January 2016

Adventure Radar: I AM FAT Fat Bike Enduro Race

Looking to add a little adventure to your weekend? Well then look no further than the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area located south of town on the corner of McCollister Blvd. and South Riverside (Old Highway 218 S). While this is already a spot to find plenty to do (including ice skating, fishing and boating in the summer), this weekend is extra special as the I AM FAT Fat Bike Enduro race is romping through the surrounding trails and is sure to bring some excitement to participants and spectators alike.

I Am Fat - Fat Tire Bike Race

Presented by ICORR, World of Bikes, Geoff’s Bike and Ski and Goosetown Cycling Club, I AM FAT is a 3-hour endurance race, which means participants (ranging from solo trekkers to teams of 3), have 3 hours to complete as many circuits on the 3-mile looped course as they can. Between laps, riders and spectators can hop inside the Park Lodge located at Terry Trueblood, where the NCJC Youth Off Road Riders will be serving warm food and family-friendly drinks for cash donations. Thanks to local rider Matt Frasier, you can check out the course map here:

I Am Fat Map

Registration to ride the I AM FAT enduro race takes place on the day of, which means it’s not too late to sign you and a team into the mix. If you don’t much feel like riding that far  this Saturday, the I AM FAT enduro race, in addition to the warming weather and scenic backdrop of Terry Trueblood, is a very spectator friendly event hosting a community you should get to know. Fat bike (bikes with 3.8” tires or higher) are absolutely required, and rentals are available at World of Bikes. If you aren’t completely convinced yet, be sure to check out the Hype Video that was made for the event courtesy of Pacific Blue Fin:


Wednesday’s Featured Product: LuminAID Solar Lanterns

Light up your life with this Wednesday’s Featured Product: the LuminAID inflatable solar lanterns. Created by two graduate students of architecture at Columbia University, and in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake that left thousands of refugees in it’s rubble, LuminAID inflatable solar lights offers temporary lighting solutions for anyone in the dark. Whether you’re base-camping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or storing them in your emergency grab bag, come on down to Fin & Feather and see for yourself why LuminAID is such a bright idea:

The LuminAID PackLite 12 & PackLite Spectra are the classic design that gave co-creators Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork so much attention. These waterproof, weather-capable solar lanterns increase in size the same way you blow up a beach ball, and after 7-10 hours of daylight charging can supply up to 12 hours of LED light. With a 10,000+ hour battery life, and a compact travel size, these convenient little lights can be with your for the long haul and outlast even the darkest of times. Maximize the white light with the PackLite, and get seven color changing options when you opt for the PackLite Spectra.  


Take things up a notch with the LuminAID PackLite 16. Not only in this portable light bigger in size, but at 65 lumens it also outshines the PackLite 12. With 30 hours available (on the low setting) from a single 7-10 hour daylight charge, this light truly shines throughout the night, and with its easily packable design, no matter where you’re going you never have to arrive in the dark with the LuminAID PackLite 16.

Lumaid PackLite 16

LuminAID has received national accolades such as a Top Technology Trend by USA Today, Early Stage Prize at the Clean Energy Challenge in Chicago, and both Andrea and Anna were donned Toyota’s Mothers of Invention at the Women In the World Summit in New York City. Besides all the achievements in the technology world, over 40,000 LuminAID’s have been donated and distributed across the globe for relief in disaster situations, making this one company you should really consider investing in.

Climbing Wall Rates for Non-Student Members

A little frustrated about the lackluster winter weather that seems to be hanging around Iowa City? Cold enough to make you think twice about being outside, but not enough snow to work up a proper sweat, and how about the ice that has seemingly been sprayed onto the ground like slick cement? Fortunately, thanks to the 60-foot rock wall located at the University of Iowa’s Campus and Recreation Wellness Center (CRWC), you can get your adventure fix on either side of a rope.

Uiowa RecServ

Do You Have to Be a Student to Use the Rock Wall?


Students automatically pay for their recreational building membership through their tuition, but just like any other gym in the city, the University’s rec buildings, including the CRWC, are open to the public per a membership fee. What fee you pay monthly or annually depends on your membership type, and your least-expensive option would be to have a current student sponsor your membership. The rest of the non-student rates can be found here:

Year Month Daily
Student Sponsored Adult $30 $30
Alumni Sponsored Adult $432.25 $64.50 $8
Community Member $472.50 $64.50 $8


Additional Membership to Climb at the Wall

The University of Iowa’s indoor rock climbing wall is one of the tallest in the nation at 60 feet and includes real-rock features alongside classic climbing holds. Add into the mix a dynamic bouldering wall, anchors to practice lead climbing, a crack that runs the entire vertical length, and even a belay and rest ledge 20 feet off the ground on the wall’s western end, and it’s clear to see how the Iowa City community can benefit from such an adventure training resource.

