As I sit and look back at the year that was 2014 all I can do is smile. Hiking Forward started the year off quite slow as the continual polar vortex's kept us inside and at bay for the large portion of the winter. But just a spring broke the idea of an epic adventure sprouted and adventure was just around the corner. I owe my good friend Adam Nutting from Hiking The Trail a lot due to the creation of an epic adventure that he invited me to participate in and offering continual counsel on how to take Hiking Forward where I wanted it to go. Thanks brother!
Being added to Hell Hike and Raft in early 2014 was definitely one of the many highlights of my year. This event catapulted me into being more creative, engaged and gave me the energy to expand Hiking Forward. I had no idea back in March what this singular moment would mean now.
Below are the top 5 moments and events that helped shape my year and Hiking Forward.
# 5 Time on the Ice Age Trail - Nothing Like Getting Away
There is nothing like an impromptu trip away. Especially a trip with good friends, hiking a National Scenic Trail with great food and tons of laughter. Theses experiences always fill the soul yet leave you dreaming of the next opportunity to share the outdoors again. Earlier this year I got to hike along the Ice Age Trail in southern Wisconsin with some good friends and enjoy this very kind of experience. Getting outdoors doesn't have to be complicated. Simplicity and the right ingredients make for the perfect experience.
#4 Chosen as a Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer and Potable Aqua Ambassador
On May 23, 2014 I announced that I was formally asked to participate as a Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer and serve as a Potable Aqua Ambassador. I was extremely honored to be asked to serve in both capacities for these amazing and "forward" thinking companies. I have enjoyed utilizing the gear that both organizations create and look forward to continuing the relationships into 2015.
Teton Sports Ambassador Page
#3 Continued Fun, Adventure and Laughter with My Friends from the Corn Desert Hikers
I always make sure that I make time to hang with my buds from the Corn Desert Hikers. This year was no exception, even though I wish I could do more, this year we had some pretty amazing times in varying seasons. I was fortunate to participate in our Annual Freeze Your Butt event in January, the Memorial Day weekend event and most recently the fall trek down to Garden of the Gods. This group and the relationships we have together are amazing. We may go months without seeing one another, but when we get back together its magic and like we were together yesterday. This feeling of instantaneous comradery is addicting making you want to be out every weekend with this crew of like minded people.
#2 Being Selected as the 5th Best Hiking and Outdoor Travel Blog by USAToday and 10Best.com
I was elated and speechless to hear I was even in the same company as some of the people who were also nominated for this distinction. Over the course of the month of August the public voted to determine who were the top 10 Hiking and Outdoor Travel blogs. I was overjoyed within the first few days to see I was in the top five. Over the course of the month my standing ebbed and flowed up and down throughout the rankings. The contest ended and the winner were announced while I was on trail and on river during Hell Hike and Raft. I along with my comrades all turned on our phones to get the hundreds of emails and phone messages we missed while away. Included in my messages was the announcement of being proclaimed the 5th Best Hiking and Outdoor Blog.
To this day I still can't believe it's true. But I am quite honored to be in some great company of bloggers who I respect, read and follow.
#1 Growing My Outdoor Family
With the addition Hell Hike and Raft to my list of adventures this year, the transformation of Hiking Forward, addition of ambassadorships and increased activity in #hikerchat and other online venues my outdoor family has grown. Some I have have had the privilege to meet in person and share an epic adventure with. Others, I learn from a far and hope to one day be able to adventure along side. The amazing thing about our community of practice is the openness and willingness to share ones own experiences and knowledge.
Meeting my new friends turned trail family during Hell Hike and Raft solidified my vision of a what an experience should be like when on trail. A lucky adventurer was I to be teamed up with eleven other amazing people and awesome guides to share an epic adventure with. I can't wait to see what is in store for all of us as the calendar turns.
I look forward to adventuring with you again and meeting those of you I haven't yet.
A Happy, Safe and EPIC New Year to you All!
Keep Hiking Forward!
Grace and Gabby got together today to create of list of the top 10 best things an outdoor kid could love to receive from Jolly Ole Saint Nick this year. Grace took charge of creating list and detailing why these items are very important for young adventurers like to have when out camping or hiking. Gabby, helped Grace in creating the list and drew all the pictures of the items (shown below).
I hope you enjoy the list and the reasons these girls think these items are necessary.
Like our our Daddy always says...
Keep Hiking Forward!
Grace & Gabby
A few months ago the good people at Native sent me a pair of Hardtop sunglasses to test and a pair of Sidecar's to giveaway to the Hiking Forward readers. Let me first state that I have always held my sunglasses as part of my outdoor caricature and secondly I have been a loyal and faithful Oakley wearer for decades. Given this, I skeptical about trying out something different.
A few things to note about the Native product and the pair of glasses I have been testing for the past few months and why I think Native is an immense value and great product.
* Lifetime Warranty! Yes a Lifetime Warranty... Who does that anymore? Well Native does and on all things sunglasses!
* Native sunglasses come with an awesome hard case for your glasses to protect so that hopefully you won't have to use that lifetime warranty (pictured below)
* A free second set of lenses. All Native sunglasses offer interchangeable lenses and they give you a set in the case provided
* In the case they also offer a free soft lense cleaner that doubles as a bag to carry your glasses in
* Polarized lenses
In addition to all of these added values offered with each pair, the glasses are simply awesome and are far beyond anything I have ever owned from Oakley. Two features that add to the pair I tested that keep me wearing them are weight and the venting. Obviously the difference in weight is not huge between my Oakley's and the new Native's but is it actually noticeable. Some of this I think has to do with the glasses venting and ability to move air in and around my eyes and face unlike my Oakley's which would on warm or active days cause sweat and or condensation to build on the glasses or on my face.
These two features combined add to the desirability of the Native Hardtop's for me. Lightweight yet with a true fit that stays where you want them to during active moments.
The Sidecars (size Medium) that we are giveaway as part of this giveaway retail for $129.00 and have the following specs:
N3™ POLARIZED LENS TECHNOLOGY
The most innovative and advanced polarized lens on the market. N3™ lenses block up to 4X more infrared light than regular polarized lenses, pass Z87.1 testing, provide UV protection up to 400nm, and by significantly reducing blue light and selectively filtering UV, they deliver high contrast, crisp definition, and peak visual cuity.
Good Luck & Keeping Hiking forward!
We all buy tons and tons of gear of ourselves to help enjoy the outdoors. Well, what about our favorite outdoor companion? They don't require much to be outside or too truly enjoying themselves. Yet, there are a few things that could help your best and most faithful bud get to and fro easier and with a little more ease and comfort.
I hope the list below helps you find just what you are looking for this holiday season.
Keep Hiking Forward!
Scott & "Boston"
Contributed by Laura Cromwell, Cabela’s
You’re probably close to finishing Christmas shopping for your family, but did you remember to get your four-legged family member a Christmas gift? Below are some gift ideas for happy tails on the trail.
1. Pet Gear Travel Lite Full-Length Tri-Fold Pet Ramp – Get your dog in and out of the car with ease. The skid-resistant treads prevent slipping, even when wet. Ramp sports a tri-fold design that is easily stored and rubber grippers for steadying the ramp.
2. Cabela’s Rectangle Comfy Cup Dog Bed – After a long day of adventure, let your dog rest in soft, supportive comfort. Surrounded by faux suede paired with plush-tipped Berber and cradled by high-loft polyfill, this bed is what dog dreams are made of.
3. Zuke’s Z-Filets Dog Treats – Reward your dog with these delicious meaty treats that are filled with nutrient-rich rosemary, sage and turmeric.
4. Ruffwear Quencher Cinch Top™ Dog Bowl – Keep food secure and at the ready with this compact, soft-shell dog bowl. The waterproof liner doubles as a water dish for when he’s done eating.
5. Hurtta America Cooling Dog Vest – Keep your dog cool outdoors when the weather gets warm. Simply dip the vest in cool water, wring out and place on your pooch. Vest protects the heart and chest area while maintaining proper circulation.
6. K&H Igloo-Style Lectro-Soft Heated Dog Bed – For outdoor shelters, garages or basements, this 20-watt orthopedic bed heats up to 102°F to aid in sustaining your dog’s body temperature. Ultrasoft PVC exterior prevents moisture absorption for long-term use and the 5.5’ steel-wrapped electrical cord resists damage from chewing.
7. Sentry® FiproGuard™ MAX – Protect your dog from fleas, ticks, lice and mange-inducing mites for up to 30 days with this powerful, waterproof formula. The active ingredient, fipronil, kills fleas and ticks in as little as one hour and destroys adult fleas before they lay eggs.
8. Ruffwear Palisades Pack™ – These lightweight, ergonomic, forward-positioned and weight-conscious saddlebags are built for all the rugged conditions nature has to offer. Pack can carry all your dog’s essentials such as food, water, bowls, treats, first-aid supplies and toys. The built-in Comfort-Fit Web Master™ Harness frame ensures good structure, stability and a balanced load. Its contoured, athletic cut with five adjustment points offer a customized fit that prevents movement or shifting of the saddlebags. Pack includes trail-centric features such as two collapsible hydration bottles, H20 bladder, stash pockets, waterproof zippers, reflective trim and more.
9. Dokkens™ Pocket-Sized Dog First-Aid Kit – Treat your dog’s injuries with a compact kit that includes a skin stapler, self-adherent wrap, gauze pads, nonlatex gloves, alcohol prep pads, povidone iodine pre-pads, suture removal kit (with littauer scissors and 4” metal forceps), first-aid manual and carry case.
10. Cabela’s Deluxe Quilted Backseat Hammock – Keep your car seats clean from muddy paws and wet fur with this rugged, waterproof and machine-washable hammock. Convenient zipper placement quickly converts the hammock to a backseat cover to allow passengers to sit comfortably. The seatbelt sleeve adds extra protection from dirt and water.
Hikers who take their dogs out on the trail know the devotion and companionship man’s best friend has to offer, so why not give him something special under the tree? Give a gift that will have him looking forward to the adventures of 2015.
Contributed by Laura Cromwell, Cabela’s
Colorado’s Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs is now open after being closed since August 18, 2014 for repairs. Located near Colorado Springs, the Manitou Incline is a popular draw amongst hikers and advanced trail runners seeking the intense experience of clearing over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile—beginning at 6,530 feet and rising up to 8,550 feet.
The Manitou Incline itself is the remains of a narrow cable car system whose tracks were washed out during a rock slide in 1990. Closed from then on with the rails removed, locals would (illegally) climb the leftover stair-like ties to make their way to the top. Years later in February 2013, it officially became legal to hike.
If you’re not accustomed to higher elevations of this degree, it’s important to remember that altitude increases dehydration which in turn ruins a perfectly good hike. Before starting out, pick up a hydration pack that holds at least three liters (100 ounces) and drink one to one-and-a-half more liters of water than you do normally. Note that there is no place to refill your hydration pack along the trail, so fill it up completely beforehand.
About two-thirds from the summit, you can exit the Manitou Incline at the bailout to go down Barr Trail if you feel the elevation is too much and need to stop ascending. If you decide to continue, you will experience the steepest grade of the Manitou Incline which reaches 68 percent. A few hundred more feet gets you to the soul-crushing false summit, but just a few hundred more after that leads you to the incredible summit.
From there, enjoy the stunning view of Colorado Springs and the intense sense of pride and accomplishment that every hiker knows all too well.
It's finally time to start talking about recreating the Epic Social Adventure that is Hell Hike and Raft. Along with my partner Adam Nutting who has helped to create Epic Social Adventures and the most amazing guides at Americas Rafting Company we are all pleased to announce Hell Hike and Raft 2015.
As a member of the first adventure I can't tell you how excited I am to share the serene back country of the Seven Devils as well as the wild adventure of paddling the Snake River with the new crew in 2015. The next crew who will come together in 2015 will face many of the same challenge that the inaugural crew did in 2014, epic ascents and decents, raging class III and IV rapids yet will create lasting bonds and relationships with their fellow like-minded crew members and guides.
Part of being and Epic Social Adventurer and member of the Hell Hike and Raft crew is taking on the responsibility of testing sponsored gear during the adventure and writing about one's preparation for the trip, the trip it self and the post assessment of the area, gear and overall experience. For those that already have a wide presence this information is immensely valuable to the readership as well as the sponsoring partners. For those that have an emerging presence, this experience could definitely serve as a opportunity to catapult your brand into a larger readership, overall reach and wider brand exposure creating interesting opportunities down the road.
If either of these situations fit your current social outdoor status and you are in need of an epic adventure you owe it to yourself to fill out the ESA Adventurer Application. By filling out the application you are simply starting the process to being considered for Hell Hike and Raft 2015 and future Epic Social Adventures.
Curious what Hell Hike and Raft 2014 looked like? Take a peek below.
Keep Hiking Forward!
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