Gear for Cave Exploring

Cave exploring is a guaranteed adventure for almost anyone. While exploring alone is attractive to some taking the whole family on a cave diving adventure is just as fun. Exploring a cathedral room or finding a hidden chamber deep underground is the kind of stuff stories are made of, and in the Ozarks caves are definitely not in short supply. But a cave exploring expedition can become treacherous if the right gear is not on hand to deal with situations that might arise along the way.

First thing any caver is going to need while underground is a good light source. This needs to be not only a steady source of directional light but also a solid design that can take a beating and will not need constant maintenance while in the cave. It is also a good idea to take a few forms of light for exploring underground. A headlamp is the first order of business. For the new caver a simple light that is rugged should be used. The Primos Top Gun LED Headlamp is a good starter headlamp because it has both high and low settings for while in the cave and an easily adjustable head strap to keep the light in place.

LED headlamp

After the headlamp a good idea would be to have a regular flashlight that can be stored in a pocket just in case the headlamp goes out. For this job the Bass Pro Shops® Mini LED Flashlight Combo - 6 Pack, because there are 6 lights in this pack it is easy to put one in a pocket, one in a backpack and hand one to each child in the cave exploring. Also these little lights are very bright and durable making them perfect for the cave!

BPS

Another light source that could be used in an absolute emergency would be a chemical light stick or glow stick. A good choice for glow stick would be the Texsport® Glo Lite Stix™, these glow sticks provide 6 hours of continual low light making them good for an emergency in a cave.

glo

The next stumbling block that many cavers will run into while exploring underground, will be dehydration. While the temperature in the cave might be cool and moist, the physical exertion of climbing over rocks and crawling through narrow passages does tend to cause sweating and dehydration. An easy way to avoid this would be to carry a hydration pack with at least a liter of water in it. This pack will need to be durable enough to make it through the cave without tearing a hole in it and keep the water drinkable for an extended period of time. A good pack for the job is the CamelBak® Rogue™ Hydration Pack, with a coated nylon outer casing this hydration pack is great for the scrapes and bumps a caver is going to run into while exploring. Another pack that is great for the job is the Bass Pro Shops® XPS® 1.5L Hydration Pack, this pack has a low profile and durable polyester coating making it perfect for climbing through tight spaces and over rough surfaces.

xpscamelbak

In a cave, regular clothing tends to be ripped to shreds on the limestone and gravel that is throughout. So finding the right clothes to cover softer underclothes is needed. Styles that tend to work well for the cave are the coveralls and bib overalls. What a caver should look for in coveralls and bib overalls is the durability and wear ability. If the coveralls are going to fall apart after crawling on knees for a few hundred yards then they are not going to be caving material. While at the same time if the overalls ride up or chafe when walking then they will definitely not be usable in the cramped spaces of a cave. Carhartt® Sandstone Bib Overalls are a great set that fits the bill for the rigors of crawling around a cave. The double ply knees make this pair great for being down and dirty while still remaining comfortable in tight situations.

carhartt

Now that the clothing is covered it is time for the boots that will be needed in the cave. These boots need to be tough and most certainly waterproof, while also having the traction needed for walking on the slick limestone and loose gravel of the local caves. A good pair of boots that fits the bill is the Columbia Woodburn Mid Waterproof Camo Hiking Boots. This pair of boots has a solid hard sole made for hiking over rough terrain, and is comfortable enough to wear on a long walk, making these boots great for being in a cave environment. Another good set of boots for this job is the RedHead® Osprey Hiking Boots. These waterproof boots have a good set of removable insoles that keep the feet comfortable while providing the support and stability needed for walking and crawling around in a cave environment.

Columbiaredhead

Now that the gear is gathered and clothing is ready to go it is time to head to the cave and go over a few tips and tricks for being in a cave. Before leaving for the cave, it is a good idea to let a friend or relative know the exact location of the cave that is going to be explored. Also tell them how long the trip will take and to contact the proper authorities if a certain amount of time has passes and they don’t get a confirmation that everyone is alright. Keeping a phone turned off in the car is a good idea, while taking a phone into the cave is also important, if more than one phone is available. Note that some phones are able to work well in certain caves so having a phone can come in handy. Keeping a small stock of chemical stick lights is a good way to assure that even if all electronic lights fail there will still be enough light to find a way out of the cave. Finally keeping a length of cord handy, so kids and adults have something to hold on to while walking and keep from getting split up from the group. Now that the gear and tips are dispensed it is finally time to go into the cave! As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Hi-Ho A Camping We Will Go

Camping is something people from all walks of life can do. It can be a really cheap vacation, or it can be an expensive getaway. The experience all depends on how we do it; the real prize to be won is the memories made. If we’re ready to make some memories then let’s get ready to go!

The first thing we want to think about is what we want to do. Do we want to spend as little as possible and still have a good time or do we want to go glamping (this an excessively comfortable form of camping that we will discuss in a later article)? If money is no obstacle and we want to take the house with us then we want to go glamping. If we want to relax and deal with minimal extra and /or unnecessary stuff then we want to go a more traditional route. There’s nothing right or wrong about either of these choices, which can be intermingled at will, and we should always pick what we can afford both money wise and time/effort/ability wise. The point of this is always to make good, positive memories that we can share with others either in the moment or later on.

After we choose how we want to camp we can pick a location. The location will determine what gear we need. The other thing that determines what gear we need is weather. We should always check the weather as we plan for an outing because it can determine not only what gear we need but how long we want to stay. So we have picked a location, checked the weather, and decided how long we’re going to be gone. Let’s start thinking about what all to pack.

Packing can be easy or packing can be difficult. We’ve decided how and where we want to go camp, we’ve checked the weather, and hopefully in doing all that we’ve decided how long we want to go camping. All these things need to be decided first because they influence what all we need to take with us which in turn can decide how difficult a trip or easy our trip will be barring unforeseen experiences. 

Let’s create a scenario together. We’re going to go camping at Kelly’s Pond Campground for 3 days and it is supposed to be sunny all weekend. Now we all know that the weather can change on a dime and almost no one wants to go camping in the rain. To those who do: best of luck and fun in the rain! So, 3 days at Kelly’s Pond can be a relatively small trip or it can be a super busy weekend. Kelly’s Pond offers lots of stuff to do including: tent camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, if we want to we can ride our ATV if we have one or want to buy one, they even offer  picnic tables and fire rings so we can cook s’mores safely!

Now it’s time to plan what we’re going to take and where to get it if we don’t have it already. Suppose we want to go and have a fun filled week packed with adventure. Here’s what we want to do:

To do all that we need to run by our local Bass Pro Shops and get what we need. Now we’re being hypothetical so we’ll say we’re in Houston near the Katy, Tx Bass Pro Shops. Bass Pro Shops in Katy is great: it’ll have everything we need to go camping.

When we first walk in we can go to Customer Service to get our hunting and fishing licenses. Then we can go to the back right of the store from the entrance to get fishing gear and on our way back there we can get that ATV we’ve been wanting. After we get all the fishing gear we need we can head back towards the entrance to get any clothes we may not have and then we can head to the back of the store for a potty break since we’re human and we may or may not have little ones with us. After that we’ll already be standing in camping so we can get all the camping gear we’ll need: tent, cooking store, survival gear, and even a backpack to put it all in! Next to camping is camo so we can get camouflage for hunting and speaking of hunting the hunting department is right next to that on the way to the register so we can get guns, knives and ammo along with decoys and anything else we need to get that prize shot. We’re finally heading to the registers up front to check out and we’ll pass by the boot wall, what’s more important than proper footwear?Now, we should have everything we need besides food to make a memorable camping trip!!!

We can get to packing! Now we have all of our gear and licensing so we can go hunting and fishing. We got an Arctic Cat so we can use the ATV trails. We got clothes appropriate for the temperature and weather predicted. We want to pack everything as conservatively as possible so we don’t have a lot of extra to carry. We need to print a map of the grounds and a map of how to get to the grounds before we head out as well as food and any other supplies we may need.

