Forum Posts

Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Sep 21, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
In 2009, I launched Hiking and Backpacking Niagara on Facebook along with a few other Facebook Groups. Eventually, these groups came to be what we know today as Niagara Adventure Club. It was definitely a learning curve. I had to learn how to manage and market the events, basic crowd control, and how to deal with many various personalities and behaviours. I didn't always succeed in every interaction, but I always learned something. I combined my knowledge and experience to carefully plan and guide many adventures and to keep my fellow adventurers safe while trying to make it as enjoyable as possible. Let's take a look at some simple rules that can help you lead some of your own group adventures! If you play your cards right, you can turn your non-hiker friends into lifelong backpacking partners Introducing your non-hiker friends to the backcountry can be one of the greatest joys of spending time outside. But even if you’re an expert at hanging a bear bag and scaling peaks, leading a successful group hiking trip requires some soft skills—or interpersonal skills—too. Now that you’ve convinced a group of newbies to come camping with you, your first priority is to make sure everyone—including you—has a good time. Josh Cole, Washington program director for Outward Bound’s Northwest School, has made a career of taking first-timers into the backcountry. Here are his best tips for ensuring a safe and fun group hiking trip. 1. Pick the right objective. Save the epic climb for another time. If you push new hikers too hard, they’ll mutiny on you. Instead, plan for everyone to learn something and have fun. It sounds like Little League baseball, but it works. Choose a route with a strong reward-to-effort ratio: Good views, swimming holes, and easy miles rarely disappoint. The group’s pace might not be as fast as you’re used to, but that just means you’ll have more time to look around and enjoy the scenery. Be flexible with your expectations and have some backup plans in mind in case you need to change your route to suit the group’s ability level. 2. Don’t neglect preparation. Before you head out, gather your friends and discuss the plan so that every is on the same page and knows what to expect. It’s a good idea to inspect everyone’s gear once it’s packed: You don’t want to find out on night one that your buddy didn’t bring a warm enough sleeping bag, or end up hauling extra gear because someone loaded up with 50 pounds of stuff they could have left at home. Always pack extra layers in your own pack—someone is bound to get cold eventually. 3. Size it right. Aim for five or fewer people. Otherwise, it’s hard to keep tabs on each individual’s morale. It can be useful to include another experienced hiker, too, so you’re not the only one responsible for navigating, treating blisters, and carrying group gear. 4. Equality is key. Some campers will be better mules, while others will be better cooks. Divide group gear and chores based on aptitude, not based on numeric equality. If you have time, give everyone a chance to try out different responsibilities. 5. Establish your leadership. Don’t just bark orders; explaining why you’re doing something gets others involved in decision making. Plus, it helps them gain essential skills that will enrich their time in the outdoors and eventually help them develop into great hiking partners. 6. Check in often. Ask your little ducklings: Are you having fun? What are you struggling with? Adjust loads and responsibilities accordingly. Pull individuals aside to chat if they go silent on you. When in doubt, a well-timed snack break can work wonders for lifting everyone’s spirits. 7. Let them fail… sometimes. In low-stakes situations (like pitching tents in fair weather), let newbies make mistakes. Trial and error is a great teacher. 8. Don’t let them fail… sometimes. Tiny skills clinics (e.g. hygiene, late-night bathroom breaks, etc.) will help others feel comfortable. Pooping in the woods is intimidating for a lot of first-timers, but they may be embarrassed to ask. Sprinkle some instructional talks into the agenda—these also make for great opportunities for everyone to catch their breath while hiking. Written by Josh Cole for Backpacker Magazine on October 14, 2021 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, September 18, 2022) Good Morning, We are only 6 days away from heading up to Manitoulin Island where we will make The Honey House (book it on AirBnB) our basecamp. From there we will spend one day hiking the Cup & Saucer Trail, and then 4 days on the very difficult, yet very rewarding Heaven's Gate (Kitchitwaa Shkwaandem) Trail. Don't forget to follow the Niagara Adventure Club Facebook Page where you will be able to follow us along the trail via Garmin InReach posts. On Thursday, I went to visit our good friends at Organic Boat Shop to take a look at a Current Designs Whistler Sea Kayak. It is classified as a Transitional Kayak, meaning, for those moving from recreational kayaking to sea kayaking. As I am 6'3", it has always been difficult to find a boat that I fit in comfortably, and as this one is transitional, it has plenty of room inside. I will have to make a small and easy modification to the foot pegs, and then I will fit into the kayak just beautifully. So, look forward to some kayak adventures in the future! And don't forget to visit our friends at The Organic Boat Shop! They have some great benefits for our Season Pass Holders. Full details on the NAC Web Page. Currently there are no events planned. But don't despair, more are coming as soon as we get back from our trip! That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 120 - 8 Tips for Leading a Group Hiking Trip content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Sep 12, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
To continue on with our tent theme, this week, we will look at the logistics of choosing the perfect spot to pitch your tent. And before you ask why, trust me, there is a lot more to it than you think. Choosing the wrong tent site can really mess up your trip, and even leave you without shelter. So, without further adieu, enjoy this week's article. Find the perfect spot to pitch your tent with these tips. So, you’re new to backpacking and scanning the map before your first true overnight. You might be thinking, I can just pitch my tent anywhere, right? Wrong. Sure, the beauty of carrying a portable home on your back is that you could, in theory, set it up wherever the fancy strikes, and in an emergency situation where you need shelter ASAP, anywhere will do. But when it comes to choosing a campsite, some places are better than others. From an etiquette standpoint, your camp shouldn’t infringe on the experience of other hikers, and shouldn’t cause any lasting damage or alterations to the landscape when you leave. And from a comfort standpoint, any seasoned backpacker knows that campsite selection can make the difference between a miserable night and a restful one. Beginner backpackers should consider visiting trails with abundant established campsites. These impacted spots will make it obvious where to camp with evidence like clear tent sites or even platforms. On some trails, you can even reserve spots ahead of time to guarantee you’ll have a great place to make camp. But on other trails, you’ll need to search out your own campsite. Follow these tips for finding an ideal spot to pitch your tent. Make sure it’s off the trail. We’ve seen it before: A first-timer decides to call it quits on walking for the day, and throws down their gear on the first flat patch of dirt they see. Except, that flat patch of dirt happens to be the trail, and uh, some of us are still hiking here. You can see why this might be a problem. Ensure your spot is at least 200 feet from the trail, both for your own privacy and to preserve the immediate scenery for other hikers. It’s even better if you can pitch your tent in a less visible place like a stand of trees or behind some boulders. There’s nothing like feeling as though you’re the only person around, even if you’re a short walk from the trail. Keep water close, but not too close. You’ll want easy access to a river, stream, or lake to fill your water bottles and cook dinner. But just like the trail, make sure to bed down at least 200 feet from the water’s edge. This ensures that your camp won’t block water access for wildlife and that your kitchen (and, er, personal) waste won’t foul the water. It’s good for you, too: Camping right next to water can cause lots of unpleasant condensation to form in your tent overnight, and can be buggier than other areas. Seek out level ground. How can you ensure a poor night’s sleep? By lying on sloped ground where you’ll slide off your pad or into your partner all night. Look for a flat spot large enough to fit your tent, but make sure you’re not camping in a low spot where water might pool in the case of a rainstorm. Camp on durable surfaces. The last thing you want is for your tent to mar the landscape in the long term. Packed dirt, rock, sand, and dry grass can handle the impact of a few nights of camping, and will recover after you’re gone. Moss, fragile alpine vegetation, and wildflowers, on the other hand, might not, so avoid pitching your tent on top of them. If you’re staying for multiple nights, look for a site that appears well-used, but take care not to expand the campsite. Visit LeaveNoTrace to learn more about Durable Surfaces! Look up. Camping in the forest? Ensure you don’t pitch your tent below dead branches, called widowmakers. It sure would be a shame if the wind knocked one of those down on you in the middle of the night. Some tree cover can offer nice protection and privacy; just make sure they’re living and sturdy. Get out of the wind. If that rock under your sleeping pad doesn’t keep you up all night, the flapping of your tent in the wind certainly will. Plus, no one wants to fight gusts of wind while trying to light a camp stove. Especially if a windy night is in your future, look for a spot that’s sheltered behind some rocks, sloped ground, or bushes and trees. Bonus points for good views. Flat ground, water access, and durable surfaces are a must when choosing your campsite; a nice spot to watch the sunset is just gravy. Spots with felled logs or flat rocks to sit and cook on up the appeal. Every beginner backpacker suffers a wet, windy, or uncomfortable night at some point. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize the perfect tent site to make your home away from home. To take the stress out of finding a campsite, build some time into your hiking schedule to search so you’re not rushed before dark: Looking for a place to rest when you’re already tired and hungry is no fun. When you arrive to an area you suspect might have good camping spots, drop your pack and look around, a little bit of exploration without weight on your back could turn up some pleasant surprises. And as always, be mindful of Leave No Trace principles, plan ahead, and you’re sure to find some epic spots to rest your head. Written by Zoe Gates for Backpacker Magazine on April 14, 2022. N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, September 11, 2022) Good Morning, This past week we had our final meeting before partaking in the Heaven's Gate Adventure which is only two weeks away. Everyone is very much looking forward to this trip, and I can't wait to share my experience and photos with you when we get back! While we are on the Heaven's Gate Trail, everyone will be able to follow along thanks to Garmin InReach. Each day, two messages will be sent to our loved ones letting them know we are well, and our location. You will be able to see our messages and our location as it will also be posted on the Niagara Adventure Club Facebook Page. Mike is back from his summer vacation and ready to lead! As such, the General Brock hike is scheduled for this coming Saturday, September 17th @ 10:00am. The General Brock Side Trail is a mostly paved trail perfect for beginner's or those looking for an easy leisurely walk on a Saturday morning. This hike is an E2E hike, and therefore dogs are only permitted to those that bring two vehicles. Mike will be ready to lead and help with setting up the E2E transportation logistics. Full details can be found below. And finally, as many of you may have noticed, we have been visiting Gravity Climbing Gym for a fun filled night of Indoor Rock Climbing a few Friday's each month. This will continue, but on opposite Fridays, I have decided to plan and post a few guided day hikes. I know most of you work Fridays, but it has come to my attention that there are quite a few of you free on Fridays, so I have decided to give it a go. Watch the Events Page and upcoming Adventure Weekly Newsletters for more information on those events. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 119: How to Choose Your First Campsite content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Sep 04, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Last week, we to a look at finding the perfect tent for you. So, now you have your tent, and it's time to set it up. Most tents are pretty straight forward, and after one or two times, you'll be a pro at setting it up. But where should you put it, and what if the weather isn't cooperating. This week, lets take a look at how you should go about pitching your tent. Perfect your camping setup with these tips. So you bought your first tent. Congratulations! No matter how impressive the specs or cutting-edge the materials, your shelter won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to properly set it up. While every tent model has a unique pitch, the following six steps are basic principles to get you the secure, dry, and cozy night in the backcountry you need. Practice at home first. Imagine this: You stroll into camp at dusk after a long day of strenuous hiking. You can’t wait to settle down with a pouch of macaroni and cheese, fuel up, then crawl into your sleeping bag for the night. You drop your pack, change into your camp shoes, and pull out your tent bag just in time to click on your headlamp. Twenty minutes later, you’re still fumbling with a tangle of poles, your fingers go numb as night descends, you’re hangry, and your tent is in a pile on the ground. Fail! Maybe you should have planned ahead. Never set up a new tent for the first time in the backcountry. Some tent setups are more complicated than others, and even the most spatially-minded backpackers might need to fiddle before understanding the design. It’s better to go through that process well-fed in the comfort of your living room or backyard than in camp where it’s gametime and conditions may be harsh. Some manufacturers even offer YouTube videos with assembly instructions. Before you hit the trail, repack your tent, ensuring all the parts are included. Note: Not all tents come with stakes, and some only come with flimsy stakes. You may need to take a trip to the camping store before setting up your tent in the backcountry. Find a good campsite. Choosing the right spot to bed down for the night is a fine art. Generally speaking, you want a flat, smooth surface like packed dirt. Avoid depressions where water could pool in the event of a downpour; look for well-drained areas instead. Lastly, don’t forget to look up for dead branches or other potential overhead hazards before setting up your tent. Lay it all out. Start by spreading your tent footprint or ground cloth in the orientation you’d like to sleep. Not all tents come with footprints, but they’re good to have in order to protect your tent from pokey ground, rocks, and cacti, as well as add a layer of protection from wet conditions. (You can purchase one separately or cut your own out of Tyvek.) Lay your tent body on top of the footprint, keeping the location of the doors in mind. If it’s windy, you might need to weigh down the corners with rocks or stake those corners down before attempting to set up your tent. Assemble the poles. When putting poles together, insert each section one by one; avoid flinging the whole thing in front of you to get it to snap together. Not only could this result in a hiking partner with a poked eye, but it also increases the likelihood that you’ll break your pole or shock cord. Assembling the poles section by section ensure that each piece is seated properly and prevents damaging pole ends. Whether your tent has pole sleeves, grommets, or clips to attach them to the tent body, it’s helpful to assemble it with a buddy. Stand in opposite corners of the tent while you insert the poles. Set up your tent. This step depends on the design of your shelter. Make sure you’re matching all the proper parts and corners, securing all buckles and clips, putting on the rain fly and tightening straps and guylines for a taut pitch. Congrats! You’ve set up your tent. But you’re not done yet. Make it secure. Especially if poor weather is in the forecast, you want your tent to be bombproof. Stake out all corners, and angle your stakes toward the tent for maximum strength. In hard ground, use a rock to gently hammer them in. You may need to move your tent setup slightly to drive in stakes around rocks and roots. In snow, use deadman anchors. Stake out all of the guylines and pull them taut to secure your tent from gusty winds. Stow your tent and pole bags inside so they don’t blow away. Written by Zoe Gates for Backpacker Magazine on April 22, 2022. N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, September 4, 2022) Good Morning, For the past week, I have been putting together all the final plans for the upcoming Heaven's Gate Adventure. Ferry tickets are purchased, all the final payments have been made for the AirBnB, everyone's meals are labelled and packed up into food bags and the Taxi Service has been reserved. Everything is ready to go. This coming Thursday, we will have a final ZOOM meeting with al the participants and make sure everyone has everything they need and they are ready to go. I am truly looking forward to this trip. With the changes to my work schedule and such, I haven't been able to get out much. This coming Friday, I have set up another Defy Gravity: Indoor Rock Climbing event. Everyone is welcome, a day pass and climbing gear rental is a total of $31 and we will once again be climbing at Gravity Climbing Gym - Hamilton. Remember, to attend you must have climbed at Gravity in the past, or be able to pass a belay test. Full details below. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 118: Stop Wrestling With Your Tent:
Here’s What Beginners Need to Know About Setting Up Camp content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Sep 01, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Tents have come a long way in the past 40 years. When I first got into hiking, all tents were A-Frame canvas tents. Now you have UL, Dome, Freestanding, Inflatable, Nylon, PolySil, and so much more. It's almost to the point where you need a two week class before even thinking about purchasing your first tent. Well, Backpacker.com has a great article to help you with your purchase and the simple repairs you may need to make. Home is where you stake it out. Understand the ins and outs, pick the right shelter, and treat it like you would your bedroom. The Tent Expert Emily White, her husband Joe, and her cousin Brian Wolf founded Roads, Rivers, and Trails together after a winter Appalachian Trail thru-hike. “I genuinely get excited about tents,” she says. The store is small, but Wolf and the Whites built a whole section of shelves on wheels so they could push it all aside and set up several tents at a time. How to Buy a Tent: Ask the Right Questions How many people do I usually camp with? If you’re hiking with just your partner 80 percent of the time, stick with a two-person tent. Rent or borrow if your party grows. Is this tent appropriate for expected conditions? Unlike a three-season shelter, four-season tents can withstand extreme winds and keep out driving snow. However, they’re heavy. You can save weight by using a tarp shelter that gets its rigidity from taut guylines instead of poles, but they lack stability in heavy weather. Expecting to camp on rocky ground? Look at freestanding models, which are easier to pitch. What kind of vestibule space do I need? In prolonged foul weather, gear storage space is invaluable. “But don’t plan to absolutely fill your vestibule,” White says. “It’ll cut down on airflow inside the tent.” A two-door setup usually means more vestibule space. How’s the price-to-weight ratio? As weight goes down, price tends to increase. “Is $100 worth a pound? That’s up to you,” White says. Aim to carry around 2 pounds per person for three-season tents, and 3 for four-season models. How’s livability? Practice setting up the tent in a store. Crawl around inside to make sure the space and headroom are sufficient. Anatomy of a Tent Learn your way around your tent. (Too small to read? Click the image to view the full-size version.) How to Shakedown Your Tent “Never buy a tent without setting it up and getting inside it first,” White says. “We had an AT thru-hiker come in, asking for a consultation on his gear. So we went through it and asked if he’d set up his tent. He said, ‘No, but it’s this awesome ultralight one with all these great reviews.’ So we set his tent up for him, and when he got inside it, his toes and the top of his forehead were actually touching the walls. He was 6’ 2” and didn’t realize the tent was too short for him.” Tent Owner’s Manual Keep it dry. If you can, give condensation time to evaporate—and shake out your tent to flick off dirt and leaves—before stuffing. When you get home, hang the tent in the shade and let it dry completely before long-term storage to prevent mildew. Respect your poles. Extending your pole like you’re casting for fish can damage it; instead, slide pole ends into place by hand. Use a footprint. Protect your tent floor from rocks and sticks. Budget option: Make your own from Tyvek. Basic Tent Repair Tent repairs are a dime a dozen at Rainy Pass Repair, a Seattle-based sewing shop that’s been mending shelters since 1986. General Manager Chelsea Chon explains how to fix a few of the most frequently occurring types of damage. Broken slider or zipper: Squeeze sliders with pliers to tighten, and try to realign zipper coils with your fingernails. No luck? Send it in to your local repair shop. Torn fabric. Place a circle of repair tape on the outside of the tent wall, floor, or fly to patch holes. Torn mesh? Patch with MSR Micromesh. (N.A.C. recommends Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Silnylon Patches and Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Repair Tape) Detached hook-and-loop tab. Stitch the tab back on, then add Seam Grip or repair tape to waterproof the seam. Broken shock cord. Pry out the pole cap with pliers and untie the cord. Slide off pole sections and fix the break. Re-thread and retie the cord. Rent Your Tent Balky about spending a few C-notes on a tent? Rent before you buy—taking a few shelters out for a test run is a good way to figure out exactly what you’re looking for. Contact your local outfitters to learn of tent rentals. Written by Corey Buhey for Backpacker Magazine on April 14, 2022. N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, August 28, 2022) Good Morning, I don't have anything in the way of club news for you this week, but I do have some news from our club partners and members! To start, Outdoors Oriented has a huge Summer Clearance Sale going on that you won't want to miss! Click the Banner to visit the web site and shop the amazing deals! OUTDOORS ORIENTED 420 Vansickle Rd. St. Catharines, ON, L2S 0C7 Are you looking for a weekend away before the summer ends, but can't find a cottage or camp site? Well, Sabrina has just what you need! You can rent this 16ft Easy to tow Hybrid Camper Trailer for as little as $100 a night! Take a look at Sabrina's 16ft Camper Trailer and reserve it now on RVezy! That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 117: Backpacking Tents: How to Pick the Perfect One for You content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Aug 26, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
In all the years I have been backpacking and planning trips, I have used many resources to gain the knowledge and experience I now have. However, nothing has been more helpful than little tidbits of advice from the experts in our community. Today, we will take a look at 15 such pieces of advice that myself and many others have found to be very useful. "You don’t have to learn the hard way, because we already did." This may come as a surprise to you, but Backpacker’s editors weren’t always authorities on all things hiking. In fact, we were beginners once, too, and made our fair share of newb mistakes. Here’s everything we wish we knew before hitting the trail for the first time, so you can embark on your inaugural overnight wiser than we were. “The ol’ hot water bottle in a sleeping bag trick. Often solves two problems: keeps you warm and purifies your water when you boil it.” —James Dziezynski, Growth Editor “If you use your mom’s hiking shoes from the 80’s, there is a potential that both soles will fall off.” —Rachel Laux, Client Success Manager “That the sound of an elk bugling at night was not, in fact, a gruesome murder taking place a few yards from my tent.” —Benjamin Tepler, Assistant Gear Editor “I’ve tried to go light by leaving my sleeping pad at home—big mistake. Definitely bring a sleeping pad if you’d like to sleep.” —Jamie McAllister, Product Marketing Manager “Tylenol PM.” —Caroline Lustgarten, Client Success Manager “Buy quick-dry underwear. It doesn’t matter if your pants dry quickly after a heavy rain if your underwear stays soggy.” —Adam Roy, Senior Digital Editor “Food tastes better in the backcountry, so pack your favorite foods and you’ll enjoy them even more.” —Collin Barraugh, Data Scientist “The emergency whistles from REI sound like marmots, so if you’re camped in the alpine your parents won’t come find you when you take a wrong turn and you’ll have to get back to camp yourself.” —Kristin Smith, Assistant Destinations Editor “Unless you have no alternative, avoid setting up camp in the dark. It’s hard to tell where you’ll be waking up in the morning (bee hives, private property, etc.).” —Jake Moritz, Senior Manager, Marketplace “A headlamp might be the most valuable piece of gear you will ever own. Find it before it gets dark and put it around your neck like a necklace until you need it.” —Marcia Cooney, Associate Video Producer/Editor “….but don’t turn it on while it’s around your neck, unless you’re looking for a mouthful of big, juicy moths.” —Adam Roy, Senior Digital Editor “Yes, you’ll need to pack extra water in dry areas, but be prepared for it to weigh a lot.” —Eli Bernstein, Senior Gear Editor “It’s nearly impossible to set up a tent solo on an exposed bluff in severe Santa Ana winds. Consider that nature’s way of telling you that you should find a more protected spot.” —Emma Veidt, Assistant Skills Editor “Don’t leave trekking poles out overnight. Little critters may eat your grips.” —Austin Monte, IT Help Desk “Good company can turn even the most disastrous backpacking trip into one you’ll look back on fondly.” —Zoe Gates, Senior Skills Editor Article origionally posted on Backpacker Magazine on April 14, 2022. N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, August 21, 2022) Good Morning, This past Friday, we once again met at Gravity Climbing Gym for a fun and tiring night of indoor rock climbing. I was joined by three awesome friends and we once again pushed ourselves towards becoming much better climbers. I know it will never happen, but I would love to be the climber I was 20 years ago. The glory days. Only 1 month away from our Heaven's Gate Adventure trip. I have been carefully planning and meticulously putting together the final pieces of the plan. The problem with remote areas is always the travel logistics. Putting together meal plans and time tables is easy, but finding taxi services in the remote great white is not always the easiest thing to do! As of yet, I have heard nothing of getting my weekends off back at the casino, and with the slow season coming, I very much doubt it will be any time soon. I truly miss our hikes and spending time on the trail with all of you. I hope to be able to get back to it soon. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 116: 15 Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us Before Our First Overnight Hike content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Aug 14, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
The idea of backpacking can be a very scary thought. Heading into the unknown with only what you can carry on your back to keep you alive and safe doesn't really seem like the most brilliant plan, but it can lead to the most amazing feeling of accomplishment ever, not to metion the incredible memories you will have for a lifetime. But with a little education and baby steps, it could become the most common activity you are part of, and you will be very thankful that you did. Waking up outside is always memorable – and it can get even better by hiking into a place that’s only accessible by foot. Getting to a remote location on an overnight hike is an amazing experience, but it does require more preparation and commitment than a day hike. Overnight hiking (a.k.a. backpacking) means you carry everything you need to camp and hike with you, so some planning is required – but it’s worth it. Here’s where to start: Choose where to go backpacking: The first step is picking a trail. Plan for the size of your group: Figure out who’s joining you, so you can sort out gear, food and logistics. Pack essential gear and clothing: Since you’re carrying everything, there are some things to consider. Plan your backpacking meals and water: Water treatment and tasty, lightweight food makes for happy hiking. Choose Where To Go Backpacking First up: picking a destination. You’ll want to find a trail that matches your skill set, works with the time you have, and fits within your budget. Hiking guidebooks, outdoor magazines and online forums are good sources to browse for ideas; asking other hikers for suggestions is great too. How to Estimate Hiking Time When you’re figuring out how many kilometres to hike in a day, you’ll want to consider the terrain and the pace you want to travel. Steep, rugged terrain will slow you down, and things like tides on coastal hikes may mean you need to plan your days carefully. A trail that may only take a couple of hours to tackle with a small daypack may take all day with a full overnight load. As a rough estimate, most experienced hikers can cover about 3–4km per hour on a well-established flat trail. Add about 15 minutes for every 100m of elevation gain on the route. And then underestimate both the hours you plan to hike in a day and the distance you think you’ll cover. Location-Specific Things to Find Out Once you’ve got a trail in mind, do a bit more research to start finalizing the details: Transportation: If your trail finishes in a different spot than it starts, you’ll need to plan a car shuttle or another way back. Climate and weather: The time of year you’re hiking will impact your packing list. Low (or high) temperatures, water sources and even how many bugs to expect can be impacted by the season. Permits and reservations: National and provincial parks often require you to get a backcountry permit, and in many cases you’ll need to reserve your tent site too. Some popular trails, like the West Coast Trail, limit the number of users on the trail to keep it enjoyable for everyone. Local regulations: Can you have campfires? Are there food lockers or do you need to bring bear proof canisters? Do your research for where you’re heading. Backpacking buddies: good company, can help carry the load. Photo: @littlewood.photography Plan For Your Group Size Group size and individual ability are important considerations. The larger the group, the longer it will take to do anything – from planning the trip to actually completing it. Heavy loads will magnify differences in physical ability. Plan to regroup regularly at places you identified at the start of the hike. When you regroup, give everyone equal time to rest (don’t just blast off when the slower paced people catch up). On longer hikes, plan for rest days and try to schedule them at the nicest campsites, the ones with a good water sources or places to swim, shelter from the elements and conditions that don’t favour midges and mosquitoes. Along with sharing trail stories, hiking in a group means you can share common items, like pots, a stove and water treatment, so that the weight can be split between multiple people’s backpacks. Group Leader and Trip Plan It may be wise to assign a group leader, usually the most experienced person in the party, to take responsibility for planning, route-finding and keeping a comfortable group pace. The leader can also be responsible for bringing first aid and safety equipment, making sure everyone is equipped for the outing, and checking that everyone in the group understands the Leave No Trace principles. Before you leave, always complete a trip plan (like the AdventureSmart trip plan) to tell someone about where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Leave the plan with someone you trust and don’t forget to contact that person when you get back safely. What to Bring Backpacking Once you pack up a tent, sleeping system, stove and fuel, something to treat water and food for the days you’ll be out, you’ll discover how much more gear (and weight) you’ll have to carry on an overnight trip than for a day hike. Use our backpacking checklist to make sure you don’t forget something crucial – but make sure you don’t overload yourself. The two most common problems for new hikers are inappropriate footwear and carrying too heavy a load. It’s easy to bring too much. When you make plans with your group, figure out the best way to divide the common items, like stoves and pots, so that you can split the weight between different backpacks. How to Save on Gear Looking to build up your backpacking gear closet? Ask friends to see if you can borrow their gear to try out different brands. Secondhand online marketplace sites are also good options to find deals on used gear. Backpack for Backpacking The backpack you choose should have an internal frame, padded shoulder straps and a comfortable, padded hipbelt. Larger packs are adjustable and usually come in a range of sizes to suit different torso lengths. You’ll be much more comfortable with the right-sized pack, and staff at your local MEC store can help you find a good fit. When you try it on, load it up with weight so you get a more realistic feel. Tent and Sleeping Gear for Backpacking Does your trail have huts for hikers to sleep at? If not, you’ll need to bring a tent. And if you are planning to stay in a hut, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan for your trip in case the hut is full, or you have to stop short of your final overnight destination. Since you’ll be carrying everything on your back, you’ll want to use a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad designed for backpacking, not car camping. These are made of durable but lighter weight material, and pack up much smaller than car camping gear. When you’re ready to purchase your own gear, check out these articles for helpful advice: How to choose a tent How to choose a sleeping bag How to choose a sleeping pad MEC Label tent in its natural environment. Photo: The Lady Alliance, one of MEC’s community partners. Hiking Boots for Backpacking Although some hikers enjoy wearing trail runners or approach shoes even for long-distance trails, you’ll probably want to upgrade to supportive hiking boots. Backpacking boots are high-cut to stabilize your ankles, and are stiff to prevent foot fatigue as you carry a heavy pack and cross rugged terrain. Make sure you break in your hiking boots at least a month before you go on your trip. Breathable, moisture-hiking hiking socks are also super important. Learn more about how to choose hiking boots. What to Wear Backpacking The clothes you wear for day hiking (or even working out) will likely also work for your backpacking trip. Clothing layers are key for overnight hiking, since it’s easy to pull layers on and off as temperatures change. And of course – no cotton! Make sure your hiking shorts, long johns, pants, t-shirts, underwear and sports bra are made of quick-drying materials that wick moisture. Packing and Preparing Food The amount of food to bring will depend on how hard you’ll be working, your age and even the temperature. Someone being active outside can burn about 3,200 to 4,500 calories per day. Check out our backpacking food and meal planning article for lots of helpful tips. Planning for some extra food is good (it’s part of the 10 essentials), but packing way too much food just means extra weight. Canned foods are too heavy for backpacking, and you won’t have a cooler with you, so quick snacks and freeze-dried meals are popular options. Check the cook time for your food to make sure you bring enough fuel for cooking; it’s good to include no-cook options just in case your stove malfunctions. Drinking Water Finding a safe and handy supply of drinking water is also important – even if it looks clean, all water should be filtered, treated or boiled to prevent water-borne pathogens from causing illness. Check that the water source you plan to use is viable year-round, and doesn’t rely on a snowpatch or a creek that goes dry in mid-summer. Flavoured beverages can also taste super refreshing after days of just water. Packing Your Backpack Properly distributing the weight in your pack is important to keep you comfortable and safe. Generally, light, bulky items go in the bottom of your pack. Heavy items, like pots and your food, should be close to your back and mid-way up your pack. Medium-weight or bulky things like extra clothing layers go toward the top. Check out our full article on how to pack a backpack for a video and plenty of tips. Before you leave the house, weigh your pack. As a general rule, your pack weight shouldn’t be more than a quarter to one third of your body weight. And before you leave for the trailhead, always remember to check weather forecasts, tell someone about your trip plans and when you expect to be back, and stash a copy of your trip plan in the car at the trailhead. Article origionally posted on MEC Learn. N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, August 14, 2022) Good Morning, Did you know that you can check out every issue of Adventure Weekly on The Adventure Forum? That's right, every informative article has been saved and preserved for your reading pleasure within the NAC Adventure Weekly Archive. 114 articles so far, and a new educational article and club news added each week. Articles that can make your outdoor adventures safer, more enjoyable and incredibly epic. Make sure you visit The Adventure Forum and get your fill of information. While there, feel free to leave a post or two in some of our other topics. Share your knowledge, find partners for your adventures, or check out some gear reviews. The Adventure Forum is your go to for outdoor information and connections! On a personal note... I miss you guys! I haven't been getting any hiking in other than my AirBnB Experiences. I hosted three this week with 11 guests. I do get to meet some very awesome and interesting people on those experiences. Last week I had clients from Japan, Mexico, Florida, Texas and the craziest ones, Oakville, Ontario! It's always amazing to meet people of different cultures and ethnicities. And lastly, this coming Friday will be another Defy Gravity - Indoor Rock Climbing night at Gravity Climbing Gym in Hamilton, Ontario. To participate, you must have climbed at Gravity Climbing Gym in the past OR be able to pass a belay test. Pricing info is available here. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 115: Backpacking Basics:
