#Trashtag: A Social Media Challenge Worth Doing

We've all seen them - social media challenges that are ridiculous, hilarious, and sometimes even downright dangerous.  Fortunately, we've found a challenge that is finally worth doing, one that helps build relationships, better communities, and heals our world.

#Trashtag

This challenge was issued several years ago without much fanfare, but has enjoyed an explosion of popularity worldwide in recent months.  It's a trend we would like to see continue for a long time to come.

Net on Shore

What is it?

The basic idea is simple.  The challenge is to find an area that is filled with litter, take a "before" picture, clean it up, and then post an "after" picture.  A quick search online will show pictures from around the world of truly amazing transformations as garbage-covered beaches are returned to their former sandy selves.

Where should you do it?

Anywhere that's public land and riddled with garbage.  Beaches, walking trails, rivers and lakes, parks, there really is no end to the possibilities.

Who can do it?

Anyone.  Want to tackle it solo?  Go for it, but we believe that many hands make light work so why not get your family, church, club, friends, and/or co-workers involved?  It can be a great way to bond with each other while helping your community and, indeed, the whole world.

If everyone took one day of the year to participate, we could clean thousands if not millions of acres of land and help restore some of the natural beauty to our world.

Beach Clean-up

Some things to remember ...

1. It's always a good idea to let someone know what you're going to do, where you're going, when, and how long you plan to be gone.  Some areas may be remote and there is always a chance to get lost, get hurt, or have other troubles while out.

2. Be careful.  While cleaning garbage, you never know what you may find.  Be careful handling metal and glass which can easily cut skin.  Wear thick protective gloves with good grips (so you don't drop the debris and cut your leg or foot) and make sure to put them in hard containers (not plastic bags).

3. Watch for syringes.  The needles are dangerous, not just because of the blood-borne illnesses they can spread, but because of the drugs that may have been inside of them.  If you see a needle on the ground, never try to re-cap it or snap off the needle.  If you are equipped to pick it up, do so carefully and always keep the needle pointed down and away from you.  Never put syringes in plastic bags or even thin plastic containers like milk jugs.  Always use a heavy plastic, lidded container (like laundry soap or kitty litter containers).  Never allow children to handle syringes.  Always mark the containers as Medical Waste: Sharps and contact your local waste disposal business to find out how to properly dispose of them.

When in doubt, call the police and let them know about the used syringes.  They will take care of them or call someone who can.

4. Though rare, you may come across dead or injured animals.  Do not approach the animal.  Instead, call the local DNR or humane society and let them know where you are and what the situation is and they will handle it.

5. Make sure to bring a first aid kit, just in case.  Anytime you are outdoors, there is a chance for a skinned knee or small cut, but when working with garbage the risk of infection is higher.  Make sure to wash your hands (up to the elbows) thoroughly with water and soap before eating, drinking, and when you are finished.

6. Take proper weather precautions.  In the summer, the sun is going to be a problem.  Make sure to wear proper protective gear, use sunscreen, and have an area where you can escape the hot sun while working.  Drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks, and stop immediately if you feel dizzy, have a headache, or experience any other symptoms of heat stroke/heat exhaustion.

Clean Shore

The next time you're out hiking, walking through a park, or paddle-boarding across a lake, take a moment to look around you.  If you see an area that needs cleaning, why not join a movement that is gaining ground, literally, all around the world? 

Get your gear, grab your friends, and take part in the #Trashtag challenge.

 

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Camping 101: Shelter

With summer just around the corner, we wanted to revisit a favorite subject of ours: camping.  Although we have a beginner's guide on the most basic camping processes, we wanted to take a closer look at the ins and outs of camping.  That's why we're going to have a "Camping Class" - a series of articles about all things camping.

While it may not be for the advanced camper, this guide will hopefully take some of the stress and worry out of the process for those who are just beginning or thinking of beginning a lifetime of camping adventures.  We will discuss shelters, bedding, cooking, tools and safety, and more. 

For those of you experienced campers out there, we'd love to hear your tips, tricks, and go-to camping gear so be sure to comment below.

Tent Camping

Today's Topic:

Shelter

One of the most important aspects of camping to consider is shelter.  Choosing the perfect type of shelter, however, can be a daunting task.  There are thousands of options to choose from - dome tents, RVs, sheltered hammocks, and many more - that range in price and weight.

So how do you choose?

First, you must consider the type of camping you'll be doing.  A ten mile hike before setting up camp will require very different gear than driving to the campsite directly.  If you're going to be carrying your tent with you, weight will be a priority.  If you plan to do winter camping, having a thicker tent may be vital.  Or if you spend most of your time camping in a rainy area (I'm thinking of you Seattle), finding a tent with proper waterproofing is a must.  Using an RV may restrict where you camp as well.

