Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gear: Credit Card Sized Backcountry Reading Glasses

Ever return from an Adirondack backcountry trip with a headache, sore eyes or a painful neck? Do you find yourself squinting while reading a map or compass? Have you ever found yourself somewhere totally different than where you thought you should be? Are you reaching, or firmly established in, middle age?

If any of these are even remotely true, then a pair of lightweight, durable and inexpensive reading glasses is in your future. Luckily, I recently discovered just the pair of backcountry reading glasses even your ophthalmologist would approve. That is, as long as he or she is an outdoor enthusiast.

Middle-aged outdoors people often find it difficult reading maps, compasses, handheld GPSs or anything else with fine print. This is no cause for panic though. The loss of close focusing ability is a natural part of aging. Now, panicking about reaching middle-age, that is perfectly understandable, and extremely warranted.

The loss of close focusing ability is called presbyopia. This condition is caused by the hardening of the lens inside the eyes, which occurs with age, and just coincidentally begins around the time most reach their mid-life crisis.

Presbyopia results in the slow degradation of the eye’s ability to focus on things close, including unfortunately, maps, compasses, GPSs, and a whole host of other contraptions backcountry explorers relay upon during their recreational pursuits in the woods. Also, it results in backcountry enthusiasts’ sore necks when they wear contraptions on short lanyards around their necks.

Presbyopia became a real problem for me when I found myself getting a sore neck at the end of every day of bushwhacking through the Adirondacks. The frequent sore necks went without explanation, until I found myself holding my GPS and compass beyond the length of their lanyards while they were still around my poor neck.

After that, I always carried a pair of folding reading glasses to deal with presbyopia. And I obtained some longer lanyards too, since I hated constantly getting the reading glasses out to figure out where the heck I was located. The glasses were still convenient for those increasingly frequent moments when it was necessary to read fine print or almost anything this side of a billboard within dim light. These folding glasses proved useful, but they were fragile, so I always took great care not to break, and thus rarely took them out while navigating. If only there was an inexpensive pair of reading glasses that I could carry in my pocket without the risk of them breaking right when I need them.

Luckily, Christmas came early this year (or was it late?), when on a recent backpacking trip down in the Adirondack’s little sister (i.e. the Catskills), I was presented with a remarkable solution to reading glasses in the backcountry. These reading glasses are smaller than a credit card, nearly indestructible (within limits) and require absolutely no folding.

Advantage Lenses, LLC manufactures the i4uLenses credit card size reading glasses perfect for use in the backcountry. They are actually less than the size of a credit card (and just a little thicker), flexible enough to fit a wide range of noses, durable, shatterproof and highly adjustable. What else could one want in a pair of backcountry reading glasses? That is, not to have the need for them, of course.

The i4uLenses reading glasses have no frame to break of bend. They are simply pressed onto the bridge of the nose about mid-way down, where they just pinch onto the nose.

Getting used to looking through the i4uLenses may take some time. Unlike regular reading glasses, the lenses are not right up near the eyes, but are down closer to the tip of the nose, like an old person’s bifocals. Wearing them may seem even more awkward to those who were born with excellent vision for most of their life – until now.

The i4uLenses make reading maps, compasses, etc. in the dim light of a headlamp in a tent or lean-to convenient and carefree. Just do not drop them onto the forest floor, or you may just find yourself sweating through minute of searching on your hands and knees to find them, especially without your glasses to assist you.

With the i4uLenses credit card size reading glasses, fragility is no longer an issue. Their plastic nature makes them nearly indestructible (but do not try too hard). Now, they can be carried easily in the front chest pocket, and whipped out in a moment’s notice to read a map, GPS device or anything else with print ill-suited for a middle-aged person.

Careful handling of the i4uLenses is necessary when the hands are covered in bug repellent residue. The lenses are plastic, and therefore repellents may damage them. Touching the lenses is a bad idea regardless, since that is the part typically looked through.

A plastic carrying case is available to protect the lenses from scratches, dirt and other assorted ill conduct.

i4uLenses credit card size emergency reading glasses are relatively inexpensive, they retail for $6.95 here.

For those suffering through the effects of presbyopia, i4uLenses are a convenient solution. These credit card size reading glasses are lightweight, about the size and width of a credit card, and are nearly indestructible, making them a perfect optical solution for backcountry enthusiasts. The only bad thing about them – you will look like an old fogie wearing them.

Photo: i4uLenses credit card size reading glasses by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Community Climate Forum Set for Earth Day

Do you have questions about the connection between last year’s flooding and global climate change? Are you skeptical about the causes of climate change? Are you looking for options to cut your energy bills and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels?

