Tag Archives: hiking

A Visit to Milltown State Park

Back in November we talked about Milltown State Park in Missoula, Montana, and how a state park is made. A short while ago, we paid a visit to Milltown to see how it is shaping up.

Good sky!

Seems fair to say that, though still not fully open, the park and its overlook certainly have merit.

During this visit on a resplendent June weekday, there were relatively few others at the park, and most of those were Montana Conservation Corps workers who were focused on a project off the paved overlook walkway. The overlook is the focal point of the park’s facilities, and it’s no small wonder why.

Good day for readin' outside.

The view of some of the mountains visible at the park foregrounded by interpretive materials and the railing that lines the Milltown State Park Overlook.

The park’s interpretive material details the history of the river confluence and the people who depended on its waters. It also elaborates on the building of the Milltown Dam in 1908, as well as the massive flood that buried heavy metals, arsenic, and other mining waste at the base of the dam, months after it was constructed. Some of the best information details the incredible effort it took to remove the dam and poisonous sediments, and restore the confluence to the Place of Big Bull Trout, as it is traditionally known to the Salish, who fished the confluence long before pioneers and businessmen settled and dammed it up.

A gorgeous, sunny day for river viewing.

The main overlook showcases the open, sweeping grandeur of the restored confluence of the Clark Fork River.

In addition to the overlook, there is a two-table picnic area and trails that amble into the wooded hills that frame the confluence. In all, the views from the overlook are expansive; the views from the trail are in touch with the quiet wooded parts of western Montana, shaded by large and often young conifers. The trail extends about two miles down, and deeper into the park toward the river.

Dirt path through pines!

The unpaved trail extends through the trees and down toward the river. It shoots cleanly off the paved pathway to the overlook.

Milltown State Park, though still building toward its total fruition, is a marvel of modern habitat and environmental rehabilitation. Through the hard work and perseverance of park staff, community members and organizations, volunteers, and local tribal leadership in the face of local, state and federal-level hurdles, the confluence has become a wonderful vista, well worth the jot from Interstate 90. Milltown is not just beautiful and improving all the time, but represents wholesomeness achievable to all of us, if we endeavor for the good of future generations, and the health of our natural resources.

Speaking of natural resources, there’s no time like the present to get out and enjoy them! Pocket Ranger® mobile apps make trip planning easy, and app features make exploring the parks you visit a delight.

Thermacell® is for Nature Lovers

Now that summer is in full swing, most of us want and try to be outside as much as possible. The best time to do that is in the morning and in the evening when the sun is least harsh and the heat most bearable. Even though that’s also the time mosquitoes are out in force.

Worst!

Swarms of mosquitoes gather to talk strategy near waterbodies and shallow pools across the country. [Image: pixabay.com]

Thankfully, we have our trusty Thermacell® appliances! We’ve been given back not just a 15’ x 15’ bubble of mosquito-resistant bliss, but the freedom to work in our yards or gardens, enjoy the onset of dusk from our back porches, perch in a tree stand, relax with a rod and reel, and pitch a tent without the constant buzzing and biting we might otherwise encounter.

“How?” you might ask. We’ve addressed that here. Thermacell® has made a name for itself providing the best in non-topical mosquito repellents. Through the effectiveness of simple design and allethrin, the devices make the air—the very way mosquitoes sense and alight on you—work to their benefit. The mosquitoes are driven off before they can make a meal of you and others within the device’s “mosquito protection zone.”

"Ah, this is the best!"

“Not being eaten alive by mosquitoes is my favorite!” “Ha ha, me too!!” [Image: www.wideopenspaces.com]

It’s often said that the best defense is a good offense, and there are researchers who are looking at eradicating (certain disease-carrying) mosquito species, while exploring the ethics and deeper consequences of manipulating ecology. But consider for a moment that the best defense against mosquito-borne discomfort and illness is just the best defense. Thermacell®’s “mosquito protection zone” is 98% effective in repelling those pesky flying, biting insects. Oh, and you don’t need an advanced degree in biology to fire it up!

