Saturday, November 2, 2013

OHT - Day 5 - Mile 71
From the time I crawled in my tent last night until this morning it pretty much rained non stop. To be quite honest the rain was quite soothing. I didn't get much sleep, but I did feel a little more relaxed.
I was able to get cell service last night and found out Hill Hiker would be heading out my way to visit and bring a little trail magic. As meeting up with him was the main reason for heading to AR for some hiking this was good news!
Most of the am was ridge walking and as most of the time it was raining the views were limited. The trail has been somewhat non eventful with no wildlife seen as of yet (1 deer running away from me as I spooked it) and NO vistas at all. The colors have changed dramtically giving the only highlight to what so far has been a wooded tunnel. From the way the guidebook describes the trail you would think it would be in better shape :( There are a lot of old blow downs along the trail and many parts overgrown. Too bad :(
Oh to meet Hill Hiker, have a few beers and share some stories.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

OHT - Day 4 - Mile 63.ish

Headed out early today (around 7:45 am). Still overcast but no rain.
I made the first 9 mile in about 3.75 hours which surprised me as I was still feeling pretty crappy. I waited at a stream crossing for "ozark" (Doug 2 now has a trail name - I gave him Billy Goat, but he would have none of it :) ). I ate lunch until he arrived and then we headed on together.
We had a hellacious climb (1000') to a ridgeline where we hoped to get cell coverage to make sure Hill Hiker made it home safely. This is the first place that I've got reception.
I now lay in my tent with it raining outside making phone calls to family to let them know all is ok.
Until tomorrow....

OHT - Day 2 - mile 31.6

We woke up early this am to overcast skies once again, but that subsided as the day went on.
The trail turned into more of what I am use to and by this I mean elevation gains and declines. Nothing too crazy, but we had a couple 1000' climbs.
Today unfortunately brought some tragedy to our party though. Hillhiker had to get off trail today due to injury :( This has really put a damper on my trip as this was the reason I came out to do the OHT. I will travel along and keep him with us in spirit.
I now lay in my tent. We have a pretty good climb to start off the morning so I better get some rest.

OHT - Day 1 - 16.2 miles

We left out of Fort Smith Lake Park around 9 am with an overcast sky, but pleasant temps for hiking. The day gradually cleared and the fall colors just coming in made for some pretty scenary.
The first 7 miles around the lake were relatively flat, but after that the hiking became a little more familiar to the hiking I am used to. We were forced to press on a little further todays as there were very few places to camp. We are now set up on a closed road that leads to what appears to be any old quarry.
Tomorrow seems to be a little more challenging, but Im sure we will be fine :o)
Happy Trails!!

OHT - Day 3 - Mile 47.5

We woke up this am to rain. It subsided enough for us to tear down camp, but shortly after hitting the trail the skies opened up on us. It rained most of the morning, but tapered off by noonish.
The first climb was a big one, but we did make it to the top of Hare Mtn. Unfortunately the views were limited by heavy cloud cover, but the fall colors are really starting to heat up compensating for the lack of vistas.
We are at camp now and the flu bug which started yesterday has really kicked in. Hopefully over the next day or so I will be rid of it. It is really sucking the wind from my sails :(
On to tomorrow....

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ozarks Highland Trail

165 mile trek across Arkansas.

Ozarks Highland Trail - Arkansas

This weekend I head out to hike the OHT in Arkansas. I will be reuniting with a good friend who I hiked a good portion of the AT last year with. I will be posting updates here as the trip progesses.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

LightHeart Gear - Rain Jacket Review

Today I received a prototype model of a new rain jacket that will be coming out soon by LightHeart Gear. I'm not quite sure when they will be put in full production and ready for sale, but check out their website and see what other goodies they have until then (

I posted an "Initial Impressions" review (video above) that will give a first look at what I found upon receiving.

The material is extremely lightweight and the construction of outstanding quality.  The actual weight of the jacket is only 7.4 oz (for the XL that I received) or 210 grams.  Since the material is made of silicon nylon it is a little warm, but the design has included pit zips which allow for increased ventilation.

