Hiking Dude Blog
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Just wanting to get out to enjoy the sun, we headed to Lowry Nature Center to see what colors we could find. We wound up taking a short 3.5 mile erratic loop around the nature preserve and encountered quite a few nice little surprises.
The parking lot was packed so I was expecting a noisy walk, but most people were in a different area, taking pictures of a couple of swans. Good for us! We made a clockwise loop from the nature center, usually taking the left-hand trail at intersections until we wound up where we started.
Right away, the buzzing of bees collecting the last of the summer's nectar brought us to their hive. Many years ago, we brought our sons here and one of them got to wear a bee suit and help collect honey. It's nice to see this bee colony is still active.
The trail traversed open meadows, skirted marsh, and crunched over many hills covered in bright yellow maples. If yellow isn't a fun color for you, then this certainly isn't the place to visit!
There weren't many animals out since so many people were out on the trails, but we did get to visit with an old owl. He has lived here for 14 years, since he was hit by a car and rescued. Normally, he'd be released to the wild after recuperating but his blind eye meant he'd most likely not survive.
A new living area for this owl and room for a few more birds is just being constructed. It looks great and will be yet another glimpse of nature for folks visiting this nice preserve.
The trail here is all wood chip, but today was completely covered in many areas with crunchy maple and oak leafs. Not much in the way of hills, and plenty of miles to wander around. Picnic tables and benches sporadically dot the path with nice views of lakes, marshes, and meadows.
You can View Larger Map with Photos.
Here is the trail route and a few photos. When you click on the thumbnail pics, a larger picture is displayed, but using the link above to open a larger map works much better.
(click the pics below to see a larger version)
A very cool thing for me to find on this walk was a Knot Board created as an Eagle Scout project by a local Boy Scout troop. It's an interactive, self-directed way for visitors to practice knots and lashings. I really liked the rough wood and natural look of the display, plus it's close to the Nature Discovery area where kids can build shelters out of logs, sticks, leafs, and whatever else they find in the area. It's just a part of the woods set aside where it's OK to build and get dirty.
Do you remember what it felt like when Mighty Casey struck out?
"Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — little GoLite has struck out."
I received an email today that GoLite.com is having a liquidation sale. I figured it was some spam so I viewed the source - and everything looked legit. I went to GoLite.com and there was a banner "Liquidation Sale", but then every page after that just showed "service unavailable" - I imagine their server is overloaded today.
It's true - GoLite.com is bankrupt and selling out all their inventory to pay off debts.
GoLite is (was) my favorite, daniel-vs-goliath, ultralight gear provider. They pushed the price of gear down and seemed to really try to offer good stuff and reasonable prices. Over the past few years, they tried different sales models. Obviously, some part of their business plan didn't work out. :-(
When I hiked the Arizona Trail, my most important item was my GoLite chrome dome umbrella. It protected me from sun, rain, and big horses. I still have, and use, it but now will never be able to replace it as it is wearing a bit thin.
Also, my wife and I both got GoLite down jackets from Christmas gifts and I wore mine every night across Arizona. She wears hers from Oct. to March here in MN. :-)
But, it's not just me. Andrew Skurka's gear list includes many GoLite items.
Now that GoLite is going away, I find myself wondering if I could have helped prevent the closing of their doors. Here's all I could think of - do you have other ideas?
- Buy More Stuff - purchase what you need, or just want
- Give Feedback - let them know you like them and why they are your favorite
- Promote - tell your friends about them
Well, there are still lots of lightweight gear retailers - Granite Gear, Gossamer Gear, HyperLite, AntiGravity, ULA, ZPacks, ProLite, LightHeart, EMS, Katabatic, ... but I'll sure miss GoLite. Guess I need to find a new favorite.
When I first started hiking long distances a couple years ago, friends would invariably ask, "Oh, are you into that ultralight stuff?" Being a newbie and still having the view that ultralight trekkers were godlike and in a league of their own, I'd reply that I was trying to carry just what I needed.
I'm still trying to carry just what I need. I think I'm down to pretty much the minimum of what I need to remain safe, comfortable, and successful. I've also replaced things that I do need with lighter versions of the same thing to make my load lighter, but still safe, comfortable, and successful.
I haven't lightened my load so I can call myself 'UltraLight'. I haven't done it so I can lift my pack with one finger, set speed records, or impress my friends. Really, the only reason is because I'm lazy. Totally, consistently lazy.
I can see no reason to carry a 10 ounce flashlight when a 0.6 ounce microlight does what I need. No 8 ounce nalgene bottle when a 1 ounce disposable works fine. No 14 ounce pump filter when a 2 ounce Sawyer mini flows with crystal clear water. I'm far too lazy to carry any extra weight, and that makes my pack pretty darn light.
