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Guest post by: Adria Nemeroff, in memory of Peter Falkowski

I decided that today was the day I would venture far into the wooded trails and up to the pass through the field, where Peter and I loved to be as the sun was setting last season.  It would be the farthest I ever went into those woods alone, and I was nervous. I put Peter’s black bandanna with the roses on it over my ponytail, threw a water and my phone into Peter’s Pack, and off I rode to the state park.

It was so different to find my way without Peter, always the fearless leader, who joked about being lost but in my recollection never really was.  I remembered with a smile how, given two paths in the wood, he would likely choose the steep incline or the path with a warning sign that conditions may be treacherous.  He called those “technical sections”, and he enjoyed whatever near mishap might ensue. He was looking for adventure, a good story, a use for his self-proclaimed “catlike reflexes.”  And I had enjoyed it all along with him.

Today, I did take the steeper path each time, but steered clear of the treacherous trail.  Peter used to joke that every steep incline was the last one, until we would come to just one more.  He was always challenging limits and I really missed him setting the pace, because I felt like I was a little bit slower and sadder without him.  I told him he was my personal trainer because he really made sure it was a good workout. I will have to push myself now, to go farther and faster, as if he were still beside me.

As I walked, I realized that I did keep looking next to me, where Peter had trod so many times, especially when I was crossing the high field.  I kept looking up at the pale clouds against blue sky and then back to where he should have been. I marveled that I was there at all, usually choosing the role of hermit every time over any outing at all on my own.  Maybe that is how Peter changed my life. He would end the workday before me, sometimes by hours, and have adventures before I even logged offline.

Peter was an example to me of fearlessly getting out and living, even if you were on your own.  He always chatted politely with strangers and made conversation easily, a talent I admired. On the trail, he said hello to everyone, and today I tried to do the same.  I looked people in the eye and hoped for the best. I was also happy that today every single dog on the trail stayed at a safe distance, which in my mind spelled success.

On the way back through the low path, I saw a break in the fence that must have happened since I was there with Peter.  In the winter he had easily stepped right over the two-railed wooden fence that separated the path from the stream, and he encouraged me to do the same.  I clearly could not step over the fence as he had, and so I remained on the trail while he took beautiful pictures at the water’s edge. Today, I stepped over the break in the fence to see for myself.  It was worth the detour. Peter always knew the secret scenic spots, naturally.

I soon was making my way out of the woods again, and I was thrilled to have been to the field I had so enjoyed hiking through the winter.  I felt a sense of accomplishment that I had gone out and done this simple act on my own. There will be so many more of those moments, doing things we enjoyed together, now in solitude.  And I am capable of it, and willing to try.

Peter, I carry you in my heart and wish you peace.

PS – I love you.

About the author: Adria Nemeroff is a CPA currently residing near Allentown, PA. She began the Peter’s Pack series as a tribute to her departed companion and hiking partner Peter John Falkowski, who’s enthusiasm for the scenic outdoors and artistic talents for photographing landscapes inspired her to keep going outside. Peter’s Pack will now roam on adventures both familiar and new in loving memory of him.

The post Peter’s Pack Goes to Jacobsburg Park, PA appeared first on Your Adventure Coach.

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Guest Post by: Casey Fiedler of Outside Pursuits

If you’re anything like me, chances are good that you started off as a hiker with a pretty cheap tent. Mine was from Sam’s Club – Swiss Gear to be exact. That tent was about as waterproof as a slice of Swiss cheese and no amount of waterproof tent spray could save it. I had made a mistake.

I bought a lot of my early camping and hiking gear without fully understanding what makes them waterproof. More importantly, I had no basis for understanding what made one item good at being waterproof and another terrible at it. You’re probably wondering something similar.

What is a waterproof hiking tent made from? What sets one apart from another? How can you be sure you’re not getting fleeced when you buy one?

With hundreds of night spent on the trail guiding backpacking trips around the US, I’ve come to an intimate understanding of waterproof gear. Today I’d like to share that with you to help you in your travels!

Materials Used for Tents

Today you really get about 3 solid options when it comes to tent materials. Of those, two are very similar in many regards, and the third is an alien outlier.

