Geocaching, A Global Treasure Hunt

Geocaching, A Global Treasure Hunt.

 

Join me as I use my phone to look up and find a Geocache. And then let's look inside to see what is in the cache. Go to Geocaching.com to find out more and to sign up for FREE!  

Natural Tick Repellent

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Combine:

ONE PART TEA TREE OIL

TWO PARTS WATER  

In a small spray bottle. Spray your boots, pant cuffs, socks, and belt line. This is a great all natural tick repellent and it smells great too. 

Guest Blogger, Jeff Sparks: Chiggers! Ouch!

 Special guest blogger Jeff Sparks,

I’ll get to the chiggers in a minute. But first a little info on the trail. I visited The Cross Seminole Trail starting at the Black Hammock Trailhead. Parking is ample (special equestrian parking available) and the trail is paved.  It is built on the old railroad line that served the farmers in this area. At the trailhead you will find bathrooms (out of order on my visit) and an area for bicycle maintenance including an air pump and a place to hang your bike with some simple tools attached. Walking, jogging, biking, and horse-back riding are all encouraged.

Going south on the trail you soon run into a decision point – east or west? I decided to go east so that I could go underneath the 417 overpass. There are also many geocaching opportunities along the trail with some that are deep in the woods. And this brings me to the chiggers.

Normally on hikes I wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants. Wool socks and hiking boots. My hat covers my ears and neck and usually confuses the flying insects – they can’t figure out where to land. I have sprayed all off these items with permethrin which repels & kills ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitos. 

On this hike I wore an untreated short sleeve shirt. What a mistake that was! The next day I started to itch and it progressively got worse. Taking my shirt off revealed about 40 red welts all over my torso and underarms. No bites on my legs or feet so the treated clothing was effective. The only medical treatment is to reduce the itching and wait for the welts to go away. The initial 24-48 hours is the worse and I still have a few areas that itch quite a bit today.

I have since discovered that LL Bean and other manufacturers sell clothing that includes permethrin. It is supposed to last 70 washes compared to the 6-7 from the spray bottle. I bought a shirt to try it out.

Don’t do like I do. Wear appropriate clothing. Take a shower when you get home. Enjoy your hike and your post-hike relaxation!

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Thanks for sharing your story Jeff! As always we love to hear stories from the trail. This one made me a little itchy I do have to say! I can totally relate to this one, I have hiked my entire life and up until just last year had never had the pleasure of chiggers. And lucky me I got them twice last year. Great tips on using protective clothing too, I found a great lotion that has sulfur in it and I have found that that will also help in keep the creepy crawlies at bay. Thanks again Jeff and happy trails my friend!

 

Everyone please support your fellow outdoor friends by following along on Instagram or Twitter.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @shelfgeniejeff  

 

 

 

 

 

Camping Has Just Been Elevated!

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Napier Outdoors Backroadz Truck Tent.

Napier Outdoors Backroadz Truck Tent.

I recently got a new tent and finally got to use it! I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it with all of my outdoor friends.  

This will be a real world gear review not a technical review, I believe this is more helpful to most. 

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I ordered the tent from www.napieroutdoors.com to fit my truck. It is important to order the correct tent for your make and model vehicle, they also have tents for SUVs and cars. The website makes it super easy to find the correct tent for you! 

The Backroadz Truck Tent is the tent that I got

The Backroadz Truck Tent is the tent that I got

After unboxing the tent I was surprised how compact the packed tent was. It is small enough to easily fit under or behind the seat. In my Chevy Colorado Crew Cab it fits under the back bench seat with room to spare. This is awesome for the wife and I because we often take road trips and in the areas we travel hotels are not always nearby.

Napier truck tent with fly. 

Napier truck tent with fly. 

Once we reached the campsite at Highlands Hammock State Park FL, we found level ground to park and started to set up. Opening the tent feels just like any other tent, inside was the tent, rain fly, fiberglass poles, and instructions.  

Following the instructions, I rolled the tent out in the bed of my truck. This is when I found  the first difference. On the sides of the tent where your stakes would go on a traditional tent, are adjustable straps and hooks. These hooks run under the edge of the truck and hold the tent securely to the vehicle. I was pleased to see the care that was engineered into the straps and hooks to ensure that they will not harm your vehicles paint! Protective guards on the adjustment buckles to keep any hard surfaces from touching. 

