Category Archives: Travels

Hiking Alone, a Thrilling Sensation

The best way for me to enjoy hiking is alone with only my dog for company and to walk for several hours. It takes a little time to reach the ‘hiking sensation’, where I forget time and place and feel somehow grounded – in contact with my surroundings. I feel I have ‘arrived’ when the scents of the plants and trees have reached my consciousness; the magical scents of mastic trees, strawberry trees and pines and the almost paralyzing scents of herbs such as sage and thyme. When I am no longer thinking but just walking with my attention on the landscape, immersed in its scents and colours, then I feel I’m hiking.

When I walk through dense woods surrounded by tall trees in the beautiful nature of Alonnisos island I always get the feeling of being in a cave. It’s somehow like being hidden inside the forest and it creates a thrilling sensation. If the trip continues up on a hill with a wonderful view then the experience changes and the feeling of seeing the whole world from up there fills my heart. If this nice feeling is accompanied by the sound of bells from half wild goats jumping around on the rocks then the height of sensations is reached.

There is a small archeological area on a top of a hill not so far from where I live. When I go there I start following a beautiful earth road and then I continue on the path which rises steeply up through brushwood and trees. Higher when I get out of the brushwood I walk along flat terraces full of green grass. Then opens up an astonishing view and I throw myself on the grass to chill out and enjoy the view of the steep slopes towards the sea. The exciting thing about visiting undeveloped archeological sites is that you can let your fantasy run free. The remains of fortification walls are still intact here with boulders cut at square angles and with small indentations forming a pattern that according to historical sources is characteristic of the Greek classical period 500 BC. So they were built more than 2500 years ago! It seems like nothing has happened ever since in that area, as if the people suddenly broke up and left. With a little imagination I am back in that time feeling the historical whirring of wings. I think this is possibly because I have reached this place on foot struggling up through brushwood and steep paths. The spirit is intact.

On the way down I follow a path through a narrow ravine and when the landscape opens up the path continues down bending its way through high grass. Here the smell of the sea reaches my nose and my psychological condition changes again. The sound and the smell of the sea are as welcome as all the other sounds and scents that I have enjoyed along the tour. Reaching the beach I rest on the sand and as a person who loves to use my body I enjoy how my tired muscles are slightly aching after the long trip – meanwhile the dog is taking a swim in the sea.

Let’s Go Hiking!

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!

If you are planning to go hiking, please come on over and check out this website, [http://www.grandoutdoorsproducts.com], and you will find everything you need, at a good price and with good quality. So get out there and enjoy hiking in the beautiful outdoors!

Hiking Vs Trekking – The Differences

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.

Hiking in Blue Ridge, Georgia

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.

Health Benefits Of Hiking Outdoors

Most people know hiking is good for their body and health in general but what they may not know is just how beneficial is it. So if you intend to go hiking this summer by yourself or with family and friends keep in mind that hiking the outdoors has lots of benefits such as, fresh air, enjoyable sights and noises and sounds of nature. Also keep in mind that hiking, like exercise, is good for you as it is considered a great cardio workout that may do the following:

  • boost your mood
  • boost bone density
  • exercise the whole body
  • improve your blood pressure
  • improves blood sugar levels
  • build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • control your weight
  • improve balance
  • lower your risk of heart disease
  • lower risk of colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial cancer
  • reduces depression and
  • improve better quality sleep.

Kids also get lots of the same benefits like adults do. For instance, hiking help kids benefit from the following:

  • recuperate cardio-respiratory
  • muscular fitness
  • enhance bone health
  • decrease the possibility of becoming overweight
  • decrease the possibility of developing risk factors for type 2 diabetes
  • decrease the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
  • promotes better sleep
  • reduces the risk of depression and high stress and inability to learn and concentrate in school.

Therefore, by familiarizing yourself, friends, family and your kids to hiking, you are aiding them choose a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, hiking drills virtually every part of your body, it nurtures your imagination and generates responsiveness in your eyes and ears and the rest of your senses. Remember that you do not have to be in great shape to start hiking. In fact, people who are not so active can still enjoy nature by starting off with easy hikes before stepping up to steeper hikes that will drill the body more. Exploring nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, work, and daily routine will let you relate to nature in a manner that it generates inner peace, serenity and total wellness. So what ever location you have picked to hike with friends and family this summer, keep in mind that the great outdoors can be challenging, however, just relax and look forward to your adventure in order to fully enjoy the unique experience such as fresh air, enjoyable sights, noises and sounds.

