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Note from ENO: As a co-sponsor, we will be following Trevor’s adventure on the Alabama Scenic River Trail over the next few months. This is the ninth chapter of his story. People of the River Along the trail I met ENO hangers, Old Town paddlers, river angels, and river strangers. I met a tourist in Fairhope, Alabama who paddles the same canoe as me when he goes on extended canoe trips back home in the South of France! When I explain to people what I am doing they either think I am crazy or think I am “living the dream.” No matter what people’s opinion of my mental health status was, they offered a helping hand. Sometimes I was offered a cold drink, sometimes a ride or sometimes something as simple and delicious as a fresh tomato from their garden, a gift that makes all the difference while camping on the river. Like John Fogerty said in his song, “Proud Mary,” “people on the river are happy to give.” Another thing people had to share was their story. My favorite part of meeting new people is hearing their stories and gleaning insight and wisdom from their life experiences. Sometimes the...
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 16.6 million people experienced identity theft in 2012. Meanwhile the Insurance Information Institute warns that burglars see vacations as an opportunity to break into empty homes. Going off the grid on a wilderness hike or camping trip should be a relaxing experience, but leaving yourself vulnerable to crime and an emergency can derail your vacation before it even gets started. Fortunately, taking some precautions can pave the way for a stress-free vacation.   Home Security Leaving your home empty can be unsettling without proper security in place. Arm your house with a reputable home security company like ADT. Tell the company about your plans, and give the dates and emergency contact information for a family member in case there’s an issue at your house. Ask a neighbor to pick up flyers and newspapers from your driveway and temporarily stop your mail with the Post Office. Invest in a timer to turn lights on and off throughout your house to give the impression that someone’s home. If you’re still feeling vulnerable about leaving your home empty, arrange for a house sitter or friend to crash there while you’re gone.   Financial Monitoring Don’t get...
Note from ENO: As a co-sponsor, we will be following Trevor’s adventure on the Alabama Scenic River Trail over the next few months. This is the eighth chapter of his story.   Wildlife on the Alabama River As soon as the Coosa River ended I was on the lookout for alligators. On the upper Alabama River I saw tens of thousands of hatched eggs spilling out of sand burrows with little clawed slide marks going towards the water. “My God!” I thought. There must be alligators everywhere! I later witnessed that these were just turtle nests. It’s funny how you can build up a danger in your mind and become hyper-alert to it. I did see some large alligator slides along the upper Alabama River though. On the middle section of the Alabama River, the Spoonbill Catfish (Polyodon spathula) are jumping at an amazing rate! Every 30 seconds or so one would jump out of the water. I kept waiting for one to jump into my boat, but it never happened. I was never fishing specifically for them, but was surprised that I didn’t accidentally hook one. Apparently people do fish for them, but not for their meat. Somebody told...
There is no universal blueprint as to how you should backpack. We all have our own motivations, needs and levels of experience. That being said, one thing upon which everyone can agree is that hiking is substantially easier and more enjoyable, if your pack doesn’t weigh the proverbial tonne. My five basic principles of Going Lighter in the wilderness are as follows:   1.  Safety First Going lighter should be a gradual process, which ideally should parallel a corresponding improvement of a hiker’s backcountry skill-set. When starting out, it is better to err on the side of caution by taking a little more than the bare necessities. Time spent in various types of environments, will gradually teach you what you can and can’t do without.   2.  Leave Behind the Non-Essentials Review each and every article in your pack and ask yourself two questions: Do I really need it? What will happen if I don’t have it? Hikers are often amazed at the amount of redundant items they have been carrying out of habit rather than necessity.   3.  Downsize the Essentials Lighter materials and innovative designs mean that it is easier than ever before to lower your pack weight simply by...
Note from ENO: As a co-sponsor, we will be following Trevor’s adventure on the Alabama Scenic River Trail over the next few months. This is the seventh chapter of his story.   The End of the Coosa Well, I’ve made it to the Alabama River!  Coosa Outdoors outfitter and trail angel Lonnie Carden picked me up at Jordan Dam and drove me and my gear to his river property, The Dirt Farm.  He set me up with a covered area to hang my hammock and it even had electricity and fans!  There was clean water nearby too – high living, compared to how I’ve been camping. A group of friends came down to camp and paddle with me.  Lonnie dropped us off at the base of the dam so we could paddle the rapids at the end of the Coosa.  I made it down Moccasin Gap, a class III rapid, fine, but I flipped on one of the smaller rapids.  My “waterproof” phone, which was supposed to be able to submerge for 30 minutes, got wet and died.  I have insurance so I got a replacement, but I lost all my pictures.  Sadly, I had been relying heavily on cataloging...
In 1948, a man named Earl Shaffer decided to go on an extended hiking trip in an effort to recuperate and adjust to coming home after World War II.  He became the first man to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. In 2012, after he was honorably discharged from three combat employments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sean Gobin followed in Shaffer’s footsteps and came up with an idea: to let other veterans returning home do the same. The Warrior Hike “Walk off the War” program was then founded with the mission to give veterans transitioning from the military a therapeutic escape through the outdoors.  The organization gives veterans who sign up a choice of seven trails throughout the United States and provides them with gear for their journey, arranges weekly visits in trailside towns with friendly locals, and works with veteran job placement organizations to help find jobs for the veterans once they step off the trail. For his hard work and dedication to Warrior Hike, founder Sean Gobin was honored with a CNN Hero award this year. Here at ENO, we couldn’t be more proud to be a sponsor and supporter of Warrior Hike.  A big congratulations...
Note from ENO: As a co-sponsor, we will be following Trevor’s adventure on the Alabama Scenic River Trail over the next few months. This is the sixth chapter of his story.   Plants on the River I have been on the river for fifteen days now. I’ve paddled over 180 miles. It is exhausting but fun. I am swimming, fishing, lots of paddling and I have been collecting a lot of plants and pressing them, as well as photographing them. So many familiar medicinal plants that I learned from afar but never met in person! Even more plants that I’ve never seen before. I’ll have lots of species to identify when I get off the river! Beebalm (Monarda spp.) Coosa River, north of Lake Henry Neely. There are six species of this plant growing in Alabama and I’m currently not sure which one this is. Medicinally these species are used interchangeably, lucky for me. It is used as a stimulating nervine similar to peppermint, for anti-nausea, and as a mild diuretic. Tastes similar to Bergamot Oil used in Earl Grey tea. Very aromatic and pleasant tasting. Unsure of ethnobotanical history of use.   Basswood, a.k.a. American Linden (Tilia americana) Lake...

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