Category Archives: Adventure

You get a different life

“When you put a drop of red dye into a glass of water, you do not get a glass of water with a drop of red dye in it; you get a red glass of water.” Uh, OK, so what’s that got to do with hiking the Appalachian Trail? Read and find out!

Write in Front of Me

Photo courtesy amish.patel at Flickr Photo courtesy amish.patel at Flickr

I recently ran my eye over this comment: “Neil Postman has an analogy along the lines of what you’re saying about giving forethought to your use of a new technology: ‘When you put a drop of red dye into a glass of water, you do not get a glass of water with a drop of red dye in it; you get a red glass of water…’”

Nowadays, we’re disposed to leap on anything “new” like a jaguar on a capybara.  Why do we do this?  Why do we glom onto the latest thing without considering the consequences to our lives?  All of us are trying to employ some command over our lives and we do this by making what we believe are wise decisions.  Yet the truth is that we are swamped with tidal waves of options, more than we can manage.  It seems to…

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Apprehension, Backpacking, Hiking, Life changes, Life direction, Living, outdoors, risk

Thinking about…hiking sticks on the Appalachian Trail

When it comes to hiking and backpacking, my most used and beloved (and iconic) piece of gear is my hiking staff.

Write in Front of Me

“You wouldn’t part an old man from his walking stick?” – Gandalf, “The Two Towers”

I’ve always been a “tripod” ever since I was a kid hiking the woods behind my suburban house.  I would quickly pick up a downed length of basswood or cedar and adopt it as my hiking stick and off into the trees I’d go.  It wasn’t long before I felt unable to venture into the woods for a hike without having one.  That is still so today.

Hiking Stick Grips Hiking Stick Grips (Photo credit: Randy Cox)

Somewhere at a roadside stand along the Blue Ridge Parkway about 1978 I found a walnut hiking staff carved by a local man vending summer tomatoes, corn, and mountain sourwood honey.  I think I paid ten dollars for it.  That hiking stick kept me stable during my trips into Pisgah National Forest, Linville Gorge, Shining Rock Wilderness

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Filed under A.T., Adventure, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Hiking staff, Outdoor sports, Travel, Walking, wilderness

Dear Gear

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Photo courtesy Thruhike98 at Flickr.

Dear Hiking Gear,

First off, I am sorry.  Sorry that you’ve been stowed away in boxes on the upper shelf of my dark closet.  I am sorry I separated you into “gear I normally use” and “spare gear” whose box lid I rarely open.

For instance.  I love my Whisperlite white gas backpacking stove.  But, I also like my Svea 123, the old brass workhorse whose coarse and noisy voice was a welcome wake-up on many memorable mornings.

Dear Whisperlite, I love you for your quiet voice.  But, Svea, I respect you for your simplicity and reliability.  Just because I boxed you doesn’t mean I don’t care.  Don’t you remember when we walked down memory lane and I polished you with Brasso last summer?  I know — I didn’t light you up, so the shine job doesn’t really count.  But I still know you’re there; ready to rock should the Whisperlite fail…

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Photo courtesy kc7fys at Flickr.

Yes, dear gear — I’ll still keep you.  And if you doubt that, remember the old Kelty Tioga pack frame.  You know the one.  The pack bag is long gone, but I can’t part with the hardy aluminum skeleton.  Sure, I’ll never find a replacement for the pack bag, but I’ve kept the frame safe and sound.  Along with the Sierra tent, First Need water filter, and Svea stove.

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Photo courtesy Simonov at Flickr.

Take heart, dear gear.  Maybe we’ll all have a class reunion one day.  And, yes, expect to see a Spork, some titanium cooking gear, and an ultralight backpack on the guest list.

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Filed under A.T., Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Backpacking gear, Camping, Hiking, outdoor gear, Travel

Doggone Cold! Winter Gear List for Dogs

Yes! You *can* take your furry friend onto frigid winter trails; Patches Thru share with you just how it’s done!

Patches Thru

Winter on Mary's Rock

Here’s a list of the winter hiking and backpacking gear that M’s Seeing Eye Dog Edge used on our winter Appalachian Trail adventure in Virginia for New Year’s. This list includes the gear he used for climbing up to Mary’s Rock with wind-chills of -15℉, as well as the gear he used for his first winter overnight (with a record-breaking low of -2℉).

