Tag Archives: Mother Nature

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.

How to Avoid an Avalanche

Whether you’re hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing through the mountains, avalanches are not to be regarded lightly. We’ve all seen enough video clips and movies to know that they are a force to be reckoned with and one to be avoided at all costs. Even in situations where you played by all the rules and did everything you were supposed to, Mother Nature still sometimes throws a curveball and you might find yourself on a remote snow-covered mountain that’s showing the signs of an avalanche. Here is some information on what exactly you’re up against as well as how to properly prepare yourself.

What Triggers an Avalanche?

Snow crashing over a snowy cliff

An avalanche at Mt. Rainier [Image: environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/]

An avalanche occurs once the weight of the snow is too much and the snowpack fails and collapses under the pressure. It’s hard to determine what the strength of a snowpack will be since the snow grains vary depending on size, density, temperature, airflow, received sunlight, difference in terrain, and more. A lot of avalanches occur naturally either during a storm or when the snowpack changes, such as by partially melting, but can also be triggered by exploring visitors. There are three different types of avalanches to look out for: slab, powder snow, and wet snow.

Slab Avalanche

A hiker trapped in a series of snow chunks breaking away from the snowpack.

A slab avalanche [Image: www.wayneflannavalancheblog.com/2012/01/i-have-this-picture-on-my-wall-in.html]

A slab avalanche occurs when covered layers of weakened snow fracture and collapse. They mostly happen during and up to 24 hours after a storm that leaves 12 inches or more of fresh powder. This new snow overloads the existing layers and creates a break. These avalanches can be huge chunks of snowpack, sometimes spanning an entire mountainside, and typically carry downslope for a long time with the possibility of reaching up to 80 mph. Approximately 90% of avalanche-related deaths are due to slab avalanches—many who find themselves involved in a slab avalanche will rarely escape alive.

Powder Snow Avalanches

An avalanche coming down a mountainside appearing like a cloud.

A powder snow avalanche [Image: www.planat.ch/en/images-details/datum/2011/06/21/schattenbachlawine-walenstadt]

Powder snow avalanches occur with fresh, dry powder and essentially become a snow cloud. These are the largest avalanches to form out of turbulent suspension currents. Typically these avalanches are able to move along flat surfaces for long distances and only make up a small amount of injuries or deaths comparatively.

Wet Snow Avalanches

A smaller avalanche coming down a mountainside made up of clumps of wet snow.

A wet snow avalanche [Image: www.mtavalanche.com/images/10/loose-wet-snow-avalanche?size=_original]

Although wet snow avalanches move slowly, they can take up a large amount of space, can result in serious injury, and end up being pretty destructive leaving trees, boulders, and most of what they come into contact with in their wake. They occur from a loose snow release in snow packs that have a lot of water saturation and are close to melting point. A lot of times these avalanches occur toward the end of winter as the snow is warmed by the longer daytime hours.

How to Prepare for Avalanches

A diagram of a man trapped underneath snow putting an arm above his head and another across his face to create an air pocket.

What to do if trapped in an avalanche [Image: www.artofmanliness.com/2011/12/14/how-to-survive-an-avalanche]

When going on a wintertime adventure on a snowy mountaintop, it’s best to be prepared for even the most extreme situations. Always check avalanche forecasts with park headquarters before heading out for a trip. At the bare minimum, you should bring a shovel, beacon, and probe with you. Beacons (or avalanche transceivers) are important because they can receive signals from other devices to help locate buried victims. A probe is used to dive into the snow and find a buried victim and works especially well when coupled with a beacon. Avalanche airbags and Avalungs are fantastic items that make it so a buried person has a higher chance of surviving and being rescued.

