The state of Rhode Island requires all visitors to wear safety orange during the busiest hunting seasons. For the 2020-2021 season the regulations are:
All other users of State Management Areas and designated undeveloped State Parks, including but not limited to: hikers, bikers, and horseback riders are required to wear 200 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange from the second Saturday in September to the last day of February and the third Saturday in April to the last day in May.
500sq. in. by all hunters (including archers) and all users of management areas and undeveloped state parks during all portions of shotgun deer seasons.
Here’s my publicly available Google calendar showing the 200 & 500 sq. in dates.
Note: the calendar dates only apply to Zones 1 & 2 which is the vast majority of the state. For Zones 3 (Patience & Prudence Islands) & 4 (Block Island), refer to the regulations for those dates.
For all visitors to RI forests where hunting is allowed (most of them) the wearing of hunter safety orange is required by law starting September 8th 2018 and running until February 28, 2019. The second second season runs from April 20, 2019 through May 31, 2019.
During the entire season 200 square inches are required and during shotgun deer hunting season 500 square inches are required. The official brochure of the regulations states:
Fluorescent hunter orange must be worn above the waist and be visible in all directions. Examples are: a hat that covers 200 square inches or a combination of hat and vest covering 500 square inches. Fluorescent camouflage does not meet this requirement.
I’m not sure the math actually works out but I’ll take their word for it (a hemisphere 11.4 inches in diameter is 200 in2, and that’s a huge noggin). I’ve created a Google Calendar showing the dates and amounts to make it easy to know how much and when.
As I mentioned in my first post in this series I just started doing frequent hikes this year. I also just started using a smart phone this year and I’ve found it to be an excellent tool for hiking. There are of course the obvious uses, to call for help or a ride home and sending text messages of the hike progress to the person responsible for calling emergency services when you don’t come back.
The first non-standard use is GPS navigation, for my purposes I found that GPS Essentials is the best choice. It’s a versatile and powerful program so be prepared to spend some time getting up to speed using it. There is a support forum where the author and other users, including myself, are happy to help solve problems. Frequently the problems are due to not easily being able to figure out which of the huge number of features will get you the result you want.
Something to be aware of is the possible lack of accuracy with the GPS and compass sensors. On my LG pulse phone the compass is basically useless it has errors of over 30 degrees at times. The GPS accuracy is excellent when there are no hills, clouds or trees blocking the view of the GPS satellites. However my hiking virtually guarantees poor GPS reception sometimes making the error greater than 150 feet. This brings up one of the first field lessons I learned, a GPS in your pocket can be absolutely horrible, I saw errors of over 300 feet. To avoid that problem I bought a wrist strap to hold the phone. In addition to keeping the GPS readings as accurate as possible it also makes it more convenient for other phone tasks. When I’m out exploring new trails I find the only times I need a compass are when I get to an unexpected intersection (frequent occurrence in SE New England forests). To work around the inaccurate compass I simply walk a few hundred feet on one trail and see how the recorded track compares to my trail map. This has the added benefit of recording the unknown trails direction for adding to my map.
One very important thing to keep in mind when using a smart phone as a hiking companion, electronic devices fail. They run out of power and have other problems that will prevent you from using the GPS. This is why I always carry my trusty old Silva compass and a paper map. I have also added a portable phone charger/emergency LED flashlight to my day hiking gear. It has come in handy a couple times allowing me to finish recording my GPS track instead of turning off the phone to save the power for an emergency call if needed. To keep the whole package small and dust/water resistant I replaced the included USB cable with a 6″ cable and installed a pair of RooKaps.
This reminds me of another important safety tip, set your phone to automatically power off at 10% battery left so that you won’t get stranded due to a dead phone battery.
The other smartphone features I’ve come to rely on are the camera, voice recorder and eBook reader. In addition to taking photos of interesting things seen, I like to take pictures of trail signs and oddly shaped intersections. Those pictures come in handy as I build up my comprehensive forest map. The voice recorder is a great way to take down long notes and record odd natural sounds for later identification. On my very first hike I heard a strange cacophony of sound emanating from many areas of the forest but could not see what critter was making the racket. I eventually tracked it down to some type of frog in vernal pools, when I got home I used the recorded sounds for reference and determined it was the mating calls of Wood Frogs. Voice recorded notes have also been very handy for documenting the appearance of birds I see. I can quickly speak a description of what I see and then later use the recording while searching through my bird identification books. This leads me to the last feature the eBook reader, with some field guides downloaded to the phone I can look up the critter while observing it if I’m not in a hurry or wait and look when I’m taking a rest break.
