Category Archives: outdoor activity

Survives The Skookumchuck Trail Solo

Skookumchuck Trail

Recently I was going through some old emails in my hiking folder. I came across a story about a hiker that got lost in the Mt. Lafayette area. It reminded me of a near disastrous hike I had in the same area. I will get more into that story after I relate my experience which happened several years before his experience. Most stories that get publicized are about the victims of an outdoor adventure. In a survivors story the hiker often does not know how close he was to becoming a victim. Survivors can tell us how they coped in a difficult situation.

backpackers

Every year I spend the first week in May at the Mittersill Alpine Resort in Franconia New Hampshire. On Saturday afternoon I was checking out the Skookumchuck trailhead. It was mid afternoon and I was surprised to see 2 men heading for the trailhead. After a brief conversation I learned they were going to camp just below the tree line and bag Mt. Lafayette and return the next day. I told them I was going to do a day hike the following day so I should be meeting them on their way back to the parking lot. I have hiked this trail before in the summer and early fall. It is a steady uphill climb till you reach the summit of .Mt. Lafayette. There are a lot of trees on this trail until the tree line and then it is bare rock. What I like most about this trail is there are no really steep inclines, just a constant moderate slope. There are several small stream crossings. I never understood why this trail was not more popular.

the hike starts

So early Sunday at about 7 am I was starting my hike at the Skookumchuck Trailhead. It was already getting warm and the temperature was predicted to be in the 80’s. There was no snow on the ground and the snow aspect of this hike had not entered my mind. The ground on the Canon mountain ski slopes was almost bare. About 2 hours into the hike I started seeing snow on the ground. The trail markers are still very visible. Shortly thereafter I encountered the 2 hikers from the previous day. They asked me if I had snow shoes and when I replied in the negative they warned me that I may have trouble sinking into the snow as farther up the mountain it was at least 5 feet deep, They said if I hurried I may get though this part before the snow gets too soft. The snow was still hard at this point and since this trail is very seldomly used there was very little indication that anyone had hiked this trail. I had hiked this trail when there was no snow and realized the tree cover might keep the snow hard till I was near the tree line and would then be walking over the rocky part of the mountain. It was not too long before the trail makers were covered by snow. Fortunately I was able to detect where the hikers had travelled. The higher I got in elevation the more pronounced were the tracks of the hikers. My luck soon ran out, I was starting to sink and I had not quite reached the tree line.

first sign of a problem

With the trail markers invisible due to snow I had no choice but to follow the tracks of the hikers. After sinking into the snow up to my hips a few times I was forced to tamp the snow before each step. I quickly reasoned that I would not last long if I continued to try and pull myself out of the snow each time I sunk to my hips. I was already wet and being in wet melting snow was beginning to get chilly. Suddenly I was at the end of the hiker tracks. I figured they had came to this spot the previous day pitched camp and did the summit and came back to the camp spent the night and descended this morning. I was already 2 hours behind schedule. I could see that the tree line was about 200 feet away and after that it was mostly bare rock. Between me and the bare rock was huge snow covered boulders and 75 feet of dense short evergreen trees.

making a choice

It was now time to clearly figure out a plan and proceed quickly. Going back the way I came would be a lot shorter but I may get lost on the way back if I was unable to follow the trail. This being the north side of the mountain it would get dark sooner. I would also be tamping down the snow for a longer time than I did on the way up. It in the 80’s. The prospect of getting lost on the way back was foremost in my mind. Going forward would not be a cake walk. I would have to tamp carefully going from boulder to boulder and then getting through the thick short trees would not be easy. The trip back would be at least twice as long. I should have no trouble finding the trail once I reached the bare rocks. I quickly choose the longer way.

tired but on solid rock

Passing over the boulders to the thick slow trees was slow and tedious. Sometimes I threw my pack ahead of me, sometimes I managed to jump from one boulder to the next. I spent at least an hour going less than 50 feet. Now I had to contend with the trees. This was more of a challenge than I anticipated. I had to push through the trees hoping the branches would bend enough so I could get by. I did eventually get through. I was probably about 4 hours behind. I had been checking the sky very carefully as this is an area where nasty weather can develop quickly sometimes in as little as 20 minutes. I was still a little wet, tired, and sore from the scramble that I had just finished. The really good thing is, I was warm and I quickly found the painted trail markers on the rocks. When I reached the summit of Mt. Lafayette it was after 2 pm, I could see the Greenleaf hut and figured I was about an hour away. Mt. Lafayette is 5260 feet high. The trail down to the hut has a southern exposure and had very little snow or ice. It is very steep most of the way and one has to be very cautious. I always do better on the way down and since my cardio is not as strong as my legs. I arrived at the hut to find a few workers there getting ready for the upcoming season. They told me that taking the Old Bridle Path would be the longest but would have the least amount of snow and ice and that I should not do the Greenleaf trail without traction devices.