Sometimes even the most diligent and prepared hiker, skier, or snowboarder will hear the terrifying creaks that signify an avalanche. The first thing you’ll want to do is get off the breaking slab as quickly as possible by moving to the side. Snowmobilers are sometimes able to crank the speed and outrace a broken slab. If unable to escape the mass of traveling snow, try to grab onto a sturdy object such as a tree or rock instead. Humans are denser than other debris and will sink faster in the snowpack. Once the snow settles, it refreezes and makes it nearly impossible to move. Throwing a hand above the snowpack and making room in front of your face are the most important things to do if you find yourself trapped. Some claim that spitting will help you determine which way is up or that swimming will get you away from a traveling snowpack quicker, but there is no proof that either actually works. The longer a victim is submerged under the snow, the less chance they have of surviving the incident (usually being buried for more than 15 minutes leads to hypothermia and a lower chance of survival).

Hopefully, this article gave you some new information and makes you feel a bit more prepared for any winter journeys you may be planning. Download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to find a park to explore near you!

Animal Prints, Ranked

Nature produces beautiful works of art. From the awe-inspiring sunsets to the alien-like creatures that swim in our oceans, Mother Nature is the most original artist of them all. In fact, animal prints are so unique, they’ve made their way into mainstream fashion.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 15 animals prints in nature. We ranked the list based on natural beauty and how well the design has impacted the fashion world. Do you agree with our list?

15. Giraffe

animal prints

Image: www.upload.wikimedia.org

Giraffes are some of the most beautiful creatures on Earth, but when it comes to wearing the design, it’s usually a no-go. For some reason, giraffe design never caught on in the mainstream fashion world, which is odd because they resemble cow patterns, but a different color.

14. Deer

animal prints

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/daveward

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: “But Bambi was so cute.” Well, just like all children, once they grow up, looks fade. Of course deer fur is cute, but doesn’t translate well into any other medium.

13. Alligator

animal prints

Image: www.images.1233.tw/alligator-skin

Anything is a sign of luxury when it’s worn for fashion, but these not so gentile giant lizards aren’t necessarily nature’s beauty queens. That’s not to say they’re leathery skin isn’t a sight for sore eyes.

12. White Tiger 

animal prints

Image: www.ecx.images-amazon.com

White tigers are one of the most beautiful animals of all time. Did you know that white tigers are not true albinos? They are just a pigmentation variety of the usual Bengal tiger coat.

11. Leopard                   

animal prints

Image: www.glogster.com

Lots of people mix up leopards and jaguars. Leopard animal prints are less complicated than jaguar animal prints. Jaguar’s fur design consists of larger, less round circles. Leopards sports are golden brown spots inside of black, circular spots.

10. Dalmatian

animal prints

Image: www.etsy.com

We all know one person who would rank Dalmatians number one on this list. Coming in at no. 10 is the most well-known dog print in the world. These precious pooches sure do boast an interesting design for canines.

9. Tiger

animal prints

Image: www.brinvy.biz

Tigers are the largest, and thanks to their orange fur with black stripes, the most recognizable of the cat species.

8. Cheetah

animal prints

Image: www.wallpho.com

Cheetah prints are more clean cut than the previous two animals. The spots are more pronounced and organized.

7. Panther

animal prints

Image: www.thefabricexchange.com

Black is always chic, yet classic. Enough said. 

6. Ladybug

animal prints

Image: www.hdtiger.mobi/ladybug-photos

Not to be outdone, an insect jumps in at no. 6. Ladybugs may be small, but their red and black print makes them one of the most recognizable insects in the world.

5. Cow             

animal prints

Image: www.i.jootix.com

Cows’ signature black blotches make for a sleek design both on clothing and in nature.

4. Peacock

animal prints

Image: www.michael–fitzsimmons.deviantart.com

EVERYONE loves peacocks. Fun Fact: Did you know only males are peacocks, while females are called peahens?

3. Jaguar

animal prints

Image: www.gde-fon.com

Jaguar print comes in at no. 3 on our animal prints list. That’s only because if it’s not worn subtly, it can be considered tacky. But, do you know who wears it perfectly? Jaguars!

