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(Above) Some of the surprises you come across while exploring the state's beauty include elk along the upper Buffalo River in Boxley Valley and homesteads in the Ponca wilderness. Photography by Jeff Rose.

Hiking is a year-around activity in Arkansas and winter is a favorite time. Our winters are generally mild, ticks, mosquitos and poison ivy are tucked away for a few months and the vistas are spectacular. Dressing for winter hiking is best done in three layers: *Underwear or next-to-skin layer: If the temperature calls for long underwear choose a synthetic like Capilene by Patagonia. Synthetics have the ability to regulate moisture, and will continue to insulate when damp and will dry quickly. Like socks, avoid cotton even when it comes to briefs, boxers and lady things. *Mid or insulation layer: Synthetic fleece is an excellent mid layer, providing insulation even if damp. It is quick to dry and readily passes water vapor from your skin. *Avoid cotton (notice a pattern here?) While a cotton sweatshirt feels warm and cozy when dry, they get wet easily and retain moisture for a long time. Lightweight down jackets work well too but be careful to avoid getting them soaked. *Shell or outer layer: A non-insulated parka of waterproof and breathable laminate is one of the most useful pieces of outdoors equipment in your kit. The fabric is typically a tough nylon or polyester with a very thin layer of microporous membrane laminated to the inside. An additional layer of nylon tricot protects the membrane. A properly made shell will be completely waterproof while allowing moisture from perspiration to pass through the pores—so you don't feel like you are wearing a plastic bag. Patagonia, The North Face, Mountain Hardware and Columbia are good brands to fit this need. A day pack is an optional piece of equipment, but most hikers want to be able to carry lunch, water and maybe a camera or 44 . JANUARY 2017

accommodate excess clothing layers. I recommend avoiding the cheap school packs and get something from a specialty store. Anatomically cut shoulder straps, a minimal hip belt and vented back panels will go a long way after a few miles, not to mention the agony of zippers, straps or hardware failure on a pack that was never meant to leave the city limits. Most day packs made for hiking feature holsters for water bottles or a pouch to carry a Camelback or similar hydration bladder. Patagonia, The North Face, Mountain Hardware, Osprey and Black Diamond are brands to look for. Each brand provides a lifetime warranty. More and more hikers use lightweight hiking poles to provide stability and to spread the workload to the upper body when climbing. Telescopic, folding aluminum or carbon fiber poles make a wobbly bi-ped into a sure-footed quadruped when crossing streams, ascending or crossing uneven terrain. Leki (pronounced “leaky”) and Black Diamond, both with a wide range of prices and function, are all you need to know. Other gear should include a basic first aid kit, sun and insect protection, depending on the season and weather. Add to your list a small flashlight in the event you’re still on the trail after dark. A fully charged cell phone (you're gonna take that anyway, right?) can provide emergency communication and navigation. Be advised that many backcountry areas do not get a signal. In an emergency, height is your friend when looking for a bar or two. One popular navigation app is “You Need a Map for IOS.” The basic version is free and will work without a cell phone signal but does require a hefty chunk of disc space. Similar products are available for Android. Where to go is both easy and hard to

answer. So many choices. The superb, homegrown guide books by writer/photographer Tim Earnst are a good place to start. His Arkansas Hiking Trails volume covers 78 destinations around the state with complete information on directions, degree of difficulty and what to expect. His Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook is another essential for day hikers. Guides to the Ouachita Trail and the Ozark Highlands Trail (Earnst was instrumental in the development of the Ozark Highlands Trail) are also superb additions to any hiker's resource library. Arkansasstateparks.com has an excellent trail finder tool that allows users to search by location, difficulty and distance. Arkansas.com/outdoors will take users to another wide range of guides and tools that will provide information about more hiking opportunities in settings from deep wilderness to mid-town. Take advantage of the opportunities in our wonderful little state. The more citizens use and enjoy the resources that we are blessed with, the more likely they will be preserved for future generations. The variety of terrain, sparkling mountain streams and lakes, pristine wetlands and prairie, deep forest and mountain crag are all part of our heritage. Enjoy them, protect and preserve them so Arkansas can always genuinely claim the title of “Natural State.” For more information on enjoying Arkansas’ great outdoors go to aymag.com/travel.


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January 2017 - AY Magazine  

In This Issue: Celebrating Chinese New Year, Getting To Know Jonesboro, and Ready For A Winter Hike

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