For The Glove of The Game: 10 Ways to Keep Your Hands Warm This Winter

Let’s face it, nothing dampens a walk through a winter wonderland like a pair of frozen mitts—aside from being painful, cold hands are useless when it comes to climbing, setting up camp, and, oh yeah, checking your Pocket Ranger® app. Outdoor living means outdoor dressing, which also means those hand-knit mittens from your Aunt Boo won’t quite cut it when it comes time to scale that snow-covered mountain, and feel the alpine air blasting away at your poor mortal skin. Even with Valentine’s Day coming up, we don’t recommend hand-holding as a remedy for frosty fingers, but instead we’ve rounded up some tried and tested hand helpers that will not only keep your digits toasty while hailing a cab or waiting in line for the newest Apple product, but also stand up against the wicked winds of the wild, and whatever chilly challenges come your way.

Mano

1. Marmot Caldera Glove

One of the most affordable and functional models offered by outdoor big timers, Marmot, this Caldera Glove offers a waterproof outer shell and a cozy thermal insulation to keep active hands warm and dry. The Caldera also includes a soft nose wipe fabric for those mountain top booger emergencies, as well as handy safety leashes so gloves stay put even when not in use. Available at Marmot.com, $65.

2. Youngstown Waterproof Winter Plus Performance Glove

You don’t have to ditch dexterity just to keep your phalanges from freezing over. These form-fitting, nylon blend gloves allow fingers to grip while keeping them safe from the elements in even the coldest, wettest conditions. Available at Amazon.com, $34.99.

3. Outdoor Research Men’s Adrenaline Gloves

Winter’s harsh chill doesn’t stop at the wrist, so neither should your gloves. These durable nylon gloves have extra long, cinching wrists to keep the cold air from creeping up your sleeve while you’re on the trail or slopes.  Available at Moosejaw.com, $49.

4. Heritage Extreme Winter Gloves

Horseback riding is amongst the most popular activities found at state and national parks, and thanks to these extreme weather gloves, you can get your gallop on year round. Lined with trust Thinsulate® and Polar fleece insulation, these form-fitting riding gloves will keep you hands safe and dry on and off the trails. Available at SmartPakEquine.com, $34.95.

5. L.L. Bean Men’s Gore-Tex Patroller Gloves

For the ski slopes to the snowy trail and every chilly place in between, there’s this pair of waterproof, pliable winter gloves from the outdoor outfitters we trust, L.L. Bean. These easy-grip gloves allow for maximum dexterity, whether you are grabbing a ski pole, walking stick or companion’s hand. Available at LLBean.com, $89.00. 

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1. Women’s Troller Mitt, Cloudveil

We know what you’re thinking, but these aren’t your childhood mittens. Insulated with Primaloft and lined with super soft micro fleece, these tough mitts are two shakes of a lamb’s ear away from being little ovens for your fingers. One of the warmest of its kind out on the market, the Troller Mitt is ideal for snow sports and other winter activities where your primary goal is not to freeze your poor pinkies off. Available at Amazon.com, $30.45.

2. Women’s Gore-Tex Insulated Gloves, L.L. Bean

We’d put our lives in the hands of L.L. Bean as much as we’d put our hands in the hands of L.L. Bean, which is why these Gore-Tex-lined gloves made the final cut. Durable, yet lightweight, these do-it-all gloves come complete with a strong holding bungee at the gauntlet to seal out snow and moisture to ensure complete comfort when participating in the outdoor activities you love most. Available at LLBean.com, $49.95.

3. REI Switchback Gloves

Keeping the cold out is a cinch with these durable winter sports gloves from REI. Easy gripping, waterproof, and well-insulated, these gloves are the perfect pair for skiers, hikers and mountaineers alike. Available at REI.com, $44.93.

4. The North Face Women’s Etip Facet Glove

Not only are these gloves waterproof, insulated, and available in an ultra chic white-grey colorway, but the glove’s Etip is designed with Smartphone users in mind. No need to slip off your gloves and risk frostbite just to find the nearest restroom or trailhead on your Pocket Ranger® map. The Etip allows you to smoothly and comfortably using your touch-screen devices without removing your gloves. Available at TheNorthFace.com, $85.

5. Patagonia Women’s Better Sweater™ Gloves

If you can’t bear to part with the coziness of warm woolen mittens, but you know darn right your digits will fall off if you don’t give your homemade handwarmers an upgrade, than these are the pair for you. These tight-knit, “sweater” gloves are sleek, soft, and dare we say stylish. Ideal for those who don’t want to sacrifice style or comfort, the Better Sweater™ Gloves are all you want and more. Available in three colors from Patagonia.com, $39. 

