Hiking News

Peru’s colorful Rainbow Mountain is not for the faint-hearted

Posted by on Dec 18, 2017 @ 12:31 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Peru’s colorful Rainbow Mountain is not for the faint-hearted

Some manage the ascent in three hours, others take longer. But once they are up, then they’re usually reluctant to come back down, thanks to the view of the surreal-looking mountain.

Tourism at Mount Vinicunca has yet to take off. Travel agencies only discovered it around two years ago. The mountain isn’t even listed in the current “Lonely Planet” guidebook, although that seems likely to change.

Mount Vinicunca near the mighty Ausangate is currently developing into a real tourist attraction, which could compete with Machu Picchu and other highlights in the South American country.

The Peruvians call it “Montana de Colores” – the mountain of colors. Among travelers it has acquired a similarly evocative name: Rainbow Mountain.

Millions of years ago, plate tectonics pushed various sediments to the Earth’s surface. As a result, the mountain features up to seven different colors, from iron red to sulphur yellow and copper green.

The hike is no walk in the park, however. The first step out of the bus is at an altitude of 4,480 meters, the viewing peak next to Rainbow Mountain is at 5,150 meters.

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Hiking Grand Tetons ‘a trip of a lifetime’

Posted by on Dec 17, 2017 @ 11:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking Grand Tetons ‘a trip of a lifetime’

Beyond the crystal clear lakes, past the pastel blooms, up the rock-strewn trails and over the snow-blanketed hillsides lie the canyons and campsites of the Grand Tetons National Park.

With each step up the mountain while sporting a 40-pound backpack, a new vista of rushing waters and plunging waterfalls dashes into view. Run-ins with deer, elk, moose and marmots are not out of the question.

After several miles hiking each day, the laborious trek yields its reward. Campsites look out onto snow-covered peaks, water spews down mountainsides behind melted pockets of snow and streams billow by with roaring waters, their icy beginnings still clutching the banks near brightly colored overnight abodes.

This is hiking at its best. Getting in shape months ahead of time by breaking in boots, pounding away on stair climbers or inclines at the gym and assembling proper gear are paramount to enjoying the trip.

Water is easy to find from all the streams pouring through mountain folds, and with a proper filtration system, keeping bottles filled is not a problem. Water plunging down the mountainside and peeking out occasionally behind the snow while camping at about 8,500 feet makes for the most amazing views of any camping expedition ever. Soaking it all in is refreshing.

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Creating new beaten paths

Posted by on Dec 17, 2017 @ 7:14 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Creating new beaten paths

The first time Jessica Johnson explored the Mushroom Caves in Solana Beach she was trespassing.

It was 2013, a few years after the 35-year-old elementary school art teacher first started documenting her passion for adventurous, sometimes dangerous hikes on her increasingly popular website Hidden San Diego.

Walking along the path recently, Johnson recalled that initial adventure into the network of narrow, water-carved canyons that rise above the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

“It was a crazy adventure, kind of scary,” she said, eyes beaming. “I thought I could die. It’s sandstone so it crumbles easy, and there’s slot canyons that you have to climb up, but your adrenaline’s going, and the child in you comes out.”

Last year, the hike south of the lagoon and just west of Interstate 5 was opened to the public and renamed Annie’s Canyon Trail. While the paths have been improved and a metal ladder was installed for safety at a view point, many of the canyons have now been chained off.

After Johnson wrote about the location, trespassers increasingly splashed graffiti over the sandstone environment and left beer bottles and trash littered about after bonfire parties. That came to an end when the nonprofit San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, in response to the vandalism, received a grant for around $100,000 to clean up and improve the area.

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The Best Microadventure In Every State

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 @ 7:05 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Best Microadventure In Every State

“A microadventure,” says Alastair Humphreys, a former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and founder of a global movement, “is an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.”

Sounds good, right? More importantly, it sounds do-able.

Microadventures, Humphreys argues, should fit in the 5:00 pm to 9:00 am window after each workday. Should you have a weekend free, they can also take a few days. They may involve wandering into the woods and setting up a camp or even having a slumber party in your backyard.

Because Humphreys is adamant that a microadventure must include an overnight stay under the stars, campsite information is included with every entry. If you’re relatively new to spending the night out of doors, check out the camping info. If you’re a hardened vagabond, skip it and do things your own way.

