Category Archives: Interviews

Hiking, Trekking, Backpacking Interviews with outdoors men and women from all over the world.

Your Personal Travel Guide - Right Now - on OurExplorer.com 祝愉快!

Jean Liu

Through Twitter I have traveled to  Shanghai, the financial hub of China and met a very business savy travel guide, Jean Liu. Jean states that Shanghai is known for urban tourism. You will find quick urban developments, history of the past and cultural legacy. Passion for sharing the Chinese culture and heritage has led Jean to become one of the founding parners in a dynamic travel business service called OurExplorer.com. OurExplorer.com will allow a website visitor to select a guide in almost any major Asian city and embark on a sightseeing tour for as little as an hour or two or for more time if you have it. This service will be great for anyone traveling to Asia and China and if  someone has a flight layover, they will be able to get outdoors and see some sights that may not have been included in their itinerary!

The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai is almost ready for the world to visit.  Jean Liu welcome’s you to the event! If you have any questions about Shanghai, China, or OurExplorer, your welcome to contact Jean Liu. Jean’s TracksAndTrails.ca interview is below

Happy exploring! Have fun.

嗨,欢迎来到上海,中国的金融中心。我所在的这个城市以都市旅游而闻名,你可以看到快节奏的都市发展、近现代租界历史和海派文化。

我是OurExplorer.com的创始人之一,曾陪同小团体的客人在上海游览。如果你有任何关于OurExplorer,中国或上海的问题,欢迎联系我。

2010年的上海世博会正在积极准备中,欢迎届时参与盛会。

祝愉快!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

By the friend who works as tour leader for hiking. In China.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Seeing the scenery along the way.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

When hiking in Tiger Leap Gorge, we went down to the Jinsha River and then up to the ladder to heaven. Always along the Jinsha River, but different feeling and views when we were down close to it, or watching it from high above.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

We usually join outdoor activities with professional leaders, so that no extreme occasions so far.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Fireflies? Guess they are not that wild. It was a very enjoyable encounter though. We stayed overnight in the village rooms during a hiking in Chiang Mai. There were great trees and a river running by (reminded me of the scenes in “A river runs through it”). Chatting and singing after dinner, and we saw fireflies here and there.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

2 day hiking in Yubeng village, in the mountains of Yunnan province, southwest of China. Amazing scenery and nice local Tibetan people. Trust and follow your team leader, as they know the place and possibly your strength and limitations.

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.
http://www.ourexplorer.com/

Wolf Man - a bare foot hiker

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I grew up on a farm in Niagara-on-the-lake and spent most of my time outdoors. My grandfather was a World War II vet and believed that young people needed to learn about the outdoors and how to survive.

What has been your favourite hiking trail or outdoor area?

I love the desolation of the mountains. I spent Halloween in the Adirondack Mountains near Mt. Marcy last year and it was spectacular. There is a certain awe that I feel in the presence of mountains that makes you feel very spiritual and close to nature.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I spent June and July of 2009 hiking the entire Bruce trail barefoot from Niagara to Tobermory. In Boyne Valley there is a place called Murphy’s Pinnacle. I arrived there late one evening and made the short trip to the summit. Although being only 500m tall, it was so beautiful and moving. I sat there and watched the sun set with my dog.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I have learned good directions and have never been lost for more than an hour or so in wilderness. It’s surprising how when you step off trail to camp or relax how quickly the trail disappears into the woods and is difficult to find. Always use landmarks or temporary marking tape to not get lost.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

During my Bruce Trail Hike, I awoke to hear a noise outside my tent. I gently unzipped the tent to find a huge buck staring at me. He breathed out and I saw the mist from his nose. It was a mind blowingly beautiful reminder of the wild place I was visiting.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I’ve spent most of my life in the outdoors. Each year I spend most of my free time in the wilderness. I’ve hiked through Algonquin park, Killarney park, and Frontenac park as well as travelled through the United States and walked barefoot on the Salt Flats of Utah, and the floor of Death Valley. From all those trips I’ve learned how beautiful Canada and the United States really is. I also learned that shoes are not as necessary as people may belive if you are tough enough to handle it. I’ve also learned that if nothing goes wrong, it’s not an adventure

What is your favourite outdoor website?

backpacker.com

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

I always love military surplus stores, gears designed for our troops who are often called professional campers and of course Mountain Equipment Co-Op

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

http://www.wolfmaan.com

Wild Backpacker

The Wasatch Range, nor the Unita, La Salle, Bear River or Boulder Mountains could keep a wild backpacker from hiking an outdoor adventure. While loving all that Utah has to offer for an outdoorsman, Colton Gardner could not let the Utah Grand Canyon or any other barrier stop him from trekking around home in Utah and far away. He now features backpacking gear, food, exotic destinatinations and much more at his outdoor website, WildBackpacker.com. Following is an entertaining and educational interview with a Wild Backpacker; Colton Gardner.

*How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
For as long as I can remember, my family was teaching me to enjoy the outdoors. We have explored all around the country with motorized vehicles and on foot. I’ve especially grown to love backpacking and hiking. I’ve been hiking all over, exploring my local mountain ranges near home in Utah and Colorado, and also traveling far to experience exotic places like the gorgeous coastal views of Kauai, the breathtaking waterfalls of Havasupai, or the luscious forests of Alaska. My parents taught me to enjoy, respect, and protect all that nature has for us. My purpose in starting Wild Backpacker has been to share my experience, to give backpackers tips that I’ve had to learn, report on hikes I’ve been on, and share recipes I’ve enjoyed.

*What has been your favorite outdoor recreational area?
My favorite outdoor recreational area… I would say a tie between Zion National Park in Utah or the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Both are magnificent in their own way. Zion National Park has handfuls of diverse hiking trails and breathtaking sights. Their trails range in difficulty from week-long backpacking trips through the Narrows to quick day hikes up Angels Landing. If you haven’t been able to experience the beauty of Zion National Park, I strongly encourage you to visit. My other favorite area is Kauai. As the “world’s wettest place,” the Hawaiian island is full of lush jungle and greenery. I love exploring the island – finding waterfalls, caves, and other hidden wonders. It is also home to my favorite backpacking trail, the Kalalau Trail!

*Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
As I said, the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii, is my all-time favorite trail. The Kalalau Trail is a 22-mile trek, not counting detours to the waterfalls, along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. Pictures of the valley, beach, and cathedrals are very popular and even more spectacular in person. It is a rigorous hike, but the sights are well worth it. You hike right along the coast, seeing whales in the ocean and waterfalls in the valleys. We spent two days backpacking in to take our time and enjoy it, spending the night at the Hanakapai and Kalalau beaches. I can’t even explain how amazing it was to fall asleep to crashing waves and wake up and look out of your tent into the Pacific Ocean. From eating wild mangoes to meeting crazy natives to having giant killer cockroaches crawling through our backpacks and carrying our dinner away into the jungle, it was an experience I will never forget. If you would like more information about the Kalalau Trail, check out the trail guide on Wild Backpacker.

*Have you ever experienced a wilderness emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
I have not had any medical emergencies myself, but I have encountered others who have. While hiking in the Zion Narrows, we came upon a group that was planning on making it a simple day hike, but ended up having to stay the night with us in our camp. They weren’t prepared for something like this, but we were. We had extra food and dry clothes for them. We lent them our tent and our 4-person group squeezed into one 3-person tent. It was tight quarters in there, but the other group was able to have a place to sleep that night. This is just one of the times that being extra prepared came in handy.

*Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
I am a bit embarrassed about this story, but I will tell it anyway. My brother, then 18 years old, decided that he would take me, then 12 years old, one a night-time hike. Even from the beginning, everything that could go wrong went wrong. We forgot important items, I lost my map, and the batteries in our flashlight went out. Luckily, my brother was prepared and had extras. But while replacing them, all our batteries rolled down the trail and off the mountain side. So we continued our trek with one dim headlamp. While still hiking in the dark, my brother stopped me suddenly. He told me to be quiet. He whispered to me that there was a moose up ahead and that we need to wait for it to move. I asked why we couldn’t just scare it off and he explained that they can charge and be dangerous. Don’t ask me why we didn’t think about going around him or turning back, but we stood there in the middle of the trail for a good hour and a half waiting for the moose to move. By the time my brother finally was convinced that it had left, it was light enough we didn’t need our headlamp anymore. That was the longest hour and a half of my life. I specifically remember being so bored I taught myself the ABCs backwards in my head.

