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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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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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The Problem With Plastic

The Problem With Plastic

It's widely accepted that as a nation becomes more modernized, it produces more waste.  This is most easily seen when you consider the world's top producers of waste - the United States, China, Germany, and Japan.  On a micro-level, consider your own day-to-day life.  How often do you stop for a coffee?  How many foods do you buy that are wrapped in plastic?  And what about shopping bags?  One trip to the grocery store for a week's worth of groceries could need up to 10 plastic bags to carry it all.

Garbage is everyone's problem.  Why?  Because it doesn't stay where you put it.  If you burn it, dangerous toxins are released into the atmosphere and are carried around the world.  If you bury it, the same thing may happen as the products break down and seep into ground water.  And if you toss it out the window as you drive down the highway?  It will most likely end up in a stream, river, or ocean.

Garbage on Beach

There is nothing more upsetting and frustrating than cruising the lake on your SUP only to find the perfect inlet for lunch ... that's covered in garbage.  That's why we at Stillwater Outdoors want to share a few easy ways that you can help reduce the amount of waste we produce each year to ensure a healthier, cleaner world for all of us to enjoy.

Ten Ways to Help Keep Our World Clean

1.  Recycle

This one seems obvious, but very few of us do it regularly.  Taking the time to separate out recyclables means less waste being dumped in landfills.

2.  Reusable Bottles

Along the same line as recycling, reusing is probably one of the easiest and best ways to reduce the amount of waste we produce.  Instead of buying recyclable water bottles and then recycling them, why not purchase a reusable bottle made of metal or glass that can last for years or even decades?  This small change will reduce the demand for water bottles that could potentially end up where they don't belong.

Plastic Straws

3.  Say No to Straws

Unless you have a disability that requires it, consider saying no the next time someone asks if you'd like a straw (or tell them not to include one in your next drink).  Americans use 500 million drinking straws a day!  That's enough straws to fill 46,400 school buses with straws every year.  

Check out the Be Straw Free Campaign for more information.

4.  Reusable Shopping Bags

Though they may cost money up front, being able to use the same shopping bags over and over will save money in the end.  Shopping bags are a major polluter of our water bodies and pose serious threats to the wildlife and ecosystems around the world.  Pick up a few reusable bags and leave them in your car to ensure you always have them on hand for even impromptu shopping trips.

Farmers Market

5.  Buy Bulk Foods

Many of us would rather spend more on prepackaged sliced mushrooms than to slice them ourselves.  And what about that fruit that neatly sliced and diced and ready to be unwrapped and eaten?  Though it may save us time, it costs far more.  Not only are you paying extra for the convenience of such things, but you're also increasing the amount of waste that leaves your home every day.  Instead, buy unwrapped foods or select items that are packaged in easily recyclable or reusable packaging.

If you want a great resource for more ways you can reduce the waste in your home, check out Small Footprint Family.

6.  Eat Out Less

Not only is this healthier for you, but it's healthier for the environment.  How many fast food containers and soda cups have you seen littering the side of the road?  Too many.  If you don't have the time to cook dinner every night, consider cooking meals on the weekend to freeze or refrigerate for the rest of the night.  Just be sure to store them in reusable glass containers.

7.  Clean Up Our Streets

We often pass litter crews doing their best to collect the garbage on the side of the road, but far more of our infrastructure is left untouched.  Why not make a weekend of it?  Gather a group of friends, fire up the grill, and have a BBQ after taking an hour or so to clean the stretch of road in front of your house.  Many hands make light work, and a little reward never hurt.

Cleaning a Beach

8.  Clean Up Our Beaches

Same idea, different locale.  Organize a beach clean-up at the start and end of summer to help keep our beaches clean, safe, and fun.  Talk to local businesses about the event.  You may be surprised by how many want to help or sponsor your group.

9.  Stop Junk Mail

You don't want it.  I don't want it.  The environment certainly doesn't want it.  In fact, we're not entirely sure who wants it.  If you find your mailbox filled with junk mail every day, check out this website to make it stop.

DMA Choice

 People of the Earth

10.  Be Conscientious 

It's not hard.  Be diligent.  Be thoughtful.  Be aware of what you buy, how you use it, and what ends up tossed aside.  Be resistant to marketing ploys to get you to buy that kitchen gadget you will never use and to upgrade your wardrobe every season even though you only wore that sweater once.  And most importantly, be kind.  To yourself.  To others.  To our world.

We know that change can be difficult, but even the smallest step made in the right direction is progress.

Remember ... We can do this.

Please share this infographic with friends and family to help raise awareness of the plastic problem.

Plastic Problem

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The Importance of a Dock Line

The Importance of a Dock Line

When using a boat, it seems fairly obvious that a dock line would be a vital piece of equipment.  How else would you secure the boat to the dock when done for the afternoon?  Most of us don't consider, however, that the dock line is just as vital for those using man-powered vessels.

True, most man-powered vessels are small enough and light enough to be pulled up on shore.  That doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a dock line secured to your vessel, no matter what type of vessel it is.

Why?  Here are four vital (and sometimes hilarious) reasons why you should have a dock line on your kayak or SUP.

Headstands on SUPs

1.  Group Yoga

Although a dock line isn't actually used in the execution of SUP yoga, it's a useful thing to have on hand.  Why?  That dock line can be used to secure your SUP to another or even to a buoy or a dock.  This way, you don't have to worry about floating away while trying to master Shirshasana.