a slow descend

It was after 4 pm when I started down the Old Bridle Path. About an hour later I met a woman coming up and she offered me the keys to her car. At this time I was actually feeling a bit recovered and declined the offer. When I reached the parking lot I was starting to regret that decision. From the parking lot it is about 4 miles to the resort I was staying. It was twilight but I would be on a paved bike path halfway and a paved road the rest of the way. I was getting tired, sore, and hungry. It was starting to cool down so I did not stop as I needed my body heat to keep me warm. I arrived at my unit at about 9 pm. It was a lot later than I predicted and they were about to make calls about my not coming back on time.

grateful outcome

I have thought about this hike many times. I was extremely lucky the weather stayed good. I don’t think I was in great physical shape, but I did stay alert and did not slip and get hurt which also helped a lot. I think I made the most conservative choices rather than the shorter more riskier uncertain ways. When I think about having more or better equipment, the down side of that it requires more weight and the energy to carry the extra equipment. Someday I will write about such a hike and some of the consequences. As I promised I will write briefly about another solo hiker who started at the same place I did and in a different year but only a few days earlier in the season and by a man about 10 years younger than me and we are both electrical engineers.

lesson learned

From the story below I see that Peter started out from the same location that I did but later on in the day. I am speculating on what he may have done. He must have ascended till he decided he did not want to proceed in the melting deep snow. He turned around and headed back. At that time of day I would probably have made the same choice. At some point he took a right when he should have gone left. I have gotten disoriented in this area in the summer and early fall. I ended up hiking about 16 miles instead of about 4 miles. He ended up spending 2 nights outside before being found. I could have easily have followed his path with probably with similar results.
This is an excerpt from an email I received.

After The Fall

After the Fall

I often get asked about my favorite hiking season or location. It seems no matter how often I am asked I have to think before answering. The main reason is that I don’t have a favorite season but if I think of particular places then I find that each one has good times of the year for being there. Since my playground is New England this discussion will be how I look at the outdoors of New England as a yearly repeating cycle. I have selected when the leaves have fallen as the beginning of my discussion.

To me this is the one time of year that occurs almost at the same time each year despite the weather changes that have been happening. This is when the trees are naked, the visibility is greatest, the insects are gone, it is colder but not frigid. To counter this, the trails are harder to see as they are covered with newly fallen leaves, and it is easier to slip and fall. The cold weather is invigorating but the daylight is shorter. The air is less humid, there are less clouds and one can see farther distances. My pack is heavier and I make use of my trekking poles more often. I find with the leaves gone, I can explore more off trail areas and possibly make discoveries. This is also the noisiest time of the year with the constant rustling of the leaves under my feet. I often see places that I will want to return to when the ground has frozen solid. This is like previewing hikes that I can possibly take as the weather gets colder.

Cold with and without snow

As the season progresses it does get colder whether we have snow or not. By the time the ground is frozen, the leaves are pretty much gone from the medium to well used trails. The air is crispy most of the time and when there is a wind the cheeks feel the cold. When a new snowfall arrives one has to follow the the markers on the trees or signs placed for that purpose. The snow has the advantage of covering up the ground and making it a lot flatter and in most cases a lot easier for hiking. Sometimes a fine layer of snow is covering more treacherous ice. There seems to be this balance between the things that make hiking easier and those that make it more difficult. Depending on the amount of snow, it can be time for the cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating. The snow also silences the sound of boots hitting the trail. There are sounds that are only heard at this time of the year. A branch breaking this time of year can sound a lot louder than at other times. The footprints of wildlife become clearly visible. This is often a topic for discussion on the trail. Questions like what kind of animal, how big, what was it doing? If the snow gets so deep that the trail makers can no longer be seen one either has to know the trail very well or stick to trails where the trail is clearly visible from being compacted by the many hikers. At some point in this continual weather cycle the daylight hours get longer and daytime temperatures increase during the day.

