8 Health Benefits Hiking

8 Health Benefits Hiking 1

By Elizabeth Wambui Mathu

The next time you hear a friend invite you for a hike, acknowledge them for bearing in mind your health!

Hiking is a precious activity with great gratification that we do for fun, but do you know that it has numerous health benefits? We do hiking for several reasons, including checking out blogs but at the end of it all, it contributes to a healthy lifestyle. It adds to tremendous mental and physical well-being.

Here are some of the health benefits of hiking:

 

Weight Loss

8 Health Benefits Hiking 2If you are struggling with excess weight, good hiking can help you reduce extra calories in the body. The physical activity involved blasts out the calories and burns excess body fat. Even without creating a calorie deficit diet, exercising through hiking is an effective method to burn fat.

The steeper and the more challenging the trails the more the more calories you burn. During a hike, a normal adult burns 300-500 calories. While doing away with fats, you also strengthen body muscles creating a balance and flexibility.

 

Increases Body Stamina

You are hiking and building more endurance, but do you how good is your body stamina is getting? While on the trails, walking long distances day in, day out, your body gains more stamina. When trekking up and down, your legs and back get stronger and stronger.

Every day you want to achieve new heights. Hiking exercises key muscles around your bones, more than the regular activities you undertake on daily basis.

 

Hiking Boosts Creativity

Ever felt dull, uncreative and non-artistic? That might be due to a lot of monotony at home and less outdoor adventure, and you have to try hiking to overcome this. Spending moments in the outdoor increases your attention to details and opens up your mind to a significant higher level. A research by Stanford University found out that while trailing, the body creative juices flow better than while sitting.

Another study by the University of Kansas suggests that hikers performed better in a skill test after a 2-day hike than those who undertook the test before the hike. Hiking gives people greater ability to focus and build up new ideas.

 

Hiking Boosts Vitamin D factor in the body

Vitamin D deficiency in the body leads to skeletal deformity and soft bones. The gazing early morning sun is vital for boosting a person’s Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is acquired when the body is exposed to sunlight. It enables your body absorb calcium strengthening your immune system. A stroll in the woods and the hills gets you the essential amounts of vitamin D that your body requires. Apart from hardening bones, Vitamin D also improves sleep patterns, and staves off depression.

 

Controls Diabetes

Are you struggling with diabetes? Hiking is one of the best-known practices that helps diabetic patients recover from their predicaments. Walking for fairly long distances lowers blood sugar levels in the body. Instead of seeking expensive medical care, trekking several miles a day is the ultimate natural solution for you. Although walking seems like a basic form of exercise, it is a highly sought method of reducing blood glucose.

 

Strengthens Body Muscles

8 Health Benefits Hiking 3When you are feeling a little bit weak after performing simple tasks, it might be a sign of weak muscles. Maybe it’s because of sitting all day in an office without any significant exercise. If this is the case, then you to pull out your backpack and set off for a hike. By doing this, you will be doing your cardio some good. The longer and the further the hike, the better. Hiking helps strengthen your leg and back muscles thus boosting your fitness.

 

Reduces ADHD in children

Are you looking for a natural therapy for a child with ADHD symptoms? Relieve the kids from stress by giving them a hike and help improve their attention. No cost and no side effects. Just a wander along the trails and you will notice some improvements after some time.

 

Gives You a Better Perception of the World

You are going for a new experience in a new place to meet new people; that sounds cool. A breakaway from your monotonous workplace with a hike gives you a better picture and feeling for the world. You are going to have a thrilling adventure that will change your perception of the boring world, the one you left behind. Hiking gives you the feeling of throwing away what feels dull and picking up the bright stars around you.

 

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Hiking is a natural remedy to many health problems that we face day in day out. The above are just some of the health benefits of hiking. If you are out there and yet to give it a try, it’s your chance to take up the challenge and you will experience the numerous benefits.

 

THE PLACE WHERE I’M FROM | Discover the northeast of Italy

Discover the northeast of Italy 1

By Alessia Morello

Hi girls,

Today I decide to write a different post.

It’s not just a trekking post, it is more a celebration of my homeland.

You have to know that my region is not considered much at all in Italy. Sometimes this is sad and sometimes I’m happy for that because we don’t have many tourists that hike and explore our incredible mountains.

I live in the northeast of Italy, in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Yeah, my region has three names because after wars and wars it was decided to join together 3 different areas.

I live very close to the border with Slovenia and Austria and to the south it is lapped by the Adriatic Sea. In the upper part you can find wonderful mountains where you can ski or hike and climb. In the middle there are amazing hills and open spaces to ride by bike and in the south there’s the sea side with beaches and ports.

 

Nothing missed at all in my land but why is it so unknown?

The main point is that Italy has too much in the way of beautiful places to go and the tourists that come here want to see the most famous things like Rome, Venice, Milan, the Tuscany etc etc. so it is hard to compete with these beauties. Secondly our people are a bit stuffy and don’t like having a lot of new people around. After a hundred years of foreign domination we do not openly welcome new tourism that much. Thirdly, our land has never had problems of job shortages or similar so we never needed the tourism market.

But now with the help of social media and the Internet, I want to show you the magical place where I’m from.  NOW I bring you with me in the “hike of the cheese” that is the walk that the cows usually do in the mountains from the Aly (or alpine hut where the cheese is made) and the place where the cows are brought to pasture.

Ready?

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If you do a hike in Italy there are 3 different kinds of hut that you can find. The Bivaccothat is usually a red metal covert shelter just with some bedding where you can sleep. The classic alpine hut is an easy restaurant and where you can rent a bed or room and then there is the malga (the hut where the cheese is made and where the cows stay during summer season).

The nicest hikes always finish with a lunch in a hut.

 

The trek

The trek starts from the bottom malga where the cows stay during the night and most part of the dayand.  This is where the restaurant of the malga makes delicious homemade gnocchi with their cheese, cheese and ham plates to share together with other typical mountain dishes.

