A Weekend in the Uintas

A couple of weekends Kyra and I skipped town for a quick getaway with some friends. We had planned on heading down south to Zion National Park, but with the thought of the parks down south all being pretty busy due to fall break for almost all of the universities in Utah we decided to head to the high country.

I worked Friday so we didn’t get on the road until nearly dark. We wound our way through the various canyons until we found ourselves at the park entrance. It a moonless and dark night as we switch-backed our way deeper into the Uintas. At nearly 11,000 feet we pulled off the main road and parked. We planned on hiking into the popular Wall Lake, but couldn’t successfully navigate to the trailhead in the dark. Instead we found ourselves at the Mt. Baldy trailhead.

Uintas Clegg Lake

Hoping through patches of snow from our parking spot to the trailhead sign we learned that there were a number of lakes within a short hike that would be a perfect substitute for Wall Lake. We opted for the closest lake, Clegg Lake, just 1.5 miles in. It was already past 10pm and a short easy hike sounded like the best plan.

It was a cold night and Kyra was glad to get a nice warm fire going as we set up camp. Paityn enjoyed watching the fire as well as she cuddled on a log with Kyra while I set up our tent. After chowing down on a bagel I was ready for bed as was the rest of the group and we all called it a night.

Sometime in the early morning, around 4am I awoke to Josh calling from their tent, “Landon, you awake?”

“I am now.” I responded tiredly.

“You hear those people?”

“People? What are you talking about?”

“There were some people who just walked through our camp.” Josh answered, aghast that I hadn’t heard the intruders.

“No, didn’t hear a thing” I responded.

Uintas Clegg Lake

We eventually all fell back asleep without further incident. The next morning there were no signs of the nighttime wanderers. The mystery will remain a mystery I suppose.

Paityn was up early and tugging at me to go explore with her. I tried to persuade her to ask Kyra, but I knew Kyra wouldn’t go for it in the early morning cold. I eventually got up and squirmed out of my sleeping bag and pulled on some clothes. I wrapped Paityn up in some warm clothes as well and we went out to take a look around.

Uintas Kyra and Paityn

There were patches of snow all over which got me excited for winter. Paityn enjoyed stomping around on the still hard snow while laughing and playing. Clegg Lake looked beautiful in the still morning air. Paityn and I walked around the lake taking photos of the reflections off of the water. Paityn and I eventually made our way back to our camp where I started a fire and the others began to wake up.

Uintas Clegg Lake

We poked around throughout the morning enjoying the beauty of the Uintas and just having fun together. Josh and I tried fishing, but the shallow lake seemed not to hold many, if any, fish. We soon gave up what seemed futile, but looking in the water I found a bunch of curious little bugs. They seemed to be grub or worm like bugs that had made shells of grass. I spent a few minutes on google trying to figure out what they are, but never found an answer. Anybody out there know?

In the mid afternoon we made the short hike back to the car. We stopped at Provo Falls and messed around bouldering near the falls in hiking shoes. As a guy who is a miserable climber, and a climber that spends nearly all his time in the gym, I realized I need to spend sometime outdoors on the rock.

uintas provo falls

Driving back down the canyon towards home we got our first glimpses of the mountains and Uintas in daylight. Most of the fall leaves had disappeared from their home on the branches of the Aspen trees. Winter looked to be well on it’s way, but the temperatures have still been so warm. The warm afternoon sun poured through the car window and I could feel myself getting tired. I was glad I wasn’t driving as I lazily enjoyed the passing view of the beautiful Uintas.

Antelope Island 50K

Last Saturday I ran my first ultra marathon, the Antelope Island 50K. I had read that the course was relatively easy and it seemed like a good way to jump into the ultra running world. I hadn’t ran a race in 4 years, the last being a half marathon. I was filled with apprehension and excitement for the Antelope Island 50k.

Kyra and I drove from our place in Orem up to the Antelope Island 50k start/finish line early Saturday morning. We stood around a small fire as daylight slowly brought light and warmth to the world as we talked casually with other runners. the 8am start time quickly approached and I found myself standing at the starting line among a group of about 70 runners.

