Gear Review: Getting Ready for Black Fly and Deer Tick Season

Spring is beginning, the snow is melting, and that can only mean one thing; bug season. I’m getting a jump on things by treating my 3 season backpacking gear with a Permethrin based spray.

Permethrin is a synthetic chemical, used by the US military as an insect killer and repellant. It is also effective at killing ticks, including those that carry lyme disease. It is most commonly sold in a liquid, non aresol form. I plan to spray it on my pack, clothing, and shelter to keep the ticks and black flies and mosquitos away. While some may arge DEET is a more effective way to go, I’ve read that the high concentration DEET products can damage the delicate fibers of tents and the like. Most products claim the treatment is good for several weeks, and up to 6 washings. I normally do my best to do a post hike tick check, and to wear long sleeves and pant legs as much as I can stand it. I’m hoping adding this to my defense will make hiking and backpacking even more enjoyable this year! What is your plan to avoid ticks and insects this year?

Obligitory caution (via wikipedia)
Permethrin acts as a neurotoxin, slowing down the nervous system through binding to sodium channels. This action is negatively correlated to temperature, thus, in general, showing more acute effects on cold-blooded animals (insects, fish, frogs…) over warm-blooded animals (mammals and birds):
Permethrin is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic life in general, so extreme care must be taken when using products containing permethrin near water sources.
Permethrin is also highly toxic to cats, and flea and tick-repellent formulas intended and labeled for (the more resistant) dogs may contain permethrin and cause feline permethrin toxicosis in cats.
Very high doses will have tangible neurotoxic effects on mammals and birds, including human beings.
Pesticide grade permethrin is toxic to cats. Many cats die after being given flea treatments intended for dogs, or by contact with dogs having recently been treated with permethrin. Only the less toxic human, pharmaceutical grade Permethrin with well defined impurities and a reduced CIS:TRANS ratio is considered safe for pet use

Permethrin is listed as a “restricted use” substance by the United States Environmental Protection Agency due to its high toxicity to aquatic organisms.


Insect killer and repellent for your clothing is effective against ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes for up to six weeks.


This insect-killing repellent for your clothing is effective against ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes for up to six weeks.

Trip Report: Glocester Land Trust – Steere Hill & Phillips Farm

I’ve been unsuccessful with finding any shed deer antler this year, so Saturday I ventured out to some local trails to try again. With no snow cover I thought I might have better luck, and these area does not allow hunting which is always a plus. I did about 50% of the time off trail, which was very nice and easy going. The woods were open and not very thick at all. There is quite a bit of interesting rock ledges in this area. Eventually it opens up to a field with a bit of a view, I spent a lot of time wandering around here, but still, no luck shed hunting. All the trails I did take were very well marked and maintained, this is some of the finest hiking Rhode Island has to offer.

 

Distance: 4.66 mi
Time: 2:32:56
Avg Pace: 32:49 min/mi
Avg Speed: 1.8 mph
Elevation Gain: 369 ft

 

They have a handy trail map available online:

Via the GLT website:

Steere Hill & Phillips Farm

Overview/History – The Steere Hill Conservation Area is comprised of four abutting parcels acquired from 1967 to 2010 with a total of 448 acres. The 68 acre Phillips Farm was the first property acquired by the GLT in 1990. Before the 1920’s this farm was the Cutler Farm and the site of the historic Cutler Inn and Tollbooth.

West of Phillips Farm is the 208 acre Steere Hill Conservation Area acquired in 2002. During the early 20th Century, both Phillips Farm and Steere Hill were used for orchards, hayfields, woodlots, and livestock. The northern portion of Steere Hill was Angell’s Farm until 1959 and remnants of farm buildings and silos are still visible at the parking area. The summit of Steere Hill was a large apple, pear and peach orchard operated by the Steere’s until 1963. Recently on Phillips Farm and the summit of Steere Hill the GLT has created a 26 acre wildlife habitat of tall native grasses for threatened ground nesting birds such as woodcocks and bobolinks.

West of Steere Hill is Heritage Park, a 115 acres woodland acquired by the Town of Glocester in 1967 as part of the state’s Green Acres program. South of Heritage Park is the 57 acre LePlat Woodland acquired by the GLT in 2010.

There are six miles of marked and maintained trails that connect these properties.

Directions: These properties are in the Harmony village area and two parking areas with trailheads are available. The parking area for Heritage Park is on Chestnut Oak Road, and the Steere Hill parking area is opposite the Harmony Post Office on Putnam Pike (Route 44).

Overlay trail map to my GPS track

steer

Nice tree in the open field

steer2

I am guessing a hawk took off with a rabbit here?

steer3

Fun in the swamp

steer4

 

Trip Report: Bushwhacking in the Great Swamp, West Kingston, RI 1/26/2013

I wanted to get out and see if I could find some antler sheds this weekend, so we decided to visit the Great Swamp Management Area down in West Kingston. We decided early in the week that it would be more fun to try and bushwhack around rather than use the traditional trails, and should give us better luck finding any sheds. We got to the parking lot at the red gate and followed the road for a short bit before veering off into the frozen over swamplands. Our hope was to whack due south to Stony Point, but we soon gave up the idea, instead followed some of the many game trails we came across, as evident by the abundance of tracks in the light covering of snow that fell overnight. We came out to a power line running overhead and soon spotted a large deer and 3 smaller ones, none had any antlers. They dashed off before we could get a photo and we soon intersected the main trail again. We followed it for a short bit, chatting with a couple have a walk about and then headed west back into the bush. This area was very thick, but often opened up to some amazing Atlantic White Cedar groves. We continued on our bearing before finally heading back east to join the main trails. We had some lunch at the bunker area on Wordens Pond, and completed the loop back to the cars, without finding any sheds. We saw another large pair of deer, several wood-peckers, a large hawk, and many interesting wildlife tracks, one I think to be Bobcat.

