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June 28, 2018 - Get Outside

" There's a song for you if you listen,       In the river, on the mountain, or the plain,  It's a song for the heart and its there right from the start,  Singin' through the sunshine and the rain." - Walkin' Jim Stoltz

1. Walkin' Jim Stoltz

If you were to walk the full circumference of Earth your distance would be approximately 24,901 miles. At four miles an hour, eight hours a day, logistics aside, it would take more than two years of constant walking. Walkin' Jim Stoltz did just that and more right here within North America throughout his lifetime.

Jim realized early on the great outdoors was where he wanted to be. A poet, lyricist and musician, he drew his inspiration from the natural world. Throughout thousands of miles of hiking, he literally wandered the globe spreading an important environmental conservation message and singing his songs. During his lifetime, Jim completed several extreme, long distance hikes, including the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and an ocean-to-ocean hike across the continent. A published author, Jim wrote poetry as well as a book recounting his adventures. Jim's most important emphasis was of environmental awareness. In a personal messages prior to his death, Jim wrote, "We are starting to see a rising awareness of environmental problems. With the effects of global climate change slapping us in the face…it is about time!  Please take a few minutes and contact your leaders.  You can make a difference.  And you’ll feel better for it, too."

This image was photographed by Alan Jones who writes, " Walkin’ Jim Stoltz traveled the country giving concerts with an environmental theme. He visited our area twice, the last time in 2008. Unfortunately, he died in 2010. You can read his obituary here. While here we took him to the IBM Glen so we could get some photos of him in a natural setting."

Walkin' Jim Stoltz visits IBM Glen, photograph by Alan Jones

Rest in peace Walkin' Jim. You may no longer be with us but your legacy is timeless.

2. Geo-Caching

Did you know that there are treasures hidden in the woods all around us just awaiting our discovery? That's right, and with Geo-caching, you can join the search. If you sign up for the free cell phone app you can learn about locations in your area. Follow the map and discover a box filled with unique items. Write your name in the log, replace an item from the contents within with something of your own and return the box to where you found it.

When joining the search it is critically important to ensure that proper ethics are followed. Never place perishable items in the box. Food items would be detected by wildlife and that discovery could harm either the animal or the box. Leave no trace, that is do not leave anything outside the box. Littering is harmful to the environment as well as illegal in many places. And remember that people of all ages will join in the fun, so please ensure content items are G rated.

Geo-caching can be a fun way to experience new adventures. The treasures you will find exploring our forests and natural areas will far exceed the contents of a single box.

Kelly Frederick Sweet photographed this image of her husband. Kelly writes, "We enjoy hiking new places as we search for Geocaches! Geocaches are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have some fun!"

3. Niagra Falls

Each year millions of tourists visit Niagra Falls to experience the three waterfalls that straddle the American and Canadian border. Visitors gape in awe as they watch millions of cubic feet of water pouring over the cliffs at Horshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Falls.

There are multiple opportunities to experience these falls from below, including the classic boat tour, "Maid of the Mist" or a cave which allows you to witness the full force of hurricane winds. Diana Meyn photographed the following two images during a recent trip with her husband and grandson.

For this first image, Diana writes, "The Cave of the Winds Tour in Niagara Falls, New York, is the closest one can get to the famous water falls crashing over the gorge walls. The force of the falling water at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls causes hurricane-like conditions as it falls 181 feet leaving everyone drenched. Due to the amount of ice that flows over the falls each winter, the Cave of the Winds decking is removed every fall and reinstalled each spring. In this photo, tourists climb the redwood walkways that cling to the base of the Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls. To the left is the American Falls."

Tourists aren't all that flock to the magnificent Niagra Falls. According to Diana Meyn, "the rocks along the gorge wall of Goat Island (which separates the American Falls from the Bridal Veil Falls) harbor one of the largest ring-billed gull breeding colonies in the region. When one walks onto the boardwalk of the Cave of the Winds in June, there are countless gull fledglings everywhere huddled close to their parents and totally oblivious to the thousands of tourists that walk by them every day! The reason for this colony? The amount of fish that go over the falls each day supply a banquet of delights for birds of all kinds in Niagara Falls. As fish hit the rocks below the American Falls, they are stunned and quickly swallowed by fishing gulls."

Diana's Grandson Lukas admiring a pair of young Ring-billed gull chicks near the gorge wall.

4. Mount Monadnock

This unique image was photographed by John Connors during a family hike up Mount Monadnock. John writes, "Rather than taking the traditional route up the east side of Mount Monadnock, with guidance from a veteran hiker and climber, we took a western approach to the summit which is much less travel and more enjoyable. The trail up the West side was in solitude and the summit was a festive atmosphere of 50 people from the eastern approach. At the top, we enjoyed the crystal clear view on Boston on the distant horizon at 65 miles and taking a variety of unique photos, including this one of my daughter Heather doing her gymnastics move with a reflection 'pond' in the foreground and the northern vista in the background." According to John, with so many visitors at the summit, the atmosphere wasn't exactly peaceful. But as always, hikers experience a camaraderie at the top having individually trekked through miles of woods to reach the summit.

5. A Healing Hike

Hikes in nature, with a group or alone, are an experience that is unique to each individual. We often find ourselves absorbed in retrospect as the natural world surrounds and envelops us. This is illustrated by Gina Vaughan's image below and her story behind the shot. Gina writes, "This was from a hike with a friend of mine.  We were walking the creek as he called it...looking for treasures.  Mine were in the photographs I took that day.  He was caring for his parents who would soon pass away.  So these photos were sort of bittersweet for both of us. Enjoying nature encompasses so very can be can be can be can be a goodbye...or joyous 'hello I am back'."

6. Resource Links

a. Walkin' Jim Stoltz

b. Niagra Falls

c. Geo-Caching


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