Archive for the ‘Adventures’ Category

Butler Outdoors Club Workshop

Butler Outdoors Club Workshop

Erik spent part of his Memorial day with a great group from the Butler Outdoors Club as part of their “Outdoors Extravaganza” teaching them how to build a fire. Now they are better prepared in an emergency to build a knee high fire in the pouring rain in five minutes. Don’t think it can be done? It can. Just ask this group. Don’t know how? Then consider enrolling in one of True North’s upcoming survival courses. Many thanks to Becca for helping out. Hope that you are all enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

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Our Newest Navigators

Our Newest Navigators

On Friday night, 40 students and staff from a Pennsylvania university needed to be rescued in Kentucky after they got lost while hiking along a popular trail.  Clearly, no one in the group had bothered to learn the basic map and compass skills that would have let them safely find their way, or, more importantly, would have likely prevented their predicament in the first place.  Regrettably, this is the way many people approach the outdoors.  Except, that is, Ian and Skot, who just completed “Basic Wilderness Navigation” yesterday. On what was probably the loveliest day of the year so far — clear skies with a bright sun, little wind, and temperatures in the low 50s — we met at Hartwood Acres County Park to learn the fundamentals of map and compass. We started the first evolution of the course learning the basics of a standard USGS topographic map, and then […]

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The Shackleton Survival Voyage Retraced

The Shackleton Survival Voyage Retraced

Today, an expedition composed of six Brits and Australians, led by Tim Jarvis and Barry Grey, completed a re-enactment of one of the greatest survival adventures of all time. The team followed the path of Ernest Shackleton, the acclaimed polar explorer, who in 1914 set out to sea from Great Britain on the Endurance with a crew of 56 men, just as hostilities broke out with Germany, to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent from sea to sea via the South Pole.  However, soon after leaving port, the expedition faced one difficulty after another.  Ultimately, though, even after overcoming all of those obstacles, the Endurance became hopelessly trapped in sea ice.  Knowing that their only chance for survival lay in their own hands, Shackleton led his men over high walls of pack ice, hidden crevasses, raging seas, blinding blizzards, even a mountain, to a remote whaling station on […]

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Orienteering: Putting Your Navigation Skills to the Test

Orienteering: Putting Your Navigation Skills to the Test

For anyone who spends time in the woods, whether it is in a remote national forest or a local county park, one of the most fundmental skills of which one should have a strong command is the ability to navigate.  Surprisingly, I have found this skill to be uncommon in the outdoors community for one of two reasons.  First, there are lots of people who spend much time outdoors who definitely may be considered advanced, even expert, in their chosen activity — like rock climbing, backpacking, hunters, or adventure racers — but they really don’t know how to use a compass or even properly read a map.  To them, they are satisfied that they have a GPS or that they can read a trail map.  I’m betting, though, that all of you can see the flaws in this thinking.  Or, second, they once learned how to navigate, but they haven’t […]

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Wilderness Survival 101

Wilderness Survival 101

Yesterday was splendid.  Not only was it the most beautiful Autumn day so far this year, with the sun finally bursting out in the late morning, helping temperatures to settle in the low 60s, but a terrific bunch of people gathered at the Frick Environmental Center to share their enthusiasm for learning the fundamentals of wilderness survival. The group, all members of Venture Outdoors, took part in True North’s Wilderness Survival 101.  The primary focus of WS101 is to offer a one-day introduction to the basics of wilderness survival.  It is a great way for folks to begin learning about survival philosophy, skills, and what is involved.  It is particularly nice too for those folks who aren’t quite ready for an overnight, or who are just getting involved in the outdoors and want to learn about gear and local resources.  Either way, beginner or advanced, we always talk about the […]

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Pittsburgh’s Newest City Park

Pittsburgh's Newest City Park

It seems that no matter how long that I have lived in Pittsburgh, the city and its region continues to surprise me.  When I originally moved here, my plan was to stay just two years so that I could complete graduate school.  Then skedaddle.  Twenty-two years later, I am still here.  And I am still making surprising discoveries that remind me of how glad that I am that I stayed. Case in point: Emerald View Park.  Pittsburgh’s newest addition to its family of parks. Even though Emerald View wraps along Mount Washington for the whole world to see, I only just discovered the park this past Sunday thanks to Jennifer Brown and David Bennet of Venture Outdoors.  Jen and David are, like me, members of the Venture Outdoors “Trip Leader Council,” which is comprised of eleven volunteers, with varying skills and specialities, who work to help develop and promote programming for […]

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Training for Lionheart Continues

Training for Lionheart Continues

A guest post by Janée Romesberg – a first in a series of blog posts documenting her training with True North Outdoor School. My name is Janée Romesberg, I am 23 years old, I am in the middle of training for the upcoming 90-mile Lionheart Adventure Race in Ohiopyle, PA, and I sort of hate running. Really. Allow me to explain. I have been involved with organized sports (mainly soccer) since I was 5 years old, played on several traveling leagues during my adolescent years and played varsity soccer throughout my high school and college careers. I love competition and am no stranger to training hard; I simply cannot bring myself to just run for long periods of time without becoming bored to tears. After graduating from college and coming to the realization that I no longer had a competitive outlet, I looked for other ways to get that fix. I […]

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Exploring the Bear Claw

Exploring the Bear Claw

Despite all the rain and mud, I enjoyed a fun two days exploring the Laurel Run section of Quebec Run Wild Area (QRWA).  It is hard to describe, though, what was the best part.  Could it be because of the two terrific people who accompanied me?  Or was it because we hiked through woodlands that are little visited by others?  Tough call.  It must be both! True North recently received final approval of its permit application that I filed about six months ago with the Pennsylvania Department of Forestry to teach outdoor skills courses, like wilderness survival and land navigation, at QRWA.  The Rangers in the Laughlintown District Office worked with me to assign a section that they thought would best serve our student’s needs while minimizing impact to the land, plus other public use.  Ultimately, we decided that the Laurel Run section would be the best setting.  The only […]

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One Tough Navigator

One Tough Navigator

Congratulations to Mendl B. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for completing a private lesson in Basic Wilderness Navigation. We first met earlier in the week at Commonplace Coffee in Squirrel Hill on Forbes Avenue for a “classroom” session to discuss the fundamentals of land navigation … like the parts of a compass; the differences in compass types genrally; how to read a topographic map; the difference between Magnetic North and True North; plus many other points.  There, Mendl bought me a cup of coffee that might be the best that I ever had! Then, yesterday, as part of the “field” session, Mendl braved a blazing sun and a 103° heat index to walk on and off trail at Hartwood Acres County Park to practice the practical elements of navigation.  He learned that while navigation is fairly easy conceptually to learn, it is a bit harder to do in actuality.  However, half way […]

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Team True North

Team True North

Training for Team True North has already begun in earnest. Janée Romesberg will be representing True North Outdoor School in the Lionheart Adventure Race from August 11-12.  Lionheart is a 25 hour race beginning in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, in the beautiful Laurel Highlands, which involves mountain biking, trail running, kayaking, rappelling, and orienteering over an 85 mile combined course. Janée has already completed the Basic Wilderness Navigation and Advanced Wilderness Survival courses in recent months, but she will be working with Erik and Larry to refine many of the required skills that she will need for this race. Follow Janee’s personal blog posts about her training experience with True North at the links below! Training for Lionheart Continues  

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