For your trail or Paleo diet, we got yummy

2At the Summer Outdoor Retailer, we met fine folks from The New Primal, a small South Carolina company. They make wicked good jerky. And I say that as someone who needs a strong and well-reasoned temptation to veer from my usual vegetarian ways.

The New Primal jerked my chain. Call me the New Convert.

Aside from its savory taste and superior ingredients (Nothing murky: no chemicals or preservatives. Grass-fed beef.), the growing company gives us a wonderful variety of easily-packable protein options. I totally fell for their Trail Pack containing a delicious blend of beef jerky, cashews, almonds, and dried mango. Yum.

We sent New Primal packs out to a few UtahOutsiders. Here’s what they had to say:

UO kayaker:

Trail Pack from New Primal

Trail Pack from New Primal

I’ve been eating beef jerky for as long as I can remember. As a kid, jerky was one of the most important staples on long road trips out west. I remember really starting to dig it as a young boy spending summers out on a Montana ranch where my mom worked.. It made me feel manly and rugged. No matter what it tasted like, I just wanted to look and feel like a grizzled cowboy.

However, I’ve developed a more graduated palate. And the sustainable mission of The New Primal along with delicious guilt-free taste is a perfect blend of goodness for the soul.

1UO backpacker:

I took the Free Range Turkey Jerky on a weekend camping trip. I had it by itself, with cheese and crackers, and even threw some in a rice and bean dish for dinner. What stands out is its flavor: subtle, sweet, mesquite. It is not overwhelming, nor does it taste like a bunch of chemicals or other imitation flavors. The real deal!

I’m not a jerky connoisseur, but it’s the best I’ve had.

When Ordinary is Extraordinary

deerEver have a day that stands out from all the rest? Not for anything you did, but because of serendipity and perhaps a peak in your awareness? That day can have you scratching your head and wondering about the world. Being aware, in turn, makes you more aware.

If you in the Big City, it might go something like this:

  • You stumble upon an odd, aggressive dispute between a street vendor and his customer. You watch and walk. Within a minute, they’ve gone from fisticuffs to sorting it out, fist-bumping and nodding.
  • You watch an elderly couple, with matching outfits, holding hands as they shuffle down the street.
  • You continue on your way and spot a dollar bill floating towards you in the air, like a leaf from a tree.

coyThe Big Outdoors gives us days like that, too:

  • Midway through a three-mile hike, we met a coyote, not 80 feet away. It barked and the dogs sprinted after it. They topped the ridge and kept going, with me sprinting and yelling after them (Coyotes are known to lure and prey on domestic dogs.) Two minutes later, the dogs return, tails wagging.
  • Later, I head out again for a ride with the mule. Placing the saddle pad on her back, I notice an odd divot. Oh, but it’s not a divot. It’s a channel of missing wool, gone like a scoop of ice cream. Bad, bad mice. How dare they prepare for winter at my expense? (My gear now must be moved from the shed to the house.)
  • Jolene and I enjoy this fading day of autumn. We’re working hard and have climbed a thousand feet hawkelevation via rough ridges and gullies. A red-tailed hawk circles repeatedly overhead, turning and tilting its head to best scrutinize us. At one point, it poops in our general direction.
  • We spot a mule deer ahead of us. She watches. I expect her to peel off as deer usually do, putting quick distance between us. Instead, she steps deliberately into the cover of a juniper tree, not taking more than 10 steps, and continues to watch as we pass.

The encounters bundled together for a day rich with action and reaction.

joleneThe Big City offer a buzz of humanity; the Big Outdoors offers the buzz of wilderness and wildlife. What’s your pick?

With UtahOutsider Interviews, we’re asking folks a related question:

Do you feel that you’re a part of the outdoors or that you’re simply a user of it? Read their answers.

For sure, many feel part of it. But is the feeling mutual?

Do wildlife ever consider us part of their deal? Are we just interlopers and trespassers?

Is that a Leek in your pocket?

leek3-237x300Three safety items you’ve got to have if you’re working with horses, out on the trail, or both:

Knife. Phone. Belt. (The belt is to leash a loose dog or horse. Or apply a tourniquet, etc.)

This summer at the Outdoor Retailer, we met several knife company representatives and brought them one tiny complaint:

Can’t your knives be a tad more feminine?

I do not want a bulky multi-tool on my hip. I have simple needs and don’t feel it’s over-asking for something more svelte. Us ladies have no problem “manning up” but we still like to look good.

The folks at the Kershaw booth were the ONLY responsive ones. And they had plenty of ammo in their answers.

For the past few months, I’ve used the Kershaw Leek pocketknife. Kershaw makes the only American-made, testosterone-free line of knives with its Leek, Chive, and Scallion blades. We’re giving away a Chive and a Scallion!   Become a Remuda Reader to enter.

leek2The Leek, with a three-inch, half-serrated blade, is my favorite.

