Exploration Guides

We're all explorers. You just need the right guide.

The Perfect Winter Trail

I was out hiking on Sunday at Proud Lake State Recreation Area.  The sun was out, and it wasn’t too windy, so, really, how could I not go out and do at least a little hiking, right?  We’ve had a total about about six feet of snow so far this winter, with nearly three feet of accumulation still on the ground.  Normally, that’d make for some rough hiking conditions, but not on Sunday.  Instead, through luck or planning, I don’t know, but the trails were nearly perfect.

proud lake snow trail 2-15-2014

The trails themselves were hard packed and smooth for a width of 12″ – 18″.  The surface was hard, but not icy at all.  Hard enough to walk on, but still smooth and boot-divot-free enough to also make for perfect cross-country ski trails.  Unlike normal cross-country ski trails, though, they didn’t have that annoying double ridge with the ankle-twisting canyon in the middle that so many of those trails tend to pick up.  I suspect it was the work of snowshoers.  Just don’t step off to the side.  There’s a couple feet of loose snow over there just off that packed down trail.

Although there’s still plenty of winter left, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us lovers of spring.  It’s warming up a bit, even above freezing here, and the days are getting noticeably longer.  Won’t be long before all that white is replaced with green.  Before that happens, though, don’t forget to check out icebergs on all the rivers and streams that’ll be melting soon.  Probably get some really nice, beautiful ice dams building up here and there, too, on the narrow spots and sharp turns in the rivers.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Trail reports | , , , , , | Leave a Comment

A New Year and a New Web Site

It’s 2014 and it looks like we’re off to a cold start.  Here in Michigan, we used to get snow like this back around the last ice age (say anytime before about 1985 or so), but we never had so many sub-zero days.  I think everyone’s looking forward to spring, except the people who love winter.

If you’re into snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, ice skating, or any other winter sports, this is a great winter!  If you’re not, it’s still no excuse to stay inside and hibernate, no matter how great an idea that may seem to be.  If you’re looking to get out on the trails to do a bit of hiking in this weather, just remember the basic winter tips:

  • Snow and ice will make the trail seem about twice as long as usual.  If you’d normally hike 5 miles, stick to 2 or 3.  If you’d normally hike 10 miles, might want to plan for 5.
  • You probably won’t feel thirsty as often, but you still need to drink just as much water.  In cold weather, you actually have to think about drinking enough water.  Remember, you should probably be drinking at least a half liter per hour and stopping to “water a tree” every hour or two.
  • Dress in layers.  Everyone says, this, but it doesn’t always work.  I know.  I usually want to remove the bottom layer, not the outer, windproof one.  If a lot of those layers have zippers, though, you can open and close jackets and vents quickly and easily.  Open up when you start to move, before you get hot, and close them when you stop, before you get cold.
  • Breaking trail is hard on fresh snow.  Unless it’s a popular cross-country ski trail, there won’t be many people there, anyway, so it may be a great time to hit the more popular trails.  A well-packed trail is much easier to hike.  Think of the difference between walking on a well-packed gravel trail compared to trudging through deep, dry sand.
  • Bring some extra food.  You’ll be burning a lot of extra calories, both due to the trail and also due to the cold.
  • Make sure your emergency kit is stocked up, including a survival blanket and chemical hand warmers for everyone in your group.  Don’t be afraid to break out the hand warmers – they’re cheap, but worth it.
  • Enjoy your hike!

February 9, 2014 Posted by | Trail reports | , , | Leave a Comment

Our First Book

I’m happy to announce that, as of last night, my first book, Dayhiking, is available for purchase internationally at Amazon.com.  It is available only in eBook format at this time, so the Amazon version requires the free Kindle reader, which you can download from them for Android, iPhone, Mac, PC, or just about anything else.  You can Get Dayhiking at http://www.amazon.com/Dayhiking-Exploration-Guides-Hiking-ebook/dp/B00CQOP7K6

May 12, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a Comment

$4 Compass vs $400 GPS

I went out yesterday to get some pictures and compass shots to finish up our first-ever Exploration Guides book on dayhiking.  Anyone who doubts that even a cheap compass can give you good information needs to take a look at this.  On the first reading with the compass, to each of three locations, the vectors all met perfectly on the lakeshore. Even my high-end GPS couldn’t come up with any better data.

 

Compass vs GPS

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

Video Explorations?

Went out Saturday scouting a location for a video exploration with a friend.  Not sure exactly what form it’ll take, if it’ll be Exploration Guides, or something else, but it should be good.  Probably look for it in the summer.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

Dayhiking and Survival Kits

As you may have heard, I’m working on the first-ever Exploration Guides book.  The first book, on dayhiking, is a complete beginner and intermediate book on dayhiking, including how to get started, where to go, who to go with, and a lot of information about gear.

In an Outdoor Science class, freshman year in High School, I made a hiking survival kit in class.  It’s been bouncing around in the bottom of my backpack forever, having survived three backpacks, freezing, roasting, submersion in water countless times, and, oddly, nearly everything seems to have survived.  It’s not pretty, but it’s still pretty good.  The one odd thing is that the strike-anywhere matches appear to have oxidized.  They didn’t burn, exactly, as there’s no scorch marks anywhere, and the wooden match sticks didn’t burn at all, but the heads, which should be red and white, are completely black, looking like they were burned.  They also don’t light (I thought it might just be a coating of oxidation).

It looks like maybe survival kits really don’t last forever.  Probably best to renew them every decade or so but, if I needed the stuff on a hike today, pretty much everything else would still be usable.  Oh well.  It’s time for an upgrade, anyway.  The new kit will include waterproof, windproof matches instead of the strike anywhere type, but otherwise, nearly everything’s the same.

August 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment