The closest national park we have to Orlando is the gorgeous Canaveral National Seashore. But it's as flat as flat can be and I wanted some elevation change, so last month I went with three friends to the majestic Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Over the years, the government has added more and more land from that area to the public treasury, forming two massive parks adjacent to one another, forming one big super-park. Sequoia, interestingly, was the nations second-oldest national park, after only Yellowstone.
Tooling around Orlando, Florida I typically don’t need a whole lot of backcountry gear, but one thing I always use is a backpack. I carry mine almost everywhere. And the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault is the most interesting, fun backpack I’ve ever owned. It’s extremely durable, fits the body well, has many compartments, and has the oddest (yet functional) zipper. Let’s break it down:
I’ve been using water filtration systems for almost two decades and I’ve seen pretty much everything in the market. Products from MSR, Katadyn, Platypus, and SteriPen and everything else Orlando's Travel Country has had to offer for the last decade plus. But finally there is something new and revolutionary. And boy is it shiny.
Do you live in Orlando, FL, or another similar "flatland"? Apparently, there is a classification of information that might be considered 'Mountain Knowledge,' that isn't common knowledge to a Flatlanders. Here are some helpful tips for Floridians heading to the Mountains.
If you read more of my blogs, you’ll notice a pattern about me and cold weather. I live in Orlando, Florida because I really hate being cold. That’s why I love the Arc’teryx Atom AR Jacket; it lets me love the mountains. I took the Arc’teryx Atom AR to the Grand Tetons back in May. Forgetting that May in Wyoming is nothing like May in Florida! In Florida, in the month of May, the population doubles from tourists seeking refuge in the warmth. In Wyoming, in the month of May, kayak rentals are closed because the water is still dangerously freezing.
When I started looking for a new rucksack, I had three primary requirements. I needed firm hip-belts and a supportive back structure due to a previous shoulder injury that made backpacking difficult. I wanted to be able to access the center of the bag without having to unload its guts and I wanted the bag to be both versatile and easily organizable. I would be using it for international travel and road trips so ultralight was less of a priority than reducing the weight on my shoulders. I’d lived with a 35 liter for a few years but now I needed to fit more than my sleeping bag, camping pad, and tent in it.
Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of doing a number of different trips using Osprey's Exos 58 backpack. My longest trip was a 120-mile loop in the Wind River Range of the amazing state of Wyoming. The pack held up great and is extremely comfortable for long days on the trail.
That’s the message I sent to some friends upon my family’s arrival to the Volunteer State. I already have an affinity for the mountains that was birthed in me when I grew up in Oregon, and as November began, with the leaves turned a beautiful golden yellow color, the air carried a crisp - almost cedar tasting - feel to it – and I was loving life. Add to that, the fact that it was my 31st birthday and we were in town for a wedding – and it’s clear to me that the galaxy had offered me a most radical weekend adventure.
Explaining the functionality of my internal framed Gregory Z-Series (Jade Series for the ladies) backpack is like trying to explain the resourcefulness of a pocketknife on the trail - it's essential. The versatility is broad, no matter where you find your destination.
As the keeper of a North Carolina-based hiking blog I'm always keeping an eye on what the competition's up to. And I'm happy to report that on any given day (most, in fact) these sites based in the U.S. Southeast put mine to shame.