Utah State Parks Joining the Social Network

Desert potholes at Dead Horse Point State Park are full. (Utah State Parks and Recreation Facebook page)

Desert potholes at Dead Horse Point State Park are full. [Image: Utah State Parks and Recreation Facebook page]

Utah State Parks are joining the digital world.

Park officials are expanding the state parks’ social media outreach by giving each park its own Facebook page, according to the Missoulian.

“One of my initiatives as director is to give more local control to the parks. Social media is one inexpensive marketing tool managers can use to grow their parks locally,” said Utah State Parks Director Fred Hayes.

Hayes is partly responsible for pushing the social media push. So far, 16 parks have created their own Facebook fan pages. The article said one park even allows its friends to manage the page.

“Facebook pages are totally voluntary. We want park staff to see this as an opportunity to promote their parks, programs, and events,” said Hollie Brown, who recently took on the title of digital media coordinator for Utah State Parks. “The social media concept is new for a lot of our park managers, but we are excited about the opportunities.”

Four parks in the state—Antelope Island, Jordanelle and Wasatch Mountain state parks have taken to Twitter.

Crystal Carpenter, an assistant manager at Dead Horse Point State Park has come up with a posting plan aimed at engaged the most users. She told the Missoulian that sunrise and sunset photos tend to be more popular among users.

“People really enjoy seeing seasonal photos,” Carpenter said. “They want to see what it looks like at times of the year when they haven’t been here.”

Carpenter said people from Ohio to the Netherlands have taken an interest in the page. So far, her park’s page has 1,000 “likes.”

“We don’t typically get a lot of visitors from Moab,” Carpenter said. “This gives us a chance to connect with locals and let them know about activities and programs they can enjoy at the park.” [Missoulian]

Bring on the Blizzards! How to Use Your Pocket Ranger® App for Winter Fun at the Parks

Now that the holiday season is behind us with three long months of winter ahead, we hope you’re not planning to make like a bear and hibernate until spring, because plenty of state parks abound with recreational opportunities all year round. What’s more, your Pocket Ranger® app makes it easy to make the most of all the great winter activities the parks have to offer. How best to use the Pocket Ranger® to take advantage of the season? Let us count the ways:

1. Search By Activity

Wondering which parks are packed with the most opportunities to enjoy the snow? Simply search the app By Activity to find a park that suits your wintertime needs.

Finding a spot to do this is easy!

Finding a spot to do this is easy!

From cross-country skiing to sledding, snowmobiling to ice fishing, when you search parks By Activity, you’ll be able to easily locate a park where you can enjoy whatever winter sport you’re craving.

2. Search Places Near Me

If you are less particular about needing to find a specific activity and simply want to get out and enjoy the beautiful winter landscape at a nearby park, the Places Near Me feature is your best friend.

When the roads look like this, you'll probably want to select a park close to home.

When the roads look like this, you’ll probably want to select a park close to home.

With one tap of a button, you’ll be able to see on a map which parks are closest to your location, so you can spend less time on the road and more time enjoying the snow at a nearby park.

3. Calendar of Events

Even though the temperatures have dropped off, the events at the parks are still kickin’, and winter is one of the best times to enjoy the many events put on by the parks.

These brave souls used their Pocket Ranger®'s Calendar of Events to find a park for their icy plunge.

These brave souls used their Pocket Ranger®’s Calendar of Events to find a park hosting an icy plunge.

Whether you’re in the mood for an energizing Polar Bear Plunge or a mellow ice fishing tournament, the Calendar of Events makes it easy to find a fun wintertime happening.

4. Track Trails

Snowshoeing and snowmobiling are two great ways to explore the parks this time of year, and with the app’s advanced GPS technology allowing you to track and record trails, it’s easy to keep track of your excursions or return to a particularly pleasant trek.

When you record your trails, you'll be able to revisit this scenic hike again and again!

When you record your trails, you’ll be able to retrace scenic hikes like this one again and again!

Measure distance traveled and time elapsed so you can brag about your active, fun-filled winter to your less adventurous friends spending the season bundled up on the couch.

5. Mark Waypoints

However you choose to enjoy the parks, the scenic winter beauty almost guarantees you’ll stumble upon a cool discovery. Whether it’s a choice ice fishing location, a good spot to watch for wildlife, or simply an excellent place to savor the early sunset, you can mark any location with a waypoint or photo waypoint.

We would definitely mark this view with a photo waypoint!

We would definitely mark this view with a photo waypoint!

