Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: April 2016


The Best Trail Town

The Milford Trail Junction
Written by: Bryan Wolf

What is a trail town? I found this definition online; “A Trail Town is a destination along a long-distance trail or adjacent to an extensive trail system. Whether the trail is a hiking trail, water trail or rail trail, users can venture from the path to explore the unique scenery, commerce and heritage that each trail town has to offer.”  (elcr.org)

Milford Ohio fits the above definition as well or better than any town could. We are in fact the epitome of a trail town. We are home to over 22,000 miles of long distance hiking trail as the biggest trail junction in the United States. We are home to a “rails to trails” program that connects cities more than 70 miles apart. We are home to a National Scenic River that has year-round recreational opportunities. Lastly, we are home to a city that dates back to 1788 and boast unique shopping and dining experiences.

As an outfitter we hope that RRT adds to the qualifications, that we bring additional excitement and attract and inspire more recreational use around the city and that we support users of our trails and river. But we cannot take credit for a single aspect that has built the outstanding resume that you see above. What we are proud of is that we settled in this city because we want to be part of this trail town, and because we recognized it’s potential.

Every year we are lucky to meet and share in the experience of people walking one of three trails across the country, or around the entire state of Ohio. Every day we are lucky to personally enjoy and be immersed in the abundant recreation provided by the Little Miami Scenic Trail and River. Be it by foot, wheels, paddle, or pogo stick, this city ties it all together.

Junction mapThere are a lot of cogs in the trail town system that make us who we are. The over half a dozen canoe and kayak liveries that operate in and around Milford are a big part of that machine. You see the Little Miami River isn’t a one shot or one season river. This is part of the reason why Cincinnati is the self-proclaimed paddle capital. This is why we have the largest and strongest paddling groups in the country. Not because we have short term destination whitewater, but because we have year round beauty and access that is beginner friendly and harnesses the passion of the sport.

One of these great canoe and kayak liveries is Loveland Canoe and Kayak, who operates both out of Loveland and Milford. Owner Mark Bersani had this to say about the Little Miami; “We are fortunate to have one of nature’s best playgrounds right in our backyard.  I love the Little Miami River because of its incredible beauty, rich history, abundant wildlife and accessibility.  It provides awesome recreational opportunities for paddlers, anglers, nature lovers and explorers alike.  When you spend time on the river you can feel the stress of the day melt away as you take in the inspiring scenery and fresh air.”

I reached out to Mark to get some facts, because what good is my nostalgia without facts? The numbers blew me away! In one year Mark will personally put about 16,000 people on the Little Miami River! This is local love right there, we aren’t talking about tourists from other cities. We are talking about a town and its love for the river. Furthermore he added that amongst the half dozen other liveries they would total about 100,000 people per year on the river!

089_LittleMiamiFellas_5-26-15With a healthy and frequented river, so grows the city. This isn’t your grandma’s Milford anymore, although Grandma is still welcome and we love her dearly. In the past five years we have seen the city transform from half empty to overflowing. From a shopping and dining perspective Milford is blowing up, and if you’ve not been here in sometime then you have been missing out. Downtown Milford hosts festivals, has a nature preserve, and even riverside camping. The city grows everyday making it more livable, more shop-able, and more fun.

This year Milford has the opportunity to be part of Outside Magazine’s “Best Towns” competition as we compete to be the best “River Town”. Just having the nomination puts us as one of only sixteen cities to be voted on! So I ask you to please share this, to please vote, and to please spread the word. But also be proud, because if Milford is your city than you should know that it goes toe to toe with cities of a much larger reputation; like that of Bend Oregon, St. Louis Missouri , Charlotte North Carolina, the Appalachian Trails Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, and even Portland Oregon.

Click here to vote now (open until 4/29/16)

If you are unfamiliar with the vast trail town resume I’ve mentioned please check it out. You can find the breakdown of all 22,000 miles of trails that cut right thru Milford on the cities website and the link provided at the end of the article. Special thanks to Mark, visit him in Loveland or Milford (lovelandcanoe.com // 513-683-4611).

Click here for Trail Junction details

Click here for Little Miami River Safety

Back-Country Baking: An Introduction

by Olivia Eads

Baking is no longer an activity limited to the comfort on ones’ home. As a baker, I love the sweet and savory concoctions that can come out of an experiment in the kitchen inside and out. Back-country baking trends have gained in popularity because, let’s face it, making warm, moist baked goods at camp is one of life’s simple luxuries on the trail. Before heading out on an adventure, it is important to prep everything necessary into a “just add water mixture” (or as few ingredients as possible). When considering baking in the back country, different methods work well for different purposes and final products.

There are two main methods in back-country baking:

Steam (wet) baking is probably the ‘easiest’ in the back-country. It requires the least amount of equipment, can be used on any stove, and by using steam, the operator cannot burn whatever is being baked. However, the final product does not acquire the staple golden-brown color indicating when finished.

 

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                                                                                                           Photo Courtesy of Trail Recipes

Necessary Equipment: A large pot with lid, water, stove and associated fuel, reusable silicon baking dishes/ metal cup/ etc., rocks, and mixture to bake.

Preparation: Find some small to medium sized, relatively flat rocks that fit in the bottom of the large pot. Fill with water just under the rocks. Start heating water to a boil. In the meantime, prepare the batter or dough as instructed and place in the dish of choice. Place that dish on the rocks inside the pan, then wait. Baking time is typically between 20-60 minutes.

For best results: Use this method with moist products such as: cupcakes and muffins.

 

Dry baking has a wider range of foods and deserts that can be prepared using its various methods such as: the back country oven, Dutch oven, etc. Unlike steaming, the final product will have a nicely browned crust due to warm air circulating around the product.

Back-country Oven:

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Necessary Equipment: Back-country oven pieces and parts, pan/ pot with a lid, a stove that maintains low heat and associated fuel, and mixture to bake.

**DO NOT USE STOVES WITH THE FUEL SOURCE MOUNTED DIRECTLY BELOW THE STOVE. ONCE PLACED UNDER BACK COUNTRY OVEN IT MAY CAUSE FUEL TANK TO RUPTURE. **

Preparation: Set up stove and back-country oven as instructed. Make batter/ dough and put in greased pan. Place pan on stove at low heat and put cover over top. Wait about 15 minutes and it should be done. If the edges and bottom are finished but there is still a gooey middle, there is a way to correct for that. Create a small twig fire in the ‘v’ of a small branch and place it in the middle of the lid (considering fire regulations in the area) and let the fire burn out. This should finish baking the product all the way through. Or you could simply bake it longer and run the risk of burnt edges.

For best results: Use this method to replace anything you would use an oven to bake: cookies, brownies, bread, potpies, etc.

Dutch Oven:

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These suckers are heavy, and probably would only be used when car camping or in an event where weight is not a factor.

Necessary equipment: Dutch oven, t-shirt/pot holders, digging utensil, fire/coals, and baking mixture.

Preparation: Create a fire and feed it creating coals. Dig a hole that the Dutch oven can sit in. Prepare the baked dish in the in pot. When finished, fill the bottom of the hole with hot coals in a single layer according to the size of pot. There is science behind how to arrange hot charcoals to create a realistic 325°F environment.  Place the necessary amount of coals in the bottom of the hole then set the Dutch oven inside. Put some coals on top and bake roughly 30-60 minutes depending on what is being baked, and how large the dish is.

For best results: Use this method when baking pies and breads.

There are many different ways to do the same thing, so figuring out what works best for your trip is up to you. Make sure that you don’t check on your product too often. Opening the vessel will release the heat and slow down the cooking process. Also don’t underestimate the power of fire to create delicious treats. Slap some tin foil on whatever needs cooking and toss it in the flames. Turn overs are some of my favorite deserts created in the fire. When removing pots and pans from the heat source they will be extremely hot.  Be careful, make good decisions, try not to get burnt, and stay tuned for more tips of the trade and examples of these methods in action!

 

References:

http://www.trail.recipes/blog/trail-baking-methods-steaming-vs-dry-baking/

http://www.backpacker.com/skills/cooking/recipes/ultralight-backcountry-baking/

http://blog.nols.edu/2015/11/06/5-incredibly-useful-backcountry-baking-techniques/

 

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