Category Archives: Outdoors

Tips for Improving Campground Sustainability

When you want to ensure that your outdoor camping experience will not have a negative impact on your surroundings, pay attention to the facility you choose. Not every campground can institute fancy green initiatives, but you can choose one that will provide the best all-around experience.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability involves efforts to reduce negative environmental, economic, cultural, and social impact. You will be able to assess a facility’s advances toward sustainability by exploring its activities, regulations, and exchanges with the surrounding community. While it might be impressive to see a certificate or another award showing an earned certification, this isn’t the only indicator of a green initiative.

Assessing the Venue

A careful look around will give you important clues about environmental friendliness. Speak with management to learn about rules and regulations.

You might encounter rules about the maximum number of people allowed at sites, which are set to minimize impact on the environment. In general, all sites should be located at a minimum of 200 feet away from natural sources of water, and fires should be allowed in official fire rings only.

Look for evidence of waste reduction regulations. This typically includes “Leave No Trace” policies such as “Pack it in, pack it out.” These guidelines can be remarkably simple. Whatever items people bring to the site will need to be taken with them when they leave. The facility will likely be utilizing systems to properly dispose of other types of waste. This waste includes sewage and gray water.

Consumption management is also a crucial factor. Research how the venue manages power, food, firewood, and water provided to patrons. Find out how people can access power, and look to see whether alternative energy sources are available. Does the campground encourage usage of sustainable energy? Look for water-harvesting and water-saving strategies in place by the management.

Examine the construction of the facility. Check to see if outhouses or other structures are made out of recycled materials or environmentally-friendly materials such as structural fiberboard, and roofing materials made out of a plastic/rubber composite.

Community Involvement

Giving back to the community is an important indication of sustainability. Find out if a facility contributes to the surrounding community with outreach, sponsorships, and donations. Perhaps they contribute to a local wildlife fund or forest fire prevention fund.

Enjoying the Outdoors at Mont Royal Park Montreal

Mont Royal is undoubtedly the crowning glory of the city of Montreal. If you have never been to this particular Canadian city, the mountain is ‘the’ landmark to look for when you arrive in the city. The mountain is really not hard to spot as it is ubiquitous from any spot in downtown Montreal.

Mont Royal is home to a park that bears the same name and sits on its peak. Although the park is not entirely the product of Mother Nature, city dwellers nevertheless absolutely adore this fantastic green space, which was landscaped by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted, renowned for designing the Central Park in New York City.

Getting to the mountain is a dream experience for any hiking and outdoor enthusiast. If you would like to observe the sweeping cityscape of Montreal, make your way to the different lookout points, all sitting on the top of the mountain summit. The viewpoints to choose include the Kondiaronk (Chalet), Crags Trail and Camillien-Houde Drive. There are several hiking paths that lead to Mont Royal Park. One of the most used ones is the Olmsted Road way. If you are nervous about hiking because you have not done it before, heading to the Mont Royal summit makes a great hiking introduction. The hike takes only about 45 minutes and covers approximately 6 to 7 kilometers (4 miles).

Aside from the amazing panoramas of Montreal, Mont Royal Park offers a lot more! It is essential a huge lush playground that hosts activities like picnicking, horseback riding, jogging and cycling. Fortunately, the park is a tourist attraction worth visiting year round. If you happen to come to Montreal during the winter, the park is a perfect place to enjoy tobogganing and cross-country skiing without having to drive far out from Montreal.

Beaver Lake is one of the top sites to see while here. This beautiful man-made lake is surrounded by a playground and a pavilion, which in turn houses tourist amenities like restrooms, outdoor equipment rental shops and a restaurant bistro. The Smith House is another famous landmark in Mont Royal Park. This heritage building welcomes visitors to the park and offers insights and more information about Mont Royal. The Smith House is also home to the lovely restaurant and terrace called Café Smith.

Even bird watchers will absolutely love Mont Royal. In fact, birdwatching is a major tourist activity of the mountain park. If you are a lover of the adorable flying feathered creatures, then consider following the Bird Feeder Circuit, which showcases the wide variety of bird species inhabiting the mountain. Running along the Olmsted Road, the circuit is open from November to April.

