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Monthly Archives: July 2015


Appalachian Trail: North Adams to Great Barrington Massachusetts

Date: July 14-21

Trip length: Four days of hiking along with three days of travel on a Greyhound Bus.

Conditions: 70-90 degrees during the day accompanied by slight breezes and plenty of shade. Rain storms during one day and two nights. Temperatures at night ranged from low 40s to mid 60s depending on elevation.

Distance: 63.6 miles.

Distance from Cincinnati: North Adams is an eleven and a half hour drive.mtgrey-summit

Directions: I71 N – I271 N – I90 E – NY 7 E – NY 2 E – Phelps Ave in North Adams Mass.
The trail head is on the left side of Phelps Ave. up the hill past the elementary school.

Water: Sources are plentiful along this stretch. I was able to fill up multiple times a day while only carrying one liter at a time. All sources must be filtered but water from town was often available. The AWOL AT Guide provides all specific locations for water sources.

Highlights: Mt. Greylock, The Cobbles, St. Mary of the Assumption Church Hostel, Upper Goose Pond Cabin, Great Barrington, Tom Levardi’s house in Dalton, and the North Bound Hikers.

Levardi House

 

 

 

 

 

Description: Lying in the heart of New England, the Massachusetts section of the Appalachian Trail is highly developed. Every day you cross multiple roads and walk through towns such as North Adams, Cheshire, and Dalton. Opportunities to hitch into towns just a few miles off trail are plentiful. The terrain varies from steep climbs to astonishingly flat.

Day One: (14.7 miles) Hiking this section south bound (SOBO) means your first day will spent climbing over Massachusetts highest peak, Mt. Greylock, which stands at 3,491 ft. The climb is about 6 miles to the peak from the trail head in North Adams. Over those 6 miles you ascend 2800 feet with the bulk of that elevation gain achieved in the first stmarythree miles. Once you summit the climb down leads you into the town of Cheshire. St. Mary of the Assumption church allows hikers to stay in two rooms at the rear of the building. AC is provided in the building as well as restrooms and water. The church accepts donations for the generous service they provide.

Day Two: (15.2 miles) Leaving Cheshire you face some pretty casual terrain. Although the elevation profile shows rolling hills and flat terrain, beware that the trail is full of rocks and roots to dodge as you plod along. The A.T. winds it’s ways straight through the town of Dalton where Tom Levardi lives. Tom has been allowing hikers to grab water and even camp at his house for years. Levardi House.jpg2Many hikers congregate at his house to relax and enjoy good conversation. Ask him about borrowing a bike so you can ride to Angelina’s Sub Shop for their Steak Bomb Overload. But watch out you might not want to move for the rest of the day if you eat the whole thing! If you can muster the energy though, Kay Wood shelter is three miles up hill outside of town. There are small stealth camp sites by the streams seven and a half miles south of Dalton.

Day Three: (14.7 miles) All the way to Upper Goose Pond Cabin the trail is incredibly flat. This is a very relaxed day that ends at one of the best shelters along the A.T. The Cabin is half of a mile off the trail but well worth the trek. The caretakers at Upper Goose serve pancakes and coffee for breakfast every morning. Canoes are also provided at the cabin to explore Upper Goose Pond which has a cool little island out in the middle of the pond. The cabin is a big attraction for hikers so if you choose to stay, the likelihood of you running into thru hikers is very high. The goosecabin provides another great place for conversation and a taste of thru hiking culture.

Day Four: (19.0 miles) Between Upper Goose Pond and MA 23 (the road you take to hitch into Great Barrington) the trail picks up in elevation gain. You climb over a few hills including Mt. Wilcox which has three shelter options. Views are sparse and the sounds of the woods will be your entertainment for the day. Apart from the beauty of the woods there isn’t much to see but Great Barrington is a fantastic town! Restaurants such as the Neighborhood Diner, Siam Square, and the Gypsy Joint are great places to have a meal while celebrating the end of your section.  Great Barrington has shuttle services that can take you to The Cookie Lady on Washington Mtn Rd. From there The Cookie Lady can shuttle you back to North Adams to grab your car and head home. Massachusetts

 

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Mt. Rogers Loop

 

Trip Report

Mt. Rogers Loop – Virginia

Trip report by Kayla “Clover” McKinney.

