Nature enthusiast Carl Shane Kistel enjoys all the outdoor activities his home state of North Carolina has to offer, including leading slot canyon tours for locals and visitors each week. Below, he shares a few professional hiking safety tips that ensure anyone on a guided tour can enjoy their experience to the fullest.
North Carolina offers plenty of recreational hobbies for natives like Carl Shane Kistel such as rock climbing, kayaking, fishing, and camping. Hiking tours are some of the most popular activities in the state–mainly due to the rich variety of natural landscapes for hikers to travel through. Here, they can experience rushing rivers, thick forests teeming with wildlife, rocky cliffs and mountainsides, flowering valleys, slot canyons and more.
“It’s a paradise for outdoor recreation,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “There’s a little something for everyone to do year-round and plenty of opportunities to experience the best sights and excursions nature offers.”
After traveling along beginner trails and advanced routes for years, Kistel has become familiar with natural canyon pathways. Sharing his knowledge of the area and his love of nature, he regularly provides guided hiking tours through the narrower and more challenging slot canyon trails in the area.
Slot canyons are different from other hiking trails because of their steep, vertical walls and tight pathways that can become so narrow hikers can touch both canyon walls at once. While they’re an exciting excursion for any seasoned or novice hiker, Kistel believes the focus of canyon hiking tours should always be safety first.
“There’s too much potential for danger out here in the wild for people to be careless or unprepared when showing up for a hike,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “I like to share a few insider tips with guests before we meet up for a tour to ensure they have a safe, enjoyable hike through the canyons.”
Stay with the Tour Guide
Slot canyons are tricky to navigate as there are many sharp angles, narrow passages, branching paths and more. Tour guides are experienced navigators who have trekked dozens or hundreds of times through the canyon passageways, so it’s wise not to stray from their lead. It’s important to stick only to designated trails pointed out by the guide.
Headaches, excessive dry mouth, and dizziness are all signs of dehydration, which can lead to anything from fainting to death. It’s important hikers stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during their excursions. Every hiker should bring enough water with them to last much longer than the allotted hiking time.
If you experience any kind of medical complications or are required to keep up blood sugar levels, you should pack any foods or medications for the trip that you would need during a worst-case scenario. Mention any complications to your guide ahead of time as well to ensure a safe trip.
“While slot canyon tours typically aren’t dangerous, it’s in every hiker’s best interest to stay prepared with proper supplies and knowledge,” says Carl Shane Kistel.
Slot canyon tour guide Carl Shane Kistel is a regular kayaker in the rivers and lakes of North Carolina. Below, he names three of the best spots for locals and visitors to kayak in the state and why they’re considered such prime destinations.
Carl Shane Kistel has served as a medical sales professional for years, but he’s spent the bulk of his free time since childhood enjoying recreational activities in the wild. North Carolina proves to offer some of the best in the country with plenty of opportunities for rock climbing, camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking and more. He’s come to know the rural parts of his home state well and regularly gives tours to eager hikers throughout the week.
“North Carolina is home to a variety of natural landscapes, and it really does have something for everyone,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “It has easy hiking trails and calm fishing spots, but also challenging cliff sides to climb and rougher waters to kayak.”
Kayaking has quickly become one of the state’s most enticing activities as it offers a low-impact way to burn calories while exploring nature at faster speeds than hiking or jogging. Kistel believes that society has become more fitness-centric and focused on nature, making North Carolina’s appeal skyrocket. Here, people can find a number of ways to destress, work their muscles, and increase cardio while traversing through beautiful landscapes.
Many have become tired of the gym and the limited workout equipment it offers. Instead of confining themselves to four walls, visitors and natives of North Carolina can partake in a variety of outdoor activities that put the body through as much work as the gym. Kayaking remains one of the most popular of North Carolina’s recreational activities, and Carl Shane Kistel shares three of his personal favorite places for it below.