How to Plan an Overnight Hiking Trip content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Aug 12, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
There are alot of stigma's out there when it comes to women in the backcountry, but none of them are true. Women are just as capable as men, and have much to offer on the trail. However, since the activity has been male dominated for many years, there are some challenges women must overcome. Gear, hygene and mysogony on the trail, just to mention a few. This week, we will take a look at some great tips for women who plan to join the world of Backpacking. Women make awesome backpackers because we’re well-equipped biologically and physically: We’re built for endurance, have high pain tolerance, store fat better than men, are stronger in the hips (which is great for carrying packs), and are more in tune with our bodies so we know when to rest. And, women excel at creating community on the trail, at supporting each other. — Liz Meschio, REI Outdoor School instructor There are more people backpacking today than ever before. And the jump in number of hikers, especially women, shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Whatever motivates us to hit the trail, most find our backpacking experiences to be empowering, soul-enriching, even life-changing. Whether we hit the trail solo or with others, for a single weekend or for months on end, the ability to carry what we need on our back in order to commune with nature, and with other outdoor enthusiasts we meet on the trail, is simply unmatched in other aspects of life. If you’re young or old, a first-timer or veteran hiker, you’ll find inspiration from other backpacking enthusiasts. Following are some suggestions to help you prepare for your next trip. Many of these tips apply to any gender. Gear Considerations Regardless of your gender, of course you need to make sure you have the right gear to head into the backcountry, including the Ten Essentials. That also means the following: Make sure your gear fits and works properly: Make sure your pack is comfortable, you know how to set up your tent, you have a quality sleeping bag and pad, and you know how your stove and water filter work. Bring along repair supplies for the above. Some may find that "women-specific" options for backpacks and sleeping bags may provide a more comfortable fit and better performance than unisex or men’s styles. Check that you have appropriate clothing and footwear: Make sure you have clothing appropriate for the weather and your destination. Fast-drying underwear is of particular note because it helps prevent yeast and urinary tract infections for those who are prone to them. Also, be sure your boots and feet are comfortable. Take along some helpful hygiene items for comfort: In addition to basics like hand sanitizer and personal wipes, you might consider some of these specific gear considerations for hygiene. Menstrual supplies: Many backpackers like to use a menstrual cup because it reduces the extra weight of carrying tampons and it cuts waste. It’s a good idea to carry a “go kit,” an ultralight stuff sack or dry bag that holds your clean supplies along with a separate sealed bag for waste. For more information, see our article, Backpacking With Your Period. Pee funnel: Planning to backpack in cold or rainy weather? A specially designed funnel lets you keep your pants on and stand up to pee; and, with practice, you can use it in your tent at night with a bottle. Pee rag: Some suggest using a cotton bandana instead of toilet paper when you pee. Tie it to the outside of your pack to dry in the sun. Rinse it as often as you can. Don't forget to bring safety items: Safety whistle: This can be a deterrent to animals and humans as well as a way to call for help. Bear spray: This could come in handy for bear attacks (or human interactions if warranted). If you’re traveling solo or to very remote locations, you might also consider carrying a personal locator beacon (PLB) with satellite messaging so you can send an “I’m fine” message once a day (or at a pre-established date and time) and so you can send an SOS if something serious happens. Also, before you go, always leave your detailed itinerary with someone you trust. Mental Preparation Remember that knowledge is power, so before your trip, do your research and make a mental plan for how you will deal with the following possible scenarios: Be ready if you encounter uncomfortable human interactions: The people who go out on trails for long distances tend to be friendly, helpful and generous. That’s not to say unfortunate things can’t happen. Here are some tips to help you feel prepared to avoid and deal with dodgy situations: Avoid camping within one mile of a road or trailhead. Stick to camping in established campsites. Avoid camping on or near a game trail. You don’t want animals—or hunters—literally running into you. Trust your gut. If you meet someone you feel uneasy about, don’t feel you have to answer questions about where you’re heading, camping, etc. Feel free to make up an excuse to leave them. Tell them you have to make your miles that day, or are getting an attack of giardia—so goodbye! Stride off confidently. Consider carrying a can of pepper spray that's designated for personal self-defense. Don’t hesitate to use your safety whistle. Three blasts is the universal call for help. Know what to do when you encounter wild animals: Are there bears and cougars where you’ll be hiking? Learn how to store your food using bear-proof methods and what to do if you encounter a threatening animal. Definitely carry a can of bear spray if you’ll be in bear territory, and hike in a group of three to four or more. For smaller potential hazards, such as snakes, again, find out if any poisonous species may be found where you’re going, how to identify them, how to avoid them, and what to do if you encounter or get bitten by one. Know how to avoid getting lost and deal with possible injury: Carry a detailed topo map, GPS and compass and know how to use them to avoid getting lost in the first place. See our articles about reading a topo map and how to use a compass. On a long-distance trail, know ahead of time where your “escape” routes are to civilization if you get sick or hurt and need to cut your trek short. Chances are, if you’re on a well-traveled trail, someone will stop to help. Embrace the solitude: Being alone for days on end can be a challenge—and also empowering. You’ll solve your own problems and make your own decisions without input from others. If you prefer to backpack with someone else, especially as a newbie, find a partner through your own group of friends or local hiking clubs. If you’re solo on the trail, help create a community of other solo hikers. And then there’s the tried and true companion, if your route allows: a dog. Physical Preparation Get prepared physically: Spending multiple days hauling a pack weighing 30 or more pounds up and down uneven terrain will challenge you in countless ways. From head to toe, you’ll need strength coupled with a solid level of cardiovascular fitness. An ideal pre-trip training plan includes the following: Cardio workouts (hiking, cycling, elliptical training, etc.) Training hikes with a weighted backpack (increase weight and distance over time to build stamina) Resistance workouts to build strength and stability Also, before tackling a long-distance trail, practice short trips of at least a couple days. Article origionally posted on REI Expert Advice Main contributor, Liz Meschio, REI Outdoor School instructor N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, August 7, 2022) Good Morning, This past Friday myself and four others visited Gravity Climbing Gym - Hamilton for a fun evening of rock climbing. Everyone did amazing and it really was a lot of fun. Thank you all for joining me. It is my hope that I can make Friday night indoor climbing a regular event. I might also plan some outdoor rock climbing lessons on Friday during the day if anyone is interested in that. Unfortunately, we did not have enough interest for Mike's General Brock Hike, and so it was cancelled. As soon as I can coordinate a new date with Mike, I plan to reschedule the hike, so keep an eye out for that. . NAC's Heaven's Gate Adventure is quickly approaching with just less than 6 weeks to go. Many preparations have been made and nine adventurous souls are ready to push themselves harder than ever before on one of Ontario's most remote and difficult trails. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 114: Backpacking Tips for Women content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Aug 01, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
This week's article promises to make the men a little squeamish, but this is very important information for men and women alike. Women are obviously experts in the topic, but in the backcountry it gets to be much more challenging. And for the men, odds are, at some point, you will be on a trip or hiking with a woman who is squeamish about these topics. It’s a natural thing, and all genders should be aware of the best practices while in the wilderness. So, let's dive in to this weeks topic of menstrual cycles in the backcountry. You’ve got a great backpacking trip planned—but you know your period will start either right before or during the trip. What should you do? After the first time backpacking with your period, you’ll realize it’s no big deal. And you can rest easy that the old notion that bears are attracted to menstrual blood turns out to be a myth. With a little preparation and knowledge, you won’t have to think twice about heading into the backcountry at any time of the month: Know your options: Your main choices will be tampons vs. a menstrual cup. There are pros and cons to each. Organize your supplies: A “go kit” will help you keep your clean supplies organized and used supplies properly stored. Follow backcountry guidelines: Be sure you understand your backcountry hygiene basics and Leave no Trace principles. Menstrual Cup vs. Tampons There are two good options for managing periods as you backpack: the menstrual cup, and tampons and/or pads. Some even bring a menstrual cup plus a few tampons and pads or panty liners for good measure. This article will cover the pros and cons of each. Menstrual Cup This is a flexible silicone or rubber cup you insert to catch menstrual blood. Many companies make them. You buy one and reuse it, often for years. Brands may have different sizes based on your age, flow amount or childbirth history. Once you insert the cup—it’s a different process from inserting a tampon so read the manufacturer’s instructions—you can keep it in for up to 12 hours. Then you remove it (again, follow instructions) and empty the contents into your “cat hole” (the hole you dig for bathroom use during a backpacking trip). After you empty out the cup, rinse it with clean water if possible, or wipe it out with tissue, and reinsert it. You can do this as often as you need to. Some people even pee on the cup to rinse it while on the trail, then wash it in camp. You may prefer to use the cup only at night or only during the day. Typically a cup can be boiled for a thorough cleaning. Most come with a small drawstring storage bag made of breathable cotton. Pros: A cup is reusable and lightweight, so you only have to bring one item instead of multiple tampons/pads that get heavy after use. It eliminates waste, making it more environmentally friendly than tampons. You’re not exposed to bleach, dioxin or fibers found in some tampons. Cons: Inserting and removing a cup takes practice—it’s important to practice at home and use the cup during one or two periods before you go backpacking. Lack of soap and water to clean your hands and the cup can be a deterrent for some. Tampons and/or Pads If these are what you’re comfortable with, and you don’t like the idea of or can’t get the hang of the menstrual cup, then by all means stick with these. Pros: You can bring tampons without applicators to take up less space. You know the routine and it works for you. Cons: You have to carry them in, which takes up room and ounces in your pack. And, you have to pack out every single used tampon and pad in a special waste bag. (It’s important not to bury a used tampon or pad in your cat hole because animals dig them up.) How to Carry and Store Your Hygiene Items Once you’ve decided what hygiene items you’re going to bring backpacking, you can make a “go kit.” This is a sack containing a clean bag to carry products in, and a waste bag to carry used items out. By keeping all your items together inside the larger kit, you just need to pull out one bag when you reach into your backpack for your supplies. Some, however, prefer to keep the two completely separate. Clean bag: For your main bag, start with an opaque, ultralight 4-liter to 8-liter roll-top stuff sack or dry bag. Then, add the following: Quart-size zip-top bags (about a half dozen if you’re using tampons/pads). A couple will hold your clean tampons/pads and the rest will go into your waste bag to hold the used items. Hand sanitizer (small bottle) Pre-moistened wipes in a zip-top bag (1-3 per day), or toilet paper removed from the cardboard roll Biodegradable soap (small amount for washing hands and underwear) Waste bag: Zip-top bags are the best way to carry out used tampons, pads and toilet paper to contain odors. (Tip: To further help with odor control, include a dry tea bag or ground coffee.) Here are three ways to make a waste bag from a gallon-size zip-top bag: Completely line the bag with aluminum foil so the contents remain private. Cover the bag with duct tape; this weighs more, however. Instead of foil or tape, put waste items into quart-size zip-top bags and stow them inside the gallon-size waste bag. NAC's CHOICE: Include paper sandwich bags in your waste kit. Place your used tampon/rolled pad in the brown paper bag, roll it up tight and place the paper bag into your Waste Bag. In areas that allow fires, the paper bags and it's contents can be burned. Backcountry Hygiene Tips for Your Period Wash your hands with soap and clean water when you’re in camp, and use hand sanitizer while on the trail. You can bring pre-moistened wipes to clean your hands before and after inserting or removing the menstrual cup or tampons. (While some wipes are made especially for cleaning out the menstrual cup when you can’t rinse it, some cup manufacturer’s advise against using wipes or sanitizer on the cup itself.) Bring along a few nitrile medical gloves to use when inserting or removing a menstrual cup or tampon to avoid getting your hands messy. They’re good to have in your first-aid kit even if you don’t use them, but they do create extra waste to manage. (Put them in your waste bag and carry them out with you.) Article origionally posted on REI Expert Advice Main contributor, Kristy Gutierrez N.A.C. News (Sunday, July 31, 2022) Good Morning, This coming Friday, you can join me for some Indoor Rock Climbing at Ontario's Premiere Climbing Gym, Gravity Climbing Gym Hamilton. The very next day, join Mike and Mel as they lead you along the 12km General Brock Side Trail that follows along side the Niagara River from Queenston to Niagara-on-the-Lake. This hike is perfect for for beginners or those who want to take it easy that weekend! Please note, this hike is not dog friendly. There are only 4 more days to register for these events, so get to it! Our Heaven's Gate Adventure is quickly approaching. Myself and 9 others will take part in this epic adventure to Northern Ontario. Some very experienced and some brand new to the world of backpacking, but all are very excited about undertaking this quest. After our first ZOOM meeting, everyone is a little more understanding of the challenges we will face in the back country and more eager than ever to push their limits. More to come as the time gets closer. I put in for some vacation days, and hope to plan at least one weekend backpacking trip late this summer. Either in mid September, or early October. The plan would be a 3 day backpacking trip in the Walters Falls Area on the Sydenham Section of the Bruce Trail. We would utilize the two available back country camping areas in that section of trail to form a three day, two night trip. I have tried to complete this section 3 times during the pandemic, but trail closures and extreme weather always foiled the plan. Hopefully, this year we can make it work. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 113: Backpacking With Your Period content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jul 27, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
