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The Entire World is a Family

- Maha Upanishad


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Gear

Dec 09, 2016

Garmin Forerunner 235: Watch It, It’s Me Time

Exploring the 'brave new world' of smart watches with Garmin’s latest.

WRITTEN BY

Neal From

Note to the reader – you won’t find detailed specs here, just an honest review by a layman.

Let me start by saying that I’ve never really been a tech guy so breaking into the smart watch arena was a big, and somewhat hesitant step for me. Before the Forerunner, I was wearing a 4-year-old tough Solar G-Shock, the main feature of which was moon cycles and tides. No GPS, heart-rate monitor or smart phone compatibility – and it was great! I never changed the battery, always knew exactly how full the moon was, and even what time it was!

However, in today’s notification-crazed, communication-based, chaotic jumble of red bubbles, likes, and chimes, watches are now a whole different beast. The introduction of “smart watches” or “wearables” has turned these time-tested time-telling devices into something else entirely.

It seems that this new generation of watches have become extensions of our cell phones and due to their wearability, are now able to, like a small hungry infant pulling at your pant leg, demand even more of our attention.

Let me be the first to admit that it’s convenient when you’re on a run and don’t want to miss an important call but also don’t want to take the time to remove your phone from whatever new pocket band sleeve thingamajig they’ve designed for it. Or obviously, if there’s an emergency and you have the ability to respond immediately.

On the whole though, I’m just not into it. If I want to check my phone, I will go through the arduous process of removing it from my pocket or arm band. For me it’s really about agency, if I don’t want to check my phone, if I don’t care who that last text message is from, or what call I’m currently missing, if I want to fully focus on my whatever I’m doing, well, I guess I think I should have that choice without my watch telling me otherwise.

img_0987That rant, now complete, leads me to the fact that The Forerunner 235, the watch that I have been wearing for the last month, the one that has put my old G-Shock into storage for good, has the ability (when bluetooth connected) to show you who’s calling and what the first sentence of your most recent text message is. However, it also has the capability to turn off these notifications with a simple “Do Not Disturb” mode that, due to the watches simple-to-use (button-based) interface, is readily accessible.

I highly recommend taking advantage of this feature. Run without interruption.

In terms of battery life, the Forerunner is great, as long as you remember to turn off the bluetooth when you are not syncing or connected to your phone, this thing can last. I’ve been wearing it non-stop for about a week now and it’s just about time to charge it again. Additionally, the watch charges fairly quickly, so you won’t miss too much heart rate or step count data while it does. It’s a little weird, I’ve found myself becoming very attached to my data, so much so that I feel like I’m missing out when I can’t wear the watch.

Additionally, The Forerunner 235 has the ability to record sleep cycles and through the Garmin Express application, you can access these cycles for the week and see how you are sleeping, whether it is deep sleep and how much you move during the night. It also tells you how many hours you sleep per night which, for someone like myself with somewhat irregular sleeping pattern has proved very helpful.

The bread and butter for me, and the reason I am so hesitant to take this watch off of my wrist is the heart rate monitor. I don’t know what it is but ever since I put it on, I just really like knowing what my heart rate is. And it’s not only after exercise; I find myself checking my heart rate all the time, when I get in an elevator, when I use the bathroom, everywhere, all the time, I just want to know. What’s more, is that if you sync the watch to your phone, which, lets be honest, you really need to do if you’d like to use any of the other features, the Garmin app gives you detailed descriptions of your heart rate and the calories you burn. You just need to figure out the Garmin Express interface which can be confusing at times.

All that being said, I don’t know where my old watch is and honestly, I haven’t looked for it. When The Forerunner 235 is being what it is, a relatively accurate heart rate monitor, step counter, calorimeter, training buddy, and time-teller, it’s fantastic. It’s when it starts flirting with the wearable-tech line that it starts to lose me. When I’m in the lineup waiting for a wave, swimming laps, or running, the last thing I want to know is that my cell phone, wherever it may be, is ringing. For me, the times when I most appreciate the main features of The Forerunner 235 are when it’s “me time,” when I am consciously trying to disconnect from the omnipresent need to respond, react, or comment on well, anything; that’s when this watch is perfect.

