The Appalachian Trail – What to Expect and How to Prepare

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The infamous 2000 mile marker has probably moved due to rerouting of the AT since 2003, but hitting this milestone is a huge accomplishment for every thru hiker. Lucky for us this road doesn’t have much traffic!

By Mary Lyons

How did I get this crazy idea?

Appalachian Trail 2In 1996 I met an author who would change my life and never even know it. His name is David Brill, and he is a freelance writer for men’s magazines. He spoke to a writer’s group I was in about his thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in the 1970’s because he had just written a book about it 20 years later. The title of the book is As Far as the Eye Can See and it includes excerpts from his journal as well as his thoughts looking back on his experience.

The day he came to speak to my writer’s group about this book, I had the worst hangover. I had never hiked a day in my life and I had never even heard of the Appalachian Trail, even though I grew up in Kentucky only three hours away. I had decided that if “this guy” wasn’t interesting, I was going to leave and go back to bed. David Brill spoke for about 5 minutes before I realized the magnitude of what he had accomplished, and I was hooked. My hangover was gone. I had to do this.

I bought his book for a whopping ten dollars, got him to sign it, and when everyone else left, he and I were left. He took time to answer my questions. He also asked me if I preferred bourbon or whiskey. I wreaked of alcohol, but no longer felt my hangover. I was excited! I had a goal!

Appalachian Trail 3It was seven years later, in 2003, before I actually completed my thru hike. I never even set foot on a trail until 2000, and never carried a backpack until 2001! But I never lost sight of my goal, and on March 25, 2003, I began a journey that would instill an insatiable wanderlust in me that I still haven’t satisfied. On September 3rd, I summited Katahdin in Maine. This day is more important to me than my birthday, especially now that I’m over (cough, cough), uhh, let’s say 40 and leave it at that.

I had a lot to learn before hiking 2,172 miles with what would eventually be whittled down to a 20-pound pack. Here’s what I did to get ready, including some mistakes I made. My dog, Oscar, even got in the action, although he was not exactly an outdoorsman. He made sure to sample the beef jerky though.

Let’s Get Started!

Appalachian Trail 10My first consideration when preparing for the Appalachian Trail was about experience. I had never hiked or backpacked or even camped really. There was a lot to learn and that meant getting prepared and getting out in the wilderness to learn how to use my gear. I joined a hiking club and met a lot of people who knew a lot more than I did about backpacking, sleeping, and eating in the wilderness. I went on many weekend trips with them in southern Arizona and western New Mexico. It rained on almost all of those trips, and my friend Steve said I was cursed. Here we were in the Southern Arizona desert, and it rained every damn time I went on a camping trip with The Ramblers, and never when I didn’t. I felt pretty prepared for rain when I started the AT.

Boy, was I wrong! Nothing could have prepared me for that much rain! 2003 is still the wettest year on record for an AT hike. Lucky me. My big toes looked like white prunes for three months. But that’s not what this post is about! If you’re planning a long-distance hike, or just curious how to prepare for one, read on.

Prepare Physically

Appalachian Trail 9A lot of people think they need to be in great shape physically before starting the Appalachian Trail, but that’s not necessarily the case. The trail conditions you, no matter what shape you’re in when you start. But your chances of a successful thru-hike will improve if you aren’t struggling physically at the beginning. One of the best ways to get in good physical condition for hiking is by going hiking. Surprise! Carry your pack, wear your shoes, and get out in the wilderness to walk over roots and climb over boulders. Then go out the next weekend and do the same thing.

Practice

Appalachian Trail 7I did day hikes with a fully loaded backpack even when I had no intention of camping. As I walked, I took a mental inventory of everything in my pack and how I could make it lighter. My first pack was an Osprey I found on sale at the local outfitter in Tucson. Great pack, but heavy! It weighed 7 pounds! A pack for the AT shouldn’t weigh more than 3 pounds, but it took experience and trial and error – and money – for me to figure that out.

Prepare Mentally

There I go, talking about gear. I love gear. Gear is an important part of preparing for the Appalachian Trail, but preparing mentally is just as important. Even avid backpackers and campers can struggle mentally to keep going, to take that next step over that next rock or climb that next boulder. Even the most experienced might weep at the sight of yet another false summit. I was far from experienced, so I expected some mentally tough days, and I was right.

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My longest backpacking and camping trip before I hit the AT was four days and four nights in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico (yes, it rained!), and I planned and completed those four nights and days on purpose. I read somewhere that if you could hike and camp four days and nights in a row, you could complete a successful thru-hike. My friend Steve, a fellow Rambler, and I planned a trip. He said he expected it would rain since I was going. He was right. It was just the two of us. The nights were below freezing. My shoes were wet from trekking in the snow (and rain!) and frozen hard as a rock every morning. I slept with my bladder of water inside my sleeping bag to keep it from freezing. Can’t say I loved hiking and camping on this trip. Love of hiking and camping came later, on the AT.

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Preparing physically, whether by hiking, running, weight lifting, yoga, whatever you like to do, can help to prepare you mentally. Just keep going. Most of the time, hiking on the AT really is what you will want to do that day. Hey, beats working, right?

Plan Financially

Money. A huge consideration. During a thru-hike, you most likely won’t be earning any unless your stocks are doing better than mine were. Fortunately, lodging along the AT for the entire 2100+ miles is free if you want it to be. I met two Canadians in 2003 who I don’t think spent even one night in town. They each finished their thru-hike spending less than $1000 each. It can be done, but not by me. I enjoy a night in town occasionally, to sleep in a bed, eat restaurant food, and restock at a blindingly bright grocery store filled with temptations I couldn’t carry and people who smelled like soap, which I did not.