After securing the straps I then turned to the poles. If you have owned a tent made after the 90s you will be familiar with these simple fiberglass poles. They are poles that are held together by an elastic line and simply unfold and lock together making one long pole. In this kit there are four, and they are color coded to make this process that much easier. Two poles just slide into pockets across the top of the tent crossing in the middle, one goes around the entry door area, and the other goes across the top to connect all the poles and create a ridge for the rain fly. If you have ever set up a standard tent you will find this part very familiar. 

Lastly the rain fly was pulled over the top and secured. In all I would say the first time I set the tent up it took me about 15 minutes, the second time I would say that time was cut to 10 minutes.  

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Right away I noticed some cool things about the tent. First is that the sides of the tent overlap the truck bed rails. This is awesome because rain will not be able to get into the bed of your truck and under the tent. Second, the tent has a sturdy floor that goes all the way up the inside of the bed. So if your like me and use your truck as a truck there is no need to clean out your truck bed.   

The entry door of the tent is large and nearly the full width of the tailgate, and there is so much more room inside the tent than I would have ever imagined. There is 5.6 feet of headroom!  

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 Being off the ground has a lot of benefits. No standing water, no critters, no cold ground... I also noticed a lot less dirt being tracked in, normally you don't have a place to sit and bang off your hiking boots untie them and stow them without ever setting foot inside your tent. The tailgate makes that all possible.  

The Backroadz is a two man tent, or in this case a one man and one woman tent. We had plenty of room even with our two dogs sleeping at our feet. I would however advise you to get the truck bed air mattress to fit your truck when you order. I will need to order one before our next trip, I am about 20 years to old to sleep without a soft bed. 

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In all we love our new Napier tent, it is great for those get up and go trips and super convenient. If you have any questions or would like to know more just email me William@GilletteOutdoors.com

Highlands Hammock

Just one of the many beautiful boardwalks in the park

Just one of the many beautiful boardwalks in the park

Located in Sebring Florida, Highlands Hammock State Park is one of my favorite parks in Florida. This park is best known for its thousand year old oak trees and amazing boardwalks, but it has so much more to offer such as more than 9000 acres of the most biodivers land in the state. A hiker can go from sandy pines and high grass land into hardwood oak hammocks full of palms and old florida fruit trees, and then find them selves atop beautiful Boardwalks that meander through old growth Cyprus swamps. 

We found this guy on the Fern Garden trail. 

We found this guy on the Fern Garden trail. 

With all of these divers landscapes also come an abundance of wildlife. Thousands of birds fill the forest, swamps, and grasslands all year. The black bear and Florida panther also make the lush habitat home. Don't be surprised to see alligators and turtles sunning on logs in the swamps or deer and raccoons passing along side your tent.  

The trees here are so magnificent  

The trees here are so magnificent  

The park offers an informative tram tour that takes the visitors to some beautiful locations in the park that are restricted to the public. Also the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) museum takes you back in time to show you how and why conservation is so important to our history and future. 

Camping at Highlands Hammock is the best way to experience everything the park has to offer. But I will warn you that this campground stays full most of the year so plan early and make your reservations ASAP! The campground has 143 sites available ranging from RV to tent sites offering electric and water on site. Restrooms, showers, laundry, and dish sinks are located in the campground and are all wheelchair accessible. 

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The first time I traveled to Highlands Hammock I was Geocaching . This is a global treasure hunt that you can do on your smartphone. If you have never done it I highly recommend it, it is free! This park has some amazing caches and is a part of the CCC Florida state park caches. This is another great activity that you can do with the whole family at this park. 

My dog Emit taking in the amazing views!   

My dog Emit taking in the amazing views!   

Pets are also welcome at the park so bring your best friend along for the fun!  

If you have any questions or would like to know more contact 

William@GilletteOutdoors.com 

Guest Blogger, Jeff Sparks

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Boonie Falls

A recent hike on the Florida Trail brought me to a unique place – Boonie Falls. Dubbed the southernmost falls on the FT, they are not the majestic falls you may be used to seeing. But, to have them in Central Florida – known for generally being flat – is a wonderful sight.