Here are the pros:

  • It clips unobtrusively to your belt or in your back pocket.
  • It’s easy to grab and flip open one-handed with either hand. (It has a patented, assisted-opening “flipper.” Pretty nifty.)
  • leekIt feels smooth, strong, light, and svelte – qualities not easily combined.
  • It locks open 100 percent of the time, without fail. Unlocking it is a simple, one-handed deal.
  • Unlike many knives of its size, it has a simple slider lock to keep it locked closed, an especially important feature if you’re carrying it on your belt.

Here are the cons:

  • It’s solid stainless steel, otherwise I’d call it solid gold.
  • It’s so skinny and svelte you might forget you have it and then have to surrender it at airport security.

If you’re looking for something even less obtrusive, the Chive blade is under two inches long and it weighs less than two ounces. Super cute while still strong and capable. We’re giving away a Chive and a Scallion! Become a UtahOutsider Insider.


Gear for Good is Pleasant Burden

cotoPiggybacking philanthropy on what you buy is a popular trend. Theoretically, that’s what you do when buying something with a ribbon on it. From breast cancer (pink) to veterans (black), there are more than 50 colors and ribbons for awareness and support.

It’s a feel-good gesture, but can we really quantify our efforts?

And what if we don’t like pink?

A new Utah company is putting some serious zest and accountability into the giving concept. Cotopaxi, named after Ecuador’s second-highest mountain (and an active volcano, to boot), sells directly to customers. Every purchase has a specific humanitarian cause.

Buy a Cusco pack and you’ll send funds to help educate street children in Peru.

Buy a Nepal pack and you’ll help children there with medical and educational needs.

Cotopaxi makes that feel-good gesture wonderfully quantifiable with direct links from each item to the program it supports.

I checked out the Nepal 65 liter pack on a few overnights in the Oquirrh mountains. I was prepared to be charitable, so to speak, and make IMG_3225some compromises in fit and performance for the sake of the more high-minded element of Cotopaxi’s Gear for Good.

I was wrong.

A good pack needs to have enough features and options to accommodate different wearers, their build, and their backpacking habits. But those bells and whistles need to be useful and reliable, not clumsy and thoughtless.

The Nepal has smart, functional features.

For starters:

  • A long zipper gives you access to everything that’s in the main compartment. No tossing all your food and clothing to get the flashlight that’s worked its way to the bottom.
  • Small, zippered pockets on the hip harness and shoulder strap let you keep trail stuff (camera, phone, Kleenex, snacks, dog treats) at the ready.
  • Hip and shoulder straps let you shift the load and adjust for comfort mid-stride. Your settings stay put and don’t loosen unless you ask them to.
  • Nepal pack comes with its own summit pack

    Nepal pack comes with its own summit pack

    There’s a nifty, ultralight day pack included. Once you get to your campsite, toss in a water bottle, book, and snacks to use it for a shorter excursion.

  • Getting rained on? No worries, the Nepal has its own rain cover.

What impressed me the most?

With all its options and features, the Nepal is the quietest pack I’ve ever worn. No jingling or jangling will unsettle your meditative hike. No swishing or brushing will warn wildlife of your pending arrival. If it weren’t for the extra forty pounds on my back, I would have barely noticed it. And, for someone like me with back pain issues, that felt pretty darn good.


Welcome traildog Peeko!

IMG_3082We welcome sweet Peeko to the UtahOutsider family. She may not be great at writing or marketing, but she’s certainly livening up the place.

Peeko came from the wonderful folks at Ruff Patch Rescue, a foster-home centered rescue organization in Riverton, Utah. Led by Stacy Ward, a veterinary technician at Stone Ridge Veterinary Clinic, the non-profit has a team of fosterers who care for incoming dogs and begin basic training.

Ruff Patch rescued Peeko from a rural shelter in Roosevelt, Utah where she was turned in as a young stray of about six months. Because of what initially was considered an injury, the slight, white pup would likely have been euthanized had it not been for the efforts of Ruff Patch.

FRONT EXTREMITY - LATERAL RIGHT copyPeeko, a small cattle dog/border collie mutt, has a birth defect in one of her front legs. It bows in, making her little paw toe out a bit like a flipper. According to an orthopedic specialist, the abnormality makes one leg shorter than the other but shouldn’t slow her down or cause her pain.

Already Peeko is giving our Ride Along Dog, Kip, a run for her money. She’s fast, super smart, and friendly. She has a natural sense to steer clear of the horses but keep close enough to be part of the party.

Thanks Ruff Patch for rescuing and finding forever homes for hundreds of dogs every year. You make it easy for folks like us to (as your motto says):

Save A Life and Enrich Your Own!”

ruff patch

Water, water, nowhere

Liberty bottles can be easily and reliably tied to saddle strings.

Liberty bottles can be easily and reliably tied to saddle strings.

As summer winds down, I’m giving thanks to a spectacular season; one that gave me a crash course in riding and hiking essentials here in Utah. Watch video.

Sure, there’s the need for carrying a cell phone, a good knife, and for wearing sunscreen. But the biggest essential?

Water, of course.

After too many needless episodes of screaming headaches and swollen feet, I’ve learned to drink before I’m too thirsty. I’m a happy hydration queen. Read this excellent article on the importance of water.

In the Oquirrhs, there are virtually no water sources during the hot months. Even with a filtration device, we’re out of luck. My saddle bag or backpack was typically stuffed with at least a half gallon of fluids.

Liberty Bottles, recycled aluminum bottles made right in Washington State, served me well. I can jam two or three in a saddle bag and unlike with other bottles I won’t be worrying about leaks. If the horses kick them or step on them? No big deal as they are more durable than alternatives. The nifty top means I can tie them to the saddle, too, by simply looping it through a leather string.

The dogs took to their Olly Dog Lapper immediately.

The dogs took to their Olly Dog Lapper immediately.

Call me finicky, but the lips-to-drink connection is important. Since Liberty Bottles are metal, have no threads, and have a wider-than-pop-bottle opening, they’re wicked nice to use. It’s almost like drinking from a glass at home.

The dogs were treated to fluids in an Olly Dog Lapper, a folding travel bowl that packs easily and takes up very little space. Much more convenient (and stylish!) than alternatives. It can hold more than a liter of water and has enough surface space (lapping room) for two thirsty dogs to drink at the same time. Like me, Belle can be awfully picky about her water delivery system. But she took to her new Olly Dog with no reservations.

Olly Dog’s rectangular shape means you can easily pour the unfinished dogs’ water back into their bottle. Give them another mile, they’ll be craving more.

Read more about hydration scares and tips.

Liberty Bottles

Olly Dog.

The Lapper shape allows you to easily pour water back into bottle

The Lapper shape allows you to easily pour water back into bottle

Return to Camping, Part One


Canoeing and fishing in northern Maine

Called by Utah’s great outdoors, inspired by family, and prodded by the notion that Life is Short, I rededicated myself to camping this summer.

The return comes with a thankful nod to generations fore and aft:

  • To my folks for a childhood steeped in exploring, fishing, getting dirty, and informally acquiring skills of observation and resourcefulness.
  • To my sons, who absorbed a keenness for the outdoors and honed their skills. The three of them led or helped lead wilderness trips this summer.
Camping gets passed to the next generation

Camping gets passed to the next generation

Because of work and horse obligations, simply disappearing into the backcountry for a few weeks wasn’t doable. Nor was anything technical; I have no enviable gear. Still, with limited time and mediocre equipment, I cobbled together several weeks of overnight camping in the immediate Oquirrh mountains.

I set up a heavy, old LL Bean tent amidst junipers and sage on nearby Bureau of Land Management area and returned to it every night. Call it a rougher version of Back Yard camping.

On the flattest, least rocky site I could find, I rolled out my sleeping pad and bag and got the dogs squared away. Under the stars, we listened to night hawks, owls, and coyotes.

After some initial restless nights, we relaxed. We got used to the sounds and hard ground. Sleep came in solid chunks. By the time we reached home after the early morning mile back to the house, I felt better than if I’d spent those nights indoors.

Read Camping Part Two

IMG_1405I was shedding the fuss, habits, and preoccupations of domestic life:

Instead of hearing the fridge cycling on, I was listening to the wind pick up. Instead of alarm-clock glancing, I was checking the east-facing ridge. Instead of logging emails, I was sitting on a log, sipping my tea, contemplating nothing much.

Getting away made me realize how incredibly automated I’d become. How long would it take to shake off those patterns more fully? Despite my experience, I was a relative wilderness newbie, handicapped by decades of routines.

The locals let me know about my newcomer status, too. That sentiment resonated during one particular night.

About 2 am, several coyotes starting yipping nearby. It was dark, of course, but a good guess would put them less than 100 feet away. As the dogs and I sat erect in the tent, the group (two, three, four?) was positioned at 9 o’clock. Along with their maniacal yips came another sound: a low, suppressed growl. Your dog makes this sound when you scold him for barking, but he does anyway.

IMG_1412They continued for 15 minutes before tapering off. We tried to go back asleep.

Less than an hour later, they resumed. They were equally close but at now 3 o’clock. For another long, intense session, they yipped and growled. Since coyotes are known to prey on dogs, I urged mine to shut up (they were barking intermittently and shaking non-stop). I yelled into the dark with my best bully voice and flashed my light.

Some short time later, we were hesitantly lying back down when the crazy chorus resumed. They were back at their original position and now barked with pre-dawn vigor. More shouts from me – as aggressive as they were arbitrary (since I haven’t a clue whether this is an effective strategy).

They trailed off again. We fell back asleep nervously, not knowing a thing about their interest or whereabouts.

As the sun came up, we scooted back home, shaken and thoroughly aware that our camping presence had been duly noted and judged by the canyon’s many residents.

Read Camping Part Two


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