There are 2 large inside pockets that aren't your typical mesh pockets in most jacket designs. They are actually 2 full sized pockets that are constructed in such a fashion that object will stay in place and not wind up on the trail.  The external pockets are well thought out too.  They have easy access for your hands, but also dip down slightly so if you are carrying small objects they will not easily fall out.

The hood design is unique to other jackets that I have had in the past.  The draw string is situated in a manner that allows the hood to be drawn in around the face and not the bill area. With the cinch clips on the draw string the hood is held securely in place when tightened.

I have a 2 week adventure coming up soon which will put this jacket to the test. Once I return I will provide another product review that is "Field Tested".

Until next time.....

Happy Trails!!!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Dealing with Bugs (Mosquitoes) on Trail...

     As I'm sure most of you have experienced when hiking in the woods, bugs can be a very challenging nuisance to deal with. They fly in your eyes, nose and ears!!! Bite you leaving welts, itching and in some cases bruises (yes bruises...When I came back from the JMT in California I had smacked my arms so many times from mosquitoes that I had bruises up and down my arms).
     How do you deal with these little pests?  Good question! I have been trying many different scenarios out over the years and so far this is what I have come up with.  This by no means completely solves the problem, but has helped quite a bit considering.  If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments section below of this blog or the video so others can learn from your experiences.  I will post a follow up to this after my trip and let everyone know how I fared.

Happy Trails.....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wonderland Trail Introduction and Initial Planning....

     With only a couple weeks left until my father and I embark on an incredible journey together I thought it would be an appropriate time to get things up on this blog for others to follow and hopefully gain a little information and inspiration in the process.
     Up to this point we have accomplished just about everything that we need to do in order to hike the trail. Permits/reservations for back country camping and hiking have been secured. All gear has been purchased, finalized and tested for my fathers setup.  We have collected and packaged all food items with drop buckets packed and shipped. Airfare has been purchased and rental car has been reserved.  The only thing that we really need to do is get out there and start hiking.
     I think I covered a lot of the important information in the video above regarding initial planning for this trip.  The websites that I found most helpful were: and  Although there is no real printed guidebook that I could find (that I actually would like to have used that is) the web resources and map should be sufficient to make this trip happen.
     If you have come about this blog as a result of researching for a Wonderland Trail hike please feel free to contact me and I will do whatever I can to answer any questions that you may have.

Happy Trails!!!! (stay tuned)


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Homemade Beef Jerky...

     With my trip quickly approaching I decided it was time to get things in order to ship our drop boxes (actually buckets).  With the high price and lower quality associated with buying jerky in the store I decided to break out an old recipe that I have previously used and make my own.
     Hopefully this video will help anyone who would like to do this on their own as well.

Happy Trails!!!


Friday, April 12, 2013

The Wonderland Trail - Mt. Rainier, WA

The Wonderland Trail Around Mt. Rainier in Washington State

     I just received my reservation confirmation for my hike with my father on the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in Washington.  I can't begin to state how excited I am about this trip. We got the itinerary that we wanted and it was only moved one day out from the original start date that we requested.
     This trail is supposed to be one of the more beautiful longer distant hikes in the US.  From the pictures I have seen and the reports from friends who have already done the trail I don't think it will disappoint.
     I know I am leaving this post short and without much information, but I just was too excited not to put it down!!! Stay tuned at the end of summer for a trip report and video.

Happy Trails!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Appalachian Trail 2013 - Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) to Fontana Dam

     This past weekend I was fortunate enough to escape for the weekend and do a small section of the Appalachian Trail from the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) to the Fontana Dam.  Although the weather looked ominous per the weather forcast the rain held off and the weekend turned out to be pretty decent for hiking.
     We started the trip by making our way to the Fontana Lodge located in Fontana village on Friday evening.  I have never stayed in the hotel before, but I can't begin to state how pleasantly surprised I was by the luxury of the accommodations. The warm fire burning in the spacious lobby was so welcoming I felt like I had just been transported to an episode of the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". After watching the season finally of Bering Sea Gold it was off to bed to catch a few zzz's before catching our shuttle back to the NOC in the morning.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Appalachian Trail 2013 - Glassmine Gap to the NOC

    Two weeks ago I had the fortunate pleasure of joining an adventure back to the Appalachian Trail.  A friend of a friend is working on section hiking the AT and had planned a hike from Glassmine Gap to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC). The 36 mile stretch (including the Long Branch Trail - approx. 2 miles to get onto the AT) was to be completed in 3 days with mileages of 12, 18 and 6 MPD.
     We headed to Wesser, NC on Thursday night to stay at the NOC's bunk house.    Our bunkhouse had 2 sets of bunk beds, a bench and a cozy heater which seemed to keep the place a little warmer than I had expected. Arriving around 9 pm we were eager to get out of the car and the cold and get a good nights sleep before heading out the next morning.
     Our shuttle driver arrived on schedule at 8am Friday without a hitch. Unfortunately this time of year the NOC is a little short staffed and do not provide shuttles, but they did provide a couple alternate options for other providers.  I contacted "To The Top and Beyond" Shuttle Service and was very pleased with Kathy's punctuality.
     It seemed to take quite a bit of time to get to the trail head.  The back roads were winding and slow, but it did provide some very good scenery.  At one point we followed a very large river that looked quite breathtaking with the low laying fog that had settled on its surface.
     We were on the trail by around 10:30.
     I will let the video speak for the rest of the journey, but I would like to make one special point to thank Apple who provided some excellent "Trail Magic" when it was needed most.  After hiking in the snow all morning and afternoon and knowing I would be sitting in a cold shelter waiting for my hiking partners to arrive, finding a nice warm place to rest and fuel up couldn't have been better.  This gentleman donates 2 weeks of his time every year to providing assistance, food and kindness to travelers on the AT looking to fulfill their lifelong dreams.  Just goes to show that there still are some people out there who are genuinely good people who do for others without expecting anything in return.  Thank you again Apple!!!! You made our day!!!
"Apple" from Cincinnati, OH
     Until the next Adventure....

Happy Trails!!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Skiing-WinterPlace Ski Resort, West Virginia

     This past weekend I headed North to West Virginia where I would spend Saturday Skiing at WinterPlace Ski Resort. I met a good friend of mine from Virginia to spend the day skiing. The last time either of us had been on sticks was almost 9 years to the day since we went skiing together at HawksNest.
     WinterPlace Ski Resort is located just off exit 28 on Route 77 in West Virginia. It is only about 5 minutes from the interstate and easily accessible by many East coast cities.  They have about 20 ski runs ranging in varying difficulties.  The runs are a little short and narrow, but for the price and proximity it was well worth it.

     The weather turned out to be perfect conditions for a day on the slopes.  The temperature when we arrived was a balmy 16 degrees and sunny.  After a good long weight in line to purchase lift tickets and get our ski rentals the clouds moved in and the snow started.  I heard varying reports throughout the day on how much snow had accumulated, but the general consensus was between 6-8". 
On one of the ski lifts.

     Although this was not a hiking adventure it was a good time spent in the outdoors.  I'm getting ready to start my hiking season and will try to post any adventures that I undertake.

Until next time....Happy Trails!!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Get Out and Hike 2013!!!

Duncannon, PA.  A friend who helped and inspired me to "Get Out and Hike"

     As I sit here on the brink of another hiking season I have been getting quite a few questions regarding an assortment of topics in regards to hiking and backpacking.  This year I plan on being more diligent with posting entries and putting together videos to answer questions as well as share what little wisdom and experiences I have acquired that will help others enjoy the great outdoors.
     With this being said.....I would like anyone who comes across this little island of mine to leave a comment as to any questions you may have so I can direct my attention and efforts towards what people really want to hear about rather than me just speculating.  If you feel more comfortable shooting an email you can do so to  My goals are simple....I want to motivate as many people as I can to get out into nature as I possibly can!!!
     When I started into backpacking I combed the internet for as much information as I could searching videos, blogs and anything to do with hiking.  I found a lot of people who helped me out and were willing to share their knowledge and experience.  I want to return the favor by passing this information along, share my experiences and help others as I have been helped.
     I really appreciate all the kind words people have been sharing with me.  It really means a lot and I hope that any information I can share helps!!

