Metatalktail Hour: The Great Outdoors August 26, 2017 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week's topic comes from fluttering hellfire, who asks: "Can we have one on outdoorsy things? I could really go for people just yammering on about their favorite trails and campsites and gear and stuff." YES. THIS IS THAT ONE.

(I am a little behind on responding to people who made suggestions because I am still deep in moving drama and paperwork, but rest assured the e-mails and memails are all saved for me to add to the list and respond to the senders!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:29 PM (160 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

*rides in on a blazing white stallion, hair streaming in the wind* VALHALLA I AM HERE

this is going to be the best one ever, SO EXCITE
posted by barchan at 5:43 PM on August 26, 2017 [10 favorites]

Tomorrow is a hawkwatch day, so we will be spending the day standing on Hawk Hill, IDing and counting migrating raptors and complaining about the unrelenting sun and telling each other about birds we have seen recently. Can't wait!
posted by rtha at 5:44 PM on August 26, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm in Moab, Utah and just reading through old Ask MetaFilter posts about hiking in Arches and Canyonlands and around the area. Metafilter has been a treasure trove of info for past trips so I have high hopes for the southern Utah recommendations. Any last-minute Arches and Canyonlands recs?

So far from this trip I can recommend taking the small, reservation-only hikes at Mesa Verde (Mug House and Oak Tree House ftw) and, to get away from the rangers, take the Petroglyph Point trail. Far View lodge is 100% worth it and the Navajo tacos at the cafe are huge.
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:45 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Rtha, we're planning on a day trip to Hawk Ridge in Duluth when we get back! I love raptor migrations! We just gawk though, we are not official counters. Where is your Hawk Hill?
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:48 PM on August 26, 2017

I worked in Yellowstone National Park for 2 summers, not as a ranger. I hiked over a hundred miles. Ask me anything, I know many secrets and if you promise not to abuse them I will disclose them but probably only via memail because I'm protective like that yo.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:54 PM on August 26, 2017 [12 favorites]

I booked my flight to Halifax today! I've never been to the east coast of Canada so I am super excited, even though the trip is only for a long weekend. I like beaches and eating (and eating food on beaches). This is all that I have planned so far, but I feel pretty good about it.

I also bought a suitcase today. We've been having fun investigating all the pockets.
posted by janepanic at 6:03 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is perhaps a different kind of outdoorsy, but I'm really happy about it, so I'm going to share: this week, I got my bike out of the garage for the first time in ~15 years, got it tuned up, and went for a ride. A short ride, because I am crazy out of shape, but it was so very enjoyable.

I am looking forward to the whole process of relearning to ride a bike and then biking all around my town.
posted by darchildre at 6:04 PM on August 26, 2017 [19 favorites]

Things I recommend offhand in Yellowstone by the way:

-- Must Do:
1) Boiling River, bathe in it.
2) Old Faithful Lodge's architecture

-- Front country:
1) Artist Paint Pots.... so mesmerizing.
2) Also Great Fountain Geyser if your timing is good, check with the rangers and they'll give you a schedule/estimate. It's better than Faithful by far.
3) Brink of the Upper and Lower Falls
4) Grand Prismatic BUT NOT THE BOARD WALK, go view it from the Fairy Falls Trail, it has a hill to the left that gives the amazing view

-- Day Hike:
1) Avalanche Peak (be warned, it's short and non technical but straight up)
2) Heart Lake or Shoshone Lake for a quiet picnic on the beach
3) Thermal Beach north of Lake Lodge/Fishing Bridge
4) Gibbon Falls
5) Fairy Falls with additional jaunt to thermal areas just past it
Bonus) Jenny Lake (Hidden Falls is the trail name maybe?) if in Tetons

-- Backcountry or Overnight or Whoa-level Day Hike:
1) Union Falls if the river crossing is ready, ask rangers
2) Mount Sheridan or Mount Washburn
3) Joseph Coat via Pelican Valley (not from the canyon route, that's a boring hike)
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:07 PM on August 26, 2017 [16 favorites]

I just spent a few days in St. Croix state park (Minnesota/Wisconsin border). When I made my reservation I'd forgotten or else was oblivious to the fact that a massive windstorm destroyed a huge portion of the park's trees about six years ago. The landscape is currently a sprinkling of mature trees standing amid a sea of chest-high underbrush. It's actually very pretty, and quite unlike any mature biome we have around here.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:08 PM on August 26, 2017

Hot Wheels Gully is my favorite ski run! Short but technical and covered in a canopy of trees.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:10 PM on August 26, 2017

> Rtha, we're planning on a day trip to Hawk Ridge in Duluth when we get back! I love raptor migrations! We just gawk though, we are not official counters. Where is your Hawk Hill?

Marin County, California - right above the Golden Gate. It's a splendid spot for a watch, both because it's beautiful and because the crossing the water gives a lot of raptors pause, so we often get excellent looks. the Duluth count is on my list of places to visit during migration season - have fun!
posted by rtha at 6:13 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Arroyo Seco/Horse Bridge
Lost Coast
Joshua Tree
Sinan-gun (esp. Bigeum-do)
Smith Rock
The Gunks
Little White Salmon
San Juan Islands
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:14 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

The best piece of outdoor gear I ever got is a Kelty kid-carrying backpack. I got mine on a half-price sale at the end of the season, but my personal Kelty is on its FIFTH child (it was lent out for a couple years!) and in perfect condition, it is worth the money new and totally reasonable to buy used. I am not particularly sporty or strong, but I carried kids from about months up to about 20 months in it, while hiking my more difficult hikes. Babies ADORE it, it makes you so mobile and outdoorsy, and it's so easy to use. With a tiny bit of practice you can get it on and off solo. Enough room in the storage pocket for a diaper pad setup with diaper and wipes, sunscreen, bugspray, snacks/lunch, and extra hats and layers. (They also sell bigger-deal backpacks for long-distance hiking that can carry gear for overnights and backcountry hiking.)

If you have a baby and you like doing anything outdoorsy where strollers won't go -- from leisurely walks in the woods to overnight hikes to ren faires in the mud -- GET ONE OF THESE, they are the best and will take even very lazy/out-of-shape parents until you've got a toddler who can run along trails on his own.

(Babies also extra-love being at grown-up height and facing everyone who's talking to mom or dad.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:14 PM on August 26, 2017 [8 favorites]

[Hawk Hill] Marin County, California - right above the Golden Gate.

That's where I first fell in love with the west coast on my first ever visit to it! (then visited Muir Woods on my next trip and fell in love all over again)
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:17 PM on August 26, 2017

I spent a good part of the summer doing Shakespeare in the park. Our downstage exits got flooded and we had to do emergency reblocking. One of my castmates was bitten by a tick.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:19 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also, vehemently nthing Eyebrows McGee's recommendation of a kid-carrying backpack, even if you're not into hiking! I don't think I would have survived my son's infancy without one. That kid probably spent half of the first couple years of his life in it, allowing dad to do all sorts of things (including but not limited to band practice). But now I'm drifting off the "outdoors" path, so I'll stop there.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:23 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think my best memories camping are from when we lived in LA. In an hour we could drive up to the heart of the Angeles National Forest. Having it so close by meant we could just go overnight for a weekend on a whim. It didn't have to be a big production. The first time we went camping there, I woke up in the middle of the night hearing coyotes: first one howled, then the entire pack went up at once. It was amazing.

I love the Bay Area, but I actually sort of preferred the nature in LA (cue stale jokes about "gee, didn't know endless sprawl counted as nature, huh huh"). I loved the chaparral and the smell of the pines, with the snow capped mountains in the distance. It felt wilder down there.

We were also a 4-hour drive from the Mojave National Preserve, which is to this day my favorite park in the world (or as much as I've seen of it). We never got a chance to go camping there, but I still want to go back someday.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:28 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I grew up in Scouting and have my Eagle Scout rank. I have lots of fond memories related to camping and the outdoors.

My favourite is the very first time I went camping with the Troop that I would eventually join for Boy Scouts. It was very cold and very wet (lots of rain) and for some reason, me and the other two idiot boys in our tent decided that we needed to build a trench around our tent to capture the rain, because as 10 year olds we were hyper intelligent and basically engineers.

So about a half hour after we completed our trench we had thoroughly succeeded in completely flooding our tent and all of our belongings. Thankfully our Scoutmaster had a spare tent and we basically abandoned that wet one and set up a new tent with very specific instructions about how to go in and out of the tent and how to keep the rain out.

A few hours later, I woke up in the middle of the night and I threw up my dinner because the beef stew I ate was not agreeing with me. I managed to also pick up a fever due to how wet and cold I was.

I went home the next morning not feeling too great but still having had the time of my life. I made sure that I joined that Troop the next week. It was awesome.
posted by Fizz at 6:31 PM on August 26, 2017 [8 favorites]

I used to be an outdoors person, but now not so much because: old and creaky.

My favorite memories are or the following in no particular order:

Firey Gizzard Trail, Grundy Co. TN. A beautiful hike and I grew up near there so I've hiked it many times with varying degrees of success. The good hikes I don't remember. The time I got my car stolen, or a crew of Boy Scouts ended up sitting in front of the Tracy City city hall because we got lost, YES!

Gila Wilderness, NM. All the hot springs and solitude, but mostly managing to coax my car fifty miles to the nearest gas station with the gas light on. God, I love New Mexico. If we didn't have Utah, it'd be the most amazing state to see nature in the US,

Palmetto Trail, SC/NC. Follows the SC/NC border from the mountains to the sea. I've done chunks of the AT, The Long Trail and many other multi-day hikes, but the Palmetto Trail is near and dear to my hear because I got mono after two days on it and dragged myself out by the scruff of my own neck and still managed to go back because it was that cool.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:36 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Perfect thread. I'm typing this in a tent overlooking the waters of Somes Sound, on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. We've been coming here every summer for about ten years now. Tomorrow we'll hike up something and then maybe go for a bike ride on Monday. I leave Wednesday, my wife and son are going to stay an extra day.

We've had our s'mores and campfire and we're just settling in for the night.

It's not exactly roughing it here. We have a Coleman stove and a big cooler, cell service and iPads. Still, it's camping.

We have a huge tent. We originally bought it so we could fit the Pack and Play crib in it. Now our 15 year old is in his own tent so we've got this thing all to ourselves. We can stand up in it! For our wedding, which is now almost twenty years ago, our friend gave us some sleeping bags that zip together. We're cozy. As we get older our sleeping pads get thicker. The new ones are about four inches thick.

Ok, time to turn off the electronics and setttle into a book.

I think this is my first time posting from a tent. Night all!
posted by bondcliff at 6:37 PM on August 26, 2017 [22 favorites]

I am, in general, pretty indoorsy. I actually really like to walk, but I prefer to walk in cities. I am extremely klutzy, and I get nervous when I'm too far from the nearest emergency medical facility. However, my new house has a yard, and I have big plans for a garden next year. Also, I just bought a slightly ridiculous lawn mower. (It's not that ridiculous, but it is a rechargeable electric lawn mower, and it probably cost more than I should have spent on a lawn mower.) So maybe I can be outdoorsy in the comfort of my own yard.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:38 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

One of the many woeful things about today's rain is that I can't take the dog up to our favorite hiking trail, which has been an almost weekly past-time for the past five years. It's just a three mile loop, but it's a city off-leash (albeit unfenced) dog park so I never have to be guilty about letting the dog off leash, because it's not fenced no one who can't trust their dog off leash goes, and it's real pretty. Here's Tribble showing off her tree-climbing prowess a few weeks ago. As a bonus, it runs all along a creekbed, which means Tibbs gets to wallow like a weird little hippo when the creek is low and swim like a fish when it's high.
posted by sciatrix at 6:40 PM on August 26, 2017 [6 favorites]

I grew up in Scouting and have my Eagle Scout rank. I have lots of fond memories related to camping and the outdoors.

As an adult, I really wish I'd joined the Scouts. I think I would have loved everything about it. I went to a meeting when I was in middle school, though, and it was just like school: the same kids, the same social hierarchies, all reinforced with ranks and honors.

I've talked to former Scouts, and they've all said that my experience sounds nothing like what it was for them, so I think it's just that I was living in what I still consider to be the jerkiest place on Earth. I guess sometimes that's the way it goes. I wish there had been another troop I could have joined, just for the weird loner/outcast kids.

I wish I could do Scouting-type stuff as an adult, but I think that stuff tends to attract weird doomsday-prepper types.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:40 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

(My girlfriend, on the other hand, did join the Girl Scouts, and she hated it -- she was always insanely jealous of the Boy Scouts, because they got to camping and learn how to build fires, while she had to sit in a room and learn how to make hearts out of felt. I don't know how much of that was just because of what her troop leader was like, but either way, I don't think she was a Girl Scout for very long.)
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2017

My understanding is that the scouting experience varies wildly from troop to troop and location to location. I was a girl guide (Canadian equiv) until high school and then it got cliquy and I bailed.

(My experience involved plenty of both camping and crafts)
posted by quaking fajita at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Today I volunteered at a Spartan Race up in the Hudson River Valley (near West Point) and it was SO BEAUTIFUL. I swear I felt healthier and stronger just being in that fresh mountain air. Wish I had a mountain house!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:47 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites] I'll hike all dang day and I generally enjoy being outdoors if the weather isn't any warmer than about 72F and the mosquitos aren't breeding, but...I don't like camping? Or being outdoors if it's hot.

Do y'all still love me?
posted by cooker girl at 6:57 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

posted by barchan at 7:04 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

My understanding is that the scouting experience varies wildly from troop to troop and location to location.

Yup. My Scout experience was pretty good, amazing actually. My troop wasn't super religion or preachy. It was always about helping others out, keeping your environment clean, and having a good time while outdoors. I realize how lucky I was to be a part of the troop I was in. Not everyone had that experience.
posted by Fizz at 7:09 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

not only do I still love you, cooker girl, you are a woman after my own heart. Although I have more tolerance for warm weather, because I have no choice.

This is, incidentally, why I am not a field biologist. Although my one and only field season did in fact go better than Iain Couzin's, which as I recall ended in being forced to live on camel entrails for several months in the middle of a roaring famine and several sandstorms. This is apparently a risk of attempting to do fieldwork on swarming locusts, and more or less confirmed my small but insistent notion that fieldwork was not my cup of tea, thanks very much.

The stories from my department buddy, who is a field conservationist, have more or less cemented that notion. At least working at the bench means my risk of being menaced by rogue elephants or bitten by alarmingly exotic insects is about nil. All I have to worry about from home is that giant centipede someone lost in the sixth floor of my building, and I'm pretty sure it's gotta be dead by now.

posted by sciatrix at 7:20 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

Any last-minute Arches and Canyonlands recs?

Dead Horse Point State Park, and (pardon the name) Negro Bill Canyon. These are both short drives out of Moab, are separate from the park system, but just as beautiful and may be a bit less crowded because they're not part of the big sexy national park system. I discovered both when helping some dear friends break in one of their AirBnB properties; we hiked in both. (Fair warning about Negro Bill Canyon; there are some places where we had to pick our way over small streams, and in fact, both me and one of my friends wobbled and stepped dead into a stream up to our ankles in the same place on that hike, and since it was the dead of winter this meant each of us had to turn back and head for the car. ...Although, this did give us all the excuse to re-name the canyon, since we didn't like the existing name - so you may call that place "Dunkfoot Gulch" if you would rather.)

...I'm trying to get back into more hiking, and that will pick up some now that the weather's going to be getting a little cooler. I'm trying to think of somewhere to go tomorrow that's on the remote side, but which won't require a car to get there.

Greg Nog actually tipped me off to something on Twitter - iNaturalist, which is sort of like a cloud-based community-sourced naturalist's notebook. You record whatever animals or plants you've happened to see on your travels, with pictures OR with sounds. You can even post notices about things you saw or heard without knowing what they are; the community will often identify them for you (I posted a picture of a flower I saw in Staten Island and within two hours someone was saying "Oh, that's a yellow trout lily"). There's even an app, which has the extra feature of listing the species that are most likely to be around you at the moment so you can be on the lookout for them (Greg Nog said it was like Pokemon Go but for real, and yes).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

I actually really like to walk, but I prefer to walk in cities. . . So maybe I can be outdoorsy in the comfort of my own yard.

I am of the extremely not humble but shout it to the rooftops opinion that all one needs to be outdoorsy is to spend time outdoors. If you like drinking ice tea on your porch and walking to the bodega and that's your jam as far as being outside is concerned, you are outdoorsy, and I applaud you for saying cool, that is my jam. I admit I love wilderness and open spaces and oceans and doing all the outdoor stuff that comes with it, but I don't consider myself any more outdoorsy than someone who likes to spend 20 minutes in a park each day or biking to work instead. There's so much happening outside all the time no matter where we live - you notice the sky and weather and hear a bird singing or maybe have a squirrel you keep an eye on, or a particular tree and how it looks in each seasons, or what it smells like outside during a blizzard - all that counts just as much hiking deep into Yellowstone and seeing a wolf pack. They may be different experiences, sure, but they're still experiences outside, and that's what's important*.

I am, incidentally, a big fan of the microadventures concept noted explorer Alastair Humphreys made popular, and the idea of normal people finding achievable adventures in what's around them without having to travel to some high peak, have a particular set of skills, or buy expensive gear.

*That doesn't mean I won't encourage people to go to Yellowstone and hear a wolf pack because to me it's just really awesome, but if one doesn't want to do it because it's not their thing, or can't - that's cool too and I'm not going to call one less outdoorsy for it. One of the coolest nature sights I've ever seen was watching a hawk take down a flicker in my own back yard while I was outside hosing down sneakers. Nature does tend to be all around us!
posted by barchan at 7:39 PM on August 26, 2017 [22 favorites]

We unexpectedly had limes, so spouse made gimlets and we sipped them in the backyard, under whatever that big beautiful tree out there is.
posted by crush at 7:39 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

"I am, incidentally, a big fan of the microadventures concept noted explorer Alastair Humphreys made popular, and the idea of normal people finding achievable adventures in what's around them without having to travel to some high peak, have a particular set of skills, or buy expensive gear. "

I like this. And while things like the wolves at Yellowstone are big, majestic, soul-lifting experiences, little neighborhood outdoors things are so manageable. It's easy to get familiar with them and know them really well and grow fond of them. I like backyard birdwatching and in the winter you can really get to know your flock and their personalities, even if you're just watching for 15 minutes a day. My kids and I had an old tree stump we walked past on the way to school the last couple of years, and we kept track of its doings -- it grew the most interesting fungi, and hosted a variety of insects, and we watched the fungi grow and shrink with the weather, and the cracks expand when there was ice, and so on. Whenever it rained overnight we were super-excited to get to our stump and see how much the fungi had expanded since the day before.

I think local city and suburban nature centers, small though they may be, are too often overlooked but offer many of the same benefits -- they're small enough that you can get to know them from top to bottom, and they're close enough you can visit frequently, and maybe it's only a couple acres but you get to watch the wildflowers come and go and individual trees blow over and decompose and various animals migrate in and out, and you can get to know the rhythms of a place in a way that most of us can't with national parks or tourist visits. Even your own backyard! Find a wild corner and observe the plants and insects that come and go throughout the year.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:48 PM on August 26, 2017 [12 favorites]

YES YES YES Eyebrows!

*coughs* Anyway, this is my favorite outdoor experience, and why:

I dream of mountains frequently and this sight’s why the Tetons so often appear in them: the peaks of Grand and South Teton cast shadows of almost perfect triangles, particularly when they stretch out over either plain on each side of the Teton Range. Between them is what's called the Lower Saddle, and when the sun rises or sets that scoop between them becomes a perfect V of light that shines out between those two peaks, between their two triangular shadows, onto the valley floor of Jackson Hole or the Idaho plain.

Oh to be up there & orient yourself in the world– to know you exist in that V of light. There between those two shadows. And yet too small to appear, even as a pair of waving arms. It makes me feel like a molecule of water slipping through a stream, a part of a whole. Or. Maybe way down there in the valley where the light flashes off the Snake River, one riffle or a current cruising around a bend full of that sparkling sun has a small wavelet that is dark - my shadow, smaller than a leaf. Smaller than a trout’s fin. My tender shadow! Perhaps that bit of darkness just enough for a fish to take a fly. Or for a fly to escape the fish without light flashing off its green flecked abdomen. I don’t know where my shadow is in that V of light, if it exists at all, and I treasure that - my doubtful shadow.

For a moment when I stand up high in that V of light I feel I possess all I could possibly own in life - I have everything. And yet also owned by the sunlight I'm also possessed by something greater than myself. It's a place both humble and wild.

It is a fleeting moment one has to work hard for, and I've only really found in that particular place in the world. I hope my memories of standing in that V with my husband are one of the last thoughts I have when I die, I treasure them so.
posted by barchan at 7:58 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

I actually know far more about this subject than I think you can imagine.
posted by medusa at 7:58 PM on August 26, 2017

Elly Vortex, While in Moab, you can drive out onto The Island in the Sky, it is the large, arrowhead shaped mesa, that over looks the Green River on one side, and the Colorado River on the other, and then the confluence. It is a longish drive out to the end, but Dead Horse point is on the way. The Green River Overlook is one of the most moving views ever. If the air is good. You can see the Green sparkle in its canyon, many miles away and thousands of feet down. If you are in the mood for a scary drive, there is the Shafer Trail drive, down the neck.
posted by Oyéah at 8:00 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have relatives in Fairbanks and going to visit them always involves a lot of outdoor time. Last time was in March of '15, which is a nice time of year: cold enough for the ice-carving festival at Pioneer Park, but light enough, also. We always stay with my in-laws in their cushy home on the grid with radiant heat and so forth, but even just standing in their backyard one night, we got to heard the boreal owl, which I'd somehow missed in the previous 12 years of visits. The Aurora was out and it was a good night for it. But maybe my favorite thing when I'm up there is watching the sky -- not just for stars, which are different, but for the polar satellites, which are bright and numerous and swing by frequently. It's a concrete reminder that I'm on a planet, and that being so close to the pole you're surrounded by the unique geography but also the science and defense infrastructure associated with such an important, weird place.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:12 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

A couple of weeks ago we did our annual visit to the Lair of the Golden Bear, a family camp in the Sierras. Spouse and I went on a day hike to Waterhouse Lake and Lake Adele ; the trail started in wildflowers, some of which were chest-high, then we scrambled down a granite face, then a short walk & scramble to Waterhouse Lake, where we ate lunch, then proceeded to Adele Lake. It was a beautiful clear day and there was still snow on the very tops of the mountains. On the way back, the soles of my spouse's hiking boots started to delaminate; fortunately another hiker had some tape and that kept the boots together till we got back to camp.

Another day, we did a pre-breakfast kayak on Pinecrest Lake, where one of the local ospreys was hanging out and singing his song to us. It was worth getting up early and we got back just in time for breakfast.

The last hike we did was to Natural Bridges, a short hike that leads to natural limestone caverns that you can swim or float through on an inner tube. Gorgeous, but the water was so cold it was like being punched in the stomach. Quite refreshing once you get used to it though!
posted by mogget at 8:20 PM on August 26, 2017

Hiking is a relatively recent thing for me, and I'm really enjoying how it allows for easy conversation and company - I'm growing to enjoy it more as a catch-up activity than meeting for coffee. Here in Dublin, I'm 20-60 minutes from a ton of interesting trails and routes, and I am excited about how many I have left to learn. I've just added leather boots to my gore-tex pair, which will make wet winters a bit easier.

This October, I'm going for a hiking weekend with my mum and her friends, all serious walkers. I was meant to join them last year for her 60th birthday, but I tripped while running the night before we were to leave, and my mum spent her birthday picking me up from hospital after fracture repair surgery. It'll be very satisfying to have another chance to do it right.
posted by carbide at 8:35 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

We just got a bench for our front yard. After dinner we sit and watch the sunset while the kids jump rope/race up and down the sidewalk/play with neighbors. There's usually a dog- or kid- or self-walking neighbor or three to chat with. If I feel like it I will go for a run at the track down the street...
In short, I love the outdoors!
posted by The Toad at 8:40 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love hiking and the outdoors, but I am completely terrified of snakes. The last time I went to a local hiking spot with a friend we saw two, one a copperhead. It's too dang hot to wear hip-boots most of the year. But I live in hope that I'll either overcome my phobia, or life reasons will compel me to move to a snake-free area.

I don't think I have an official phobia, it's just that when you see them in the wild it's usually up close and personal and so damn unexpected. Even if you were looking out for them. It's not hard to imagine myself blindly running away off the edge of a cliff or something else equally stupid / maiming/fatal.
posted by bunderful at 8:40 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Trying to get myself invited on a coworkers annual elk trip.
I loved the week I spent at Hunter Liggett, hope to recapture the magic.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:17 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Chiming in here to say: boats!

I don't get out on the water very often, but I I love just fiddling around in little boats. I got out dinghy sailing and kayak paddling when we were visiting family a couple weeks ago.... and it's just perfect, just poking around shore and enjoying how different the place is at different tides, etc. Nosing into the reeds, gliding along a foot above the sandy bottom and seeing crabs scuttle along under the boat, seeing the tracks of a heron who had been fishing there an hour earlier.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:28 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

i'd only agree to consider the heinous fucking ordeal of camping for a billion tax free dollars and trumps head on a stick but my favourite beach on earth is a toss up between cala d'hort and punta galera
posted by poffin boffin at 9:30 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am going to England for work in a few weeks (oh boy, developing a new standard for linking different kinds of geospatial data sets together!) and am going to extend my trip by a few days to hike most of the South Downs Way. I am pretty excited.
posted by rockindata at 9:44 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yay! If you guys ever come to south central Alaska I can tell you about all the best places, or show them to you if you seem to be a nice and normal person.

It has been a rainy summer so I haven't been out as much as normal, but today was sunny and a brisk 59 degrees so I dragged some visiting family up a little local mountain, Rendezvous Peak. Big sweeping above-treeline views, all the crowberries you would ever want to eat (and that your dog would eat- his poop is going to look like bear scat tonight) and just starting to get some nice fall color in a few places. The best.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:51 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just biked up Powerline Pass valley today, right near Rendezvous Peak! The mountains were beautiful but the ptarmigan I saw that were changing to their winter plumage and so were stark white on the underside of their wings - that was the microadventure.
posted by kerf at 10:32 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

The closest I come to camping is that I went to BarCamp today. But it was awesome. I somehow got talked into getting a book on stoicism, which is not a philosophy I expect to adopt completely but is something I'm now curious in learning more about. The space we were in was amazing and has an exhibition going of some kinetic art that was cool enough for me to think I should share. (Some of it's a bit NSFW due to some nude figures.)
posted by Sequence at 10:57 PM on August 26, 2017

I am cooped up at home prepping for the last major milestone of my PhD before I defend it in a few years: the oral half of my comprehensive exam. But my tomatoes are finally ripening like crazy and I did some studying outside in the hammock today and I made it up to Wyoming to view the eclipse Monday, so I can't complain too much. (I like camping only if there's a good reason to be camping, and the eclipse was definitely one.) Plus, the day after I turned the written part of this exam in (two weeks ago) I hopped in the car and drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate, and it was gorgeous midweek hiking and now I have a yearlong pass to RMNP in my car, which: yay!
posted by deludingmyself at 11:09 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just returned from a highly successful Nerdcation in Central Oregon. It started with the Eclipse (totality or nothing!) and, although we'd hoped for stargazing in a moonless high desert night sky, wildfire smoke and clouds temporarily dashed those hopes, we went to the Museum of the High Desert which I'd always feared would be a rip off, but it was actually really cool and their raptor exhibits are amazing. The kids spent most of the rest of the week with their binoculars identifying by site and sound, various owls, hawks, and eagles.

