Depend­ing on where and when you’re hik­ing, you could find dis­ease-car­ry­ing ticks on your body,  clothes or dog—especially in warm, heav­i­ly wood­ed areas. Here are five tips to reduce your chance of tick bites, and some bite treat­ment advice.

1. Wear the Right Clothing
Cloth­ing is your best weapon against ticks. Wear long sleeves and pants instead of a tank and shorts. As an extra pre­cau­tion, tuck your pants into your socks to make it even hard­er for ticks to access your skin. Pro­tect your feet, ankles, and head by wear­ing a hat and prop­er shoes or boots—no sandals!

Don­ning light-col­ored cloth­ing makes it eas­i­er to spot ticks that have jumped aboard. You may also con­sid­er invest­ing in clothes pre­treat­ed with tick repellent.

2. Check Yourself
Most hik­ers know to always do a full body check after a hike, but few remem­ber to do quick checks through­out a hike. Why? Because ticks typ­i­cal­ly spend a bit of time hav­ing a wan­der around your skin before they decide on a spot to bite. And it is much eas­i­er to remove a tick that has­n’t yet sunk its teeth sunk into you!

3. Stick to the Mid­dle of the Trail
Instead of fly­ing, ticks hang on grass blades and bush­es just wait­ing to latch on to a passer­by. This is why you should walk in the mid­dle of the trail if you are hik­ing in a tick-rid­den area.

4. No sit­ting on the Ground
Ticks also crawl on the ground, so avoid sit­ting direct­ly on the ground. Instead, choose a bench or large rock.

5. Choose and Use a Repellent
Tick repel­lent tends to be very effec­tive, though it’s worth research­ing which repel­lents have the best reviews. You can also use per­me­thrin, as it has been found to reduce the chance of tick bites.

6. If You Dis­cov­er a bite
If you get a tick bite, you’ve got to remove the tick. Start by wip­ing the area with an anti­sep­tic solu­tion, and then remove the tick using tweez­ers. Place each side of the tweez­ers on each side of the ticks head, and then pull the tick out. Don’t squish the tick or pull it side­ways, as this can leave part of the tick still in your skin. If part of the tick is still attached, use a ster­il­ized nee­dle to remove the remains. When you are cer­tain all tick bits are removed, clean the area again with an anti­sep­tic solution.

Impor­tant! If you notice a rash or devel­op an itchy feel­ing near a tick bite, speak to a med­ical pro­fes­sion­al imme­di­ate­ly. It’s pos­si­ble the bite is infect­ed or you may have con­tract­ed a tick-borne disease.

©istockphoto/deimagineRaise your hand if you’ve ever tried to pack your entire life into a sin­gle suit­case. Long-term trav­el­ers will know what we’re talk­ing about. For­get walk-in clos­ets and draw­ers stuffed to the brim with clothes; every­thing you need for sev­er­al months on the road can be tidi­ly fold­ed into one bag. Seriously.

Pack­ing for a long-term trip requires a shift in atti­tude. Think back-to-basics, clean and sim­ple pieces, and def­i­nite­ly less is more. Here are some tips on how to pack effi­cient­ly for those extra long adventures.

Know What You’re In For
To build your wardrobe for the next sev­er­al months, you’ll need to do some research regard­ing your des­ti­na­tions. Know what the weath­er is right now, but also what it will look like a few weeks down the road when you’re still there. Con­sid­er how cli­mates will vary in the dif­fer­ent regions or coun­tries you’ll be vis­it­ing. This will help you deter­mine whether you can stick to light and flowy sum­mer clothes, or if you’ll need to pack some seri­ous lay­ers as well to get you through the cold.

Don’t for­get to look up local cus­toms so that you can actu­al­ly wear every­thing you pack. There’s no space to waste when you’re pack­ing for a long-term trip.

For­get (Most) Cos­met­ics and Accessories
You’re going to need more than those trav­el-sized cos­met­ics to get you through your time on the road, but don’t even think about wast­ing pre­cious suit­case space on that stuff. Sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, shav­ing cream, soap and just about every beau­ty sup­ply you can think of can be picked up along the way or at your final destination.

The same thing goes with acces­sories. Leave bulky hats and scarves at home and instead, pick up new ones on your trip. Bonus: it’ll dou­ble as a souvenir.

Think Easy
Choose clothes that are easy to care for, that don’t wrin­kle eas­i­ly, that can be washed with­out fuss and that is durable enough to wear day in, day out. Leave finicky, high-main­te­nance pieces at home.

When in doubt, stick to dark­er shades and col­ors. They hide a lit­tle extra wear and tear bet­ter than light clothes, giv­ing you a bonus day or two before you have to make a trip to the laundromat.

Con­sid­er Renting
There’s noth­ing worse than pack­ing bulky items that you know you’ll only end up using a few times on your trip. Con­sid­er what you might be able to rent at your des­ti­na­tion of choice. For instance, many ski resorts rent out snow­suits, or ocean-side resort towns will lease out wet­suits for you to use.

Pack Your Bags…Then Unpack Half
Here’s a good exer­cise: take out every­thing you want to bring on your trip, and lay it out on your bed. Got it? Good. Now take half of the stuff and put it back.

It sounds extreme, but trust us: you don’t need as many clothes as you think you will. Yes, one bathing suit is plen­ty. No, you’ll nev­er end up wear­ing those adorable-but-imprac­ti­cal stilettos.

Leave Some Space
If your suit­case doesn’t zip up with com­plete ease, it means you’ve still got work to do. Trav­el­ing with an over­filled suit­case is a pain, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you have to sort through your bag at cus­toms or if you’re over the weight lim­it. Save your­self the has­sle by leav­ing some extra space.

This serves anoth­er pur­pose, too: you’ll have extra space for bring­ing home one-of-a-kind sou­venirs that you’ve picked up on your trav­els. It’s a win-win.

