8 Reasons Why You Wanna Travel with ASTRAL Shoes

Summer is finally here! And with it comes a slew of outdoor activities on land, on water, in the air… so you need shoes that are just as versatile as you.

  1. They are very lightweight shoes; light in my pack or on my feet.
  2. They don’t get stinky, because ASTRAL uses nylon instead of polyester (nylon doesn’t hold stink).
  3. They dry out overnight – quick dry fabrics are smart design.
  4. The grip is amazing, ASTRAL’s G®Rubber is the stickiest compound available today.
  5. They are compact and fit in to small spaces, so I can pack and travel light.
  6. They are washable in a river, a hostel sink, or a washing machine.
  7. I can wear them in many different travel settings, from the embassy to a jungle trek – no worries.
  8. They’re naturally balanced in their geometry for healthy posture and comfortable walking across all types of terrain.

– Chris Hobson

Support local business, shop Astral shoes online and in stores!

4 Haunted Hikes Around DC

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October is a wonderful time to go hiking and witness the beauty of the changing season as well as creatures preparing for winter.

It’s also a time to celebrate Halloween by seeking out spooky wild places. Here are some wild lands where you may have a creature or two hiking with you – but not one that’s still living.

1. Gold Mine Trail, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park, Maryland

This haunted jaunt begins at Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center and passes by the site of an 1906 explosion that killed a miner. Afterwards, spirits known as “Tommy Knockers” began to haunt the mine. Two years later, a night watchman saw “a ghostie-looking man with eyes of fire and a tail 10 feet long” crawling out of the shaft, so the mine closed.

Say hi to “Tommy Knockers”, click here.

2. Appalachian Trail, Virginia

It was this time of year when four-year-old Ottie Powell vanished in 1891, while collecting firewood in a forest bright with colored leaves. His body was found five months later near Bluff Mountain, where a memorial for Ottie can still be found. Backpackers claim that those who spend a night at Punchbowl Shelter may encounter his spirit.

Pay Ottie a visit, click here.

3. Devil’s Den, Gettysburg National Battlefield, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg was the Civil War’s deadliest battle with over 50,000 corpses. Devil’s Den is a rocky out­crop­ping once used by snipers. Today it is notorious for causing cameras to malfunction, especially when used to try to capture Gettysburg’s phantoms. The most commonly sighted is the barefoot, rifle-carrying “Hippie,” who’s thought to be a former member of the 1st Texas Infantry. You’ll know him by his calling card: pointing toward Plum Rum and saying to visitors “What you’re looking for is over there.”

Have “Hippie” show you the way, click here.

4. Bloody Lane, Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland

The bloodiest one-day battle in American history happened in 1862 at Antietam. After only 12 hours, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. The road known as Bloody Lane is said to be haunted by some of these soldiers, evidenced by sounds of phantom gunfire, shouting and singing, as well as sightings of ghosts in Confederate uniform. Many fallen soldiers were buried under Burnside Bridge, visitors have heard phantom drumbeats and seen blue balls of light moving through the air.

The sights and sounds of Bloody Lane: click here.


Source: “13 Haunted Hikes”, The Wilderness Society

Dog-Friendly Hikes in the DC Area

Our nation’s capitol has no shortage of awesome hikes that are perfect to explore with your pooch. Whether hiking through the backcountry in surrounding cities or exploring historic trails through the city, DC treats doggies as valuable members of the family. Washington DC’s rich history and monumental landmarks aren’t the only things that doggies love about the capitol. Read below for the top 10 hikes to take your dog on in DC. And don’t forget to stop by any of our stores or shop online for some pet accessories!

Rock Creek Park
With over 32 miles of trails at Rock Creek Park, you and your pooch have wonderful hiking opportunities ahead! Rock Creek Park is a fantastic place for a walk, run or bike ride with your furry friend. The beautiful green landscape and endless trails through the woods make this hike impossible not to love.

3545 Williamsburg Ln NW Washington, DC, US 20008
Hours: Open during daylight hours
Website

Capital Crescent Trail
The Capital Crescent Trail is a beautiful trail that runs along the picturesque Potomac River. Pooches and their owners love walking, running or hiking the wide, paved trail that runs from Bethesda to Georgetown. From bikers and hikers to stroller pushers and dog walkers, everyone is welcome to enjoy the beautiful views from the Capital Crescent Trail.

3500 K St NW Washington, DC 20007
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Website

Theodore Roosevelt Island
The Theodore Roosevelt Island Hike is a perfect get-away for people and their pups from the hustle and bustle of downtown Washington, DC. The trail is surrounded by forests, parks, and waterfront views. Whether in the mood to take a leisurely stroll, run or hike with your doggy, Theodore Roosevelt Island is a great place to spend time with your pooch, observing all kinds of wildlife such as ducks, fish, frogs, turtle, cranes and bugs!

George Washington Pkwy Arlington, VA 22216
Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Website

Great Falls: Billy Goat Trail
If you’re looking for more than just a hike and want to embrace the true experience of mother nature, look no further than the Great Falls Billy Goat Trail. Not only will this hike push your body to the limits (especially your legs), but you’ll see some local residents on the trails too. From snakes to geese, be sure to keep a close eye on Fido during this beautiful hike.