Appalachian Trail 8As you research town stops along the way, you’ll start to get an idea of how much money you might need to get you through your hike from start to finish. Your biggest expense will be food. You will eat a lot, even while you’re hiking! You will walk or hitchhike out of your way, off the trail, just to get a restaurant meal of fat, cheese, grease, carbs, protein, and quite possibly other things that you would never consider eating if you had not just walked 20 miles with all of your belongings on your back. That said, you won’t spend much money on anything else if you purchased your gear and shoes before you started walking.

Plan to Eat!

Appalachian Trail 5There are two theories on resupplying food. The most popular is just to resupply along the way in town stops and buy enough to get you through to the next town stop. In my opinion, this is the least expensive and least troublesome way to resupply. I, however, didn’t figure that out until I’d completed about half the trail. I resupplied along the way, but I also used resupply boxes I packed before I started – a lot of them – and got them weighed and paid postage, and then left them with my sister to mail to me along the way. The problem with this is I probably spent more money doing it this way and, well, plans change. I didn’t even use all the boxes.

Appalachian Trail 5Packing these boxes after a trip to Costco was an adventure in itself. I had a small kitchen and no dining room table, so these boxes were everywhere. I came home one day to find a couple of them on the floor and the beef jerky packages torn open! Guess who worked really hard to knock those boxes off the counter? Yeah, my little 20-pound Oscar! He was fat and happy on the sofa when I got home, and I found beef jerky all over the apartment for the next two weeks. He’d hidden it away for later! Lesson learned. Keep your resupply boxes in a room with a door that closes! I had to forgive him though. He stayed with my sister (another sister) during my trek, and had to be neutered at age 13 while I was out having the time of my life.

Even with resupply boxes, I still had to buy certain items along the way. One advantage to having resupply boxes sent to post offices along the way is that if there are certain things you really like, or if someone wants to send you homemade goods, as my family did, then they can put them in the boxes. My sister sent me two dozen chocolate chip cookies, an entire pineapple upside down cake, and a loaf of sourdough bread in one box. Between me and two other thru-hikers, none of it made it past the post office porch.

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Resupply boxes add another element of planning that, in my opinion, is unnecessary. There are plenty of opportunities to resupply and vary your diet along the way. Some things you will never get tired of are easily found in towns, like Hershey bars. They travel well in a backpack and no matter how many times they melt in that foil wrapper, they’ll still be good at the end the of a 20-mile day.

Plan to Sleep

Hotels and some hostels are another expense you’re likely to be tempted with. An actual bed, a shower, and a place to dry out your stuff is a welcome change for most hikers. Most hostels are either work-for-stay or very cheap. Hotels can range from $30 a night to very expensive in larger towns if you want to go that route. This is where having a guidebook comes in really handy for planning. I have another post about AT Guidebooks. Town stops are important for several reasons, but you can decide how many of them you want to make and how much time you want to spend in town. Keep in mind, the more time in town, the more temptation to spend money, and eat two pints of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. I don’t recommend that.

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I saved $3500 to get me through my hike and the next month after it since I wasn’t going back to work right away. I had plenty of town stops and luxuries, including beer and restaurant food, along the way, and still had money to get me through the month of September before going back to work as a teacher. Even though that was 13 years ago, I still think $3500 is more than most thru-hikers start out with.

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It’s Time. You’re Ready. Do It.

One last comment on preparing for the Appalachian Trail. Learn from others. Check out www.trailjournals.com and learn from others. Read their accounts. Read your guidebooks. You can read more about guidebooks in my post Appalachian Trail Guidebooks. Buy your gear and use it, especially in the rain. Then get dropped off at Springer Mountain and hike your hike. It’ll be the greatest experience of your life.

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What To Do If You Lose Communication While Camping

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Sponsored Post

For many of us, there is nothing like going into the great outdoors to get away from the stress and strife of modern-day life. Unfortunately, however, while being out in the wilderness is great to unwind, it’s still nice to have some connection to the outside world, which is why we also bring our phones with us. However, trying to get reception can be a huge pain, and if you ever lose your device while out in the woods, it can be almost impossible to retrieve it. For that reason, we are going to go over what to do if you lose your communication and how to find your phone with AVG if it is lost.

 

Maintaining Reception

lose communication 2If you are worried about losing your signal while out camping, you can plan ahead by bringing other devices that can offer you cell service no matter where you are. These include mobile wireless routers, cell phone boosters, and portable battery chargers to help you maintain access to your device at all times. These are the best ways to stay connected, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones.

 

lose communication 3If You Lose Signal

For those that didn’t plan ahead, you can help improve your signal in a couple of ways. First, you can find a clear, elevated area that can give you more direct access to a signal, or you can craft your own makeshift antenna. Chip cans and aluminum foil can help boost your phone’s range if you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials out there that can help.

 

Losing Your Phone

lose communication 4If the worst happens and you misplace your device while camping, all is not lost. If you have AVG as your Android security and antivirus, then you can track your phone’s location, even if it’s off. This will help you pinpoint where exactly you left your phone so that you can retrieve it. Fortunately, if it’s in the woods somewhere, then you shouldn’t have to worry about someone stealing it.

 

 

Overall, the best way to keep your phone in tip-top shape while camping is to plan ahead and have AVG antivirus installed beforehand.

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Article provided by Lizzy and our friends over at AVG Anti-Virus.

