Far View Lodge | Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
While touring the gob-smacking testament to human invention that is Mesa Verde National Park, it’s easy to understand why the Anasazi chose this valley as the place to build their ancient cliff dwellings. Even without the presence of the country’s largest archeological preservation, the unfettered beauty of this region of the southwestern Colorado is enough to stop you in your tracks and invite you to linger for weeks, which is why the Far View Lodge is so wonderful. The aptly name hotel sits 15 miles inside the park—one of the very few national parks that have hotels inside their borders—perched atop one of the higher points in Mesa Verde.
From your private balcony (yep, each room has one), you can cast your eyes across the expanse of four distinct states, spot curious wildlife, and trace your gaze across distant mountain ranges. We say spend the day exploring the park, and retire to your room to watch the sunset. Then head down to the lobby to dine at the Metate Room, and return to star gaze across that expansive western sky. Then repeat again the next day—the park’s mysteries reveal themselves with leisurely exploration, and the Far View Lodge makes for the ideal basecamp. The rooms are perfectly bare bones. No TVs, no telephones, and no cell service. Nothing, in other words, to distract you from the surrounding landscape. But they do have in-room fridges to keep a few of Colorado’s famed craft beers cold. Or upgrade to one of the Kiva Rooms, which also come with handcrafted furniture and an a/c. The Far View Lodge is open from mid April till mid October, and the lobby does have free wireless for those who simply have to stay plugged in, even while blissing out.
Myth: If you are lost in the woods, look for moss as it only grows on the north side of a tree.
Fact: Moss will grow wherever there is enough moisture, and this could be on any side of the tree. Factors such as prevailing winds and amount of sunlight affect where moss might grow. But in general, if you have moist wood, you have moss.
If you do happen to get caught out in the woods without any sort of navigational tool, there are a few natural tricks you can use to help you head in a general direction (that is if you know in which general direction you should be heading).
In general, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but keep in mind it only rises due east on two days of the year—the equinoxes. Every other day of the year it rises and sets to either side. The trick is to think about the season and which pole, north or south, is pointing towards the sun. This will give you an indication as to which side and approximately how far of east and west that the sun will rise and set that day. You can also use a stick to aid your sun navigation— the shortest shadow cast by a stick each day will form a perfect north-south line anywhere in the world and this happens at midday (when the sun is at its highest point in the sky).
At night, use the stars if you can see them to establish north. Anyone with a bit of basic astronomy knowledge should be able to pick out the Big Dipper. Trace a line from the star at the right-hand base of the pan, through the star at the right-hand rim of the pan, and follow it upwards. The north star is roughly five times the distance between those two pointer stars. Once you locate the North Star, drop a vertical line down to the horizon and that is north.
Another trick is to know from which general direction weather usually moves through the area. The breeze will indicate that direction. Throw a few leaves or bits of light grass in the air to follow the wind.
And if all else fails, remember the best thing you can do is to just stay put if you get lost. This will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
Based in Southern California, Conway Bowman is a man who loves to catch fish, and the fly rod is his weapon of choice. He has traveled the world in search of Atlantic salmon, wild trout, redfish, bonefish, and tarpon. Bowman currently holds the IGFA world record for redfish caught on the fly (41.65 lbs Redfish, Record: World Fly Rod, 20lb Tippet). We recently caught up with the man to ask him a few questions about his passion for fishing.
1. When did you start fishing and who taught you?
I started fishing at age three. My father introduced me to fishing.
2. You have become known as the Mako Shark Man. How did you get into fishing for sharks? Do you have a special rig/technique for hooking makos?
I started fishing for makos 25 years ago off the San Diego coast. I always wanted to target big saltwater fish on the fly rod but never had the money to fly around the world to do so. I would read all these amazing stories in magazines about tarpon, tuna and marlin. I found out later that I had one of the world’s best bluewater game fish and fisheries right out my back door. With the help of some commercial fishing friends, I figured out how to catch mako sharks consistently very close to shore off San Diego.
My rig is very simple. An eight-and-a-half-foot 14-weight fly rod, a very large fly reel with 500 yards of backing, a floating fly line, 30-pound test leader, and 60-pound stainless steel wire attached to a big orange fly called the Mako Bomb (10/0 hook). This is all I use to catch makos up to 300 pounds. Add a 24-foot bay boat, good tides, and some fresh tuna for chum. Oh, and a lot of patience.
3. You run Bowman Bluewater Guides & Outfitters out of San Diego. What are your essential items to pack for a saltwater fly-fishing trip?
It depends on what I’m targeting, but in general, this is what always stays in my boat bag in addition to my rod and reel.
1) Polarized glasses (amber lenses)
2) Sun protective clothing (face, neck gaiters, hat, sleeves, gloves)
3) Lip protection (a must)
4) Sunscreen (30 SPF w/ zinc)
5) Box of baitfish pattern flies (saltwater streamers)
6) Small bag of split shot weights
7) Duct tape (works for repairing everything)
8) Multi tool/knife blade and screw driver
9) Microfiber cloth (for cleaning camera lenses to sunglasses)
10) Small point-and-shoot camera (to document all the fish I say I catch and so my wife knows I went fishing)
11) Bottle opener (for obvious reasons)
12) Copy of passport/ID and emergency contact info
13) Handheld GPS (just in case I get lost or the guide gets lost. Yes, it happens.)
14) My St. Christopher medal (for good luck)
15) A good attitude (you catch more fish if you’re in a good head space)
4. Do you have any memorable “One That Got Away” stories?
I’ve had so many nice fish get away it’s difficult to sort out the most memorable.
