Join Me in My New Venture

If you have followed my blog for any length of time you undoubtedly have figured out that I spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Over the last 2 years I have been working towards starting an outdoors based business, and after a year and a half of testing I have recently launched my new company – Hemlock Mountain Outdoors https://hemlockmountainoutdoors.com

With Hemlock Mountain Outdoors I will be selling handmade hammocks and outdoor gear made to order. Currently offering stand-alone hammocks, camping hammock systems (with hammock, tarp, bugnet and suspension included), suspensions, bugnets, tarps and rain flys all available on the website. I am also offering  Hemlock Mountain Outdoors T-Shirts available on Amazon.com

Stop by and check out what we have to offer.  We are based in North East Pennsylvania and strive to use all American made components and fabrics. All hammocks and gear are proudly made in the U.S.A.

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What the Heck is a Kurt Shirt?

Yep… you read that right, a Kurt Shirt. Why? Because I get bored sometimes, that’s why…. and, I can get these made and shipped by Amazon (Prime). So, if you like my site or my YouTube Channel and you want an awesome shirt to boot, then check these out. I will have more styles available as I can, but for now… here’s what I got. You can also find these by searching Amazon for Kurt Zitzelman Outdoors or from the Kurt Shirts link at the top of the page.

 

Go Outside and Do Something!

Get my Big Ol’ Dumb Face Logo on your back… this is for the true, die hard KZO fan! You’d have to be in order to be seen in this thing! Only $19.99 and processed by Amazon!
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3M46JW

 

 

Solitude

Inspired by the sunrise on a recent trip to the Catskill Mountains during which I saw absolutely no one else on the trail for 3 days.  The new Solitude shirt has a lot less of the Big Ol’ Dumb Face logo and more… well… solitude! Only $19.99 and processed by Amazon!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B89KR5Y

Upgrading and Evolving

Creating. Those of us who blog and vlog or make music and art… we have a need to create. Doesn’t matter sometimes what it is, just as long as we make something. In this process we evolve and change, it’s inevitable. Over the past few years, I have found a lot of enjoyment creating video. I started messing with video years ago with a VHS camcorder… it was horrible, but I found ways to “produce” and “edit” on the fly. Since then I have tried my hand at video tech reviews and had a lot of fun doing them, but had more fun editing them. So I decided to merge my love of the outdoors with my new found enjoyment of video. It started with actual video about 7 or 8 years ago. Unfortunately, my computer at the time couldn’t handle the processing so I did the next best thing. I merged outdoors, video and photography and started making video slide shows of sorts, eventually mixing in short video clips.

At the beginning of 2016 I decided to dive back in to full video for my outdoor adventures and immediately realized it was way different than recording in an indoor setting. For the last 2 years I have struggled to find a balance between, good stable video and good audio. I’ve had cameras with good microphones and no image stabilization, ones with stabilization and poor microphones,  decently stable with good mics but render horribly… you name it. On top of trying to find that right balance, also trying to improve my filming and editing skills. And yet, it’s never gotten me down… frustrated occasionally yes, but not down. Now let’s see what my new recording setup does. I’m now using my GoPro Hero 5 Black on the Karma Grip for stable recording and my Tascam DR-05 portable audio recorder with a lavaliere mic. Below is my test of the new setup. What do you think?

 

Hike to Stone Lookout – Pinchot State Forest

With the first snow falling here in north east Pennsylvania this weekend, I headed out for a short hike to the Pinchot State Forest. I hiked the, apparently difficult to say, McClintock’s Gate Trail and the Stone Lookout Trail (or Stone Tower Trail depending on which direction you are hiking). Came across evidence of deer, coyotes, rabbits and snowshoe hares. Enjoy:

No Swimming Bears, but There Were Eagles!

Seems like an odd title, I know… but I have seem a swimming bear at this week’s destination before. Shohola Marsh Reservoir in Pike County PA is a 595 acre (accessible size … over 1,100 acres if you include the restricted waterfowl propagation areas) man-made lake. I have kayaked here five or six times and every time I see at least one Bald Eagle. Today’s visit was no exception with at least five Eagle sightings. One thing that was a little unexpected was that, even though it’s only August 12th, the trees already appear to be showing some fall color! Not much yet, but this is earlier than I can remember in recent years.

