Jun 05 2015

Road Work Ahead at TN Outside

Remember the Information Superhighway? Well, TN Outside has never been more than a byway on that great thoroughfare. But even byways need regular maintenance, and as work crews attend to long-deferred chores, signs like the one in the photo below are popping up all over northern North America.

TN Outside is no exception. For the next few months, we’ll be trimming our overgrown verges, regrading our base course, and laying a new reading surface. We’ll also be surveying rights of way for a couple of new routes. This will keep us pretty busy — too busy to maintain our regular schedule of articles. So don’t look for much that’s new until later in the year. We’ll keep posting links to current Paddling.net columns on Thursdays, however, and most of what’s now on the site will remain, though it will likely end up in a different place.

The bottom line? If you’re looking for something you saw here in the past, and you can’t find it, just let us know. We’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. And in the meantime, check “below the fold” for any breaking news.

Work Ahead


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Jul 30 2015

Going to Ground: In Search of the Ideal Groundsheet

Going to Ground

I’ve rolled out my sleeping bag in some pretty unlikely places: scree slopes, abandoned graveyards, the platforms of deserted railway stations, fetid tussocks next to sewerage outflow pipes, in ankle‑deep mud on riverbanks, on the floor of a (supposedly) haunted house… And often there was nothing under my bag but earth or splintered wood. But my days of roughing it are, I hope, behind me. I certainly don’t need to prove anything to myself anymore, and I’ve learned that, far from detracting from my enjoyment when I’m in the backcountry, a modicum of comfort enhances it. Which is why I always tuck a groundsheet under my tent or sleeping bag now. You could say I’ve come to the conclusion that groundsheets are fundamental… Read more…

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Jul 23 2015

Hot Dogs Revisited: Will a New Top Dog Emerge?

Wild Dogs

The hot dog is to summer holidays in the States as haggis is to Burns nicht in Scotland, a necessary accompaniment, without which the feast wouldn’t be complete. Of course, neither hot dogs nor haggis would be suitable everyday fare — “skinking ware” is probably what most doctors would advise their patients to eat these days — but both hearty treats can be consumed in moderation without qualm, at least by omnivorous paddlers. After all, holidays are times when moderate excesses are allowed, aren’t they?

And it was in keeping with this spirit of permissive moderation that, earlier in the year, I matched one brand of vegetarian hot dogs, Lightlife Tofu Pups, against a proven champion, Nathan’s Famous All‑Beef Skinless Franks, a contest whose outcome I subsequently reported in these very pages. Sad to say, though, the contender didn’t do very well against the champ. Which is why I invited my readers to let me know of other likely pretenders, with an eye to staging a second bout as soon as a suitable fight card could be assembled. In the meantime, I planned to continue my own program of talent‑spotting, surveying HyperMart shelves whenever the opportunity came my way.

Yet I’d barely begun scanning the aisles before readers came through with a number of good leads, and this column contains a sample of their letters on the subject. Some of the contenders they’ve singled out are vegetarian. Some are not. All sound promising. Let’s begin with kosher hot dogs… Read more…

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Jul 16 2015

Advice for Wet‑Weather Campers

Lowering Cloud

When the court jester Feste reels off his famous ditty at the end of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, he might well be describing the recent weather in my corner of Canoe Country, for the rain indeed raineth every day. It’s a dispiriting state of affairs for any “sunshine paddler,” though there is an economic upside. The nearly constant drizzle has done much to boost the sales of hot coffee in the convenience stores that have replaced old‑fashioned ser‑sta‑gros as the social hubs of many rural hamlets.

And before you ask, I’ve enjoyed no immunity from the general deluge. On a recent three‑day trip along an Adirondack river, rain fell every day. But I was prepared, and in truth I rather enjoyed the experience. I find the drumming of rain on my tent fly to be wonderfully soporific. Many of my younger acquaintances, nurtured on a steady diet of medicinal coping aids since childhood, find sleep elusive without their favorite sedative. I, on the other hand, need only a summer shower to send me off to dreamland.

Let’s turn back now to the important matter of being prepared. Be prepared… It’s a common adjuration, bearing an impeccable provenance — Baden–Powell’s Scouting for Boys. (Chill out, Sister Greer. The Girl Guides also took it for their own.) And it’s good advice. But what’s easily said isn’t always easily done. Canoe Country weather is notoriously fickle. Persistent drizzle, thunderstorms, and line squalls are business as usual in the backcountry, and even tornados aren’t unknown. Being prepared for all of these is a pretty big ask, of course, and in the case of tornados, a Saint Christopher’s medal may be as good as anything, no matter which faith you profess.

Rain, however — even prolonged, driving rain or swirling drizzle — is easier to cope with. And to that end, I offer up these several hints on pitching a dry camp in the wet… Read more…

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