The 11 Step Guide to Planning a Problem-free Group Camping Trip

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By Alex Gulsby

If you have ever attempted to coordinate a trip with friends or family, you know how difficult the process can be. Logistics get hairy, people cancel or maybe one of you gets dragged off your United flight on the way there. The destructive possibilities are endless.

If you’re planning a trip to go hiking or camping, it can be even worse. Varying skill levels, experience in the outdoors and the amount of gear required may mean that you’ve already lost before you started.

But fear not and know that it can be done! It just takes a few extra steps of planning. I’ve put together the 11 step checklist to making sure the trip really does happen and that it’s a trip everyone will enjoy.

Designate a Trip Coordinator

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If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’re probably the trip leader. The cats you’re herding need some sort of guidance. As you continue this guide, remember that you are allowed to delegate tasks and tell others what to do.

Opt for the road trip

For your first camping trip, it doesn’t hurt to stay as close to home as possible. If you’re all getting on a plane and flying to a location, the cost can skyrocket and complicate how you do all your grocery shopping and planning. Accessibility is key. Carpooling or convoying gives you the opportunity to pack a lot more glamping and camping gear. Besides, you’ll be able to get as messy as you want without worrying about a rental vehicle.

11 step 4

Make All your Reservations

Depending on where you stay, chances are you’ll be in a national park, forest or state park. Some campgrounds are “walk-up” only which means you can’t make a reservation. For large groups, this is risky. Try to find “reservation only” camping and read the specifications for group size.

Research the Campground

Large camping groups want to party, because duh…wilderness. Some campgrounds have quiet hours and depending on what your plans are, you may not want to shut the party down at 10am. When choosing a site at a campground, pay attention to the park map.  Look through every photo they provide. How close are the camp bathrooms? How close are your nearest neighbors? Do they offer potable water? Electrical hookups? Are there any cool features like rivers or rock climbing nearby?

When you get there, it’s not a bad idea to befriend the camp host too and tell them your plans. If the night gets rowdy, you’ll thank yourself that you have a friend.

Research the Area

As much as I love day drinking by a tent all day, it’s a good idea to actually plan some activities for the weekend. You are not guaranteed phone reception at a campground so do it beforehand! Float the river, hike the trails, climb a mountain, explore a cave or chase some waterfalls. Learn what the region has to offer!

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Figure out the money early

You’ll be paying for gas, groceries, beer, camp reservations, (maybe) hiking permits, gear, and firewood to mention a few. It adds up and since you are the trip coordinator, you’re at risk for paying for a lot more than you should. Plan ahead and don’t be afraid to put stuff in writing.

Start a Google Doc for the Gear List

The honey-do list will inevitably grow and get out from under you. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve realized that. Unlike your typical travel trip, you’re probably not just packing clothes and toiletries. Set up a sharable google doc with everyone’s name listed. Make a gear list of everything the individual will need (backpack, hiking socks, sleeping bags, puffy jacket, pool float, whatever). Likewise, make a “group gear” list of things like the camp stove, tents, ice chests and music speakers. Note who has extra of something and who has none.

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It may seem excessive but it will allow you to make sure that everything is squared away. And when the trip is over, everyone will still remember who borrowed what.

Plan your recipes ahead of time

If one of your friends is a culinary genius, awesome! Can I borrow them? You can designate them as a camp cook….or not. Either way, decide what you are going to cook, how many you are going to cook for and when you’re going to cook it beforehand. It makes the grocery trip a lot easier when you have an objective.

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Decide on a moderate trail that everyone can complete (if you’re hiking)

Remember and respect the varying skill level of your group and leave your pride at the trailhead. There is nothing more dangerous or unpleasant than putting someone in a position of uncertainty out in the wilderness. I promise you that literally nobody will be having fun.

Bring more water than you’ve brought booze

Nothing spurs stoke quite like an epic camping trip. However, you are out in the wilderness. Just bring an absurd amount of water to support your hiking hangover. You’ll thank me later.

And as always, before you set out:

Buy a map, touch base with rangers, and check the weather!!!

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Did you enjoy this 11 step group camping article?

You can follow more of Alex’s adventures at www.wanderwritings.com

 

Happy Second Birthday Camping for Women

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By Nicole Anderson

Camping for Women is now officially 2! So we are marking our ‘happy second birthday’ with this brief message.

The website www.campingforwomen.com went live with its first blog post on 23 May 2015 and it’s hard to believe that was two years ago.

We had a very busy second year as we built on the foundations laid in the first year.

Top 10 achievements for this past year include:

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  • Published The 3 in 1 Camping Cuisine Cookbook for hikers, campers and glampers
  • Launched an online shopping portal: The Global Outdoor Adventure Store in conjunction with Amazon
  • Produced checklists for hikers, backpackers, campers, and RVers for free download
  • Built on our library of 91 articles written by outdoor women adventurers to over 250
  • Launched a Travel and Adventure tab on the site to include specific travel content
  • Increased regularity of free article posts for subscribers and facilitated comments for these
  • Partnered with Brown Gal Trekker on the International Film Project to promote outdoor women based on the piece ‘Don’t Date a Woman Who Treks’
  • Expanded recognition of regular contributors through dedicated pages and contributor logo
  • Promoted other women outdoor adventure blogs of interest to readers and subscribers
  • Recognised with the Versatile Bloggers Award given by bloggers for quality content

So much done, but so much still to do…

So what’s being planned next for year 3?