*What nuggets of wisdom have you learned from your multi-day backpacking trips?
Go light. The first principle in enjoying backpacking is a light pack. Even if you can’t achieve ‘ultralight’ all at once, just do what you can. Figure out what is the heaviest thing in your pack and determine if you can substitute it with a light solution. It may be that bulky heavy sleeping bag that goes first or dehydrating your food instead of packing MREs. Another common way to lighten up is to acquire a micro-sized stove and filter water instead of carrying large amounts.

*What is your favourite outdoor website?
Of course, I love my own website, www.wildbackpacker.com! It is a one-stop resource for any information a backpacker or hiker could need. But other than my own, I love the Backpacker Magazine’s website www.backpacker.com. You can spend countless hours exploring and learning with trip reports from around the world, backpacking how-to videos, and outdoor skill articles. The forum is also an amazing resource, as it has thousands of other backpackers from experienced outdoors-men to first-time hikers.

*What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
Most of my online outdoor gear purchases are through REI and Wilderness Dining. REI, Recreational Equipment Incorporated, has any gear you want in any brand. They have very reasonable prices and fantastic customer service. Be sure to check them out. Wilderness Dining is where I buy most of my backpacking food and cookware. I discovered them in 2008 and have been addicted since. Have any questions to ask about their products or services? Feel free to call them – they are open to talk!

What is the meaning to life? Let outdoor guru and innovator, Jeff Walker guide you…

I met Jeff on Twitter and was intrigued by his product that keeps your food stored safe from small animals when in the backcountry.  After speaking with him, I quickly learned that GrubPack is made for the outdoors by a real outdoorsman! His product is great and his stories and outdoor advice is even better. Enjoy your journey with Jeff Walker…

Q: How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

A: I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.  As kids we played outdoors, not by our choice, but by the choice of our parents.  At some point in life, I just started to prefer the freedom of the outdoors over the stale indoors.  That preference stands today.  We road our bikes, played ball, fished, swam, roamed the neighborhood, climbed trees, packed lunches and took hikes.  All of this was done with zero adult supervision and no organized teams or uniforms!  We walked out the door in the morning and were often missing until supper time.  Sadly, parents today might be arrested for such child neglect.

Q: What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

A: People not familiar with Iowa think we all run through endless flat corn fields chasing hogs while we wear our straw hats.  In reality this area is perhaps one of America’s best kept secrets.  In our immediate area we kayak, canoe and boat on the Mississippi River and hike in the hilly forests of the upper Mississippi River valley bluffs. It’s beautiful all year ’round, but especially stunning in the fall months.

On a larger geographic scale, I’ve never met a National Park I haven’t liked.  We have visited, hiked and backpacked most every big name park west of the Mississippi, and a few to the East.  I do enjoy the West very much, with a special attraction to the Southwest.  No place on planet Earth can equal the Grand Canyon.

Jeff Walker and his son Tim Walker Near the End of a Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon Trek

Q: Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

A: Iowa is a state that feels the full force of all four seasons.  Boating and swimming the Mississippi offers relief from stuffy summer heat and humidity.  In the fall, hiking the river bluffs is a warm walk through endless brilliant colors.  In the dead of winter, when many may sit depressed indoors, we clear a spot of ice on the shallow river backwaters and enjoy playing hockey the way it’s meant to be played, under wide open skies!  When spring comes around, you smell the Earth again and it brings the promise of the beautiful wild flowers, freshly plowed fields, the sounds of lawn mowers and flocks of awakening mosquitoes.

Q: Some outdoor folks are very innovative. Please share your product story for the GrubPack.

A: It was built from necessity I guess.  Protecting backpacking food from wilderness animals is essential, but I can’t take credit for inventing the concept.  There was a well respected similar product available and I attempted to buy one for an upcoming Western backpacking trip.  After leaving unanswered phone messages and  emails with the company, I decided to do some checking around.  At the time, no one else was making a light-weight stainless steel mesh food bag to protect against small rodents, animals and birds.  I visited several on-line hiking and backpacking forums and found others were having problems placing and receiving orders too.

I’ve been self-employed for over 30 years, so I decided to start investigating what it would take to make and distribute such a product.  After much research into various materials and sewing procedures the GrubPack was born.  We added some very innovative improvements and options and started selling on-line. We’ve have since decided to keep our sales on-line only to avoid retail mark-ups.  This keeps the price of our quality GrubPack low.  I invite your readers to visit: www.grubpack.com

Q: Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

A: No medical emergencies, but I spend as much time lost as possible.  Being lost and getting yourself un-lost is a great confidence builder.  Being lost makes you feel so stupid.  Getting yourself back in one piece makes you feels like Isaac Newton.

Q: Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

A: I have a year-old yellow lab named Rabies.  (He’s the official mascot of GrubPack.com)  He hikes with me daily… or I guess I actually hike with him.  A few weeks ago I noticed him acting strange… jumping around in circles, moving in and out and yelping a weird tune I hadn’t heard before.  I made my way to him only to find he had his nose directly in the face of a coiled rattlesnake.  I’ve met up with rattlesnakes in various parts of the West and Midwest before, but never with a dog.  Staying behind him, I grabbed his collar and pulled him through thorns and thickets to make a wide detour around his new little friend.  I later learned that veterinarians charge upwards of $1500 for rattlesnake treatment.  That’s enough money for a very nice trip to the Grand Canyon!

RABIES Official Mascot of GrubPack

RABIES Official Mascot of GrubPack

Q: If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

A: I’ve done numerous multi-day trips… Zion, Glacier Park, Grand Canyon, the Ozark Trail, Yosemite and others.  When you are clomping through a multi-day trek you sometimes wonder why the hell you’re doing it, but those thoughts vanish when you reach the end and immediately start planning the next trip in your head.  Many life lessons are learned on seemingly meaningless trails.  I feel sorry for people who just don’t get it.

Ryan and Tim Walker on Zion West Rim

Ryan and Tim Walker on Zion West Rim

Q: What is your favourite outdoor website?

A: I visit many hiking sites, forums and on-line gear stores.  I can’t say I have a single favorite, but I most enjoy the ones that focus on backpacking in the lightest manner possible.  It’s amazing how much “essential” stuff can be left at home.

Q: What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

A: www.GrubPack.com or course! (:    Actually,  I do enjoy walking through any retail outdoor gear store, but almost always buy on-line.  I have visited dozens and dozens of on-line stores and have bought from way too many of them.

Q: Any future journeys planned?

A: You bet.  I have plans for a 4-5 day backpack along the Tonto Trail (Grand Canyon) in 2010.  I’ll be the old guy hawking GrubPacks in the 110 degree heat.  I’d also like to get to the Colorado Rockies for a few days of wilderness gold panning next year.

Q: What is the meaning of life?

A: Life is short.  Every single day is a gift. Your family is your past, present and future.  Spend as much time with them as possible.  The great outdoors is the perfect place to share frivolous fun as well as your deepest thoughts.  You can find many answers to real-life problems in the time you spend exploring and enjoying quiet places together.  Oh, and if you’re searching for God… He’s out there searching for you too.

A few links worth posting:  www.grubpack.com and  www.twitter.com/GrubPack

Tug o war with a Loon and the fish who gets to fight another day!

When interviewing outdoors men and women, I usually have to interview them via the internet. With Bruce Merit, proprietor of the year round operational Osprey Lake Retreat located mid-way between Summerland and Princeton on the Princeton Summerland road adjacent to Osprey Lake and the Trans-Canada Trail, I enjoyed the real pleasure of getting to know him while at a local coffee shop in Kelowna.
After finding out about Osprey Lake Retreat online, the key motivators for this interview were the unbelievable wildlife shots that he has on his site, the array of services he offers in a backcountry setting and the incredible prices he offers them at. Osprey Lake Retreat is one Thompson Okanagan outdoor secret that I just had to learn more about…but before you rush to the phone for reservations, enjoy this entertaining and educational interview to get to know your host Bruce Merit, a little better…one more thing, ensure that you remember your camera!