By Thursday, the smoke cleared enough for the Oregon Observatory to restart evening programs. It's entirely staffed by volunteers and most nights of the summer they do an outdoor amphitheater talk on some astronomy topic and then they have about 20 telescopes set up pointed at cool things with a volunteer at each station talking about what's cool and unusual about each object. The kids now know all the northern hemisphere constellations and my eldest spent the whole ride home quizzing us on things he'd learned about the solar system. There was also a healthy amount of biking, hiking, and swimming mixed in this week.

We've dragged our kids camping a bunch of times, and as the only Scout in the family, I'm tired of doing all the packing, pitching tents, building fires, setting up fishing rods, and tending to general survival and I miss out on showing the kids what's cool about wilderness, so we splurged on a Sun River condo and it was so worth it.

At this point, my wife and I are seriously debating getting a trailer and stargazing equipment just to make this all easier and more accessible. The boys are still a few years from backpacking which I'm really looking forward to. I learned everything from being a Scout, but I have to say, I'm just not able to make that kind of commitment with my kids, especially with the huge focus Scouting places on uniforms and ranks and patriotism in this day and age, but I recognize explicitly the opportunities and knowledge that scouting gave me and I'd like to pass that on.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:13 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm really quite far from outdoorsy, but I am a bike commuter, and last year I biked through the winter for the first time! Admittedly winter in Chicago was pretty wussy last year, but I still felt like a badass, cutting trails through freshly fallen snow. I'll be biking to work less than usual next week, which would normally be an unfortunate thing that would leave me restless, and in fact I've been working from places other than lab a bunch this August, so I've honestly probably spent as much time off my bike as on it. But it's for a good cause: away from the distraction of lab and the many experiments I want to do, I was able to get my dissertation submitted two weeks ago, and next week I've got the private and public segments of my PhD defense (which we have on two different days). I've got to dress up for that, and I don't want to deal with squishing nice clothes into panniers or messenger bags, and I'm a little paranoid about biking with my laptop until this is over, Just In Case (tm), so... CTA it is. (The nice part, though - about the not-biking, that is, the nice part of the PhD defense is obvious - is that I'll have missed the last of the August heat and we'll be heading into autumn weather, which is the best biking weather. Summer is awful, FIGHT ME.)

Good luck, deludingmyself! I'm sure you'll do fine, and it'll be awesome to get the exams out of the way and to get back to your research!
posted by ubersturm at 11:26 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Also, if I wasn't such an old overworked person, I think starting the Northwest Chapter of the MeFi Scouts should be a thing to do. Whenever we do a meetup out here, I'm always impressed by the things that people totally nerd out on, and I know there are a lot of us with young kids. What could be more fun than going to John Day Fossil Beds and geeking out with our kids on paleontology or Newberry Volcanic National Monument learning about geology or climbing Mt. Adams and learning about high altitude physiology?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:27 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am super outdoorsy, but my kids are 5, 3 and 1, and my wife hates the outside so for a few more years I am in the microadventure camp. There is a small mountain (I mean a hill, really) that is walking distance from my apartment, and the five year old is just now capable of walking up to the top and back without being carried (well, maybe being carried a little bit) and that is a pretty big step for me (and her). I am trying to get my kids to love hiking and camping so I am working on exposing them to the outdoors without overdoing it and scaring them off. It is a fine line to walk, but I hope that in another five or ten years my kids and I will be able to go on cool camping trips together.

When I was younger, my dad would take us up to the Adirondack mountains where we would backpack in and not see more than a handful of other people for a week at a time. I have three brothers and I think that I am the only one who enjoyed it, but my memories from that time are so good. I really hope that I can somehow take my kids on similar trips when they get a bit older.
posted by Literaryhero at 11:43 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

ahhhh I should be in bed but I can't wait to read this in the morning. In 10 days I will be leaving for a two week camping trip in Wyoming and Colorado.
posted by AFABulous at 11:48 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

I like sitting on my back steps when it's nice (72f down to 40f?) This time of year is good. Right now there's a little stray cat hanging about so I will sit there and love on him. And okay, I've kind of named the cat Banjo or Freddie so what I'm saying is I've most likely gained a cat...a cat with a neuter appointment for the end of September. Who will then move into the house. Unless I make an appointment before then at a vet. (September appointment is at the low cost spay/neuter clinic.) In short: it's not the outdoors I enjoy so much as it's the cats.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:25 AM on August 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

I'm almost exclusively an indoor person but my friend Cassie has introduced me to the game Ingress which is a location-based portal-capturing game thing.

Anyway she (and her husband) have completed their McMenamin's passports* and she's my McMenamin's mentor and my Ingress** mentor. Today we did multiple Ingress missions and I got 4(?!) new stamps in my passport.

*McMenamins is this local chain of bars and restaurants and event places. You get a stamp in your passport for every location and you win prizes... etc.

**Anyone here playing Ingress? Ping me.
posted by bendy at 12:50 AM on August 27, 2017

I love camping. I'm not able to do it too often but I still really like it whenever I get a chance. Of course this is a small and cramped country so camping generally means a camping site with toilets and showers. But I like travelling around, especially on my motorbike, with my tent and everything I need to keep myself fed and comfortable. Over the years, I have gathered some pretty decent gear and so I can stuff everything in the bike cases and don't even need to strap anything to the bike. I always buy camping chairs and tents based on packing size: they need to fit into the bike cases or it's a no go. The cases are 23 x 32 x 46 cm (yes, I know that by heart). They're handmade, custom made to fit this bike.

Tents! I love older lightweight tents. Especially the type with one pole in the middle. I'm now the proud owner of this Nomad Mustang. Pretty vintage, since it's from the eighties (I think), but in good shape. It's not a quick tent to set up. Worth it though.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:45 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Being ancient and wiser than in previous decades, the outdoors I almost literally live for. And one of the liberating things about ageing is that it gets easier to walk away from time sinks such as dull conversations (sometimes mid-sentence) and arguing with some total stranger online when neither of you will change opinion. Instead, just throwing a small camera, bottle of water, paper and pens, and my always-on-standby pencilcase (cash for a pub drink, library cards, steel fork, aspirin, emergency Reeses Peanut Butter Cups) into a shoulder bag and out of the door in seconds.

I've probably mentioned all of the stuff that follows in previous MetaTalkTails, but a few of the outdoors places I've been to that I like are:

- Around here. Though I'm not fond of the town I'm currently in, the countryside no more than a few minutes walk away makes for good walking. And as it isn't marketed and doesn't have a reputation for how good it is, it's often empty of hikers, walkers, tour parties and the rest. A few months back I did a 19 mile countryside walk which was memorable because I did not see anyone else out walking the entire time. Some of my favorite pictures from recent walks around here.

- Outer Hebrides beaches. Lived there for five years, and had numerous beach-oriented holidays before and afterwards there. Almost always deserted, totally free of litter and disappointing signs of human activity. True, it's not as constantly hot as the Med or other beaches, but whatever. Pretty much the entire western side of the archipelago - and it's a long archipelago - is beaches, many spectacular. The ones on the island I lived on, Barra and Vatersay, Clachan Sands and Traigh Hornais. Pictures from other folk of the beach at Luskentyre on the isle of Harris.

- The Nordic countries: walking the streets of cities such as Stockholm and Bergen, exploring archipelagos, and wandering above the arctic circle.

- Rural midwest USA, especially Iowa. (This is usually the point where someone, in horror, exclaims "But Iowa is sooo boring because I drove I-80 once and it was so boring", and I've given up replying that if they had a spark of imagination and got off I-80 at some point and out of the tin can they were wedged in and wandered around a bit they would find it both more interesting and healthier). Too many examples to choose from, but rural town streets or sunsets, small town parades, fireflies or just out on the great plain is good.

When I had a recent brush with mortality, and noting that the reminders of same are coming a little more frequently at this age, I rewrote my list of places to go and visit and this time prioritised them; three are much higher than the others:

- A certain rock formation in the USA.
- The Lofoten islands in Norway.
- The Stockholm archipelago in Sweden, this time for a month of just ambling randomly between islands.

Oh, and on the arguing with people about the benefits of outdoors. Like most arguing, it's a time sink. Many who argue against are doing so in defence or justification of not-healthy things they do. If they go on and on, then on leaving I sometimes point out that if you go outside you may see this (Finland, Norway) and that makes any argument against the great outdoors utterly invalid.

And now, ironically, I'm off out for an eight to ten mile walk through harvested fields, woods, gently sloping hillsides and other quiet places until I reach a splendid rural pub.
posted by Wordshore at 3:55 AM on August 27, 2017 [14 favorites]

I love time spent in the rain forest walking through trees and monkeys, swamps and snakes, humidity and rain and green. Rubber boots, field pants, a blue shirt, a bandana, and binoculars, and I'll be set in the Taï Forest, in the Amazon, in coastal Kenya, and soon enough in Borneo. They all have their downsides - malaria, snakes, leaches, bullet ants. But honestly, waking up before dark, walking through the forest as it wakes up, and sitting under an enormous tree while Diana monkeys, or emperor tamarins, or black and white colobus, or - soon enough - mother and baby orangutans get their mornings started... it's amazing. I love it.

In the United States, I have less experience in the Big Wild Outdoors. I love urban outdoors, even if it's more mannered. My new favorite place is the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. I have been going there to read and get some writing done and sit under a pine tree with a particularly well-placed root and a blanket of pine needles and a very territorial blue jay.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:33 AM on August 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am currently in a tiny cottage high up on a cliff on Cape Breton Island. There are moose, bears, deer, and eagles, none of which I have seen yet, I only got here Friday. There is a beach down there I want to go walk on but so far the weather has not been cooperating. But the week is young . . . .
posted by JanetLand at 4:51 AM on August 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

5) Fairy Falls with additional jaunt to thermal areas just past it

So, a couple of decades ago my husbear and I met up with one of my oldest constant friends (we met when we were 12 or 13, we're still in each other's lives) and his wife for a Teton and Yellowstone camping vacation. Kurt's wife was severely vision limited, but she was game for nearly any adventure.

As part of our stay in Yellowstone, we got brown bag lunches and went off to do the Fairy Falls hike and beyond. I haven't been to that area since, but at the time the hike was through a swampy area through a large "forest" of burned out and falling trees, requiring careful stepping on downed logs to keep out of the mud and muck. Allison needed a lot of guidance to see where to set her feet, but I was game for helping her out and she was game for allowing me to help her, and while we weren't the fastest group hiking that trail, we definitely were the ones having the most sense of accomplishment doing the hike.

We got to Fairy Falls and Allison commented about how amazing the sound of the falls was and what it felt like to have the overspray of the falls hitting her face, two things that I hadn't even noticed because I was looking at the falls. Her observations led me to experience nature in a new way.

Later we hiked further on to what I believe was called Steamboat Geyser, a feature that was mostly inactive but which was having a rare eruption while we were there. We sat on the grass and ate our rather generous lunches not very far from that erupting geyser before we made our way back to the trailhead.

Overall, it was an amazing day with great friends full of amazing adventure and beautiful scenery. When we got back and talked to some rangers, they were amazed that the geyser was erupting and they got on the radio and reported it and the next day the dry erase boards that tracked geyser eruptions reflected what we had reported.

Not only was this trip amazing for the scenery, but being trusted by Allison enough to help her do a hike she could NEVER have done on her own to a place that was beyond the normal tourist zone and have her feel so great about having made the journey is a memory that has me weeping as I type this. Such a great trip, such a great memory!
posted by hippybear at 5:39 AM on August 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

After 10-odd days in urbanish bits of Bali, lovely as it was, two nights ago I got the urge to get out of the freneticism. I needed to flee. And so I found myself booking a seat on an ATR-42 that flew me for twenty minutes this morning over Nusa Penida across the Wallace Line (outdoors people nerd alert!!!) to Lombok, which might as well be a thousand miles away - different language, religion, flora, weather. The flight cost $35 USD return. (Aside: I booked it online but with a foreign SIM card couldn't use dual-factor authentication and so paid for my ticket in cash at a convenience store using a screenshot of the confirmation code. It was awesome and the guy used a dot-matrix printer. #yes)

I popped up at the gorgeous Selong Belanak beach, and instantly knew this was right. I needed to not hear five thousand people for a while and there's not much beside a few surf school/restaurants/shacks along the sand. I lost my sunglasses to the gentle waves and I laughed my head off; the wind was something this afternoon, launching a few umbrellas down the sand. And then some clouds blew in and made for the prettiest sunset. My bed has a mosquito net and I can see the stars have moved every hour or so as I look up at the dark sky.

I had an awful late July - a hectic work schedule right until the weekend before the start of this trip and a close friend's death to deal with (oddly, the same day as another friend's wedding that the deceased had just attended - our universe is bizarre, I tell you) - and I've been on the road since then, in cities across Australia and In Bali, seeing old friends and reminiscing and taking a lot of photos of healing greenery and reading Skyfaring, a great book about the intersection of man and planet and atmosphere. But something was itching inside me, a need to see something more primal, something more monumental or grounding. And this beach is it.