An upcoming Community Climate Forum is expected to address all of these issues, and more. The forum, sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Green Circle, is scheduled for April 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: The Reel Paddling Film Festival

The 7th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival (RPFF) will be making its way through the Adirondacks this spring and summer with showings in Lake Placid, Old Forge and Tupper Lake. The Reel Paddling Film Festival highlights the best paddling films for the year in ten categories: Instructional Paddling, Environmental Paddling, Kayak Fishing, Sea Kayaking, Stand-up Paddling, Short Paddling, Canoeing, Whitewater, Documentary Paddling, and Adventure Travel Paddling. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lows Lake, Bog River Among Funded Dam Projects

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $5,120,000 investment for NY Works projects that will allow for eight flood control system and dam repair projects in the North Country. Projects slated for the Adirondack North Country include the Lower Lows Dam and Upper Lows Dam on the Bog River. Those dams, made of concrete and located in a area classified Primitive, are favored by paddlers on the Bog River, Hitchins Pond, and Lows Lake. The other dams slated for repair are Palmer Lake Dam in North Hudson (popular with anglers); Taylor Pond Dam in the town of Black Brook, southwestern Clinton County (part of the Taylor Pond Wild Forest); Kingdom Road Dam which holds back Lincoln Pond in Elizabethtown; Main Mill Dam in the City of Plattsburgh; and Whiteside Dam. All are considered “Critical Dam Repairs.” The funds will also support a Malone flood control project.

Two notable back country dams gave way late last summer during Hurricane Irene. The Marcy Dam is expected to be rebuilt. DEC has decided that the Duck Hole Dam will not be rebuilt. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Adirondack Wildlife: The Porcupine and Salt

Over the next several weeks, the buds on hardwood trees and shrubs will open and the forests will again be cloaked in green, providing our many herbivores with a welcome change in their diet. While many plant eaters are able to subsist on woody buds and cellulose laden layers of inner bark throughout winter, leafy matter provides far greater levels of nourishment. The porcupine, a common denizen of the deep Northwood’s forest, is among our region’s first order consumers to ingest greens when they emerge in spring.

In winter, the porcupine settles into a routine of eating only the bark and needles of a very few species of trees in the area around its den. The stomach and small intestine of this rodent contain strains of microorganisms that act on this ultra-high fiber material in order to derive the energy needed to remain alive in this climate. Yet the limited amount of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, in such plant tissues makes this type of food less than ideal for maintaining a healthy diet. Despite ingesting large volumes of woody matter each night in winter, the porcupine often loses weight continuously as this bleak season progresses. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Incredible Stories of North Country Linemen

It’s sometimes surprising what catches my attention or sparks an interest, and the subject of this piece is a good example. After all, why would anyone want to hear about North Country linemen, those workers who climb power poles or telephone poles as part of their daily job? Well, their daily routine might be as boring as any other job most of the time, but linemen have a measure of danger built into their profession, beginning with working high above the ground.

When something goes wrong, the results can be spectacular. The stories that follow do not address tragedies, which were once frequent. These instead are amazing stories of survival, coming from my category, “No bones were broken.”
» Continue Reading.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Indentifying Adirondack First Growth Forests

The Adirondacks are home to the largest known contiguous tract of unlogged forest in the Northeast. Located in the Southern part of Five Ponds Wilderness Area (Herkimer and Hamilton Counties), estimates of this patch of ancient forest range from 42,000 to 50,000 acres.

According to researcher Mary Byrd Davis, “The state bought the tract to settle a claim for damages brought by a land owner who charged that construction of a dam had prevented his shipping and therefore selling the timber on his land.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cabin Life: Horseshoes and History

I found an old set of horseshoes in the lower field the other day. It has been a nice addition to recreational life out here at the cabin. I had some friends over to play, and according to Adirondack rules, each participant had a beer in one hand. No setting it down to throw, no cheating with non-alcoholic “beer.” And of course, upgrading to whiskey or tequila gets a nod of approval from the fellow participants.

Even though I am very secluded out here, I’ve found so many pieces of evidence of the continued presence of humans that it’s hard not to think about how others have lived on this particular piece of land. I only found the horseshoes because one of the stakes had a faded orange flag on it. When I went to investigate, I found the shoes, and it took a little while to find the other stake because the field is overgrown.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Fires of 1903

Dear Dispatch Readers, take a little journey with me back to the year 1903, just after the turn of the century and less than a decade after Forever Wild. Construct if you will a picture, an imagination of the events I am about to relate. I myself cannot conceive of what it was really like to live through this time in the Adirondacks. It is even harder – and quite painful – to visualize the aftermath. Thank goodness with the passage of more than a century the forest has recovered for the most part. But the landscape was forever altered.

I will, as always, claim to be a storyteller, not a historian. But lest you think that this account is fanciful, especially the climax as it relates to Lost Brook Tract, I assure you that it is not. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 13, 2012

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 7,500 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


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