Category: Adventure

Asheville Waterfall Tours: Get your adventure on!

Are you going to be in the Asheville area? If so, this is something you will definitely want to add to your “to do” list!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for an outdoor adventure

Yesterday, I went on an amazing tour of some of the less well-known waterfalls in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina. The tour was led by Carolyn Wilde, owner of Asheville Waterfall Tours.

This was not your average tour. Carolyn provides more of an adventure, leading us off the beaten path and away from the tourists. We were able to get up close & personal with some pretty amazing waterfalls! Carolyn has the ability to customize your personal tour (from 1 to 14 people) based on your level of skill, hiking preferences, and tolerance for adventure.

She will also push your limits just a bit. On the tour yesterday, a couple was not so sure about climbing up or down to some of the vantage points she wanted to take us to. However, Carolyn was very competent and guided them along with safety first in mind; even offering a helping hand at a few of the rougher spots. But each time, once you reached the location, the reaction was, “Oh my God, that was so worth it!”

Our fantastic guide!

asheville waterfall tours
Yours truly posing with our guide, Carolyn.

Carolyn provided water and snacks, along with some great stores about local history (I loved the story of the white squirrel), culture, and pointed out waterfalls and other sites for future visits to the area (there is simply way to much to see in a single day), as well as advice for local “after tour” activities in downtown Asheville.

asheville waterfall tours

Interesting side note …

As we hiked along surrounded by beautiful forests, babbling streams, and the region’s assorted outcroppings of rock, I discovered this huge chunk of what looks like milky quartz or feldspar surrounded by what looks like granite to me. While I am not a “mineral” expert by any means, I did find the contrast fascinating.

asheville waterfall tours

Wild life viewing is included …

We even encountered some of the local wildlife along the trail. Not wanting to intrude, we were very careful to keep our distance … especially from these guys!

asheville waterfall tours

I will be a repeat customer!

Again, this was a truly fantastic day! I cannot stress enough how good Carolyn is at what she does. There are simply so many hidden waterfalls in the region … that are not shown on tourist maps or marked by signage, and that you will not find without a knowledgeable local guide.

I did manage to choose a time when the Asheville area is experiencing a minor drought, so the water flow was a bit less than it might have normally been. I absolutely want to come back and see these falls in all their glory … maybe right after a real rainy season!

You can see images of many of these falls on Carolyn’s website at AshevilleWaterfallTours.com. You can check out her reviews on Trip Adviser here, but you will want to go to her website to book a tour. It helps Carolyn keep the costs down.

asheville waterfall tours

I highly recommend Carolyn Wilde and her Asheville Waterfall Tours to anyone who enjoys nature, hiking, and waterfalls but always wished they could see just a bit more than the typical drive-by tourist attractions.

Definitely a Five Star Saturday afternoon!

For some adventure of a different sort, check out my books, Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales. Both available on Amazon.com! And for more great posts and reviews. click right here!

Hiking in Bear Country: Rotating Barrel Reduces Recoil

A good friend of mine recently went hiking in Colorado bear country. Hiking in regions inhabited by bears that can be aggressive in nature comes with risks. These more aggressive bears include Brown, Kodiak and Grizzly bears. It therefore pays to take precautions. Bear repellent sprays can certainly help. Many hikers also carry “bear pistols” designed to stop an attacking bear if needed. David’s painstaking research led him to write this article on firearms with a rotating barrel. I am sharing the article below with his permission. If you are planning on hiking in certain regions of the United States including Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming, you might find this interesting.

Loaded for Bear

rotating barrel

I have repeatedly noticed that my Grand Power 10mm auto loader has a surprisingly mild recoil.  This was true even with the high performance Underwood 140 Grain Xtreme Penetrator bear loads I shoot. These rounds have a muzzle velocity if 1500 fps and generate 700 ft lbs of muzzle energy. The Grand Power 10mm has a rotating barrel design which supposedly contributes to the reduced felt recoil. 

A Rotating Barrel?

The rotating barrel is not the reason I bought the gun. I bought it for the 10mm caliber, the 14 round capacity, double/single action trigger, and its safety features.  Also, its low weight of 27 oz. I discovered its felt  recoil is noticeably milder than my .357s (which only have 565 ft lbs energy). It was also much less than my heavier 44 mags, even when I load the 44 mag with 700-800 fl lb rounds.

So, I started reading more about the rotating barrel and turns out it absolutely reduces felt “kick.” The twisting of the bbl helps dissipate some of the would-be rearwards kick out to the sides, so you don’t feel it kick back into your hand back as much as with conventional “drop barrel” designs  such as Glock, Springfield, and most other current semi-autos. 

And, I’ve learned about some other advantages the rotating barrel has. It allows a lower bore (less muzzle flip), quicker re-acquisition of target for subsequent shots (due to lower recoil), and less flinch tendency (as compared to my 44 mag).

