Hiking News

Popular Lost Valley hiking area near Buffalo River closing for major makeover

Posted by on Dec 8, 2018 @ 9:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Popular Lost Valley hiking area near Buffalo River closing for major makeover

One of the Buffalo National River’s most popular hiking destinations will be closed for 10 weeks for a major makeover.

The Lost Valley day-use area and trail near Ponca, Arkansas, will be closed beginning Dec. 10, with an expected reopening in late February.

According to the National Park Service, Lost Valley draws about 77,000 visitors a year but has suffered trail damage and washouts from repeated heavy rain events.

The 10-week-long improvement project that will relocate a portion of Lost Valley Road, parking area, and trailhead out of the immediate flood zone of Clark Creek.

The $1.1 million project seeks to provide safe vehicular access to the Lost Valley Trailhead while minimizing environmental impacts to Clark Creek, the Buffalo River, and surrounding areas.

The Lost Valley area features a heavily used hiking trail, picnic area, amphitheater, pavilion, and restrooms.

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Memory lanes: the ramblers trying to save 10,000 lost footpaths

Posted by on Dec 5, 2018 @ 9:07 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Memory lanes: the ramblers trying to save 10,000 lost footpaths

England and Wales have about 140,000 miles of footpaths, but there are an estimated 10,000 more that have been lost from current maps. Even that figure looks like a huge underestimate: a recent survey in Cornwall alone identified 3,000 possible paths that had fallen out of use and needed to be checked. That work of rediscovery is being done by volunteers, people such as Paul Howland, who has so far made 85 legal applications for the recovery of lost paths in a small corner of Hampshire. A government deadline of 2026 for such claims has given Howland’s work a renewed sense of urgency.

“It sounds like plenty of time, but I reckon that in our area we’d need to make two applications every week until 2026. There is just so much to be done.”

As a walker, I reflect, I’m used to losing my way. It’s a bit alarming, however, to find that paths can get lost, too.

“Some parishes recorded hundreds of paths, others did almost nothing. You ended up with footpaths that led nowhere or simply disappeared.” Once those paths failed to appear on OS maps, people stopped walking them. The nettles grew, the ash and sycamore seeds blew in and, within a few years, they were invisible. If a housing estate or a major road then appeared, that path was truly lost. And it did not only happen in the countryside. The Open Spaces Society has pointed out that urban areas were often exempt from the 1949 regulations and produced no definitive maps, leaving footpaths in cities and towns particularly under threat.

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No better time than winter for hiking in and around Palm Springs

Posted by on Dec 3, 2018 @ 7:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

No better time than winter for hiking in and around Palm Springs

You can only play so much tennis or golf. And hanging around the pool? It can get really boring.

So when visiting the Palm Springs area, head into the hills for some hiking. There are plenty of trails, from easy to strenuous, in this corner of the Sonoran Desert.

Trails covering more than 1,250 miles lie within a 60-mile radius of Palm Springs, said Nancy Bone, a member of the Coachella Valley Hiking Club and an outings leader, and the variety of topography and plant life make it one of the country’s best hiking destinations.

Layer in cooler fall and winter temperatures and it’s pretty close to hiking heaven.

The lush canyons were home to the Cahuilla people in centuries past, and you can see remnants of their house pits, irrigation ditches, dams and rock art.

The canyons also are filled with towering, shaggy California fan palms and creeks that flow almost year-round with snow melt from the looming San Jacinto Mountains.

Consider the Palm Canyon Trail to the Stone Pools, a six-mile out-and-back jaunt that has a moderate 800-foot elevation gain.

Once you leave the almost jungle-like stream bed and ascend to the desert plateaus, you’ll encounter water-sculpted rock gorges and cliffs that make great spots for a picnic.

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Traveling To Asia? Add Hiking In Hong Kong To Your Itinerary

Posted by on Dec 1, 2018 @ 9:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Traveling To Asia? Add Hiking In Hong Kong To Your Itinerary

Hong Kong’s New Territories is one of the best off-the-beaten path destinations. Only 25% of Hong Kong is developed, with a staggering 40% officially reserved for nature preserves and county parks that are managed by the Government Park Authority.

