Dirtbag or Lumbersexual? 4 Ways to Know.

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His shirt is tucked in. To cut wood.

It’s official. Lumbersexuals are real. It’s not just a clever euphemism for those who thrive at the intersection of barista and hipster.

I know this not because they were crawling all over Cisero’s Bar in Park City a couple of weeks ago, where they ordered Old Fashions with a straw and sported horizontal stripe socks over leg tattoos and above Red Wing Iron Rangers, but
because Forbes Magazine—Forbes—explained their reason for being in a write up about Winter Outdoor Retailer.

Tight jeans. One-size-fits-none flannels. Ironic mustaches or well-manicured facial hair of some kind. An old-school vest. Maybe a thick-knit, loose fitting beanie made by an Etsy shop that donates proceeds to Fair Trade sandal makers in Ecuador. To the informed, the Lumbersexual is easily identified, like the goth kid at a young Republican’s Club meeting.

But to the non-cognoscente, they can be confused with a more authentic subset of the outdoor lifestyle community: the dirtbag.

Now, having a tremendous amount of respect for the latter, and living as one for at least a few weeks in total every year, I think it’s critical that society be educated on how to separate the two classes. So here’s how to tell the difference. Read carefully.

1. Mode of Transportation
This is pretty easy. Fiat. Mini. Scion? Lumbersexual. Subaru. Sprinter. Tacoma with a cap: Dirtbag. I know, many are quick to ask why a dirtbag wouldn’t be out cragging in a Prius. They tend to be pricey and more than that, they’re not great for crashpads or rainy-night Monopoly games. Still, it’s not unheard of, and there is some overlap. If unsure, examine the sticker compendium. A Backcountry.com goat or a Petzl logo adhered to the back window will ensure the driver’s level of outdoor authenticity. Sportsmobile, small RV or Minivan? Dirtbag.

 

To the informed, the Lumbersexual is easily identified, like the goth kid at a young Republican’s Club meeting.

 

2. Condition of Clothing
If it’s Goodwill-fresh, pleated, and somehow meant to look old, you have yourself a Lumbersexual. If the pants are dirty and the down jacket is patched in at least in one spot with duct tape, that person’s spent a great deal of time in places that lack rudimentary plumbing infrastructure. Flannel shirts are common among both demographics, but the amount of distance between fabric and the wearer’s skin can be correlated directly with the actual number of nights per year the person has spent in a tent. Same goes with pants. Also, to identify a dirtbag, look for fleece, specific brand trucker hats, approach shoes, and tattoos not purposely exposed.

3. Grooming State of Beard
This is real difference maker. If it’s clear the beard exists simply due to a lack of time in front of a mirror or general apathy, it’s a dirtbag. A beard deliberately cultivated and overtly styled is easy to spot. Look along the neckline if there’s any reasonable doubt. If the mustache somehow stands out or looks like it belongs on the face of a circus strong man, you’re not looking at a dirtbag. Many believe the beard is what’s driving the confusion, and leading some to believe its wearer is authentically rugged. Make no such assumption.

 

Flannel shirts are common among both demographics, but the amount of distance between fabric and the wearer’s skin can be correlated directly with the actual number of nights per year the person has spent in a tent.

 

4.Immediate Surroundings
Take in the habitat, it can be very telling. If you need some coffee and the only options are pour over or french press, the odds are very good in you’re in a place populated with Lumbersexuals. In fact, one is probably serving you. His “name” will be Marcel or Felix. This will happen in Manhattan, anywhere close to San Francisco, or according to recent reports, Downtown Nashville. Pizza counters and taco stands are known places to spot dirtbags. They flock to feed at places with the best possible calorie-to-affordability ratio possible. See: Roberto’s in Las Vegas, Flagstaff’s Diablo Burger, the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, or Davanza’s in Park City.

I should caveat this brief guide by saying that we all have our uniforms, our dress choices. The key for the dirtbag is utility and durability. How many days was it tucked under a harness, singed by campfire ash, and permeated with thick, warm sweat before it was stuffed under the back seat? (Only to be put back into rotation when in town to pirate WiFi.)

I’m all for everyone enjoying the outdoors, and support this expansion of the adventure travel gear and apparel industries into markets considered “less core.” It’s important to the future of the business.

But so is authenticity. And if you are, you are. It doesn’t matter what I think of your jeans.

Cat skiing? That’s cute. Hop on Ken Block’s Ford RaptorTRAX.

Ken Block is simply having too much fun. Not only do he and his Hoonigan Team get paid to make the most absurdly badass car videos, he’s now doing for backcountry snowboarding what Laird Hamilton has done for big wave surfing: adding high performance tech to make it faster, badder, and of course, way more palatable for Internet consumption.

Just enjoy.

Why doesn’t it snow in Lake Tahoe anymore?

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Photo by Tim Rantz, I Love Lake Tahoe FB group

My first visit to Lake Tahoe was about six years ago I think, we were living on the east coast, in the south. We took a few days in San Francisco, then Yosemite of course, and eventually settled in a rented cabin in South Lake Tahoe.

It’s a place not hard to fall in love with. We poked around Fallen Leaf Lake, mountain biked up to Angora Lakes, and had beers in some of the busy tourist spots. A couple of years ago we finally discovered the north end, and that’s when we realized it’s a place we’re always going to have high on our list of regular western destinations. Maybe live eventually.

On that first visit, a local was sharing with us tales of feet-deep snow falls. He mentioned that the only month in which he didn’t see snow was August, and that in winter roads were impassable and people used snowmobiles to get around. Living in North Carolina at the time, we conjured images of thick white Himalayan landscapes bordering this exquisite lake and night after night of thick, quarter-sized flakes creating auras around dimming street lights.

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Photo by Dawn Luke, I Love Lake Tahoe FB group

So when we moved to Las Vegas in 2011, the prospect of weekend trips to Lake Tahoe had us jonesing for winter. Sure, Utah is right here; but the prospect of being entrenched in high Sierra powder above the cold blue of the nation’s second deepest lake was plenty to keep us glued to the weather report.

After a decent but unimpressive trip in 2012, which we blew off as just a bad season, we headed north again the next year. Our visions of abominable snowscapes were once again dashed. Squaw Valley, the one-time home of the Winter Olympics, was boasting about a 20-inch base. A very small number of runs managed to earn some traffic, consisting mainly of iced-over pond-sourced snow. Anytime in Tahoe is a good one, but as a ski trip, it left everything to be desired.

“… the prospect of being entrenched in high Sierra powder above the cold blue of the nation’s second deepest lake was plenty to keep us glued to the weather report.”

And that’s when someone turned off the faucet.

This week, two of the smaller Sierra-area resorts, Dodge Ridge and Badger Pass in Yosemite, announced they are shutting things down until the forecast dictates otherwise. Tahoe Donner Cross Country near Truckee has also called it quits for while because of thin snow.

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The lake’s waterline has been peeled back from its normal place of impact with the shore, like there’s a leak somewhere deep in its dark, cold middle. Dock columns are exposed along the entire shoreline and in Reno, ducks are dying en-masse as a result of avian botulism, perpetuated by low water levels in Virginia Lake.

Those low water levels are a result of a barely flowing Truckee River, Lake Tahoe’s only exit. In South Lake Tahoe, snowpack is 33% of normal.

“The lake’s waterline has been peeled back from its normal place of impact with the shore …”

Positive thinkers are correct when they remind us that, “All it takes is a couple of big storms to right the ship.”

I don’t want to spread misery or further retard the trickle of tourism revenue to the Lake Tahoe region, but the ship is going to need its hull patched.

Ultimately, this is a plea for snow, an observation that the lack of consistent precipitation over the last two winters (although the current drought is reported to have started four years ago) has become downright scary. Like, science-fiction movie creepy.

I don’t know enough about meteorology or global warming to confidently assign blame for the absence of winter in California. I do know enough to say that if you don’t believe in climate change the odds are in favor of your head having once been cracked open to replace your brain with about a cup’s worth of hardened Cream of Wheat.

Historic things are happening with our weather of late, and you can’t blame it on the imaginations of liberal lawmakers. The debate on exactly how big an impact man has on climate change is ongoing; but rest assured, there’s plenty to debate. Like China. Salt Lake City inversions. Palm forest clearing. And coal-fired power plants.

All that aside, I just want to know why it doesn’t snow in Lake Tahoe anymore.

Any ideas?