Landon Faulkner Antlope Island 50k
Photo by Lori Burlison

Jim Skaggs, the race director, gave the countdown and we were off. My race plan was to maintain a 9:40 pace and finish under 5 hours. I also wanted to keep the leaders somewhat in sight. After about a mile or two I found myself in 6th place as the runners spread out along the climb to Elephant Head aid station. I was feeling exceptional and unstoppable as we hit a series of switchbacks at 9 miles in. I ran/hiked comfortably and soon caught sight of the 4 leaders who had been out of sight for some time, but something was up. They were standing and looking around, we were off course.

After some quick evaluation we began heading back down the way we had just came. I checked my Strava App for the first time, I had been averaging 8 minute miles. I had started much too fast in my excitement and had now gotten off course, a mistake that eventually cost about 1.5 miles. My Antelope Island 50k had gotten off to a rocky start just 1/3 of the way in.

I made my way back down the switchbacks and found the grass covered trail we were suppose to take that the runners behind us had been directed to take. I was feeling good and felt confident I could slow my pace while still making up time. However, looking down from the top of the rise I could see the trail ahead for the next couple of miles. Runners were strewn along the course ahead of me. I had lost all my position and had would soon be feeling that mistake mentally. I would also soon be feeling my novice mistake of starting to fast on my first Antelope Island 50k.

Landon Faulkner Antelope Island 50k
Photo by Lori Burlison

The next 10 mile stretch I met an Instagram friend, Ryan Freeman, whom I didn’t realize was running the race. We chatted as we plugged along. I was grateful to have his company, but I could feel my legs were growing more and more sore. I knew eventually he would move on without me towards his first ultra finish as well. At the aid station around mile 20 I sat down for a minute and munched on a potato covered in salt, trying my best to combat the leg cramps I had been facing for the past 5 miles. Ryan waved as he left me at the aid station, “see you at the finish!” I waved back with a smile, “yeah, have a good one!”

After another minute I set out again. The next 10 miles were going to be a bit fought and I knew it. I worked and worked to get my mind back into it, but I never felt I was able to recover after my off-course blunder. My legs felt better after getting some salt, but even though they weren’t in a state of constant cramping they were sore. I did my best to run/hobble the last 10 flat miles towards the finish. I was loosing time every mile and my goal of breaking 5 hours had long been dashed by my own novice approach.

landon faulkner antelope island 50k
Photo by Lori Burlison

My Antelope Island 50k had turned from feeling strong and confident in my ability to break 5 hours to just wanting to endure the last few miles and finish. Eventually the trail made it’s way to the final stretch, a gravel road that softly descended to the finish line. I tried to run a bit faster than my current shuffle wanting to look stronger and happier as I rolled into the finish than I actually was.

I crossed the finish line and stopped my Strava app as Kyra and Paityn came up to give me a hug and I was handed my congratulatory Antelope Island 50k Finisher Mug. I almost cried. My Strava app gave me a time of 5:34:14 which later was shown to be way off from my official race time of 5:53:52. I had finished an hour later than I had set out to finish, yet I was happy and proud to be done. I finished in 17 out of the 67 runners who finished.

landon faulkner antelope island 50k

As a competitive person I am generally pretty critical of myself and Saturday night as I laid in bed to fall asleep I tried to fight off the “what-ifs” of the race and concentrate on looking ahead. What did I learn? I’m a total novice? No surprise there. I started out to fast and couldn’t sustain that pace? Also pretty obvious. How could I expect to click of 8 minute miles for 30+ miles when I don’t do any speed work whatsoever. It’s nice to have litmus test now and I’m looking forward to making some changes in my training in preparation for the Buffalo Run 50k in March, which is put on by Jim Skaggs as well and follows the same course as the Antelope Island 50k.

September Running Recap

landon faulkner trail running mt timpanogos

September has come and gone in an absolute flash. Maybe because I am back in school and the craze of trying to manage school, work, family and training is a juggling act to say the least which makes time fly. September was a great month for running and I have so enjoyed being back in Utah and being able to train in the mountains almost every day. I feel confident that September was a good month for escalating my running and I am looking forward to running the Antelope Island 50k next Saturday (October 11).

