Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Outpost Trade Show - a trip to the redwood forest like no other

I was invited by to cover The Outpost Trade Show as Media. The Outpost is an outdoor industry event like no other. The event showcases outdoor brands in the environment for which they were created... the great outdoors. is a website and app for campground and gear reviews. It's like for camping. I've been writing reviews for the website this past year. I've found that it's a good way to discover new campgrounds and also to share one's knowledge of campgrounds. People share about the campground facilities, amenities, best campsites, caveats, nearby attractions, etc. I like it because it encourages people to #getoutside.

Leading up to the event, the promotional media that I received from The Outpost was excellent.

The simple yet nostalgic messaging appealed to me.

I was intrigued that many of my favorite outdoor brands would be present. And many of which I had previously never heard. The lineup of brands looked impressive.

What was really cool was that asked me to cover the event for them as Media; so I'd have a VIP badge with full access to the trade show, experiences and networking with the brands.

Prior to the event, The Outpost sent me these fantastic images of gear from some of the brands that would be in attendance. I mean, who wouldn't want to hangout in a Tentsile tent after seeing an image like this? Click on the image above to see more.

After a few weeks of hightened anticipation, it was time to travel from Austin to San Francisco to Navarro to hangout in the redwood forest. View the video above to see the journey.

After arriving at the venue, Camp Navarro, I discovered that I would be staying in a Tentsile tent. How cool is that?

Soon the trade show portion of the event kicked off. There were a number of booths set up in a meadow surrounded by redwood trees. It was a natural yet dramatic setting to hold an outdoor industry trade show. I jumped right in and started chatting with some of the crew that were representing the brands. See items from Confidants, Sawyer, Milican, Uco and Saxx Underwear.

Or watch this little video to see interviews with the company representatives.

Next up was gear from Topo Designs, Chaco Footwear, Kiva Outdoor, Crown Canyon Home, 1927smores, and Goodr Sunglasses.

And the video interviews.

I was having so much fun talking with people and checking out the gear that I almost forgot to interview the representatives. Check out these offerings from ArchitecSF, Drink Tanks, Mission Workshop, Merrell and ArvinGoods.

However, I managed to chat with many of my favorite brands (Merrell) and a few new brands 
that I discovered (ArchitecSF, Drink Tanks, Mission Workshop and ArvinGoods).  

After the trade show ended, the day was capped off with a dinner, comedy show by Funny or Die and some live music. 

The next day was all about brand activations, product demonstrations, workshops, experiences and just lots of fun! I was fortunate to participate in demonstrations from Tentsile, Merrell, Save the Redwoods League, Instagram, Tiny Atlas Quarterly, Airstream, Onewheel, Topo Designs, Tree Monkey Project, West Coast Falconry and Harley Davidson. Click on the image above to see more.

This video pretty much sums up my experience.

When I initially received the invitation by to attend The Outpost I was enthusiastic. When I started to see the hype about the event I got excited. I tried to temper my excitement, because very often I've found that the hype seldom lives up to the reality.

In this situation, the hype failed to hit the target.

It undershot the reality!!! This event was so much fun, so well organized, so flawlessly executed... that it undershot the hype. It was way better than I anticipated.

If you ever get the chance to attend The Outpost... JUST GO!

Thanks to and The Outpost for the invitation. And to all the great brands representatives, you did an outstanding job of representing your brands and inspiring me to #getoutside.

Follow my Instagram for more.

I hope to see y'all next year.

- Troy

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Searching for a place to go camping? Get

Many of you that follow this blog know that I really enjoy hiking, camping and backpacking. Whether it is camping in the front country or back country... it is all good.

I recently came across a resource that has really made it easier for me to research and plan my trips. The website, app and community are called TheDyrt. "The Dirt" is an idiom which means the gossip or real story. So getting TheDyrt is a play on words which translates to finding out the real story about campgrounds. website allows users to search for campgrounds in the U.S. (currently only available within the U.S.) and read user generated reviews of the campgrounds. Sometimes the reviews are very general and sometimes very specific - down to the campsite number or cleanliness of the facilities. The website markets itself and its service as the of camping.