Located in Raleigh, NC, Lake Johnson is a picture-perfect destination for smooth kayaking. The waters allow vessels of all kinds, including kayaks, canoes, sailboats, pedal boats, and row boats as well. One of the highlights of this location is that it’s open year-round, but the water has to be above 65 degrees in order for guests to rent kayaks from the nearby shop. The cost for rental is only $5 an hour, and it allows visitors to roam the still waters and channels of the enormous lake throughout the day.
In order to kayak this region, you must first go through the Dan River Company, Inc., which allows people in the Danbury area to boat the river from April into late fall. While the cost to rent is more expensive than others, the vast amount of wildlife and winding river paths make up for it. Visitors can kayak 6.5 miles down the Dan River in mild currents while occasionally getting the thrill of quicker, but gentle rapids.
Merchants Millpond State Park
This state park is another that offers kayakers year-round access to clean and smooth waters. The cost to kayak is cheaper than most ($5 for the first hour, $3 every hour after), and visitors get to come face-to-face with North Carolina’s diverse wildlife as they paddle around a 200-year-old, 760-acre state park
“For kayakers, there’s no better state for year-round excursions, and the diversity of the terrain makes every trip out on the water an exciting new adventure,” says Carl Shane Kistel.
Carl Shane Kistel is a professional hiking tour guide in North Carolina who shares all he’s learned about the outdoors of his native state with hikers and online readers. Helping ensure everyone shows up prepared, he lists five of the most essential items any hiker should bring on their next guided excursion.
Since he was a child, Carl Shane Kistel has spent most his free time outdoors where he takes in all the activities the wilds of North Carolina have to offer. Enjoying ventures like camping, rock climbing, kayaking, and hiking, he’s become an expert on local nature and regularly provides professional guided tours through the native landscape.
“Guided hiking tours allow groups of people to socialize and explore nature safely with an experienced leader,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “Here in North Caroline, hikers can see deserts, mountains, forest trails, rivers and streams, and all the wildlife they could hope for.”
Kistel advises all who sign up for guided hiking tours to bring along a few essential items that will guarantee their best health and overall experience.
“People booking guided tours can call ahead and find out if first aid kits are provided on-site or by tour guides,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “Besides first aid and a backpack, there are a few other items that everyone on a hike should have on hand.”
Food and Water
Not every backpack needs to be stocked with fresh fruit and cheeses, but everyone should carry a few single-item snacks that provide a healthy boost of energy. In addition, every hiker should bring enough water to last them a few days–more water than they would need for the single hike.
The right gear will be determined by the terrain that hikers will travel across. Forest hiking may require a different shoe style than hiking alongside a river; rocky terrains will be trickier than sandy stretches of land. It’s important to invest in quality shoes during your outdoor excursion to prevent injury and ensure that you’re not battling the elements unprepared.
Clothing will usually be determined by the time of the year or whether there’s a storm coming in or not. Hikers need to have warm layers that they can adjust as they hike and build up temperature, and they should have raincoats or snow coats to protect their skin from the elements.
Getting separated from a tour group or getting turned around in nature can lead to detrimental consequences, so it’s always wise to keep some form of navigation on-hand. Carrying a map or compass will be more reliable than a smartphone app. However, some GPS devices are specialized to pick up even the weakest of satellite signals.
Lastly, Kistel advises that every hiker bring some form of sun protection, no matter what season it is.
“The sun penetrates through cloud coverage in all seasons, so people should put on sunscreen beforehand,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “And it can get bright out here, whether the sun is reflecting off bodies of water, sandy hillsides, or snowy landscapes. It’s a good idea to bring a hat and sunglasses as well.”
Outdoorsman Carl Shane Kistel regularly shares inside tips on the best recreational activities in his home state of North Carolina. Below, he names some of the common sportfish native to the state, which fishermen can expect to find in rivers and lakes throughout the year.
Carl Shane Kistel is a nature enthusiast who has spent most his free time since childhood in the rugged natural landscapes of North Carolina. He’s scouted all the top recreational activities and frequently shares his insight with online readers. As a casual fisherman, he’s become familiar with the native fish in the lakes and rivers of his state and names some of the most common below.
