Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flyfishing for Bats?!

I literally could not stop laughing as I read this account.  I have never heard of catching a bat with a fly rod.  This is a hoot!...

(From Greg Hoover)
In a previous article I pointed out that someone – such as myself – could be “avid” without being competent. I offered a bit of proof, but in case you still are not convinced, I present further evidence.

Keith Oakes and I were night fishing on a river full of big, brown trout, creatures that are notoriously nocturnal. We heard a couple of splashes in the river in front of us, which might have been mice, muskrats, or beavers, or it might have been a trout feeding on a mayfly, so we immediately began casting toward the sounds. Casting a fly is very different from casting a lure with spinning gear. When you cast with a fly rod you typically keep the fly line and fly in the air for several casts as you let out more line, then after 3 or 4 of these “false casts” you let the line go as the fly whips and then floats down to the water’s surface. It’s during these false casts that you are likely to get your fly and line caught in bushes or branches behind you. That’s not at all unusual on wooded rivers.

AuSable River: Waiting for the sun to set

Midnight on the AuSable River, Grayling, Michigan

On one of my false casts I felt my line get caught on something, and I knew I had managed to get hung up on the willow bushes behind me. Then I decided that it must be the end of a long limb because as I tugged gently on the line it wasn’t just stuck, it was jumping around, pulling back. But even that didn’t seem quite right. There was a random sort of tugging to it, sort of a big, wobbling pull. Just as the awkwardness of it was starting to register in my brain, my line took off in a circle around me. Once, twice. I had caught a bat, and it was flying in one direction, which meant that it was wrapping itself around me, which of course meant that it was getting closer to me, like a game of tether ball where the rope wraps around the pole until there’s no loose rope left to wrap.

Well, that’s exactly what the bat did, until it ended up somewhere on my back, squealing and thrashing. Now, I say it was “somewhere on my back,” meaning that it was actually on my back, tangled up in my fishing net which was hanging from my fishing vest, but I didn’t know that at the time because it was dark, and I couldn’t see a thing. He might have been on my hat, or under my arm, or on my chest, etc. etc. And of course, all I could think about was sharp teeth, rabies, and Dracula. The fact that it was dark merely added another level of anxiety and confusion. So I tried to get my vest off, but I had to reach around to the clips on the side to get it off, and for all I knew that’s where the bat was. The squealing and thrashing continued, while I wiggled out of the vest and unwrapped the line from around me. When I finally got the vest off and threw it on the river bank, the bat was gone.

I heard a small splash nearby, so I shined my flashlight downstream and saw the bat on the surface of the water, still kicking, but floating downstream with the current. The Bat Incident was over, and I had survived. The bat, apparently, would not. But let the record show that I had him in my net for a few seconds. I’m sure a few other fly fishermen have hooked a bat, although probably not a lot, since not a lot of guys fly fish at night. But how many of them can say they got the bat to their net and then safely released him as all genteel fly fishermen do? And if he died somewhere downstream, it’s not my fault bats can’t swim.

Keith finally made his way over to me about the time the bat was disappearing downstream. “What’s going on down here? It sounded like a wrestling match. I thought you caught a huge fish, but then everything went silent.”

“Not a fish. A bat.”

“Really? A bat? So that explains all the squealing and crying.”

“Yeah,” I said, “and I think the bat was scared, too.”

So, confine your fishing to fish if you want to. Not me. I’m expanding my quarry. I’m fishing for mammals. Winged mammals. Catch and release only. It’s a sport only a truly avid outdoorsman could appreciate.

Every now and then I catch a fish instead of a bat

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tallapaloosa! -- Kayaking Gold Mine Road portion of Tallapossa River

Kayak: Tallapoosa River downstream of Martin Dam - launch off Gold Mine Road; Sat. 07/23/2011, 07:30-11:30
Distance: 8 miles (estimate)  Rating: 5.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Partly cloudy, hot, humid.  Light southerly wind.  No flow in river.  Near full pool.


Great kayak exploration below Martin Dam with Glenn.  Put in off Gold Mine Road.  Lots of islands and sloughs in this area.  River was not flowing and level was near full pool.  Observed many water birds (ducks, herons, kingfishers, and cormorants).  Glenn caught two bream near some of the grass beds.  Found two spots of the Shoals Lily!  Did not know this plant was found on the Tallapoosa.

Two concrete structures stand on the west side of the river just downstream from the launch point.  Can only speculate what function they once served.  Many other white flowering plants observed on the small islands (these were not Shoals Lilies).  The plants appeared to be similar to a wild potatoe bloom but was not a vine.  Numerous other water plants in abundance along with cypress and sycamore along the river's edge.

Perhaps the best kayak expedition yet!

It was vividly clear that creation was declaring the Glory of GOD.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Simple and Neat -- Cabin in the Woods

I really like this design -- simple, clean, and small.  Would work at the beach, in the forest, or in the mountains (with roof slope adjustments for snow).  I could see myself in this type of cabin on a mountain lake.  $157,000.00 seems a little steep though...

from the adventure life
German industrial designers Patrick Frey and Björn Götte sketched out the Sommerhaus Piu (“more summer house”) as an adaptable, affordable, and potentially more sustainable getaway, and then built the first one as a showpiece in Pian, Germany. The cabin was prefabricated, hauled to the site, and then reassembled in a pretty, long-grass meadow some 40-odd miles north of Berlin.
It has a rather ingenious design: At one end of the elongated structure is a living room/dining space, while floating in the middle is peninsula connected to the back of the house, with a kitchen on one side and a bathroom on the other. Two small bedrooms at the back are divided by the neck of the peninsula (see floor plan below), and despite just 650 feet of interior space, it sleeps four comfortably.
A wood-slat deck surrounds the house on three sides, adding another 375 feet of floor and extending livability into the intertidal zone between nature and shelter. The roof, with its low pitch, clearly suggests low-snow environments, but it’s also easily adapted to a green roof or to be covered with solar panels. As built, the cost is about $157,000.

Architect: Patrick Frey
Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

End of an Era

And so ends the era of the Shuttle in Space Exploration.  Hopefully this is not the end of the space program for our nation.  There are still "strange new worlds, new life-forms, new civilizations" and somewhere deep inside we are driven to "go where no man has gone before".

Photos from final flight of space shuttle

NASA’s space shuttle program came to an end at 5:56 a.m. EDT (9:56 UTC) on July 21, 2011 when Atlantis touched down safely at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Here are a few photos from Atlantis’ memorable final flight into space.
Image Credit: NASA
Click here to expand image above
Atlantis sits docked with the ISS in this photo taken by astronaut Mike Fossum aboard the space station.
Image Credit: NASA
Click here to expand image above
Atlantis departs the ISS on July 18, 2011 – a space station solar panel can be seen in the foreground
Image Credit: NASA
Click here to expand image above
An Atlantis crew member took this image of the International Space Station shortly after the shuttle departed the station on July 19, 2011.
Image Credit: NASA
The Atlantis crew wave farewell at the end of the last crew news conference from aboard the shuttle on July 20, 2011.
Image Credit: NASA
Click here to expand image above
Final landing of a space shuttle – Space Shuttle Atlantis, mission STS-135 – at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 21, 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From Ashes - The Backcountry Trail and the Fire at Gulf State Bark

I was concerned about fire damage at Gulf State Park.  This blog entry makes me feel better.  Reminds me that GOD can work good out of what we would consider bad (Romans 8:28)...

From Ashes to Opportunity for the Backcountry Trail
 July 18, 2011 - Orange Beach, AL (OBA) - A scene of scarred trees scattered here and yonder, smoking stumps and peat moss, clear forest floor where there once sprouted vegetation so thick you couldn’t walk into it, might prompt some observers to say "Aw, that's a shame."
Phillip West, Coastal Resources Manager for the City of Orange Beach, doesn't quite see it that way. West, the man many call the inspiration behind the Hugh W. Branyon Backcountry Trail, is even more inspired by the possibilities created by the wildfire's clearing.
"We're determined to make lemonade out of a bunch of lemons," West said. "I hope we can turn this into a positive. I hate to say it, but people say there's no such thing as bad publicity."
Gulf State Park Superintendent Mike Guinn has a similar outlook. "It was a great thing," he says of the fire. "Poor timing, couldn't have happened at a worse time, but if we didn't have the forest fire, God only knows how long it would have gone before we actually burned it."
And the public attention generated by the fire gives West the chance to implement some new ideas he's been considering for some time.
"This opens up some opportunities for us," he said. “These projects typically need a private component to assist with the cost of fertilizer, lime, seed and maybe an implement. There's now a good opportunity to seek help with the funding and cost of this."
West wants to use not only the clearer forest to the trail's advantage, but the new fire breaks offer excellent ways to increase areas for wildlife viewing.
"During the response to the recent fire, fire plows went into the woods and created a fire break," he said. "One of the first things we're going to do is to ask the Forestry Commission to come in and rework those. The plows created almost a ditch effect. A reworking disc will pull that back in and create a nice, even surface that we'll be able to maintain, planting it with clover and other wildlife nutrients. And we can use them for footpaths or mountain bike side trips."
He would even like to see some trails into the woods overlooking areas where wildlife is likely to be.
"Expanding watchable wildlife opportunities is kind of a big part of what we want to do now that things are opened up and we can better assess where to put this stuff," West said. “We can go in and see parts of the park we haven't been able to see before and we can identify areas that might lend themselves to creating a permanent opening, like a wildlife opening, that we plant and keep planted twice a year, spring and fall.”
"Our hopes are to go ahead and create the wildlife openings. It won't be a one-way, but it will probably be an out-and-back to a blind where people can go in and actually look over the opening and see if they can get pictures of the wildlife."
West also wants these areas to be maintained as fire breaks for future fires.
"Those fire breaks have created areas where we can plant for wildlife in those breaks, yet still keep them viable as a break," he said. "We need to use this publicity and people's concern to focus on meaningful projects that help the trail, help the wildlife and help us deal with future wildfire management.” Over in Gulf State Park, Guinn says post-wildfire efforts there will concentrate on maintaining and getting more lanes and trails cut to battle future fires. "Right now we're going to work on obtaining grants to do what we need to do to prevent this from happening again," Guinn said. "We don't need another forest fire. We're going to have to do some fire breaks, we're going to have to do some logging, get some of the fuel out there that still remains. That's going to be a long, expensive process."
The current trail system, Guinn said, was a big help in battling the wildfire. He'd like to have more trails to aid in the next fight, but money is going to be a problem.
"If it weren't for (West) I don't think we'd have this trail system and we'd have had a heck of a battle," Guinn said. "I don't know if we could have gotten bulldozers in there to keep it from spreading as much as it did. I'd rather have a permanent fire break. Maybe put some gravel on them. I'd personally rather see asphalt. Because that to me is a sure enough permanent fire break. You could get to the front of the fire, assuming it hadn't jumped that point, so quick." Adding new trails, however, will be slowed by budget constraints. "As far as the trails are concerned, though, I'm not really sure what we're going to be able to do," he said. "We're going to work with Orange Beach on that. Phillip West is great at getting grants and I'm hoping that he can do the majority of that part of it."
An immediate project West hopes to complete is a trail from the back entrance of the Publix Supermarket to Catman Road. "It's going to be meaningful for all the campground folks," West said. "Just get on a bike, ride to that shopping center without getting on the highway at all. We think we'll probably draw a lot of business that way because if you're a camper you probably have the mind set you like being in nature, you like being outside. We want to finish that. We have a grant to build the base course for it, but we need to get that paved." Long term, West sees a connection to Fort Morgan Road near the Gulf Shores WalMart that would provide a link to that trail, the end result being a trail from Orange Beach Boulevard to Fort Morgan, crossing only one major highway.
"I believe if we create that system, that big regional network, for this island to have that, to have the Branyon Trail System that goes from Fort Morgan to Orange Beach without being on the road, we can compete with anybody as far as being proud of our trail facility," West said. "I know the Alabama Hiking Society wants to connect all this to the Alabama Trail which would go all the way to the Dismals Canyon and to Tennessee. It's part of a conceptual framework that includes this." From his original idea for the trails until today and the blossoming of ideas following the wildfire, West does have a system he can be proud of. "It's something I had a passion for when I first moved here. I saw all that potential and thought we could easily link this up and have a kicking trail system," he said. "Thankfully, Hugh said 'if you can get it done, go for it’.”
"Any day I go out there now, just any day, I think nobody's going to be out here on a random Tuesday morning in July. But it's not true anymore. You see people from all over. It's created almost a Central Park effect. I would say, from our original concept, we’re probably close to 80 or 90 percent complete on the ground, as far as the network of trails that we wanted."


Monday, July 18, 2011

What Should Be in Your Hiking Day Pack?

I found the following blog entry from National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) to be solid advice for the day-hiker.  I advise following these or similar tenets on every outing.  It is sufficient to say that having these emergency items with you should be a "normal routine".

Outdoor Skills + Advice: What’s in Your Hiking Day Pack?

By Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Faculty member and Diversity + Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and NOLS Research Intern Kate Herden

“Preparedness” is relative. As I head out on a day hike to Popo Agie Falls with my toddler, his backpack is sure to contain “necessities,” such as Matchbox cars, toy dump trucks, and a couple of stuffed animals. But mine will look different. Here are ten things that will prepare you for that short day hike that could turn into an overnighter.

1. Water
Forget the soda. Bring at least a liter of water. To replenish your reservoir, stick close to potable water sources or carry a water purification system.
2. Rain Shell
Wherever you are, you'll be happier if you stay dry. Even on a clear day, pack a rain shell for protection from wind and water.
3. Map
How many times have you rounded a corner hoping to see your car, only to see more hills? You may think you know where you're going, but in case you find yourself in untrodden territory, bring a topographical map.
4. Headlamp
It might only be a day hike, but you could get be-nighted. Lighter than a lantern and more convenient than a flaming torch, a headlamp will lend a helping hand if you find yourself out later than expected.
5. Warm Layers
Whether a synthetic or down jacket, fleece, or a woolly pullover, a warm layer will keep you snug if the temperatures drop.
6. Lighter
Don’t be stuck trying to rub two sticks together or trying to use your Jedi mind powers to create fire. Grab a lighter and give your forearms (and telekinetic brain) some rest.
7. First Aid Kit
A must-have, pack a first aid kit. ‘Nuff said.
8. Sunscreen
Pack some broad band SPF 30 to 50 water resistant sunscreen.
9. Snacks
Hiking makes you hungry! Bring some nosh—bananas, granola, chocolate, peanut butter crackers. And remember to pack-out wrappers.
10. Peace of Mind
This means leaving something behind—a message to a loved one letting him or her know where you are going and what time you plan on returning.
Packing for more than a day hike? Check out the equipment list for a 30-day NOLS Wind River Wilderness Course.

Black Bear Bowls Over Cyclist in Panama City!

I know that Black Bears (Ursus americanus) are once again in this part of the country.  I have read at least two reports of black bear vs. auto accidents in the last two years.  BUT I have never heard of a black bear hitting a cyclist -- actually bowling him over.  And in Panama City no less!  Wow.

Cyclists beware... of more than just autos!  Yikes.

'I felt bear all over my leg': bicyclist collides with bear

Florida Freedom Newspapers
PANAMA CITY — Like he has been doing three times a week for the past four years, John Hearn got on his bicycle Thursday at 6:10 a.m. to ride12 miles to work at Tyndall Air Force Base. But as he rode along U.S. 98 at 23 miles per hour, his routine was interrupted at 6:40 by something very unexpected.
“I saw something big and black out of the corner of my eye,” Hearn said. “Then it hit me and I felt bear all over my leg.”
Hearn was broadsided by a black bear that was about 250 to 300 pounds. The collision knocked him, his bike and the bear over. Drivers stopped at the red light on the highway near Tyndall watched in utter shock.
“At first I didn’t know what happened,” witness Debbie McLeod said. “The bear was flying across the road from the left side to the right. I thought he was going to miss the rider, but then I saw the florescent colored vest fly up in the air, and knew the bear hit him.”
The black bear appeared to be shaken, but got up and scurried off into the woods. Hearn, on the other hand, had to examine the damage the bear had done.
“As soon as I got hit I knew it was a bear so when I hit the ground I was ready to run,” Hearn said. “Then I looked and the bear was already running away.”
The back tire of Hearn’s road bike was ripped off, his body had road rash on his elbows, back and hip, and the frame was damaged. His residual pain is mostly in his neck and hip.
A driver gave him and his broken bike a ride to Tyndall.
“Normally, I look in a 25 degree radius for cars turning, or coming at me to be safe, but the bear hit at practically a 90 degree angle so I barely saw him coming,” Hearn said. “It was like getting tackled by a furry, toned, boney body in football.”
Hearn has been riding bicycles for nine years and never got hit until he moved to Panama City four years ago. Now he’s been hit three times — twice by cars, once by bear.
“This is by far the worst damage done to my body and my bike,” Hearn said. “We must’ve been going almost the same speed. But sadly, the bear didn’t have insurance so I can’t do anything about it.”
Lt. Stan Kirkland of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission believes there are over 3,000 black bears roaming the state.
“It is very unusual to hear of an event like this,” Kirkland said. “You hear about people seeing bears, but never being hit by one. That’s usually about deer or wild hogs.”
While this incident might be isolated, Hearn says he may be a bit wary when he rides to work again.
“After my last two accidents it took me awhile to get comfortable on my bike again” Hearn said. “I’m sure it will be like that now too.”
He said he’ll still ride a bike to work three times a week, but will be on the lookout for bears in that area.
“The bear packed a pretty good punch.”

Need Sponsors for a New Zealand Expedition!

How does one have the "time" to undertake such an adventure?  Oh wait.. they have sponsors.  Anyone want to sponsor me on an Expedition to New Zealand???

What about hiking and mountain biking "Pole to Pole - New Zealand"?  Exploring the wonders of Kiwi Land north to south.

Pole2Pole Expedition Update: On The Bike, Still Heading South

It's been awhile since I posted an update on the Pole2Pole Expedition, during which explorer Johan Ernst Nilson is traveling from the North to the South Pole using only non-motorized transportation. You may recall this past Spring he started on this journey by skiing through the Arctic, and while is original intention was to travel to Greenland and then cross the North Atlantic by sailboat, he actually ended up simply skiing to Canada instead.

Since then, he's been continuing the expedition by traveling on bike to the west coast, arriving in Vancouver a few weeks back, where he'll now get a new bike for the journey south along the Pacific Coast  Highway with his next stop being Seattle. Johan will also be joined by Carl Robert, a companion of his on Everest, who will go with him all the way to Ushuaia, Chile, which is the next major leg of the trip. They hope to complete that leg in five months time.

If they are successful, that will put them at the southern most tip of South America just as the Antarctic season is about to get underway. They intention is that Nilson will then cross the Southern Ocean by sailboat, and then travel by skies to the South Pole. Five months seems like an ambitious schedule for the bike ride to Chile, but hopefully they'll be able to stay on course and get there on time.

Check out Johan's latest updates on and follow along with his progress.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hiking the Basidiomycota Trail

You probably said "hike what?".  For those non-biology majors:

Basidiomycota:   is one of two large phyla that, together with the Ascomycota, comprise the subkingdom Dikarya (often referred to as the "higher fungi") within the Kingdom Fungi. More specifically the Basidiomycota include mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, bracket fungi, other polypores, jelly fungi, boletes, chanterelles, earth stars, smuts, bunts, rusts, mirror yeasts, and the human pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus.

Hike: "Basidiomycota Trail" (Better known as the Red Trail @ Swayback Bridge), Sat. 07/16/2011, 08:05-11:28
Distance: 7 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy  Conditions: Trails wet and muddy in spots from recent rains.  Swampy area near trail head actually has standing water again.  Cloudy with light wind.  Infrequent drizzle, though none of the drops made it through the dense forest canopy during my hike.
Okay, so why did I dub this the Basidiomycota Trail?  Mushrooms were everywhere.  GOD showed off HIS fungi today.  All along the entire trail, mushrooms and bracket fungi of all sizes, types, colors, and shapes were showing off.  Colors ranged from the "normal" white and ivory to brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds.  There were even a few large 'shrooms that were ivory colored with small blue lines -- they appeared made of porcelain.  I have seen different types of mushrooms before, but never this many and this varied.  The forest was full of these creatures. 

I must confess that I have not held the lowly mushroom in much esteem.  I considered the fungi as "less than" members of the plant kingdom and just a little above disgusting in some instances.  Upon reflection though, it is clear that GOD created these creatures for a purpose and that they ascribe glory and honor to their CREATOR in their design, beauty, and function.   

GOD told Peter in Acts 10 not to call unclean what HE has cleansed (speaking of the Gentiles).  Thank GOD that HE did not look on our outside and consider us "less than desirable".

Next time you are walking along and see the lowly mushroom -- remember these small "insignificant" organisms have a plan and purpose in GOD's Creation.  Much more so, HE has a plan for you and I.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jer 29:11-13 (NKJV)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekend Cabin: Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. -- These words strike a resonant chord with me. Enjoy the photos of this "Weekend Cabin", all the way from Sweden. Perhaps this says that we, as human-beings, are not all that different. But if we know Scripture, that reality would not be a surprise.


The Stockholm loft and studio of artist Carouschka Streijffert is white and smooth and precise as a porcelain tub, but her cabin, which is on a island just a short voyage away, is a step toward the raw, with unfinished surfaces and wood grain ready to the touch. It’s far from rough, but compared to her daily digs there’s a casual, relaxed sensibility, as if the focus of workaday can soften into a deep, relaxed breath.


Photos: Martin Lof

Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Snow Leopard Found in Afghanistan

It's great to see these beautiful cats have a little larger range than originally thought.  Would be impressive to see in the wild.  Another of GOD's creatures that many people do not even know exits!  Enjoy.

Endangered Snow Leopards Discovered in Afghanistan Mountains

by steve casimiro on July 14, 2011 · 0 comments
Researchers say they have discovered a population of endangered snow leopards in the remote mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, a promising development for a species whose numbers have plummeted in recent decades. Using camera traps operated by local rangers, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) documented the big cats at 16 locations in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor.
“This is a wonderful discovery – it shows that there is real hope for snow leopards in Afghanistan,” said Peter Zahler, WCS Deputy Director for Asia Programs. “Now our goal is to ensure that these magnificent animals have a secure future as a key part of Afghanistan’s natural heritage.”
Researchers have calculated that populations of the snow leopard — which live in some of the world’s highest mountains and are found in a dozen countries across central Asia — have dropped by about 20 percent over the last 16 years, with an estimated 4,500 to 7,500 cats surviving in the wild. And while the snow leopard seems to be thriving in the Wakhan Corridor, WCS conservationists say the cat remains vulnerable to numerous regional threats, including poaching for their pelts, retaliatory killings by shepherds, and capture for the illegal pet trade.
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the New York-based wildlife group has developed a series of initiatives to protect the snow leopard, including training of 59 rangers, conservation education in schools, and proposed “predator-proof” livestock corrals to prevent conflicts with shepherds.

Another World's Best Hike: Petra - Kingdom of Jordan

I believe that hiking in and around the Holy Land would be an amazing life-experience.  This entry in "World's Best Hikes" by NatGeo is in this area -- Petra in the Kingdom of Jordan.  Maybe one day...

World's Best Hikes: Petra Through the Back Door, Jordan

By Peter Potterfield
Today's Featured Hike: Dana Reserve to Petra
Round-Trip: 50 miles, 7 days
When to Go: October through April, when desert temperatures relent—a little. Go with Adventure Jordan, the local company that discovered this 50-mile route through the deserts, mountains, and peaks of Jordan.
At the top of an ancient stairway carved into the red rock, the narrow defile leads around a sharp bend, and suddenly you are stopped cold. There stands the exquisite carved façade of Al Deir, better known as the Monastery, perhaps Petra’s grandest monument. And you have it to yourself. To enter the Nabataean city of Petra in a small party at the conclusion of almost a week in the rugged wilds of the Kingdom of Jordan is a far more satisfying arrival than pulling into the parking lot with its idling tour buses ten miles away. That’s what makes the weeklong trek unique.
From the ancient city of Dana, the route leads down to the Feynan Eco-Lodge before crossing the vast arid expanse of Wadi Araba before climbing into the Sharah Mountains past iconic oasis and Bedouin camps toward Petra itself. The off-trail travel through the deserts and mountains can be grueling, exacerbated by the heat, but the hike sets you up to enter Petra in a receptive frame of mind, ready to absorb the mystical qualities of the Rose Red City.
Insider Tip: Do your research before you arrive. Time in the canyon system of Petra is precious, so it’s best to know what you want to see before you arrive. Besides the iconic sites of the Siq, the Treasury and the Monastery are mystical venues, as are the Place of High Sacrifice and the Great Temple.
See all our featured World's Best Hikes>>
Photograph by Heeb, laif/Redux

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grand Canyon Hike - One of the World's Best

Hiking the Grand Canyon... need I say more.  I have been privileged to hike here twice thus far and it never gets old.  (How could it?) 


World's Best Hikes: Grand Canyon Hike, Arizona

By Peter Potterfield
Today's Featured Hike: Rim to Rim to Rim
Round-Trip: 44 miles, 4 to 6 days
When to Go: Everybody does this hike in September to October or April to May, so go in March or November for a more contemplative experience.
Any walk in the Grand Canyon is going to rate pretty high on the Richter scale of hikes, but this route shows you both rims and the river, offers different trails in and out, and gives you enough time within one of the greatest features on Earth to actually savor the majesty of the natural architecture. Time travel through the multicolored layer cake of the Colorado Plateau for two billion years' worth of geology, from the Kaibab limestone at the rim to the Vishnu complex at the river, all on good “corridor” trails with known water sources and pleasant camps.
Insider Tip: Bomb down from the South Rim via the uber-direct South Kaibab Trail to cross the Colorado River on the Black Bridge and camp at Bright Angel camp. Then ascend through the Box, the inner heart of the canyon, up to Cottonwood Camp and the remote North Rim. On the return trek, cross the Colorado on the Silver Bridge and ascend to the South Rim through Indian Garden via the Bright Angel Trail, better suited for uphill travel.
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Photograph by Bill Hatcher, National Geographic