The transition from winter to spring hiking

During the spring thaws the trails should not be walked on. They are muddy and can be damaged. The length of this period depends on the amount of snow that has accumulated, the altitude and the forest cover. The transition from frozen to thawed starts slow and is not easy to detect. The first melting starts above the tree line where the rocks are exposed and absorb the heat of the sun. The melted water flows downward following the easiest path. The lower temperatures at night cause refreezing and because the ground is still frozen the melting process is slow at first. During the winter in the deep snow areas, the trail is compacted and lower than the surroundings. As the day temperatures get warmer the surrounding snow shrinks and the trail becomes higher than the surroundings. The ambient noise of the forest goes from being quiet to becoming noisier as the melted water reaches the streams and rivers. The snow off trail becomes known as “rotten”. At some point in this melting process one can sink to your hips in snow that is a mixture of ice crystals and water. It does cool you off quickly. One of the dangers of walking off trail in deep snow and melting conditions is discovering a “snow cave”. This is when an evergreen tree (typically a spruce) gets covered by snow and is not visible. This can be a very dangerous if one walks over such a tree and falls through the snow cover. This could result in being in a position where you are facing downward and finding yourself stuck without being able to move very much. Always best not to be alone when this kind of condition can exist. Snowshoes can help a lot also in preventing this.

The trees begin to have leaves

The leaves are beginning to appear, the ground is slowly thawing and some trails need to be avoided because of mud. The sound of water is almost everywhere and the streams are overflowing their beds. I am reminded of Paul Dukas’s “ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.  The sound increases until the streams crest and return to normal levels. This is the time of year where a lot of stream crossings are very difficult and dangerous to cross. The water is near freezing, the rocks at the bottom are covered with slime, and the current is strong and unpredictable. The bottom of the stream bed is unpredictable which makes for a slow frigid crossing. I choose to turn around many times or to hike upstream hoping to find an easier crossing. This is not always an easy choice. Bushwhacking along a stream is usually time and energy consuming. This is especially true if this is not a loop trail or if because of time constraints you have to go back by the way you entered. At this time of year it does not take a lot of rain to cause the water levels to rise drastically.

The insects return

The return of insects is a sure sign that warmer weather is getting closer. Leaves and flowers are starting to bloom and color returns to the forest. The streams remain noisy as long as there is not a drought. The ground becomes fully thawed and at some point gets warmer than the overnight temperatures. It is time for the 5 B’s in the forest. Bugs, bees, birds, berries and bears. When you pass through a blueberry area and you can detect the smell of what reminds you of a dog that has not been washed but only a lot stronger, coupled with bear scat it is a good indication the bears are not too far away. Seeing bears at a distance is good enough for me. For me this is backpacking season. My backpack load is at it’s lowest, the insects can be handled, the forest abounds with various life forms, and this is my time for backpacking. The longer days allow for leisurely hiking and more time to explore while heading to the nightly campsite.

Samantha Brown’s Summer Travel Tips

Traveling in the summer – especially with kids – can be hot, busy and stressful. Here are a few tips to help you keep your cool on your next family vacation.
1. Know thy airport.
Take a look at the airport’s website and terminal map to get an idea ahead of time of things such as your eating options, the locations of family restrooms, and the availability of kids’ play areas for children to work off some energy.

2. Anticipate flight delays.
Summer thunderstorms can delay flights as much as snow. Bring lots of good, healthy snacks, so if you’re delayed in the terminal — or worse, on the tarmac — you and your family will be fine.

3. Check out the library.
The local library in your vacation destination probably has visitor passes so you can check out real books instead of using your expensive e-reader that doesn’t do well in sun and sand. If there’s a rainy day, this could be a nice hangout for the family, as libraries usually have great tween and kids’ sections. There’s also access to computers to print out boarding passes.

4. Take a break.
Every day, make sure you build in a break around 3 or 4 p.m., when everyone’s energy and fuses run short. Take a nap, read, write in a journal and let teens have time on their phones. That way, everyone will be rested and recharged for dinner.

5. Create some house rules.
If you’re renting a house this summer, print out a house rules page with a list of daily chores that need to be done, such as washing dishes, restocking toilet paper and taking out the trash. If you don’t, you’ll be the one who is cleaning up after everyone, and that’s no vacation.

