Hiking News

South Carolina Upstate hiking trails closed

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 @ 6:22 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Park have closed all or parts of several trails. Rangers are working to clear debris and reroute high water.

TRAIL CLOSURES: Please see the following list for closures:

Raven Cliff Suspension Bridge – Open route of Gum Gap to Naturaland, the rest of Naturaland closed
Cold Spring – Trail closed until water recedes.
Dismal Loop – Trail closed.
Rim of the Gap from Frank Coggins to John Sloan – Trail closed until water recedes.
Pinnacle Pass – Closed

Raven Cliff overlook, Mountain Bridge Passage Bill Kimball (two blowdowns but can pass), Frank Coggins, Jones Gap, Falls Creek(to the Falls), Rainbow Falls and Tom Miller trails are all currently open.

 

Hiking with Chimps in Uganda

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 @ 8:14 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

One of the best places in Africa to hang with our closest relatives is Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park, home to more than 1,400 chimpanzees and the continent’s highest diversity and density of primates. Most safari travelers opt for one of the twice-daily, ranger-guided, three-hour chimpanzee hikes. But as rewarding as this experience is, you are limited to spending just one hour with the primates once the guide locates them to avoid provoking stress or transmitting human-borne diseases.

To help travelers learn more, and to increase the chances of better sightings for future visitors, the park is offering fit hikers the chance to spend an entire day in the company with researchers studying a chimpanzee family undergoing habituation for tourism.

A chimpanzee’s natural behavior is to run or climb as far from humans as possible (in Uganda and other countries, local people illegally hunt and eat wild chimps and steal their babies to sell as pets). It takes at least two years of constant daily observation to get a chimpanzee troop to feel comfortable enough with human presence for safari chimpanzee treks to succeed. Chimpanzees share 98 per cent of human DNA and much of our behaviors, which is why observing these primates in the wild is so engaging: the Shakespearian politics of a dominant male and his sidekicks, infants playing, sibling rivalries and adolescent posturing, and the incredible athleticism of the great apes as they swing from tree branches or race effortlessly over terrain that would leave an Olympic marathoner panting.

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Pedro Point Headlands Workday and Native Plant Hike

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 @ 9:13 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Pedro Point Headlands Workday and Native Plant Hike

There are two opportunities in August to enjoy, give back, and learn about the Pedro Point Headlands and all are welcome. There will be a Habitat Restoration workday and/or a Native Plant hike on Sunday, Aug. 25, for anyone up for hiking and working on the rugged steep hilled property with spectacular vistas and breathtaking incline and declines.

To pitch in and help restore habitat on Aug. 25, meet at the Pedro Point Firehouse on Danmann Avenue in Pedro Point District at 9:45 a.m. You will collect seeds, remove french broom and invasives and water the newly planted plots on the middle ridge. Work until noon and then have refreshments. Volunteers can either return to the firehouse or continue on with the Native Plant hike. The Habitat Restoration workday is sponsored by the Pacifica Land Trust, funded by the CA Coastal Conservancy and supported by the Pedro Point Community Association.

If you prefer to do the Native Plant hike only, meet at the Pedro Point Firehouse at 12:45 p.m. There you will be metand taken to join the other group on the headlands. For the Native Plant hike, plan to explore the unique biological reserve of plants at the Pedro Point Headlands. Mike Vasey and Jake Sigg will team up to lead this hike to the northern most headland peak to see the famed coastal prairie land just below.

Volunteers and hikers are encouraged to wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and sturdy shoes.

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Thoughts on recent JMT and PCT speed records

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 @ 5:47 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Andrew Skurka is an accomplished adventure athlete, speaker, guide, and writer. The 31-year-old is most well known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips, notably the 4,700-mile 6-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, the 6,875-mile 7-month Great Western Loop, and the 7,775-mile 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route.

New Fastest Known Times (FKT’s) were recently set on both the John Muir Trail (JMT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT record has been especially big news within and beyond the hiking community.