Just like climbing in the outdoors though, there are inherent risks to the sport, of which can be fully avoided by proper training and maintenance. To aid in the continual maintenance, as well as ensure proper technique is practiced throughout the gym, the climbing wall does require an additional climbing wall certificate that costs $20 and includes a lesson on the principles of rock climbing.

Climbing Wall Pic
Uiowa RecServ


What does the $20 Climbing Certificate Get You?

The Climbing Wall certificate includes a two-hour lesson, plus a safety check the next time you come to climb. Once you pass your safety assessment, you are presented with an actual climbing certificate that will need to be on display every time you tie into the rope. After that, and for the next year, you are welcome to walk-in and climb whenever the climbing wall is open. If you are already familiar with the basics of climbing (i.e. belaying & tying-in), you can skip the lesson, but not the $20 fee, and go right into a safety-check. Climbing lessons are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 & 8:30 during the academic school year:

Climbing Wall Hours (during academic session):

Monday – Friday

4:00 pm – 10:00 pm

(Tuesday – closed at 9:00)

Saturday & Sunday

2:00 pm – 6:00

Want to Check it Out? 

Climbing is a sport that can change your life for the better, and despite Iowa not having some of the most-renown routes outside, the denizens of Iowa City can never complain about a lack of indoor resources. If you are interested in the sport as a very beginner and what to know what it is all about, you can participate in a Try Climb at the wall for $3, which allows you to climb once up and down the wall with a certified staff member to belay you. If you are interested in taking your climbing to the next level, lead climbing lessona are also available by request.

The One Stop Shop for All of your Gear

Not only does Fin & Feather support the University’s indoor climbing wall, but we also carry all the gear you need to safely navigate your way to the top. From lightweight (and padded) harnesses to climbing-specific shoes, you can use the rentals at the wall for as long as you want, but when it comes time to invest in your own comfortable gear, we have the stock and expertise to get you climbing high.Fin and Feather Outdoor Store Front

Iowa City Adventure: Make Your Way Across Sand Lake

Take advantage of the cold weather this winter and head on down to the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area to skate, slide, and take a new route atop Sand Lake. With a thick layer of ice coating the majority of the lake, and DNR-stocked trout swimming below, whether you are an angler looking to drill a hole, or a winter enthusiast looking to don a pair of skates, you can find some fun this winter while touring the frozen Sand Lake.



If you’re in the mood for fishing, Sand Lake provides the perfect spot to pop a squat, dig a hole, and patiently wait out the cold weather. For those anglers who are looking to upgrade their bucket and rod combination, ice shelters and portable heaters are available for sale at Fin & Feather. The only other thing you need to ice fish at Sand Lake, besides a thermos of coffee, is your applicable Iowa fishing license (and Trout Stamp if you plan on catching any).

Sand Lake 1.jpg


For those winter athletes out there looking to add a new motion to their fitness routine, ice skates are available for rent through Fin & Feather’s H20 Center that’s operated out of the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, and includes a warming room and hot beverages for sale. If you have your own skates, or if you rent, either way, ice skating will prove to be a fun way to spend a winter day. Check out the H2O Center’s Facebook Page for updates on rental times and rates.  

Ice Skating 1.jpg
Photo by Connor Barber

The Terry Trueblood Recreation Area was acquired by Iowa City in 2006 and provides 152 acres and a bike path that circumnavigates the entire lake. Serving as a year-round facility ranging from boats in the summer to ice fishing in the winter, the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area also includes the Park Lodge facility available for rent through the Iowa City Parks and Recreation department. The Park Lodge boasts 5,870 square feet where patrons can utilize the full kitchen, stoke the fire, or gaze out onto the water from the extended patio space.