So here’s what my training looked like for the whole month of September:

Miles Logged: 176.4

Feet Climbed: 37,553

Heading into fall means cooler weather, eventual snow and less daylight hours. I’m hoping to do well to maintain my mileage and training through the winter months, but will likely not be pushing things too hard as far as speed and temp go.

landon faulkner trail running mt timpanogos

Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit Review

Finding the right fit for all of your fitness apparel needs is a whole lot easier when you shop Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line. I’ve been sponsored by Cariloha for a few months now which has given me a great opportunity to test Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line in many different situations. As part of this review Cariloha has offered some giveaway items, so when you’re done reading be sure to enter to win your own Cariloha gear.

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

Why Bamboo?

First off, lets talk briefly about why the heck bamboo is so awesome (for a full look at the benefits of bamboo read this prior post). Bamboo is an all-natural and renewable resource that has inherent qualities that are perfect for a fitness apparel line. Some of the great benefits of bamboo include; durable, soft, oder free and naturally wicking. Basically said, bamboo is a pretty rad wonder product.

Performance Ready

Whether you’re hitting the gym, running the track, or hitting the trails, Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line is performance ready. Bamboo is naturally wicking and odor free. Because bamboo is a natural product unlike polyester it doesn’t easily harbor the bacteria that creates odor. Cariloha’s bamboo products also wick, which for me is great. I sweat like a crazy person and having a product that wicks well is very important to me.

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

Cariloha’s Babmoo Fit line is truly performance ready. One of my favorite aspects of the fit line is the softness of the bamboo. I’ve never worn such soft products, especially not fitness products. I suppose this could be a downside on those early mornings, however, when nothing feels better than some soft clothes and a warm bed instead of the trail or gym.

In the Heat or In the Cold

I have worn Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit apparel from hot California summer afternoons to cold Utah mornings. During hot runs the bamboo has been able to wick very efficiently. My crew top will look soaking wet from sweat, but it doesn’t feel wet on my skin. The bamboo breathes really well and has helped keep me cool on the those triple digit runs.

Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line also preforms well in the cooler weather. They even offer a fitted long sleeve top that is great for those cooler morning workouts. Still breathable and lightweight this top also help keep you warm and pushing hard even when it’s cold.

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

The Fit of the Fit

The fit of Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit provides a mixed review in my opinion and the fit is the only area where Cariloha loses points for me. While I absolutely love the feel of the apparel the shirt is a little boxy. I prefer a slim fit style for my shirts, especially performance shirts. Other than the boxy shirts the rest of the line offers a great fit. The fit line has a slight stretch which adds to overall comfort of the apparel. The shorts and pants are uber comfortable and feel  amazing.

Don’t Forget the Socks

The very first product from Cariloha that I ever tried were their socks and it was love at first wear. Cariloha’s socks are an outright dream. Super soft, comfy beyond belief and the perfect fit – these are literally the best socks I’ve ever worn. If there’s one thing you get from this review it’s that you need at least a drawer full of Cariloha’s bamboo socks!

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

Giveaway

Below is the Rafflecopter entry form for the giveaway. One winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest (10/08/2014) and that winner will receive a Cariloha Top, Shorts and a pair of socks – a value of $92.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Life in Utah

Kyra and I have been in Utah now for about a month. It’s been a whirlwind of a crazy transition, but one I wouldn’t trade. Sure I miss living in California so close to my family, but life in Utah is great too.

Since moving life in Utah has been full of school, work and adventures. I feel kind of like an odd student as I am taking undergrad coursework (I already have a Bachelors of Psychology) in preparation for an MBA program. It’s been quite the transition from full time work as a Social Worker back to full time student, only this time with Paityn in the mix. It takes a bit more juggling of time, but it feels pretty great to come home to a wonderful wife and energetic toddler.

landon and Kyra faulkner life in utah

I feel like I am beginning to adjust to my new job, which is pretty awesome. I love working at TETON Sports and being a part of such  a quickly growing company. I get to work with awesome people in a totally rad environment while learning and working in the Outdoor Industry!

