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Get lost

Published on Apr. 12, 2010 | Print | Share | Recommend ()

Bloomington straddles the fencepost between woodsy wilderness and hip college campus – think impractical, tight-fitting flannel. If you ever lock your keys in the car while parked at Bradford Woods, you’ll want to know which berries to eat.

1. Gather
Step outside the classroom to find an afternoon snack — if you’re brave. The Collins Living-Learning Center’s class on edible wild plants takes you up close with things you can find in your own backyard. Sophomore Sahar Pastel-Daneshgar took the class last fall. “It’s a very simple class,” she says. “It’s a really nice break between studies to go out into nature and basically eat nature.”

Get CPR certification and learn how to treat wounds in HPER’s Wilderness First Responder class. Students learn how to deal with emergency situations more than one mile and one hour away from immediate care, says Rachel Van Camp, a senior in the class.

2. Fuel
Go to the city square and stock up on gear at Indiana Running Company. True outdoorsmen and women dress by the creed “cotton kills,” so go after a pair of bamboo and wool socks ($13), and grab a GU Energy Gel ($2) to slurp. Team Indiana Elite runner Jordan Fife recommends “Chocolate Outrage,” or “Espresso Love.” He knocks out 20-mile runs through Morgan-Monroe State Forest and McCormick’s Creek State Park.

Sprint 15 yards south to JL Waters and Company, a trekker’s bliss. Fight cold and drizzle with a North Face Resolve ($80) jacket, which is “very packable,” General Manager John Heubi says. Maintain fluids with a 27-ounce Kleen Kanteen ($18) that has no BPAs, a potentially harmful compound found in certain plastics.

3. Devour

Expand your palate. We mean really expand. At FARMbloomington on Kirkwood Avenue, we’re talking bison burgers (called the “Lugar Burger” after Senator Richard Lugar and voted Best Burger in Indiana by Food Network Magazine), rabbit, ox tail soup, beef cheek, and stuffed pig ears.  But while you’re trying to be adventurous, don’t get confused by the food names. Head cheese isn’t cheese; it’s a meat jelly. And Rocky Mountain oysters? Yeah, those are bull testicles.

When the snow melts, “It’s all about the greens,” says Harry Shafer, FARM’s charismatic general manager. The eatery’s chefs tend to grill more and keep the dishes light and healthy. Gobble sautéed walleye (fresh from the Great Lakes) while sipping on Bell’s Oberon Ale, a Kalamazoo, Mich., specialty and bar manager Zak Chmiel’s favorite.

4. Know
A true adventurist thrives with an inspired mindset. Before doing anything, just relax and hear the stories of people who have done something. Boxcar Books urges you to explore others’ charters. You can’t go wrong with the gripping realism of Jon Krakauer’s “Into The Wild.”

“It’s not a came-and-conquered story, but a came-and-was-defeated story,” Boxcar volunteer Susanne Kramer says. “That’s the reason people go on adventures – to measure themselves up with nature,” says Kramer, who hiked in Washington last fall.
Also check out the goofy sketches and captivating tales in “The Moonlight Chronicles: A Wandering Artist’s Journal” by Dan Price. It celebrates the beauty that comes with exploration.

And please, while you’re wandering with your imagination as your compass, don’t get lost – a National Geographic Hoosier National Forest map ($12) at JL Waters and Company is clutch.

5. Disappear
No roads. No cars. No trace. Not a care in the world. Now it’s time to get out of Bloomington. Take Route 37 south for 22 miles until you reach Hoosier National Forest. Here, spend a night in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, Indiana’s only wilderness. We’re talking 37 miles of trails cross this 12,945-acre oasis.

The wilderness follows the “Leave No Trace” principle, promoting low-impact hiking: no mountain biking, no climbing, and absolutely no motorized vehicles. No fun, right? Wrong.

“It’s better to start hiking at the Deam because it teaches simplicity,” IU Outdoor Adventures’ Ryan Felt says. Basically, learning to hike rustically, with minimal “presence,” will enable a greater appreciation of the pure hiking experience.

When you’re there, take the Peninsula Trail or Grubb Ridge. Check out the geodes and fossils, plus the wildlife — bald eagles, blue herons, owls, hawks, turkeys, turtles, deer, foxes, and coyotes.

But don’t think your cuisine has to match the trip’s overall minimalism. IU Outdoor Adventures’ Drew Dabbelt uses a PocketRocket grill to fix up pepperoni calzones at night and sandwiches with cheese and summer sausage during the day.

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Larry Buchanan | Inside

Get lost in the woods.

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