Well, we have a few things that we are working toward right now including:

  • Launch of an exciting new video show addressing all outdoor women issues where subscribers can ask questions to have answered by a columnist in conjunction with another fabulous outdoor women’s group
  • Launch of ‘The 4 in 1 Camping Cuisine Cookbook’ following the successful first publication
  • Completing specialist guides being written on Canyoneering, RVing and stress reduction
  • Continue to build a bank of useful articles, tips and information for women who love the great outdoors delivered via our free subscription
  • Providing a service to assist women produce and share videos with other women

Check out our second year video here:

As we hope you join in wishing Camping for Women a happy second birthday, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas for what you would like to see for the future. Just send us a message on the ‘Contact’ page of the website or email us: info@campingforwomen.com

Here’s to another great year serving fellow outdoor women adventurers everywhere…

Help us celebrate a happy second birthday:

So we hope you might join us in briefly celebrating our second milestone by perhaps making a comment or two below.  We always love to hear from you.

But most of all we want to again take the opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone for your wonderful support and ongoing encouragement to continue to develop the best global resource possible.

 

The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

By Nicole Anderson

Camping for Women has just received the Versatile Blogger Award, recognizing the efforts of everyone involved with its blog.

So what is the Versatile Blogger Award?

Versatile Blogger Award 1It is a peer award where bloggers nominate other bloggers who they believe deserve some recognition for their high quality standard of writing, images, uniqueness of the bloggers content, passion and love displayed throughout the website.

In this case, Camping for Women was recognized for all its efforts made to benefit our subscribers and readership. We especially want to make mention of all our wonderful contributors who provide so much value and are passionate in their love of the outdoors.

Who nominated Camping for Women?

Logan & Kallsy Page are a United States couple in their late twenties with a passion for adventure and experiences. Being a medical student and a teacher, they mostly focus on budget travel in iconic locations. This spring and summer you can find them road trippin’ around the Southeastern USA with their dog, Bentley. They love finding a blend of new experiences in urban cities and the great outdoors.  They are the couple behind the blog Pages of Travel.

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Part of the nomination acceptance process is for the award recipient to tell the nominator 7 things about themselves that they may not know.  So the team at Camping for Women selected founder Nicole Anderson to outline 7 things about her.

7 Things you may not know about Nicole Anderson

  1. For the most part, Nicole grew up in regional Australia – her family came from the rural town of Bendigo, in the state of Victoria.
  2. Nicole spent part of her schooling in Japan where she learnt fluent spoken and written Japanese.
  3. Nicole is a breast cancer survivor and a member of the Dragons Abreast Dragon Boating Sport, and has represented her club in regional and international regattas in Australia and North America.
  4. She is now engaged to be married, having been proposed to by her partner James while they were on holiday in Tahiti in January this year.
  5. Nicole has had the travel bug for some time and has now explored many countries in 5 of 7 of the world’s continents. She has not seen anything of Africa or Antarctica (as yet!).
  6. When Nicole decided that she wanted to get a dog as she moved into her new home, she decided on a name first before seeing the dog. The dog’s name was to be Flannigan.
  7. Nicole and her partner James have just built a brand new 4 bedroom home in the beautiful and famous Gold Coast, where they have chosen to live.

Nominees:

When you only have a maximum of 15 blogs you can nominate among all the fabulous blogs that exist in the world, this can be a really hard task.

However, we had to draw the line somewhere and go with some that are our favorites.

So here they are our nominees, presented in alphabetical order…

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Born to be Adventurous

Versatile Blogger Award 4To founder Annika Mang, having a baby didn’t mean the end of adventures; instead it was the beginning of grander ones.  Born To Be Adventurous was created as a platform to share and inspire families to get outdoors and adventure with their kids with an eco-focus. Annika shares her family’s and other families outdoor adventure stories and tips and activities. She also runs a green up challenge where her family reduces their waste to a single jar. She encourage followers to choose a green up goal for the month to reduce their families waste. Goals can be as big as reducing their waste to a single jar or choosing a smaller goal like using reusable coffee mugs

 

Brazen Backpacker

Versatile Blogger Award 5Brazen Backpacker is the adventure-seeking, poetic, and often humorous blog of Emily Pennington. Started in 2016, it is already making waves with content syndicated on The Outdoor Project, Camping for Women, Women Who Explore, and many others. The site features Emily’s ramblings on everything the adventuresome soul might desire – from gear suggestions to stories of expeditions gone horribly awry, to tales of falling in love in a National Park, all illustrated perfectly with her colorful travel photography. If you’re in need of inspiration for your next trip or daydream, this website is the perfect place to start.

 

Brown Gal Trekker

Versatile Blogger Award 7Brown Gal Trekker blog was launched in September 2016. In addition to being focused on the outdoors, it further aims to address unconventional or seldom talked about topics in the world of hiking.  Marinel, the person behind Brown Gal Trekker, is an avid hiker and global explorer.  Along with her social enterprise, Peak Explorations, her blog aims to promote women and diversity in the outdoors. Her blog often shares her journeys in off the beaten path trekking destinations, practical advice to assist fellow hikers, and her insight on the outdoors world that can range from why we should hire mountain fanatics to why one shouldn’t date a girl who treks. No matter the topic, Brown Gal Trekker focuses on inspiring and empowering readers to pursue anything and everything that their hearts desire.

 

Female Traveler

Versatile Blogger Award 8Female Traveler is a travel and lifestyle blog featuring destinations, travel tips and inspiration from around the world. Ira of Female Traveler blogs all about her adventures all over the world, but it’s her extensive coverage of Europe that keeps readers coming back for more. Many love reading about her adventures in places that they know and love. Her site has been described like a treasure trove of things to do, places to see, and plenty of inspiration to just keep going and live your dreams

 

 

Get Camping Wild

Versatile Blogger Award 9Getcampingwild.com is a place where campers can share everything they have learned along the (sometimes prickly) way in the wilderness. It’s a place where new explorers can find out everything need-to-know about those first few steps into the great outdoors. The blog is run by experienced camper Lucy Gomez and aims to gather all the best camping tips to inspire and improve camping for all adventurers! Whether you’re an established starlight-sleeper or a first time pop-up-tent, Lucy and her team aim to help you make all your future camping trips stress-free but unforgettable.

