Butterfly Report — July 2021

We’re Back… Paddle, Wander, Discover What’s Next

It’s been a while, but I’m happy to update the entire Butterfly Outdoors’ community on what we’ve been up and what’s next. First, our virtual communities are growing, and I’d like to welcome our new members. We love for you to follow our adventures, but we’d really love to help you find your own. Let us know what you’ve been dreaming of doing, and we’ll help you plan and prepare. We offer skills lessons, gear consultations, training hikes, and overnight workshops to help you prepare for family campouts, paddling trips, and backpacking excursions. Moving forward the Butterfly Report will resume monthly posts highlighting upcoming events, sharing our adventures, and promoting causes important to our vision, mission, and community.

We also love hearing about your discoveries so please share them with us on social media, and leave reviews or recommendations if we’ve already helped you discover a new way to EXPLORE~LEARN~PLAY outdoors.

Connect with us here

Since our last post in April 2021, I’ve added a new video on my Pinhoti Trail adventure. I have video footage from three more sections of the trail I hope to edit and share this summer! Please be sure to like and subscribe to the linked video and YouTube channel to stay posted on the next section of my travels.

Our Young Naturalists group has been providing FREE programs both in-person and online, and we are available to schedule private programs for families, scout troops, and groups. Blaire Baxter, Naturalist and Young Naturalists mama, is doing amazing things for that community and she has more wonderful programs planned moving forward. We’ll share details on upcoming events for that group later this month!

Registration is open for events in Women Outdoors and Wander Tots. We are also planning more frequent activities for each of our groups this summer and fall. Find the right event for your interest and budget on our Upcoming Events page, or contact us to plan a private experience for your family or group.

Help us break down barriers to the outdoors

We are still working to offer more opportunities to beginners, underserved communities, and essential workers. We believe time outdoors is a valuable stress reliever and hobby that should be a right, not a privilege. You can help us break down barriers such as lack of funds, lack of gear, and lack of opportunities.

If you have gear you no longer need, or funds to donate to this cause please email ButterflyOutdoors@gmail.com. Need gear? Let us know, and we’ll help however we can!

We are still accepting donations for scholarships and creative content. Read on to learn how you can participate, or contact us to discuss how we can help break down barriers you may face.

Support Scholarships

Our scholarship program helps us provide services to underserved members of our community, and we appreciate assistance expanding this program in 2021.

***Butterfly Outdoors is an LLC not a 501(c)3.  We appreciate your support, and pledge to utilize donations toward free services and scholarships.  However, please understand your donation is not tax deductible.  PLEASE INCLUDE “DONATION” IN THE COMMENTS OR DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PAYMENT TO ENSURE YOUR FUNDS ARE PROPERLY ALLOCATED.***

Thanks for Your Support

Thanks to everyone who has supported us during these challenging times, and if you find value in our content and share in our commitment to help others EXPLORE~LEARN~PLAY outdoors please consider contributing to our efforts or contacting us at ButterflyOutdoors@gmail.com to discover how you can get involved.

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Pihoti Trail — Sections 1 & 2 (video included)

My journey begins

Anticipation, nervous excitement, and curiosity fluttered in me, as my tires bumped along the washboard road leading up to Flagg Mountain, and the southern terminus of the Pinhoti Trail.  Months earlier I’d felt the call to hike Alabama’s “long trail” growing strong, and a few days prior I decided the time had come.  I loaded my pack, left my toddler with her grandparents, and set out to section hike 172 miles of Alabama’s Appalachians.  (Keep reading past the video for the full story).

Like and subscribe to my channel to follow all 13 sections of my journey!

Dirt, gravel, pavement, pine straw, and rock each supported my feet during my 29 mile journey across sections 1 and 2 of Alabama’s Pinhoti.  I’ve been impressed by the trail community surrounding the Pinhoti, and found support from family, friends and strangers as I prepared for this trek.  While the first leg of my trip was a solo hike, none of my miles would have been possible without their assistance, but actually carrying my 25 pound pack over unfamiliar terrain was all on me.  This was a challenge I relished and am excited to continue again soon!

