With spring officially sprung, and warmer weather right around the corner, you’ll want to be trail ready when that first short-sleeves day comes goading you to play hooky.  Sarett Nature Center and its extensive trail system has some great events slated this month that can help you ease in to the outdoors and knock any hibernation hangover clean out of your system. Wanderlust Outfitters, 120 State St. in downtown St. Joseph, has the outdoor apparel and outdoor gear you’ll need to be trail ready this season.


 Maybe you’re planning on a long-haul trek later this summer, but you’ll need to build some stamina and activate the upper respiratory system first.  Get started with the Spring Stampede 5K run/walk on April 8, and you’ll be well on your way. 

The Stampede begins at 8:30 a.m. with a kids’ one-mile fun run, followed by the 5K run/walk at 9 a.m.  Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers, with special awards to the top male and female finishers. All proceeds benefit Sarett’s continuing quality environmental education for more than 25,000 local schoolchildren each year.  Registration Fee:  $20.

Salwea Lite Train Shoes

If you’re racing the Stampede, or aspire to any trail running this summer, you’ll want a lightweight trail running shoe with good traction, like the Salwea Lite Train.  Salewa and Michelin teamed up to develop the outsole of this shoe, with a sculpted and grooved design inspired by mountain biking tires.  These treads will clutch dirt trails like a mountain biker rips through a berm at high speed, and you can be super-sure-footed when plodding down a steep grade.

If the forecast calls for rain, the Lite Train’s beefier cousin, the Ultra Train GTX, might be a better solution.  This shoe design is focused on excellent traction and stability, with GORE-TEX construction to balance serious rain protection with breathability.  No worrying about slippery rocks or roots.  The midsole’s motion guidance technology supports the foot’s natural movement with a precise, blister-free guaranteed fit.

A day pack like the Osprey Daylite or Daylite Plus will hold just the things you need without over-burdening you out on the trail.  With easy-access to the main compartment through a large zippered panel, and side mesh pockets for water bottles, they’re the perfect companion for either of Sarett’s geocaching events this month.  The Geocache Egg Hunt is 1-4 p.m. on Sunday April 9, where explorers will use preprogrammed GPS devices to locate eggs hidden on the trails, and redeem them for chocolate.  There will be an easier course for kids and families, and a more difficult one for older hunters.

Sunday, April 23 at 2:00 pm the Sarett Young Adult Outdoor Adventure Club will meet for a geocache scavenger hunt, using GPS units to find hidden caches at different locations along the trails. Collect an item from each location and stuff it in your Daylite, and bring them back to the Nature Center for a prize.  Cost is $4 per person to participate. RSVP at 927-4832 or email carolyns@sarett.com.


Or for a daypack with a built-in hydration solution, opt for the Osprey Manta AG, or Skimmer AG.  These are slightly larger daypacks with Osprey’s Anti-Gravity suspension system that distributes weight to keep you comfortable, and dual upper and lower compression straps help stabilize the load. 

Built-in hydration systems have the advantage of always being available via a bite-valve fastened to a sternum strap.  You’re likely to hydrate more frequently when water is always within reach.  This is important because the body rehydrates more efficiently when liquid is taken in small amounts over time, rather than in big gulps where it can pass straight through the body. 

Saturday April 22, at 8:30 p.m. you’ll have the unique opportunity to join a Sarett naturalist for an evening Woodcock Walk, looking and listening for the courtship song, dance and aerial display of the American Woodcock.  The event is free with membership, $3 for non-members.  Call 927-4832 to register.


For the Woodcock Walk, or any trail adventure, you’ll want a solid hiking shoe to keep your feet protected from spring-shower mud and rough terrain, like a Salewa Wildfire Vent, with a highly breathable ballistic mesh upper and sticky but durable rubber outsole.  This shoe ensures a precise fit with climbing lacing, which extends right to the toe.


If conditions are expected to be more on the swampy side, Salwea’s Firetail Evo Mid GTX will be a better option.  This is a mid-cut technical hiking shoe designed to offer consistent performance on technical terrain and rocky paths, and GORE-TEX lining for waterproof and breathable protection. 

Spring is the time when Michigan’s icy tundra softens and begins to show signs of new life, starting with wildflowers.  Take a walk on Sarett’s trail with a naturalist guide near Waxwing pond for the Early Spring Wildflower Walk at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 15

Warmer temperatures and signs of new life also bring another thing:  bugs.  While most bugs are harmless, essential members of our ecosystem, some bugs like mosquitoes can carry deadly illnesses like malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and Zika virus.  Mosquitoes lay eggs near bodies of water, so when hiking near ponds and low-lying wetlands, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself from mosquitoes. 


Craghoppers solution to this problem was to develop an innovative fabric with a built-in insect shield called NosiLife, which is proven to provide 90% protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects while you enjoy the wetland wildflower display.  NosiLife is carefully stitched into the fabric of their lightweight, breathable summer shirts and pants to help keep bugs at a distance.  These garments also have UPF protection incorporated within to shield you from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Whatever adventures come your way this season, a solid hiking shoe, functional daypack with hydration system, and protection from the elements are core essentials that will have you well on your way to being TRAIL READY. 



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