 

 

Mountain Mom and Tots

Versatile Blogger Award 10Mountain Mom and Tots is an outdoor family blog that’s all about helping families explore outdoors. With an emphasis on hiking, biking, camping and skiing with kids, creator Mountain Mom shares how she adventures outdoors with three young kids.  Susan, a Mountain Mom who lives with her husband and three young kids near Sundance, Utah. When they are not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, Susan spends her time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 her family travelled 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

 

 

My Perfectly Damaged Life

Versatile Blogger Award 11My Perfectly Damaged life is an adventure/travel/photography blog.  Perfectly Damaged, which started simply as Jennifer Hewitt’s photography name but has since morphed into her blog and social media brand, is based on the concept that nothing is perfect and we are all damaged.  Despite this, we can live a life that is perfect for us despite the damage, Perfectly Damaged!  Jennifer’s hope with her blog is that her readers will see that she is just an average woman getting out there experiencing life, mishaps and all, and as a result get out there as well.

 

 

My Wild Kitchen

Versatile Bloggers Award 12MyWildKitchen.com shares unique but simple home-cooked meals for venison, wild game, and wild desserts, too (think blackberries!). All the recipes Noel shares at MyWildKitchen.com use easy to find ingredients, and are designed to reconnect the hunter (or hunter’s spouse) with the wild game they’ve harvested. At MyWildKitchen.com you will find recipes for venison, feral hog, wild turkey, dove, freshwater fish, and even squirrel, all presented with full-color, step-by-step photos of each part of the cooking process, making it a breeze to follow along no matter the difficulty level of the recipe.

 

 

Revolving Compass

Versatile Blogger Award 13Neha & Abhishek are a couple travel blogger based in Bangalore, India. Revolving Compass is born out of their love for travel and their enthusiasm to share this travel experience with the rest of the world. The couple believes that every travel has a lot of soul enriching experiences hidden in it and they thrive to bring these out to the world through their travel stories, as they travel the world along with their little kiddo. Apart from the travel stories, Revolving Compass covers family travel tips, destination guides, best possible travel itineraries, travel friendly products and talks about how to overcome the challenges of traveling with a toddler and enjoy it to the best extent possible

 

 

Solo Passport

Versatile Blogger Award 14Raksha Prasad is an IT professional who craves and breathes travel. She love exploring new places and meeting new people and mostly travels alone or with any of her travel buddies. ‘Solopassport’ is all about showcasing her experiences and photographs taken along her travel journey.

 

 

Teakisi

Versatile Blogger Award 15Teakisi (pronounced Tee-ki-si), creates a space for African women to empower and celebrate each other, and to unite through their stories. A Teakisi woman has many names: Mukadzi in Shona, Obinrin in Yoruba, Umugore in Kinyarwanda, Daaku in Luo, Aberu in Ateso, Minga in Beti, the list is endless. Teakisi women are vibrant and empowered Africans, with a love to empower others. Teakisi is here to share the voices of these African women. Teakisi stands out for several reasons, but what truly makes it special is that it’s a platform dedicated to the everyday African woman. Most of our contributors are not “professional” bloggers/writers, they’re just everyday women with a story to tell and wisdom to share.

 

 

The Modern Outdoors

Versatile Blogger Award 16The Modern Outdoors is an honest look at life in the wild. Nicole Atkins, the founder of MO, has over 25 years of experience and isn’t afraid to push boundaries. The result is a blog that offers practical knowledge articulated with humor and irreverence.

 

 

Waboose Adventures

Versatile Blogger Award 17Waboose Adventures is an award-winning blog that brings you into the backcountry where every portage takes you deeper, and every step takes you further into the wilderness. Cobi Sharpe shares her adventures in nature through writing and her award-winning photography.

 

 

 

Wandering Lights

Versatile Blogger Award 18Writing and photography has been the vice for of creator Danielle Dorrie for years – and she took this is to the next level with her blog Wandering Lights. Check out all of her thoughts, then head on over to her Adventure Blog – www.LoveMaineAdventures.com. That’s where she talks about the current risky adventures that she has as she grows and invites people to follow her in her journey.  She encourages comments on her work and likes to engage with creative minds and enjoy other blogs in the process.

 

 

Whits Wilderness

Whit’s WildVersatile Blogger Award 19erness is an outdoors lifestyle blog for Texas women, where 6th generation Texan and blogger Whitney shares her tips for hiking, hunting, camping, outdoor cooking, and shooting sports. Her guidance entails what to wear (she calls it “field fashion”), the best trails to hike, tips for a glamorous camping experience, recipes, and comprehensive “Girl’s Guides” to various activities. Her goal is to inspire Texas women to get outdoors and enjoy this beautiful natural world we live in!

 

 

So there are our nominees.  They all have quite different strengths and qualities and we hope you will have as much fun exploring and learning from these blogs as we did.

 

Nominees, Here’s Your Mission:

The next step in the Versatile Bloggers Award process, mean nominees are similarly required to:

  • Thank your Versatile Blogger Award nominator/presenter on your blog and link their site.
  • Select 8-15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly that deserve this awesome award. It is best to make sure they accept the award and can nominate 8-15 other bloggers too.
  • Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. Have fun with this and take advantage of the opportunity for your readers to learn more about you!
  • Display the Versatile Blogger Award on your blog by including it in your post!

