Category Archives: photo

Nature Lovers: State Parks for Popping the Question

Romantic love has long been inspired by nature. In the early 19th century, the artistic movement known as Romanticism sought to locate truth and beauty in the wonders of the natural world. It’s no coincidence that so many of the metaphors and images of romantic love – flowers, sunsets, sparkling diamonds, and stars – are from the observation of nature. For nature lovers who also happen to be in love, what better location than a sublime mountain vista or pacific sunset to finally pop that question? Without further ado, we give you the five most romantic proposal spots in North America:



Niagara Falls State Park, New York

Your heart is overflowing with love and Niagara Falls is overflowing with water – some 80,000 cubic feet of it every second. Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest and one of the most iconic state parks in the United States. It also appears to have been made for popping the question: one of the main falls is even called Bridal Veil Falls. If you’re going to propose at Niagara Falls, we suggest you do it now because in 50,000 years the Falls will cease to exist when erosion causes it to retreat into Lake Erie. Love fades. So do waterfalls.



Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is a storybook land populated by age-old giants known as coastal redwoods. The huge old-growth forest contains numerous 1,000 year old trees measuring upwards of 300 feet. The canopy of the redwood forest is so dense that it blots out the sun, leaving a dark and lush undergrowth of mosses and ferns. If your idea of a romantic spot is Narnia or Middle Earth then Humboldt is for you. What says everlasting commitment better than a 1,000 year old tree?



Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

Smith Rock is believed to be the birth place of modern rock climbing. The centerpiece of the park, Smith Rock, features outstanding views of the Meandering River and surrounding Cascade Mountains. Imagine you and your beaux are rock climbers and decide to do a tandem climb up world-famous Morning Glory Wall. You’re 200 feet up a vertical rock face when suddenly your sweetheart turns to you and pops the question. Depending on the answer, the remaining climb to the top is either the most exhilarating or worst of all time.



John Pennekamp State Park, Florida

John Pennekamp was the first of its kind: 70 nautical miles of crystal clear water, coral reefs, and tropical marine life. You can probably guess where we’re going with this: underwater proposal time! It would be like the Little Mermaid minus the part where Ursula tries to crash the wedding by drowning everybody. Imagine swimming along, admiring the sea life, and all of a sudden your significant other hands you some beautiful tropical seashell. You open it up – yes, it just happens to be hinged -and there’s a sparking wedding ring inside. Watch out for barracudas, because they’re attracted to bling – seriously.


Know Your Mountains: A Geological Primer


Kings of the Mountain: The Rockies [Image:]

Mountains have always been considered special or sacred. A reason for this is that they bridge two worlds: the earth, where people tend to live, and the sky, where gods tend to live. Like people, no two mountains are alike; in fact, due to continuous erosion, no one mountain is alike. We tend to think elevation distinguishes mountains, but it’s the lesser known factors like age, geologic composition, and plate tectonics that really sets them apart – literally. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a mountain is “a natural elevation of the earth’s surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attain an altitude which, relative to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable.” Geologists identify three main types of mountains: volcanic, fold, and block. Lucky for us, all three can be observed in our national and state parks.

Volcanoes are some of the most dramatic and deadly mountains on earth. Volcanoes form through a process called subduction in which one tectonic plate slides beneath another. Above large-scale areas where this is taking place, called subduction zones, volcanoes form in ranges called volcanic arcs. An excellent example of a volcanic arc is the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest. The Cascade Arc contains 20 major volcanoes with 12 exceeding elevations over 10,000 feet. The most recent major eruption in this area was Mount St. Helens in 1980. The majority of these are known as stratovolcanoes, such as Mt. Rainier below.

Mt. Rainier Stratovolcano [image:]

Mt. Rainier Stratovolcano [Image:]

The low undulating Alleghenies are fold mountains formed during the Appalachian orogeny which occurred approximately 325 million years ago. The orogeny, or mountain-causing event, occurred when the North American and African continental plates smashed into one another. During their glory years, the Alleghenies were as elevated and rugged as the Rockies or the Alps. We think they’ve settled nicely into old age.

Allegheny Mountains [image:]

Allegheny Mountains [Image:]

Devil’s Tower was the first declared United States National Monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Technically speaking, Devil’s Tower is an igneous intrusion or laccolith located in the Black Hills of Wyoming. Devil’s Tower was formed approximately 40 million years ago when igneous rock -rock formed through the cooling of lava or magma- was thrust or intruded through the layers of sedimentary rock above. The site is considered sacred and has figured heavily into the mythology of numerous Native American tribes.

Devil's Tower [image:]

Devil’s Tower [Image:]

The Yosemite Valley, contained within Yosemite National Park, is a glacial valley whose geological heritage belongs to the surrounding Basin and Range region of western United States. The majority of these mountains, including those found in Yosemite Valley, are block fault or tilted block fault formations composed of granitic and metamorphic rock-rock formed from other types of rock. The dramatic angles and unimpeded verticality we associate with Yosemite Valley is the result of extensive faulting combined with significant glacial erosion.

Yosemite Valley [image:]

Yosemite Valley [Image:]


White-tailed Deer Hunting in Pennsylvania with Pocket Ranger®

The white-tailed deer is one of the most popular and abundant big game species in North America. If you live in the lower 48, chances are you live in close proximity to white-tailed deer or one of its cousins, such as mule or black-tailed deer. Despite their large size (between 100 and 300 pounds), whitetails are nimble and alert creatures that spend their morning and evening hours stealthily browsing the forest floor. In addition to having keen eyesight and hearing, whitetails possess a sense of smell that is a thousand times greater than a human’s. Hunting them requires planning, persistence, and a general awareness of whitetail behavior.