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Named for a local trail maintainer – The Boonieman – the falls are located at mile 359.9. Parking is available on Lockwood Blvd outside of Oviedo. A short 1 mile hike will get you to the falls. You will hear them shortly before you arrive and there is a nice bench to allow you to sit and enjoy the view. I happened upon them when the sun was shining on them. 

photo by Jeff Sparks

photo by Jeff Sparks

Depending on the season, be sure to use bug spray and expect the trail to be muddy in spots. I was surprised that the mosquitos didn’t attack me. I went just after sunrise and was in a heavily wooded and wet area. A prime location for them but they just weren’t there. Perhaps I just got lucky.

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Another trail led me to the Econlockhatchee River – known as the Econ by the locals - and a nice scenic view. Spoiled only by a kayaker who never knew I was there. But, after he had passed the river became calm again as it made the northward trek towards the St. Johns River.

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Photo by Jeff Sparks

Thank you Jeff for sharing your beautiful florida hike with us.  

Jeff Sparks  

@ShelfGenieJeff (Twitter) 

 

If you have a favorite hike that you would like to share with us simply email your story and photos here

A Journey Home

I went out for a drive this morning to find some golden-hour beauty. With my DSLR in hand, I found myself down back roads and trails I had never been before. Fog hung lightly in the air; the fresh dew on the grass seemed to glimmer in the warm golden light. 

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Along the way I met a few friends. I sat quietly, listening as they ate and put on their show. They made several loud outbursts; the sound cut through the forest like a knife. Their calls where answered a few moments later from the other side of a swampy cypress head. An early morning conversation. 

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When I reached my destination, the air was still and the forest quiet. The swampy creek was a looking glass, reflecting the golden light of morning. A warm glow surrounded me as I sat, concentrating on the sound of dew dripping from the branches and moss hung high in the trees of this peaceful sanctuary. This was my first time in this place but, somehow, it felt familiar. It felt like home. 

Friend Me! It Will Be Fun!

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Over the next 6 days I will be doing some traveling to a great American city. One rich in history and beauty. What will I be doing? Geocaching, hiking, photography, history, celebrating my wife birthday, visiting some beautiful places and so much more! Where are we going? You need to follow along to find out! I am going to be posting all photos from the trip on Facebook this time. So if you would like to come along for the ride friend me at www.facebook.com/gilletteoutdoors i will see you there! 

William Gillette

Share It

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 It's worth sharing. What is better than witnessing something amazing? Sharing that moment with someone else. Have you ever had something happen when you were totally alone and thought to your self they will never believe what just happened? Most of the time you tell your story later but it just doesn't have the same energy or excitement. That memory goes by the wayside even if it was amazing. Now take that same event and ad one friend seeing it with you, Wow the stories you will tell, bouncing that emotion back and forth between the two of you. your friends and family listen to your story start to get excited and it becomes a moment. Years could go by and your friend will say remember that time we... And you will laugh and get to relive it again and again, that moment will not only live on but that relationship is stronger because of it. Me and my best friend A.K.A my wife do this often, a silent car ride one minute. The next minute we are both laughing so hard we have tears in our eyes, one "hey remember when.." Will create hours of open conversation. So go on an adventure, do something new, bring your friends, and family, create some "remember when..." Moments. Life is worth sharing!

Hike Fit

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Experts say that Backpacking can burn up to 650 calories per hour in easy terrain. Even hiking without a pack can burn up to 550 calories per hour. So if you were looking for a way to get fit this summer get outdoors and hike your butt off. And remember camera gear counts! Pack it, Use it! Wouldn't you rather be hiking in the mountains than on some treadmill in a gym?

Everyone is looking for a way to lose weight and stay fit these days. There are so many fad diets, meal replacements, calorie counting, and magic pills to loose weight. It's getting harder and harder to understand just what is best for you. 

And on top of that as we get older issues such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, and the list goes on. Did you know that over 750,000 people died last year from heart disease? Or that the number of people with diabetes is up more than 50% from the 1980s? That's pretty bad right? Being over weight is the number one cause of not just these two diseases but many others facing us today.

So how can we fix it? To start a heathy diet starting with vegetables, fruit, healthy proteins, and no  processed foods. But that is not enough, exercising  and being active is the key to being healthy! Here are some facts for you to think about. 

- Hiking helps lower blood pressure and reduce hypertension. 