 

So many wonderful blogs out there, so little time…

 

6 Safe and Super Fun Ways to Go Camping with Baby

Camping with Baby 1

By Rita Myers

I’ve enjoyed camping since I was little, and it’s probably one of the few activities that have remained constant in my life, from childhood through adulthood. And now that I have a family of my own, I especially enjoy being able to go camping with all the members of our little household.

Yes, that means I regularly go camping with baby in tow. I’ve realized that a lot of people don’t think it’s possible to do so – it’s not safe enough, there’s too much to worry about, etc.

But it can be an incredibly fun and memorable experience that’s completely safe for your infant or toddler if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to go camping with baby.

 

A QUICK LOOK: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN CAMPING WITH BABY (#5 will be your favorite!)

  1. Bring These 3 Must-Have Baby Items
  2. Be Mindful of Temperature Changes
  3. Keep your Baby on the Same Eating and Sleep Schedule
  4. Choose a Nearby Campsite and Do a Test Run
  5. Don’t Worry Too Much and Relish in Your Baby’s First Camping Experience!
  6. Get Your Whole Family Involved

 

#1 Bring These 3 Must-Have Baby Items

As indicated in the video above, on top of the basic necessities for your baby, this is the trio that will make camping with your baby convenient and worry-free: a baby carrier, a natural insect repellent, and a safe area for your baby at the campsite.

A baby carrier will allow you to hike and move around while keeping your hands free. A natural insect repellent keeps your baby safe from insect bites – it can be used by the whole family too!

And finally, you need to create a spot at the campsite for your baby where he/she can explore and move around safely and under your watchful eye, be it a mat or a small tent.

Important Reminder: Choose an insect repellent with natural ingredients instead of chemicals. Before using it on your baby, you should read the label carefully and follow instructions closely. Only apply the insect repellent on your baby’s exposed skin and the outside of his/her clothes.

 

#2 Be Mindful of Temperature Changes

Camping with Baby 2

 

Temperatures can greatly fluctuate when you go camping, and it’s easy for grown-ups and kids to adjust to these changes, but you have to be on the lookout when you go camping with baby.

You could have him/her all bundled up because it had gotten cold overnight and into the early morning – thick blankets and a few layers including a hat – but within minutes, it could go from very cold to very hot, making the layers you put on your baby incredibly uncomfortable.

Be particularly mindful of the temperature inside your tent and dress your baby accordingly.

 

#3 Keep your Baby on the Same Eating and Sleep Schedule

Camping with Baby 3

 

Babies need to regularly eat and take naps – try your best to stay within his/her regular routine even while you’re out camping.

It would be great if your baby is able to fall asleep on a carrier, so you can continue on with your hike while he/she does so. Otherwise, you’ll need to adjust your itinerary to make sure you give your baby enough time to nap.

You should also stick to your baby’s eating schedule as much as you can. If you’re breastfeeding, be sure you’re able to find a spot for you to do so even while you’re en route to your campsite.

 

#4 Choose a Nearby Campsite and Do a Test Run

Planning for your first camping trip with your infant can be a daunting task, so try to keep things as simple as possible. Start small and eventually work your way towards bigger and better camping trips.

For starters, choose a campsite that’s near your home, so that in case things don’t work out or something goes uncontrollably wrong, you can quickly pack up and go home.

You can also opt for a familiar campsite, one that you’ve already visited previously. This way, you already know what kind of surroundings you’ll have on the trip. That’s one less thing that’s unknown and unexpected for your trip.

And before you go on your camping trip, take time out to do a test run. Go on a simple road trip with your infant and see how you and your partner will handle traveling with your baby.

That way, you’ll have an idea of what to expect when it comes to the real deal. You’ll also get a good idea of the items you’ll need and what items you can live without in order to minimize your packing.

A test run can also be a bit of motivation – when you witness your baby enjoying him/herself and discovering the great outdoors, it might turn out to be the final push you need to go on a camping trip. Which is related to my next and final tip on how to go camping with baby!

 

#5 Don’t Worry Too Much and Relish in Your Baby’s First Camping Experience!

I believe that a lot of the anxiety that comes with camping with your baby is during the planning stage, when you don’t know what to expect and you want to be prepared for anything. But by the time you actually start the camping trip, you should worry less and enjoy more.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and allow yourself to witness your child discovering the great outdoors. Take your camera out and capture those memories that you’ll want to remember forever. Let your child go a little bit, and don’t be afraid to let him/her explore the immediate surroundings (but under your watchful eye).

Getting your child started on camping early can be the beginning of a lifelong passion for the outdoors and a great bonding experience for you and your family. So don’t worry too much and have a great time with your partner and child!

 

#6 Get Your Whole Family Involved

Camping with a baby requires team effort, so ask the rest of your family to pitch in. You and your partner should take turns spending time with and taking care of your baby, while the other kids in the family can have smaller responsibilities like bringing some of the baby’s items and the baby’s toys.

If your kids are old enough, you can even ask them to take care of their youngest sibling while you do some chores. Don’t leave your kids unattended, but that doesn’t stop you from giving your older kids a sense of responsibility by asking them to take care of their sibling (still under your watchful eye – always!).

Quick tip: don’t make pitching in to take care of the baby feel like a chore for your older kids – instead, make it fun by presenting it as a mission or a game.This can also be a good lesson on responsibility for them!

