Category: Hiking (page 1 of 2)

How Healthy is Hiking?

You know the saying “fresh air is good for you”? Well, it’s true. Getting outside in the great outdoors is good for your health, both mentally and physically. Your body will reap major benefits from hiking. Next time you’re going for a hike, remember how you’re doing your body good by taking your health to a new height.

 

Reduces Risk of Disease

 

Physical activity improves your overall health and quality of life. Therefore, hiking also improves your health. Hiking can lower your risk of diseases , like heart disease, strokes, anxiety, and diabetes. While you’re in the fresh air, you’re also doing your body a favor. Because hiking elevates your heart rate for the entire duration of your excursion, it keeps your heart healthy.

 

Tones Muscle

 

Like any other physical activity, hiking tones your muscles. Hiking is a weight-bearing activity that forces your muscles to push. The higher you go in elevation, the more your muscles work to get there. Hiking also strengthens your core, because your body attempts to balance as it climbs. It not only works your core, but your legs as well. For a full-body workout, you can also work your arms by using a walking stick or hiking poles.

 

Improves Sleep Quality

 

As you burn calories and engage in the fitness activity of hiking, you’re putting your body to work. When your body works hard, it makes it easier for your body to want sleep. This means that after hiking during the day, it will be easier to fall asleep at night. Getting a good night of sleep is good for your health because it not only improves your mood, but it helps you maintain your weight and heart as well.

 

Reduces Depression

 

Physical activity has been linked with boosting your mood. When you hike, your body is releasing “feel-good” endorphins that make you feel happy. Therefore, hiking has been found to reduce depression. The scenic views of hiking are a great bonus to getting physical activity, rather than surrounding yourself by the four walls of a gym. Through hiking, you can elevate your mood while you elevate your location.
Hiking is a great way to get outside and enjoy fresh air. While you’re taking the time to hike, you’re also taking time to benefit your body. Keeping your body in a healthy shape is key to maintaining a higher quality of life.

5 Best Hiking Trails Around the World

While the majority of this site focuses on North Carolina’s great outdoors, I appreciate all outdoor spaces and environments. That being said, I figured it would be nice to take a look at some hiking trails that the rest of the world has to offer. This list ranges from the scorching deserts of Israel to the frozen landscapes of Nepal, so hopefully there is a trail on the list that peaks your interest.

 

Seoraksan National Park-Seoraksan, South Korea

Located in the countryside of the Gangwon Province, this national park is a cornucopia of flora and fauna. The park features over 2,000 species of animal and 1,400 different species of plant. Not only that, but the park also spans through the cities of Sokcho, Inje, Goseon and Yangyang.

 

The trail itself features hot springs, valleys full of flowers and gorgeous waterfalls. The trail even includes a view of Jujeongol Valley, which leads to the Seongguksa Temple. And for those looking for higher altitudes, the trail climbs up Daecheongbong which is the third highest peak in Korea.

 

Israel National Trail-Dan to Eilat, Israel

This trail is definitely not for the faint of heart. Spanning the entirety of the country of Israel, from Dan to Eilat, the Israel National Trail is approximately 620 miles long. For those seeking a more spiritual journey, the Israel National Trail is perfect, as it runs through several biblical sites including: the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. The trail even features a “Jesus Trail” which runs from Nazareth to Capernaum. And if that isn’t enough, the trail is famous for its trail angels, Israelis who live along the trail that invite hikers into their homes for food and rest.

 

Everest Base Camp Trek-Kathmandu, Nepal

One of the hiking world’s most sought after prizes: climbing Mt. Everest. Climbing the astronomically tall, 29,029 foot high mountain is, as history suggests, no easy task. However, simply climbing to Everest’s base is no small feat either. That is why many choose to simply make the 17,590 foot hike. The hike begins and ends in Kathmandu, Nepal and last two weeks. Hikers can enjoy the culture of the local sherpas and learn about ancient Tibetan Buddhism through mani stones.  

 

Inca Trail-Cusco, Peru

Past the thick jungles of Peru, lies the Inca Trail. The trail, which lasts about four days, starts in Cusco and ends in Machu Picchu. In Cusco, hikers tour the Andean peaks, and afterwards, in Machu Picchu, hikers are able to witness the city left behind by the Incas, full of stone temples and palaces. Hikers also get to visit “The Town in the Clouds”, also known as Phuyupatamarca.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc-France, Italy and Switzerland

This 104-mile journey features breathtaking snow-capped mountains, glassy blue lakes and an abundance of greenery. The trail goes through three different countries: Italy, France and Switzerland. While trekking through Italy, hikers can experience the Aosta Valley, including some of the highest peaks in the Alps. The piece of the trail running through France passes by the famous Church of Notre Dame. For anyone looking to experience some of the most gorgeous natural and man-made structures on earth, look no further than the Tour du Mont Blanc.

