Ear to the Ground Aug / Sept 2016

Outdoor News and Notes for the California Region


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Red Bull Heavy Water Kicks Off in San Francisco

The Red Bull Heavy Water stand up paddleboard race is scheduled to take place in San Francisco in September. The exact date is TBD and depends on conditions. Requiring the perfect mix of paddling skills, ocean knowledge, supreme fitness and the courage to take on one of the most intimidating stretches of coastline in the world, the Red Bull Heavy Water will test the best stand up paddleboarders in what promises to be a dramatic challenge.

An intense 12km course will see athletes leave from San Francisco’s notorious Ocean Beach to battle their way in and out of the surf towards the Golden Gate Bridge for possibly the most challenging race the sport has ever seen.

Once the laps through the surf have been completed the athletes will be in the open ocean, out among the shipping lanes for cargo ships before heading into the safety of San Francisco Bay. On reaching the Golden Gate Bridge, they will finally be on the home stretch for a sprint into the protected beaches of the City and a triumphant finish at the St. Francis Yacht Club.

The event is put on by the Waterman League, an organization dedicated to representing the global world of ocean sports as a unified collective while building bridges between ocean culture and a mainstream audience. Through inspirational and responsible messaging, the Waterman League seeks to provide a positive example for future generations by promoting the protection and preservation of our precious home – the ocean itself.

Learn more at watermanleague.com.


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Bay Area Slackliner Takes Sport to New Level

Alex Mason, Bay Area native and professional slackliner, recently took slacklining to a unique new level, ascending an 8-line ladder over water and rocks on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The 2013 Slackline World Champion pushed his limits throwing tricks high above the jungle floor. Mason explains, “Slackladder was an idea that came about from connecting point A to point B – literally. We wanted to take an environment like a set of natural waterfalls in Hawaii and walk up the natural landscape via a slackline ladder.”  He continues, “With a course of slack lines that required walking, leaping, climbing, and even a pulley system that lifted me into a space net 65-foot high, the course provided a unique series of obstacles for me to surpass. There were rocks and really high waterfalls, and I was excited to push the sport forward and provide the best tricks I could.”

Mason’s ascent was chronicled in the Red Bull video Slackladder which can be viewed at redbull.com/slackladder.


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Royal Robbins Launches Clothing Recycling Initiative

Returning to the company’s roots built upon environmental reverence and safekeeping, Royal Robbins takes a stance against sending clothing to landfills. With fast fashion taking a heavy toll on the planet, Royal Robbins’ new Royal’s Rewear Program encourages consumers to buy high quality, durable clothing made to last while recycling old product.

Founders and clean climbing pioneers Liz and Royal Robbins built the company in 1968 upon the ethos of environmental safekeeping, which remains a pillar of the brand today. Recently, Royal Robbins became a bluesign partner, adopting manufacturing practices that promote environmental sustainability.

Royal Robbins CEO Michael Millenacker stated, “Environmental safekeeping is the core foundation of our brand’s heritage,” said Millenacker. “We are devoted to continuing and expanding on Royal and Liz’s original vision. Royal’s Rewear Program is a tribute to our heritage with a simple ethos: Recycle more and buy clothing that is built to last.”

This recycling initiative allows customers and employees to do their part and reduce the volume of waste being sent to landfills every year by sending items back or dropping them in collection bins at Royal Robbins stores. All apparel brands will be eligible for recycling through the Rewear Program. Any rewearable quality Royal Robbins apparel sent back will be re-sold at Royal Robbins retail stores in the new Royal’s Rewear department, and all other apparel received will be reused and recycled by partner, I:CO. These items will find a new home or be reused as products such as cleaning rags, recycled into fibers for insulation and paddings or upcycled into new products. Program proceeds benefit the Yosemite Conservancy, which funds projects and programs essential to Yosemite’s future.


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Lake Tahoe Water Trail: Playing it Safe on Lake Tahoe

With cold water shock deaths and rescues on the rise, the Lake Tahoe Water Trail would like to remind everyone of some basic water safety and resource conservation tips for paddling in mountain conditions. Tahoe water temperature is always frigid, even on the hottest days of summer, and mountain weather can change in a second. Plan ahead and check weather, wind, and marine forecasts. Always wear your life jacket–it’ll keep you warm and insulated. Also, keep your head above water and carry a whistle and flashlight to make you visible to motorized boaters. And please wear a SUP leash to keep you tethered to your board. Make sure your gear is Clean, Drained and Dry to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and practice “Leave No Trace” ethics.

Visit the Water Trail Safety page at laketahoewatertrail.org and buy the Water Trail map at a Tahoe paddle shop. The collectible waterproof map covers the entire shoreline and includes underwater and land topography, latitude/longitude coordinates, GPS waypoints, and a detailed listing of shoreline services and points of interest at paddle shops.

The Lake Tahoe Water Trail is a 72-mile water route along the shoreline segmented into seven Day Trips, including more than 50 public launch and landing sites, paddle route itineraries, and navigation tools to help paddlers have a safe and fun adventure.

Learn more at laketahoewatertrail.org.


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Volunteers Needed to Help Build New Trails in Lost Sierra

The Yuba River Ranger District of the US Forest Service (USFS), in partnership with  Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS), is in the process of constructing a 1.8-mile multi-use motorized singletrack trail just above Downieville to connect the ridge above Deer Lake to the beginning of the Gold Valley OHV Trail (top of Baby Heads).

This singletrack addition will replace the fire road ride to Pauley Creek. The Gold Valley Connector Trail, in conjunction with a 3-mile segment of former Pacific Crest Trail (a section of PCT will be abandoned and converted to a multi-use trail), will create a new singletrack connection from Packer Saddle to Pauley Creek and Big Boulder trails.

Trail building efforts kicked off in late July as part of SBTS’s 2016 Downieville Mountain Epic weekend.

Learn more at sierratrails.org.


Bicycle Travel through Wilderness Introduced in Utah – Is California Next?

On July 13, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act, a bill that would allow more Americans to mountain bike in wilderness areas.

“Our National Wilderness Preservation System was created so that the American people could enjoy the solitude and recreational opportunities of this continent’s priceless natural areas,” Lee said. “This bill would enrich Americans enjoyment of the outdoors by making it easier for them to mountain bike in wilderness areas.”

“Utah is blessed with an abundance of beautiful wilderness, and Americans should be free to enjoy it,” Hatch said. “This bill presents a reasonable approach to allowing the use of mountain bikes on trails and grant federal land managers the ability to do necessary maintenance.”

Specifically, the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act would:

(1) Allow local land managers to decide whether to allow and how to manage mountain biking in wilderness areas.

(2) Allow federal employees or designees to use non-invasive, minimal technology to maintain wilderness.

Read the full press release including bill here.

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