©istockphoto/amygdala_imagery

Gotis_BaldMountain_9357

A quick Google search will yield tons of recipes for tasty and healthy home­made treats for the back­coun­try. But let’s face it: you don’t always have access to a ful­ly stocked kitchen when you’re head­ing out for an adven­ture, par­tic­u­lar­ly if your trek involves travel. 

That’s why it’s good to have a vari­ety of snacks that can eas­i­ly be found in main­stream gro­cery stores. For starters, you’re going to want snacks that pack a nutri­tion­al punch and won’t go bad after a few days. You’ll also want to make sure they aren’t tak­ing up unnec­es­sary space or weight in your pack. 

Here are some easy back­coun­try snacks to keep you fueled up while you’re on the go.

Trail Mix
Trail mix is an obvi­ous one, but there’s a rea­son it’s so pop­u­lar. Choose a mix with a vari­ety of foods—nuts, seeds, and dried fruits—for a snack that offers dif­fer­ent nutri­tion­al ben­e­fits. Bet­ter yet, head to a bulk food store to mix and match your opti­mal con­coc­tion. Think beyond good old raisins and peanuts, and toss in some macadamia nuts, pump­kin seeds, dried apple rings or what­ev­er else tick­les your fan­cy. Keep your bag of trail mix near­by, and grab a hand­ful when you need an extra boost.

Fruit Leather
Fruit leather is real­ly just dehy­drat­ed fruit puree, so it tastes deli­cious (kind of like Fruit Roll-Ups from your lunch­box days) but it also pro­vides some much-need­ed ener­gy while you’re out on the trail. It’s not easy to get vit­a­mins and fiber from fresh fruit and veg­gies on longer trips, so be sure to bring a few fruit leathers with to get your fix. 

Ener­gy Bar
Ener­gy bars offer the ulti­mate con­ve­nience. Sim­ply unwrap, shove in your mouth and feel your body soak up the nutri­ents and calo­ries. There are so many brands and fla­vors out there that it’s easy to find some­thing that tick­les your fan­cy. A few par­tic­u­lar­ly deli­cious options: PowerBar’s Choco­late Mint Cook­ie bar and the Nutz Over Choco­late Luna Bars. Mmmm…

©istockphoto/amygdala_imagery

Cheese
Cheese on the trail is a deli­cious, del­i­cate lux­u­ry. Of the items on this list, it’ll prob­a­bly be the first to go bad, so enjoy it dur­ing your first few days on the trail. Plain old cheese sticks usu­al­ly keep pret­ty well, as do indi­vid­u­al­ly pack­aged Baby­bel cheeses. Tip: as tempt­ing as it is to peel off the wrap­per pre-trip to avoid extra garbage, don’t do this. The wrap­per helps keep the wax case from crumbling. 

Keep your cheese away from heat, and you’ll have a few days worth of treats to keep you happy.

Cured Meats
Whether you’re a pep­per­oni stick kind of per­son or a beef jerky buff, cured meats are deli­cious, salty, and packed full of pro­tein. They’re typ­i­cal­ly pret­ty easy to find, and they’re a nice change from the usu­al nuts and gra­nola. Not to men­tion they pro­vide sus­tained ener­gy while on the trail. 

Choco­late
There are a mil­lion rea­sons not to bring choco­late with you, includ­ing the fact that it’s like­ly to melt, that it takes up space that could be used by some­thing healthy and hearty, and that it doesn’t have much nutri­tion­al mer­it. But noth­ing tastes bet­ter than your favorite can­dy bar after a long day on the trails. It’ll give you more than just calories—it’ll give you the men­tal spike you need to set up camp and make a fire when all you want to do is col­lapse. Just keep it out of the heat, or it’ll get every­where.

©istockphoto/Courtney Keating

Between lift tick­ets, meals, and gear rentals, your trip to the slopes this ski sea­son is pricey enough. Luck­i­ly, there are a few tricks using every­day items, or “life­hacks,” that can improve your trip with­out weigh­ing you or your bud­get down. Maybe you’ll nev­er be mis­tak­en for Lind­sey Vonn or Shaun White, but with these inge­nious hacks, peo­ple might just think you’re Mac­Gyver on vacation.

©istockphoto/Courtney Keating

Pack Cloth­ing in Boots and Gloves
This trick is sim­ple enough, but few have actu­al­ly thought of it. Pack­ing your clothes into your gloves and boots saves valu­able space in your lug­gage, with the added bonus of pro­tect­ing frag­ile items like ski gog­gles or glass­es. It also helps pre­serve the shape of your boots or oth­er cloth­ing, since packed gear won’t be as eas­i­ly smashed dur­ing rough lug­gage han­dling. Chances are you might also remem­ber that cru­cial piece of gear hid­ing in your boot, that might have oth­er­wise been forgotten.

Take Tea Bags
Place a few tea bags into a musty boot after a long, sweaty day on the slopes and it will absorb most of the stench. Your hotel room will be a much more tol­er­a­ble place to stay for you and your ski bud­dies. You can also apply a hot tea bag to a new­ly form­ing blis­ter to keep it from bub­bling up. Keep­ing tea bags on hand will allow you to make an impromp­tu hot and caf­feinat­ed drink anywhere—just don’t mix up your boot and bev­er­age supply.

Defog Gog­gles with a Hand Dryer
There are count­less tricks to defog gog­gles that many swear by, from sali­va to cus­tom store-bought solu­tion. But the sim­plest and per­haps most effec­tive trick is right in the bath­room. Sim­ply hold your gog­gles under the hairdry­er and watch the mag­ic hap­pen. As a small bonus, you’ll have nice warm gog­gles on your head when you head back out­side. As a pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure, you can also try glu­ing a sil­i­ca gel pack, the kind you’d find in elec­tron­ic pack­ag­ing, to the inside of your gog­gles to soak up moisture.