By now everything should be researched, bought, packed, and printed. The vehicle should be loaded and everything is ready to go.

Let’s go have a great time!

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Ascend Rainwear to Uganda

Bass Pro Shops Altoona once again recently had the opportunity to assist the Des Moines Blank Park Zoo with a special partnership.

The Zoo supports the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) and provides much needed everyday materials to its team of Ambassadors. These 27 people work tirelessly in the African rain forest, monitoring wild chimpanzee troops and other rare animals; protecting them from poaching and capture for the illegal pet trade. They also educate the local communities about preservation of the precious habitat and reforestation techniques.

Blank Park Zoo adopted this courageous team in 2012 and has provided donations of needed gear and equipment to ensure success of this program. things we often take for granted, everyday items like quality hiking boots, flashlights, rainwear, GPS units, and cameras are often unavailable and expensive in Uganda, so the Zoo collects them through donations and sends them to the team in Africa. 

Bass Pro Shop Altoona has been involved since the beginning, helping two years ago by assisting with a supply of waterproof RedHead boots for the workers. This year we contributed Ascend raingear at a discount. Each member of the team was outfitted with durable rain jackets and pants that will help them carry out their important work in the forest!

Bass Pro Shops Altoona

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Which Waders are the Best Choice for Me?

Fishing can be an exciting outdoor activity, especially when the fish are biting! Those who bank fish may be at a disadvantage if the fish that are biting are in deeper water. A simple solution to this problem is fishing waders. Whether you’re fishing for Salmon, Trout or Bass, waders can give you a competitive edge.

It is important to pick the correct wader for the depth of the water you’ll be fishing as well as the weather you’re in. There are several types of waders to choose from. Chest waders are most versatile in their design, allowing fishermen to wade into deep water because they provide maximum coverage.  The suspenders and lightweight baggy material keeps the waders securely on your body while leaving room for your body and layered clothing.

Waist-high waders are mid height wader option. Waist waders don’t provide as much coverage as chest waders. Designed much like a baggy pair of pants, they are meant for water no deeper than mid-thigh and are equipped with belt loops to hold them in place. These waders are nice in that they provide more coverage than a hip wader, but don’t restrict movement as much as a chest wader would. These are a nice warm weather option because of their light weight, medium coverage design.

Hip waders are a minimal coverage option meant for water no higher than the knee. These are a great warm weather option due to their light weight. These are often used for fishing in shallow waters.

There are options for either insulated or uninsulated waders as well. Insulated waders are used for both colder water and colder weather. These often consist of baggy material to allow for layered clothing. Uninsulated waders are a great option for fishing in summer months as they are more breathable.

There are options for boot-foot waders, wading soles, and stocking foot bottomed waders. Boot-foot waders allow you to purchase both boot and wader in one, which make them convenient and affordable. Wading soles come in a variety of materials such as felt, rubber, hiking, and studded soles, for different underwater terrain. Stocking foot waders are meant to be paired with a waterproof wading boot. It is up to the fisherman which option is best suited for their preferred type of fishing.

Waders are meant to enhance your fishing experience while keeping you dry and comfortable, not hinder it. It is important to find the right wader for the conditions in which you’ll be fishing. It is also important to rinse (especially if you fish in salt or brackish water) and hang dry your waders after each use to insure they don’t mildew.  Make sure to store waders that are completely dry, in a cool, dry space free of direct sunlight.

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Hiking Trails for Beginners

trail

Hiking on local trails is a great way to see nature and learn about the surroundings while relaxing and having a good workout. For beginners finding the right gear that is suited for the trails and is comfortable is always a struggle. While at the same time finding the right trails for beginners is also a challenge simply because building the stamina that is required for good hikes takes time and a concerted effort on an easy trail.

trail

Gear is one of the most important parts of any outdoor expedition and hiking is no different. The gear a hiker uses has to be top notch or a hike can become a nightmare quickly after it starts with blisters and chaffing becoming a huge problem. When it comes to boots there is a big difference in the type of boot for the terrain that will be traversed. If the trail is a very well kept paved trail having a hiking shoe like the RedHead® Granite Peak Hiking Shoe or the Columbia Helvatia Waterproof Trail Shoe for ladies is good because there is very little ability for a hiker to roll an ankle so the comfort of a shoe is preferred to the support of a bigger boot. If the trail is well kept but still a dust trail then going with a hiking shoe like the Merrell® Yokota Waterproof Mid Hiking Shoe or the RedHead® Gaston 5'' Hiker Shoes for Ladies, is a good idea. This hiking shoe rises a little higher than the other hiking shoes so it is able to offer more ankle support for the trail that may have a little less stability than the paved trail. For a trail that is a little wilder with rocks and tree roots, a bigger more sturdy boot is a must. RedHead® Everest Hikers are a great boot for the job, these boots are built sturdy and are meant for everything from walking around the block to the heaviest of trails. For those heavy trails with many rocks and roots a good boot for the ladies would have to be the RedHead® McKinley Hiking Boot, the boot is lightweight and durable enough for a long hike making these boots great for a long trek through rough terrain.

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The next challenge for the new hiker would have to be the right socks for hiking on any trail. When looking for socks a good pair needs to be made from crew to quarter length so the ankle and at least the lowest part of the calf is covered. This keeps the boot from rubbing any exposed skin raw while walking or hiking. A good sock for this purpose is the Ascend™ Hiker Quarter Socks, these come fitted for both men and women, the socks are made from merino wool which keeps the feet comfortable and wicks away sweat very effectively.

ascend sock

Now that socks are taken care of it is time to address one of the most important components of hiking clothing, chaffing. Chaffing happens when skin is rubbed raw and can be painful for even the most advanced hikers. One of the worst spots for chaffing is the inner thigh. The only blessing is that this is also the one place where chaffing is the easiest to prevent. A good pair of compression or hiking underwear is purpose made to keep chaffing from happening and can make a hike easier for all involved. A good pair for the money is the Under Armour® The Original 9'' Boxerjock® Boxer Briefs, these boxers breathe very well and wick away sweat making them great for reducing or eliminating chaffing.

boxer briefs

Since the clothing is now left in the dust it is time for the fun part of hiking, finding the right trail for the hiker. Here locally there are great examples of all three kinds of trails covered earlier. For the paved hiking trail in Springfield would be the Sequiota Park Trail is a great example of this type of trail. When talking about a dust trail or cedar chip trail a good local example would have to be the Nature Center Trail. This trail is a cedar chip trail that is perfect for a new hiker who wants to break in hiking boots or get a feel for a short hike. For those new hikers that want a challenge there is always a good trail close here in Springfield! Busiek State Park offers several long trails that are perfect for getting used to hiking in the Ozarks!

Now that the hiking boots are bought, the socks fit, the chaffing is dealt with and the trail is picked it is officially time to hit the trail and have some fun out hiking! Don’t forget to enjoy the outdoors and the scenery all around while getting a good workout! For more information about socks, check out our blog, "The Right Sock for the Right Hike":http://blogs.basspro.com/blog/bass-pro-shops-springfield-mo/the-right-sock-for-the-right-hike. As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Columbia Hiking Pants

When hiking, you never know where the trail will take you. It’s an adventure, to explore, discover and learn. A few weekends ago my family and I met some friends for a weekend of hiking.  My friends live in Iowa and we live in Indiana so we met in the middle. Illinois, Starved Rock State Park, to be exact.  There has been a lot of rain this summer, so the waterfalls are flowing nicely. Surprisingly it wasn’t very muddy. No matter, I think my daypack contained anything I could have possible needed including spare socks. Any experienced hiker knows even a great trail can be ruined if you don’t have the proper gear. Our hiking group was made up of four adults, one teen, two ten-year old girls, and one infant.  With this group, you need to be prepared for anything. Other than a hot day and tired kids, the day was pretty uneventful. We put in a nice day of hiking and had a picnic lunch when we returned to the visitor’s center.