As we are preparing for our Heaven's Gate trip which will take place in bear country, it's a good idea to cover the topic of bear bags and how to hang them. Bear's have excellent smell and have no issues with rummaging through your camp and tents, (even when you're in them) to find those wonderful smells. There are many ways to do a bear hang, and over the years, the bears have learned how to foil most of those methods. We are going to look at the PCT Method of hanging a bear bag, which seems to be the most bear proof method, and the one I personally use. I usually find a great article to post, however, this time I will be using some videos, and more to teach you everything you need to know to effectively hang your food and other scented items with the PCT Method. This method was first used by long distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, hence the name. Backpacking is a age old hobby on the West Coast, and so the bears have had a lot of experience learning how to slash at ropes causing food bags to rain down from above. The PCT method was developed to solve this problem, as you will learn in the videos below. What You Will Need 15 meters (50') of 550 Paracord Durable, Strong Carabiner (rated for at least 110kgs - 250lbs) A Stick (You can use a piece of wooden dowel, or a strong stick off the ground) Small Bag with Cinch Closure (Used to store everything and as a throw bag). How To: The PCT Food Hanging Method Video By: Appalachian Trail Conservancy PCT Method - Knots So now that you know how to hang your bag with the PCT Method, let's look at the two knots you will need to know in order to make it effective. The Figure of 8 on a Bight, and the Marlinspike Hitch. Figure 8 on a Bight You will use this knot at the end of your paracord you plan to hang your food on. Simply tie the Figure 8 on a Bight in the end of the paracord, then clip the carabiner through the loop. You can then clip the throw bag full of small rocks to the carabiner and throw it over your branch. Once you complete that task, use the same carabiner to clip to your food bags and you are ready to pull everything up in place. Video By: CMC Rescue Marlinspike Hitch | How to Tie the Marlinspike Hitch -Step-by-Step instruction and history of the Marlinspike Hitch You now have all the knowledge you need to complete this practical and safe method of storing your food and other scented items while in bear country. Knowing this technique will keep you safe and out of harms way. Be sure to make your bear hang kit, then practice a few times at home before heading into the back country. And remember, when removing your food bags from the system, always remove the trailing end of the rope from the carabiner, otherwise it can slide up and cinch around the tree branch making it impossible to retrieve. Important Pro Tip: Your Food Bags should always be hung in a tree at least 30 meters (100') away from your camp area. It is also best to prepare your meals and eat away from your camp. Never eat inside your tent, as the food scents will seep into your tent fabric and it will attract bears. N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, July 24, 2022) I am adding new content to the NAC YouTube Channel weekly! Please click the banner above to visit the channel! While you are there, please subscribe, as I only need 30 more subscribers to get a custom URL! Thank you for your support! Good Morning, There are no events planned for this week. It's a relax week. With the current heat wave and the temperatures, that is probably a good thing! This past week saw temperatures of up to 36°C here in Southern Ontario. Over in the UK, they had new record highs of 40.3°C. It was so hot that they had to wrap the suspension cables of the famous Tower Bridge in heat reflective materials as the extreme sun could have caused the giant metal chain links to expand to the point of failure! As for myself, I was out guiding some of my AirBNB Niagara Glen Experinces this past week. It was incredibly hot, especially while climbing the 285 foot escarpment wall and 98 metal steps to exit the Niagara Glen. But it was great excercise, and as alway, I got to meet awesome people from all over the world and teach them about Niagara's Geological History. If you have friends or family visiting please share my AirBNB Experience with them. Don't miss out on the upcoming events! Next Friday evening, you can join me for some Indoor Rock Climbing at Ontario's Premiere Climbing Gym, Gravity Climbing Gym Hamilton. On the following Sunday, join Mike and Mel as they lead you along the 12km General Brock Side Trail that follows along side the Niagara River from Queenston to Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a very simple hike, perfect for beginners or those who want to take it easy that weekend! Please note, this hike is not dog friendly. Lastly, the Heaven's Gate Adventure is full, and planning is underway. We had a ZOOM Meeting this past Friday so that everyone can meet, and we discussed the rigors of backpacking one of Ontario's most difficult trails. The group is super excited to take part in this amazing adventure! That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 112: HOW TO: The PCT Bear Bag Method content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jul 20, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Believe it or not, during the last two years, when so many rushed to the outdoors as a result of the pandemic, human waste has become quite the problem. There was human waste everywhere, with piles of toilet paper laid over top. It was in city parks, climbing crags, backcountry areas, popular day hiking trails and more. And many times, it wasn't even remotely hidden. So today's lesson is going to be all about pooping in the backcountry. This great article from Outward Bound will spell it all out for you no matter where you are. At some point you have to talk about the serious business of going #2 in the woods. Although this is something most of us do every day, to many, it remains a mystery how it’s done in the backcountry. We’ve all wondered it. Now, your questions will be answered! Proper Waste Management = Preserving Wild Spaces Outward Bound is hyperaware of its impact in wilderness areas, whether it’s on a river, in a desert or alpine environment. We model responsibility and conscientious practices for our students to preserve wild spaces for generations to come. When it comes to disposing of waste properly, we hold our students to high standards, following local and federal guidelines. We have these conversations and teach waste management lessons at the beginning of each course, not only to ease some unspoken anxiety about bathroom use, but to makes sure that there are no accidents and that expectations are communicated clearly. What is Leave No Trace? Leave No Trace, also known as LNT, is comprised of seven principles that are collectively followed in order to promote conservation and sustainable use in the outdoors. Plan ahead and prepare Travel and camp on durable surfaces Dispose of waste properly Leave what you find Minimize campfire impact Respect wildlife Be considerate of other visitors The Leave No Trace principles are “the golden rules of outdoor recreation.” These guidelines help preserve the outdoors and allow us to enjoy the natural world in a sustainable way. By following the LNT framework, we can prevent and minimize human-created impacts in the wilderness. As #3 states, we should take extra care when disposing of waste. Don’t Do as Bears Do It’s no mystery, bears DO poop in the woods wherever and whenever suits them. But unlike bears, we have an extra responsibility to do it correctly for a couple of reasons. Our waste does not have a direct advantage or ecological purpose. Bears, for example, tend to have digestive enzymes that break down hulls of tough seeds that are unpalatable to humans. When they go #2, sometimes miles from where they dined, they are completing an important task of germination assistance and seed dispersal. Human waste doesn’t do this. In addition, human deposits being made in high-use areas, paths, trails, camp sites or points of interest tend to pile up, even if buried properly. This leads to a land mine and the potential of our waste polluting water sources of other animals and humans is high and is a huge health hazard. Pooping in the Wilderness: The 101 Where and how you go #2 really depends on the ecozone you are in, and what activity you are doing. Here are a couple of examples: Backpacking: This is the classic “cathole” style of pooping in the woods. The delivery is done in a hole dug about 8” deep and 6” wide, also known as a cat hole. This hole is usually dug with a lightweight trowel, similar to a garden trowel. The person making the deposit can use pine cones, smooth rocks, lichen (soft material that grows on trees) or smooth sticks. The used materials are thrown into the hole when finished, then the hole is buried and disguised to blend in. The delivery person may, however, mark the spot with a small stick “X” in order to signal to others that the spot has been filled. Another option for ‘materials’ is using toilet paper, sparingly, and it has to be disposed of properly. LNT specifies to pack it out by using a plastic bag, as this will leave the least impact on the area. Mountaineering: This alpine environment uses techniques similar to those of backpacking, however, above a certain elevation biodegradable qualities of soils (or lack-thereof) are not able to properly break down waste. In many snowy mountaineering environments there is no access to dirt. In these instances, a WAG bag, also known as a cleanwaste bag, is appropriate. This waste kit is made of puncture resistant material and usually comes with a small amount of TP and a sanitary towelette. The bag is approved to be thrown away in most municipal garbage cans. It is packed out and disposed of later. Climbing: Climbing areas can be semi-frontcountry with access to pit toilets and porta-potties. For backcountry climbing, similar techniques using catholes or WAG bags are appropriate. Desert Backpacking: This arid environment has a topsoil that calls for a shallow hole. When defecating in the desert, LNT guidelines recommend digging a 6” hole as compared to an 8” hole in more forested areas. This is because most of the biodegradable action takes place closer to the surface in the desert. Canyoneering: This environment usually calls for a WAG bag because of the thin corridor of travel directly in a drainage, with high risks of potentially contaminating water. It is very rare to find a spot where you can dig a 6” hole 200′ away from a drainage in a canyon. If you do, look around and make sure there isn’t evidence that water travels through that area. Most likely it does during monsoon season downpours. Kayaking: This environment can have a hybrid of styles. Sometimes there is access to pit toilets, porta-potties and flushers. Other times in more remote locations, the standard is cat holes or WAG bags. Most kayakers start and end their days onshore, and don’t stray too far throughout the day. Good kayakers will learn to sync their bowel movements to shore-time to avoid the potential for an aqua-deuce emergency. (As you can guess, it is best not to relieve yourself in the ocean). Rafting: Similar to canyoneering, it is very difficult to find areas that fall within the LNT guidelines in a river corridor. On top of that, these corridors are usually traveled repeatedly, and the favorable camping spots are visited hundreds (if not thousands) of times a year. Rafting is most often done in large groups to add to the difficulty of disposing of waste properly. The solution? A groover! A groover is usually an old ammo box, retired from the military, with a detachable toilet seat. On most rafting trips, it’s unloaded from the raft and placed onshore in a discreet location, or “bathroom.” The groover has a small amount of biodegradable agent that breaks down the waste and mitigates smell. For a group of 12, each groover lasts about a week before it’s time to start a new one. These have water tight lids and are emptied out at specific facilities after each river trip. Rule #1 of groovers: don’t pee in the groover! Check out this handy article for more information on a groover. Bonus: The name ‘groover’ originates from trips in previous years when people used ammo boxes for their toilet that had no ‘seat’ when you sat down on the can, so it left grooves on the backs of your thighs. Sailing: Similar to kayaking, sailors on small crafts end up on shore every night to cook their food, and therefore have access to facilities or catholes. On longer expeditions without access to land, sailors have a bucket similar to a groover with a water-tight lid and removable toilet seat. Historically, sailors would hang over the edge and aqua-deuce, however that practice has terminated due to obvious health and LNT reasons. On small crafts, when using the poop bucket, fellow sailors hold up a privacy sheet and do a “courtesy turn.” Dog Sledding: Similar to mountaineering, sometimes there is a severe lack of access to soil in this terrain. If that’s the case, WAG bags are used. The nice thing about dog sledding is that most supplies stay either frozen or very cold, reducing smells and assisting in easy transport. In some instances, when traveling in very remote locations, holes are dug in the snow using a camp shovel and deposits are made directly in the snow. Used TP is brought back to camp and burned. Important Pro Tips: Don’t try to hold it. Fecal impaction is a real thing. If you forcibly hold your bowel movements for more than a few days, the waste buildup in your colon can cause serious constipation, dehydration, pain and vomiting. It’s a sure fire way to end your trip early and invite things like enemas and laxatives into your life. Collect wiping materials throughout the day. On most Outward Bound courses you are tasked with traveling from point A to point B. Throughout the day, start collecting wiping materials and stuff them into your pack. It’s not only a fun game, but can be used as a commodity to later barter with crewmates. Raining? Go under your tarp! This trick can only be used in special conditions. One example would be that you are packing up to leave your Solo spot if you are on an Outward Bound course. If the LNT requirements are met, why not? Nothing like a little shelter from the rain! Build yourself a throne out of rocks. You can fashion your own backcountry toilet bowl. Just remember to dig your hole to correct depth and make sure you are not disturbing microorganisms that are living on the rocks. Lean against a tree, or hang onto a branch.This disperses some of your weight and offers more balance, leaving you focused and relaxed for the real business. Is it buggy out? Pre-dig your hole and have your wiping materials collected. Take off unnecessary layers for easy access away from your desired spot. Wait until the urge is strong and you are very, very ready. Run to your spot, do your business and wrap up before tender areas are eaten alive. Areas with a breeze helps thin out mosquitoes and flies. Scope out “your spot” when you get to camp instead of in unfavorable lighting or in a morning daze. Make sure you pay attention to how you got there so you don’t get lost on the way back to camp! Worried about getting your clothing dirty? Perhaps you’re in a dire state. If this is the case, and the bugs aren’t bad, take off your pants and underwear, set them aside, and go for it knowing that nothing is in the way. Just make sure your shoes are tied. Potty mouth – Good Vocab to Know F.O.P.O.: Fear of packing out toilet paper Surface Turd: The horrific action of eliminating onto the ground with no intention to bury it P. Flowers: Toilet paper stuck in bushes and under rocks due to LNT failure Poop Soup: The action of stirring up your poop with some dirt before burying it in order to assist in breaking it down. Written by Trevor McKee for Outward Bound Blog posted on June 26, 2018 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, July 17, 2022) I have been working on many new videos and posting them to the Niagara Adventure Club YouTube Channel! Please take a moment to visit and subscribe! Good Morning, Today, Chris and Bruno are out in St. Catharines leading the first NAC non-guided hike. It's also the first NAC hike I have not been part of, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Unfortunately, it will be the norm for the next while. ONE SPOT LEFT FOR THE HEAVEN'S GATE ADVENTURE! Plans are underway for the Heaven's Gate Adventure that will take place in September. I am looking forward to this upcoming expedition very much. Manitoulin Island and the surrounding area are one of Canada's most picturesque landscapes. Those that are joining in on this adventure will see views they never could expect. I am especially looking forward to the amazing night sky, as the area we will be backpacking through is a Dark Sky Preserve. There is even a very good chance we will get to enjoy the Northern Lights. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 111: Serious Business:How to Poop in the Backcountry content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jul 10, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Recently, I had a bit of a sticky situation with one of my backpacks, literally. The hip belt pocket zippers were sticking as I was trying to open them, making access to my most needed gear very difficult along the trail. It's been a while since I have done any zipper maintenance, but we rely on ziper's quite a bit in the backcountry, and they are not easily maintained in the field. So here are some tips and tricks to stay on top of those pesky zippers before they become a problem when it's most inconvienent. If the zipper on your sleeping bag, tent door, jacket or backpack is broken, it might be a simple fix or it might mean replacing the zipper. First, you need to look at the problem. To fix zipper teeth that won’t stay closed, you can tighten the zipper slider or replace it. If the zipper teeth are broken or it’s missing a tooth, it might be time to replace the whole zipper. And if the zipper feels stiff and isn’t sliding, try to fix it by using a candle. Zipper Repair Tools You’ll need: A pair of hinged or adjustable pliers (ideally not needle nose) You might also need: Zipper stops Scissors Replacement zipper slider Needle and thread Before you get started, take a look at what type of zipper you have to know what you’re working with: How to Tighten a Zipper Slider If your zipper teeth won’t stay closed, you can try a temporary fix by tightening the zipper slider: Move the zipper slider to the bottom of the zipper. Put the pliers around the slider, so one side of the pliers faces the inside of the garment and one side faces the outside. (Needle-nose pliers will put uneven pressure on the slider, which is not ideal). Gently squeeze the left side of the slider, then squeeze the right side. Test the zip. You may have to re-squeeze the slider until the zipper functions. Avoid squeezing so hard that you jam or break the slider. If a zipper is sewn in at one end (like a fly on a pair of pants or the top of a tent door) there might be a few teeth at the very end that do not properly engage. To fix this, unpick some stitches and install new stops, or sew a few teeth closed, and use just a little bit less of the full length of the zipper. How to Replace a Zipper Slider A more permanent fix for fixing a zipper slider is to replace it completely. For separating zippers (zippers that separate at both ends, like the front zip on a jacket) it will be easier to remove one or both of the stops. For non-separating zippers (zippers that are sewn in at one end, like a tent door), you may need to open a seam before you can remove the stops. How to Replace a Broken Slider: Separating Zippers How to Replace a Broken Slider: Non-separating Zippers Find a matching replacement for your zipper slider. Use pliers (or nippers if you have them) to gently pull or cut out the stops. Try not to damage the webbing as you take them out. Pull the slider off the end. Put the new slider in place (for non-separating zippers, place the two ends of the zipper teeth into the front two openings of the new slider). Make sure that slider is facing the right way – not upside down – as you’re putting it on. Hold the teeth together and move the slider along the zipper. It may require a few tries to get it sliding evenly. Once the zipper slider is working, attach new stops and re-sew any seams required. How to Fix a Zipper with Missing Teeth You can do a quick fix in the field by sewing above the missing teeth: How to Fix a Stiff Zipper Does your zipper feel stiff? Maybe it’s not sliding nicely? Try rubbing the zipper with a wax candle: N.A.C. Tip: Keep a small birthday candle in your repair kit for just this purpose! Origionally posted on MEC Learn N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday. July 10, 2022) Good Morning, I have been working on many new videos and posting them to the Niagara Adventure Club YouTube Channel! Please take a moment to visit and subscribe! (I need 60 more subscribers to get a custom URL) Well, it seems many of you received last week's newsletter twice, once on Saturday morning and again on Sunday morning. I am very sorry for that. I haven't quite figured out what happened yet, but I don't think it will happen again. This week, I began with my new days of Thursday and Friday off. I did get some hiking in this week, guiding my AirBNB Experience in the Niagara Glen. That will probably be the bulk of my hiking for the next few months. I am also planning on a few Friday hikes so let me know if you want to take part. And hopefully, I can get some indoor rock climbing in as well. They won't be official events, but I will post some on the Events Page if anyone wants to join me. Next weekend, Christopher and Bruno will be leading the Twelve Trail Loop Hike in St. Catharines, ON. It will be a 12.7km look hike in the Glendale area of St. Catharines. Full details are available below under the upcoming events section and on the Events Page. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 110: How to Fix a Zipper content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jul 04, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Although I always love the memories forged while out on a trail, the amazing views granted to me by nature, and the bond formed with fellow hikers, sometimes, just sometimes, while I'm pushing through deep thick mud, torrential downpours, hurricane like winds, or many of the other adversaries in the backcountry it just doesn't seem worth it (it always is). So, here are some tips and tricks to trick yourself into enjoying the hike at the very worst of times. I spent the night shivering. I was deep in Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness in April, and it was cold—somewhere in the teens. All night, I watched moisture from my breath plume into the darkness of the tent. By morning, it had frozen to the walls in a smooth white rime of ice. When my alarm went off at 6 AM, I stepped over my partner, pushed my blistered feet into frozen ski boots, and hobbled through the woods with my avalanche shovel. Nature was calling, and I had two feet of snow to dig through before I’d be granted the privilege of hacking my six-inch cat hole. This was my first backcountry ski trip. I wasn’t sold. We spent the day laboring up steep, icy, 2,500-foot slopes. Every time I peeled off my sticky climbing skins to transition to downhill skiing, the wind would snatch them up, sticking them to my jacket, my hair, and themselves. Imagine working with foot-long strips of Scotch tape in front of a box fan, and you’ll have a pretty good approximation. That night, I returned to my tent, exhausted—only to find that the sun had warmed the walls, melting the condensation right into my bedding. My down sleeping bag lay curled like a withered rose petal. It was soaked. I tried not to cry. The temps were expected to drop into the teens again that night—and the three nights after. "Well", I told myself, "You wanted an adventure." Whether it’s winter camping, rainy hiking, or backpacking in triple-digit heat, hike long enough and you’ll end up doing it in conditions that are flat-out miserable. The secret to having a good time anyway? Knowing how to stay calm and find the silver linings. At least, that’s my takeaway after surviving everything from gnarly food poisoning, to poisonous plants, to insufficient food on the trail—not to mention a long career of ice climbing and mountaineering in subpar weather. Here are some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way. Learn to Identify Type Two Fun. Reframing suffering as just “Type Two Fun,” or “Type Three Fun” is the first step to embracing it. If you’re not familiar with the fun scale, it goes something like this: Type One Fun is anything that’s just plain, honest-to-goodness fun. Think rope swings, water slides, hiking downhill in amazing weather—all the stuff that makes you say “Whee, this is fun,” in the moment (and especially out loud). Type Two Fun is anything that’s fun in retrospect: You weren’t pleased at the time, but afterwards you were really glad you did it. Type Three Fun is, well, basically not fun. It sucks, it’s probably a little dangerous, and you never want to do it again. The only “fun” part is telling the story later. Fix the problem. Now that you’ve identified that your fun is no longer Type One, ask yourself if the situation is fixable. Can you spend five minutes warming your cold hands in your armpits? Get out of your tent and move it to a flatter spot? Switch your wet socks for dry ones (or, better yet, dry ones wrapped in plastic bags to keep out the puddles)? Suffering is great and all, but don’t do it if you don’t have to. Lie to yourself. It’s wet and freezing and you’re exhausted, right? Wrong. Complaining only makes things worse. If there’s nothing you can do to fix your situation, turn to your partner and say, “Wow, I feel so warm right now. Warm and energetic! I’m thinking we do 10 more miles today, what do you think?” Or, patently deny that the rain exists: “Rain? There’s no rain. Rain is a state of mind.” Best case scenario: You’ll actually convince yourself. Second-best: You’ll both crack up laughing and the mood will lift. Sing about it. If things are just too miserable for sarcasm or self-deception, you’re allowed to complain—but only in song format. It sounds silly, but it’s actually pretty Zen: Singing about the rain or mud or how hungry you are is a way of acknowledging and naming your suffering without getting sucked into the negative brain spiral that will leave you screaming into the void and telling yourself you’ll never hike again. Try it. Take a snack break. When you start to get really angsty, pause. If it’s cold, sit on your pack and put your big jacket on. If it’s raining, set up a tarp or find somewhere dry. If you’re underfueled or dehydrated, you’re more likely to feel cold, disoriented, or irritable. Eat something sugary (those Snickers commercials were on to something), drink some water, and/or make yourself a warm beverage. Then, make a plan. Remind yourself you’re alive. Gratitude is another proven way to lift negative moods and alleviate anxiety. While you’re taking that snack break, try this: Look around at the scenery, take four deep breaths, and remind yourself that you’re alive. You’re not in an office. You’re not in a hospital. You’re here, in nature, doing something relatively cool. Let that sink in. Then, name three other things you’re grateful for. Think about how good the stories are going to be. When you’re deep in the pain cave, it might feel too soon to laugh about the situation. But try to take a step back from it, anyway. Are your setbacks starting to verge on ridiculous? Do you feel like you’re at the bottom of the second act in a comedic drama? Start to imagine how you’ll tell the story when you get home. Odds are, a lot of it will be funny in retrospect. Written by Corey Buhay for Backpacker Magazine on April 14, 2022 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, July 3, 2022) Good Morning, HAPPY CANADA DAY! Yes, I am aware that Canada Day was on Friday, but let's be serious, you have been celebrating all weekend and still are! I wasn't as lucky. I had to work Friday, then had my last Saturday off for a while, and will be going back to work this evening. As of this week, I begin my new schedule at the casino, and will now have Thursday and Friday off each week. As I had stated before, anyone that wants to climb Thursday evenings or hike on Fridays, get in touch. I have one interested party for hiking on Fridays so far, and one possible climber for Thursdays. Last Sunday, I guided the last guided NAC Day Hike for the time being. Thank you to everyone who came out. It was an awesome hike and it was so nice seeing everyone. And don't forget, all the photos from last weeks hike and all the past hikes are available on the Niagara Adventure Club Facebook page. Last week was my last day hike for a while, but you're not done! I have arranged for others to lead some day hikes, and will have some posted on the Events Page soon. Christopher and Bruno will be leading the first one on July 16th and it's already posted on the Events Page and below. Mike is also putting together a list of dates that he will be able to lead and we will plan some more hikes for those dates. Come September, I will be guiding a multi-day trip up on Manitoulin Island. Nine other adventurous souls will be joining me while we visit the Honey House, do an awesome day hike on the Cup & Saucer Trail, and then finish with a 4 day trek along the gruelling Heaven's Gate Trail. It will be a tough one, but worth every ache and pain as we pitch our tents each evening and enjoy the beautiuful Northern Ontario sky. Weather permitting, we will see a brightly lit sky full of stars, nebulas and the Northern Lights. And finally, I have booked some more days off, creating a few long weekends. Once they are approved, I will be planning a few short multi day hikes along the Bruce Trail and possibly a few other areas. These will be perfect events for beginner backpackers to have one or two nights out and learn a few things while we enjoy an amazing trail. More to come in future newsletters... That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 109: How to Make Hiking Fun When Hiking Sucks content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jul 04, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
There are a few different ways to conduct a day hike. There are Out and Back Hikes, Loop Hikes, and End 2 End Hikes. Out and Back can get boring, Loop Hikes are sometimes difficult to find and typically rather short. But End 2 End (point to point) Hikes are where it's at! These allow you to cover the most ground in a day, and always have fresh views along the way. But it does have it's problems, mainly in the transportation field. So let's look at a few ways to deal with the in's and out's of hiker transportation. Sure, loops are great, but sometimes the best use of time involves a one-way, point-to-point hike and a car shuttle. (Case in point: section-hiking a long trail). But don’t let the logistics get you down. Here are 4 different options, and some tips to make sure you get to the trail (and back) without a hitch. Option A: Sweet-talk your loved ones Convince your family or friends to drop you off and pick you up. Coerce them with promises of mountain views, good company, and half your post-hike pizza. This works best when you have a reliable idea of when you’ll be finishing your hike. Be a good friend and try to arrive early, so you’re waiting on your ride, not the other way around. Option B: Get professional help Only one car at your disposal? Yo-yo the trail (turn the section into an out-and-back) or consider hiring a service. Do a web search for “hiker shuttles to” the intended trail. Or search out Facebook Groups for that trail. Many trails have "Trail Angels" that will be willing to help for a small fee. Finally, find local towns and use their taxi cab services. Ideally, make arrangements at least 1-2 weeks ahead of time to ensure availability. Option C: Full DIY Want to keep the car shuttling business between hikers? Here’s how (provided you have at least one partner in crime and extra vehicle): Drive two cars to the trailhead and drop off any extra passengers. Then take both cars, each bearing only a driver, to the trail’s end. Leave the bigger car there and have the other take both drivers (and both sets of keys!) to the trailhead. Start hiking. At the end, cram everyone into the one car, then split the load between cars when you return to the trailhead. If you have more than one car’s worth of passengers, just make sure you bring the second car’s driver along so she can pickup those stranded at the trail terminus after being reunited with her wheels. Option D: Key hand-off Consider sending hiking parties from either end of the trail. Swap cars at the start so that you arrive at your own vehicle at the end of the day. Don’t forget to exchange keys when you pass each other mid-hike. A temporary tattoo to the forehead makes for a good reminder. A Few Tips 1. Front-load the drive If you opt for a professional or friend-based shuttle service, make sure it’s on the front end! This means, park your vehicle at the trail terminus and get shuttled to your starting line. (It’s easy to be on time for a trip departure, but missing a post-trip pickup due to unforeseen delays can be a real bummer). 2. Stock the getaway car Fill the getaway car with dry, clean layers, water, and snacks. When you trudge into the parking lot after unsuspected torrential rainfall, you’ll want them. Plus, a car full of water, snacks, and clean socks will reward you after a long trek. Only exception: Bear country. It’s not uncommon for a hungry bruin to break into vehicle if it smells food. 3. Strategize like a war general If shuttling with others, have a planning meeting the day prior. Stretch out a map, drain a couple of beers, and model your car movement strategy with the bottles. Toy cars and figurines from the Game of Life can also be useful. 4. Account for the STUFF If you’re shuttling cars for a long hike, make sure you account for the egregious amount of space full packs can take up in the car. 5. Be a good DJ Burn some CDs, stock your phone, or download a few Spotify playlists before you take off. Some trails are off grid, and radio reception can be frightfully erratic. Choose tunes that will keep you stoked for your adventure. 6.Park smart When dropping off a car, lock CDs, expensive stereos, GPS units, sunglasses, and other valuables safely out of sight – or, better yet, remove them entirely and leave the glove box open and empty (unless this activates a light that will drain your battery). Don’t reverse into your spot with the trunk facing the woods, and don’t leave notes for your friends advising them of your plans – better to leave word of your whereabouts before you leave for the trip. Written by Corey Buhay for Backpacker Magazine on June 5, 2015 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, June 26, 2022) Good Morning, Today I am out guiding my last day hike for the time being. Until things at the casino pick up during the weekdays again, I will be not be able to have any weekends off, and as such, will not be able to guide hikes for the club on Saturdays and Sundays as I have been doing since 2009. I will miss everyone and our adventures very much. However, that doesn't mean the fun will end for you. Christopher along with Bruno, and Mike have agreed to lead some hikes for the club. I will plan hikes as I always have, post them to the Events Page, and you will be able to register as you have always done. I will still post the weather, and a list of what you should wear and bring, but you will be responsible for yourself. Christopher and Mike will lead the way only. They will not be responsible for your safety or well being. So please be prepared and be safe. I will also still be available via email or text if you need advice or guidance before attending the hike. Please note, I do work nights, so no early morning calls please. As for me, I will now be off work from 4am Thursday morning until 8pm Saturday night each week. I will still get some hiking in, as I have found at least one person that would like to hike on Fridays, and I am hoping to get back to rock climbing more on Thursday evenings. If you would like to join me for Thursday Rock Climbing, or Friday Day Hikes, please get in touch by replying to this email. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 108: A Hiker’s Guide to Car Shuttles content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jun 22, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Anyone who has hiked with NAC, knows I carry an extensive First Aid kit for the group, and I have the knowledge and training to properly assess and care for most injuries that could happen while on the trail. As I will no longer be guiding our hikes for a while, I think it's very important to reiterate the importance of carrying a First Aid Kit, and what supplies you should have, as well as the importance of knowledge needed to use it! A first aid kit is one of hiking’s Ten Essentials. That is, hiking gear you should have. The first thing I learned as a Wilderness First Responder is that in the outdoors, preparation is key. Whether you are a seasoned summiter or a daily stroller, carrying a first aid kit is essential for the safety of you and others. Here is a checklist, including some tips, for your hiking first aid kit. Pre-Packaged First Aid Kit vs. DIY Pre-packaged first aid kits like the Mountain Series Hiker Medical Kit and Ultralight Adventure Medical Kits provide a great foundation for your first hiking medical kit. Each is equipped with carefully selected tools and supplies to keep you and a friend equipped for most small adventures. Each pre-packaged kit, however, is different, and it is important to tailor each first aid kit depending on your adventure. That being said, we recommend that everyone should have a DIY first aid kit. Here is how: How to build your own first aid kit for hiking Building your first aid kit can be a little daunting. What if I pack too much? What if I forget something? What if it is my first hike ever and I have no idea what I will need? Have no fear. We are here to help! Here is a step-by-step guide on how to build your very own first aid kit for hiking. Think: SLARS There are four important things to consider before you create your first aid kit. You can remember them by the acronym “SLARS”. 1. Size of Group Are you building a personal first aid kit or planning for a group hike? The group size will determine the number of supplies you need. 2. Length of Trip This determines the same thing as number 1, in case of a backcountry accident, you will likely not have close access to a pharmacy. Because of this, it is imperative that you have enough medical provisions in case you need to reapply gauze and/or provide more medicine. 