Use Cable Ties
Cable ties are light­weight, cheap, and can be uti­lized to fix a myr­i­ad of things that can break on your ski gear. Use them to patch togeth­er boots or bind­ings that may break apart, secure your lift tick­et to your jack­et, or replace zip pulls. Break them out to secure ski equip­ment to your car’s roof rack, or even as tem­po­rary last-minute secu­ri­ty for your gear when you go inside. Just don’t for­get to also bring along a knife to cut the ties after they’ve been secured.

Car­ry Duct Tape
Of course, the handy­man’s go-to tape also has its place at a ski resort. No need to pack a bulky roll, just unfurl a lit­tle and wrap it to your ski poles or wrap it around an old cred­it card and stash it in a pock­et. The uses are near­ly end­less. Wrap it around holes that can form in gloves or tight­en up frayed boot laces. If a tear forms in your jack­et, you can put a piece of duct tape on each end and use a hand dry­er to fuse them togeth­er in a tight seal. You can even mark your board or skis with it to ensure no one acci­den­tal­ly walks off with your gear.

Make a Shoelace Belt
Loose snow pants falling down on the slope? You don’t have to spend all day hik­ing them up or waste your mon­ey in the resort ski shop on a new belt. You can sim­ply use the shoelace on your boots or shoes. You’ll save both cash and the embar­rass­ment of hav­ing hun­dreds of peo­ple see you careen down the moun­tain with your trousers around your ankles. For best results, learn to tie a dou­ble fish­er­man’s knot, which can be used to eas­i­ly tight­en or loosen your belt through­out the day.

Step Into Wool Insoles
Boots, par­tic­u­lar­ly rental boots, usu­al­ly come with hard, uncom­fort­able insoles. You’ll be much hap­pi­er on the slopes by mak­ing your own wool insoles. Sim­ply find a good, thick piece of wool, such as an old sweater, and trace the old boot’s insole. Then cut it out and jam it in your boots. You’ll have an added insu­la­tion from the cold, and a bit more cush­ion for hard land­ings. Your feet will thank you in both instances.

Insu­late Your Feet with Oven Bags
Don’t want to shell out for the lat­est and great­est water­proof socks? Sim­ply grab some oven bags and put them on your feet before putting your socks on top. Your feet are much more like­ly to stay dry and warm, even if snow seeps through your boots and socks. You can also use a sim­i­lar trick by imple­ment­ing nitrile exam gloves under your win­ter gloves. You may feel a bit ridicu­lous at first, but at least you’ll be able to feel your fin­gers and toes by day’s end.

Use Straps to Keep Your Items Close
We’ve all seen that lone­ly glove below the ski lift. Avoid being that guy or girl and secure your gloves to your coat sleeve with sheet straps, also known as sheet sus­penders, which can be bought in the home sec­tion of most retail stores. You can eas­i­ly take them off with­out wor­ry­ing about tuck­ing them under an armpit or los­ing them for­ev­er. As an alter­na­tive, you can use lan­yards and cara­bin­ers to tie your things to your pants or jack­et, ensur­ing your belong­ings don’t slip off dur­ing a run or fall from a chairlift.

Raise The Freez­ing Point of Your Water Supply
Car­ry­ing a water bot­tle or hydra­tion back­pack with you? There are cer­tain brands ded­i­cat­ed to keep­ing your water from turn­ing sol­id, but if you have some­thing more stan­dard, you can raise the freez­ing point of your water by adding a small amount of vod­ka or sug­ar. Be warned, both these things also con­tribute to mak­ing you dehy­drat­ed, so use in mod­er­a­tion. If you use a hydra­tion pack, a sim­pler trick is to remem­ber to blow the water back into the reser­voir after use, so that a small amount of water does­n’t freeze in the tube.

Apply Chap­stick to Almost Everything
Lip balms like Chap­stick are a must for a ski­ing trip to pro­tect and heal dam­aged lips, but they also have oth­er uses. You can apply it to your face to pre­vent wind­burn, or inside your nos­trils for a dry and irri­tat­ed nose. You can also rub it on blis­ters to keep them from get­ting huge. If you get a small cut on a par­tic­u­lar­ly rough run, Chap­stick can even be used to stop bleed­ing. If the zip­per on your coat is being par­tic­u­lar­ly stub­born, rub­bing Chap­stick on it can also lubri­cate the zip­per teeth and allow it to open and close smooth­ly. In some cas­es, it can even be used to plug a leak in a water­proof sur­face.  Not bad for some­thing you were plan­ning on bring­ing anyway.

All in all, you have a list of things that fit in your pock­et, and which you may already have lying around the house. They’ll give you a lit­tle peace of mind with­out break­ing the bank, allow­ing you to spend a lit­tle more on drinks at the lodge, or that hotel room with a hot tub you always dreamed of.

When the weath­er turns sour and the ama­teurs turn in, it’s time to break out your cam­era gear and get the shots that every­one else is miss­ing. Here are some quick tips for cap­tur­ing the most mem­o­rable pho­tos dur­ing the cold win­ter months.

Shoot Wildlife
Win­ter is one of the best times to cap­ture wildlife. Crowds in nation­al parks have slowed to a trick­le and the big guys (elk, deer, bison, moose) roam all day. Still it’s best to find you sub­jects dur­ing the gold­en hours (before 10am and after 3pm in the win­ter). Take advan­tage of bison in open prairies, and bugling elk just before the hunt­ing season.

Get a fil­ter if you can afford it
Get­ting some sort of fil­ter is the best thing you can do for your shoot­ing. A UV fil­ter will do won­ders to bal­ance the tones of your pho­tos and bring out the col­ors that may get washed out by bright con­trast. Even bet­ter, a cir­cu­lar polar­iz­ing fil­ter will allow you to decrease the glare of the sun on the snow, and make the skies much richer.

