I started camping because it was low cost, but fell in love with it. Even after my career progressed and I could afford a power boat, I remained rooted in human powered sports because of the relaxation and exercise it provides. I like that I can sneak up on nature.
~ Eric Stallsmith
Human-powered quiet sports are among the fastest-growing outdoor recreational activities. Activities like hiking, paddling, mountain biking, rock-climbing and fly fishing leave a small ecological footprint, but are as hard-core as the enthusiasts who practice them.
The Quiet Sports and Outdoor Living Pavilion is the only event of its kind in the central U.S., and boasts nearly 100 exhibitors and unique features and attractions you won’t find in any other single location. Need a dose of how-to? Daily seminars are on tap from interesting experts who have been there and done that – from climbing Kilimanjaro to floating Southern Indiana’s Sugar Creek.
Eric and his wife also operate Indiana Outfitters, Indiana’s premier outdoor information website. It is a rich resource for planning trips to Indiana’s State Parks, complete with outfitter information, maps, weather, current river and lake levels and trip reports.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Indiana Dunes State Park
- Indiana State Park Pass
- Charles C. Dean Wilderness
- Turkey Run State Park
- Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association
- Sustainable Indiana 2016 Take the Trail Initiative
- Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission Greenways & Blueways
- Valparaiso Green Drinks: April 8, 2013 Bike/Hike Focus
- Indiana Cabin Rentals
- Hoosier Rails to Trails
- Hoosier Mountain Bike Association
- Lake Michigan Water Trail
The Enjoyment of Quiet Sports
The following is a transcript of the podcast.
KS: Welcome to today’s episode of 219 GreenConnect where we explore topics about the environment and green living in Northwest Indiana. You can subscribe to this podcast via ITunes or visit our website for past show archives, news and events. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Today I have as my guest, Eric Stallsmith, founder of A Greener Indiana and owner of Indiana Outfitters, with him, is Kevin Ayers from Leave No Trace and they are both at the Quiet Sports Expo in Indianapolis. Thanks so much for joining us today you two!
ES: Thanks for having us!
KS: So tell me a little about the Quiet Sports Expo. That sounds so interesting.
ES: A quiet sport is a sport that involves human power and no motors, which includes back packing, hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking, that kind of stuff. The show has been here in Indianapolis for 4 years and its part of the Indianapolis Boat Sport and Travel Show which features travel and tourism boats RVs, fishing, that kind of thing. It’s really been a nice addition to the show because people are realizing you can get a canoe or a kayak for about the price of a hundred gallons of fuel and you get to see better places anyway.
KS: You get to see it at a speed where you can really appreciate it. You just don’t get to see all the beauty that you do when you are paddling at a slower speed. Well that sounds very cool, that sounds like a great fit for you, Eric, we have had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times. I think first of all, when I found out about your site, A Greener Indiana, we can talk a little more about that another time. It seems like you have always been an outdoors enthusiast, in everything you do centers around that. Did you two just meet at this expo?
ES: Well Kevin here, is from Leave No Trace and what they do is they go around and explain to people, Boy Scout Troops and general people, a whole set of ethics where you can go out and enjoy the outdoors and not disturb it in anyway. I met him at the show about 3 years ago.
KS: So you have been going back to the show regularly?
ES: IndianaOutfitters.com is an Indiana based trip planning guide for all the rivers and trails and they are a major sponsor of the quiet sports expo and a real promoter of people getting out and using their own power to enjoy the outdoors.
KS: Sounds good, So what are some of the principals of Leave No Trace, I would imagine no trash left behind but there’s probably more to it than that .
ES: There is a lot to it and Kevin is the real expert on the subject. Why don’t I put him on?
KH: Leave no trace is a set of principles and it’s also a nonprofit. There are seven principles;
The first one is plan ahead and prepare, it teaches us to think about the weather, what type of gear we are going to take, scheduling a trip when there aren’t a lot of other users on the trail like holidays or big weekends, to repackage our food and minimize waste.