Thermacell® Gets You Outside

If you’re a hunter, angler, camper, hiker or someone who generally likes spending time outdoors, Thermacell® appliances allow you to put your energies into the tasks and leisure activities you stepped outside to enjoy. And nature lovers can enjoy the sweet smell of their surroundings, rather than smelly DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus lotions or sprays, or ineffective citronella candles or torches. You can obtain one at many sporting goods stores, or directly from www.thermacell.com, where you’ll also find more information about the company’s products and refills, as well as user reviews!

Thermacell logo.

[Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Finally, if you’re looking for new places to use your Thermacell® appliance, head on over to your phone’s app store, download your state’s Pocket Ranger® mobile app, and start exploring!

National Get Outdoors Day

Want an excuse to have an outdoor adventure? Well, to be honest, you really don’t need an excuse—if anything, you probably need a reason not to get out there instead! Whether you’re looking for a reason or an excuse, though, it is now here in the form of National Get Outdoors Day.

Saturday, June 11 is this year’s National Get Outdoors Day, and you can partake in some amazing outdoor adventures at a local state or national park. Here are just some of specific events that you can enjoy with your loved ones!

People outdoors.

It’s time to explore the great outdoors! [Image: http://theadventureblog.blogspot.com/]

Upper Kern Cleanup, California

The Sequoia Recreation, which is a division of the California Land Management within the U.S. Forest Service, meets every year on the second weekend of June (this year, they’ll be meeting on June 11) to join together and clean the Upper Kern area. The Kern River is a valuable resource as a clean and safe waterway, and volunteers work relentlessly each year to ensure that its remains as such.

Learn more information here.

Get Outdoors Family Fishing Picnic, Pennsylvania

Bring your whole family out for a relaxing fishing trip on Sunday, June 12 at the Tussey Mountain Pond. They’ll provide the tackle for anyone who wants to join in on this idyllic Sunday afternoon. So bring your rods and see what you can hook!

Learn more information here.

Kid in a log.

Peek-a-boo! [Image: http://www.getoutdoorscolorado.org/]

Loop Lake Shelbyville Bike Ride, Illinois

If you’re searching for an end of spring bike-venture, then look no further than Loop Lake Shelbyville ride! There are three options for cyclists of all levels: a short 22-mile ride, a medium length 46-miles, and a longer 65-mile trek. So whether this is your first time around the lake, so to speak, or you’re a seasoned bike tourer, this is a great way to get outside and enjoy yourself!

Learn more information here.

Family biking.

Nothing like a family bike ride! [Image: https://totalwomenscycling.com/]

Get Outdoors Adventure Awaits Expo, Washington

Looking to try a new outdoor activity? Then look no further than the National Get Outdoors Day Outdoor Expo at Millersylvania State Park on June 11! It’s a fun day for the whole family, filled with prizes, demos, kid activities, and the chance to learn about (or even try!) a new outdoor activity. It’s the perfect place to be if you’re looking to fill your summer up with outdoor fun.

Learn more information here.

This is just a sample of all the many parks that will be holding events this weekend for National Get Outdoors Day. You can find more participating areas here. And before you go, don’t forget to make sure you download your state’s Pocket Ranger® mobile app so you can make the best of your adventure. Happy travels!

Three Beautiful Lighthouses to Visit this Year

Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired

Though in many cases lighthouses are no longer a necessity when it comes to travel by sea, they’re still fascinating landmarks and beacons to behold. Many have important histories and meanings, while others are significant simply because they’re beautiful sights to take in. While some coastal landscapes boast a high concentration of lighthouses, to me there are three that stand out as must-visit destinations in the warmer weather to come.

Punta Gorda Lighthouse, King Range National Conservation Area, California

From the beautiful lighthouses blog; view of Punta Gorda Lighthouse

Image: Katie Levy

Nestled above a sandy beach and below rolling hills and mountains, the tiny abandoned Punta Gorda Lighthouse serves as a landmark for Lost Coast Trail backpackers. It’s also a perfect day-hiking destination for those willing to walk three miles one-way in the sand on one of California’s most remote stretches of coastal trail and also willing to pay close attention to tide tables.