6. Picnic in the park.
Locate the best public park for an afternoon picnic. Young kids can play on the equipment, older kids can kick a ball or throw a Frisbee, and adults can sit down and relax.

7. Game Changer: Travel Apps
Travel apps have seriously changed my life and made my travels easier. I love FlightAware, as it allows me to track my inbound flight. AroundMe tells me what’s near me, including ATMs, restaurants and emergency rooms. I also like iExit while I’m on the road to see what exit is best for gas and food.

8. Underappreciated Resource: Twitter

Twitter is an amazing travel tool. Sign up for an account, choose a handle and follow all the places and businesses you’ll be traveling to or with: airlines, hotels, tourism boards. Now, you have direct access to them should something go wrong or you simply have a question. This resource is usually quicker than getting on the phone.

DC Weekend Getaways

Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, the Voodoo Experience — the Big Easy’s parade of festivals lasts all year long, so there’s no need to pack your party beads away. If you are still standing after a full day of shaking your boudin and eating po’boys with fellow festivalgoers, there is the rest of New Orleans for you to dive into. For those of you who prefer to steer clear of the Bourbon Street brouhaha and get a taste of what the locals love, here are some fresh recommendations for where to eat, drink and be merry after the fest.

Martinis and Music in the Garden District

While there may be nothing more scrumptious than a Jazz Fest po’boy gobbled as brass bands march by, one might tire of eating while standing in full sun and muddy shoes. The best antidote? A true white-tablecloth experience in the Garden District. With multiple James Beard Awards and a history as lush as the leafy streets and cemetery that surround it, Commander’s Palace is this city’s grand dame of fine dining, and the locals love it. With chef Tory McPhail concocting new creations such as seared foie gras over spiced ginger carrot cake, Commander’s knows how to find that sweet spot where tradition and innovation meet. Try the famed 25-cent lunchtime martinis (three is the limit!), and then stroll amid the flourishing gardens and mansions that surround this sprawling, turquoise-striped palace. For a cozier locale, try La Petite Grocery on buzzing Magazine Street. Housed in a late-19th-century grocery store, this neighborhood restaurant serves regionally sourced dishes that have quickly made it a local favorite, such as blue crab beignets and gulf shrimp and grits. And when you have lingered long enough over such a luscious meal, make a boogie stop nearby at beloved music venuesthe Maple Leaf and Le Bon Temps, where you can catch New Orleans legends such as the Rebirth Brass Band or the Soul Rebels.

Cocktails in the Quarter

If you happen to find yourself on Bourbon Street and prefer not to be, don’t despair! Delicious alternatives are just around the corner. SoBou, one of the city’s best contemporary restaurants, is presided over by the talented duo of chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez and “bar chef” Laura Bellucci, two pros who know how to make food and cocktails come together. Her “Purslane” rye whiskey cocktail paired with his boudin stuffed fried quail equals paradise. SoBou (short for South of Bourbon) is the latest project of NOLA food ambassadors Ti Martin and Lally Brennan, owners of Commander’s Palace, whose lifelong love for New Orleans’ cocktails and conviviality shine through in SoBou’s playful menu.

If you want to get a taste of cocktail history, step over to the fabled Carousel Bar in theHotel Monteleone. Within its storied walls, the Vieux Carré, a classic New Orleans libation of rye, cognac and bitters, was first created by bartender Walter Bergeron in 1938. But if you leave your coveted seat at the bar for a moment, it will have moved when you return — the bar at the Carousel actually revolves. And if it’s this city’s famed cocktail, a Sazerac, that you crave, get thee to Sylvain, which is also a stone’s throw from Bourbon Street. This recently revamped carriage house is rumored to be home to a ghost named Aunt Rose Arnold, a madam who lived here almost a century ago. If you don’t have a reservation for dinner inside, you can still stop for a drink outside on its foliage-covered stone patio; Aunt Rose may be hanging around, too.