Pros

The Garmin Forerunner 235 has great GPS tracking for running and walking coupled with a relatively accurate hear rate monitor minus the chest strap. It tracks steps, calories burned, sleep patterns, and has the ability to display texts and calls (if you like that). It’s also super waterproof, you can swim with it, surf with it, shower with it, really the only time you need to take it off is when it runs out of battery which happens only about once a week.

Cons

The Garmin Connect app  can be very confusing to use and the interface is not very user friendly. Some items (like weather widgets) that you download through the app only work when connected via bluetooth to your phone which drains battery from both devices. The heart rate monitor decreases in accuracy when activities go up in intensity such as in high interval training.

Price: $329.99
Buy here

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Travel

Jan 15, 2019

Not Your Father’s Ski Trip: Jackson Hole, WY

Inspired by images of her dad’s Jackson Hole college ski trip, the author heads north to tour the Tetons and tack a few pictures to the family scrapbook.

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WRITTEN BY

Kela Fetters

The author’s father launching a cliff at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort cerca 1987

This film shot of my father going big on a set of ridiculously thin, twin-tipped K2s cerca 1987 instilled in me a deep gratitude for today’s fat freeride sticks and a sense of duty to keep the family’s cliff-hucking legacy alive. Scrapbook open on his lap, my dad extolled the terrain of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which he visited “back in the good ol’ days” at Colorado State University. He described a steep wonderland besotted with cliffs that beg for reckoning. After the past several seasons of wimpy Colorado snow totals whilst Jackson churned out foot-deep day after foot-deep day, I was enthused by the resort’s inclusion on my 2018-2019 Ikon Pass. With my own graduation looming in May, I figured the time was right for some Teton escapades. Like father, like daughter.

Car outfitted with a socioeconomically oxymoronic stash of ramen and expensive ski gear, I punched seven hours northward and arrived the night after a vicious storm cycle spat 20 inches of fresh flakes onto the mountains. The next day popped bluebird and my posse navigated the foreign slopes via trial, error, and the inexhaustible freneticism of college kids on vacation. We nabbed fresh tracks on Headwall and Casper Bowl, giggled down pillows on the Crags, and pinballed around the Hobacks. A ride up in the iconic Jackson Hole tram revealed a closed Corbet’s Couloir, ostensibly requiring another wave of coverage before its seasonal unveiling. I was forced to settle for a waffle at Corbet’s Cabin instead of matching my dad’s drop into the legendary chute. With the blood of my father and powder-fueled adrenaline surging through my veins, I willed myself over the most tantalizing cliffs on offer in Rendezvous Bowl.

The iconic Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram, cerca 1987
Corbet’s Couloir: a timeless classic
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, cerca 1987

In the words of the great Cyndi Lauper: Oh daddy dear, you know you’re still number one, but girls, they wanna have fun.

It’s part and parcel of parenthood to agitate over the safety and well-being of one’s children. I’ve subsumed backcountry skiing into my hobbiesnew territory for this family’s lineage. On my nascent out-of-bounds outings, my father, a textbook concerned parent, grumbled about avalanches, terrain traps, and my insurmountable naïvity. Several seasons of diligent education, one avy bag, and countless snow pits later, I’ve earned his reluctant acceptance, if not enthusiasm, for my backcountry pursuits.  In the words of the great Cyndi Lauper: Oh daddy dear, you know you’re still number one, but girls, they wanna have fun.

Finding deep snow on Headwall
Pillows aplenty on the Crags

After two days of charging in-bounds, my psyche longed for the solitude of the skintrack. Teton Pass, Grand Teton National Park, and the resort sidecountry make the area a veritable playground for backcountry enthusiasts. It’s a family affair in Jackson; a fraternal ethos is evident in the fact that 97% of the nearly 4 million acres of Teton County are federally owned or state managed. Locals are quick to mark their territory on Teton Pass with the exclamatory hieroglyphs of first tracks, but the terrain is ample enough to find virgin snow. After giving the snowpack several days to stabilize post-squall, we found wiggle room on north-facing aspects along the Mail Cabin Creek drainage. Our final line of Day 1 was the Do-Its, a bifurcated powder track that converges and meanders twelve hundred feet back down to the road. At the hill’s zenith, minute snowflakes collapsed into liquid and rolled from our hardshells. We stood atop a wind-plumped knoll and observed the gnarl of peaks, foregrounded by Mount Taylor and Mount Glory, tumbling into a horizon of exposed rock and liquescent white. The unperturbed flank below screamed for human contact. I was all too happy to oblige the siren’s call with a quick tuck into the void. My skis made that sanctified first contact with the snow below. A crescendo of polestrokes invoked a maelstrom of flakes to drown the world in white. Hips squiggling, mind locked to the minutia, dopamine and adrenaline flooding the nervous system, and a raven on high with a vantage point a ski cinematographer would kill for. Then I burned through the mountain’s vertical; the dance with gravity ended in an expository wave of white smoke. I looked back and the sublime evidence was a single, undulating track across the otherwise unblemished face.

