Sunday, November 19, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide Top Pick

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Gear, Miscellaneous, Uncommon Sense

Our Top Outdoor Gift Idea is a HEADLAMP.  See link at bottom of this post which will take you directly to our favorite source.  Why a headlamp?   Because we care….PLUS:620621_torc_spot_headlamp_web

For those of us who use poles, it’s a no-brainer.  Put in your pack even if you know  you’ll be done before dark.  Stuff happens OTT (on the trail). Explore caves, tunnels, enjoy!  Why this model?  Black Diamond Spot is lightweight, waterproof and has great features.   The red light is used at night so we don’t blind our buddies or lose our night vision.  It comes in great colors – get a bright one for yourself and your favorite hiking buddy.
But also use for:

  • Travel ~ If you’re in a hotel room and want to continue reading while your partner wants the light out – BINGO! The aim-hinge helps your neck and posture.   (So does putting your book on a pillow)
  • Safety ~ for those of us in earthquake land, we know to keep a pair of sturdy shoes under our bed, at the ready. A pair of socks goes in one and the headlamp (when not in the hiking pack) goes in   the other.  That way we have our hands available.
  • Neck Health!  Reading with a headlamp is SO much better for your neck, eyes and shoulders (for so many reasons).

As we get older (beats the alternative), we need ways to stay safe.  Once you get accustomed to using a headlamp, you’ll never go back.  But – please – use it.

Note:  when in your pack – LOCK IT  so you don’t end up with a dead battery/useless headlamp.  So read the instructions and use in health!

Custom Directions:

I find the directions a little murky, so here’s a recap:  Open with the little lever on the side &  install batteries (included).   Then give yourself a tutorial:

  • One press for strong spot. One press for off
  • 2 quick presses for double (reading) light
  • 3 quick presses for flashing lights
  • Press and hold (about 2 seconds) for red (night) light

Keep pressing (4 to 6 seconds) to lock – again – VERY IMPORTANT to keep light from accidentally going on and draining the battery – blue lock light will come on.  Press and hold (4 to 6 seconds) to unlock.

Notice battery monitor – cool huh?

Once on, if you press and hold, all lights will dim.

Power tap on side will alternate between custom dimmed setting and full strength.

This really is the coolest headlamp – now practice, have fun and please USE IT.   Aim it vs. straining your neck.  If reluctant, try reading with it and we hope you think it’s the best reading lamp ever!

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 #2

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Staying fit and healthy as we age involves 6 vital areas:  Function, Balance, Posture, Endurance, Flexibility & Strength.  Below is a link to a great place to shop for your loved ones.  They have deeply discounted pricing on Yoga mats, mat carriers, foam rollers, adventure gear – so many presents to show your loved ones that you care about their continued, healthy presence on this planet.


Several posts on this blog discuss exercises that involve getting onto the floor.  It’s important to be able to get up and down from the floor – once you lose this, it’s REALLY hard to get it back.  A Yoga mat is great for exercising on the floor.   Sierra Trading Post has Yoga mats + a wonderful return policy.

Another very special holiday gift idea that gives all year long – and this one makes our cut every year – is a gift subscription to Bay Nature Magazine.   Bay Nature is full of natural wonders – parks, trails, creeks, wildlife of the Bay Area as well as the people protecting them.

  • BNv15n2_CoverTrackedCoverLines-317x410v13n1.Cover.RGB.30030% savings on gift subscription
  • 1 subscription $21.95 (regular price $25.95)
  • 2 or more only $19 each!

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide #3

Take care of your feet!  These massage balls saved mine and keep me hiking.  (5 part series on Plantar Fasciitis on this blog)

I keep at least one ball  in my car ALL the time – it lives under the passenger seat. After a hike (IF I’m a passenger of course), I can soothe/fix my feet by just using the relaxed weight of my leg and gently holding or slowly rolling the bottom of my feet. It’s SO healing.  I also use in the morning to relieve the plantar flexion that occurs in bed and tightens my feet.  If you get all 4, keep 2 and gift 2 buddies 🙂

Another tip for keep feet in neutral at night – I put a pillow at the foot of the bed to make a little “tent” space so the blanket does not weigh down on my feet all night long.