When interviewing outdoors men and women, I usually have to interview them via the internet. With Bruce Merit, proprietor of the year round operational Osprey Lake Retreat located mid-way between Summerland and Princeton on the Princeton Summerland road adjacent to Osprey Lake and the Trans-Canada Trail, I enjoyed the real pleasure of getting to know him while at a local coffee shop in Kelowna.

After finding out about Osprey Lake Retreat online, the key motivators for this interview were the unbelievable wildlife shots that he has on his site, the array of services he offers in a backcountry setting and the incredible prices he offers them at. Osprey Lake Retreat is one Thompson Okanagan outdoor secret that I just had to learn more about…but before you rush to the phone for reservations, enjoy this entertaining and educational interview to get to know your host Bruce Merit, a little better…one more thing, ensure that you remember your camera!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

My father was the first to introduce me to the great B.C. outdoors.
Apparently at the young age of 4 our family was camping in Yellowstone
National Park and my father had to man the fire all night and fight off the
bears.  One bear did take a swipe at the old canvas tent which required
major repairs.  At the age of 8 I was introduced to the Scouting movement
and joined Cub Scouts.  It was the 28th Thunderbirds which was the only Sea
Scout troop in Vancouver BC at the time.  Being the only Sea Scout troop we
were forced to compete in all the camporees and jamborees which really got
me outside digging latrines, making eating tables, outdoor showers and lean
2’s. I also spent the first ½ of the summers up the Sunshine Coast on Texada
Island with my grandparents and then the second ½ on my uncles farm helping
with the haying, castrating, vaccinating, and dehorning calves.  A wide
variety of activities that really opened my eyes to much of what the world
has to offer.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Growing up there was never one area that really stood out, I do remember
many weekends we were Steelhead fishing on Silver Creek up near Hope in the
60’s but for the most part our family would just pick another lake, creek or
area to explore and go!

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

One of my biggest Steelhead I remember catching at Silver Creek was actually
caught on the two large washers I was using for weight and not even on the
hook with the worm on it.  I chased it down creek for about 5 minutes
stumbling over rocks and boulders trying to tire this mighty fish out.  In
the end I beached it on a sandy area and was totally shocked that the fish
had gone after the flash of the washers and they had wedged themselves in
it’s mouth the whole time.  In the end I turned the washers sideways and
allowed the fish to fight another day.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Being part of the Hayes Creek volunteer fire department there have been a
number of ATV accidents I have responded to which unfortunately most have
involved drinking and driving with many broken body parts and dozens of
stitches to fix.  A simple lesson that is not rocket science Don’t drink and
drive, even in the bush: it can be deadly!

The only time I have ever been lost was in the Shinjuku train station in
Tokyo Japan after just landing in Japan.  I walked around and around in the
underground tunnels for at least two hours not being able to ask anyone
where I was or being able to read signs I finally found the right train and
made it home totally exhausted and frustrated but made it just the same!
Next day I was able to remember some of the shops and eventually it got
easier and easier.  Really no different that being in the bush and you
remember a bent over tree or a pretty flower, it’s all pretty basic
navigating and being aware of where you are.  I find if you slow down enough
to enjoy the beauty of nature you will allows thing to really sink in and
you won’t get lost!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Living at Osprey Lake for over 4 years now there have been many unique
encounters with wild animals.  On many occasions I have had tug-a-wars with
the local family of loons.  Especially in the summer when the parents are
trying to teach their young to fend for themselves they really take the lazy
route.  Instead of teaching their young how to dive they will teach them how
to follow fishermen and then steal their catch.  Each year I loose a handful
of fish this way which goes to show you that even wild animals can learn new
tricks and after all we have to learn to be part of the food chain!  Just
don’t end up being a meal for a bear!

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or
multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

When ever I partake on multi-day events I have learned not to over pack.
Much like going on a vacation where you spread everything you think you
might want to take on a trip out on your bed and then go over it a few times
placing all the necessary items in the luggage(pack sack). See what fits and
what is really a must-have item and not a want-item.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Has to be my own site, not only because I built it but Osprey Lake area of
BC is located just outside Princeton by 30 min, less than 90 min. from
Kelowna and less than 4 hours from Vancouver.  It has a diverse range of
outdoor activities from excellent fly fishing for wild rainbow trout,
kayaking, canoeing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking and wildlife viewing
.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

MEC in Vancouver, good selection and decent prices.  Trout Waters is my
favourite fishing store in Kelowna

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

www.ospreylakeretreat.ca

Travels the best State Parks - Crawls past a Grizzly - Battles Cancer and launches Expedition Paw Prints - meet Dale E Smith

Have you ever smelled that …nasty smell. Your in the woods and you wonder if it is something rotten. hmm what is it? Read on to see how Dale, working his way (crawling) through a tough section of a Yellowstone hike, came across a bit of a surprise! Not only has Dale E Smith had close calls with grizzlies, fought with head and neck cancer and traveled spectacular back country in more than 48 states, but he has recently launched Expedition Paw Prints on www.pawprintsthemagazine.com!

It is nice to see what Dale is up to in the Expedition Paw Prints series but to also actually listen to Dale on his radio show Paw Prints Live online is very cool! Sit back grab a coffe and enjoy the tales of a man a tent and his dog Keegan…

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I was raised camping every weekend at Lake Pomme de Terre in Hickory County, Missouri. My parents started us in a roomy canvas cabin tent from Sears, starting in about 1968. We graduated from the tent to a pop-up camper. When I was in high

familyfriend, mymother, Dale, familyfriend PommeDeTerre 1973

school, we switched to a motor home. It seems I spent every weekend from the age of six through my high school years at the lake. I learned to water ski at the age of six. I was hunting as soon as I was big enough to walk a field. We spent a couple of two week vacations at the lake. Our home for that two week period was our tent and our recreation was water skiing and fishing. When we weren’t spending our vacations at the lake, we were off traveling cross country. I had relatives on both coasts of the US. If we weren’t camping our way west through Rocky Mountain National Park, The Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park to make it to our west coast destination in Oregon where we would stay for a week in Hermiston with my Great Aunts and Great Uncle, then we would head off to Mount Hood, and Crater Lake before swinging south and east to make our way back to Missouri. We were headed East traveling through the Smokey Mountains making our way to Connecticut and Rhode Island. I was fortunate as a child to have traveled through or camped in 47 states in the lower 48 plus Canada both east and west. The only state I missed growing up was Maine.

As I became a young adult I started downsizing my camping gear to what I could carry on my back. You must remember that this was the late Seventies, early Eighties. The gear we had wasn’t

Moose in Yellowstone 1979

what you may be used to today. At that time you couldn’t run down the street to the outdoor gear supply and pick up quality equipment, there wasn’t a gear store down the street. I still remember when I got my first pair of boots that had this new invention called Thinsulate lining. I was in high school at the time. To keep our feet warm was simple, one pair of thin wool athletic socks, (yes I said wool athletic socks), and over that you wore a THICK pair of wool boot socks. We waterproofed our boots with a product known as snow seal. There was no such thing as Gortex. There was also no such thing as a gusseted tongue on your boots. If the water was higher than the first eyelet, your feet were swimming. This was when we wore a pair of jeans or jean shorts on our legs. No zip off’s and no cargo shorts or pants unless they were military issue, then still not, you didn’t want someone to think you were in the service.

Yellowstone Moose in 1979

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

I have always been a huge fan of our national parks and forests here in the US. My favorite is still, probably due to childhood memories, Yellowstone National Park. I still remember as a six year old child watching the idiot in the car in front of us feeding the black bear sow and her cubs from their passenger window. I also remember having to wait for hours in the car while a grizzly slept in the middle of the road. Finally the first car would slowly roll up and give the bear a nudge with the bumper. OH MY, if we new then what we know now.