Trails are easily accessible, marked and although very beautiful, not high density. Given that in most metropolises like New York City it can take hours to reach a decent hike, Hong Kong can feel like a nature lover’s utopia, all within a stone’s throw of a city.

An added bonus of the island’s mix of urban and rural is that safety is a near-guarantee. If you did the same thing in Vietnam or even parts of Thailand the feeling isn’t so comfortable.

Nearly all of the top hiking destinations are easily reached by public transport directly from the city center, making them very accessible.

If you’re interested in hiking Hong Kong, there are multiple guides published by the government.

Cite…

 

Next Smokies trail project announced

Posted by on Nov 26, 2018 @ 9:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Next Smokies trail project announced

  A two-year effort to rehabilitate Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now complete, and the next Trails Forever project has been announced — Trillium Gap Trail, a 6.6-mile path that intersects with the Rainbow Falls Trail at Mount LeConte.

The rehabilitation of Trillium Gap Trail will take two years, beginning in May 2019, and will be conducted together with other critical work across the park on trails such as the Deep Creek Trail, Rough Fork Trail, Smokemont Trail and Noah Bud Ogle Trail. Trillium Gap Trail and associated parking areas will be closed from May 6, 2019, through Nov. 14 of that year, from 7 a.m. Mondays through 5:30 p.m. Thursdays. It will be open on federal holidays. Work will resume in 2020.

Park officials celebrated completion of the Rainbow Falls project Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. The trail is on one of the park’s most popular trails and leads hikers to Rainbow Falls and Mount LeConte. Crews rehabilitated targeted segments along the trail to improve visitor safety, stabilize eroding sections and repair damage from the November 2016 wildfires.

The project included installing more than 350 steps through steep, narrow corridors; creating nearly 600 feet of elevated trail surfaces, installing almost 400 drainage elements, placing more than 1,000 native stones along the trail and eliminating numerous user-created side trails that had caused erosion and wayfinding confusion.

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These Columbia River Gorge hikes reopened on ‘Green Friday’

Posted by on Nov 25, 2018 @ 9:31 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

These Columbia River Gorge hikes reopened on ‘Green Friday’

For the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire, six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway and several popular trails near Multnomah Falls have reopened, including Angels Rest, Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls and Larch Mountain trails east of Portland.

The reopening includes the full 7-mile Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls loop. A short half-mile hike from Horsetail Falls Trailhead to Ponytail Falls also is open.

The full length of the Historic Columbia River Highway impacted by Eagle Creek Fire is now open.

“This reopening includes a lot of the really good stuff,” Forest Service spokeswoman Rachel Pawlitz said.

However, many U.S. Forest Service and State Park trails and sites remain closed with no timeline for reopening. That includes famous hikes such as Eagle Creek Trail and Wahclella Falls.

“It’s thrilling to be able to reconnect visitors with these much loved waterfalls and trails, which were hard hit by the fire,” said Lynn Burditt, area manager for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Cite…

 

Heather Anderson Completed a Calendar-Year Triple Crown

Posted by on Nov 22, 2018 @ 6:48 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Heather Anderson Completed a Calendar-Year Triple Crown

The Triple Crown is often considered the pinnacle of the thru-hiking world. To complete the feat, a person must hike the 2,190-mile Appalachian, 2,650-mile Pacific Crest, and 3,100-mile Continental Divide trails—a task that typically takes at least three years, with five or six months dedicated to each effort.

But for a select few, there is an even more impressive Triple Crown to be had: Hiking all three trails in a single year, a challenge that’s dubbed the Calendar-Year Triple Crown. At nearly 8,000 miles, you could hike across the U.S. from coast to coast twice with still a quarter of the trip left. On November 8, seasoned hiker Heather “Anish” Anderson became the sixth person, and the first woman, to claim this elite crown.

Anderson is a recognizable name among long-distance hikers. Before this trip, she’d already Triple Crowned twice, setting the overall self-supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Pacific Crest Trail and the self-supported FKT for the Appalachian Trail. (A new FKT for the Appalachian Trail was set by Karel Sabbe in August, but Anderson still holds the women’s record.) After this season, Anderson is now the fastest woman to ever Triple Crown and the first woman to triple Triple Crown.