A final thing I’ve learned the hard way about using my smartphone as a hiking companion. CHECK ALL THE FUNCTIONS BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE. On one hike when I went to make some voice notes I got error messages saying the microphone was locked by another application. After trying reboots and other things that came to mind for about 15 minutes I finally gave up and started the hike. When I got home and researched the issue I learned that a recent update to the Google app had set it to take control of the microphone from everything except the telephone app. A simple settings change and I was back in business, if I’d checked it before leaving I would have been able to hike an extra 3/4 mile instead of fumbling round trying to fix the voice recorder.
My hike today took me along the west central edge of the Douglas State Forest. Most of the hike was on private property and quite a few areas have been logged over the years. Most of the logged areas are clear cuts but today I hit an area where obviously the property owner is selective cutting because on the trail I saw this:
A line and the text 11 carved into a tree and filled in with white paint. Behind it two trees where marked 12 & 13 and looking around I saw these other trees.
The highest number was 60 so it appears the property owner is going to selectively harvest 60 hardwood trees of various species. Pretty cool I’ve never seen this kind of preparation before, it will be interesting to see what the end result is the next time I hike that trail. It could leave some more open habitat that I’m sure will be enjoyed by the deer and other forest edge species (there’s very few open areas so any additions should be an environmental plus).
Fourteen months ago I broke my right ankle while on a pleasure walk with my family at Purgatory Chasm. The force of the break was so bad that it sent a pressure wave up my fibula leaving a small fracture under my kneecap. Unfortunately for me the ER doctor did a bad job on the splint which left my skin so badly damaged that the surgeon had to wait three weeks for my skin to heal before he could operate on me. I had three screws put in the ankle but also got the bad news that two of the screws where going to have to come out later if I ever wanted to walk without a bad limp. I got started on physical therapy but I couldn’t progress very far because the ankle just couldn’t flex enough with the two temporary screws in place. I did get to the point of being able to climb the stairs to get to my bedroom and home office and then to only using one crutch by Christmas.
The last week of December I had the two screws removed and by the middle of January I was back on one crutch and able to re-start physical therapy the last week of the month. By the middle of March I’d used up all the physical therapy insurance would cover and was walking well and driving again. Knowing it was going to take a long time and a lot of work to get my ankle as flexible as it could be, my therapist and I discussed options for continuing self therapy. Since the best therapy is something you will actually stick with (almost everyone gets bored and stops too soon) we decided I would do a bunch of rough terrain hiking to really work the ankle flexibility. The plan was that as soon as the snow was gone (couldn’t risk a slip on snow and ice) I’d start slowly with short easy mostly flat trails then as I felt more confident and comfortable I’d increase the distances and terrain roughness. A few very important conditions were placed on me by the therapist, first I needed to get good tall hiking boots to provide excellent ankle support for both legs. Next I had to wear my soft orthopedic ankle brace inside the boot as added protection for my injured ankle in case I fell. I was also told to use a walking stick to help prevent me from falling when traversing rocky and hilly terrain. The final condition was that I had to be careful and not push too hard, it ‘s OK to be sore and tired but if I caused pain in the ankle I’d probably slow my getting it back into shape.
As everyone living in the valley remembers we had massive amounts of snow last winter so the trails and woods weren’t clear of snow until very late this year. Waiting for the snow to melt and a weekend day with no rain kept me from getting started until April 12th. My first hike was the easy heart healthy Bird Blind and Cedar Swamp trails in the Wallum Lake Park area of the Douglas State Forest. This hike was only 2 miles but it was challenging enough to give the ankle a good work out and fun enough to make we want to do more. Needing a goal to keep me motivated all year I decided I would task myself with locating, hiking and mapping every foot of trails in the Douglas State Forest. As of last weekend I’ve finished the trails in the DSF as well as most of the trails in the adjoining Mine Brook Wildlife Management Area and bordering private properties. My injured ankle is nearly as flexible as the other one, I’ve rebuilt most of the atrophied muscles in the leg, and now after hikes it’s other body muscles and joints that are more likely to be sore than my ankle or leg. I can now hike 9 miles in a day over very rough terrain and average 17 miles per weekend. My total hiking distance for the year so far is 210 miles. Another great thing is I’ve lost more than 20 of the extra pounds I gained while I was on crutches.