Second, consider how many people will be with you.  A single person or couple can get away with a much smaller tent whereas a family will obviously need adequate space for a large tent.  And be aware, some campgrounds have restrictions on how many tents can be placed at a site, so splitting the group of people among multiple tents may not work without reserving multiple campsites.  As a general rule of thumb for those looking for the casual camping experience, purchase a tent that sleeps at least one person more than will be using it.  This added space allows room for gear and gives adequate space for sleeping.

Third, consider the terrain.  If the ground is extremely rocky or hard, a tent that requires stakes for tension to remain upright may not be the right choice.  If you're out in the woods, hiking and camping as you go, finding a large flat spot to set up the tent may be next to impossible. 

Fourth, consider how much you want to spend.  Camping gear is an investment, so it makes sense to do your research before you buy.  Some businesses allow you to rent tents giving you the chance to try them out before you buy.  If you can't find a place to rent, consider asking friends and family to borrow theirs.  This may give you a better idea of what type of tent will or won't work for your needs.  While going with the most expensive tent isn't necessary, it may be worth it to invest a little extra if you plan to use it a lot or have special needs/requirements (like camping in cold or wet weather).

Now that you have an idea of how you will be using your tent, it's time to dive into the types of tents available.  Although this isn't an exhaustive list, hopefully it will give you an idea of where to start in the search for your perfect camping shelter.

Types of Tents

Ridgeline Tent

Ridgeline Tents

This is a rather retro style of tent that isn't often seen nowadays.  Even so, this style of tent can be useful, especially when dealing with weather issues.  The high pitch doesn't allow for much headroom, but will be sure to shed both snow and water if the weather goes bad.  Ridgeline tents can be difficult to set up well, but when done correctly they are very sturdy.  They typically aren't the greatest for backpacking, however, as they can weigh a lot.

Dome Tent

Dome Tents

These are probably the most common type of tent in use today.  They are relatively easy to put up (even by yourself), don't cost much, don't weigh much, and often pack down to a small size making them a great first tent or a tent to use while hiking.  The larger they are, the less stable they become in high winds and bad weather, so they aren't ideal for large families/groups.

Tunnel Tent

Tunnel Tents

A relative of the dome tents, these tents are made in the same way, with flexible poles that are anchored along the bottom edges and hold the tent up.  This style of tent is great for larger groups, offers decent head room, and is easy to put up.  It is heavy, however, and is best suited for car camping and may have issues with water pooling on top when it rains.

Geodesic Tent

Geodesic Tents

These are like a Dome Tent 2.0.  They use more poles to increase stability and offer better use in winter or bad weather.  They are great for backpacking as they are usually lightweight and durable.  Unfortunately, their advanced design usually means they are more expensive than their dome counterparts and with the added poles, they can be trickier to put up.  Geodesic tents usually only come in smaller sizes, so they may not be suited for family camping.

Cabin Tents

Cabin Tents

These tents usually use an aluminum framework rather than flexible poles.  They are inexpensive and usually made of cheap materials, so these tents are definitely fair-weather camping only.  That said, they are large and can have multiple "rooms" making them great options for larger families and groups.

Hammock Tent

Hammock Tents

These tents are idea for backpacking or off-grid camping where flat, soft, dry ground may not be easy to find.  They are very lightweight, easy to install, pack down well, and offer a comfortable sleep without an added mattress/sleeping pad.  They are for one person per tent, which means that a large group may have difficulty finding enough trees for multiple tents.

Bell Tent

Bell and/or Tipi Tents

These tents come in a range of sizes from 2 to 10 person, making them a suitable option for families.  They can be heavy, require lots of space, and may not be easiest to put up, but in the right conditions, these may be ideal.  They are generally made of canvas, can have a port for a wood stove flue, and are extremely durable.  If you're going to be in one place for a length of time or will be dealing with cold weather extremes, or want the extra room, these may be the tents for you.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of tent types, but hopefully it will give you an idea of where to start in your search for the ideal tent.  The point here is not to buy the trendiest, the flashiest, or the most technical shelter, but to find the one that will work best for you.

Come back soon to find out more about sleeping during your camping adventure!

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Looking For New Adventures?

It's spring and here, at least, spring means rain.  While rain can be dreary, don't let it put a damper on your adventure plans for the season.  Here at Stillwater Outdoors, we're eager to get out and explore.

But where?  After a few years in the same location, it can start to feel like you've explored every option, discovered ever treasure, and have nothing new left to do.  Thankfully, we have a few ideas to help you get out and see your corner of the world in a new light.

Hiking using gps on smartphone

Geocaching

Remember your childhood?  Those endless days of summer where reality and fantasy were often indistinguishable as you created an imaginary world of pirates and dragons, space aliens and jungles?  As a kid, I always secretly hoped I'd find pirate treasure while digging in the sand at the beach.  Alas, my dream never came to fruition ... until now.

For those who are unfamiliar with geocaching, here's the basic idea.  There are treasures hidden all around the world - millions of them.  They come in different shapes and sizes and are hidden around you, sometimes in places you pass by every day.  These caches can serve up hours or days of fun as you use the app on your phone or a GPS to hunt them down.  After finding one, add your name to the log book, perhaps add or exchange a treasure (think time capsule treasure rather than gold and jewels treasure), and hide it again for the next hunter to find.

The best part?  These caches can be found all around the world.  Literally.  So whether you're looking for an adventure in your home town, something to do while on vacation, or a reason to explore some exotic locale, geocaching can make you take a closer look at the world around you.

Want to join up?  Create a free geocaching account here:

Geocaching

Hiker on mountaintop

AllTrails

When it comes to hiking, there are almost limitless options that vary in length, remoteness, and difficulty.

So how do you find the right trail for you?

AllTrails is an easy-to-use way to find the right trail for your adventure.  Whether you're looking for dog or kid-friendly trails, a more challenging way to explore your favorite area, or want some first-hand accounts of the trail, view, or difficulty, AllTrails is a great place to look. 

They offer both free and pro accounts (at the time of writing this, the pro account was $2.50/month), so be sure to read the fine print and choose the account that meets your needs. 

To find out more, check out their website:

AllTrails

Playing tourist on stay-cation

Play Tourist ... At Home

This is a great idea for families who want to start in on vacation season without breaking their budget.  Plan for a weekend vacation at home.  Put away your work, tell friends and family (and co-workers) that you'll be on vacation, and do a search on your hometown.  Try searching for "Tourist sites near ..." or "Best places to visit ..." and see what comes up.  You may be surprised by what neat places are lurking in your own backyard.

Another option is to poll your friends and family.  We're betting that they have favorite restaurants, parks, and nearby adventures that you've never tried.  Or check with your local newspaper.  There you can find articles about local events, some of which we're sure you've never experienced.  No matter how you do it, playing tourist can be a fun way to see your hometown in a new light.

 

Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas to get out explore without breaking your budget or consuming all of your vacation days at work.  Whatever adventure you choose, we at Stillwater Outdoors hope it's one to remember.

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Mud Season Madness

It's officially here - mud season.  For those of you who live in a hotter, drier climate and have never fully experienced all of the slipperiness and squelchiness of mud season, let us explain.  It's that time of year when spring has finally shown its bright, sunny face.  The snow starts to melt, the ground starts to thaw, and the resulting tidal wave of water remains trapped on the surface, unable to penetrate the still mostly-frozen ground.  This is the result ...

mud season

Not a pretty sight, right?  But it gets worse.  For those of us with children and pets, spring time is a constant war against dirt, one that we always lose.

Child in mud     Dog in mud

For the tidy, neat folks of the world, mud season is truly the stuff of nightmares.  Most of us hide out in our homes, counting down the days until the frost fully thaws and the sun and wind do their best to dry out the mud.  Unfortunately, mud season can last for weeks or even months when conditions are right, meaning that we have a long time to wait before doing anything even remotely fun outside.

Or ... maybe not.

That's right.  Today we are challenging all of you mud season phobics to get out of your house, our of your comfort zone, and enjoy all that mud season can offer.  How?  Embrace your inner child and plan a mud season hike.  Don't worry.  It's not as difficult as it sounds.  Here are some tips, tricks, and basic mud season hiking etiquette that will make you excited about mud season every year.

Wet/Muddy Trails are Fragile

That's right.  Some of the most severe and devastating damage to hiking trails happens in spring when the snow melt and thawing frost wreak havoc on maintained paths.  During this time, erosion is the enemy.  Thankfully, there are a few basic tips that will keep you from accelerating any damage Mother Nature has in store.

1.  Be prepared to get dirty.

It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.  Hiking in the mud is messy business, but it's also a lot of fun.  Plan ahead with proper gear and supplies and you'll make the entire trip much less stressful.  Wear boots that go above the ankle or consider getting a pair of gaiters.  Bring along towels, dry changes of pants/socks/shoes, and even extra water to give your muddiest gear a rinse before climbing back into your car.  Toss a plastic tote or bag in the back of your car to hold all of the wet gear and save your vehicle's interior.