Life in Utah is also full of awesome adventure! I talked previously about running Timpanogos and visiting the Fremont Indian State Park. Living so close has allowed me to trail run every morning. My general schedule is: wake up at 5am, run for an hour or two in the mountains, then off to work or school. Not a bad way to start the day if you ask me. Feel free to connect with me via Strava – CLICK HERE.

life in utah mt. timpanogos temple

Kyra and I have also enjoyed making some new friends and just enjoying this new stage in our lives. For us, life in Utah this weekend included visiting the Mt. Timpanogos LDS Temple, a brat worst dinner in the mountains with friends and climbing at UVU’s indoor gym.

It feels good when things just click in life. It’s nice when things come together and just seem to make sense and fit into place. For us, life in Utah has been a welcome change and a wonderful blessing.

Fremont Indian State Park

Last Saturday, after running Mt. Timpanogos, Kyra, Paityn and I joined my sister and brother-in-law on a mini road trip down south where we were able to check out the Fremont Indian State Park. While I’m no anthropologist or researcher in ancient Native American culture I was quite fascinated with what is known of the Fremont Indian’s history and especially the traces they left behind.

The Fremont Indians are most known for their pictographs found mostly in Utah, but the surrounding states as well. Fremont Indian State Park has some of the largest collections of their amazing rock art and within minutes of being in the park I felt a reverence for the land and people who came before.

Fremont Indian State ParkFremont Indian State Park

Without delving into the whole Wikipedia history of the people it is interesting to note that the Fremont Indians existed from about 700 AD to 1300 AD, nearly 1000 years ago. Walking where they walked and seeing first hand the rock art they created nearly a millennia ago brought some unexpected strong spiritual and emotional feelings for me.

Something about the land felt sacred and hallowed to me. I pictured a tiny civilization living in the pristine valley where they hunted small game, stored corn in rock silo’s, lived together in small pit homes and of course carved beautiful rock art. I could almost picture their sun baked bodies and moccasin wrapped feet as I breathed in the high desert air and felt the chill of night approaching.

Fremont Indian State Park Landon FaulknerIMG_9768.JPG

The Fremont Indians had left their indelible mark on history, yet we know little about the intricacies of their culture. As I walked the rocky trails of the surrounding area I could’t help but think about the remarkable impression the Fremont Indians had made. As I pondered and pictured their ancient culture I couldn’t help but observe my own life; my own decisions; my own passions; my own family. I bagan to contemplate my connection with nature and my connection with God. I began to wonder what impression I would make on others, what mark I may leave for others to find. Would it be a message of positivity and hope? Would I someday leave this world a better place than when I entered it, or would I add to the calamities and sadness that seem so obvious?

Each day we have the opportunity to evaluate our lives and make changes and course corrections for the better. Daily we can work to become better, more kind and more loving individuals. Everyday we have the opportunity to leave our mark on another person’s heart, let’s make sure that mark is a good one.

Fremont Indian State Park Hundred Hand Cave

Fremont Indian State Park

Running Mt. Timpanogos

There are some inherent benefits to living in a small valley with gorgeous mountains just minutes away. Sure the view is nice, but more than just the view it means trail running everyday. Since moving to Utah I have only ran on the road on two occasions. Every morning I am able to get up early, drive 10 or 15 minutes and wind my way through canyon trails or to the top of summits in the southern Wasatch front. Road running has become a painful and laborious idea when compared to the pristine beauty of the trail and naturally I have wanted to push myself to do more on the trail.

That drive to push myself has had me starring at Mt. Timpanogos for about three weeks now. I have been dying to adjust to living at about 5,000 ft so that I could make the run without dropping a lung in the process and last Saturday I decided it was the day to go for it.

Mt. Timpanogos is the second tallest peak in the Wasatch Range and stands at 11,749 ft which isn’t terribly high, yet it’s a gargantuan mountain in it’s sheer mass and size. It dominates the Utah Valley landscape and has become one of the most popular peaks in the Wasatach Range, and arguably, the state. There are two trail to the summit, the Aspen Grove Trail (from Provo Canyon) and the Timpooneke Trail (from American Fork Canyon). The more popular route is the Timpooneke Trail and the trail I ultimately decided to take for my summit run of Mt. Timpanogos. The trail sees about 4,700 ft of elevation gain in the 7 mile climb to the summit.