 The real adventure began the next morning. I took the advice of one of the rangers at Starved Rock and checked into a smaller state park in the area, Matthiessen State park.  My boyfriend and I hit the trails, while our friends hit a nearby waterpark with the kids. We only had an hour so we grabbed our daypacks and hit the trails. We quickly discovered rushing was a mistake. We did not change into hiking boots or grab our trekking poles. We had figured that with only an hour to hike, we would not really get that much in and would not need the gear. WRONG! 

What we discovered was amazing. The tails were well marked and beautiful.  The terrain took you across bridges with breathtaking valleys and beautiful waterfalls. Inside the valley walkways across the river were made of down branches, large rocks or in some spots man made concrete stepping stones.  We found caves and rock carvings, and a park that we can’t wait to visit again.  Although our shoes and socks were soaked there was one piece of gear I was thankful to have on. My Columbia Global adventure pants. I had chosen them for comfort on the long drive home. But they were my saving grace on the trails. The long pants protected my legs from brush on the trails and mud in the caves. The material is thin and cool which allowed me to be comfortable even on the hot summer day. They also roll into Capri’s which was great when crossing the river. The durability of these pants made them a must have in my closet and the reason I as happy to find that they are still available.

This pair I have had for four year and countless miles of hiking and they still look brand new. Our next trip to Matthiessen State park, I will definitely be wearing these pants and some waterproof hiking boots.

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How my epic hike Will Help You Perform Better

 

Here at Bass Pro Shops we are always interested on where people are going on their next trip or adventure. Sharing you outdoor experience and finding out where you just came back from makes our job worth wild. I myself love to get out, see new places and find amazing ones to return to. Isn’t that what makes it worth wild to outdoors man. Recently I took a trip to the Saint George Utah area to visit some family and check out Zion National Park. I had previously seen beautiful pictures of the Red Rock Mountains and the amazing Narrows Hike. So I began to do research and figure out the best way to plan for my trip. As I looked at the Zion National Park websites and stories from people who had been there I came across a picture of the Subway Hike. It looked amazing but sounded intense!! I said to myself “I gotta do this!” Although I looked into planning my trip for a few weeks Zion is so popular that for many of the backcountry hikes you must get reservations months in advance. There is a 3 day lottery that is available and which I put in for. It costs $5.00, but it’s a lottery (which I ended up not getting).

Then I called the park and asked what happens if people don’t show up is there any way to get that spot the day of. They said yes and to show up early. I drove up to St George on a Saturday with my family. St George is about 1.5 hours past Vegas from our store here in Rancho Cucamonga. I stopped at the park station to get permits, they opened at 7am. So on Sunday I got geared up and drove to Zion at 4am. It only took 40 minutes to get to the park, but I wanted to see the sunset on the canyon. That’s not something I get to enjoy every day. I was there so early that I couldn’t pay the $20 park fee for entering. I drove 12 miles up then turned right on highway 89 through the Mount Carmel Tunnels. These are some of the longest sandstone tunnels that you can drive through in the US. At the end of the first long tunnel is a spot to turn out. Right there is the start of a trailhead. I hiked into the dark with my spotlight and up this short .5 mile trailhead. After crossing a bridge and going beneath the rock formations I reached the open view of the giant Zion National park. This put me directly above the Red Rock Canyon. At 6:15am the most spectacular sunset accrued upon the red mountains and breathtaking canyon. I then drove to the ranger station with the intent to get a permit just in case someone failed to show up for their hike. I figured if it worked out I would do my desired subway hike and if not I would do the popular narrow hike which was open to anyone. Forntauntly there were 2 spots open for the Subway hike, one was mine. Now, there is two ways to do the subway hike either from the bottom up (9 mile hike) or from the top down (9.5 mile hike). The top down hike sounded more exciting but would need to have repelling gear & coordinate a shuttle to ending point. Since I was going solo the bottom up was the one I was going for. After my sunset (1 mile) I did have blisters occur on the backs of my heels so I switch back to my older hikers that have better ankle support. I also applied mole skin and 2 pairs of socks, to help protect the blisters.

I drove to the subway hike that was about 25 miles from the ranger station. This was on a road that left outside the town of Virgin and went in and out of Zion Park and private property for 40 miles and dead ends at Kolob Reserve. On a side note, I fished Kolob Reserve on another day with my daughter and the trout fishing was excellent. It was 9:15am when I made it to the hike starting point. I always get super excited when I do a hike or trip for the first time. Although I have seen pictures online before of this location there is something different when you embark into the unknown and a magnificent new outdoor location. I tighten the laces on my hiking boots, got my hydration pack adjusted and began the adventure. The beginning 1 mile is a solid dirt path before getting to an 800 ft. descent that zigzags to the canyon floor. Be careful, not a fun place to slip and roll down. Once you reach the bottom the path it comes and goes as you navigate 4 miles up the stream over boulders and through the stream. As I walked through and along the creek I noticed many holes of clear water filled with 6- 12 inch Cutthroat Trout. I would have brought a pack pole if I knew fishing was allowed. The possibilities of seeing a rattlesnake was very high but I didn’t come across any. I did run across a King Snake and variety of lizards running around. There were Western Fence Lizards, Long Tail Lizard, Alligator Lizards, Skinks and a neat looking Long Tail Lizard with rainbow colors.

As I progressed along, the red canyon wall became more and more narrow. It was still midmorning, but the sun was beating down on me with temperatures above 90 degrees. I fortunately brought hydration pack, extra bottles of water, Gatorade and a PBJ sandwich that was made by my 6 year old daughter. On top of the heat I had a sinus infection. It made it hard to walk, drink from hydration pack and breath at the same time. I was going to do this no matter what. Being surrounded by the beauty of the canyon drove my focus away from the heat of the sun. The hike started to take shape of a subway, but the river was like red rock steps into another world. The entire hike up I didn’t come across any hikers until about the 4 mile point. I hiked past them and at the end of the hike was an even more spectacular view than had been captured in any photography I had seen. You could truly see how exquisite the formations were and why it was called the Subway Hike. All though I was at the most famous part of the hike, I still wanted to see what was around the corner. I climbed up a 15 foot tree that had fallen against the rock wall and felt the adrenaline pumping through my blood stream. This was not only unsafe, but a very dangerous decision. I then began to scale a rock face. It looked as if, it would only be another 10 feet and then I could get back to solid footing. As I started to climb I realized how this decision was not my best. If I got hurt up there, it would be quite some time before someone would find me. Plus this is only day 2 of my vacation and it would ruin my other 6 days not only for me, but for my daughter.

I got down off the rock ledge and found a spot to sit. I let my heart rate slow down and looked over the amazing subway pools. This was the perfect place to eat the delicious peanut butter and jelly that my little girl had made me. I took some pictures and felt so accomplished. I was thankful that I made the right call and didn’t get hurt. I held my PBJ up high yelled “WOO”! I heard the echo and took another bite. As I walked out it was about 1pm and it felt like peak temperatures for the day. I came across a young 12 year old boy and his family. He asked me how much further and I told him “about a mile, the canyon is starting to look really epic at this point.” His sister asked if there was a place to fill up there water at the end. I said “no why are you guys low?” The Dad said that there was a miss communication with his wife on how much water to bring. He had been drinking out of the stream so that the family could use the water supply. I stated “o no, Daddy’s going to get sick” Anytime you drink from water not coming directly out of the mountain you risk getting sick from bacteria. Like really sick, some people even die. So I gave them one of my extra water bottles that I later regretted because I wanted to poor it on my boots before getting back in the car. I walked for another 40 minutes and came across a young couple wearing swimsuits like they were heading to a waterpark. They asked me how much further to the end. I looked at them and stated “about a mile, the canyon is starting to look really cool now.” I hiked for several more miles and the heat was beating down on me. It is important not to dwell on negativity of extreme heat or fatigue when hiking as that will just make it worse. I kept my mind occupied on other things like thoughts of women, family, work and life. Also I thought of my drink in the cooler surrounded by ice, waiting for me.