I’m a hiker at heart, and no matter where I am in the world, the woods feel like home.  These two facts fueled my uncertainty and apprehension of sections 1 and 2, because I knew many of the miles would entail road walking.  The idea of my feet pounding pavement under a heavy pack, as I traversed county roads with “troublesome dogs” and state highways full of log trucks, was anything but appealing.  However, the goal is to take the good with the bad (as is often true in backpacking) so my decision to hike the Pinhoti northbound (NOBO) was, in big part, so I could knock out the bulk of the road walk early in this adventure.  While I am grateful to have the road walking under my trail-runners (lighter than boots), I was also pleasantly surprised by the experience.

Day one came with a late morning start, and some mingling on the trail with other hikers.  The terrain was challenging, with beautiful vistas and easy to follow trail.  My first section of road walk was mentally uncomfortable due to the common sights of Confederate flags and “keep out” signs, but the landscape and actual road were quite enjoyable.  I also had beautiful weather and a very comfortable new pack.  I was grateful to re-enter the woods, and planned to camp around mile 12.  An early dinner, clear flowing streams, and the life of the forest filled me with a second wind.  I hiked on by moonlight about 3 miles past my intended camp, then slept under the stars without setting up my tent.

Rain drops softly woke me before dawn, but the light rain quickly dissolved and I was left refreshed with an early start to my day.  I felt wonderful and completely at peace.  I trekked the last three miles of woods before beginning my 11.5 mile road walk to complete the first two sections of the Pinhoti.  Past barking dogs and highway traffic, through neighborhoods and rain, I put one foot in front of the other, and with newfound joy from outpacing my own goals I completed sections 1 and 2 a full day ahead of schedule.  More importantly, I debunked my own preconceived notions that I wouldn’t enjoy the experience, and I found a new confidence that only comes from stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.  

What to know?

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Wilderness Skills Build Confidence and Can Save Your Life

What are wilderness skills, and why do they matter?

Wilderness skills is a vague term that encompasses a wide range of skill sets.  Generally, I like to think of wilderness skills as a hybrid between bushcraft and modern outdoor recreation skills.  Many outdoor recreationist rely heavily on modern tools such as tents, lighters, starter fuels, water filters, and GPS units.  While appropriate gear is important and highly useful, it isn’t always available and it’s subject to damage and malfunction.  This is why I see the knowledge and understanding of wilderness skills, such as: starting and sustaining a fire, building primitive and improved shelters, collecting and purifying water, and knowing how to navigate as essential skills for all outdoor enthusiasts. 

Apart from the safety reasons, having the knowledge of these skills builds confidence which fosters greater enjoyment of outdoor activities.

My experience with wilderness skills

I have been hiking, canoeing, camping, and generally exploring outdoors since childhood.  My family was passionate about spending time outdoors, and I was active in Girl Scouts through high school.  I was very fortunate to be introduced to the outdoors at a young age, and I’m passing that same experience along to my daughter.  Growing up in nature means I always felt comfortable outdoors, and I’ve naturally acquired many outdoors skills through experience and minor mishaps.  Beyond that I earned BS and MS degrees in forestry that provided me an extensive knowledge of plants and ecology, and I’ve worked alongside a survival expert learning from him and teaching others as his assistant.

I’ve carried this initial knowledge base with me and built upon my skills through research, training, and practice. In 2019, I became a certified Wilderness First Responder, which includes both medical and survival skills training for remote wilderness settings.  I now enjoy teaching others basic wilderness skills, which provide them empowering experiences outdoors, and offer them the confidence they need to explore independently or with their families.  

How can you learn these skills?

Practice, practice, practice.  Ultimately, practice and hands-on experience are the best way to learn any new skill.  It helps to have someone guide you initially, by showing you examples and explaining important survival concepts.  Even in a training situation, learning through experience and failure are the most effective methods for building a lasting skill set.  

Over the coming months Butterfly Outdoors will be offering wilderness skills training, instructional videos, and tips for safely exploring outdoors.  We also provide private training and workshops to groups and individuals.

Please connect with us to learn how we can help you learn the skills you need to safely enjoy the outdoors.

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