“There are fish for every level of ability during the fishing seasons, from the smallest of brook trout to the largest of largemouth bass,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “It’s a great state for both novice fishers and seasoned professionals alike.”
The mountain streams and rocky rivers of North Carolina are dotted with ideal fishing spots that can be accessed mainly in the spring and summer months. Besides the freshwater options across the state, fans of sport fishing can head to the eastern coast which opens up onto the Atlantic for saltwater fish. But for those looking to stick to the freshwater lakes and rivers, Carl Shane Kistel shares some of the best fish to keep an eye out for.
Smaller and less feisty than other sportfish, brook trout are native to the eastern side of the United States. There are two strains of brook trout, which can both be found in the waters of North Carolina. The southern strain and the northern strain have similar appearances, but the southern is genetically unique and native to North Carolina.
Largemouth bass can be found across the state in lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams, but mostly in areas with structures they can hide under. This means water with standing timber, tree stumps, submerged vegetation and the like. You can also find Largemouth in old road beds and underwater drop-offs where they make their nests. Fishing enthusiasts will typically find high concentrations of largemouth bass in the native black-water rivers.
Hickory Shad are unique in that they are anadromous fish, which means that the majority of their lives is spent in the ocean. They come in to the freshwater bodies of the state only during the spring to spawn in the clear, running waters.
Muskellunge can be found in chilly rivers and lakes that provide cover like woody debris, vegetation, and rocks––similar to the Largemouth. They are predatory fish that prey on suckers, salamanders, and small mammals that are often evasive and a true challenge for fishing enthusiasts.
“There are a dozen or more native fish in North Carolina that can be fished for sport,” says Carl Shane Kistel, “and each have their own unique beauty and challenge. There’s definitely a fish for everyone here.”
An avid outdoorsman, Carl Shane Kistel is also a North Carolina native who has spent the majority of his free time since childhood in nature. He believes his state is one of the best in the entire country for recreational activities and explains why below.
North Carolina is the 28th largest state by area and the 9th-most populated in America, and it’s gained a reputation for offering some of the best recreation around. Native Carl Shane Kistel explains that this is mainly due to the variety of terrain and the mild weather throughout the year.
“People who like to spend time outside usually like to experience many terrains and all four seasons if they can,” says Carl Shane Kistel, “and that’s exactly what North Carolina has to offer.”
The state has a clear summer, spring, fall, and winter and delivers sunshine and clear skies as well as occasional snow and thunderstorms. People who live in or visit the state can rent cabins in the mountains or find lodging on coastal sandy beaches. North Carolina’s mountains often act as a shield to block the low temperatures and storms coming in from the Midwest so that the weather remains mild.
Carl Shane Kistel is a professional tour guide who regularly takes guests on hiking trails through forests, along rivers, and up mountains to witness all the sights North Carolina has to offer. In his excursions, he connects guests intimately with nature and takes them past local landmarks hiding off the beaten path.
“There’s so much to enjoy out here, whether it’s lakes and rivers or hills and mountains–plus all the lush fields and forests you can imagine,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “There are about 40 state parks and recreation areas throughout North Carolina and plenty of land to explore a variety of recreational activities.”
In the state, people can partake in activities such as camping, trail hiking, swimming, fishing, picnicking, rock or mountain climbing, boating and kayaking, and much more. There are even dozens of annual events and programs in the various towns across the state that natives and visitors alike can participate in.
“Some North Carolina state parks include clear rivers to boat down and impressive rock formations to climb, says Carl Shane Kistel. “Rock climbing, bouldering, and rappelling are allowed at places like Chimney Rock, Crowders Mountain, Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain, and Stone Mountain state parks, and almost all the bodies of water are free for exploration.”
