Being around Upstate SC you often hear stories of peoples weekends on the AT (Appalachian Trail). I've been on the trail before and I think once you've hiked a section, you have the yearning to hike the full 2,200 mile trail. Probably less than 1% of those who dream about the hike actually challenge themselves and do it. 

The concept of long-distance hiking like this is a significant undertaking to begin with, but Trevor Thomas' undertaking is that much more challenging. He was diagnosed in 2006 with a condition where his autoimmune system began attacking and destroying his macula. To translate that means he went from clear vision to glasses to blind in a matter of eight months.
 
Thomas acclimated quite remarkably to his new scenario because two years later in 2008, he became the first blind man to complete the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail solo. How does he do it? Given help from his guide dog and the volume on his Iphone he navigates to his destinations at a respectable pace.

Personally I would feel pretty accomplished with myself about completing the AT, but Thomas hasn't stopped there. Since then he has been hiking around the U.S. completing notable trails from California to the Smokies. Now he's found his way back to North Carolina to complete the famed "Mountain-to-Sea" Trail. Starting in April, Thomas is now 660 miles into the 1000 mile trek and has received support from many Carolinians along the way.

The story of Trevor Thomas is not only impressive, but inspiring as well. Despite the loss of his vision he notes there's always more world out there to explore. We should take note.

Father Nature Outdoors

http://hosted2.ap.org/NCGOL/NC/Article_2013-06-07-Blind%20Hiker/id-57c0d6eb961042ada51722ee1b42cd3a
 
 
I read this headline and I said "How is that even possible?" as you probably did too.  Okene Harrison is one lucky guy who is the sole survivor of a tugboat sinking off of the Nigerian coast.

So here's how the story goes- 20 miles off of Nigeria on May 31 this tugboat was out on its daily routine chugging along oil tankers for Chevron. Next thing you know storms pop up and the boat goes under. While his crewmates go for the deck, Okene goes inward. The boat goes under and he happens to find a large air pocket as the ship goes down.

If any of you have happened to have seen the movie Poseidon, first of all I'm sorry, and second of all it made me think this type of survival was only for Hollywood. Well it turns out Okene knew best and he sat through two days of storms underwater as he waited for rescue. A Belgian diver found all of Harrison's deceased crewmates, but happened to stumble upon Okene surprisingly calm just hanging out on a table in the hull. He spent 48 hours in a sunken tugboat before he was given dive gear and he was safely returned to the surface.

Reports state that Okene was oddly cool about the whole ordeal. If I spent two days on the floor of the Atlantic I may be a little more flustered. Either way Okene Harrison is one tremendously lucky man who survived what Kurt Russell could not.

Because Mother Nature can be a pain.

 
 
If you would like to get involved in camping or backpacking, we will guide you through purchasing the best mattress for your activity. We will look at the benefits and drawbacks of each category of mattress (air, foam, and self inflating)

Steps

  1. Determine your activity: Car Camping, Drive-up Site Camping, Backyard Camping, Short Backpacking, Ultra-light Backpacking, Long Distance Backpacking (ex: Appalachian Trail), etc.
  2. Determine your strongest needs: Comfort, Weight, Size, Durability, etc.
  3. Air is the simplest and often cheapest choice. Choose air mattress if: You do not mind bulk, weight, size. If you do not plan to winter camp. Good choice for backyard, car, and drive-up camping.
  4. Foam is the lightest and often another inexpensive choice. Choose foam if weight is your main concern. Do not choose if you would like a small packing size. Foam is often rigid and packs large. Sometimes it is not as comfortable. You do not have to worry about puncturing this product.
  5. Self inflating is a combination of air and foam, and combines their benefits. It is often a few ounces heavier than foam. Choose if packing size and comfort are your main criterion. This product can puncture, but field repairs are relatively simple.
  6. Make your selection and run your product through the test of time.

Tips

  • Comparatively speaking on many camping products, mattresses are relatively inexpensive. Many users will live and die by their favorites. Get one or two and try them out for yourself. Your sleeping experience will dramatically influence your overall camping experience.
  • A camping mattress is not necessary only for comfort. It also reduces heat loss due to direct contact with the ground. This will make your sleeping experience noticeably more pleasant.
 
