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Outdoor adventurers sharing experience with video, pics

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 10:38 AM

DAVIS, W.Va. — Some of his friends back in Myrtle Beach, S.C., probably wouldn’t even believe the piles of snow up on the mountains at Canaan Valley.

But Chas Wagner has proof of the winter wonderland he discovered up at Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Davis, W.Va.
Making his first trip to the mountain that sits 4,268-feet in elevation, Wagner — like a videographer for his own adventure movie — was equipped with a GoPro, a helmet-affixing Point of View camera that is becoming more and more commonplace on the outdoors adventure scene.

From whitewater rafting to skiing, from snow tubing to mountain biking and ziplining, adventurers are capturing the wild world of outdoor sports from their view.

Skiing with Boy Scout Troop 891, Wagner, who was out on the slopes Martin Luther King Jr., Weekend from morning until late in the evening, turned his head back and forth capturing his buddies slip sliding away.

“Once I saw one I was like dad, dad, dad I want one so much and that’s what I got for Christmas,” said the excited 13-year-old on the slopes. “I have a lot of fun taking it out and taping every once in a while. It’s video I can keep for a long time that’s memories.”

And the trend of utilizing technology to further share the outdoors isn’t just capturing the imagination of teens and tweens.

Over at the fourth annual Winter Adventure Weekend (WAW) at Carter Caves State Resort Park, one of the recent trends started by web master and veteran outdoorsman Andy Niekamp is a live scrolling slide show at the lodge.

During the weekend that took place Jan. 25-27, people out rambling on 140 different adventures from ziplining to horseback riding and wild caving emailed photos from their smartphones that were loaded and tossed into the photostream of pics scrolling on a flat-screen TV by the fireplace at the lodge.

The slideshow could also be seen in lodge rooms and cottages at Carter Caves on closed circuit TVs as well as on the Winter Adventure Weekend Website.

Coy Ainsley, park naturalist at Carter Caves and one of the main organizers, said it adds a freshness to the event and connects folks who are waiting at the lodge to those out in the 2,000-acre park and beyond canoeing, rappelling and doing other high adventure sport.

“Andy’s done an amazing job. He completely redesigned the website this year and he’s also responsible for the photostreaming,” Ainsley said. “They email pics with their Smartphone and send it to our email while they are still on the trip, so people are watching at the lodge almost as it is happening. I think outdoors enthusiasts enjoy showing what kind of experiences people can get out there.”

While WAW was spread all over the wilds of Carter County, there definitely was a concentration of activity down behind the lodge at the 90-foot-tall Smokey Bridge, Kentucky’s highest natural bridge.

It was around there the rappelling and climbing classes Down for Dummies, Up for Idiots, the Highline, the rope climbing competition and an advanced climbing class were taking place.

On Saturday afternoon, Shane Kamer, 41, a Lewis County, Ky., native now living in Asheville, N.C., was strategically placed on the far slope using his hand-held tablet to control a quad copter armed with high def video cameras.

Kamer, who has volunteered for the past seven or eight years, said he was having a blast capturing shots of everything from recreational tree climbing to rappelling and the highline.

“It’s amazing what you can do now with technology and the amount of fun you can have with it,” said Kamer, who paid about $300 for his copter. “... and I think everybody goes back to the lodge and wants to see themselves up on the TV at the lodge. ‘Hey, that’s you,’ and there’s me.’” 

Niekamp said this is the third year WAW had a live slideshow and that it was a matter of evolving as technology evolved from the not-to-distant “old days” when folks sent him CDs of pics for the website to today’s almost instantaneous photo shows.

“We had known for years with past Crawlathons that people love to take photos, and we knew that people were out there taking photos on the various field trips so we decided to come up with a way for those people to share them more or less instantly with everyone at the event,” Niekamp said. “In the past few years with the changes with free Wi-Fi at the park, better 3G coverage at the park and the proliferation of Smartphones and Wi-Fi-enabled digital cameras we created the online slideshow where people send their photos to an email address and those photos end up in an online photo gallery that we can then show in slideshow format in an ongoing constant basis.”

Niekamp said the photo sharing part of WAW has really taken off since he received more than 700 photos in about 72 hours from the weekend’s flurry of activities.

“That demonstrates that people are willing to share and enjoy sharing their experiences,” Niekamp said. “It is not a task or a chore on their end. It is something they like to do that they can share their experience with others.”

Niekamp said this year they’ve began getting some fantastic GoPro footage from folks like veteran caver Susie Duncan, who took a 30-minute high-def video of rope climbing at Fern Bridge, one of several natural bridges at Carter Caves.

“I think that will be the future that ability to capture video more easily with those remote controlled helicopters or other devices that is where I see it going,” Neikamp said. “It really does give the photographer a chance to do unique things and to apply creativity to the situation they have ... everybody can produce some professional quality photos and videos. We look forward to evolving as technology evolves. Who knows where we will be a few years from now. Look at how far we have come in the past few years with videos and photo technology.”