Walk down the middle of the path

2. Walk down the middle of the path

But there's a puddle?  Or that's where it's the muddiest?  We didn't say this was going to be a nice, neat hike so put on your favorite above-the-ankle water-proof boots and get marching.  Though it may be tempting to walk along the edges of paths where there is less water and mud, that's where most of the erosion happens and trampling those fragile areas only makes matters worse.  Stick to the middle.

3. Step on rocks, logs, or in the water whenever possible.

Okay, so the first two seem obvious.  Rocks and logs provide solid walkways that don't erode the same way the rest of the trail does.  The last, however, may seem counter-intuitive.  Why walk in water?  Especially if it's running water?  Though it may surprise you, running water often provides the most stable ground as the mucky, muddy sediment has already been washed away revealing the sturdy ground beneath it.

Hiking with trekking poles

4. Take baby steps and plan for extra time.

Mud is slippery, perhaps even more slippery than ice.  Because of this, you're going to want to take smaller steps and more time to traverse the same trails you cover in the drier summer months.  If you're really concerned, bring along trekking poles.  They can help keep you upright and can be used to test the depth of both water and mud along the path.  Just be sure to outfit them with rubber tips to help minimize damage to the trails.

boardwalk     Log-step path     Gravel path

5.  Choose your path wisely.

Avoid paths that traverse lowland/wetland areas as these will be far worse in terms of mud.  If you're not sure which trails will be best for an early spring hike, ask.  Some trails are designed to handle the worst every season has to offer and are hard-packed with gravel or may have boardwalks over the worst areas. 

6.  Don't be afraid to turn back.

If you find that the mud is getting deeper or that a stream is literally overflowing thanks to the spring run-off, don't be afraid to turn back.  Streams can easily turn into rivers in the spring and water temperatures are still dangerously low.  It's better not to risk it and head back the way you came.

For many, mud is simply a fact of life, one that you can either embrace or, well, there really isn't any other option.  It's going to happen whether you like it or not so why not have some fun with it?  Think of it this way.  After a nice muddy hike, you, at least, get to return home, shower off the muck, and change into a dry set of clothes.
He, on the other hand, has no escape.

Bear in mud

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A Winter SUP Adventure

Winter.  It can seem to be never-ending.  Months of dark and cold and more cold aren't exactly the kind of things one typically associates with water adventures.  Still, there was at least one brave person willing to challenge nature by heading out on their SUP for a bit of fly fishing fun.

Keith recently told me about a fly fishing adventure on the Little Spokane River.  He said it was something he always wanted to do - spend an afternoon lazily cruising the river while doing a little fly fishing - but life, as it often does, got in the way.

Until early December of last year.  Yes, the temperatures were low (air temps hovered in the upper 30s and 40s), but he wasn't about to let that stop him.  He was gracious enough to share his adventure with me so that I could share it with all of you.

Keith's Adventure

Public Launch, Little Spokane River

On December 3, at about 10AM, I dropped in at the public launch (you do need a Discover Pass to park here when the gate is open) just to the east of Saint Georges School and west of the Fish Hatchery.  I did have to walk an extra 150 yards because the gate was closed.

The weather, from what I remember, was just cold and gloomy.  The experience was still great.  I had the river all to myself.  Just ducks and a couple of deer and me.


Water Temperature, Little Spokane River
I wore a couple of insulating layers with chest waders.  I also wore a rain jacket and a life jacket.  If I fell in, I would have been a little wet and cold, but still safe.  My biggest issue with the cold was my hands, which got wet while fishing.
I did try fly fishing a little while drifting along.  I just sat down on the board sidesaddle and let a dry fly drift along just seven feet away.  Surprisingly, a couple of fish did come and hit the dry fly, which is always fun and a little startling.  I never did hook any of them, which is fine by me. They looked like monster 3" minnows ...

Keith's gear, Little Spokane River
At about 11:30, I pulled out at the Painted Rocks area (rocks painted by Native Americans) and hailed an Uber.  It showed that the Uber would arrive in about 13 minutes, which gave me time to roll up the board and store it away with my other gear.  When Jack rolled up in a sweet Lincoln Navigator, I was ready to hop in (he even had heated seats!).  The Uber ride was only $13.02, which is just a little more than I'd pay to watch a movie at the nearby movie theater.  What a great adventure, how lucky we are to have the Little Spokane River just 15 minutes from our doorstep!
I'd give this adventure 5 stars!
Note: Keith's story is copied here with minimal editing (a few grammer/punctuation corrections only).
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Frostbite and Hypothermia Awareness

Although the Midwestern and Eastern parts of our country have been experiencing icy temperature extremes the last few weeks, we in the Pacific Northwest have enjoyed a relatively mild stretch of weather with temperatures hovering in the high 30s and 40s.  Warming temperatures often make us think of spring ... but winter isn't done with us yet.