State Game Lands, Wildlife Management Areas, and State or National Forests

Hunting pressure, lower deer densities, lack of road accessibility, and rugged or difficult terrain generally make public land hunts more difficult than private ones. However, if what you’re after is a large and mature buck, then head to the deep woods where hunting pressure is low, food is abundant, and older deer can survive. This is where GPS and tracking features on your Pocket Ranger® can help you navigate and scout the far reaches of the forest. For this particular hunt, I will be using Mt. Nittany Conservancy, an 850-acre tract of mountainous terrain located in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

Mt. Nittany Conservancy with Access Points Highlighted

Mt. Nittany Conservancy with Access Points Highlighted

Preparing for the Hunt: Scouting

The single most important factor in determining your hunt’s success is pre-season scouting. Scouting should begin in the late summer, but since I didn’t have time I went out a few days before the hunt and marked locations on my Pocket Ranger® that I knew from previous years offered good visibility, proximity to food sources, and excellent deer sign. The specific location I chose offered good shooting lanes, deer trails, and overlooked a flat area on the mountain slope that narrowed to west, creating a natural funnel or pinch point for deer as they foraged acorns. I would be hunting directly uphill from this pinch point. On the Pocket Ranger® screenshot below, the blue point indicates where I will set up while the deer icon above it indicates heavily trafficked deer trails. Don’t forget to choose a spot that offers good luck, too.

White-tailed deer scouting map

PocketRanger® Showing My Location (in blue) Relative to Access Roads and Deer Trails

Day of the Hunt: Minimizing your Body’s Impact

When entering the woods before dawn, remember to lower your phone’s brightness so that you won’t diminish your eye’s natural ability to see in lowlight conditions. You also want to minimize your sound, which is done in two ways: first, by taking as few steps as possible in getting to your setup; second, by taking the quietest possible steps. Use the app’s GPS feature to proceed in as straight a line as possible while using short strides in a toe-to-heel fashion in order to ‘feel out’ the terrain in front of you. In my case, I would be setting up against a large tree on the western-facing slope of a mountain (western-facing slopes will be warmer than eastern facing slopes and deer like warmth). Masking or minimizing your own odor is also crucial to hunting success and can be achieved most effectively by setting up into the wind so that it blows your scent in the opposite direction you are hunting. In deer hunting, let the landscape and wind conditions dictate your hunt as opposed to imposing your hunt on the landscape.

Taking the Ethical Shot

Around 8 a.m., I noticed a small 6-point buck working his way along the slope. Since this is public land and bucks are hard to come by, I was thrilled and began to prepare myself for the shot. Looking through my riflescope, I noticed the 4-point deer was spooked and had his attention on something else. Suddenly, a larger 8-point deer appeared over the ridge at 100 yards and ran the 4-point off. Since he was not in the mood to stop and feed, I waited for the deer to pass between two large trees and made a bleat-like noise to freeze him. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and placed the shot in the vital organs. The buck died instantly.

A Mature White-Tailed Deer image:

A Mature White-Tailed Deer [image:]

A Note on Hunting

Lastly, I would like to remind myself as well as relate to the reader some of the reasons why I hunt and why I consider the practice of hunting to be inherently valuable. I decided rather late in life (25) to hunt because I wanted to experience, in the barest possible of ways, the simple yet stark connection between eating meat and the death it precludes. For most of us who shop at grocery stores and live in cities, knowledge of the meat-giving animal’s existence is not part of everyday life; however, by participating in taking an animal’s life and butchering it myself, I have found the experience of eating and enjoying meat to be of greater significance and one I will never take for granted. Remember, nearly every public forest or game land across the country abounds with delicious wild animals (organic and free-ranging is an understatement) that will safely and affordably feed you and your loved ones. Just take your Pocket Ranger® so you don’t get lost during the chase.

Successful whitetail hunting depends on planning.

The Author with 8-point Pennsylvania Buck


Flaming French Toast

We’re loving Mother Nature Network’s collection of campground recipes! We can’t wait to gorge on french toast test out this recipe for our Cookout Recipe Challenge.

Have you entered yet?


Campfire French Toast: Whip up this tasty breakfast in minutes over a campfire or your camp stove.
Gourmet backpacking breakfast recipes

Love this giant cupcake! We can’t think of a better way to celebrate a great hike than a huge serving of these edible boots.

How do you celebrate completing outdoor challenges?

MALAFLOR Blow Collection

BYO… chair? Perhaps not what you’d read on a party invitation but certainly what you’d expect if you were spending the day outdoors. For those of us who’d rather have a comfortable perch to rest on (roughing it doesn’t necessarily have to be on every outdoor itinerary), MALAFLOR’s latest innovation is just the thing. The Polish design practice, purveyor of all things cool and functional, brings us the Blow collection: a three-piece seating series of inflatable pieces. Choose from a two-seater Blow sofa, “explorer” chair and “explorer” armchair made with dakron fabric, a synthetic and weather-resistant polyester fiber commonly found in yachts’ sails. The durable fabric is safe to use outdoors and in changing weather. Like most tents, Blow furniture lays flat and can be folded for easy transport.


Image courtesy of MALAFLOR