How I could really use a cold drink at this point. I even came up with a little jingle during the hike and before I knew it I was close to the end. I pushed myself up the steep climb and then up the zigzag trail and finally made it to my vehicle. I was proud of my amazing hike and new experience and glad that I finished safely.

Here are some of the things that I am glad I brought:

- Merrel Moab Mid, Gortex hiking shoes

- BPS Trekking pole ( walking stick) - XTR hydration pack

- Life straw ( didn’t use but was ready in case I ran out of water)

- Mole skin ( saved feet from blisters)

- Extra pair of socks - Headlamp

- First aid kit

- Shorts for hiking

- Sunscreen, sunglasses & hat

- Artic Cooler ( neck tie that keeps cold)

- 12 oz. bud light Utah has a high amount of injuries due to heat exhaustion and hikers not being prepared.

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPageC?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&appID=94&storeID=52

Dangers to be prepared for:

-Rattlesnakes (I didn’t see any but they could be) the trekking pole can help to get them to rattle and give you warning.

- Mountain lions ( very unlikely to ever see one) Never let children run ahead as they are attracted to running, solo hiking is not encouraged, if a mountain lion approaches make a lot of noise, wave arms, throw rocks and if the attack fight back !!

- Weather warning extreme heat, flash flood warnings and cold waters in the winter. PLAN APPROIPRITLY. - Filter and disinfect water. Do not risk getting giardia and drink from stream or river. Other neat things to check out in Zion National Park.

- The Narrows hike down/up ( as far as you’d like 2 miles to neat part)

- The Narrows hike up/down 16 miles and shuttle is needed

- Angels Landing ( long drop offs have to hold onto chain part way)

- Kayenta Trail ( overlooks emerald pools) I definitely recommend for visit to Zion National Park. Get outside and explore with the family. Let me know how it goes.

Until the next adventure I’ll see you upstairs at Bass Pro Shops.

http://www.utah.com/nationalparks/zion.htm

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Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots

When on a hike the difference in a good day and a bad day can come down to something as simple as what type of footwear a hiker is wearing. The types of footwear for hiking are mostly broken down into two different categories. For a good majority of avid distance hikers a lighter more maneuverable shoe is the obvious answer. While for a cross country hiker a more rugged and supported hiking boot is a must. For the rest of us finding the right footwear is a pain. So here are some tips and tricks on finding the right footwear for a hike.

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When hiking long distances over fairly well maintained trails it is often in the interest of the hiker to keep their packs and everything else fairly light. This means cutting down one weight in the places where it is the most prevalent, and often times an easy target is the shoes. Finding a hiking shoe that has the support and has less weight is the key. Many hiking shoes are light and well-made but there are a few that stick out for their great support for the ankles and the foot while on a long hike. A great hiking shoe for distances is the RedHead® Gaston Hiker Shoes, these shoes are lightweight and can take a beating out on the trail making them perfect for the avid hiker on a budget. Another great pair of hiking shoes is the Vasque® Mantra 2.0 Hiking Shoes, these shoes are meant to be worn on long hikes where a heavy pack will be worn, and make the entire trail more comfortable for the hiker. A hiking shoe for the ladies that has good support and the comfort for a long hike would be the Teva® Sky Lake Waterproof Hiking Shoes, these shoes have proven themselves over the trail and are still comfortable enough for even the most sensitive feet.

hikerhikerhikerhiker

While hiking shoes are awesome over the very nice and groomed trails, for the more back country hiking that many campers and avid hikers like, a good hiking boot is a must. These boots need to be both sturdy and comfortable with enough support for a hiker’s ankles that they can easily navigate rough terrain without worrying about injury. One of the best hiking boots out there right now is the RedHead® Roark Waterproof Hiking Boots, these boots give the ankle support needed for a back country trek while at the same time keeping a hikers feet dry while walking through wet grass and puddles. Also these boots are built to be light weight making them great for those long hikes on and off the trail. A boot that has a good history of being both comfortable and functional on the trail would be the Danner® Roughhouse Mountain 7'' GORE-TEX® Waterproof Hiking Boots. These boots are heavy duty and can take the long treks over rough terrain while still staying waterproof and comfortable. While guys hiking boots are great there are some awesome hiking boots for the ladies as well. A good hiking boot for that remains comfortable while at the same time giving support to the ankle and cushioning every step is the RedHead® Caliber Waterproof Hiking Boots, the boots have a comfortable liner which makes wearing the boots during a long hike more comfortable while at the same time providing a waterproof platform for traction and stability. Another great boot for those off the trail hikes would have to be The North Face® Storm Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots. These boots are great for distance hikes where wet conditions are a possibility because of the well-insulated lining and waterproofing built into the boot. Now that the boots are taken care of and the hikes can proceed as planned as always happy hunting and good luck!

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A Grand Adventure

Anthony Loos has competed in mixed martial arts and currently studies karate. However, the Altoona Tracker Boat Center Associate says a recent accomplishment was by far the most physically demanding thing he has ever done. Here's his story:

_________________________________________Grand Canyon Hike - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Our karate master instructor decided to sponsor a trip to the Grand Canyon. However, this wasn’t a vacation/pleasure trip…well, at least not most people’s idea of pleasure. It was specifically to hike the Canyon and to give his students something to achieve – both physically and mentally.

Our group of 15, led by our karate master, flew into Phoenix on May 1. I had checked through my Bass Pro Shops tent and other camping gear in a suitcase and had my clothing and personal items in my carry on. I packed light.

In our rented 15-person van, we headed to Flagstaff, stopping for lunch, and then pulled in at Mather Campground on the South Rim. We spent the rest of the evening making camp and preparing for the next day’s journey.

Friday morning, May 2, it was up and at 'em at 5 a.m. for our breakfast of bagels and peanut butter – calories and carbs to get our energy going for the day. Then we headed to the Canyon.

With my Go Pro camera strapped to my chest, we began our descent into the Canyon, entering at the South Kaibab Trail. We had picture-perfect conditions – sunny, very few clouds, and 45-50 degrees when we started at 6:30 a.m. It reached about 95 and stayed in that range for much of the day. That meant dressing in layers with lightweight, sweat wicking clothing. I also packed rain gear for the hike, because one never knows if the weather will change.

It was typical, dry Arizona air – that combined with the few clouds could cause some problems for the unprepared. Research I did before the trip suggested a calorie intake of 300 calories an hour during this type of hike and 20 ounces of water an hour. This would differ from person to person. For example, one member of our group is a marathon runner so her requirements would differ because her body was used to the exercise. So, I had my Ascend Hydration Pack with 70 ouncesGrand Canyon Ascend Hydration Pack  Bass Pro Shops Altoona of water and there were refill stations along the trail. I also packed pretzels, fig bars, energy bars, and honey, for its natural energy boost.

Our plan was to descend into the Grand Canyon and back out in the same day. Despite cautions against that idea, we were determined that we would finish. The grueling hike was close to 19 miles, with a one-mile elevation down and back up. The four-hour trip down turned into twice as long coming back up.

We navigated our way down the South Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River, where we took an extended break and splashed around in the water. We crossed the Colorado on the South Kaibab suspension bridge, made our way over to the Bright Angel Suspension Bridge, and headed back up the Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail.

Of course, a hike back up a trail is typically the toughest part…and this was no exception. Our group of 15 had gradually migrated into three groups based on our speed. We had radios to communicate and provide some good-natured ribbing and encouragement. Our group talked while we walked, taking in all the sights, but the terrain is always changing, so keeping an eye on where we were stepping was very important. 

There were several switchbacks, which were the toughest part, because of their steep grade. Then it would level off for a while. Good hiking shoes or boots are paramount. We were more than simply walking, often stepping over wood or brick erosion control  steps, or hiking on  rocks, gravel, dirt, sand, and rock hopping over natural creeks. My RedHead hiking shoes were great. Oh, and we had to watch for the pack mules carrying riders up and down the trail…they have the right of way…which meant we also had to watch for mule droppings!

Other than the regular exercise I get through karate, I “trained” for the hike by doing five miles a day on a treadmill, for about Grand Canyon Hike - Bass Pro Shops Altoona Blogthree weeks, at the full incline position. Next time, I’ll do ten. The last mile of the trail was tough…it took us about 40 minutes. Our legs and feet felt like lead. The sun was setting and our group decided to sit down and take a quick break. A group of guys going down into the Canyon came by and said, “Good job - you’re just five minutes from the top!”

I guessed their five minutes would actually be 20 minutes for us…it ended up being ten. Our group finished the hike in the middle at just under 13 hours. The first group finished at about 9.5 hours, while the group following us finished at 14.5 hours.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Even though that last mile was pure torture. Even though I didn’t see any scorpions, tarantulas, or rattlesnakes, as I had hoped.

A group of Iowa karate students accepted a challenge and accomplished their personal goals.

There are signs at the beginning of the trail noting that 250 people a year are rescued by helicopter when they reach the bottom.

I, Anthony Loos, was not one of them.

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Anthony had his Go Pro set to take photos every 30 seconds on the hike. Take part in the virtual hike here on our YouTube channel!

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Graduation Gift Ideas

Graduation is fast approaching for high school seniors and college grads! Of course, money is always the quick and easy way to get a graduation gift crossed off that list of invitations and announcements. However, we asked Associate Terrence Ross, graduating this month from Grand View University, for his tips and thoughts on what a graduate might like OR what a graduate may want to consider buying with all that gift money!

Bass Pro Shops Altoona graduation gift ideas1. Coffee mugs - Whether headed off to college or headed out to the "real world," a mug is important not just for coffee, but for hot chocolate, soup, ramen noodles, and other staples of living on a budget!

2. Water bottles - Whether hiking across campus, across the city to your new job, or up a mountain trail on vacation, a water bottle is a must have.

3. Living Quarters - Bedding, bath, towels, a lamp, and rugs. Terrence knows that a dorm room, or that first apartment, can be pretty "blah" until you put your own touch to it. If you're an outdoorsy person, consider an outdoor touch with Browning or camo bedding, towels, and even a rug. Needing to deck out a new bathroom? We have shower curtains and other bathroom accessories, too.  Terrence reminds everyone that a dorm room or apartment needs to not just look good, but should SMELL good, too...not like dirty socks. Bass Pro Shops has scent warmers to do the trick. Remember, check your college residence hall rooms regarding candle usage...many don't allow, due to fire hazards, but if they do, then we have those, too!Backpacks - graduation gift ideas - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

4.  Towels - From bath to beach, don't forget the towels!

5.  Gear - Let's face it, not all treks across campus are going to be under sunny, blue skies and 70 degrees. Make sure you have good rain gear, like a hooded, waterproof jacket, and an umbrella. Don't forget good shoes, boots, and, of course, some comfy casuals.

You'll need a good quality backpack for your books and electronics, too. While you're at it, invest in a good (or new) laptop or iPad case, and waterproof protection for your smart or iPhone, like the Otterbox line.

6. Emergency supplies - Terrence says a couple of things often overlooked are emergency items, like a good flashlight and batteries. Well, actually, he said the batteries were for the XBox controls, but admitted they would be handy in power Graduation Gift - Slow cookeroutages, too. He had several opportunities to experience power outages during storms and was glad he had the light source! Snacks come in handy during emergencies, too.

7.  Cooking - Terrence likes the slow cooker as a gift idea. Honestly, I think that would be REALLY handy in a residence hall! Beats the little "hot pot" of my college days. Plus, there are many soups and chil fixings that you can get to throw in the slow cooker. Don't forget the snacks! Stock up on jerky and nuts for munching and also for those emergency, non-electric times.

Bass Pro Shops Outdoor games7.  Last, but not least, it's not all work and studying. Take time to play and pick up some outdoor games (some would work fine in a dorm hallway, too!) for study breaks and tailgating!

The list can go on and on when it comes to setting up a new apartment or dorm room. Just remember, comfort is key and you never know WHAT you might find at Bass Pro Shops that will fit your needs...just ask Terrence.

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Stylish Boots for Memphis in May

Memphis in May is here and Bass Pro Shops Memphis is known for helping get everyone ready for  the crazy rainy weather and all the mud it brings! For ladies we have our knee high Natural Reflections rubber boots in green, red, navy, and black all just $39.99! Not to worry if solid colors aren’t your style we also have the Natural Reflections boots in classic camouflage and pink camouflage! Guys, we didn’t forget about y’all, we have our ProLine black and red rubber boots for $39.99 and the RedHead hardwoods green 17” Utility boot for just $49.99! For kids we have the Tyler boots in navy with a pink strap or solid red for $29.99 and the ProLine black and red boot for $34.99.

These boots are also perfect for ladies doing rainy day chores from looking stylish while running errands to even walking across campus to get to class! For the guys they are perfect to wear while getting the spring cleaning list done, to wear turkey hunting, hiking, and even yard work! They are great for kids to wear to school, while playing in the yard or jumping in mud puddles!

While you’re here, you may want to also check out our Redhead Lifetime that would be a great purchase with the boots when the weather decides it’s not quite ready for spring yet and drops back down into winter temperatures!

 

 

 

         

     

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The Perfect Boots for the Spring Hunt

The spring hunting season is one of the most fun, especially for young hunters. But having improper footwear can quickly turn a fun trip into a nightmare with blisters, wet feet, or cold toes. While this seems like a challenge there are some simple things to look for in order to find an excellent pair of boots for the spring hunt.

A good thing to look for in a boot is GORE-TEX. This material is used to keep water from flowing through the boot when stepping in a puddle. GORE-TEX also helps keep the natural warmth from a person’s feet in the shoe making this great for an early spring, cold weather boot. A good boot that works well as a spring hunting boot is the Danner® Pronghorn™ 8'' GORE-TEX® Waterproof 800 Gram Thinsulate™ Insulated Hunting Boots. These boots are also great for hunting because of a rugged stable sole on the boot makes it great for any terrain.

Danner

Another material that a hunter should look for in a good spring boot is thinsulate. This material is a light weight insulator and helps keep feet warm in some of the most adverse conditions. For this reason it can be worn in many different seasons in order to get the most out of a pair of boots. A great boot that uses this material is the Irish Setter® Grizzly Tracker Waterproof 1000 Gram Thinsulate™ Insulated Hunting Boots. This boot is great for any weather and any temperature, keeping any hunters feet from getting wet while at the same time keeping them warm, even while standing still.

 Irish Setter

A boot that the ladies can wear comfortably during the spring is the SHE® Outdoor Cami 9'' High Insulated Waterproof Hunting Hikers for Ladies. This boot has 600 grams of Thinsulate making them some of the warmest boots on the market.

SHE

The next thing to look for in a boot is not a material but a type of boot, warm rubber hunting boots. These are doubly helpful because they are completely waterproof and are also specifically designed for wet conditions in the early to mid-spring where the conditions are not the best. A great boot for the hunter needing completely waterproof boots is The Original Muck Boot Company® Woody Max™ Hunting Boot. These boots are lightly insulated so they can keep feet warm while at the same time giving the waterproofing needed to cross streams and walk through the snow without freezing.

Muck

Another great boot for this job is the RedHead® Span Tough 16'' Waterproof Rubber Boots for Ladies or Youth, this tough boot is great for all types of weather and can definitely take a beating from just about anyone.