 
This post has nothing to do with crustaceans that live in, under, or around the sea. Oh no this is much, much weirder.

This is a side by side comparison of two of the most mysterious men of the American backwoods who both evaded capture way too long by living off the land (with the help of a few hundred burglaries here and there).

First we have the more famous of the two, Troy James Knapp a.k.a. The Utah Mountain Man

Bio: Troy James Knapp has been evading capture for nearly seven years. Funny thing is, police didn't even know who they were tracking until early 2012. The legend of the mysterious "Utah Mountain Man" began in 2006 with a series of break-ins of high resort style cabins. He stole from the rich, and kept all his loot for himself. Over the seven years he stole from an area the size of Delaware. Authorities attempting to track him would think they were close one day, only to find out there was another cabin break-in fifteen miles away later that day. This guy would get by making shelters from anything and everything: tarps, caves, earth mounds, but most notoriously in seasonal cabins.

So how did police catch a guy who they couldn't identify? Well in 2012 he finally started to slip. Not only was he starting to leave clues, but he was caught on a hidden game camera. This image is from early in the year when officials were finally able to pin the criminal as Troy Knapp.
For over a year after this image was released to the public, Knapp still eluded police and federal marshals. It wasn't until earlier this month did Knapp finally get captured. Hiking on a remote goat trail in Southern Utah, a father and son team ran into the fugitive. The duo called in their info to the nearby authorities and a few days later Knapp was captured at a local cabin (only after shooting at a police helicopter and starting a snowshoe pursuit).

Knapp's antics have been in the headlines more consistently in the past two years. His capture was pretty big news in the recent weeks. This next character, on the other hand, is much less known yet equally mysterious.

Christopher Knight has been living in the backwoods of Maine for nearly three decades. That's right, 27 years of living alone in the woods. Knight is reported to have said that the last person he talked to was in the 1990's. That alone is more than enough to explain this guy's history.

Bio: Christopher Knight moved to the woods of Maine 27 years ago to spend a life quietly reading and meditating. He built a hut and camped out for a while, only to find out that humans tend to get hungry after going a few days without food. So what was his next move? Steal some food and supplies to get by.

Knight had a little lower profile with his burglaries than Mr. Knapp, but he managed to exceed Knapp in one aspect. One burglary is not nearly enough to get by for 27 years, so Knight committed over 1,000 burglaries. Christopher Knight admitted to committing at least 40 thefts a year over a time period of 27 years in order to survive. The only thing Knight had on him at the time of his arrest that weren't stolen were his sunglasses (the same pair of sunglasses he wore when he left civilization in 1986).

So how'd he get caught? He ended up hitting the same campground more than once. Every step was calculated by this guy. Eventually this was enough to capture the attention of a Maine State Trooper named Diane Perkins-Vance. Nothing like North Woods Law to take you down. If only this was an episode on the TV show. Anyway, Knight had a historic run of hermitting and thievery which finally caught up to him.

But now comes the question, which one of these very unique characters would outlast Mantracker the longest?
http://www.oln.ca/details.php?id=14

P.S.
That is quality Canadian Television

If you would like to learn more about either of these gentlemen follow the links below:

http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/North-Pond-Hermit-suspect-in-more-than-1000-burglaries-captured.html?pagenum=full

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/Troy-Knapp-Utah-Mountain-Man.html?page=1

Father Nature Outdoors
Because Mother Nature can be a pain
 
 
These two recently found videos were too entertaining not to share. If you remember "What the Buck" Part I, I shared a few videos of deer on the giving end of some fun wildlife encounters. When you think of deer in today's society you don't normally think of them as some dangerous predatory animal that you should slowly back away from. You think of Bambi, and the viral YouTube video of a juvenile deer playing around with a hiker.
Pretty cool right? A nice friendly deer just curious about what this guy is doing stumbling around his woods.

Well that is how I thought of deer until the videos in "What the Buck" changed that for me. In fact I never want to encounter a deer on anything more than my own two feet.

Well even that has now changed for me because here's a video of well.. This reindeer stole this
man's wife.
Top comment: "She's gone man. Time to rebuild". 

Apparently just throw on a few layers and you are a prime target for some reindeer loving.

But now that we've seen one video of nature taking its toll, it's only fair we balance the relationship. This is society taking a toll on the deer population. And here I thought it was only reindeer that flew.

No idea of the story behind this video. No idea if the deer ever landed. No idea if this is even real. But wow that deer took off and the driver doesn't even touch the brake.

At the end of the day it appears that both sides of the human-deer world of interaction take some wins.

Looks like humans can be a pain too.

Father Nature Outdoors
Because Mother Nature can be a pain.

 
 
"Men cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore" -Andre Gide

If you've been following us here at FNO at all lately, you may have noticed that things are starting to ramp up a little bit. We're using this post to keep our fans updated on the progress we are making. We've changed around the site to make it more customer-friendly, but we've also added a few products to make the site actually available to real customers. We're starting to get excited as things are taking off:

This past month I bought a giant wall map for my apartment. Every day it reminds me of all the places I have never been before and all the places I am yet to explore. The growth of FNO is an exploration in itself as we are trekking into new territory every day. Every day FNO grows just a little bit more by adding this new tech feature, or acquiring this new product, or even gaining another new fan. Every day is a leap into uncomfortable and challenging grounds, but there is no way not to be excited about it. So we want to thank our fans for the support we have had up to this point.

We also wanted to take this time to note that we are now selling FNO t-shirts to help get this enterprise some stable roots. We had a graphic designer make the shirt artwork for the three different colors. You can find the shirts under 'FNO Gear'. We hope that you will continue to support FNO through its growth. Also I imagine if you are reading this that it means you are Facebook or Twitter fan, and if that is the case there is a fun surprise coming for all of you soon. With that in mind thanks again for your support and we will be in touch again soon.

Father Nature Outdoors
Because Mother Nature can be a pain
 
 
Every time I open up my desktop I see a list on the right side of my computer of everything I need to accomplish for FNO. For about three months I have had one bulleted item that is titled "The World's Best Rope Swing blog". For those three months I have been compiling the craziest, ballsiest, and most jaw dropping videos of adventurers willing to risk their lives for a quick thrill. All these brave souls leap into the abyss trusting their body to a 1" rope that is resisting the mammoth combination of power that is gravity and inertia.  

One video has been topping the list and for good reason. It is actually a rather popular video online, but I am sure some are yet to see it. 
It is by far one of the most execeptional jumps I have witnessed. So after telling you all about my list of similar videos, why am I showing this video now? Well recently GrindTV brought to our attention a little background on this video.

I don't think any of you reading this now can say that you would jump off that ledge without at least a hint of hesitation.  Here at FNO it's in our blood to do one thing every day that makes you uncomfortable.  So we salute the girlfriend in the next video who summons up the courage to make the leap. Check this out (11:19) and tell us if you would do it.
Maybe summoning up courage was not the right way to put it. What's the chances that guy ever gets a date again?

Because Mother Nature can be a pain.
 
 
By now I imagine most of you have seen the video of the South African cyclist who managed to be biking on a dirt trail at nearly the worst time he could've chosen. This guy happens to be booking through some South African plains at around 30mph when a fridge with antlers plows him over. Yes that is a full grown antelope. 
Oddly enough this past week the internet was hit with a similar video, albeit with a North American spin. During the 2013 Monster Cross race another cyclist found himself targeted by the antelopes' North American cousin. Check out this one.
I think using the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" effectively kills any shock in the video. Regardless I can't fathom what I would do if I caught a deer in the corner of my eye lining me up for a hit.

Now what would we ever do without GoPros?

Because Mother Nature can be a pain.
 
 
To all of our readers who have been following us through the growth of Father Nature Outdoors, we have taken many steps of progress in the past months. This has gained some attention and we have been contacted by some notable outdoor recreation companies. Specifically we have been impressed by the work and the effort that Wester River Expeditions puts into its business and we were happy to partner up with them on this latest blog post. We value the emphasis they place on admiring Mother Nature's domain that is the untamed Western United States. The following blog post is an informative guide to adventuring through the Western US via raft.