Please note: Dogs are allowed on Trails B and C, but are not allowed on Trail A.

11710 Macarthur Blvd Potomac, MD 20854
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Website

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve
If you’re seeking a light walk for you and your canine, Scott’s Run Nature preserve is an easy way to enjoy the beautiful color of the season with a little bit of exercise. Scott’s Run Waterfall is situated right along the hiking trail and it’s a great place for your pooch to have a blast! Your pup will love playing in the swimming holes, cooling off during the summer and playing with other dogs. The trail leads to the Potomac River, a rewarding view for you and your pup after the hike.

7400 Georgetown Pike McLean, VA 22102
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Website

Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park
Deemed the skinniest park in Virginia, The Washington and Old Dominican Regional Park is also one of the longest parks, with 45 miles of paved trails and 32 miles of gravel trail for hiking with Fido. If you’re feeling adventurous, the paved trails are great for rollerblading! With beautiful scenery in the urban heartland of the countryside of Northern Virginia, it’s hard not to love this hiking trail.

S Four Mile Run Dr and S Shirlington Rd Arlington, VA 22206
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Website

Winkler Botanical Preserve
If you’re looking for a short but scenic hike with Fido, look no further than Winkler Botanical Preserve. The 1.4 mile loop is perfect for a morning stroll or an intense cardio workout! The property is complete with lush plants surrounding a small pond in the center of the park. The park also serves as a local resource for schools in the area to teach schoolchildren about ecology and the environment.

5400 Roanoke Ave Alexandria, VA 22311
Wesbite

Dyke Marsh
Dyke Marsh is a hidden gem located right near Washington DC The beautiful trail leads to a renovated boardwalk where you’ll see panoramic views of a beautiful bridge and the National Harbor. You and your pooch will love being surrounded by marsh and plenty of wildlife. Don’t be surprised to see a few beaver dams, ducks, migratory birds and bald eagles! Dyke Marsh is one of the most peaceful places you can be with your pup!

Boat Launch Rd Alexandria, VA 22307
Hours: Open year-round from 6 am to 10 pm.
Website

Kingman and Heritage Islands Park
Kingman and Heritage Islands Park is a long, narrow island in the Anacostia River. The park is complete with trails, trees and a diversity of birds and bugs. Locals, visitors and furry friends enjoy the bluegrass festival which is held here each year.

575 Oklahoma Ave NE (at N Benning Rd) Washington, DC 20002
Summer Hours: (April through October) Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM*, Saturday-Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM*
Winter Hours (November through March) Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM – Dusk*, Saturday-Sunday: 9:00 AM – Dusk*
Website

Mount Vernon Trail
The Mount Vernon Trail is a multi-use trail that’s a great place to walk Fido in Washington DC! The trail is a truly unique way for you and your pup to see parts of DC/Alexandria/and Mount Vernon from a different vantage point. There are plenty of places to stop and stare at the beautiful scenery, including Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. The trail itself is very well maintained which makes it an easier hike for you and your pup.

The Mount Vernon Trail parallels the parkway between Theodore Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon.
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Website


 

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 12.16.02 PMNeed a new leash and collar before you take your pooch on that hike? Our Wolfgang selection features some of the coolest-looking designs we’ve seen. AND, all leash and collars are on sale at all our stores and online, click here to shop!


Source: Dogvacay.com

Solo Thru-Hike the AT: 500 miles in

ATHike Back in April, one of HTO’s own Outfitters, Neha Khurana, from Fairfax started her AT solo thru-hike. We have been keeping tabs on this young lady’s progress, and living vicariously through her adventure. Here’s an account of what she’s encountered this past month.

First Days on the Trail

Approach Trail

“I have covered about 37 miles plus 8.8 miles of the Approach Trail. It has been very busy! I stayed my first night at the Springer Mountain Shelter near the summit. The next day I hiked around 8 miles to Hawk Mountain, where I camped with 30-40 other hikers. The trail is packed with thru-hikers! Everyone is so welcoming and we had a bonfire that night.

Camping Blood Mountain

I woke up and hiked around 13 miles the next day to Preaching Rock. The hike was tough, but the view was incredible. The next morning, we reached the Blood Mountain summit before making it to Neels Gap.”

“The trail has been wonderful. My feet are sore, but the experience is so worth it.”

Of Trail Angels

“From Neels Gap I hiked to Low Gap shelter. And because of flash floods and tornado warnings, we caught a ride the next day from Unicoi Gap to Hiawassee early. That night was spend at a hotel and I took a zero day.

We hit the trail the following morning and hiked 13 miles to Deep Gap, then 15 miles through the Georgia/North Carolina border to Muskrat Creek Shelter the next day. After a couple more days, we reached the top of Albert Mountain and completed our first hundred miles! Upon arriving at our shelter, some of our group hitched to town and brought back 13 pizzas… Definitely the highlight of my day!

At the border PIZZA!The following morning, after 4 miles to Winding Stair Gap, we were met by some trail magic (1). The trail angel had spread out breakfast in the back of his truck bed for us. Afterwards, we caught a ride with Ron Haven (famous trail angel) to Franklin, NC.”

