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Trail crew vacations

American Hiking Society offers a way-cool way to help maintain trails on your vacation time.

Here’s the Hiking Society’s page with links to outings around the country. This page lists all the outings, which are drying up at this time of year but there are still openings if you’ve got some unused vacation time lying around.

This Google news search links to a bunch of stories about trail crew vacations.

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Tom posted at 7:34 am August 20th, 2008

Water crossings: don’t go down the river

Creek crossing, Henry CoeA water crossing is often reason enough for newbie hikers to turn back and find a less obstacle-ridden path. I have abnormally cold feet but I manage to get across, which tells me pretty much anybody else can.

Not to diminish the danger: a wrong step can get you in deep doo-doo even in shallow water. From a survival standpoint your No. 1 concern is always to preserve body heat (hypothermia will kill you faster than just about anything but a grizzly attack or lightning strike). Water is body heat’s Public Enemy No.1, so walking into it is never a trivial matter, especially given Murphy’s Law of the Outdoors, which is: the harder you try to stay dry, the higher the likelihood that at some point you will get wet.

A stream crossing is just a way to embrace the wetness. On long hikes when your feet feel like they’ve been baking in Mom’s oven, a stream dip can be downright refreshing. A few things I figured out the hard (and wet) way: Read the rest of this entry »

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Tom posted at 1:39 pm August 16th, 2008

Your first hike: what every newbie needs to know

The snake was THAT longHiking is just walking farther from the neighborhood, right? So why bother?

  • No car exhaust: The air’s cleaner the farther you get from the main road.
  • Much better exercise: Hills offer better resistance, and uneven terrain works far more muscle fibers than flat surfaces like asphalt and concrete.
  • Nature is more interesting: You learn how the world really works by watching seasons change, experiencing the pull of gravity, seeing wild animals.

Before you leave the house you have to answer three questions:

  1. Where are you gonna go?
  2. Who are you gonna go with?
  3. What will you take along?

Each one, in order: Read the rest of this entry »

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Tom posted at 10:37 am August 15th, 2008

Beat the stink with baking soda

Two great ways to fight the funk quotient, courtesy of Arm & Hammer:

In the gear closet: Place a box of Arm & Hammer Fridge-N-Freezer baking soda in the closet . This box sells for under a $1 at Target. It is much cheaper, more environmentally friendly and doesn’t have the heavy perfume odor of many of the other products in the air freshener aisle. The box of baking soda also includes a handy area on the side of the box to write in the “change by” date. Make sure to put in a new box as needed to keep your hiking closet smelling fresh. Discard the contents of the used box by pouring it down your garbage disposal or drain to keep that fresh as well.

In the bear vault: To remove odors from a bear vault, wash the vault and the lid by hand with a mild dishwashing liquid such as Ivory, Dawn, etc. Dry thoroughly with a soft dishtowel. Place a box of Arm & Hammer Fridge-N-Freezer baking soda in the vault. Cover with the lid but do not close the vault completely. After 3 to 4 days the vault should be odor free. Remove the baking soda and discard.

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Tom posted at 10:40 am August 12th, 2008

Scoring a permit to hike Mount Whitney

You wanna climb the highest peak in the Lower 48? So does every other hiker, so you have to go through some rigamarole to hike the peak.

The Whitney Portal Store BBS offers a complete guide to Mount Whitney. You can’t go wrong with these tips.

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Tom posted at 10:32 am August 12th, 2008

Organize your gear closet on the cheap

Save money on shelves for your hiking-gear closet by skipping the high-priced home stores or household storage sections of most stores.

Check for shelves in the garage/automotive area of your local hardware store or Walmart. For example, these shelves from Walmart are easy to assemble, sturdy, slim enough to fit in most closets yet large enough to hold all those small hiking necessities such as bear vaults, cooking equipment, hygiene supplies, etc. These Walmart shelves are only $14.44 versus similar Sterilite shelves which cost $34.88.

Even if you hate Walmart, the concept still applies: storage supplies can be much cheaper outside the housewares department.

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Tom posted at 10:23 am August 12th, 2008