On the JMT, ultra runners Hal Koerner and Mike Wolfe covered the 220-mile distance in 3 days, 12 hours, and 41 minutes, which was 92 minutes faster than Brett Muane’s time from 2009.

On the PCT, Heather Anderson set a new time of 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes on August 7, a day before Josh Garrett arrived at the Canadian border 32 hours and 13 minutes faster, for a cumulative time of 59 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes. The old record of 64 days and change was set by Scott Williamson in 2011.

Here are Skurka’s thoughts on these new records…

 

Mount Fuji, So Popular It Hurts

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 @ 11:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The words printed on the buses that drive through Kawaguchiko, a scenic town in the foothills of Japan’s tallest and most sacred mountain, were as reassuring as they were disconcerting: “Preserve the Nature of Mt. Fuji.”

The message was a reminder that despite years of effort, the millions who visit the mountain and nearby towns each year and the plethora of businesses that serve them continue to have a profound impact on the environment, whether through mounting trash, poor air quality or suburban sprawl.

Mount Fuji, or Fujisan as it’s known to the Japanese, is the nation’s most recognizable natural landmark, a conical volcano immortalized by artists like Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige. These days, the mountain, less than two hours from Tokyo, is a playground for rich and poor. Climbing the mountain is on many hikers’ bucket lists.

But easy access to the mountain — drivers can park about halfway to the peak — has been a mixed blessing. Last year, nearly 320,000 people made the climb, yet 25 died trying. Illegally dumped garbage fills the forests. Traffic chokes surrounding roads and paths to the peak.

This summer, climbers were asked to contribute a fee to help preserve the environment. But the measures will do only so much because the parade of visitors is likely to continue, especially now that Mount Fuji has been added to Unesco’s World Heritage list as a cultural asset.

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Earn college credit for hiking Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 @ 5:12 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Earn college credit for hiking Appalachian Trail

Kasi Quinn did it. So did J.B. “Jason” Hibbitts. They thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. Both also came back to Emory, Va., and reported on their hikes – even earning college credit – through a program called Semester-A-Trail at Emory & Henry College.

Jim Harrison, the college’s director of outdoor programming, calls this “a special studies opportunity that allows degree-seeking students to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail while remaining fully enrolled in an academic semester.” Harrison thru-hiked the AT in 1997.

J.B. Hibbitts, 30, relayed his experience. A resident of Bristol, Tenn., Hibbitts tore off on the trail in 2006 – restless, yet wanting to get out and see the woods of the world. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Hibbitts used the G.I. Bill to get through college. He also needed to stay in school full time, so Harrison made plans to help as Hibbitts hiked the trail.

Turns out, that’s how Semester-A-Trail was born. Today, this program is listed in the course catalog at Emory & Henry.

“The Semester-A-Trail Program offers students the opportunity to build independent studies and projects with broadened field-based implications. Student hikers have developed imaginative projects across the curriculum in ecotourism, human physiology, water quality, wellness, and photography.”

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Gordons Pond Trail trekking toward start

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 @ 4:53 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Gordons Pond Trail project will create 2.7 miles of improved trail connecting Gordons Pond to Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware. The Junction & Breakwater Trail and Gordons Pond Trail will be linked, becoming a major segment of a 15.5-mile loop forming a regional trail system connecting Rehoboth Beach and Lewes.

The trail is aligned and designed to protect rare plant and animal species and archaeological sites from wayward bikers and hikers, with a 900-foot boardwalk-bridge spanning an environmentally sensitive area.

Boardwalk-bridge decking is expected to be a fiberglass grid with a nonskid surface to allow sunlight and rainwater to reach vegetation growing underneath.

The entire trail is designed to be accessible to people with disabilities, and people with strollers, bikes with skinny tires and rollerbladers. The new segment is designed to be surfaced with stone dust like that already used throughout the trail.

Work on Gordons Pond Trail is expected to begin in the fall.

