Butterfly Report — September 2021

Paddling, Playing, and Planning for More

I’ve been paddling and exploring new places to lead groups, and I’ve found some neat spots all ages can enjoy! Next month I’ll be leading our Young Naturalists group and the Women Outdoors group in paddling trips, and we have “fairy fun” for our Wander Tots as well. Check out our upcoming events and signup for adventure!

Did you know we have social groups where you can meet other women and families who love the outdoors? Check out Young Naturalists, Wander Tots and Women Outdoors and join our groups on Facebook. Registration is open for events in all three groups!

Work with Us!

In our last newsletter I mentioned we’d have Job Openings coming this fall. We are excited to offer a Social Media Internship to assist us with managing our social accounts, organizing virtual content, and marketing events. We also hope to train and hire multiple Outdoor Guides to expand the areas we are able to lead Women Outdoors activities within Alabama, as well as to assist us in programs we are leading. A special newsletter will be released in mid-September with full job descriptions and information on how to apply. A brief overview of preferred candidates for each position is outlined below:

Social Media Internship

Butterfly Outdoors is found on several social media platforms, and we produce content, market events, and organize groups through these platforms. We are seeking a college student majoring in Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, or a related field. Students who apply should be in their final two years of coursework toward a Bachelor’s degree in one of these fields, and they will need to provide a resume along with at least one reference letter from a professor in their major of study.

A scholarship toward coursework and a monthly stipend will be provided for satisfactory work. Opportunities for professional development, networking, and references are also available.

Get to know our platforms

Outdoor Guide

Butterfly Outdoors leads guided hikes, paddling tours, and overnight trips in north Alabama, but we want to provide Women Outdoors experiences statewide. We are seeking experienced women outdoors to lead other women on guided hikes and outdoor activities throughout Alabama. We also welcome applicants interested in learning wilderness skills, and willing to train under experienced guides. Applicants should be in good physical health, and willing to work in natural settings year round despite hot, cold, rainy, or otherwise undesirable conditions. Applicants should also be willing and able to travel within their region of the state, and open to assisting with trips to other regions occasionally. Guides will be expected to attain CPR/First-Aid and/or Wilderness First Aid prior to paid work, but assistance with training costs is available.

We have multiple positions available for Outdoor Guides. However, it should be understood that this is contract based work.

Be on the look out for our special newsletter with full job descriptions and how to apply.

Our May anniversary hike of Section 5 is up now! We had a great time sharing the trail with 120 plus runners from the Make-A-Wish, Trailblaze Challenge. Check out this trip, and stay tuned for my finial spring trip coming soon! Please be sure to like and subscribe to the linked video and YouTube channel to stay posted on the next section of my travels.

Local blogger, outdoor enthusiast, and founder of Black Adventure Crew, Zenovia B. Stephens, shares her family’s trip to Scottsboro. This short, fun read has definitely added some sights to my next trip!

Barriers to the Outdoors

Butterfly Outdoors is working to make the outdoors more welcoming and accessible to all users, but we need your help. Please support us in our gear drive, contribute to our scholarship fund, and search for ways you can make the #outdoorsforall and #diversifyoutdoors. Another great way to aid this effort is joining communities like Accessible Alabama, and Outdoor Afro, and by donating to local groups such as Black Kids Adventure, Inc.

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

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Butterfly Report — April 2021

Follow Our Adventures & Discover Your Own

Since the last Butterfly Report I’ve been fortunate enough to hike, camp, paddle, and bike. I try to spend as much of my life outdoors as possible, and this is something I work daily to share with my daughter as well. Beyond that I love sharing my adventures with others, and this year I hope to share my section hike of the Pinhoti Trail. You can follow this excursion on Butterfly Outdoors’ YouTube channel and our blog. Click the button below to check out my first two sections of the trail.

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 better way to EXPLORE~LEARN~PLAY outdoors.

Connect with us here

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.

Coming Soon

We have many events on the calendar from overnights to the Walls of Jericho to a community Earth Day cleanup project. Find the right event for your interest and budget on our Upcoming Events page.

***Since this content will be public it may not contain as many details and information, especially related to meeting locations. This is a safety precaution since most of our activities are geared toward women and families.

Help us break down barriers to the outdoors

We are 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.

This month we are hosting a gear drive and fundraising event! If you have gear you no longer need, or funds to donate to this cause please email ButterflyOutdoors@gmail.com or visit my Facebook fundraiser. 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.

Buy Me A Coffee

CREATIVITY TAKES FUEL, and coffee is our preferred power source!!! If you enjoy our content then click the image below to fuel our next story by buying us a coffee! ☕️

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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