Keep it warm (and dry)
It often takes more than just a lit­tle per­sis­tence and willpow­er to get the best win­ter shots. And if you’re shoot­ing your friends hit­ting kick­ers all day, you’re usu­al­ly sit­ting on your ass wait­ing for a shot. Always pack plen­ty of hand­warm­ers with you not just for you but for your equip­ment as well. Your pho­tos, believe it or not, will def­i­nite­ly reflect your lev­el of stoke and if all you can think about is your soak­ing wet socks, you won’t be shoot­ing any­thing. Dress in lay­ers and warmer than you think you’ll need. Don’t for­get the rain gear, includ­ing ziploc bags if you need to keep your lens dry. If you do get some water on your glass, use the defroster in my car to dry my lenses.

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Learn this meter­ing trick
One trick on point and shoot cam­eras involves the cam­er­a’s auto meter func­tion. If a scene has a large con­trast between fore­ground and back­ground, snag a meter point from the bright area by point­ing the cam­era direct­ly at that part of the frame, say a snow-capped peak or a bright blue sky, then while still hold­ing the shut­ter-but­ton halfway down, frame the shot and take the pho­to. This will keep you from blow­ing out your skies or your bright, snowy foregrounds. 

Over­ex­pose your shots
Snow plays tricks on your cam­er­a’s meter­ing mak­ing it think it’s pro­cess­ing 18% grey. Always over­ex­pose your scenes either using meter­ing com­pen­sa­tion on your cam­era or using a high­er ISO. Most mod­ern cam­eras go all the way up to 3200 but 800 should be plen­ty fast in most cas­es. It sounds like overkill but a vibrant white moun­tain is more inter­est­ing than a dull, grey one and a high ISO gives you the free­dom to manip­u­late your set­tings freely.

photo by Derek Schroeder

Have fun with the aper­ture
Because there is so much light to work with, win­ter is the per­fect time to shoot every­thing from vibrant macro shots with a crisp con­trast, to the infa­mous star trails pho­tographs that real­ly con­nect you to the con­cept of star­ship earth. To exper­i­ment with star trails prac­tice com­posit­ing mul­ti­ple expo­sures tak­en over the course of a few hours. Or take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to shoot some soft water. Win­ter is a time to catch great sub­dued tones.

photo by Derek Schroeder

(pho­tos by Derek Schroeder)

The crisp, clear days, thin crowds, and vivid col­ors that define the high coun­try this time of year are all the moti­va­tion you need to lace up your boots and hit the trails until the Christ­mas music starts. Here are just a few things to keep in mind to ensure a fun and safe sea­son of hiking:

5-tips-for-hiking-in-the-fall-featured

Be mind­ful of hunters
For sports­men, fall is the most antic­i­pat­ed time of the year. Hunt­ing sea­son is in full force and hik­ers should take pre­cau­tions. Pack a blaze orange vest if you will be near an open hunt­ing area—they’re cheap, wide­ly avail­able at sport­ing goods stores, and could save your life. If you hap­pen to come upon some hunters, make sure they are aware of your pres­ence. If you hear gun­shots, judge the dis­tance, keep your eyes open, and remain vis­i­ble. If the whole lot makes you uncom­fort­able, stick to nation­al or state parks.

Pack smarter
It’s impor­tant to be pre­pared on any hike, but espe­cial­ly in the fall. If you’re stay­ing overnight bring the essen­tials: food, water, map, com­pass, head­lamp with fresh bat­ter­ies, etc.

Pack smarter

An emer­gency blan­ket with a decent length of para­chute cord or sur­vival bracelet is use­ful as an emer­gency shel­ter or tarp. 

I like to bring a sleep­ing bag lin­er. They not only bump up the heat rat­ing of your sleep­ing bag, but they have an added com­fort fac­tor that is hard to beat on a brisk autumn night. 

It goes with­out say­ing but rain gear is essen­tial. I usu­al­ly  have a shell with me any time of the year, but I always pack water­proof pants in the fall. Opt for straight wool socks too. A lot of syn­thet­ics lose their warmth when they’re wet. I always pack extra socks before any­thing else because hik­ing on sog­gy feet is worse than instant coffee.

I also real­ly like to bring a reli­able fire starter like petro­le­um jel­ly-soaked cot­ton balls (trust me it works) because dry tin­der can be hard to come by. And don’t for­get the cam­era! You’ll need it to cap­ture all that gaspin’ in the aspens.

Choose your des­ti­na­tion wise­ly
The best fall hik­ing expe­ri­ence is a per­fect com­bi­na­tion of tim­ing and loca­tion. Many trails this time of year will be burst­ing with fall col­ors, while oth­ers many be under a foot of snow. If you’re not famil­iar with your local area, chat with a ranger and get rec­om­men­da­tions for best hikes in your area or find a region­al hik­ing blog. This is a great time of year for hikes to hot springs, decid­u­ous forests or spot­ting wildlife dur­ing the mid­dle of the day. 

Keep an eye on the fore­cast
Keep an eye on the forecastIn Novem­ber, the mer­cury can drop faster than the leaves. Make sure you’re well pre­pared for the weath­er con­di­tions in your area. There’s no short­age of online resources for weath­er, but NOAA is one of the best.

Keep an eye on trail and road con­di­tions in your area. If you’re hik­ing in a nation­al park, take the time to vis­it their web­site and get up to date infor­ma­tion regard­ing your hike. If you think you’ll be run­ning into snow bring some yak-trax and trekking poles at the very least.

Trust your gut
Only you know your lim­i­ta­tions and what you’re look­ing for in a hike. If a trip feels forced or the weath­er turns sour, hold off for anoth­er week­end. Always give some­one your itin­er­ary or let them know where you’re going if you plan on going alone. If you’re going into a new area, stay with­in your bound­aries. A com­bi­na­tion of longer nights and low­er tem­per­a­tures make it espe­cial­ly impor­tant to be cau­tious this time of year. Don’t let the short­er days set you back, now is one of the best time for soak­ing a few last rays of sun­shine before win­ter sets in. 

sasquatchin-featuredThe search for “Big­foot” or “Sasquatch” has cap­ti­vat­ed soci­ety for hun­dreds of years. Tales of huge, hairy human-like crea­tures roam­ing the woods and moun­tains have popped up all over the world and the pop­u­lar­i­ty and inter­est has nev­er been high­er than it is today. There are orga­ni­za­tions all over the world sole­ly devot­ed to search­ing for the beast; tele­vi­sion shows are ded­i­cat­ed to the hunt; and of course advanc­ing tech­nol­o­gy cou­pled with social media has fueled the mad­ness. But why do humans have a fas­ci­na­tion with this mys­te­ri­ous figure?