If you have not discovered Amazon Prime – it’s AMAZING.  The free shipping pays for the fee pretty fast and I love  the convenience and time-saving of finding almost anything and getting it fast.  It’s truly a gift (like Bay Nature Magazine) that gives all year long.

In case you have someone who has trouble getting out of your car (aging parents?), here’s a handy tool – I keep one in my car.

Holiday Gift Guide #4 – Do you have knees?

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health, Gear

Hikers have knees.  We love our poles and they help save our knees – BUT – knees can still ache the next day after a tough hike.  When I ICE, I don’t hurt.  When I don’t ice, my knees are often quite vocal the next day.  Hit me over the head with a sledgehammer!

The problem is that they don’t hurt that day or evening, just the next day.  But NEVER when I ice.  I recently ordered a bunch of ice packs and this is the one I likeI don’t put it on bare skin.  I wrap it around really snugly and it provides some compression as well.  It’s EXCELLENT and so reasonably priced.

I can even put it in my cooler between 2 ice packs and have ice right after my hike.  Why make your kidneys pay (ibuprophen, NSAIDS, etc.) when applying ice directly helps?   Note:  You may not think you need ice because you don’t SEE swelling.  But if you have discomfort – ICE, ICE, ICE!

Also, in our opinion, EVERYONE should have a good ice pack in the freezer, ready to go.  I’ve used this on elbows, ankles, knees, shoulders….stuff happens!

Hiking Guidelines

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

BUDDY HIKES:  As people join our energetic hiking-for-exercise group, it’s helpful to communicate how we are VERY different from other groups.  I know this seems like a LOT, but every single one of these guidelines has emerged from some issue or concern.  Our goal is for everyone to have a good time and, since that’s different for everyone, please read before you join us:

Our prime directive is exercise.  Secondarily, we love nature.  That we can get great exercise – outside – and connect with our buddies is wonderful, but the social is an ancillary benefit to being outside exercising.

Chatter:  We are a “small” group by design.  Large groups of 16 to 20 can have 8 to 9 different, competing conversations.  It can get loud, when some of us want to hear the birds, the frogs, the burbling water, even the wind in the groaning trees.

  • Many people go into nature for the serenity.  4+ hours of competing conversations is not serene.
  • Some hikers are sound sensitive; some are hard of hearing.  One hiker I knew got migraines from the loud voices and stopped hiking with us.
  • Our hiking group is not the usual – show up, hike, social/chatty hiking group; hence these guidelines.
  • Quiet zones are where we walk in complete silence (except for trail hazard warnings).  They include early starts in places like Muir Woods where people go for serenity,  morning walks through campgrounds where people might be sleeping or waking, places where hazards are present so everyone can hear the warnings, as well as along streams, entering non-system trails or anytime a hiker requests “radio silence.”
  • Please do not wait for the leader to call a quiet zone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and, if in doubt,  listen.  Remember Shinrin Yoku!

Trail Hazards & Conditions:  We call warnings – “Low Branch,” “Poison Oak in the Trail,” “NEWT!” We ask the last person on the trail to acknowledge this so we know everyone has heard it.   This means that conversations must take second place to trail awareness.   Please be aware and ON so that everyone is safe and has a good time, even if part of that time is quiet.  If anyone steps on a newt – the consequences are too severe to put in writing.

Confirm:  Trail head locations and start times can change due to weather or whim.  We ask that you reply to the hike coordinator to let him/her know of your intention to join us.  If it’s a meet-up hike listing, keep your status current.

Plus One:  Please do not extend an invitation to someone  without first checking with the hike coordinator.  If you do bring a buddy, please make sure s/he reads these guidelines before joining us.

OTT:  We start walking at the posted start time – it’s our OTT (on the trail) time.  If you have a specific time you must finish by, let the hike leader know before the hike starts.

