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Skill Set

An overhand knot. Photos by Mary Reed.

Tie the Knot(s)

By Mary Reed

Tying your shoes will get you out the door, but once you’re in the great outdoors, it’s best to have a handful of knots in your repertoire for both safety and practicality.

On this USGS topo, north is (as always) at the top, blue represents water, green forest, and the close brown contour lines indicate a steep slope. The index contours indicate elevation (1200, 1400, 1600).

How to Read a Topo Map

By Mary Reed

The more comfortable you become with reading a topographic map, the less likely you are to get lost in the woods. Here’s a primer:

Burn, baby, burn. Photos by Attila Horvath.

Build a Campfire

By Attila Horvath

Making a good campfire is more than throwing a match at a pile of sticks. Here’s insight on the art of safe and ecological fire building.

That's a tufted titmouse, right? Note the tuft. They like to hang out at feeders. Photo by Mary Reed.

Bird Watching 101

By Michelle Anderson

Beginning bird watching is just like learning all of the other outdoor activities you do: There’s an initial investment in gear — a decent pair of binoculars and a few field guides — and there a

Even cute kids can geocache. Photo by Mary Reed.

DIY Geocaching

"Cache" the Fun with This Outdoor Treasure Hunt

By Kathleen Ganster

One of the fastest growing adventures around, geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) combines technology – utilizing global positioning system (GPS) units – with hiking to find caches.

The debris hut. Photos by Mary Reed.

Build an Outdoor Survival Shelter

By Mary Reed

There’s one housing segment the mortgage crisis hasn’t affected: the outdoor survival shelter.

A pop can stove in use. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Make a Pop Can Stove

By Steven Zeisler

Whether you’re into shaving gear weight, you’re a cheapskate or you just want to hone your MacGyver skills, there is an alternative for a portable gas stove – one that can be made with household

Seneca Rocks, WV is in the Monongahela National Forest (the Mon). Photo by Steve Welty.

Know Your Public Lands

By Mary Reed

There was that time my friend and I brought her dog to a state nature preserve only to leave it tied to a tree in the parking lot – didn’t know dogs weren’t allowed (oops).

Are those waders and a fly rod? Why is this guy smiling? Photo by Mary Reed.

The Ideal Backpack Weight

By Jeff Alt

“The lighter the pack, the more enjoyable the journey” is the mantra of many seasoned hikers.

Ramps (spring). Also called wild leeks, a choice edible.

Wild Feast

By Jennifer Oladipo

Although it’s my first hike of the spring, I’m moving slower than a snail along the trails, toting a small library of books. This hike is about more than working out and enjoying nature.

Photo by Mary Reed

Child's Play

Staying Active Outdoors with Kids

By Randy Edwards

It wasn’t exactly wilderness, but it was a long way from the bathroom.

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

Leave No Trace

Because leaving your mark is overrated

By Colleen Kennedy

There I was, walking past small, scattered piles of half-burnt Spam cans and unraveled rope, burned-up matches and half-full water bottles.

Look at that perfectly toasted marshmallow

How to be the Life of the Campfire

By Erik Dahlstrom and Mary Reed

Back in the olden days – you know, before Survivor existed – the masses sat around another flickering light source to find entertainment: caveman TV, a.k.a. the campfire.


The Ditty Bag: Not Just for Sailors Anymore

By Mary Reed

A backpacker’s skill is not judged by what they know to pack; rather, it’s what they know to not pack that sets them apart.