Yellowstone followed by Glacier National Park, then Rocky Mountain National Park.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

My last trip to Yellowstone was the spring of 1999. I was working selling advertising to hotels and

Elk in Yellowstone 1999

was staying at the Ramada Inn that faced the park in West Yellowstone, MT. My business trip was slated for being in West Yellowstone for two weeks. I would work all the shops Monday through Friday and on the first weekend, I put my suits and ties in the closet and tossed my backpack on my shoulder. I had a back country permit I applied for when I found out this trip was a go and I planned on using it. I still remember me leaving my hotel, walking down the street, making a left hand turn at the first street and walked straight ahead. All I could see was the towering pines lining the street on both sides and the West Entrance to the park about 250 yards ahead. I stopped in at the Ranger Station and mapped out my trip. It was just the second weekend in May, so there were no tourists to be seen. One day would be 70 degrees and that night it would be 15 below and 17 inches of snow coming down. It made for a very interesting weekend of camping.

South Dakota Badlands 1969

South Dakota Badlands 1969

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I have been a bit turned around once or twice but never lost. I have been fortunate that I have not ever had to deal with a medical emergency in the field. I will say for those who don’t venture out often, if you do go in the wilderness, be prepared. You are a visitor in an untamed environment and bad things can happen. Learn to use a map and a compass. That way even if your GPS is lost, broken, etc. you can still find your way. If you are going on a day hike in the wilderness, take supplies that will last you a couple of days just in case. I’m the type that doesn’t want to be that guy on the news that starved to death because I went for a day hike with my store bought bottle of water, got lost, fell off a cliff and was found a week later dead. That’s just me though.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

The scariest happened in 1999 in Yellowstone. If anyone has been to Yellowstone since the fires in

2 Coyotes Yellowstone May 1999

1988 you know the forest is still trying to come back. Many of the trees that were burned are still lying on the ground like toothpicks. I was making my way up a fairly steep incline. Steep enough that I was on my hands and knees, I was crawling my way up the hill. One leg over the log, belly on it, crawling my way to the next. I came up to one down tree and the smell was so bad I thought I had crawled through a pile of bear scat. I sat up on the downed tree checking myself to see where the scat was on my person when I looked over the next log or two and noticed what I thought was a log ahead moved a little. I took a closer look and noticed that the log had an eye that opened. I quickly realized that the smell was bear scat and it was attached to a black bear that was about 20 feet from me. He had tucked himself underneath a downed tree for an afternoon nap. I slowly backed down the hill I had just spent the last hour and a half crawling up.

Coyote in Yellowstone 1999

The same trip, about 4 hours later I was gingerly trekking along through a long narrow valley. I looked up at the tree line on the hill in front of me and thought I had spotted movement. I stopped and got my binoculars so I could take a closer look. When I focused in, I saw a Bison carcass lying

Bison in Yellowstone May 1999

in the snow. The next thing I saw was a Grizzly that stood on his hind legs and I just knew he was looking straight into my eyes through the binocular lenses. The big old Grizz started to pace back and forth behind the carcass, then in the blink of an eye he flipped that bison over with one swipe of his paw. I took the signal that I was an unwelcomed guest at dinner. Step by step I walked backwards out of the valley, never taking my eye off of the bear. I must have walked backwards for a half mile, seemed a lot further than that. Needless to say I decided to take the long way around to my campsite. I didn’t get much sleep that night. Every sound I heard made me think I was in danger. Very seldom do you run in to a bear but two in the same day gave me the jitters.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I have had several multi day adventures over the years. The best wisdom I could give you is always be prepared. The wilderness is a forbidding foe if you aren’t ready for it. Even if you are ready for it nature will test us in every way possible. Nature can battle your endurance, strength, mental toughness and plain intestinal fortitude. The difference between us and nature is that nature NEVER quits, EVER. You have to be ready for that.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

I usually spend most of my time on nps.gov, the National Park Service, fs.fed.us, the US Forest Service or any of the state park websites here in the US.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

I am pretty much a gear nerd. I love reading about new equipment. I also know that I am not a professional climber, etc so I tend to favor stores that carry decent equipment at a decent price

Dog Pack Gear

point. Depending on the adventure, I will frequent different stores. For basic outdoors and car camping, I shop Cabela’s. They have a location not far from my house and an enormous selection. For more technical gear I like to shop at two places here in the Kansas City metro. One is Dynamic Earth, you can find them at dynamicearth.net and the other is Backwoods, they are at backwoods.com

Now that I am 48 years old, (January 25th), my adventures and outlook have changed a little. I guess I should say a lot.  I spent much of the last 15 years not getting out as much as I would have

Breakfast time for Keegan and Dale

Breakfast time for Keegan and Dale

liked. In 2004 my wife and I started our own business. It keeps us busy almost every moment of every day. I will say however since we are in the media and we cover the pet industry and animal community that it is fun and doesn’t seem like work. In 2007 I was diagnosed with late stage 4 cancer of the head and neck. I received the diagnosis on my 45th birthday. What a birthday present that was. We battled through it and for 18 months my wife was my nurse. I spent my days with zero energy, sleeping and nauseous. I noticed during that time that my Border Collie, Keegan was at my bedside day and night. I was now cancer free and in October of 2008 my wife begged me

Fly Fishing with Keegan

to get away for a weekend and go camping. She isn’t much of a camper. So I started calling friends to see if they wanted to go on a fly fishing trip with me, they said yes until it was a few days before we were to leave. For various reasons they started bailing out on me. My wife, seeing that I was a bit upset with my friends said, she had contacted a company that made outdoor gear for dogs and they were going to send it to us if I did a product review. She asked me to take my Border Collie with me, go have fun and do a review on this companies dog gear. I, for the first time went not only camping, but fly fishing with my dog. We had such a great time it spawned a new adventure series we are doing called Expedition Paw Prints; me camping with my dog as my only helper. Since the fly fishing adventure we have been car camping a few times, done several gear reviews and to make sure and keep my wife happy, we are also going

Dale and Keegan enjoying the outdoors.

and staying at pet friendly cabins, hotels, and resorts doing reviews on those properties. My dog and I are gearing up for a three day winter backpacking trip to Mark Twain National Forest. I guess the challenge cancer presented made me realize that life is short so do what you love. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and say “if I only had done this”. Live every day as if it were your last. Leave everyone you come in contact with the impression that you want to be remembered by.

If you would like to follow my adventures and Expedition Paw Prints go to our website www.pawprintsthemagazine.com and click on the Departments tab and go to our Travel Tails section. In the mean while, get out there and enjoy the outdoors and blaze a trail that you will be proud of.

Trail Journal Wisdom

Being from Canada, I am very interested in learning more about the incredible hiking culture in the United States.  Thru-hikes, specially the Appalation Trail seem to be constantly abuzz with thru-hikers, section hikers, day hikers – you name it and someone is hiking it.

I was delighted to have the following interview come back to me from Phyllis Margettes in Georgia, USA. The reader can pick up on the hiking culture that we just do not seem to have in the Canadian areas that I am from. For example, trail names like “Freebird”. These trail names are bestowed on Thru-hikers who have done many many miles of hiking and have extensive knowledge hiking – specially thru-hiking.

Thanks Margaret – I hope to hear from more thru-hikers…

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

When I was little my mother and I lived in Savannah, GA.  She o ften took me to the wildlife refuge in South Carolina right across the Talmadge Bridge. She encouraged me to explore and taught me to do castings in plaster of animal tracks.

What has been your favourite hiking / biking or outdoor area?

I love the AT (Appalation Trail), but the Cohutta Wilderness in north Georgia holds a very special place in my heart.  Lake Conasauga was built by the Corps and is the highest lake in Ga.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I have 2 children ..one of whom is in a wheelchair.  When he was off at his fun camps I started taking my daughter for a week of camping.  She was five when we started. We tried out the “Tear Britches” Trail once in our search for the Consauga River. When we found it …well let’s say the beginnings of rivers more resemble a small stream. Alittle disappointing at the time, but a good memory now.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Never been lost yet!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

We stayed at Thomas Knob Shelter several years ago and enjoyed the company of a very friendly doe. She walked into camp and hung around hoping for handouts.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I have done several section hikes always with a dog and either my daughter or friends.  Like many folks I have found that lightening the load helps with the pleasure of the trip.  We have developed a routine of taking a lunch break during which we remove shoes and socks and elevate our feet. May be a mental break as well as we always feel refreshed and ready to push on.  Time the time to stop at a place that takes your breath away, watch the fire newt, give the black snake time to move out his sunny spot that also happens to be your path. Breath and enjoy the moments.  As a woman I get a great deal of pleasure at feeling self sufficient out on the trail. My husband is not a hiker, but is supportive and proud of me.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Trailjournals.com

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Love Mt. Rogers Outfitters in Damascus…extremely helpful.  Uncle Johnny’s in Erwin is great as well….Freebird works there and is a wealth of knowledge.