When you actually sit down and start listing all the rad outdoor areas in a state, the magnitude of natural beauty in every corner of the country is made abundantly clear. How do you choose between the redwood forests, deserts, and coastal locales of California? How do you name the best place to adventure outdoors in Hawaii? There are so many.

Read through these adventures in the westernmost states in the United States and you too will want to get outside.

Get the list here…


Everything You Know About Hiking in Colombia is Wrong

Posted by on Dec 14, 2017 @ 12:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Everything You Know About Hiking in Colombia is Wrong

For decades, Colombia’s wild areas were a no-go zone because of guerilla fighters and narcos, who occupied and fortified rural areas across the country. To venture beyond the city limits was to risk being kidnapped and held for ransom, a lucrative scheme the outlaws called miracle fishing.

Beginning around 2000, the government started negotiating peace deals with the armed rebels, all but putting an end to the practice. In 2016, Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, brokered a peace deal with FARC, the main guerilla group, and earned the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Colombia’s once empty backcountry is seeing its first pioneering backpackers, with areas like the Páramo de Ocetá poised to become epicenters for adventure travel.

Páramos are unique places—the biome exists only in the eastern Andes, and Colombia has more of them than any other country. Páramo de Ocetá is considered by Colombians to be the most beautiful, with sweeping views, craggy ridges, rushing creeks, and endless stands of frailejónes.

Water is everywhere. The meadows hold it with such efficiency that hiking here is like walking on a sponge. We cross hundreds of little streams where the terrain funnels rainwater into lakes. Every step is guessing game as to which tussocks will bear weight.

The abundant water nourishes vegetation that exists here and nowhere else. The ground is such a patchwork of greens that it looks like camouflage. With these garden slopes perched at 12,000 feet, in a nature reserve that sees few visitors, the Páramo de Ocetá feels like a secret that’s maybe too well kept.

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8 things to know about the winter solstice

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 @ 6:48 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

8 things to know about the winter solstice

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night,” quipped Steve Martin — and indeed, even a day with less sunshine can feel a bit dark. Our world depends on the light radiating from that big star we traipse around, and when it’s in short supply, we feel it.

But if you count yourself among those who don’t love waking up before the sun rises and getting off work after it has set, things are about to lighten up. Hello, winter solstice!

Although winter is really just beginning, we can at least say goodbye to these short little days we’ve been suffering.

It’s sometimes easy to be hemisphere-o-centric, but the other side of the planet gets a winter solstice, too. With the planet’s orbit tilted on its axis, Earth’s hemispheres swap who gets direct sun over the course of a year.

Although the solstice is marked by a whole day on the calendar, it’s actually just the brief moment when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Capricorn that the event occurs.

If you’re inclined to take pleasure in the little things, like shadows that seem cast from a funhouse mirror, then the winter solstice is the time for you. It’s now that the sun is at its lowest arc across the sky and thus, shadows from its light are at their longest.

Learn more here…


A Captivating Look at the “Big Four” North American Deserts

Posted by on Dec 11, 2017 @ 7:09 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

A Captivating Look at the “Big Four” North American Deserts

Ah, the desert: the “land of little rain”, the house of haboob and flash flood, the thirsty wilderness, the barren void wandered by nomads, exiles, spiritual seekers, bandits, prospectors, and UFO hunters—plus sidewinders, scorpions, tarantulas, and vultures, of course.

Taken collectively, the deserts of North America are still overshadowed sizewise by the Sahara—at 3.6 million square miles, the greatest (non-polar) desert in the world—as well as the Arabian, the Australian Outback, and several others. But in beauty, wilderness, and ecological uniqueness they hold their own with any desertscape on Earth.

We’re going to take a dusty, sandy, squinty-eyed look at the “Big Four” of North American deserts: the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan, which together cover some 500,000 square miles—from the lonesome sagebrush backlands of Oregon and Nevada, down to the cactus groves of central Mexico.

There are various ecological and climatological definitions of “desert,” a rough-and-ready one being somewhere that gets 10 inches or less of annual precipitation. A more precise one calls a desert a place where evapotranspiration (evaporation plus the water given off by plants) exceeds precipitation.

The reasons for North America’s deserts mainly has to do with rain shadow-casting mountains, distances from moisture sources, and the permanent high-pressure zones of the subtropics.