But, being lazy, I can't put in the effort to saw the handle off a toothbrush, dehydrate my toothpaste, cut the tags from clothes, or hunt around for natural toilet paper. So, when it seems to me that carrying the extra weight is easier than the effort to get rid of it, I do carry weight that others might drop.
I'm also pretty cheap so I carry some things that are heavier than other options. A dozen 1-ounce plastic tent stakes that cost $10 are close enough to 0.6 ounce titanium stakes costing $36. My 10-ounce $15 hiking poles are close enough to 6-ounce $80 poles for me. My 2-pound $80 quilt is just as warm as a 1.75-pound $190 down bag.
So, I guess that's me - not UltraLight, just Lazy And Cheap. Maybe LAC will become more popular than UL once the word gets out! Spread the word!
Do you have any LAC items or tips? Let us know.
It took just a bit over an hour of walking this morning to develop this cool frost layer. It was -5°F and about 5mph wind but I was comfortable the whole time.
At -10°F, it takes about 30 minutes to get frostbite on exposed skin, but less than 15 minutes at -20°F. Above about 15°F, there is much less concern about frostbite, but hypothermia remains something to watch for as people slowly lose their core body heat over hours, not minutes.
Keep these points in mind to prevent frostbite:
- Keep Moving - muscle activity keeps warm blood flowing to your extremities. Sitting, or even standing in one position, can reduce circulation which increases frostbite potential. Don't move so much that you sweat and get your clothes wet.
- Wear loose layers - this provides dead air space which means more insulation. A big fleece crushed under a tight-fitting windbreaker loses loft - wear an oversized outer layer.
- Cover up - Exposed skin freezes fast so cover everything but your eyes.
- Convection cools - a 0 degree windless day is less dangerous than a 15 degree day with 15mph wind. A windproof outer layer makes a big difference. Even a thin wind/rain jacket hood over your stocking hat helps a lot.
- Winter Gear - a scarf or balaclava protects the face; mittens instead of gloves keep fingers together and warmer; insulated boots, especially with thick soles, keep feet warmer than hiking boots. Chemical heat packs in boots and mittens can be a big help.
- Limit Exposure - if you expect frostbite temperatures for your outing, plan a shorter hike or use shelters along the way to warm up occasionally.
The deer were smarter than me this morning. How many can you see in this picture that I zoomed in from the trail?
While they were bedded down, I was walking my 5 miles through ice pellets. It wasn't freezing rain and it certainly wasn't snow and I couldn't really call it hail.
Starting as a few light pings on my exposed windward cheek, it gradually became sharper twinges as the wind picked up and the size of pellets grew. By the time I got home, I had my scarf around my face - not for warmth, but for protection from the BBs bouncing off my head.
You can see what had piled up on the sidewalk here. Smart deer, waiting it out under the trees. At least it made a very interesting noise as the millions of pellets bounced through the bare tree limbs and onto the dry leafs across the forest floor. I guess it was similar to a rainmaker tube that you may have seen created by school kids.
PS: There are three deer in the photo.
These birds are a big change from the shivering deer on my last post. Obviously, I'm someplace new!
On vacation in a warmer place for a few days, I'm still walking each morning but with fewer layers and more perspiration. I hiked the morning before leaving home and it was -15F windchill. When I arrived, I went for a short walk and it was +76F - that's quite a change for acclimating.
Any idea where I am? Go ahead and take a guess.
I walked 6 miles around the island early this morning, and got to this nice spot just as the sun rose at 7:00am. A couple of hopeful pelicans were keeping an eye on someone hunting in the rocks below the tideline - I assume for something edible. There were also a few fishermen nearby casting into the bay.
Without a cloud in the sky, the sun was beautiful, but a strong wind from the north dropped the temperature down below 50. Other people out walking were bundled up, but I felt just fine in my t-shirt.
I even saw one lady wearing gloves, earmuffs, and a down coat!
Exploring the area later in the afternoon, I ran into this little fella in the swamp along the trail. Actually, he's about as long as I am tall. He was getting all the sun he could soak up since it was such a cold day. I also saw a few manatees, but photos of a snout surfacing isn't that exciting. :-)
Yesterday, I went on a canoe tour led by a couple park rangers through some backwater mangrove forests. It was very interesting to learn a bit more about the area. Today, our hope for doing a kayak tour on our own was squashed because of a small craft advisory and big waves, so we stuck to relatively dry land.
I have a couple more days here. It's not Louisiana, so where do you think I might be?
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