To reach Mont Royal Park by public transport, look for Bus No. 11 using the STM bus schedule. This specific bus service picks up passengers from Metro Mont-Royal and Côte-des-Neiges Road; and goes all the way to the top of the mountain at the park. Another option is to rent a car and drive to the summit. There are pay parking spaces on some streets around the park and near attractions like Smith House and the Beaver Lake. You can rent a parking spot for the entire day for just under 8 US dollars. Once there you are free to explore and experience all Mont Royal Park has to offer!

The Guide to Getting Anyone to Love the Outdoors!

Obviously today’s society is a very stay at home, anti social group of individuals who see the outdoors as the equivalent of running a marathon. Well over the years I’ve come to understand that the wild IS for everyone, they just don’t know it yet. In many cases, a camping trip is one outdoor enthusiasts trying to talk someone, usually of the opposite sex, into joining them in the great outdoors. And in most cases the person who has never been camping usually has a difficult time adjusting to sleeping outside. I believe every person has that primeval wild side inside them, it just needs to be drawn out slowly. So from my experience, turning many city dwelling individuals into wanting to be the next Bear grills, I’ve put together a simple guide to help get your friends or significant other to take a walk on the wild side with you.

The Guide to Getting Anyone to Love the Outdoors!

Question Their Experience

First and Foremost find out what experience your guest has with the outdoors. Did they grow up in a rural area or in a downtown apartment? Have they gone camping in the past? What are the details of the trip? Did they stay in an RV with a TV and shower, or was it in a tent and they used baby wipes as their shower. Usually people always say they have been on a camping trip where they were “roughing it!” Obviously err on the side of caution because roughing it for some people may be a full blown survival situation and for others it may be going without Phone Service.

Start Small and Simple

Once you have an idea about how far you can push them, you have to use the acronym KISS to plan a trip! Keep It Simple Stupid! You might be a survivalist badass who can climb Everest in a single bound, or pull salmon out of the river with your beard, but remember, your guest probably don’t even know what a beard is. Start small with what I like to call “cheater camping!” Rent a Cabin, a Yurt, an RV, or find a campsite with all the amenities like hot showers, temperature controlled clean bathrooms, etc. The shorter and simpler the outdoor adventure is, the less chance for things to go wrong, and more likely that your guest will return. Plan short hikes that aren’t difficult, or drive to the great view instead of hike. Avoid any areas with mosquitoes or really cold weather! Those two things will end a great trip real quick.

Make Them Overly Comfortable

Now that you have the perfect plan and you’ve got them outside, make their outside experience as cozy as their home. Whatever everyday items your guests just can’t live without, find a way to bring that into the outdoors. Maybe your guest can’t go a day without brushing their teeth, blow drying their hair, Starbucks coffee, checking their email or missing a home cooked meal. Many campsites offer electrical hookups, and showers which can be a life saver for someone who isn’t use to roughing it. Bring pillows and extra blankets to place in the tent to keep it soft and warm instead of just the old ground pad and sleeping bag. Bring a French press for Starbucks on Trail! Get creative with the cooking and take the kitchen outside. This also gives you the chance to show off your cast iron cooking skills, your guest will rave about. Nothing smells better than bacon and eggs on a cast iron grill over an open flame!

Teach and Be Taught

Be a Mentor, a supporter, and then learn. Teach the student, then have the student teach the teacher. Most people like to learn new skills, and are excited, but people are usually nervous or embarrassed when trying something they don’t know. Get your guest involved in the trip, don’t act like a know it all, be humble and teach them the cool skills you know and love. Show them the best way to pack a bag, build a tent, bait a hook, or make a fire. Then on the next night give them at a shot at making the fire, or building the tent, but don’t let them get discouraged and make sure you are always motivating them. Explain the calls of the wild to them. People see the outdoors as something to be feared instead of embraced. Explain that the sounds you hear at night are beautiful and not to be feared. Sounds like the howling of coyotes, the hoot of an owl or the call of a moose are all to be enjoyed. Explain the different animal tracks on trail. Nothing is cooler than your friend heading into work on Monday to brag about all the new stuff they learned.