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Should people pay to play in Pisgah National Forest?

Posted by on Dec 10, 2017 @ 3:12 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Should people pay to play in Pisgah National Forest?

Patrick Scott walks 380 miles for work.

It’s not every day, but that’s how many miles curve, dip and roll through the Pisgah National Forest. If laid end to end, those trails would stretch from Asheville, NC to Montgomery, Alabama, and Scott, the forest’s Pisgah District trail program manager, must oversee them all.

The undertaking is daunting not just for the miles, but for the rapidly growing number of people who take to the trails to hike, mountain bike, rock climb, run, ride horses and use off-road vehicles.

Annual visitation reaches 4.6 million a year, leaving parking lots overflowing with vehicles and trails rutted and worn, with soil and sediment given free rein to run downill and pollute creeks and rivers.

Rehabbing, rerouting and caring for damaged trails comes with a price tag in the millions and would overwhelm the four rangers assigned to the Pisgah District. Trail work already ranks last on the list of priorities, Scott said.

The cost of upkeep has led again to the idea of paying to play in the forest, something that could affect all users or target uses with the greatest potential for causing damage, such as mountain biking and horseback riding.

“Bikes make ruts in the trail and horses make footprints that fill in with water,” North Carolina Horseman’s Council President Tom Thomas said. “One of our major things is to keep streams clean. To do that, we keep water off the trail.”

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It’s Fast Approaching Time for First Day Hikes

Posted by on Dec 10, 2017 @ 6:30 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

It’s Fast Approaching Time for First Day Hikes

What better way to kick off the New Year than by getting a jump start burning off those extra holiday calories in the great outdoors?

On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with nature.

Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes. Numerous others hiked state park trails throughout the day.

The guided First Day Hikes are led by knowledgeable state park staff and volunteers. The distance and rigor vary from park to park, but all hikes aim to create a fun experience for the whole family. People are invited to savor the beauty of the state park’s natural resources with the comfort of an experienced guide so they may be inspired to take advantage of these local treasures throughout the year.

America’s State Parks have been entrusted to preserve a variety of magnificent places from California to Maine. Hikers can experience a plethora of outdoor recreation activities including mountain and hill climbing, walks along lakes and beaches, exploration of trails through great forests, wildlife expeditions, bird-watching and much more.

America’s State Park programs are committed to promoting outdoor recreation in hopes to help address obesity, especially in children. Furthermore, exercise and outdoor activities rejuvenate the mind and body, promoting overall mental and physical health and wellness. Many believe that time spent in nature enhances creativity and lifts our moods.

Take advantage of the programs that America’s State Parks have to offer and get connected to our country’s shared resources by finding a First Day Hike near you. Let this mark the beginning of a healthy lifestyle for the whole family.


In Staten Island, hiking the wild path of Richmond Creek

Posted by on Dec 8, 2017 @ 6:36 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

In Staten Island, hiking the wild path of Richmond Creek

Stretching over five miles from its furthest tributaries in the Staten Island Greenbelt to its mouth in Fresh Kills, Richmond Creek flows through many layers of hidden history. Its waters pass by toxic landfills and old mill remnants, a historic town museum, a manmade mountain of rubble, a vast Boy Scout camp, and an abandoned tuberculosis hospital.

Along its entire course, the creek is a fascinating blend of natural and engineered landscapes, simultaneously operating as a stormwater drainage system and a wildlife sanctuary for several rare aquatic species. Staten Island’s only population of northern two-lined salamander live along its banks, while its waters host New York City’s only population of blacknose dace and the first beavers to appear in the city in over 100 years.

Wandering through Richmond Creek’s teeming ecosystems today, it is surprising to consider that just 20 years ago, this was one of New York City’s most contaminated waterways, polluted by raw sewage from backed-up septic systems.

“Bacterially speaking, it was just horrific,” says Robert Brauman, the construction project manager for the Staten Island Bluebelt, which began working to improve the creek in the 1990s. “Parts of it were almost like an open sewer, and you could smell the urine.”

Although the scars from centuries of human interference are still readily apparent all along Richmond Creek, it has now been transformed into one of the most pristine waterways in New York City, thanks in part to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) unique Bluebelt program, which brought a new sewage system to the area.

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Keep an eye out for Salt River wild horses on this Mesa-area hike

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 @ 11:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Keep an eye out for Salt River wild horses on this Mesa-area hike

The Sonoran Desert Trail System in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest has more than 20 miles of interconnected paths between Usery Pass Road and Bush Highway just south of the Salt River Recreation Area. The northernmost route in the system is the Wild Horse Trail, which is also part of the Valley-circumnavigating Maricopa Trail. As its name suggests, the trail passes through the domain of wild horses.

The elegant and sometimes controversial beasts can be spotted wading in the river, poking around in the riparian corridors and grazing in the surrounding foothills. Regardless of where you might see them, it’s smart to keep your distance and enjoy the herds from afar.

The Wild Horse/Maricopa Trail escapes the din of the crowds and is high enough in the hills to afford inspiring vistas of the Salt River valley, Four Peaks, Red Mountain and the Usery Mountains.

Starting from the trailhead on Usery Pass Road, the trail starts out through wide washes and scoured gullies. You’ll cross an old pit where rusting bullet casings, broken glass and other relics of target-shooting activities remain in the sandy, buffered depression.

The green band of the Salt River snakes through a chiseled landscape to the north, then arches south where it wends around Red Mountain in the Granite Reef Dam area.

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Learn more about this Asheville museum’s annual hiking series

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 @ 7:13 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Learn more about this Asheville museum’s annual hiking series

Hikers can make a New Year’s resolution for adventure when the Swannanoa Valley Museum’s annual hiking series resumes in 2018. The museum offers two hiking programs, the challenging Swannanoa Rim Hike Series and the more moderate Valley History Explorer Series.

The Rim Hike Series explores the peaks of the Swannanoa Valley, while the Valley History Explorer Series revisits the past of local communities across the valley. Prospective hikers can learn about the programs at three free informational meetings.

The first will be at the museum on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. The second will be at REI Asheville on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. The third will be held at Black Dome Mountain Sports in Asheville on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.

Now in its ninth year, the popular Rim Hike series consists of 11 hikes that reveal the history and geography of the Swannanoa Valley. The hikes explore a different section of the 31-mile-long Swannanoa Rim, terrain that spans from Jesse’s High Tip, across Lakey Gap, over Ridgecrest and Montreat, up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and down to Cedar Cliff above Camp Rockmont.

The hikes take place every third Saturday from January to November. Participants register in advance and meet at the museum (223 W. State St., Black Mountain, NC) to depart at 8 a.m. The hikes are led by veteran hikers who share their knowledge about the history, topography and ownership of the land. Each hike ranges from three to eight miles over elevations ranging from 2,316 to 6,462 feet.

Learn more here…


41st Annual Festival of Christmas Past Program in the Smokies

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 @ 11:57 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

41st Annual Festival of Christmas Past Program in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces the 41st annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration scheduled on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public.

The festival will include old-time mountain music, traditional shape note singing, mountain craft demonstrations, and a living history walk. Visitors can also experience these traditions through hands-on activities such as make-and-take craft stations. Hot apple cider will also be served throughout the day.

“Around Christmas time, people gathered in churches, homes, and schools where they celebrated the holiday through music, storytelling, and crafts,” said North District Resource Education Supervisor Stephanie Sutton. “The Festival of Christmas Past allows us to pause and remember some of these traditions.”

The popular Christmas Memories Walk will be held at 11:00 a.m. Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk from the visitor center and talk about life in the mountains during the holidays. Through this living history program, visitors will experience the spirit of the season in the mountains during the early days.

The full schedule of events at Sugarlands Visitor Center includes:

9:30 Shape Note Singing
11:00 Old-time mountain music with Lost Mill
11:00 Memories Walk
12:00 Old-time mountain music with Boogertown Gap
1:00 Smoky Mountain Historical Society
2:00 Appalachian Christmas Music and Storytelling – NPS Staff


Forest Service closes in on plan to protect Oregon wilderness areas from overuse

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 @ 6:57 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest Service closes in on plan to protect Oregon wilderness areas from overuse

After eight months and more than 500 comments from Oregonians, the U.S. Forest Service is closing in on a proposal that could protect central Oregon’s most scenic areas from overuse.

The Forest Service kicked off the project in the spring by holding public meetings to gauge interest in changing the way trails and campgrounds in five popular wilderness areas, spanning up to 530,000 acres in the Deschutes and Willamette national forests, are managed. Today, officials are optimistic a decision for the project — known as the Central Cascade Wilderness Strategies Project — will be released by summer.

According to a document released in May, visitation to the five most-used trails in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area increased by between 249 and 878 percent between 1991 and 2016. The increase has led to additional trash, tree damage and soil erosion in the wilderness areas.

At the end of May, the Forest Service released a proposal for the affected wilderness areas, which discussed creating a limited entry permit system for certain day-use areas and all overnight campers in wilderness areas, along with imposing restrictions on campfires above certain elevations.

The Forest Service will incorporate public comment to come up with specific alternatives, and draft an environmental assessment by next spring. A separate, parallel public planning process, focused on the logistics of a fee and permit structure in wilderness areas, will begin in the spring of 2018.

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10 best national parks for sunrises and sunsets

Posted by on Dec 3, 2017 @ 8:53 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

10 best national parks for sunrises and sunsets

Have you ever spent several pre-dawn hours climbing to the summit of a mountain so that you can get the best angle to see the sunrise?

Some people will go to great lengths to witness the daily dramas of sunrise and sunset. It’s not just about watching the big yellow ball appear or disappear over the horizon, but about the surrounding landscapes and clouds at the same time.

A handful of the most dramatic dawn and dusk destinations are inside U.S. national parks.

Some sun-viewing spots are well known and filled with photographers each morning and evening. Others are remote and difficult to access, so you’ll have to share the panoramas with only a few intrepid hikers.

Here are some great places to watch the sunrise or sunset in U.S. national parks…


Why Taking a Winter Hike May Be the Best Way to Enjoy the Trails

Posted by on Dec 2, 2017 @ 8:40 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Why Taking a Winter Hike May Be the Best Way to Enjoy the Trails

Many casual outdoor enthusiasts simply hang up their boots at the first sign of frost.

“Many people think that when the cold comes, hiking season is over, but that’s definitely not the case,” says a backcountry guide.

“In the winter, trails are less crowded, and there are views that you’ll never see during the summer.” Imagine trekking through a giant snow globe with fields of white-dusted Douglas firs and silence so deep it warms your soul. It’s like that.

You might be surprised to learn that winter hiking takes just slightly more planning than the warm-weather version. “Keep in mind that the days are much shorter in the winter,” says the guide.

“If you’re doing a longer hike, it’s a good idea to start as the sun is rising to give yourself plenty of time to finish before nightfall.” And factor in the change to your usual terrain: “You may cover two miles an hour on a summer hike, but don’t be surprised if that speed is cut in half—or more—in wintry conditions,” he says.

Always share your route and ETA with someone in civilization. As for dressing the part, start with a sweat-wicking base layer, followed by one or two layers of wool or fleece insulation with a waterproof outer shell.

Cold temperatures mean hiking trails are not only less peopled but also bug-free.

Here are other reasons why winter will be your new favorite hiking season…


Forest crews use hand tools to restore Anaconda-Pintler trails damaged by fire

Posted by on Dec 1, 2017 @ 6:59 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest crews use hand tools to restore Anaconda-Pintler trails damaged by fire

The Meyers fire didn’t get a lot of press this summer, but it won’t go unnoticed among fans of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.

As it blackened about 62,000 acres of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest near Philipsburg, Montana, it made some particularly vigorous runs through the Pintler Ranger District. Even before the flames died, U.S. Forest Service backcountry workers started inventorying the damage to their trails and campsites.

Their to-do list showed 40 miles of trail covered with downfall, burned bridges and erosion trouble. The Wisdom/Wise River Ranger District has another 10 miles that is burn-damaged. And the Bitterroot side has 20 miles of work — all in a wilderness area that has only 250 miles of trail across all three ranger districts of west-central Montana.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits use of mechanized equipment in wilderness areas, so any repair work by law must be done with traditional, hand-powered methods. That meant crosscut saws, axes and mules.

A 20-person crew set out on the last week of September, just when the weather went from fire season to rain and snow.

“We put in a whole summer’s worth of work in four weeks,” the crew lead said. “They took out 450 burned snags felled with crosscuts or axes. There were 1,250 downed trees cut out of the trails. That puts us ahead for next year, but we still have at least as many that we didn’t get to.”

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