Gear Review: Six Summer Outdoor Gear and Apparel Favorites by Columbia, Hydroflask, SealLine and More

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In a few short days, summer will officially come to an end. Though I'll miss the long days and late sunsets, I'm eager to welcome autumn with open arms. Soon, it'll be time for hot apple cider and apple picking, the leaves will do what they do in a spectacular fashion here on the east coast, and soon after, it'll be ski season. But I can't say a fair adieu to summer without paying homage to some seriously spectacular pieces of gear and apparel I took adventuring with me this summer.




Trip Report: Ghost Towns, Rattlesnakes, and Downpours - 27 Miles in Two Days on Pennsylvania's Old Loggers Path

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Six hours into the hike on day one! (T. Harrison)
Ever planned a trip you thought might be a little ambitious? Yeah? Me too.

Prior to a Labor Day Weekend adventure on Old Loggers Path, the longest I remember hiking in one day is around ten miles. When my hiking partner and I agreed to tackle the 27.1 mile loop in two days, our itinerary called for 17 miles on our first day and ten on the second. We knew it would be difficult, but given the elevation profile and the fact that it follows existing graded logging trails in a number of areas, we agreed it was both doable and an exciting challenge for both of us.

We read there were well-established car camping sites at the trailhead in Masten, a ghost town and abandoned logging camp. We drove straight there, bypassing campgrounds at nearby Ricketts Glen and Worlds End State Parks because honestly, who doesn't want to sleep in a ghost town? Though most of the drive was on well-maintained roads, a significant portion at the end, including a detour around a road that was out, took us on unpaved state forest roads.

Gear Review: Scarpa Ignite Women's Trail Shoes

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What happens when you combine the protection and stability of a traditional running shoe design with a women's-specific design and a bit of ingenuity? You get Scarpa's Ignite trail shoes - a balanced, comfortable pair of kicks made for outdoorsy ladies who like to hit the trails. I took my pair out on trails in Delaware’s White Clay Creek State Park, Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Maryland, around the streets of Philadelphia, and mountain biking to see how they held up. Trails were mostly dry with some wet, muddy spots, as is usually the case around here in the spring and summer - perfect testing grounds.

The Ignites run true to size; the size ten fit my feet like gloves. There’s plenty of room for your forefoot to move around, but I didn’t have to crank on the laces to get them just right for my narrower feet. My feet didn’t budge inside them and I didn’t notice any sore or irritating spots. The lacing system is standard, and the laces didn’t slip at all.

Hiking a Superfund Site: Devil's Pulpit, the Appalachian Trail, and Lehigh Gap

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Along the North Trail to Devil's Pulpit.
Imagine you're planning a weekend day hike and the EPA describes your chosen destination as an "uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people." Perfect spot to seek peace and tranquility outdoors, right? Though an EPA-designated Superfund site isn't typically where I'd expect to find myself hiking, that's exactly what happened on a recent trip with Philadelphia-based TerraMar Adventures.

The Appalachian Trail (AT) passes right through the Lehigh Valley region, and if I hadn't spent some time in the Lehigh Gap Nature Center after our hike, I'd never have guessed the area's history. Decades upon decades of industrial pollution left a large chunk of beautiful Lehigh Valley land barren and/or contaminated. The affected areas in and around Palmerton, Pennsylvania, including a slope on beautiful Blue Mountain, were added to the National Priority List for cleanup in the early 1980's and much work has been done to re-vegetate the defoliated land.

How to Make Delicious Cold Brewed Coffee (and Perfect Iced Coffee) at Home

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Getting my morning cup ready on the patio.
Sweet, sweet cold brew!
"I don't know how people live without coffee. I really don't." (Martha Quinn)

Truth. Though some drink it for the caffeine, I just love the way good coffee, real coffee, tastes. At home, I start the process by grinding beans, boiling water in my favorite kettle, pouring the water into a Melitta Ready Set Joe brewer, and finish with a splash of almond milk. Away from home, especially if I'm camping, taking fresh grounds and using a Press-Bot is my favorite method.

But when summer rolls around, drinking something hot, even if it's coffee, can be downright uncomfortable. Iced coffee is a refreshing alternative to hot java and until recently, I never attempted to make it at home. I'd opt to find my iced coffee at a local coffee spot, and that isn't always ideal.