5 Valentine’s Day Outdoor Excursion Ideas

February is a month associated with love and romance. And while many celebrate Valentine’s Day with a traditional movie, restaurant or nice home-cooked meal, there are so many other ways to celebrate the day of love with your significant other. If you really want to think outside of the box and surprise your partner, why not try an outdoor excursion? With that in mind, here are five beautiful and romantic places to visit around the world that are sure to create some of your most fond memories.

 

Tuscany, Italy

This probably comes as no surprise to most of you, seeing as how Italy is usually associated with romance, and rightfully so. The region’s three popular cities—Florence, Siena and Lucca—feature a bevy of gorgeous getaways and attractions, like vineyards, intimate towns and breathtaking vistas. Other activities include bathing in the various natural hot springs or trekking through the Chianti countryside. Regardless of what you choose to do, you will undoubtedly enjoy your stay in Tuscany.

 

Swiss Alps

If you and your significant other enjoy winter sports, then the Swiss Alps are for you. You can schedule an adrenaline-filled ski trip at the top of the Swiss Alps. And, once you’ve gotten your fill of winter sport fun, you can fill up on exquisite food at Le 3842, Europe’s highest restaurant, which features a remarkable view of Mont Blanc. Afterwards, relax and pamper yourselves with a day at one of the many spas.

 

African Safari

While this one may seem a bit extreme at first, it can certainly prove to be romantic. If you are an adventurous couple, traveling to the African wilderness will surely whet your appetite, and even take a romantic turn come nightfall. If possible, head over to Namibia or Mozambique at night and lay down on the grass. Gazing up at the billions of stars shining light years away is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience so make sure to spend it with a loved one. Of course, there are plenty of other sights and sounds in Africa to keep you interested, like raging waterfalls, diverse wildlife and cave paintings from some of the earth’s earliest humans.

 

Southeast Asian Islands

Perhaps you and your loved one are constantly surrounded by others, living in a populous metropolitan area, and your ideal getaway is a mostly remote beach. Luckily, there are places around the world that accommodate your needs. One area in particular is the Southeast Asian islands. With their crisp and clean blue waters and white sandy beaches, these islands should definitely relax even the most stressed individuals. And, if you do feel the need to do something other than bathe in the warm rays of the sun, you can participate in several aquatic activities like scuba diving, snorkeling or kayaking.

 

Paris, France

While this list truly is in no particular order, it seems as though I am saving the best for last. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities on earth, housing some of the world’s most revered landmarks. Enjoy an intellectual and enlightening tour of the world famous Louvre, which features historically significant art pieces, or simply climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and peer out over the Paris landscape. Even better would be a leisurely stroll along La Seine, enjoying the night time lights of Paris. With so many romantic attractions it’s no surprise why it’s called the City of Love.
Now, I know that all of these trips are rather pricey and could probably take more than a week to organize, but if you can manage to schedule a trip before this Valentine’s Day, I strongly suggest you do so.  Also, obviously, these places will require more than one day to truly experience everything they have to offer, so why not make a vacation out of it? And if you cannot do it this year, there’s always next year!

4 Destinations Every Hiker Should Visit

Hiking and the great outdoors is a major passion of mine. And while I typically tend to stick to North Carolina’s great outdoors, I am always open to other areas of interest. So, in the spirit of all things backpacking and hiking related, here are four destinations around the country that are sure to make any first time hiker get hooked.

Adirondack Mountains, New York

Typically whenever New York is mentioned, people assume the city is all that New York offers. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. As the United States’ 27th largest state, with over 54,000 square miles, New York has a wealth of gorgeous wilderness to explore. Located only four hours from New York City, the Adirondack Mountains features some of the state’s most gorgeous views and mountain ranges. Featuring a 6-million acre forest and hundreds of mountains (46 of which are taller than 4,000 feet), the Adirondack Mountains are sure to entice any and all hikers.

Mt. Hood, Oregon

This glorious mountain is only 50 miles away from Portland. The best way to experience the stratovolcano is to hike its 40-mile Timberline Trail. The trail winds up and down through Hood’s gorgeous alpine meadows. But if simply hiking around the mountain isn’t good enough, rest assured that you can climb to Hood’s peak. The 6.8 mile Hogsback Route allows hikers, both novices and experts alike, to climb to the mountain’s 11,000+ peak. There are a multitude of methods to enjoy this natural beauty, so choose the one that suits you and enjoy.