Hiking guides say to give about 10 to 12 hours to make the round trip to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos and back. The last time I hiked Mt. Timpanogos I had done it in about 6.5 hours. Not really knowing where I would land as far as time I decided I wanted to at least be under 5 hours.

Mt. Timpanogos sunrise

I got the the Timpooneke trailhead at 4:30am and already the parking lot was nearly full. It was a cold cloudless morning and the stars shown brightly above the dark aspen forest. I got myself ready and set out at 4:51am. I climbed slowly yet easily paying close attention to every step. The predawn darkness was suffocating and it took total concentration to avoid tripping on a rock or root, or rolling my ankle as I ran. I had forgotten how technical the trail to Mt. Timpanogos’ summit was and as I ran I realized my splits coordinated perfectly to how technical each split section was.

After what felt like just a few minutes I had climbed up to the first meadow area and I could make out the flash of a few headlamps cutting through the darkness across the meadow on the mountainside above me. Whether hikers or runners they were at least a mile a head of me, but I wanted to catch them. The trail winds across the meadow then away from the eventual Mt. Timpanogos summit and the headlamps I was watching, before switching back and climbing upwards towards the basin below the summit saddle.

I tried to speed my pace slightly without emptying my tank to early, my competitive nature painfully apparent with every labored breath. Soon their headlamps disappeared around the mountainside, but I worked to maintain my pace. Then, rounding a corner I was met by a flood of headlamps shinning brightly into my eyes, “Whoa, runner! Move over!” the lead voice called to those coming down behind him, “way to go man, you’re flying!” he encouraged as I ran past.

Running Mt. Timpanogos Landon Faulkner

Startled by the sudden appearance of a descending group I had accelerated past them and had to slow drastically to catch my breathe. Looking up I once again saw the dancing lights above me on the mountain. I had made up significant ground, I would be able to beat them to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos with just a couple of more miles left.

I hopped my way through the rocky trail that marks the climb to the summit basin eager to catch my faceless competition. Within just a couple minutes I ran passed a group of three moving very slowly even on the flatter meadow area, “that couldn’t be the group I was after, could it?” I contemplated. I looked ahead and saw another group of three headlamps just a bit further, “that must be them” I reasoned. I slowed to take a quick glance around me without having to worry about tripping on an unseen rock and was amazed what I saw. Countless flickering headlights marked the trail from the basin and up to the saddle before they disappeared around the other side of the mountain only to reappear at the summit. After running for 5 miles in solidarity I would now likely be passing dozens and dozens of people on my way to the summit.

I focused back on the trail and soon called out, “can I get past y’all on the right?”

“Yeah of course,” came the answer followed by a realization, “so that’s how you caught us!”

The group, shrouded in darkness, seemed to realize instantly that I had been running, not hiking. I pushed myself past them towards the finally climb as the first bits of pre sunrise light began to illuminate the trail. I stopped to put my headlamp away before I began the climb to the saddle, caught my breath then set out. Soon I was passing group after group. The final climb steepens and turns very rocky which seemed to create a traffic slow down. As soon as I reached the saddle I witnessed another major traffic slow down. Strewn across the saddle were about 50 people, all sitting and staring eastward waiting for the sunrise reds and yellows to turn into an actual sun.

Mt. Timpanogos sunrise

I ran past the large group and continued toward the final summit scramble. I continued to pass people, but not as quickly, as much of the final climb is a slower scramble. This is about the time I started hearing comments about my attire as people realized I wasn’t just hiking. I heard things like, “aren’t you cold?” or “nice shorts…” I continued without stopping to give answers about why I was wearing split shorts and an ultra light running jacket at 11k feet while everyone else had on hiking boots, pants and down jackets.