Punta Gorda was once dubbed “the Alcatraz of Lighthouses” because of its inaccessibility and those sent there to operate it. Originally consisting of three two-story dwellings, a signal house, a concrete light building with a curved iron stairway, and more, the lighthouse was abandoned in 1951 in favor of an off-shore beacon. Punta Gorda has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976, and both the inaccessibility and history make it well-worth the visit.

Friends and I paid a visit to Punta Gorda on a backpacking trip along the Lost Coast Trail, and our stop there made for some incredible memories. We climbed up what’s left of the lighthouse to hold court over the harbor seals basking in the sun on the beach, listened to the waves crash below, and saw miles of trail we’d covered already, along with what was to come. It’s a pretty special place.

Visit the BLM website for more information.

Bass Harbor Head Light, Acadia National Park, Maine

From the beautiful lighthouses blog; view of Bass Harbor

Image: Katie Levy

Standing tall above Bass Harbor’s rocky coastline within Acadia National Park, the Bass Harbor Head Light has served as a beacon for travelers since the late 1800s. Today it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, but remains active and serves as a private residence for a local Coast Guard member and his family.

On a trip to Acadia last summer, I had the lighthouse at the top of my must-visit landmarks list as a result of the number of stunning photos I’d seen. Unlike the remote Punta Gorda lighthouse, Acadia’s Bass Harbor Head Light is accessible via short concrete path from a small parking lot. A short walk takes visitors from the comforts of their vehicles to within inches of Maine’s rugged coastline. Friends and I stopped there after a long day of hiking, and despite not having to work too hard to get there, the Bass Harbor Head Light was a worthwhile visit.

Visit the National Park Service website for more information, and click here and here for some of my favorite hikes in Acadia.

Tibbets Point Lighthouse, Cape Vincent, New York

From the beautiful lighthouses blog; view of Tibbetts Point

Image: Katie Levy

I was lucky enough to spend many a summer during my formative years in the Thousand Islands region of New York. The Thousand Islands—a collection of close to 2,000 islands in the St. Lawrence River straddling the border between the United States and Canada—is also home to a number of big, beautiful lighthouses. My favorite? The lighthouse at Tibbetts Point in Cape Vincent, New York.

The Tibbetts Point Lighthouse was built in 1827, and in the 1990s, the lighthouse was formally acquired by the town from the Department of the Interior. I have fond memories of visiting the visitors center as a child, which was built in 1993. Over the past nearly two decades, the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse Society funded a series of renovations both inside and outside of the lighthouse.

The Tibbetts Point Lighthouse is particularly special because it marks the point where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, and it’s one of the best places to watch the sun set in that part of the state, in my humble opinion!

Visit the town’s website for more information.

There are so many beautiful lighthouses to visit around the country and around the world! Have you been to any of these? What others would you say are must-visit lighthouses, and why?

Let Thermacell Up Your Mosquito-Repellent Game

As avid outdoors people, who hate being mosquito candy, we at Pocket Ranger® are pleased to announce our new sponsor, Thermacell®!

Thermacell logo.

Image: www.thermacell.com/

Thermacell is, of course, an incredible mosquito-repelling technology that bears a 98 percent effectiveness rating. It is used by governmental agencies, on military bases, and by civilians in their yards and in swamps, meadows, and any outdoor space across the U.S. where mosquitos lurk. The product is vetted and championed by campers, hunters, hikers, boaters, and anyone else who’s used it where flying, biting insects attempt to invade our personal space.

Camper with mosquito-repellent lantern.

