Ditch the roads and your car to find more solitude

Image for post
Image for post
The John’s Lake Trail in Glacier National Park. All photos are by the author.

When we took a family trip to Glacier National Park the hikes we could do were limited by our two-year-old and my father, who had torn his ACL a few months before. Through a lot of planning, and some trial and error, we found some great hikes that put us in the middle of some beautiful scenery and gave us a little exercise while not pushing anyone too hard.

There were five hikes we particularly enjoyed. Most of these hikes take you to scenic places without much difficulty. At the same time, you can follow the trail a little further…


Beauty isn’t always hard to find

Image for post
Image for post
Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park. All photos are by the author.

Many of Glacier National Park’s wonders require you to burn some shoe leather to get there but Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake Trail are accessible to anyone. The two trails show so much of what makes Glacier special in a single hike.

The Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake Trail features beautiful, forested ecosystems, vibrant, glacial streams, and, cascading waterfalls just half a mile from the parking lot.

Both the Avalanche Lake Trail and Trail of the Cedars are accessed from the Trail of Cedars Parking area. …


Art and data all-in-one

Image for post
Image for post
All images by the author

False-color satellite images can be very useful to visually analyze different landscape characteristics. They also look really cool and are used to make very artistic maps and displays.

False-color satellite images are created by displaying different band combinations with different colors. For example, a color near-infrared image is created by displaying data from the near-infrared sensor as red, data from the red sensor as green, and data from the green sensor as blue.

Color near-infrared is commonly used to show areas that are vegetated and areas that are covered by water (see image below). Vegetation reflects near-infrared (NIR) light and…


This could be the most-used remote sensing index

Image for post
Image for post
NDVI calculated from a Landsat 8 image. All photos by Author.

Vegetation indices are a staple remote sensing product and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) may be the most widely used vegetation index. To calculate NDVI you simply need appropriate imagery and a program that allows you to interact with the image data. QGIS is a great, free option for a GIS program that provides the tools to display, analyze and present remotely-sensed data.

It is very easy to calculate NDVI in QGIS using the QGIS raster calculator. All you need is imagery that contains red and near-infrared bands and QGIS installed on your machine. …


Get your little ones outside for both your sakes

Image for post
Image for post

Once you have a baby it can really put a damper on your hiking life. With a new little person, you have many new responsibilities and limitations that tend to hinder your ability to do outdoor activities. The good news is that hiking is something you can still do. Of course, you’ll have limitations (though not as many as you might think) and it’s a great way to introduce your new one(s) to the outdoors.

A good child carrier will help you and your child be comfortable while hiking. There are two types of child carriers for hiking: front carriers…


Spend your money on the actual hike

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by author

For many beginners, gear can be a barrier to participating in outdoor activities. Even for an activity as simple as hiking, some recommended gear lists can cost upwards of $200-$300. While it’s true that the gear you have can make or break your day hike, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on gear to have a safe, enjoyable hike.

Instead of thinking about the specific gear pieces you do or do not have, I think it’s more helpful to think of functions and purposes you need gear to fill. For example, instead of realizing I don’t have…


Forget yourself, make it fun for the kids

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by author

Kids are great, but hiking with a toddler can stretch the patience of anyone to their limits. Still, parents need their outdoor time too, and the easiest way — often the only way — to get it is to go as a family. Besides, how will your kids learn to like hiking if they never do it? Over the last couple of years, my wife and I have been fortunate enough to have some great hikes with our kids.

The most important thing to remember when hiking with a toddler is to make it enjoyable for them. You can make…


Balancing cost, warmth, and weight

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jack Sloop on Unsplash

Perhaps the greatest backcountry danger is hypothermia. When you’re in the mountains you’re always a misstep, slip, or unexpected storm away from getting wet, then cold, then possibly hypothermic. This is why a sleeping bag is the most important piece of gear you take with you into the backcountry.

A good sleeping bag is your hypothermia safety net. When all else fails zip up in your bag and wait it out until you’re warm and dry. When you’re in the backcountry, you want to go with the best sleeping bag you can afford while minimizing the weight you carry.

The…


Whether photography, topography, or something else it can probably be analyzed with a sliding window

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by bin foch on Unsplash

There’s a good chance you’ve done something today that used a sliding window (also known as a moving window) and you didn’t even know it. Have you done any photo editing? Many editing algorithms are based on moving windows. Do you do terrain analysis in GIS? Most topographic raster metrics (slope, aspect, hillshade, etc.) are based on sliding windows. Anytime you do analysis on data formatted as a two-dimensional array there’s a good chance a sliding window will be involved.

Sliding window operations are extremely prevalent and extremely useful. They’re also very easy to implement in Python. …


Not too hot, not too cold, just right

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash

It can be hard to choose the sleeping bag temperature that will be best for you. The most important function of a sleeping bag is keep to you warm when it’s cold out, but you also don’t want to sweat all night when it’s warm out. Finding the right balance can be difficult enough that a lot of serious outdoors-folk have multiple bags. However, the normal, a budget-conscious recreationist like myself can’t always afford multiple, quality sleeping bags. So how can you choose a sleeping bag that will keep you comfortable in multiple seasons?

If you’re looking for one sleeping…

Konrad Hafen

Husband, father, outdoorsman, scientist. https://opensourceoptions.com. https://publiclandsjournal.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store