Damascus

Neha is currently in Damascus, VA, nearly 500 miles in. She is taking a few days off for Trail Days. We can’t wait to see what else the AT has in store for her. Keep at it, Neha!

(1) The term ‘trail magic’ was coined by long-distance hikers to describe an unexpected occurrence that lifts a hiker’s spirits and inspires awe or gratitude. ‘Trail magic’ may be as simple as being offered a candy bar by a passing hiker or spotting an elusive species of wildlife. (source: appalachiantrail.org)

The Updated Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

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25 years of messenger expertise bring you Timbuk2’s updated Classic Messenger Bag. Designed in San Francisco with decades of user testing and consumer feedback in mind, the updated Classic Messenger features a new refined look, updated fit, and smarter organization. And it’s now available at HTO, in stores and online!

Check them out here: http://www.hudsontrail.com/timbuk2-classic-messenger-bags.html

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Don’t you need a new bag for all the activities you have planned this summer? Now’s your chance! Throughout this whole week, HTO will be giving away Classic Messenger Bags on our Facebook page, like us so you can keep up to date! It’s a classic reborn and ready to be worn for another century… we’d love for you to have one!

Solo Thru-Hike the AT!

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One of HTO’s own Outfitters, Neha Khurana, from Fairfax is starting her solo thru-hike of the AT on April 1! She began as the youngest employee in the company and shares our enthusiasm and passion for adventure and travel. Neha tries to get outside as much as she can and loves to hike, rock climb, and kayak. As a frequent world traveler, she will soon be majoring in Adventure Education.

Neha became entranced by the idea of thru-hiking when she read an article about the Appalachian Trail a couple years ago.

“I loved the idea of completely immersing myself in nature and living authentically. I didn’t want to put off such a valuable opportunity, so I decided to graduate school early and hike northbound this year.”

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This young lady is heading places and we are so proud to have her be a part of the HTO family! And did we mention she is just 17 years old?! Impressive!

What are you doing this summer? Ever wondered what it would be like to hike the Appalachian Trail alone? Here’s top 6 reasons why you should do it, as said by Zach Davis at AppalachianTrials.com:

1. Absolute Freedom

If you hike the trail by yourself, no one will be breathing down your neck. You will be able to escape and truly be free. I remember feeling so happy and free only to turn my phone on and have it blow up with messages from my parents asking me where I was and if I was okay. Although I knew they sent those messages out of love, it was nice to have my phone off and live without people on my case all the time. I couldn’t even imagine how awful the trail would’ve been if someone I started hiking with depended on me and had to always know where I was.

2. No one wanted to do it with me

Would I have started the trail with a friend if he or she wanted to hike with me? Definitely. However, in my case, no one I knew wanted to hike with me and I didn’t even try to find someone to thru-hike with.

3. I only had take care of myself

Trust me, on the trail this is a very difficult task. Thankfully, no one else on the trail depended on me to keep them alive. Looking out for myself was a big enough task, but if your hike is anything like mine, you’ll meet people who you want to watch out for and vice versa.

4. I made friends anyway

It’s very easy to meet incredible people on the trail. It was nice for me to have friends on the trail that were separate from my friends in “real life.” I think if I started out with “real life” friends, I would not have tried as hard to create relationships with other hikers.

5. I do what I want

The Appalachian Trail taught me that I can wake up every morning and do whatever I want to do. This is something that has stuck with my way past my thru-hike. Every morning when I wake up, I do what I want to do. Most of what I want to do is what I know will make me happy. With this philosophy I have picked up from the trail, I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.  If I were hiking with a group for the majority of my hike, I might not have developed such a significant lifestyle change.

6. Greater sense of accomplishment

I believe my summit of Katahdin was very different in significance than those hiking in a group for the whole trail. Although I did hike with other people along the way, I finished the trail exactly how I started it; alone and on my own terms. If I had hiked the trail entirely with someone else, or a group, I feel like my sense of achievement on Katahdin would be different. A lot of times on the trail, I had no one to help me through the hardest parts and had to overcome adversity on my own. I get that sharing achievements is a wonderful thing; however, I’m glad I got through the majority of trail because of my own abilities and not having to rely on others.

We will be keeping tabs on Neha’s progress this summer, so stay tuned for more updates! She will be back at our Fairfax store in September, so she will be a great resource for all future Appalachian Trail travelers. We wish her all the best!

Finding Winter with Mountain Hardwear

findingwinter

Starting last month, Mountain Hardwear launched their “Finding Winter” campaign to a select few in the industry. They asked highly engaged brand advocates to create as much video, photo and written content as possible with the kits they received. And two of HTO’s Outfitters, Brad and Adam, were chosen to partake!

Brad rocking his Mountain Hardwear outfit in front of HTO Pentagon Row's doors!

Brad rocking his Mountain Hardwear outfit in front of HTO’s Pentagon Row doors!

We will be documenting their adventures as they clutch on to the last bits of Winter in our area. Brad welcomed the snow last week with a trip to Roosevelt Island in Virginia! Stay tuned for more!

See how others are Finding Winter: http://www.findingwinter.com