From there after we enjoy an espresso coffee and start the walk. After a not too difficult uphill part, a flat walk followed and we had the chance to visit a little cave. In just one hour we arrive in a wide lawn where the cows are left free to graze.

After a break we decide to start again and to make the whole ring of the pastures also overcoming the border with Austria.

We walk along the cresta a few meters from the border and we can admire on the right Italy with its pastures in the distance and on the left the meadows and the slopes of Austria, where in winter there is one of the biggest ski resorts in the area.

The walk is beautiful, the sunny day allows us to take beautiful photos and also reach the Bivacco Lomasti, a red dot in the middle of the valley that dominates above all. Very beautiful.

 

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An amazing day spent in the middle of my mountains that are not just beautiful and sweet. My mountains are hard, difficult, challenging. Not for everybody. But surely, they leave you with a sense of success and greater satisfaction.

 

Hope you love my pics of my homeland and I hope one day if you decide to visit Italy, you remember my beautiful area in the northeast of Italy ? The Friuli Venezia Giulia.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Alessia Morello lives in the north-east of Italy. After working for several years around the world she decide to stop and come back in her homeland and do the things she loves like trekking into the Dolomites with her dog Giorgino and creating posts and videos for her blog. She grew up doing outdoor adventures with the family and now the nature is part of her life. Other interests? Rock climbing, mountain bike trails, cooking vegetarian recipes and having fun!

Follow her travels at www.theitaliansmoothie.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

Dear Natalie: Try Outxes Rugged Power Bank

Ask Natalie Banner Dear Natalie: Who else does this?

By Natalie McCarthy

Dear Natalie,

Word on the street is that Outxe sent you another product. What did you think?

Signed,

Someone whose phone is at 2% battery

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dear Someone – wait a second. Who lets their phone get to 2%? Seriously, man. That’s just negligent.

Anyway, yes, Outxe kindly sent me their rugged power bank – actually, the 9,622nd rugged power bank they’ve shipped this year (a cute little thank you card came inside the box informing me of this fun fact!). Maybe you should receive number 9,623, since you seem to treat your phone’s charge with such brazen disregard.

 

Outxes Rugged Power Bank 1

 

But seriously – if you’re as hypervigilant about maintaining a charge as I am, you will adore this power bank. Given how rugged and useful Outxe’s line is, I’m not surprised so many of these bad boys have been shipped across the world. They’re popular – and photogenic! Okay, maybe they haven’t made the cover of Vogue just yet, but they are huge on Instagram! Outxe sponsors a monthly photo contest. Folks snap a pic of their Outxe product in the great outdoors and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #RealPowerSurvives. Once a month, one lucky winner scores a prize worth $100, and twice a year, a super-lucky person draws a $500 prize.

 

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One of the contest photos

 

I’m excited to enter the contest. I just need to find the perfect outdoorsy scene….

The Outxe Rugged Solar Power Bank arrived in a sleek black box with an instruction manual in several languages (more proof that keeping your phone charged appeals to people of all linguistic backgrounds!). Given my confusion with Outxe’s last product about water resistance, my eye immediately noticed that the Rugged Solar Power Bank is – get this – waterproof!  I have evidence. Are you ready?

 

 

Yes, that’s my power bank in my bathroom sink.  As you can see, an indicator light was still on after I pulled it out of the water. (Also – I didn’t get electrocuted!)

If you’re a spec person, allow me to offer you this:

  • 20,000mAH/74Wh capacity
  • Lithium-Polymer battery type
  • IP67 waterproof level
  • Input: Micro-USB at DC 5V/2A (max); Type-C at DC 5V/3A (max); Solar charging at 5V/400mA/2W (max). You can double-charge via Micro-USB and Type-C at the same time, shortening the recharge time to under 7 hours.
  • Output: One is DC 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A (max), and compatible with QC2.0, 3.0, and other quick charge protocols with 9V output. The other is DC 5V/2.4A (max). The power bank self-regulates to 24W when you use both outputs simultaneously to charge two devices; this avoids overheating.
  • 170 x 86 x 30 mm in size and 525 grams in weight

So what do I think? In a nutshell, it’s awesome.

Drawbacks

  • It is a bit heavy. It’s worth noting that “heavy” is relative; in the hiking and backpacking world, where weight is carried directly on one’s back, just a gram or two can make the difference between “heavy” and “not that heavy at all.” For car camping, kayaking or boating, or any other activity where space and weight aren’t so pressing an issue, I think this unit will be perfect.

Benefits

  • It can charge two devices at once! Seriously!
  • This power bank can be reloaded a few ways: Micro-USB, Type-C, or via solar panel! The Micro-USB and Type-C inputs take about half a day to fully restock the power bank, which is really reasonable in terms of charge time. The solar panel, of course, takes longer – about 70 hours under ideal conditions. Still, not too shabby, particularly when you consider…
  • …you will not deplete this power bank right away! I charged two devices off it simultaneously for about two hours, and they barely made a dent in the bank’s reserves. It’s been well over a week and my bank is just now indicating that it needs to be repowered.
  • It’s waterproof! The outlets are perfectly covered by little rubber caps. I wouldn’t recommend randomly throwing electrical devices into the ocean (or your sink) for fun, of course. Still, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that a splash or some rain won’t ruin your power source.

If you’d like to check out this or other Outxe products, head on over to Outxe’s website.

See you again soon,

Natalie

 

How to choose and use a camp stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 1

By Krista Karlson

Sharpen your dinner duty skills with this easy guide.

When I first started camping and backpacking, I’d strategically avoid dinner duty. I’d offer to set up the tent or get water, but I never helped cook because I didn’t know how to use a stove. I felt embarrassed, like I wasn’t “outdoorsy” enough. I didn’t want to ask how to use a stove because it would reveal what I thought was a gaping incompetency, and I didn’t want to be mansplained about how to use one. So I’d peek over my friends’ shoulders, trying to figure out how it worked.