Snowy Mountain

Today we woke to temperatures in the teens and a bitter north wind, a reminder that we still have a ways to go before we can break out the lawn chairs and start planting gardens.  Although we've touched on winter water safety, we haven't really discussed two major dangers of winter weather.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

First, let's discuss frostbite.  Most have probably heard of it, some may have experienced it for themselves (I know I have).  I think here, where temperatures are often milder throughout the winter months, most people tend to think it can't happen to them.  I often see people walking around in short sleeves, in skirts, or with no winter gear throughout the winter months.

I shiver just thinking about it.

Maybe my Midwestern roots are showing, but I have a healthy respect for the dangers of winter.  Peek in the trunk of my car and you'll think I'm preparing for an apocalypse.  That's partly because I've had frostbite before and I know how dangerous it can be.

Frostbite

Symptoms of Frostbite

Frostbite is basically when the skin and underlying tissues freeze.  It starts with feeling cold and prickling skin.  Next, the area will go numb and the skin will change color, become hard or waxy looking, and you may experience clumsiness as the joints and muscles stiffen. 

At it's most severe, frostbite can lead to serious infection, blistering, and even amputation, so it's not to be taken lightly.

Frostbite most commonly happens to toes, fingers, noses, ears, cheeks and chin.  Because of the nature of this injury, namely numbness, you may not realize you have it unless someone points it out.

And it's important to note, although it is more common with exposed skin, frostbite can even happen to covered skin.

Causes and Risks

The obvious cause of frostbite is the cold, including temperature, wind, and wet weather.  Wearing unsuitable attire makes it more likely, as does touching cold things with bare flesh like metal, cold packs, or ice.

There are other factors that can put you at risk that you may not be aware of such as exhaustion, dehydration, and even excessive sweating (so be careful while shoveling snow or chopping wood).  Smoking and drug and alcohol abuse make it more likely, as does age (the very young and very old are more susceptible), and being at a higher altitude so keep this in mind the next time you visit a ski hill.

Cold Weather Clothing

Treatment

Although you can self-treat frostnip (when your skin first starts to feel cold and get red but before it goes numb), frostbite requires medical attention.  Do what you can to warm the injured area by removing wet clothes, covering with warm blankets or other articles of clothing, and preventing continued exposure to cold temperatures.  If you have frostbite on your toes, don't walk around any more than necessary.  And, of course, call your primary care provider.  If you suspect that the person is past frostbite and has hypothermia, bypass your primary care and call 911.

Symptoms of Hypothermia

That brings us to be the big one ... hypothermia.  This is an emergency condition where your body temperature (normally around 98.6 degrees F) falls to below 95 degrees F.  At that temperature, major body systems and organs start to fail and eventually, if left untreated, it will kill you.

Sorry to sound so morbid, but hypothermia is extremely dangerous and should never be ignored or underestimated.  So, how do you know you've got hypothermia and aren't just cold?

Assuming you don't have a thermometer in your pocket, there are several symptoms to watch out for.  Shivering alone doesn't mean you've got hypothermia, but shivering combined with slurring of speech or mumbling, shallow breathing, weakening pulse, confusion, and loss of consciousness mean you're in danger. 

Most people who are suffering from hypothermia don't realize it because the symptoms appear gradually.  More importantly, the confusion that often accompanies it makes it less likely that they are self-aware and so they may not notice the symptoms at all.

Ice, Frost

Causes and Risks

These are very similar to frostbite and include exposure to extremely cold weather or cold water.  Something to note: hypothermia can happen any time your body is exposed to continuous temperatures that are lower than your normal body temperature, which means that it can happen even in the summer months.

There are plenty of risk factors that make hypothermia more likely (some of which are the same as frostbite).  Certain medications and medical conditions can also contribute, so be sure to discuss your health with your primary care provider before attempting any outdoor activities that may put you at risk.

Treatment

Call 911!

Do this first.  Do it as soon as you suspect you or someone else has hypothermia.  Then, very carefully, try to get the person inside.  Don't jar them too much as this can cause irregular heartbeats.  Then, carefully remove any wet clothing and replace with warm clothing and blankets while you wait for emergency vehicles to arrive.

COLD, Cover

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

Remember C.O.L.D.

Cover.  Choose a hat that fully covers your ears.  Wear mittens rather than gloves.  Add a scarf or other protective covering for your neck, chin, and cheeks.