“These trails have been really important in my life and in my hiking career,” Anderson says. To walk the three longest national scenic trails, one after the other, seemed like a good way to honor them on the 50th anniversary of the National Trail System Act, she says.

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How to Survive a Forest Fire while Hiking or Camping

Posted by on Nov 18, 2018 @ 10:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

How to Survive a Forest Fire while Hiking or Camping

Extensive studies and research have proven that wildfires are occurring five times more often in the recent decades; such forest fires also burn six times the land area when compared to past occurrences and also tend to last much longer. According to scientific research, climate change and global warming are the two main culprits to be blamed for the sudden increase in frequency and intensity of wildfires. Any responsible hiker must prioritize fire safety during hiking, no matter the season.

Should all the stars be aligned against you on a fateful day, you watch your nightmares turn real, and find yourself surrounded by a wildfire; here are a few things that might save your life:

 

How to Survive a Forest Fire While Hiking

 

This infographic is provided by my friend Arun Kumar for RidersTrail.

 

Going for the three-peat: Franklin outdoor store opens two new locations in 2018

Posted by on Nov 17, 2018 @ 11:22 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Going for the three-peat: Franklin outdoor store opens two new locations in 2018

When Rob Gasbarro and Cory McCall met in 2008, their friendship formed around hiking and biking the mountains surrounding Franklin, NC, their weekdays filled by burgeoning careers in civil structural engineering and real estate, respectively.

Then came the recession. Things got bad and then worse. By 2010, the careers that they’d planned to retire in, provide for families with, seemed headed for an early end.

“Long story short, one day he and I just met for lunch and we were like, ‘Let’s just open an outdoor store,’” Gasbarro recalled. “‘What’s the worst that can happen? We starve and it doesn’t work and we’re unemployed? We’re already facing that anyway.’”

Now an anchor store on East Main Street in Franklin, Outdoor 76 was born — or at least conceived — as a rough business plan scribbled on the back of a lunch napkin at Sunrise Restaurant.

McCall and Gasbarro, ages 36 and 42, both live in Franklin, though they considered setting up shop elsewhere. But the more they investigated, the better Franklin looked. It’s within two hours of a list of cities with a combined population of 14 million people. It’s an Appalachian Trail town, and located in a county with a bounty of outdoor opportunities, including 18 peaks over 5,000 feet.

“We’re starting to see that manifest now,” said Gasbarro. “Franklin is growing.” So is Outdoor 76. In the past six months, the company has opened two new stores, in Cherokee and in Clayton, Georgia.

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New permit system will limit hiking in Oregon’s Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters wilderness in 2020

Posted by on Nov 16, 2018 @ 6:56 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

New permit system will limit hiking in Oregon’s Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters wilderness in 2020

Hiking and camping in three of Oregon’s most popular wilderness areas will be restricted starting in 2020, an attempt by outdoor officials to limit damage from growing crowds of visitors.

The U.S. Forest Service announced a decision to install a permit system limiting the number of people in the Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters and Mount Washington Wilderness areas.

A sharp increase in crowds during the past decade — and environmental damage that’s followed — prompted the agency to enact sweeping changes to the way people access 450,000 acres of Oregon’s most iconic backcountry.

“The goal is to maintain the quality of our wilderness areas and the experience they offer,” said John Allen, supervisor of Deschutes National Forest. “It’s about keeping the amount of people to a level where they’re not degrading these special places.”

Anyone camping overnight in the three wilderness areas will need a permit from a limited pool, under the new system. Day-users also will need a special permit for 30 of the most popular trails, including routes to Green Lakes Basin, Marion Lake, South Sister and Jefferson Park.

The decision marks a fundamental change to the unencumbered way most Oregonians currently hike, backpack and ride horses on public lands. It’s a system that treats hiking in a way similar to fishing or hunting, which have long been more regulated.

Learn more here…

 

Exploring Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs

Posted by on Nov 15, 2018 @ 6:36 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Exploring Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is only a few hours north of the state’s most famous attraction, the Grand Canyon, but most people have never heard of the stunning wilderness area, much less visited its swirling, colorful sandstone.