How about the one I wish I threw back? It’s a great story, you’ll just have to wait to read it in another article.
5. What is the one fly any self-respecting fly angler should always have in the box?
If you are fishing for everything other than permit, I would suggest a Chartreuse Clouser Minnow. If you are fly-fishing for permit? A spinning rod and live crab! Just joking! For those who target permit on the fly, this most frustrating and humbling experience can leave even the finest of fly anglers with little self respect. Another joke!
First published in 1960 by The Mountaineers of Seattle, The Freedom of the Hills is now in its eighth edition.Long regarded as the textbook on all things hiking and mountaineering, The Mountaineers were the first to introduce the concept of The Ten Essentials—and despite all the technological advances of the last few decades, the core of their insight remains a timelss checklist to ensure that you’re always ready to respond to accident or emergency, and can handle an unexpected night in the great beyond. True, you may not need all ten items for every adventure, why both taking the risk? After all, if something goes wrong, you’ll be whispering private thanks to each and every item.
Navigation: Whether you use a traditional map and compass, an app on your smartphone, a handheld GPS, or even a GPS watch, some form of navigational ability is the key to not getting lost or getting yourself un-lost. And it should be more than just knowing that moss always grows on the north side of the trees.
Sun Protection: Sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, and protective clothing. Nothing can ruin a great day outside more than sunburn, snow blindness, or even heat stroke.
Extra layers: Depending on the climate, you will want a rain jacket or light insulated jacket in your pack in case the weather turns foul or you get caught out all night.
Illumination: Even if you plan to be gone for only a couple of hours, it is essential to have some sort of light source, just in case. And batteries don’t last forever so be sure to check them regularly.
First-Aid: A basic first-aid kit should be able to do three things: stop bleeding, pain, and allergic reactions. As part of the kit, also include some sort of communication device—whether it be your cell phone, whistle, or satellite messenger in case of a real emergency.
Fire: Either a lighter, fire starter, or waterproof matches.
Hydration: Although it is always good to have enough water, keep in mind that one liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds. If you have access to a water source on the trail, consider ditching the excess and carry a water filter, bleach, or some iodine instead. Fully hydrate at the start and end of the day. And since you aren’t carrying a ton of water weight, you have space for that flask full of your favorite trail tipple to enjoy around the campfire at the end of the day.
Repair Kit and Tools: A knife or multi-tool comes in handy for a variety of tasks. Wrap some duct tape around your water bottle or hiking poles and you can fix almost anything—at least for the time it’ll take to back to civilization.
Food: You need enough food to fuel you through the day’s adventures, but plan on throwing in a few extra no-cook items such as jerky or energy bars.
Emergency Shelter: Space blanket-type emergency bivies weigh nothing and cost nothing, so there is you just round of reasons to not stashing one at the bottom of your pack.
Columbia Sportswear Take Ten App:
Take Ten is the second in a series of mobile apps designed by Columbia Sportswear to help you get the most from your adventures in the Greater Outdoors. This app is designed to introduce backcountry users to the Ten Essential Groups, a collection of items promoted by outdoor experts as critical to the safe enjoyment of our wild areas.
The Ten Essential GroupsAt the heart of the app is a user-expandable database of tools and equipment divided into ten groups:
- Sun Protection
On this, April Fools’ Day, let us pause to praise the time-honored pastime of tall tales that add spice to the world of adventure and the outdoors. From naval-gazing blogs about your latest exploits to stories of the one that got away to less-than-humble pronouncements of landing a big jump, exaggeration is just a much a part of the outdoor world as fresh snow is part of skiing—you can have one without the other, but it’s a lot more fun if both are involved. We love them almost as much as documents of a triumphant failure.
And in this age of instant updating via 1,001 social channels, the impulse to proclaim your exploits from the top of the virtual mountaintop—while standing on the literal mountaintop—is both far easier than even before. Get the right followers and you can graduate from being a legend in your own mind to corralling a world of fans who endure a burst of envious hatred whenever they read or see visual evidence of your latest successful exploit. And that’s without the “April Fools’!” punch line.
And we say go for it. Tweet it, pin it, Vine it, Instagram it, and post it. Like it, share it, email it, and do whatever it verbs currently apply. Hike the world’s most dangerous trail. Upload a video of an antelope attacking a mountain biker. Film your own version of Danny MacKaskill’s ground-break video and land big-time sponsorships. But just remember: at the core of all that sorta-vital, hopefully-viral “sharing” is the simple impulse to try new stuff in the world just outside our door and just beyond our computer screens.
That’s what we’re here to celebrate: #TryingStuff, be it a new sport, hot spot, a classic trail, or a new climbing route. Throughout the coming months we’ll be profiling some of the best ways to get out there and experience new things, with everything from essential lists for a cadre of sports to Q&As with top athletes and personalities in the outdoor scene to must-visit multisport adventure hubs around the world—and a whole lot more.
So come back often. Let us know how we’re doing, what we got right and what we missed. Share your own tall tales on the Columbia Facebook page, our partner in this intrepid new venture. Help us tell your story. And above all, keep trying stuff.
Oh, and keep exaggerating bragging about all those exploits—both the triumphs and failures. Because real enthusiasm is contagious.
Climb the mountains, not so the world can see you, but so that you can…ski down them of course! #TryingStuff
#omniten, trails2brews knows that being aerodynamic is key to ski form. Let ‘er rip, Eric!