ASK Terry Trueblood Center

Your Guide to Goal Zero

With the 21st Century in full swing, there is no reason you should be left without power. Thanks to our good friends over at Goal Zero, with their complete collection of solar panels, portable power packs and 2-in-1 kits, you don’t have to ever be stranded with a dead battery. Whether you’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, or updating your social media accounts, here to keep you powered up: your personal guide to Goal Zero:


Solar Panels

Nomad 7
Nomad 7 Solar Panel

The perfect start to your Goal Zero system, solar panels like the Nomad 7 (available at Fin & Feather) harness the power of the sun to charge your basic and sophisticated technology needs. An important thing to note however, while the solar panels do collect energy, they do not store it, and  only accessories plugged directly into solar panels while they are facing the sun will get a charge. To maximize your solar charging experience, the next addition to your Goal Zero collection is a portable power pack.  


Venture Charger
Venture 30 Recharger

Portable Power Packs

The portable power units available from Goal Zero all work independently of solar panels, and are rechargeable by AC, 12V, or USB ports (depending on the model), and outputs range from being able to charge your cellphone to an entire jobsite. Whether you’re considering something big like the YETI 1250 Solar Generator, or something you can carry in your back pocket and charge your GoPro camera fives times over (i.e. the Venture 30 Recharger), the only thing that varies more in the size of your next Goal Zero power pack is the applications it can be used for.   


Solar Kits

To get the most out of your Goal Zero experience, the combination of a Solar Panel and Portable Power Unit are your best bet. Thankfully, instead of buying each unit individually, Goal Zero offers a complete line of Solar Kits bound to get your power surging. For the assurance your cell phone always works, the Switch and Nomad 3.5 Solar Kit will do the trick, and for the professional like the filmmakers below, the Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit should keep you running smoothly.  


For more information, and to find out which solar kit will be powering up your next adventure, head on over to Goal, or better yet, stop on by Fin & Feather and let the friendly staff answer any questions you might have.

Wednesday’s Featured Product(s): The Little Buddy & Portable Buddy Heater

No ice fishing shelter is complete without this Wednesday’s featured product(s), the Little Buddy and Portable Buddy Heater system. Representing one of the best ways to warm up ole’ man winter, these affordable heating systems can really add value to your ice fishing and outdoor experience.  Available at Fin & Feather in two different models, check them out now to see what you have been missing:


Little Buddy  ($59.99 @ Fin & Feather), is the compact Little Buddy Heatercompanion you almost can’t afford to not have with you. Featuring a heat output of 3,800 BTU’s per hour, this propane-enabled heater is perfect in the ice shed, on the back of the tailgate, or any enclosed shelter over 100 square foot. Just like it’s bigger brother, the Portable Buddy heater, the Little Buddy has an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over safety shut-off mechanism, making sure you don’t run the risk of burning down your shelter from the cold.

BUddy Heater

The Portable Buddy Heater ($79.99) is a beefed-up version of the Little Buddy Heater, but just because it’s a little bigger and has more heat to give (4,000 or 9,000 BTU per hour), doesn’t mean it isn’t easy to lug down to the cabin by lake. Recommended for any shelters or enclosed spaces larger than 200 square feet, the Portable Buddy Heater also runs off propane tanks (available at Fin & Feather), and just like the Little Buddy, with the integrated Piezo sparking mechanism, the Portable Buddy Heater starts to heat up with a snap of the fingers.


Get out of the cold this winter and come check out Fin & Feather’s selection of North America’s Most Popular Portable Propane Heaters!  


Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing Yurt Destinations in the United States

Tired of seeing your cross country skis and snowshoes catch cold in the garage? This winter in Iowa City hasn’t necessarily been spectacular regarding snow conditions, and for those winter athletes that rely on the blood-pumping aesthetics from winter activity it’s been a tedious time waiting for snow. To battle those winter blues, perhaps you need to start thinking broader, start considering something with no corners, and start checking out these five different cross country skiing & snowshoeing yurt destinations in the United States:


Boundary Country Trekking – Grand Marais, Minnesota

Located 29 miles up the Gunflint Trail from the north-shore town of Grand Marias, Boundary Trekking Company situates you squarely in the middle of a Boundary Waters and Superior National Forest winter wonderland. Yurt to yurt trekking complete with gear shuttles and traveling chefs are available through Boundary Country Trekking, or you can go the more rustic approach and rely on yourself, and the wood-burning stove, by staying in either the accommodating Tall Pines Yurt.  