Trails Map

GPS/GPX Track

Trip Report: Wolf Hill and Mercer Lookout – Smithfield RI 11-24-2012

I have read about this area many times as it is just in my backyard, but always thought, there’s no such thing as great views in flat Rhode Island. I finally got a chance to get out there and I have to admit, the view is excellent. We could see downtown Providence, as well as into the Fall River, MA area. The trail system to get there is by far the most poorly marked and confusing I have experienced in some time. The only map of the area I could find was this. I also read there was a plane crash there during WW2 but I didn’t find much of anything resembling it, but we weren’t really there looking for that. There are several geocaches in this area.

Distance: 5.26 mi
Time: 2:40:25
Avg Pace: 30:31 min/mi
Avg Speed: 2.0 mph
Elevation Gain: 534 ft

GPS/GPX Track

Gear Review: Patagonia R1 Hoody

It’s that time of year again, hunting season is begnning in the north east. Here in Rhode Island, there rules are as follows:

Fluorescent orange safety clothing is required during the hunting season statewide for all hunters. To meet this requirement, safety clothing must be solid daylight fluorescent orange. Fluorescent camouflage does not meet this requirement. The hunter orange must be worn above the waist and be visible in all directions.

Examples are: a hat that covers 200 square inches or combination of hat and vest covering 500 square inches.

1. 200sq. in. by small game hunters during the small game season.

2. 200sq. in. by fall turkey hunters while traveling.

3. 200sq. in. by muzzleloader hunters during the muzzle-loading deer season.

4. 200sq. in. by archers when traveling to/from stands during the muzzleloader deer season only.

5. 500sq. in. by all hunters (including archers) and all users of management areas and undeveloped state parks during all portions of shotgun deer seasons.

Reference: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/pdf/huntabs.pdf

 

And this is all for good reason, there were some very tragic incidents in the state last year that should have been avoided. That all being said, I dont mind all that much once it gets to be winter, as I get to breakout my favorite layer, the Patagonia R1 Hoody. While pricey, it’s by far my go-to layer for any winter activity. The hood fits well, the thumb holes are a great feature, and it is available in Mango ORange, which is close enough to hunter orange for me. IT breathes well, weighs next to nothing, and wicks moisture. The fabric is extreamly soft and the waffle fleece design makes it increadibly insulating. I’ve worn mine with a compression base layer and windshell in near 0 degrees comfortably while snowshoeing. IF you treat yourself to one piece of high-end gear this year, make it the R1 for sure.

Massey’s does price match, so poke around to see if it is the best deal out there, and they will match it with free shipping!

After Work Hike at Heritage Park & Steere Hill, Glocester, RI

TRAIL MAP

GPS Link

I’ve noticed a sign on Route 44 in Glocester for Walking Trails recently on my daily commute to work, so today I decided to meet a friend there to check them out. I found a map online and realized the trail network connects with a small park I used to mountain bike at, Heritage Park. We decided to meet there after work, and try and get in a few miles. The large Private Property area marked on the map is a big field you can see from Route 44, I often see large groups of deer and turkey in that area in the morning, which made me hopeful to run into some wildlife on the hike, and possibly to return later in the year to do some shed hunting. I started from the Heritage Park trail-head and did the outer loop while waiting for JB to get there, finished it quickly and went back to check out some side trails that follow the brook. There I came acorss a perfect deer print in the mud (photo below). Once JB arrived we hiked in counter clockwise and headed out to Steere Hill, where we saw a good size white tail deer. We continued on for a few miles but as it was getting dark we turned back and took an unmarked trail, which brought us out to some campground. After checking the GPS, we decided to bushwhack back to the main trails and found some great spots along the brook. Hiking off trail is something I really enjoy and wish I did more often. The trails are very nice at this park and I hope to get back for some mountain biking and hiking soon. It would be an excellent hike for beginners, and possibly a good place to try out xc skiing, if I ever get around to it!





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Rhode Island’s North South Trail

     

 

I led a series of hikes in 2011-2012 for the AMC spanning the entirety of the North South Trail, a 77 mile footpath that begins at the RI/MA border and continues south to Charlestown and the Atlantic Ocean. It covers a variety of terrain from country back roads to deep pine forests, and was an excellent way to get outside close to home and see some parts of my home state I never knew existed. One thing I did struggle with was getting good information about the trail, maps, and info on where to start and end my section hikes. I decided to compile a map and create GPS/GPX tracks for each segment.

The maps were created with my handheld Garmin Unit and then with the help of my AMC friends, uploaded here.

If you want to download the tracks to a GPS, or view them in Google Earth, use this link.

I take my GPS unit on all my hikes, for secondary navigation (always have a map/compass), but also to record my travels.