RH

A type of boot that is needed later in the spring season is a snake boot. When the weather starts to warm the likelihood of snakes being out and about increases and it is always good to be prepared for the possibility that a snake might try and take a bite out of a hunter’s foot. These boots are often times made of a hardened rubber and neoprene in order to keep snake bites from penetrating and keeping their wearers safe. A boot that works well in this respect is the LaCrosse® Alpha Mudlite 18'' Waterproof Snake Boots. Not only are they great for snakes but the boots are also insulated and great for cold weather hunting.

LaCrosse

A great snake boot for the ladies is the RedHead® Bone-Dry® 13'' Bayou Zip Waterproof Snake Boots . This boot is not only warm but also keeps feet dry on a hike or a long morning hunt in the dew.

RH

The final type of boot many hunters are going to be looking for is a good lightweight warmer weather boot. These boots are usually more geared towards hunters that will be walking a lot during their hunt. This is probably best for hunters who want to stalk their turkeys or early season deer. A boot for the ladies who like to stalk their prey is the RedHead® Trekker III Non-Insulated Waterproof 7'' Hunting Boots for Ladies. This boot combines light weight material with the comfort of a hiking boot so a hunter feels comfortable all day.

RH Ladies

A boot for the guys is the Danner® Jackal™ II GTX 7'' Non-Insulated Waterproof Hunting Boots. These boots are lighter and don’t come as far up the calf making them great for distance walking while on the hunt.

Danner

The spring hunt is one of the most fun times of the year to be out in the wilderness. While at the same time a spring hunt has the ability to have very poor weather on any given day and then perfect weather on the next. So being prepared when it comes to boots is always an easy way to turn around a day on the hunt. As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Special Buy: Teva Gannet Mid Hiker Boots

Whenever I'm out hiking trails or I'm busy working on rough terrain for hours at a time, it is extremely important that I have footwear that's going to keep my feet comfortable--while I'm out in the field or walking through the various state parks Florida has to offer. I remember times when I would leave work and once I got home and took my shoes off, I would have pain running through my feet, up my ankles and into my shins.
 

After trying on a pair of these boots for my eight hour shift on flat pavement, my feet felt like they were sitting on pillows all day. There was absolutely no pain in my feet and the difference was night-and-day. Right now during our Spring Fishing Sale, we have Teva Gannet Mid Hiker Boots that are 100% waterproof and offer more ankle support so you can stay on your feet longer.They are built with impact resistant ShocPads in the heels that reduce the impact of rough trails and keep the strain off of your feet.

 

This $89.99 value is a special buy during the Spring Fishing Sale for $39.97

 

Teva Mid Hiker Boot

 

  

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Spring Footwear Buying Tips

Spring on the calendar means warmer weather is approaching...time to update your footwear for warm weather!

Footwear Lead Miranda Atchison has some helpful tips for buying your lightweight footwear for land and water:Muck Boots

All-Purpose Shoe/Boot - From taking the dog for a walk during or after a rainshower to working in the garden, a waterproof all-purpose shoe or boot is a handy thing to have for the spring. Mucks and Bogs are popular. They are easy to just slip on and take off, and they get dirty so you don’t have to be...and Miranda says her Bogs are tops on her list!

"I have a pair of Bogs that I use when taking the dogs out at muddier times. They are probably one of the most handy in my personal footwear arsenal. I couldn't live without them!"

Hiking Shoes/Boots - Shopping for hiking footwear can be tricky. Start with thinking about where you would be using the shoe or boot and shop accordingly. Waterproofing? A deep-lugged sole for better traction? Heavy duty or lightweight upper? Additionally, think about the break-in time you need...every pair needs break-in.

Lightly Insulated Hunting Shoes/Boots - A waterproof and lightly-insulated shoe or boot for hunting in the spring is a good investment. Non-insulated or up to 600 grams of insulation is a good spring comfort range.

Water Shoes - A water shoe with sturdy protection will be safer for those days spent in or around summer waters. As your Adidas Water shoesfeet are in water for a while, and skin is softened, they are more susceptible to injuries than they normally would be when dry. Look for a pair of water shoes that allow the water to drain easily and that have a nice, slip-resistant outsole. Fast drying materials in a water shoe are important to look for when shopping, too.

Socks - There are socks for many different activities and using the right type will make all the difference. Hiking? Grab a good mid-weight hiker like the RedHead Merino or the RedHead Ultra-Silver socks. For good all-purpose work socks, check out the new RedHead Lifetime Guarantee Midweight socks.

Overall, comfort is a must. If it’s not comfortable when you first put it on you should move on and try a different pair.

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Hiking Half Dome at Yosemite National Park

The 16 mile hike to Half Dome and back begins at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley.  It is a grueling hike up to Half Dome from the Valleythe top of half dome with a 3800 foot gain in elevation to 8800 feet above sea level over approximately 8 miles.  Along the way, you'll see outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap and Half Dome.  From the summit  you will be treated to fantastic views of Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and other prominent points of interest along with panoramic views of the High Sierras. You will also most likely catch a glimpse or two of some of the native wildlife as you hike the trail to Half Dome.

Half Dome SummitTwo metal cables stretch up the last 400 feet enabling hikers to reach the summit without climbing equipment.   And while a relative few in number have fallen to their death during this part of the ascent, one must approach this area with utmost reverence.  It is not the place to be goofing , showing off or acting irresponsibly.  The journey up the cables is inherently dangerous but with the right precaution can be a safe and fun adventure.  The cables usually go up just before Memorial Day and come down the day after Columbus Day.

Most hikers take 10-12 hours to make the hike up Half Dome and back to the valley floor.  For this reason it Cables on Half Domeis best to start this hike very early in the morning.  One should also be in reasonable shape for this hike due to the length and elevation gain which make it somewhat strenuous.  I would also mention that for the last several years it has become necessary to obtain a permit from the park service to ascend Half Dome via the cable route.

There are some items you will want to make sure to include in preparation for your hike.  A good place to start is our Manteca Bass Pro Shop where you can gear up for the hike up Half Dome.  The first item probably being a good set of hiking boots with good ankle support.  Take a look at the RedHead Ridge Point Hikers or perhaps the RedHead Granite Peak Hiker..  Either one of these would make  a great choice for the hike up Half Dome.  While not mandatory, you might want to include a pair of gloves to grip the cables as you climb up the last 400 feet.  Another item you will want to have with you would be a small sack lunch.   You just might get hungry.  Probably most important would be water.  You will View from the Topneed approximately one gallon of water for the trek up and back.   In our camping department you will find the perfect item to carry your gear, lunch and water in the form of one of our many hydration packs.  The Ascend H1250 or Ascend H2000 are two excellent choices.

Now for a few safety tips.  Check the forecast before your trip.  The summit is a dangerous place to be during a lightning storm.  If you notice a storm moving in, do not attempt the summit.  And while lightning storms are more common during the afternoon hours, keep in mind that they can strike at most any time.  Do not attempt to summit during wet or rainy conditions.  The trek up the cables is no place to be slipping and sliding.  The summit is typically 15 degrees cooler than the valley floor and can be windy.  Be prepared and dress appropriately.  A few people experience problems with altitude sickness each year with symptoms such as severe headache or nausea.  If you experience these symptoms you must get to lower elevations immediately.  Last but not least one must stay out of the river above Nevada and Vernal Falls.  Nearly every year someone is swept over the falls because they do not follow this precaution.

The trip up to the summit of Half Dome and the views one encounters once you reach the top make this hike well worth the effort.  And while there are dangers one must be aware, the trek can be quite safe as long as the proper safety precautions are observed.  The hike up Half Dome is an adventure waiting to happen.  Have fun and be safe.

 

Phil Steele

Camping Dept.

Store 49, Manteca

Bass Pro Shop

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One Antler On, One Antler Off

It’s getting to be that time of the year. Shed hunting season.

Depending on what type of animal shed you are looking for, and what part of the country you are in will depend on the best time for you to look. The most ideal time of the year to go shed hunting is in the spring. Most animals will start losing & dropping their antlers in late winter and early spring.

The best time to go hunting for sheds is when the sky is overcast. There are fewer glares from other objects, making it easier to spot the sheds.

The best places to look for sheds:

  • South facing slops/hills where the animals bed
  • Areas where the animals feed
  • The animals travel routes and trails
  • Fence & creek crossings

How to dress:

  • It’s best to dress light & dress comfortably. You may be walking/hiking around for long periods of time, so it’s best to have less weight on you.
  • Wear a good pair of hiking boots or shoes.

What else to bring:

  • Water. Since you will be doing a lot of walking you need to be sure to keep yourself hydrated.
  • A good pair of optics. They will help you to glass the area.
  • GPS. By having your GPS, you can mark the locations that you find your sheds to use in the future. Many times you will find the sheds in the same general areas year after year.
  • A pack or frame. You can use this to attach the sheds you find so you don’t have to carry them around.

Shed hunting is a fun way to get out in the outdoors, and a fun way to exercise. There are also endless possibilities once you have your sheds. You can collect them, paint them, mount the sheds, craft with them, and so much more!

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Did You Remember To Pack The.....?

Go ahead and fill in the blank with any fishing, hunting, camping, or travel related item and I’ll bet we can come up with a couple thousand miscellaneous things we wish we wouldn’t have left on the kitchen counter, on the garage floor, or hanging in the closet.

I long ago adopted the mentality that I wouldn’t be the knucklehead wishing he hadn’t forgotten his boots like Stan in “The Deer Hunter,” and thankfully (knock on wood), I haven’t been that guy very many times.  Michael (played by the inimitable Robert De Niro) gave Stan one heck of a tongue lashing because it seems to have been a habit for him.  “Plan Carefully…..Execute Violently” is one of my favorite sayings and it applies pretty well to making trips or outings where resupply is difficult if not impossible.

My solution has always been to pack in phases and have staging areas for all the gear where I can take stock of the equipment to ensure that everything is accounted for.  And this has worked pretty well for the time being but it has gotten more difficult as my wife and I include more and more gear for each trip.  About the only problem we’ve ever encountered with my packing is the unwavering desire to pack more than necessary, which results in mountains of equipment in every corner of the house for about two weeks leading up to the outing.  There has to be a better answer.

Creating a list on the computer that’s flexible enough to be modified as necessary seems to be the way to go for our trips, and so far it seems to be working fairly well.  My wife has created a series of spreadsheets listing the equipment we plan on taking and she’ll print the list, then check off each item as it’s added to the staging piles.  Simple, smart, and efficient if you ask me.  We’ve even gotten to the point of dedicating storage containers and shelf space to the gear related to a specific activity.  It sure limits the need to search the entire house for a sleeping bag, hiking staff, or flats booties when you know right where they should be.  It also makes it easier to determine when gear needs to be replenished or replaced.

So, take it from a obsessive planner and over packer…  Make a list of things you need to gather for your next trip.  It may seem like a “no-brainer,” but how many of us actually follow our own advice?  Now if I could only make a list of flies to take instead of just taking all of them…

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

 

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Spring Cleaning ..... Getting Ready to Fly

trout

Fish that is. It's time. Yes, I know that the thermometer still hovers somewhere in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle and you may need to call in an ice breaker to get on your favorite trout stream, BUT the return of outstanding fly fishing is getting so close we can almost taste it. To ensure you're prepared for that first miracle day when the temperature rises, the water flows, and you have the day off, you need to get things ready now.

If you have been lusting after a new fly rod, now is the time to acquire it. A new rod is a great way to start the season and the perfect excuse to go fishing, as in “I have this new rod I really need to go try out” The same “excuse” works for that rod you got as a gift that has been sitting in the corner taunting you all winter.

If your “old favorite” rod and reel have been waiting patiently since you put them away last fall, they probably could use a little attention. A bit of candle wax rubbed on the male ends of the rod segments will refresh the joints and help that rod fit together snugly.

Having spent the past couple of months wrapped around the reel the line has likely acquired a bit of memory. Find yourself a smooth pole (like a basketball pole, not a tree… too rough). Spool off your line around the pole, grab both ends and walk back to the point where you’re stretching the line; not too taut, just enough to straighten it out. This works best on a reasonably warm day with the line at room temperature.

This is also a good time to inspect and clean that line. If your line is more than a couple of three years old it may be ready to be replaced. Look closely for cracks or breaks in the plastic. Damage such as this will let water into the core and the line will not float very well, if at all it deserves to be retired (I usually relegate my old lines to the rod I use for pond fishing for bluegill and bass). Assuming the line looks to be in decent shape, a good cleaning will ensure it’s ready to go.

I have heard many different perspectives on how to clean and treat a fly line. For some (like me) a simple cleaning with a damp rag and dishwashing soap (a gentle detergent) seems to work just fine. Others, afraid the soap will remove the secret-sauce line coating, wipe off the line with clean water and then treat it with one of the many line conditioners available. Should you have any questions about how to clean and treat your particular line; most line manufacturers have recommendations for their products on their websites. Backing, unless it’s about 100 years old, rarely requires any attention or maintenance (as long as you didn’t put that reel away soaking wet which will cause the backing to acquire a nice coating of mold and mildew).

It is likely that your leader needs refreshed. By the end of the season the last one I used looks pretty sad; short broken sections with wind knots, abrasions, and long pieces of tippet tied on the end (hey, the fish were rising, no time to tie on a new leader!). A fresh new tapered leader will get you started right this year.

Now is also a great time to review your outfit. No, I’m not suggesting you reassess your sense of style, but rather the great load of tools, supplies, and implements of destruction we carry forth each time we head for the water. By the end of the season I seem to have added enough stuff to my kit that when fully outfitted in my waders and chest pack I look like a haz-mat team from the waist down and hardware store from the waist up.

Clearly we need a few things. Extra leaders, some spools of tippet, and the basic tools- nippers, forceps, and a zinger to hang them on- are of course required. Dull nippers are nothing more than a frustration. Some nippers may be sharpened, others should simply be replaced. Forceps last forever. Zingers, however, do tend to wear out and will break at the least convenient and most overlooked times. I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve looked down only to discover my favorite and most needed tools have disappeared on the end of a broken zinger. Give them a good look to see if they are frayed and worn.

Rummage through all the pockets of your vest or pack to see what treasures may be lurking there unnoticed. That granola bar you stashed last July may need refreshing; if you find a Twinkie it’s probably still good to go. Strike indicators, split shot, floatant, and other miscellaneous supplies may need refreshed or discarded depending upon how often you actually used them. A lighter load makes you a more nimble angler.aquaseal

Waders and wading boots usually require a bit of attention. That annoying little leak was probably tolerable last September, but will feel pretty uncomfortable in April’s 50 degree water. Small leaks, either punctures or in the seams, may be repaired with products such as Aquaseal. Simply clean the areas with rubbing alcohol, let it dry, and apply a small amount of AquaSeal. Rubbing in the sealant with a q-tip works well on leaky seams. Larger rips or tears are harder to repair and may necessitate replacement.

Wading boots can take quite a beating. Check-out your laces and replace as necessary. Synthetic laces, not the cotton ones designed for hiking boots, work best and will not deteriorate in the water. If you notice any seams that have separated on your boots, there are still a few cobblers about who can repair them at a reasonable cost (there is a great old-time shoe repair place in Fountain City-they do great work). If the uppers of your boots are in good shape but you’ve worn off the felt soles, these may be refreshed by grinding off the remaining felt and installing felt sole replacements. I’ve done this a couple of times and, if you follow the instructions provided with the repair kit, it works really, really well. For those with studded soles, check to see if the studs are worn or missing. Replacement packs of the screw-in studs are readily available. Then again, it may be time for new boots.

Last but not least, you need to take stock of your supply of flies. Remember what worked best last year?? Do you have enough?? If not...get busy tying. If you don’t tie your own, get to the store sooner verses later...once the fishing turns-on the fly shops tend to run out, at least temporarily, of the most popular flies fairly quickly. You don’t want to hit the water for the first time this spring without your favorite flies.

And there you have it, from rod to reel and head to toe, the things we all should be doing to get ready for the best fishing of the year that’s lurking somewhere just over the horizon. If you have any questions about the state of your equipment or what flies to acquire, just stop by the shop...we’ll be glad to look things over and offer suggestions. While I wouldn't go sit by the stream fully wadered with your fly rod in hand just yet - we do need to live through the rest of February - its close enough we need to READY!

Local fishing continues to be challenging, although tail water fishing has improved of late. The Clinch River has seen some favorable generation schedules on the weekends and we’ve talked with quite a few anglers who planned to take advantage of the opportunities. The Holston has also been fishing well with wader-friendly schedules. Remember you can check the tail water schedules, updated around 6:00PM every evening, by looking at the TVA Website.

The national park waters were bone-numbing cold, but the rains over the past weekend have warmed the streams a bit. Unfortunately, we got a little too much rain and the streams were pretty blown-out. Little River rose from about 200 cubic feet per second to near 4,000 this past Monday (it’s down to 904 right now-still too high to fish). Unable to fish the park waters I headed to one of the stocked catch-and-release streams and managed to catch a few big dumb rainbows...not exactly the same as catching a wild trout, but in February sometimes “ya just gotta catch a fish”, if for no other reason than to keep your spirits up.

 

 

Bass Pro Outdoor World

White River Fly Shop

3629 Outdoor Sportsmans Place

Kodak, TN 37764

865-932-5600

 

 

 

 

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Let's Take A Hike!

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"I bought this shoe to start going on hikes through the local park with my dog, 5 mile trail plus a lab plus uneven terrian makes for a bumpy walk.  I can honestly say this shoe has made a HUGE difference.  At the end of my walk my feet no longer hurt, i throw my Under Armour socks on which moisture wick and help prevent foot fatigue and bam I'm good.  I can enjoy myself with my amazing dog.  We have even starting hiking longer trails and planning vacations to parks instead of me to a fancy hotel, nights on the town, fine dining, and him at the kennel.  I know I was making changes in my life to be healthier and these shoes truely helped. I suggest them to anyone and everyone who wants to go for a hike no matter if its a short hike through your local park or a vacation to a national park. The are awesome!" -Katrina Newport News, Virginia

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Simple Steps with Wes: Twelve Steps

The first Simple Step of 2014 may just be the best one yet. Wes took some time and effort to get everyone prepared for an awesome year. Maybe you made a New Year’s resolution to be more handy or useful in the outdoors, or simply to better prepare yourself for whatever life may throw at you. Well with what Wes whipped (alliteration at its finest right there) up for us, we all can breathe a little easier.

A Survival Twelve Step Program

Some people may look at me and say to themselves “Man that guy as got a problem, he should get some help”.  Well the first step to step to recovery from any problem is admitting you have one.  Well the last place to have a problem is out in the wilderness and off the beaten path so I’m here to help and the best time to turn over a new leaf is at the New Year.  To get your year started out right make a promise to yourself to learn a new skill every month this year that will help make you a better, more efficient, and a self reliant survivalist.

 Here is a list of suggestions that might get the wheels turning.  Some may take a little more time than others and some may be skills you already have.  There is no order they should be done so plan around your own lifestyle and replace proficient skills on the list with ones you want to learn.  Remember knowledge is power, but you cannot replace real life practice with just reading it in a book so get out and get your hands dirty.

1.       Land Navigation:  I would break this down into two categories, GPS & Map and Compass.  GPS units can be extremely helpful and most units are user friendly but getting the most from your GPS unit takes skill.  Learn how to set waypoints, understand what GPS coordinates are, and if you have one, update the map programs as needed.  Even though GPS is great technology fails and if your luck is like mine it will fail when you need it most.  Buy a good Compass and get some area maps of wilderness locations that you frequent.  Learn to ready the topographic maps and understand how to plot courses.  This skill will be worth its weight in gold if you ever run out of batteries in your GPS or “Smart Phone”.

2.       Fire Starting:  I cannot stress it enough how important being able to start a fire is for survival.  Fire covers all spectrums of survival from signaling rescue, to protection from elements and predators, to water purification to food preparation.  It is also a psychological booster in a time of despair.  I like to practice different fire starting methods every time I use my BBQ grill.  I pay attention to my technique and the environmental conditions, especially when it does not work.  The last thing I want to do is use a method in a situation that is not optimal and waist valuable energy and time.

3.       Identifying Wild Edibles: Living off the land is the key to survival.  Knowing what nature has provided is a skill that has to be practiced and photos in a book do not always properly represent the vegetation in your area so get out and see it firsthand.  Knowing what is poisonous is also just as important.

4.       Make a Survival Kit: Investing in a survival kit is like buying car insurance, you hope you don’t need it but it’s better to have it and not need it, than not have it and wish you did.  Keep it small and light weight.  To do this, select items that are multifunctional and cover more than one of the priorities of Survival (Protection, Rescue, Water, and Fire).  In Previous Simple Steps we have covered some great suggestions for survival kit items.  It does not have to be expensive but it does have to be reliable.

5.       Health and Fitness: It is common knowledge that being physically fit will expand your chances of survival.  You are already taking a step in the right direction by being active, getting out and going on a hike.  Start small and make simple changes to your lifestyle.  A very simple three step rule to follow is to never go three days without exercise, workout at least three days a week, and never miss a Monday.  You will be amazed at how effective this is.

6.       Water Treatment and Purification: If you have not already, purchase a water purification system.  I love the Lifestraw, but there are many other systems out there as well.  I also carry a bulk water purification system and tablets.  I would also practice making water still and a rain catch as well.  Water is top priority and without it nothing else matters.

7.       Snares and Traps: Once you have established a water source food is important.  Hunting takes a lot of time and energy you may not have.  If you are alone, there are a lot of tasks that need to be completes so having passive systems set up to catch small game and fish while you attend to other needs is a great skill to know.  The more you can set the better your chances to bag a meal will be.

8.       First Aid: Wilderness first aid, CPR, and any other medical skill training you can get help you and anyone else you may come across.  Having a first aid kit is not enough.  You need to know how to use it.  Take a class from the Red Cross, or another accredited source. This is not a wilderness survival skill this is a LIFE survival skill.

9.       Shelter Building: Shelters keep you safe from the environmental conditions and predators alike.  Identifying shelters nature has provided and having the ability to use materials you find to improve upon those shelters will not only help you from expending unneeded energy but will help you preserve what energy you do have.  Practice making basic shelters that are time and energy efficient.

10.   Search and Rescue: Knowing how search and rescue works and searches will help you understand how to make yourself easier to find.  Having equipment on hand to help signal for help can shorten your time in the wild and raise your chances of survivability.  Getting things such as a whistle, signal mirror and flares are a must have if you want out as quickly as possible.

11.   Communications: Most people today have cell phones but they are not always reliable in backcountry areas.  Carrying a hand held radio or CB (Citizen Ban Radio) are a great asset. Most off road vehicle clubs and hiking clubs use these and by scanning you may be able to contact someone in your area for help.  It is also good to have in case your group gets separated to link back up again.

12.   Weather prediction: Knowing how to read cloud formations and environmental conditions is a great skill to help keep you using Mother Nature to help you survive.  Seeing when a storm may be near can help plain when to set up rain catches, take shelter, and when to make fire and which method would be best.  

I hope that this list shows you that there is a lot more to hiking in the back country than just lacing up some boots, throwing on a pack and taking off.  Plan to be at your best when things are at your worst.  See you on the trails.    

Once again we cannot thank Wes enough for what he does for us. You all take care and be safe. Get more of Wes at his page. Until next time!

Giddy-Up!!

Previous Simple Steps:

Floods

Dehydration

Halloween Edition

Survival Kit

Daylight Estimation

Determining Direction

Eye Protection

Nature Calling

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