“I think it’s human nature to think ‘I can do this. I can fig­ure this out,” says Mike Bard­s­ley, founder of www.IndianaBigfoot.com, a web­site that pro­vides a place for those who have or believe they have had an encounter. Mike found­ed the web­site after sev­er­al mem­bers of his friends and fam­i­ly (and lat­er him­self) inde­pen­dent­ly had encoun­ters with the creature(s) on pri­vate prop­er­ty in Michigan.

“On the 4th of July week­end in 2009, after a series of vocal­iza­tions south of our camp in Michi­gan began to trail off, I had got­ten into a car alone and went out for a dri­ve around 2:30am to try to iso­late and fig­ure out where the sounds were com­ing from]. I was head­ing back to camp when I had a [Big­foot] cross the road in front of me. I went from low-beams to high-beams in time to see it in the mid­dle of the road sev­en­ty-five to nine­ty feet in front of me, and then run off the road to the south. It was tall and lean, and prob­a­bly 6 ½ — 7 feet tall.”

What do I need to join the hunt?
Accord­ing to Mike, one should rely more on dili­gence than fan­cy gear. “While hav­ing gear is a great thing while out in the woods, it so far hasn’t proven to be the equal­iz­ing fac­tor in get­ting any­one proof or enhanc­ing their chances of an encounter. The best tip I could give any­one is to find a place where there seems to be an estab­lished, viable pop­u­la­tion of the crea­tures liv­ing, and then go spend as much con­sec­u­tive time there as pos­si­ble.” In short, gear­heads can bring their gear, but all you real­ly need is good ol’ camp­ing equip­ment and a healthy amount of patience.

Should I bring a bunch of peo­ple like they do on tele­vi­sion?
On tele­vi­sion, many times the groups that go out look­ing for Big­foot con­sist of sev­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors and a film crew. Should you strike out in huge num­bers in hopes of increas­ing your chances of an encounter? “On an aver­age week­end when I’m in camp, it might be me and one oth­er per­son. On a hol­i­day week­end we’ve had upwards of a dozen to fif­teen peo­ple in camp. We’ve had activ­i­ty under both of those sce­nar­ios.” Mike also has a very inter­est­ing opin­ion on who exact­ly should go, too. “My opin­ion as well, is that hav­ing more women in camp and a few chil­dren is a good thing. While I’m sure it’s only anec­do­tal, there’s wide-spread belief with­in the com­mu­ni­ty that women have a bet­ter chance of hav­ing an encounter. And hav­ing chil­dren in camp also cre­ates a real inter­est in a Big­foot observ­ing humans. This seems to be one of the things they do in regard to us. They seem to love to sit back at night and watch us. That’s why the over­ly-para­noid use of flash­lights is counterproductive.”

Where do I go? The North­west?
While theP­a­cif­ic North­west is prob­a­bly the most pop­u­lar area of the coun­try to search due to the heavy foresta­tion, Mike believes that there are many oth­er great places, as well. “You real­ly just need to find a place with enough foresta­tion, water, and nat­ur­al resources where large ani­mals exist. Water­ways are impor­tant [too]. In many cas­es, just hav­ing plen­ty of swamps or lakes in a region is enough.”

So, young squatch hunter, you’ve got a lot to chew on. In the mean­time and with Mike’s advice in mind, let’s take a look at five great places to set out on your adventure.

Pierce Coun­ty, Wash­ing­ton — Accord­ing to the BFRO (Big­foot Researchers Orga­ni­za­tion), the State ofWash­ing­ton has the most report­ed Big­foot sight­ings annu­al­ly. Of all the coun­ties in the state, Pierce Coun­ty sports the high­est num­ber. Sur­round­ing coun­ties of King and Lewis also have a high num­ber of reports. All three of these coun­ties (as well as the major­i­ty of the oth­er sight­ings) are near water sources.

Bluff Creek, Cal­i­for­nia — If you’ve seen the Pat­ter­son-Gim­lin film, you might know that it this grainy, yet mys­ti­fy­ing video of a crea­ture appear­ing to be Big­foot, was shot in Bluff Creek, Cal­i­for­nia. As Mike points out, “I doubt [that] after 40 years, ‘Pat­ty’ is still hang­ing out there wait­ing to be found.” How­ev­er, the Six Rivers Nation­al For­est in Bluff Creek is list­ed in the top 10 of high­est num­ber of sight­ings in the nation, accord­ing to the BFRO.

Bloom­ing­ton, Indi­ana — This one may shock you a bit as it’s…well, Indi­ana. But, if you’re in the mood for a lit­tle Mid­west­ern adven­ture, the Deam Wilder­ness, a part of the Hoosier Nation­al For­est and just south of Bloom­ing­ton, is a favorite of Mike’s. “Over­all, I think the north­ern part of Indi­ana is used more as a trav­el cor­ri­dor. In the south­ern part of the state, you have far more stand­ing tim­ber, mak­ing for much bet­ter habi­tat and long-term sur­viv­abil­i­ty, as well as far more nat­ur­al resources for the crea­tures to uti­lize. I’ve camped in the Deam Wilder­ness just south of Bloom­ing­ton. That whole area around there has some rich his­to­ry of activ­i­ty.’ 

North­east­ern Ohio — While you’re in the Mid­west, it may behoove you to go to North­east­ern Ohio, as well. Shockingly,Ohio has three coun­ties that rank in the top 10 of annu­al sight­ings accord­ing to the BFRO. Ohio actu­al­ly cur­rent­ly has more sight­ings than Ore­gon. “All of the Great Lakes states have his­to­ry of activ­i­ty and sight­ings,” Mike says. “Find some rugged, rur­al areas with enough nat­ur­al resources and some his­to­ry of activ­i­ty and go set­tle in for a few days, or even a week or two. You’re going to have to let them come to you, because you aren’t a threat to them. I can’t stress that enough.” Well now, that’s scary…

Ocala Nation­al For­est, Flori­da — In Flori­da, there have been so many Big­foot sight­ings that they’ve got their own name for the crea­ture – The Flori­da Skunk Ape. One of the more active places in the state seems to be Ocala Nation­al For­est. For exam­ple in 2012, a man report­ed being accost­ed by a crea­ture after get­ting his vehi­cle stuck in the sand on a for­est road while explor­ing. The crea­ture report­ed­ly threw rocks at him and lat­er emerged from the for­est car­ry­ing a small­er “child” Big­foot. Baby Big­foots? Yikes!

So there you have it, folks. Every­thing you could pos­si­bly need to get out and start “squatch­ing.” At the very least, you have a great (if quirky) excuse to explore America’s wilder locales. The author of this arti­cle absolves him­self from any and all respon­si­bil­i­ty for Big­foot maul­ing and maim­ing injuries.

international-mountaineering-featuredA trag­ic and glar­ing spot­light has been placed on inter­na­tion­al climb­ing and moun­taineer­ing expe­di­tions in the past few weeks after ten for­eign climbers camp­ing near the base Nan­ga Par­bat  of Pak­istan were killed by the Tal­iban. This rais­es safe­ty con­cerns for out­door adven­tur­ists who, so keen to sum­mit a for­eign peak or send a cov­et­ed route abroad, may ven­ture into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry. Though the group of climbers observed many safe­ty pre­cau­tions, obtained the nec­es­sary per­mits, and employed a guide, the fact remains that they met their end in a tumul­tuous area of the world plagued by war and upheaval. This begs the ques­tion: Should out­door enthu­si­asts risk their lives by ven­tur­ing into hos­tile or unsta­ble areas? And what pre­cau­tions should they take before leav­ing the safe­ty and pro­tec­tion of their home countries?

Reg­is­ter with Your Embassy
Tak­ing the time to reg­is­ter with your embassy is the first step to adven­tur­ing safe­ly. When you reg­is­ter, this ensures that you’ll receive updates if life-threat­en­ing emer­gen­cies arise in or near the area where you’re trav­el­ing. Your embassy will also let you know if U.S. Cit­i­zens are being evac­u­at­ed from the area and as con­tact your fam­i­ly to inform them if you’re safe. That being said, most climbs take place in remote loca­tions where access to inter­net and cell phones is min­i­mal, so if you find your­self beyond the reach of your embassy’s elec­tron­ic updates, be sure to have a go-to check-in point where you can get the lat­est scoop on new world and region­al developments.

Research the Region
There is no sub­sti­tute for talk­ing with climbers and ex-patri­ots trav­el­ing through and liv­ing in the region you plan to vis­it. Read expat blogs, con­nect via Face­book and Twit­ter with folks in that part of the world, and do your home­work. The climbers in Pak­istan serve as a cau­tion­ary tale; they were climb­ing in an area of Pak­istan that was known to be peace­ful and far from the Taliban’s reach. Despite the seem­ing­ly safe nature of their vis­it, they found them­selves at the mer­cy of for­eign rebels intent on harm­ing peace­ful adven­tur­ists to make a polit­i­cal statement.

Make the Call
In the end, only you and your team of fel­low adven­tur­ists can make the call con­cern­ing whether or not to risk your lives by ven­tur­ing into a region that may be haz­ardous for for­eign­ers. Often times, the moun­tains them­selves are dan­ger enough that climbers may view any oth­er risks as a mute point worth fac­ing. That being said, climb safe­ly and, above all, climb on. 

dont-be-a-kook-featuredSurf­ing and trav­el go togeth­er like surf­ing and…localism. It’s true, we surfers have cre­at­ed quite a lit­tle conun­drum for our­selves. We all want to trav­el, but we don’t want any­one to trav­el to our spots. We want to have our break and eat it too. And, for every wave that you’ve been dying to surf, you can all but guar­an­tee there is a local there who does­n’t want you to surf it. Can’t we all just get along? No, we can’t, but if you fol­low the advice below you can avoid look­ing like a kook and might not get your butt kicked. 

Be Respect­ful
This is imper­a­tive. Fol­low basic surf eti­quette. Don’t be obnox­ious. Be friend­ly and cour­te­ous. Don’t lit­ter. Don’t draw atten­tion to your­self in the park­ing lot. Basi­cal­ly act the way you would want peo­ple to act if they were surf­ing in your backyard.

Trav­el in Small Groups
Solo is ide­al, but unless you’re an MMA fight­er, it’s prob­a­bly best to have a like-mind­ed friend to have your back. 

Be Incon­spic­u­ous
This doesn’t always mean all-black wet­suit with an all white board. It means try to look like you belong there. If you’re at a semi-secret spot up north, by all means stick to the all-black nin­ja look. If you’re in New­port or VA beach, wear some neon and rock the stick­ers (it helps if you actu­al­ly rip).

Watch the Locals
Noth­ing screams kook like get­ting washed over the reef. Watch the locals to fig­ure out where to exit and enter the water. When it comes to nav­i­gat­ing reef, research is always bet­ter than learn­ing through experience.

Pho­to Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/321684028/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Let your Surf­ing do the Talk­ing
If you surf well, you will get waves. Excep­tions apply at elite waves, but as a rule, if you are respect­ful, take off deep and exe­cute a mean turn, you won’t have any trouble. 

Don’t Blow up the Spot
If you’re on your cell phone blab­bing about how it’s fir­ing, you prob­a­bly won’t make many friends. Unless you’re in cer­tain places in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, in which case you might just blend in. 

Know Your Lim­its
If you can bare­ly per­form a bot­tom turn you should nev­er pad­dle out at Tres­tles. If every­one in the water is a sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter surfer than you, you’re prob­a­bly in the way. It’s always good to push your­self, but make sure you’ve mas­tered the basics at a begin­ner break before you step out of the baby pool.

Don’t be a Total Kook
The leash goes on the back foot. The wax goes on the top of the board– nose to tail, rail to rail for a long­board, trac­tion pad to chest-area for a short board. Don’t wear gog­gles unless absolute­ly med­ical­ly nec­es­sary.  Booties with a spring­suit is a fash­ion deci­sion that must not be tak­en light­ly. Fins must face a cer­tain way. If you’re clue­less, ask your local surf shop. All of these things should go with­out say­ing, but let’s face it, they need to be said. 

10 Types of Runners

Some time before or after choos­ing the right race, you need to know what type of run­ner you are. The options are end­less and com­bi­na­tions do occur. Use this help­ful list to start under­stand­ing what type or run­ner you are and your run­ning rou­tine will great­ly improve.

1219067221. Audio-book Endurance Run­ner
Are your thighs sore and are you well-read in the col­lec­tion of George Orwell? The long-dis­tance, many-pages, endurance run­ner enjoys the sto­ries that good books pro­vide, but can’t sit idle long enough to soak in the scenery. If you fan­cy your­self a mul­ti­tasker and a book-worm, strap on those run­ning shoes and plug in those ear­phones; the sto­ry goes as long as you do. 

2. Speed Queen/King
Hel­lo fin­ish line. If you get off on being the first to cross it, with miles of peo­ple behind you and your legs scream­ing for mer­cy, you may be a speed Queen or King. With a steady desire and phys­i­cal prop­er­ties sim­i­lar to an ante­lope, the only glimpse you want oth­ers to have of you is the back of your sneakers.

3. Silent Med­i­ta­tor
Whether you run to get away from it all or to be a part of some­thing big­ger, if you’re lost in a peace­ful patch of thought while run­ning, you may be the silent med­i­ta­tive type of run­ner. No need to bring the head­phones when you have a deep inner-psy­che to explore. 

1688271724. Map­per
If you use any GPS track­ing sys­tems such as Map My Run, Nike +, or Garmin Fore­run­ner, you might be a map­per. You might also be able to look up how far and at what pace you ran last week, last month, or maybe the past two years. You are the per­son to look for when search­ing for good routes and clas­sic runs.

5. Trail­blaz­er
Rocks, roots, and run­ning water; it’s all part of the game. The trail­blaz­er has light­ning-fast foot reflex­es and ankles filled with lit­tle cuts and leafy abra­sions. Hav­ing fun in the mud, the trail­blaz­er does­n’t mind get­ting a lit­tle dirty as they cross creeks and jump pud­dles. If this is you, just remem­ber to wipe off before get­ting into the car.

6. Bare­foot Enthu­si­asts
You feel your body is best in tune when it’s run­ning naturally—without the hin­drance of shoes. No rub­ber tech­nol­o­gy or insole ergonom­ics can replace a nice, clean foot­fall. And you prob­a­bly have the calf mus­cles (and cal­lus­es) to prove it. Go ahead, get run­ning, feel that earth below your feet, and watch out for all patch­es of poi­son ivy. 

1670802187. Portable D.J.
Pump up the tracks and make it some­thing upbeat. You have a sound­track for epic uphills and anoth­er for marathon pur­suits. You’re a run­ning radio sta­tion. You most like­ly have a well main­tained music col­lec­tion and been caught doing karaoke on your long runs. 

8. Munchie-Munch­er
Are you well-versed in the lat­est Clif Bar selec­tion? Would you win a blind taste test of dif­fer­ent ener­gy-gels? Do you con­sid­er your post-race food choice the most impor­tant deci­sion of your day? You under­stand the anal­o­gy of  your body being a machine, and that machines run best on the best fuel source.

9. Ele­va­tion Junkie
If you enjoy start­ing and end­ing your run with a gnarly uphill you might be a chron­ic ele­va­tion con­queror. You search for that sting in your thighs, the chal­lenge at hand, and that accom­plish­ment of mak­ing it to the top. The only down­side, or upside, is that one hill is nev­er enough; there are always big­ger climbs to bag. 

10. Escaped Con­vict
I don’t know how you got your­self into this posi­tion, but if you’re an escaped con­vict you’re prob­a­bly wear­ing clothes that don’t belong to you, you are pos­si­bly imped­ed by the shack­les between your legs, and you may hear dogs in the back­ground. In any case, you bet­ter keep running. 

          

Noth­ing can sti­fle your adven­ture lifestyle like a lack of good sleep. And cof­fee can only take you so far. So do your­self a favor. Grab some of those all-too-valu­able Zs by fol­low­ing these six easy tips to get bet­ter sleep for big­ger adventures.

1. Get Some Exercise
This one seems obvi­ous, but it’s not only the 15-mile run up your local moun­tain or cen­tu­ry club ride that gets your body ready for bed. Even a thir­ty-minute walk through the park or a bike ride to the gro­cery store and back can get your mus­cles stretched and ready to rest. Take some time out of your busy day to move, to get out­side, and that lit­tle light-bulb above your head each night will have no prob­lem click­ing off.

If you’re already in the back­coun­try, chances are you’ve already ticked this one off the list. Not to wor­ry though, we’ve got some oth­er tips.

2. Eat Light
Well… at least eat light before bed. For sleep­ing and san­i­tary rea­sons, avoid eat­ing a full rack of ribs as you tuck your­self into the cov­ers. All the ener­gy pro­duced from the food you eat just before you try to fall asleep will thwart your attempts to doze off. Instead, try a light-snack with a glass of water.

3. Enjoy the Day
If you haven’t already done it, do some­thing that you’re proud of today. Read a new chap­ter, call to an old friend or out of touch fam­i­ly mem­ber, do any­thing to make progress that you can be proud of. Noth­ing brings sleep quick­er then if it’s well earned.