Overexertion.  Avoid activities that will make you sweat a lot.  Take frequent breaks.

Layers.  Wear loose-fitting, lightweight layers with a waterproof outer layer to protect against wind and water and a wool or silk under-layer to help hold body heat.

Dry.  Stay as dry as possible.  Change mittens often and take care to keep snow from getting into boots.

If you have to go out in the cold, dress appropriately and don't stay out any longer than necessary.  Avoid going out when there is a strong wind, fog, rain, or snow.  Set up a buddy system if you're going skiing or snowboarding to help keep watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.  Dress kids in one layer more than an adult would wear in the same situation.

If you prepare and take care, there are plenty of opportunities for fun in the winter weather, but as this polar vortex reminded so many of us - the cold can be dangerous. 

From all of us here at Stillwater Outdoors, be careful and have fun.

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How STOP Can Help You Survive

I think most of us can honestly say we've been lost at some point in our lives, and I don't mean in that philosophical - where am I going in my life - kind of way.  I mean lost.  As in I knew where I was a moment ago, but now all the trees look the same, I can't find the trail, and I can no longer hear my hiking group.

Don't be embarrassed.  It happens to people of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels.  Sometimes it's a child that wanders away while chasing after a butterfly or maybe it's an adult who scouts ahead to find an easier path only to lose their way.  However and wherever and to whomever it happens, your first step is to STOP.

STOP, survival tips

Stop

This may seem rather obvious, but it often the easiest (and most dangerous) to miss.  Stop and sit down.  Take a deep breath.  Close your eyes and center your thoughts.  While in a survival situation (or maybe just lost in a shopping mall), panic is the enemy.  Unfortunately, it's extremely easy to panic.  Our thoughts tend to run wild, and usually toward the negative.  What if I'm never found?  What if they leave without me?  What if I get hurt?

Panic will drive you to keep moving.  Panic will push you beyond safe limits, taking risks you can't afford to take.  Panic will get you more lost, and yes, there is such a thing.

So stop, take a breath (or ten), and remind yourself that you can't change your situation, but you can take control of it.

Think

Your most important asset is your brain, so use it.  Think about how you got there.  Are there any landmarks that you passed?  Think about the others in your group.  Where are they headed?  Think about your safety plan (every outdoor adventure should have one).  When are people expecting you back?  What will they do if you don't return?

Knowing how others are going to react to you being lost will help guide your actions from this point forward.  You want to make it easy for them to find you, so consider how you can best do that.  Think about every action you take, every footstep, every turn, everything.

Focusing on thinking through every action will help to slow you down and make it less likely that panic will take control.

Observe

While still sitting, look around you.  What do you see?  Anything familiar?  What do you hear?  The sounds of a river, voices, cars?  What can you smell?  Smoke?  Pay attention to the world around you because there may be obvious clues as to how to get back to civilization.

Look at what you have with you.  Empty your pack, your pockets, spread out all of your survival gear.  Knowing what equipment you have and what you lack will help determine how you proceed from here.  If you have a cell phone, can you make a call for help?  Check your GPS unit.  Does it have an emergency beacon?

Also consider yourself.  What are you capable of?  What are your skills?  If you're not a strong swimmer, avoid water.  If you aren't a strong climber (or don't have the proper equipment), avoid steep areas.  Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important in any survival situation.

Plan

Even with a safety plan in the hands of someone back home, someone who will send help eventually, it may take time.  While you're waiting, you'll need a plan.  Prioritize your immediate needs.  Do you need any medical attention?  Deal with that first. 

Next, find shelter and focus on fire (if possible).  Even in the summer, the nighttime temperatures can plummet and having a shelter and source of heat will be important.  If you're in an area with large predators, avoid constructing a shelter on a game trail, where they are more likely to travel.  Focus on using the materials around you (downed branches and trees, for instance).

Now that you have a relatively safe and warm place to rest, you can focus on signalling for help.  Save one-time use items (like flares) for situations when they are more likely to be seen (if you see a helicopter or distant boat, for instance).  You want to stand out from the wilderness around you - bright colors, straight lines and right angles, loud sounds, flashing lights.  Place them in areas where they can be seen from a distance or seen from above.

And finally, source sustenance.  If you have some with you, ration it.  You don't know how long it will have to last.  If not, create a plan to find some.  Water is more important than food, though both will be necessary if you're there for any length of time.  While looking for them, be sure not to wander too far from your base.  Use methods to find your way back (leaving markings like piled stones, snapped branches, bits of fabric, etc).  Remember, think carefully about every step you take.