The community just launched a new app which can be downloaded via, the Apple Store or Google Play 

 Similar to the website, the app allows one to search for campgrounds.

You can search via a search box or a map. The app will display the campgrounds nearby.

Once you have narrowed your search by the area, you can read Overviews and Reviews of specific campgrounds.

When you click on a campground a page will open up with an "Overview". The Overview highlights basic information about the campground and the amenities that are available.

With a touch of the "Location" tab you are provided a map of the area, GPS coordinates and the ability to get turn-by-turn directions to the site.

With a touch of the "Review" tab you are provided a list of reviews written by community members.

As part of the reviews you can often view photos and even videos of the park, campsites, amenities and unique features. If you typically find places to camp by looking at park websites or Instagram photos you probably realized that you only see the idealized beautiful images. I find it useful to look at other people's opinions of campgrounds rather than simply relying on glamour shots. 

There is also a growing community behind To take part in the community or write a review simply create a profile and review a campground that you've visited. It's kind of a cool way to share your experience and first-hand knowledge. 

Of course, similar to Yelp, one has to read each review with a grain of salt. One man's trash is another man's treasure - and vice versa. The greater the number of reviews that are written for a particular campground increases the probability that the overall rating is realistic. As always with review sites, you can toss out the extreme viewpoints.  

Another cool feature and benefit of TheDyrt is that they often run contests.

When you write a review (including text, photos and videos) you earn points. The more reviews that you write, the more points you can earn. Check out the rules of the contest to learn how to maximize your ability to earn points.

Throughout the duration of the contest (typically a month), the points are tallied on a leaders board. At the end of the contest, the leader is declared and wins cool camping gear. The runner-ups win gift certificates. I've been using the app and writing reviews for a couple of months.

I won this sweet Primus Profile two-burner stove. 

And these handy Midland Two-Way Radios.

So the next time you're planning a camping trip check out or download the app. And after your trip, write a review. Maybe you'll have a chance to win too!

Happy Camping! 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Best Places to Camp in Texas Each Month of the Year

Guadelupe Mountains National Park

It is possible to hike, camp and backpack year round in Texas. Our winter is mild, spring is temperate, summer is somewhat hot, but fall is fantastic. While it is possible to spend time outdoors all four season, I've compiled a month-to-month list of places to visit based on my experience and preferences. I've taken into consideration factors like the crowds, festivals, weather, rain, heat, water, insects and even flora (such as poison ivy). So here's my list.

Sam Houston National Forest and Caddo Lake State Park
Reason: At this time of the year there is less rain, cooler weather, fewer insects and less poison ivy.

Seminole Canyon State Park

Seminole Canyon State Park, Lake Amistad and Judge Roy Bean Museum
Reason: The Rock Art Rendezvous Festival only happens once a year during this month. Also there is cooler weather and less crowds.

Yuca plant in bloom

Guadelupe Mountains National Park and Monohans Sandhills State Park
Reason: The weather is more temperate and the flora are just starting to bloom.

Enchanted Rock State Park and LBJ State Park
Reason: Beat the summer crowds and enjoy the temperate weather. See cactus in bloom.

Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore
Reason: The weather is starting to heat up, so it's a great time to hit the beach.

Pedernales River

Pedernales Falls State Park
Reason: You should expect hot weather, but there are plenty of shade trees and water holes available to cool off.

Davis Mountain State Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, McDonald Observatory, Balmorhea State Park
Reason: The town of Fort Davis puts on a truly Americana Fourth of July celebration. The weather may be hot, but you can cool off in the spring fed pool at Balmorhea.

Colorado Bend State Park, Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Caverns State Park
Reason: During the heat of the summer it helps to be close to cool water or cool caves.

Pecos River

Devil's River State Natural Area
Reason: It may be warm, but you'll be surrounded by pristine water.

Caprock Canyon State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Reason: The soft light of fall blends well with the colors of the canyon.

