Friday, April 19, 2013

GEAR: Piton SKILOGIK Backcountry Skis

GEAR: Piton SKILOGIK Backcountry Skis

  While I haven't exactly been in the backcountry, I have had the opportunity to do some skiing while touring this beautiful country with my band Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers.  We skied as far east as we could get at Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Maine and as far north at the beautiful Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska.  Since we weren't able to take our own gear with us (a six piece band doesn't leave much room for ski equipment) we rented alpine gear and had a lot of fun ripping around the resorts.  It was all good and fun but made me pine for getting out into the backcountry for some much needed touring and nature.  When I got home the other day, the most beautiful skis I have ever seen were waiting for me.  SKILOGIK, handcrafted, high performance ski makers out of Colorado, sent me a pair of their Piton Backcountry Skis.  These skis are a true work of art.  The wood inlay and carbon fiber designs reminds me of Tom Killion's incredible woodcut prints I have hanging in my house.  While my dad is begging me to mount them on our cabin wall, I have plans to put some miles on these skis out in the backcountry.  I might have to wait until next season though...not sure I can risk taking them out on the tail end of California's spring season!  Stay tuned on performance and for now, check out all the amazing custom designs that SKILOGIK creates and crafts...truly INCREDIBLE!  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CLOTHES: Marmot Montreaux Coat

Backcountry Gal is back in action! Life has gotten a bit crazy so please forgive me for not posting more! Since I've been spending more time on the road with my bands (Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers and Brokedown In Bakersfield) and less time in the backcountry (poor me) I've decided to share one of my favorite non-backcountry pieces of the year. Ladies...put this on your gift will not be sorry. I have found that the Marmot Montreaux Coat is the perfect piece for winter. What I love is it's ability to transfer from day to night and the removable hood. It goes with jeans just as well as it does with more formal evening wear. When I'm traveling and am only able to bring a limited amount of clothing, this coat is just the right blend of function and fabulous. It's almost like walking around in a really cozy, fancy sleeping bag...perfect for roasting marshmallows around the campfire or wearing to an evening garden party!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adventure: Skiing in June!
Summer is officially here and we're still making ski tracks! Our last trip into the backcountry was short but sweet. We returned to a spot we last saw covered in snow. Now that snow has melted away and the rivers are gushing! There was a lot of mud to walk through and rivers to cross but once we gained elevation we were able to find some great skiing. The snow was not quite as good as corn and not quite as bad as slush but fun was had never the less!
After a long lunch of brie, crackers and of course chocolate we spent nearly an hour watching the giant bowl before us. As the air began to heat up, so did the snow. Alone in this great space we were lucky enough to (safely) view two avalanches across the way. Tim even caught one on film! It was a magnificent and humbling sight to see...and definitely gave us some knowledge of the terrain and how to safely ski it! A very memorable moment.
After a long day of skiing, getting back to camp for a good meal and peaceful sleep was much needed. I slept better than usual in my new Marmot Helium Membrain sleeping bag! This bag is durable, warm and condenses into a very small stuff sack. I tend to sleep cold so for me this is a perfect spring/summer/fall bag. The Membrain fabric Marmot uses is both waterproof and breathable. I usually have a tough time regulating condensation but this bag stayed dry on the inside and out and kept me super warm and cozy! A bit of a splurge but definitely worth it if you are in the market for a new bag and plan on having a busy backcountry year.
As always, we're sad to see ski season coming to a close but there is still hope for one more trip. After we play High Sierra Music Festival June 30 and July 1 we're heading back to Yosemite and are bringing our skis just in case. Summer skiing! Break out the bikini tops :) I'll keep you posted. For now, check out Tim's latest video HERE!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adventure: Finding Nature Nearby

Spring is here and in most places, the weather is beautiful! Unfortunately, we can't always get away for a long backcountry adventure so why not explore the natural places near you. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Golden Gate National Park Conservancy is one of the world's largest national parks in an urban area—80,000 acres stretched 80 miles north to south, encompassing 130 miles of trails, 1,000 types of plants, 250 bird species, and 700 historic structures. It is a wonderful place for people to hike, camp, swim, and enjoy nature. Get out this weekend and go on a local adventure for some sun, exercise and outdoor therapy!
Tennessee Valley
Muir Beach
Fort Funston

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adventure: Backcountry Ski Trip-Upper Rock Creek, CA