 

Conclusion

Camping with Baby 4

Not only is camping a great way to take a break from the stress and pressure of daily city life, it’s also an awesome opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. It’s a chance to reconnect, reflect and recharge!

So don’t be afraid to go camping with baby! It’s one of the many firsts you’ll want to witness and enjoy for yourself.

The planning and the preparation might take longer than for your usual camping trip, but the extra effort will be worth the joy and satisfaction you’ll feel as a parent. Happy camping!

 

Was this list helpful? I hope so, because I want to break the notion that you can only go camping with baby when he or she reaches a certain age. Camping is an activity that can and should be enjoyed by everyone!  You can even find free checklists to help when camping with your kids (of all ages and stages) by going here.

I would love to hear your thoughts and reactions, so please post them in the comments section! And do share this article if you enjoyed reading it. Wishing you well on your camping adventures!

 

Free checklists for lovers of the great outdoors

Free Checklists image

By Nicole Anderson

Many of us live for the time when we get to experience the outdoors.  We are constantly planning the next great escape from the city to again be at peace with the serenity, majesty and wonder of nature.

Often in our pressured, busy lives it is so easy to forget a few things that would make our experience in nature all the better.  How many times can you recall running late to get away from your routine and in your rush, you overlooked things you wished you hadn’t?  If you’re anything like me (human, that is), then you can surely relate.

And let’s face it.  On some outings, be they for a short or a long while, there can be so many things to remember, depending on what you are doing and who you are doing it with.

So with the above in mind, a few Camping for Women contributors have come up with some checklists to help make our planning and getting things together a little easier.   There are 6 checklists that we have put up initially and more will be added to in the future.

Enjoy the Free Checklists!

The totally free checklists that have been prepared for anyone to download and use below:

 

Free Checklist Hiking and Backpacking

The Hiking and Backpacking Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

hiking-and-backpacking-checklist.pdf (360 downloads)

 

 

 

Free Checklists CampingThe Camping Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Camping-checklist.pdf (347 downloads)

 

 

 

Free checklists Camping with kids at all stagesThe Camping with Kids at all Stages Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Camping-with-kids-at-all-stages-checklist.pdf (333 downloads)

 

 

 

Free checklists the ultimate road trip checklistThe Ultimate Road Trip Checklist by Janessa Tice Miller

Click below to download:

The-Ultimate-Road-Trip-Checklist.pdf (316 downloads)

 

 

 

 

 

Free Checklists first aidThe First Aid Kit Checklist by Amanda Parent

Click below to download:

First-Aid-Kit-Checklist.pdf (319 downloads)

 

 

 

Free Checklists post camping

And lastly, but by no means least:

The Post-Camping Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Post-camping-checklist.pdf (334 downloads)

 

 

 

Use, share and tailor the checklists

You can also tailor these checklists by adding other things that may be particular to your circumstances, activity or location.

And in the future, Camping for Women plans to add to these checklists with different activities that readers tell us are useful.  Future free checklists and any updates to these initial lists will always be accessible from the Resources tab at Camping for Women.

You will be able to download which ever free checklists you like in future directly by going here.

We sincerely hope you get great value out from these checklists and that they save you some time and hassle that often goes with forgetting to take something that you really felt you needed to have.

Be sure to share this resource with your family and friends who love the great outdoors too!

Free checklists for lovers of the great outdoors

Personal protection against bears – guns or bear spray?

bear spray 1

By Carley Fairbrother

I spent seven years as a backcountry ranger in northern British Columbia, and one of the question I got asked the most was, “do you carry a gun out there?”  They seemed genuinely concerned when I told them that I usually just carried bear spray.

To many folks in the north, and I’m sure wherever gun culture is prevalent, bear spray is seen as something a gimmick. I can understand that.  I have been approached by an angry grizzly, and let me tell you, that can of bear spray made me feel a little like I’d shown up to a formal ball in my Pjs.

Yet here I am, years later still traipsing around bear country without a gun. Here’s why.

bear spray 2Effectiveness of bear spray

This may be counterintuitive, but bear spray does work better at deterring bears than firearms.  It’s nasty stuff, and when an animal with the sense of smell 100 times more powerful than a human’s gets a face-full of it, it’ll usually stop its charge immediately.  Bears, particularly grizzlies, often continue their attack, even after a fatal shot. It’s not surprising then that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that around 50% of people using firearms in a grizzly encounter still suffered injuries.  Those using bear spray suffered from much fewer and less severe injuries.

A 2008 study by biologist Tom Smith looked at 600 bear encounters in Alaska.  Bear spray proved 92% effective in the 72 cases that it was used.  Four years later, Smith did another study in 2012 looking at bear encounters involving firearms.  Depending on how you interpret the study, firearms were somewhere between 58% and 76% effective.

Speed and Ease of Use

bear spray 3Even a good marksman or markswoman will take at least a few seconds to unsling a gun, chamber a round, aim, and fire.  Even if you are in ready position with your gun, simply aiming is going to take longer than unholstering a can of bear spray.  To make matters worse, a bad shot may just make a bear angrier. Add to that the panic that comes with being face-to-face with and angry apex predator, and I’d say your chances are a lot better with bear spray.

Weight

Carrying too much weight isn’t just unpleasant, it can be dangerous.  If you are fatigued, you are going to be less aware of your surrounding, less likely to make noise, and slower to react in the event of a bear encounter.

A 12-gauge shotgun is going to weigh 6 or 7 lbs.  Compare that to 8-11oz for a canister of bear and there is no contest.  While a lighter gun may stand up against a black bear, a grizzly needs some serious power to bring it down.

bear spray 4

Unnecessary Killing

Just because a bear is angry at you doesn’t make it an evil creature that needs to die.  Remember, you are in its home, and it’s usually just defending itself.  Sometimes it’s only approaching out of curiosity, and spraying it will simply teach it that humans are best avoided.