Read full story…

 

A major Maine — and national — mystery

Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 @ 10:24 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Geraldine Largay, 66, an experienced hiker on the Appalachian Trail, left the Poplar Ridge Lean-to shelter near Rangeley, Maine on Monday, July 22, a beautiful, sunny day. She checked in with her husband via text message as she headed toward the Spaulding Mountain Lean-to, eight miles north. She had already hiked from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, almost 1000 miles, with her final destination the AT terminus at Katahdin.

Three young men hiking south on the trail remembered seeing her that afternoon near Lone Mountain, about three miles from the Spaulding shelter. To them, Largay — a longtime Georgia resident who recently moved to Tennessee and whose trail name was Inchworm — seemed fine.

Then she vanished. Hikers who went through that section of the trail later that day did not see her, the Maine Warden Service said. Hikers who stayed at the Spaulding lean-to told wardens she didn’t stay there Monday or Tuesday night.

Thereupon began one of Maine’s largest missing-person searches in memory. Over 11 days it involved hundreds of people on foot and on ATVs and horseback, a helicopter, and airplanes. It ended with a fine-tooth-comb “grid” search in the Lone Mountain area on Sunday, August 4, by 115 trained search-and-rescue personnel and nine search dogs.

Gerry Largay was not found. The night of the 4th, the warden service announced that, for now, it had done what it could in terms of large-scale searching. Henceforth, it would only follow new leads.

Rita Hennessy, assistant manager of the National Appalachian Scenic Trail, which is a 2200-mile-long national park, said from her office at Harpers Ferry that she had never heard of a disappearance like this on the trail.

Read full story…

 

Breaking the cycle of poverty starts on the Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 @ 9:29 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Breaking the cycle of poverty starts on the Appalachian Trail

Cierra Schell, an incoming junior at Philadelphia’s High School of the Future, finished her ninth day of backpacking limping down the Appalachian Trail. She was in misery but so proud of it.

“This is ridiculous,” she said. “I feel dirty. My feet got blisters all over. But it was worth it. I reached my breaking point yesterday. I fell. I didn’t want to get up, but I did it for my team. So we could reach camp and get some sleep… I felt I couldn’t go on, but I pushed myself, and I made it.”

This West Philadelphian had never seen a mountain, much less climbed one. Nine days without a shower evolved from unthinkable to unimportant. “I don’t even smell myself anymore,” she said.

Cierra and 19 other city juniors, in two groups, were sent into the wilderness two weeks ago by a nonprofit group, Summer Search. This trip was the first big step in a five-year effort to push these teens to see and achieve lives they never imagined possible.

Summer Search serves 2,000 teens annually, 35 a year in Philadelphia. Its mission is to break the cycle of poverty and dependency among urban poor, to launch them on a path toward college and success. It is based on a philosophy that character – self-control, conscientiousness, and tenacity – is a better predictor of success than grades and tests, particularly among low-income students.

Read full story…

 

Your Own Private Idaho

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 @ 10:21 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The “Entering Stanley, Idaho” sign seems more like a friendly warning than a welcome. “Population 63,” it reads, as if to say: Congratulations, you’ve made it to the middle of nowhere. Stanley is the entry point to the Sawtooth Valley, a time warp of a place with four saloons, five mountain ranges and not much else.

Established by Congress in 1972 and managed by the federal Forest Service, the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which includes the 217,000-acre Sawtooth Wilderness, is arguably more rugged and wild than any national park — in large part because it’s not one.

Though equal in size to Yosemite, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area estimates just 1.5 million visitors. And since there are no welcome gates or entrance fees, Ed Cannady, the Forest Service recreation manager for the recreation area, said that figure is probably inflated, as it includes cars just passing through; he estimated the actual number of annual visitors is closer to around 700,000.

With 700 miles of trails and only a fraction of the annual visitors actually hiking them, even the easiest, most accessible trails in the recreation area still feel like the backcountry compared with Yosemite’s valley floor. It came close, but the Sawtooths dodged the national park designation decades ago. And that’s a lucky thing, say locals, who proudly tout its unofficial slogan: “The Tetons, without the handrails.”