Winter Day-Hike Gear List for Edge

  1. Fleece-Lined Waterproof/Windproof Jacket (5/5): The jacket was easy to put on and take off, provided good coverage for precipitation, great mobility, and some added warmth. The jacket performed as described; I think it would have been perfect if the weather had been in the predicted range (lows of 15℉ to 25℉), but with temperatures dropping into the single digits and wind-chills making the effective temperature even colder, a warmer jacket with more coverage would have been better.
  2. Musher’s Secret Wax:

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, dogs, Hiking, outdoors, Walking, Weather, Winter hiking

Obvious Lostness

railway-2439189_1920If I had kept my eyes lifted and looked straight ahead of me, I would never have become lost. But since the sweltering blaze of a blistering midsummer afternoon in August on the A.T. in Pennsylvania kept my head down — literally — I must have missed the turn.

Time has wilted with my motivation. A long roadwork through a dusty valley seemed at first an easy endeavor. An early start to beat the rising sun, to outrun its zenith, was the intention. Never made it. Lots of “cameling up” kept me alive, but pouring sweat and drenching humidity did their evil best to sap my energy. Despite many stops to rest in what shade I could find, I ended up in a late afternoon slog. The white blazes had directed me through some newly sown fields and alongside a two-lane asphalt road, now redolent with the smell of cooked tar clogging my nostrils.

Over an hour I had stashed my topographic map. Who needed in on flat roads which were well blazed and a route which was obvious?

Parched, I dipped my bandana in a trickle of dirty brown water and situated in on my neck to cool down. My breath was labored in the thick air. I wiped sweat from my brown, the bill of my ball cap soaked through. I noticed another clear turn and ended up on a shady unused railroad grade. I felt a bit more energetic and my pace quickened. Before I realized it I had covered another mile or two at least. But what tipped me off to trouble was the time; by now I should be leaving the valley to climb to a ridgeline where I would descend the other side to a cool, shaded campsite.

I stopped along the graded path and fetched my map. Nothing indicated rail line, used or not. I had decided a compass was unnecessary. My keen sense of direction said I was a fool headed East. I paid attention.

That’s when my newly recaptured attention noticed something else. I looked ahead and turned to look back. No white blazes on tree or stone. I walked ahead five minutes; no blaze. I headed back. No blazes.

I was lost.

Frustration settled in. I had never, ever become lost before. Not in the wilds of Vermont of upper Maine, not in the southern Appalachians. Nowhere. But here, where one would least expect it, it had happened. I had not been paying attention and had become mislocated.

Long story short; by the time I followed the railway grade to a road and hiked another few hours, I rediscovered the Appalachian Trail crossing.

mountain-727449_1280A long, tough, hot climb — already exhausted — I fell into the campsite nearly at sunset and had just enough energy to pitch my tent before a late summer storm deluged me with thunder, lightning, and plenty of warm rain.

Later, after the storm blew itself out, I calculated my day. I should have ended up backpacking only nine miles. I had completed…twenty-two! It was the longest day of backpacking I had ever undertaken. Unintentionally, of course.

Simple lesson learned through misery: always keep your head up! Never assume you won’t require a compass check. And don’t assume that walking such a well-blazed trail as the A.T. means you can’t get lost!
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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Decision making, Goals, Hiking, lost, Outdoor skills, outdoors, risk

7 Posts From My Archives Every Anticipating AT Hiker Should Read

Stubbs offers some fascinating and worthwhile advice on how to increase your chances of enjoying a successful Appalachian Trail backpacking adventure!

Stubbs Rambles On

Hello readers! My apologies for my total lack of new content lately, especially on trail life. I’ve been tied up in the “real world” trying to get my life back on track after my injury, and I’ve also been in the process of getting back to work. It’s about that time of year when expectant thru hikers and section hikers are about to get the show on the road, and are wrapping up on that last minute planning and preparation. I aim to kick out some more hiking content in the coming weeks, but until then, I’ve put together a wrap up of some of my archived posts that I thought are worth a read if you’re still concerned or confused about things. All of these posts can also be found on “The Trek” blog, which I used to write for.


1) Happy Feet: Your Guide to Not Having Angry…

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Filed under Adventure, Adversity, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Dreams, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, outdoors, Transformation

Top Ten Fire Starters — ON TARGET in CANADA

Follow our FISHING BLOG WEBSITE RATES FISH HUNT CABINS PHOTOS TESTIMONIALS BROCHURE HUNT BOOKLET

via Top Ten Fire Starters — ON TARGET in CANADA

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camp, Camping, fire