3. Activity While this is a guide to building first aid kits for hiking, it is likely your trips will vary widely from others. As we know, each hike is different, that’s what we love about it! However, because of the variations in hiking trips and environments, it is important to personalize your first aid kit for specific issues you may run into. Are you prepping for a flat day hike or an exposed, 14er scramble? If you are prepping for the 14er, a Sam splint is a good precaution for a potential broken bone or sprained ankle from a fall. If you are planning a first aid kit for routine hikes, the splint might be overkill. 4. Risk Risk falls under the activity section but is more focused on the environmental factors you will face. For example, if you plan on hiking in an area known for poison ivy (such as the east coast and midwest) and/or ticks, consider carrying a poison ivy treatment like Climb On Lotion Bar and/or a tick-specific tool like the Tick Ease Tick Remover to your first aid kit. 5. Special Needs Whether you are making a hiking kit for a group or yourself, always ensure you carry your personal medications whether for daily or emergency use. It is never a bad idea to carry extras. If you are planning a group hiking first aid kit, make sure everyone brings their personal medications. If you are in charge of medical care and the group members feel comfortable, it is always good to know their relevant medical history like allergies and/or respiratory issues. First Aid Basic Care Basic Tools Tweezers Multitool or Knife Small Mirror Blunt tip scissors Medication and Ointments Personal medication (such as Epi-pens) Ibuprofen Antibiotic ointments Antidiarrheal pills Rehydration salts/pills Antacid tablets Bandages Gauze Athletic (or climbing) tape Assorted adhesive bandages (fabric preferred) Butterfly bandages/adhesive wound-closure strips Blister treatment/kit (such as moleskin) Other Items Wilderness First Aid Guide handbook Burn dressing Splints and elastic wraps Tick remover Antiseptic towelettes Bee-sting kit N.A.C. Note: A Wilderness First Aid Handbook is essential if you are unpracticed in Wilderness First Aid. I always have my pocket handbook in my kit. During my Wilderness Advanced First Aid Course, we were given a text book, Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook, and a waterproof pocket guide, Wilderness Medical Associates: The Field Guide of Wilderness & Rescue Medicine. I highly recommend purchasing each, and practicing some of the skills and techniques. Always carry the pocket handbook with you. Another option is to search for apps on your mobile device. In your App Store, search Wilderness Medicine, and you will find many options available. Comprehensive First Aid Kit Wraps, Splints, and Wound Coverings Rolled gauze Elastic wrap (ex. ACE Bandage) Triangular cravat bandage Finger splint(s) SAM splint(s) Hydrogel-based pads Cleansing pads with topical anesthetic Hemostatic (blood-stopping) gauze Iodine Peroxide (wound cleaning) (Pro Tip: Avoid cleaning a wound with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. It can harm the tissue and slow healing. The best way to clean a wound is with cool running water and/or iodine peroxide.) Aloe Vera/Extra Sunscreen Tools and Supplies Waterproof container to carry First Aid items Small notepad with pen/pencil (Pro Tip: Notepads are extremely beneficial to record a patient’s ongoing condition. Put your notepad in a plastic Ziploc bag to avoid water damage.) Knife (or multi-tool with a knife) Standard oral thermometer Shears (blunt-tip scissors) Cotton-tipped swabs Irrigation syringe Medical gloves (avoid latex) CPR mask Medical waste bag (Pro Tip: Plastic Nalgenes, or any extra water bottle, are a great place to store sharp medical waste items like used needles.) Emergency heat-reflecting blanket Hand sanitizer Biodegradable soap Lightweight tarp litter (How to make a stretcher with a tarp) Extra tampons, pads (Pro Tip: Tampons are a great solution for bloody noses when you are on the move!) Additional Medications/Treatments Prescription medications (e.g., birth control, antibiotics) Allergy medications (e.g., Claritin) Injectable epinephrine (e.g., epi-pen to treat severe allergic reactions) Glucose or other sugar (useful to treat hypoglycemia) Cough drops and throat lozenges Aloe Vera Extra sunscreen Anti-itch spray (for bug bites, rashes) Ibuprofen Antacid tablets Diarrhea medication Aspirin (response to heart attack) Baby powder (keep sweaty feet dry) First Aid Kit for Ultralight Hiking It is critical to never sacrifice preparation and safety for weight. Always keep in mind the SLARS acronym we listed above. However, if you are a stubborn ultralight hiker looking to keep weight low, we have broken down the hiking checklist to the most essential items. Essentials for an Ultralight First Aid Kit Gauze pads (x2): Important to stop bleeding and keep an injury clean from bacteria and dirt. These are important to prevent infection. Antiseptic wipes (x4): Also important for preventing infection, antiseptic wipes help clean up wounds and the area surrounding them. Bandaids (4): Helpful to cover up small scratches, cuts, and blisters. Butterfly Bandages (4): Used to close deeper lacerations when stitches are unavailable. Multipurpose Knife (1): Used for everything and should include tweezers. Imodium or loperamide (4): Diarrheal medication Acetaminophen/Ibuprofen (4): Help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and treat fever. Moleskin: Protect your feet from blisters and hot spots. This can make or break your trip. Duct tape strips: Can be used for everything. Especially helpful to fix torn gear and keep bandaids/moleskin in place. For Ladies: Extra tampons, pads, diva cup: You never know when mother nature will hit you. Always bring spares! First Aid Training Despite the wide range of first-aid backcountry handbooks, training in first aid is always a great idea to stay prepared and safe before an outdoor adventure. Basic medical training will help you conquer the initial shocks of a medical emergency and be more prepared for any incident. There are many first-aid courses including through Wilderness Medical Associates Canada, Canadian Wilderness Medical Training, St. John Ambulance, and the Canadian Red Cross. Written by Ellie Stanton and publish on Hiking Daily on March 11, 2020 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, June 19, 2022) Good Morning, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY There is no hike this week, as by design. It is Father's Day! I hope all of you can spend time with your family, and to the Father's, I hope you have a great day! After today, I only have one more weekend off. For that weekend I have planned the Lion's Valley Hike which will be a 11km Loop hike in Oakville, ON. This will be my last hike with everyone for some time, so I hope that you can join me. For those of you that are unsure of the distance, there is a shorter 8km option. After June 26th, there will still be planned hikes, but it is important to note, that these will not be Guided Hikes! Some of the Season Pass Holder's have graciously agreed to Lead these hikes, but they will be in no way responsible for anyone's well being. Each person attending will be responsible for their own well being and safety. The Registration form will have an attestation to this, you will have to agree to participate. These awesome Hike Leader's will have a map of the route and will simply guide the way. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 107: Hiking First Aid Kit:
Checklist for Hikers & Backpackers content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jun 22, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Last week we took a very in depth look at protecting yourself from ticks. The article however, was written and published in the USA, and I did my best to add some edits to make it more Ontario friendly. I have found another article on protecting yourself from ticks and more importantly, Lyme Disease that was written by Ontario Parks and has more information for Ontario. So, please take the time to read this article, and don't worry, it's much shorter. CHECK OUT CANADA'S eTICK PROGRAM Do ticks and Lyme disease make you wary of going outdoors? Make sure you know how to protect yourself, pets and your loved ones when you head out on an adventure. The most effective way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. What is Lyme Disease? Ontarians are fortunate to have an abundance of wilderness that provides us with ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. But one thing to keep in mind when outside—especially in wooded areas and those with tall grasses, bushes and shrubs—is Lyme disease. Lyme disease is spread to humans through the bite of an infected Blacklegged Tick. Health officials are seeing an increase in the number of cases in the province each year. This is partly due to an increase and expansion of Blacklegged Tick populations to new areas of the province. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding skin rash, which can appear between 3-30 days after a bite. However, many people never get or see a rash. This can be very problematic as missing treatment in the first stage of the disease will push you into the second stage. In stage 2 and 3, other symptoms may develop including fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, problems with your heartbeat, breathing, balance and short-term memory. In rare cases, Lyme disease may result in death. It is important to see your health care provider as early as possible if you have symptoms or if you feel unwell in the weeks following a tick bite. The earlier treatment is received the better. How do People Contract Lyme Disease? Blacklegged Ticks cannot fly. Ticks settle in trees, brushy areas, and high grass. The tick waits in a crouched position with arms stretched outward. The tick will hook on to a passing person or animal as it crosses their path. Ticks are known to feed on migratory birds and can be carried throughout the province. Lyme disease is not transmitted from person-to-person; however, dogs and cats can carry Blacklegged Ticks inside and place families at risk of being bitten. Check your pets for ticks daily and talk with your vet about keeping your pet protected from ticks. Remember, that you are at risk when spending time in the same environments. When you’re out in tick habitat, protect yourself by taking these precautions: Wear light-coloured clothing. It makes ticks easier to spot Wear closed footwear and socks and a long-sleeved shirt tucked into long pants. Tuck your pants into your socks Use a tick repellent that has DEET or icaridin on your clothes and exposed skin (be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions) Search your clothes and body for ticks at least once a day, paying special attention to areas such as the groin, belly button, armpits, scalp, and behind ears and knees. Use a mirror to check the back of your body or have someone else check for you. Don’t forget to tick check children in your care Place outdoor clothing through the dryer cycle for 60 minutes on high heat before washing to kill any ticks that may be hard to see. What if I find a tick? Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible Pull the tick out slowly with even pressure to ensure mouth parts are removed and body is not crushed Wash area with soap and warm water DO NOT... Grasp around bloated belly and squeeze the tick Use a match, heat, or chemicals to try and remove the tick Twist the tick when pulling it out Current Lyme disease risk areas in Ontario While not all Backlegged Ticks can cause Lyme disease, there has been an increase in the number of areas in Ontario where Blacklegged Ticks have been identified or are known to exist. Infected ticks are continuing to spread as the climate in Canada warms. Ticks are moving more North with the help of migratory birds and their ability to survive the mild winters. For more details, review the Lyme disease risk area map below: While the probability is low, it is possible to encounter an infected tick almost anywhere in the province. For more information please consult the Public Health Ontario or the Ontario Ministry of Health. Published on Ontario Parks Blog on May 17, 2022 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, June 12, 2022) Good Morning, As I had stated in an Update Email on Friday, unfortunately I have lost my weekends off for the time being. Therefore, I can no longer guide day hikes on weekends for an indetermined amount of time. As patron volumes at the casino increase, my chance of regaining my weekends off and hosting weekend day hikes will increase. It may take 3 months, it may take a year. It is my hope that it will be within the next 5 months. The Heaven's Gate Adventure will continue as planned. Ten adventurous persons, including myself, have registered for this amazing trip to Northern Ontario. The trip will include some time in a historic AirBnB, a day trip hiking the newly reopened Cup & Saucer Trail, and 4 days and 3 nights on one of Ontario's most difficult trails while sleeping under a pitch black sky and enjoying the billions of stars and possibly the Northern Lights inside of one of Canada's Dark Preserves. Invoices for the trip will be sent out this week. I hope to come up with a plan or two to keep everyone hiking during this time. One such plan is to continue to plan hikes and post them for all to register for. Those that register will recieve a map and parking locations via email and could go together as a group. Other ideas may include finding others to guide the hikes for me or something similiar. I will keep everyone updated. In the meantime, my schedule will be changing on July 3rd, so I can still host and guide today's hike and the June 26th hike that is posted below. I hope you can come join me on the last hike. I would love to see everyone out one last time before I am unable to hike with you for a while. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 106: How to Protect Yourself From Ticks content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
Jun 09, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
I will apologize in advance for the length of this week's article. Also, I would like to apologize for the HeeBeeGeeBees I know the article will cause. But, this is very important information that is extremely valuable for hikers, backpackers, runners, and all those that enjoy time in the outdoors. The tick problem, especially here in Southern Ontario, is getting worse with each passing summer and the diseases they carry are no joke. So please take the time to read this article in it's entirety, as knowledge is your best defense. CHECK OUT CANADA'S eTICK PROGRAM Few things in the outdoors make people squirm as much as ticks, and for good reason. Besides being carriers of some awful diseases, they’re pretty disgusting to look at and remove, particularly when they're attached and engorged. Experts are predicting a tick population explosion this year, so it's time to get up to speed on ticks. Recent irregular winter weather has meant greater survival of larva and adult ticks, which leads to a population boom in the spring. Most hikers are aware of ticks, however there's a lot of misinformation out there surrounding ticks, especially when it comes to risks and how to deal with the ones found crawling or implanted in you. In this article we'll cover general information on ticks, prevention, removal, and how to best protect yourself. Species of Common Ticks Different species live in different regions of the country, carrying and transmitting species-specific diseases. Only a few select species, however, bite and transmit disease to people, and much of it seasonally dependent. Some populations of ticks may be found general areas listed below. The CDC has very informative diagrams of geographical distributions of each tick species. American Dog Tick – (also called Wood Tick) Widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains. Also occurs in limited areas on the Pacific Coast and all throughout Ontario, Canada. Blacklegged Tick – Mostly found in the Northeast and upper Midwest, and major parts of Ontario, Canada. The greatest risk of being bitten by one is in the spring, summer, and fall. Biters include adult females and nymphs, however, adults may bite any time winter temperatures are above freezing. Brown Dog Tick – Found throughout the US and Hawaii. Dogs are the primary victims, although opportunistically they may also bite other mammals and humans. Adult females spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Gulf Coast Tick – Found primarily along coastal areas of the U.S. along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. While larvae and nymphs feed on birds and small rodents, and adult ticks feed on deer and other wildlife, adult ticks have been associated with transmission of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to humans. Lone Star Tick – The CDC calls this a “very aggressive tick.” It’s widely distributed throughout the southeastern states and much of Canada including Ontario, with some cases showing up in the upper Midwest, and the Northeast. The nymph and adult females most frequently bite humans and transmit disease, including Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii (which cause human ehrlichiosis), Heartland virus, tularemia, and STARI. It can also cause an allergy called Alpha-gal. Rocky Mountain Wood Tick – Found in the Rocky Mountain states and southwestern Canada from elevations of 4,000 to 10,500 feet. Adult ticks feed primarily on large mammals. Western Blacklegged Tick – These are perhaps the least ticks to worry about; less than 1% of adults feed on humans. They are largely found along the Pacific coast of the U.S., especially Northern California. Common Tick-Borne Diseases According to Dr. Daniel Cameron, MD, MPH, a nationally recognized expert on ticks, there are many tick-borne infections that pose a threat to humans and dogs. Below are some of the well known and recently surfaced tick-borne illnesses. Lyme Disease – (Borrelia burgdorferi ) Spread by the deer tick, this is the most feared outcome of a tick bite. It can be very hard to diagnose once you have it for a while, and can cause lifelong chronic illness, if left untreated. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotic. According to the CDC, typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. In most regions, 1 of every 2 female deer ticks is infected with the Lyme disease spirochete, so be sure to get the tick off safely. The first 48 hours are crucial. Alpha-gal – Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal) is a carbohydrate found in the cells of many mammals that humans eat, such as cows, sheep and pigs. The Lone Star Tick contains alpha-gal, and their bite can trigger the immune system to go on defense and over-react to it. It can make you allergic to meat — for life. Ehrlichia – (humans and dogs) Lone star ticks are the primary source of Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches, which typically occurs within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite. Babesia – Also called a “piroplasm,” this tick introduced pathogen can cause malaria-like symptoms and is very much malaria-like in action that infects red blood cells. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – (Rickettsia rickettsii) Infections occur mainly east of the Rocky Mountains, but have also been found in limited areas on the Pacific Coast. If you don't get treated for it by the fifth day after a bite, the disease is highly fatal. Pacific Coast Tick Fever - (Rickettsia philipii) Both dogs and human can suffer from this painful and debilitating tick-borne disease. Tularemia - Also called rabbit fever or deer fly fever, this rare infectious disease typically attacks the skin, eyes, lymph nodes and lungs; caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. STARI – (Southern tick-associated rash illness). Some Lone Star Tick bites produce a circular rash similar to the rash of early Lyme disease, but is less consequential. Stages of Tick Development Ticks typically go through three stages of development before becoming an adult: egg, larva and nymph. In general, May is the most active month across the country of for ticks. Newly-hatched larva are only about the size of a dot or a period at the end of a sentence, and feed on the blood of mice and birds. Lone star ticks are an exception; they sometimes bite humans in the larval stage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once they become nymphs, they grown to the size of a pinhead. Once engorged, nymphs detach from their host and molt into adults. Fully-grown females are more like the size of a apple seed. Only infected ticks in either of these two stages pose a risk to humans. The males are a bit smaller and only “blood” feed briefly. They don’t become distended with blood like the females. And once they’re done they look for a female to mate with. Adults prefer to feed on large mammals - like deer and humans. But they also like birds, mice, chipmunks, and even the family dog. After the females find a host to feed on, they mate with an adult male, lay up to 1,500 eggs (some even 4,000), and then die. How to Protect Yourself INSPECT DAILY - Be sure to check yourself daily (or several times a day if hiking in a tick-infested area) when backpacking or hiking in forests and brush-covered landscapes. Generally, people cannot feel a tick bite, but after a day or two, they feel a mild itch. Despite the rumors, ticks don’t jump, fly or fall from trees. What they do, instead, is use a built in carbon dioxide sensor to help them detect mammals. They’ll wait for a host to come into their vicinity and then, using outstretched front legs latch onto a host and began hitching up to a warm spot to begin their feast, usually near the buttocks, pants line or waist or armpits. Below is a diagram from the Center of Disease Control which outlines hotspots on your body that ticks gravitate toward. Check these areas thoroughly. WEAR INSECT REPELLANT - A good way to keep ticks off you is to wear insect repellant. The CDC approved list includes DEET, Piacridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or (PMD). EDUCATE YOURSELF - Do your research and have an understanding of tick prevalence in the region you're hiking. Read trip reports on your intended hiking route to check current conditions. Understand the risks and ways you can protect yourself. MINIMIZE CONTACT WITH TICKS - Avoid hiking in tall grass, brushy areas, or heavily wooded areas. If taking breaks, try to avoid sitting directly on the ground if ticks are aggressive. Always hike in the center of the trail to reduce contact with ticks. WEAR LIGHT COLORED CLOTHING AND TUCK - Wear light colored clothing so you can easily detect a tick crawling on you. If you know you're hiking in tick country, do not wear shorts. Instead, wear long pants and tuck them into your socks to keep ticks from crawling up your legs. Also, tuck your shirt into your pants to keep ticks from entering near your waistband hotspot. CARRY A TWEEZER OR TICK REMOVER - Several tick removal tools are available for purchase, but a simple fine-tipped tweezer is easy to carry and does the job. We recommend carrying your tool in a ziplock bag, which can double as a receptacle for a removed tick, if needed. WHEN YOU RETURN HOME: Thoroughly check your pets and gear. Ticks have been known to attach to gear or pets and unknowingly be carried into your home, to later attach to a human. By checking for ticks before entering your home, you'll reduce the likelihood of off-trail latching. De-tick clothing by throwing everything into a hot dryer for 10 minutes, before washing. The ticks will desiccate in the dryer, whereas they can actually survive a trip through a washer. Showering immediately after being outdoors can reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases. It's also a good opportunity to check for ticks. Removal of Ticks If you find a tick on you, don’t panic. Follow these steps from the Center of Disease Control to ensure proper removal and follow-up procedures. Grasp the tick with a tool as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, with even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. You don’t want the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. If you still see any bits of the tick, try to remove them with the tweezers. If you can’t get them out, leave them alone and let the skin heal. NEVER CRUSH A TICK WITH YOUR FINGERS - Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing the alcohol-drowned tick down the toilet, if at home. DON'T TRY "PAINTING" THE TICK - Some people have heard of the strategy of “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Instead, remove the tick as quickly as possible– do not wait for it to detach. FOLLOWING A BITE, MONITOR SYMPTOMS - If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see a doctor pronto. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick. What is the eTick Program (Canada) The eTick program was launched for monitoring ticks in Canada. This program is established mainly because of the increasing tick population in Canada. It is a web portal that guides Canadians to access various information such as spotting ticks, removing ticks, doubts about where to send ticks for testing? etc. Dogs & Ticks Many people bring their dogs with them in the outdoors and and they can be very susceptible to ticks. To prevent your pet from contracting a tick-borne disease or carrying ticks or larvae into your home after a trip, it's imperative that you take preventive measures with your pets. Below are several tips on protecting your pets. TREAT THEM IN ADVANCE - If you hike with your dog, treat them with a monthly preventative medication. We recommend checking with your veterinarian for specific product recommendations for your pet. DAILY INSPECTIONS - Just as you check yourself daily, it's important to do the same with your pets. Give them a quick brush at the trailhead and run your fingers across their chests, belly and legs. If a tick is found, remove it immediately using the similar steps to a human. Some people even keep a Tick Key on their dog's collar so you always have a tool handy. CHECK THOROUGHLY BEFORE GETTING INTO YOUR CAR - If you're heading off the trail, check them before you get into your car. If they carry them into the house, you increase the likelihood of having them latch on to you. USE DUCT TAPE FOR LARVAE - To get a lot of crawling larvae off of you or your dog before they bite, try using duct tape as soon as you notice them. Final Thoughts Although the thought of ticks can be quite horrifying, with a little bit of education, proper protection, and vigilance, hiking in tick country can be enjoyable and safe. In general, wearing tick repellent clothing is the easiest and best way for people to prevent tick bites when they’re in the outdoors. But inspecting yourself before you crawl into your tent at night or return to your car is the best defense against a tick that has crawled on you and one that has bitten you. Vigilance is key. We hope this article equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to hike and backpack in tick country. Written by Dave & Annie and posted on The Clever Hiker Blog, edited by Lenny Burch of NAC N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, June 5, 2022) Good Morning, This week, there will be a new shift bid at the casino, so my days off may be changing. It is very likely I will retain my Saturday and Sunday off, but I will be trying to switch back to Friday and Saturday. If I am successful at switching, then hikes will switch back to Saturdays which were far more popular and allowed for more attendance. So, everyone cross your fingers for me. Also, during the shift bid, I will be picking my vacation time for the second half of the year. Iwill choose two weeks at the end of Septemeber in preparation for trip to Manitoulin Island. Once my days off are confirmed, I will begin collecting fees and making all the necessary reservations for that trip. Those of you that are registered will receive your email invoice by the end of next week. I will also try to secure a few days off to give us some long weekends, during which time I hope to have a few short multi-day hikes along the Bruce Peninsula or perhaps some other shorter trails in Ontario, so keep an eye on the Events Page for those as well. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 105: Ticks & Hiking:
How to Protect Yourself content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
May 31, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Although you should never rely on just your phone while in the backcountry, it's the way of the modern world to have your phone strapped to your side at all times. Modern smart phones offer many apps to help along your travels, provide entertainment while in the tent or while taking a rest trail side and just make you feel more comfortable having it with you. But alas, these devices are not designed for the perils of the backcountry. So today, let's take a look at how you can protect your fragile device. While it used to be that we didn’t carry cell phones everywhere, times have certainly changed. These days more and more people are carrying their phones on hiking, rafting, and even mountaineering trips. They can be used in the case of an emergency, as a navigation aid, and (most commonly) as a camera. We polled the guides (who also often carry their phones on their adventures) for some tips and tricks for protecting your phone in the outdoors. Here goes! Use a case! Damage from impact (cracked screen, scratched camera lens, etc.) are much more likely on backcountry trips, so make sure you’ve got some type of protective case on your phone. Lifeproof cases are great (but often more expensive), so a regular case works fine too. Keep it in a zipped pocket! Too many times phones get lost or damaged, from falling out of a pocket. Keep those zippers zipped, whether it’s the brain of your pack or the pocket on your jacket. This is a great habit for anyone in the wilderness, as it also reduces the chances of littering. Waterproof it! This is especially critical in Alaska’s notoriously unpredictable weather, or on any type of rafting trip. This can be as cheap/simple as using two freezer-strength quart ziploc bags, or as fancy as a waterproof phone pocket. Always test the case or ziploc bags in your sink with a paper towel inside (not your phone) to make sure it’s functioning properly Reasons to bring a phone in the backcountry? Instead of a book, borrow or buy e-books for a more portable option while backpacking A GPS feature App (such as Gaia GPS) is great for a navigation aid, or also for tracking routes and keeping stats on your adventure! With the recent advances in phone camera technology, phones now take great pictures (and VERY easy panoramas), so it’s nice to bring along. Crossword puzzles, to take a break from reading, or right before bed. So with these ideas in mind, if you bring your phone, be sure to protect it! And if not, rest easy knowing your phone is safe back at home, while you enjoy the solitude that we all long for in the outdoors. NAC NOTE: A phone is not a replacement for a GPS Unit, a Flashlight, A Map and Compass, a Satellite Communicator, etc. Make sure you pack your 10 essentials on all trips and any other gear or devices you may need to keep safe. Make sure your devices and gear are functioning properly and you know how to use them properly. Smart Phones are for entertainment purposes only on the trail and should never be relied upon for any reason. Written by St. Elias Alpine Guides and posted April 10, 2019 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, May 29, 2022) Good Morning, Last night 16 brave and adventurous participants took part in our final Defy Gravity: Learn to Climb event. Everyone challenged themselves, pushed past their comfort zones and truly enjoyed themselves while learning new skills and making new friends and activity partners. I would like to thank everyone who attended for being prepared and making sure this event went off very smoothly. I am sad to say that I will not be able to do that particular type of event any longer, but I am looking into some alternatives for other rock climbing events. The last spot for our 2022 Expedition to Manitoulin Island and the Heaven's Gate Trail has been filled. This will be a Seven Day trip that will include the Cup and Saucer Trail, a beautiful AirBnB stay, and 4 days on the Heaven's Gate Trail where we will camp under the stars and the Northern Lights. Don't forget to put your name on the wait list just in case we have some cancellations. A new hike is in the events list below for this coming Sunday. Registration closes in 5 days, so be sure to register quickly! We will be hiking through Beamsville in Lincoln, Ontario, following The Bruce Trail for 13kms. I will be posting more hikes for the months of June and July very shortly. I hope to get back to the Beaver Valley hikes during the months of August and September and plan to finish the Beaver Valley section before we head off for our Adventure at the end of September. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 104: Tech Tip: Protecting Your Phone in the Outdoors content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
May 31, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
As the days grow longr and the nights grow warmer, many will begin to head out on overnight adventures. Of the many, a few will be experiencing the wonderful world of backcountry camping for the first time. Overnight trips can be a little scary your first time out, and there is a lot to know. Let's take a listen to a first time overnighter and what he learned on his first time out. Walking off into the bush to spend some days and nights in nature is a glorious thing. But the experience might not be so glorious if your feet are covered in blisters, your back hurts from a badly packed backpack, and you have a crying fit because you don't know how to put your tent up. Gov Krishan, a 32-year-old data analyst in Melbourne, had a mix of the glorious and the pain with his first-ever overnight hiking trip in Tasmania last year. "I'd never actually pitched a tent before," he says. "I had slept outdoors, sort of glamping, but not proper camping." Gov did practice putting his borrowed tent up before his trip, but he says he wasn't as prepared for it as he would have liked. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done," he says. "The physical part of it was a struggle. After sitting down in the car [at the end of the trip], my legs were so sore." Here are some tips for preparing for your first overnight hike from Gov and John Ralph, a personal trainer and bushwalking expert from Launceston, Tasmania. Quick disclaimer: This is general advice only. Always check with local authorities about safety tips for the area you want to hike in. It's best to travel with friends and not go alone for your first attempt at multi-day hiking. Check with your doctor about any health concerns before heading bush with a heavy backpack. Play Dress-ups to Check All Your Gear Dr Ralph says there are three things he recommends you do before going bush. "Checking your fitness, checking your gear and checking your routine for getting yourself ready," he says. Gov says he had done a few one-day walks before his first overnight trip, but he found carrying 15 kilograms on his back and walking 40 kilometres over two days was more than he was physically prepared for. Doing practice day walks with a full backpack is a good idea, says Dr Ralph. You can borrow or rent camping gear, but make sure you practice using it before heading off. "What's really, really important with all of those things is if you're heading off for a multi-day walk or somewhere that's going to be quite away from support, don't take anything that you haven't already tried somewhere," he says. You should look for a backpack with adjustable straps so you can fit it to your back, and it should have a waist strap so that the weight of the pack sits mostly on your hips and doesn't pull too much on your shoulders. Exactly what you need to take on an overnight hike depends on where you are going, how long you're going for, what the weather forecast is and your personal preferences. Trying on the clothes you intend to take to make sure they fit and are right for the area and season you are going is also a good idea, Dr Ralph says. The most important part of clothing to wear before your walk is your shoes. You never want to wear brand-new shoes on a long walk. "There are many tried and true ways on how people prepare their shoes," Dr Ralph told ABC Hobart Evenings program. "But at the end of the day, the more you're walking, the softer they get and the firmer your feet get." Having an all-weather coat is generally a must for an overnight walk as weather can change quickly. Dr Ralph says while waterproof clothing will keep the rain off, it will also keep your sweat in, so wear clothing that can get a sweaty and still be comfortable to wear. "Ditch the idea of being warm and dry, because you're not going to be dry very often in this whole experience," he says. Do Your Research Gov says they were lucky with the weather on his trip. He suggests keeping track of the weather forecast and being prepared to change plans if it looks like it will be too cold or hot for you. "I think if it had been raining it would have been pretty miserable and I don't think I would have made it if it was 30-odd degrees up that hill," he says. Dr Ralph says you should always research the walk you want to do before getting there so you have a good idea of how hard it might be and what sort of resources will you need to have with you. Social media walking groups and online forums can be good places to get advice for what you will need and hard the walk will be. You will need a first-aid kit – at least some band aids, blister covers, compression bandage for rolled ankles, salt for dealing with leaches and probably some insect repellent is a good idea. Again, it will need to tailored to the area and your needs. "The more remote you're intending to go, the bigger your first-aid kit's going to be," Dr Ralph says. No Internet! Don't Rely on Your Phone for Safety Let's face it, you will be bringing your phone with you to take all those selfies at the top of that hill you just slogged up. Dr Ralph says a plastic snap-lock bag to put it in to keep it dry is a good idea. It's risky to rely on your phone for navigation and as your