Cloud inversion over the Teton Valley from the top of Mt. Glory
Top of Mt. Glory

My final day in Jackson came courtesy of Exum Mountain Guides, an 80-year-old Teton-based guiding service that offers instruction and adventure on rope and skis in North America, the Alps, Andes, and Himalayas. The service traces their lineage to local legends of the 1930s like Glenn Exum, Paul Petzoldt, and Barry Corbet. They’re the granddaddy of Jackson guiding services and the resident experts on Grand Teton National Park. Despite the government shut-down and limited National Park operations, dedicated employees were plowing the entrance road and ensuring access to some of the Tetons best snow staches. My guide for the day was Brendan O’neill, who informed me of the birth of his daughter Jessie three weeks prior as we puttered to the Taggart Lake Trailhead.

If newborn Jessie was taxing this new dad’s sleep and energy reserves, his athletic, assiduous pace on the skintrack suggested otherwise. I asked Brendan about fatherhood, hoping to glean some insight into my own dad’s relationship with raising a daughter. He hopes to have Jessie on skis the second she can walk; he would be thrilled if she took to alpine or nordic racing, but amenable if she chose not to compete; he is excited to show her the world beyond the boundaries of a ski resort. As we muscled up towards Amphitheater Lake, I mused that twenty years from now, Jessie might look at pictures of her dad guiding in far-flung locales and make plans to fill and transcend those footsteps. I wonder if Brendan knows how much she will look up to him and his accomplishments.

Exum Guide and new father Brendan O’neill

  Even the evergreens projected patriarchy: the tallest trees nucleated their sapling broods with paternal solemnity, each molecule of powder glistening in the shaggy green branches. We broke through the forest onto snow-covered Amphitheater Lake, a cirque bounded by the bald, mangled granite of Teewinot to the north and Disappointment Peak to the west. On a snack pitstop, we watched another party of skiers lay down tracks in Spoon Couloir, a steep, enticing chute on Disappointment Peak’s lower haunch. Brendan seemed to sense my desire to get after a big alpine line and suggested we bootpack the Spoon must have been his newly acquired parental mind-reading superpower. After crossing the lake, we cut a haphazard zig-zag to the top of the Spoon’s apron and transitioned to the bootpack. 500 feet of vertical boot-punching propelled us up the gut and bookended the nearly 5,000 feet of vertical notched from trailhead to objective. From our humble perch on Disappointment’s flank, an electric blue sky slumbered atop a soupy mass of clouds, hallmark of a Teton Valley temperature inversion. Backgrounded by this topsy-turvy atmosphere, I skied down the hard-packed snow of the spoon’s handle into its apron of softer powder.

The Spoon Couloir visible on looker’s left of lower Disappointment Peak (center)
Bootpacking up the Spoon

Grand Teton, senior pinnacle of its range, poised with patriarchal authority over Middle Teton, Mt. Owen, and all the rest

To redeem the remainder of our hard-earned vertical, Brendan led us through a mellow glade percolated with unrumpled pillows aplenty. Matching his cuts through the pines was reminiscent of a childhood spent following my dad around the resort as I learned to trust my edges and my body. As I ripped skins back in the parking lot, giddy with alpine energy, I turned to gaze up at the Grand Teton, senior pinnacle of its range, poised with patriarchal authority over Middle Teton, Mt. Owen, and all the rest. I owe this unforgettable trip to Jackson Hole to my father for choosing to raise and inspire (and generously fund) a skier.

Thanks to Exum Mountain Guides for making this trip possible.

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