Yurt Picture 16.jpg
Tall Pines Yurt – Boundary Country Trekking


Mount Tahoma Trails Association – Ashford, Washington

Perhaps the greatest thing in common between the two huts and yurt operated by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association is the stunning views of Mount Rainier they all share. Located near the base of the mountain in Ashland, if the promised scenery of the 14,409’ Mt. Rainier isn’t enough for you to buy a plane ticket, just know that the Yurt is spacious, the High Hut provides the closest view of Rainier, and Bruni’s Snowbowl Hut is one of most accommodating and luxurious back country hut to be found in the United States.

Mt Rainier
Mount Rainier view from Bruni’s Snowbowl Hut – summer


10th Mountain Division Hut Association – Aspen, Colorado

The 10th Mountain Division has a long history in Aspen spanning back to the days leading up to North America’s involvement in World War II. The Rocky Mountains of Colorado proved to be prudent training grounds for thousands of soldiers soon to be heading to the Italian Alps, and after the war was over, many of those veterans settled back down with the Colorado terrain,  effectively beginning the ski culture that is now found throughout most of the mountainous state. The many available and sought after huts operated by the 10th Mountain Division, which gives namesake for the heroes that trained in the area, strive to honor those American icons through the winter lifestyle they provide to each visitor.  


Teton Backcountry Guides Overnight Hut Tours – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Grab a guide and start your adventure with your choice of Overnight Hut Tours from Teton Backcountry Guides. Whether you are interested in an introduction to winter warmth procedures, or are an experienced backcountry alpinist looking for fresh powder, the various guided overnight trips have you covered. High traverses, crest adventures, and wilderness navigation, all sandwiched between cozy and clean yurt accommodations, it doesn’t really get much better than that for winter fun.


Sun Valley Trekking Guided Hut Tours – Hailey, Idaho

With the customizable guided tours provided by Sun Valley Trekking, you don’t have to worry about your backcountry experience (or lack there of) while exploring the powder-infused world of Sun Valley in the winter. You get to choose between six huts or yurts (including a double-yurt) and you don’t even have to worry about the dishes after your prepared dinner is served. The full accommodations at Sun Valley Trekking don’t necessarily come cheap, but the memories you’ll make while staying warm next to the fire will surely last a lifetime.

Sun Valley Trekking Logo

The Benches of Downtown Iowa City – Photo Collage

In a successful collaboration to add art into daily life, the Iowa City Downtown Association, the University of Iowa Community Credit Union and loads of local artists have transformed the benches of the pedestrian mall into visual works of art since 2012. To celebrate the talented individuals who spent the time to catch your eye, and to serve as a reminder as to why Iowa City is a wonderful place to live, here for you today is a collage of the benches downtown circa January, 2016:

(Zoom out for the big picture) The Final Test

Interview with Liz Christiansen,Office of Sustainability: Milestones and Challenges for the 2020 Vision

Sustainability - 2020 goalsThe Office of Sustainability was first introduced to the University of Iowa in 2008, and over the last 8 years their impacts on campus and in the community can be seen in the bikes on the streets, the fuel-conscious cars driven by the university, and every time you step into the lights or heat of a University building. After two years of research and preparation, in 2010 the office of Sustainability in partnership with other state agencies and the EPA, issued a set of ambitious sustainability goals for 2020. With the future near in sight, Liz Christiansen, Director of the Office of Sustainability of the University of Iowa, was happy to share some insight on the hard work done so far to meet those 2020 goals, the challenges the department faces in the next 5 years, and not only the future of sustainability on campus, but the longevity that this organization is aiming for:


Fin & Feather: The Office of Sustainability was created in 2008 with a declaration by then-President Sally Mason to “make Sustainability a central priority of all aspects of our University enterprise” – what are some the milestones the office has reached since then?


Liz Christiansen Photo
Liz Christiansen

Liz Christiansen: The first milestone that I can think of is the establishment of our 2020 targets, which took a lot of work and over a year to pull together and embed them onto campus and the community. We made them a ten year target, and that was a really good thing for us to do at the time, not setting the goal so far out, like 2015 or 2030, because that meant if we were serious about achieving those goals we had to make progress every single year, nobody could fall down on their job, nobody couldn’t be doing their work.


One of the next milestones would be incorporating students* into our office. That has been for me the best part of the job, to work with young people who are going on to make a better world. That also leads into the creation of the charter committee, and making the sustainability charter committee a part of the shared governance on campus. We have students, faculty and staff all coming together to make sustainability policy on our campus, which means we have every level represented, and their role is to advise the president. It’s a wonderful collaboration.