How to Hike Smart in Extreme Hot Temperatures

Despite the excessive heat warning, it is likely to still experience the outdoors in this hot summer weather. The only thing you need to do is modify your reasoning a little and be aware of safety measures as you hit the trails. Do not allow yourself to be one of those heat drained hikers, take precaution and use the following information to help you hike smart in extreme high temperature.

· Having the proper hiking gears is very essential. Ensure that you wear proper boots to support your feet and ankle.

· Do not hit the trail by yourself, always hike with a friend or family so you can support each other.

· Ensure that you take frequent breaks especially hiking in excessive hot temperature. In the desert where the temperature is extremely hot, it is imperative to take frequent breaks in order to keep your body cool.

· It is important to always look for shelter in order stay out of the sun. Try as much as possible to take advantage of shady spots especially when the clouds starts hovering over the sun. Get out of the sun as much as you can, both on breaks and on the trail.

· Clothing is always personal preference. Hats are very important to bring on your trail to guard against the extreme hot sun. Ball-caps are good but brimmed hats are preferable as it also covers the back of your neck as well as your ears.

· Always plan to set out early in the morning when the sun is not extremely hot and choose short trails in order not to be out too long in the sun. If you really do not want to be hit by the sun, then head out early, so you can enjoy the sunrise and head back before the temperature gets uncomfortable.

· It is important that you bring water on your hike. How much water you bring with you when hiking in the desert really depends on the length, strain of the hike, the day temperature and your thirst capability. It is necessary to bring enough water and sports drinks as it is advisable to drink at least a liter per hour of hiking. Keep in mind that drinking soda or alcohol while hiking will dry you out.

· The best snacks for the trail are ones that will provide you with high energy, such as fruit, granola, peanut butter, bagels, power bars, fruit bars, trail mix, beef jerky, or even candy plus some salty nuts to replenish the salt you sweat out. For longer hikes, bring more protein snacks with you.

· Make sure you eat regularly because your body is functioning tremendously fast and needs to replenish energy quickly. So continue replenishing your body with salty and protein snacks.
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Hiking and Camping Tips – Don’t Make the Same Mistakes

Well, it’s summertime again and that can only mean that for most of us it is a time to get out and enjoy some fun in the sun. Now, while many of you might head to the beach for that annual sunburn, most of us would prefer the fun and freedom of hiking and camping the great outdoors. No matter whether it is waking to the sounds of birds chirping on a crisp mountain morning or the being lulled to sleep by crickets on a starry night. Hiking and camping can be one of the nicest ways to really come to understand the wilderness. You might choose to hike in the mountains or valleys, visiting waterfalls or other famous landmarks and camp in the woods maybe near a river. Either way, just be certain to properly prepare for both and don’t make the same mistakes I have made in the past.

Camping and Hiking Tips

Now, once you determine on a specific site and time you are wanting to begin your hike, you will want to plan on what you need to take with you, how much you will need, and probably most important, what you don’t need to bring with you. Below are just a few simple tips that should prove very helpful.

Probably one of the first items to consider would be the proper footwear if you are planning on going hiking. The correct fit and comfort are vital for successful hiking trip. Based on the location of the hike, you will want to decide the weight, durability, and if you will need them to be waterproof or not. Remember, you will most likely be encountering uneven and rough terrain, so boot selection needs serious consideration, so do your research. In addition to the boots, be sure to bring along extra pairs of good hiking socks. This will not only help avoid you getting blisters, but in the event that your socks get wet, it will offer you some dry backup options.

Next on the, ‘what to bring list’, should be a good backpack. Based on the number of days you intend on hiking will largely determine the size and scope of the pack you will need. If you are camping along your hiking route, then you will need a larger pack that can accommodate not only your clothes, but also you tent and sleeping bag, food and cooking stove/utensils, and water and other necessities. If you are this during the colder months, you will need to plan for additional winter gear and garments. If it is the rainy season, then proper raingear would be a must.

Avoid The Same Hiking Mistakes I Made

Let’s dive into some of the specifics on what we covered above:

  • If you plan on camping through your hike- Get a good quality tent. Be sure to consider the size and quality. You will want a good rainfly. Don’t make the mistake I made once and get a tent based on how it looked ‘cool’. You want function over fashion any day. You also will want a small tarp to place under the tent to help keep the tent floor dry. You can also use this as a rain cover should you get caught in a storm during your hike. A roll of duct tape and some seam sealer are always good to have should your tent form some leaks or a seam split. I learned that the hard way.
  • For sleeping at night, a good sleeping bag and a roll to lay it on is great idea. Be sure to decide on what best fits your needs. Each bag is rated for various temperature conditions. The pad is to roll out under the under the sleeping bag to not only provide some comfort, but to create another moisture barrier. If you bag gets wet, it almost impossible to dry it out during your hike.
  • For cooking food, you will need a small camp stove and something to ignite a fire. Generally, you want to refrain from starting an open fire as it can be prohibited in many national and state forests. Be sure you have a cooking pot, skillet, utensils, plates, and a good knife. Of course some zip-lock bags are great for not only storing food, but also rain proofing important items.
  • For the food itself, planning out each meal is key. Bringing items like cereal, powdered milk, granola for breakfast and heat and eat freeze dried meals for lunch and dinners. Remember that weight is an important consideration, so bringing a lot of canned foods, may tend to weigh you down. Of course you will need plenty of water and a refillable container that you can use along the way. Don’t forget the water purification tablets either, again, learned that the hard way as well.
  • As for general miscellaneous equipment, a compass, some light rope, a can / bottle opener, a signal mirror, and a first aid kit are very important. Extra batteries are a great idea as well, if you have devices that require them. Just be mindful about the added weight.
  • Finally, clothing will need to be considered. If you are changing elevations, the weather can change quickly as well. What started out in the 70 and 80’s can quickly turn into the 40’s and below, especially as the sunsets. Don’t get caught without the proper sweaters or blankets. Likewise, in the heat of the day, having a good hat and sunscreen can prevent you from getting too much sun or even dehydrated. I also strongly recommend a good pair of sunglasses. Yea, you guessed it; I forgot those too.

Now that you are armed with these basic hiking and camping tips, my hope is that you don’t make the same mistakes that I have made. If you plan appropriately and are well-equipped, your experience should be safe and enjoyable. So, no more excuses, get out there and take on the great outdoors and have a blast doing it

These Hiking Boots Are Made For Walking – 5 Things to Remember When You Buy Your First Pair

  1. Buying new boots – do your research.

New Boots – this is the best part of starting out. The trip to the store to buy those rather costly, very impressive leather hiking boots. Tried and tested on many trails, you will be beguiled with fancy terms like ‘upper,’ ‘split grain,’ ‘outsoles,’ ‘lowers,’ ‘midsoles,’ Gore-Tex® and ‘heel brakes.’ It may be worth brushing up on your understanding of some of the basic terms before you prepare to part with your well-earned dollars. Either way, the important thing is that the boots must be relevant to the hike. The key pointers to look for is that they must be waterproof, breathable, have good ankle support, a built-in ‘tongue,’ and good lug patterns on the sole with a solid heel brake.

  1. Buy the correct size

This may sound really silly, after all, who would buy a boot that is the wrong size? You would be surprised! When you head off to buy your boots, take the socks that you will be wearing on your hike with you. Thin cotton socks that you wear to the gym are certainly not the correct sock to use to try on your new boots.

Having put on your new socks, take the inner sole of the boot out of the boot, place it on the floor and stand on it. You should have a good 1.5cm gap between your big toe and the end of the inner soul. The width of your thumb is also a good measure. Many people lose toenails on the descent of a climb because their boots are just too small.

  1. Shop at the end of the day.

Saturday morning first thing is not the ideal time to buy your new boots, or any morning for that matter. It is better to buy your boots in the afternoon after you have been walking around all day, as your feet will swell a little.

  1. Wear your boots in

Having bought your new boots, gets us to the first most important point, wear your boots in. Leaving them to stand on the mantle piece so that you can admire them daily is not going to do any justice to your feet come the big day. The first thing, is to put them on and wear them around the house for an hour. You will quickly learn if they are not entirely the right fit, giving you a chance to take them back before you wear them in.

Once you know they will be comfortable, wear them in. Take them on walks; wear them on weekends; wear them around the house. On the first few days when they start to hurt, take them off, give your feet a break and start again the next day. The last thing you want is to spend a fortune on a hike only to find you are riddled with blisters on day one, and many days still ahead of you.

  1. Keep your boots clean

Just like an expensive car, boots need to be cared for, protected and serviced. Take the inner souls out to help the boots dry on the inside. This is also a good habit to get into at the end of each day of a hike.

On returning at the end of your hike, clean your boots with a soft brush and water and remove any mud buildup and dust particles. Then let your boots dry naturally. Putting them in a warming drawer or in front of a heater to speed up the process is the worst thing you can do. If the boots are damp on the inside, stuffing some newspaper in and changing it regularly will help to absorb excess moisture. Once your boots are dry, treat them to a leather care and waterproofing treatment. There are many different brands on the market such as Nikwax.

Hiking Footwear: Shoes Vs Boots

Introduction
Hiking is a broad term. To define it, hiking is simply walking, but for longer distances, and on trails and off-road (rural area, countryside, hilly or muddy regions). Since it involves a lot of walking, proper footwear play the most crucial role.

There is a wide variety of footwear available in the market and seldom do people make the right choice.

In this article we will discuss the differences between shoes and boots for hiking. At the end of the article, we hope you’ll have an insight on the differences which will in turn help you make the right choice to buy.

The footwear for hiking are really only two kinds: Shoes and Boots.

(Wearing flip flops of formal shoes, or other types will wear your feet. Nobody wants that!)

Whether to buy shoes or boots depends on the type of hiker you are. Do you prefer long, vigorous hikes, or short ones? Do you hike on trails or rocky regions?

Weather plays a deciding role too! If you mostly hike in rainy weather, you will be better off with waterproof shoes whereas if you like to hike on bright lit weather, you will be saved from the attack of nasty sweat by wearing shoes that have meshed upper.

Now let’s get into the stuff that make shoes not boots and boots not shoes.

Shoes
Shoes are lighter than boots. This is because they have less cushion and padding than boots – which works perfectly fine if you walk on well-defined trails.

The light weight, like mentioned before, comes with less support, meaning, there is less shock absorbed when compared to boots. Make sure you carry less weight. If don’t plan on carrying a lot of weight with you, shoes will do.

Shoes are low-cut at the ankles which allows for free leg movement, which in turn allows for fast movements. Speed and agility: if these are the aspects you are looking for in your hike, shoes are the best.

Boots
Are you a beginner? Boots are for you. Although they are quite heavy, (yes, even a few pounds on your feet makes a difference since you are walking for a considerable distance), but characteristic of being heavy comes with an advantage. It has plenty of padding. This provides a lot of support, which is a necessity for beginners.

Boots prove to be incredibly more better than shoes if you are hiking over rough terrains and hike for long distances.

Also, the support boots have allows a hiker to carry a lot of weight with them. Boots can take the weight better than shoes.

So, grab a bottle of water (because you dehydrate when hiking), maps and a compass (so you don’t get lost), a multi-tool, matches, and a torch light.

Best Hiking Backpacking Destinations Around The World

Hiking backpacking is a great leisure activity. It helps you lose weight and it improves your cardiovascular health. It strengthens your heart and it cleanses your lungs. Hiking also has a lot of mental benefits. It helps release stress and anxiety. Studies show that it can even help cure depression. It also helps you learn a lot about nature and the culture of your backpacking destination. Plus, it helps you meet new people and make new friends.

So, if you’re planning on going on a hiking backpacking trip in the next few months, here are some of the destinations that you should consider:

1. Torres del Paine (Chile)

This trail is around 62 miles that you can hike in about three days. It is filled with rocky mountains, exotic wildlife, wildflower fields, and blue glaciers. You can also find giant granite monoliths that are around ten thousand feet high.
This hiking haven is packed during the summer season so it’s difficult to book a hut around the area during the summer months. This is the reason why it’s best to go camping around the area during these months.

2. Kalalau Trail (Hawaii)

This trail is about 22 miles long. The trail is located along the coast of a beautiful island called Kauai. This trail has a rugged terrain, but it’s all worth it because it’s filled with breathtaking view of the Hanakoa falls.

3. Jomolhari Trek (Bhutan)

If you’re looking for a unique kind of adventure, you should definitely visit this hiking and backpacking haven. The Jomolhari Trek is located in Bhutan and it is in the sacred and glorious mountain of the Himalayas. You can find amazing Bhutan fortresses, beautiful Eastern buildings, museums, and the breathtaking Tiger’s Nest Monastery along the trail. This is a high altitude hike, so it’s important that you are physically and mentally ready before you take this trip. Also, you need to have a guide for this trek.

4. Inca Trail (Machu Picchu, Peru)

This is definitely one of the most popular hiking and backpacking trail in the world. The trail is about thirty kilometers long. You can find luscious forests, pre-historic stonework, and alpine tundra along the trail that leads to the fascinating ruins of Machu Picchu. Hikes are usually organized by the government.

5. John Muir Trail (California, United States)

This trail is around 210 miles long and takes more than 20 days to complete. This trail runs from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. You can find various national parks along the way, such as Kings Canyon, Yosemite, John Muir Wilderness National Park, Sequoia, and Sierra National Park.

6. Cinque Terre (Italy)

This trail is filled with beautiful pastel-coloured buildings. The Cinque Terre will definitely blow your mind. This trail is around 7.5 miles and takes only one day to complete. You’ll find charming villages such as the Manarola, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, and Monterosso along the trail.