If you have trou­ble rec­og­niz­ing your every­day progress, brain­storm before you go to bed, make a list, or chal­lenge your part­ner to do the same and share accom­plish­ments before going to bed each night. This accom­plished feel­ing will help to set your mind at ease.

4. Go Sans Pajamas
While it isn’t always the case, sleep­ing with few lay­ers or some­times no lay­ers at all can real­ly make a dif­fer­ence. The best prac­tice prac­tice may be to wear base lay­ers in a sleep­ing bag, but just like every rule, there are exceptions.

If your long under­wear and socks are too form-fit­ting, you may be cut­ting off cir­cu­la­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, if you become too warm and start to sweat, it’ll start to feel like your wear­ing wet clothes. This can sab­o­tage your sleep­ing bag’s insu­lat­ing efforts.

5. Pull the Plug
It’s hard not to imag­ine a time in our day when we are not attached to some form of tech­nol­o­gy. Phones, radios, iPads, smart­watch­es, GPS; the list goes on. There is a lot of stim­uli that can keep our minds occu­pied. Before you put on the PJs (or lack there­of), pull the plug. Do your­self a favor and for­get the clever tweets and click­able head­lines, just lay back, relax, and know the next day is on its way.

6. Don’t Worry
It may seem counter-intu­itive to the arti­cle itself, but one of the biggest things you can do for your best sleep is to try and not to think about it too much. Go to sleep when you’re tired and under­stand what you need to do to accom­plish that. For some it’s med­i­ta­tion, oth­ers invest in earplugs for back­ground noise, but the best thing you can do is lis­ten to your body and fol­low the signs. Chances are, good sleep will be easy to find.

WBCBy mid-April, most places in North Amer­i­ca have packed up their skis and boards for anoth­er year. Many peo­ple are rem­i­nisc­ing of win­ter days spent schuss­ing down the piste from the com­forts of their golf cart, anx­ious­ly await­ing next sea­son’s snow slid­ing spoils.

Not so in Whistler. In fact, mid-April is the very time of year that one should come to Whistler to expe­ri­ence one of the world’s best rockin’ ski resort par­ties. The World Ski and Snow­board Fes­ti­val is one of the biggest, most action-packed, sleep-is-for-chumps type ski/snowboard events in the world. For 10 straight days, from sun-up to sun-up, your cal­en­dar will be full of on-moun­tain com­pe­ti­tions, arts and cul­ture events, par­ties, after par­ties, and more!

Try­ing to do every­thing, while seem­ing like a good idea at the time, will leave you broke (and prob­a­bly severe­ly disabled).

Luck­i­ly I have assem­bled a “must-do” list for those unini­ti­at­ed to the mad­ness of a week­long ski, apres-ski, and apres-apres ski marathon.  You’re welcome.

MUSIC
Music is a big aspect of the fes­ti­val here, and this year does not dis­ap­point. In fact, it just might be one of the best line­ups ever. Be sure to catch Quest­Love (of the Roots) at the BEGINNING par­ty on April 13, as well as a few oth­er sur­pris­es. BC’s “oth­er” home­grown export, the Swollen Mem­bers, will be play­ing their usu­al set dur­ing the Big Air com­pe­ti­tion on the night of 4/20. You’ll be able to hear them but you might not be able to see them through the pur­ple haze. Keller Williams head­lines on the 14th — if you haven’t heard “The man wit a mil­lion fin­gers” play before, you’ve got­ta see what he is all about. It’s quite impressive.

But the most antic­i­pat­ed act will undoubt­ed­ly be NAS, one of the most tal­ent­ed and poet­ic hip hop artists ever. Expect to see plen­ty of white peo­ple dressed up like sub­ur­ban gangstas — here in Whistler we call them “Wangstas”. But don’t let the sag­gy pants a‑la 1994 deter you from attend­ing, as the show will like­ly be one to remem­ber for a long time. Catch him on the Skier’s Plaza main­stage on April 13.

Arts
Over the past decade the fes­ti­val has steadi­ly increased their offer­ing for artis­tic events. It’s one of the few cul­tur­al events we have in the val­ley that does­n’t revolve around the bar scene. The pop­u­lar­i­ty has risen to the point that near­ly all events sell out well before show­time, so you might have to scan Craigslist if you want to see these shows.

  • The Film­mak­er Show­down pits aspir­ing direc­tors against one anoth­er for a 3‑day non-stop bonan­za. Teams have 72 hours to make a short film. The only rule is that peo­ple have a com­mon prop that they must incor­po­rate into the pro­duc­tion. 9 final­ists are cho­sen and those films are shown to a packed-house audi­ence. It all goes down on April 16.
  • State of the Art is an ongo­ing art dis­play in the foy­er of the Whistler Con­fer­ence Cen­ter. It show­cas­es an eclec­tic mix of artists that are push­ing the bound­aries of new medi­ums such as skate­board decks, stain­less steel, and more. It’s open 12–6 every day so there is no excuse to pop by and check it out.

Sports
Oh yeah, this fes­ti­val also has some of the world’s best skiers and snow­board­ers com­pet­ing for huge cash prizes! The year­ly high­light is usu­al­ly the Big Air com­pe­ti­tion, which will be going down on 4/20 this year. Expect the ath­letes to get real­ly high (sor­ry, I had to). The Board­er­style event is unique to the WSSF where snow­board­ers race a board­er­cross track lit­tered with fea­tures to impress the fans with. They get rat­ed for both time and style, so the steezi­est, fastest board­er down the track will take the prize.

New this year is a roller der­by. Why not? Maybe if all goes well, they will change the name next year to the WSSRDF. But that’s a pret­ty big mouthful.

So those are the high­lights — for all the dirty details check out the full line­up over at wssf.com.  And start rest­ing up now since you’ll want to sleep as lit­tle as pos­si­ble dur­ing the fes­ti­val.  Don’t for­get your water bottle!