Friday, November 29, 2013

Hiking with Google?

Google Maps
I like and use Google for the email, calendar and general mapping functions.  But aside from the how to drive there instructions, I have never used it for planning a trip in the great outdoors.  Well, things are changing fast in the online world, and here's the latest from Google.  Google Street View now includes 360-degree vistas of more than 44 National parks in the US and Canada.  In addition to tours of National Monuments like The Vietnam Memorial Wall, Google offers California's Sequoya National Park, views of Moraine Lake in Banff, Canada.  The Alamo, Mount Rushmore and Joshua Tree National Park are also on the list.  Click here for a sample tour.
The images were captured this year during the spring and summer.  There are 70 Canadian parks and historic sites covered along with many American locations.  Parks Canada and Google are teaming up to bring you more sites this year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Happy Feet!

Montrail Mountain Masochist
I bought a new pair of hiking shoes, the Montrail Mountain Masochistmy first change in “trail running” shoes in over 3 decades.  I had been wearing New Balance shoes all those years, usually a 600-800 model, but New Balance kept changing styles every few years and I learned I could not just stay with one model number anymore.  This year I was exasperated trying to get NB shoes that fit.  When searching locally at Travel Country Outdoors, I tried on a pair of the Montrail’s and they just fit, right then and there without any special inserts or in wide widths or anything extra at all.  I was surprised.  I walked around the store with them and my feet felt right.  I remember when New Balance used to fit me that well right out of the box, though they do not now.  Maybe it is time for a change.  
Travel Country is one of those local merchants who never gave up to the big box retailers and has built quite a business serving the locals around the Orlando area and online customers with fine outdoor equipment.  In the early 1980's I purchased most of my tents, cook gear and other outdoor equipment from them and still drop by today to browse from time to time.  They also have great seasonal sales and support the boy scouts locally.
When I got home I ordered the Montrail’s online from Travel Country and used a 20% off coupon I had in an email from them.  They arrived a couple days later.  I’d swear they were the same shoes I tried on in the store, but I’ll never really know.
So far they have felt great for wearing to work and for walking all over Savannah last weekend (another story), and I’m quite pleased with them.  In addition to providing excellent support and stability, they grip the surface very well.  I noticed how my feet did not tire from the heavy pavement pounding I just gave them, so hiking in the great outdoors should be even better.  I’ll order a second pair from another online dealer in the next few weeks so I will have a pair in the box, ready to go when these wear out.  
For off pavement, these shoes rock!  They really grip the ground well (roots, especially) and provide plenty of arch and heel support.   The fit is a little loose around the toes, but my heels fit perfectly. 
According to my wife, I really don't have a heel anyway, just a pointy bone back there that rubs raw on just about everything I wear.  In these shoes, my heel is held in place without moving.  Again, with my sub-5 pound daypack the support and stability are excellent and that works for me.
I have also been using the Montrail  Enduro-soles inserts, for about a year and appreciate the increase in stability they give.  Once I put them into the Montrail shoes, it was like they were meant to be there.  They are the softer of the two brands of  insoles available at Travel Country to try.  The first brand didn’t work out for me, but this one sure does.  
I'll update you on how the Montrail shoes worked after backpacking in them.  I expect they will work great.  Again, I was quite pleased with my purchase and can now say for hiking that I have "happy feet". 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Nice Weather