Thanks for asking for my input.  My biggest suggestion is that one should do what you can….don’t wait to hike a thru thinking I’ll do it someday.  While you may do it some day between now and then you can have some great mini adventures and memories.

Topographic Maps that make Cell Phone and GPS technology easy for hikers and other Outdoor Enthusiasts

After interviewing a number of hikers from all corners of the globe, I am finding that hikers and all outdoor enthusiasts have many challenges to overcome. ViewRanger will not only keep you from getting lost but will give you a bundle of multi-purpose technology and keep you on the right Track or Trail for years to come!

Mike Brocklehurst and Craig Wareham are co-founders of Augmentra Ltd – the software app company behind ViewRanger, the off-road satnav application for smartphones.

Mike is a keen hillwalker.  His hiking experiences in the English Lake District, combined with his appreciation of the famous Wainwright guides, germinated his ideas for a new way of navigating in the outdoors – having been frustrated with the GPS units available at the time.  In 2006 he co-founded Augmentra to turn these ideas into a product and business.

Augmentra is now a team of avid outdoor enthusiasts (walkers, cyclists, mountain bikers, glider pilots, sailors, surfers, campers) striving to help outdoor consumers to maximise their outdoor activity and share their experiences.

ViewRanger is now in regular use by outdoor activity enthusiasts and outdoor professionals across Europe.  Users includes walkers, mountain bikers, boaters, paramotorists, horse riders, search and rescue teams, countryside access officers, and many more.  A recent tie up with National Geographic brings ViewRanger to North America.

An interview with Mike Brocklehurst:
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

From a young age I went walking in the country side with my family, both near our home in Kent (England) and on holidays to the National Parks and similar areas. Also my uncle had a farm on Romney Marsh, which gave us a more agricultural introduction to the countryside.

What has been your favourite hiking / biking trail or outdoor area?

I love the English Lake District. It is a very beautiful part of England, with varied terrain including some challenging mountains. But it is relatively compact and very accessible. It is perhaps too busy at times, due to its popularity, but as a solo walker that suits me.  I particularly enjoy the areas around Keswick and Derwentwater – areas made famous by the poet Wordsworth.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

A while back I was lost for a while on a forested hill. Every track looked the same, none seemed to match the map, I guess due to the passage of time and the work of foresters.

As a solo walker I was always very cautious to avoid getting lost.
Nowadays I have our ViewRanger software with Ordnance Survey maps on my GPS phone, so I’m much more confident!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

The UK’s not known for many *really* wild animals. We have deer but they are good at hiding or running away.  There are many smaller mammals.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

All my hiking has been single-day trips, I like to come back to home or hotel comforts in the evening.

I prefer linear walks, getting the bus to one valley, walking back along
a ridge to where I am staying in the evening.

Nowadays, I use the built-in library of guided walking routes within ViewRanger (currently a library of over 5000 guided routes) to discover new places to go.  I can quickly search for routes around my current location or around my hotel, and then download the routes that look interesting direct to my cellphone handset.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Aside from our own www.viewranger.com!  I think that www.outdoorsmagic.com is a great site for the UK-based outdoor enthusiast.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

George Fisher in Keswick, or Open Air in Cambridge.

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

www.viewranger.com

These Boots Travel

Julie Ovenell-Carter, a wanderlusty Canuck with good boots, good sense, and a good way with words publishes a go-to guide for Canadian travel. She is a long-standing member of the Society of American Travel Writers and the Travel Media Association of Canada. Her articles and photographs have appeared internationally and she blogs for InsideVancouver.ca.

I am honored to have the opportunity to interview Julie and am pleased to share her passion for Canadian Travel.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I was born in the UK but came to Canada as a baby–first to Winnipeg, MB and then when I was five to Hudson’s Hope in Northern BC, where my dad was working on the WAC Bennett Dam hydro project. My memories of the “outdoors” really start in Winnipeg, when I saw snow for the first time and, according my mom and dad, was sort of freaked out by it. Apparently I kept trying to brush it off my coat and of course it kept falling and messing up my coat. I have had an uneasy relationship with snow ever since…

In Hudson’s Hope we lived in a 500-square-foot cabin, so my younger brother and I spent a LOT of time playing out of doors. My dad built us a large and very primitive tree fort in the back forty and we forged some happy memories in that shack. Because it was so rural–no transit!–we also walked a lot (alone, through the woods) and I think that began a lifetime habit of needing a long walk in the woods every day in order to feel like my day’s complete.

When I was 7, we made a cross-Canada trip by car and I saw the Rockies for the first time. The grandeur made a huge impression on me; I wrote the experience down in an Orange Hilroy notebook and consider it to be my first-ever travel article…

What has been your favourite outdoor recreation area?

I live on tiny, tranquil Bowen Island in BC–you can see it from the highway when you’re driving to Whistler. There is a loop trail through Crippen Park that circles Killarney lake and I have walked it every day for almost 20 years (except when I am travelling). It takes about an hour but I stop halfway to pray for a little while. It is the cure for whatever ails me.

The other two most-magical places are beaches on either side of Canada: one is the Singing Sands Beach in Prince Edward Island and the other is Chesterman Beach in Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I have written about both of these places. I am drawn to the ocean, and I draw strength and peace from the wildness of these beaches–the fact that the surf is so big, so relentless, so powerful. They make me feel small; it’s a good reminder of my place in the universe.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I wrote a story–“Getting lost in Tofino time“–about our last family vacation in Tofino for the Globe and Mail.

It more or less says everything…

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Once, when I was 17, I went for a “walk in the woods” near Wells, BC (way north in BC) with a friend. We got lost. (Funny how one tree looks exactly like another when there’s no marked trail!) It got dark. I got scared. We hadn’t told a soul we were going. By sheer luck we found our way out before panic set in. I learned some important lessons that day, the most important being “Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.” Every time.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Living in the North, I was taught a healthy respect for wild animals–don’t sleep with food in your tent, remember to make noise when you hike, don’t get between a mama and her cubs, all the usual stuff. Fortunately I’ve never had anything except Kodak moments with wildlife. We get a lot of interesting animal life on the West Coast–whales, herons, otters, eagles.

On Bowen Island these past 20 years I have had a love-hate relationship with deer, who consider any and all garden plantings as nutritional supplements. It is utterly charming to see mommy and Bambi grazing on the front lawn, but when you come home to find your full-grown rhodos demolished or your hanging baskets eaten down to the soil, it makes you want to take up hunting…

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

When I turned 45–halfway to 90, the year all the women in my family finally stop bossing people around long enough to die–I decided to pursue a lifetime dream and hike in to the Grand Canyon. I went with Arizona Outback Adventures for a five-day deal into Havasu Canyon. It was a completely exhilarating experience for all the reasons explained in this article.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

I’d be lying if I said I frequented any one “outdoor” blog. For inspiration in and around my own backyard, I like to read The Georgia Straight‘s Outdoors columnist Jack Christie. You can find his stories online here: www.straight.com. (And of course, because Canada has so much to offer by way of outdoor recreation, I also highlight great experiences at my own site: www.theseboots.travel! I recently had a contest for a free weekend in Tofino, BC to see the O’Neill Cold Water Classic surf contest!)

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Mountain Equipment Co-op in Vancouver, BC. Best quality, best prices, best advice. If you don’t live nearby, they do mail order: www.mec.ca

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

http://www.theseboots.travel

The Great Skirt Hike

Through Twitter I was introduced to a hiking team of two women (very funny women) who have set goals for a healthier lifestyle which will also enable them to complete a dream hike to Machu Picchu, an ancient city built by the Incas at 8000 feet above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru.

Before you read Beth and Jills’ humorous interview below, here are a few of their quotes from their hiking website.  You can also follow them on Twitter.

“Having a goal of losing weight is stupid.”

“There is less of a chance of falling off the wagon because our not-stupid goal involves a punishing 4-day climb and expensive (and probably non-refundable) plane tickets.”

“This is not for charity, for our breasts, or for the children. This is an 100% selfish endeavor.”

“Our training isn’t even that extreme. We’re giving ourselves a year. It’s more of a test of our ability to STICK TO THE M-F-ing plan than our ability to hike Machu Picchu without an oxygen tank. This is about overcoming apathy and ADD and making changes to our lives that we will truly live with. Forevah.”

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

Beth: I was raised in East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. My mom (also an Appalachian native) let me eat dirt and run around in the woods as a child, which gives me a certain degree of comfort, freedom and a connection back to those simpler, but perhaps not so tasty times.

Jill: Every summer my parents shipped me and my sibs off to sleep-away camp. My fondest childhood memories and all my “firsts” took place at camp…that’s first kiss, first cigarette, first beer and a few other first things unmentionable in the blogosphere. I’d go for eight weeks and then would cry all the way home when camp was over. It was at summer camp that I learned the outdoor skills necessary for survival on The Great Skirt Hike.

What has been your favourite hiking / biking trail or outdoor area?

Beth: I love anything with waterfalls, but Vickery Creek is probably my favorite so far. The creek powered a mill back in the 1800’s, and there’s a cool spillway dam, which pretends to be a waterfall and has a great little place to dunk your head when it’s hot out. It’s a beautiful escape from the city – just about 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta.

Jill: My favorite hike so far was the East Palisades Trail along the Chattahoochee River in north Atlanta. The Palisades trails feature expansive views of the River. For both visitors and residents alike, when thinking of Atlanta it’s easy to forget that “a river runs through it”. The river hikes are challenging and beautiful with trails that feature many nooks and crannies if you want to stop for a bit and take a swim or just enjoy the view.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

Beth: Our hike on the Cherokee Trail at Stone Mountain marked the first time anyone in our crew of social misfits joined us. We took dorky pictures and videos and had a lot of “running with scissors” moments as we scaled the rocks. The summit at Stone Mountain is pretty amazing, especially when you get there with friends.

Jill: After one of our first hikes to the top of Stone Mountain, a/k/a The Rock, we were walking down to the parking lot and there stands a man in blue medical scrubs. As we got closer I noticed that this man was totally hot and he smelled awesome. As I passed him, almost on reflex, I said, “you smell so good!” He said “thank you”. Then Beth and I spent at least 20 minutes talking about how the guy smelled and how his scent gently wafted through the air and how gorgeous he was.

Beth: Seriously, that guy smelled so good, it’s like it was his special gift. We still talk about it from time to time.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Beth: I’m going to let Jill handle this one.

Jill: I proudly say, “YES”! There’s this thing called “JPS”, the Jill Positioning System. The JPS is flawed on city streets and highways. The only time my JPS works is out in the woods. Beth can manage the city, but the BPS does not work so well out in the woods. Usually, between the two of us, we can find our way out. This one time, we were totally lost on one of the Chattahoochee River hikes when the trail pretty much ended. We found ourselves hiking along huge rocks and sides of cliffs…not at all how the trail was described. We eventually figured that the best way out would be to climb straight up the edge of the cliff and meet up with the trail. I was so proud of us when we got ourselves back on the trail. For my birthday my friends all chipped in and bought me a GPS for trails (and geocaching which we’re totally looking forward to.) Lost NO MORE!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals? (the city has some pretty wild animals as well)

Beth: No wild animals, but we do carry Swiss Army Knives (from Switzerland) just in case.  We also do a lot of walking in downtown Atlanta which sometimes has more aggressive predators than the woods.

Jill: There was this one time we were at Stone Mountain and a bird crapped on me. It was wild.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

Beth: We would be in the advanced beginners league if there were hiking competitions (are there hiking competitions?). The Great Skirt Hike is our approach to living healthy – which includes cross training and eating healthier. Our ultimate goal is to climb Machu Picchu and enjoy the hike – so there will be multi-day backpacking in the near future as we prepare.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Beth: I don’t have a favorite yet. The Backpacker Magazine site is cool and I aspire to be awesome like that someday. But it’s a little intimidating to the newbie looking for a little advice. I like the Livestrong site – it has something for every level of experience, videos, forums, a good calorie management system and lots of info on other stuff if you are cross training.

Jill: I like REI, Slackpacker and GA State Parks. The Georgia State Park site is very useful and informative. I like REI because they have stuff and I like stuff and shopping for stuff. And slackpacker…well who can’t get behind a hiking site called “slackpacker”? They just seem cool like us.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Beth: I love Outdoor Divas, and I want a Nu-Muu desperately.

Jill:  There is only one outdoor hiking gear store…REI…my Zen temple.

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

http://greatskirthike.com/

Tenerife Guide Book writers Andy and Jack encounter King Kong Look-a-like and high hiking elevations in Teide National Park

Interview with Andrea Montgomery (Andy) for Tracks and Trails

Andy is a freelance travel writer and feature writer living amongst banana plantations at the foot of Mount Teide volcano on the island of Tenerife, just 500 kilometres off the west coast of Africa.

After many years of traveling all over the world in her leisure time, Andy and her photo-journalist husband Jack moved to Tenerife six years ago. They have authored two guides to their adopted homeland – Real Tenerife Island Drives (available by mail order from www.realtenerifeislanddrives.com) and Going Native in Tenerife which is available on Amazon.com

They spend much of their time trekking across goat trails in parts of the island untouched by tourism and reveling at local fiestas until dawn – all in the name of research.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I was born and grew up in the north of England and had always been firmly in the ‘if I can’t plug my hairdryer in, I’m not going’ club…until eleven years ago when I finally cast off the shackles of tobacco addiction and gave up smoking. Suddenly I realized that my lungs were at least 20 years older than I was and drastic action was required. A friend suggested a camping and hiking vacation over the Easter weekend holiday and we headed out to Builth Wells in Wales.
We pitched the tents in the cider orchard of an idyllic little site called Trericket Mill and every day we set off hiking into the Brecon Beacons National Park.
I don’t think it stopped raining once for the whole four days. I have never been so wet or so cold in my entire life and everything was sodden and covered in mud; the tent, the groundsheet, our boots and all our clothes, with no hope of drying them out. It was one of the best weekends I’d ever had!
After that we were hooked and escaped the city every weekend we possibly could to go camping and hiking around Britain.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

When I lived in Britain I particularly enjoyed the Lake District with its stunning mountains and lakes; tough on the thighs but easy on the soul. Second favourite was Devon with its much softer rolling hills and myriad of flower-scented trails. But since relocating to Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands located off the west coast of Africa) six years ago, I’ve been blown away by the landscapes here. I can hike through ancient laurisilva forests in the Anaga Mountains where some people still inhabit caves; through coastal palm groves and scented pine forests or I can head up to the Teide National Park at 2000 metres above sea level to hike in a 17 km wide volcanic crater at the foot of the planet’s third largest volcano.

Hiking above the clouds , Teide National Park opt

Hiking above the clouds , Teide National Park opt

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

There’s a particularly stunning hike in Tenerife’s Anaga Mountains which begins in a small mountain hamlet, climbs to a high ridge and then falls down to a lighthouse and a coastal settlement of boat builders which can only be reached via a 3 hour hike or from the sea. It was an August day and we’d set off in low cloud which kept the temperatures at a pleasant level. But as we descended towards the lighthouse, we entered a different climate zone and the cloud disappeared leaving a baking hot sun.
We set off back along a barranco (deep ravine) which looked about 3 km long on the map we were using. Stupidly, we hadn’t refilled our water bottles at the coast and now had less than 2 litres of water between us. The sun rose higher in the sky and the temperatures tipped 40° C with no respite from the sun. This barranco seemed to be interminable and after 2 hours we really thought that we might pass out from dehydration. We made a pact that we couldn’t drink the last drop until we saw the first house of the village.

