This is my instruction manual with links & stuff
Did you read my disclaimer? If not, here it is again:
The things I do can be dangerous if you are not prepared. By writing about them, I am not insinuating that these activities are safe for you. I am not responsible if you try to copy me and get yourself hurt. Despite the fact that my writing highlights the fact that I’m a little neurotic, clumsy and easily overwhelmed, rest assured that I do in fact know what I’m getting myself into when I go on these adventures. Whether it’s through training programs, learning from someone I trust, or exhaustive research, I am well aware of the dangers that could arise and how to handle myself in most situations. You should be like me. Find training. Find a knowledgable person to go with you. Research. Prepare. See my DIY section for more info. Be safe out there, kids – or at least don’t blame me when shit goes wrong. This is a silly blog, not an adventure guidebook.
How to be an outdoorsy person with a rockstar alter ego
If you’re serious about this (and I think you are), there are 2 things you must accomplish before reading ahead.
Step 1: Don’t be an idiot.
Remember that the desert is an intense place and if you screw something up, you’ll probably die. I think this guy puts it best:
Being out in the desert is a dangerous place their are lizards in death valley that can kill you while there are things in the Mojave that can eat you. These are just hardcore facts and each time we leave a place we are fortunate to come out of them with good health.
– Find the rest of the trip report here. It’s worth a read if you want to brutally make fun of somebody.
Soon you will get to read my official biologist rules about how to be cool around tortoises & other stuff.
Step 2: Acquire a rockstar alter ego.
It’s also important to not wear all khaki. REI sells sunscreen shirts in colors, now, guys! No reason to be drab. My friend and co-worker Olivia put it best when I took her on a training hike after she came to work with us. She told me I “do a good job of not looking like a dad.”
How to be a hiker with a rockstar attitude
Bird & Hike – Information on Southern Nevada hiking, birding, wildlife areas and backroads.
Hiking Las Vegas Meetup Group – Local hiking god Branch Whitney’s Meetup group. These guys do great hikes, including the unique and fabulous 52 peak club. However, they do require you to be a good physical condition to go on their hikes for the safety of yourself and other members.
Hiking Las Vegas – Branch Whitney’s website on extensive & unique hikes in the Las Vegas Area for people who like to pay $50/year. I cannot vouch for whether or not this is worthwhile.
Hiking Las Vegas, the book – However, his book is pretty rad, and well worth the price if you are into scrambling & peak bagging.
Meetup.com – This was my first stop when I moved to Las Vegas and wanted to get outside in my new city. Tons of hiking meetups, as well as basically every other sport you can imagine.
Hike Arizona – Info & trip descriptions of hikes & canyoneering routes, most extensively in Arizona but there is information for pretty much every area in the U.S.
LocalHikes.com – User-submitted hiking info for major metropolitan areas
Afoot & Afield, Las Vegas & Southern Nevada – A guidebook by Brian Beffort that actually covers MORE than Red Rock, Mt Charleston & Lake Mead. What an idea! Includes off-trail hikes & explorations.
How to be a canyoneer with a rockstar complex
Ropewiki – The go-to source for canyoneering beta.
Canyoneering USA – Tom’s Utah Canyoneering Guide; canyon beta and canyoneering info
Climb USA – Canyon beta & canyoneering info
Candition – Current canyon conditions
Meetup.com – Yup, again with the meetup groups. They are great for finding a group of people to hang with, however they will be extremely hesitant to allow a total beginner to go on a trip. Now that training courses are more common, people are expected to take them. See below.
Area-Specific Guidebooks – Las Vegas Slots, Zion: Canyoneering, Arizona Technical Canyoneering. There are others. Type ‘canyoneering’ into Amazon.
American Canyoneering Academy – The original training program by Rich Carlson.
Uber Adventures – a Southern California-based group. They are branching into Vegas a little bit now.
Zion Adventure Company – These guys have lots of experience, plus they are in Zion so you can take your course and then meet up with some experienced people to do your first canyons right away!
Many others…inquire in your specific area through the meetup group you joined on my advice, through Facebook canyoneering groups, through canyon forums.