Stopping:  We plan our gear adjustment stops/pauses collectively to minimize non-hiking time.  When hiking in rain – many more stops!  If you are stopping for photos, it is up to you to catch up with the group.

Biology breaks:  call your need (for this or any other reason to pause or stop), we’ll either wait or continue more slowly (if it’s a trail without an intersection).  Please do not walk ahead of the group for a biology break and then expect everyone to wait for you.

Trail Etiquette: 

  • Wait at intersections.
  • If there’s a substantial spacing in the group, it’s important to make sure the last person is with the group.  If you’re in the lead, occasionally look back.
  • If you’re lagging, try to keep up, even if it means less talking, more walking.  It might surprise you how much more expeditiously you can hike if you focus on the trail instead of chatting with your buddies.   But, if you’re having trouble, let the leader or another hiker know.
  • If your plan is to go at your own pace, let the leader know at the start.
  • Please do not stop in the middle of the trail causing everyone behind you to stop.  Pull off to the side so those who like to keep moving (even if more slowly so you can catch up) can do so.
  • If you have your cell on (for GPS, work or medical reasons), try to turn it low or vibrate.  If you get a call while hiking, please hang back away from the group to have your conversation.

Perfume:  don’t wear it.

No Cussing Please:  Profanity isn’t pretty.

Pole Etiquette:  make sure your pole tips are under your control and not aiming at other hikers.

Hike Descriptions:   We try to accurately describe the hikes so that hikers can decide if they’d like to join us for that hike.  If you confirm your intention to join us, please plan to join us for the stated hike.  This helps prevent schisms and extra conversation on the trail.  However, sometimes people need to shorten the hike for all kinds of reasons.   If you need to peel off, it is essential that you inform the hike coordinator as soon as possible.   Hiking back alone, especially if your reason is a medical one, may be contraindicated.

Car Pooling: 

  • Not everyone is comfortable car-pooling.  Do not offer someone else’s car or coordinate for someone else.
  • Car poolers:  Be early.  Consider tolls, parking fees and gas contributions.  Bring extra shoes for wearing in the car after the hike (or some protection for muddy boots on floor mats).

Hike Ratings (when we use them):  Hike ratings consist of a number-letter code where the number is the distance and the letter is the amount of uphill climbing.

Length (miles)

1: Up to 6
2: 6 – 10
3: 10 – 15
4: 15 – 20

Elevation Gain (feet)

A: under 1,000
B: 1,000 to 2,000
C: 2,000 to 3,000
D: 3,000 to 4,000

Hiking and enjoying nature’s bounty in the Springtime

May 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Gallery, Nature

Lovely abundance of Spring flowers; enjoy!  Click on any photo to enlarge; press back button to return to post.

Flutterby2 Globe Lilies Foothills Butterfly Mariposa plus bee
Wind Poppy Red Ribbon Clarkia Globe Lilly plus red ribbon clardias

Flowers above are from Mt. Diablo and Foothills Park in Palo Alto.

Mariposa Foothills Butterfly Mariposa P1000876

Along the trail, we’ve seen way too much poison oak.  Remember to wash your poles if they come in contact with poison oak.  Soap & water or rubbing alcohol.  Leave them apart and let them dry overnight.  Below is Broomrape and the pods of the hop bush.  Hope you’re enjoying your outdoor adventures!

P1000907 P1000918

 

Hiking & Ticks

May 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Trail Tips

this is not the first post on this blog about ticks .

Last week, after a magical morning hike on Mt. Diablo, I announced a tick check before we got into our cars.  We also did 2 or 3 tick checks while out OTT (on the trail).  Even with the post-hike tick check, I found a tick at my hairline about 30 minutes after getting into the car.  I did not have anyone check my hairline and this was a huge mistake.  A hiking buddy recently sent this link regarding tick removal out to our hiking group.  It’s a one-minute video that’s well-worth watching.

Let’s be safe outside!