The second principle would be to camp on durable surfaces, where we can pick a camp site, hopefully an already impacted camp site, and stay on the trail.
The third principle is to minimize camp fire impacts, not saying we cannot have a campfire, we want to minimize our impact where we can use established fire areas or buildings where we can have no trace fire with a pan fire or a mound fire.
The fourth would be to respect wildlife. We want to observe wildlife form a distance, never feed the animals and always protect our food from animals.
The fifth would be to dispose of waste properly, we hope to pack it in and pack it out.
We have, leave what you find, we want to preserve the past and not take artifacts that other people can enjoy when they come.
The last would be, be considerate of other visitors. We want to be considerate of other visitors that have come out to the wilderness to enjoy their back country experience and we want to do everything we can to make their visit as pleasant as ours.
KS: Great well it sounds like all very good principles to live by. So you’re teaching mainly scout troops that or kids or do you teach adults as well?
KH: We do teach scout groups and we have three tiers of Leave No Trace training.
The first tier would be awareness workshop from a half an hour to all day of training.
The second would be to become a Leave No Trace trainer and to be a No Trace trainer you have to be 14 to attend the course and that’s a two day training course. The third would be the master educator course and it’s a five day Leave No Trace training to teach people to teach Leave No Trace training.
KS: Okay, Great, Do you do those all over the place or just in one particular area?
KH: Well going back to the boy scouts, if a scout is 14 years old, and he attends a Leave No Trace training there is a scouting unit position of the Leave No Trace Troop Trainer so I would like to add that in. For scouting groups also we have two Leave No Trace Trainer courses in Indiana just north of Noblesville in April and the other is in September.
KS: So once someone attends one of those training events they can come back to their own troop and train the rest? Is there a website where people can find out more if they would like to check out those training opportunities?
KH: There sure is! Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has their website and it is LNT.org. I also have a website, its Kevinlikestohike.com and I have a page for Leave No Trace Trainings on the website.
KS: Great I love the name of that website because Kathy likes to hike too! I do quite a bit of hiking up here at the Indiana Dunes. Where are some of your favorite places to hike, Kevin?
KA: I like to go to the only wilderness we have in Indiana, to the Deam Wilderness which is right by Lake Monroe, It’s a wonderful place where there are lots of hardwoods you go in and out of hardwoods to pine woods while you’re hiking. There’s anything from a five mile trail to a 20 mile trip there
KS: And what about Eric, What are your favorite places to hike?
ES: Any of the state parks in Indiana are absolutely beautiful to hike on and I love Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, you know, do a little beach combing and there’s probably 4 miles of hiking there and then they have all sorts of trails throughout that area that include a lot of diverse fauna and even raised rails and all of that. I think there is a lot of good hiking in Northwest Indiana.
KS: I happen to agree, I tell people every year the best money I spend is the 30 dollars for the state park pass. We are lucky enough to have the dunes state park 10-15 minutes from where we live and we are there pretty much every weekend. Eric, I don’t know if you are still doing this but when I met you , you were spending quit a bit of time in your RV and taking extended trips to the Indiana Dunes and other destinations, Is that still the way you roll?
ES: Yeah, Absolutely! We travel around in a bus that’s converted into an RV and that enables us to go to a place and stay for enough time to visit all the little places and help document that for the website which is www.indianaoutfitters.com and what we are doing is just promoting outdoor recreation tourism in Indiana. When you think about it, you take for granted all the fisherman, hikers, bikers that are out there. Outdoor recreation tourism is Indiana’s number one tourism draw. Most of those people are out there doing human powered things and it really helps the environment to do those sorts of things and gives you some exercise and gives you an appreciation for some of the natural areas. Even though Indiana doesn’t have a lot of its land in public use, it really has carved off some of the jewels in state parks and it takes more than one day to explore those. We like to spend a week there and work with some of the area businesses because every time you go on a trip you need to rent a cabin or canoe, boat or bike or anything like that. I see that really taking off for the 219 area code because you have completed some really nice bike trails that actually take you places that I see a lot of people coming up there and taking long bike trips and staying at bed and breakfasts and eating at your local restraunts and visiting your whiners and doing all of that stuff. I really think it’s going to be important for your area.
KS: I agree, they are making some really nice progress with completing our blue ways and greenways and that will be the focus of our April GreenDrinks Meet up in Valparaiso. That’s the second Monday in April 6 o’clock at Cornucopia coffee. We are going to have Mitch Barloga be our speaker, he is from the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission and he will be updating the group about new biking and paddling opportunities with some updated maps as well. On your website though, I know you have quite a bit of great information. You’ve got information about the state parks, you’ve got weather, you’ve got different outfitters, what all would people find and if I were planning a trip what would you recommend as far as how to get started, Take me through it?
ES: Indiana Outfitters.com is designed to be a destination guide for Indiana to really help you plan a trip to the parks, rivers or lakes and what we have done is bring all the links you need to plan your trip into one spot. For instance, if you want to go to a river, you would like to know how the river is flowing right now that’s provided by the USGS, and you would like to know the weather, that’s provided by the weather underground and we have taken time to build maps to the access points and take pictures at the access points. We are working with Northwest Indiana Paddlers to help get a lot more of your rivers done this way and that way if someone wants to do a canoe trip they are going to quickly see where the access points are, the weather, they are going to have a button to find out any camp grounds or cabins or canoe rental that is available along that river. The most important part of it is, in order to have this industry be vibrant in Indiana we have to have a lot of businesses that are servicing it and marketing is one of the most difficult parts for a business so we link it all together so that the businesses are easy to find and that’s doubly important for recreation because they are drawn from such a large geographical area that, how is a canoe rental place in Valparaiso going to market affectively to Chicago and Indianapolis. The only real way is through the internet which is, in a nutshell, why we built the website.
KS: I think it’s a great site. Another important component, I believe I remember, were trip reviews; Do you have people saying what their experience was with various routes?
ES: A lot of times people will send us information on a rout and what we do is just copy and paste that right into the website into the description of that rout. Also there is a website, IndianaRivers.com, that’s a forum based website, where people can post about any of the rivers and that’s cross referenced with the guide on Indianaoutfitters.com. There again, we are trying to make it so you can be at work and plan a canoe trip in about five minutes.
KS: I’m going to challenge you a little bit, because I am getting that spring fever and I’m ready to get outside and plan a trip. We have a dog; Can you recommend any options for people that are traveling with a pooch?
ES: Well, all the camp grounds allow dogs. If you go up to the Indiana Dunes, then dogs are only allowed in the Indiana Dunes State Park, they are not allowed at the National Lakeshore and they are not allowed at the beach at the State Park. You might be confused at first because you might see a no dogs sign when you go to the Indiana Dunes State park but if you keep on going past the beach area, which is to the East then you will get to a dog friendly section of Indiana Dunes.
KS: Yeah, I should probably clarify again, that one is in my back yard and we go there quite a bit and I guess I’m thinking more an overnight trip. Is there any resource on your website that lets people filter through dog friendly options? But you’re saying all camp grounds would be okay?
ES: That’s the great part of outdoor sport, is dogs are always welcome, the only time a dog wouldn’t be welcome is in some camp grounds or if you rented a house boat or something like that.
KS: I’ll have to say we aren’t the best tent campers in the world, when you get into cabins and things like that it seems like it’s a little harder to find for dog friendly.
ES: Now that I think about it, One of our websites is IndianaCabinRentals.com that has a pet friendly section. We have gone ahead and figured out which ones are pet friendly.
KS: So back to the show. What have you guys seen that is interesting or different this year or are there any advances or anything kind of new and interesting that caught your attention?