2. Zebra

animal prints

Image: www.//th02.deviantart.net

Are zebras black with white stripes or white with black stripes. It was commonly believed they were white with black stripes because their underbellies were white, but now science suggest they are black because that’s their color at their last embryonic stage.

1. Snake

animal prints

Image: www.gallsource.com

Taking the top spot are nature’s slithering serpents. Why? Snake skin designs are the most versatile in the animal kingdom in that they come in all colors and patterns. Snake skin designs are also extremely popular in the fashion world. They have brilliant yellows, bright oranges and even black.

 

10 Nature Quotes For Summer

After a horrid, freezing winter with subzero temperatures and never-ending overcasts, the sun has finally graced us all with its beautiful rays of light. Stop telling Mother Nature to talk to the hand because summer is definitely here. Break out the sunscreen and sunglasses… it’s time to become reacquainted with the great outdoors. Summer ‘tis the season for many state park activities such as picnicking, camping, hiking and swimming. If you’ve never tried GeoCaching or our very own GPS Tours, you definitely should this summer. To get you in the mood (although we’re sure you don’t need anymore encouragement at this point), we’ll supply you with some of the best nature quotes about summertime.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Ruskin

nature photos

Image: www.wallpapers76.com

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

nature quotes

Image: www.faithxfortune.tumblr.com

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie

nature quotes

Image: www.earthlycreations.tumblr.com

“Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.” – Osho

nature photos

Image: www.foresity.tumblr.com

“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” – Henry David Thoreau

nature quotes

Image: www.simonrobert.files.wordpress.com

“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” – Charles A. Lindbergh

nature quotes

Image: www.spokanefavs.com

“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth

nature quotes

Image: www.apodyoopsis.tumblr.com

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” –  Sylvia Plath

nature quotes

Image: www.avirginsbeauty.com

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
– William Shakespeare

nature quotes

Image: www.media.paperblog.fr

Masters of Disguise: The Best of Animal Mimicry

No one is sure what type of animal this mimic octopus is mimicking. [Image: www.cfrieds.tumblr.com]

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then animal mimicry is the highest. Mother Nature took camouflage to the next level with mimicry. In order to survive in this dog-eat-dog bird-eat-bug world, some creatures have evolved the ability to appear as other, more deadly creatures in a race for survival of the fittest. In this article, we’ll discuss animal mimicry that involves appearance and sound. So next time you are out there in the woods, take a second look. Things aren’t always what they appear to be!

Mimic Octopus

The mimic octopus wasn’t discovered until 1998, probably because it was always disguised as some other species. The mimic octopus has the ability to seemingly change its look to resemble anything in its environment, especially venomous animals such as sea snakes, lion fish and jellyfish. This octopus uses animal mimicry to change its skin’s tone, shape and texture. So far, it’s the only known animal in the world that can impersonate such a wide variety of creatures. But, not to be outdone, the jawfish has the ability to mimic the mimic octopus that mimics fish. That’s a story for another time.

Lyrebird 

Lyrebirds are evolution at its best. These ground-dwelling birds are famous for their ability to mimic virtually any sound — manmade or found in nature. Lyrebirds have three pairs of syringeal muscles (other songbirds have four), so it’s believed that it is this differentiation that allows them this stunning mimicking ability, although it is not yet known if this type of animal mimicry is a defensive or offensive mechanism or why exactly they mimic certain sounds.

Lyrebirds were introduced to the mainstream in David Attenborough’s Life of Birds. In this documentary, one can see a lyrebird mimicking the sounds of chainsaws and camera clicks. Some have said this is because two of the birds were held in captivity around humans, therefore, they had lots of time to mimic manmade sounds, but still, it’s an impressive gift to have for any animal to have.