After a very busy beginning to 2011 I am finally slowing down enough for some long overdue blogging! As some of you may know, I released my new album "Driftwood" in February ( so music has been taking over my world for the last few months. Fortunately, we have been able to squeeze in some ski trips this winter/spring to keep us sane. Here are some photos from our trip to Upper Rock Creek, CA.
Our journey began on a beautiful spring day. Sunny and warm with a slight breeze....perfect weather for our 8 mile skin into our base camp we would call home for the next 5 days.
First things first, we dug for water in the lake nearby and were successful. Delicious Sierra mountain water was now available to us for drinking, cooking and keeping ourselves tidy.
The second evening of our trip, the winds began to pick up and the temperature steadily dropped encouraging us to dig a snow kitchen. This provided us with a great shelter from the wind and a cozy place to hang out during the evenings for cocktail hour and dinner. Digging a kitchen or any other snow structure is also a great activity to do if you're trying to stay warm.
Cocktail hour in our kitchen was a blend of Bacardi 151 and Sailor Jerry's dark rum. It's a great way to pack the liquor cabinet light...but with a punch. We always bring along Crystal Light or Cool-Aide and when combined with our rum blend you are left with a drink we call "The Mule Kicker".
Since we do a lot of snacking throughout the day on things like bars, jerky, cheese, crackers, dried fruit, nuts and candy, it's no wonder that when it comes to dinner time...we get a little more serious. Because we burn so many calories skiing and winter camping (and all it entails), it is essential to eat enough fat and calories. Since we'd had pretty good experiences with Mountain House Foods ( we were willing to try Backpacker's Pantry since that's all we could find where we were. Big mistake, huge. We found that not only were these meals watery and unfulfilling, they also contain very little fat, calories and protein (mostly just sodium). Luckily we brought along chocolate to soften the blow of having a bummer dinner but we won't make that mistake again.
Tim was kind enough to entertain us during our down time by reading "Lawrence of Arabia" aloud.
Although we got 4 beautiful, calm and sunny days, the nights were anything but. Every night we had gusts of wind up to 80 mph and temperatures that dropped into the single digits. Luckily, our friend Brian over at Marmot ( gave us some gear to try out including the Alpinist 2P Single Wall Tent above ( which proved to impress us.
The last 24 hours of our trip left Tim looking like this! Our last night out, winter struck hard. We had even stronger winds, greater drops in temperature and steady snow fall creating blizzard conditions all night and into the day. Skiing out was a bit of an adventure but we made it out safely and still smiling.
I was so happy to get back to our cabin so I could take a hot shower, drink a cold beer and slip into my new thrift-store find...Patagonia fleece overalls!

Check out our video!
Created by Tim Bluhm
Videography by Tim, Erik and Nicki Bluhm

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CLOTHES: Stoic Insulated Jacket

I just got this jacket from, wore it for the first time this season and was STOKED. Twenty five degrees and snowing, this jacket kept me super warm and the fit is perfect. I'm tall (5'11") so I was concerned that a medium wouldn't be large enough but it was right on. Everything about this jacket is just right; the weight, the sleeve length, the cut, the hood. I was pleasantly surprised about the hood....the fabric of the jacket is stiff enough that the hood stays 100% out of your field of vision and fits perfectly over a warm hat (I've heard it also fits over a helmet nicely). The thumb holed wrist gaiters are a great feature and add to the warmth and comfort of the jacket. In addition to its functionality, the cut of this jacket sets it apart from all others. Goodbye boxy ski jackets of the past....and hello to a more foxy feminine cut. It's part ski bunny and part bad ass! If you are looking for a good ski jacket for cold and stormy resort days, this is the one to get. Hands down. Check it out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

ADVENTURE: The Lost Coast
Turns out November can be a very wet time of year to explore the Lost Coast of Northern California. Known for its rugged terrain, steep climbs and solitude the Lost Coast became even more intense with the massive amounts of weather we got. The first choice you have to make when planning for this trip is whether you're going to do the northern section, southern section or both. There are a few key elements to planning: weather, tides, current trail conditions and time restraints.
Since no one in our party had hiked the Lost Coast before, I enlisted my father-in-law to give me all the juicy details and boy did his information help out. He's an old hand at backcountry travel and having done this trip in its entirety multiple times, he was the perfect person to talk to. Let the planning begin! We knew that rain and wind was in the forecast and that the tides were extreme given the nearly full moon. Taking all of these factors into account, we opted to hike the southern half (26 miles) since it offers a more protected route from the elements. The northern half is practically all coastal beach walking whereas the southern half is coastal redwood groves (great for sleeping on stormy nights) and has extreme elevation changes, revealing spectacular and well earned views.
It is hard to describe how special this section of coast really is. It has remained relatively untouched, protecting itself from the concrete and scarring of Highway 1 with its treacherously crinkled and extreme topography. You truly feel as though you are in a land before time. Depending on when you go, you may not see another backpacker the entire time you're out (we got lucky). Families of black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, and black bear roam the dense rain forest and beaches. Osprey, eagles, and hawks rule the sky and the ecosystem thrives in this lush environment. The trails are treacherous but in the best way possible, leading you through a world most people will never get the chance to see. It's a good idea to be in the best shape possible because these days are no joke, a lot of elevation loss and gain that makes your heart pump overtime. I can't wait to go back and do it again, possibly in the spring and next time, the Lost Coast in its entirety! I highly recommend doing this trip, it is magical! Lesson learned....bring a dry bag and synthetic gear if wet weather is expected!