Woman Pulling Kayak Over Shallow Water

2.  Shallow Water

Most kayaks, SUPs, and even canoes sit high enough in the water to cross shallow waters, but even they can run aground.  When your SUP is loaded with gear, carrying it often isn't an option.  Having a dock line means you can remove your weight from the SUP, allowing it to ride higher in the water, and pull it through the shallow areas.  Personally, I've had to do this several times when going down rivers in the later summer when the water levels sometimes drop until only a few inches cover the rocky river bottom.

Canoe and Kayak Tied to Buoy

3.  When Shore Isn't An Option

There are times when you may not want to drag/carry your vessel up the shore.  Rocks, cliffs, and even crowds may make it impossible, or at least very difficult, to carry your SUP or kayak up the shore.  With a dock line secured to your SUP, you can easily tie it off to a buoy, tree, or even a rock to ensure it doesn't float away while you rest.

Girl Paddling Kayak

4. Towing

There are two situations when your dock line may need to serve as a quick-tow rope as well.  In my personal experience, these situations often revolve around children ... or husbands.

First, children.  While rowing long distances, they may tire sooner or may not be able to fight the current/wind as easily as you can.  Simply secure one end of the dock line to the back of your vessel and secure the other to the front of theirs.  This ensures they never fall too far behind, can take breaks when they need to, and will be able to stick with the group during windy days. 

Do not do this when venturing down rapids.  The rope can easily get caught on rocks/branches/debris and may end up putting both of you in a dangerous situation.  Never allow a child to traverse a rapids alone in their own vessel.

Second, husbands.  In particular, I'm thinking of my own who prefers to cruise along on his PWC while I stick to my kayak.  One summer day, I set out to investigate a bit of marshlands along the edge of the lake while he got his PWC.  After struggling for a bit (it's a two-stroke and takes a bit of love to start the first time), he got it running only to have it shut down on him about two hundred yards from shore.  I had to tow him back to the dock, which was easy with my dock line.

He learned a very important lesson that day - PWC work better if they have gas in their tank.

And me?  I don't think I've ever laughed that hard.

Dock Line Attached to SUP

Whether you prefer kayaks, canoes, or SUPs, consider purchasing a dock line like the one offered here at Stillwater Outdoors.  It pays to be prepared, especially when bringing husbands along.

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Types of SUPs: Which One is Right for You?

Stand-up paddling is a great sport for people of all ages and abilities.  It's low-impact, easy to learn, and can be done virtually anywhere you can find water.  We love it because of its versatility ... but that can also create some confusion for those looking to break into the sport.

How?  Well, that versatility comes with an array of options as far as board type, size, and length.  So how do you know which one is right for you?

calm lake

First, think about where you plan to use the board. 

Easy access to a small lake will require different equipment than whitewater boarding.  Racing options aren't the greatest for those who want to focus on SUP yoga or fishing.

Second, think about who will use it.

Children often do better on shorter boards and weight limits can influence the type and size of board needed for adults.  

Third, consider how you plan to move it.

If you do a lot of adventuring all across the country and plan to take your SUP along, an inflatable board is the way to go.  The same goes for those who plan to take it on hiking/camping trips.  If you plan to only visit areas where you can drive directly to the water (a boat launch), a solid SUP may be the better option, but keep in mind that solid SUPs are obviously heavier and may be difficult for some people to carry/move by themselves.

And fourth, decide which is more important - maneuverability or speed.

Why?  Planing hulls (those that remain flat along the surface of the water with a rounded nose) are more maneuverable than displacement hulls (those that "cut" through the water with a nose like that of a canoe and tend to sit lower in the water).  This goes along with the first question - where do you plan to use it - and adds the layer of how do you plan to use it.  Planing hulls are great for surfing, yoga, and whitewater as well as leisurely rides across the water.  Displacement hulls are for those looking for speed for racing, touring, or fitness paddling.

Carrying SUPs

Now that you've thought about the when, where, and how you plan to use your SUP, let's consider the different board options available.  Some of these options may vary by company/brand, so be sure to read the specifics associated with all of the boards you are considering before you make a purchase.  Be sure to check out volume, length, weight limits, thickness, and width.

In general, planing boards are more forgiving when it comes to these measurements.  Displacement boards require a bit more thought.  Pay special attention to the volume and weight statistics.  If you are too light for the board, it won't sink into the water enough and will be difficult to control.  If you are too heavy, it will sink too deep and will drag and be far slower than it should be.  And remember to consider the weight of any gear you bring as this will have a significant influence on the performance of the board.

Surf SUP


Surf SUPs are generally shorter than 10 feet long and are almost always planing hulls.  They cut over the surface of the water with ease and allow for great maneuverability.  The downside?  They are slower on flat water and are less stable.

All-around SUP, yoga


These boards, as the name suggests, can be used for just about any type of SUPing.  These are perfect beginner boards and are excellent options for those sharing the board with friends and family (who will differ in size and skill level).  Though they work in just about any situation, they don't excel as much as the others for specific objectives (they aren't as fast as racing/touring boards or as maneuverable as surf SUPs).  They generally range from 10 to 12 feet in length and usually have planing hulls though some companies offer displacement style all-around boards.

Flatwater SUP


These boards are designed for distance and speed.  Most are over 12 feet long and are still wide enough to be relatively stable in most conditions.  They will typically have a displacement hull, which allows for better tracking (staying straight on the water) and speed.

Racing SUP


Racing SUPs are a sub-category of the flatwater boards.  They are generally the same length and always have displacement hulls.  The major difference is in the width.  Racing boards are narrow, which means they are far less stable than any other board and aren't a great choice for beginners.  The narrowness allows for increased speeds, which is why this choice is great for those looking to race.

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