I got to the summit just as the sun was coming up and checked my watch: 2:09:31 to the summit (splits listed at the end). Without even registering the time pulled out a homemade rice cake (thanks to Skratch Labs) and munched down a few bites. I spent about 5 minutes on the summit eating and watching the sunrise along with about 100 people all on the summit, then packed up and headed down. I continued to hear comments about my lack of clothing as I hopped my way down the steep ridge of Mount Timpanogos.

Mt. Timpanogos Landon Faulkner

Mt. Timpanogos Landon Faulkner

I picked my way down the summit ridge and saddle carefully passing people I had passed just minutes before on my way up. As I reached the summit basin and was able to run on less technical terrain for a bit I began to process things. I had reached the summit in just over 2 hours, that meant I had a real chance at breaking 4 hours from car-to-car. I began working to accelerate the best I could on the less technical parts of the trail. I tried my hardest to keep myself locked-in and focused on each step.

I checked my splits again after a couple of miles only to realize that I wasn’t on schedule to run Mt. Timpanogos in sub 4 hour car-to-car time, but I was actually on schedule to run it in 3.5 hours. I continued down the mountain hoping to break the 3.5 hour mark, even if just by seconds. I had gas left in the tank, but it didn’t feel like a ton, I was hungry but couldn’t eat. I had tried to suck down some Justin’s Almond Maple Butter without any success, I had given up and continued on. However, as I continued to descend I pushed through it and felt better and I felt faster. Pretty soon I realized I had just over a mile left to the car and just under 10 minutes to get there in time.

I accelerated pushing hard on the now easy dirt trail. I yelled ahead at hikers, “coming down, can I get past?!” They would step aside and I would barrel past them checking my watch. I knew I was close, I could feel it and I knew I was going to do it. I could feel the drained excitement of breaking my own expectations as the parking lot came into view. I jogged the last 25 feet and stopped my watch: 3:28:37; I had done it and I was stoked! I took off my hydration pack and shoes and ran a couple of barefoot cool down laps around the parking lot as I began contemplating a back to back Mt. Timpanogos summit run; back to back summits, almost 30 miles and about 8,500 feet of elevation gain. “Yeah” I resigned within myself, “I would be back to do a double…”

 

Splits: (Follow on STRAVA)

Mile        Time          Elevation Gain

1               14:51          517ft
2               17:14          523ft
3               14:45          403ft
4               16:51          606ft
5               18:37          691ft
6               15:25          526ft
7               21:35          747ft
7.4       SUMM IT      2:09:31
8               22:07          -225ft
9              10:56           -688ft
10            9:24             -484ft
11           10:24           -678ft
12            9:53             -617ft
13           10:57           -455ft
14           10:42           -581ft
.06      7:46 (pace)    -283ft
14.6           RT               3:28:37

Cariloha: 6 Reasons to go Bamboo

Bamboo apparel is still left of mainstream, but with the help of Cariloha it is making a strong move towards being the go-to fabric in almost any situation. I have been wearing Cariloha products for a few months now during my training runs and I have a few observations about running in bamboo. Or in other words, six reasons you should go bamboo.

1.) Bamboo is Tough Stuff

First off Cariloha’s bamboo apparel is tough, durable and will last forever. I wear Cariloha bamboo socks on every run and most days I decide to wear shoes (I prefer being barefoot or wearing sandals) and they have help up to the abuse better than any other sock I’ve worn. I’ve also been clumsy enough to take a couple hard falls while running after tripping on technical trails. While my skin has been grated off from the rocky trail like cheese my Cariloha performance crew has always escaped with nothing more than some dirt and dust from my ill-advised tumbles.

Landon Faulkner Cariloha bamboo

2.) Bamboo is Soft

I know it seems somewhat counterintuitive to first say that bamboo is tough then follow with how soft it is and chances are if you’ve never tried bamboo you really don’t know how soft it is. It is one of those “see it to believe it” type things, except you actually have to feel it, not just see it. As part of the fit line, Cariloha has the most comfortable shorts and pants you could dream of. My favorite piece of clothing to put on during those cold mornings and days are Cariloha’s Bamboo Training Pants. Slip these guys on and you’ll never want to wear anything else. Like all of Cariloha’s products these pants are softer than anything else you’ve worn, especially anything you’ve worn to train in.