Finally we rounded a bend and saw a house on the hillside. Relieved, we sank the last of the water and dragged ourselves onwards. When we got to the house and rounded the bend we saw…nothing. The house was empty and boarded up and all we could see ahead of us was this damn barranco; what a stupid place to build a house!
Clearly we finally made it back but as lessons in having adequate water supplies go, this one was hard learned.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

We were following a trail to a waterfall in Langkawi, Malaysia once and a large, male Macaque monkey was on the trail ahead of us. We kept a reasonable distance but clearly the monkey felt threatened because he suddenly turned and charged us.

I have to say that at this point we were absolutely pathetic. Panic stricken, we both ‘hid’ behind our outstretched rucksacks and tried to back away. Jack was recording the incident on video and I was hissing at him to put the video down and concentrate on getting us out of there without injury (except I think the words I used probably included at least one that began with an ‘f’). After a couple more charges, bared teeth and a lot of screaming (mainly from us), the macaque finally let us pass.

On our return home we eagerly lined up the video to show our friends this exciting wildlife encounter. But when it came to ‘that scene’ we couldn’t believe the footage. We felt really stupid. In our minds, we’d built this thing up into some kind of King Kong lookalike and there it was, no more than a small primate who was mightily annoyed at what he interpreted as threatening behaviour from us. It supplied our friends with ammunition for months.

We’ve given apes a very wide berth ever since.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Well clearly, Tracks and Trails is right up there…alongside our own website which specializes in discovering the Tenerife that lies beyond the beaches, particularly its amazing hiking trails.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Here on Tenerife I like Coronel Tapiocca the website’s annoyingly over-designed but the shops are good. In the UK I usually shopped at Millets

If you are a website administrator please add your url here. http://www.realtenerifeislanddrives.com

Related Blogs

Spirit of Adventure

Mystery,  magic, peace and awe of the great outdoors is realized in the DSD’s writing. Here is a quote from Summit Stones and Adventure Musings Blog, “It’s not about escaping from something back here, its more about working it out by embracing the wonderful elements and rainbows out there…”
DSD

In adittion to informative and thought provoking commentaries about the outdoors from an outdoor expert, DSD Stones, has a fantastic collection of outdoor blog links that are full of unique outdor information.

“Today, I hold a single rock in my hand, from such a circle, remembering one meaning from within a thousand… Now, I think I will splash just a little bit of paint upon this stone, and place it somewhere special just for you…”
DSD

Summit Stones

Summit Stones

Relax, reflect and enjoy DSD’s interview below.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

My earliest experiences about the outdoors, our wonderful wild places, and the adventures we may have out there, were through the engaging literature that is available to us all. I read so much about climbing, hiking, kayaking, canyoneering, and exploring when I was very young. Very exciting stuff! In later years I headed out with family and friends to many of our northern lakes to learn the art of canoeing and camping. After that came years of hiking with fellow adventurers, courses with Outward Bound, and especially great experiences with backcountry Guides, Mountaineering & Climbing Guides, among others. There is nothing like being out on such journeys with an experienced mentor who can share not just about outddoor skills, but also so much about what it ‘means’ to be out there, and the value of those perceptions and memories such can have for the rest of our lives. Now I continue to be introduced to new things about the wild places through the amazing websites now available and time out with young folks whose energy is great to be around.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

This is a challenging question… Propably my favourite wild place is the one I am in at that very moment… Then there is the adventure activity that I am engaged in within that place. I would have said in the past that the Rocky Mountains were my very favourite, and they still are for certain kinds of climbing, hiking, and solo time away. But it is hard to say that any other outdoor area, such as our northern lakes, our coastal islands, or the deep canyons of the desert are any less meaningful as they are so very different and unique in what they offer to us… Places like Yosemite have made powerful impressions upon me too. Each has such vivid meanings and memories. There has not been a single wild place we have journeyed to over the decades that has not provided us with such gifts… This is likely one of the distinct reasons I believe so strongly in Stewardship, in giving back, and passing forward regarding these vulnerable areas for others to also experience. Maybe… I might say that my favourite wild places these days are the ones I’ve yet to wander in… the ones I now dream about visiting, the ones I so enjoy reading about, checking out the maps, looking over the websites on, and looking forward to about the fellow adventurers whom I’ve yet to meet out there… Such anticipations are priceless too…

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

My whole blog on ‘Adventure Musings‘ is about sharing such experiences. I hardly ever talk about the skills needed to wander, except maybe the ones that have to do with the psychology behind why we do what we do out there, and that which has to do with the inspiration, motivation and spirit that are the essential elements of any adventure… One kind of story I could share, has to do with my affinity for visiting the same wild place in all the seasons. I find this to be a very exciting way to wander and have done so in the mountains, the desert, and to many coastal islands. When way up north, this can such a wonderful way to experience a northern lake. Each and every season offers gifts of variety and unique perceptions. One mountain out here near Lake Louise I have hiked all the way around mid-summer, climbed most of its’ routes in early fall, been on snowshoes near for long winter days, and then hiked again when spring was just emerging. That mountain and I have become great friends…

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I have learned that preparation is everything when out there… Over the years we have experienced everything from being underprepared physically, in not having enough water or food, not carrying the appropriate medical gear – as every wild place can have its own kind of medical emergency, in not being prepared for the navigational challenges that would be needed, and in underestimating what kind of preparation may be asked of us mentally and emotionally… The last two seem to be the most important. Handling adversity out there is not just about understanding the weather or the altitude or an injury, it is also as much about the way we train ourselves to handle these things before they actually occur… If we each journey out there often and long enough, every one of us will likely look back and shake our heads about what we see now that might have happened, and how we were probably not as prepared as we could have been.
I am a bit cautious with technology too. Nothing wrong with carrying a GPS, and I often do, but making sure we know how to do a resection with a compass for example can be invaluable as well.
No time in preparation is lost, but we might be if we do not have in place the knowledge, skills, abilities, and especially the hardiness to respond to such emergencies. One of the best reasons then to head out with experienced persons who can teach each of us about potential mistakes that can be made, and share their wisdom about how such mistakes may instead be opportunities for developing our own earned wisdom for safe and fun adventuring…

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

I often post about this on my blog ‘Adventure Musings’ as well. Experiences with the wild ones themselves are often fundamental reasons why many of us adventure in the first place. These can be elusive, yet powerful and meaningful encounters… I have enjoyed immensely touching moments with wolves and whales, ravens and mountain sheep, among others. The notes from my journals have many memories of these. I think we often hope to not only experience this but also then to develop our own understanding of the symbolism that such encounters may mean to each of us…

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

While much may be gleaned from day trips, being out for lengthy time periods allows for unique perceptions and experiences. Time becomes very relative, the pace and rythym of everything changes, priorities and how we orgainize oureselves changes, moments become something else… Be it out with a pack or in a kayak, we may learn some very interesting things about ourselves, our companions, and the especially the wild places when we wander for a longer time out there… A friend once wrote, “Going out is a way of going within”… and time can be an important element of that…

What is your favourite outdoor website?

I would have to say that the links I have on my blog are all my favourites. There are many there that are profoundly inspirational, distinctly informational, and so many that provide such wonderful connections with fellow adventurers. Each is very unique and I have tried to be quite selective as to including ones that seem to provide real adventure purpose and meaning in what they present.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Years ago, and I’m dating myself here, it would have been Early Winters. I also like the local specialty shops that have many unique items we may want for caving, climbing, canyoneering, or for journeying out on the water,
I am always on the lookout for new and innovative gear. Many of us who wander become ‘collectors’ if you will. The fun of discovering a new peice of gear and imagining where & when we might utilize it can be an adventure in itself.
Nowadays, I would say MEC, REI, TaigaWorks, Cabella’s, LLBean, and Sierrra Trading Post have all been great resources for whatever we might need.

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.
http://summitstonesadventuremusings.blogspot.com/

Snowshoeing - Amazing - Adventurous - and Serene

October in the North not only blankets the frozen ground with layers of serene white snow but it also transports action, challenge and incredible adventure that cannot be experienced anywhere else on Earth. Until interviewing Ryan Alford of Snowshoe Magazine, I was not aware of competitive snowshoeing and I never witnessed the potential relationship of a massive Buck and a bird until Ryan’s friend, Eli Frick, captured it in the photo below.

How and where were you introduced to the snowshoeing?

About seven to eight years ago, I was looking for a winter sport that would allow me to be active and be friendly to my wallet. I attended a winter sports trade show in Denver and was introduced to snowshoeing. I immediately fell in love with the sport. At the time, I was very unhealthy. I still carried my college “pizza and beer” weight. Snowshoeing allowed me to get outside during the winter months in Colorado. It allowed me to be healthy and lose a considerable amount of weight. Later, I decided to start an online magazine to represent the sport: Snowshoe Magazine at www.snowshoemag.com.

What has been your favourite snowshoeing destination?

For the 2008 Christmas holiday, I traveled to the Jackson Hole, Wyo. area. My family and I were invited to stay at Turpin Meadow Ranch – northeast of Jackson. This place is amazing. I was able to snowshoe along the Buffalo Fork of the Snake River. The snow was deep and perfect for snowshoeing. It snowed the entire time we were there. Plus, the surroundings were beautiful: The Ranch is nestled in Teton National Park and very close to Yellowstone. Although I’ve been to some amazing snowshoe areas, I think Turpin Meadow Ranch is my favorite so far. I also enjoy snowshoeing in Glenwood Springs, Colo. Glenwood is surrounded by some wonderful snowshoeing destinations.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

This past February, I attended a winter race called “24 Hours of Sunlight.” This race invited snowshoers, telemark skiers, backcountry snowboarders, and others to compete in a 24-hour race at Sunlight Ski Resort near Glenwood. The competition was killer! In fact, I was there to support Eileen Wysocki. She was trying for a world record for the most elevation gain in a 24-hour time frame by a snowshoer. She did a great job and set the record: 25,534 feet in 24 hours. Among all the snowshoe racers I know, Eileen is definitely among the top in the world. I was impressed by her determination and strength. I’m glad I had the opportunity to see her accomplishment.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I’ve never been in an emergency situation, but I have experienced the sense of being lost. This happened at a WinterTrails event in Estes Park, Colo. I put on my snowshoes and started hiking through the Rocky Mountain National Park. I was totally engrossed in my surroundings and just kept snowshoeing. After a while, I realized I had snowshoed a great distance from the event. It’s pretty easy to get disoriented when snowshoeing. Luckily, I had a GPS device with me and I used its compass to get back to my car. Once I started to see other snowshoers, I knew I was getting close. Although, some of my friends were wondering where I went. This is an important lesson: Never go snowshoeing alone.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

A few years ago, I was snowshoeing with my good friend, Eli Frick. We were shoeing near Vail Pass, just off the I-70 highway in Colorado. As we were hiking back to our vehicles at end the day, we looked back at the ridge we just snowshoed over. In the distance, we saw a deer. No big deal. What we noticed was a bird perched on the back of the deer. Eli caught a picture of the moment. We watched the deer walk off with the bird still sitting on its back.

A serene moment captured by Eli Frick. The buck looks happy to have a bird take a break on his back.

A serene moment captured by Ryan Alford and Eli Frick. The buck looks happy to have a bird take a break on his back.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

Most of my snowshoeing hikes have been one-day adventures. Although, I would love to snowshoe the “hut system” near Vail, Colo. This is the ultimate backcountry experience. I also would love to snowshoe the Catamount Trail in Vermont. I think that’s my dream snowshoeing adventure. I’ll do that one of these days.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

I really like www.wintertrails.org. They have done some great things for the snowshoeing industry. If you’re a first-time snowshoer, this is the place to visit on the Web.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

I really like the REI Flagship store in downtown Denver. It’s an amazing place. They restored the 1901 Denver Tramway Building. Very cool place.

Visit www.snowshoemag.com. Subscribe to the free e-mail newsletter.

Self guided Croatian biking tours and a Dubrovnik Escape

Tomislav Coric, Tomi, grew up in Croatia and now owns and operates a travel business from Dubrovnik that specializes in Mediterranean travel and tours. Tomi takes an individual approach towards every customer and helps fulfill their unique wishes so they can experience unforgettable holidays.  Helping you with self guided Croatian Biking tours and guiding walking tours called Dubrovnik escapes are Tomi’s specialty.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
It all started when I was in elementary school, as the kids we loved to walk on the hills and in the forests around my home place on Dubrovnik Riviera,.. child games, I was sent every summer to my grandparents to village. I have spent couple weeks there every year, it was fan time of my life, even little dangerous when you look from this perspective
After childehood I continued, especially when I was a student with friends…Later I have decided to turn it to a job which I do even today.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?
Hills around Dubrovnik, Croatian islands (especially protected areas like national parks), Paklenica hills in Velebit, Alps, some hills in Montenegro (Orjen, Durmitor), in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Prenj..)

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

One summer day we went to an island near Dubrovnik, the day we walked and explored the island famous for its wild rabbits and the remains of two medieval monastery. In the evening we gathered around the campfire, prepare dinner, drank a few beers, a couple of songs with the guitar, everything was perfect … We spent the night in sleeping bags and all was well until the fire is burned down, then we started to get attacked by mosquitoes. Until then I thought that mosquitoes were small and harmless. After this experience I must tell you, every time you sleep in the open carry with you protection from mosquitoes …. The next morning we packed our things and returned home.

The second story is also related to a summer camping trip. Myself and couple of my friends decided to spend the night in a mountain near Dubrovnik. The evening sky was supposed to be filled with a unique phenomenon called Presidi, when hundreds of stars are falling from the sky. The locals call it Tears of St. Lawrence (night between August 12th-13rd). We went deep into the mountains (very close to the border with Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina), the night was clear, and we want to be away from city lights, cars, any artificial light that could undermine this phenomenon. We made camp, sitting on the rocks of limestone, which were still warm from the summer sun. We simply enjoyed heaven in which every minute on average, one star was falling and disappeared into the atmosphere.
Heaven had never been so beautiful nor so close.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
No, except I have an encounter with wild pig, snakes and kind of jackals. We actually crossed over their paths.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
I think that you always collect some widsom from nature, of course if you respect the environment.

What is your favourite outdoor website?
I don’t have favorite except mine, but I like: Adventure Travel Trade Association

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
McKinley

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

http://www.dubrovnikviator.com

Related Blogs

Rosie Emery

Where do you find amazing people? Most amazing folks are found at home. They get through the daily grind and find reserve energy to share with family and give back to society – heres to the working person!! Some people look for amazing people in Hollywood or on t.v. I find amazing folks out on the trail or looking for their next outdoor adventure.

One amazing person can be found writing and performing music, teaching and sharing the beauty of nature with her audience.

International children’s entertainer, Rosie Emery is a singer/songwriter, environmental educator and New Media producer specializing in teaching children how we are all interconnected through the songs that she writes and the programs that she produces. A passionate naturalist and educator dedicated to linking the arts and the sciences, Rosie weaves her own catchy songs with myths and stories to inspire her audiences to celebrate the earth. I appreciate her taking the time to answer a few outdoor questions for this TracksAndTrails e-Interview.
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I grew up in Sherwood Forest, a truly amazing old oak forest that unfortunately has since been decimated.  I was fortunate to be able to ride my ponies freely through the woods, so spent most of my time up until the age 10, wandering about that magical place!  For me the forest was my home and the creatures that lived there my friends!

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Down here in Florida I love Corckscrew Swamp which is an Audubon Sanctuary I also love the Six Mile Cypress Preserve in Lee county.  The extensive boardwalks in these preserves allow the visitor to walk safely through the swamp and sit quetly to observe the wildlife.  Another area that is wonderful is the CREW Land & Water Trust preserve  http://www.crewtrust.org/

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I was filming a TV show at CRW one time and myself and the cameraman were filming from an observation platform  A pair of vultures were perched in a tree close by.  Suddenly both vultures began an incredible display with their wings, it was almost as if they were posing for the camera and we couldn’t believe how beautiful they looked.  Most people do not think of beauty when it comes to vultures, but as these large birds spread out their wings and turned towards us, they were truly beautiful.

You can find more about Rosie and her work on Myspace http://www.myspace.com/iirainbowdolphin or connect with her on Twitter http://twitter.com/RosieEmery