Spring and other seasons

I love seasons, all of them. Before last June, I had lived the past 20 years in Florida, and didn’t have a strong enough memory of my early years in Kentucky to remember that passage of seasons.

In Florida, there’s not a full death in nature like there has been this winter in North Carolina. It’s never as bleak and stark as your 4th or 5th winter snowstorm and you can’t leave the house. You’re never forced to stay at home because its too snowy or icy to risk driving. Even for the FL hurricanes, if we lost power, you didn’t have to then deal with temperatures in the teens and making sure you’re family could stay warm for the night. I did sense and enjoy though, the feeling that I should slow down, look inwardly, and reflect. All of creation was doing, I should as well.

But, with death, came life. This has been my favorite spring ever, because it was the first true spring I remember. The blooming of flowers, the leaves appearing back on the trees, grass growing and needing to be mowed. The smells of fresh-cut grass, flowers, tilled soil, and plants coming back to life all around me. It’s incredible, this gift God has given us. Since I feel the seasons and the rhythm of the earth closer now, I pray that I can be a better steward of the earth.

Spring is new life, and summer will be life in abundance (in more ways than one), with longer days, many adventures, and the shaping of lives.

I look forward to sharing it with all of you,

Matt

Leave a comment

Filed under Nature, Riffs

I. Got. Toes!

In different area codes

I. Got. Toes... In different area codes

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventures

Vibram Five Fingers KSO Review

I admit, when I first saw VFF, I thought of those ridiculous water slippers I used to have to wear around the river. So it was not love at first sight. I did love being barefoot as a kid though, and after reading Born to Run and getting the running bug again, I decided I wanted to run in VFF. Morgan was kind enough to get me a pair for my birthday. I’m a believer now, having covered hundreds of miles in my KSO’s in only a few months. I love running in them, hiked Angel’s Landing, and every time I wear them am engaged in a conversation about hear they feel/look/perform/help/hurt/and more (listening, Vibram?). On May 8, I will run my first Ultramarathon, the Capon Valley 50k, and I credit my VFF with reintroducing me to the joy of running.

Overview

Now, on to the “shoes” themselves. First, they necessitate the runner striking on the mid-foot. This is good news for most people, as most modern running shoes naturally encourage a heel strike because of the cushioned heel. Try running barefoot and heel striking, you will feel pain quick. Since humans ran for thousands of years before the running shoe was invented, makes sense that heel striking is not the way to go. VFFs are light, comfortable, and stay on your feet well. I found that the mid-foot strike felt so much more natural, and have loved running in them. The thin vibram pad protects fairly well against roots and rocks, most of the time there’s an initial shock from the pinch, and it wears off quickly, a few choice words aside. Stubbed toes aren’t bad either, the sole curls up over the tops and does a good job protecting. Grip is fantastic, thanks to the siped grooves in the sole, similar to car tires. If you see a pair in the store, just bend the shoe and you’ll see what I mean.

Fit

If you are interested in getting a pair, and live within 50 miles of a retailer, I strongly recommend going and trying VFF on. The Vibram website has a good fit guide, but until you have them on your feet, you just won’t know. Some “models” fit different than others. A size 42 KSO is perfect for me, while the 42 Sprint is tight. TO get them on, get your toes in first (spread ’em to get each toe in its place), and then pull the heel in. It will be tough at first, but it gets easier. Adjust whatever straps to dial it in, and then get to moving.

Comfort

I think they feel great, its like my feet are free, closer to the earth, and adjust to its contours and feelings. The footbed is comfy, and I noticed a difference in my walk and running gait quickly. They really only hurt when running over technical trails and I step on a rock or root that digs in to my foot. But, the feeling quickly subsides, the foot bounces back, and I move along. Only once have I had a bone bruise last more than 1 day (it was 2). They also dry very quickly, a great reason to wear them while hiking, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, stream crossings, etc.

Protection

The rubber sole, while thin, offers great protection against most elements (roots and golf ball sized rocks being the exception, see above). It also curls up over the front of toes, protecting against stubbing on the trail. Your toes will bend dramatically at times, but the stability of the shoe, along with letting your toes be toes, keeps it in check. I’ve been very well protected when I’ve worn them, no injuries and very little lasting pain.

Starting Out

Everyone is different, but to be on the safe side, take it easy with your running to start. Run on grassy areas or well-manicured trails, steer clear of pavement and technical trails, just until you get a feel for them. I recommend spending time just walking around in them too, no matter where you are. Gardening, walking the dog, getting the paper (do people still do that?), going to the store, etc. Also, get ready for the stares and the conversations, they’re coming. While hiking around Zion NP this Spring, Morgan and I had nearly 40 people stop us on our hike to ask about them. You will too. Be proud of your VFF, naysayers be damned.

Care

VFF are machine washable, and they get pretty funky after a few wearings, especially if you’re moving a lot (trail running, hiking). Just throw them in, wash on cold, and then hang dry, preferably out of the sun (garage or mudroom will work). I just got the first rips in my KSOs, both the result of sticks on trail runs poking through. Hopefully Vibram will replace them for me, if not, they can sewed up. There is certainly a risk of ripping them, it’s mesh and stretch nylon. But, they are still perfectly functional even with the rips.

Wrap-up

If you are curious, and can swing the cost (cheapest is the Classic at $75), go get a pair, you will be a believer. There’s a ton of research on the benefits of having at least some barefooting in your life, and VFF are the best of both worlds. Harvard Professor tests Barefoot Running and Vibram North America. You can buy them direct from the Vibram site, REI, and other retailers.

Here are a few shots of our VFF family

Leave a comment

Filed under Product Reviews

Patagonia Trucker Hat

I usually don’t a whole lot of compliments on hats that I wear, but people love this one. The message of it is great, “Live Simply” has been one of Patagonia’s rallying cries. Fits well around the head, Morgan and I both wear it. I have a normal 7 1/4 head, hers is smaller 🙂

The only downside is that the crown of the hat sticks up a good 1/2 inch of the head, and I prefer hats that are snug. But I wear it backwards most of the time, and its great.

Here’s a picture, I have the whale in brown. Purchase straight from Patagonia here

Leave a comment

Filed under Product Reviews

My Review of REI Ultra Light Jacket – Men’s

Originally submitted at REI

The REI Ultra Light jacket is ultra useful! Keep it in your pack or on your bike for sudden changes in the weather. It's take up almost no space and weighs next to nothing.

Great value in lightweight shell

By Rocky Eagle from Black Mountain, NC on 4/20/2010

 

4out of 5

Gift: No

Fit: Feels true to size

Sleeve Length: Feels true to length

Chest Size: Feels true to size

Pros: Warm, Stylish, Comfortable, Lightweight, Breathable, Water Resistant

Best Uses: Wet Weather, Casual Wear, Hiking and Camping

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

A very solid all-around jacket, and I was fortunate to get it on sale. My previous wet shell was the Mountain Hardwear Epic, and that lasted a good 6 years. REI Ultra has kept me dry through a 20 mile/12 hike up Mt Mitchell, and warm in the snow (with a layer of course). Lightweight, packable, pit zips, removable hood, solid collar, chest pocket, and cinch cord are all great. I would say that the cut is athletic, I’m 5’11” 175 and it fits me great, but it would be tight to fit a regular size fleece. I normally layer with a pullover half-zip or long sleeve shirt.

Also like that the low pockets are LOW, the Epic pockets were a little to high for natural hand placement, feels like you’re rubbing your belly constantly after a good meal. I would recommend this jacket, and have already gotten my uncle to purchase one as his new water shell.

(legalese)

Leave a comment

Filed under Product Reviews

Welcome to Rocky Eagle

Thanks for visiting the Official Blog for Rocky Eagle Gear. It’s our home for up-to-date product reviews, rants and raves on the outdoors, and our latest adventures. Be sure to add the RSS feed to your reader so that you can stay updated!

Enough time in front of the computer, get outside!

Leave a comment

Filed under Riffs