Friday, June 22, 2012

Surfing -- Hobby or a Way of Life?

Surfing | Fox Clothing

The extreme sport of surfing was first observed by British explorers in the mid 18th century, when Captain James Cook of the HMS Endeavour encountered a group of Polynesians lying on their stomachs on top of what appeared to be tree bark as ocean waves swiftly carried them from sea to shore. Captain Cook did not realize at the time that what he was observing was called “surfing”, nor should it be assumed that this activity had not been going on for hundreds of years prior to the HMS Endeavour’s trip to the South Pacific. It is reasonable to conclude that surfing has most likely been a form of recreation since humans first swam in the ocean. The use of any type of “board” could likely have evolved from just plain “body-surfing”, which plenty of ocean lovers, take part in to this day. However, perhaps Captain Cook’s early observations are significant to the extent that this sport called surfing has indeed evolved into an exciting and thrilling hobby for some, and even a proverbial way of life for many others.

Surfers around the globe have become infatuated with riding waves and the generalized feeling of peace and well-being that this sport seems to promote to those who participate in only a way that they themselves can describe. Whether a surfing enthusiast is riding one of the giant waves off the northwest shores of Hawaii, or waiting for a freighter in the Gulf of Mexico to stir up a few smaller waves off the east coast of Texas, one thing all surfers agree upon is the concept of “the stoke”. Surfing has taken on a lexicon of its own over the years, and the term “stoke” is used to describe a feeling of both anxiety and elation in achieving an exhilarating ride on nature’s waves; all while coming to a place of self-actualization of being one with nature; the air, the wind, the water, and the coastline. This feeling or sensation appears to be addicting, as thousands of surf enthusiasts have either found a way to incorporate surfing into their daily routines, or in more extreme cases, surfing legends have carved a name for themselves within this tight-knit subculture of people who travel the world in search of the perfect wave, or at least the feeling of being “stoked”.

Surfing, for all of its inherent thrills, is, as mentioned above, an extreme sport. This means that surfing can be dangerous, much like auto racing, rock climbing, and sky diving. Thus, it is imperative that a surfer be aware of his or her surroundings, the weather conditions for a particular day, tidal variations, as well as ocean currents. Surfers, even the most skilled, have in fact lost their lives while surfing, which undoubtedly contributes to the mystique and feeling of exhilaration when paddling out to sea in the hopes of catching an unforgettable wave. True surfers, though, are fearless and in some form of acceptance that the sport that they not only love, but need to live, can indeed be dangerous. 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

Skydiving | GoPro HD Hero 2 | Go Pro Camera

Skydiving, or parachuting, refers to the act of falling out of an aircraft back down to earth with the help of gravity.  The parachute aids in slowing the individual(s) down during the last part of the dive.  It is an extreme hobby that is growing very popular as a recreational activity and as well is a professional sport.  Furthermore, skydiving is used for the transportation and deployment of air forces and is sometimes used to fight forest fires.  There is a plethora of ways to go about parachuting including by yourself, in a tandem or in several complex patterns often referred to as “hybrid” formations.  Fatalities are rare in this hobby with a failure rate of approximately (0.0007%).

Camera flying is a common way to go about the parachuting experience which involves at least one member of the skydiving group to be recording with a camera during the descent.  This genre of free-falling has progressed along with technology due to the invention of the GoPro camera.  The GoPro is a miniature camera with great resolution that has various sturdy attachments to articles such as vests and helmets in an attempt to emulate the point of view experience when replayed and is the only way to re-create the vantage point of a real skydive.

The history of skydiving began with Andre-Jacques Garnerin, who first successfully jumped from a hot-air balloon in 1797.  The United States military later developed detailed parachute design as a way to save a crew on board of a craft in danger and later to deliver soldiers to the battle field.  Parachuting became an international sport in 1952 after its popularity began to grow in the early 1930’s.

The physics behind a jump begin at the height of the free fall which typically ranges from one to four thousand meters.  The diver continues forward as well as down due to momentum and gravitational pull and usually hits a terminal velocity of 120 miles per hour for normal descents and 150 miles per hour for a head first dive.

Alternative forms of skydiving include base jumping which is a more perfected version of parachuting.  The equipment for these types are more advanced as well, including wing suits and sky surfing which have higher risk rates due to the slower velocity and lower altitudes of the aircraft being exited. 

Safety is a key component of skydiving and excluding freak accidents should have each dive go as planned.  As long as the individual participating observes the basic principles that each skydiver follows a wonderful memory should ensue.  The view from 10,000 feet above the ground is one that not many can share, but that skydivers can attempt to articulate.  The stark beauty of God’s green earth can only truly be appreciated at such heights and through that perspective.  Before you know that gorgeous view greets you on solid ground and you have a memory that will stay with you forever.
For amazing deals and a great selection of Sky Dirivng Gear, visit Day Tripper Gear today!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Golden State’s Most Spectacular Hike

Half Dome | Camelbak Water Bottle

California is blessed with some of the best hiking in the country, and there are thousands of miles of trails that can keep even the most adventurous hiker busy for a lifetime. But for those of you looking for the best day hike in the state, my choice is the hike from Yosemite Valley to the top of Half Dome. There are some awesome views in the Golden State, but this might be the best of the bunch.

Yosemite National Park is one of the most spectacular places on earth, and there might not be a more breathtaking view of the valley than from the summit of the park’s most recognizable landmark. In fact, the route has become so popular that it’s required that you apply for a permit months before you plan on making the hike.

The hike to the top of Half Dome is approximately 16 miles long, and the elevation gain is close to 5,000 feet, so it’s not an easy hike by any stretch of the imagination. And the 400-foot climb up the steep cables to the summit will test the nerve of even the most daring adventurer.

It’s only a day hike, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be well prepared for it. Here are a couple hints that should help you reach the top in good shape and good spirits.

One of the most important things to remember on the hike is to wear proper footwear. It makes a world of difference when you are on your feet for upwards of 10 hours. Most of the footing is pretty good, so support isn’t critical, but there are points that it comes in handy. And the ascent up the cables is slick in places, so having a shoe with good traction will give you that added dose of confidence and peace of mind. Bringing your own pair of gloves is also a wise decision, because the collection at the base of the cables is haphazard and often runs out.

It’s absolutely imperative that you bring enough water for the journey, as the summer sun and high altitude will dehydrate you very quickly. There’s no potable water past the Vernal Falls Bridge, which is only 0.8 miles into the hike, so you’ll have to carry a lot of water if you want to finish the trip. Camelbak Water Bottle's are a great choice. Half Dome is not the time to see how long you can go without any water.

You don’t want to carry a ton of food with you on the hike, but it’s definitely a nice pick-me-up to have along the way. It’s a great feeling to be able to catch your breath once you have reached the summit, and munch on something that will give you energy for the hike back. After all, you’re only halfway done once you’ve made it to the top.

It may not be the longest hike in California, or the most physically challenging. But for the experienced hiker, the trip up to the top of Half Dome is one that you have to make at least once in your lifetime.
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