The WOW Factor

This tip is the icing on the cake! Make sure that first adventure has a WOW factor somewhere in the trip. Find one visual scene that will burn a lasting memory in your guest’s mind that will have them itching to come back for more! Whether it’s a beautiful sunset/sunrise, a splendid mountain view, endless night sky or close encounter with wildlife, make it EPIC! A picture worthy shot of your friend with the special scene will go a long way.

Surprise and Reset

The Surprise and Reset part of the trip can be as simple as extra candy on trail, to a night at a 5 star hotel. It’s up to you, depending on the difficulty or duration of your adventure, to determine when the best time to use this will be. It may be earlier than later depending on how hard you pushed your guest. Once you have hiked all day, camped multiple nights in the back country, or lived off mountain house meals, execute the Surprise and Reset tip. Take your guests into town to grab a beer and a sit down meal, order a pizza, have an extra box of chocolates for them that you pull out when they run out, or ditch the tent for a warm cabin to cap off an amazing trip. Whatever you do, surprise your guests so they aren’t wondering when all this nature will stop. Let them have a brief, relaxing moment that will reset them from all the new outdoor experiences.

Prep and Push The Envelope

The Final stage is to prep and push the envelope. Once you are on your way home, reminisce about the great times you had and the funny mishaps. Motivate your guest, explain how impressed you were with how they handled their first camping trip and prep them for the next adventure. Now that they have experienced a small piece of the outdoors, ask them what they are willing to give up in the future. Maybe they can shower in the stream, eat a mountain house, or bring a solar panel to check their emails on trail. Push them a little further each time and do whatever it takes to get them back in the outdoors. Follow this guide and you will have given someone the greatest gift of all. A Love for the Outdoors!

I hope this helps you get that significant other, friend or family member off the couch and into the great outdoors. Feel free to send me some ideas you’ve used in the past to make someone fall in love with the outdoors.

Staying Safe When Encountering Bears

Anyone embarking on the exciting wildlife experience of bear tours is highly unlikely to encounter a confrontational situation with one of these majestic animals. It is still very wise, however, to educate yourself on how to react if you ever did come into close contact with a bear, by understanding the psychology of how and why they attack. While on reputable bear tours you’ll always be accompanied by an expert guide, but the information below will outline the basics.

Why Might a Bear Attack?

Determining how to react depends a lot on the situation. A bear may attack either because they are being defensive or because something is standing in the way of their food source. If the animal sees something as a threat it will not stop attacking against the tactics of ‘playing dead’ or shouting and it requires a little more imagination in defensive tactics. Instances of threat include a mother protecting cubs or a hidden food stash, or if it feels its space has been encroached upon. It may also be more predatory if it is exceptionally hungry.

How to React to an Encounter

Bear experts say that the first rule of thumb, however difficult it may seem, is to remain calm and not panic, as a panicked person exhibits behaviours that resemble potential prey. The advice is to try to make yourself bigger than you really are; you can do this by holding your arms above your head and standing with your legs apart. If you have a jacket on, wave it above you to make you appear larger and wider, and leave any backpacks on as they also add to the illusion of size.

You should always avoid eye contact but never turn away from the animal, as you need be aware of what it is doing at all times. Noise can be helpful, but be warned that in some cases it can have the opposite effect-some larger bears are more curious about noise and may well be attracted to it, while others will run away, especially if the sound is of a metallic nature.

After Dark

If you encounter a bear at close quarters at night, shine a torch in their eyes and, although you might feel the urge to run, the advice from expert guides on bear tours is don’t. Sudden movements may cause the animal to give chase. It’s a common misconception that climbing a tree will keep you safe in the case of a bear attack, but this is not true. Some bears can climb very fast and, while a bigger animal may not be exactly nimble, it’s never a guaranteed escape route. Distance is your best tactic, so try to put something large between you and the animal, such as a tree or a rock.

Bear attacks on humans are actually extremely uncommon (and never on properly organised bear tours). However, it’s always prudent to understand the right way to behave in unlikely event you ever come face to face with this most impressive and intimidating of creatures.

