Hiking News

How A Bookworm Broke A Hiking Record

Posted by on Aug 31, 2013 @ 7:16 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The first conversation Heather Anderson had with a mountain lion was a short one. On the 14th night of her record-breaking hike from Mexico to Canada, when a lion’s face appeared in the beam of her headlamp, Ms. Anderson obeyed her first instinct. She barked.

“I just was like ‘Woof! Woof!’ at the top of my lungs, I didn’t even think about it,” she said. The mountain lion looked back only once as it sprinted away. “Nobody says ‘bark at mountain lions,’ it just happened to be my gut reaction.”

And then, with a kind of reality-defying optimism, Ms. Anderson carried on. For 61 days, she hiked 44 miles in 19-hour increments until she reached the Canadian border. No man or woman has ever hiked the Pacific Crest Trail that quickly without outside support.

Ms. Anderson is something of an immigrant to the world of hiking. As a kid, she hated running and said her meal of choice was a bowl of Oreos in milk that she ate like cereal.

“I was this little bookworm that sat inside, and read, and was really overweight. I just really didn’t do anything active,” she said. She said she weighed around 200 pounds at her high school graduation.

Read full story…


Hike with Sure Footing

Posted by on Aug 30, 2013 @ 2:39 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking, like any outdoor sport, comes with some inherent risk. Making sure you pack the Ten Essentials, leaving your itinerary with family and friends, and other common sense precautions go a long way toward minimizing that risk so you can just enjoy the wonder of your hiking experience. But accidents, sometimes truly tragic ones, do happen.

We’ve all had those close calls – skidding our boot across slick granite and feeling our heart skip a beat because there’s a drop-off right there, or tripping over a tree root and almost taking a tumble down a hillside. Whether you are brand new to hiking or have been at it for years without incident, it’s never a bad idea to go back to basics.

It sounds simple and easy. Hiking is basically walking, putting one foot in front of the other. But as summer rolls into fall, and rain starts to make trails more slippery, remember that the ground isn’t flat, and a heavy pack can throw off your balance. Some trails pass right by steep cliffs. Snow may be slippery. Loose rocks on trail tread may shift unexpectedly.

You can’t control the environment, but there are ways to become more sure-footed when you hike.

Here are some suggestions…


Geography in the News: The Long Trail of Tears

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 @ 11:02 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Geography in the News: The Long Trail of Tears

There are a few people each summer who seek to follow some of the many famous trails that crisscross the United States in memory of epic journeys of the original travelers. These include the Oregon Trail, the Lewis and Clark route and the Trail of Tears.

Many of our ancestors experienced hardships in the settlement of this country, particularly Native Americans. Although there are many examples, none is more poignant than the Cherokee’s famous Trail of Tears and the forced relocation that occurred during the winter of 1838.

The Cherokee homeland once occupied much of the southern Appalachians. This included the western sections of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, most of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and the northern portions of Georgia and Alabama. Although generally rugged or mountainous, this region contained large tracts of fertile farmland, as well as valuable timber and mineral resources.

This natural bounty attracted land-hungry white settlers throughout most of the 1600s and 1700s. In 1830, after the Cherokee had already endured more than 200 years of encroachment by Europeans and Americans, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. This act, which applied to all tribes in the United States, initiated legal processes that forced Native Americans to abandon their lands and relocate to Indian Territory in the present-day state of Oklahoma.

Read full story…


Continental Divide trail construction planned

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 @ 10:16 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Continental Divide trail construction planned

The Leadville Ranger District and Volunteer Outdoor Colorado will build approximately 1 mile of new trail to connect the Continental Divide Trail from Winfield to the Lake Ann Trail.

Dates for the project are scheduled Aug. 30-Sept. 1, Sept. 6-8, Sept. 13-15 and Sept. 20-22.

The new trail that is being constructed is located in designated wilderness but the campsite for the project is not. VOC provides free meals, and supplies all tools needed for the project. Volunteers need only supply their own personal camping gear, and come prepared with the proper clothing.


Three North Carolina Mountains to Hike in the Fall

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 @ 3:20 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Autumn is a spectacle no matter where it happens.

The northeast has its own dramatic display of fall colors, as does the Midwest, and the Rockies as well. But in the Southeast, particularly in mid- to late October, North Carolina offers hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds some of the most rewarding mountaintop views in the country.

With all 10 of the country’s highest eastern peaks (that is, east of the Mississippi) lying within or near the state’s border, North Carolina and its rolling natural landscape is well suited to leaf-watching, invigorating 6,000-foot-plus climbs, and magnificent panoramas of the Black Mountains.

There are plenty of notable summits and overlooks throughout the region, so here are just three to consider for your next fall hiking trip.


Building a Trail from Scratch

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 @ 11:14 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Arnold “Skip” Sheldon has volunteered since 1992 to work with a trail maintenance crew along the Appalachian Trail. He’s been a crew leader for the past five years.

Describe what’s involved in creating a new section of trail from scratch.

Building a new trail falls into three general phases. First you need to lay out the route, which includes deciding how to make the trail best fit onto the land it will pass over. Then comes the clearing phase, where you have to cut all the brush and trees in the trail path, then pull out all the stumps.

Finally, you get to actually build the trail. That involves digging the tread out of the side of the mountain, building rock or log steps to get up and down steep places, and sometimes constructing the tread completely out of rocks in areas where the trail passes though massive rock fields or on sharp ridges.

All of this involves hard work. You won’t find any clean trail builders at the end of the day, and sometimes getting out of bed the next morning is a tough job.

Read full story…


Special Backcountry Hikes Coming To Mesa Verde National Park This Fall

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 @ 9:07 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

This fall you have a chance to see some parts of Mesa Verde National Park that aren’t normally accessible to park visitors. But you have to be in shape.

Rangers will be leading backcountry hikes to Upper Navajo Canyon, Wetherill Mesa, and Spring House.

Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects almost 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.

Spring House is an 8-hour, 8-mile, very strenuous hike along an unpaved, uneven trail with an elevation change of 3,000 feet. Spring House is the largest unexcavated cliff dwelling in the park and is extremely fragile.

Wetherill Mesa Experience is a 4-mile, 4-hour easy-to-moderate hike that rewards hikers with expansive canyon views, spectacular views of cliff dwellings, and the natural beauty of Wetherill Mesa in the autumn.

Upper Navajo Canyon is a 4-mile, 4-hour round-trip moderate hike along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 760 feet. Bring binoculars for cross-canyon views of multiple alcove sites, including Pinkley House.

Read full story…


A beginner’s glossary to hiking and camping

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 @ 8:00 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

That pile of rocks and gravel on a mountainside? There’s a word for that.

Wilderness travel takes more than a pair of strong legs; it requires common sense. An ability to read the land and a basic understanding of trail conditions can be the difference between embarking on a hard slog and pure bliss. Learning the lingo is part of the process, saving novices from grief and providing veterans with a cool vocabulary for the miles shared in the backcountry.

I learned a couple myself from this list of terms. They are phenomenon I see frequently when hiking, but didn’t know that terms existed to describe them:

holloway a sunken path worn down due to foot traffic, rain and erosion that has fallen significantly below the vegetative banks on each side.

krummholz bent, stunted trees found in mountainous and artic regions, twisted by steady winds and short growing seasons.

Before you go, boost your outdoors IQ with this glossary of hiking terms…


Oregon Trail section damaged by artifact-seekers

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 @ 10:14 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Oregon Trail section damaged by artifact-seekers

Portions of the Oregon Trail in south-central Idaho near Burley have been damaged by people using metal detectors and shovels to illegally search for artifacts, federal officials said.

Bureau of Land Management officials said they recently found about 400 holes over several miles of the trail, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and protected under the Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979.

The holes are along wagon ruts made in the 1800s through the dirt and sagebrush by thousands of immigrants heading to Oregon, officials said.

“It is the BLM’s responsibility to protect and preserve any sections of the Oregon National Historic Trail under its jurisdiction,” said BLM Burley Field Office Archaeologist Suzann Henrikson. “The recent damage to the trail near Burley has resulted in a significant loss of history for the American public.”