Music on Frenchmen

On the far northeast edge of the Quarter, just past Esplanade Avenue and its grand homes dripping in magnolias, you will find Frenchmen Street, the musical heart of a buzzing little district known as the Marigny. An easy walk from the French Quarter, this is ground zero for post-fest festing. Here you will find D.B.A., a friendly hole-in-the-wall and Brooklyn, N.Y., offshoot that opened in 2000. It was the first real craft-beer and high-end-whiskey joint in New Orleans, back before it was cool to curate a fancy beer menu here. You can savor a NOLA pale ale while tapping your toes to the sounds of local musicians including Alex McMurray, whose smoky vocals evoke Tom Waits, and the rollicking Treme Brass Band. Just down the street, the popular Spotted Cat may be bare-bones and tiny, but that makes the music magic onstage all the more intimate, as if the band were playing in your living room with a whole lot of friends squished in. Hear New Orleans jazz singers such as Antoine Diel croon the song Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? while sipping beer from plastic cups. Since there is no cover and no credit cards, bring plenty of cash and tip the band amply. And if you want to go for the traditional gem of the Marigny music scene, book a table at Snug Harbor. Although it may be popular with tourists, that’s not a drawback at this jazz institution, where New Orleans musical royalty, including the Marsalis and Neville families, play regularly.

A tool for assessing the weather dependency of outdoor recreation activities

This paper describes the creation of a Weather Dependency Framework (WDF) and its potential usefulness for managers and researchers. The WDF is a mechanism for understanding the multi-dimensional variables that influence the weather dependency of outdoor recreation activities.

The need for this work was evident because of the growing number of studies probing the general influence of weather on outdoor recreation without an organizing framework for making sense of those influences. A modified Internet-based Delphi process employing a panel of 27 experts in the areas of weather, climate, outdoor recreation, and natural resource management was facilitated in the summer of 2015 to develop the WDF.

Additionally, the panel of experts tested the WDF’s potential usefulness by applying it to three outdoor recreation activities that represent a likely spectrum of weather dependency. The paper concludes by considering other possible applications as well as recommendations for the WDF’s future development.

Management implications

The article suggests a new tool for managers and researchers interested in interpreting and understanding the weather dependency of outdoor recreation activities in a multitude of settings. The application of the WDF could enhance management and contribute to assessing the weather related needs and behaviors of recreationists by activity type to aid in effective protected area planning; predict recreation participation under specific weather conditions and for specific activities; inform natural resource and outdoor recreation managers about potential risks under certain weather conditions and for specific activities; plan site infrastructure improvements and adaptation; and conduct site assessments to aid festival and event planning in respective site selection. Overall, managers’ resulting use of the WDF may lead to reconsidering programs and policies, recreation impact mitigation, inspire weather-based planning initiatives, and predict land access trends.

Outdoor Activities Can Improve Your Mental Health

For many, summer vacation is associated with getting out of a rut and enjoying the great American outdoors. New research among veterans now suggests outdoor group recreation can improve the mental health of our soldiers.

University of Michigan researchers believe participation in extended outdoor activities improves long-term psychological well-being.

Veterans were surveyed before and after a multi-day wilderness recreation experience, which involved camping and hiking in groups of between six and 12 participants.

More than half of participants reported that they frequently experienced physical or mental health problems in everyday life.

One week after the experience, veterans reported a greater than 10 percent improvement in several measures of psychological well-being, a 9 percent increase in social functioning, and a nearly 8 percent gain in positive life outlook.

In some cases, the results persisted over the next month.

“The findings suggest that extended group-based nature recreation can have significant positive impacts on veterans struggling with serious health problems,” said Jason Duvall, Ph.D., one of the study’s lead authors.

“Although more research is needed and many questions remain, the use of extended group-based outdoor recreation programs to ease veterans’ transition back into civilian life seems to be a promising approach.”

The Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization, operates the Military Family and Veterans Initiative, which focuses on providing military service members and their families with access to outdoor experiences.

For the study, the Sierra Club wanted to know whether these efforts were making a difference in the lives of veterans. While both anecdotal and experimental data suggest exposure to green environments is beneficial, few studies have examined the impacts of these programs on veterans specifically.

“The Sierra Club knows anecdotally the mental, emotional and physical benefits that come from spending time in nature, particularly for returning service members for whom the outdoors can be integral to their reintegration,” said Stacy Bare, Sierra Club mission outdoors director.

“The results of the University of Michigan’s study reinforce these beliefs and support our efforts to make these types of experiences available to more people.”

Comments by veterans supported the survey conclusions.

“This trip helped me to reevaluate what’s important in life,” said Tim, a 52-year-old Navy veteran. “It was nice to live a week without being ‘plugged in’ and take in the great outdoors.”

“It helped me to remember who I was and enjoy something I haven’t in a long time,” added Dan, a 39-year-old Army veteran.

