Archive | February 2016

Hiking in Blue Ridge, Georgia

download (34)Blue Ridge Hiking Suggestions

Hiking is one of our guest’s favorite activities so we thought we would provide you with some suggestions to make your hiking trips safer and more enjoyable. There are many trails in the Blue Ridge area including the famous Benton MacKaye Trail and the Appalachian Trail. These trails provide ample hiking opportunities for all level of hikers. Several trails lead to some beautiful waterfalls including Long Creek Falls. There are trail heads located all around the Blue Ridge area.

• Let someone know where you are going before you leave. If there is not anyone at the cabin you are staying then call a friend back home just to let them know the exact location you will be starting and what trail you will be on. Tell them you will call when you return.

• Hike in groups or use the buddy system. Anyone even experienced hikers can run into trouble while in the wild so use the buddy system. A variety of things can happen in the wilderness from snakebites, bug bites, to a slip and fall. It is best never to hike alone. Even if you are hiking with a group make sure someone not on the hike knows where you are starting and when you expect to return.

• Stay hydrated. Carry enough water for the day and your pack will get lighter as the day progresses. We suggest that you carry more water than you think you will drink because you never know if you will be out longer than you think, the hike will be more challenging than expected, or hotter than predicted.

• Bring snacks to keep your energy level up during the hike. Also, make sure you have a little extra food and water just in case. Be sure to pack up all trash and keep all your food in airtight containers to prevent attracting predatory animals. We also want to keep our natural beauty litter free.

• Bring sunscreen and bug spray. I also like to carry a stick so I can move plants that I am concerned could be prickly or poisonous. We suggest that you wear hiking boots for better footing and to protect your feet and ankles from bugs, animals, and plants.

• Plan a hike that is suitable for all members of the party and let the slower person set the pace. When resting investigate the area that you plan to sit and be aware that snakes like rocks.

• Wear wicking type fabric not cotton, it will keep you cooler and wick away moisture even in cold weather. Layer clothing in cold weather. Wear bright colors not camouflage clothing so you can be seen if lost or if hunters are in the area.

• Do not climb waterfalls it can be dangerous and harms the natural environment.

• Remember you are in the home of many wild creatures so respect their home and pick up all trash, don’t remove rocks or anything from the natural setting. Snakes like to hide in thick brush, leaves, and under rocks or wood so stay on the trail and don’t disturb any rocks or wood.

• Bring a whistle so that you can be easily heard and located in case of emergency or if you get lost. It is much easier to use a whistle for a long time than it is to yell.

Most of all enjoy the wildlife, nature, and beauty.

Let’s Go Hiking!

images (13)Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we start thinking about getting outdoors and enjoying nature. One of the outdoor activities we think about is going hiking. What better way to enjoy the great outdoors than to start planning a hiking trip and what you will need for that trip.

Spring is such a beautiful time of year, the Winter is over and the weather is warming up. The flowers are blooming and the birds are singing and nesting. It is an ideal time to hit the trails and breathe the fresh air. Depending on the part of the country you live in, you may have been cooped up indoors all during the Winter. It is exhilarating to know that you can now go hiking and enjoy the fresh air, and once more be connected to our beautiful natural world!

Hiking is wonderful exercise. There are so many health benefits, no matter what age you are. If you like to walk, why not expand your horizons by walking on a trail? As you walk down that trail, you may encounter wildlife and birds you wouldn’t see elsewhere. In this country we are blessed to have many different terrains. There are mountains, foothills, prairies, coastal flat lands, and ancient forests to choose from. There are many national parks and wildlife refuges that truly demonstrate the many natural wonders. It is also an educational experience for our children, who learn about not only the natural beauty of our world, but get the physical exercise and fresh air to keep them healthy. As adults, we can set a good example. It is much better than sitting inside doing computer or video games all day!

I have always loved being outdoors since I was a child. In my own experience, having grown up in Florida, I have walked the trails in the forests north of town, as well as the woodlands south of town and closer to the coast. Each location has a different terrain and therefore offers different types of birds and wildlife. One of my favorite places to walk is at a wildlife refuge, complete with its piney woods and salt marshes. I have many memories through the years of my experiences while hiking. It is my hope that many people will have the same experience, it is truly uplifting!. Added to that,there are so many quality products these days, such as backpacks, hiking poles, and binoculars, that add ease to the hiking experience. How does it get any better than that!

This entry was posted on February 14, 2016.

