The weather is changing but it doesn’t mean you have to stop recreating, check out these tips to keep adventuring this fall and winter season.
Parks, campgrounds, and all types of outdoor recreation areas have seen an increase in attendance this summer and fall. Outdoor gear such as, bicycles, kayaks, canoes, camping/backpack fuel, even floaty tubes have had an all-time record high in sales, many of these items and more are out of stock until spring 2021. I’m glad to see so many new people embracing the great outdoors and trying something new. As the temperatures begin to drop, I wanted to make sure you had some tips to keep adventuring and to make your outdoor experience great – in all seasons.
1. Invest in proper gear.
There’s nothing I see more than people who come on our trips or adventures and are already off on the wrong foot because they are uncomfortable! Make sure to obtain proper gear for the type of outdoor activity you are embarking on. For example, to keep your feet warm invest in a sock that has wool in it. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water or moisture so when your feet sweat, they will still keep you warm and dry or if your shoes happen to get wet you will stay warmer longer compared to cotton socks. We’ll be opening up our first in person location with gear for cycling in the next couple weeks, Brown County Bikes, and we just got in our wool cycling socks!
2. Consider taking a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness Informational course.
With the increase of people exploring the great outdoors comes with an increase in search and rescues. This year DNK Presents was able to host 2 Wilderness First Aid Courses, we had limited number of students and followed CDC and SOLO Guidelines and both courses were greatly successful. If you are venturing out more or know others who have been this year due to COVID-19 you may want to learn more about Wilderness First Aid to keep yourself and others safer. Look for our next programs coming in early spring of 2021 or check out all available courses for SOLO on their website.
3. Follow the principles of Leave No Trace.
Kate and I were lucky to take a training course on Leave No Trace wilderness ethics. There are 7 principles of Leave No Trace, by following their guidelines we can keep the outdoors even better for generations to come
4. Go with a friend.
It’s best practice and safest to adventure with a buddy. If you do go out alone make sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be done so they know to check in.
Since the trails have been a little more crowded than usual due to COVID make sure to have a mask with you in case you can’t social distance. We love our new Buffs, we wear them around our necks which makes it super easy to “mask up” in case the trails get crowded.
Fall and winter are one of our favorite times to recreate. With these tips you will be able to stay more active in all seasons and we hope to see you out on the trails soon. Contact us for private group trips, skills clinics or other events this year as well.
PS: One of our favorite marketing products we use are from Sticker Mule. We just found out about their free background editor, an awesome way to turn your favorite adventure photos into custom stickers, buttons, magnets or more!
By: Kati L Taylor
In mid-August, a fun and diverse group went on the DNK Presents Wild Women’s Backpacking Overnight Adventure here in the beautiful Midwest. Several of the women had never been backpacking before. While some had been camping or “glamping”, most had not done an overnight trip for a while and it was a new experience for them to carry everything needed on their backs. Perhaps by the end of the trip some were questioning what they really need versus what provides comfort.
This weekend overnight trip gave women an opportunity to hike in the backcountry of both the beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Yellowwood Forest. The trip was structured and guided by some experienced women backpackers who want to share their love of nature with others. Meals, water filtration, and gear were provided, plus there was the security of knowing that the guides are trained to keep the group safe.
Being a women-only adventure makes these trips special.
Spending time outside, immersed in nature experiencing new things, brings out a different side to thoughts and how women connect with each other. Moreover, when you get a group of women together in the woods overnight, mentalities change, and conversation can be powerful and get intense!
There were two mother-daughter adventurers who got some quality time together. Two of the ladies were connected through a third friend but did not know each other. All three were young mothers. Another bold woman joined the trip solo, not knowing anyone prior to the trip. Regardless of their initial relationship, everyone worked together and became closer over the 24-hour adventure.
Wilderness trips prove to be great bonding opportunities, not only with each other, but ‘getting back to nature’ makes you more aware of yourself. After an energetic hike, several of the women realized an exceptional peacefulness in meditating by Bear Lake which set a more subdued mood for the hike back to the campsite.
No phone, but not alone.
Being in the backcountry means your phone basically does not work. With no reception a phone becomes only useful for the camera function and obviously there is nowhere to charge it. In fact, as the photo/video documentarian on this adventure, I may have been the only backpacker who intentionally left my phone back in the car.
While it’s comical now, at the time, everyone was concerned when the trip guide lost her phone. She was sure it had fallen out of her pocket at night near our campsite while gathering firewood. So the women teamed up to search through the darkness and find it. A persistent gal on the trip politely asked if she could search through the guide’s tent and backpack. Lo and behold, the phone was in her backpack the whole time. What a relief when it was found?!