Certain activities may only be open or available to the public during specific months (such as lakes and rivers being temporarily off-limits for the winter season). Kistel advises checking in with the official North Carolina Parks and Rec websites to learn on and off times for recreational activities.
“We have a little slice of everything here in North Carolina while most states only offer people bits of recreation,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, and millions of others agree with me.”
Carl Shane Kistel has spent most of his spare time since childhood outdoors enjoying nature and taking in all that the Utah wild has to offer. A regular hiker and camper, he’s at home in many of the most rugged terrains and has navigated the state’s trickiest trails. It’s this passion for exploring the outdoors that led Carl Shane Kistel to begin giving guided hiking tours.
“There’s so much out here to see and enjoy that most people wouldn’t stop and take the time to notice on their own,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “In these guided tours, I can answer questions and point out the hidden elements of nature that go unnoticed from the outside.”
He’s traveled along beginner trails and advanced routes on his own and while leading guided tours. One of his most challenging hikes––both alone and in a group––is through the native slot canyons, which are much narrower and treacherous than other trails.
Slot canyons differ from other hiking trails because of their vertical walls and narrow paths that usually allow hikers to touch both canyon walls at once. It’s not uncommon for certain points of a canyon hike to force the hiker to turn sideways for them to fit as they move along.
“It can be very claustrophobic in these canyons and so I make sure all the guests on my guided hikes are fully prepared for what they’ll face,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “While the spaces are extremely tight at times, I tell them that it’s a great way to confront your fears and get an adrenaline rush at the same time.”
While slot canyons are incredibly tight to walk through, they don’t come with any real threats until the rain arrives. If there is a potential for thunderstorms, tour leaders like Carl Shane Kistel usually postpone hikes until a sunnier hour or a different day entirely.
Rainfall around a slot canyon is capable of moving rocks and boulders around the top into the hiking trail. It’s also very dangerous to be in a slot canyon during the rain as it is more susceptible to flash floods and rising waters, which can prove to be lethal if not handled with extreme care.
In those instances, Carl Shane Kistel suggests moving on to other, less risky paths such as waterfall and river trails until the weather clears up.
“Hiking down slot canyons can prove to be a real challenge to some people and hazardous if not respected,” says Carl Shane Kistel.
“But if the weather permits, and if the timing is right, they can be the most intimate, exhilarating, and beautiful trails in the whole country.”
Experienced outdoorsman Carl Shane Kistel enjoys the rugged terrain and the variety of nature activities available in his home state of North Carolina and Utah. Sharing his passion for the native scenery and exploration available, he regularly leads guided hiking tours across the states’ deserts, canyons, mountains, and forest trails.
It takes someone who has spent years outdoors to be able to lead a guided scenery hike. Lucky for the hikers of North Carolina, Carl Shane Kistel has spent most of his free time since childhood outdoors enjoying activities like camping, kayaking, and mountain climbing. Sharing his insider knowledge of the best sights in the state, he frequently leads guided hiking tours across a variety of native terrain.
“Hiking is a great way to get the exercise that isn’t too demanding, and it allows people to see the beautiful, natural world while socializing with other hikers,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “It’s a
great activity for all ages, though I usually give hikes to groups of people between the ages of 35 and 70.”
Kistel offers multiple tours each week, giving hikers plenty of opportunities to walk among the most iconic sights in North Carolina. On their journeys, hikers can encounter a variety of wildlife and terrain such as stretches of lush forests, running rivers teeming with fish, and rocky or mountainous hillsides.
“North Carolina boasts some of the most dramatic landscapes in the country,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “Hikers exercise their minds and bodies while exploring the wild terrains on foot, giving them a nice break from typical workweeks and cramped urban centers.”
The state is home to multiple mountain ranges that draw in visitors from miles away, such as the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are both parts of the greater Appalachian Range. The nature surrounding the Appalachian Trail itself is famous across the country and around the world as a scenic destination.
Thanks to Kistel, hikers can enjoy the rocky landscapes and lush foliage of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which puts them in contact with waterfalls, valleys, historical sites, and diverse ecosystems. And because there are so many trails to enjoy, hikers don’t have to worry about crowded trails or groups.
