Author Archives: Cindy Martin

How to Choose the Perfect Boot

Hiking is a great way to be a part of nature, get exercise, be healthy, and make new experiences. It’s a low impact activity with a low level of entry. While hiking may be ‘simple’ or ‘easy’ it doesn’t mean that there isn’t nuance, and things can often get overlooked. One of the important things to remember is to take care of your feet. Your feet are what you are hiking on all day and they’ll thank you if you take care of them! Unhappy feet are painful, sore, and smelly, so your friends and loved ones will thank you too. So before you make plans for your next hiking adventure make sure you follow these foot care tips.

Step one is to make sure you have properly fitting and appropriate hiking shoes. It’s easy to have the wrong shoes. It’s important to remember that you want a boot or shoe that is snug, but not too tight. You will also want to test your shoes when buying them. It’s wise to give a good kick with your toe into a wall or other hard surface. You want to simulate stubbing your toe on rocks, trees, or other forest obstacles. When kicking the wall you want your shoe to take the impact, leaving your toe un-stubbed and impact free. But, remember you want it snug too, so you don’t want a boot so big and loose that the heel slips out and chafes. A properly fitting boot will also provide ankle support, preventing injury and ending your hike early. It’s due to these reasons that hiking boots are an accessories that are best to buy in person at a store so that you can try on a variety of styles and talk to fitting experts to make sure you are getting the proper fit. But, use this information to ask helpful questions and find the size for you.

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Find Your Next Meal in the Woods

Foraging is more than just a hobby, it is a skill that can take a lifetime to truly master and develop.  But with proper guidance, it can be a very rewarding experience.  Our mother nature can be very generous and provide all kinds of tasty morsels in different kinds of places.  A prime example of this is our own Appalachian mountains.  The seemingly inedible woods actually offer a wide range of edible fungi, fruits, and vegetables!

For example, did you know that the common dandelion is an edible and tasty plant? The whole plants can be eaten and taste quite zesty.  If you are going to eat the roots they should be boiled first. This is a good plant to try because it is easy to identify and quite common for the region.  Now if that seems a little too bold and too adventurous for you then look to try starting with something more familiar.  

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My Favorite Swimming Hole

swimming hole

I love hiking to take in nature and see great views, but also part of why I love a good long hike is getting sweaty, burning calories, and feeling like I used my body.  While the burn is it’s own reward, I also love rewarding myself after, and nothing beats a cold, refreshing dip in a natural swimming hole after a hot and sticky hike.

I remember fondly one of my favorite swimming holes.  This was on a solo hike years before Cindy and I met.  It was in the Catskills Mountains and the hills were green and lush.  The vibrancy of the landscape reminded me of my grandmother’s yard growing up.  She would always brag about how her friend’s son owned the best lawn care services Birmingham AL had to offer.  She spent most of her time in her yard, either moving her yard decorations around or talking to her flowers and bushes.  The grass was so thick and green and soft.  Thinking back on it now that I am older, I’m pretty sure my grandmother had something to do with instilling in me my love for the outdoors.

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Climbing in the Appalachian Mountains

The great outdoors have a lot to offer; the beautiful views, strenuous hikes, and relaxing quiet. The Appalachian mountains are no different as they host a wide range of activities that allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer such as hiking, fishing, and canoeing. But did you know that there is world class rock climbing throughout the Appalachian mountains too? Some highlights include Linville Gorge in North Carolina and Red River Gorge in Kentucky. We have really gotten into rock climbing over the past few months.  It is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy (ok, maybe not the dogs), and while modern outdoor rock climbing is very safe, there are some tips to remember before embarking up that route!

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Disc Golf in Northern Georgia

Hey, guys.  Sorry if it’s been several days since one of us posted.  We went on a little adventure!  Heath loves to play disc golf (which I’ll get into in a minute) and has tried to teach me how to play numerous times, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.  I do like trying to play, though, and I think all that matters is that we have fun doing it. 

Anyway, I’m originally from Fort Payne, which is a very small town in northeast Alabama.  I haven’t been home to visit family in awhile so we decided to take a road trip down for a few days and see everyone.  Heath has been to Fort Payne numerous times with me and always seems to get a little restless because there’s not a whole lot to do but sit and chat with people.  He did a little research and found out that Cloudland Canyon State Park was less than an hour away in the northwest corner of Georgia.

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A Few Survival Tips

Hey, guys…it’s Heath today.  Cindy went to visit a friend for the day and I’m stuck in the house waiting on the carpet cleaners to get here.  After years of tracking in dirt from the outdoors, we decided to invest some money into getting the floors cleaned.  I’m sure the clean floors won’t last for long, but at least they’ll make Cindy happy for a couple of days.  🙂

Back to the blog on hand…I want to talk a little bit about some survival tips everyone should know in case you veer off trail and get lost out in the woods.  You’re probably thinking that would never happen to you, but it can happen to even the most experienced hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.  It’s better to be safe than sorry, isn’t it?

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Don’t Scratch the Itch

One of my favorite things to do while I’m outdoors is to check out all of the different vegetation and growth.  I usually walk a lot slower than the group I’m with because I am so fascinated by plants.  I mean, have you ever really stopped and looked at all the different leaf shapes?  I love hiking during the fall because that is when I have seen some of the most beautiful and colorful vegetation this wonderful planet has to offer. 

I was a Girl Scout as a child so I thankfully learned about all of the different types of plants and flowers to avoid…including the dreaded poison ivy.  I’ve posted a picture up top of this plant because I often forget that not everyone knows how to identify this particular species of plant.  It is characterized by its three leaves that emit an oil that many people are allergic to, causing a horrible itchy rash.  It grows on the ground as well as on rocks and trees.  When most people come into contact with poison ivy they don’t realize it until it’s too late, and have usually spread the oil all over their body.

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Preparation is Key!

Throughout the course of your life, I’m sure you’ve heard an inspirational quote or two about how important it is to be prepared for any task you are trying to conquer.  Going on an outdoor expedition is probably one of the times that careful preparation is most important.  I mean, think about it…if you go out in the woods without the proper gear or enough water and food, you’ll not only be miserable but you might find yourself starving or dehydrated.  What if something goes wrong, you get lost, and are out in the woods for hours or days longer than you expected?  We aren’t trying to scare anyone from wanting to go explore the outdoors, but we are trying to stress how important it is to plan and prepare until you’re blue in the face.  Once you do it several times, you’ll be a pro and it won’t seem as overwhelming to you. 

There are many different variables that come into play when you are preparing for an outdoor excursion so you want to answer these questions before you do anything else:

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