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.

Interview: An Inside Look at the Trust for Public Land, Its Mission, and How You Can Help

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If you have access to places like this,
you know how important they are!
Can you imagine a world that didn't have any parks or outdoor places to play? I can't, and neither can the folks who work and volunteer for the Trust for Public Land (TPL). But sadly, for some, outdoor spaces aren't as accessible as they could be, and the TPL is working toward changing that.

The TPL is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization working to protect the places people care about and create close-to-home parks—particularly in and near cities, where 80% of Americans live. I sat down with TPL representative Carrie Gotch in an effort to better understand the organization, its mission, and how we can all work to further their goal of ensuring anyone can walk to a park or natural area within ten minutes from home.

Gear Review: Women's Asolo Shiver Trail Shoes and Sierra Trading Post Giveaway

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The Asolo Women's Shiver Trail shoes and I
on Mt. Modanock in New Hampshire.
If I've learned nothing else in my outdoor life so far, it's the importance of finding really, really good footwear. And all trail shoes are not created equal. Your trail kicks need to fit, they need to perform well in a variety of situations, and they need to last.

From what I'd heard prior to this review, Asolo's footwear options excel with respect to those criteria. The company is best known for producing technical mountaineering boots, but Asolo also produces footwear for more leisurely adventures and for everything in between. As part of my participation in Sierra Trading Post's #TeamSierra blogger network, I had a chance to put Asolo's Shiver Trail Shoes to the test on Pennsylvania's rocky trails and on New Hampshire's Mt. Monadnock.