This trivial happening, while it turned out well, was a great reminder that we need to disconnect. Having a great group of thoughtful, caring women on your team makes connecting easy even without a signal!
Leave no toothpaste… I mean leave no trace!
While trying to hang food in the tree overnight to avoid and racoons or other critters invading it, one of the ladies decided to use her toothpaste as a weight to get the rope over a tree limb. Long story short, it got stuck in the tree. With the intent of always leaving no trace on the trail, the group of women teamed up to get the toothpaste out of the tree. What an adventure it was! For more on this funny happening and to see what the women had to say about the trip overall, watch the video summary of the weekend’s adventures.
Mind the gap.
At the moment when this backpacking adventure had ended and the women were crossing the bridge to get back to their vehicles, a group from the Indiana Forrest Alliance was hiking in. These passionate folks were handing out brochures to raise support and awareness around an important issue in these exact forests where these women had just experienced so much.
Our state has plans to sell logging rights in this area where nearly 300 acres could be affected and thousands of trees could be logged if the deal goes through. This affects everyone and while the terms of the agreement may be vague, preserving our Indiana natural resources is for a greater good.
It’s important to preserve Indiana’s beautiful forests for the health of our planet, the wildlife that lives there, and for ourselves–let everyone forever enjoy the natural beauty! Please consider contacting Governor Holcomb and urge our state to stop logging the forests.
For those who have never been backpacking, or want to experience it again, consider a trip. Indiana has some beautiful outdoor spaces and amazing trails to experience. Disconnect, decompress, experience something new, and enjoy the natural beauty around you.
Lightening soared and thunder erupted as I headed to Morgan Monroe State Forest (http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm) to meet the women of growing organization, Purple Ink. Purple Ink is a human resources consulting firm, which offers customization and flexibility, with locations in Indianapolis and Grand Rapids, MI. I’m sure these women were a little hesitant driving down with their co-workers during the rainstorm that was making it’s way through the vast, open cornfields. Luckily their fearless leader, JoDee Curtis was confident the adventure hike would go on.
As we approached the Tecumseh trailhead the first trail blaze on the tree invited us to partake on our journey into the wilderness. The Tecumseh Trail is named after Chief Tecumseh, who often traveled the trail prior to the defeat of his warriors by General William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811. More information on Chief Tecumseh can be found here:
The Tecumseh Trail blaze in Indiana is marked by a white rectangle. The portion of the trail we were on coincides with the Low Gap trail, which is marked by a white diamond. When you see a double blaze together it means the trail is taking a change of direction, road crossing, or other indication of variation on the trail.
Trail blazes direct our passage through the wilderness, and guide us along the correct path. We found out through our adventure hike that day that the women of Purple Ink were blazing their own trails in their personal and professional lives. The owner of Purple Ink, JoDee Curtis, blazed her trail by starting the business 6 years ago. She told the story of hiring the first employee, who announced on the trip that day, she was pregnant!
Another employee told the story of when she started working at Purple Ink. She wanted to start working again after taking many years off to be with her family, but was nervous about being inefficient on the latest technology. She admitted, the last time she was working, email was not even around. She knew she could do the job though, but she could not have succeeded without the support and strong leadership of the entire Purple Ink team.
The clouds cleared, and the rain luckily dispersed, we quickly were all able to delayer our ponchos and rain gear. The women devoured their first backcountry meal on an MSR stove, they learned about the latest technology in filtering water with our gravity bag, and the principals of Leave No Trace (https://lnt.org/).
The women of Purple Ink definitely blazed their own trail through the backcountry that day. Their initial fear of the dark, stormy gloom quickly passed as they made their way deep into the woods. As in life, we sometimes have dark days, and go through trying times, but with the support and encouragement from our team and co-workers, we can get through most obstacles together. These women are most definitely blazing trails in their careers, in their family life, and in the community. I am excited to see where the trail leads them next.
My First Backpacking Adventure
By: Danielle Wolter Nolan
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
I said yes to a “weekend in the woods” not even knowing the exact difference between camping, hiking, and backpacking. I knew I loved the outdoors and I was ready to try something new, but this trip was going to be a real adventure for me. What I didn’t realize was that this experience would become the catalyst for dedicating my life to living each day as a new adventure, and discovering a whole new realm of wilderness I never knew existed, especially in Indiana.
The air was cool and crisp when we woke that spring morning in Charles C. Deam Wilderness*, I was with my partner, Kate. After taking a few moments to greet the day huddled in our tent, we packed our belongings to fit precisely in our packs. We built a small fire, prepared our oatmeal, and double-checked our food and supplies before heading out on the trail. It was time to get moving on our 8-mile hike to the backcountry campsite.