Roan Mountain, Tennessee/North Carolina

More of a series of five peaks and less of an actual mountain, Roan Mountain still has plenty to offer for hikers. Enjoy its many woods, rhododendron gardens and its grassy balds. The choice is yours. Roan Mountain is also home to some gorgeous wildlife, including wild horses.

Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Exotic wildlife, historic forests and breathtaking meadows await anyone who visits this national park. Even with all of that, Rainier’s most prized possession has to be its 14,410-foot volcano. If you’re looking for something specific to do, as opposed to wandering aimlessly through its wildflower meadows, try hiking through the Sunrise Rim Trail. The 5.2-mile trail grants visitors amazing views of the North Cascades, the Tatoosh Range and Mt. Tahoma. Still not satisfied? Then opt for the somewhat longer 17-mile Mother Mountain loop. Either way you go, you are sure to fall in love with the park, ensuring multiple visits for years to come.

The United States is littered with thousands of breathtaking views, from thousands of parks, ranges and mountains. This is only a small taste of what this beautiful country has to offer. For a larger list of locations that are sure to whet your wilderness appetite, be sure to check out Backpacker.com. Hopefully this small list gives you an idea of where to go.

Jonathan Farber PhD | Must See Campsites in North Carolina

If you are looking to plan your next camping trip in North Carolina, I highly recommend these 3 camping sites:

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3 Must See Camp-Sites in North Carolina

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Summer time is here in full swing, meaning it is time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful and warm outdoors! Whether you want to plan a week long getaway or just a weekend trip, this blog post will go over all of my favorite places to plan a camping trip in North Carolina.

From camping right on the beach and playing in the Atlantic Ocean to hiking the beautiful Smoky Mountains, North Carolina is the place to go if you want to have some fun in the sun. Come for some hiking, biking, fishing, and my favorite, wildlife viewing.

Check out these three campsites for your next camping adventure in North Carolina:

CAMPFIRE LODGINGS, ASHEVILLE

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This is a private campground that is nestled in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. If you are newer to camping, going with a private campground can help to alleviate any worries you may have. Campfire Lodgings has options for tent or RV camping, plus there are rental cabins, yurts, and the Cliff House. There are 100 acres of woods and more hiking and biking trails than you can imagine.

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, NORTH CAROLINA

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There are 10 campsites located in Great Smoky Mountain National Park that are accessible by cars and RVs. You can also do backcountry camping and there is a horse campground also available. For car camping, check out either Cades Cove or Smokemont campgrounds for RV and tent camping. This national park is full of wildlife viewing of elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, and wild turkeys. There are waterfalls to hike back to, trails to bike and wander on, and beautiful fall colors to see while you are fishing the day away.

CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE, OUTER BANKS

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There is nothing quite like visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There are beautiful beaches, marine life, and a way of life that slows down with the rolling in of the waves. At Cape Hatteras National Seashore you can choose from four different campgrounds. All of them have space for RVs and tent camping, and have dump sites, showers, and fireside grills. These campgrounds are ocean-side so you can fall asleep to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean. The Frisco Campground is located right in the sand dunes, whereas the others are separated by the beach with barrier dunes.

Summer in North Carolina

 

Summer is just around the corner, and with the earliest possible Memorial Day and the latest possible Labor Day, there are 15 exciting weeks of summer this year!! That means even more time to explore all that beautiful North Carolina has to offer during this extended season of possibilities! With long, warm summer nights just a few days away, I couldn’t help but day dream about all the fun that was ahead.

So pack your bags and hit the coast where people of all ages can learn how to surf the emerald green waters of Wrightsville Beach or Topsail Island or take a historical excursion and visit charming New Bern, where you can tour the birthplace of Pepsi!

If you like waterfalls, then planning a trip to Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina should definitely be on your bucket list! With so many hikes to chose from and so many breathtakingly gorgeous waterfalls, what are you waiting for? Check out a recent blog post I wrote to see my favorite waterfall hikes in Blue Ridge.

If beating the heat with a smile on your face is your thing, check out the U.S. National Whitewater Center where your entire family can raft, bike and climb your way to lasting memories. This $38 million whitewater park is the largest in the world and home to the U.S. Olympic team. You don’t have to be a medal-holder to take a guided raft trip on the challenging, 3/4-mile, artificial recirculating whitewater river, though. Alongside are mountain-biking and running trails, a climbing center, ropes courses, ziplines and a canopy tour.

And if you covet a respite from the heat, revel in an even more refreshing option like Transylvania County where you can enjoy a heart-racing slide down Sliding Rock into refreshing mountain waters or a romantic trek to any of the area’s 250 idyllic waterfalls.