 

Date: Mid-May 2015

Conditions: Warm, sunny, breezy, mid-70sF during day, mid-50’s at night, some rain at night.

Trip Length: 3 days, 2 nights

Mileage: 18.1 miles

Highlights: Wild ponies, tallest point in Virginia, beautiful mountain vistas, Appalachian Trail, rhododendron forests.

Distance from Cincinnati: ~6 hours by vehicle

Directions: I-81 S, exit 45 in Marion, head south on VA 16, passing by the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area Visitor Center in 6.1 miles. Continue for another 11.2 miles to Troutdale, then turn right onto VA 603. The Trail Head parking is identified by a small brown sign on the right 5.7 miles down (pictured below.) This sign is easy to miss, so watch your odometer.

sign

Description: The beauty of southern Virginia cannot be easily summarized in words and on this hike, you get not only that, but views into the ridges of North Carolina as well. This hike begins with almost immediate elevation gain as you follow the Mt. Rogers Trail up to the ridge line where it meets up with the AT. Keep trucking! It will be worth it, believe me. As you crest the ridge, the world below opens up and the rest of the hike is stunning view after stunning view of the sparsely populated, rolling landscape. Summit Mt. Rogers and you’ve reached Virginia’s highest point at 5,729 feet. You will run into groups of wild ponies along the trail. Please do not feed the horses, but they are very friendly and will pose for pictures. Stay the night at the Thomas Knob Shelter about 8 miles in for an amazing sunset or keep hiking and camp at any of the great campsites off the trail further on. As you hike, your view will be the legendary Grayson Highlands before dropping down from the ridge, down through the Fairwood Valley, and finally looping back to your car.

The trails: Parking Lot -> Mt. Rogers trail -> Appalachian Trail -> Side Trail to Mt. Rogers Summit -> Appalachian Trail -> Pine Mountain Trail  -> Lewis Fork Trail -> Mt. Rogers Trail  Parking Lot.

Water: Water was somewhat scarce on this trip. I packed in about 3.5L of water: a 2.5L reservoir and a 1L Nalgene water bottle. There is a stream off the Lewis Fork Trail, approximately 1.5 miles off the Mt. Rogers Trail in case of emergencies. The next water source is at the Thomas Knobb Shelter, 7.6 miles from the Trail Head, and the location of the first night. There is also a small stream approximately 10 miles from the Trail Head along the Appalachian Trail.

summit

trail

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Reconnecting Children with Nature

In today’s technologically driven world, children are spending more and more of their time in front of screens and less time in nature. Children’s pastimes are spent more with video games, TV, laptops, iPads, iPhones, etc. This means less time kicking the ball, running around, climbing trees, and less time spent in what many consider a quintessential childhood experience.

“We’ve gradually allowed exploratory experiences outdoors to be traded for indoor, largely sedentary experiences that depend on learning tools imagined and manufactured by humans.” Evan McGown, author of Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature.

The term Nature Deficit Disorder, coined by Richard Louv (author of The Last Child in the Woods), describes the physical and mental consequences of a lack of exposure to nature, particularly in developing children. These consequences include obesity, anxiety, depression, ADD, and ADHD, among other mental and physical disorders. Exposure to and the understanding of nature is vital to a child’s developing mind. Nature is a source of primary learning, and there are many skills and character building attributes that one acquires through exposure to the outdoors.

Children learn both self-reliance and teamwork, stillness and a sense of adventure, self-awareness and compassion from unstructured play in nature. It bolsters their imagination, confidence, resourcefulness, sense of scale, mental and physical strength, and respect for the world around them.

These are not skills that children typically learn hunched over on a couch, staring into a screen. Yet it is these attributes that create well-rounded, happy people.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, “Play, especially free play, is essential to development, as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth.” Yet free play hardly exists in a child’s day to day life. Nature is the best place to allow a child to play freely, and unstructured in a way that inspires their imagination and growth.

But what if you’re unmotivated, scared or just unaware of being outside? This is the reality for many children nowadays. Going outside can be foreign, uncomfortable, and scary. It’s not air conditioned and there are too many bugs. They need strong role models to push them to turn off the screen and go outside. It is best to expose children to the great outdoors early and often. But if it’s too late for you to do this, then consider other options. First, be excited yourself. Plan family trips. Go for walks. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose backpacking expedition; any outside time is valuable. Let your kids bring their friends, so that they can run off with them and have fun.

Encourage them to explore and to have unstructured play. Try to relax and let them explore and be rambunctious.

Consider changing your blogphoto2routines. Could you do what you’re already doing outside? Homework, dinner, reading, relaxation: all of these things can be done comfortably outside in decent weather. Start small. Incorporating nature into your daily life requires a fundamental switch in how you prioritize your time.

“You should sit outside for 20 minutes a day… unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.” – Zen Proverb

Many children, and their parents, teachers, family members and other adult figures, no longer know how to delegate and spend time in nature. It is essential to prioritize time outside every day. It’s as if it is wired in our brains that we do not have time for nature in our routines. In reality, you probably have more time than you think. If you have time to watch Netflix for an hour, then you have time to go for a walk through the local woods. You don’t have to sign your child up for a wilderness summer camp or Scouts if you’re not ready for these commitments. There are plenty of local, more convenient options.

 There is no shortage of activities to do and places to go outside. There are many programs, activities, places and things to do with your children outside in Cincinnati, as well as within a several hour radius of the area. Southwest Ohio is rich in parks and green spaces, as well as miles upon miles of rivers and lakes to explore. Go somewhere new, find places you love to return to over and over again.

Places to Go:

The Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford is a great place to start. 1,025 acres of Eastern deciduous forests with fields, streams and ponds in Rowe woods is an excellent place to hike and spend the day with family. They also have events, a playscape, and a Nature Preschool. The CNC Nature Preschool is for children ages 3-5 years old, where “direct experience in nature is the foundation for our curriculum that is based on Early Learning Content Standards and developmentally appropriate practices.” For more information and rates, visit cincynature.org.

There are many great parks around Cincinnati as well, and to find an unexplored park near you, visit cincinnatiparks.com.

The Little Miami River is a great, calm river to explore with children. There are many liveries in the area which rent out canoes and kayaks as well as providing shuttle services. Check out Mariemont Livery, Loveland Canoe and Kayak, Scenic River Canoe, Morgan’s Canoe or many others for information and rates.

For longer trips, check out Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, Ohio, Red River Gorge in Kentucky, Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee/North Carolina, sections of the Appalachian Trail, and countless other options just a short drive away. If you ever need help with trip dreaming and planning, visit the shop and any of us would be more than willing to help you out.

Book Recommendations: 

For more information on local trails, check out the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Cincinnati, by Tamara York, which we always have in stock in the shop.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv is the inspiration for this blog and is a great book for understanding the fundamentals and importance of nature to a child’s development.

Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown is an excellent resource which features specific nature activities and games to inspire connection with nature through free play and sense-oriented activities. Richard Louv said, “this is good medicine for nature-deficit disorder. Coyote’s Guide should become an essential resource for anyone who wants to revive their sense of kinship with nature but needs some help.”

The Best Tent Camping in Ohio by Robert Loewndick and The Best Tent Camping in Kentucky by Johhny Molloy have many good examples of good tent camping for the whole family.

Resource Guides:

There are several comprehensive outdoor guides for the Cincinnati Area. Check out Green Umbrella, a National Sustainability Alliance that seeks to organize events in one comprehensive place.   They promote many outdoor events that are fun for the whole family. For more information, visit greenumbrella.org.

Meet Me Outdoors is a place to find year-round outdoor recreation and nature activities in the tri-state area. They publish an annual magazine which features local activities including places to hike, fish, swim, paddle and backpack. We also always have this in stock (it’s free) at the shop! Meetmeoutdoors.com.

Ohio Leave No Child Inside, ohiolnci.org, is a movement dedicated to getting children outdoors every day.

For a list of local day camps for children, visit cincinnatifamilymagazine.com/family-fun/summer-camp-2015-preview for a list of summer camp opportunities created this year by Sherry Hang.

Resource Link List:

Childrenandnature.org

Cincinnatiparks.com

Cincynature.org

Greenumbrella.org

Meetmeoutdoors.com

Ohiolnci.org

These resources are just the start. They are meant more to inspire and help start you upon a connection with nature and outdoor play. There are many more opportunities left unlisted, places to explore and things to do out there. It’s time to turn off the screens, step outside and explore!

“We don’t intend to simply provide more ‘recipes’ for nature connection – instead we want to help you learn how to cook.” – Evan McGown, from Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature.

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Eli “Shinbone” Staggs as a youngin’ with his father.

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