I grew up near the beach, and I've never lived too far from one, be it on the Baltic or the South China Sea. I love visiting them too! I've planned trips around Pangandaran and Elafonisi. Yet it rarely occurs to me to go on a weekend, to dig my toes in the sand, to swim, to fish, to invite people down for a barbecue. I'm gonna do that more.
posted by mdonley at 5:46 AM on August 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

I just had a micro-adventure in my yard cut short. I was cutting off overgrown oregano (one of the very few things that grow decently here, apart from dandelions, moss and mold). Before the slugs could get me (which would have happened, and that would have been the adventure), however, I was driven inside by a sudden violent gust of rain, more or less out of the clear sky. So here I find myself back behind my computer, eyeing out of the window. West Sweden, you just gotta love it.
posted by Namlit at 5:49 AM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Last year a pretty nice rock climbing area was opened up not too far from where I live. I'm excited to go back as we enter the brief "not too hot, not too cold, not too rainy" season.
posted by jedicus at 5:54 AM on August 27, 2017

As an adult, I really wish I'd joined the Scouts. I think I would have loved everything about it. I went to a meeting when I was in middle school, though, and it was just like school: the same kids, the same social hierarchies, all reinforced with ranks and honors.

I've talked to former Scouts, and they've all said that my experience sounds nothing like what it was for them, so I think it's just that I was living in what I still consider to be the jerkiest place on Earth. I guess sometimes that's the way it goes. I wish there had been another troop I could have joined, just for the weird loner/outcast kids.

I had a really good time in cub scouts, until a new guy became the local director or whatever that position is called -- the person overseeing all the local scouting groups. He turned out to be into muscular Jesus and prepping before it was called prepping (I mean, he wore surplus military fatigues to the meetings). I wasn't into militia-style scouting so I quit at that point. A year or two later, while visiting family in another state, I went to a Boy Scout summer camp and had an amazing time -- it was exactly the kind of friendly, supportive, and positive experience that should be available to everyone.

Now that the BSA has finally dropped some of its reprehensible policies, hopefully more people can get access to those kinds of events.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:55 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm normally an extremely indoor person, but in the last month I got to swim/wade in both Skagit Bay and Penobscot Bay, and it was wonderful. I'm still not going into the Gowanus Canal, though.
posted by moonmilk at 6:08 AM on August 27, 2017

I only started being outdoorsy about a year and a half ago when my partner took me on a hike in Donegal. The landscape was so beautiful I fell in love with being out in it. We joined a hiking group and started walking in the Mourne Mountains. Being Northern Ireland it's generally raining and windy and freezing, but all exhilarating and that. Then we booked a walking holiday this June in Northern Spain thinking well at least we'll have a week of looking at beautiful scenery through sunglasses rather than rain and the days when we were eating our wee lunch under a tree taking shelter from horizontal winds will seem a distant memory. Readers, it pissed it down for a week. Oh you impish weather gods! Apparently it is our lot to always be cold and wet when we're walking. But it was still stunning.
posted by billiebee at 6:24 AM on August 27, 2017

This is, incidentally, why I am not a field biologist.

This is why I am a *temperate* field biologist. Heat and sunshine give me headaches. Summers in the Adirondacks I can just about manage. Although from now on it'll be summers in the Delaware Water Gap.

And I think I may have volunteered to help with the Costa Rica spring break field course. What have I done.
posted by pemberkins at 6:36 AM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

And now, ironically, I'm off out for an eight to ten mile walk through harvested fields, woods, gently sloping hillsides and other quiet places until I reach a splendid rural pub.

This. This is what I want.
posted by cooker girl at 6:36 AM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

My only problem with camping is that every time I go, I find it harder to come back to the world. I joke with my friends that if I had some kind of dog with me, we'd wander out into the woods and maybe they'd see us again in ten years, wild avatars of the forest.

My latest purchase was finally giving up on the old foam-core roll-up pads that I'd been using since I was a cub scout and getting a Kelty backpacking air mattress. Just takes a minute to inflate and super comfortable. Packs down to just a few inches by inches.

Also apparently REI is having a sale through the end of Labor Day.
posted by curious nu at 7:15 AM on August 27, 2017

And my sleeping bag that I've had since I was 14 (35 years) had its zippers finally catastrophically fail when I went camping in the totality zone last weekend, so yay REI sale!
posted by hippybear at 7:27 AM on August 27, 2017

Hah! Also recently replaced my bag. I feel like I'm Future Camping now with how slick gear is compared to, uh, some of the stuff I was using from 30-ish years ago.

Still rocking the blue enamel camp cup, though.
posted by curious nu at 7:33 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I still have the same backpack I got 35 years ago. Stiff aluminum frame and so large that if it actually pack it full I can't carry it. I haven't actually been backpack camping in over a decade, but I am so familiar with how that feels on my back that I don't know how I'd feel about the new technology.

And yes, I have a green enamel camp cup. *clink*
posted by hippybear at 7:37 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I spent my twenties working in outdoor education, and camping was a huge part of my life. Now I live in a city far away from my mountains and the desert, and camping hasn't been a part of my life for the last couple of years and I miss it horribly, particularly in the summer.
posted by colfax at 7:39 AM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I’ve been living in a city for about three years now but before that, I spent most of my adult life living in the country, and most of that living in the mountains of the Mid-Atlantic region. I loved those mountains and there was a time in my life that I spent part of almost every day on the trails and roads that cut through the rivered valleys and over the wooded ridges.

The area I lived in was also replete with hunters. Almost everyone hunted. It was a valued tradition and interwoven into the culture, resulting in anachronistic local businesses such as specialty butchers, tanners, and gunsmiths. Even in the local hunting holidays like the first day of doe season and the one day of the year that bears could be hunted when they’d close the schools and banks so everyone could take advantage of the rare opportunity.

Because there were hunters there were also dogs. In this area, the coonhound ruled, and for good reason. They make great companion animals, they have the stamina needed for running up and down the gravity thick terrain, and as general purpose hunting dogs they’re great to have with you in the woods should you meet something much larger and hungrier than yourself. They work well in small or large groups, even individually, though that tends to be an area where their instincts don’t always work to their human companion’s advantage. Coonhounds are forever balancing the impulse to follow the pack against the impulse to follow a smell. So some dogs might have a greater proclivity to stay with you, and others might tend more toward independent investigation.

I’ve had three coonhounds at various times in my life and my favorite of the three was Addie. Addie was a strong and beautiful dog and she loved hiking the mountains with me. And once I was well off the roads, I could take her off her leash and she’d pretty much stay with me for the two or three hours we were in the woods. Sometimes she’d get distracted by a fresh scent, but I typically didn’t worry about it because her M.O. was pretty predictable. She did what her parents did, which was find the source of that scent and then bark at it until it went up a tree. That’s when I was supposed to step in and shoot the raccoon, possum, bear, whatever she’d treed. The problem with this scenario was that I didn’t hunt.

Addie did this dozens of times, and eventually, I learned that the most appropriate response was to ignore her. If I didn’t follow her baying eventually she’d leave the frightened animal and return to me on the trail. But she’d give me a look when she returned. It seemed clearly a look of disappointment. Not in me, because I don’t think dogs think that way, but in the lost opportunity, and maybe a little in herself. Perhaps she misunderstood something. Maybe she did something wrong.

One day, after about two hours on a trail, she hit a scent that crossed the trail and continued out to our right. Her body got rigid when she first picked it up and she lifted her head and looked in that direction. Then she tore off after whatever she smelled. I continued walking predicting the usual pattern of baying chase, and eventually loud repetitive bays and barks once she’d treed her target. But that’s not what I heard this time. It started with the same baying chase, and that continued deep into the woods, but then she went silent. Then a few short bays far ahead, then silence, though I could hear chase in the distance, then closer, and then farther. Then a few bays behind me, then silence and chase again. That’s when I saw it. About 60 yards ahead of me a black bear crossed the trail, followed about five seconds later by Addie. Then more chasing, and then the bear crossed back over the trail about 30 yards away. Then it hit me. Holy shit. Since I wasn’t coming to the bear, she was bringing the bear to me. When she crossed after the bear I called her. She seemed a bit confused but she came to me. I put her on the leash and kept her on it for the next couple of miles until I was sure we were far from the bear.

She was an incredibly smart dog, and she really was wasted on me. I think we both knew it. On the bright side, at least I took her into the woods on an almost daily basis which she absolutely loved, even if I was incompetent companionship.
posted by Stanczyk at 8:35 AM on August 27, 2017 [14 favorites]

JanetLand, I'm writhing with envy - I LOVE Cape Breton and would seriously move there if I could.

I'm off out for an eight to ten mile walk through harvested fields, woods, gently sloping hillsides and other quiet places until I reach a splendid rural pub

One of the most pleasant working experiences of my entire life was working on the Jurassic Coast (in Dorset for those of you not familiar). We'd spend all morning on the beachside cliffs, wander up to a pub for lunch, go back, work hard, then wander up to a cliffside local's pub for a true shandy and to talk about all the amazing fossils we had all seen that day, all wind burned and our clothes stiff with sea spray. The best days were when we got to hike on the trails on top of those amazing chalk cliffs for a few miles, then stop at the pub. It was magical. I've had a lot of work trips when I was really happy but I don't think I've ever had one in which I felt so content.

(I also came to really appreciate how some of the "freedom to roam" laws work in the UK.)

In the last few years I had to replace a lot of my gear which I've had for years and I'm kind of flabbergasted at the advances in materials science and gear design. I thought I would never ever ever give up my MSR backpacking stove but I got talked into a JetBoil and it's become my favorite piece of camp equipment. I was never one of those people who was very good at manipulating a stove while in a sleeping bag (not in a tent, not about to gas myself) but now when I sleep without a tent and wake up, I can have hot tea or coffee straight from the mug-pot and gaze at the sunrise in a matter of minutes, still wrapped all cozily in my bag!
posted by barchan at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here in Dublin, I'm 20-60 minutes from a ton of interesting trails and routes,

carbide, I so miss hiking in the Howth cliffs! (Especially the second half of the cliff loop, beyond the reach of even the most adventurous tourists :) ) When I lived in Dublin, it was my favorite way to spend Sunday.

Due to lack of driving instinct, I'm limited mostly to urban explorations - I like walking around and finding interesting buildings, parks, public art, people's gardens etc. Since I moved around a lot, this is also a good way to discover your new city and feel like you belong there, getting to know all the weird and wonderful places. Although sometimes it'd be easier with someone local, because there are some locations/things that are hidden and you might walk past without knowing!

In fact, I'm right now trying to decide where to go today - any Boston area recommendations? Have done Revere Beach/Wonderland, M St Beach and the Castle Island, Boston Harbor Islands, Arboretum (wish it was three times as big!), Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Brookline (my super favorite), Fresh Pond in Cambridge (lovely but the fence all around the actual pond is depressing), Jamaica Pond, the Fens, obvs Public Garden and Boston Common, MT Auburn Cemetery, both sides along the Charles from Brighton to downtown... I feel like I've been everywhere and am out of ideas based on Gmaps :)

What should it be today? Franklin Park? Middlesex Fells looks awesome on a map, but it's going to be like 1.5 hrs bus/train commute each way. I can always walk to Harvard Sq and just walk around Cambridge, that's my backup plan...
posted by Ender's Friend at 9:43 AM on August 27, 2017

Minute Man Park is about an hour from Boston on the commuter line, and it's lovely.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:06 AM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

In the last few years I had to replace a lot of my gear which I've had for years and I'm kind of flabbergasted at the advances in materials science and gear design. I thought I would never ever ever give up my MSR backpacking stove but I got talked into a JetBoil and it's become my favorite piece of camp equipment.

My introduction to hiking and camping was a few backcountry hikes with a friend, and since I was starting from zero I relied a lot on her advice about what gear to buy. Tent and sleeping bag: still great (although my wife and I have since bought a bigger car-camping tent). Pad and stove: oh my $deity. After completely failing even to boil water using nearly every bit of solid fuel I had on one family camping trip I bought a Jetboil before the next trip. So much better. The fancy Thermarest I recently acquired was also a huge improvement over the ridged foam thing that sure had seemed like a good idea at the time, even if it is heavier.

I liked the fit and weight of the pack I bought, but I hated that it was a top-loader. Since there weren't any panel loaders that fit me as well it was a necessary evil, but I think if I planned any backcountry trips in the future I'd probably go pack shopping again just to be sure the perfect pack hadn't come out since then. For day hikes I sure like my Osprey pack (I have last year's version of the Stratos 24) because nothing else comes close the "Airspeed" suspension / ventilation design on my sweaty back.

Bonus gear item: when we bought the car camping tent we thought about buying one of the fancy Big Agnes tents with built-in lights, but instead we got a regular tent and a Luminoodle, which we string through the gear loops inside the tent. Much better than a lantern or hanging a flashlight. Totally recommended. Note: there are now cheap knockoffs on Amazon, but I don't know if they're any good or not.
posted by fedward at 10:44 AM on August 27, 2017

My outdoorsy (by which I mean mostly camping) experience divides up into two groups: Boy Scouts and post-divorce. I had the benefit of belonging to a couple of good troops in rural Wisconsin, and they had an annual summer trip to Camp Decorah, as well as smaller camping expeditions in the other seasons. It was great, even when we were playing tag at night and I ran face-first into a tree and came home with scabs on my face. On one trip, some of the guys were trying to toast bread on sticks and not doing a great job, and I suggested frying it in butter using the little frying pan that came with our old fashioned mess kits, and it was delicious and I felt like a fucking genius. Conversely, I got soured on the Scouts when I moved to the big city and tried out a troop there; it was pretty clear that they were mostly a bunch of dicks, but it was confirmed when we went on the annual summer camping trip. (Even though I was teased and bullied, I got a little of my own back when we went on an overnight canoeing trip and the leaders, who were no great shakes either, had us camping in what was basically a swamp with the worst mosquito infestation that I have ever endured; it was mighty amusing to see some of these would-be tough guys freak out due to exhaustion, lack of sleep, and getting bitten every two seconds.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades or so, and my marriage is starting to fall apart. I'd been fantasizing about hiking the Appalachian Trail for a few years, mostly I think as a sort of mental escape, and my wife had made it very clear that she was not interested in any form of camping that didn't include cabins with running water and electricity, so one of the first things that I did was buy some camping gear and drove to Raccoon Mountain, where I had a pretty good time sleeping in my new tent and making coffee with my new portable stove... and when I got back I put away my used-once camping gear and didn't use it again for ten years. Mostly, I think, because I was really starting to get into my heavy drinking career; it's a good deal that I didn't switch into drunk camper mode. I didn't start camping again until I started doing RAGBRAI. That's really more like demi-camping, since I've never seen anyone in a tent break out a portable stove or do any other sort of cooking themselves (that seems mostly limited to people in RVs who have grills, and maybe outfits like Team Gourmet), and it's always in an overnight town with plenty of sources for food, and in a group of thousands of other people camping out at the same time, but it's still outside of my comfort zone a bit; between spending all day on a bicycle and sleeping in a tent, I'm basically outside for an entire week, actually a bit more. And it's kind of fun, but I'm also very happy to be back in a real bed by the end. My only non-RAGBRAI camping since the early aughts was last weekend, when I camped in southern Illinois the night before the eclipse; it was a permanent campsite in a state park with showers and running water and electricity hookups, and while it was likewise fun and kind of nostalgic, I was likewise glad that it was only one night.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Green River Overlook, off The Island in the Sky, near Moab. Health warning, from Edward Abbey. Grandview Point, two views. The other. Well, and another.
posted by Oyéah at 10:50 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

DC has an odd, and not entirely positive, relationship with the National Park Service, which manages many of the public lands. The bad part is that NPS doesn't do enough basic maintenance (mowing, weeding, clearing snow in winter) and brings some really bad bureaucracy to the process of getting a permit (wanna have a wedding in a public park in DC? You more or less can't, because they won't grant a permit to an individual, just to a company or non-profit organization). The good part is that every morning I can wait for the bus on what is technically NPS land (#FindYourPark at Sherman Circle in Petworth) and on weekends they shut down the main road through Rock Creek Park to cars, and there are trails that will get you away from the city's hum at least temporarily. When Apple's fitness app had a National Park Challenge, we were able to do a 3.5 mile loop hike and then hop in a Car2go to get home. Couldn't do that on the North Kaibab Trail.
posted by fedward at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

it's just that when you see them in the wild it's usually up close and personal and so damn unexpected

No kidding! I don't have any particular phobia about snakes, but still....

I was out hiking along a trail once and happened to notice a large pile of branches off to one side. This was out in the middle of nowhere, and it didn't look animal-made, so I got curious and started walking over to get a better look. I was about 10-15 feet away when a snake darted out from under the pile, coming in my exact direction. It wasn't big, maybe 1.5-2 feet long, and I could tell immediately it wasn't a venomous type, probably just a harmless ol' black snake. Even so it startled the hell out of me. In a perfect bit of spontaneous shtick the snake and I simultaneously stopped, turned and bolted off in different directions. Even laughing at the little scene and knowing I was in no real danger, it still took a few minutes for my heart rate to calm back down.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

My boy scout troop used to devote one day of its annual 50 mile hike to hunting rattlesnakes out in the Gila National Forest and we'd have fried snake for dinner that night.

They're easy to kill once you know the technique and they aren't great eating but after several days of 80s freeze-dried camping food, you're happy to have something that is more like real food.
posted by hippybear at 11:28 AM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I enjoy hiking but I need hills and there are none where I live (Cambridge - basically one of the flattest bits of the UK). I've been thinking for a while that I could drive to the Peak District and do a day hike, but I wasn't sure how feasible it was with traffic. Anyway, I decided to give it a try so I took a day off work, set off early and it went okay - it took around 4 hours to get to the southern bit of the Peak District, I did a nice easy walk along the Manifold Valley to Thor's Cave, and managed to get home by around 9 without feeling like I'd wrecked myself.
posted by crocomancer at 11:31 AM on August 27, 2017

Speaking of gear, I could spend my entire paycheck at REI because I NEED ALL THE THINGS. Yet I don't need all the things because I want my pack to be lighter, not heavier! What a conundrum.

I think my favorite backpacking trip was in the Colorado Rockies. My parents still live in Denver so I often ask them to drive me places, drop me off and pick me up days later. This time they dropped me off at the Moffat Tunnel, which has a trailhead that goes up to the Crater Lakes. We set up camp at the lower lakes and hiked along the South Boulder Creek trail doing day hikes out to Heart Lake, Clayton Lake, the upper Crater Lake, and up Rogers Pass to the Continental Divide. What amazing views! I wish we had time to see the Iceberg Lakes and other surrounding areas but we ran out of time. I'll go back again someday for sure.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love camping, and I love being outdoors. I especially love barchan's definition of outdoorsy. When my arthritis is bad, it's hard to walk on anything but pavement, and the cold is an issue, too. As a kid, I went camping with the Girl Scouts and my family sailed at a small lake. We played outdoors whenever the weather was acceptable, rode bikes everywhere. I'm not as active, but in Maine, access to nature is everywhere, so I still feel connected. I got my lifetime National Parks Pass - 1st real senior discount - possibly the best.
posted by theora55 at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm still amazed by the west coast 9 years after I moved here, and I still have so much of it to explore. Driving around town I can see two mountains on clear days (and from a couple of the higher places I can see four) I've visited 3 different "corners" (sort of) of Oregon, and I'll be visiting the fourth in about a month. It's a damn big state though, and there's so many more places yet to eplore...not to mention Washington, California, and a few other places on my bucket list.

I should say I'm not much of one for intrepid hardcore back-country exploring or camping, but I love the outdoors and landscape photography, and I've had wonderful times visiting car-accessible places and doing short day hikes. Here's a few off the top of my head:

- The Columbia River gorge, including amazing views from Vista House and Rowena Crest Viewpoint (thought I had a pic, but can't find it) (the twisty bit of road from the cliff top at the viewpoint down to where the Historic Columbia Highway briefly meets the Interstate about halfway between Mosier and The Dalles is mighty fun, oh my yes), and many waterfalls in between. The drive along Highway 14 on the Washington side is wonderful. I haven't yet done the full Historic Columbia River Highway jaunt, because it seems like some part or another of it is always closed for repairs, but one of these days...

- Anywhere along US-101 on the Oregon coast is spectacular - sheer cliffs, big rocks, waves and ancient lava in perpetual tussle, sand dunes, hidden coves, lighthouses, shipwecks, beautiful sunsets.... And good fresh seafood, of course.

- Trillium Lake near Mt. Hood is about my favorite campground ( far). It has a reasonably decent view.

- Wallowa Lake in the NE area of the state, formed by Pleistocene glaciers, includes a bonus tram to a nearby mountain top complete with a decent cafe.

- Volcano!

- Steens Mountain and Alvord Playa in the SE part of the state. It was very clear that weekend and the stars were beautiful. After dark I stepped away from the campfire to look up at the sky, and for a little while I was able to see the millions of brilliant dots as the 3-dimensional view into deep space that they actually are, instead of the usual sense of looking at a flat sheet of pinpricks at a uniform distance up in space somewhere. Unfortunately we were there a little early in the year and the road up to the peak of the mountain was still closed due to snow. But hey, a reason to go back, and next time I'm gonna drive out onto the playa too!

- Years ago when my son was around 7 or 8 we took a trip from western to eastern North Carolina to a campground on the coast somewhere between Wilmington and the SC border. We managed to get everything set up and I had just stared building a fire when the breeze suddenly kicked up and the late afternoon sun disappeared behind an enormous thunderhead. I barely had enough time to get all our stuff inside the tent before the heavens opened up and it poured...and poured...and poured. It kept raining for hours, so we sat in the tent eating "raw" s'mores and having a fine old time. Fortunately the next day was beautiful and we managed to get plenty of beach time in before heading home that afternoon.

- One from my youth: For some reason my friend, his older brother, his brother's friend, and I decided on a whim to go camping on the central Florida January. If you're under the impression that it never ever gets cold in Florida, I'm here to disabuse you of your notion! It got well down into the 30's (F) after dark, and it was very windy, and of course being teenagers we weren't well prepared. We all huddled in our cheap-ass sleeping bags that night fully dressed except for shoes. I don't think any of us got much sleep, but as irrepressible teens we had lots of laughs anyway. Of course we didn't happen to mention the "damn near froze" part to our parents when we got back.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:06 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm sitting on the sofa instead of putting away camping gear like I should be. We've done our last planned family camping trip of the year and so I'm trying to do a better job of storing stuff than I would in, say, June, when it all just gets thrown on the shelves.

I have two more camping trips planned, both with my Girl Scouts, but one is in covered wagons and the other is actually inside. So I need my sleeping bag and mess kit, but tents are going away until the spring, when I'll need mine as a judge at a Girl Scout outdoor skills competition.

My family is considering camping into the fall, which we never do, so there's a chance I'll have to drag all the gear out again.

Re gear: I looove my NEMO sleeping bag, which is just the right temperature and has a lovely flap for burrowing under, but when I washed it just now (it needed it), I noticed the fabric in the inside at the foot area is significantly beaten up. It's not like I wear shoes to bed. Has anyone else had this happen? I've had this sleeping bag for two years; I have other bags I've owned for decades that don't have signs of wear there. I'm trying to decide if I should ask REI for a refund, because it's already showing damage, or if I should accept that this is a thing that happens.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2017

Hey, this sounds like a great place to mention that some of us are organizing a meetup in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for sometime in September! We're planning to do a fairly easy/moderate day hike in the 4-5 mile range, somewhere with great views. Right now we're just trying to zero in on a specific date and hike, but I think we'll have that soon. If you're interested and reasonably local, come check it out! We'll probably stop off at a brewpub or something like that, for a post-hike meal. There should be some good color in the trees, too!
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:47 PM on August 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

I haven’t been out as much as I should this year, but I did go birding to Rainham Marshes on Friday [in Essex, just east of London], which was nice; nothing too remarkable bird-wise, but it was hot and sunny and good to be outside in it. And I took a picture of a weevil that visited me in one of the hides, and the beetle people on Facebook got all excited about it and told me it was the second UK record. So that was a nice bonus.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:10 PM on August 27, 2017

I just came back in from a looooong walk (interrupted by a bus ride from one leg to the next one), in both Fort Tilden and Floyd Bennett field; they're both part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, each place at either end of a bridge, so it's only two MTA stops between them and I did both.

New York harbor is lousy with abandoned and decommissioned military forts, and most of them have been turned over to the parks department. So all over the city you have these places which are all in different places on the continuum from "just got shuttered yesterday, so is basically still intact" to "nature has reclaimed the space". The better-kept historic buildings at Fort Tilden are all by the bus stop, and then you cross the parade grounds and hit the beach, with some of the only dunes left in New York - or you walk past the parking lot for the old chapel and you're in the grasslands with the path leading you past both of the old batteries. I kept seeing sandpipers at the edge of the waves, dodging in and out of the surf trying to eat. I was just seeing them in twos and threes, though - until I got to a point about midway down the beach and saw a huge flock of them, dozens and dozens, all huddled on the beach about 10 yards back from the surf and all just sitting and facing the water. A seagull stood in the middle of the flock like it was their study hall monitor or something. Later, back in the grasslands around the batteries, another smaller flock of pipers flew over my head - and it was so still I could actually hear their wings flapping.

At Floyd Bennett I stuck to just wandering a couple of the old runways and looking at the grassland reclamation area - a huge swath of ground turned back into a wildflower-filled meadow. Right now the most populous flower seemed to be goldenrod but I saw aome black-eyed susans in there as well. Speaking of hearing things, there was also some leafy plant that came on ten-foot stalks, and the wind blowing through the leaves made a sound that sounded like a small group of people politely clapping.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:10 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Later we hiked further on to what I believe was called Steamboat Geyser, a feature that was mostly inactive but which was having a rare eruption while we were there. We sat on the grass and ate our rather generous lunches not very far from that erupting geyser before we made our way back to the trailhead.

So. So. So jealous you got to see Steamboat in an active (even if it was just steam phase, as it sounds like because when Steamboat erupts in truth you run, literally, fast and far) moment. Sheesh, you really hit the jackpot.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:42 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Citation: "Steamboat does not erupt on a predictable schedule, with recorded intervals between major eruptions ranging from four days to fifty years." It is a beast. The boardwalk placard for it features a picture of another major eruption occurring with someone sprinting for all they are worth away from it, sorry I can't find that picture on the internets.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:45 PM on August 27, 2017

At this stage in my life I have no interest in activities that take me out of reach of indoor plumbing. My outdoor activities are mostly confined to my back yard, where I like to take a paperback and a vodka tonic, and have a seat in the shallow end of my cee-ment pond. It's a fine way to spend an afternoon in South Florida.
posted by Daily Alice at 4:58 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm going to let Frank O'Hara speak for me:

One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life.

(However, I did enjoy rambling in the Cotswolds once, except for the village that was straight out of The Wicker Man.)
posted by betweenthebars at 5:33 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:46 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you guys ever come to south central Alaska I can tell you about all the best places

Highly recommended!!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:48 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, after the eclipse we went and did the 1/2 mile hike at Hell's Half Acre about 20 minutes west of Idaho Falls. It was bleak and a little scary. Very alien. Lots of very deep gaps that were only about 4 or 8 or 10 inches across. Hikers are advised not to try it in the snow, since all the gaps are hidden and, well, that would be bad.

This place is basically a bunch of black lava rock that's fairly recently vented and still looks like a volcano did something there. There are a few hardy juniper plants and the occasional cactus, but one is basically walking on rock the entire time. If you're bored of walking on soil or sand, this is an alternative to that.

There is a longer all-day hike one could take to "the vent", but I think you'd want perfect ankles and perfect balance to try it. Also a lot of sunscreen and water.

Was it cool? In the non-temperature sense, yes.
posted by amtho at 6:13 PM on August 27, 2017

My current favorite trail is the loop in Redwood Regional Park (in Oakland) you can make with the Bridle Trail, Mill Trail, and French Trail, and variations thereof. The trail head is 10 minutes from my house and it's always beautiful.

You park by the fish ladder near the Redwood Gate, and start your run or hike at the bottom of the canyon, which if you're lucky is cool and empty (aside from the friendly guy at the gate). You get a nice warmup on the Bridle Trail, which at the start runs mostly flat next to Redwood Creek (where they identified/discovered Rainbow Trout, once upon a time).

After a while, the Bridle Trail starts to climb the side of the canyon, and you have a pleasant single-track experience in the laurels and redwoods, while you look down at the people walking on the main drag about 50 feet below you. At various points you have to let the dog go in front of you because the trail is narrow and overgrown with Himalayan raspberries and/or poison ivy.

After a mile or so, the Bridle Trail dumps you back on the Stream Trail, but then you cut off to the left and climb sharply up the Mill Trail to the French Trail. Which is awesome: it runs for miles along the canyon wall, through the best of the redwoods, climbing and dropping. On a weekday there's hardly anyone on it. The last mile of it is particularly nice because it mostly levels out, and it follows the wall of the canyon in and out of gulleys, and thus between different kinds of trees: dark and cool redwoods in the gulleys, and open warm laurels and live oaks on the ridges.

At last you come to the point where you can decide to climb steeply another half-mile to the West Ridge Trail, or wimp out (like I usually do) and go down down down watch your step holy crap this is steep! on the Orchard Trail. Watch out for the spot near the bottom where a live oak came down during the winter, and maybe you'll get really lucky and spot a bobcat like I did some years ago.

And then back to the car and home. And then you can have bacon with breakfast.

Anyway, if any local MeFis see a middle-aged woman with a big friendly black GSD in Redwood Park, it could be me!
posted by suelac at 6:24 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

"I think starting the Northwest Chapter of the MeFi Scouts should be a thing to do. Whenever we do a meetup out here, I'm always impressed by the things that people totally nerd out on, and I know there are a lot of us with young kids. What could be more fun than going to John Day Fossil Beds and geeking out with our kids on paleontology or Newberry Volcanic National Monument learning about geology or climbing Mt. Adams and learning about high altitude physiology?"

I would be so there for this. I constantly leverage my science friends and nerd friends to take my science-loving kids rock hunting or stargazing or what have you.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:46 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

looks like a volcano did something there.

"Bad volcano! Bad volcano!! Do I have to rub your cone it it??"
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:49 PM on August 27, 2017

"Now go to your magma chamber and think about what you just did!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:50 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mother Nature and I are currently in a fight and I am not much of a camper but I do have some lovely memories of places I've been.

The San Juan Islands. I went on a completely spur of the moment trip up to Bellingham (because that's where the cheapest flight on Allegiant was going) and used it as an excuse to go to the islands. I wandered all over, but my favorite spot was right at the tip of Cattle Point. It was windy as hell, colder than I expected, and I loved being completely alone squinting out at the whitecaps on the waves.

The Maine woods. As part of an epic road trip last summer, I ended up driving through the Maine woods to a charmingly old fashioned B&B. Once I arrived, I sat on a lawn chair and admired their very witchy, very black, perfectly round pond. No internet that far out, so I couldn't check to see where The Witch of Blackbird Pond was set. I still don't know but I like to think it was out there.

The far corner of Thailand on the border of Myanmar. My best friend dragged me on a road trip from BKK to the countryside. I wasn't exactly prepared for Kanchanaburi, but let me assure you, the teak over-the-water huts of our resort definitely made up for it. I remember watching the raindrops fall on the water as we sat there looking out at the sunset.

The Inside Passage. I know going to Alaska via cruise ship is not great from a sustainability standpoint but the trip through the Inside Passage when I was a teenager remains a highlight, four continents of travel later. I sat up on the very top deck, buried under a flannel blanket because it was cold even in June surrounded by all those glaciers, and watching the ice on every glacier go from blue to blinding white.

Somewhere in jungl-y coastal Colombia. A good friend decided her experience in the small town where we were would not be complete unless we tubed down the river nearby. So we did, river to sea, and neither of us ever having tubed in our lives. Every time we hit--literally--the riverbank I freaked out about poisonous snakes and she freaked out about capsizing. The hill we climbed to get to the river combined with the humidity and the heat almost gave me an asthma attack that a twisted ankle finished off. It was so, so fun.
posted by librarylis at 8:22 PM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ah, suelac, Redwood Regional Park is one of my favorite parks, too! We usually do that exact same loop when we go there, because we can get a lot of flexibility; depending on how we're feeling, we can always bail early from the French Trail by taking the Chown Trail instead of the Orchard Trail.

An alternate route that I really like is to take the Stream Trail past the stream crossing (where the Mill Trail is) and take Tres Sendas to the Starflower Trail to the French Trail. The forest gets deep and dark in there, and I've rarely seen other people that far along. It's a pretty steep climb, but I absolutely love the way the forest looks in there.

I'm also a huge fan of Briones Regional Park, which takes longer to get to, but is just beautiful. I love the grasslands and the cows, and there's a lot of different trails to explore depending on what we're feeling like. It's my very favorite park in the area (Redwood Regional is a close second), and it's my favorite park to visit at the end of the day. I don't think dusk looks more beautiful anywhere else, and sometimes you can stop and just hear the breeze blowing through the tall grasses. Plus, the cows. Heavenly. It can get incredibly hot, though -- we were going to go today, but it was 108 degrees! I guess we spend more time there in the autumn...

One of these days I'd like to go camping at one of the campsites at Black Diamond Mines RP. You have to hike in to them, so I'd imagine they must be as quiet as any campsite within easy striking distance of the Easy Bay.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:39 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just dropped by to offer a cute cat brief-video-on-loop, courtesy of metafilter chat.
posted by aniola at 10:46 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I could really go for people just yammering on about their favorite trails...

My regular walk, long variation, very roughly clockwise direction. I do shorter versions of this most days; the long format is for when I don't have much on and the weather is not bad. It's also okay to do, for the most part, in darkness or bad weather. A few pictures I've taken on the way linked in.

1. Leave the house with the bare minimum packed in the lightest and smallest bag possible. Wave to the neighbors cats. Briefly (you are on a walk) watch the greenface (pagan) morris dancers if they are around, and head to the canal (several different ways there) which is about five minutes away, and head north-ish.

2. The first part of this walk is the most boring. Keep going, past where the canal joins the river. Follow it round the various curves, passing the village on the other side - you'll visit it soon - on the way. For a shorter variation, take the chain ferry across the river and go to step 6.

3. Cross over the weir, and come to the main road. There is an okay but not great pub to your left. Ugh, traffic and human noises. Cross over the bridge and bear left immediately. There are several footpaths. Do not take the one that goes through the field of cows as they can and do run quickly. Take the next one, and amble on it as it curves round to Sutton Bonington.

4. Have a wander around the village. There are a couple of pubs here, and a shop. It's a quite rural village, with interesting shop window displays, and you'll often see cows. If there's an event going on at the hall, then it's worth popping in.

5. Head south on the road out of the village, beware of moles, cross back over that busy main road, and dive down the road into the village.

6. This is Normanton, a pretty village. It has a nice church (and they do a good cheese board at some events) and a good pub with a beer garden by the river. Depending on your day and time, there's also a small provisions shop here.

7. Leave the village on the south road. There are often nice views looking back. If hungry, forage.

8. If they are around, talk to the crows.

9. Walk over Fox Hill, down the lane, and enter the village. Keep heading south-ish. Pass the church, ignore the road turning under the railway bridge and bear off down the lane towards Cotes. Stay parallel to the bridge for a while. When you pass her house, cheerily wave at the local MP if she is sitting in her garden, vengefully plotting the downfall of the Prime Minister.

10. Head through Cotes, bear roughly south east, cross over a few roads, and look for signs to a cemetery or burial site. The better routes there cross farming fields on footpaths.

11. Occasionally you'll meet druids doing a ceremony or ritual around here. They are friendly and sometimes have bread or mead to share. Say hello.

12. Continue up the hill, walk past a few more fields, cross over the road, plunge into the wood to your left, and emerge onto a big field. You'll see a stately home in the distance. Head a little to the near side of it.

13. Stop at the bench outside the church set in a deep wood. A good spot for a picnic. Thirsty now? That problem will shortly be solved...

14. Walk south, through a short wood, and over a small country lane. Take the well-marked footpath that crests the hill, and bear towards the cricket pitch clearly visible below. Go either side of it.

15. When you hit the lane into the village turn left (east) and wander into the village. Check out any local events, attend and participate.

16a. Go to the pub. Intend only staying for half and hour and half a pint, but instead stay several hours and for several pints. Even in winter it will be cosy.

16b. Have a good time, and feed Pip the pub dog. Attend any events taking place in the pub.

17. Reluctantly leave the pub and strike west. This involves stretches of long straight roads, and fields. Head for the lights in the far distance.

18. Keep walking. You will probably encounter just one or two cars in the first few miles, even if on roads. Turn north-ish at some point and this time skirt around Cotes along whichever of the footpaths takes your fancy. From the north of Cotes, head in a gentle curve through west and south, and then you're back at base.
posted by Wordshore at 3:56 AM on August 28, 2017 [11 favorites]

Sounds blissful Wordshore; my only problem would be making it back after those pints!
posted by JanetLand at 4:52 AM on August 28, 2017

Like The Underpants Monster, I did some Shakespeare in the park this summer. Specifically, in Alexandra Park in Manchester, where we staged King Lear as a promenade around the little boating lake. It worked surprisingly well-- we had woods for the storm scene, an open field for the final battle, and ended the play in the same courtyard where it began. I was lucky enough to play Kent, which was challenging but so great.

Working in Manchester was kind of a revelation-- people live and work in a city and it doesn't drive them crazy?? People can actually live without the protective shell of jaded I-hate-everything cynicism that you grow against the London awfulness?? I mean, Manchester still has crowds at rush hour, but the crowds are at least above ground on a cute tram.

Plus, I was staying with friends out in New Hey, and there's a footpath near their place that leads up to the reservoirs and the moorland beyond. Green hills! I couldn't get enough of them. I spent every tram ride staring at the Pennines. I'm back in London now, and I miss them.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:04 AM on August 28, 2017

As an afterthought, this Housman poem has stayed with me from those weeks.
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A. E. Housman
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:06 AM on August 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love the outdoors. I like interacting with it and also observing it from a distance. I haven't been camping much since I became a fussy sleeper but one of my greatest joys is being on a road trip or in a new city for work and finding some weird little hiking trail that takes you to the middle of nowhere and you find a secret space, surprise mouse, or some sort of boardwalk. It's one of those great things you can take with you when you travel, so you always have a thing to do--visit the outdoors, visit the library--hiking/walking is my main exercise when the weather is good, and my loose fitness goal is 10 miles a week and sometimes I get close. The trick is finding trails that are long enough so you can do a few miles in an hour or so, at a good clip, and wind up where you started. I like looking at wildlife and especially birds and am an avid birdfeeder. I go out for the Christmas Bird Count every year and I do Feeder Watch in the wintertime. I've been staying a lot at my parents' places this summer and realized that they both have pretty amazing backyard bird and wildlife viewing in slightly different ways. Places I like that are not my home.

- Quoddy Head State Park in Maine - an amazing area that is far enough from everything that you have it to yourself
- The Hoh Rainforest - amazing trees, so much moss
- The ocean - anywhere the ocean is especially the beach in wintertime
- Blue Hills Reservation in MA has some nice trails that I have find memories of with my best guy but ALSO a weird little single-plank boardwalk that goes straight through a marshy area and ends at the pond and it's terrifically magical

At my mom's Life Celebration we did last weekend, we read The Peace of Wild Things which was a favorite of hers and mine. I'm in a bad mood lately (politics, family, etc) and I read it to myself almost like a punk song but I do read it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:40 AM on August 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

I missed this yesterday because I was on a trail in Shenandoah National Park.
posted by COD at 5:50 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

My family was not at all outdoorsy growing up. I never camped and I had never been on a hike until I lived in Israel. When we hiked in Israel, though, it was really like Hiking 404 with steep climbing and many, many miles. When I moved back to the states, I thought that's what a hike was. I didn't realize a hike could be just a walk in the woods, so I declined many a hike until I was older. Now I adore taking hikes (101-201). Especially in national parks. Husband and I love RVing and while he's not such a fan of the hike, I love taking long rambling walks in nature. We plan to retire to live the RV life and I will ramble at will.

This weekend I opened a new apiary in Elysian park in Los Angeles in a beautiful grove of eucalyptus. I am so excited about spending time with the bees near Dodgers Stadium every month!
posted by Sophie1 at 7:02 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

YAS A THREAD FOR ME. but also I'm late too it because I was hiking part of the Devil's Path in the Catskills this past weekend, and reentry into reality has been a bit harsh. (the weather was finally cool enough to do a super strenuous hike- I don't hike if it's over 70 degrees mid day because I am a sweaty gross beast).

I've been working in my fancy city job to be able to afford to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world... some of my more notable trips were the Enchantment's in Cascades, taking ferries to hike in the Lofoten's in Norway, mindblowly stunning winter hikes to ski around Kootenay pass (not my picture, but the 3 trips I've done there have had snow like that).

But honestly, the weekends I just pop up to the Catskills, or to even Harriman State park are still pretty awesome, and I'm fortunate that I both get the benefits of being 100% city person during the week and get to escape to some pretty damn fine mountains regularly.

I'm so fortunate that my family is super outdoorsy, and I've really tried to bring as many of my friends as I can outside the city; you can carefully tailor a trip to be enjoyable for everyone if you give it some thought (and I definitely consider a quiet amble through a park to be just as fine as a 3 day hike. I'm not picky), and I really feel it's for the best for everyone to go look at some trees regularly.

Anyways. I love the outdoors, and hiking and all that jazz. and I'm always happy to talk about outdoorsy things.
posted by larthegreat at 7:57 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lar: how do you get there? Any suggestions for a middle-aged person looking for something kind of easy-to-mid-range, and solo, without a car?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 AM on August 28, 2017

For anyone who wants the lush growth of a rain forest without the hot stickiness or the concern that when you trip, all you can do is put your arms straight forward to break your fall because if you reach out to a nearby tree to catch yourself you might well grab hold of something deadly (or something that will make you wish it had been deadly), then allow me to recommend the Azores. Volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic, and a five hour direct flight from Boston. You will explore jungles that will make think you are walking through Jurassic Park only with cedars and laurels, you will canoe in volcanic craters, maybe soak in some geothermal springs, and then you will come out from your hike and sip vinho verde in tiny Mediterranean-style towns while you eat some of the best seafood of your life.
posted by solotoro at 8:29 AM on August 28, 2017

EC: Harriman is easy to get too and has a bunch of fun trails; they actually have a half decent website run by volunteers with a bunch of instructions about how to get to different trails from the various trains around it's border. The Red-dot (RD or Ramapo-Durham) trail is a pretty good trail and it's about half a mile from the tuxedo train station. I think the train is roughly ~22-25$ round trip. There's also a hiker shuttle to get you to other trails; the last few years the volunteer group chartered a school bus, but I'm not sure if it's still running past labor day.

If you're willing to drop some money to be chauffeured (round trip) and guided (which is probably worth it if you're unfamiliar with hiking in the general area) I've heard really, really good things about Discover Outdoors. I've run into a women's group hiking in the Catskills and they seemed to be having a blast; there looks to be a more gentle starter series that might be interesting to explore.
posted by larthegreat at 8:35 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love this topic. Last year I did some great camping. I got to go camping beside the UNESCO site Wadi el Hitan (also known as the valley of the whales for the abundant whale fossils found there), and both the black and white deserts in Egypt. Where a sandstorm dropped a lot of sand into our tents. I also was able to go camping in Jasper national Park this summer (and hike up all the mountains). My tent was a tiny ‘bivvy bag’(I really don’t know why it isn’t just called a body bag), it’s nice because I can hike with it. Too many exciting things to describe them all on mobile with links to images (but they’re on Flickr and the other image places just check the recently uploaded).,, ,,, Now I want to write up a detailed description of everything with inline image links.
posted by infinite intimation at 8:51 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

shapes that haunt the dusk -- yay another RRP fan! I haven't been to Briones in years, partly because every time I think of going it's too hot. I am in a bit of a rut: I mostly run and hike in Redwood and Chabot. Chabot is nice because it gets way less traffic than Redwood does, particularly the north end off of Redwood Road. It's less fun in hot weather, though, because it's more open, but the views are marvelous. On the down side, the cattle have chewed up the Grass Valley Trail and make it really hard to run. Still, it's the only park I've actually seen a coyote in, and it's overrun with rabbits.

I finally got out to Sunol Wilderness for the first time last spring, but too early for the wildflowers. Next year, maybe...

When we hiked in Israel, though, it was really like Hiking 404 with steep climbing and many, many miles. When I moved back to the states, I thought that's what a hike was. I didn't realize a hike could be just a walk in the woods, so I declined many a hike until I was older

Sophie1, that is much like my experience growing up in New England, where all the hikes I ever did involved climbing steeply up a mountain to get to the top and see the view. I had to go to California after college and do some hikes with my sister in the Sierras before I learned that (1) not all hikes must involve actually climbing a mountain to the top; and (2) outside New England, you can enjoy the scenery without climbing a mountain because there are not nearly as many trees everywhere. It was quite a revelation!
posted by suelac at 9:30 AM on August 28, 2017

I hiked the 2,600 mile length of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico through California, Oregon, and Washington from April to September last year. You can read all about it (and look at pretty pictures) here.

If you haven't been out backpacking for a week before and thought, "I'm sorry this is over!" on the last day, this is not something that you should attempt. For long distance backpacking, I recommend trail running shoes (you'll go through four-seven pairs), Darn Tough socks (you might wear through them quickly but you can trade them in for free for more at an outfitter), long pants and long sleeves and a broad brimmed hiking hat always (the sun is your enemy).

It's ok not to obsess about the lightest possible gear, as long as you can average twenty miles a day comfortably with what you have. Often you can get slightly heavier gear for a lot less money. You should go on a few trial weekends with your setup because you'll have gotten some of it wrong. Early in the trail, everyone talks about gear; later, everyone talks about food. Your mental and physical fortitude are more important than your equipment; if you can't shrug off pain every day and get up bright eyed and bushy tailed to do it again the next morning, you're going to have an absolutely miserable time. There were days in the Sierras where I fell down fifteen times on snow and ice.

It's incredibly valuable to have a responsible trustworthy person available to mail packages and deal with unexpected situations, and to spend a lot of time before hiking planning logistics. Yogi's PCT Handbook is immensely valuable for logistical planning, and the Halfmile printed maps (and phone app) that can be packaged with it are worth the price.

Protect your electronics; I didn't consistently well enough, and dunked my phone in a creek in the middle of the Sierras. It was expensive and inconvenient to get it replaced.

I enjoyed more or less all of the trail except for poorly maintained, mosquito ridden Southern Oregon. You should certainly climb Mt. Whitney-it's easier to access from the trail than from civilization, and you'll be in the best shape of your life. Knife's Edge at the Goat Rocks in Washington is spectacular. In addition to the High Sierra, I particularly enjoyed the mountainous desert hiking between Tehachapi and Walker Pass in southern California, the stretch around Aloha Lake north of Lake Tahoe, winding around the Sisters in central Oregon, and the unforgiving stretch well populated with enthusiastic Washingtonians between Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass.
posted by Kwine at 10:54 AM on August 28, 2017 [15 favorites]

Kwine! That's amazing!

(I only have about 3 real serious LifeGoals and the PCT is one of them. I've had this picture on my desk and fridge and the mirror in my bathroom for about 6 years now. When Wild came out I got really bummed because it seemed like it was going to really popularize the trail (and it has) but then realized it doesn't really matter because it's about your own bad self, ha! Pretty sure I won't be able to do it in one long thru hike (knees), but I'm okay with doing it in segments as long I do the whole thing. And if I get the go ahead of my ortho in a few months, I'm really hoping next year might be the year I get started!)

Thanks for sharing your story and photos! What a treat!
posted by barchan at 11:31 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

For a long time I've fantasized about doing the Coast to Coast walk in England, but in recent years I've had chronic shoulder issues that made it painful to carry a backpack, or indeed anything much heavier than a purse.

But! I just discovered that there are a number of companies that will not only book you accommodation ahead of time, but also haul your luggage from one place to the next every day. This, as they say, changes everything! (Now all I have to do is spend the next couple of years getting into shape...)
posted by Kat Allison at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh Kwine that is terrific, please put it on Projects.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:56 PM on August 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kwine - that is epic! One of my favorite films is Wild, and since watching that I've been wondering about the PCT. The pictures on the PCT wikipedia page amplify how mind-blowing (and also terrifying-looking) this is.

Going to start reading your trail hike tumblr now...
posted by Wordshore at 1:02 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Kat Allison: For a long time I've fantasized about doing the Coast to Coast walk in England

I did that walk in 2015, and it was great. You do need to be able to carry a day-pack with lunch, water, chocolate, raincoat, and spare socks, but there are multiple companies who will book your rooms and shuttle your bags for you. We only had 2 really long days (over 15 miles); the rest were quite doable from 8-12 miles.

I will say that I grossly underestimated the ruggedness of the terrain, however. I expected to be strolling along farm lanes and between hedgerows, instead of scrambling up or down steep foggy scree-covered slopes and (at least once) running away from cows. Also leaping from tussock to tussock to get through the bogs in the Yorkshire Dales.

Still, I would do it again in a hot second, except there are other walks to be done, like Hadrian's Wall or Offa's Dike or whatnot.
posted by suelac at 2:22 PM on August 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

. . . Northwest Chapter of the MeFi Scouts

I would actually hop on a plane (or drive, depending) for this kind of meet-up.
posted by barchan at 2:41 PM on August 28, 2017

> crambling up or down steep foggy scree-covered slopes and (at least once) running away from cows. Also leaping from tussock to tussock to get through the bogs in the Yorkshire Dales

Oh my god, that sounds and looks perfect. I love walking for miles, but hate carrying a heavy backpack (I can do it, I just hate it).
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:46 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh Kwine that is terrific, please put it on Projects.

Oh, I didn't think of Projects, though the link has been in my profile for a while. That is a good suggestion! I'll put it up this week for the anniversary of my finish, which will be Sunday.
posted by Kwine at 2:48 PM on August 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh my god, that sounds and looks perfect. I love walking for miles, but hate carrying a heavy backpack

Me too, I am not a backpacker. And it's lovely to get a hot meal or a cold beer at the end of the day without having to carry it all oneself.

Which is one reason why I'm probably doing this in January... I feel a little bad about the porters doing all the real work, but not so bad I won't take the opportunity to go.
posted by suelac at 4:23 PM on August 28, 2017

The Ridgeway Trail is the one I want to do someday.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:04 PM on August 28, 2017

OH YAY!!! I finally have time to pore through this. I just picked up hiking and camping last year.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:25 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh man, now I am going to talk about gear.

I normally find it a little unseemly to plug specific products, but damn if I haven't made a few recent purchases and come away with some equipment that I absolutely adore.

First, these boots! Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTXs. They are stunning. If you're somebody who's looking for a traditional hiking boot, look no further. The ankle support is unbelievable; there is actually a rubber band inside the boot that literally pulls your ankles back into alignment if they start to roll. I used to roll my right ankle at least once a hike, but no longer. They are also completely waterproof. You can stand in shallow (5" or less) water while for instance filling your water bladder at a mountain stream, and when you step out they will even look dry, as if they had never been wet. It's uncanny. The tread is the grippiest of any shoe or boot I've ever owned; if I thought they would hold up on a roof, they'd have replaced my work boots by now. (Asphalt shingles have a tendency to destroy everything.) They were comfortable from the first step and now about 60 miles in they are even comfier. Zero blisters, ever. If I had to pick nits, I'd say they're warmer and less breathable than the best non-waterproof boots (kinda unavoidable, and possibly a benefit in cooler weather) and folks have said that the toe seams start to come apart a little sooner than they possibly should, though so far my boots still look pretty new, if dusty. A friend of mine has the women's version, and likes them just as much as I do my men's ones.

Second, this backpack! The Osprey Atmos AG 65. They do a women's version of this too, called the Aura. By far the most comfortable pack I've ever worn. The back panel and almost all of the waist belt is a single curve of mesh, holding the body of the pack off of your back by an inch or so. What this means is no more hot, sweaty back when hiking with a loaded pack. It works! It's a goddamn miracle! The mesh also distributes pressure very evenly, which is of course super important for long-term comfort. The pack's fit is extremely customizable, and it hugs your body like a goddamn alien parasite, wanting to stay on you even before you get buckled in. It has a very functional compartment system, a big outer mesh pouch, straps for strapping stuff onto it, and parts of it are removable so that if you don't need all the space, you can have a smaller pack. Did I mention that it has an unconditional lifetime warranty? Send it in at any time for any reason and they will repair or replace it, no questions asked, forever. Osprey still honors this warranty all the way back to their original packs made in the mid-70s, so they do seem to stand by it. I've carried up to 45lbs in this pack no problem, although really it's meant to be a 25-35lb pack.

Lastly, a little more esoterically, this MSR AC Bivy. Bivys are one of the most minimalist of all outdoor shelters, and this is a very minimalist bivy. It is basically just a waterproof-breathable sack that your sleeping bag goes inside, and it has a bug net you can zip closed and a flap you can pull over your face if it rains. It does have a loop that can be tied to something overhead, which helps keep it off your face, but honestly it's easy to get used to either way. Think of it as a rain fly for your sleeping bag. It weighs almost nothing, and you can sleep almost anywhere—useful in the White Mountains, where perfectly reasonable camping restrictions nevertheless often make it difficult to find a legal unofficial campsite that's big enough for a real tent. Bivies are also very light on the land. I pair it with this fantastically lightweight, extremely fancy ground sheet in order to preserve the bivy's underside. There's ample space in the hood of the bivy for essential gear, and the ground sheet is big enough that if it does rain, I can pull half of it over my pack and boots and such. It's definitely a fair-weather solution, but for solo overnight trips on summer mountain nights, it's unbeatable. I've already had some extremely memorable nights in this thing.

Those are the new ones. Definitely some major upgrades this year, gear-wise. Been having tons of fun out there.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:42 PM on August 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

I did a kayak/camping trip this weekend and it was totally out of my comfort zone (I've never really camped! I've only kayaked once! I hate big groups of strangers and this was going camping and kayaking with a big group of strangers!) and it was all sorts of fun. Periods of excruciating, as well, but overall fun.

We started in Sausalito and (after an inteeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrminable delay on the beach) finally got to kayak about three miles across San Francisco Bay to Angel Island. I think partly because we started so late, and also because of wind, when we got to the choppy part of that route, it was really choppy. Which I loved! We were in little tiny boats! Getting thrown around by the current! While watching sailboats duck in and out of fog by the Golden Gate Bridge! I kept getting splashed by the bay and paddling as hard as I could and it was just one of the best feelings ever.

We landed on Angel Island, and got to "camp" in some of the Civil War era buildings there, though I slept out on the lawn. We had running water, and a kitchen, so I think it was more "roughing it" than real "camping," but it's the first time I've slept outside as an adult (possibly first time ever, but it's possible we did go camping as a kid and I've forgotten). And I mostly managed to avoid most of the other participants (yay, books! I'm so glad I packed a book!), which was a plus. Oh, and we did a night stroll out to a lookout point where we could see the whole Bay Bridge (with the light show!), all of SF all sparkly and gorgeous, and the whole Golden Gate Bridge, which is one of the prettiest city views ever.

The next morning I got up early and was trying to avoid the other participants by drinking my tea on a bench while watching some mule deer groom each other (and I had no idea they did that!), but one of the guys joined me and we had a really nice conversation of the sort enjoyed by two introverts -- almost immediately into deep topics (his mother's death, mostly, and how she embodied some shared Midwestern values we had joked about earlier, and how much he appreciated his trauma-informed yoga practice as pretty much the antidote to Midwestern "I will succeed if it kills me!"ism).

After breakfast I helped carry all 14 (!) kayaks (and they were double and triple kayaks) from the hills down to the beach again, and we paddled back three miles, in much calmer water, but it was still really fun. It just made me feel small and like the world was so big, in the way that I always love when I'm hiking in big-ish parks. And a harbor seal dove under our kayak!

I've also really been enjoying meeting up for walks or hikes with various friends of various fitness levels/interests and really just having "enjoying being outside and talking to each other" being the main goal. There's something really nice about that.
posted by lazuli at 10:04 PM on August 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

But! I just discovered that there are a number of companies that will not only book you accommodation ahead of time, but also haul your luggage from one place to the next every day. This, as they say, changes everything! (Now all I have to do is spend the next couple of years getting into shape...)

This really is a great way to have a walking holiday. Take as many books and changes of clothing as you want! I’ve only done it once, walking for a week along the Atlantic coast of southern Portugal, but this thread has made me feel maybe I should book something for next year. One day I want to do the Pembrokeshire Coast Path… but I also love to get to the Mediterranean in spring. Decisions.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:41 AM on August 29, 2017

Off on another walk. Though this one is (literally) a guilt trip, as I've both bought *and* eaten my first Christmas pudding of this years festive season. Hashtag no willpower
posted by Wordshore at 1:26 AM on August 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm going car camping and day hiking in Yellowstone and the Tetons next week and all I have are these shoes. Am I making a huge mistake by not getting boots? I'm generally in good health; my knees are sometimes wonky but I have braces for those.
posted by AFABulous at 8:40 AM on August 29, 2017

I'm in Moab, Utah and just reading through old Ask MetaFilter posts about hiking in Arches and Canyonlands and around the area. Metafilter has been a treasure trove of info for past trips so I have high hopes for the southern Utah recommendations. Any last-minute Arches and Canyonlands recs?

Gemini Bridges!!! If you are driving a 2wd car, do it out and back from hwy313 (which leads to Island in the Sky and Dead Horse). Its super cool.

Also, the La Sal Mountain Loop. Amazing scenery, and great drive. Also, go up hwy 128 from Moab to Dewey Bridge.

Negro Bill Canyon is very cool also. A note on the name - the BLM has changed the name, but it is controversial. The NAACP opposes the change - because that's the name of the man who lived and ranched there. I have complicated thoughts on the matter.

As for gear, I'll nth the Osprey packs recommendation. The hip belt is removable, so if you lose a ton of weight on the trail (as I did), you can swap it out for a smaller size (as I did).
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:41 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

all I have are these shoes. Am I making a huge mistake by not getting boots?

I have become convinced that the right shoes for any one person are completely wrong for another, and vice versa. We hiked trails in Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Zion last year and I wore these minimalist trail running shoes with no ankle support at all, and I had no injuries (my problem was that they filled up with sand in the Grand Canyon, and to a lesser degree in Bryce Canyon). I know many other people who'd never try those trails without boots with good ankle support, but that messes with my proprioception and gait in ways that lead to injury for me. Only you know what works for you. You may want boots; you may want trail hikers; you may want running shoes. Really the only way to find out is to try something and figure out if it worked.
posted by fedward at 9:23 AM on August 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

AFABulous: I don't know that particular shoe, but I do 99% of my hiking in trail runners.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:11 AM on August 29, 2017

I'm going car camping and day hiking in Yellowstone and the Tetons next week and all I have are these shoes. Am I making a huge mistake by not getting boots?

I wore these on a multi-week backpacking trip. You should be fine. As fedward says, the only real way to know is to use them and find out.

If you have, or can pick up some hiking poles, they'll be a big help on steep terrain. Descents are especially hard on knees if you aren't used to them; your quads will pull your kneecap out of alignment, leading to pain and it gets worse as they fatigue.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Negro Bill Canyon is very cool also. A note on the name - the BLM has changed the name, but it is controversial. The NAACP opposes the change - because that's the name of the man who lived and ranched there. I have complicated thoughts on the matter.

The most recent article I can find is this Moab Times article from Aug 10, which says the Bureau of Land Management has administratively changed the name of the trailhead and the nearby campground to Grandstaff Canyon*, but the name of the canyon itself is ultimately at the discretion of the U.S. Committee on Geographic Names. The Utah Committee on Geographic Names' recommendation is to keep the current name, citing lack of consensus among minority-led organizations.

My take on it is that when the man put his name on a legal document like a bill of sale or a prospecting claim, it didn't say Old Portugee, N***** Bill, Negro Bill, or any other variation thereof. It said William Grandstaff.

* When the BLM put up the new Grandstaff Canyon signs along Route 128, someone tore them down, trashed them, and threw them in the Colorado.
posted by zamboni at 1:12 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

AFABulous, you can honestly hike in anything as long as it's got a decent tread on it and isn't uncomfortable. I love my super fancy powerarmor-esque hiking boots, but when it's really hot out I often go hiking in sandals. Among thru-hikers (the folks out doing the Appalachian Trail and other long-distance hikes) you see a lot of variety, including trail runners, traditional hiking boots, plain old sneakers, etc. I know someone who did the first 250 miles of the AT totally barefoot.

I bought my boots because I wasn't happy with my old ones and wanted something waterproof for river crossings. I love them, but they aren't actually necessary.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:08 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is there a pic of powerarmor-esque boots?
posted by curious nu at 3:16 PM on August 29, 2017

Something like this, perhaps?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:38 PM on August 29, 2017

I only started hiking this year, but I love the California Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in the spring when the poppies are blooming. It's almost as nice a hike in late winter when it's cold and gray and windy to me, and I'm going to hike it as many times as I possibly can next year.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:06 PM on August 29, 2017

I'm super hard on packs so I end up replacing them every 2-3 years. It's the one gear item I have that gets regular updating. I've used Gregory, North Face, and Kelty packs, and Patagonia day packs, but my favorite by far has been the current Osprey. I really loved my old Kelty circa early 00s and couldn't ever find a replacement that made me happy. But when I tried Osprey to replace my bigger pack about 5 years ago I was so super pleased I ended up getting the same design in the smaller version later, and each design gets better.

I've got 2 of their packs, the Ariel 55 for < 1 week trips and the larger version, the Xena 85, for > 1 week. (Praise be, REI, for your 20% off sales and those membership dividends.) I'd love a smaller one for overnights but the 55 works as a compromise, especially as a 4 season pack. Those may seem big, but I tend to get a little larger than I need to because I put rocks in them, plus all the fucking stuff for the beast that rules our lives, the dog. Plus I have never been and never will be a super light backpacker because I get cold as fuck and now own a dog that gets cold if she ever sees the temperature dipping below 50. I admire y'all that can do it, but I need 20 layers and the practically Arctic rated sleeping bag and pad. And also bear vaults, man, they're a pain in how much room they take up.

(I really thought as I would get older than I'd get better at winnowing down my backpack weight, too, and for some reason I find that there's more each year. What is happening?! hahahaha!)

Anyway, on the Osprey I love the extra main compartment access with the front panel and the sleeping bag compartment and all the extra features like the stretchy side panels and the removable day pack and the trekking pole straps and the ice ax loop which I use for my rock hammer. I've owned packs in roughly their same volume before and had trouble getting everything in there, and my Ariel 55 is so nice I've used it on week long trips with no trouble, and have never filled my Xena. Not even close even hauling climbing gear. I admit I was a little leery at first because REI was pushing them so hard, but the quality has held up as well with no problems sending them in for repairs. And the adjustable hip belt! As a woman that was just a magical thing, to get my hip belt individually conformed to my shape.

One point I've also gotten to "in my old age" is to buy the fucking name brand rain cover. I used to be all budget conscious and try to make my own or just line the pack with a garbage bag, or buy the "$20 fits all". I've just had too much rain in my packs or get soaked trying to put them on or some other thing. Now I spend the extra $20 and get the name brand cover made to fit the pack. They just work so much better, and sometimes - here's another plug for Osprey - they can be quite clever with their design, and it's worth it when you're sitting there in your dry socks and your dry bag under the tent fly that wasn't already soaked when you were trying to put it up after backpacking all day in the rain.

Someone taught me about 8-10 years ago that for years I had been adjusting my pack incorrectly. It was one of those little things that you think you know the right way to do but really don't, so you always ignore/bypass that kind of advice. Once I learned how to do it properly it made a world of difference in how my packs sat and felt.
posted by barchan at 6:30 PM on August 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Something like this, perhaps?

Well that'll work for when I go giant robot-camping but I still need something more my size!
posted by curious nu at 3:48 AM on August 31, 2017

I was unable to read or respond to this post on the weekend because I was deep in Algonquin Park at a summer camp for furries. It was pretty great. I got to try archery for the first time and just had a really relaxed time with a bunch of cool people. I had one somewhat alarming moment when I thought I had permanently wedged myself into a kayak sized for much younger campers, but no harm done :)

Next I'm off to the family cottage for this long weekend, and then what will probably be the last camping trip of the season with friends the following weekend.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:40 PM on August 31, 2017

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTXs, curious nu. My friend remarked that they look and feel like the sort of thing that might be worn as the feet part of a scout armor, or the inner boot of a heavy armor.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:17 PM on August 31, 2017

What are folks doing this weekend, by the way? I'm about to spend four days by myself in the Great Gulf wilderness, playing around atop the northern Presidentials and checking out some of the more challenging and unusual trails in the area. I am super duper stoked.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:22 PM on August 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

> What are folks doing this weekend, by the way

Not outdoorsy at all: I'm going to Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors."
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:13 PM on August 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ooh that sounds wonderful. I just looked up at some pics of that area and it looks amazing and fun (and challenging!).

Originally my husband and I were going to do a 50 mile long looping/rambling tour of the West Elk, Ruby Range, Raggeds, and Anthracite Ranges of Colorado, part of the Elk Mountain complex (y'all might be familiar with part of it, a wee place called the Maroon Bells. . . ) a trip we tried last year but only got half-way through due to some torrential rains. If any of you visit Colorado and want something more off the "beaten" path I highly recommend the area, which is kind of west to southwest of Crested Butte.

Alas, now I'm getting ready to head down to Texas to help some dear friends and colleagues (as soon as it is prudent for non-volunteer, non-necessary joe schmoes like me to be there without being a burden) with cleaning their homes and to take some furniture and extra things down for them. It'll be a few days yet. So we're either going for an overnight or two in one of my favorite areas in CO, the Collegiate Peak area (we'll go up the valley on the left) or to my very very favorite small range, which IMHO is highly underrated, the Gore Range. (In that last pic, if you go way up that wide, u-shaped valley to the left (just about above treeline) there is the most gorgeous alpine lake. Some treacherous terrain, though.)

I fucking love living in Colorado!
posted by barchan at 3:16 PM on August 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm temporarily displaced for the next few months in southern Oregon, and the wildfires have completely wrecked my August (Crater Lake has been enshrouded in smoke for a month, and the smoke's been getting down into the caves at the Oregon Caves monument, as an idea). I'm headed to visit some friends for the weekend and hopefully in a week or two start doing some more local exploring. If it's still cruddy.. well, probably head to Oregon coast for a few weekends, at least!
posted by curious nu at 4:32 PM on August 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks, Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The! I get what you mean by the look of those. =)
posted by curious nu at 4:33 PM on August 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

My wife broke her big toe in 3 places last Sunday (while I was out for the day hiking), and she is in a full leg boot for 6 weeks. So I think we are doing nada. If the weather is nice Sunday or Monday I may do a day hike in Shenandoah National Park. Cancer then carpel tunnel and now the broken toe. She is due for a break, pun totally intended.
posted by COD at 4:36 PM on August 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm going to Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors."

We saw it before it left the Hirshhorn, but I'm jealous. I'd have loved to spend more time with it.
posted by fedward at 4:51 PM on August 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's supposed to be 107F here for the next three days. I was going to go hiking after work with a friend tomorrow, but now we're just going to get tacos someplace air-conditioned. I suspect air-conditioning is going to be a theme for most of the weekend.
posted by lazuli at 6:49 PM on August 31, 2017

It's s'posed to rain most of the weekend where I am.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:30 PM on August 31, 2017

It is going to be so, so hot here this weekend. I can't think of a time the forecast for my neck of the Bay Area was ever above 100 F since I've lived here. Our apartment faces the south, and we don't have an air conditioner. I'm not looking forward to the next two days.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:23 AM on September 1, 2017

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