Canyon Collective – A lot of people have moved to this forum over the last few years. It seems to be the hip place to be.
Bogley – Bogley outdoor community has a big canyon community with a focus is more on trip reports.
Yahoo Canyons Group – Another active commnuity, at least it was when I first wrote this page 5 years ago. I haven’t logged in in awhile, I found the Yahoo Groups format irritating.
Facebook groups – Southwestern Canyoneering, Las Vegas Canyoneering, others specific to different areas.
Canyoneering Blogs (but please don’t forget about me!)
Tales from the Narrow Places – Trips reports & photography from canyons, mostly in Arizona
How to be a caver with a rockstar fashion sense
Find your local grotto (that’s what caving groups are called), go to a meeting.
Find a Facebook group. In Vegas, Southern Nevada Grotto. Be warned, caving groups are notoriously difficult to break into. You have to prove your commitment, which starts by going to meetings. But the Facebook group may help you find out when the meeting is.
How to be a desert explorer with a rockstar ego
Google.com – I’m not being a jackass. Ok, I totally am, but seriously. If you want to know where something is, look it up!
Topo Maps – this is just one website, but there are tons. Stop by your local BLM office or map store (Wide World of Maps) for printed topo maps of specific areas, download the Gaia app on iPhone/iPad or buy the Nat Geo TOPO software.
Geocaching.com -for every 17 film canisters you find under a rock, you’ll find something wicked cool.
Out from Las Vegas: Adventures a Day Away – Adventure ideas & history on the areas surrounding Las Vegas
Death Valley Jim – He writes lots of books on Mojave adventures.
How to be a biologist with a rockstar alter ego
This one is a little harder, since it took a lot of school to get me where I am today. However, any schmuck can play with desert critters if they are smart. NOT SNAKES. FOR GOD’S SAKE I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO PLAY WITH SNAKES.
My favorite guide books are:
Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds, Western North America
Umm…OK, I have to go to my office at work and see what other books I like. Stand by.
How to be a mountain biker with a rockstar hair-do
Meetup.com – Again with the meetup groups. They are seriously great. I showed up to my first mountain bike meetup in jeans and a skateboard helmet, with a bike I bought off Craigslist for $100. People stared but nobody outright laughed. One guy even broke away from the group to cater to my beginner-ness all morning. Also, Facebook groups like LV MTB, Las Vegas Ladies MTB.
However, if you want to show up to group rides looking a little cooler than me, stop by a bike shop and ask questions. In the Vegas area there are several bike shops but if you want to talk to a mountain biker for sure, drive out to All Mountain Cyclery in Boulder City. Your next best bet is McGhies, there are 2 full locations plus a shack out in Blue Diamond. But be forewarned, bike shops will never say it’s OK to buy a used bike. They have their reasons, many of which start with a $.
Don’t buy a crap bike, you’ll hate the sport and you won’t be able to ride all the trails. Craigslist can be a good place to look IF you know what you are looking for. Research bikes before just grabbing one for $100 like I did. Honestly, $600-800 is the minimum you should spend on a used bike. I know that sounds awful, but chance’s are nobody will ride with you at Bootleg Canyon if you roll up on a Schwinn like I did.
2011: Schwinn POS. It blew.
2012: Gary Fisher Sugar inherited from Holly. Somehow I made it down Bootleg trails alive on this, although I took a lot of naps in the shuttle. When people would look at me sleeping, Holly would tell them what kind of bike I was riding and then they understood.
2013: Giant Trance. This one was good and treated me nicely. I got it off Craiglist, with Holly’s help, for $1600. Then it was stolen in Big Bear.
2014-present: Trek Lush. I opted for Women’s Specific once my insurance paid out for the stolen bike. Honestly, mostly because this bike is pink and it had everything I wanted anyways, so why not.
These bikes, even my newest one, are not the greatest. I am just telling you what I have ridden to help out other people who were in the same clueless spot I was. I needed a combination of a cross-country bike and a downhill bike, because I can’t afford 2 bikes. Hell, I can barely afford one, that’s why I went with the Trek Lush. With more thousands of dollars, you can get a much better bike then I’ve ever had.