From all of us at Stillwater Outdoors, be safe, have fun, and remember to STOP the next time you get lost.
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New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution

How many of us start the new year with a shiny list of resolutions?  And how many of those resolutions fall by the wayside one month into the year?  Two?  Six?  How many (and I'm certainly guilty of this) make a list only to never actually start taking steps toward any of the goals?

And how many of us feel guilty later when we remember our lists, our forgotten goals, and realize we haven't made any progress with them at all?

Well, this year Stillwater Outdoors wants to help by offering some of our favorite (achievable) goals that will help fill your life with memories to last a lifetime.  Hopefully, these will help get your year off to a great start.

1.  Visit a family member or friend ... when it's not a holiday.

You know that random weekend in April when you've got nothing planned?  The rain means no outdoor fun, the temperatures are just warm enough that you don't want to stay inside, and the kids are eager for the end of the school year?  Why not visit a family member or friend?  Whether it's a friend, sibling, uncle, grandparent, or honorary cousin, make it a point to stop in and visit - not because the holidays demand it, but because you want to spend time with them.

letters in pile

2.  Write a letter.

In the days of email and wi-fi and cell phones that are basically hand-sized computers, communication is easier than ever ... but that doesn't mean that writing letters should be completely forgotten.  There's something special about receiving something other than junk mail in the mailbox, especially when that letter came from family or friends.  Make someone's day, let them know you're thinking about them, and take the time to write a letter.  Even better - make it a family affair and have the kids put their own special message inside.

3.  Visit a local park.

It doesn't have to be a national park or a state park - a city part will certainly do.  These areas are designated as public use areas and are meant to be enjoyed.  The next time you find yourself following your usual morning route during your run, why not detour to a park?  Or that lunch you planned to enjoy with a friend?  Why not plan a picnic at a park instead?  Bring the kids (and pets if allowed) and make a day of it.  A lot of parks offer playground equipment and some (in our area anyway) even have splash pads and other ways to cool off during the hot summer months.

cooking

4.  Try something new for dinner.

This is one of my favorites.  I enjoy food - the tastes, the textures, the process of cooking.  Cleaning it all afterward ... well, that's what dishwashers are for, right?  Anyway, why not stray from your normal menu by trying to make something new?  You'd be surprised by how many exotic dishes use surprisingly typical ingredients.  For Christmas this year, my family tried a Mediterranean menu that included dishes from Italy, Israel, Morocco, and Greece.  If you don't want to try a full menu, start with just one dish.  Maybe something you've heard of and always wanted to try, maybe an old family recipe that you never got around to making, or perhaps something picked out of a recipe book at random.  No matter how you choose the recipe, it will no doubt be an enjoyable evening (even if it doesn't turn out - sometimes mistakes make the best memories).

5.  Along those same lines, try a new activity.

Routine is easy.  Routine is comfortable.  There is nothing wrong with routine ... but there is also nothing wrong with mixing things up every so often.  We're not expecting a new activity every week.  For some of us, once a month is setting the bar high.  So why not pick one activity - something you've always wanted to try - and do it one time this year to start.  Just once.  One hour SUPing.  One afternoon learning to knit.  One day learning to water ski.  One night star gazing with a friend.  Go solo, join a friend, or get the whole family involved.  However you do it, we're confident that one-time will quickly become all-the-time when you find something you enjoy.

6.  Say no to technology.

Cold turkey.  That's right - no easing into it, no trial period.  Put the phone in some forgotten closet and back away.  And shut the door behind you when you leave, just in case.  It's amazing how much time is spent staring at our phones.  Some estimates put the average use at over 70 hours a month.  Seventy!  Isn't that ridiculous?  Now that you've locked your phone in the basement closet, think of all the ways that you can use those 70 hours.  You could apply them to some of our earlier suggestions, read a book (or several), play with your kids, have date nights with your loved one - the possibilities really are endless.

If you can't do it long term, consider giving it up for just a day.  Maybe one day a month and reserve that as a family day.  Or one day a week so you can catch up on all of those other things you've been meaning to do.  Not only is it better for your health (mentally and physically), but it's a great way to lead by example and help others reconnect with those around them instead of seeing the world pass by through the screen of a phone.

two men smiling

7.  Smile more.

Okay, so we all have reasons why we may not be able to complete our other goals.  Time, money, that old high school football injury.  But in this case, there really is no excuse.  This is a goal that we can all get behind, one we can all strive to complete.  It takes no time, minimal effort, and yet the results are truly astounding.  A simple smile can turn your day around by releasing endorphins, lowering blood pressure, and relieving stress.  The best thing?  It's catching.  When you see someone smile, you're more inclined to smile, making it the fastest, easiest way to spread a little happiness around the world.  So the next time you find yourself walking through a store, down the sidewalk, or sitting on the bus ... smile.  You may be surprised by the result.

 

Well, that's it.  Seven achievable goals that we wanted to share as 2018 comes to an end.  We hope our list inspires you to shake things up a bit in your life.  You may be surprised - that one time event could become your new go-to family activity.

Whatever your goals for 2019, Stillwater Outdoors wants to wish all of you a happy and healthy new year.

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Upcoming Events in 2019

Are you feeling the strain of cabin fever?  Are the dropping temperatures, the rain, ice, and snow weighing on you?  Do you find yourself looking for a reason to get out and perhaps try something new?

We would like to invite you to join us, Stillwater Outdoors and Fun Unlimited, here in Spokane at several trade shows and events happening in 2019.  We're excited to get involved with our community, to reach out to our neighbors, and to make new friends so be sure to stop by and say hello.

 

2019 Spokane Health & Fitness Expo

When: January 5 & 6, starting at 10:00 AM

Where: Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

What to Expect: Visit exhibitors, listen to guest speakers, and participate in unlimited classes.  All classes on the main stage are free with paid admission.

More Info

 

Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale

When: January 24 - 27, starting at 12 PM on the 24th, 10 AM all other days

Where: Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

What to Expect: Great values on new RVs, huge trade-in values, and special event offers on RVs and accessories.

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Spokane Boat Show

When: February 2 - 9, starting times vary

Where: Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

What to Expect: The latest models of boats and boating gear and accessories plus vendors/exhibits on all things related to fun on the water.

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Spokane Great Outdoors & Bike Expo

When: February 23 and 24, starting at 9 AM (Sat.) and 10 AM (Sun.)

Where: Spokane Convention Center

What to Expect: Over 60 biking, outdoor gear, adventure, and tourism exhibits plus gear giveaways, presentations, and clinics.  This event is partnered with the Spokane Golf Show and ticket holders will be able to move freely between both events.

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Spokatopia

When: July 13 and 14, starting at 9 AM (Sat.) and 10 AM (Sun.)

Where: Camp Sekani on Upriver Drive between Spokane and Spokane Valley

What to Expect: Truly the event of the year for outdoor enthusiasts.  There are far too many events to list off here, but you can expect plenty of vendors and exhibits, presentations, adventure clinics, live music, beer garden, mountain bike jump show, rock climbing, a trail run, and new in 2019 - overnight camping!

More Info

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Community Update: Upcoming Events

Fall is in full-swing and the first frosty morning has come and gone.  As our thoughts turn to the holidays, it's easy to forget that there are still many outdoor events on the way.  Stillwater Outdoors wants to invite you to participate and join in the fun.

Running a Race

Race to Feed Our Veterans - Meals on Wheels

A 5K event for those who love to run (or walk) and want to help support the local community.  Last year, 362 participants brought 375 lbs of food and 58 boxes of instant breakfast.  Sponsored by Meals on Wheels, this event starts at the Heritage Funeral Home and starts at 10 AM on Sunday, November 11.  Registration is $25 and is still possible (though it's too late to get a t-shirt for the event) through their website:

Race to Feed Our Veterans

Cheney Turkey Trot -  Cheney High School Cross Country Team

The 11th Annual Cheney Turkey Trot is open for registration ($5) until November 18th.  It is a walk/run event (2 mile walk & 3 mile run) taking place on Thanksgiving day, November 22, at 9 AM.  They ask that participants bring canned food or a donation for the Cheney Food Bank.  For more information or to register, check out their website:

Cheney Turkey Trot

Daniel T. McGinnity Memorial Turkey Trot - Midway Elementary Community

For those who can't make it out to Cheney on Thanksgiving morning, there is also the Daniel T. McGinnity Memorial Turkey Trot, which takes place at the Midway Elementary School in Colbert.  It's a 5K run (or walk) with all proceeds going to the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Midway PTO.  The race starts at 9 AM on Thanksgiving morning, with registration open until the day of the event.  They ask that participants bring canned food for Second Harvest.  For more information or to register, check out their website:

Daniel T. McGinnity Memorial Turkey Trot

Yellowstone National Park

Fee Free Day! - National Parks

We'd like to offer a friendly reminder that November 11 (Veterans Day) is a fee-free day at all of the National Parks.  If you've never visited a National Park, why not participate and get a chance to experience the splendor that our country has to offer?  Whether you're going for a day hike, want to join a forest ranger-led event, or simply want to enjoy the scenery, our country's national parks have plenty to offer.  Be sure to check out their website to learn more about our national parks or to find a park near you.

National Park Website

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