The BLM is seeking information on who did the digging.

“Although owning a metal detector is not illegal, be aware that using this device on lands under federal management may result in a crime,” Henrikson said. “If you sink a shovel in an archaeological site on public land, you could be convicted of a felony.”



Fall In The National Parks: Great Park Hikes For A Great Season

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 @ 10:02 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

There arguably is no better time for hiking in the National Park System than fall. The season brings fine weather to most of the country, and in many locations brilliant foliage is a bonus. Cool, bug-free conditions exist in many parks, and crowds are on the wane. With so many parks, there isn’t time enough for us to tackle each hike out there. But here are some suggestions for some great ones all across the nation.

Fall hiking in the East conjures immediate thoughts of Acadia National Park in Maine, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. All three are justly famous for fall color, have hundreds of miles of hiking trails…and lots of traffic on the roads, especially on autumn weekends.

If you’re looking for some options for a fall hike in a park that might not be quite so crowded, you might consider these areas…


Big trip to Machu Picchu: The 5 best trekking routes through the Andes

Posted by on Aug 24, 2013 @ 5:29 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

There’s more than one way to earn a look at Machu Picchu.

Watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu is the ultimate bucket list experience. But with so many Andean treks available these days, it’s more confusing than ever trying to nail down which one to do. From the action-packed Jungle Trek to the little known Vilcabamba Traverse, TNT has the lowdown on the most rewarding routes to the world’s most famous Inca site.

Keep in mind that no matter which tour you opt for, only 400 daily visitors are permitted to climb Huayna Picchu – the ruins on the small green peak that overlooks Machu Picchu in most photos – so you’ll need to book your ticket in advance, or start queuing at the ruins by around 6am for last-minute tickets.


National parks go fee-free for Founders Day

Posted by on Aug 24, 2013 @ 8:26 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

President Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916, created a National Park Service that would “… conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wild life therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.”

Ninety-seven years later, the system has grown to oversee more than 84 million acres of public lands. To mark Founders Day on Sunday, August 25, parks across the nation will waive entrance fees.

The deal: In addition to free entrance, many parks have special free events planned too.

Learn about them here…


Dead trees along Connecticut trails pose hazard

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 @ 3:34 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A Colchester, CT woman went with her family to the Salmon River State Forest in May to have a picnic while enjoying the natural beauty there, with picturesque views of the river and fragrant flowers.

Instead, a large oak tree fell, killing Barbara Young, 45, who died at the scene, and seriously injuring her daughter, Jessica Surratt, 18. Young’s son, Kevin Surratt, 22, escaped unharmed.

The tree had been alive, but it was infested with carpenter ants and was rotting on one side, according to a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection environmental conservation police report on the accident.

The incident calls into question how well the state is inspecting and maintaining the trees in the state’s parks, where thousands of visitors go annually to hike, swim and enjoy the scenery.

An investigation by the New Haven Register and its sister publications, The Middletown Press and the Register Citizen of Torrington, revealed there are many dead trees near trails in state parks in Connecticut, which pose a potential hazard to visitors. Multiple DEEP employees mentioned understaffing as being a factor in any delay in removing dead trees.

Read full story…

Meanderthals take: It isn’t just Connecticut. All the rain in the Southeast this summer has made root systems very susceptible to erosion. Trees are falling like crazy.

There have been lots of forest fires all over the West for several years. If the forest isn’t completely burned, trees that were partially inflamed are more likely to fall.

As always, when hiking keep your eyes and ears open for unusual sights and sounds. I have been in the woods when the tops have fallen out of trees. The sound is unmistakable. Don’t become complacent.


Here are a half-dozen Idaho mountain hikes for kids

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 @ 5:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The calls from parents echo through the woods at Ponderosa State Park near McCall, ID. The kids are usually way out in front of the parents as families hike near the Lily Marsh at one of Idaho’s most popular state parks.

The parents try to put the reins on the kids, but there is so much to see — from deer casually browsing in the brush to tall, tall, incredibly tall ponderosa pine trees. A 150-foot pine tree is pretty tall to kids, and they can’t wrap their minds around the enormity of majestic old-growth timber.

Anyway, you get it: Ponderosa State Park and magnificent ponderosa pines.

But it’s even more than that. The park is a natural romper room for kids, and one of the best places to take youngsters on their first hike. Besides ponderosa pines, the park’s trails wind past Douglas fir, grand fir, lodgepole pine and western larch. Bring your plant and tree guides because the kids will ask questions.

The park provides a kid-friendly hiking area with fairly mellow trails, lots of trail signs so you don’t get lost, and lots of interpretive information.

Here are several hikes for children…


Bypass Almost Complete Near Milepost 374 on Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 @ 3:49 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Construction is nearing completion on a temporary bypass route that will allow traffic through a heavily-used section of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Milepost 374 in NC. The section is currently closed as the result of significant structural damage to the motor road and related shoulder areas discovered earlier this summer.

The plan is to open this section of parkway, just north of Asheville, by Labor Day weekend. If conditions are favorable, the road may open earlier and an announcement will be made accordingly. For detour information around the affected area visit, www.nps.gov/blri.

The most current and accurate Parkway road information is available in real-time at www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm.

The Asheville Chapter of FRIENDS OF THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY will help clean one of the rock-lined ditches along the closed section of the Parkway on August 24 at 9 a.m. at Bull Gap. “If the flow of water is not managed, the Parkway will continue to experience road failure as we have seen in Western North Carolina this year due to the excessive rainfall.”

Read full story…

Update August 26, 2013: The Blue Ridge Parkway re-opened a closed section today (August 26, 2013), from Milepost 376 at Ox Creek Road in Asheville, NC to Milepost 355 at Mt. Mitchell State Park using temporary bypass lanes. The speed limit in this section of the roadway has been reduced to 15 mph to ensure public safety while traveling through the bypass area. The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and Picnic Area, located at Milepost 364, was also reopened.

The 500 foot long bypass restores two-way traffic through the area affected by significant structural damage as a result of unusually heavy rainfall totals earlier this summer. It is anticipated that the bypass route will close again and the detour routes will be reinstated in November 2013 so construction can resume to stabilize the slope and repair the area permanently.


Old NC fire towers at risk of being forgotten

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 @ 6:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

North Carolina’s lookout towers once stood watch over our mountain forests. Now, they run the risk of becoming forgotten monuments to the value of our wild lands.

Peter Barr, who has hiked to every fire tower in North Carolina, will present a program, “Blaze Watch,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at The Village Green Commons in Cashiers. Barr will share with participants some of the features of still-standing fire towers, as well as the importance of restoring them, including the well-known tower at nearby Yellow Mountain.

Barr is the author of Hiking North Carolina’s Lookout Towers.

He will also lead a hike to the Yellow Mountain tower on Aug. 30. Although technology has deemed lookout towers obsolete for spotting fires, the structures still provide excellent, and sometimes panoramic, views of the landscape.

Read full story…


Near Qingdao, Hiking a Magical Mountain

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 @ 4:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Laoshan Scenic District is an easy drive along the east coast of China from the city of Qingdao, 19 miles or so to the west. About two million visitors come each year to ascend Laoshan’s peaks, which are strewed with oddly shaped moraines resembling stacks of books and curving horns.

Around the mountain’s pale stones, cedar, elm and pine sprout in lush green tufts, fed by rainfall-charged aquifers deep underground. The water filters through the strata and then courses up from crevices in the granite before collecting in clear, azure pools that are scattered all over the mountain.

This otherworldly beauty was not lost on the Taoists, who some 3,000 years ago deemed the mountain a home of the Immortals, elevated beings so removed from worldly concerns that their skin is unlined by worry. Though most of the temples here have been lost to revolutions and time, monks in blue and white still tend the sprawling grounds of Taiqing Palace, a Taoist temple that has stood at the mountain’s base for the two millenniums since the Western Han dynasty.

The trail begins at Dahedong, a village in the shadow of a great dam, and climbs up steep terraces of tea fields before winding along a dry creek, a tumble of boulders suspended in mid-flow down the slope.

Read full story…