3.) Bamboo Doesn’t Stink

One huge plus is that Cariloha bamboo products don’t stink. Bamboo is a natural fiber like cotton, which doesn’t easily harbor all that bacteria that makes your clothes stink like your synthetic options. For my to be able to enjoy a 2 or 3 hour run and not have Kyra pass out when I get home because I stink so bad is always a huge positive. That has been especially true with Cariloha’s Compression Shorts.

Landon Faulkner Cariloha bamboo

Landon Faulkner Cariloha bamboo

4.) Bamboo Wicks

I realize I just compared bamboo to cotton in my previous section, but only so far as they are both natural fibers and that’s where the similarities end. While cotton is absolutely rotten for almost any sport, bamboo easily and quickly wicks your sweat away helping keep you dry. I sweat like crazy when out on the trail and having a natural fiber shirt that wicks as well as Cariloha’s fit line is hard to beat.

5.) Bamboo is a Miracle Plant

What the heck does that mean? Well in a time when people are growing more and more concerned about preserving and conserving our environment bamboo offers help and answers in a miraculous way. Bamboo has many uses from building/construction applications to food, and of course apparel. Some types of bamboo can grow upwards of four feet and day and reach maturity in two years. Bamboo is extremely sustainable and renewable which goes a long way when it comes to helping preserve the world in which we live.

 

6.) Bamboo is Hip

While I mentioned bamboo has not made it’s way into the mainstream of apparel yet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t hip. Isn’t it true that all popular things start as a small trend that just continues to grow? Well bamboo is a trend that is growing quickly and Cariloha has done well to stay at the forefront making more that just performance-wear. Cariloha carries everything from bed-sheets to towels and from socks to hats; they literally have you covered when it comes to bamboo.

Landon Faulkner Cariloha bamboo

Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters

Lightweight, comfortable and breathable; just a few of the things you get from the Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters. I’ve been testing these gaiters for a number of weeks now starting with somewhat relaxed trails in the Northern California foothills and more recently in Utah’s rugged Wasatch Mountains. Overall, I have to say the Ultra Trail Gaiters are definitely up to the challenge of your most technical trail runs.

Construction

IMG_2961
The Ultra Trail Gaiters are made to be lightweight and breathable, while still offering good protection and some water-resistency. How does Outdoor Research do it? Well, the Ultra Trail Gaiters use Cordora® fabric which is the top of the line in durable, breathable and water-resistant fabrics. The Ultra Trail Gaiters are stretchy and conform well to the shoe and leg. There is an elastic draw string at the top of the gaiter to help keep it in place. On the other end of the gaiter there are a few things to prevent the Ultra Trail Gaiters from riding up. First there is a moldable forefoot section that contours to your shoes which also includes two lace hooks to keep them in place. At the heel of the shoe there is a strip of velcro (we’ll get more into that later) and anti-slip silicone dots. Lastly the Ultra Trail Gaiters come with optional instep cord to keep the mid section of the gaiters cinched around the shoe. Oh, and don’t forget about the reflective print for optimal safety on the… trail.

My Thoughts

My first thought when putting on the gaiters and running in them was, “wow, these are comfortable!” During my runs I forget I am even wearing them because of their high comfort level. The Ultra Trail Gaiters stay in place well and do well to prevent any pesky rocks or debris from getting in my shoes and causing me to stop to remove it or keep running and risk a blister. They have held up extremely well on my long trail runs, including some very gnarly trails in the Wasatch, laden with coarse granite rocks.

IMG_2962I generally haven’t used the instep cord since my first few runs. The cord showed some fraying and wear, especially since running shoes typically don’t have a high section in the instep like a hiking boot. However, this cord is optional and I have found that the gaiters perform just as well without the strap. The velcro heel strap requires that your shoes come with velcro on the heel already (like in the case of the Altra Lone Peak 1.5) or that you use the provided velcro to stick on the heel of your shoes to keep them in place, which is what I had to do since I mostly run in Vivobarefoot Trail Freaks. This can be problematic for some runners, like me, who rotate between different pairs of shoes. I did find that even without the velcro the gaiters did pretty well, however.