This camper, right in the thick of the mosquito’s native habitat, opens his tent flap wide. Why? Because of those awesome Thermacell® mosquito-repelling lanterns he’s using to clearly excellent effect! [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Thermacell’s Patio and Outdoor Lanterns, Torches, and “Repeller” Appliances all create the same noninvasive and virtually odor-free area of protection for stationary uses and mobile ones. “How does this work?” you might ask. Well, the (easily-researched) secret ingredient in Thermacell’s mosquito repellent is allethrin, a synthetic form of the insecticide that occurs naturally in chrysanthemums. Allethrin is essentially odorless and works in Thermacell devices through butane-operated diffusion. There’s no oily topical application or the usual bug spray scent, and the effect covers anyone within its 15’ x 15’ area of protection.

Hikers that AREN'T itchy!

Look at these guys! Taking a placid, dimly lit walk without worrying about the meal that would no doubt be their exposed arms and calves, were it not for that shining Thermacell lantern! [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

The lanterns and torches have a convenient base or attach easily to a pole while emanating enough light to allow one to rummage through a fishing tackle or play a card game. The repeller devices easily attach to belts, backpacks, or a pocket for portable and hands-free protection against the bugs that pester even the best prepared hikers among us. If you’re changing the oil in your car, relaxing with friends around a bonfire, spending your day as a professional or recreational landscaper/gardener, or are just anyone who enjoys being outside as much as we do, this is the device for you. No more hovering pests looking to make a meal of you!

Grow food, don't BE food!

Here’s a representation (with some graphic embellishment) of how nice it can be to grow food and not BE food. Note: The svelte device working hard to keep the gardener’s hands free to work their green-thumbed magic! [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Perhaps best of all, each of the repellent devices is designed to be lightweight and portable and are powered by AA batteries. So you don’t have to worry about cords or charging, and least of all, wrangling bulky lighting gear and bug spray out to your favorite campsite, tree stand, or fishing spot. It’s all compact and conveniently located within a single device!

To hunt and not be hunted.

Fun fact: Thermacell’s Earth Scent Mosquito Repeller is the only butane-operated mosquito repellent that doubles as a mask for human scent, which is as good a combination a hunter could hope for to keep the focus on hunting rather than being hunted. [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

If you think we’re stoked about our new sponsor, you’re right! We’re all about getting outside and doing what we love, and this device definitely adds to the quality of outdoor adventure. If you’re curious, you can find out more about this wonderful mosquito-repellent technology by visiting the Thermacell website here. You’ll learn about how the devices work, what they’re guarding against, and how to get your hands on your very own Lantern, Repeller, or Torch! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to use your favorite Pocket Ranger mobile apps to plan a perfect trip to give those mosquito repellers a whirl!

An Ode to Nature

With the passing of Earth Day, we’ve become introspective, and our appreciation for this beautiful world around us has flourished. We look around and marvel at Mother Nature, and especially so as trees bloom and spring wraps us in its warm embrace. So here’s to you, Earth. This post’s for you and all that you do for us on our good days (and even the bad).

Mother Nature.

Mother Nature, you crazy beautiful. [Image: http://hdwallpaperbackgrounds.net/]

Thank you for supplying us with your far-reaching and entrancing beauty.

Some days when life feels difficult or a day just seems to drag on, the best medicine tends to be a trip outdoors. With the sun warming our faces, the rain patting us on the back, or the breeze gently encouraging us along, it’s easy to find some kind of calming reassurance outside.

Thank you for introducing us to plenty of fun creatures to look upon (but not touch!).

Bear mother and cubs.

Peek-a-boo. [Image: http://www.shanemcdermottphotography.com/]

The wildlife around us is astounding—look up, look down, look left, look right, and you’re sure to see something wriggling about. On top of all the glorious animals we come across in our travels, we also get to see plenty of breathtaking wildflowers and trees. Living, breathing, and with tops pointed up toward the sun, it’s easy to admire the magnificent flora covering our world.

Thank you for making it so easy to explore your seemingly endless acres.

Whether it’s by hiking to new heights, swimming to dark depths, camping out under the stars, climbing a mountain on two wheels, or scaling a rocky surface, there’s so many ways to explore in the great outdoors. If you see something that intrigues you, there’s probably a unique way that you can become acquainted with it.

Man swimming near underwater bench.