  1. Nylon
  2. Polyester
  3. Mylar Laminate (cuben)

Nylon, the same material responsible for many ugly fashion inventions of the 90’s, is arguably the most popular tent fabric. It’s a fully man-made fabric that is quite affordable, durable, and relatively lightweight. If I had to guess I’d say 60% of modern tents are made from nylon.

Polyester is slightly more expensive and a little less common than nylon. In most regards, they’re fundamentally similar with respect to tent creation. Polyester, however, has the potential to be slightly lighter in some implementations but this depends heavily on manufacturer construction methods and the user’s intended purpose for their gear.

Largely I consider polyester and nylon tents to be basically equal for all but the biggest gram weenies (ultralight hikers) or ultra-hikers.

Last, but certainly not least, is cuben fiber now known as mylar composite. Cuben fiber started out as a lightweight sandwich of mylar plastic with spectra fibers smashed in between. This stuff is crazy strong and insanely lightweight!

A Note About Denier: Denier refers to how thick a polyester or nylon fabric is. 10 denier is about as lightweight as it comes while 200-300 denier is the equivalent of a car seatbelt or more. Things like the bottom of your tent (where it contacts the ground) should be made from more robust fabrics (higher denier) while other components like the rainfly can be made from oober-light fabrics in the 10-15 denier range.

Mylar laminate is also crazy expensive and only small cottage industry manufacturers work with it. Why? Because most hikers don’t like the high cost, its weakness to puncture, or the odd crinkly sounds and feel of the plastic bag-like material.

Mylar laminate is popular among the die-hard ultralight hikers and users who do the best with cuben fiber tents fully understand the materials and its limitations/drawbacks. Not recommended for beginners.

Tent Waterproofing Options

When it comes time to waterproof the fabric your tent is made from most manufacturers follow a similar process. Both nylon and polyester are inherently very water resistant in most weaves used for tents. Mylar composite, however, is inherently fully waterproof by itself (which is considered one of its major advantages as a material).

To make nylon and polyester waterproof generally silicone is applied in the factory. Before the fabric leaves the textile mill the nylon or polyester will be impregnated with a very thin layer of silicone which is waterproof, flexible, and durable.

After this process has happened the fabric will now be known as “silnylon” or “silpoly” indicating the addition of silicone.

While there are other waterproof fabrics out there, they’re very rare and generally not applicable. For instance, Gore-Tex and eVent are both examples of waterproof breathable membranes and do not get used in tent applications. Another example is PU (polyurethane) coated nylon – a fabric popular on inexpensive waterproof jackets but very rare on tents.

Sealing Up Tent Seams

Great, so now we’ve found some good waterproof fabrics. It’s time to sew up the tent!

The only problem is… when you sew a tent it puts thousands of tiny needle holes into that waterproof silnylon or silpoly. These little holes do leak and they will cause you headaches if they’re not fixed!

In order to stop leaking from around the seams used to sew together a waterproof tent a process generally known as “seam sealing” must be implemented. Seam sealing uses one of several various waterproofing methods to block up those needle holes and keep you dry.

Seam tape is a sticky waterproof tape applied over the sewn seams of a tent. Usually, this tape is applied at the factory and adheres to the tent through a process of heat and pressure which fixes it firmly in place.

Seam tape is visible on the inside of tents, jackets, pants, and other waterproof hiking gear. Just turn your tent or jacket inside out and look for a thin line of transparent tape along the seams to see if it’s there!

Silicone seam sealer is a liquified silicone gel that you can purchase in various forms. It’s used for sealing seams, repairing tears, and other DIY processes. My personal go-to is the Gear Aid Seam Grip.

If you ever buy a cottage industry tent you may be faced with siliconizing your own seams. It’s a good process to master because it comes in handy for repairs on seam tape tents, too! The process is super simple – just follow this easy video to touch up your tent or seal a new tent/tarp.

Tent Floors and Footprints

Now that we’ve covered fabrics and waterproofing, there is just a little bit left to know about your tent.

Bathtub floors are a type of tent floor where the thick, waterproof floor of your tent wraps up the side walls of the tent. Usually, these side wraps stretch up 2-6” along the sides of your tent and help protect against rain splatter and any running groundwater during hard storms. Most tents utilize a design similar to this even if they don’t advertise it as such.

Footprints are basically tarps that go on the ground under your tent. Usually, they’re shaped to match the silhouette of your tent and should be made from durable heavier denier fabric.