Spring in the Bay Area – Flowers & Such

May 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Nature

The Bay Area has such abundance.  Mt. Diablo has been amazing this year, as you can see.   Please – PLEASE click on the Mariposa and the Blow Wives.  Use the back button to return to post.

Yes, I know some photos temporarily disappear behind the banner.  The banners pay for the blog – Please remember to shop Amazon & REI from this blog.  Support your outdoors pole-using blogger 🙂

Diablo Mariposa Lilly Diablo Globe Lilly Blow Wives
Diablo Purple Larkspur Diablo Clymatis Diablo Thistle

Above (L to R by row): Mt. Diablo Mariposa Lilly, Mt. Diablo Globe Lilly, Blow Wives, Purple Larkspur, Clymatis, Thistle.

Diablo-Wind-Poppy-20160428-IMG_2481 Sunol Owl Clover Ribbon Clarkia
Sunol Bucolic Hillside P1000673 Heart Shaped Wood

Above (L to R by row):  Wind Poppy (Mt. Diablo), Owl’s Clover (Sunol – fields of them this year – astounding), Elegant Clarkia (Mt. Diablo), Bucolic Sunol hillside, Sunol Turtles, Heart Shaped cut on Tam…..and just a few more from my i-phone (yes, I’m dueling cameras OTT – on the trail)

Globe Lilly Jewel iphone blow wives iphone
Globe Lilly Bob Diablo Globe Lilly 2 Milkweed

Above more magical globe lilies.   Click on the middle one in the first row and see a lovely jewel flower.  This one is so small that you can walk right by and not not know it’s there.

Mt. Tam & Coastal Wildflowers – Spring 2016

May 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Nature

Rain (thank goodness) brought us some lovely hillsides full of flowers.  Remember to click on any photo to enlarge and press back button to return to post.

Pussy Ears Tam Iris Tam Lupine Hillside
Tam Cream Cup Tam Oakland Star Tulip Tam Iris Lavendar

Above (clockwise):  Pussy Ears compliments of my dear friend Alison (who is passionate about photography – duh), Iris, field of Lupine with some CA Golden Poppies, another iris, Oakland Star Tulip, Cream Cup.

Purchasing Poles Long Distance

April 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Gear, Poles

Blog Readers:  Jane is a lovely lady who is enjoying life, mobility and her poles.  She was happy to share her experience with you and I hope you enjoy reading about her adventures!  Her generous donation to her community is helping others to maintain their independence as well!

“Dear Jayah:  Living in the green state of Tennessee, I love to walk outdoors. I use my LEKI poles every time I do, even when I take the newspaper to my neighbor.

Because I wear trifocals, whenever I walk down a slant, I have to tip my head down to see where I’m going. That tilts my body forward, which is probably why I began falling face down on the sidewalk. Twice I had blood streaming down my lip. That’s when I googled hiking sticks. And found you!

First I purchased your hiking video, then I got the mobility one, too, and studied them both. My husband and I had a good telephone conversation with you, and the upshot was that you sent us a large box with five sets of poles to choose from.  With your guidance and expertise, I chose the LEKI and Mark chose Exerstriders. Then we sent the other three sets back to you in the same box. Easy.

Some might say all this was expensive. But compared to a doctor’s visit or replacing a pair of glasses or a front tooth, the dollars we sent you were peanuts.

Because at age 85 I’m beginning to have arthritis in my hands, I’ve been using the biking gloves you recommended. Their padding works just fine. Mark, age 87, doesn’t need them.

People sometimes tease me.”Are you waiting for snow?” I grin and reply, “I’m just down from the Alps.” Other friends ask me how to get poles for themselves. I don’t feel qualified to give medical advice, so Mark and I have donated both of your videos and several sets of poles to the Therapy Department here at Uplands Village, our continuing care retirement home. They plan to give a demonstration at the next Executive Chat.

Mark and I will tell about the lovely hike we just had, up and down the rocky hillside and along the bubbling creek. We do live in a beautiful, park-like spot.

See how your good work is spreading! Many, many thanks for your personal interest in my staying healthy and active.   Love and a hug,  Jane”

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