There’s much to discover out there. [Image: http://www.agapevoyage.com/]

With so much around us to take in, it feels like there’s really no reason to not spend every free moment outside! If you’re interested in helping to preserve this beautiful world of ours, look into volunteering opportunities in a state or national park near you. Then make sure you bring our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps with you to enhance your outdoor experience.

Volksmarching: A Sport for the People

On your mark! Get set! Go…at the pace that feels right for you! Today we’re all about a non-race where no one loses, everybody wins, and all you have to do is put your best foot forward and then the other one, and so on. Volkssporting, as the American Volkssporting Association puts it, “is an international sports phenomenon that promotes personal physical fitness and good health by providing fun-filled, safe exercise in a stress-free environment through self-paced walks and hikes, bike rides, swims, and in some regions, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.” A genuine choose-your-own-pace adventure, volkssporting’s most popular iteration is called volksmarching, where participants are tasked with hiking 6.2-miles (10km) of pre-marked paths.

[Image: www.ava.org]

A sport with no room for agism. All you need is a reasonable sense of humor and maybe a really emphatic “ta-da!” pose. [Image: www.ava.org/]

Volksmarching is characterized by flexible start times for events and lengths that can vary to accommodate participants of diverse abilities to complete the course. Hundreds of thousands of folks have participated in organized volksmarches in the last couple of years, many of them matured in years or mentality beyond the need to come in first or otherwise exert their prowess over their peers. Sounds amazing, right? Here are a few parks where the spirit of the “fun, fitness, [and] friendship” aspects of volksmarch is alive.

[Image: www.allblackhills.com]

This photo shows some of the turnout for the annual Crazy Horse Monument Volksmarch, just about 11 miles from Custer State Park. [Image: www.allblackhills.com/]

Custer State Park, South Dakota

At Custer State Park in South Dakota, the Seasonal Volksmarch Trail is open mid-May to September 30 annually. Volksmarchers at the park can register between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to hike the trail. After paying a small fee, those who complete the course are rewarded with a stamp in their distance-keeping book, called a “credit,” and for an extra dollar, a “B Award,” or a medallion from a previous year’s event. Not to mention a sense of accomplishment!

Hot Springs State Park, Wyoming

Hot Springs State Park has 6.2 miles of universally accessible trails and hiking trails, which, you may have noticed, is precisely the length needed for volksmarching. The accessibility of the trails makes Hot Springs an exceptionally fine park to enjoy the sights that come with a good walk in the West. You can access views of the Big Horn River and accompanying mineral terrace, a side effect of the hot spring that gives the park its name. The hot spring, by the way, is accessible at the park-maintained bathhouse and soaking in its free 104 degree pool is an outstanding way to relax after your volksmarch.

Volkssporting is more about enjoying exercise and nature, and where better to enjoy that than along the Atlantic coast? [Image: www.floridastateparks.org]

Volksmarching is more about enjoying exercise and nature, and where better to enjoy that than along the Atlantic coast? [Image: www.floridastateparks.org/]

Sebastian Inlet State Park, Florida

Sebastian Inlet State Park is an exceptional park because it offers access to all the best things that Florida’s excellent state park system is known for: Watersport recreation, camping, fishing, biking with sea and sand abounding in an ecologically diverse and sensorial, vibrant setting. All this knitted in with the Volksport Trail, 6.2 miles on the park’s varying terrain and with elements of all its best scenery. Whether you’re ready to sprint the whole course or looking to take your time at it, you’ll have a great time at Sebastian Inlet.

We talk a lot about sports and activities that are geared toward individuals who maybe don’t have to wonder as often about the types of materials that make up a park’s trails or if there is an accessible restroom with transfer bars. But state and national parks (and indeed, the wonders of nature!) are for everyone, regardless of age or mobility. Volksmarching gets to the heart of the idea that it’s less about speed and competition and more about the journey and the companions we take or meet along the way.

For more on this and other activities where you might enjoy some fun, fitness, and friendship, download a Pocket Ranger® mobile app and find a park to stretch your legs near you.