Discovering a natural method to help veterans (and familes) cope with issues is an important objective. In response, a number of outdoor recreation groups developed group-based nature recreation programs targeting veterans.

Veterans may identify more strongly with activities outdoors that involve physical challenge, camaraderie and achievement of an objective – experiences that are shared with their military service.

As a result, the approach used by these programs may be more appealing than conventional clinical treatments when it comes to dealing with mental health issues.

“The excursions are a supportive environment because in many ways, they recreate many positive aspects of the military experience,” Duvall said. “They are outside, in a group, sharing similar mental models and, in a sense, on a mission. In that scenario, the impact of the natural environment might be heightened.”

The Sierra Club chose four partner organizations as part of the study group: Higher Ground (Sun Valley, Idaho), Wasatch Adaptive Sports (Snowbird, Utah), Wilderness Inquiry (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Women’s Wilderness Institute (Boulder, Colo.).

Combined, the groups offered 12 programs lasting four to seven days. The excursions generally did not include formal, structured psychological counseling ortherapy. Instead, the emphasis was on the outdoor programs, from fly-fishing, kayaking and whitewater rafting to backpacking and paddling.

The study sample was 98 veterans. They were surveyed one week before, one week after, and about one month after participating. In addition to assessing demographic and background information, the survey itself measured changes in psychological well-being, social functioning, life outlook, and activity engagement over time.

Participation in the outdoor activities appears to have extended benefits including a new openness or creativity as veterans were more likely to take part in activities that involved exploration (such as learning new things or testing abilities) and helping others.

The changes in well-being were also particularly strong for veterans who had initially reported more severe ongoing health issues, with the magnitude of improvements often 1.5 times that of those with less serious health problems.

Best Budget Beaches

Living on a budget, but still craving a beach vacation? Luckily, the 2 are not mutually exclusive — but you do have to plan wisely. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck.

Shop discount booking sites such as Liberty Travel, Apple Vacations,Cheapcaribbean.com and Priceline.com

Buy a package of air, hotel and rental car. You usually pay less than you would if you purchased the components separately. Check the companies listed above for deals, plusExpedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and individual airline sites. Just be sure to do the math before you click.

Check the official tourism sites of the state, island or region you want to visit. Many feature sections offering discounts on lodging, dining, activities and more.

Think outside the hotel box. Vacation Rentals by Owners and Craigslist eliminate the middleman, and B&B-cum-social-networking sites like Airbnb.com and iStopOver offer wide selections of rooms at bargain rates. Many hostels [www.hostelworld.com] now offer private rooms and cushy amenities, and some are located in prime beach destinations. For the truly frugal, there’s Couchsurfing, GlobalFreeloaders.com andHospitality Club, whose members offer up their sofas or spare bedrooms for free. Checking references is key.

Focus on towns or regions that feature low-key cottages and motels, or are near state and national seashores. Instead of Miami Beach, for example, try the Florida Panhandle; instead of Santa Monica, try California’s Huntington Beach; instead of Cape Cod, try Rhode Island’s South County. Info on each is below, along with a couple more of our favorite budget-friendly strands.

Emotional processing as an important part of the wildlife viewing experience

 Visitors to parks, protected areas and other natural settings are commonly awed by big mountains, beautiful waterfalls, and turquoise green lakes, yet often it is the chance sighting of a wild animal that ignites a feeling of excitement and passion.

This research examined wildlife viewing experiences in the Canadian Rocky Mountain National Parks to identify which factors contribute to a meaningful wildlife viewing experience and to explore the value and meaning of that experience. Using a qualitative research approach designed to elicit rich descriptions of wildlife viewing experiences, key factors such as proximity and species emerged as important aspects which contribute to meaningful wildlife experiences and which are consistent with previous research.

More importantly, however, was that making meaningful experiences appears to be a result of the emotional connections that are associated with a wildlife encounter and the emotional processing of that experience. This finding suggests that truly meaningful wildlife experiences may be developed through a series of stages from pre-encounter, to the actual encounter, to post-encounter and finally, longer-term reflection.

Consequently, managers of parks and protected areas may choose to pay greater attention to visitors’ emotional connections with wildlife and use these relationships to facilitate more meaningful visitor experiences.