Mexican Milk Snake

If you could be any other animal, wouldn’t you want to be a venomous one? That’s what the Mexican milk snake decided to do. This nonvenomous species of milk snake boasts similar color patterns as the deadly coral snake. They grow from 24 to 30 inches and can be found in Texas and northeastern Mexico. If you ever find yourself confronted by one, just remember old adage, “Red on yellow, you’re a dead fellow. Red on black,  you’re all right, Jack.”

animal mimicry

Bottom: Texas Coral Snake [Image: http://ferreneelee[er/wordpress.com] Top: Mexican Milk Snake [Image: www.pphotography-blog.blogspot.com]

Katydids

Katydids, also called leaf bugs, are the embodiment of mimicry in every sense. There are more than 6,000 species of katydids in the world. They’re sometimes mistakenly identified as grasshoppers, but are more closely related to crickets. They’re mostly found in tropical areas such as the rainforest, but more than 100 species reside in the United States. Katydids live, you guessed it, on trees, bushes and in grass. Their resemblance to leaves helps avoid being eaten by predators such as birds, bats, spiders and frogs.

animal mimicry

Image: www.thefeaturedcreature.com

Top 6 Nature Quotes

Summer’s a perfect time to cozy up to Mother Nature. The weather’s nice, the grass is green, the ocean’s inviting, and what better way is there to enjoy a weekend than by hiking through tree-lined trails? (None, is the answer. There is no better way!) Just thinking about all the fabulous things we can do outdoors in the summer makes us want to kick up our heels and get out there. But if you don’t feel the same way, just check out of some of these beautiful quotes. They may just change your mind.

Also, we previously did a 9 Best Nature Quotes of All Time post, and we liked it so much, we thought we’d give you a part two.

“The earth has music for those who listen.” —George Santayana

tree-lined trail

Image: www.adore-theworld.tumblr.com

“Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

trees and stars

Image: omg-jilliannc-posts.tumblr.com

 

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ―Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

 

waterfall wilderness

Image: weheartit.com

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”―Frank Lloyd Wright

pink sun

Image: centerofmyuniverse.tumblr.com

A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.―Michael Pollan, Second Nature

sunset weeds

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/repomonkey/8201757910/in/photostream/

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”―Walt Whitman

grass

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/vanillatwilight/5168121977/

What are your favorite nature quotes? Let us know in the comments!

 

What’s Love Got To Do With It? Weird Animal Mating Habits (VIDEO)

Let’s talk about reproduction in animals. We’re talking about really weird mating habits only Mother Nature herself could’ve created.

Mating habits in animals are highly evolved to be as efficient as possible. If you thought you had tricks up your sleeve, try making your body parts glow in the dark while hanging upside down, twirling with your lover. This is a list of some of the most bizarre mating habits found in the animal kingdom. Proceed with caution.

Leopard Slugs

Slug reproduction may sound a bit repulsive, but it’s actually very intriguing. Lots of chemical processes are involved in their acrobatic love dance, including bioluminescent body parts. This is possibly one of the coolest mating habits in the animal kingdom.

 

Garter Snakes

It’s been said it takes two to tango. With red-sided garter snakes, it takes about 25 to get the job done. During mating season, female snakes give off a pheromone that attracts every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the land. This competition forms what is called a snake ball, where the male snakes try their darnedest to inseminate the female.

 

Praying Mantises

It’s the classic love story: Boy meets girl. Boy woos girl. Girl then eats boy alive. No, we’re not talking about Kim and Kanye: this is the story of the praying mantis. After copulation, the female will do a 180 and eat the male alive. Scientists believe this is not because the female is a heartless shrew, but because the male is the nearest source of nutrients. She’s with children now, so it’s her duty to make sure she is well fed for her babies, even if that means biting the head that helped create the child.

 

Mussels                                                        

The way mussels work is evolution at its best. This has more to do with the distribution of offspring than actual reproduction, but it was too good to leave off the list. These blind creatures somehow evolved to grow a fish-like lure to attract certain types of fish such as largemouth bass. Once the largemouth bass goes for the bait, the mussel shoots its young into the mouth and on the gills of the fish. When the mussels are matured, they fall off and begin their independent lives.