Josh Aldridge

The Lost Art of Pooping in the Woods

It’s recently come to my attention that some citified pansies may be uncomfortable dropping a deuce outside. We have to fix that before you blow a gasket—or worse, drive back to town in search of a toilet.

From the dawn of man, we’ve tried to make pooping more comfortable—cleaning up with leaves instead of sticks, then paper, two-ply, and bidets. We’ve moved from squatting by the trail to scent-reducing cat holes, outhouses, toilets—sometimes with padded and heated seats—it’s just not natural. If the seat’s too cold for you to unload, grab a book and wait a few minutes!

I don’t believe manhood can be achieved without a woodland dump any more than that panty-waisted chin strap you’re cultivating counts as a beard.

Step One: Go Outside
Stand up from your porcelain throne and head outside. Find a nice, wooded spot—not too close to the trail—and look around. Make sure you can’t see any signs of civilization before you move on to Step Two.

Step Two: Dig a Hole
If this was for your own benefit, I’d tell you to drop it where you will, but cat holes are for the benefit of others so man up and scratch out a little ground pocket for your poo.

Step Three: Drop Trow
Undo your belt, drop those skinny jeans, and cop a squat. Make sure you remove at least one leg entirely from your pants. It’s easier to get a nice, low stance if you don’t hobble yourself and, if you’re a one-two combo sort of guy, it’s almost impossible to soak your pants if they’re off to the side.

I prefer the “boots only” approach as it just feels better. Give it a try by removing your pants altogether before you do the doo.

As a side note, this approach makes it easier to run from a bear, though it does leave valuable bits somewhat more exposed…

Step Four: Wait
In some cases this step’s unnecessary (i.e. chili, food poisoning, coffee squirts, etc.) but, for most of us, this chance for a few seconds of quiet reflection are a joyous addition to the outdoor ousting of your last meal. Don’t ruin it with Angry Birds.

Step Five: Clean Up
With your deuce dropped and the wonders of nature solidly experienced, it’s time for a little housekeeping. Wipe yourself with whatever’s handy—except porcupines which won’t get you very clean and armadillos which could do a great job but would be very angry about the process. Poison ivy’s a bad idea too but that’s between you and your dermatologist.

If you wipe with something found naturally in the woods, feel free to bury it in your cat hole. If you brought it with you, pack it in plastic and carry it back out of the woods.

Bury your brown with the cat hole dirt and add another scoop from nearby for good measure. Toss a few rocks and leaves on top then make your way back to civilization with your skinny jeans fitting a little more like men’s pants do.

You’re welcome.

I’m With the Band

Let me get one thing straight from the start—I’m not a groupie. I don’t want to be friends with, hug, kiss, or sleep with any member of any band.

I was a poor college student at a time when Napster was being blamed for killing the music industry and bands were limiting their free show schedules to hometowns only. I love music and get bored easily. That’s it. That’s how it all started.

That’s why, for years, my camera bag had a dozen or so All Access passes clipped to the strap and why, at first, they were all homemade at Kinkos for shows I never attended. The phrase “I’m with the band” wasn’t my typical go-to tool but it slipped out every once in a while. More often than not I’d drop the name of my college newspaper or the radio station I did overnights at as if the promoter should recognize the immense prestige those call letters held. They’d glance at my collection of passes and wave me in.

By the time I really belonged on any list, I’d worn my favorite pair of Chuck Taylors to well over three hundred shows. I’d interviewed dozens of bands and bought a lifetime total of zero concert tickets.

I ended up backstage with Ben Folds and Guster in Kansas City and in a hotel with The Strokes in Tulsa. I sat in an old van with The Aquabats and interviewed The Flaming Lips on a curb outside some bar in Stillwater.

It was a wild ride that led to some pretty jacked up stories—someday I’ll tell you about the bassist who did a backflip off his amp after downing a 40 and never missed a note—but the point of my telling you all this is to say that life is incredibly short. Don’t waste it. Don’t sneak into concerts either, even if it’s going to be a great show, because they take that a lot more seriously nowadays. But don’t waste the short time you have on this beautiful, twirling rock either. You shouldn’t be sitting inside with artificial experiences when you could be out living real ones and collecting stories of your own.

Those first few passes—the fake ones—looked pretty good but the real ones were even better. Use that implied metaphor how you will as long as you get out there and live a little. Be creative. Have fun. Work hard for what you want and avoid crappy music—especially live, crappy music.

There are only a few things in life that are worth what they cost—family, friends, adventures, a great pair of headphones, and an education—everything else can be taken or left along the road to the next show, the next experience, the next adventure.