Trekking Jewel in the South of the World Torres Del Paine National Park

download (36)After nearly 12,000 years since its aboriginal settlement, the icy and remote destination amidst Chilean Patagonia was only reached by true explorers and scientists from late 19th century to the date of park creation, in 1959. Subsequently named Torres del Paine National Park due to its most remarkable geological features, the 3 major granite towers, the protected area soon became known around the planet.

Since then, every year it receives up to 150,000 tourists, mostly foreigners. Mainly during the summer, they seek the harsh, but still preserved environments of the park, despite cases of fires – as seen on the burned trees. The diversity of ecosystems, biological endemism and geological formations are relevant enough to justify the designation as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and the inclusion on most lists of best trekking circuits in the world.

As the area is located hundreds of miles from the nearest airport in El Calafate (Argentina), home to the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier, visitors can only reach Torres del Paine by land. One of the most common options, although quite expensive, is to arrange a tour bus trip from the former city or from Puerto Natales, Chile. Alternatively, you can drive a rented vehicle by the portion of the park carved by tens of miles of roads, where you can see groups of guanacos and rheas amid the steppes and shrublands, flamingo flocks on multihued blue ponds and the largest flying bird of the world (Andean condor) in the sky and mountains. You can also embark on some navigations in the beautiful Grey and Pehoe glacial lakes.

The most recommended way to face the park, though, is to venture out in the amazing landscapes walking through the trekking circuits: the O, which the longest one, or the W. The latter is rather traversed by young adventurers and even seniors, with their large backpacks, hiking poles and weatherproof clothing, in order to overcome ground unevenness and unpredictable climate. On the same day, you can witness the sun, rain, snow, windstorm and even a waterspout!

To relieve fatigue from 3 to 5 days walking, there are free and paid campsites well situated along the sections. In addition to a hot bath and electricity, you can buy groceries, although prices are somewhat outrageous. So make sure there’s enough food with you, because the berries possible to find on the path definitely won’t be enough for your caloric expenditure. At least the water won’t be a problem, since there are numerous pristine sources along the trails.

The best views are only achieved by foot, which makes it worth all the effort. The base of the towers surrounding an azure blue lake, the deicing rapids and the Magellanic subpolar forests in the rise of French Valley, the wall of Grey Glacier and its drifting icebergs; these are some of the incredible sights the explorers will see each mile on their way.

Upon leaving the park, that feeling of joy and desire to return remains, fulfilling the local saying that whoever eats the calafate berry will return someday. All of this makes the Torres del Paine National Park an almost compulsory destination for those who enjoy leaving the comfort zone, getting into harmony with nature and facing great adventures.

Hiking Vs Trekking The Differences

download (35)The terms seem to be used interchangeably on many websites and travel books. It becomes even more confusing when some companies sell their boots as ‘trekking boots’ and then proceed to state that they can be used on long hikes. And when is a walk a trek and when is it a hike? It becomes even more confusing when the word trekking is used to refer to the ascent of a mountain, like Island Peak or Mera Peak in Nepal, both over 6000m and both requiring the use of technical climbing gear. How can they be called ‘trekking peaks?’

The term ‘hiking’ is often used to refer to day walks in natural surroundings, on clearly marked paths. It is undertaken for leisure, recreation and the purpose of exercise. A small day pack is used to carry water, light weight fleece and snacks. In places such as Canada and New Zealand, the term is often used interchangeably with rambling, hill walking or tramping.

‘Trekking’, by contrast is considered to be more strenuous, covers greater distances across varying terrains, and requires camping over night and carrying heavy packs with food, sleeping bags and gear. The term is actually derived from the Afrikaans work, trek, which comes from the Dutch word, trecken, referring to a lengthy and arduous journey over vast distances and often, unchartered ground. It is often associated with the migration of people across land from one area to another.

Does this mean then that if a day hike is difficult, over rough ground and through thick forest with no paths, that it is a trek? In Australia, they would call this bushwhacking, and in other places they call it stamping. When you visit the Mountain Gorilla in Rwanda or Uganda, it is a one day hike, but through dense forest, over very uneven and difficult terrain. No wonder there is so much confusion.

But let us not end the confusion there. Anyone who has tried to take out travel insurance to cover their ‘trekking’ or ‘hiking’ trip, will have discovered that these activities are often listed as ‘hazardous pursuits’. In fact, some insurance companies even lump terms like hiking and mountaineering together as through they can be used interchangeably or are synonymous The there are other companies who classify any hikes over an altitude of 2000m as mountaineering. Sorry Scotland, but it means that your famous peak, Ben Nevis (1352m), is not a mountain after all but simply a trekking peak?

Perhaps the best way to look at it is that a trek is generally completed over several days made up of hiking, hill walking, tramping and bushwhacking.