Friday, October 19, 2012

Hiking In The Winter

Hiking in the winter can be fun, but it also can require you to pay more attention because your safety is at greater risk.

1. Pay attention, making a mistake in a colder environement is more dangerous and often you are just at higher risk from the changed environment that you are hiking in.

2. Water and food are as important as they are in the summer and can be more important. The winter can dry you out quickly due to dry air and you have to work harder to travel the same distances which means you need to have plenty of food.

3. Make sure you have high quality equipment that is properly maintained. Having adequate clothing, and hiking boots is very important when traveling in snow or other winter condtions such as icey weather.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Hiking and Camping Locations

Now that you have a great idea of the attire necessary to enjoy memorable camping/hiking excursions, you should think about some great places to hike or camp out in the Southern California area. I’ll start with Southern California, and cover different locales each time. If you are curious about a particular area, let me know, and I’d be more than happy to look into it for you!

An absolutely essential place to check out for its unique hiking scenery with a wonderful beach twist is Carlsbad. This resort town is actually quite small extending over just a 7-mile stretch of coastland along the Pacific Ocean in San Diego County. Although the town is small the vibe is absolutely amazing. Think resort town with a less tropical feel to it. Carlsbad State Beach is home to avid boogie-boarders and bicycle riders.

Oceanside Cliffs of Carlsbad

The hiking scenery is great and challenging with rocky features throughout the coastline, ranging from mildly difficult to full-blown cliffs! It is a good idea to be prepared for more than just a beach outing though, if you plan on hiking up and down the coastline, because the tide here is legendary. It has been known to recede at an alarming rate, revealing an incredibly rocky coast. During my last adventure in Carlsbad, I finished my day off bird-watching and simply unwinding at a quiet lagoon. The scene couldn’t have been drawn up better!

The best part about Carlsbad is that there are plenty of things to do besides hike! There are literally thousands of activities ranging from kayaking to skate parks to village fairs, and even a gigantic flower park. This vibrant city literally has something for everyone. For those who aren’t into the pure camping experience, there are a plethora of hotels to choose from ranging in price, quality, and accommodations.

Joshua Tree National Park

            If you are looking for a little bit more of a hardcore hiking/camping experience, I recommend the Joshua Tree National Park in South Eastern California. This amazing park is an 800,000 acre area that sits precisely at the intersection of two distinct ecosystems: The Colorado Desert, and the Mojave Desert. Due to the special climate of the Mojave Desert, these rare, beautiful trees are able to thrive, and they are indeed a wonder to behold! If you are as enthralled by these specimens as I am you should plan your trip during trip during the early to late months of spring. Also, plan to bring a lot of water, as it technically is a desert.

The Palm Oases

                Apart from the amazing trees, I enjoyed seeing some of the most beautiful sunsets that I have personally ever laid eyes on! The combination of the lack of humidity, the relatively high elevation, and lack of city lights for hundreds of miles all create absolutely breath –taking views! Take an experienced person with you as the location is rather remote, to say the least. However, for all of the potential negatives, I think it is worth it. This is place is a complete masterpiece, with more flora and fauna then you ever could imagine in a “desert”.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Essential Equipment and Planning for Outdoor Activities

Having been raised in California, I was completely spoiled by the year-round exquisite weather.There was more than plenty of time for activities on a daily basis. Whether we felt like hiking, running, or camping, it was always the right time of the year. Most people kept top quality equipment around because the opportunities to use it were so plentiful. However, this was not the case at all if you were from the Midwest.

People from the Midwest know that the warm months are few and far between, because of our brisk autumns, and our mind-numbing, cold winters. This cuts the time you can spend outside comfortably, by at least half. More specifically, the prime of the outdoor activity season ranges from April to September. Unfortunately, even this abbreviated time frame is a best-case scenario. Given that great weather could last an even shorter span of time, it is essential to make the most of the limited season.

Great Place to Set Up to Optimize Breeze and View

When looking for the proper activity consider how much time you'll have, and what the temperature will be like for the duration of your planned activity. Aside from trying to plan your activities for peak hours, also, try to get a feel for what the extended forecast is going to be like. There is no point, for instance, in planning a week-long camping trip when a heat wave will be arriving in one day. Your trip will be miserable and you will probably end up returning home after 7 hours, let alone 7 days. So, to avoid problems like this, realize that all outdoor activities start with the weather.

Too often, we get so used to our climate controlled-bubbles that we don't realize that the weather doesn't operate on our clocks or on our schedules. Therefore, to enjoy the most out of your planned hiking, travelling, baseball games, or barbecues understand this main thought. 

Once you're planned your activity for the corresponding weather, take a look at what you'll need. For example, if you've decided on camping, you will need a great tent to protect yourself from elements of moisture and wind. In my last post, I talked about the basic essentials, so now I will try to focus on the often overlooked but entirely necessary pieces of equipment.

Apart from a durable tent, and great, top-of-the-line clothing, you should look into collapsible, folding chairs. This may sound obvious, but at least 50% of people who go camping forget to bring usable chairs. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you are out, enjoying nature you will have no place to sit, but inside your tent, which can be burning hot during the middle of the day. Your other option is to sit on a well-positioned log or something along those lines.

Another thing to consider in terms of camping gear is your portable stove. Once you have your high-quality clothes, tents, and chairs you have to pay attention to the stove because it will dictate how you eat, and potentially start a fire, to stay warm. So, if you are interested in cooking the food you catch such as fish, or food you don't catch, like beans, you are going to need a sustainable sense of fire! Make sure you look into high-quality stoves that won't let you down in your most dire hour of need! Until next time, friends, be sure to stay safe out there!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summertime Hiking

When you choose your outdoor activities this summer, be sure to choose them wisely! The week of 100+ degree temperatures have brought almost all activities to a virtual standstill. What's worse is that the end is nowhere near in sight as we head forward into the vaunted "dog days" of summer. That being said. There are far too many of us who simply can't stay indoors regardless of the sweltering conditions! I know because I am one of those people. However, it does bear mentioning that caution is the name of the game.

Amazing Camping Scenery
Constant hydration, proper nutrition, great equipment, and great timing are all keys to enjoying the summertime weather without getting beaten down by the heat. The first of these keys refers to water, not Kool Aid, coffee, or alcohol! (Two out of the three I just mentioned are actually diuretics and will dehydrate you faster than not drinking anything at all!) The normal recommendation is roughly eight, eight-oz. glasses of water per day. Mind you these are under normal circumstances. If you are looking to do anything physical at all, outside, you should consider doubling that amount! This will help you replenish the fluids you lost! Remember the way your body cools itself - sweat evaporates from your skin giving you the feeling of being cooler. Therefore, the more you sweat, the more water you'll need!

Next, it is important to have proper nutrition if you are going to be outside. That means if you will be moving around or anything along those lines, you should definitely consider some carbohydrates! Last time I went hiking I forgot to carb load, and paid the price on the return hike back home. I felt like my energy level nosedived, and I completely hit a wall! Every step required maximum effort, because I forgot that water actually has zero nutritional value. Don't make the same mistake as me, and pay just as much attention to your food intake that you would your hydration.

>One thing I've learned from years as a camper/hiker/outdoors aficionado is that equipment matters. I found that the right pair of pants can save you from countless bruises, bug bites, and scrapes when you are hiking through some tough brush conditions. More importantly, great camping gear can save your life! In colder conditions, winds blowing through sub-par tent fabric can give you a very sleepless, uncomfortable night at best. However, in the worst case scenario you could contract hypothermia because your body would be unable to respond under sedate conditions.

Summertime hiking at it's finest!
I recently had the opportunity to try The North Face hiking pants during the first half of the summer hiking season. I've heard of The North Face pants before, but never really associated them with a company that specialized in anything more than cold-weather products. I was definitely surprised by the quality of these pants though! Not a scar, scratch, or bug bite on my legs after a 4 mile hike through some pretty dense underbrush! The best thing about these North Face hiking pants was the fact that though the material was durable and thick it also was insanely light. This made sure that I wasn't weighed down with pounds of excess fabric which is key considering the length of the hike!

Finally, I said timing was key. If you are going to be outside it is imperative to pick the right hours to enjoy yourself. Typically the hours of sunlight between 11:00 a.m. and 3 p.m. are strongest in intensity, and U.V. ratings. However, after some experience, I've concluded that during the "hotter months" anytime outside between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. can be physically exhausting and taxing. So, when you decide to put your amazing summertime hiking, or camping plans into action, keep that little tidbit of information in mind. It could really make the difference between an enjoyable experience, or something that you'll decided you'll never do again!