When I finally learned how to use my first camp stove, I felt relieved. Finally I could help make dinner. I went on to teach student trip leaders how to operate and clean stoves, always assuring them it was ok that they were still learning.

This guide will help you choose and operate various types of stoves so you can confidently approach dinner duty. It might take a while to get the hang of it, and that’s ok. Practice makes perfect.

 

Two-burner propane stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 2 - photo by Brian Gautreau
Photo by Brian Gautreau

This stove is great for car camping. The double burner allows you to cook two things at once, and the built-in windscreen keeps the flame from going out. The downside is that it’s heavy (around 10 pounds).

Here’s how it works:

 

Liquid fuel stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 3 - photo by Kitty Terwolbeck
Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck

This stove is great for cold alpine trips because unlike gas, liquid fuel can be manually pressurized in cold or high altitude conditions. It usually weighs about 1 pound, and the refillable fuel bottle cuts down on waste.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Integrated canister stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 4 - photo by Michael Pereckas
Photo by Michael Pereckas

This stove is great for backpacking. It’s lightweight (less than 1 pound) and packable, but can be hard to repair. If you’re prone to knocking things over, this is the stove for you: the whole thing fits together so your pot doesn’t slide off the burner.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Traditional canister stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 5 - photo by Omar Bárcena
Photo by Omar Bárcena

This stove is also great for backpacking. It’s just about as light as it gets (3 ounces) and it packs down small. Similar to other gas-powered stoves, though, the fuel canisters can be a pain to recycle and aren’t great in cold temperatures.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Wood stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 6 - photo by Ryo Chijiiwa
Photo by Ryo Chijiiwa

This stove is neat because it uses scavenged wood instead of petroleum-based fuel. But while it might be more environmentally friendly, it’s hard to use if the wood is wet or you’re in an area without wood at all.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Before you go camping, practice using your stove at home. This will help work out the kinks and get your system down. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s this: don’t forget a lighter.

 

About the author:

How to choose and use a camp stove 7

Krista Karlson is a freelance writer and curiosity follower based in Connecticut. Her latest adventures involve learning to camp with a dog.  She is also a contributor at Peak Explorations/Brown Gal Trekker.

Dear Natalie: Try the Urban Canairie Hat

Ask Natalie Banner Dear Natalie: Who else does this?

By Natalie McCarthy

Dear Natalie,

What are your thoughts on Urban Canairie’s outdoor hats?

Signed,

You all, because you like covering your head

__________________________________________________________________

 

Dear friends,

I’m going to be honest with you: Getting gifts in the mail is really, really great. I mean, it exceeds the typical daily level of greatness; it is a special degree of great.  And since I’m pretty excitable anyway, you can imagine my joy when a gift box arrived on my doorstep, all the way from the Canadian Frontier, where bear rugs still growl and the winters make girls into women. Inside the box were two caps from Urban Canairie, an outfitter specializing in outdoor headgear.

Mark Freeman, the company founder, sent me two of his specially vented caps, along with a kind, personalized note. One of the caps was the Arctic Stone color, a nice grey shade; the other, which came with a removable, vented neck-shade, was a creamy Wintery White color.

 

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(Note briefly: As a child, I was taught a serious fashion rule. That rule dictated that beyond her wedding day, a lady must only wear white during the summer season between the end of May and the first week of September. Obviously, I had to take pause and wonder, “Should I wear a white cap when it’s only the first week of May?” Since this cap was a ‘wintery white,’ I figured I could break the rule. Rest assured that no fashion gods smote me.)

I want you to trust my reviews, so let me speak frankly. I had two remarks immediately upon opening this box of hats:

  1. “Oh wow, look at the vents on the top of these caps! Bye bye head sweat!”
  2. “Oh gosh, these… are not… my style.”

Now style is subjective, of course, and my opinion is just one in a sea of bajillions. I figured I’d gather others’ opinions, so I put on the Wintery White cap and snapped a selfie. First, I emailed my picture to Nicole. “I don’t know what to think about this, Nicole,” I said. Next, I texted my friend: “Do I look like a dweeb?” (She responded, “Always.” Gee, thanks a lot!)  Regardless, style is fleeting; substance is the real deal. I decided that even if I looked like a dweeb, I’d take these caps for a test drive on a couple hikes, and I’d make a fully informed assessment.

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Selfie!

 

Drawbacks—all subjective:

  • It really wasn’t my style after all. “I feel like I’m in an old timey Army,” I said to my friend as we set off on our hike. She encouraged me to march stiff-kneed with a long water bottle cradled against my chest. I tried it for a while, and it actually felt appropriate. Turns out my military vibe was spot-on! On the Urban Canairie website, Mark remarks that the hat design was inspired by “the cylindrical shaped, flat topped military ‘kepi’ hats from the French Foreign Legion and U.S. Civil War.” I found this a bit too masculine for my tastes, but my friend – who, like me, dresses femininely – said she thought the hats were neat looking. It really is a “to-may-to, to-mah-to” thing. As the company website mentions, “The hat may be a little ‘different’ looking, however we now live in a world where uniqueness is accepted.”
  • I felt the fit was a bit “iffy,” but this was also a benefit (see below). The hat band fell above my ears, so even when I tightened it, it still felt as though it were resting on the top of my head. I was paranoid that it would fall off throughout the day, and I remedied this by putting my ponytail through the hole in the back of the band.
  • I found the neck shade awkward to wear. I’m not always the best at applying sunscreen to the back of my neck, so I appreciated how the shade protected that area. However, I’m on the petite side (worded less delicately: I’m really freakin’ short; my backpack frames are either child length or women’s XS). Thus, I found the shade a bit too long for me. I imagine adult-sized adults would be perfectly fine with the neck shade’s length.

 

Benefits—More measurable!:

  • One of Urban Canairie’s mottos is “Our Hats Keep You Cool.” This is a true statement. Despite my feelings that the hat fit precariously, the lack of weight and fabric around my ears really did cool off my head. The vented design at the top of the hat significantly cooled things off, too.
  • The bill of the hat is a great size. I’ve found many of the ball caps I wear while hiking have bills made for larger faces; I sometimes feel like I’m hiking beneath an awning. The front of the Urban Canairie hat was large enough to shade my face, but not so big that my line of sight was obscured.
  • In his letter, Mark informed me that others—perhaps those with lots of hair, like me!—have remarked on how these hats do not cause “hat head.” I can vouch for this! Although I certainly don’t put a lot of effort into my hairdo while hiking, I was pleased to see that I did not have a weird dent in my hair at the end of the day.
  • The hats are manufactured in Canada from 65% recycled plastic and 35% American-supplied, certified organic cotton. This results in an ecologically minded product made in fair work conditions!
  • These hats are built tough. I rolled them up, dropped them in dirt, crunched them into my backpack, and accidentally stepped on one, and they came out looking fresh as a daisy. These are meticulously crafted hats.
It might not be obvious, but I was warm here. My face was red and my back may or may not have been sweaty. My head, though, was super comfortable!

 

My final thoughts?  Urban Canairie’s hats are worth a look-see. I can see myself wearing them again, without the neck shade, during a hiking or camping trip. You might opt to wear them everywhere! Let’s focus on function: These hats are, literally, cool. If you tend to run warm, like I do, you’ll be pleased with how breezy you feel wearing these caps.

Feel like learning more? Check out the hats and learn more about Urban Canairie.

See you again soon,

Natalie

Top 4 Amazing Tree House Hotels in Italy

By Alessia Morello

The best tree houses to sleep in while in Italy

If you’ve always wandered to sleep in a tree house surrounded by meters and meters of snow … now is the time!

The United States has been the forerunners of this wonderful idea and even Italy in recent years has worked hard to make tourists and locals live a unique experience by spending a holiday staying meters high in the middle of our amazing woods.

I’m so happy to announce that one of the most beautiful and design tree house is in my area, the northeast of Italy, in the middle between Venice and Austria and this place with has breathtaking views and the beautiful woods full of giants beech, larch and fir create a really magic atmosphere. 

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The Pinecone of Malga Priu, Ugovizza in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy)

In a place where man and nature come together the Pinecone is a design treehouse built respecting nature and its environment. 3 amazing floors where you can see the woods around at 360°.

This is part of one of the many eco-sustainable projects to support the mountain economy even in the less touristic areas of Italy. It combines respect for the environment and design and aims to bring more people closer to the mountains and to eco-sustainable tourism. This is absolute not cheap but I assure you that the experience is worth the money spent.

At the main floor you can find the living room, the toilet and the kitchen all built with local wood from Italian artisans. At the top floor you can find in an amazing round room the bedroom with a window above you perfect to see the stars before sleeping and on the lower floor 2 hanging chairs wait you for your relax with a breathtaking panorama. Isn’t a magic place to stay?

 

Tree Village in Claut, Friuli Venezia Giulia

This is the biggest treehouse village in Italy. Here you can find more solutions and is perfect for families. Built in the middle of a National Park close to the most amazing mountains of the Dolomites, the memories of a holiday in this village will remain in the heart forever. Here the contact with nature is total. Breakfast is served under the leaves of the trees before going out to explore the park through well-marked paths or swim in the river. The activities for kids are various and the parents have the time to relax and have fun.

Click this LINK to check out the Tree Village website.

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B&B La piantata, Arlena di Castro (Viterbo)

The owner says: “At 8 meters from the ground, among 12 hectares of hills planted with lavender, in the thick foliage of an ancient oak tree, it has built the refuge of your dreams”. 

This is the dream of any foreigner who comes on holiday in Italy, sleep in the country surrounded by rows of vines or cultivated fields and to feel this classic “italian atmosphere”. This place is a super luxury treehouse where you can have breakfast in your private balcony and smell the fragrance of the lavender all around you. This is a really lovely escape where you can appreciate the slow pace of time and being together. 

Here is a LINK to see much more of this luxury option and the beautiful surroundings.

 

Caravan Park in Alto Adige

If you love the mountains and the classic alpine style this area is what you are looking for. The Alto Adige is famous for the amazing mountains and for the beauty of their villages. During a holiday here you can opt for a sporty trip and do trekking, hiking, mtb and more or with their dozens of spas decide to take a holiday in total relaxation. If you want also to combine an unique experience the treehouse at the Caravan Park is the best you can find.  Here you have a flat all for you with an incredible view and bathroom with sensory shower, whirlpool and sauna. Not bad at all! 

You really have to check out this site to believe the majestic natural beauty of this place – click this LINK to see for yourself!

Top 4 Amazing Tree House Hotels in Italy 2I know that the things to visit in Italy are various but visiting the mountains and sleeping in places like this help the locals to work and live in the places where they are born. I hope more people start to come in Italy for visiting and do trekking in our amazing mountains and start to appreciate the slow life and focus more on what we have and not what we miss.

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Alessia Morello lives in the north-east of Italy. After working for several years around the world she decide to stop and come back in her homeland and do the things she loves like trekking into the Dolomites with her dog Giorgino and creating posts and videos for her blog. She grew up doing outdoor adventures with the family and now the nature is part of her life. Other interests? Rock climbing, mountain bike trails, cooking vegetarian recipes and having fun!

Follow her travels at www.theitaliansmoothie.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

Winfields Best Outdoor, Walking, Hiking and Camping Bloggers for 2018

Winfields Best Outdoor, Walking, Hiking and Camping Bloggers for 2018

By Nicole Anderson

Winfields Outdoors has released its best blogs for 2018 and what a fantastic resource this is for anyone who loves spending time in the great outdoors.

In all, Winfields Outdoors has recognized 136 blogs from around the world across the following six categories:

Best General Outdoor Blogs

Best Walking and Hiking Blogs

Best Camping Blogs

Best Caravanning & Campervan Blogs

Best Outdoor Activity & Health Blogs

Best Travel Blogs

Within the announcement of their 2018 best bloggers, Winfields has included a brief description and links to every one of the 136 blogs included so readers can easily check out all the outdoor blogs shown under each category.  This makes a great page to bookmark so you can visit blogs that appeal to you.  You can visit the page which includes all the links to each blog HERE.

There is no doubt you will find a lot of excellent information, resources and even entertainment from looking through such a comprehensive list of quality blogs.

 

Recognition of Camping for Women

Camping for WomenEveryone at Camping for Women were really pleased to have been recognized as 1 of 7 blogs within the Camping category.  Ashley McGovern on behalf of Winfields Outdoors said it was a “no brainer” to include Camping for Women as a result for their search fresh, exciting outdoors content.  She said she thought our contributor’s writing was really informative – something thoughtful to share with their own adventure-happy audience.

 

Those we need to thank

Camping for Women is extremely grateful to all of its contributors who so freely share their own skills, knowledge and experience with fellow women outdoor adventurers the world over.  This recognition is absolutely a tribute to their generous spirit to share detail of what they love so much.

We also really appreciate the loyalty of our subscribers and readers who interact so well with our contributors via the blog posts so positively.  This level of communication between readers and contributors highlights very much of a community feel even though the people involved are often geographically half a world away from each other.  We are nevertheless bonded by our shared love of nature and spending time outdoors.

It’s times like these when people outside your own immediate community recognize your efforts to make a difference for lovers of the outdoors, that you feel very grateful for all that are involved.  We are extremely thankful to many for adding their voice, the latest being Winfields Outdoors.

About Winfields Outdoors

Based in Europe, Winfields Outdoors is a major outdoor retailer that can boast excellent outdoor and indoor displays across most of its 8 brick and mortar stores within the UK showing tents, porch awnings, motor home awnings, campervan awnings as well as all the camping equipment, caravan accessories, outdoor clothing, outdoor gear and footwear.  Established since 1971, they have strong relationships with leading manufacturers within the camping and caravanning industry and state that their advice and after sales service is second to none.  Their website is https://www.winfieldsoutdoors.co.uk/

8 Ways to Mentally Prepare for a Solo Adventure

By Marinel de Jesus

Mentally prepare 1Being a solo traveler, and even more so, a solo hiker or backpacker can be an intimidating endeavor to undertake.  I cannot emphasize enough the need to be comfortable when partaking in anything serious such as hiking or backpacking in the wilderness by yourself.  The same goes for traveling as it’s just not worth it to feel overwhelmingly anxious to the extent that it outweighs the joy of traveling or trekking solo.

I, too, have gone through anxiety over being alone on my travels or in the mountains in my prior travels/treks in the past 15 years.  Despite being fully prepared, sometimes, the unexpected happens and the best you can do is to stay calm.  That way you can assess your situation more clearly and decide on the most appropriate action. But before you even dive into going solo on an extended travel or trek, it’s important to take baby steps to get you to a point where solo hiking/traveling falls within your comfort zone.   Here are some of my tips based on my own personal experience with hiking/trekking/traveling solo that will help prepare you mentally for the solo experience:

Start small

If you are completely new to traveling or trekking solo, then start out with a day hike or day trip.  Then, as you feel more comfortable with solitude and organizing the logistics of your hike or travel, you can build that up by adding more days, thereby transforming it into a weekend trip.  There’s no reason to go extremely extravagant on your first time hiking or traveling solo.

Why would you want to spend so much money on a 4-week solo trip only to find out that you dread the experience of going alone?  Avoid regrets and do a test run first.  Start with a day or two, and then build up.

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Study your itinerary

Sure, at some point you will want to be spontaneous. Book the flight and go.  But to calm down that anxiety from going solo, it’s recommended that you do plenty of research on your destination or the trail you wish to hike.   You can never have enough information, especially if the place you’re traveling to or hiking in is a first time destination.  Even with a place you have been to before, I would still recommend doing plenty of research because oftentimes when we go with people, we tend not to pay attention to the logistics the way we normally would when it’s only us that we have to rely upon for guidance.

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Get advice and tips from others who have been to the trail or place you are eyeing

Mentally prepare 7This is part of your research and it’s crucial to take advantage of any resources that are out there for you to learn about the trail or place.  For example, when I went to China, the resources for the trails in that country were hard to find because it was either the trails were still unknown to the western world or the blogs or information were written in Mandarin.  However, still, I managed to find a few websites which turned out to be heaven sent as they helped significantly in planning my trip.  An equally better resource is, of course, an actual consultation with someone who had been to the trail or place of your choice.  The advice given is usually invaluable as you won’t find such information online or anywhere else.  Note that most people are more than happy to share their travel wisdom and experiences so there’s no reason to be shy.

 

Learn to love yourself

Somewhere along the way on your trek, travel or both, you will get frustrated with yourself.  You will make mistakes here and there.  Before you venture out on your own, it is important to have a good grasp of self-love.  By that, I mean, learn to be easy on yourself.  Be forgiving of your mistakes and learn to go with the flow of life.  Understand that mistakes are inevitable including yours, and that’s okay.  In addition, loving yourself also means taking care of you.  While on the trail or the road, eating healthy and maintaining a workout routine are critical.

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Learn to smile and be friendly

This should really be a given even if you’re traveling with others.  But in the world of solo trekking or traveling, a friendly demeanor can truly save you at times.  A smile can easily attract the right stranger to help you with directions or a fellow hiker who can become your trail friend for days.  At the same time, be mindful of the level of friendliness that you are exhibiting, especially if you are a female who finds herself interacting with a male.  An appropriate level of friendliness is the key.  Practice smiling and chatting with strangers in your daily life and you’ll soon make this a habit that will carry over to your solo adventure with ease.

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Practice fine tuning your intuition

Mentally prepare 5Expect chats and interactions with strangers when you venture on your own.  It’s part of the adventure, and in most instances, it’s really the highlight.  Oftentimes, the people you strike a conversation with in far-away places or in the middle of nowhere are exactly the ones that become your long-time friends.   At the same time, learn to pay attention to your intuition.  You have it for a reason.  Your intuition is your imaginary friend – it knows better than you at times even though the actual circumstances in front of you may not clearly support the sense of danger that your intuition is warning you about.  So, listen to that intuition the same way you listen to your body when you feel pain.  It is nagging you for a reason.

 

Disregard all the above preparation and go for it (assuming you keep an open mind)

Having said all the above tips, you can still opt to disregard them all and just take the leap into the abyss of solo traveling/trekking.  By doing so, you will learn at a faster rate all the above.  It’s a crash course that can potentially maximize the lessons learned in a little bit harder way.  As long as you are aware of the risks, then, sure, why not just go for it all at once?

So, there you have it.  This list is just a start.  Preparing your mind for that solo adventure is as important, if not more, as the things you put in your backpack.  So, take the time to prep!

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A review on High-Altitude Trekking in Ladakh, India

Political Location Map of Ladakh (Leh)
Political Location Map of Ladakh (Leh)

Getting there:

The easiest way to get to Ladakh is by flying from Delhi to Leh (the biggest town in Ladakh).  It’s a two day drive from either Srinagar or Manali and you will pass over some of the world’s highest motorable passes.  Be prepared for road closures, altitude sickness, motion sickness, and at least a few adrenaline filled moments.

 

Reviewed by:

Carley Fairbrother, British Columbia Canada.

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Carley is a self-declared nature nerd from British Columbia, Canada.  She spent seven years  as a backcountry park ranger in northern BC before becoming an elementary school teacher.  She enjoys hiking, canoeing, cycling, climbing, wild foraging, snowshoeing, skiing and most things outdoors.  She also runs a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching people about nature and inspiring them to get outside.  She travelled Ladakh in the summer of 2017 with her husband, Clay.

 

Best time to visit:

Peak season in Ladakh is mid-June to August. The weather is warm and all of the roads are open. However, September and early October are less crowded, and monsoon season is over, making the roads safer and rivers on trekking routes easier to cross.

 

Climate/weather/temperature & appropriate dress

Ladakh, nestled in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, is classified as a cold desert. Winter temperatures average well below freezing. In Leh, summer temperatures can get into the high 30s (celsius) during the day, but nights are still chilly, and most treks will take you into higher elevations where temperatures are cooler.  There isn’t much shade n Ladakh, so when the sun is shining, it is relentless.  Expect a windchill of -20° celsius if you are going over 6000m.

Bring warm clothes, especially if you are trekking or climbing.  Don’t forget a rain coat. June-September is monsoon season throughout India, even in the desert.

Leave your shorts and tank tops at home.  While Ladakh can get hot, it’s important to note that local women, even the ones who wear western clothes, will rarely show their arms or legs. While nothing horrible is likely come from you wearing shorts, covering your shoulders and legs shows respect for the local culture. Plus you may save yourself a nasty sunburn. Bring light breathable pants and t-shirts.

 

Main attractions/Must dos

The mountains.

Just being surrounded by them may be enough, but here are a number of “trekking peaks” over 6000m.  These peaks are advertised as non-technical, but usually require ice axe, crampons’, and rope, so unless you are an experienced mountaineer, they are best attempted with a  guide.  At 6,153 m, Stok Kangri is by far the most popular, but it is far from easy.  It requires at least three days (usually 4-5) of trekking, a midnight start on summit day, a glacier crossing, some nerves of steel, and plenty of acclimatization.

 

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Looking up at the mountains on the drive to Pangong Lake

 

Trekking.

If clinging to the edge of a mountain with an ice axe doesn’t appeal to you, there are many milder treks.  The Markha Valley trek is a popular 4-10 day trek. It is one of the few treks in Ladakh that offer homestays the whole way, so there is no need to carry a tent or hire ponies.  There is also lots of information available on the route and is  easy to do without a guide.

 

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The fertile Markha Valley

 

The culture.

Many people travel to Ladakh solely for the culture and history.  Ladakh is sometimes referred to as “Little Tibet,” and is culturally and geographically similar to Tibet.  There are plenty of ancient monasteries and palaces to explore.

 

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Looking up at Thiksey Monestary

 

Key Highlights for me

Sunrises at 6000 m

We climbed two mountains over 6000 m while in Ladakh, Stok Kangri and Mentok Kangri  Both required midnight starts, so dawn hit as we were nearing the top.   They were both extremely challenging, exhausting, and a little terrifying, especially when trying to navigate at night.  Once the sun came up, we got our second wind and up we went. 

 

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Our trek through Changtang

Chantang is part of the Tibetan Plateau and home to the nomadic Changpa people. We spent seven days crossing it do get to the base of Mentok Kangri, our first climb.  Among the highlights were the settlements of Changpa nomads, spotting the numerous kiang (wild asses), camping while surrounded by grazing yaks, ponies, donkeys, and goats.

 

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Yaks visit our tent at Korzok Pho, a summer camp of the Changpa Nomads on the Chantang Plateau

 

 

Exploring ruins

I loved exploring the many old, crumbling buildings.  My favourite was the ruins at the top of the hill above Shey Palace.

 

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The ruins above Shey Palace

 

Things that make this experience different or unique

The landscape

This is easily at the top of the list.  No matter where you are in Ladakh, you are surrounded by breathtaking views.  Be it giant mountains, windswept plateaus, or lush green valleys, Ladakh is the perfect blend of vibrancy and sparseness.

 

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The green pastures of Tso Kar Basin

 

The people

I found their honesty and kindness refreshing after the hustle and bustle of Delhi.  I especially enjoyed the Changpa Nomads, with their genuine smiles and tendency to sing while working.

 

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A local Changpa man provided the ponies for the trek

 

The animals

From the domesticated yaks and donkeys to the wild asses and blue sheep, I loved all the animals I saw in Ladakh.  We didn’t see one, but there was always the chance of seeing a snow leopard.

 

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A blue sheep visiting camp on the way up Stok Kangri

 

The roads

Ladakh is home to most of the highest motorable passes in the world. They navigate steep mountainsides on narrow, bumpy tracks.  They are often closed from landslides, and motorists often have to cross creeks, gullies, and washouts.  By then end of the trip, I was sick of them, but they sure did get the heart pumping.

 

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Things visitors should be aware of

Altitude

Leh is at 3,500 metres, which is high enough to get altitude sickness.  To travel most places, you will have to travel even higher.  Be aware of the symptoms and give yourself lots of time to acclimatize.  Consider bringing diamox to help you acclimatize.

 

Traveler’s Diarrhea

High altitude can alter your stomach flora, which, combined with India’s reputation for water and food borne pathogens, can be a nasty combination. Be wary of any raw foods that might have come in contact with water, including fresh juices and ice.   Bottled water is safe, but I’d recommend bringing a pump and treating your own water, as Ladakh has trouble dealing with all the empty bottles.  Consult a travel doctor about antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea before you go.

 

Internet

Don’t count on internet access.  In fact, count on not having internet.  It can be down for months at a time.

 

Money

Always have lots of cash stashed away somewhere.  There are plenty of ATMs in Ladakh, but most of them don’t work.  Look for ATMs with lineups.

 

Booking tours

If you aren’t on a time crunch, don’t book a tour until you get there.  You can probably get a better price if you plan from Leh, and you’ll have some flexibility if a good opportunity comes up.

 

While here you should:

Go trekking

Trekking should be at the top of your list.  It’s the best way to meet locals, spot wildlife, and get a feel for Ladakh.

 

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Visiting with a pair of curious Changpa boys

 

Climb a mountain

If you can, don’t miss out on your chance to climb a Himalayan Peak.

 

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Clay’s final push to the top of Stok Kangri

 

Climb to the roof of Namgyal Tsemo Fort to watch the sunset over Leh.

 

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Visit Thiksey Monastery, a short drive from Leh. If you go early in the morning, you can listen to the monks chanting and avoid the crowds.   The 15 m statue of Maitrya Buddha is the biggest indoor one in Ladakh.  Its intricate details are pretty.

 

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 Ride the bactrian (two-humped) camels in Nubra Valley. This ended up being more of a tourist trap than I’d hoped, but it was still completely worth it.

 

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Budget considerations

Ladakh is a good deal more expensive than the rest of India. Expect to pay 30-50% more for food and accommodation than in the rest of India. You can probably get good deals on the shoulder seasons (spring and fall).

Transportation is probably the biggest expense.  Public transport isn’t as easy as the rest of India, so most tourists opt for taxis, which are unionized and have fixed rates.  This means less stress haggling, but higher fares.  Try to make friends at your hotel and share rides or keep your eye out on bulletin boards outside the many, many tour agencies for bulletins of people wanting to share taxis.  Expect to pay around $100 -180 USD a day for a taxi and driver.  Flights to and from Delhi cost around $100-300 USD.

A fully supported trip with a certified mountaineering guide, ponies, and a cook will cost around $50-100 per person per day, depending on how many people are in your group, your haggling skills, permit fees, and transportation costs. Be wary of price that are too good.  You will pay less if you have more people on your trip.  Just a mountaineering guide is around $25 a day.  Trekking guides cost considerably less.  Equipment rentals will cost around $12 a day per item.  Trekking peaks over 6000 m require permits, which can range from $50 to $300 or more.  Many places in Ladakh require inner line permits, but don’t panic – they are easy to get and cost a few dollars a day.

 

Facilities/nearby activities

Medical – There is a hospital in Leh.  Most larger towns have a small medical centre, and there are roadside medical tents at some villages and army checkpoints.

Transportation– The airport in Leh has scheduled flights to Delhi, Jammu, Chandigarh, Srinigar, and Mumbai.  Taxis and public buses are easy to find and both have central stands near town.  There are many motorcycle and bicycle rental shops.

Banks/ATMs – There are several banks on the Main Bazaar.  The State Bank of India has the most reliable ATMs.

Internet – WiFi is available at most hotels and tourist restaurants.  An internet cafe on Main Bazaar has extremely slow computers.  Unfortunately, Ladakh experiences frequent region-wide outages.

Phone – Phoning home can be tricky.  We needed to call home, and ended up using local’s cell phone because the internet phones were down.  Satellite phones are available in some villages for emergencies.  Cell service is surprisingly good along the roads, but SIM cards are hard for foreigners to get because of the proximity to the borders.

Tour Operators – There are hundreds of tour operators in Ladakh offering car tours, cycling, motorbike tours/rentals, cultural tours, bird/wildlife watching, meditation and yoga, white-water rafting, climbing, and paint balling (yes, paint balling).

Restaurants – Most tourist restaurants have similar menus with a variety of Ladakhi, Indian, Chinese, Israeli, and Western food. Take a short walk away from the tourist areas for cheap Indian food.

Shopping – Leh is absolutely packed with shops selling pashmina shawls, made from the wool of the adorable pashmina goat of the Changtang Plateau.  There are also plenty of handicraft and souvenir stores selling hippie clothes, wool hats, and knickknacks imported from Nepal.

 

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If coming here, don’t forget to bring:

A good first aid kit. There is a hospital in Leh anda few first aid posts in Ladakh, but if you hurt yourself trekking, you are on your own.  Make sure you bring antibiotics for stomach problems and consider bringing diamox for altitude, though it’s definitely better to acclimatize naturally.

Good travel insurance.  Check the fine print. Most travel insurance companies will exclude mountaineering injuries, and you can bet they’ll count any ascents of Ladhaki peaks as mountaineering.  Also check if they will cover mountain evacuation and any other dangerous activities you plan on doing.

If it’s in your budget, a SPOT or DeLorme inReach will give some peace of mind to your family.  These devices allow you to send messages and your location via satellite.