I left at 2PM today for a 5.5 mile hike along the Seminole-Wekiva Trail near my home. When I left it was 75 degrees and partly cloudy/sunny with a cool breeze, otherwise excellent outdoor weather in Florida.  I have recently been walking along the the paved trails near my home to save a little time in my busy life and still get outdoors.  Trail map here.
The temperatures were a bit high last weekend, near 90 degrees, with mid 80's during the week.  It cools a bit at night.  Today, it looked like it might rain, but it has not yet.  At home the windows are open, the light breezes are welcome, and it is cooler inside today than it was with the air conditioner on last week.
What I liked about today's hike were the small birds flitting from bush to bush, the sound of the wind whispering in the trees, purple and yellow fall flowers and the brightly colored seed pod explosions.  Fall was definitely in the air!  It was very pleasant, refreshing and relaxing at the same time.
I am hoping to get into the back country for some day hikes in the next few weeks as long as the weather holds.  I had the opportunity to sell my heavy old tents during a flurry of garage sales last month and am waiting to get a new lightweight one before I can go backpacking again.  I'm still thinking of purchasing the Tarp Tent Notch, a 1.5 pound backpacking beauty.  I have discussed the details of this tent before here. There are also some minor camping supplies I'll need to pick up.
Lake Ocheekobee
You need to check out the Big O Hike coming up over Thanksgiving week, November 23 to December 1.  It is a 9 day trail walk around Lake Okeechobee, the state's largest lake (also the nation's second largest lake completely inside the USA).  The hike has been going on since 1991 along the top of the dike trail that goes around the lake.  It has been hosted by the Loxahatchee Chapter of the Florida Trail.  This year it is lead by Sandra Friend, a friend of mine who is also Florida's number one outdoor writer and a hiker-extraordinaire.  You can also chose to hike just a few days if you have plans already that week.  Say hi to Sandy for me!

Friday, November 1, 2013

2013 Florida Hunting Season

In case you don't hunt, Florida is currently in the fall hunting season.  It coincides with the cooler hiking season annually.
The Florida Trail Association publishes the annual Hunting Season dates as a warning to all hikers and trail maintenance crews for the lands where the National Scenic Hiking Trail travels through.   These areas listed below are in the Central Florida area.  For more information the web site for the Florida state's hunting dates are available HERE.
You can also read my blog from last year with the details of where to hike and backpack without any hunting going on HERE.
From the Florida Trail Store
Fall 2013 - Hunt Schedule 
Submitted by Rachael Augspurg FTA
These are the dates which affect our hiking & trail maintenance. activities.  Please use caution if you go on the trails during these times.   The trails are not closed to hiking during these hunt dates (wear blaze orange) but they are closed to maintenance.

Seminole Ranch WMA - 
Archery  - 10/4-6 & 10/11-13
Muzzle load - 10/25-27 & 11/1-3 
General Gun - 11/15-17
Spring Turkey - 3/15-17 &  3/21-23 &  3/28-30
Small Game -11/23-24 & 11/30-12/1, & 12/7-8, 1/4-5 
Wild Hog/dog - 1/25-26 & 1/27-31
Bronson State Forest - 
Archery -  9/27 - 10/3, & 10/4- 10 & 10/11-19  
Muzzle load - 10/25-27 & 11/1-3
General Gun - 11/8-10 &  11/15-17 & 11/29-12/1 
Small Game - 12/7-15, 1/4-10
Spring Turkey - 3/8-9 & 3/15-18 & 3/21-24 & 3/28-31
Tosohatchee WMA
Archery - 10/3-6, 10/10-13
Muzzle load - 10/24-27 & 10/31-11/3
General Gun - 11/14-17 & 11/22-24 
Wild Hog w/dogs - 1/10-16 & 2/7-13
Spring Turkey - 3/15-17 & 3/28-30 & 4/11-13
Seminole State Forest 
Archery - 9/21-24 &  9/25-29
Mobility Imp. - 10/18-20 
Muzzle load - 10/25-27
General Gun - 11/30-12/3 & 12/4-8 
Small Game  - 1/11-12 & 1/18-19 & 1/25-26  Saturday & Sunday 
Spring Turkey  - 3/15-19,  3/22-26
Little-Big Econ State Forest - 
Only units along the Econ River east of Snowhill Road
Archery - 9/27-10/3 & 10/4-19
Muzzle Load -  11/1-3 & 11/8-10
General Gun - 11/15-17 & 11/22-24 & 11/29-12/1
Small Game - 12/7-22
Spring Turkey - 3/15-18 & 3/20-23 & 3/27-30

If you hike where hunting occurs, please wear your safety vest!