Maybe it was punishment for missing church on Easter Sunday. Maybe it was poor timing. Maybe it was just dumb luck, Either way, the rains we endured on our holiday hike through James Island County Park in South Carolina made our trek wetter and wilder than expected.
Though we primarily stayed on the paved path, encountering an alligator warning sign so early in the journey definitely raised some eyebrows.
Paraphrasing Seinfeld here, "As the rain poured down on us, we thought to ourselves: there must be a better way!"
The girls didn't let the weather dampen their enthusiasm. They frolicked through the forest, climbing Spanish Moss covered trees and splashing in every puddle they could find. Embry's hikemate, Ruby, reiterated a saying I've had to tell my forest kindergartners on more than one occasion:
"You know what they say about water??? It will dry." I also enjoy my favorite outdoor saying (though grammatically incorrect), "Dirt don't hurt!"
Though the rain seemed to strengthen as the hike continued, you wouldn't know it by the energy of the girls. They loved reconnecting with their Ice Age Trail roots as they attempted to bop every blaze they encountered. I thought Embry's head might explode when we ran into a triple "rainbow blaze."
And what is the best post-hike encounter when you are already soaking wet. . . a run through the park's fountain and splash pool of course. Just beware of the alligators!
Keep Hiking Forward!
The review of the Under Armour Valsetz RTS is a fruit of cooperation with SoleLabz.com, website reviewing top rated hiking shoes, boots and sandals.
UA is a company that Hiking Forward already knows well and trust the craftsmanship, design and quality of their products. So, when we got the call to try out a pair of their tactical line of boots, we jumped at the chance. While you may be looking at these boots and thinking... Hey! Wait a second those are hiking boots. Touche' my friend. But neither are Five Fingers, Crocs or Chacos, but how many people you see on the trail in them?
Having used to work in a arena where tactical clothing such as 5.11 pants and tactical boots were the norm, I figured I was somewhat uniquely prepared to merge the worlds of tactical requirements and run the boot through the outdoor paces as well.
As mentioned before there is not much from UA that has not met the quality test for me. I have wore these boots a lot. At first, I didn't think I would but the ease of putting them on and just sheer comfort kept me coming back day after day. So, after extensive use during wet, cold, snow, trail and normal use there are no present defects, stitch popping or noticeable issues that would give this boot a low mark in quality.
As mentioned before this boot is not your traditional hiking boot. It's design is geared toward the tactical community. A community that needs comfort. Long hours usually on your feet. So, as you guess the boot is extremely comfortable. I may not be a hiking boot, but folks you can shoot hoops in these bad boys. And, yes I have. (Sorry no photos of that).
From a tactical perspective it would be a great boot for daily wear. It's much lighter then all the other tactical boots I have worn. This is a benefit and liability depending on the duty. It's light because the boot doesn't have a steel toe or a steel shank running along the bottom to protect the wearer from punctures. If this is meant for daily were and not true potential tactical situations then its the perfect fit.
For those who may be used to this style of boot (i.e. law enforcement, fire or military) and normal hiking boots just look weird to you, this is the perfect cross-over from you heavy boots to hit the trails in. One of the things I really enjoyed about these boots is the quick lace capability. These boots don't require a lot of time to lace up. Even fully laced you can slide your foot in and just simply pull on the laces and begin the tie. This obviously is a need for people in the tactical arena, but a huge benefit to the outdoor community who wants to git and go in the morning too.
Light, comfortable and easy to wear is how I would frame up these boots. In addition, as mentioned they were worn extensively through the winter. Given how light the boots are, I was surprised by how warm they kept my feet with a normal sock.
What can I say, it's a boot meant for tactical situations and a daily wear. So far so good in this area. It's a solid boot, yet not a brick like what would think it would have to be for a durable tactical boot.
So, to sum this up. Great boot for the money especially if you have the need to wear a boot for work and like to hit the trails too... You can finally get one boot to do two things really well you for and in comfort.
Keep Hiking Forward!
So you were just asked by your hiking/outdoor group to lead a hike in a few weeks. Congratulations! But, I’ve never lead a hike before, your thinking, how do I do this properly? Never fear, Hiking Forward is here.
Leading a hike can be an enjoyable experience for you and for the people you are leading if you simply consider a few things and do some proper pre-hike planning.
Know Your Audience
First, thing is first. Where are we going to hike? Location, location, location is the name of the game for potentially setting up a good hike for your group. Before you fully decide on your hike for your group it is critical to know your hiking audience. What type of hike is the group expecting? Are they wanting to sight see? Take their time? Is the group fit and at a skill level to handle a strenuous hike or are they wanting a short out and back type excursion. Understanding the desires, needs and abilities of your group will go a long way to ensure that your group and soon to be planned hike match.
Know the Area
Now that you know what kind of hike the group wants and have a good sense of their abilities now you can pick the perfect location to hike. Upon picking the hike it’s important to either be familiar with the hike or soon get familiar with the area in which you be hiking. Beyond just knowing where the hike starts and finishes it is also important to learn about the history of the area, information about the trail and maybe who maintains it. Being able to point out landmarks, historical markers or provide background to the group while on trail may impress them and encourage more discussion while on trail.
Get Help to Lead
Choosing another trusted and experienced hiker to assist you in offering sag support at the end of the group is critical to a safe and successful hike for all involved. Typically the leader of a hike is at the head of the group to monitor and adjust the pace of the hike, point out areas of interest and establish needed breaks along the route. Having a helper at the end of the group to monitor how slower, less skilled or potentially older hikers are doing promotes safety for all who wish to enjoy the hike.
Before beginning the hike, providing a short safety informational brief on the hike is a smart idea. During this brief, the leader should highlight the length of the hike, potential inclines, how long the hike should take and discuss sites or items one might be able to witness along the way. Another critical component to advise hikers of is potential animals and the probability for encounters and any poisonous plants that may be prevalent along the trail. During this brief, use the time to assess the group and their gear, footwear and water supplies to make sure the meet the demands of the upcoming hike.
Taking regular breaks to allow the group which may become scattered to bunch back up and rest is very important from time to time. Consuming food and hydrating maybe more critical depending on the weather situation and difficult nature of the hike. As a leader and potential co-leader of the hike, you should use these breaks to assess the condition of your group. Encourage longer rests for those that need it, depending on weather or length of the hike, assess the current levels of water and food for those who need it. Continually checking the map and trail markers and advising the group of your future direction will aid anyone who may find themselves off trail.
Following these simple and easy steps will ensure that you as a hike leader enjoy your experience as well as provide a safe, fun and enjoyable experience for your hiking group as well.
Keep Hiking Forward!
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