“The tours I lead tend to be made up of smaller intimate numbers of hikers, which I prefer to herding large crowds through the wilderness,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “It allows people to connect on a deeper level with each other and with nature in general.”
Because he’s spent much of his life in nature, Carl Shane Kistel is highly knowledgeable on a range of outdoors subjects and provides informative descriptions and explanations while leading hikes. Hikers in North Carolina simply couldn’t ask for a better tour guide.
Carl Shane Kistel is passionate about the outdoors and all the activities it offers such as kayaking, backpacking, mountain climbing, hiking, and fishing among others. Here, he lists some of the top trout fishing spots in his native state of North Carolina.
As a nature enthusiast and regular outdoorsman, Carl Shane Kistel has scouted North Carolina for all the best recreational activity locations. A frequent fisherman, he likes to introduce his friends and family to the native brook trout in rivers across the state.
Mountain streams in North Carolina are the perfect locations for the native species of brook trout. These trout are smaller in size and are usually only found in smaller, rocky streams. Because rainbow and brown trout aren’t native to North Carolina, their smaller cousins are a great starter fish for many newcomers. However, certain rivers are also stocked with larger trout to draw in fishers from across the state and beyond.
“The rivers and mountain streams all around North Carolina make it a perfect trout fishing ground,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “Residents of the state won’t have to travel far to find a perfect spot.”
Below, he lists a handful of what he considers to be the best trout fishing spots in the state.
Although it’s a little harder to get to than most and requires fishers to wade out into the current to cast, the Linville River is one of the most famous trout-fishing destinations in the state. The river is stocked with foreign and native trout, including large populations of rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Visitors can fish in the river year-round, but get the most from the fall season.
The Toe River of Avery County features only native trout and isn’t as heavily fished as others in the state. This makes it ripe for ideal fishing conditions and won’t require visitors to share promising spots with other fishers. Additionally, the hatching of aquatic insects in spring makes the Toe River a meal destination for many of the native trout.
The Watauga River offers enough versatility to be fitting for both experienced and beginner fishers alike. There are calmer sections of the river that provide tranquil fishing grounds and rougher, wilder waters that make for a worthy challenge. The Watauga is dotted with public access points, making it one of the easiest rivers to access. In addition, the river is a sought-after trout fishing destination thanks to the cold-water feeder creeks that connect to it from the nearby mountains.
Wilson Creek is the most scenic of all destinations on Kistel’s list. The clear water of Wilson Creek is only outshined by the beautiful landscape along the banks of the creek. The rugged terrain that borders the water makes for ideal fishing conditions for many types of trout and offers both shallower and deeper pools and riffles.
“No matter your level of skill or style of fishing, North Carolina provides some of the best waters for trout, bass, and much other sport fish in the whole country,” says Carl Shane Kistel.
Nature enthusiast Shane Kistel has spent his life immersed in outdoor activities such as backpacking, mountain climbing, hiking, and kayaking.
While Shane Kistel is a professional Pharmaceutical and Medical Sales Representative, in his spare time he’s a nature enthusiast with a passion for grilling and other outdoor activities. Below, he shares how Traeger grills are revolutionizing outdoor cooking with unique brand features and major tech advances.
Most of the grills available on the market are gas-based which provide their own unique flavor that meets most grilling needs. However, Traeger grills go the extra mile by pioneering the first wood pellet grill and range of smoky flavors available to consumers. Their grills gained immediate recognition for their ease of use and the rich flavor the wood pellets imparted on food. Their versatile features allowed outdoor grillers the ability to roast, bake, grill, smoke, and braise their food on one convenient appliance.
“The multi-tools Traeger produce give cooks the freedom of a full-range kitchen wherever they set their grills,” says Shane Kistel. “And the technology they’re introducing into their products is innovative.”