Yet another milestone, and there are a lot of them, would be the actual progress that we have made on our 2020 targets and achieving our midterm goals. We’ve made great progress in reducing our energy consumption and we’re below the energy amount we were using in 2010 despite all the growth that is going around on campus. We’ve made our midterm target for renewable energy, and the work that we are doing towards dedicated energy crops is just groundbreaking. It’s all been such a wonderful thing to achieve in five years and the next five years will be even more challenging.

*editor’s note: Past student who have worked for the Office of Sustainability include Chris Page, Truman Scholar recipient & current MPA candidate at Princeton University; and Eric Holthaus who just accepted a position as Sustainability Coordinator for Cedar Rapids.
Sustainability Targets
Full Details of Goals Can be Found Here

F&F: The first goal in the 2020 vision includes achieving a net-negative energy consumption growth from 2010, what are some the things that are being done to achieve this lofty goal?

Sustainability - BuildingsL.C.: A lot of improvements have been made at the power plant to make the plant operate more efficiently. A lot of things that are more visible to people on campus is relighting projects, renovating building systems, and some of those project have a payback of even less than a year. I would say if you have an energy conservation project with a payback of only a few years, and you don’t do it, you’re not managing your money wisely. On top of the financial aspect, a lot of improvements have happened that resulted in more comfortable buildings for occupants, and facilities is moving over towards a different way of managing those assets, to being less reactive and more proactive, and moving to a way of managing the buildings so that they never really fall out of optimal performance. Paying attention to what’s happening to those building assets, and never allowing them to get to a point of wasting energy and being poor performers is essential to meeting our 2020 goal of net-zero energy growth.


F&F: Speaking upon the second 2020 goal, greening the University’s energy portfolio to include 40% renewable energy, what is some of the progress being made to reach that quota?

L.C.: We have an existing power plant and we think that one of the most efficient ways to get to more renewable energy is to  transition away from coal as a main solid fuel and look more towards biomass. The solution that we are working on is to work with our agricultural producers to grow perennial crops that we can use as a substitute for coal. We are looking at this issue of renewable energy through a sustainability lens, so we ask ourselves what’s the best thing to do, given our set of circumstances, which promotes environmental performance and supports Iowa.

“We are looking at this issue of renewable energy through a sustainability lens, so we ask ourselves what’s the best thing to do, given our set of circumstances, which promotes environmental performance and supports Iowa”

We will spend millions of dollar a year on coal and all that revenue goes out of state. We looked at this and asked ourselves if there was a way we could produce our fuel locally, put those dollars through the local economy, and at the same time, find additional environmental benefits besides the clear benefit of reducing our coal consumption. Iowa has an issue with water quality, and I think we should all be concerned with the quality of our soils, and maintaining their productivity – putting more perennial crops where they need to go in order to secure soil productivity -We can all benefit from that.

Sustainability - Dedicated Energy Crops

It hasn’t been an easy thing to tackle, and the folks in facilities an facilities and utilities management have worked very hard to get to this point, and what I can say is that we are all still learning on the go, we have to tackle issues every single day, but it’s looking to hold tremendous promise.


F&F: Now that we know what is happening today, what are some of the challenges or future milestones you expect from the Office of Sustainability over the next 5 years?

L.C.: We have a real challenge in maintaining the progress we have made in terms of energy conservation. We have some big buildings coming online and those buildings are complicated, and they are going to be using a lot of energy, so we have to work even harder and dig even deeper to continue our energy reduction. That being said there is a group of really smart people working there every single day and looking for every single opportunity to reduce energy and reduce energy used on our campus, so I’m optimistic in that respect.

I’m also optimistic about expanding our renewable energy portfolio, and as we get closer to 2020 I think we’ll see parity in terms of solar energy cost compared to coal, and we’ll see opportunities where we can employ solar even more. Waste diversion is also a challenge. Getting to that 60% will be a challenge and it may have us looking even harder at the organic matter that is making its way into our waste stream. Right now we divert most of our pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste, but there are still some organics leaking through the system and making their way to the landfill, so we’ll need to be dogged to find those leaks.

My real hope is that we can continue to broaden this culture of Sustainability - recycling picsustainability on campus. If you give students the opportunity to learn about the impacts of global climate disruption, and let them learn about the principles of sustainability and give them the opportunity to practice them, apply them, we can send forth this next generation of thinkers and doers, entrepreneurs, and problem solvers. It’s a remarkable system and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 5 years have in store for us.

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