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Outdoor adventure doesn't have to be extravagant to be worthwhile

By: Ash Hobbs + Save to a List

Presented by SOL.

There are times when I seek out big adventure, that I can hardly wait to stuff our packs and 4Runner with supplies to head out in pursuit of a beautiful peak at sunrise, or a long paddle from Smith Mountain Lake to Lynville Creek.

But, this particular Saturday in early June was decidedly not such an occasion.

Rather, I awoke later than usual and found myself craving a slower and gentler kind of outdoor experience. I wanted to meander down a familiar trail with minimal gear and no destination in mind - maybe even cast a line in the lake around sunset.

My wife, Jess, and I discussed our activity options over a hearty homemade brunch, ultimately deciding that nearby Booker T. Washington National Monument was an ideal spot to fulfill my desire for simple recreation.

We left home in short order, bringing along our dog Aspen (a handsome but excitable Labrador retriever), a collapsible bowl, and a Venture Solar Water Bottle Lantern filled to the brim with icy water.

Within fifteen minutes, we had reached the trailhead parking lot and set out for a jaunt on the short-but-scenic, 1.5-mile Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail. As is customary in the South in late spring, the weather was uncomfortably warm and sticky.  It didn't take long before we all felt grateful for the shade of the tree canopy above and the liquid contents of the Venture Solar Water Bottle Lantern that I carried.

The three of us walked unhurriedly down the well-worn, dusty path, stopping as we pleased to fill Aspen's bowl or to sit awhile on the cool, damp rocks that jutted out of the neighboring stream.

A water bottle sits on a rock next to a stream.
The solar panel on the Venture Solar Water Bottle Lantern cap charges the lithium-ion battery that powers the LED light.
A close-up of a hand pouring water from a water bottle into a red, collapsable bowl on a trail.
Minimal gear, maximum usefulness.

I felt good strolling through the old, towering trees at an easy pace, exploring and enjoying the scenery as we wound our way back to the trailhead parking lot.

Having completed the Jack-O-Lantern with plenty of evening left, we headed back home to gather our fishing equipment.  We wasted little time rounding up a couple of poles, our small tackle bag, a Stoke Shovel, and two bottled root beers.

A close-up of a hand using a trowel to dig in the mud. There is a worm in the foreground.
The SOL Stoke Shovel made digging up bait in our back yard an easy task.

Dusk was beginning when we arrived at the lake. The fish were already active, periodically breaching the smooth surface of the water with loud slaps. Jess set about putting on new lures, realizing that her fishing pliers were nowhere to be found. Luckily, the cord-cutter on the multi-purpose Stoke Shovel saved the day, and we cast our lines into the water in no time. The shovel doubles as a fire starter, perfect for having a responsible bonfire for cooking fresh fish should we catch our limit.

I paused to sip my root beer while Jess reeled in a small yellow perch beside me.  We watched as a great blue heron passed by high overhead.  An owl hooted somewhere in the distance, and deer rustled in the dry leaves coating the forest floor as the last light of day waned.

A close-up of a person holding a shovel and using the cutting side to slice through fishing line. The person is standing on a dock and the lake is perfectly clear, reflecting the sky.
The shovel saves the fishing trip.
A close-up of a left hand holding a bottled root beer while the right hand uses the bottle opener on a trowel to open the soda.
Also handy for cracking open a frosty beverage.

I was hesitant to move from this spot - to relinquish such a rare moment of perfect tranquility - but the darkness was growing deeper by the minute. I sighed and summoned the will to leave as I packed up the few items we brought.

The light from the Venture Solar Water Bottle Lantern lit my path as I trudged back up the steep hill to the truck, a satisfied expression on my face.

It was a day well spent.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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