And, another big advantage I didn’t realize when I first bought the gun. The rotating barrel allows the barrel to have a “fully supported chamber.”  “Fully supported” means that the rear section of the cartridge has barrel all the way around it. The round is supported very close to the back rim. According to my research, this makes it be able to handle higher pressures more safely. This is important to me because I shoot the “over powered” Underwood ammo mentioned above.

rotating barrel

Bear Rounds

I’ve read a lot of gun enthusiasts blogs about “fully supported chambers.”  Most frequent shooter handgun folks agree that fully supported is better. Many shooters use the Underwood ammo, even in guns that might be of lower quality. I’ve only heard of one “mishap” with it. I’ve personally shot over 300 rounds of the Underwood 140 Grain Xtreme Penetrator thru my Grand Power with no issues.

Underwood’s website says, “Our 10mm loads are within pressure boundaries for SAAMI specs.”  You can read about this yourself to decide whether you are comfortable shooting upper-end power ammo in your particular gun.

So, if a rotating barrel makes a 10mm recoil as light as a 9mm, it should make a 9mm recoil as light as a 38 wadcutter … and so on I would think. If you search “does a rotating barrel reduce recoil”  an interesting bunch of articles pop up for further reading.

I’ve been thinking that the rotating barrel design might increase in popularity if more people experience the lower recoil. Unless, of course, there’s some downside that I haven’t discovered yet. A little more reading and I discovered that the Beretta PX4 Storm and maybe some other Beretta designs are also use a rotating barrel design. And now, even Glock is experimenting with a rotating barrel.    

David Smith
Tennessee

How to Survive a Forest Fire While Hiking

Saw this great post on surviving a forest fire by The Wandering Itinerant. If you spend time hiking in the woods, especially during dry summer seasons, this might be a really good post to take a look at!

via How to Survive a Forest Fire While Hiking

survive

Read other great posts and book reviews here!

How to Survive a Black Bear Attack!

What do you do when you encounter a black bear in the wild?

black bear

First, it is important to know your bears! Black Bears are different from Grizzly Bears, which are different from Kodiak Bears, which are different from Polar Bears. These differences are more than color and size. Different bears have different mannerisms and habits.

In this post we will focus on the black bear, which is the most common bear in North America.

Meet the Black Bear 

Color: Black bears can be found in a variety of colors ranging from black to light brown, or even blond.

Body Shape: Bears all have a similar build. They do vary a great deal in size, and black bears don’t have the large shoulder hump that grizzly bears have.

Weight: Black bears are smaller than grizzly bears. Though they can occasionally get bigger, the average male black bear can weigh between 200 and 300 pounds, with females typically being somewhat smaller.

Claws: Yes! They certainly have claws and, while not as large as those of the grizzly bear or polar bear, you still don’t want them swiping at you with them.

Location: Black bears are the most commonly found bear in North America. They range thought all the provinces of Canada and 41 of the 50 American states. Black bears are very common in the Adirondack Park.

How to Survive a Black Bear attack!

American black bears are know to occasionally attack humans. But given the choice, they would rather flee than fight. They’re smaller, faster and better climbers than grizzlies. 

1. Be bear aware!

This means leaving your damn earbuds in the car! Traipsing through the woods with Welcome to the Jungle blasting your eardrums is not a great idea, especially in bear country. Bears are quiet, and almost impossible to hear coming as it is. Stay tuned to the environment, not your music. Carry bear spray in areas where black bears are active. Keep food and trash packed away. And make some noise while walking through the woods. It is not a good idea to surprise a mother bear with her cubs.

Carry a good bear repellent spray!

Bear Spray can certainly help, but it’s not as critical as with grizzlies. Black bears are less aggressive and will move off if they hear you coming. However, a mother bear will still protect her cubs if she thinks they are threatened. This is deeply ingrained in her, because male bear will often kill cubs. Try to spray when the bear is within 40 to 50 feet of you, creating a barrier of bear spray between you and the approaching bear.

Stand your ground!

Since black bears are less aggressive than grizzlies, you should try to present yourself as something large and loud and something to be feared; they’ll usually leave you alone. Shout, wave your arms, and create a big commotion. Do anything you can to make yourself look bigger. Most importantly, just like with grizzlies, never run from a black bear. First, they can outrun you. Second, they often will charge in an attempt to bluff, and the best strategy is to stand your ground with your bear spray ready to fire if the bear gets too close.

Keep your feet on the ground!

Never, ever climb a tree to escape a black bear. They’re really excellent climbers, and they tend to chase anything they think is running away.  There’s a good chance the bear will simply trap you in the tree, and could even climb up after you.

Do NOT play dead with a black bear!

This has been known to work with grizzlies which are true predators, and unless starving, will only eat what they actually kill. Black bears, on the other hand, are scavengers. If you play dead and they are hungry, they may decide to eat you. 

Fight back!

Unless you’re physically not able to, it’s far better to defend yourself against a black bear than to simply fall down on the ground and play dead (See previous section). If you end up in “close quarter combat” with the bear, use any available object as a weapon to defend yourself. If nothing is handy, punch or kick at the bear’s nose, eyes, and ears. Attack the sensitive areas that are more likely to get an immediate reaction. Do whatever is needed to scare it away. Work to create distance between you and the bear, but do not run away. The bear will simply chase you. You have to make the bear decide to run away.

New Release

I am soon releasing a a collection of short stores called Adirondack Bear Tales on Kindle and in paperback. The book is based on my series of blog post on Adirondack Bear Tales. You can read one of these posts here. I hope you will check my new book out when it becomes available.

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