Tag Archives: outdoors

Survival Guide: Camping in Bad Weather

Camping in perfect conditions is one of the most serene and peaceful outdoor activities. There’s nothing better than sitting around an open fire with close friends, swapping stories and gossip, drinking beer, all while taking in a clear starry sky as a creek softly babbles in the distance.

Unfortunately, though, camping is hardly ever so idyllic. The car won’t start or opossums make it into the food or, even worse, the weather turns. Though many campers come prepared for all different types of bizarre situations, dealing with bad weather is tricky and can make for some incredibly frustrating moments. Thankfully, there are ways to prepare for these dreary circumstances that can make them not only bearable, but memorable, and fun!

First, make sure to constantly monitor your surroundings. Is there a sudden stillness in the trees? Have the birds stopped singing? Are there dark clouds gathering in the corner of the sky? By detecting bad weather early, you can start to make preparations: collecting and wrapping wood in waterproof bags, hanging tarps above the campsite, or simply leaving before the storm hits (sometimes, you just need to pack up and head to a hotel). Don’t assume the storm will pass—be proactive and adjust your campsite accordingly. It may be annoying to make these adjustments if it turns out to be a false alarm, but being dry and prepared is always better than being soaking wet and surprised.

In general, there are a few items that you should always keep in your pack in case of bad weather. Newspaper, aside from providing some leisurely entertainment, can be used to start a fire in lieu of wet wood. And plastic bags can be used to hold electronics, food, or anything else you might want to save from getting wet.

As far as clothing’s concerned, you’ll want to make sure to bring along some light rain gear, which can be as simple as a sturdy poncho or as extreme as a full rain suit. For tops, opt for a wicking material, such as lightweight nylon in the summer and polypropylene in the winter. Avoid cotton when you can because, though cotton t-shirts are certainly comfortable, they don’t hold up to extreme weather well at all.

And, perhaps most importantly, remember that bad weather is often not the thing that ruins a camping trip, it’s the bad attitudes and grumpiness that come along with the change in weather. So pack some things to keep up morale in the face of a storm: waterproof cards, a harmonica, a collection of ghost stories. If you approach a storm with creativity and humor, even the most droll weather can become fodder for a great experience.

HipHunt: The Berkshires

When hot, crowded, dirty, stressful day-to-day life in New York or Boston has caused city-dwellers’ eyes to glaze over, a weekend in the Berkshire Mountains may be necessary to rejuvenate and put things in perspective. The landscapes that inspired Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edith Wharton are sure to have a positive effect on even the most cynical traveler, and there are plenty of man-made musical, culinary, theatrical, and visual creations to further nourish depleted, overworked souls. To get the most out of a full day in the Berkshires, take the following winding path around south county (easiest with a rental car).

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Wake up in the historic Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. This two-century-old New England gem predates the Revolutionary War, and its crest—the red lion—indicated loyalty to the British Crown. However, the lion once had a green tail, subtly indicating sympathy with the cause of Independence. The Inn’s past is connected to Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys, as well as Shay’s Rebellion. After lounging a bit in your individually decorated guestroom, go downstairs to enjoy a lavish breakfast of seasonal berries, Old Chatham Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, house smoked bacon, and Berkshire Apple Pancakes with Ioka Maple Syrup. In the mood for eggs? Then go for the Bulich Farm Shiitake Mushroom Hash & Poached Eggs or the “Lion’s” Frittata with diced prime rib. When the morning’s feast is placed on the table, be sure to break out the phone to capture yourself eating like a king on antique china. Tag #hipmunk or tweet @thehipmunk to make us jealous.

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Arrive at the Norman Rockwell Museum as it opens at 10am to see some of this artist’s well-known portrayals of American life in the 20th century. Try to spot his illustrations of the “Four Freedoms” mentioned in FDR’s address to Congress in 1943. For bonus points, stage a living recreation of one of Norman Rockwell’s paintings of smalltown America, using downtown Stockbridge as your backdrop. Show us your best attempt by tagging #hipmunk.

Head one town over to drink a cup of house-roasted coffee in an old train station depot in West Stockbridge. If you find this coffee-lovers’ secret clubhouse, prove it by showing us a cup of the roast of your choice. (Make sure to tweet us which one you picked!) When the buzz has set in, cross the bridge over Shaker Dam and browse through photographs from around the world (many of which were featured in issues of National Geographic) at the John Stanmeyer Gallery.

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Drive up to Lenox for the rest of the day. After grabbing a pear croque monsieur or arugula and farro salad at Haven, venture out on foot to explore shops in the quaint historic downtown. See if you can find School House Hill, where Edith Wharton’s character Ethan Frome had his dangerous sledding adventure. Be more careful than Ethan, but get a picture of yourself in sledding position on the hill, and post it on Instagram.

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Buy tickets ahead for an evening concert at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The best place to enjoy the music is out on the expansive lawn, so take the rest of the afternoon to procure picnic dinner supplies from Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. With a basket full of good bread, some hummus, dried sausage, cheeses, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, the concert is sure to be a success.

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On your drive back to the center of town, be sure to stop off at Chocolate Springs for a sweet interlude. This unique sanctuary (especially on a hot day, when the air conditioning feels heavenly) has a Japanese ambiance, and a variety of handmade bonbons made on the premises. Each one is an edible work of art. Get a ceramic Japanese plate with a few chocolates from the case, such as the gold-dusted “Celebration” bonbon with dark chocolate champagne ganache, the “creme brulee” bonbon striped with white chocolate, the green tea bonbon imprinted with an image of a bonsai, or the erotically shaped “Venus” bonbon with milk chocolate rum ganache. Instagram a pic of your favorite bonbon and, you know, feel free to send us a box!

After this pick-me-up, take your picnic basket, a blanket, and a bottle of wine from Nejaime’s Wine Cellar to Tanglewood. Arrive a few hours early to get the best real estate for both your car and your blanket. Navigate the parking and follow the crowds through one of the gates to find the perfect patch of grass on the lawn, then settle in. Play frisbee or cards, enjoy the wine and food, and relax into the knowledge there is nowhere else you need to be. Before the music starts, make friends with some of your neighbors for the evening. Get a picture sharing a toast with your new pals.  Then lie on your back and appreciate the live soundtrack for sunset, twilight, and slowly wheeling constellations.

The 4 Best National Parks for Glamping

Sweeping majesty, untouched wilderness, astounding isolation: phrases like these don’t do justice to the amazing variety of U.S. National Parks. And there’s plenty more to do at these destinations than getting away from it all. So we highlighted four fantastic parks that are beautiful year-round, offer plenty of activities beyond “hiking until sore,” and don’t require a plane ride from the nearest major city. One visit to these natural treasures is all a city slicker needs to become a glamping convert.

  1. Yosemite National Park, CA 

This legendary park is home to deservedly famous valleys, 1,500-year-old sequoia trees, and the highest waterfall in the North American continent, Yosemite Falls. There are guided hikes, bird-watching tours, and even photography workshops for those newer to exploring National Parks. The nearest cities are San Francisco and Sacramento, but and if you don’t have wheels, Yosemite is easily reachable by train, and the park’s free shuttle system makes it easy to get around the South Rim.

  1. Olympic National Park, WA 

Coming in at nearly one million acres, the beauty of Olympic National Park is that it contains three distinct ecosystems: subalpine forest and its wildflower meadows, lush temperate forest, and stunning beaches. Almost all of it is untouched by man; in fact, the park is so pristine it’s considered a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. There are plenty of ranger-led programs and events for park first timers, and it’s reachable from nearby Seattle.

  1. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Five million people visit this park each year, and it’s easy to see why. Almost any vantage point offers an astonishing view of the Grand Canyon, which plunges through layer after layer of kaleidoscopic rock, exposing nearly two billion years of prehistory. Reachable from Phoenix, Flagstaff, or even Las Vegas, the park has plenty of accommodation options, and activities range from guided hikes and mule rides to white water rafting. Believe the hype.

  1. Channel Islands National Park, CA 

This isn’t your typical national park. Less than a two-hour boat ride from Los Angeles, the Channel Islands lie just 11 miles off the southern California coast, where five beautifully preserved islands await. Bird watching, whale watching, fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling comprise just a small slice of the all-terrain activities available. Can’t bear to leave after just one day? There are plenty of great hotels in nearby Ventura. Why not stay awhile?

4 Reasons You Need to Explore Park City’s Backyard

Although the Uinta Mountains may not be a household name outside of Utah, with their vast beauty, they really should be. With their proximity to one of the nation’s best mountain towns, an abundance of stunning lakes, and endless trails, the Uintas can’t be beat. Take all the beauty of the Uintas plus the fact that you can potentially have the trails limited to you and maybe a handful of people, and you’ve got yourself a serious hidden gem. Enjoy the amenities of Park City, then head to the Uintas to explore their natural splendor.

1. Cataract Gorge

Like waterfalls? This hike and scramble leads you along the river and down into Cataract Gorge where you’ll pass by dozens of waterfalls, very few people, and catch amazing views along the way. Learn more.

2. Island Lake

You can turn this day hike into an overnighter if you bring your pack and your camping supplies. Either way you choose, be sure to enjoy your surroundings and have a little fun cliff jumping and swimming in this pristine lake. Learn more.

3. Grandaddy Basin

Hike up to Grandaddy Lake and if you’re looking for a slice of paradise to yourself, don’t stop there. Keep trekking a little further to one of the twenty lakes in the surrounding 2 mile radius. Learn more.

4. Amethyst Lake

This challenging hike is for the more adventurous traveler. Hit the the trail on this 13 mile roundtripper and if you time it right, be sure to snap your sunset picture of the peak reflecting off the lake.  Learn more.