National Trails Day!

June 06, 2015

34 hikers turned out.  

34 hikers turned out.  

A Friend of mine and Gillette Outdoors, Jeff Sparks (find Jeff on Twitter) invited me on a hike this weekend for National Trails Day.  

What is National Trails Day? 

"American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® (NTD) is a celebration of America’s magnificent Trail System, occurring annually on the first Saturday in June. NTD features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host National Trails Day® events to share their love of trails with friends, family, and their communities. NTD introduces thousands of Americans to a wide array of trail activities: hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, trail running, and bird watching and more. For public and private land managers alike, National Trails Day® is a great time to showcase beautiful landscapes and special or threatened locales as thousands of people will be outside looking to participate in NTD events.

National Trails Day® evolved during the late ‘80s and ‘90s from a popular ethos among trail advocates, outdoor industry leaders and political bodies who wanted to unlock the vast potential in America’s National Trails System, transforming it from a collection of local paths into a true network of interconnected trails and vested trail organizations. This collective mindset hatched the idea of a singular day where the greater trail community could band together behind the NTD moniker to show their pride and dedication to the National Trails System" (Nationaltrailsday.org)

 

 

Joshua Creek Trail Head, Charles Bronson State Forest. 

Joshua Creek Trail Head, Charles Bronson State Forest. 

As we made our way into the forest from the Joshua Creek Trail Head we followed the Blue blazed connecter trail over to the familiar Orange Blazed Florida Trail (FT) the photo above is of a small section that was blanked in fern. 

Damp and humid, this is the perfect home for ferns of all kinds.  

Damp and humid, this is the perfect home for ferns of all kinds.  

As the FT twisted and turned we went from scrub, to pines, to hardwoods, and even a low grassy flat where we found a rare Pitcher Plant in bloom. 

These carnivores plants growing in clusters. 

These carnivores plants growing in clusters. 

Here is the oddly beautiful bloom of the Pitcher Plant. 

Here is the oddly beautiful bloom of the Pitcher Plant. 

These strange plants are just off of an old access road that the local hikers have named Hog Trap Road.  How did the road get that name? Our trail guide was the one who named it! Here is her story.

 

All alone the trail from beginning to end grew wildflowers. When I could, I tried to stop and snap a few photos to share.

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I am not a plant expert, if anyone is please let me know the names of these in the comments below and I can go back and caption them properly. 

Here is Jeff and the group checking out a Butterfly Orchid way up in this tree. 

Here is Jeff and the group checking out a Butterfly Orchid way up in this tree. 

In all 5.5 miles hiked and some new friends and memories made. I would like to thank Jeff for inviting me on this awesome hike and for celebrating National Trails Day with me! I would also like to thank the Florida Trail Association (Follow the FT on Twitter and Instagram) for putting on this great hike.

 

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

Just A Thought

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The people that really know me would say that I have a great relationship with nature, not that I am a tree huger but that I am at home anywhere I go as long as its down a road less traveled. To some people a 15 mile walk up and down hills and valleys sounds like punishment. To me it's relaxation, meditation, it's truth. I want to know what is around this next corner or just over that hill. Most trails I walk have a purpose like a waterfall, overlook, sinkhole, or an old fort wall eroded away by time. Some are just a small loop in a public park that was put there to allow you to get away from the city for just a bit to clear your head. What ever the reason for the trail to me the outcome is the same. It was an adventure, it was a bright red bird landing on the trail in front of me, or the loud crack of a stick just off the trail that freezes you like a statue in hopes the animal that broke it does not see you. It can even be slipping on a slippery mud bank into a small stream completely soaking your cloths with mud. Someone once said " if you had a dollar for all the trails you walked you would be a rich man" to which I replied "I am a richer man for having walked them"

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.