activity, you can’t beat a good pair of shades. It can be hard to choose the right ones because there are so many options, but I have a checklist here, too. First, I prefer polarized sunglasses because of the reduced glare and enhanced visibility they provide. Next, I look for a style that will sit comfortably below my brimmed bicycle helmet and the various ball caps I wear hiking. And finally, I like a pair that is stylish enough to wear post-hiking or biking. My current faves are the Columbine from D·CURVE Optics because they fit all three criteria.

What outdoor activities do you participate in and what’s your favorite cross-over gear? We’d love to know. Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Desert Runners Movie

In the dead of winter, the desire to get outside can be tempered by sub-zero temperatures and the lure of a cozy couch. But there’s no better cure for stoking your adrenaline and getting after it—no matter how chilly it is—than being inspired by others doing just that. To that end, here are our picks for 10 gripping, critically acclaimed outdoor documentaries that each tell a remarkable story about the outdoors and the adventurers, athletes, and environmental icons who run, climb, race, and row their way to glory (most can be streamed on Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu). Grab the popcorn and get ready to get inspired (and then outside).

1. Desert Runners

Desert Runners, which was released in 2013, follows a group of amateur runners as they attempt to complete the 4 Deserts race series, one of the most difficult endurance series in the world, in one year. The races take place over the course of 155 grueling miles in the Gobi, Sahara, and Atacama deserts, with the final race in Antarctica. Runners compete over the course of several consecutive days, sleeping at designated camps and slogging on the next day. You’ll have a newfound appreciation for gear like gaiters that keep sand out of shoes and feel intensely connected to the featured runners.

2. Unbranded

Wild mustangs have become a political and social symbol of land management in the American West. To call attention to their treatment and management, as well as the future of the public lands where they roam, four college buddies adopted and trained 16 wild mustangs from a BLM adoption program, before packing them across 3,000 miles of public land from Mexico to Canada. Their ambitious quest is documented in this compelling 2015 film which is beautifully filmed across stunning landscapes and highlights the important narrative of how government is working to manage wild horse populations, shrinking public lands, and seasonal livestock grazing.

3. 180 Degrees South

Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard has been a prominent figure in the outdoor industry since the company’s inception and is seeing renewed relevance with his public disapproval of today’s political climate. Which makes it an excellent time to revisit this 2010 film, which follows adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the 1968 journey to Patagonia of Chouinard and conservationist and outdoorsman Doug Tompkins. Chouinard’s tale is told through scenes of his initial inspiration, and the environmental story is more relevant than ever. More than the history of a company and entrepreneur, the film weaves modern-day adventure with Chouinard’s rise to become a prolific and important environmental advocate.

4. Maidentrip

By the time she was 16, Dutch high school student Laura Dekker had become the youngest person to sail around the world alone, completing the journey over the course of 17 months. The feat is mindboggling, but the real joy is watching Dekker’s transformation—a time-lapse coming-of-age on a 38-foot boat. The 2013 film also covers the drama unfolding in her native Netherlands as the media labeled her delusional, and the government took partial custody in an attempt to prevent the trip.

5. Valley Uprising

Valley Uprising, which was released in 2014, spans the 60-year history of climbing in Yosemite. Anyone familiar with the history of climbing will love seeing icons like Royal Robbins, Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold, Dean Potter, and the other colorful characters who pioneered the scaling of Yosemite’s big walls, and then took it to the next level. The film focuses on the three generations of counter-culture outdoorsmen who set up camp in the Valley and, much to the dismay of law enforcement, transformed the big wall landscape into what it is today.

6. Meru

World-famous photographer Jimmy Chin’s compelling film, which won the coveted U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of climbers Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk, and Chin as the trio attempts the first ascent of Meru’s notorious “Shark’s Fin.” After a failed attempt in 2008, the three men are determined to return and conquer this peak, and the film delves into the near obsession the world’s most elite mountaineers face as they tackle these death-defying expeditions.

7. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats its Young

Starting out as a backwoods run loosely based on the 1977 escape of James Earl Ray from a state penitentiary, this now-famous race fills its 40 slots within a day of registration opening. Boasting only 20 finishers in the first 25 years, the race consists of five loops totaling (supposedly) 100 miles through the woods of Pennsylvania. The course is so challenging that racers are given a 60-hour deadline, and each loop has more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain. The documentary, which came out in 2015, is a hysterical peek into the grueling absurdity of the race and the dedication of the joyfully suffering runners.

8. Finding Traction

Released in 2014, Finding Traction follows this ultrarunner as she sets out to break the speed record on Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. The effort is grueling to watch as the cameras capture the highs and lows of this extreme endurance undertaking. The Long Trail is brutal at any pace, with exposed peaks, roots and boulders strewn across the trail, and sections so steep they require ladders. Kimball is an inspiration, as are her efforts to help women assume their equal place in professional sports across the board.

9. Under an Arctic Sky

Think surfing was limited to coasts lined with palm trees and warm sandy beaches? This 2017 film follows six intrepid (insane?) surfers as they travel to the northern coast of Iceland in the middle of winter in search of perfect waves. This region sees only three hours of daylight during the winter months, which would make for enough of a story, until the worst storm in 25 years hits and turns their excursion life-threatening.

10. Made to Be Broken

In 2016, Karl Meltzer broke the supported Appalachian Trail speed record after making it from Maine to Georgia on foot in under 46 days. This 2017 documentary follows Meltzer on his 2,189-mile journey, and he’s a real kick to watch. A superb athlete who doesn’t take himself too seriously, Meltzer is entertaining and self-deprecating—and falls down a lot. Red Bull, which produced this film, did a phenomenal job telling the story of this personable, quirky, and altogether astounding athlete from start to finish.

Written by RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Desert Runners Movie