Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Our Community

By: Ben Shaw

If you would have asked me to describe the outdoors community a few years ago, I would have had no idea how to do that.  I probably would have guessed something along the lines of a rugged lumberjack or described a scene you might find on the front of a Mountain House Meal packet.  The truth is, it’s a much larger group than what most people think.  There are people all over the place, falling into different niches within the greater community.  There are backpackers, climbers, mountaineers, kayakers, day hikers, rafters, bikers, beach bums, and everything else you can think of. Then, even within these activities, you have more of a breakdown. For example, with backpackers you have weekend warriors, ultra-light minimalists, long distance through hikers, and probably a few more I’m forgetting about…

My First Community

What it comes down to is the fact that this is an extremely large but fragmented community.  There are people everywhere doing everything: kayakers hanging out on the river, backpackers clogging the trails, and mountaineers racing to the summit. If you never take the time to meet others on the river, trail, or climb, you find yourself staying around the same little bubble in the community.  Luckily, if you look hard enough you can find the things and places that bring this community of bubbles together.  For example, every time RRT hosts a presentation, or any other event, it brings together all sorts of different niches within the outdoors community and gives one a chance to meet others and possibly learn something about another part of the community or make new friends with similar interests.

Our RRT Community

Another nice thing about the outdoors community is that we tend to be open and outgoing people, ready to talk and visit with others, I can’t tell you how many times this has proven itself on the trail.  People have given me directions, pointed to hidden spots, donated gear and supplies, and so much more (often called “trail magic”).  Every time something along those lines happened it always made me feel a better sense of community with the people I’m sharing the outdoors with.  It also made me want to do the same things for others I came across out there and spread some of the “magic.”

Outside of RRT, I’m a student at the University of Cincinnati and am an active member in the University of Cincinnati Mountaineering Club.  For me, this has been where I’ve learned the bulk of what I know about the outdoor community as a whole, “whole” meaning each separate niche: climbers, hikers, bikers, kayakers, mountaineers, etc.  Each block has its own unique characteristics, but they all have a few things in common, they love the outdoors. They’re usually down to make friends and they always want to brag and teach their skills.  Even UCMC and RRT are a niche within the outdoors community, they’re vessels for people to meet, acquire gear, and learn new skills to get outside.

UCMC Whitewater Rafting Group

This is the unique way our community has developed, an unspoken understanding that if you share a trail, a story, or even just a similar interest, you have mutual respect and a chance for friendship. One of my favorite stories about this kind of experience happened about a year ago. I was hiking down in Red River Gorge with a group of people I didn’t really know. One of the guys who I had just met started telling me about his time on the Ozark Trail and we swapped stories and contacts, then we didn’t see each other for a little while.  A few months later I got back in touch and invited him out to the Wind River Range in Wyoming on a backpacking trip having simply bonded with him once on the trail and enjoying his stories and his company.  He came along with me and some friends and I couldn’t have been happier with it, we all had an amazing time filled with fun, laughter, and adventure.

Aaron and I in Wyoming

As I said above, this community is vast in its size, expansive in its hobbies, and fragmented in its communication but we all share so many common interests.  Everyone in this community appreciates the natural world and many of us strive to protect it so that we, and those after us, can continue to enjoy it.  For the most part we’re looking for others to adventure and share stories with. Above all, we enjoy what we do and can’t imagine spending our time any other way.  So, next time you’re on the trail, attending a presentation, or trading a hiking story with a stranger, think about the community you and the people around you are a part of, strike up a conversation and make a new friend.  You never know what adventure you’ll have or what part of this community you’ll end up in. Enjoy every trip, keep my young words of wisdom in mind and hopefully I’ll see you on the trail!

Sharing Adventures on the Trail with Friends in the Community

Outdoor Communities in the Greater Cincinnati Area


Caving: The Greater Cincinnati Grotto

Kayaking and Canoeing: Cincypaddlers & Tri-State Kayakers

Cycling and Mountain Biking: Cincinnati Cycle Club

Local Day Hiking: Cincinnati Parks Foundation

Day Hiking and Backpacking: Tri-State Hiking Club

Live Hopeful. Act Global.

Taking Action

by Will Babb

If you’re reading this, chances are you, like me, have a passion for being outside, traipsing across mountains and down rivers. If that’s the case, I’m fairly confident you also care about environment sustainability. It doesn’t take an expert to realize that our environment is at a crucial point, in need of action. Many people are under the illusion that the only way to protect the earth from pollution, climate change, resource consumption, and a variety of other issues are through giant, expensive actions. While coating the entire surface of Kansas in wind turbines could have a tremendous impact on some of the current environmental issues, doing so isn’t practical.

I’d like to place an emphasis on the often-overlooked smaller actions that are easy to incorporate into your life and still can have an impact. This summer, RRT would like to challenge you to take on these 6 small actions through out “Live Hopeful. Act Global” Campaign. Although small, through collective action these ideas can have an impact. I challenge you to do these, but the goal is that in doing so you form eco-friendly habits that continue beyond this summer.


  • No Straws

According to The Plastic Pollution Condition, over 500 million plastic straws are used in the United States each day. Inevitably, a good portion of these straws end up in the ocean, where they contribute to the nearly 46,000 pieces of plastic in each square mile of ocean. To help put that into perspective, take a look at artist Chris Jordan’s stunning rendition of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” that depicts just how much plastic that is. Check out a few of his other artworks in “Running the Numbers” if you’re interested in seeing a bit more about this issue and others. This month, try to go without using any plastic straws. Request your drink without them, or bring a reusable straw if you absolutely must use one. It’s a small piece that people don’t realize contributes to pollution, but it’s enough of an issue that Seattle has banned plastic straws to combat increased pollution.


  • Reusable Water Bottles and Coffee Mugs

This is an issue that I struggle with on a near daily basis. It’s too easy to walk down the street and grab my usual cup of coffee from the Main Cup, then throw that cup away a half hour later. Try grabbing a Yeti Rambler instead or take a mug with you to the coffee shop and save the waste. In just a month I’ve made using a Yeti mug a habit. If coffee isn’t for you, try a Nalgene water bottle instead of disposable plastic bottles. Around 400,000 plastic bottles are used each minute in the US, so pick up reusable water bottle or a snazzy Yeti mug at RRT to help put an end to excessive waste.


  • Reusable Containers Instead of Plastic Bags

I’ve got a bad habit of packing my lunch for work in Ziploc bags almost every day. I’ll throw my sandwich and crackers into separate plastic bags because that’s the easiest way to pack. I’ve challenged myself not to do this anymore, however. I’m now taking a few extra minutes in the morning to pack my food into plastic containers that I can easily wash and reuse. If you do the same, it’ll make quite an impact on plastic pollution.


  • Reusable grocery bags

Try bringing your own grocery bags to the store instead of using plastic bags over and over again. Look here for a staggering glimpse at just how many plastic bags the world consumes- 240,000 every ten seconds. On average, each of these bags is only used for twelve minutes. It’s not just the pollution from thrown-out bags that is damaging the environment. The ecological cost of producing plastic is quite detrimental. If you can go without plastic bags for a month, and even beyond that, the world might end up a bit cleaner. I think you’ll find that once you get into the habit of using reusable bags, it’s just as easy.


  • Locally grown produce

You might not realize it, but the carbon pollution that goes into producing your store-bought fruits and vegetables is astounding. The global food system is responsible for a significant amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the transportation of food products being one of those contributors. Buying locally grown produce from a farmer’s market can impact these emissions by cutting back on the carbon emissions associated with transporting produce grown across the country to local distributors.


  • Skip one drive per week

Automobiles are another huge contributor to fossil fuel combustion and greenhouse gas emissions. With 260,000 gallons of gasoline burned in the US every minute, the ecological cost of driving is extremely high. My challenge is to skip one drive per week- walk to the grocery store, bike to work, or share a ride with a friend. Cutting out one drive each week is a good start to slowly decreasing the incredible fuel costs on the environment.


Interested in joining the “Live Hopeful. Act Hopeful” Campaign by implementing these small actions into your daily routine? Head over to our Facebook page to comment with summer commitment and get rewarded with an in-store 20% discount!