Footprints are most often for protecting the bottom of your tent from scratches, scrapes, and punctures that can occur as a result of sharp objects on the ground.

I don’t usually use or recommend footprints for tents because careful site selection helps mitigate any risk of tent damage, to begin with, and they add a lot of weight to the pack.

Additionally, many users fail to properly “hide” the footprint under the tent. Any exposed surface area of footprint outside the tent floor will act as an inadvertent rain catch essentially channeling running water down under your tent. Not good!

There are tons of different fabric choices out there for your next tent. More than likely you’ll be choosing between silnylon and silpoly, however, simply due to their wide availability and affordable prices. In this article, I’ve attempted to cover the basics while helping you dip your toes into the moderate and advanced concepts when it comes to waterproof tents.

As you dive into the world of hiking, camping, and backpacking you’ll eventually learn some things the hard way. There’s no way around it – I think everyone I know has owned at least 3-4 tents. Understanding the details of your waterproof tent, however, means you’ll be able to make more educated decisions and waste less money trying new tents over time.

Let us know what tent you have in the comments below and how waterproof (or not!) it is.

Casey has a degree in Outdoor Education and has spent years guiding backpacking trips on the trail around the US. He works with Outside Pursuits to write gear-based outdoor articles on tons of topics!
For more information on backpacking tents and gear, check out:

The post Waterproof Tent Materials: Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Your Adventure Coach.

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If you’re new to hiking, or maybe hiking more and more and need to bulk up your outdoor wardrobe, it can be hard to choose what clothing to buy and what to actually wear hiking. Hiking in the summer means planning ahead for hot, sunny days, bug and ticks, afternoon storms and even chilly nights. I’m excited to share what I wear and how I prepare for summer time hikes below.

Pants vs Shorts for Summer Hiking

When I lived on the east coast, I lived in synthetic running/athletic shorts in the summers because it was so stinking hot! If that sounds like where you live – I would totally recommend hiking in synthetic shorts in the summers. You don’t even have to go all out and get brand name anything, there are lots of generic/no name running shorts out there too.

Insider tip: if you’re having issues with chafing or discomfort, cutting out the underwear lining of shorts that come with it and going commando can be a life saver! (Don’t knock it till you try it.)

But shorts are not for everyone, or for every hike. Some hikers just don’t like hiking in shorts, because they either ride up all the time or maybe you just can’t find the right length, and shorts give your legs little protection from bugs, ticks, the sun and other elements.

Sometimes, hiking pants or leggings can be a better option. Again though, hiking in leggings is not for everyone, some people hate them. Pants definitely protect you from the sun but can also help prevent ticks from latching on to you, even more so if they’re treated with Permethrin, so that’s one major benefit of hiking pants. But I know, they are definitely not always the most comfortable option.

Like I said, I usually do wear shorts in the summer, but almost always bring along rain pants that I can put on if it gets windy, stormy or cold.

It really is a personal preference whether you wear shorts or pants to go hiking in the summer, and may depend a little on the location or trail conditions, but now you know some of the pros and cons of each.

Best Shirts for Hiking in Summer

As much I love tank tops, I almost always opt for a synthetic t-shirt to hike in so that I know my pack straps won’t bother me as much. That’s a pretty big priority – making sure your hiking shirt fits well and fits comfortably under your pack shoulder straps and hip belt.

You could go as basic (cheap) or as fancy (expensive) as you want when it comes to hiking shirts. Whatever you choose – go with a synthetic material like polyester, nylon, or even merino wool or silk, just not cotton.

The kind of shirt you wear is personal preference, I never really got into the outdoorsy button up shirts with the collars, but a lot of hikers like them! And I do see their benefit for sun protection and possibly extra bug protection if they’re chemically treated.

I stick with a basic t-shirt, no frills, buttons or pockets because they tend to annoy me either when I have to add on more layers or they rub under my pack straps. Even in summer, I always bring extra layers! Usually just a warmer fleece pullover and my rain coat are enough to keep me warm during the day. If I’m backpacking though, I also pack my puffy down jacket for after the sun goes down.

Extras to Wear and Pack While Hiking in Summer
  • Extra water and electrolytes – I love Ultima Packets for a clean alternative to sports drinks.
  • Sun protection – whether it’s sun screen, a big sun hat and/or a UPF sun protection shirt
  • Bug protection – you can treat your outer clothes and gear with Permethrin and use Picaridin on your skin as a gear safe alternative to DEET. I also have been known to wear a bug net, even though I get made fun of, still totally worth it.
  • Always rain gear – it’s so common for afternoon storms to rush in through out the summer, better to be prepared than totally soaked, and possibly hypothermic (yes! Hypothermia happens in the summertime, too!)
  • A hammock or lightweight campchair or closed cell foam sleeping pad to just chillax on in the sunshine

Let us know your favorite summer hiking clothing item or favorite way to stay cool while hiking in the comments below!

For more tips on what to wear hiking and how to find backpacking clothes, check out:

The post What to Wear Hiking in Summer appeared first on Your Adventure Coach.

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Guest post by: Adria Nemeroff, in memory of Peter Falkowski

Today Peter’s pack and I finally took a longer six mile walk together, around Lake Galina in Peace Valley. It was a sunny but windy Saturday, with such beautiful views, and it looked very different from the wintry trip Peter and I had made there. Everything was now green. The trees were flowering, and other people were wearing shorts and short sleeves to run or bike the trail.

There was even a little boy attempting to roller blade down the roughly paved path, and I thought of how graceful a skater Peter was. He was going to teach me to roller blade in the warmer weather. “You learn how to fall first… in the grass,” he said. I was looking forward to learning, and then to skating with him outside all through the summer into fall. It was just another activity we could add to our list of those that we enjoyed together.

I walked past the peddle boat rental building and remembered that we were going to take one out on the water sometime. Peter had said I could just ride along, and that he would peddle for both of us, I suppose straddling his long legs to catch one peddle from either side. I figured that meant that I was going to be placed on the back of the peddle boat, but others who heard the tale smiled and said maybe I would ride in his lap. Well, just maybe I would have, ever given the chance. Today the park had its red flag waving, however, to signal that it was too windy to be on the water.

I walked out onto one of the small docks that extended into the lake, to look in either direction over the water. Two ducks were swimming together very close to my position, used to the many people that wandered the trails there. Their companionship enjoying the sun on the shimmering water made me sad, thinking of my own someone, and of never having a moment in his vibrant presence again. He would have loved this day.

Back on the path around the reservoir, I looked up into the sky. Peter and I had talked about how the light there played its tricks, and you never saw the same sky two times. I searched the blue haze for him, but what I found was peaceful blue sky and white clouds swiftly moving past in the silence, my new companion. I thought to myself that I will visit this place again, maybe even rent a pedal boat, because Peter loved to be there. But I realized that no matter where I go, it will just be to live in my memories of him.

Peter, I am feeling lost now, and I don’t know what to do.

PS – I love you.

About the author: Adria Nemeroff is a CPA currently residing near Allentown, PA. She began the Peter’s Pack series as a tribute to her departed companion and hiking partner Peter John Falkowski, who’s enthusiasm for the scenic outdoors and artistic talents for photographing landscapes inspired her to keep going outside. Peter’s Pack will now roam on adventures both familiar and new in loving memory of him.

The post Peter’s Pack Goes to Lake Galina appeared first on Your Adventure Coach.

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Choosing the best backpacking trail that will set you up for success can sometimes be tricky. Not knowing where to actually go can also, unfortunately, be a big factor that holds hikers back and keeps them inside instead of out adventuring!

I don’t want that to happen to you! Keep reading for my favorite ways to pick out your next best backpacking trail.

Set your hiking goals

Before you even start looking at trails or maps, you need to get real with yourself. Why do you want to go backpacking??

For a physical challenge? To bag some peaks? To get to some other destination (lake, historic landmark, etc)? To view wildlife? Practice your photography or sketching/painting skills? Just to relax and get out of the house?

Knowing what your own goals, or the goals of your group, are will make a difference in what trail you pick. A marathon runner looking for a fun challenge might choose a 40 mile loop, with some real ups and downs, to be done in 2-3 days where as a birdwatcher or outdoor photographer might choose to only hike 10 miles in a beautiful location in 2 days time.

Assess your physical abilities

Again, be honest with yourself here, what are your or your groups physical abilities? Can you hike 8 miles in a day? Maybe 15? Maybe more or less?