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Hikers adding Prince Edward Island to International Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 @ 8:17 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Ed Talone started his hiking journey from Key West, Fla., in 2011. Nine months and 6,500 kilometres later, he landed in Bangor, Me.

At the same time, Julie King was doing some hiking through the International Appalachian Trail. Their paths crossed and the rest is history. “The hike started as a continuation, we left from Baxter Park and so far we’ve hiked over 2,100 km,” said King.

The International Appalachian Trail runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, parts of Quebec and Nova Scotia. It extends to the northeastern-most point of the Appalachian Mountains in Belle Isle, N.L.

Although the trail doesn’t have a recognized trail mark in Prince Edward Island, King and Talone are hoping to change that.

“We are hiking and establishing a new route. Areas considered are where there are either existing protruding Appalachian rock or the underlying bed rock has some association with the Appalachian,” King explained.

Read full story…

 

Close-up Mount St. Helens crater view is worth the hike

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 @ 3:45 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The final few yards of climbing to the crater view are the toughest, with hikers digging their boots into soft sandy pumice, taking care not to dislodge rocks. But the view is worth the sweat-inducing slog. The route — which is scheduled to open to the public next year — leads to a spectacular view into the crater of Mount St. Helens.

The scenery includes the heavily crevassed Crater Glacier, which flows around the lava dome, and rockfalls that tumble off the crater walls and send up angry plumes of dust.

Lindsey Karr, a guide with the Mount St. Helens Institute who leads the crater-view hike, said she prefers the scenery there to the view from the summit of the volcano.

“I really like the pumice plain,” which is on the way to the crater view, Karr said. “It’s really beautiful, and I’m fascinated by the biology and ecology that’s going on. And there’s less people, too,” compared to the steady stream of hikers one encounters on the summit route.

As early as next year the Forest Service plans to open the route to the public under a fee system similar to that for climbing up the south side of the volcano to the summit. In the years following Mount St. Helens’ 1980 eruption, the Forest Service repaired many obliterated trails and built others from scratch. Trail construction then slowed, but it has resumed in recent years, with several routes under consideration.

Read full story…

 

WNC hiker Matt Kirk breaks AT unsupported record

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 @ 2:40 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

WNC hiker Matt Kirk breaks AT unsupported record

Perhaps you were out hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer and thought you saw something really tall and skinny whiz by – it most likely wasn’t a misplaced giraffe. Chances are it was Matt Kirk, who on Wednesday night, August 7, broke the unsupported speed record for a thru-hike of the AT.

What that means, exactly, is that Kirk, 32, a schoolteacher who most recently was living in Western North Carolina with his wife, Lily, is the fastest human to hike the 2,185-mile-long Appalachian Trail, without assistance. He carried all his own food and water, mailing himself supplies ahead of time, and walking out of the trail to retrieve them – no being carted around in a car.

He started at the trail’s northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin, Maine, and arrived at the summit of Springer Mountain, Ga., at 7:20 p.m. in 58 days, 9 hours, 40 minutes (that’s according to Jen Pharr Davis’ report, another WNC trail runner/hiker who, by the way, holds the supported AT thru-hike record).

Matt broke the 20-year-old record, set by Ward Leonard, of 60.5 days. Since that time, the goal among those who do this sort of sport, has been to “hike” the AT in sub-60-days.

Jennifer broke the supported record of 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes on July 31, 2011. That means she had help carrying food and water and getting on and off the trail at night.

Read full story…

 

National Park Service offers free admission on 97th birthday, Aug. 25

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 @ 7:25 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Admission will be free to America’s national parks on Sunday, Aug. 25, in honor of the 97th anniversary of the National Park Service. Special festivities will take place at parks coast to coast.

“National parks belong to all Americans, and we invite everyone to join us and celebrate this special day,” said National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis, in a statement. “From kite-building demonstrations at Wright Brothers National Memorial, to a river paddle at New River Gorge National River or a scenic railroad ride at Steamtown National Historic Site, America’s national parks offer something for the whole family.”

With partners at the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, the park service has created an online hub to help plan personal National Park Service birthday trips at npsbirthday.org.

 

Pacific Crest Trail taking a beating from vegan hikers

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 @ 8:50 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Barring a broken leg, lightning strike or some other catastrophe, a 30-year-old California man is on track to set a record today by completing a supported through-hike of the 2,655-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in just 59 days.

Josh Garrett has averaged 44 miles a day since leaving the Mexico border on June 10, and about 50 miles a day through Oregon and Washington with at least one daily mileage of more than 70 miles. GPS data indicates he hiked 48 miles on Monday, getting within roughly 150 miles of the U.S-Canada border.

While his endurance in such a brisk walk through the wilds of California, Oregon and Washington is astounding, he takes his energy from a different source than most long-distance hikers. Garrett is a vegan. Not a mile of this hike has been fueled by a cheeseburger or even a Snickers bar.

Another hiker, Heather “Anish” Anderson, 31, of Bellingham, WA started June 8 and was on track to break a PCT speed record, too. In her most recent Facebook post she said, “And now, in the cold, foggy night I walk across the next to last hwy and into the wilderness. I will post again when I’m done.” That was Aug. 3.

She was hiking unsupported except by the moral boost provided by other hikers she’s met. Anderson has been trucking to break the unassisted speed record of 64 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes set in 2011, but it appears that Garrett will finish in less time.

Garrett’s record may need an asterisk. Although he’s on his own five or six days at a time, he’s been getting support at the occasional PCT road crossings from an assistant provided by his sponsor.

Read full story…

UPDATE on Aug. 8: Reports have Heather “Anish” Anderson finishing the Pacific Crest Trail at 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2013. She finished in 60 days, 17 hours and change, unassisted. That would break the speed record by three days. Reports from Josh Garrett’s friends indicate he finished Aug. 8 with a time of 59 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes that breaks Anderson’s new record by about a day and a half, but it was assisted.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, there was a new speed record on the Appalachian Trail today as well. More info tomorrow on the unassisted trek of 58.5 days by Matt Kirk.

 

How to pack food for long backpacking trips

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 @ 9:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

On multi-day trips, the weight and bulk of food becomes significant, especially as your appetite rises, usually after a couple of weeks. This means that calorie-rich, dense dried foods are best.

Long distance hikers are the ones in supermarkets searching out the highest calorie foods. Careful selection and a few additions can make dried meals quite tasty.

Overall, around one kilo of food a day provides plenty of energy – about 3,500-4,000 calories – for trips of one to three weeks. On longer trips you may need 4-5,000 calories a day and so up the amount of food carried after the first two weeks by a few hundred grams, usually in the form of cheese and snack bars.

Here’s what to take on long trips…

 

Biking and hiking made easy at Whistler

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 @ 8:59 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Summertime, and the biking and hiking are easy at Whistler.

The British Columbia resort, known for its world-class skiing, has also turned itself into a popular summer resort. Visitors can ride lifts that swoop up to more than 7,000 feet, giving spectacular mountain views and easy access to high-country hiking trails. Down in the valley, the 24-mile paved Valley Trail (for bicyclists, walkers, joggers and roller-bladers) makes for easygoing pedaling through parkland and forests, along a string of small lakes, and past envy-inducing vacation homes.

Of course, Whistler summertime visitors could go hard-core with thigh-burning, tough hikes in the backcountry and strenuous mountain-biking on dirt trails.

But these more mellow biking and hiking options suit people of all ages and stamina, from preschoolers to elders. And at the end of the day visitors can settle down in Whistler’s comfortable hotels or condos; enjoy good restaurants and shopping; or just people-watch and stroll in the pedestrian-friendly Whistler Village.

Learn more…