083: Lessons from Dad

Show Notes: Episode 083

Today on the First 40 Miles, fathers play such a critical role in helping their children discover and love the outdoors. Today we celebrate and honor Fathers for their role in family adventures! Then, today’s Top 5 List, we spotlight the “Father of Our National Parks”. Next, on Ready for Adventure, we plan a backpacking trip along the Batona Trail in New Jersey. For Today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, we’ll share a hack that is totally gross, but hey, it works. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from, well, not John Muir. He already got a turn.


  • Conversation with Hiking Dad (Twitter: @dadhikes)
  • Getting outside with kids
  • Birdwatching, plant identification
  • Memories of time at Mount Rainier with Dad

Top 5 Gems from the Father of the National Parks from his book, Our National Parks

From this book comes John Muir’s well-loved and oft-quoted line “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”

This is the 100 year Anniversary of our National Parks.

Bear Encounter

Probably best to not ask WWJMD?

“When I discovered him, he was standing in a narrow strip of meadow, and I was concealed behind a tree on the side of it. After studying this appearance as he stood at rest, I rushed toward him to frighten him, that I might study his gait in running. But, contrary to all I had heard about the shyness of bears, he did not run at all; and when I stopped short within a few steps of him, as he held his ground in a fighting attitude, my mistake was monstrously plain. I was then put on my good behavior, and never afterward forgot the right manners of the wilderness.”


None of Nature’s landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild; But the continent’s outer beauty is fast passing away, especially the plant part of it, the most destructible and most universally charming of all.”

Force of Nature

“We see Nature working with enthusiasm like a man, blowing her volcanic forges like a blacksmith blowing his smithy fires, shoving glaciers over the landscapes like a carpenter shoving his planes, clearing, ploughing, harrowing, irrigating, planting, and sowing broadcast like a farmer and gardener, doing rough work and fine work, planting sequoias and pines, rosebushes and daisies; working in gems, filling every crack and hollow with them; distilling fine essences; painting plants and shells, clouds, mountains, all the earth and heavens, like an artist,–ever working toward beauty higher and higher.”

The Sierras

Classic Muir Prose…so enlightening, uplifting, and inspiring

“Benevolent, solemn, fateful, pervaded with divine light, every landscape glows like a countenance hallowed in eternal repose;”

Being Stealth

“The trees,” they say, “are fine, but the empty stillness is deadly; there are no animals to be seen, no birds. We have not heard a song in all the woods.” And no wonder! They go in large parties with mules and horses; they make a great noise; they are dressed in outlandish unnatural colors; every animal shuns them. Even the frightened pines would run away if they could. But Nature-lovers, devout, silent, open-eyed, looking and listening with love, find no lack of inhabitants in these mountain mansions, and they come to them gladly.

Read Our National Parks

Ready for Adventure: Batona Trail

BATONA stands for BAck TO NAture

53.5 Mile trail in New Jersey

What intrigued you about this trail? What was the draw?

  • Great for beginners because it’s so flat, yet so long, and such a straightforward trail.
  • Nothing tricky…the one poisonous snake in the area is the Timber Rattlesnake and it’s endangered
  • Edibles: Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), huckleberry (Gaylussacia), blackberry (Rubus spp.), cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), and blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)
  • Watch for carnivorous plants such as the sundews (Drosera), the pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), and the bladderworts (Utricularia spp.); and the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
  • Apple Pie Hill is the highest point along the trail at 205 feet (62 m) above sea level, and has a 60-foot (18 m) fire tower at the summit
  • Pink blazes

What did you do to find information on this trail?

  • NJ DEP, Division of Parks and Forestry (609) 561-0024
  • Forum about the trail
  • Now the trail is jointly maintained by the Batona Hiking Club, The Outdoor Club of New Jersey, and the State of New Jersey Park Service.

What permits do I need to backpack and camp along the Batona Trail?

  • Normally you would reserve campsites for the Batona Trail at reserveamerica.com but there was a notice on their site:
  • Attention Batona Trail hikers: If you are planning a multiple, consecutive night stay along the Batona Trail and will be utilizing more than one campground, please make your reservation by calling 1-855-607-3074.
  • Campers must pick up their permit at the office the day they are camping and will receive the daily fire regulations.
  • A map of the Batona Trail
  • The office said most people do the trail in 3 days.. .but if you’re new to backpacking, don’t feel pressured to pack in the miles. 53.5 miles can be done in 5 days or more, and no one is judging.
  • No dispersed camping allowed

You’ll be parking your car at the end and hiking to the other end where you have no car. Is there a shuttle service from one end to the other?

  • This is an end-to-end hike or “thru hike”, because you start at one end and hike thru to the other end. There is no shuttle service, so this means that two cars are going to be needed. Some people rely on the goodness of others to let them hitch a ride to the trail head.
  • If you are going to play hitchhiker roulette, then do it at the start of your trip, when you’re clean, and try to get a ride to the other end.

What’s the water situation like?

  • Hand pump water at camp sites
  • Bodies of water along the trail

Maybe not the complete wilderness mountaintop experience you crave, but it’s a great trail to cut your teeth on.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Snot Rocket

Place finger on one nostril and lean away from people and self.  Fire away!

Trail Wisdom

“I dream of hiking into my old age. I want to be able even then to pack my load and take off slowly but steadily along the trail. “

—Marlyn Doan