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How to find the North Star

I think people often mistake Sirius (the brightest star in our galaxy) for the North Star (Polaris) because they assume the North Star is bright. I mean, explorers used it to find direction; it should be bright, right? It isn’t. Here’s some quick rules that can help you locate this very important star.1. First, locate the Big Dipper. 2. Then, site a line over to the tip of the bowl of the Big Dipper’s dipper until...
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Your signs of the season

  Other than changing leaf color, what signs of the changing seasons are you noticing just now?
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No longer necessary to have both the carabiner and the mug

They're tough. They stand up to eight ounces hotest and coldest beverages. They're double-walled stainless steel to hold in all that hot and cold. And, best of all, they clip onto the outside loops of your pack with those carabiner handles.They're the carabiner camp mugs from Sahalie,Check them out at http://www.sahalie.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&itemID=10757.
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How to estimate wind speed

  Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort in 1805 developed a tool for sailors in the British Royal Navy to use in estimating wind speed. Today it’s known as the Beaufort Scale, and it still works.  Observation                                         Approximate wind speed (in miles per hour)Smoke rises straight up                         less than 1Smoke drifts                                        1-3Leaves rustle and is felt on face            4-7Leaves and twigs rustle constantly;small flags extended                             8-12Small branches sway; dust raised         13-18Small trees sway                                  19-24Large branches sway                            25-31Large trees...
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Was that an elk?

 Several federal and state agencies, and a couple private concerns, make live webcams available for watching for elk. The anticipation of possibly spotting one on each new visit is nearly as good as being out there on the ground to stalk the big critters.  Among them are the following:  MontanaGlacier National Park, near West Glacier.Elk cam: http://www.nps.gov/glac/photosmultimedia/stmarywebcam.htmTourist information: http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm  MontanaMammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.Elk cam: http://www.nps.gov/archive/yell/tours/livecams/mammoth/mammothcam2.htmTourist information: http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm  OregonDean Creek Elk Viewing Area, near...
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DIY Warm-Weather Sleeping Bag. (Weighs only 289 grams!)

Ke Wu, from Asidesign, sewed a homemade sleeping bag for summer weather that weighs 289 grams, or about .6 lbs.Here's the stats:Fully 3D down room structured,100g 95% white goose down filled,Complete downproof,Breathable,Super water repellent,High density wind-proof,80CM half-long zipper,Temperature range adjustable structure. 
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Hot Jugz--Portable Hot Shower

Hot Jugz, a portable outdoor sport shower, is basically an insulated, 2 gallon lawn sprayer with a shower wand attached. So, is it hi-tech? No, but the name alone could make every straight guy in the world want to buy one. And for all the non-straight guys in the world, this picture just might do the trick. Yeah, baby.
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The Future VW Camper?

My brother John had one of the original VW campers. It was cute as hell but cramped, to say the least. However, I found this video on You Tube of what a future VW camper might offer. Rumor is that it might not be a concept vehicle and just might come out in 2009.
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Survival Tip: Build an Emergency Shelter.

Make a Den in the Woods:  Build a Shelter in 6 Easy Steps: Build a Shelter in Cold Weather Climates (Good technique, but please do not chop down a tree unless it's an absolute emergency.) Barking Mad Survival School.  
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Knot Tying 101

I Will Knot is a cleverly-named website that is devoted to the almighty knot. From stopper knots to hitches, loops and bends, the website offers step by step written and video instructions on how to tie such knots as a half-hitch, a bowline and the very romantic fisherman’s knot. Definitely worth a bookmark. Knots courtesy of Cameron Maddux via flickr.
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Homemade 5th Wheel Camper

Check out this video detailing the process of making a homemade 5th wheel travel trailer. It cost the builders $9,300 and seven months to complete. Simply amazing.
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How to Have Good Sex in the Woods

Do you want to do some nature-lovin'? Here are some pointers that will help you ensure it's a good experience for everyone.If you're in a tent, remember that people can still hear you. And if you have a flashlight, headlamp, or other light source going inside, they can see you too. I would hope you know that a tent is not the place for a candlelit seduction scene. Fire isn't sexy when your tent is the thing in flames....
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Spiders and leeches and ticks, oh my!

When I was a kid, I would run shrieking from the room if I saw an ant. Seriously. I'm not quite that bad anymore, but I still have to stifle the urge to issue little squeaky noises of horror, disgust, and terror when I see a spider indoors. When I'm outdoors, though, they don't bother me at all. What gives?I think it has something to do with place. Spiders and other creepy crawly things, in...
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Campfire Storytelling 101

Telling stories around a campfire, as some sage author whose name I can't remember once pointed out, is perhaps the oldest human art form. When you listen to a skilled storyteller, you find yourself holding your breath at tense moments and tearing up at sad ones.  Here are ten quick tips to help you weave your own powerful tales. These tips are slanted at true stories, because that's what I know - it's part of what I...
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5 rules for your first time ice climbing

Going ice climbing for the first time? Congratulations! You're going to have a blast. Unless you don't dress properly and go with people who doesn't really know what they're doing, in which case you could end up frostbitten or dead. I know I'm being a little melodramatic, but when you get right down to it, it's true. Here are five rules to ensure that you have a safe and super sweet experience.1. Make sure your companions know...
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The answer to that question

In case anybody cares, here's the answer. A few days ago, I posted this photo:This photo depicts a surfer (my boyfriend, actually) carving an ice-cold wave on Lake Superior in January. No, seriuosly. You can surf in Minnesota. Although the best surf tends to be in the fall and winter, so you have to watch out for ice chunks and wear a very thick wetsuit. The water was 33 degrees that day and there was...
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Black and white photos are cool

This is the moon silvering Bolinas Lagoon, with trees in the foreground. This is me (left) and my friend Laura Petersen, one of the best climbers I know, also a super-awesome chick who taught me a lot of what I know about climbing, clinging to a slabby cliff in northern Minnesota. Lake Superior is below us, although in this shot you can't really tell. This shows two girls belaying at a crag in northern Minnesota....
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Is your life hard?

If this is the view from your office (a borrowed and temporary office, but still), your life is not hard.
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You can do that with a space blanket?

Ever since I was a kid I've carried the good old space blanket in my pack.Never use it for anything, but I sure have carried it around with me.I guess I figured it would provide adequate cover and reflected body heat if I ever did need to spend an emergency overnighter on the ground.Now, Patrick McHugh tells me I could count on that space blanket for some many other survival needs.Check it out at http://www.adventuresportsonline.com/5basic.htm.And,...
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Backpacking weight: How low can you go?

Ultralight backpacking is almost a religion with some enthusiasts.For those who've been at it for a while, they've reduced gear and weight so far down that any further cuts is measured in tenths of an ounce.On the flip side, practitioners of this specialized form of backpacking also are always on watch for anything that will increase their comfort on the trail without adding any weight to their already stripped down burden.Steven Gilman explains the basic concepts...
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