Hiking is one of Pacific Northwest outdoor enthusiast's favorite activities. Oregon and SW Washington offer an incredible variety of forests, parks and national monuments ready for exploration and appreciation. Hikers should not be taken by surprise in this incredible area of the country however. Forest, coastal lands and cave hiking all present unique challenges to any hiker. The Pacific Northwest can prove to be dangerous if hikers are unprepared.
Forest Trail Hiking
The Northwest's forest trails are ideal hiking destinations because the scenery and beauty are unmatched by any other location. These trails wind through lush pine and fir tree wooded areas, tranquil open meadows, and creek and river crossed landscapes. The native wildlife - beavers, foxes, deer, elk, songbirds, squirrels - make it an ideal place for nature watchers. Oregon and Washington have very well maintained trailways and they take pride in their stewardship of the forests here. However, hikers should still be prepared for the unexpected in these areas.
The most important item to pack on any hiking trip, especially in the summer months, is water. Food is a close second. Emergency lights and signals are also essential for any recreational hiker. Traditional roadside flares or signal lights are not an option in the Northwest wilderness as likelihood of starting an unintentional fire is very high. A LED emergency light is small, lightweight, affordable, and offers powerful, high-quality light that can be used as a distress signal as well as a flashlight.
A multi-purpose pocket knife is also essential to safe hiking in the Northwest. These tools often include miniature scissors and pliers, tweezers and a compass which can all be useful to a hiker. The basic knife blade in these tools can be helpful to scratch trees and branches in order to mark an unfamiliar trail should you get lost. Consider packing mosquito repellent and sun block when hiking these forest trails as well.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its unpredictable and sometimes treacherous coastal weather. Hikers are advised to dress for the elements when hiking along coast range trails. A rain jacket and sturdy, waterproof boots are essential. The Oregon or SW Washington coast is are often overtaken by dense, heavy fog coverage. These fogs can come in without warning, stranding and disorientating hikers who are unprepared. It is important to bring a powerful LED flashlight or lantern when hiking this area to illuminate the trail or campsite as well as alert help should you need it.
Cave hiking is one of the more dangerous forms of recreational hiking. This activity requires specific safety equipment and long-term planning. Along with multiple light sources, appropriate clothing and plenty of food and water, one must also make sure to bring protective head gear, rope, and climbing gloves. Experts recommend headlamps when cave hiking to allow for hands-free hiking. If considering cave hiking in the Northwest, contact a professional in the area who can provide specific equipment needs and precautions.
Hiking the Pacific Northwest trails is an incredible outdoor experience. A summer can be spent enjoying several trails, all with their own unique landscapes and beauties. Whether hiking through the Umpqua or Deschutes National Forests or exploring the Coast's Oregon Sand Dunes, hikers will not be disappointed so long as they come prepared.
~Ben Anton, 2008
Hennessy camping hammocks are a great alternative to using a regular tent while camping. Here are ten features of a Hennessy that really give them an advantage over other camping hammocks and traditional tents. Many of their features are also patented, such as the first five features listed below.
- They are easy to get in an out of through a bottom flap. You just duck your head and walk into the middle of the camping hammock, you turn around and sit down, lay back and lift your feet and the entrance snaps closed beneath you.
- It has a unique asymmetrical shape. Hennessy discovered that most people like lying diagonal on a hammock because it gives maximum comfort. So they developed some of their hammocks with a diagonal axis, they call this the "A-sym". The left side anchor point is moved up by your shoulder and the right anchor point of the hammock is by your knee. This makes the hammock feel longer and makes it wider in the middle.
- It has a "snap tight" zipperless closure that uses your body weight to automatically snap closed behind you when you lay down. Some of the Hennessy camping hammocks has velcro to fully seal the closure, so no worries when moving around while you sleep.
- Hennessy hammocks have a "never-tip" center balance design. Let's face it, the most nerve wracking experience about a hammock is feeling like you are going to flip over when you try to get on. With the center enter through the bottom, this feeling is eliminated. The fist time I used a Hennessy, I was very pleased with this feature, I never felt like I was going to tip over.
- It is made with a "perfect set" comfort curve, meaning that the hammock maintains the same comfortable shape during each use and it keeps you back straight when lying on the diagonal.
- Windproof. Both the mesh and other material deflects the wind, making the inside the calm in the storm.
- Hennessy camping hammocks are waterproof. All hammocks come with a waterproof rain-fly that can be tilted to any angle for rain run off or wind conditions, it can be rolled up above the hammock when not in use, it may be completely removed or you can use it on its own.
- All Hennessy hammocks have large no-see-um netting that keep the bugs out while allowing air to flow through the hammock, also great for star gazing at night! Not only that, the unique flap design, when properly used and sealed, keeps bugs from getting into the hammock at night when you are sleeping, or during the day when you are away from camp.
- Hennessy camping hammocks have nylon webbing straps to protect tree bark when it is set up, plus it provides a greater span for the ropes.
- All but the smallest and lightest Hennessy camping hammocks have a triangular mesh gear pocket, glove hooks and carabiner loops. The pocket is perfect for keeping the small things safe, such as your wallet, keys or a small flashlight. You can use the loops and a carabiner to attach such things as a water bottle or a day pack. These are very handy, and something I really like about Hennessy camping hammocks.
Binoculars are one of the essentials when it comes bird watching. They take a tiny speck and turn it into something you can not only see but identify as part of your bird watching experience. There are a number of different brands and styles that are available on the market ranging from a few dollars to thousands of dollars a pair depending on what you are looking for.
For basic bird watching, a standard set that you find in any hardware or sporting goods store will probably be appropriate to your needs. They are only a few dollars and usually hold up fairly well. Binoculars are always rated with two numbers. The first indicates the magnification power that the binoculars has. The second number indicates the front lens diameter.
Usually these are written in the following manner 7x23. This set of numbers indicates that the binoculars have a magnification of seven with a diameter of 23 millimeters on the front lens. The magnification power of the binoculars that you want depends on how far you plan to be away from the birds you are planning to watch. If you are planning to watch just around your neighborhood at birds that may be in trees or on the ground, then a lighter magnification will probably work. For those that want the ability to spend a large amount of time watching birds interact naturally or where the required distance is significantly greater than watching normal everyday birds, you will want to get a stronger magnification.
There are binoculars that have a single level of magnification, these are usually the basic style that allow simply a slight amount of focusing. There are then the styles that allow you to be able to alter not only the focus of the lens but also the level of magnification, allowing you to adjust between objects that are closer and farther away without having to have additional sets of binoculars.
When purchasing binoculars, check them out and make sure they are not too heavy. Some pairs can be hard to handle or hold up for longer periods of time, so this is another factor that you should consider if you are in the market to purchase a pair of binoculars. There are a number of lightweight models that offer a full range of features without being hard to handle. This is essential if you are planning to carry them around while trekking looking for birds or planning on sitting for long periods of time holding them up.
Nothing ruins a bird watching trip more than ending up not being able to spend the time you want or get to where you want due to the weight of the equipment. Some of the features to look for is scratch resistance on the lens, and a way to carry them other than in your hand or around your neck. This will help to not only protect them, but keep them out of the way while you are making your way to your location of choice.