In Comparison

There are a number of trail running gaiters on the market in the same class as Outdoor Research’s Ultra Trail Gaiters, how do they stack up?

Well when compared to the Salomon S-Lab Gaiters they are lighter (compared to both their “High” and “Low” models). The Ultra Trail Gaiters also cover more of the shoe and more of the leg to help prevent debris from entering your shoe even in extreme motion. Salomon S-Lab Gaiters: High: $40, Low: $30

Altra also has their own gaiter, the Altra Trail Gaiter that is similar to the Ultra Trail Gaiter, however, the Altra Trail Gaiter doesn’t use Cordora® fabric and is in turn much lighter, but also much less durable. Altra Trail Gaiters: $20

So in comparison the Ultra Trail Gaiters seem to be the most comprehensive gaiter in my opinion. While not nearly as light as the Altra Trail Gaiter they are much more durable and water-resistant. They are also more protective and lighter than both models of Salomon’s S-Lab gaiters. The tradeoff, however, is that getting the best product on the market costs a little more, but in this case the Ultra Trail Gaiters are listed at $45, just $5 more than the Salomon S-Lab High gaiters.

Final Thoughts

IMG_2963All in all I have loved the Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters. They are comfortable and very protective. The only downside in my mind is the velcro on the heel because I rotate through different shoes routinely. That means not all of my shoes are equipped to work perfectly with the Ultra Trail Gaiters.

Besides the velcro issue I found it extremely hard to beat the overall versatility of the Ultra Trail Gaiters. They offer many ways to adjust the comfort and feel of the gaiter from the elastic draw string to the molded toe and lace hooks, and from the optional instep cord to the velcro heel. No other trail running gaiter on the market offers as many options for customizing the fit to your shoes. All in all, I think it is impossible to go wrong with the Ultra Trail Gaiters.

 

Moving and Beyond, Part 2

Last week I shared a bit about our move and our decision to pack our belongings in a truck and drive our lives to Utah. So far it has been a decision that has brought with it a fair amount of worry financially and logistically, however things have been working out better than I ever could have imagined. From finding a place to live, getting accepted to school on short notice, getting the courses I need on short notice, and even getting two job offers, Kyra and I have felt extremely blessed.

As for the two job offers, I said in my previous post that I would share some more details about them and which one I chose. The first offer I received was to work as a mentor at a home for boys with high functioning autism (formally known as Aspergers). The position was similar to the type of work I had been doing for the past 4 years and was directly applicable to my degree in psychology. They offered a good start pay and a lot of opportunity for rapid advancement into managerial positions. While this is the field I have been trying to divorce myself from, the job sounded interesting, I do enjoy the work (for the most part), and I liked the opportunity for growth. So taking all of that into consideration I accepted the position.

Well I mentioned another offer I had received as well. Let me first share a timeline; We got to Utah on a Thursday, found an apartment on Friday, moved in Saturday and I interviewed and received the job offer to work at the boys home on Monday (I was scheduled to start work Friday). On Wednesday I had an interview with another company who also offered me a job, one that I was pretty excited about because of it’s potential for growth and the industry in which it existed, that was a job with Teton Sports.

Teton Sports

After talking things over with Kyra, thinking and praying about the two options we made a decision. Thursday morning (one week after moving to Utah) I emailed the boys home to let them know that my plans had changed. I apologized for the confusion and for accepting a job that I declined before I actually started, but I was pretty stoked about my decision nonetheless.

Fast forward a week to yesterday, Wednesday, when I started my first day at Teton Sports. I couldn’t be more excited about working for Teton, a company I have admired and enjoyed getting to know over the past year. I will be working primarily in customer service with growth into other areas as I learn and grow within the company. The idea of working for a quickly growing company in the outdoor industry couldn’t be more thrilling to me. The potential for advancement within a quickly growing company is also exciting to me. All in all it feels so nice to be in an environment that is stimulating, engaging and innovative. It’s going to be a wild and fun ride, one I am stoked to take!

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