This year, Traeger made a new line of game-changing grills available to the public in the Timberline Series, Ironwood Series, and Pro Series. Each of the models produced in 2019 feature WiFIRE® and D2 Direct Drive technology, which bring the old-world charm of grills into the 21st century through the Internet of Things (IoT).
Both features are standout components of the modern grill and expand the capabilities of Traeger’s already versatile products. D2 Direct Drive technology provides users with greater control over temperature settings and a larger scale of temperatures to choose from. WiFIRE allows users to remotely control their grills––an excellent tool for preheating needs.
“Ultimately, these are smart grills that break the mold of what outdoor chefs have come to expect from even the most top-notch grills,” says Shane Kistel.
The new technology empowers Traeger grills to heat up faster than ever with precision controlling over temperature for a perfect sear every time. The drivetrain relies on an industry-first brushless motor that is guaranteed to perform optimally for years to come.
WiFIRE technology empowers users to grill on the go, whether that means monitoring temperatures during a quick run to the grocery store or heating up the grill to be ready to go as soon as they get home. The provided app seamlessly connects to users’ smartphones and allows them to monitor food temperatures, alter the heat, and set timers. Also through the app, users can download recipes from a database of hundreds of professional recipes and enjoy the step-by-step guidance it provides.
“No other product on the market performs at the level of flavor and functionality that Traeger products do,” says Shane Kistel. “There’s really no better grill right now.”
Shane Kistel is a professional Pharmaceutical and Medical Sales Representative in North Carolina who has always held a strong passion for outdoor recreation.
Below, he shares with readers some of his favorite and best all-around backpacking trails in his state.
As an experienced medical sales representative and a licensed life and health insurance professional, Shane Kistel spends much of his time inside medical offices and hospitals. He works within many inpatient and institutional settings, drawing from 8 plus years of individual and business insurance sales in Virginia and North Carolina.
In his free time, however, Shane Kistel partakes in a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, backpacking, bicycling and more.
“I’ve enjoyed the outdoors since I was a kid and spent most of my childhood in water-rich and rural environments where there weren’t a lot of other options for entertainment,” says Shane Kistel. “That passion has stayed with me throughout my adult life and has turned into a handful of regular hobbies.”
Shane Kistel was born in Florida and later relocated to northern California and Virginia. He currently resides in North Carolina with his family and splits time in southern Utah as much as possible. He was raised in an active outdoor recreational environment and encouraging him to pursue activities like rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, camping, and kayaking across pristine backcountry. This nurtured in him an enduring love for wild country and provided the foundation for his extensive experience as a naturalist, interpretive wildlife specialist, and part-time backcountry wilderness guide.
“Of all the trails to backpack in North Carolina, a few have always stuck out to me for their beautiful scenery and their unique wildlife,” says Shane Kistel.
He mentions that Mount Le Conte Loop in Bryson City, NC is one of his favorite trails to hike. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the trail is a 16-mile loop that is dotted with clear rivers and waterfalls. Camping is allowed at designated camping spots along the trail, and guests are free to climb their way to the peak elevation of 6,593 feet.
Lemon Gap to Max Patch of Pisgah National Forest is just over ten miles long, but it proves to be a worthy challenge to novice and seasoned backpackers alike. Along the trail, backpackers will get glimpses of Max Patch and incredible scenery atop grassy hilltops. Many backpackers choose to make this an overnight journey as the terrain can be extremely tiring, albeit rewarding with all the mountain ranges to view nearby.
Often, Shane Kistel likes to partake in the difficult expert trail of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Deep Creek to Clingmans Dome path. This 50-mile round trip loop is a days-long adventure serving as the quintessential Great Smoky Mountains backpacking excursion. The trail hits all the highlights NC has to offer, with numerous waterfalls, panoramic views of the Smokies, historical landmarks, and seasonal wildflowers along the way.
“Our state has some of the best hiking trails in the entire country,” says Shane Kistel, “and provides something for everyone, with beginner, single-day trails all the way to week-long hikes.”