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Pro Tips for Hiking with a Hangover (According to a Bartender and a Physician)

I haven’t even put my truck into park before Derek swings the door open and jumps out. He post-holes his way through knee-deep snow over to the tree line and doubles over, retching into the pines. The trailhead hurl has become something of a tradition for Derek. The rest of us barely acknowledge it. We’re dealing with our own demons.

As I see it, this problem begins at home. Specifically, the distance between home and the trailhead. We live in Chicago, and that means driving great distances to get to our destinations for any true wilderness trip. We can’t just gear up after breakfast and be on the trail by 10AM.

The nearest wilderness area is 6 hours away.

Getting to the backcountry requires driving up and finding local accommodations the night before. That means there’s time to kill that evening, and the default method for the killing of said time is… to drink.

Among our group of friends, the “Hike-In Hangover” has become as much a part of our wilderness adventures as GoreTex or freeze-dried food. Whether we killed a growler of Founders around a campfire the night before a Manistee River paddling trip, or bar-crawled our way through Marquette, Michigan the night before snowshoeing into the Ottawa National Forest, it’s inevitable that most of us will wake up that first morning with some degree of regret. Sure, we still want to get close to nature—even if this sometimes means lying down on the cool ground and staying very, very still.

The Hike-in Hangover seems to get worse with age. And since simply “making better choices” is not in the cards, I will instead take a mature, scientific approach to this problem.

I’ve tapped the expertise of two qualified experts in the field: My friend and long-time drinking buddy, Dr. Michael Sullivan MD—a family practitioner and avid outdoorsman living in Watertown, Wisconsin; and Morgan Delaney—a fellow backcountry enthusiast and professional bartender at Spotted Bear Spirits, a community-minded craft distillery in Whitefish, Montana. Their shared wisdom might just be the tonic we’re all looking for.

Bleary-eyed hiking in the North Carolina High Country.
Bleary-eyed hiking in the North Carolina High Country.

Evan Castellano

Plenty has been written about hangover remedies. But, specifically for the outdoor adventurer, is there an approach that you’d recommend?

Dr. Mike: “As a physician, I obviously must warn against excessive alcohol consumption. Men should keep intake to 2 drinks daily. Women should keep this to 1.5 servings daily. The best approach to hiking with a hangover is avoiding a hangover in the first place.”

Bartender Morgan: “Chasing every drink with a tall glass of water – it won't kill your buzz, but it will make you a happier, more hydrated skier the next day.”

Are sports drinks any better than just drinking water?

Dr. Mike: “Water is always a good choice. Sports drinks can be better when you plan to be active, since you’ve depleted not only calories, but electrolytes.”

Bartender Morgan: “Sports drinks have a lot of sugar, so I find it is best to chase them with water. And then a shot of bourbon.” 

What about coffee?

Dr. Mike: “If you regularly consume coffee, skipping it may add to your hangover symptoms, like headache and shakes. However, I’d recommend consuming only a cup or two. Since coffee is irritating to the stomach and dehydrates, try to avoid.”

Bartender Morgan: “In the backcountry, coffee can be a blessing and a curse. It helps get camp broken down quickly, and gets you on the trail… But it is a diuretic.”

Did someone in this photo just make a beer toot? It's likely. Very, very likely.
Did someone in this photo just make a beer toot? It's likely. Very, very likely.

Evan Castellano

Do bready carbs help soak up alcohol?

Dr. Mike: “Carbohydrates do not ‘soak up’ the alcohol. But carbs are a good source of fast calories, and their bland nature tends to be easy on the gut. Since we are calorie deprived and our stomach is inflamed, carbs are typically a good choice for the day after.”

Bartender Morgan: “Whip me up some biscuits and gravy, flap jacks, eggs, and a side of bacon. But don't expect me to go anywhere the rest of the day.”

That’s the perfect segue into the ‘greasy food’ approach? A good idea before hiking or paddling with a hangover?

Dr. Mike: “The scientific answer is no. Going back to the idea of alcohol causing inflammation and irritation in the stomach, greasy foods are not recommended for a hangover, especially if you’re planning a 6-hour canoe or kayak trip. Let alone the availability of reliable facilities!”

Bartender Morgan: “Again, you want to be mindful of the weight you are carrying with you, be it on your back or in your bowels.  Once you hit the trails, dehydration and a heavy belly will make for a slow hiker.”

What about pain meds?

Dr. Mike: “In general, it is okay to take OTC pain relievers, but it’s important to avoid acetaminophen, as this is broken down by the liver and potentially toxic. Not a good idea considering you’ve just stressed your liver with alcohol.”

Bartender Morgan: “The best medicines to carry are Aspirin and, for those living in states where it's legal, cannabis.”

A big thing now is Pedialyte. Thoughts?

Dr. Mike: “Pedialyte is along the same lines as sports drinks. It has sugar and electrolytes which, again, you are depleted of. But I would strongly question a person who would bring Pedialyte on a backpacking or kayaking trip.”

Bartender Morgan: “Pedialyte is best utilized for the really bad hangovers. But in that case… The Baby's Alright cocktail: 1. Fill your cup with a handful of that slushy Spring alpine snow… 2. 2-3oz Pedialyte 3. 1oz vodka 4. Seltzer water or Ginger brew. If you have a water filter and/or trust your water source, that will work fine as well. Add a tab of Alka-Seltzer for carbonation.”

Does vomiting that morning help or hurt with a hangover?

Dr. Mike: “Vomiting only helps you if you feel nauseous and need to get it out. This occurs because of inflammation in the stomach, and high acid content. While it may temporarily make you feel better, it won’t speed things up. Do not induce vomiting. If nature takes its course, so be it.”

Bartender Morgan: “Vomiting the morning after is never a good sign. If you're going to hurl, do it the night before and then drink a lot of water.” 

Let’s pause here for a moment, because this brings up an interesting question. If—like us—you are a proponent of Leave No Trace ethics, then what exactly are the Leave No Trace guidelines for puking in the pines? Horking in the hills? Barfing in the bush? It’s not a situation we plan for, but it is human waste after all. So, I contacted Katie Keller, a Leave No Trace Master Educator based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

According to Leave No Trace principles, this would be an incredibly inappropriate place to hurl.
According to Leave No Trace principles, this would be an incredibly inappropriate place to hurl.

Liz Fieser

What are the Leave No Trace guidelines for upchucking?

Katie Keller, LNT Master Educator: “The principles behind ‘Dispose of Waste Properly’ with Leave No Trace still apply. If you have enough time, dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep, that is at least 200 feet from all water sources, trails, and campgrounds. Or, if you have access to a bag or container, you could pack it out until you can properly dispose of it. Make sure that your disposal method is compatible with where you are. It is always a good idea to read Leave No Trace information related to specific ecosystems before you go.”

Turns out Derek has been doing it wrong for years. Words to ralph by, thanks Katie. Now, back to our interviews.

What about exercise? Sweating it out?

Dr. Mike: “Most of the data actually discourages exercise due to the fact that you are dehydrated, calorie depleted, and your GI system is inflamed. If you do exercise then you should overhydrate to compensate not only for your initial fluid depletion, but to account for fluid loss due to activity. Get calories as well.”

Bartender Morgan: “Extreme dehydration from a mix of outdoor activities and a night of drinking can cause substantial mental and physical fatigue, leading to poor decision making, injury, or worse…a Trump presidency.”

When you've reached the headache stage of the Hike-in Hangover, you know you're in trouble.
When you've reached the headache stage of the Hike-in Hangover, you know you're in trouble.

Evan Castellano

Does the temperature outside affect a hangover?

Dr. Mike: “The hotter it is, the more fluid you’ll lose. But be very careful in the winter as well. Our bodies don’t always give the same signs of dehydration in winter. You may not feel as thirsty, or sweat as much, but you’re still losing fluids.”

Bartender Morgan: “I've drunk during the summer in the desert and I've drunk in the winter above the tree-line. I prefer the latter, as the cold does seem to have anti-inflammatory effects. And being out in the dry, hot sun while hungover is not my idea of a good time.”

So, there we have it. Thanks to Dr. Mike and Bartender Morgan we can now approach our next backcountry bender with some degree of knowledge and preparedness. Fluids and calories: good. Acetaminophen and bacon sandwiches: bad. The only thing left to do is to field-test what we’ve learned. Whitefish, Montana is only 25 hours from Chicago. Last call at Spotted Bear is at 8PM. I sense a plan coming together.

Written by Patrick Burke for RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Evan Castellano

Backpacking the 83-Mile Uinta Highline Trail

The prominent Uinta Mountains of Utah rose from Precambrian rock about 600 million years ago. These geologic giants are the northern-most high altitude massifs formed by glaciers during the Ice Age without present-day glaciers and are the longest east-to-west oriented mountain range in the lower 48.

My friends Craig Benson, Bob Wenger, husband Lee, and I flew to Salt Lake City for an eight-day thru-hike on the high altitude, 83-mile Uinta (pronounced you-went-a) Highline Trail (UHT).

We rented two vehicles and drove to Hayden Pass for the 175-mile car shuttle. After leaving Craig’s rental at the western terminus at Hayden Pass, Lee drove us to a basic motel in Vernal, Utah, where we enjoyed a good night’s rest before the next day’s departure at the eastern terminus of Hacking Lake (10,630-feet).

Day 1

The trailhead at Hacking Lake, the Eastern terminus of the Uinta Highline Trail. Polly Scotland
The trailhead at Hacking Lake, the Eastern terminus of the Uinta Highline Trail.
Polly Scotland

At the trailhead, I hoisted my 38-pound pack and proceeded up trail number 025.

Near Leidy Peak (12,028-feet), the boys consulted the map as I passed by and walked into a dense conifer forest.

I strolled along until I came to a hulking brown form blocking the path, where I stared at three pairs of eyes twenty feet ahead. I blinked. They blinked. My heart pounded as the unknown shape morphed into three female elk that bolted––one left, one right, one back.

Five minutes later, dozens of elk charged across the trail. The thunderous stampede darting between fir trees kicked up a veil of fine dust.

The panoramic vista at our first pass, Gabbro Pass (11,689-feet), held a commanding view of barren humpbacked mountains with ribbons of snow.

At the intersection overlooking Deadman Lake, we saw the route descended steeply to the lake before going back up. Lee said, “It might be shorter to stay high than to pick up the trail on the other side.”

Initially this shortcut made sense, but bushwhacking over uneven terrain was arduous. Eventually we picked up the trail again and trekked to Whiterocks Lake, then Chepeta Lake, where fly fisherman claimed the choice campsites. We were forced to go an extra mile north to Moccasin Lake.

Day 2

The reflective waters of Moccasin Lake. Polly Scotland
The reflective waters of Moccasin Lake.
Polly Scotland

On the morning of day two, I popped the nasty, quarter-sized blister on the bottom of my heel, then retraced my steps to Chepeta Lake and set out for the marshy area of Reader Lake. On the far side of the slough, we spotted a bull-moose leisurely raise and lower his shovels underwater as he dined on breakfast.

Toward noon, heavy cloud cover obliterated the sun during the climb up North Pole Pass (11,800-feet). Several false summits taunted us until we finally reached the top where strong winds were swirling.

Scrambling over the summit, I descended to Brook and Fox Lakes in an isolated thunderstorm. I plopped down on a soggy log near the foundation of an dilapidated log cabin in a light hail shower.

At a tributary of the Uinta River, a second hailstorm covered the ground in tiny white balls of ice. My feet throbbed, my back ached, and this second day of “boot camp” was miserable. I dropped my pack, sat on it, ate some nuts, drank water, and took Ibuprofen. I felt better and once again hit the trail.

Two moose—a mom and her baby—traversed an expansive meadow. They sauntered toward us until mom caught wind of us and dashed into the conifers.

We arrived at Kidney Lake after a difficult eleven-hour day.

After midnight, the sky cleared and the August Perseid meteor shower was on display with dazzling, light blue smoke tails of shooting stars.

Days 3 & 4

Sunset over Kidney Lake. Polly Scotland
Sunset over Kidney Lake.
Polly Scotland

On the third day, we walked to the expansive Painter Basin where another storm cut our day short.

The fourth day’s crisp, clear morning was invigorating as we hiked the steep ascent to the UHT’s overall high point at Anderson Pass (12,700-feet).

Many day-hikers merged onto the UHT from the north via the 27-mile Highpoint Trail near Mountain View, Utah, with a single goal of bagging the state’s highest point of King’s Peak (13,528-feet).

I sat below Anderson Pass and tracked my husband Lee in his blaze-orange jacket as he ascended the 1,000-foot spine above the shoulder of the pass to the summit.

Lee estimated that he would take two hours for the scramble to the summit, so Craig, Bob, and I pressed on toward the second pass of the day––Tungsten Pass.

Beside the splotchy green grass of Yellowstone Creek, I met a dozen students from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana taking a 12-day orientation trip. The mostly female freshmen, led by two chaperons, were on their first-ever wilderness experience.

When Lee caught up to me at Tungsten Pass, I asked, “What’s it like on the highest point of Utah?”

“The wind was so noisy I could barely hear anyone speak, but the 360-degree view went on forever––even north to Wyoming. A young blond woman took my picture, read passages from a time capsule, and showed me the signature book. It was a brief but incredible moment. I tried to place a cell phone call home, but there wasn’t a signal,” Lee recalled. “But let’s keep going before I seize up. I’ve been eating on the move and want to get to camp.”

From the top of the pass, we saw North Star Lake in Garfield Basin and Craig’s olive and gray tent hugging a windblown patch of shrub. At camp, Lee had the stumbles and bumbles because of a taxing ten-hour, two-pass, and one-summit day.

Day 5

The crew posing in Painter Basin with King's Peak looming in the distance. Polly Scotland
The crew posing in Painter Basin with King’s Peak looming in the distance.
Polly Scotland

On the fifth day, we hiked to Porcupine Pass (12,236-feet), then descended the crumbly, loose scree slopes toward Lambert Meadow. The gray-white pyramid peaks of Scout (12,855-feet) and Explorer (12,708-feet) were in sharp contrast to the adjacent red rolling caps.

When the UHT (also called the Ashley Forest Trail) in Lambert Meadow intersected the Lake Fork River Trail, we turned northwest into an Oz-like landscape. The scenery became more dramatic with warm-red peaks, chiseled mountainsides, and turquoise lakes that winked in the sunlight.

We camped beside the Lake Fork River in an area that was a tinderbox full of deadfall. After dinner we played the Bocce Ball game that Bob had lugged.

Day 6

The sixth day was another double pass day. After bushwhacking through unmarked terrain, we found the cairn marking the path up the distinctive Red Knob Pass (11,975-feet).

Next, we moved into the valley of Dead Horse Lake. At the milky-blue lake, I looked up the jagged, knife-edged mountain and asked the boys, “Where’s the Pass? There’s nothing remotely resembling a cut into the serrated mountaintop.”

Lee said, “Just trust the trail.”

A boulder scramble gave way to a very faint path. Bob called out, “I found the dead horse.” Resting on a rock was the skull of a horse with most of its teeth.

The boys moved steadily, and I lost sight of them. Leaning into the sharp slant of the incline, I planted both hiking poles into the loose scree before positioning one foot in front of the other. I continued this slow, methodical, baby-step pattern.

I came to a junction and couldn’t tell which sketchy path led to the pass and which was a ghost trail. As I weighed the options, I saw Lee coming for my pack.

At the apex, he dropped my pack, grabbed his, and headed down to get out of the freezing wind tunnel. I wanted to enjoy the vista, but I was nearly blown off as I clicked some photos before rounding the bend. I dropped down the backside of the scariest pass.

Eventually, I reached Ledge Lake (10,845-feet) and thanked Craig for choosing the east to west route. If I had climbed the daunting Dead Horse Pass with a fully loaded backpack on the second day, the trail might have been renamed Dead Woman Pass.

Day 7

The crew huddled under a tarp at Carolyn Lake. Polly Scotland
The crew huddled under a tarp at Carolyn Lake.
Polly Scotland

On the seventh day, a wave of threatening black clouds built above the well-named Rocky Sea Pass. I moved earnestly across the wobbly sea of rocks, summited, then caught up to the boys at Pigeon Milk Spring.

We were seven miles from the car, but no one was ready to re-enter civilization. Our last night was to be at Carolyn Lake, but when we arrived, the temperature plummeted 30 degrees and a series of hailstorms raged. We huddled under our trap, sipped hot broth, played trivia, and watched the heat leave the lake in wispy layers of fog. After the tenth round of mini-marshmallow-sized ice balls, we headed for Hayden Pass.

At dusk, I reached the parking lot where we rejoiced, hugged, and congratulated each other. I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment as I neared the finish line of the 83-mile, eight-pass journey that averages only 50 thru-hikers annually.

As I thought about the fact that our earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago, and the Uinta Mountains were created 600 million years ago, and the dinosaurs roamed 150 million years ago, I realized that my seven-day existence in this magnificent place doesn’t even register on the spectrum of time; however, it was a profound and humbling experience to travel atop 23 layers of geologic time––even if only for a moment.

Written by Polly Scotland for RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Polly Scotland

The Fascinating History of Hueco Tanks, the Birthplace of Modern Bouldering

For anyone who loves to boulder, a pilgrimage to Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site is inevitable. And it’s no wonder: This beloved Texas landmark is considered the mecca of modern bouldering, with a style of climbing found nowhere else in the world, all set against the backdrop of stark desert and reddish-brown rock. It’s the birthplace of the V-grades, the national bouldering standard, and the first place where climbers flocked purely for the boulders rather than roped routes.

This ancient place also has a 10,000-year-old legacy, where prehistoric people hunted now-extinct bison, sought shelter, and performed sacred ceremonies commemorated on the rock through paintings. From early inhabitants to rock climbers, Hueco Tanks, which is located about 32 miles northeast of El Paso, is indeed a sacred space, one that every climber should visit to experience some of the best bouldering in the world.

Why Hueco?

Any climber will tell you that the rock at Hueco Tanks feels like it was made for climbing. Hueco’s boulders are bullet-hard, with features found nowhere else in the bouldering world, like the surfboard hold on the Moonshine Roof or the impressive Martini Cave. This ancient igneous rock provides a place for complex movement that’s gymnastic-like and physical, yet delicate and technical. It’s one of the best places in the world to climb complex roof problems and helps climbers develop a combination of technique and strength in their climbing.

The rocks at Hueco Tanks are actually a remnant of uplifted domes of molten rock that were weathered and eroded over millennia and now contain “huecos,” or “hollows.” The hollows refer to the depressions in the rock that are perfect for holding water, providing an oasis for plants, wildlife, and humans—and now for the hands, feet, and knees of rock climbers.

A Snapshot in Time

People of the Jornada Mogollon culture left a rich and distinctive legacy on the rocks during the roughly 1000 years that they occupied Hueco Tanks. Based on the large numbers of pictographs attributed to these people, it also appears that painting-as a ritual or artistic expression-played a large role in the lives of these foraging farmers. Among more sedentary people, the need for rain and favorable growing conditions for crops likely were critical concerns, expressed in rituals and conveyed through the painting of sacred symbols. Many of these symbols, thought to refer to water, lightning, clouds, and other natural elements, appear to hark back to more ancient times and far away places, where older cultures had similar concerns. At Hueco Tanks, these depictions, along with hundreds of masks, faces, dancing figures, animals, and other images, provide glimpses of the spiritual world of the Jornada Mogollon. #huecotanks #txstateparks #tpwd

A post shared by Hueco Tanks SPHS (@huecotanksstatepark) on

But Hueco hasn’t always been a rock climbing destination—humans have inhabited Hueco Tanks for millennia, leaving their mark on the area in the form of rock art paintings, or pictographs. The collection of rock art in Hueco is remarkable, with thousands of paintings by multiple groups over the course of 10,000 years.

Painted masks with almond eyes and square faces stare out from the rock, along with ancient Mexican gods resembling serpents or jaguars. Hunting scenes abound, with horned humans and tiny, delicate deer and mountain sheep. Mysterious wavy lines and abstract symbols from ancient humans still stump archaeologists.

More recently, modern nomadic Native Americans like the Kiowa and Apaches have left their mark, too, drawing pictures of elaborate victory dances and hunts. As European and Spanish traders entered the scene a few hundred years ago, Native Americans drew pictures of cattle, churches, horse riding, and people dressed in European clothing.

From Rock Art to Rock Climbing

Today, the only new marks on the rock you’ll see in Hueco Tanks are chalk ones on bouldering holds. But Hueco wasn’t always a bouldering destination. Early climbers boldly tackled the surrounding cliffs using ropes, minimal trad protection, and the occasional bolt.

But over decades, climbers began exploring the bouldering potential of Hueco, and the results were impressive. In the 1970’s, Mike Head established the Mushroom Roof in Hueco, comparable in grade to Yosemite’s bouldering test piece of the time, Midnight Lightning. This was unprecedented—until that point, Hueco was just a local crag, and besides, bouldering was usually done to train for big-wall summits, not for its own sake.

But over the next decade, climbers headed in increasing numbers to Hueco, attracted to the pure joy of working and finessing moves on a small-scale environment, pushing their limits of strength, technique, and power as they topped out the boulders.

It wasn’t until climber John “Vermin” Sherman came to the scene in the 1980’s that the story of these desert boulders was forever changed. Sherman established more than 500 bouldering routes of varying difficulty, and soon, Hueco Tanks became the first major place in America where people gathered to boulder rather than to climb tall walls.

As the sport became more popular, the need for a bouldering guidebook began to emerge, and Sherman rose to the challenge, publishing Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to Bouldering in America in 1994. His original manuscript didn’t include a grading system, because according to Sherman, “Numbers got no soul. People need to get over that stuff.” But his publishers required it, so he set about creating a grading system using the “V for Vermin” grades that he and his climber buddies had jokingly used to grade their first ascents. Joke or not, it was the first time in the U.S. that an open-ended grading system had been used for boulders, and it established Hueco as the standard setting area across the nation. Now, the V-grades are used throughout North America, at every climbing gym and in every outdoor bouldering area.

Red Tape and Playing by the Rules

After Sherman’s guide came out, bouldering in Hueco blew up. Visitors swelled in the 1990’s as Hueco Tanks was featured in climbing magazines and established climbers came from around the world. But all that popularity came with a downside, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department became concerned with the impact that visitors were having on the vegetation, wildlife, and the potential harm to archaeological sites and pictographs. In 1998, park officials created the “Public Use Plan,” closing two-thirds of the park (East Mountain, East Spur, or West Mountain), unless visitors enter with a park-approved tour guide, and limiting access to the North Mountain to only 70 people a day.

To visit Hueco, it’s essential to plan ahead as early as possible. Call Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Hueco Tanks reservation line up to 90 days in advance to snag a spot. Once you have a reservation, show up at the park gate before 10 am to claim your spot, or call the parks to hold your reservation if you’re late. This will allow you to enter the North Mountain area, the only area open to self-guided visitors.

If you don’t have reservations for the North Mountain, there are two options for access: Show up at the gate before 8 am to wait in line for any open reservations (the park saves 10 spots a day for walk-ins), or come after 10 am, when all unclaimed spots open up. Tours meet at the front gate, and sometimes they’ll have open space and you can join.

The other way that people get into the park, and the only way in to East mountain, East Spur, or West Mountain is with a guide. The park’s guides take groups out bouldering or to see rock art, making sure that leave no trace ethics are followed and that park rules are closely observed.

There are two types of guides in the park: volunteer and commercial. Volunteer guides cost about $3 a person, but availability depends on the guide’s schedule. Call or check in at the park entrance to request a volunteer guide, and the park will let you know if a guide picks up the tour. Book a commercial tour if you need to guarantee availability, prefer to communicate with your guide regarding your ideal agenda for the day, and don’t mind shelling out up to $25 a person.

All visitors must pay the $7 entrance fee or purchase the annual Texas State Parks Pass for $70, which allows access to the park for everyone in the car.

Where to Stay and When to Go

The most popular place to stay is the Hueco Rock Ranch, where climbers gather to hang out, share tips on boulders, and soak up the desert scenery. It’s $10 a night to camp ($5 for American Alpine Club members), or you can rent a bunk or private room. There are showers, a barn, sheltered communal cooking area, and fire pits for campers to enjoy.

Quieter camping can be found at Gleatherland, with great views, showers, a fire pit, and WiFi, all for $5 a night, but you’ll need advance reservations. Rent a private room or a bunk room at the Hueco Hacienda, and take advantage of the full kitchen, dining room and living room, as well as crash pad rentals, WiFi, and showers.

The best time to boulder in Hueco Tanks is November through April, and the most popular time is during January and February. It will be sunny during the day and chilly at night, so don’t forget your puffy jacket and slippers!

The Hueco Rock Rodeo bouldering competition hosted by the American Alpine Club, usually in February, is a lot of fun to attend, but you’ll want to book lodging and park reservations in advance.

Written by Jacqui Levy for RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Alan Cressler

The Ultimate Weekend Getaway in Durango (No Matter What Kind of Traveler You Are)

There’s only one question you need to answer to determine whether Durango should be your next weekend getaway destination, and that’s whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway, period. While Durango is a year-round destination, winter is a particularly good time to visit. Whether you enjoy skiing, snowmobiling—or even ice climbing—the region is filled with scenic options for enjoying the winter weather. It’s also got great restaurants, breweries, cultural and historic sites, and family attractions for those who want to enjoy a view of the snow from inside.

Founded when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad arrived in the late 19th century, Durango was once a mining boomtown, with the hills chock-full of silver and gold. More than a century later, many of the mines are played out, but the area still has many finds—you just have to know where to look. Here’s where to go and what to do on a winter trip to Durango—regardless of what kind of traveler you are.

If You Like the Outdoors

The frozen waterfall at Cascade Canyon near Durango is a popular spot for ice climbing.

Marcus Garcia

Looking for an action-packed winter weekend in the great outdoors? Start with Purgatory Resort, which has been drawing skiers for more than 50 years. Located just 25 miles north of Durango, the resort offers a unique blend of steep tree skiing and wide-open cruisers, both of which provide stunning views for lucky visitors who will enjoy fewer crowds and cheaper prices than at many other Colorado resorts (it’s been named North America’s Best Ski Value by TripAdvisor for three years straight). The runs at Purgatory are known for their character, with a high fun-factor as they twist down the mountain. Snowboarders will get a kick out of the seven terrain parks, and the state’s largest Snowcat skiing operation gives advanced skiers access to 35,000 acres of the San Juan backcountry.

At Purgatory, you can explore the backcountry another way by taking a snowmobile tour withSnowmobile Adventures. Professional guides will teach you how to ride and take you through more than 75 miles of trails, where you can play in vast meadows and take in the incredible views.Ice Pirates out of Silverton features snowmobile tours and rentals on its trail system that covers 55,000 acres in the San Juan Mountains, with a high point over 12,000 feet. Either choice will give you the ride of a lifetime, with unmatched views to enjoy.

For a quieter way to enjoy the outdoors, theVallecito Nordic Ski Club provides a groomed trail system for cross-country skiers about 20 miles northeast of Durango near the Vallecito Reservoir. You can rent equipment in town and take it to the trails, which offer plenty of terrain for any level of skier. Snowshoeing is another option to escape into the winter wonderland. Just about any hiking trail takes on a whole new life in the winter with a pair of snowshoes, and some of the more popular options in the region are the Colorado Trail, the Hermosa Creek Trail and the Falls Creek Trail.

For the truly adventurous, the frozen waterfall at Cascade Canyon is an excellent spot for ice climbing.Kling Mountain Guides offers beginner and intermediate ice climbing courses to get you started.

If You’re a Foodie

Believe it or not, Durango is home to more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. Durango’s no big city, but when it comes to having cultural experiences, it will give any larger city a run for its money. On your first night, stroll down Main Avenue, the town’s quaint main drag, to scope out your weekend’s must-eats. Spend the night at the historic Strater Hotel, where you can enjoy a range of award-winning dining, including two classic saloons. Durango dining includes French, Italian, Japanese, Thai, and, thanks to Durango’s proximity to New Mexico, phenomenal Mexican restaurants. The best breakfast of your trip will be at Oscar’s Cafe, and you don’t want to miss Seasons, the first farm-to-table restaurant in Durango, or the contemporary flair of Mutu’s Italian Kitchen.

If You Like Cocktails and Craft Beer

Spend the evening at Ska Brewing, where you’ll have plenty of beer to choose from.

Visit Durango

Durango has a number of breweries, so don’t be intimidated if you’re not sure where to begin. If you’re staying at the Victorian-era General Palmer Hotel, you’re within walking distance of Carver Brewing Co., a brewpub with an extensive menu and beer list. The Colorado Trail Nut Brown Ale is a nice option on a winter night. Another option is Ska Brewing, which is known for its signature True Blonde or Pinstripe beers. On day two make for Durango Craft Spirits Distillery & Tasting Room, the first post-Prohibition distillery in the area. There’s also El Moro Spirits & Tavern, the site of Durango’s strangest shoot-out (ask your bartender about it). Or stop in at the Ore House for a handcrafted cocktail nightcap.

If You’re Traveling with Kids

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is great for families—not only do kids tend to jump at the chance to check out a train, but coaches also have bathrooms and concessions are available on the train, so you won’t be stranded with hungry, cranky kiddos. (Cars are also heated during the winter, so this is an option year-round.) After the train ride, head to Steamworks, known for its great food and family-friendly atmosphere and conveniently located just three blocks from the train depot and museum. On day two, sign on for snowmobile tour with a reputable local outfitter. This activity is great for families because it gives you a chance to get out farther than you otherwise might with little ones or grandparents.

Other options kids will also love include tubing at Purgatory Resort or exploring the Powerhouse Science Center, a museum located in an historic coal-fired, alternating current (AC) electric plant on the Animas River. You’ll find enough hands-on, interactive exhibits to keep kids entertained for hours.

If you’re looking for some relaxation, Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs is just seven miles north of town. It features two mineral-rich hot pools, plus a heated Olympic-sized swimming pool that’s open year-round. You’ll also find lodging options and spa treatments on the property, when you need that massage after a day of adventure.

If You’re a History Buff

Head to Mesa Verde National Park to learn about and see first-hand the incredible cliff dwellings created by Ancestral Puebloans.

Ken Lund

For a dose of ancient history, head to Mesa Verde National Park, where you’ll learn about and see first-hand the incredible cliff dwellings created by Ancestral Puebloans. It’s believed that Mesa Verde (or “green table”) was seasonally inhabited by Paleo-Indians as early as 7500 B.C., likely because of its position 8,500 feet above sea level. The mesa was an ideal place for the Native Americans, providing an abundance of food and shelter (despite the barren-looking landscape, they were able to grow corn, beans and squash). While tribes and cultures inhabited the area off and on, the last known inhabitants were the Ancestral Pueblo people, from A.D. 600 to 1300. The cliff dwelling area is the main attraction in the park, and you are actually allowed to get up close and go inside some of the structures. There are hiking trails and the park is also popular for bird watching and stargazing. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is also available in the park, weather permitting. Plus, a guided Winter Ecology Hike helps you look for the park’s winter inhabitants. Check the park’s website for winter trail conditions to see what’s available.

Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated Media in partnership with Durango Area Tourism Office.

Featured image provided by Visit Durango

National Margarita Day – Margarita of the Year

It’s National Margarita Day! Do you know what this means?!? Yea, nothing really, but there’s this pretty rad competition that Patron holds every year that coincides with this day and I’m going to tell you all about it.

In honor of National Margarita Day, Patron has launched their annual Margarita of the Year competition, where people from all around the world compete to win… well, Margarita of the year. I know, it probably sounds uneventful, but these heavenly concoctions are far from that. See for yourself:

So, just to recap we’ve got:


    Red Wine & Hibiscus


    Mango & Indian Spices


    Green Peas & Earl Grey Tea


    Mango & Fresh Avocado


    Charred Pineapple & Sage


    Coconut & Jalapeño


    Grapefruit & Tiki Spices

I know which one i’m voting for; if you think you’ve got the winner, you can vote for your choice here.

The Real Debate Tonight is What to Drink

All this political banter is making us more crazy, and more impatient than we appreciate; I am sure you can agree. These days, watching a white sheet dry is frankly more appealing than sitting through hours of a lemon faced, orange and an email scandal. I’ve come to realize at the end of each day, and each debate, I need a drink, and maybe you do too.

The greatest alternative to a boggled mind, is a calming cocktail (or three). Check out these 5 drinks that will put all your political worries at ease; you’re welcome.

  1. AMF – The Adios Mother F*ck3r is kind of a party pack of alcohols if you will, and probably the most intricate drink on our list. For good reasons. With vodka, gin, white rum and some blue curacao, sour mix and 7-Up, this mixed drink will definitely leave you with no worries when you’re done with it. Or thoughts or feelings for that matter.
  2. Chai Fireball Tea – Yea, you read that right. This is one of those weird Pumpkin Spice Latte things where you feel like a teenage girl while you’re drinking it, but its also really damn good so you choose not to care. Fix up a steaming pot of Chai, douse it with whiskey, and let the debate games begin.
  3. Cape Cod – Just like Cape Cod itself, this drink has got a hook. The cranberry juice and lime mixture are sure to reel you in, and the vodka is there to make you stay. and keep coming back. Night night.
  4. Paloma – Simple yet delicious, the Paloma is 3 parts grapefruit soda, 1 part tequila and a lime. Tune out the noise with this sour sipper and use the lime to practice your own DT squish face.
  5. Mai Tai – Saving the best for last, the ultimate mind calming cocktail, the Mai Tai. From the first debates in history to the ones at the end of time, this vacation in a cup will never get old. Tune in, Shake well, serve and repeat.

If one of these doesn’t sound appetizing enough for the big show, then you really should be more open minded. Work on it.

Road Trip USA

Our friend Elan, and his lovely girlfriend, just quit their jobs and decided to embark on a month and a half long road trip through California, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana (to celebrate Elan’s families annual Indian Pow Wow on Rocky Boy reservation – so cool!), up into Alberta Canada, to Vancouver and down through Washington, Oregon and back down to California.

They camped, ate lots of noodles, drank lots of coffee and took tons of photos on the way. We were so inspired by what they were about to embark on, that before they left we hooked them up with some ODT gear to put the cherry on top of their already awesome adventure. Well, here are the results, and we could not be more jealous of the cool places they saw, and the rad experiences they gained. Well done, guys.



If you would like to hear more about their trip around the country, head over to their blog.

High Fives: Colorado Charity Golf Tournament

On August 30th, the High Fives Foundation hosted their 2nd Annual Colorado Charity Golf Tournament on the fairways at Copper Creek Golf Course at Copper Resort.

Thirty-six teams of four came out to raise money for High Fives Athletes who are recovering from major life-altering injuries. Between registration fees, silent auctions and open donations, over $50,000 were raised for the foundation! This is an all-time record for High Fives golf tournaments, and we are proud to be apart of such an awesome feat.

Kat Jahnigen, Savannah Pitts & The Lion Heart Project documented the whole thing from beginning to end. Take a peek below.



To learn more about this awesome foundation and everything they do, click here –>

Outdoor Talk: Zach “Ducky” Kovacs

Zachary Kovacs, Ducky for short, is from  Modesto, California. He’s been skating for about 15 years now and grew up at Ceres Skate Park . His favorite thing to skate, besides everything, are red curbs, and when he’s not skating he’s at Programme Skate & Sound watching skate vids. Skate skate skate.He rips pretty hard and has a Thrasher feature to prove it. Get to know Ducky a bit better and check out his interview below.

First and foremost congratulations on your Thrasher feature, how stoked were you when that happened?

Thanks, I was real hyped! Even now it doesn’t even seem real.


What was the process of getting this exposure?

Me and some friends had been filming sometime for a skate video ( Jordan Faulk’s Stand By Fire ) and with the video winding down everyone handling their Enders , Bigspin front board down Hollywood had been on my mind for a while and After going back a few times it worked out with the security guard letting us skate the sixteen. My good friend Jacob Remero shot a sequence and Geno from PIZZA skateboards saw the photo and made the ad happen. It couldn’t have worked out any better and am so stoked how our video as a whole came out! Everyone killed it!! (Shameless plug )

How did you find out about ODT? Why do you love us?

Taylor came into the shop and talked about the company and I made a point to talk to Ryan at Agenda LB . He liked the stuff I sent him and things just worked out from there. I love ODT because the products are loud and durable, and everyone I’ve met apart of ODT are rad (especially Ryan and Taylor <3)

What initially got you into skating?

When I was three my cousins were skating in front of my house and I would take there old boards and push around on one knee until I learned to stand up.


Who’s your skate hero?

Right now I’d have to say Cam Sedlick. He’s one of the nicest skaters I’ve ever met, has a crazy bag of tricks, and just turned 16. He comes out with a new part Jan 25th that I’m really looking forward to, especially after seeing his part in SBF.

What’s the best skate trip you’ve gone on thus far?

Phx Am trip last year was so far the best, we got to skate a handful of Arizona spots and my good friend Jamie Foy took second in the contest and left with 2G’s!!

Tell us about Programme

Programme is sick , Chris runs a good balance of music and skating with live shows in the shop and skate events , and it’s pretty rad riding for a shop that sells vinyl and skate goods .

Which ODT product would you hope you had with you on a deserted island?

Buckshot Pro for sure! Music, flashlight, and a USB charger!!!


Any trips coming up?


Tell us a little about your crew of hooligans. 

Four LOKOS, loud music, and skating

Thanks ; Mom,  Dad, Max,  Geno at Pizza and Lurk hard , Jordan Faulk , EVERYONE APART OF TEAMHALFASS SBF,  Chris at Programme , Ryan and Taylor at ODT , Jacob Remero , Dan Stolling , and everyone else who helped me out these past years !

Thank YOU, Zach. We can’t wait to see what’s next for you.


All PC: