Joshua Ebert

Trail Runner | Misadventurist | Storyteller

Tag: hiking (page 1 of 2)

Baring It All On The Trail (NSFW)

So June 25, 2016 will be the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, Oregon. This reminded me of an article I read a few years ago about the nude trail running scene. That is right, there are runners whom are so minimalist that anything more than a pair of shoes and socks is too much. Of course I’ve heard of Hike Naked Day, but I struggle to wrap my head around running naked. Even when I ran in a kilt I wore compression shorts for support.

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Trip Report: Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging

This past Sunday my wife and I took the drive up to Hanging Rock State Park, about 2.25 hours from Raleigh. We arrived mid-morning and after checking out the Visitor’s Center, we hiked three of the waterfalls. These were short hikes from the main parking lot that offered some great views and allowed us to get in the mood to scramble around the mountain.

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jungle & river trails

Currently I am in the planning stages of introducing my wife to backpacking. She loves hiking but has never been camping. So now I’m attempting to devise the perfect backpacking trip as an introduction. A trip where everything goes exactly right is basically impossible, especially since the definition of adventure is “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

Looking at my last backpacking trip, what stands out in those memories beyond the time spent with my friends, is the scene of thunderheads coming up river towards our camp and being driven from my hammock to spend the night snuggled up with my dog in an attempt to stay warm and dry.

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Most people have recommended that I start with a simple car camping trip, but that is like comparing riding Splash Mountain to running the Colorado River. The real experience is walking in, setting up, and making do with what you carried in on your back. So picking somewhere where I think I can control the variables is important.

For that reason I’m going with somewhere I’m fairly familiar with, Uwharrie National Forest. I have previously run Uwharrie Mountain Run there twice along with a few training runs so I feel fairly comfortable there. I know there are several great spots along streams that are flat and provide great campsites.

All that I am waiting for is a weekend where we are not busy and the weather cooperates. Then the adventure is on! Now I do not want it to come across as if my wife is high maintenance, which is far from the truth. In reality, it is my own neuroticism that wants it to be perfect. It’s like when you show someone your favorite movie and you keep looking at their face to see if they are enjoying it for the same reasons you love it. I think this is a common feeling as you attempt to share a passion with someone. I think part of it is an attempt to relive that first time again vicariously through your partner.

Hopefully this all works out as I want to start planning bigger backpacking trips for us so we can start exploring our National Parks. Whenever this introductory trip happens I will be sure to share the trip report here.

Have you introduced a partner to one of your passions? How did it go? What suggestions do you have? Please comment below, and any advice would be much appreciated.

UPDATE: Paul’s Boots has started their journey on the Appalachian Trail!

 

 

Happy Birthday

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir, “Our National Parks”

In 1916, the United States Congress created the National Park Service (NPS) with the mission of protecting our National Parks for future generations. One hundred years later they continue their mission of preserving our countries most important places.

When people think of the NPS often it is of places like Yosemite or Yellowstone, but in reality, they protect so much more. Their mission has grown to include protecting our sacred places such as Pearl Harbor, the Gettysburg Battlefield, Valley Forge, and sites of the Civil Rights Movement. They are truly tasked with maintaining our history.

The men and women of the NPS are not just passionate curators our history, but also, they are rescuers, law enforcement officers, and educators. There are not many jobs with the description of teaching children about owls to apprehending armed criminals to scaling El Cap to bring home a stranded climbing party. In their storied 100-year history 32 Rangers have lost their lives on the job.

In 2015 alone over 307 million people visited a NPS location. Truly the men and women of the NPS have a monumental task at hand as they continue to maintain and educate visitors about these places.

So what can you do to help celebrate their centennial birthday? You can take the time to remind your representatives in Congress how much you appreciate our National Parks and that they too should endeavor to protect them. Second, and most important, visit the National Parks!

REI has teamed up with the NPS to help make it easier. Download the REI National Parks App, pick up a visitor’s pass and get out there and explore!

What is your favorite National Park and why? Share your stories. Please comment below.

Socks & Underwear

I thought it might be fun to talk about two important things that we all use but probably do not think about much. As someone who takes their gear seriously, I do a lot of research on what should be the best for me. So that means I have dedicated a fair amount of time to thinking about and researching who makes the best underwear and socks. So here are my current favorites.

Socks: They can make you or betray you!

To runners and backpackers, socks are important so for them, this is probably a no-brainer. As I forayed into running and taking my adventures to new heights, I came to realize that sheep would be your best friend. Merino wool by far makes the best socks! I started out buying a few pairs for running but eventually realized that all my socks needed to be merino wool.

I first bought a pair of SmartWool PhDs that I wore during an adventure race. Over the course of the race my team went from mountain biking to paddling down a river to a 14-mile trek to the finish. After coming out of the river, I paused to wring out my socks, put them back on and continued with my race. With wet feet and miles to cover I was a prime candidate for blisters, but the socks worked so well that I experienced none of these.

Since then I have bought merino wool socks from several different manufacturers, which have all worked equally well, but because SmartWool’s were my first, they hold a special place in my heart.

Underwear: A bad pair can ruin your life (well at least your trip)!

For years I mindlessly bought your standard cotton underwear without ever thinking, is there something better than this? Cotton has this great ability to hold in moisture and become like steel wool between your thighs. Also, during those years, I also continued to struggle with an incurable case of jock itch. Nothing worked, then one day I decided to try a pair of these fancy Under Armour underwear. This was the best decision I ever made–what I needed was proper moisture management and these did the trick.

For years, I wore Under Armour until a friend pointed me to the ExOfficio Give-and-Go underwear. This underwear was designed for the adventurer. They have an antimicrobial treatment to prevent bacteria from colonizing and can be washed in a sink. This makes them versatile enough that you only have to carry a couple pair on your adventure as long as you have time to wash and dry them on the fly.

So what do you think? Do you have any stories about the time your socks or underwear ruined your adventure? Please comment or share your stories below.

Your Sick Adventure

I have been dealing with a self-induced case of the Noravirus over the last two days and it has been awful! It is also a bit timely, as I have been planning on doing a rundown of some diseases and ailments that you can encounter on your adventures in the wilderness.

Giardia: What do I do now that I’ve read through all my Outside magazines?

Giardia is a waterborne parasite that comes from fecal matter. Giardia is fairly resilient which makes it more dangerous. The parasite does well in cold weather and is resistant to many disinfectants. For this reason, water filtration is always a better choice than chemical treatment. Once Giardia is consumed and enters your body it begins to multiply. The infection often causes diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. The disease takes 7-10 days for incubation and can typically last for 3-4 days. If you believe you may have contracted Giardia you need to contact your healthcare provider.

Lyme Disease: Is there a target on my back?

Lyme disease is a bacteria spread through tick bites. The first symptoms can appear anywhere between 3 to 32 days after the bite. These first symptoms include feeling tired and body aches, so feeling old and worn out from your adventure. The biggest telltale sign of Lyme disease is if you develop the Target Logo on our body in the form of a rash. The disease can be treated but the longer treatment is delayed the more severe the disease can become, leading to cardiac anomalies, joint pain, and neurological symptoms.

Botulism Poisoning: What I was poisoned by cosmetics?

Botulism poisoning is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum (it is related to Botox, but they are not the same thing). The reason that this disease is relevant is because it is prevalent in canned and packaged foods. It can easily be prevented by bringing the food up to boiling temperatures. Botulism has a short incubation period from 12 to 36 hours. The symptoms start as blurred vision and then go on to cause paralysis throughout the body. Botulism must be treated with an antitoxin so immediate medical treatment should be sought. The more rapidly the symptoms onset is the higher the potential for being fatal.

Salmonella: Does this mean I’m at a greater threat of being eaten by a bear?

Salmonella is one of the more common food poisonings and people across the world are affected by it every day. Salmonella commonly presents as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramping. Often times a healthy person is able to fight off the infection after a few days, but sometimes antibiotics are required. The reason I mention this is because when traveling in the backcountry it can be hard to maintain optimal cleanliness and hygiene. For these reasons, you should make sure to thoroughly cook your food and boil your water. The backcountry is not the best place to try making Chicken Tartare.

Did I get anything wrong? Is there a disease that I should have covered that I didn’t? Let me know in the comments section. Thank you.

This past Sunday my wife and I dedicated the day to fun and adventure. After eating breakfast, we loaded our kayaks into the truck and drove to the Eno River Boat Ramp in Durham, North Carolina. It was a beautiful morning with a light chill in the air so the boat ramp was busy with fishermen putting their boats into the river.

We unloaded our kayaks and slipped into the river. At first, I found the scenery a bit dull as we have had a lot of rain this winter, which caused the river to spill across the floodplain and washed the surrounding vegetation in mud. As we paddled past the fishermen in their boats we found ourselves drifting into more solitude. We began picking out unique looking trees and 100-year-old oak trees as we toured a small section of the river.

kayak

Following our 6-mile round trip paddle, we drove to the town of Hillsborough for some beers and barbecue. We saddled up to the bar at Mystery Brewing Public House to begin sampling their tasty gluten sodas and ordered lunch from Hillsborough BBQ Company. This is one of the best combinations in the Triangle and I recommend if anyone happens to be out around Hillsborough to check both out.

mystery

After stuffing ourselves with barbecue, we headed out to Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area for a hike. We pulled into the small, overflowing parking lot only to be greeted by raindrops. While another couple turned back from the trailhead we figured we would march on and hope the rain would quickly pass. Fortunately, the rain only lasted for 10-15 minutes, just doing enough to make the air humid. It was a nice loop that went down along the Eno River then climbed up an old rock quarry to give us a great view of Hillsborough.

mountain

After the hike, we finished the day with a stop at YesterYears Brewery in Carrboro. Then we headed home to unload the truck and feed the dogs.

YesterYears

The thing is while our adventure was nothing groundbreaking it was a nice day outside. It was a day where my significant other and I got to connect and spend the day seeing new places. An adventure does not have to be a speed ascent of Denali or paddling a source to sea on the Amazon. It is important to make these small adventures part of our busy lives. If you are outside, experiencing things for the first time or in a new way then you are having an adventure. What is better than making new stories with friends or loved ones? Not much in the grand scheme of this singular life.

Are.You_.Lost_

The air begins to cool as the sun begins to go down and you are not exactly sure about where you are. Maybe the mental note of ‘turn left at the downed tree with the squirrel on it’ was not your best moment. Now you are starting to even question whether it was a grey, red or one of those mutant black squirrels (seriously look it up). Now you shiver and you regret leaving that hoodie in the car. It is right about here you first ask yourself the question, “Am I lost?”

You probably are not, you just need to take a moment to calm down and figure out where you are. This is the time to sit down and take a moment and think rationally about it. This will help prevent you from doing something to get yourself into real trouble.

According to Boy’s Life Magazine (the Foo Fighter’s least favorite magazine), you should follow the acronym S.T.O.P.

  • Stop: Just stop moving, getting more lost will not make it easier to get found.
  • Think: Take a moment to think back on how you got to this point and look at the map if you have one.
  • Observe: Look around and assess if anything is familiar. Maybe you can see the parking lot from there.
  • Plan: Come up with a plan. If you want to look over the next hill to see if you find something you recognize, make easily distinguishable markers to at least get you back to where you are now. Do not keep wandering around hoping to find your way out.

So now that you have admitted that you are lost it is time to figure out your next steps. You are at a critical point where you must decide what you do next. Does someone expect you back? Will they notify help if you do not return tonight? Do you have the resources to spend the night? Approximately how much daylight do you have left? Do you have food and water?

If you know someone is expecting you back at a certain time and you know they will notify the authorities, then you need to hunker down. You need to face the possibility of being out there the entire night. That means get out of the wind, build a shelter that helps keep body heat in, and conserve what remaining resources you have.

Do not drink unfiltered water unless it is a life or death situation.

Do not camouflage yourself and your equipment (unless you are being hunted by a predator).

Attempt to remain in your current location through the night and as long as possible into the next day. If you have to move or choose to move make sure to mark the route with obvious signs that rescuers can follow. Arrange rocks into arrows, break fresh tree branches or arrange things in a way that will tell people that someone recently passed through the area.

Ultimately the best thing to do is wait for help, moving around only makes it harder for rescuers to find you.

And as always, remember the words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic!”

cuts-and-scrapes-MEME1

Paul's Boots

In the most recent episode of, one of my favorite podcasts, The Dirtbag Diaries they made a call to action for help. They received a call from a woman, named M’Lynn, in Australia looking for help on how to reach hikers and to share the story of her husband Paul.

She described Paul as a large, kind man who loved the outdoors and who had one dream, to one day travel from Australia to the United States and Hike the 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Unfortunately, like with many of us, life got in the way of Paul’s dream. First he stayed to care for his mother in her final years as she died from Parkinson’s disease. Then his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, in which he again took on the task of caring for him.

During that time he developed a heart condition that eventually led to his death at age 53 this past July. Up until his death he studied the Appalachian Trail constantly and dreamed about the day he would finally complete it. He stockpiled the equipment and planned out every detail, only to never get a chance.

After his passing M’Lynn donated his equipment to a local Boy Scout troop but kept his three pairs of boots. She described how he would lovingly polish these boots over and over making sure they were ready for an adventure.

Now in honor of Paul’s memory she would like to see his boots complete the trek. Paul was a large man so the boots are size 13’s, but even if you cannot fit them you can volunteer to carry them. All she asks is that you take pictures of the boots along the Appalachian Trail and send the photos back to her.

To help with the logistics of this task Duct Tape Then Beer Productions (The people behind The Dirtbag Diaries) and REI have teamed up to get the boots to volunteers and coordinate their journey up the trail.

So if you plan to do any hiking on the Appalachian Trail this year please volunteer to carry or wear these boots on your trip. For more information and to volunteer you can go to Paul’s Boots page. Also take time to listen to the episode and hear the story of Paul as told by M’Lynn.

snakeslandmines

You are scrambling over some rocks while out on your adventure when you jump down only to be met with a sudden stinging pain and a chorus of tiny maracas. You have been bitten, but unfortunately for your girlfriend you won’t become a sparkly, moping vampire, you will begin to develop necrosis (the death of skin and muscle tissue cells around the bite area).

So what are you to do now that you’ve been bitten? First move away from the snake. The snake bit you because he felt threatened, not because he thought you would taste delicious.

After moving away, remember this next step through the rest of our snake encounter. In the words of the great Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic!”

A lot of old timers will tell you that you need to kill or capture the snake to bring with you to the Emergency Room. This is as bad as drunkenly texting your ex at 3am. The thing is they estimate that 20-25% of pit viper (rattlesnakes, copperheads) and 50% of coral snake bites are dry bites (the snake does not use venom). So chasing a snake around is sure to increase the likelihood that it will use venom. Just note the description of the snake and stay away. In North America there is only one type antivenom that treats bites from rattlesnakes, copperheads and cotton-mouth/water moccasins. The only outlying snake would be the coral snake.

Do not attempt to “suck” the venom out of the bite. While this makes for an entertaining comedy trope, it is not accepted first aid.

Some more old practices that we now know to be bad are:

  • Do not put ice on the bite.
  • Do not try to “bleed” out the poison by cutting between the fang marks.
  • Do not use alcohol.
  • DO NOT TOURNIQUET THE AFFECTED LIMB!

What you should do is remove anything that can become constrictive in the event of swelling (things like rings).

Attempt to immobilize the bitten area without constricting the flow of blood. Seek immediate medical attention from the local Emergency Room.

Remember throughout the event the key is to remain calm and don’t panic.

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