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A Diva Cup, or a similar menstrual cup.  Tampons and sanitary napkins can’t go into the toilets, and really shouldn’t go into the composting toilets on trekking routes. If you can’t stomach the idea of a reusable cup, bring your own tampons (they are hard to find in Ladakh) and put them in a trash bin or burn them.

A hat, sunscreen, sunglasses.  Hats drive me nuts, but I learned the hard way and nearly fried my nose off on our first trek.  After that, I got a hat.

 

Reviewer’s rating out of 10

I give it a 9.  I loved the mountains, and the unique culture, but after six weeks, I really missed the forests and lush vegetation I’m used to in Canada.

 

Find Out More

I will be releasing videos about my Ladakh trip throughout the fall and winter on my YouTube channel.   https://www.youtube.com/c/TheLastGrownupintheWoods1

Check out these videos of Carley’s trip in and around Ladakh:

 

 

 

 

Tips for Becoming a Better Outdoorswoman

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By Andrea Willingham

Whether you grew up in an outdoorsy family, or are just now discovering the joys of outdoorsmanship, there’s a lot to know and a lot to learn about this wonderful world of exploration and adventure in the great outdoors. And despite what the media and history books might have you believe, women have always been a part of this world as well, if not perhaps in different capacities at different times. Believe you me, we have always found our own ways to take part in the fun! One of my biggest pet peeves about the traditional pubic portrayal of outdoor recreation is that you have to be tough, or strong, or masculine to participate. I would argue that spending time outdoors can help you become stronger, but it is by no means a prerequisite to getting outside, challenging yourself, or adventuring.

As women, we are so often deeply socialized to believe that it’s not safe for us to be alone or outdoors without a man along with us. I think in recent years this myth has become increasingly dispelled, but I’m still frequently surprised by how many women I meet who struggle with this. That said, because many of us in the US (and many other countries) live in a culture where we do worry about these things, there are some best practices we can follow to ensure our safety, boost our confidence, and maximize the fun.

 

Do your Research

 

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Anytime I’m planning to go out on a hike (especially if I’m planning on going solo), I put in a little bit of research ahead of time. I’m looking to find out things like how long the trail is, if it closes at a certain time, how strenuous, what the conditions will be like, whether there is cell service, what the road condition is, how far away it is, and how crowded or remote it is. A simple Google search can find you most of this information, but many areas also have good guide books, visitor centers, and ranger stations to consult.

Funny story: Last June I decided to solo hike up in the mountains not far from where I live. It was a warm, sunny 80-degree F day. I thought I had done my research – I Googled it, read some blog posts about the trail, looked it up in my guide book. However, when I arrived, I found the road cut off by a wall of snow halfway up the mountain! Turned out, I had completely missed the detail about the trail only being accessible July-September. So don’t just “do” your research. Also keep in mind what to look for, depending on where you’re going! ?

 

Be Prepared

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Fortunately when I came across that wall of snow last spring, I had come well-prepared for any conditions. I had plenty of food and water, warm layers that I had been sure I wouldn’t need, a change of shoes and socks, and even had a trekking pole in my car. I parked at the edge of the snow, and hiked in another mile or two and had myself a lovely picnic lunch! My friends often laugh at me for being overprepared whenever we go hiking, but I guarantee you about 85% of the time, someone ends up needing something that I just happen to have thought to bring.

Extra layers, rain gear, a change of socks, extra water, extra snacks, first aid supplies, and a back-up plan I think are the best ways you can be prepared for any outdoor day hike or overnight trip. Take a photo of the trail map for where you’re going, too, if there is one. Whether this is on a kiosk sign, in a guidebook, or online, get a picture of that map, because you may want to consult it later!

 

Be resourceful

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Focus on keeping your bearings as you hike. Note which way the water is flowing if there’s a stream or river (you can always backtrack upstream or downstream if you know which way you came from). Keep an eye out for landmarks. Note the direction of the slope if you’re on a mountainside or hill. Listen for traffic if you’re near a major road. If you’re a real nerd like me, you’ll probably try to learn the local flora and fauna ahead of time – what grows near water or in dry areas, which plants are edible, which are dangerous, the geology of the landscape. Being aware of your surroundings and the signs of nature around you is an enormously useful tool for becoming comfortable in the outdoors.

 

Trust yourself

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There’s a lot to be said for trusting yourself, and I think it’s actually easier to trust yourself when you’re alone rather than when you’re in a group. In recent years, I’ve become a lot more comfortable calling it quits even when the rest of the group wants to keep going. If you’re exhausted and your body says, “Nope, I’m done,” or if you have that tingling sixth sense that something just isn’t right, trust your gut. Make a plan with the rest of the group to either wait for them, or meet up at an agreed time and place. Stick with a buddy if you can (usually if you’re hiking in a group, there’s probably at least one other person who feels the same way you do!). Clear communication is essential when you’re looking out for your own needs and safety outdoors. Anyone who makes you feel bad about having to stop or turn back is not worth your time.

 

Attitude is Everything

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Whether you’re hiking alone or in a group, attitude really is everything, and it can be the difference between a great experience, or the most miserable day of your life. There’s a practical component to this as well though – having a positive attitude can actually increase your chances of survival in some emergency situations. Sometimes called “The Attitude of Survival,” having control over your state of mind can help you keep calm, clear-headed, and thinking straight even when you find yourself lost, in a sticky situation, or unsure of things. As difficult as it is sometimes, we are almost always in control of our attitudes; it can be hard to switch from being panicked or upset to feeling determined and upbeat, but it can be done and it can empower you to find the strength and resources you may need to change the situation you’re in.

These are just a few of the “tools” I keep in my own personal mental toolbox as an outdoorswoman. What are some of yours? What kinds of experiences have you had that have made you the outdoorswoman or outdoorsman you are today? What tips do you make sure to follow when you’re out adventuring? It’s always great to learn from others who enjoy similar activities and have their own tricks of the trade to share!

 

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