Trekking Poles

I once thought trekking poles were for the birds, but a few key events have helped change my mind. Last year when I was descending from a very steep approach amongst loose rock, dirt and endless amounts of leaves, I borrowed one of my friend's poles (which I had recently made fun of) and confidently made it through the scree. I made a mental note to be sure to bring my poles for this particularly NC climbing destination.

My sister in law fell in love with hiking poles when she first picked up hiking since she had a history of joint problems. She quickly become a hiking fiend, shedding pounds and gaining strength at alarming speeds. She rarely uses her trekking poles now, but can certainly thank them for her improved joint strength.

I used trekking poles religiously on my hike of the Camino de Santiago, when I covered 500 miles with an embarrassingly enormous backpack. They definitely helped me make it all the way! Now, I find trekking poles are great when trails are particularly muddy, snowy or covered in leaves. Ever try to smoothly hike out of Rumbling Bald in November? The leaves stymie just about everybody. They are also handy for loaning to guests who don't normally hike much.

We just got a shipment of Black Diamond Trekking Poles, so come see for yourself! Happy trails!

Looking Glass Outfitters is a full service gear shop specializing in hiking, climbing and camping equipment located at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest and around the corner from Hendersonville, Brevard & Asheville.


Girls Climbing Weekend

With Marcus in Red Rocks with a crew of NC folks and Phil manning the shop, I was the lucky participant in a Girls Climbing Weekend this past weekend. I joined up with Katherine & Katelyn and hoofed it to Chattanooga, where the steep rock abounds. Saturday we had a beautiful day at T-wall and climbed some goodies like Motor Booty, Bugs From Hell, Electric Rats and the classic Digital Macabre. Thanks to abundant daylight, we headed back to the car around 8:00 and scarfed down delicious vegan food at Sluggo's.

We made it out the door Sunday with some determination, despite buckets of rain falling out of our ears, and headed to Little River Canyon in Alabama. This place is gorgeous and well worth a trip- that is if you like steep, overhanging, sandstone sport climbing that stays dry in a downpour. We were rewarded by super fun and ultra pumpy routes.

I am really needing a nap today though, as it has been a while since I climbed anything so steep. I better rest up, because this weekend's forecast for Brevard looks stellar and 475B is open for business again, making the access to Looking Glass climbs a breeze.

Phil was happy to report a busy weekend at the shop. The new Montrail Mountain Masochists seem to be running, not walking out the door!

Top of Johns Rock

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Banff Weekend Wrap Up

Thanks to all who came to the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Brevard this past weekend! The films were memorable and it was great to see both rock climbing and ice climbing well-represented. Chris Sharma and Alex Honnold never cease to amaze us with their almost super natural talent! We sold some great stuff at the Gear Swap Saturday and still squeezed in some outdoor fun with fabulous, abundant sunshine. We continue to receive spring product from our best vendors, so come on in to Looking Glass Outfitters and check out what's new. Happy Spring!!

**Your Banff Ticket Stub = 10% off through the end of March!!


Fun on the BRP

Saturday I diligently listened to the Park Service's phone message to decipher which parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed, and confidently headed out the door to explore. Contrary to the machine's report on road conditions, the Parkway IS closed at 276/ Milepost 412.

Still, there is much fun to be had by parking at mile marker 412 and hitting the BRP on foot. Daisy and I headed about 3 miles south, through extremely varied terrain. At times we were on pavement and at other times we were post holing in snow up to my knees. Some of the snow is just as sugary as spring corn on Teton Pass! Most of the time, I followed boot tracks and simply sunk a little bit into 2-4 inches of snow.

One shaded area near milepost 415 had a 5 foot snowdrift and several other places had 3 foot drifts. Another glossy area in the shade landed me promptly on my tush thanks to slippery ice. Yet most of the way was easy to traverse in hiking boots. Even without the snow, the road would be difficult to drive on thanks to trees, limbs and rocks that currently sprinkle the asphalt.

It was extremely relaxing to be on the parkway with no motorcycles, RVs, or tourons to adulterate the experience. Selfishly, I really enjoyed having the parkway to myself and it was well worth the effort. Still, it could be some time before all of this snow melts and the winter debris is cleared away. Consider donating some $ or time to help the Park Service get this road back in good shape. In the meantime, hoof it up there; the views of Pisgah National Forest and Looking Glass are phenomenal and the breeze is divine.


Montrail Mountain Masochist Review

I got my Montrail Mountain Masochists right before heading to Outdoor Retailer in August, which meant I scarcely broke them in before running the 5K Wasatch Wobble at the crack of dawn.

Thankfully, they required no break in period. I sometimes have a tough time with my big toe rubbing my second toe in running shoes, but this has yet to happen in my MMs. I think the toe box is roomy enough that my toes spread out comfortably.

I have mostly trailrun in my Mountain Masochists in Dupont and Pisgah, where conditions have varied from hot and steamy to moist and icy. The mesh upper keeps these trailrunners light and breathable. This past winter, I got impatient waiting for the snow to melt and took my MMs running on some icy and snowy runs, and they performed pretty well. My feet stayed drier than I would have thought. But, on the hardest, most packed snow, I slid around like I was on a banana peel. Still, they yield great traction on muddy trails and creek crossings.

I just washed them in the washing machine, but they are already covered in mud again. Still, you can hardly tell that they aren't brand new, so thumbs up to durability so far. My consensus is that Montrail has made an excellent newcomer to their trailrunning collection. I must not be alone, because Outside Magazine named the Mountain Masochist 2009 Gear of the Year.

Check out the new selection of Mountain Masochist for men and women at Looking Glass Outfitters! Also available with Gore Tex in the GTX model for rain and mud lovers.


Jasmine 1997-2010

I have thought many times about writing this, since Jasmine's health has been a bit of a roller coaster in the last few years. So many times we thought "this is it," and she perked back up to her old self and kept on kicking. Just a few weeks shy of her 13th birthday, we laid Jasmine to rest today at my parents' farm in Tryon, where there is always a breeze and plenty of sunshine. She has a view of the mountains, a vineyard, horses in a picturesque paddock, and a lovely forest behind her. It is the perfect spot for the dog that has been at my side for so many years and has been my faithful companion through many life changes.

She has traveled all over the country to horse shows, where she always carefully guarded my area and waited for me to return from my ride. When I jumped down from the horse, she always greeted me with so much excitement that you would have thought I had been gone for months instead of an hour. She has always been Mommy's Girl.

Jasmine has made an indelible impact on so many people, resulting in a slew of nicknames. Jazz, Jazzer, Mina, Minas, Salt, Salty, Salter, PSalter, Yoda P Salter, Saltreez, Treezy, Movie Star, Saltzy, Saltzycord, Sweet Pea, Pretty, Pretty pretty Peatmo, and more. I could embarrass myself greatly in admitting how many songs we have made up with Jasmine as the star subject.

The house is feeling very quiet today without her, and I am sure it will be true for a long time. But, I feel great peace in knowing she is resting sweetly in a wonderful spot where my family will spend more time in years to come. She will be able to see many more of life's changes.

We miss you so much!!!


Hickory Nut Gorge Climbing

Fun weekend of climbing in Hickory Nut Gorge! Thanks to all who showed their support for the CCC by coming to the meeting in Lake Lure.

The weekend conditions were great for friction, though cloud cover and cold, winter breezes kept it chilly. Check out Jon Jones on one of the area's classic crack climbs.