Always take total elevation gain/loss into account as well. A 15 mile day with 2,000 ft of elevation gain is going to be way easier than a 15 mile day with 5,000 or 6,000 ft of elevation gain. You don’t want to get stuck in a tricky situation if you were counting on those miles to get you to the next water source, for example, but then are unable to complete them.

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes crazy sh!t happens on the trail. Maybe crazy weather slows you down or holds you back, or there was unexpected damage to the trail that slows you down or causes you to reroute. Some of those things are unpreventable, but we want to prepare for as much as we can, and set up ourselves up for success as much as we can with what is in our control, like setting realistic mileage goals each day.

Loop trails vs out and back

I wanted to mention this because I have a dear friend who lights up when talking about hiking a loop instead of a plain ol’ out and back trail, where you would have to backtrack to get back to your starting point.

I get where she’s coming from, trails that go in a loop and bring on new scenery the entire trip are usually more exciting than going out and back and retracing your steps.

But I also wanted to bring this up to make sure there’s no confusion when you’re planning your mileage. A looping trail that’s 12 miles is not the same as a ‘non-looping’ trail that’s 12 miles. To complete the non-looping trail that’s 12 miles, you would have to hike 24 miles total. So, just keep that in mind and pay careful attention if mileage is listed as one-way or round-trip.

Dispersed camping vs designated campsites

You’ll want to check if campsites along the route are dispersed or designated campsites. This may also tie into the goals of your trip as well. If you’re looking for some quiet alone time in nature, dispersed camping might be for you. If you’re looking to meet other hikers and enjoy their company around a campfire or campsite, designated campsites might be for you.

Dispersed camping is usually done in less traveled, secluded, wilderness areas. This is where you just pick any spot that looks good (within Leave No Trace guidelines) and go set up your tent there. The goal with dispersed camping to leave an area looking totally untouched, keeping that wilderness feel, no one should be able to tell where you set up your tent or sat to cook your meals or used the bathroom.

Designated campsites are usually created along more well-traveled trails and are set up as a designated area to create human impact. Land managers are saying, hey, we know a lot of hikers will be coming through here, so instead of hundreds or thousands of people damaging the whole trail by camping where ever they want, they can camp in this one area that is already cleared and ready to handle the impact. Sometimes, designated campsites also have pit toilets, fire pits, picnic tables, shelters or food storage systems installed.

How to find a backpacking trail

Ok, now that you have a better idea of what you actually want to in a backpacking trail – let’s start looking at trails! Here are some of my favorite places to check.

Alltrails.com – I’m not going to lie, I was not a big fan of the Alltrails app, even paid for the pro version, I did not think it was worth it. But I do like to at least do a quick on the Alltrails website, just to gather some initial information, like what trails exist, and look at any recent comments from other hikers about the trails I’m looking at. Especially here at high elevation in CO, it’s priceless to be able to hear from others if a trail is still snowpacked or not, or if there’s avalanche damage, or if a trail is closed during mud season, etc.

Hiking Project – this is REI’s hiking trails app and it is pretty awesome! It’s free, which I love, and actually had a decent listing of trails for the few areas that I’ve been to and checked out. It shows you the total distance of a trail, the elevation gain and loss as well as a detailed topo map which is amazing!

National Geographic Maps – I know a lot of you are tied to your smartphones and love your apps, so I did give you some options there, but I will always be a map and compass girl, through and through. So, of course, one of my favorite ways to find trails is to actually look for them. On a map! The National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps are by far my favorite. They’re just too easy use and read, and are waterproof and durable enough to take backpacking, so it’s a win-win. As long as you know how to read a map (which you should!) you can gather all the details you need, like mileages from point to point, where campsites and water sources are, elevation gain and loss and any other road crossings or points of interest along the way.

Local ranger station, book store, coffee shops, local guide books – If you’re having trouble finding a trail or have more questions, reach out to the local park ranger station or visitor center for more information. Or check the local book stores, gift shops, or coffee shops for any guide books specific to that area.

Check local regulations

Once you’ve found a trail that suits your needs, be sure to check the local regulations either on the managing agency’s website (park service website, state park website, or other privately owned property) or call the local ranger station or visitor center to ask for information or what you need to know ahead of time.

You’re looking for things like – what are the rules on campfires or is there a fire ban? Are there any warnings in effect like flash flooding or wildfire? Is a bear canister required? Where is parking permitted and do you need a permit to park? Where is camping permitted and do you need a permit? What are the rules on fishing and hunting, if that is pertinent to you? Are there group size limits, if you’re going in a group? Is there a limit on the number of nights spent in the area?

Hopefully this helps you narrow down your next or first backpacking trail to head out on!

Let us know what your bucket list trails are in the comments below.

For more backpacking tips for beginners, check out:

The post Backpacking Trails: Everything you need to know appeared first on Your Adventure Coach.

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Guest post by: Adria Nemeroff, in memory of Peter Falkowski

This sunny Tuesday, marking time without Peter was a tough workday, just trying get to my car before the sadness of losing him got the better of me. I luckily had an evening date with Beth, my sister-in-law and dear friend, back in the woods where Peter and I would often explore. This time the weather was perfect, and it felt right to venture farther onto those familiar trails.

Spring is finally here

Upon my arrival I noticed a true sign of the beautiful Spring weather: many more people to be found near the stream and on the trail. I smiled and thought to myself that they really had missed some amazing views all winter. A pang of sadness hit me hard, as I wondered if I would be brave enough to venture out in the snow and ice without my amazing hiking partner, who had made me feel safe in any situation.

Here in the present on a welcoming Spring day, I must say that Beth makes an excellent hiking companion. She pointed out different flowers just beginning to bloom. A particular yellow one with spotted leaves only appears for a week or two, while the ferns looked like curled worms, not yet ready to unfold for us. I appreciated all of the new colors that were visible as we strolled down the dirt path in that wood. I wondered what Peter would see that I was missing, and he would point out with excitement in which I could share. Would he already be trudging his heavy photography equipment down those paths to catch the perfect light and color and scenery? I think he would have, and he would have reveled in every minute.

I took Peter’s pack all the way down the lower path of Henry’s Woods, past the island in the middle of the stream, which he said in the nicer weather he wanted to wade out to and explore. I know he would have if he just had one more season in the sun. I joked at that time that I would watch him from the dry path, but today I thought maybe Peter’s Pack and I would get across to the small patch of land in the summer, when at least the water would be refreshing. I want so much for Peter to do as he planned, and this is all I can substitute for that now.

I came to the small wooden bridge next to the frog pond. I heard a frog plop in, and I watched the water ripple from where it made contact. I set Peter’s Pack down to really take notice of the changes all around me. Just a few weeks before, he and I had been at the frog pond watching boys with nets and buckets catching the tadpoles and new frogs to study and then release. Peter loved to see their excitement and found it contagious, crouching his tall 6’3” frame to see what they had found.

On our way out of the woods that same day, Peter and I also watched a man running an impressive remote-control boat on the stream. It zoomed down and across with great speed, turning sharply and speeding back, unaffected by the current. I got the sense that Peter would have loved to join in that fun as well. I think what I really miss to my core is that he approached whatever he found with great enthusiasm, and he wanted to share in it all together.

Today on my own way back with Peter’s Pack, a group with two dogs allowed a bit more lead on their leashes than I was comfortable with, and I tried to push quickly past them on the very edge of the trail. I missed Peter again, remembering that he would step between me and any large beast encountered on our outings together. I think he was confident that he could win a staring contest with any size dog and escape unscathed. He never ended up with a bite, so I guess he was right. And he loved big animals. “No purse pups,” he would say, as he admired an excited pit bull, practically pulling its owner over to sniff Peter’s hand.

I thankfully made it back without incident myself, and I was glad Peter’s Pack and I had the opportunity to be out on a beautiful Tuesday. Missing Peter may be a constant ache, but I am close to him when I do the things we enjoyed in his memory.

Peter, that is how I carry you in my heart.

PS – I love you.

About the author: Adria Nemeroff is a CPA currently residing near Allentown, PA. She began the Peter’s Pack series as a tribute to her departed companion and hiking partner Peter John Falkowski, who’s enthusiasm for the scenic outdoors and artistic talents for photographing landscapes inspired her to keep going outside. Peter’s Pack will now roam on adventures both familiar and new in loving memory of him.

The post Peter’s Pack Goes further into Henry’s Woods appeared first on Your Adventure Coach.

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