That being said a predatory, habituated, or unusually aggressive bears should be reported to the appropriate authorities so they can take action if necessary.

bear spray 5

Human Safety

No matter how safe you are with your firearm, it’s hard to predict what kind of bad decisions you’ll make if you are panicked. There are plenty of stories of people inadvertently shooting themselves or their partners while hurrying to get a shot at the bear.

bear spray 6

What about Wind and the Short Range?

In good conditions, bear spray should shoot at least 16 feet, but some brands will shoot further.  This may seem uncomfortably close, but a bear further away will likely decide you aren’t worth the trouble before it actually attacks. You can also spray a bit earlier to make a cloud for the bear to run through.

In the Smith study, only five of the bear spray cases were effected by wind, and the spray still hit their target.  You may get sprayed a little yourself, but it’s a small price to pay.

bear spray 7

The Law

It’s now legal in many U.S. national parks to carry a firearms, but the ruling is still subject to state laws. Here in Canada it is illegal to carry firearms (with some exceptions for polar bears) in national parks.  Oddly, it is also illegal to carry bear spray in Yosemite, so if you plan on hiking there, bring your bear sense.

Things to Note

Now I want to make a few points clear.  Carrying any form of bear defence does not replace the need to use your bear sense.  Always make noise while hiking, stay aware of your surroundings, avoid hiking alone, keep you camp free of food smell, and know what to do in a bear encounter to avoid an attack.

Also, no matter what you choose to carry, know how to use it.  If you choose bear spray, practice unholstering your bear spray and removing the safety, and ALWAYS keep it somewhere where you can grab it.  Should you have an expired canister, practice discharging it.  If you choose a gun, make sure it’s going to be powerful enough and practice getting it ready and taking aim in a variety of situations.

Sources

U.S. Fish & Wildife Service. Bear Spray vs. Bullets: Which offers better protection? Living with Grizzlies http://www.bearsmart.com/docs/BearSprayVsBullets.pdf

Tom Smith et al.  Efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management. 76(5):1021-1102J. July 2012. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/326124/efficacy-of-firearms-for-bear-deterrence-in-alaska.pdf

Tom Smith, et al. Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 72(3):640 – 645 · December 2008.  http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/bear_cougar/bear/files/JWM_BearSprayAlaska.pdf

Video

Also, check out this video put together by Carley Fairbrother, together with a giveaway she is running this month:

 

 

Cute Romantic Gestures For Hiking Lovers

Romantic 1

By Oceana Setaysha

Hiking is a wonderful activity to do with someone you love. If you and your partner both love to hike, it can be fun to bring a bit more romance into your hiking adventures. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few ideas for little romantic gestures you can do to really make your significant other feel loved, even when you’re out on the trail!

 

Plan A Surprise Romantic Getaway

Romantic 2

While it’s great to plan and organize a hike, there’s something really nice about not really having to do the planning, but still getting to enjoy the hike. So, one simple but romantic gesture you might want to do for your partner is to plan a surprise getaway that includes a few really nice hikes. You could go just for the day, or a few days, and either visit somewhere that has been a favourite of yours as a couple, or somewhere they’ve never been. You take care of all the details, and just encourage them to pack a bag and come along for an adventure!

 

Bring An Unexpected Snack

Romantic 3

If you’re going on a hike with your partner, a short-notice but effective romantic gesture you can do is to bring an unexpected snack with you. Now, there are lots of foods that people consider to be romantic, but here you need to think about portability and preferences. Chocolate dipped strawberries are great, as long as you keep the chocolate separate in a small, sealed container. A pair of small bottles of wine make a great surprise, or champagne to celebrate a relationship milestone. Even a small selection of cheese and crackers can really make them feel loved and appreciated.

 

See The Best Of Nature

Romantic 4

There are so many lovely things out there in the world, so many things to see and enjoy. But you can’t argue that it’s nicer to do them with someone by your side. So, if you’re looking for something romantic to do, try and see some of the best natural wonders in your area. Whether they’re a natural landmark, a stunning sunrise, a gorgeous sunset, or a sky full of stars, take your partner out into nature to see the best that’s on offer. Spend an evening stargazing and searching for falling stars and satellites, or pack a thermos of tea and watch the sun rise or set. It’s sure to be a hike to remember.

 

Go On A Geocaching Adventure

Romantic 5

Doing something together with your partner is a great way to further cement your bond. So, while you both might enjoy hiking it can be even more fun to hike with a specific goal in mind. If you’ve climbed a few mountains and you’ve completed the hikes in your area, have a go at them again with geocaching in mind. If you’ve never heard of geocaching, it’s basically a treasure hunt you do with GPS. People hide containers, called ‘caches’, and you have to find them. Many people lay the caches out along hiking trails, allowing you to enjoy the hike and collect the caches. For a truly romantic gesture, organize to lay a cache yourself, and name it in honour of your partner!  You can also read more about geocaching in our article about it here.

 

Walk A Heart

This is one for the forward thinkers, which might not be easily pulled off but is sure to make a statement. Encourage your partner to install, and then use, a fitness tracker app under the pretense of seeing how far you have walked and how fast. You could also use a GPS. Then take them on a hike that you’ve planned in the shape of a love heart. You’ll need some basic plotting skills for this, but you can easily program the hike into your GPS. For extra points, have the start/end point of the hike at a gorgeous spot where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the wild.

Romantic 6