Use these waypoints to revisit your favorite park destinations, or share the coordinates with friend so they can check out your finds.

6. Friend Finder

Use the Friend Finder feature to locate your friends in case you lose them on an intense run down the slopes or jaunt through the woods.

Losing a friend in this crowd is no big deal with the Friend Finder to help you find them!

Even losing a friend is this vast landscape is no big deal with the Friend Finder to help locate them!

You’ll be able to see your friend’s location on a GPS map, so reuniting is easy in case you get separated.

7. Photo Sharing

With sparkling snowfalls, icy vistas, and numerous chances to see people plodding around in dorky snowsuits, winter offers plenty of photo-ops.

This shot was made for sharing!

This shot was made for sharing!

After a day of fun, the app makes it easy to share your photos with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. With a few clicks, your circle of friends will be able to see all the fun you’ve been having at the parks!

With so many features to maximize your outdoor adventures, we’re sure we’ve missed plenty. Tell us how you’ve been using your Pocket Ranger® to enjoy winter at the parks. Remember, just because warm weather has left the parks doesn’t mean the fun has, so pick up your Pocket Ranger® and start exploring!

Rise & Shine! Campfire Breakfast Recipes to Kick-Start Your Day

Most of the time, the best part of waking up is going back to sleep (sorry, Folgers). But when we absolutely must get up out of bed, two things are in order: a giant cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast to keep from getting the shakes after all that caffeine. Plus, the extra jolt we get from the first bite of a really delicious breakfast makes us actually want to do things now that we’re awake. Finagling those two outdoors, well, that could be an issue. To appease our fellow reluctant risers, we’ve scoured the web in search of tasty and easy-to-make recipes quicker whip up than instant coffee.

Campfire Eggs

Courtesy of MNN.com

Ingredients
  • 1 orange
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. On the trail: Cut the orange in half and eat the fruit, leaving two orange peel “bowls.”
  2. Crack one egg into each half of the orange and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Carefully place the “bowls” on the edge of the campfire and cook for about 5 minutes, rotating the oranges with sticks as needed.
  4. Then eat your eggs right from the orange!

Campers’ Breakfast Hash

Courtesy of Tasteofhome.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 packages (20 ounces each) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 package (7 ounces) brown-and-serve sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 12 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, melt butter.
  2. Add the potatoes, sausage, onion and green pepper.
  3. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned, turning once.
  4. Push potato mixture to the sides of pan.
  5. Pour eggs into center of pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are completely set.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Reduce heat; stir eggs into potato mixture. Top with cheese; cover and cook for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted. (Yield: 8 servings.)

Campfire Breakfast Burritos

Courtesy of AlaskafromScratch.com

Ingredients

  • large flour tortillas
  • russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, chopped, and par-boiled (until just tender but not falling apart) – about 1 potato per burrito
  • seasoning salt & pepper
  • green onions, sliced
  • breakfast sausage, browned and crumbled, about 1/4c per burrito
  • eggs, beaten (about 2 per burrito)
  • 1 can refried beans (optional)
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • salsa or hot sauce for serving (optional)
  • heavy-duty foil

Directions

  1. Season your boiled potatoes generously with seasoning salt and pepper. Add sliced green onions, about 1T per burrito to your potatoes and stir to combine. Add your browned breakfast sausage and throw all of that into a plastic zipper bag or portable container. Refrigerate until you are ready to pack your cooler. Store in your cooler until ready to make burritos.
  2. At the campsite, warm a frying pan on your cookstove. Add the potato/sausage mixture to the hot pan, stirring often, until potatoes begin to brown and mixture is heated through. Add beaten eggs to potato mixture and cook until eggs are scrambled.
  3. Meanwhile, lay out large squares of foil, each with a tortilla on top. If using refried beans, spread a thin layer of refried beans onto the middle of each tortilla. Top with potato/sausage/egg mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top of that.
  4. Fold your burrito then roll each burrito up in foil and place over the campfire. Cook your burritos, flipping once, about 5 minutes per side (depending on the heat of your campfire) or until cheese is melted and burrito is heated completely through (the tortillas will get some browning and charing on them, which is good, just watch carefully that you don’t burn them).

Easy Omelet

Courtesy of MNN.com

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • Omelet toppings: cheese, chopped vegetables, spices, etc.
Directions
  1. At home: Chop vegetables and pack any toppings you’ll be adding to your omelet.
  2. On the trail: Crack eggs into locking plastic freezer bag and add any additional ingredients. Close bag and knead contents until thoroughly mixed. Carefully place bag into pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove from water, unzip bag, and slide omelet onto a plate.