Lost Maples State Park, Garner State Park and Bandera
Reason: Time it right and you'll have the chance to observe the fall foliage. On any given Saturday you will likely encounter some real cowboys walking around Main Street in Bandera.

Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park
Reason: Not too hot, not too cold, just about ideal weather and smaller crowds make it the perfect time to visit the sky islands in the desert.

That's my list. What's your favorite area to explore in Texas?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hiking the John Muir Trail - A Glimpse of the Range of Light

One year ago...
While on a short backpacking trip with a group of friends my friend Johnny mentioned that he was hoping to do more hiking trips and perhaps someday hike the John Muir Trail (JMT). I've never been a believer in "someday." I'm a believer in yesterday, today and tomorrow. So I said that if we could obtain a backpacking permit, I would accompany him to hike the JMT. 
The John Muir Trail is a long-distance trail passing through wilderness areas in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. It is sometimes referred to as the Range of Light. From the northern terminus at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley and the southern terminus located on the summit of Mount Whitney, the Trail's official length is 210.4 miles (338.6 km), with an elevation gain of approximately 47,000 feet (14,000 m). The trail passes through some of the most picturesque areas of Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The trail was named in honor of John Muir.
John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, author and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt accompanied Muir on a visit to Yosemite. Even before they entered the park, Muir was able to convince Roosevelt that the best way to protect the valley was through federal control and management. Muir and Roosevelt set off largely by themselves and camped in the back country. It is said that this trip encouraged and inspired Roosevelt to double the number of national parks and set aside 148,000,000 acres of forest reserves.

Obtaining a backpacking permit to hike the JMT is no easy matter. Applicants often refer to obtaining a permit as "winning the golden ticket." There are thousands of people that apply for permits and 70% get declined. To obtain a permit one must apply exactly six months ahead of one's planned start day. In our situation, we were hoping to start hiking in mid to late August, so we started applying for a permit on February 28th. We believed that our chances of obtaining a permit would be increased if each of us independently submitted applications. For over two weeks we each faxed in an application. For over two weeks we each received daily rejection letters. I had just about given up hope.

I posted on my Facebook, "I thought the mountains were calling, but maybe it was just the wind."

Two days after my post, Johnny sent me an email, "Got it!"

The adventure began... six months later.
During the summer, I was road tripping around the northwest part of the United States. Johnny caught a flight into Reno, Nevada. I drove to Reno, picked him up at the airport, and then we traveled towards the mountains.