Top Florida Vacation Ideas for Romantic Couples

From idyllic sandy beaches to the spectacular water parks, from incredible sunshine all through the year to fantastic range of outdoor adrenaline – there’s no way one would deny a vacation in Florida, the Sunshine State. From a wide gamut of places for great eating and staying to astounding air balloon rides, relaxing massages and golfing, the state certainly makes an excellent spot for couples who are romantically associated.

Hot Air Balloon:

Imagine you and your partner are high up in the sky, confined in a tiny space, hanging. This certainly boosts your adrenaline. If your partner loves adventure, hot air balloon is simply incredible. Hot air ballooning is probably a must-to-do outdoor activity in this part of the world. There are several renowned companies that make special arrangements for lovers, couples and families. When you embark upon such exciting activities ensure that the weather is great.

Hollis Garden:

If you happen to be in Central Florida, don’t forget to walk around the impressive Hollis Garden. It is a star attraction in the area. Take a lazy stroll along with your wife hand-in-hand and delight in the beauty of nature. Hollis Garden is situated in downtown Lakeland and covers an area of 1.2 acre where visitors would be lost in the aroma of thousands of plants and flowers. Besides the colorful flower display, your eyes will probably be stuck in the splendor of cascading waterfalls, fountains, koi pond, a lily pond and a grotto. All these attractions will help you make the atmosphere ever more romantic. Do not forget to visit the butterfly garden.

Bok Tower Gardens:

There is another spectacular attraction to visit in Central Florida. It is called Bok Tower Gardens. This place has been home to numerous events. Every now and then art exhibitions and concerts take place to amuse visitors. Marvel the stunning sunset view atop Iron Mountain is the most amazing thing to do here.

Are you tired? Are you bored? If so, why not indulge in a relaxing session by seeking a spa treatment for couples. This is something most couples would want to do in Florida. The state has, in fact, earned an undisputed name in offering excellent spa services. If you believe in relaxing and unwinding in a different way, suggesting you a round of golf is not a bad idea either. Popular golf clubs are within easy walk from luxurious hotels and vacation rentals.

10 Summer Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

It’s summer and you want to get the whole gang together for an outdoor BBQ. Make it special – but keep it easy. Here are 10 ideas to help you reach that goal!

    • Put it on Wheels. Use utility carts, serving cards or even a garden cart (cleaned and lined with a pretty cloth, of course) for different “courses”. You can have a snack cart with munchies or a dessert cart. The beauty of putting it on wheels is that you can easily move it out when you’re ready – or in if there’s a sudden summer shower.
    • Battery Operated Candles. If you love the flickering, romantic light of a candle but don’t want to mess with dripping wax or the danger of a little one getting to close to the flame, you with battery operated candles. They come in every size from pillars to tea lights. Use them in centerpieces for a special glow.
    • Citronella. You’re going to need a few real candles – of the citronella sort. If you live in a bug-prone area (and that’s about everywhere in the summertime), you might want to consider spraying with an outdoor bug spray before the event and then adding citronella in candles, torches or oil lamps to keep those pests away.
    • Festive Ice Cubes. Raspberries, strawberries, a small triangle of lemon… freeze them in your ice cubes! They’re pretty – they’re fun – they’re good eat. Don’t just rely on your ice maker; get some trays and make keeping drinks cool a statement.
    • Signature Drinks. This will be easy on your budget and add to the “flavor” of your party. Instead of providing a variety of liquors and mixes. Fix one or two signature drinks – and rename them after your family or the event. Think about cool citrus flavors like a classic daiquiri and experiment to add your own twist. Add some wine and beer into the mix if you desire.
    • Make a Kiddie Pool. Buy an inexpensive kiddie pool and fill it with ice and children’s beverages. Give them a trip to your childhood by buying old fashioned soft drinks – usually available in warehouse stores, specialty shops or online. The pool makes it easy for the short people in our lives – our children – to see and select their favorite.
    • Solar Lights. It’s almost as much fun as watching the fireflies come out. String solar lanterns or use solar stakes that will come to life as the sky darkens. After the party, they’ll add a festive touch to your backyard.
    • A Fire Pit. If it’s going to get chilly or if you’re going with some classic S’mores, you’re going to need fire – plus the chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows.
    • Water, Water. For the kids (and maybe the adults) if you’re starting when it’s warm enough so no one will get chilled break out the water balloons and maybe even a slip ‘n slide. Don’t forget some classic lawn games like croquet or corn hole.
  • Inside Comfort. Face it – you’ll have a few guests who really aren’t the outdoor type. Make sure you create an indoors space for them or for anyone who wants to take a break. If you haven’t had your yearly air conditioning service by an air conditioning contractor – do it before you entertain. You don’t want to sweat getting ready and you want your guest to be comfortable if they choose to come indoors.

What To Pack In Your Beach Bag

Not sure what to pack in your beach bag? Here is some advice, on what you should always take to the beach. There is nothing worse than an over packed beach bag, which you have to lug around with you. And worse still, is searching for something on a hot Summers day, in amongst loads of unnecessary junk. But, on the other hand, no one wants to be stuck, on some remote beach, without something that they really do need. We are fortunate enough to live at the coast, and as soon as Spring appears, I pack my beach bag, and keep it permanently packed until the Winter chill sets in.

First, and foremost you need an awesome beach bag. It needs to be spacious, lightweight, trendy and beautiful. I am in love with my new Chill Winstan one. Their motto is, “Love Summer More”. Since my beach bag remains packed, all I do before going to the beach, is pack in anything else needed for that day, and on returning unpack anything that I no longer need, and shake out the sand etc.

Beach Towel. The new Kikoy towels, are made of butter soft cotton, with a thin backing in towelling. The best thing about these towels, is that there is no need for an other cover up, as you can wrap it, or drape it in whichever way you wish to cover up, if need be. (Sarongs can be worn as skirts, shorts, dresses, wraps, scarves and so much more.)

Sunblock. Every morning, I give myself a good dry body brush, have a bath, and then lather myself in sunblock. I use specific ones for my face and body, and I keep spare ones of both of these in my beach bag. Every couple of hours, and always after swimming, I re apply everywhere. These days we have to be extremely careful not to sunburn.

Sun hat. I have had mine for years, and it still looks amazing, so it is worthwhile purchasing a good quality one. Mine has a wide brim, so that not only does it shade my face, but it also shades my chest, and shoulders. Although it is a woven hat, it can be rolled up into a small ball, and it opens up perfectly. It looks very stylish, so I can wear it out, if we go for cocktails after the beach.

Water. We should all drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every single day. But when we are in the sun, we should try and drink double this. No one should drink either cold drinks, or alcohol when out in the sun, as they are dehydrating, and have far too much sugar (not good for the flat tummy bikini look).

Spritzer. By this I mean a water spray, not a cocktail. It is unbelievably refreshing to spray your face, and neck with a spritzer. There are so many varieties available now, that you can even get them for certain skin ailments. Like, aloe vera for pimples, or rosewater to toning. They smell amazing as well, so if you go somewhere after the beach, you smell as if you have just got out of the shower.

Entertainment. This is so personal, as I can spend hours, and hours staring out to see and day dreaming. But, I know the boys in our family need to be active. I always carry a tennis ball, so in amongst swimming, they can amuse themselves for hours, and hours, on end. I do love reading, and often catch up on magazine articles while chilling. If you are planning on staying on the beach into the evening, it is always great to have a little travelling game set with you. Our family favourite is backgammon, which we can play for hours on end.

Music. I don’t take music down to the beach with with me, but I know my kids love it. It is so peaceful and calming just listening to the breading of the waves, so I do wonder why anyone would want to detract from that. But, if you have the beach to yourselves, there is no harm in packing some little speakers into your beach bag, to play your favourite tunes, off your iPhone.

Tinted lip balm. Most people’s lips get terribly dry, so it is good to always have this on hand. The bonus, of course is that if makes you look far more glamorous with a bit of colour on your lips, when you have not other make up on. I carry a little of jar of cream blush to put on my cheeks, after the beach. But, for youngsters it is perfect to stay make up free with a Summer glow.

Snacks. Nothing beats an ice cold, sliced watermelon for a beach snack. Otherwise just pack in some packets of dried fruit, and nuts to keep you healthy, and satisfied throughout the day. Kale chips, and biltong also make for great snacks. If you are going to stay on into the evening, I would suggest packing a cooler box, with some ready made sandwiches and drinks.

Other extras. These are not necessary for everyone to pack, but it is always good to remember to pack any of these if you think you may need them. Tissues, are an essential for our family, as we do suffer from allergies. If you are on subscribed medication, be sure to pack it (the same goes for people allergic to bee stings, or people that have epilepsy etc). I have to keep my reading glasses packed these days, as I am blind as a bat without mine.

I keep my sunglasses in the car, and make sure that I wear them at all times. Just as it essential to protect our skin from the sun, so is it essential to protect our eyes. Always choose a great pair of sunglasses that really suit you, and they can do wonders for your beautiful beach look. They must have good lenses, as well.

I know we can’t pack our attitudes into our beach bags. But, it is a good idea to remember to keep a good sense of humour when going to the beach. It is not always pleasant if the wind comes up, or if it rains, or kids are crying next to you. But just chill, and be grateful that you can spend time in nature, with your family and friends. No matter what age your are, have fun, fun, fun.

10 Reasons to Visit Chobe National Park

One of Africa’s best safari destinations, Chobe National Park is located in Botswana very near where four African countries (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) meet. In this list, we give you 10 reasons why you should visit this great game and conservation area.

1. Chobe National Park is the third largest wildlife park in Botswana, but certainly is the best in the country and one of the best in Africa.

2. The Chobe River which flows from Angola and into Botswana, in the northeast border of the park, is one of the major water sources for the animals of Chobe. The waterfront hosts various water-loving birds and animals, and serves as a watering hole for the bush animals.

3. The park is home to amazing animals such as the buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant, crocodile, hippo, zebra, giraffe, lechwe, sable, impala, leopard, wildebeest, hyena, jackal, bushbuck, monkeys and baboons, plus a whole lot more. It is the only place in Botswana where you can see the near threatened water-loving puku antelope in the wild.

4. You will find four distinct ecosystems within the national park – river, swamp and seasonal marshland area, the woodlands and floodplains. This is why Chobe National Park has such a large diversity of flora and fauna and offers a unique safari experience – certainly one of the best in Africa.

5. Annual animal migrations also give guests to Chobe National Park an unforgettable wildlife experience (especially in the Savute Area).

6. Possibly the largest elephant population in Africa is found in Chobe National Park, numbering 50 000.

7. Whether it is Green or High season, the area promises a magical experience. Between May and October (High Season) is the best time for game viewing as the bush is not very thick and animals tend to concentrate in wet areas in search of water. Some time in November, however, the rains begin to fall and the bush goes from dry savannah to lush dense woodlands and wetlands. This Green Season is the time when the baby animals drop in their thousands.

8. The town of Kasane is just 10 minutes away from the entrance to national park, and is the gateway into the area with Kasane Airport within reach. The border to Zambia is to the north and the Kazungula border with Zimbabwe is to the east, both border posts are less than 10 kilometres from Kasane town.

9. Activities in Chobe National Park include game drives, river cruises, fishing, photographic safaris, camping, and bird watching. For the more remote locations, fly-in safaris are a better and faster option. For those who wish to venture nearby, a visit to the croc farm, a cultural village tour, or a round of golf at Mowana in Kasane are activities that are easily accessible. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), is just an hour’s drive from Chobe. There are plenty of activities on offer there too.

10. Beautiful luxury accommodation is available all over Chobe National Park (except in the Nogatsaa area), as well as in nearby in Kasane. These include Ngoma Safari and Muchenje lodges in the west in Chobe Forest Reserve, Chobe Game Lodge within the park itself, and Chobe Safari and Cresta Mowana lodges in Kasane town.

You will find this website a valuable resource for up to date information. From history and culture to accommodation and activities and everything in between. Areas covered by this website include Victoria Falls, Hwange and Kariba in Zimbabwe, Livingstone in Zambia, and Chobe in Botswana.

The Most Unexpected Outdoor Equipment in the Wild

Before hiking miles and miles along the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl Strayed had to spend months planning, packing, and plotting to ensure she wouldn’t run into misfortune along her adventure. She often referred to the goods in her pack as “Monster.” If that’s any indication, outdoor equipment for 2,650 miles of trails can really weigh you down. Let’s take a look at what she had saddled on her back.

Blister Ointment

Thanks to hours of intense pressure between foot and boot, blister ointment became a necessary accessory along the route. It’s a topical skin treatment for cuts and sores that uses a combination of chemicals to create a polymeric layer that binds to the skin.

Ice Axe

While thoughts of the Pacific coast may lead one to believe the terrain is just beaches and wooded areas, the reality is that much of her hike involved finding her way out of the snow. As such, Strayed had to rely on an ice axe some of the way. She goes into great detail about the body of the axe, including the head, pick, adze, shaft, and spike. There are many factors that go into finding and axe that is suitable for the user’s height and build.

Iodine Drops

In a particularly frightening situation, Strayed found herself without fresh water. There were rumors afloat that there was a water source farther along the trail, so she decided to forego bringing water, which weighs a lot, along with her. Unfortunately, when she arrived, the water was gone. She had to hike further, only to find dirty, and therefore unsafe, water. This is where iodine drops came in. Since too much iodine is also a cause for concern, she had to wait 30 minutes after adding the iodine drops.

Hiking Boots

While it’s assumed this is a given for any hiker, finding the right boot takes more time than you’d think. It’s impossible to tell how well a hiking boot will really fit until a hiker has spent a lot of time in it. As for Strayed, she chose boots that fit too well. While this may seem smart, the terrain she hiked caused her to bear down on her toes, which led to far more blistering and pain. When going to an outdoor equipment retailer, it’s best to try on as many pairs as possible, and to walk on angled planks to get a sense of how the boots handle inclines. Look for extra room in the toe and, if possible, waterproof boots.

While you may not write a best-selling book about your escapades, there is something you can learn from this experience if you’re planning to hike the Pacific Coast Trail. Be sure to explore various outdoor equipment stores and stock items before making major decisions. Smart packing is the best packing!

Arizona’s Beautiful Landscapes Are A Must See

One of the most beautiful sites that exists in Texas and Arizona is Spring’s magnificent wildflower season. The raw landscape can seem barren most months but when conditions are just perfect Mother Nature can deliver a spectacular display of color and beauty that is breathtaking.

When these conditions are perfect, Mother Nature creates prolific and well-timed rain fall through the fall and early winter months. As the temperatures warm up, the stage is set for a spectacular blooming season. The landscape suddenly comes alive with brilliant colors that don’t last long.

Some of the showstoppers of the wildflower season are the Mexican Goldpoppies. Each year, the flower gazers wait with anticipation to see just how many of these beautiful flowers will appear. Unfortunately, these poppies don’t handle the heat very well. The temperature directly impacts just how many beautiful blooms will appear on each plant. So their brilliance is controlled by Mother Nature and her corresponding temperatures. The hotter the temperature, the less flower activity there will be.

Two reliable poppy-viewing locations are the Lost Dutchman State Park and Picacho Peak State Park just outside of Eloy, Arizona. These parks are open to the public and do have campgrounds available. You will find geocaching, camping, Arizona Civil War Re-Enactments and special kids activities. Some interesting museums to check out are the Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum and Goldfield Ghost Town. They have live mock gunfights and ice cream parlors for the younger age group. For the archeologist, there are several rock stores that will surely impress even the most sophisticated rock collector.

If navigating that waterways of Arizona peaks your interest, you can cruise the waterways of nearby Canyon Lake on an old-fashioned steamboat.

Another beautiful spectacle is the Brittlebush. It provides large ground masses of silver-green mounds that cover the ever sloping terrain. The brittlebush is the workhorse of desert flowers and shows up no matter what the conditions are.

Other colorful dessert perennials are globemallows, owl clover, penstemons and desert marigolds, lupines, blue dicks, chicory, and tackstem.

You don’t want to miss this small window of opportunity to see Mother Nature in all of her glory. She can deliver the brightest and best landscape pictures that only the imagination can muster.

So if you have the opportunity to see and experience this magnificent site, it is a must do. There are many museums, public parks, spectacular views and a slower pace that we can all appreciate as you take in Mother Nature’s beauty.