Packing for Your Multi-Day Rafting Trip

 Multi-day white water rafting trips are a great way to experience white water rafting, camping, and spending a good amount of time outdoors. When on a multi-day trip you’ll experience things you wouldn’t experience on a single day trip or by doing any other outdoor activity. Multi-day white water rafting trips do require more experience and more gear to make the trip as rewarding as possible.

Depending on what type of multi-day trip you’re taking, whether you’re having a commercial river guide with will make a difference in how you pack. If you are having a river guide, they will supply a lot of your equipment for you. Typically the raft, some food, rafting equipment and a tent are included. It  varies based on company, so knowing exactly what is included is important before you book your trip.

Things that you should plan on bringing for yourself vary for each person and keep in mind that the less weight you have, the better off you are. A camera that is waterproof or has a waterproof case, duct tape, first aid kit with any personal medications you may require, and a variety of clothing are some of the basics to bring. Objects such as eating utensils, a flashlight, personal items (such as toothbrush, toothpaste, and hand lotion), sunblock and insect repellent are easily forgotten about but just as important as anything else you might bring.

Staying comfortable and warm is also important. You’ll need a good sleeping bag to keep you warm and from preventing any body aches during your whole trip. Father Nature Outdoors (FNO) has an integrated sleeping bag that consolidates the space and weight of a sleeping pad and bag together. Weighing five pounds altogether, this three-season and 30 degree bag is perfect for your multi-day rafting trip, no matter what the weather is going to be like. Having a good tent will help you stay warm and away from insects as well. A four season tent is the best option and you’ll get your money’s worth of it because you can use it for year-round camping trips.
               
Putting all of your belongings into a dry bag will ensure that all of your valuables stay dry and clean during your white water rafting. Most commercial rafting companies supply bags to put your personal gear into, so check with the company beforehand. All of your supplies should benefit you in the long run. Over packing will be a huge hassle, so remember to only bring the necessities.

About the Author: 
Grand Canyon river rafting company Western River is pleased to bring you this article about packing for a multi-day rafting trip. If you are interested Colorado River rafting with Western River, please be sure to check out their website today. 

Because Mother Nature can be a pain. Maybe Western River Expeditions can help get you through it.
 
 
So when I decide to write one of these posts I like to try and get creative with the title. "Whale of a Tale" is not the most creative title to come up with, but there is no doubt that the title is fitting.

Recently when I was in Hawaii I tried my hand at the sport of outrigger canoeing. An outrigger canoe is essentially a lengthy six person canoe that is stabilized by an outrigger on one or both sides. This makes them much less prone to tipping amongst the waves in the ocean.

This seemed like one of those things you have to do while you're in Hawaii so we gave it a go. Throughout the whole trip we had seen whales here and there breaching the water. Humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the waters around Hawaii during the winter months to give birth to their calves. So with this in mind we wondered if we would catch a glimpse of one of the giants during our morning excursion.

About 30 minutes into the trip we saw a water spout as a whale came up for air. It was about 100 yards away so we stopped to watch. In Hawaii its illegal to get a vessel within 100 yards of a whale. However there is nothing against them coming to you, and that's exactly what happened. About a minute later we saw another spout about 50 yards away, followed by a second smaller spout. From this distance we could also make out some fins circling the whales.

We watched the fins circling around and then things got quiet. It was a cool experience to see what we did, and we were plenty satisfied. As soon as we dipped our oars back in the water I nearly jumped out of the canoe as a water spout came up less than ten yards to our left. The calf repeated the motion and then the smaller fins reappeared. For a full sixty seconds we were being circled by two of the largest mammals in the world and a school of dolphins. As I looked under the water I could see the deep blue change to a light gray as the whales swam beneath us. It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had before and we were able to snap just a few shots before the curious mammals took off again.

I try to write the story as realistically as it happened, but of course details have blurred in the last month. What I could not get out of my mind as this sequence was taking place was this video below.
And we had a much smaller boat about a mile away from shore. Overall for this experience and some more I can easily say this was the best day I had in Hawaii. Hopefully plenty more adventures like that to come and for now I'll leave you with one of the cooler videos I took from shore.
Because Mother Nature can be a pain.