The day after the final clash at Gettysburg, Pa., on July 4th, 1863, far away and down the snaky Mississippi River in Vicksburg, Miss., an army of the Confederate States of America made a signal surrender to Ulysses S. Grant after a long siege. It was one of the final big blows to the Confederacy and opened the southern part of the Confederacy to Union depredation—the first step in William Tecumseh Sherman’s fiery march to the sea. Today, Vicksburg is a beautiful but somber National Civil War Battlefield park, with lovely hills and high bluffs, stunning views of the river and hundreds of stone monuments to the lives lost and the history made. It’s also a very good place to take a hike.
If you’ve signed up to run a marathon this fall, then you’re probably deep into the training program that will hopefully carry you to your 26.2-mile goal. At this point, you wouldn’t want to make any major changes to your diet or workout schedule, and you certainly wouldn’t want to try anything different on the day of the race, be it new shoes, shorts, or drinks.
Still, you’ve got time to test a few products that could enhance your training, or that you may even want to include on your next Big Run, whether it’s a half-marathon, a triathalon, or even a Thanksgiving Day turkey trot. Here are a couple worth considering:
Ah, the cactus—one of the most interesting and beautiful plants in the desert. Don’t be fooled though, cacti are found in many places other than the Southwest. There are numerous species of cactus spread throughout the United States. We have encountered them on hikes in Missouri, Illinois, and North Dakota, to name a few places. None of the cacti we have encountered though are nearly as cuddly, cute, and dangerous as the semi-aptly named Teddy Bear Cactus.
Is it just me, or does it seem like memberships at gyms have quadrupled since, well, just last fall? Chock it up to sneaking in a few too many chocolate bars for Valentine’s Day or hibernating during this winter, but it seems like everyone’s trying to work it all off double time at the gym before bathing suit season gets here. Whatever the case, it sure makes it hard to find a treadmill easily. (Surely I can’t be the only one frustrated with fighting the crowds at the gyms now, can I?)
Although there are many factors to consider when choosing a backpack—durability, weight, proportion to body size, trip length, etc.—the key is the same with a pack as it is with boots—it’s all about the proper fit. Which is one reason Osprey packs are a perennial favorite. Osprey dealers offer expert fit assistance, and they can heat-mold your hipbelt into the form-fitting shape that’s just right for you.
I would guess that many of us are familiar with the Devil’s Tower National Monument, one of the filming locations for 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in northeast Wyoming? The volcanic neck tops out at 5,112 feet above sea level and juts up 865 feet from the ground with nothing but grasslands and pine forests surrounding it. Such an odd formation to be in this location that it is known as a sacred site to the Lakota and over twenty other tribes in the area. The tower is a popular destination for rock climbers and park tourists alike.
Our national parks are full of wonderful hiking opportunities. The Adventures with the Parkers series, which features a fictitious family of four—a mom and dad and their two children, twins Morgan and James who are going into 5th grade—follows this family as it spends a week or so in a famous national park and has adventures derived from trails, campgrounds, tours, or other experiences our best national parks have to offer.
Featured here is one of the hikes from “Harrowing Ascent of Half Dome,” which takes place in Yosemite National Park.