Lastly, I suggest you join the millions who have walked across the famed Mile High Swinging Bridge — so named because the 228-foot suspension bridge with steel cables is a mile above sea level and spans an 80-foot chasm. On the way up are marked viewing areas to see bears, cougar, deer, eagles and more in their natural habitats. You can even watch playful otters above in the open and below in an aquarium-like viewing area!

 

Where will summer take you this year?

Best Waterfall Hikes In Blue Ridge Parkway

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If you like waterfalls, then planning a trip to Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina should definitely be on your bucket list! With so many hikes to chose from and so many breathtakingly gorgeous waterfalls, what are you waiting for?

Here are some of my favorites, just to name a few:

Crabtree Falls

This gorgeous 70-foot waterfall along the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Linville Falls, is accessed by a loop woodland hiking trail. An easier 3-mile hike to and from on the same trail with a steady descent and return climb. Or a more strenuous 3.5-mile loop trail that climbs a ridge above the falls. It’s a beautiful hike, complete with plenty of wildflowers.

Graveyard Fields Waterfalls

This popular hiking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway has two waterfalls. Second Falls is just 1/3 mile walk from the Parkway. Upper Falls is on a four-mile loop trail in the mile-high meadow. The area got it’s name years ago from the tree stumps and surrounding trees that looked like grave stones in a graveyard setting.

Setrock Creek & Roaring Fork Falls

Setrock Creek Falls is a hidden gem of a waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest at the base of Mount Mitchell. Take two one-mile roundtrip waterfall hikes, just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Grassy Creek Falls

Located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland, Grassy Creek Falls is a multi-cascade waterfall. A gentle hiking trail takes you to a beautiful collection of cascades. It’s a two-mile round trip hike: a gradual descent to the falls, so a gradual uphill hike back.

Some General Western North Carolina Mountains Hiking Tips:

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Do research ahead and print instructions on hikes (since cell reception in the mountains is limited.)
  • Go early to avoid crowds and heat, and to take advantage of daylight.
  • Take extra clothes and rain gear, in case of a quick weather change.
  • Wear layers and good hiking shoes.
  • Stay on marked trails. Do not disturb any wildlife or plantlife.
  • Take plenty of drinking water. Although it may be tempting, don’t drink from the streams.
  • Take a cell phone in case of emergency. Coverage is surprising good on some mountaintops, although it is very spotty in valleys.
  • Take hiking maps and snacks, especially if you are going on a longer trail.
  • If you have an emergency along the Parkway, call 1-800-ParkWatch. Otherwise, call 911.
  • Trail lengths can be misleading if the trail has a big elevation gain. We do have the highest mountains in the eastern USA.
  • Dogs are allowed on most hiking trails (on a leash), except in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. See Pet Friendly Asheville for more info.
  • Follow principles of Leave No Trace.

For more tips and info on other trails, visit hikewnc.info.

7 Helpful Hiking Hacks

Here are some tips, tricks and hacks that I have learned along the way through my many years of hiking. These easy and simple steps can have a tremendously positive impact on your hiking experience if you incorporate them into your routine, so what are you waiting for?

1. Even if you’re going on a short hike, bring the essentials.

Even if you're going on a short hike, bring the essentials.

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You never know when something unexpected is going to occur that might take you a different path with more difficult terrain, or unexpected weather, etc… There is nothing to lose by being prepared!

2. Line your backpack with a garbage bag for extra rain protection.

Line your backpack with a garbage bag for extra rain protection.

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If it doesn’t rain, you’ll have an extra bag for trash! If it does, hey! Your supplies will be protected!

3. If you’re prone to blisters in your hiking boots, coat those areas with petroleum jelly before putting on your socks and boots.

If you're prone to blisters in your hiking boots, coat those areas with petroleum jelly before putting on your socks and boots.

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Hikers swear by this trick to prevent abrasive rubbing in certain areas, which can lead to bad blisters. Something as simple as having a small dose of this in your gear can make a world of difference on your hiking experience. 

Get more on info on foot blisters here.

4. Keep your phone in a plastic bag inside your backpack just in case.

You want to be prepared in case it starts to downpour out of nowhere or you fall into a river (hey, it happens)—keep your phone in a sealed baggie and all will be fine. And hold on to those takeout utensil bags—they are the perfect fit for an iPhone, and you can use them at beaches and music festivals.

Keep your phone in a plastic bag inside your backpack just in case.

Alison Caporimo

5. Even if you’re going for a short hike, BRING DUCT TAPE.

Hardcore hikers swear by duct tape, which you can use to waterproof ventilated boots, fix a cracked water bottle, and protect painful blisters. Or wrap a few feet of tape around a lighter. That way you can bring 2 essential tools without wasting any space in your backpack.