ES: Absolutely! The Quiet sport expo is in its fourth year and it is really starting to be quit a draw to the Indianapolis boat sport and travel show and we are pulling people from up in Wisconsin, and from Indianapolis a 200 mile radius so it pretty much a regional show. We have many of the groups in Indiana. We have two canoe groups and many hiking clubs, backpacking groups, horse people, we have the rails to trails group here, and we have a fly fishing area where kids and adults can learn how to fly fish. We have a complete mountain biking course set up so mainly the kids are using that and they peddle around a big mountain biking course and the Hoosier mountain biking club is on hand to show you where the trails are and they’ve got maps of all of that and we have several gear sellers here. They are selling all kinds of different canoes and kayaks and that’s where the technology has really increased this year, from what I’ve seen is fishing kayaks are huge and very stable kayaks and there’s four different stores here that have brought their gear in and it’s just a wonderful show. Everybody in your area ought to mark their calendar for next year. Typically the show happens within the first two weeks of February and it’s a ten day show and you can find more information at Quietsportsexpo.com.
KS: Great, so you said there is new technology in the canoes and kayaks, are they lighter or just more stable, is that kind of the main advance that you have seen?
ES: Yes, They are wider and some even have outriggers that come out and they’ve got really comfortable swivel seats, you can stand up on them and cast. It’s different specialized boat but it’s really great for Indiana. It would be great for going down the river and anything like that and they have really great sea kayaks which would be great for your area because you have the Lake Michigan water trail is open now so you can go out on Lake Michigan on your boat. The kayaks that go down the river in Indiana and the Kayaks that go out on the Lake are two very specialized boats. So basically the advances are that the boats are getting better for specific purposes.
KS: Question for you. What is your favorite quiet sport?
ES: Canoeing and kayaking in the summer and backpacking in the winter.
KS: Cool, How did you first get interested in these kinds of activities?
ES: Probably because I didn’t have much money and I like to do things that are free so I started camping and I just fell in love with it and then as I got more established in my career, I had the opportunity to get a power boat and RV and do things like that. Just the fact that I could sneak up on nature and get some relaxation and get a little exercise is what has kept me rooted on these human powered sports.
KS: You and I are somewhat involved in Sustainable Indiana 2016 and we’ve got some initiatives coming up that tie in nicely with all of these things you’re talking about so I’m sure you will be a big help when we get to that.
ES They actually have a booth here at the show.
KS: Oh Great!
ES: Thier initiative for 2013 is, get out and explore the trail so they are promoting biking and hiking this year as something everybody should get out and experience anew.
KS: For reasons you mentioned, its sustainable for your pocket book but is also more sustainable for health and we just talked about before with Leaving no trace, its sustainable for the earth as well so there are a lot of good reasons to get out on your human power and experience the beauty that we have in our state. I’m partial to Northwest Indiana because that is where I live but I would also like to do more traveling around the state and when I do we will be looking at your site to get more information on how to plan those trips, so besides the dunes what is your other favorite destination within Indiana.
ES: One of the perennial most attended parks would be Turkey Run State Park. That is right off of highway 41, probably an hour south of Chicago and it’s just absolutely gorgeous. You won’t even believe you’re in Indiana but if you go there I would strongly recommend that you go there in an off peak time, and Sugar Creek Runs right through there so if you want to canoe it’s probably one of the premier places in the state to canoe, you have three different companies that are there to help service your needs. They can shuttle your boat if you have your own boat or they are happy to rent you a boat and they have camp grounds and all that stuff.
KS: Yeah I’ve heard great things about it but I have not made it there so hopefully I will get there. I know we are just about out of time, but I really want to thank you for taking time away from your busy show schedule to fill us in on the quiet sport expo and we will get that on the 219 GreenConnect calendar for next year. Well I want to thank you, you have been listening to another episode of 219 Green Connect with Kathy Sipple and the show today was made possible by My Social Media Coach, providing services for businesses and nonprofits our guest today was Eric Stallsmith from a greener Indiana and Indiana Outfitters and also Kevin Ayres From Leave no Trace