Dutch Oven Hash Browns

Courtesy of DirtyGourmet.com

Ingredients

  • 2-4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 30-ounce bag frozen hash browns
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • salt and pepper

Tools

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Dutch Oven
  • Lid Lifter or Pot Holder
  • Spatula

Directions

  1. Get your campfire going and prep it so there is eventually a nice bed of hot coals to place your dutch oven on.
  2. Place dutch oven hot coals, making sure it is stable and level. You may have to shift some of the coals around, or add a rock under the dutch oven to get it just right.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, and add the hash browns. Cook the hash browns until golden brown, stirring occasionally. You may need to add another tablespoon or two of oil if they start to stick. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Top hash browns with cheddar, spinach and sliced tomatoes, place the lid on the dutch oven, and heat until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat and serve with sliced avocado.

Guinness Cakes

Courtesy of Campingroadtrip.com


Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Just-Add-Water Pancake Mix
  • 1 pint of Guinness Stout

Directions

  1. Heat a pancake grill on an RV or camping stove or over a campfire.
  2. Pour the pancake mix in a large bowl. Substitute the amount of water prescribed in the instructions with the same amount of Guinness Stout.
  3. Mix well and allow it to stand for a few minutes to allow the beer to work into the batter.
  4. Lightly grease the griddle with oil or butter. Pour a tablespoonful of the batter into the griddle, giving a bit of space so that they won’t stick to each other.
  5. Flip the pancakes when bubbles start to appear on the edges of the mixture.
  6. Serve with fruits or maple syrup.

Happy New Year!

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America’s State Parks First Day Hikes — Get Moving!

It seems that whenever the New Year rolls around, we’re either too fat, too broke or too unimaginative to resolve to do anything but lose weight, make more money and try to exercise more. But why not kick-start the New Year with a whole slew of new resolutions aimed at making you healthier and happier instead? In 2013, we challenge you to be more active and spend more time in the largest yet least-expensive gym you’ll ever encounter: Mother Nature. Budgets and weight loss goals notwithstanding, put your best foot forward this New Year and resolve to spend more time in nature beginning January 1st with America’s State Parks’ First Day Hike Program. On New Year’s Day, all 50 state park systems will offer guided hikes for individuals, groups and families to help them connect with the great outdoors.

With 646 guided hikes and counting, visitors of all ages and fitness levels can take part in this nationwide event.

With 646 guided hikes and counting, visitors of all ages and fitness levels can take part in this nationwide event.

Currently there are 646 First Day Hikes scheduled across the country, including those states with Pocket Ranger® apps. These range from short, leisurely walks and birdwatching trails to intense treks across mountainous terrain. Depending on the park, hikes may be either led by volunteers or state park personnel, and require pre-registration. We recommend that participants wear appropriate footwear and bring water.

To learn more about guided hikes in a state with a sanctioned Pocket Ranger® app, click the state park system below: 

Delaware State Parks: Join Delaware State Parks in celebrating the first day of the New Year with a refreshing hike in the park. Parks statewide will host a First State, First Day, First Hike program to celebrate the national movement sponsored by America’s State Parks to have all 50 states offer First Day Hikes. Join us in celebrating America’s State Parks and your Delaware State Parks! Guided hikes offered at: White Clay Creek State Park, Trap Pond State Park, Killens Pond State Park, Fort DuPont State Park, Cape Henlopen State Park, Brandywine Creek State Park and Alapocas Run State Park. 

Iowa State Parks: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hosting free, guided hikes in four state parks and recreation areas on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.  

Kentucky State Parks: Four Kentucky State Parks to offer First Day Hikes. 

Louisiana State Parks: Louisiana State Parks is sponsoring free guided hikes at two parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks’ First Day Hikes project.

Maine State Parks: Last year, more than 230 Mainers came out on New Year’s Day for short, guided hikes in four state parks. Park officials hope for an even stronger turnout this January 1, when guided hikes will take place at Sebago Lake State Park, Popham Beach State Park, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and Aroostook State Park.

Missouri State Parks: Celebrate the beginning of 2013 by taking a guided hike through 12 of Missouri’s state parks.

New Jersey State Parks and Forests: The New Jersey State Park Service is sponsoring eleven hikes, a bike ride and a horseback ride in state parks and trails on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.

North Carolina State ParksFirst Day Hikes guided by rangers and volunteers will be held at 28 state parks. All state parks and state recreation areas will be open on the holiday with cold-weather recreation opportunities as well as warm visitor centers with exhibit halls presenting cultural and natural history.

Pennsylvania State Parks: Bring family and friends together to help make that resolution to be healthy and active, a reality! There are 19 hikes occurring throughout the day.

South Dakota State Parks: South Dakota state parks will sponsor free, guided hikes in 12 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.

Utah State Parks: In conjunction with America’s State Parks’ second annual First Day Hikes initiative, Antelope Island and Coral Pink Sand Dunes state parks host special New Year’s Day hikes.

Virginia State Parks:  America’s State Parks are offering First Day Hikes across the country and all 35 Virginia State Parks are participating.

Wyoming State Parks: For the second consecutive year Wyoming residents can begin the year with eight New Year’s Day guided hikes held at Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails venues statewide.

 

Tennessee State Parks Celebrating New Year in Style

Day Hikes Initiative, which is taking place in all 50 states. It’s said to be an opportunity for visitors to reconnect with nature. (Tennessee State Parks]

Day Hikes Initiative, which is taking place in all 50 states. It’s said to be an opportunity for visitors to reconnect with nature. [Image: Tennessee State Parks]

Tennessee State Parks are sponsoring hikes as a special New Year’s gift to park visitors.

The AP reports that the park system is sponsoring the hikes the first few days of the new year in order to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

It’s being reported that each park will have various hikes, some for new hikers and others for those who are more experienced. The hikes are part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes Initiative, which is taking place in all 50 states. It’s said to be an opportunity for visitors to reconnect with nature.

Clarksville Online reports that New Year’s Eve dinner will be served at Tennessee State Parks inns and restaurants, including Cumberland Mountain, Montgomery Bell, Paris Landing and Pickwick Landing state parks.

The dinner will include various entrees, dessert, beer, wine and champagne, according to the article. Seating accommodations vary by park and reservations are encouraged.

Middle Tennessee

Montgomery Bell State Park

Montgomery Bell State Park is offering three great New Year’s Eve packages.  For those wishing to ring in the New Year in an intimate environment, Montgomery Bell is offering three special inn packages. For only $144.81 (including taxes and gratuity) Package #1 includes a lakeview room, a New Year’s Eve candlelight dinner for two, a special room gift and a 2:00pm checkout. For an additional $30.00 plus tax, Package #2 includes all of the above in addition to a midnight breakfast. For an additional $30.00 plus tax, Package #3 includes a New Year’s Day brunch for two.

Dinner will be served at Montgomery Bell December 31st from 6:00pm to 9:00pm and will include several menu choices – such as shrimp cocktail, delicious salads, rib eye, grilled salmon or pork tenderloin medallions, assorted sides and desserts. Prices are $39.95 per couple (plus tax and gratuity).

A late night breakfast is offered from 9:00pm to midnight featuring scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy for $35 per couple. Start 2013 off with Montgomery Bell’s tranquil New Year’s Day Brunch overlooking Acorn Lake from 10:00am to 2:00pm on January 1st. Prices are $12.50 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Please contact Montgomery Bell State Park for reservations or for additional information at 800.250.8613.

West Tennessee

Paris Landing State Park

Ring in the New Year at Paris Landing State Park with a New Year’s Eve 2013 Celebration! Spend December 31st enjoying the beauty of Paris Landing State Park and as the sun sets, tour the festive light displays sponsored by groups in the local community. Later that evening, guests can put on their dancing shoes and groove to the Syndicate of Soul band.  Event tickets are $25.00 per person or $200.00 a table, with proceeds benefiting the Friends of Paris Landing. Tickets can be purchased at the downtown and Lake-area branches of the Foundation Bank, Fish Tale Lodge and the Paris Winery.

To make the evening even more special, take advantage of Paris Landing’s New Year’s Eve Dinner and Room Package. The $129.00 package includes one double-occupancy inn room for two, two New Year’s Eve dinner buffets and two New Year’s Day breakfast buffets.

The New Year’s Eve dinner buffet will be served December 31st from 4:30pm to 8:30pm and will include chef-carved beef brisket, sliced stuffed pork loin, fried shrimp, Southern-fried catfish, assorted vegetables, salads and desserts. The New Year’s Day breakfast buffet on January 1st will be from 8:00am to 3:00pm. Both buffets are open to the public.

For the dinner buffet, the price is $15.95 per person plus drink and tax; for the breakfast buffet, the price is $7.95 per person plus drink and tax. Tickets for the New Year’s Eve dance can also be purchased separately. Please contact 800.250.8614 or 731.642.4311 for reservations or additional information.

Click here to read more from Clarksville Online. [AP-Clarksville Online]

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