Learn more about how duct tape can save your life here.Or wrap a few feet of tape around a lighter.

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6. Pack bandaids, antiseptic towlettes, a gauze roll, and a few aspirin in a prescription bottle.

The bottle will keep everything dry and in one place—and it’s mini size is perfect for packing light.

Get a list of hiker-approved First Aid materials here.

Pack bandaids, antiseptic towlettes, a gauze roll, and a few aspirin in a prescription bottle.

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7. Bring binder clips so you can hang wet clothes off of your backpack.

Bring binder clips so you can hang wet clothes off of your backpack.

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If you don’t have a clip, you can also wrap small pieces of clothing around handles and straps, but the binder clips help ensure they won’t fall off or get blown away.

10 OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA

“From the mountains to the woodlands to the coast, family experiences unfold on a variety of landscapes,” says Suzanne Brown, media relations specialist for VisitNC. “We are also a state with a full range of seasons, so there’s a variety of things to do all year.”

With so many options, finding the perfect destination for your next vacation or day trip can be a difficult decision. So to help, here are my top picks of fun outdoors activities to do in North Carolina:

See the wild horses along North Carolina’s coast.

North Carolina’s coast is home to several groups of wild horses: Corolla’s Wild Spanish mustangs; Beaufort’s wild horses at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, Quarter horses, Shackleford Banks’ wild Banker horses; and Ocracoke’s Banker horses. In general, you can see the horses for free. All you need to see the horses in Corolla is a four-wheel drive vehicle so you can drive on the beach. Don’t have one? Several businesses offer four-wheel-drive guided tours.

Watch the sunset on top of Jockey’s Ridge.

There are very few spots in North Carolina where you can watch the sun set into a large body of water, but Jockey’s Ridge State Park is one of them. Through its popular Sunset on the Ridge summer program, you can climb to the top of the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern U.S. and watch the sun descend into the Roanoke Sound with the Atlantic Ocean behind you.

Take a plunge down Sliding Rock.

What could be more fun than a natural water slide?! Beat the heat this summer in North Carolina’s cool mountain water. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural waterfall/rock slide. At the base, there’s a 6-foot-deep pool for a refreshing splash at the end of your exhilarating slide.

See a bald eagle at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area has the largest population of bald eagles in the eastern U.S., and the best time to see one is during the spring migration (April-June). Arrive early morning or near dusk to increase your chances of spotting America’s national bird and find a location that gives you a wide view of the lake. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Admire the blue ghost fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest.

Chasing backyard fireflies at dusk is a favorite childhood activity, but you’ve probably never seen fireflies quite like these. Instead of a yellow glow, the blue ghost fireflies of Transylvania and Henderson counties emit a steady blue glow along the forest floor. The eerie light show is only about four weeks long starting in May and disappearing by mid-June. Check the Friends of DuPont State Forest website or call for information about occasional guided tours.

Climb to the top of Hatteras Lighthouse.

It’s a pretty steep climb with 257 steps, but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views from the top of the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. You’ll also have a great view of the lighthouse’s previous home before it was relocated in 1999. The self-guided climb is not recommended for young children because of narrow stairs and only one handrail on one side.

Cross the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.

Named for its elevation, the Mile-High Swinging Bridge spans an 80-foot chasm. Originally built in 1952, the bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using galvanized steel for the cables, rails and floor boards. While there, visit the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum, the 11 hiking trails and the seven wildlife habitats to see different animals such as deer, bald eagles, bears and more!

Visit the site of the first U.S. gold rush.

When you think of a gold rush, California immediately comes to mind, but you might be surprised to learn that the first gold rush in the U.S. actually occurred in North Carolina. NC state also led in gold production until 1848. Reed Gold Mine is now a historic site open for tours.

Climb to the top of Chimney Rock.

Take an elevator or make the strenuous climb up 26 stories of stairs to reach the iconic monolith, which is 535 million years old. From the top, enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

While exploring the park, kids will love the discovery stations on the Great Woodland Adventure, an easy .6-mile hike to discover the lives of frogs, owls, chipmunks and more. Also, don’t miss Grady’s Animal Discovery Den with live animals, and make sure the kids visit Hickory Nut Falls, the second-highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

Visit one of Blackbeard’s favorite islands.

While on the island of Ocracoke, visit Teach’s Hole, a channel named for Edward Teach, the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard. Ocracoke was one of his favorite spots to drop anchor, and it’s also where he lost his life in a fierce battle. Young pirate fans will enjoy the Teach’s Hole “Blackbeard” exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop.