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Like paddling a canoe or pedaling a bike, splitting wood is a rhythmic outdoor activity that can feel downright meditative when done correctly.  Swinging an ax, however, is a little more difficult (and dangerous) than biking or boating, so it takes time and practice to become a master of this useful art form. To get…

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No winter trip to AMC’s Maine Wilderness Lodges would be complete without spending an evening huddled around the wood stove, warming chilly toes and sipping hot chocolate. JP Krol, a longtime winter caretaker for both AMC and Randolph Mountain Club, has spent many a night doing just this. “Caretakers wear many hats, but one of…

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If you love exploring the outdoors, you depend on a strong back. Whether you’re skiing through deep powder, hiking to a mountaintop, or paddling around the next inlet, back pain can seriously hinder your plans. But with proper preparation, it’s possible to recover from pain or, better yet, to avoid it entirely. We asked two…

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It happens to the best of us. You’re playing outside with friends at dusk, and out of nowhere the sky explodes into an intense canvas of color and light. You fumble for your camera, envisioning your next smash-hit Instagram post, and begin to shoot. But by the time the tie-dye skyline has faded to deep ocean blues, you realize your photos are too blurry and dark to…

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Bright bluebird skies sprawl above a dark, craggy mountain peak. Glistening snow drifts along the shadowy forest’s edge. The same natural contrasts that make outdoor photography so spectacular can create a major technical challenge: How do you capture detail in both the brightest and the darkest elements of a scene? Fortunately, a standard smartphone feature can help you eliminate blown-out skies and dark shadows: high dynamic…

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Adapted from AMC’s Mountain Skills Manual If you’re lost in the woods, one not-so-well-known approach to locating a more familiar area is the find-me cross. This technique is quite effective, but you have to be self-disciplined to use it. After admitting that you’re lost, mark your location by building an obvious landmark using rocks or…

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It can happen to even the most seasoned hiker. You casually duck into the woods to relieve yourself, zip up your pants, and—uh, oh. Which way was the trail? If you’re a solo hiker who becomes disoriented—or, worse, injured—nobody is there to help. Don’t panic! You’ve got options. Before You Go Getting found starts before…

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Magnetic declination refers to the angle between the geographic North Pole and the magnetic pole located in the Arctic Ocean. You will discover that good hiking and topographic maps always indicate the local magnetic declination via a declination diagram, which includes one arrow pointing to geographic north (commonly labeled as True North, or TN) and…

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A map and compass make up two of the 10 essentials recommended for safe backcountry travel, but they’ll do little good if you don’t know how to use them. Misuse could even turn a situation in which you’re simply confused into one in which you’re totally lost. The bottom line? Learn proper technique before your…

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We’ve all been there: You’re opening a can of baked beans when—bam—you cut your finger. Fortunately, a good backcountry first-aid kit comes stocked with the necessary supplies to treat a small cut or abrasion: adhesive bandages, occlusive dressing, gauze, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly, tweezers, a syringe, and nonlatex gloves. By knowing how to…

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