Thursday, March 25, 2010

Watch for Wood Warblers and Vireos this next 30 days

Wood warblers begin to arrive in Missouri for courtship and nesting, and some may be just passing through Missouri to the northern states and Canada for nesting. A few older birds begin their trek from South America, the Caribbean, and Central America in early March. The courtship and nesting begins in early April in Missouri and continues through June.

Warblers are small birds usually colored grey, black, bluish, yellow or orange. They spend much time in the top of trees and along creeks and rivers. Vireos are much the same but often have a buff or greenish tint.

Their songs are buzzy, of low volume, and pretty; so they are not as prominent as the larger ground and bush dwelling bird common here year round.

To view warblers in Missouri, wear rain gear, a good pair of hiking boots, carry a wood warblers guide and a pair of binoculars in a fanny pack. It your plan to photograph them, it take patience and a very good lens of at leans 300mm due to their small size, and high activity. Find a trail along a creek or river; such as Castlewood State Park or the Rockwoods Conservation Area.

I have included a few pictures of some warbler photographed by me in March; a Yellow Warbler, Yellow Throated Warbler, a Common Yellowthroat (raccoon like face) a Northern Water Thrush (warbler), and a White eyed Vireo.

Follow this link to a check-list of Missouri's 428 species of birds from the Audubon Society:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 Banff Film Festival Is Coming to St. Louis!

If there's one event that Alpine Shop puts on each year that I think truly represents what we stand for, it's the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. No other event showcases our vision of "Generations Transformed Through Discovery Outdoors" like this.

There is something for everyone here from high-adrenaline thrill seekers to families with small children. More than anything, it shows that adventure is what you make of it. And adventure is what makes us who we are.

We've made our way through all the information we have on the films on tour. From that selection, we've narrowed it down to a total of 13 films over two nights. For the complete list of anticipated films on each night, visit: Please, note - these selections may change based on a number of a reasons.

Join us for an adventure that hopefully spurns you on to your next adventure. Tickets are on sale now only at Alpine Shop locations or over the phone at 314-962-7715. Cost is $10 for a one-night pass or $17.50 for a two-night pass. But, if you'd like to come, I urge you to get your tickets in advance. We sell this show out every year!

And we're still waiting for the first Banff film to come out of St. Louis!

Below is this year's trailer for the show. All the films shown here will not be shown at the festival; but we do promise a night of adventure you won't forget.

The full list of anticipated films on each night, visit:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Paddling season is here!

I have long recommended the Mississippi as an ideal paddle destination but people in St.Louis tend to avoid it out of an unrealistic fear of danger and the misconception that it is too dirty or dangerous to paddle in. It does get a lot of recreational use by power boats in the impounded section above the last of the lock and dams north of town but very little use by paddlecraft. So you can be a real pioneer of sorts.

Here are a few photos of a typical kayak trip on the Mississippi, albeit at a fairly high springtime lever.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why don't more Missourians paddle?

Until the Missouri Department of Tourism switched it's slogan over to "Close to home. Far from ordinary," the catchphrase on our license plates was "Where the rivers run." Our state is actually named after the river, not the other way around, and do you know what the river is named for? It's name comes the word "ouemessourita" which was the Illinois Indian tribe's name for the Siouan people. It translates to "those who have dugout canoes."

For a state who's past and present are so closely tied to rivers, why is it that we have so few true paddlers?

Don't get me wrong, I've been on the Meramec and Huzzah and other Ozark streams and rivers on a Saturday during the summer. I know people use the rivers and have a great time on them. And that's great. But there's a big difference between the "paddler" whose idea of "paddling" is seeing how far he can get down the river before he flips and loses all of his beer, and the paddler who is out on the water to simply enjoy the river, or to fish or to introduce his kids to the art of piloting a canoe.

I've loved paddling all of my life. I've gone from my first trips in an aluminum canoe on the Black to paddling a Kiwi Kopapa down the Russian River in California to an Inazone whitewater kayak to too many other whitewater boats to list here, and on to a Bell Northwind canoe that I take out with my family. I love to paddle, and I'll even deal with the crowds on the weekends just to be out on the water. But, for the life of me, I don't understand why this area - with so many year-long opportunities available to paddle - doesn't produce more world-class paddlers.

Things look like they may be beginning to change, though. The relatively recent addition of the Missouri River 340 to the paddle scene has dramatically affected how Missourians (and other Americans) are viewing our namesake waterway. More people than ever are viewing the Missouri and Mississippi as important recreational vehicles, instead of just things we have to cross over on bridges.

With the economy tanking on us over the past year and a half, many families decided to pick up kayaks and canoes as inexpensive modes of both entertainment and exercise for the whole family.

And organizations like the Missouri Whitewater Association and the St. Louis County Canoe & Kayak Club continue to produce some of the most skilled paddlers for miles around.

If you already are a paddler, I think you know what I'm talking about. If you're not, why not give it a try?

This weekend, Alpine Shop Kirkwood will host it's 10th Annual Great Canoe & Kayak Event. There will be hours and hours of clinics, programs, films and trip reports all designed to get more people a chance to get out on the water. There will also be some great deals across the paddle department on everything from the boat, the method of paddling and the way to get it to the river.

Best of all, nearly everything about the event is free. You've got nothing to lose for coming out and seeing what's out there for you to enjoy.