Management implications

1. The information obtained in this study demonstrates that visitor interactions with wildlife are important in creating meaningful nature experiences.
2. If park and protected area managers can encourage and enhance such types of experiences, several positive benefits may include such as increased visitation, positive economic impacts, and increased awareness, concern and efforts towards education and conservation.
3. Potential strategies include encouraging visitors to make an emotional connection with the wildlife they encounter and developing ways in which they can reflect on those experiences.
4. Additionally, managers can aid visitors in continuing to process their experiences after they occur.

7 Tips to Get You Running Again

 There is nothing like a run outdoors to reduce stress and improve your mood. The combination of breathing in fresh air and getting your blood flowing and your heart pumping seems to cleanse your mind and body. No matter how hard it is to get out the door and get started, after you are done, don’t you always seem to feel much better?  After a break from running, easing back into it is important. I have compiled some of my favorite tactics for getting back out running!

1. Mentally Prepare
Stop making excuses! Coming back from a break is tough, but rather than talking yourself out of it — talk yourself into it. Remind yourself how much better you will feel once you get out there, and how your body will thank you. You may even want to list the benefits in a place where you will easily be reminded to get running! I recommend writing some Post-It notes, and sticking them on your bathroom mirror and the door of your fridge.

2. Ease into It
If you’ve been parked on the couch over the last few months, begin your exercise routine slowly with a 30-minute brisk walk.  Or alternate 1-2 minutes of running with 1-2 minutes of walking to avoid injury.

3. Schedule It
Like any other meeting or appointment, take a look at your calendar, and schedule your runs. It’s easy to let the days slip away and convince yourself you don’t have time or that you’ll do it tomorrow. Make running a priority, today.

4. Make It Fun
Plan to try a new route you want to explore, or revisit an old one you love. Map it out, and get psyched. Creating a great music playlist or inviting a running buddy along can help inspire you. Running with a friend is a great way to catch up rather than spending an hour sitting on a couch or bar stool!

5. Prepare Your Gear
Pick up a new article of running apparel that you are excited to wear, and lay out your clothing the night before so you don’t have to think about it. Also, make sure you have shoes with good stability to avoid injuries. If you skip the run, you will have to face your clothing and your awesome kicks staring you down.

6. Write and Record
Write down your goals, and take action. After each run, write down where you went, how you felt, the temperature. I even add a few notes on how I was dressed in certain temperatures, so I can reference in the future.  There is nothing worse than being over or under-dressed – you want to be as comfortable as possible. Plus, recording your progress allows you to see your accomplishments which is a huge motivator.

7. Change Your Diet
Changing your diet will also make getting back into running easier. Natural, whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains, will give you all the fuel you need to get back into running. Fuel with a small snack like a banana half an hour before running, and don’t forget you hydrate.  If you run in the mornings, here is an idea for great post-workout breakfast.

Physical, Social, Emotional & Intellectual Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

 Outdoor recreation is enjoyable for men, women and children of all ages. Performing physical exercise while outdoors provides a way to get outside and enjoy your natural surroundings. Aside from breathing fresh air and discovering nature’s many wonders, the outdoors provides various activities to keep you wanting to go back outside for more. The benefits of outdoor recreation are endless and will help keep you and your family physically and mentally healthy.

Better Body

Outdoor recreation provides a multitude of advantageous physical activities that may be performed in solitude, with several friends and family members, or with your local recreational sports team. Sports such as hiking, canoeing, swimming, racket and ball sports and numerous other physical activities give you more choices for enjoyable exercise, which is likely to keep you motivated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adults perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense activity every week.

Social Benefits

Adults and children alike benefit socially from outdoor physical activity. Participating in sports and recreation provides kids to seniors with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with others. Participating on a team will help you to form lasting friendships with people who share your passion for outdoor recreation.

Feel Good Factor

Physical activity helps reduce stress and prevents some cases of depression. Exercise reduces anxiety, and consistent activity provides more relief for anxiety and depression. Better self-esteem often results from consistent recreation, partially due to a decrease in stress and to the overall feeling of well-being that occurs from regular aerobic exercise. Breathing fresh air in a natural, serene environment also helps many people to relax and reduce stress and anxiety.

Mind and Movement

Studies show that people who exercise regularly experience longer, deeper, more restful sleep. Better sleep results in more energy and alertness the following day, allowing better concentration and ability to think on higher levels. Along with better rest and rejuvenation for your body during the night, regular physical activity that reduces stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression will help you to concentrate more during the day.