The Humblebrag in a Digital Age

Thanks to social media, we see it at least daily—a friend who has truly awesome stuff happening but they’re complaining about the little things—the hardships of adjusting to their new Subi (the cup holders are in weird places) or less-than-epic swell at Seven Sisters (while we’re stuck at the office).
Regardless of how close the friendship may be, something deep down inside tells you it would be okay to punch them and take their place. That something’s probably right because the humblebrag kills stoke and it’s not okay.
I retract that—don’t punch your friends. Just set a better example. Here’s how:

Embrace the Stoke
If something epic happens, it’s okay to get stoked. Some people might say you have to play it cool but they’ve got it wrong. You biffed it when Lynsey Dyer passed you on the slope? No worries.
Finish your run, compliment hers at the bottom, and grab a pic. It’s better than the humblebrag—“Double blacks are so crowded these days.”

Find the Humor
Say you’re really enjoying a Nicaraguan beach and a crab somehow finds its way into your trunks and grabs a little bit of manhood (Disclaimer: It’s a hypothetical situation and I deny any allegations that this happened to me in the mid-90s, regardless of what Ed says).
It would be a really hilarious story once the swelling goes down. I wouldn’t suggest posting pictures but a tastefully comedic telling is much better than the humblebrag—“Nothing like crabs to ruin a day at the beach.”

Fix the Problem
I know it’s easier to just complain but you could fix whatever’s wrong with your experience. Finding a resolution lets you enjoy the moment rather than having it “ruined’ by something relatively minor.
Your Western Thick Burger came out sans onion rings? Ask for a replacement instead of dropping the hamburger humblebrag—“Hardees—I would have liked it but you didn’t put a ring on it.”

Tell the Truth
In reality, you’re driving an old Subi and you ate snow this weekend when some girl who looked like Lynsey (because she was blonde and wearing skis) passed you on a green. In all reality, you’re probably sitting somewhere, perhaps in an office just like mine, eating that burger and reading articles instead of working. Be honest.
If you’re at work right now, go get something done and post a picture of that finished TPS report instead of the humblebrag—“Outdoor Tech articles keep distracting me from my paperwork.”

Hopefully, your friends will see your good example and the world, maybe even the whole Twitterverse, will become a better place. But, if nothing changes and your friends absolutely have to know about those cup holders, tell them in person so the rest of us don’t have to see it in our feeds.

I Punched a Bobcat

I’m not known for making reasonable life choices. That’s why nobody outside was at all shocked when I entered a small, weathered barn one autumn morning to manually evict a bobcat.

It all started as we sat around a pile of Fourth Meal wrappers, engaged in the sort of philosophical discussion that only occurs when a group of undergrads stays out too late. After the nth Nirvana reference and upon the realization that, for the first time since starting college, we were about to see a sunrise, we loaded up in my ’86 Chrysler Fifth Avenue—everyone entering through the passenger’s door, since it was the only one that worked—and drove out to one of the guy’s parents’ farm.

Everyone clambered out, blinking and stretching, then stood around looking at stuff since we clearly hadn’t planned this out. His parents were out of town or at work (I don’t remember which) so, after a long three minutes, we got bored and started wandering around, throwing rocks at trees and picked the conversation back up where we left it—somewhere between Pennyroyal Tea and Negative Creep.

In the distance, across a pasture, we spotted an old barn that, to quote my friend, “isn’t a barn; it’s a bobcat den.”

In retrospect, he probably meant that to dissuade us from venturing further but it had the opposite effect. We were suddenly awake and alert, excited to go peek through the cracked-wood walls in hopes of spotting the glowing eyes of such a ferocious predator.

Someone made a joke about taking it back to the dorms. Another about dropping it off in the math department offices. Then, after a few seconds of silence as we peered fruitlessly through cracks and gaps into the darkness, someone made the not-so-bright suggestion to go inside.

Whether it was courage, curiosity, stupidity, bravado, or some combination thereof, I spoke one of the dumbest phrases my mouth could have possibly released at that moment—“I’ll go.” With that, it was settled.

My “friends” took up posts around the barn, each straining to observe, as closely as possible from a safe distance, the carnage that we were all anticipating.

I opened the door and stepped in.

There was some sort of dust floating through shafts of light that slid through the wall-cracks, only partially blocked by the muttonheads gawking outside. I took a step, then another, then my eyes started to adjust. There was a broken-down riding mower, an old farm implement, some other debris… and a bobcat.

Just for clarification, when I said “I’ll go,” I, deep in my heart, knew there wasn’t a bobcat inside that barn. You live and learn.

Someone outside, peeking through the wall behind the bobcat, must have made a noise because, all of a sudden, that thing came straight at me. Mustering my deepest lack of intelligence, I made a fist and dropped my finest haymaker on that big cat’s ear. Then I screamed like a little girl and retreated all the way to the car.

There’s an App For That

I’ve long been an advocate of off-the-grid adventures—getting as far from cell signal as possible, leaving that irritating thing in the Jeep for good measure. I’m also a gear and tech junkie that lives with a non-stop, social media mainline coming through a pile of iDevices. It’s a duplicitous life but, so far, I’ve managed to balance the two sides of my existence.
Lately, however, I’ve heard that blasted little *ding* on high mountain ridges, an island without a cell tower of its own, and deep—and I mean DEEP—in the backwoods of banjo-pickin’, squirrel-and-dumplins, hillbilly territory. It’s inescapable.
Since AT&T and their cohorts have extended my digital tether, I’ve decided to put it to good use on my adventures with more than just the typical Instagram and Facebook posts to show I’m alive and having fun. I’ve run through about two hundred bucks worth of apps that tout everything from comprehensive, emergency medical info to easier national park campsite registration. Some are great; most are worthless, but the ones I use on a regular basis are all free. So, without further ado, here are the eight (free) apps I believe are worth bringing along on your next adventure. Plus an honorable mention.


OT_Blog_Featured_01They’ve rounded up locals from all over the country to give beta on everything from hiking trails and climbing routes to river runs and restaurants. Most of it’s solid too. The nice thing is that they’re still growing so, each time you go back, you’re likely to find some new stuff to explore.


OT_Blog_Featured_02You already have the camera strapped to your head, why not sync and control the shots remotely? That’s the gist. You can also send interns out with a cameras strapped to their heads and (hypothetically of course) get incredible, up-close shots of mating buffalo or rutting elk from the safety of your Jeep.


OT_Blog_Featured_03In 1985, before apps existed, these guys setup a pay-per-call surf report system that allowed wave riders to “know before you go” about conditions at breaks along the California coast. They’ve expanded a bit since then and the app’s pretty essential if you’re headed out on dawn patrol.

Knots Guide

OT_Blog_Featured_04I spent a lot of my youth ignoring scout leaders who tried to teach me how to tie knots. Hindsight’s 20/20 but I think I would have been more into it if they’d mentioned rock climbing anywhere in the lesson. I’ve got a few more than the basics down now but, every once in a while, it’s nice to have a refresher for when my fingers just can’t get it right. Here’s that refresher in a beautifully simple, easy to use, visual-learner-friendly app.

Mtn Project

OT_Blog_Featured_05More specific crag and route beta, offline use, and the ability to bookmark your favorites? Check. Check. And check. It’s also a tracker for your climbing projects and allows you to rate those that you’ve ticked off the list.

Weye Feye

OT_Blog_Featured_06This one’s only sort of free—the app is but it’s not useful without their camera-controlling gadget. It lets you connect a DSLR to your iDevices for hard-to-reach/dangerous shots from weird angles and distant tree limbs leaning over the river.

Topo Maps+

OT_Blog_Featured_07It’s an app full of topo maps. Download before you go for offline use or pull them up along the trail—either way works. It’s the best one I’ve found outside of buying a trail-specific Garmin or carrying stacks of paper maps. If you want even more functionality, you can download the expanded Gaia App package and it does all sorts of stuff that may or may not be helpful.

First Aid by the American Red Cross

OT_Blog_Featured_08They do ask for donations in app, which gets old except for when I remember that a poorly tied knot could lead to use of the ARC’s blood donor services. It’s a fairly basic collection of medical info that addresses all but the weird stuff you might encounter in the woods.

Honorable Mention: PayPal

OT_Blog_Featured_09When your intern-mounted shot makes the cover of Rutting Elk Monthly, you can get paid without a return trip to civilization. Just make sure you listen for the little *ca-ching* sound.

7 Concerts You Won’t Want to Miss on St. Patrick’s Day

Instead of spending another St. Patrick’s Day at some bar with foil shamrocks taped to the wall, you could grab a concert ticket and make it a night you’ll remember regardless of the whiskey.
If you need a push in the right direction, here are our top picks for St. Patty’s Day entertainment:

The Street Dogs at House of Blues (Anaheim, CA)
Mike McColgan, the original lead singer for Dropkick Murphys, did a stint fighting fires in Boston before returning to the music world in 2002 with a new band, The Street Dogs. With five albums out so far (and, hopefully, another in the works), these guys live up to their hard-hitting, celtic rock pedigree.

The Mahones at Euro Disneyland (Paris, France)
These guys started off as a cover band for a St. Patty’s Day party and decided to stick with it once the party died down. Twelve albums and 25 years later, they’re not showing any signs of stopping. They would have ranked higher but who wants to spend St. Patty’s Day at Euro Disney?

Blaggards at O’Bannon’s Taphouse (College Station, TX)
Texas isn’t known for their Irish music scene but Patrick Devlin, Blaggards’ lead singer and guitarist, has always been something of a rebel. While most celtic rock bands have followed the punk vein, Blaggards are clearly on the metal side of things and do it well.

The Tossers at The Masquerade (Atlanta, GA)
The Tossers are a folk band with heavy punk influences or a punk band with heavy folk influences. Either way, they’re one of the best celtic rockish bands that’s ever taken the stage.

Young Dubliners at Hard Rock Casino (Tulsa, OK)
The Young Dubs have been around since the early ‘90s, playing a solid mix of original songs and traditional, Irish tunes turned up a bit. They’re one of the best bands for audience sing-alongs since even their biggest shows feel like they’re playing to a few friends in a local pub.

Flogging Molly at The Hollywood Palladium (Los Angeles, CA)
Even if you don’t listen to celtic rock but once a year, you’ve heard of these guys and probably know the words to a song or two. If you live in LA, this is the show to be at. Flogging Molly’s sound is unique, even in the celtic rock scene, with a mix of hard-hitting tunes and beautiful ballads. They tend to pull their crowds along on an emotional rollercoaster and you’ll thank them for it after the show.

Dropkick Murphys, The Mahoneys, & Blood or Whiskey at Vicar Street (Dublin, Ireland)
Tickets sold out about the time St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland (a bit of a history lesson for you) but, if you’re a VIP, absolutely loaded, or have a friend who can get you in as a roadie, make your way to Dublin for the show of a lifetime.

Now go have an awesome time.

The Vanlife

Christina Applegate once said “I want to live in a van down by the river.” Don’t we all? Well, maybe not the river—maybe by the crag or the trailhead, on a beach with perfect swells—regardless of where you park it, vanlife is a nearly universal desire. The rad thing? It’s a totally attainable dream. Here’s how to make it happen.

Buy a Van
It seems obvious because it is. This is your starting point. The beginning of your dream life—climbing all day, partying all night, sleeping in until a park ranger knocks on the window.

Any van will do the job but the kind you choose can say a lot about you. A minivan says “I live with my mom in the off-season.” A Sprinter says “I’m in this for the long haul. I’m invested.” A windowless Econoline says “I’m a real dirtbag” (or “I have candy” if you park too close to a school).

Customize It
Rims and chrome are for the urbane set. Vanlife requires stickers to show you’re legit and curtains to keep prying eyes off your gear. The essential stickers are as follows:

(1) Sticker from your local outfitter
(1) Sticker from your favorite national park
(3) Stickers from “sponsors” (brands giving you or a buddy pro deals)
(1) Sticker from Outdoor Tech

You can add to these, but never drop below the minimum.

Power Everything
If you can land a guide or instructor job, pick up a few solar panels and a second battery for your van. This will let you charge up during the day and keep the party going all night. How can you drop that sick edit to your social media channels without power?

Van speakers are alright, I guess, but sometimes you need more. Sometimes you need less. Pull on a pair of Tuis when you need to focus or spread the sound around your campsite/parking lot with a Bluetooth speaker to really get things started.

Fold the seats down and sleep on that mess? I don’t think so. Pull the seats out and sell them online. There’s a family somewhere who needs them. You need the space in back for a bed, or at least a foam pad.

I’ve always been a big fan of the sleeping platform because it lets me store gear underneath and sleep on top, adding insulation and cargo space while still letting me spread out in my jams.

Drive It
Now that your van’s looking (and sounding) good, it’s time to head out. Start with a roadtrip—just a couple days away from the grind—to see how it feels. Go somewhere close to home and relax. Invite friends or don’t—that’s up to you.

Live It
It’s custom. It’s comfortable. You’ve got power and tunes. It’s even road tested. Now it’s time. Go—live the vanlife like it was meant to be lived. Head to Yosemite or Yellowstone, Seven Sisters, Grand Canyon, or Vail. Regardless of where you go, you’ll always be home because “Home is where you park it.” Just don’t forget to pack your government cheese.