Happy Trails!!!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Appalachian Trail - Halfway Point from last season

This is a video I shot from last years AT thru hike attempt as I reached the halfway marker.

I looked back on this video and saw something in myself that made me realize who I am and what makes me tick. So many people in life will try to discourage you from being who you are. Not because they are being selfish or because they want to keep you from being what you want to be, but simply because they don't understand.  Simplicity and a break from what the world today suggests is the norm may not make sense to most, but this doesn't mean you can't stray from that.  Don't let people take your dreams away!! They are yours!!! The only thing between them is your willingness to not let others keep them from you!!! Live life my friends for it is the only one you have!!!

Happy Trails!!!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Appalachian Trail - Cell Phones Revisited


     On the cusp of a new Appalachian Trail Thru Hiking Season I find myself receiving a lot of questions regarding the use of cell phones on the trail.  I put up a post before my thru hike attempt last season and decided to update my findings from the experiences I had.
     It seemed that a number of carriers provide pretty decent service along the trail with my experience being one of the exceptions.  I chose to go with a "Pay as you Go" phone from Verizon.  This unfortunately was a very big mistake!!! Initially I went to a local Verizon dealer and grilled them on the coverage that the phone would provide being very detailed and explicit to my usage along the trail and where I would be needing coverage.  I know I must have annoyed the salesman because I asked the same question multiple times: "Would I have the same coverage as all Verizon customers along the duration of the Appalachian Trail?". The response was YES!! on all occurrences.  At the time the store did not have any of the prepaid phones in stock so I was directed to Best Buy where they had plenty available.  Again I asked multiple times if the phone would suit my needs and provide the coverage that I needed (I am a little OCD and anal when it comes to subjects like this :) ).  I once again received the same response....Yes sir, you will get the same coverage as all Verizon Customers!!!
     The truth of the matter is that you do not get the same coverage as all Verizon customers.  For the most part I got very poor coverage along the trail with the Pay-As-You-Go phones. While I was surrounded by multiple people who had a regular contract with Verizon and multiple "Bars" talking to there friends and family I would be sitting with nothing more than a paper weight.  When I reached Hot Springs, NC I used a hiking friends Sprint phone to contact Verizon (because I didn't have service).  I was unfortunately the victim of either poor dealer training or just a bad situation all around. They notified me that I was not on the same Tower system as all Verizon customers and that there was no way they would be willing to make the situation right leaving me extremely discouraged. that I've gotten my rant out of the way and before I droan on about my bad experience let's get down to the nitty gritty.  Verizon (full service customers) and Sprint customers have good reception in most areas of the trail as I can attest to. You may have to stand on one leg, hold your hands in a certain ritualistic position while balancing on your head, but you will get a bar or two even in some remote locations.  This is not to say there are some dead spots no matter what carrier you have, but it is amazing how far technology has come and that you can communicate with loved ones from so many locations along the trail. I had also heard about other carriers providing decent service, but I can't personally attest to them as I did not utilize them.
      In short I would have to say that Verizon (FULL CUSTOMER CONTRACTS) would be the way to go if you are looking for reliable coverage along the Appalachian Trail.  Sprint also provided very good coverage as my hiking buddy Hill Hiker used his very reliably through his entire adventure to Katahdin.
     To all 2013 Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers.....I wish you the best, Happy Trails and enjoy the memories, friends and the Journey!!!!! Maybe I'll run into a few of you during my trips to the mountains this year!!

Happy Trails!!!