emergency helpline, as GPS apps can drain your battery quickly and you may not have mobile reception. Personal location beacons (PLBs) are handheld electronic devices that you can rent for a trip and will act like a "bat signal" should you need someone to come and get you, says Dr Ralph. It's also really important to let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back, so they can raise the alarm if they don't hear from you that you got back safely. Take Lots of Snacks and Water One of the biggest mistakes Gov and his walking friends made with their trip was trying to make a big communal meal for everyone at the end of a long day of walking and it taking far too long to cook, Gov says. He recommends taking food that is quick and easy to prepare for when you're tired and maybe getting a little hangry. "[It] doesn't have to be fancy, but should be tasty and substantial after the physical effort," Gov says. Do take plenty of chocolate and sugary snacks for the walk, and most importantly, make sure everyone has enough water for the whole trip. "We had enough water, but some others on the trip didn't, so we had to share our water," he says. While it was physically tough and some mistakes were made with dinner, in the end Gov says it was all worth it for the scenery and time with friends. Originally posted on ABC News Australia on November 20, 2021 N.A.C. NEWS (Sunday, May 22, 2022) Good Morning, Once again this week, we had to cancel today's hike due to lack of interest. I believe it most likely has to do with the distance to the hikes and the ever increasing cost of fuel. As such, I have decided to pause the Beaver Valley hikes for the time being, and move the hikes closer to Home. I will plan and post new hikes all within the Niagara, Hamilton/Wentworth and Halton Hills Regions to make the hikes more accessible to a larger crowd. We will re-visit and complete the Beaver Valley near the end of summer, and hopefully fuel costs will come down by that time. The last ever, Defy Gravity: Learn to Climb, event is scheduled to take place next Saturday, and we have 20 eager participants signed up. I am very sad to see the end of this event, it has always had phenominal reviews and all the participants of the past left feeling accomplished. I will try to find another location to host this event. In the meantime, I am looking into setting up outdoor climbing lessons, but I can only host 5 persons at a time. We have one spot left on our 2022 Expedition to Manitoulin Island and the Heaven's Gate Trail. This will be a Seven Day trip that will include the Cup and Saucer Trail, a beautiful AirBnB stay, and 4 days on the Heaven't Gate Trail where we will camp under the stars and Northern Lights. Make sure to get your spot now! That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 103: How to Prepare for Your First Overnight Hike content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
May 16, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Each day, thousands of people head off into the woods, up the mountains, or across a desert. Where you are going, what you'll be doing, and how long you will be there will dictate how you should pack for the trip. But, in the name of safety and preparedness, there are some essentials you should never leave home without. Today we will look at the "Ten Essentials", the basics which can make or break your trip; to put it mildly. Wondering what to bring hiking? Even if you’re only planning to be out for a few hours on a day hike, it’s important to pack some essential items. Weather can change quickly outdoors, and something as simple as a rolled ankle might mean you’re out longer than expected. The essentials for hiking and camping (or any activity in the backcountry) are often called “The 10 Essentials.” The 10 essentials list below is adapted from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, which groups the essentials into systems. Before You Start Packing Look at the large selection of packs in any outdoor store and you’ll see there are dozens of styles to choose from. Some are designed for specific activities like mountain biking or trail running, some are more versatile and will adapt to different adventures. Think of how you’ll use the pack most often, and if you’ll need it to function for one activity or many. The 10 Essentials (Plus 1): 1. Navigation Bring a topographic map and a compass. If you also carry a GPS, it’s still important that you know how to navigate by map and compass. An altimeter is optional but useful, since it gives your approximate elevation to help you figure out your location on the map. Make sure maps are in a waterproof case. 2. Nutrition Ever get hangry? It’s not fun – especially if you’re delayed or are dealing with an outdoor emergency. Bring extra food, like high-energy bars and dry food that could get you through one extra day. (And if someone forgets their lunch, you’ll be the food hero.) 3. Hydration Carry water and additional water (about 1–2L more as a general guideline, though this varies greatly depending on weather and scenario) to cover you for extra time outside. Some people bring water bottles while others prefer a hydration bladder. A way to treat water – like tablets or filters – is also a good idea. Electrolyte drink crystals are highly recommended. 4. Sun Protection Sunscreen is a good start – also remember sunglasses, lip balm, a hat with a nice wide brim, and clothing that provides protection from the sun’s rays. Even if there’s snow on the ground, you can still get sunburned. 5. Insulation Even if it seems warm at the trailhead, you should always carry extra clothing. Weather can change quickly and unpredictably, especially in the mountains or if you end up out longer than planned. Dry clothes can be the difference between a few laughs and hypothermia. Think: jacket, gloves, hat, extra socks and waterproof outer layers. Tip: Learn about clothing layers for being active outside. 6. Illumination Each person in your group should have their own LED headlamp (or flashlight), along with spare batteries. Even on a day hike, a delay might keep you out until sunset and beyond. Note: the flashlight on your smartphone is not an acceptable substitute – plus it uses precious battery life in an emergency. 7. First Aid Supplies The size of the first-aid kit you bring depends on the number of people, length of the trip, how far you’re going, and the level of risk for your trip. Before you go, make sure you’ve restocked all items and that nothing has expired. Items to always include in your first-aid kit are: protective gloves, bandage, scissors, blister dressings, pocket mask and SAM splint. Bug spray is also recommended. 8. Fire Starter Matches (waterproof or in a waterproof container) or a lighter along with a commercial fire starter and/or a candle. A small folding saw is invaluable for fire and shelter building situations. 9. Repair Kit and Tools Bring items like a multi-tool, scissors, knife, duct tape, cable ties, screwdriver, pliers and little shovel/trowel. Yes, you can use tools to slice apples for lunch, but they’re also handy for first-aid, minor repairs, building fires and shelters, and other random things that come up. 10. Emergency Shelter If you’re on an overnight trip, you likely already have a tent and sleeping bag. But even if you’re on a day hike, it’s still important to bring something for emergencies. You can use a large orange plastic bag combined with an emergency blanket or use a pre-made emergency bivy bag. Crawl inside to stay warm and dry; the orange colour attracts attention and is highly visible. 11. Communication Device Finally, bring your fully-charged phone and keep it turned off in a waterproof case or bag to save batteries. Also carry a whistle – if you need to call out, it lasts longer than your voice. For remote terrain beyond cell phone coverage, you may also want to carry satellite communication devices that allow you to send messages or summon help in an emergency. Originally posted on MEC Learn N.A.C. News (Sunday, May 15, 2022) Good Morning, Unfortunately, today's hike had to be cancelled, but it has been rescheduled for Sunday, June 5th. Next week's hike, the BV Waterfalls Hike will take us to the tip of the Beaver Valley and then we will turn back North to start up along the West side of the valley. During that trip, we will pass Eugenia Falls and Hoggs Falls, two of Ontario's prettiest waterfalls. The last ever, Defy Gravity: Learn to Climb, event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 28th at 6:30pm at Gravity Climbing Gym in Hamilton, Ontario. This will be the very last time NAC can host this event. We have 16 participants registered and fully paid, but there are still 4 vacant spots. I will extend the registration deadline to May 21st in hopes to fill the 4 remaining spots. If you would like to register, please do so quickly! And lastly, our 2022 Expedition will be a trip to Manitoulin Island. There, we will set up our base camp in a great little AirBnB in Little Current, Ontario. After settling in, we will take a day to complete the Cup & Saucer Trail, a very well known Ontario trail that was closed for many years do to land access problems. With a minor reroute, the trail has been re-opened and ready for us to explore. After that, we will head North to complete one of Ontario's most challenging trails, The Heaven's Gate Trail. It will take us 4 days and we will camp in Northern Ontario's wilderness for 3 nights. The area we will be trekking through is one of Canada's Dark Sky Preserves and so, with clear skies, we will be able to view amazing star clusters and even the Northern Lights. There are 3 out of 10 spots remaining for this trip, so get your spot now! That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
Volume 102: The 10 Essentials for Hiking and Camping content media
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Lenny Burch
Intense Paddler
Intense Paddler
May 16, 2022
In NAC Adventure Weekly Archive
Last week, you learned how to organize your gear and get it all in your pack to make it bearable to carry. But what kind of pack should you stuff all that gear into. This week, let's take a look at what you need to know when shopping for a pack and get you ready to make that big purchase. When choosing a pack, the first thing to consider is how much capacity you want. Carrying a pack that’s bigger than you need means you’ll be carrying extra weight. Ideally your pack should be big enough to fit all your gear inside except for the items you intentionally choose to attach to the exterior. Types of Packs Look at the large selection of packs in any outdoor store and you’ll see there are dozens of styles to choose from. Some are designed for specific activities like mountain biking or trail running, some are more versatile and will adapt to different adventures. Think of how you’ll use the pack most often, and if you’ll need it to function for one activity or many. Daypacks These little workhorse packs are designed for your everyday carry or for hikes and activities that last a few hours, but less than a day. Unless they’re an ultralight model designed to stash in a pocket or inside another pack, they usually have a lightly padded backpanel, and no rigid internal frame. They are best for carrying loads less than 10kg, as the weight is supported by your shoulders rather than your hips. Look for: Mesh or venting channels down the back to help keep you cool Waist strap to prevent the pack from bouncing or shifting, for this size it won’t need to bear weight Hydration sleeves and ports if you plan to use a hydration system 10–25L capacity Backpacking and Expedition Sized for multi-day adventures, these packs are designed to carry heavy loads comfortably. A side zipper or a separate compartment for a sleeping bag is handy, so you don’t have to unpack all your stuff to find just one item. Some packs come with detachable side pockets or a removable top lid you can leave at home if you don’t need the extra capacity for a trip. Substantial internal frame to support weight Well-padded, adjustable hipbelt, shoulder straps, and back panel An exterior pocket to store wet gear Top, side and bottom access Straps on the outside for attaching gear 55–70L for backpacking and up to 100L for expeditions Travel Packs For destinations where wheeled luggage won’t work, a travel pack might be perfect. Built like a backpack, they usually have a cover or zippered panel to tuck away the straps, belts and buckles so they don’t get snagged in a luggage carousel or broken during transit. A detachable daypack is often a feature. It gives you a small pack to use for day trips, to use as your carry-on bag and provides some extra capacity to bring home souvenirs. Internal frame to support weight Padded hipbelt, shoulder straps and back Detachable daypack or lid Pocket or panel to cover shoulder straps and hipbelt Main pack or detachable pack is sized to meet carry-on restrictions Internal organizers to keep clothing and shoes arranged 45–75L capacity Climbing or Cragging Most climbing packs have some padding to support the weight of ropes and gear you carry on the approach to a route. Those made to carry while you climb are usually designed to sit high on your back so they don’t get in the way when you’re clipping gear on the rear loops of your harness. They ride close to your spine to keep the weight centered and balanced. The designs are usually minimal, without external features that could snag on rock features as you climb. For climbing, tough fabric, few external pockets, and gear loops on the hipbelt for fast racking For cragging, padded backpanel, shoulder straps, and hipbelt Mesh or venting channels down the back Large main compartment to hold lots of gear Straps to carry a coiled rope on the outside or under the lid Loops for ice axes, helmet or extra gear 30–50L capacity Mountain Biking and Riding Biking packs are usually daypack-sized, but have special compartments to stash your tools, helmet and armour. Look for a pack that stays close to your body when you’re in the ride position. The hipbelt shouldn’t move upward so it digs into your gut. And you should be able to adjust the pack so it doesn’t shift or bounce when you ride uneven terrain. Some packs include a hydration reservoir. If you plan to use your own reservoir, make sure it fits in the sleeve and that the openings and ports are compatible. Waist strap and sternum strap to keep the pack balanced Lightly padded shoulder straps and backpanel Hydration sleeves and ports Dedicated tool pocket Straps to lash helmet and armour 10–25L capacity Ski Touring, Snowboarding and Snowshoeing For winter conditions and for carrying safety gear, a touring pack should have a supportive frame, a system to give you fast access to your shovel and probe, plus plenty of room for your warm layers. If you expect to carry your skis or board on the outside of your pack, it’s useful to have some options. An A-frame style carry for skis keeps your pack balanced, but the extra height can be annoying if you’re under low-clearance trees or rocks. On steep terrain, the tails of your skis can drag in the snow, and it might be a better option to rig them diagonally. Internal frame with padded hip belt, shoulder straps and backpanel External straps to carry skis, snowboard or snowhoes Fast access to your avalanche gear Pockets or straps for shovel handle and poles A place to stash wet skins Side access for convenience and to keep shoulder straps off the snow 35–55L capacity How to Fit a Backpack Most large-capacity packs come in different sizes to suit different body shapes. Look for a “back length” or “torso length” measurement when you’re shopping for a pack. It’s a better indication of how the pack will fit than your overall height. No matter how large the pack, if it’s correctly sized and adjusted, it should feel like an extension of your own body. Measure Your Back Length Find the most prominent vertebrae in your neck, at about the same level as the top of your shoulders. Find the top of your hipbones and trace a line around to the middle of your back. Measure the distance between these two points, this is your back length. Put about 8–10kg of stuff in the pack and loosen all of the straps. Remember to loosen the stabilizer straps at the top of the shoulder straps too. Adjust and Fit the Pack The hipbelt should entirely cover your hipbones. Some packs allow you to raise or lower the placement of the belt. Tighten the hipbelt so it’s snug but doesn’t restrict your breathing. Make sure it doesn’t shift up or drop below your hipbones. Pull down on the shoulder strap adjustments until they are comfortably snug. The straps should lie flat without bunching. They should lie flat against your shoulders, without touching your neck and without a large gap between the top of your shoulder and the strap. Slowly snug the top stabilizer straps. Pull them until you start to feel a hint of weight on your shoulders. Fasten the sternum strap that connects the shoulder straps and adjust it so your chest can expand naturally. If there are stabilizer straps on the hipbelt, snug those for comfort. Walk around and lean forward and back to see if the weight feels balanced. Try to adjust any points that are causing pressure or are rubbing against your skin. Care and Repair Repairing and storing your pack properly will go a long way to making it last. Make sure it’s dry before you put it away and keep it out of direct sunlight. You can use an old toothbrush to clean dirt out of the zippers before you put it away. If the zippers feel sticky and are not sliding smoothly, try rubbing a candle over the teeth and sliders to lubricate them. Buckles are easy to replace. Consider getting some spares and carrying one with you when hiking or skiing. A functioning buckle is crucial for a comfortable trip. Originally posted on MEC Learn N.A.C. News (Sunday, May 8, 2022) Good Morning, Happy Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful women out there who took care of us, and kept us alive long enough to become the adults we are now. It's the world's toughest and most thankless job. And for those of us that are adventurers, it made Mom's job that much harder! So thank you Mom's of the world, for all that you did and all that you continue to do to take care of your babies. Defy Gravity: Learn to Climb is coming up soon and two spots have just opened up! If you'd like to participate in this event, you have until May 14th to register, so don't wait too long! Our Annual Expedition will take place in the final weeks of September. Eight adventurous people will be able to join Niagara Adventure Club on an exciting and very difficult hike in Northern Ontario. The Expedition will be based on Manitoulin Island and we will venture four days on a very difficult but incredible trail called Heaven't Gate Trail. Full details can be found below. Hiker's Haven in Mississauga, Ontario will be closing. The owner, Lisa, has decided it is time to retire and so with that, she will be closing the store on July 31, 2022. Over the next 3 months, everything must go, so get down to the store for great savings on all your outdoor equipment needs. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club
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