The first section of our hike was Axsom Trail; it has the most elevation gain and loss, with several switch backs leading through the forest. Axsom Trail is challenging and serene with the creek bed running through the terrain. Crossing over the rustling water, Kate and I found a rock in the shape of a heart. We took a photo, and honoring Leave No Trace ethics we left it behind to be shared with others. We worked up a sweat with the inclined hike, after shedding some layers and stopping for a quick snack, we made it through the first section of our hike feeling peacefully energized and refreshed.
We finally reached the top of the ridge, up ahead we could see our next turn, Grubb Ridge Trail. We were about midway, and it was the first time we had seen other hikers on the trail, but it was still very desolate. This was the perfect section to break in our fresh Keen® boots. Being a shared trail that accommodates those on horseback, and that was experiencing the spring thaw certainly made this a muddy, soppy stretch for us. Boots are made to get dirty, right? Well, we made sure of that after this portion of our hike! At one point it occurred to me how much I was enjoying not only the hike, but actual backpacking. It felt pretty liberating to know that everything I needed to survive for the weekend was on my back.
After a couple hours trekking through the mud we embarked upon the final stretch of our destination, the Peninsula Trail. The Peninsula trail is about 2.5 miles that leads you to the east side of breathtaking Lake Monroe. Weaving in and out along the shoreline, the trail narrowed before opening us up to a pristine pine forest. The juniper and sap smells filled the air as we wandered our way through the trees. The pine forest thinned, and as we approached a small hill the magnificent lake gleamed in front of us. We had made it! Our 4-hour hike was a stunning journey through some of Indiana’s most breathtaking backcountry.
We turned west, following the trail along the shoreline and checked out our options for campsites. It was the first time I had ever seen backpackers use the natural surroundings to set up large limestone rocks for chairs, tables and fire pits. We picked a great spot and began to set up our camp.
We pitched our tent, took off our boots and relaxed for a moment on the rocky shoreline. The backcountry sites overlook the portion of the lake deemed a no-wake zone for boaters, because of it’s proximity to Deam Wilderness and Hoosier National Forest. I couldn’t believe how good it felt to finally make it to the backcountry camping area! Although, despite my newfound sense of outdoorsy accomplishment, I remember thinking, “I wish we were just beginning.” It was a feat to have reached this spot; a place unknown to us, surrounded by beautiful trees and a body of water. I didn’t want it to end.
As the sun began to sink behind the trees beyond the water, the most outstanding sunset I’d ever seen (and Indiana has some great ones) began to form over Lake Monroe. We sipped red wine from our insulated canteen and devoured a surprisingly delicious meal of freeze-dried pasta over the fire as the radiant oranges, yellows, and bright reds filled the sky. We made our way closer to the water to fully experience the vast sky’s beauty. I was completely content as the big red ball sank below the horizon and night began to take over.
As darkness enveloped us the crickets, toads and other nocturnal forest creatures began to come alive. A whole new world of nighttime backcountry camping began to reveal itself at our campsite. Throughout the edge of the forest we were surprised to see other fires glowing in the distance. We checked our map, searching for the trails that led to those areas but were perplexed; were people camping at sites off the trails? We decided on the next trip we would explore the trails more to the west and discover the other backcountry campsites along the limestone beach.
Time seemed to stand still as stars emerged from the night sky. The galaxy spread over us like an immense blanket, encompassing in all directions as far as our eyes could see. It wasn’t long before we saw not one, not two, but several shooting stars streak across the sky above us. We breathed a relaxed sigh as we enjoyed one of the many magical phenomenons of the wilderness that occurred that weekend.
Waking up early the next morning, the sun hadn’t yet risen behind us when we heard the morning birds chirping and the occasional fish leap out of the water. We started our morning fire, brewed some hot tea, and enjoyed a bandito scramble over our Jet Boil® stoves. Settling in our limestone rock chairs, we noted how perfectly comfortable they were after sitting our cushioned sleeping pads on them.
After cleaning up our campsite and repacking our backpacks, we took in one last look at our accommodating but temporary outdoor home and made our way back to the trail. So much more full than an ordinary weekend, our exploration in the wilderness was a wild, surprising, marvelous adventure.
As we hiked out I reflected on my experience in the great outdoors. The first thing that struck me was that everything I needed to survive for the weekend including my food was on my back. It made me reevaluate all the “things” I have: the devices, apps, and the latest and greatest Apple products I “needed” for work or play. While fun and sometimes useful, they’re still just things. I learned I don’t actually require them and can be just as happy, if not more relaxed and less stressed without them.
The second realization was obvious, but still made an impression: hiking 8 miles to the backcountry site, everyone we encountered also arrived there by foot. No cars could drive to the point where we camped and no traffic could be heard while hiking in. Specifically, I knew that what I was experiencing could only occur when I was able to disconnect from technology and reconnect with myself in nature.
Lastly, I reflected on how quickly the minutes, hours, days, months and years can slip away from us. We all lead busy lives, but especially in the digital age we live in our brains are never able to completely “shut off.” “Relaxing” for me used to involve taking a few minutes to check Facebook or catch up on TV shows, with my face still connected to a screen. I noticed after unplugging from technology for just one weekend that minutes were counted by breaths, not from repeatedly checking the clock on my cell phone. I felt rejuvenated, energized, and fulfilled in a way I hadn’t in a long time.
Studies, such as those completed by scientist David Strayer*, have proven that taking a break from technology and immersing yourself in nature literally gives the brain a much-needed rest and reboot from everyday overstimulation that encompasses our lives. Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin* indicates excessive and overuse of technology can cause people to be less productive, increasing stress, and anxiety, which can lead to poor health.
Since I discovered the natural endorphins of exploring and connecting with the wilderness, I’ve been hooked. I’m at my best when I’m able to spend time outdoors in nature, whether it’s a challenging rock climbing adventure, mountain bike race, or walking the dogs through the neighborhood. With the perspective of finding the adventure in everything, Kate and I have made it a priority to get outside and enjoy nature on a regular basis. I can say without hesitation that it has significantly increased our quality of life, and we hope to encourage others to live a life filled with adventure. I hope this story encourages you to get out and try something for the first time, and maybe we’ll see you on your next adventure.
DNK Presents Overview:
Danielle and Kate Nolan founded DNK Presents in June of 2014, and began offering open signup adventures in April 2015. They know challenging, oudoor experiences, and reconnecting with nature has transformed them both, personally and professionally. They have made it their mission to facilitate the same for others. Danielle and Kate customize adventure packages according to their clients’ goals and expected outcomes. They particularly enjoy working with groups in leadership development, empowerment activities, and educational experiential learning. DNK Presents is a fully insured adventure business. Danielle and Kate are Wilderness First Aid and CPR certified, Leave No Trace trainers and have their lead climbing certification.
*Charles C. Deam Wilderness is part of Hoosier National Forest located in central Indiana. It is Indiana’s only accredited “wilderness” that was enacted in 1982 and includes 12,472 acres. A wilderness declares that the area is preserved in its natural state and is meant for solitude. It was named in honor of Charles C. Deam, Indiana’s first State Forester.
*Williams, Florence. “This is your Brain on Nature” National Geographic Online Magazine Jan. 2016
*Levitin, J Daniel. “Why the Modern World is Bad for your Brain” The Guardian Neuroscience The Observer Jan. 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Danielle Wolter Nolan
DNK Presents Women’s Adventure Contest and Documentary
“Indiana-based” outdoor adventure company DNK Presents is offering an unprecedented program, a Women’s Adventure Contest and Documentary to take place in Indiana. The Indianapolis based outdoor adventure company will select four Indiana women to win a free adventure. DNK Presents owners Danielle and Kate Nolan will lead the adventure, which will take place the weekend of May 12-15, 2016. The four contest winners will disconnect from technology, experience the outdoors, and challenge themselves with new activities. In addition, a select team of inspiring, leading local women will join the adventure trip as activity facilitators.
The contest weekend will also form the basis of a DNK Presents documentary about the significance of women experiencing adventure. “We feel women’s outdoor adventure films, and first-person documentaries are few and far between,” said Danielle Wolter Nolan. “Our film will showcase ordinary women empowering themselves through a variety of activities.”
DNK Presents is actively seeking nominations for this unique experience through February 26, 2016. Nomination submission details and highlights of the women’s adventure weekend activities are available on the DNK Presents website, www.dnkpresents.com.
Danielle and Kate Nolan founded DNK Presents in June 2014, and began offering open sign-up adventures in April 2015. They know that challenging oudoor experiences and reconnecting with nature have transformed them both, personally and professionally. And, they have made it their mission to facilitate the same for others. Danielle and Kate customize adventure packages according to their clients’ goals and expected outcomes. They particularly enjoy working with women’s groups in leadership development and empowerment activities. DNK Presents is a fully insured adventure business. Danielle and Kate are Wilderness First Aid and CPR certified, Leave No Trace trainers and have their lead climbing certification.