- Hiking helps your body release adrenaline to eases tension and lower anxiety. 

- Hiking increases bone density and slows the rate of calcium loss to decreases the effects of Osteoporosis.

- People who hike will lose more weight and will be able to maintain wieght loss more than people who diet only. 

- Hiking will actually help to reverse type 2 Diabeties and lower the dependence of insulin in type 1 Diabeties.

- Hiking will not only help your body but your mind as well, fresh air, fresh sights, and sounds will help stimulate your brain and make it easier to clear your head.

- Hiking will also help you sleep, lack of sleep is one of the biggest problems facing people today. 

Hiking is a very low impact activity and almost anyone can do it. Growing up many great friendships and relationship came from hiking with others. There is something fulfilling about going on a journey with someone you care about. Take your children hiking, spend some time with them away from TVs and video games, it will be hard at first but once out on the trail they will love it, and the memories and healthy habits you create will last a lifetime.

Your Tracks

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Walking down some forgotten trail in the middle of nowhere often times I will come across a track left by a fellow hiker. My mind will often start to wonder what this persons story is. What I have found out is that as you fallow a strangers tracks down a trail you start to learn many thing about them, things that they may not even know. And from these things your mind starts to draw conclusion. First off the obvious, shoe size and distance between steps. Weight how deeply the track sinks into the soil. But more than that, I can tell if a person is careful or careless by how they choose to walk around a puddle or walk through it. I can tell a respectful person from a disrespectful one by the way they step around a flower or plant in the trail or on it, if they break branches on the trees as they move down the trail. Even things like a fresh chewing gum rapper thrown on the ground as they walk. I can tell a level of passion by the way they stop and turn to look out at a great view or a small stream. All of these small things ad up to big conclusion in my mind, I begin to get an impression of this person before ever even seeing there face or hearing what they have to say. Often times these things come to a head and if I do come across this person on a trail I have made the decision to talk to them and share story's or a quick hello is all they get. It is funny how much this parallels your every day life, often times someone has already made a first impression of you before you have even met. They have seen something along your path that has given them resin to think they know something about you. What kind of tracks are you leaving?

Camping Quick Tip

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Campsite Bandits! When camping you should always be cautious of the animals that live in the forest that serounds you. This means keeping your food out of reach.  When shopping for containers to hold your camping supply's make sure that they are sturdy and that they lock or can be latched closed so that the wildlife do not get in them. Now in places that have bears that frequently visite campers make sure that you use extra precautions to ensure that they do not get in for a free snack. Even in FL where we have very few bears, I still secure my food containers in the trunk of my car at night so as to take the temptation away from the critters. Just remember anything left out WILL be eaten by something at night. It is our responsibility to keep it locked up, the animals are just doing what they can to find food.  

 

Geocaching

 

A real life treasure hunt! One of my favorite things to do when I am hiking and camping is to Geocache. Geocaching is basically a global game of hide and seek, one person hides a small countainer full of stuff and then posts the GPS coordinates online at Geocaching.com, then the seeker downloads the FREE moble App on any smartphone to find it.

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The App is simple, one button push and you will see all of the Geocaches in your area. Just select one on the map and then follow the map to the treasure. Once at the container you will find a standard set of items. First is a card or paper telling you that you just found a Geocache. Next is the logbook, this book is left in the cache for everyone who finds it to sign and leave a message to all other finders. Other than those two item you will find "stuff" basically buttons, pins, trinkets, toys... I have even found tool kits, flashlights, money, and an RC car one time. This stuff or swag as most cachers call it is meant to be traded for. #1 rule you take something you leave something of equal or greater value. This makes every cache exciting to find because you never know what you might find! 

One of the most eye opening things about Geocaching comes when you first download the App. The first time I pushed the find a cache button I realized that these things are everywhere! There were fifty to sixty in my home town, I walked within feet of some of them for years and did not even know they where there. But the best part is that some of them led me down back roads and to nature trails that I never knew about. I have lived in this town for over thirty years and just last year found amazing thing miles from my house that I did not know existed. 

This is by far one of my favorite outdoor activitys and now my friends and family are all into it! I have found several hundred caches in just two short years. And every time we camp, hike, backpack, or if I am just out shooting a few nature photos, I always check to see if there is a Geocache near by! Download the App

Get Out There!