There’s a reason for that—getting to know the monument isn’t easy. While the stunning 2,000- to 3,000-foot namesake cliffs run for 30 miles and can be viewed from U.S. Highway 89A, getting to the monument’s other treasures takes a little effort.

There’s no visitor center, no paved paths, and only a few hardscrabble trails. But once you make it into this truly wild backcountry, most of which is protected as a wilderness area, it’s a chance to experience sherbet-colored slot canyons, sandstone arches, and endangered California condors.

Before you head into one of Arizona’s best-kept secrets, make sure you have plenty of water, a pair of broken-in hiking boots, and your sense of awe.

At the northern end of the monument is Paria Canyon, the best nontechnical canyoneering trip in the U.S. Typically, hikers take three to seven days to traverse the 38-mile sandstone canyon. The opposite of the wide-open spaces surrounding it, Paria is a world of walls, with 500- to 1,000-foot sandstone edifices occasionally opening into meadows of willow and rabbitbrush before squeezing back together.

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What made this father/daughter hike in Yosemite work? Respect, reliance on each other and appreciating what it means to be young

Posted by on Nov 14, 2018 @ 8:49 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

What made this father/daughter hike in Yosemite work? Respect, reliance on each other and appreciating what it means to be young

The first night camping set the pattern for our trip. We slipped into roles without asking each other who was going to do what. We just did what needed doing.

On our hike, Alanna set a moderate pace. The Vogelsang High Sierra Camp became our point of no return. If we kept going now, we had to continue all the way. I knew how much it meant to her, and I too wanted to know whether I could still handle a 10-mile-a-day backpacking trip.

We forged on, up and over the pass, my feet beginning to ache, and down the other side into a wonderland of granite and pine until we reached Florence Creek, a torrent we had to cross. It was harrowing, but working together we made it and celebrated by camping nearby.

The next day Alanna hiked ahead, and sometimes I had to remind her to stay with me. My feet were forcing me to remove my boots every hour to let the pain subside, while she rested without complaint.

At one point when I found her waiting around a bend, I asked her to slow down. “There’s no need to go gangbusting down the trail,” I said.

“But Daddy,” she said, “I like gangbusting. What else would we do all day if we weren’t hiking?”

I smiled, because I remembered being like that. There was a time when hiking was the whole point.

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First responders train for wilderness rescues at DuPont Forest

Posted by on Nov 13, 2018 @ 12:41 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

More then 200 emergency personnel from across the United States gathered in DuPont State Recreational Forest this past weekend for the 13th annual DuPont Rescue Experience.

The training exercise, which began Friday and concluded Sunday, was divided into four 12-hour operational periods and managed using the National Incident Management System.

This year the theme of the exercise was “Creating a culture of preparedness.” Training and scenarios involved combining knowledge, skills and abilities to overcome challenges found in the wilderness environment, officials said.

Sessions hosted by DuPont Rescue Experience instructors focused on search management, technical rope rescue, land navigation, wilderness EMS, mountain bikes in search and rescue, disaster communications, canines in search and rescue and incident management.

A Special training: Minimal Gear Sustainment class gave students the skills necessary to shelter in place overnight with minimal gear. It covered how the body loses heat and several ways to minimize it. Skills taught included campsite selection, what items to carry, knife/tool safety and use, shelter construction (manmade and natural materials), and fire-making.

The training is hosted each year by Mountain County Emergency Managers and local emergency response agencies. The training is considered one of the top search and rescue exercises in the nation.

Cite…

 

Effect of Recreational Trails on Forest Birds: Human Presence Matters

Posted by on Nov 12, 2018 @ 9:20 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Effect of Recreational Trails on Forest Birds: Human Presence Matters

Recreational activities in nature have increased enormously in the last decades. This trend is raising concerns of researchers and conservationists about the potential impact of human recreation on wild animals. Humans are often perceived as potential predators by wildlife. Thus, when exposed to human presence, animals may react with important changes in their behavior and physiology, which in turn might have consequences for individual fitness and the dynamics of animal populations.

Forests are a natural environment often used for such activities as jogging, hiking, dog walking, mountain biking, or horse riding. The mere presence of people in forests can disturb wildlife. Many of these activities rely on trails, which intersect an otherwise contiguous habitat and hence impact wildlife.

The aim of this study was to separate the effect of the change in vegetation and habitat structure through trails, from the effect of human presence using these trails, on forest bird communities. Therefore the scientists compared the effects of recreational trails on birds in two forests frequently used by recreationists with that in two rarely visited forests.

They found that in the disturbed (i.e., high-recreation-level forests), the density of birds and species richness were both reduced at points close to trails when compared to points further away, whereas such an effect was not statistically discernible in the forests with a low-recreation-level.

Read full study…

 

Hit the dirt and say happy birthday to the Continental Divide Trail

Posted by on Nov 11, 2018 @ 9:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hit the dirt and say happy birthday to the Continental Divide Trail

This weekend, one of America’s most prestigious trails, and one that winds through Colorado, turns 40 years old.

The Continental Divide Trail, which runs 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico, was officially founded in 1978, marking 2018 its 40th year serving as a beloved part of Colorado’s outdoor recreation. Hikers, horseback riders, runners, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, fishers, hunters and more have used the 800 miles of trail within Colorado before continuing on into Wyoming or New Mexico.

The people who know it best — members of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition — write on their website that the CDT is a “museum of the American West, a place to reconnect with nature, and a unifying force bringing people of all walks of life together.”

The CDT varies in difficulty. Some sections require solid trail experience and other parts are doable for a new day hiker. The elevation on the trail ranges from 4,000 to 14,000 feet, with some of the highest points in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

According to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition website, the trail winds its way through numerous beloved landscapes in Colorado including alpine tundra of the South San Juan, Weminuche, and La Garita Wildernesses, where the CDT remains at or above 11,000 feet for almost 70 miles.

Cite…

 

Making tracks: Kids trails program earns recognition after decade of growth

Posted by on Nov 10, 2018 @ 9:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Making tracks: Kids trails program earns recognition after decade of growth

In 2008, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation launched a new program aiming to get kids and families out exploring the high-elevation corridor. Ever since, the Kids in Parks program has mushroomed into a national endeavor with designated trails from San Diego, California, to Nags Head, North Carolina.

Kids in Parks was recognized for its decade of accomplishments when it won the Youth Engagement Award at the SHIFT Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The annual SHIFT Awards recognize individuals, initiatives and organizations that contribute to conservation through human-powered outdoor recreation.

“I don’t know that we envisioned that we would be in San Diego or in South Dakota, but we definitely set out to design it so it was going to be the next big thing in children’s nature programming, at least in the Blue Ridge,” said Kids in Parks Director Jason Urroz, who has been on board since the program’s inception. “It just so happens that nature deficit disorder, childhood obesity and people not spending time outdoors isn’t a Blue Ridge problem. It’s happening everywhere.”

The original idea behind Kids in Parks was to make outdoor exploration more accessible, simple and interactive for families by clearly identifying kid-friendly trails and having some sort of interpretation available to help kids learn about the plants, animals and other natural features they were seeing.

The program was developed as a self-guided experience offering brochures to help kids interact with and learn about the trails, dubbed TRACK Trails. Most TRACK Trails are 1- or 2-mile hikes with some sort of interesting feature along the way.

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Veterans Day Is Fee Free at Our National Parks

Posted by on Nov 9, 2018 @ 8:52 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Veterans Day Is Fee Free at Our National Parks

Many national parks have direct connections to the American military—there are dozens of battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. In addition, every national park is part of our collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are tactile reminders of the values, the ideals, and the freedoms that our veterans protect.

The majestic landscapes, natural wonders, and patriotic icons that we cherish as a society have also inspired military members through the years. The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Statue of Liberty are just a few of the national parks that have served as reminders of home to those stationed abroad. On Veterans Day, or any day, honor those who have served and sacrificed for our country with a visit to a national park.

The National Park Service invites all visitors to remember our veterans by visiting any National Park Service site for free on Veterans Day, November 11, 2018.

This Veterans Day also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of hostilities of World War I, which took effect on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, also known as Armistice Day.

 

The Psychology and Science Behind How Hiking Trails Are Created

Posted by on Nov 8, 2018 @ 9:27 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Psychology and Science Behind How Hiking Trails Are Created

You can find a hiking trail or walking path almost anywhere in the United States, whether you’re deep in the backcountry or a few yards from a parking lot. Most casual hikers probably give them little thought before lacing up their boots, but hiking trails don’t just appear naturally.

Sure, the popular pathways are created with shovels and sweat and grit, but that’s not all: Modern trail construction actually involves a significant amount of anticipating what potential hikers will do and analyzing the area surrounding the route. The ultimate goal: “A useful trail must be easy to find, easy to travel, and convenient to use,” according to the USDA Forest Service’s Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook.

Before the first ground is even close to being broken, trail designers consider the trail-to-be’s location and its potential users. Will visitors be hardcore hikers looking for a new challenge? Or is the trail to be set near an urban area, where hikers are considered more casual? Will more than just hikers need to use it? All of these factors will determine a trail’s layout and design.

To figure out the right layout, trail designers consult protocols like the Forest Service Trails Accessibility Guidelines, which detail “Trail Management Objectives”—the intended users, desired difficulty level, and desired experience—that will determine the width, as well as the type of tread, of the trail.

If the hikers are experienced, a narrow, single track path can probably handle that population. But more casual hikers—think friends out for a picnic, families, or dog walkers—are more likely to walk and talk side-by-side. If the trail is designated as multi-use—meaning it’s open to multiple user groups, like bikers, equestrians, cross country skiing, etc.—that’s also central to planning.

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Ultimate guide to hiking Coachella’s hidden canyons

Posted by on Nov 5, 2018 @ 6:15 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Ultimate guide to hiking Coachella’s hidden canyons

With all the chic midcentury galleries and groovy tiki bars populating Palm Springs’ downtown, you could easily spend a weekend hunting for Eames chairs and sipping retro cocktails. Browse and brunch all you want — no one will judge. But sooner or later, you’ll glance up at the furrowed hills that hug the city and feel an urge for something wilder.

The desert does that.

Tucked into an abutment of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountain ranges, the Coachella Valley offers a wealth of wildness. Beyond the manicured golf courses south of Palm Springs lie 35,000 acres of rugged desert, the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. More than 60 miles of trails ramble through four canyons, where bighorn sheep clatter across the hillsides and glistening waterfalls appear like a revelation.

To the south, the San Andreas Fault knifes through the Mecca Hills, exposing the earth’s skeleton. Footpaths lead through colorful canyons formed by the mighty forces of plate tectonics, water, wind and time. And on the Coachella Valley’s north side, seismic activity has forced underground water to the surface to create wetlands, marshes and ponds at the 17,000-acre Coachella Valley Preserve.

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Why do otherwise smart people do such dumb things in the great outdoors?

Posted by on Nov 2, 2018 @ 6:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Why do otherwise smart people do such dumb things in the great outdoors?

Two hikers died last week after falling from Yosemite’s Taft Point, located high above Yosemite Valley. What exactly happened is still unclear, but they almost certainly stepped off the trail, past the guardrail and passed warning signs before tumbling hundreds of feet over the cliffs.

There’s been an exponential increase in the number of lost hikers, injured hikers and, worst of all, hikers who die on the trail. In recent weeks, we’ve learned of a California woman who slipped and fell to her death while taking selfies on a trail high above Lake Superior in Michigan, and thrill-seekers suffering severe injuries while leaping off cliffs into shallow pools — just to put the video on their Instagram feed.

There was a particularly horrible incident in the summer of 2011 when three college students stepped past the guardrail at the top of Yosemite’s 317-foot high Vernal Fall and into the Merced River. Other visitors pleaded with them to get out of the water, but one hiker slipped and started a chain reaction that ended with all three falling to their deaths.

Why do otherwise smart people do such dumb things in the great outdoors?

Bad hiking advice pollutes comments on hiking blogs, Facebook posts and Yelp reviews, so it’s tempting to blame social media. The fault, however, lies not in Instagram stars, but in ourselves. It’s a disconnect from nature, a lack of even basic survival skills, and poor judgment that cause most troubles on the trail.

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