In the small town of Lone Pine, we parked my car for safe keeping in the parking lot of the Chamber of Commerce. We made a sign with one word... YOSEMITE!
Teaching Johnny some bad habits... hitchhiking. Our plan was to hitchhike from Lone Pine to the town of Lee Vining, then catch a ride into Yosemite.
We caught a ride from Lone Pine to Lee Vining with a Navy Pilot named Ben. He dropped us off just before Lee Vining at the intersection of Hwy 395 and Route 120.
Route 120 is a road that leads into Yosemite. At the beginning of Route 120 there was a little convenience store. We took a short break at the store,  then walked back out to the road. We crossed the road and held up our sign. The first car that passed by stopped. We caught a ride into Yosemite with two free spirits who had just spent two weeks at Burning Man named Sam and Cambell. Sam said that she was trying to practice radical generosity, so they offered us a ride. Into Yosemite!
The adventure begins... the mountains are calling.
Looking beyond.
Carrying my home on my back.
The dawn of a new day.
Straight ahead.
A meadow painted red by the color of the flora.
A coyote sitting in a meadow.
Old trees hold memories.
Pit master
Catching rainbow trout like they were fish in a barrel.
When the moonlight is so bright you cannot sleep.
Awakened by the breeze and the morning sun bouncing off the side of the mountains.
Cathedral Lake under Cathedral Rock
Fall colors beckon, but may the summer never end.
A fallen giant lifting heavy stones by it's roots.
Mapping out our route moment by moment.
The light flows from above and shimmers down the river.
Caught in a hail storm, but still having fun.
Our destination for the day.
Footprints left behind. Friend or Foe?
People you meet along the way - Zoe a solo hiker that traveled half way around the world to hike the JMT. Dreams do come true.
Hikers you meet along the way - Alex a friend hiking with a friend, just because that's what friends do.
People you meet along the way. Janet and Tony, a couple that get up early every day, walk side by side and demonstrate how a little persistence pays off.
People you meet along the way. Paul and Scott, a son paying back his father for a lifetime of guidance. Scott was guiding Paul up Mount Whitney as part of his father's last mountaineering experience. Scott carried his backpack, his father's backpack and water up Mount Whitney. His father walked up on his own two feet. Determination.
Crossing Donohue Pass.
Too beautiful to keep, this little guy got released back into the water.
Basalt + fire + ice = The Devil's Postpile National Monument.
Looks like a hammock camp, feels a little like heaven at the end of a long day.
Living out of a backpack sometimes means eating out of a bag.
When a bug flies into your soup, just leave it in there, that's added protein you might need.
First fish caught on a fly. Now you're hooked. Congratulations Johnny!
When you play with fire, sometimes you get burned. My favorite adventure pants will be turned into my favorite adventure shorts. Or I'll think of this burned hole as a little souvenir from the JMT.
Conifer cones as big as my face.
Even a weed holds beauty.
Twisted wood
The colors of autumn come together.
Resupplying with food was a little like performing magic. Fitting the contents of the orange bucket into the blue bucket (Bear Canister) required some slight of hand.
Topo Athletic trail runners, Sole insoles, Darn Tough socks and some dirty, swollen, crusty, abused feet.
Put some tape on that blister and keep walking.
Lips and nose chapped by the sun, wind and cold.
Laundry day. And my laundry typically consisted of only four items to wash - a shirt, some underwear, a pair of socks and my bandana.
The natural environment for an Osprey
Cooking trout in aluminum foil over a wood stove
Light shouldering the mountain tops.
Alpenglow on the mountain.
Rae Lakes
Grass reaching up to the light.
First fish caught on a fly. She did it with the rod in one hand and a snack bar in the other. Congratulations Zoe!
We knew that it would be a cold day when we saw ice forming on the surface of the lake.
Bundled up
The early bird gets the worm or in this case warm oatmeal for breakfast.
Red is the meadow
The meadow reaching to the water.
When a trail passes through a meadow, along a river, into a forrest, pass a valley and over a mountain, I will follow it.
Nature has a texture that can only be felt by reaching out and touching it.
A schism as old as the ages
The walk down from Forrester Pass.
A solitary moment to contemplate one's place in the world
Stepping into Autumn.
The path ahead is no greater than the path behind.
Chilling near Rae Lakes
Chilling in my Chacos near Rae Lakes. Trying to decide which lake has more fish to be caught.
Guitar Lake signaled the beginning of the end... sounded good to me.
Sunset at the Whitney Portal Junction high camp at 13,500 feet.
A sign of the time. 1.9 miles up, 1.9 miles down and 8.7 miles out
Casting shade on Mount Whitney.
Walk on through to the other side.
On top of it all.
A quiet moment between two men.
For a brief moment we stood higher than the other 318 million people in the contiguous United States.
Celebrating a summit with a Pop Tart.
Leaving the trail before old man winter arrives.
Thanks John Muir, you established a path for others to follow.
The forrest holds secrets known only to these old trees.
Finished the John Muir Trail. Climbed to the highest point in the contiguous United States. Time for some rest and relaxation.
Double cheeseburger, fries and a Coke to celebrate the end of a great little adventure.
Me... after a visit to the John Muir Trail Salon and Spa.
Exfoliation by the dirt
Wash and Rinse by Charlotte Lake
Color by the Sun
Style by the Wind
Have you climbed a mountain today? Or two or three or four mountains.
First time I've ever looked at the health app on my mobile and the number of steps I've walked. I think these numbers might be a little skewed.