Confessions of a Burrito Junkie

My friends say I have a problem. There are tortillas stashed around the house. There’s a small patch of cilantro growing in the back. I keep a bottle of rooster sauce in my glove box.

I’ve been wrapping for years but, recently, things may have gotten a little out of hand.

It started innocently enough—bean and cheese, beef and bean, chicken and rice… breakfast… I stuck with the gateway fillings for a long time but, eventually, things got weird. I wrapped granola with peanut butter but that wasn’t enough. I added bacon. Dried fruit. Chocolate chips.

Before I knew it, I had pudding and Cocoa Puffs dribbling out the back of a tortilla as I hid—ashamed—in my buddy’s garage.

My burrito habit doesn’t hurt anybody though. It’s not like I’m a drive-thru eater. At least, not very often. I mean, I get Fourth Meal every once in while but not with kids in the car.

For what it’s worth, I think most people can eat burritos responsibly. My friends get together at Mexican restaurants once in a while. They listen to some mariachi, have a burrito, and head home. It’s a casual thing.

I’m three meals a day, sometimes for weeks at a shot. It doesn’t help that my brother worked his way through college managing a Qdoba. He taught me how to make their cilantro-lime rice and wrap everything up tight so it doesn’t spill. That might have been when things took a turn.

Over the past few years, I’ve avoided lunch meetings and dinner appointments, pulling away from family and friends, coworkers and clients, because they want to grab a burger. I tried to convince myself that sushi was just a Japanese burrito and rice would be okay on the outside…but it wasn’t. Now I plan meetings in the morning and afternoon so I can have lunch by myself.

I usually go to taquerias. You know the ones—old gas stations painted bright colors in rundown neighborhoods. I get carne asada burritos to go, tucking the foil package under my jacket as I make my way back to the parking lot, then eat in the car. It’s a lonely life sometimes.

I’ve been trying to get things under control for a while. My wife’s really supportive. She plans meals and packs lunches to help out. When we do our grocery shopping we avoid the ethnic foods aisle altogether. Just last week she got rid of every can of beans in the house—donated them to a food pantry while I was at work. It’s slow, but I’m making progress.

I bought my last pack of frozen burritos today and, when they’re gone, I’m done.

A Primer on Awesomeness

We journalists like to believe that everybody has a story worth telling, but it’s just not true. Most people are, at best, incredibly boring. Some even suck at life. A recent (non-academic) study suggests that no more than 3% of the population in any given year does anything worth posting about.

That means photos from your visit to Aunt Mildred’s and your dog’s recent bath should stay in your phone. Your baby’s probably only cute to you—keep those pictures in an analog photo album and don’t pull it out until he’s dating.

If you want to join that three-percent it may be possible but you have to change everything.

Quit Your Job.
There’s nothing that gets in the way of awesome more than work. Forty hours of potential awesomeness down the crapper. You’ve got big ideas, big plans. You need freedom to make things happen and that salary position’s just holding you back.

Flip your desk and walk out. Bonus points if something’s on fire by the time you leave.

Chase Your Dreams.
Awesome people do awesome things, right? Go live it but think big.

You want to be an astronaut? Hang out at NASA. Yeah, there’s a fence but that’s just a boundary built by the man to keep you out. There’s awesomeness happening in there—go get it.

You want to date a supermodel? Pick one and start calling. Visiting. Sending letters. They dig that.

Ignore the Haters.
You’re chasing your dreams—doing big things and being awesome. Don’t let family or friends hold you back. They may think it’s a bad idea to start your own underground racing circuit but you gotta be you. Forget about them and do your thing.

Post it All.
Once you’ve moved past the daily grind and put family and friends in the rear view, it’s time to show all the little people what #YOLO really means.

A day on the slopes? Post it.

Dinner with your new, supermodel girlfriend? Post it.

Pissing excellence? Post it, but remember—that goes on Snapchat…maybe Vine.

Social media’s your greatest tool for communicating the fact that you’re dominating life. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—they’re a great start but you have to really work the space. Now that you’re living the life, you have a responsibility to share it on G+ and find a way to review yourself on Yelp.

Take it to the Next Level.
Sometimes awesomeness needs a little publicity boost. That’s when awesome people step it up. Wreck a car and nobody cares. Drive it into a restaurant and people notice. Your game has to be on 110%.

Sure, haters may call you a douche or even click that unfollow button once in a while—but when you hit the trending feed, they’ll notice.