When Unsure… Head Upstream

Last Saturday was another day without a plan. I wanted to go somewhere new, but as I mentioned last week it gets increasingly difficult to find new places close to home. I thought I had found 2 new lakes to paddle, but found out last minute the the larger of the two, Lake Minsi, has recently been drawn down for dam repair… like a lot of other man-made lakes in the area. Since it was over a hour drive to get there, I decided to abandon that plan considering that only one, relatively small lake was now accessible.

My friend suggested nearby Fords Lake, a spot that I have driven by many times and never realized it had a boat ramp or was publicly accessible. So we drove up to Clarks Summit and checked it out. I was pleasantly surprised.

(more after video)

After Fords Lake, we decided it was time for some lunch and wound up back in Tunkhannock were we ate at the Downtown Deli, great little spot by the way. After lunch and while we were right next to it, we decided to go try our luck in the Susquehanna River. I say “try our luck” because we have had a lot of rain this summer, so there was a lot of water in the river. We headed up river, just in case the current got too strong we could coast back to the launch. Good thing we did, because about a 1/4 mile up river we hit much stronger current and had a very difficult time paddling against it. Always better safe than sorry, although a can see a multi day river trip in the future.

No Plans… No Problem

Sometimes it’s tough to find new places in your local area. Over the past 3 years I’ve kayaked in most of the accessible lakes and ponds in my area, besides the extremely busy places. So, I occasionally have a hard time figuring out what I going to do on the weekends. Last weekend was one of those times.

I decided, fairly early on Saturday (like 5am early) that I was going to start the day at Prompton State Park, but I had no plans for after that. After spending 3 hours kayaking at Prompton I went home and searched the PA Fish and Boat Commission page – http://fishandboat.com  and found Stevens Lake, a smal lake about 45 minutes from home that I had never been to before. (more after video)

 

As I found this new spot to kayak I decided to also stop at Lackawanna State Park for a sunset paddle, which turned out to be a beautiful night. Considering I started the day with no plans… 14 hours of kayaking and exploring was a nice surprise. It just goes to show, that you can always find something to do as long as you try.

Return to Bradys Lake

Bradys Lake was drawn down and had it’s dam repaired in the early 2000’s, during that time remnants of old structures that were used for hauling ice in the 1800’s. Now, the lake is used for recreation. Fishing and kayaking are popular as is hiking along he trails around the water and in to the surrounding state game lands. Check out the video to get a look at this secluded lake in the Poconos.

Fog and Sun: Kayaking Francis E. Walter Reservoir

A few weeks ago I visited this reservoir and kayaked the south arm, today I kayaked the north arm. You wouldn’t think that they would differ much, but the fact is they are like two different worlds. The south area is surrounded by forest and fields, the north is lined with rocky cliffs and the skeletons of a drowned forest. (more below video)

The reservoir is used to regulate the water flow of the Lehigh River, and since this has been a relatively wet year there hasn’t been any significant draw down as of yet. Or there has and it’s refilled. Either way, it makes for great kayaking, especially when there is only light wind like today.

Click here for the video from a few weeks ago to see the difference in the two sections.

 

Allegheny Reservoir Kayak/Camp

I had the opportunity to pass through the Allegheny National Forest about three years ago while on a road trip to north west Pennsylvania. All I had the chance to do was look though, as I was driving home and needed to make time. I wanted to head back and check out the Allegheny Reservoir and found that not only can you kayak here, but you can camp. (more below video)

I decided to take a few days off of work and make the 4 hour drive, I launched from the Elijah Run Boat Ramp and due to weather concerns I made the Morrison Campground my first stop. At just under a mile from the ramp it allowed me to have a relatively quick escape should the weather turn (and it did).

Although, surrounded  by a national forest, it didn’t feel as remote to me as say Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. Maybe because there were more people at this campground, and the campsites were closer. Speaking of which, I have seen many videos of people going to Allegheny Reservoir and setting up in primitive campsites anywhere along the water. As it turns out, this is a good way of getting yourself kicked out and fined by the Forest Service. It always pays to do your own research. While I was out on a night paddle I did see a Forest Service boat out spotlighting around non official spots, glad I went with the official campground,