Hiking News

Alejandra “RocketLlama” Wilson’s first person account of 8-days in a snow storm on the PCT

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 @ 8:57 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The newspapers reported her dilemma:

Search on for 3 hikers in trouble on Pacific Crest Trail in Wash.

Rescuers were searching for four hikers Oct. 1 in remote parts of southwest Washington, including three people who walked all the way from Mexico on the Pacific Crest Trail only to run into early season snowfall on their trek to the Canadian border.

Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox says two of the Pacific Crest Trail hikers, Matt Margiotta and Kyla Arnold, wisely called for help Sept. 30 after snow obscured their route. Six ground searchers had obtained their GPS location and expected to reach the pair later Tuesday.

Another Pacific Crest Trail hiker, Alejandra Wilson, was reported overdue after she failed to call her father, Dane Wilson, of Portland, Ore., to check in as expected. She was believed to be about a day’s hike ahead of the other pair, or about 20 miles farther north. Searchers from Lewis County were headed south on the trail, hoping to run into her.

Here is Rocket Llama’s account of the harrowing eight days she spent trapped in the Cascade Mountains by the early season snow storm:

I don’t know why I never considered the possibility of a snowstorm. It never even crossed my mind. Maybe because people were tossing around words like “typhoon” and “monsoonal,” which in my head means warm, tropical storm. Or perhaps I was in denial. I had zero winter backpacking experience, and I wasn’t properly afraid of snow in the backcountry anyway — I had no idea what I was getting into. But if I had even had a hint of what the storm was going to become…

The wind positively howled. It ripped through the tree branches over my head and buffeted my tent so hard, it tore stakes out of the ground. That first night, I couldn’t fall asleep because of the sound of the wind and the rain hammering against the walls of my shelter. I had to leap outside the tent four or five times to fix the guy lines; I was so scared the rainfly would fail and let water into my tent all over again. It was so cold. Finally, in the middle of the night, everything quieted down. I was relieved: I thought there had been a break in the weather, and finally, I could go to sleep…

Ice. It was piled up in a layer so thick and so heavy, the rainfly was pressing up against the walls of my tent. I spent a couple of minutes breaking it off from the inside, as a creeping sensation of dread began to rise through the feeling of shock and bemusement that had overtaken my senses. I was in trouble. I peeked outside: Half a foot already blanketed the campsite, covering up everything — I lay awake in a half-stupor of fatigue and sleeplessness, trying to calm the panic that was beginning to pulse through my body. I was too high. I had to get out…

Read the full story:



A Search and Rescue Account


After 8,000 miles, hiker earns rare Triple Crown

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 @ 5:23 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Months at a time, thousands of miles and alone – that’s how Huntington Beach, CA resident Joe Kisner likes to hike.

Kisner, 47, is among a select group to claim he has hiked the nation’s most challenging and lengthy trails. He was recently awarded the Triple Crown by the American Long Distance Hiking Association.

The award is given to hikers who have successfully completed the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail – nearly 8,000 miles total.

It’s a lifetime achievement-type honor that fewer than 200 people in the United States have received.

“Before I started the Continental Divide it was about this being my Triple Crown hike,” Kisner said. “But after completing the hike, it seemed to be more of a challenge within itself. It wasn’t about the award when I finished.”

Read full story…


A 90-year journey: Appalachian Trail marks anniversary

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 @ 4:29 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

To walk the entire Appalachian Trail is to spend five months or so sweating in, freezing in and soaking in the vistas presented by the forested, rocky ridges of the East.

The journey will take you from Georgia to Maine — or vice-versa — right through New York’s Bear Mountain State Park, where the national scenic trail was essentially born 90 years ago.

The trail was conceived in 1921 and finished in 1937. About six of its estimated 2,180 miles climb, twist and descend throughout Bear Mountain. Those miles, along with a consecutive piece in Harriman State Park, were the first specifically laid out for the “long trail over the full length of the Appalachian skyline,” as it was described by Benton MacKaye, a forester and conservationist who originated the idea for the trail.

That section officially opened Oct. 7, 1923, according to “Harriman Trails: A Guide and History” by William J. Myles and Daniel Chazin. Since then, it has been the most traveled part of the trail, with more than 100,000 visitors tromping along it each year, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference said. Three miles of it are being rerouted and rehabilitated, a project that began seven years ago and is expected to end in 2016.

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Hiketoberfest 2013: A Hiking, Nature And Music Festival Celebrating And Supporting The Cumberland Trail

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 @ 7:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Friends of the Cumberland Trail will host the third annual Hiketoberfest on Sunday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Shackleford Ridge Park on Signal Mountain.

The event aims to highlight the riches of the Cumberland Trail, a trail system that traverses 190 miles of the Cumberland Plateau, traveling through 11 counties in East Tennessee. The trail offers hikers access to remote scenic areas with spectacular overlooks, picturesque waterfalls, and wilderness experiences that are a trademark of the southeastern United States. There is a suggested donation of $10 per person / $25 per family

A daylong event, Hiketoberfest will feature hikes, educational lectures, musical entertainment, and a native plant sale – all set in the great outdoors. Hikes will take place along a portion of the Cumberland Trail on Signal Mountain, and throughout the day experts from across the region will lead educational programs to provide guests with information about the natural history of the Cumberland Plateau.

Here is the schedule of events…


Pair earn ‘triple crown,’ get engaged on Continental Divide Trail

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 @ 5:18 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

They met on the Pacific Crest Trail, and by the time they completed the trek from Mexico to Canada, they were a couple.

Adam Bridges and Brittney Yolo of Occidental, CA found a mutual love in hiking that didn’t stop with the five-month, 2,660-plus-mile journey through California desert, over the heights of the Sierra Nevada and into the Cascade mountain ranges of Oregon and Washington.

After their first adventure five years ago, they then took on and completed the Appalachian Trail in 2010, a 2,200-mile route from Georgia to Maine.

Then, in late August of this year, they topped it off by completing an approximately 3,100-mile walkabout on the Continental Divide Trail, from New Mexico over the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and through Montana.

Bridges, 30, and Yolo, 31, are now members of a relatively rarified “triple crown” club of about 200 people who have hiked the length of all three trails.

And they’ve taken another big step. “I proposed to her on the Continental Divide,” Bridges said last week. “We’re engaged.”

Read full story…


Keep tabs on how the government shutdown is affecting YOUR national parks

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 @ 5:05 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Keep tabs on how the government shutdown is affecting YOUR national parks

The federal government shutdown is now in its 2nd week and all 401 National Park System sites remain closed.

More than 21,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed, as many as 750,000 visitors will be turned away daily, and local gateway communities are losing as much as $30 million each day the national parks are closed.

Whether it’s because of a senseless government shutdown or a damaging set of budget cuts, national parks and the people who enjoy and depend on them continue to suffer from a failed budget process.

The affects are spelled out at NPCA’s Shutdown information page.

The National Park Service (NPS) has been crippled by compounded budget cuts over recent months and years, including the sequester earlier this year. The budget to operate our national parks, in today’s dollars, is already 13 percent less than it was three years ago, a loss of $315 million. In the busy summer tourist season, national parks operated with approximately 1,900 less staff due to the more than $180 million cut in 2013.

This cut forced our national park superintendents to delay the opening of parks or park roads; close visitor centers, picnic areas, and campgrounds; decrease the number of rangers to protect and maintain parks; and limit the number of educational programs. NPCA’s infographic and fact sheet highlight the impact of the recent sequester — across-the-board budget cuts — to parks across the country.

Ongoing Shutdown Coverage from NPCA’s Park Advocate Blog…


Criminals bust donation box, vandalize property in Smokies

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 @ 4:53 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park park rangers say criminals are taking advantage of the federal government shutdown. Rangers say they are dealing with trespassing, vandalism and theft attempts as most of the park remains closed.

Chief Ranger Clay Jordan says two attempts to vandalize and steal donation boxes at the Newfound Gap parking lot were reported. The gates at Clingman’s Dome Road and Cherokee Orchard Road were also damaged.

No money was taken, but the vandalism was a hit to the organizations that help the park by paying for trail repairs and educational programs.

“It’s criminals who are trying to take advantage of an opportunity, figuring that there’s a little less staff presence in the park. The park is dependent on these organizations,” said Jordan.

One box belongs to Friends of the Smokies. Officials say most of the money had been retrieved from the donation site before the shutdown, but the damage to the box will cost more than $3,000 to repair.

A donation box owned by Great Smoky Mountains Association was another target Saturday night.

“They’re custom, one-of-a-kind,” said Terry Maddox, executive director of the Great Smoky Mountains Association. “The particular box at Clingman’s Dome will cost us about $2,000 to replace.”

The break-ins could not have come at a worse time.

Read full story…


Towns, States Are Ponying Up to Keep National Parks Open

Posted by on Oct 6, 2013 @ 10:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Arizona town of Tusayan, on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, has 558 residents and 1,000 hotel rooms. And by Saturday, it had $350,000 to reopen temporarily closed Grand Canyon National Park.

“The reason we exist is the Grand Canyon National Park. This closure is devastating,” said Greg Bryan, Tusayan’s mayor and general manager of a Best Western hotel. The town is offering to fund a partial reopening of the park that would allow visitors to drive through on a main road and stop at overlooks.

As the federal-government shutdown entered its fifth day October 5th, state and local governments were searching for ways to keep attractions open, especially in places where local economies largely depend on the parks. Some are willing to pay to keep the parks going during these final crucial weeks of prime tourist season, before winter sets in.

In Wisconsin, officials are keeping seven federally subsidized state-owned forest, wildlife and recreation areas open, even after receiving instructions from the federal Department of the Interior to close them. The state lands depend on federal funds for 18% of their budgets.

Lawmakers in Maryland have worked out a small exception to the federal shutdown to allow several hundred family members to honor firefighters who died in the line of duty at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Md.

But the federal government turned down Republican South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s offer to keep the Mount Rushmore National Memorial open with state workers. The National Park Service told state officials that it was required to use federal employees, not state employees, at the monument, and that opening Mount Rushmore would set a precedent to open the other federal parks.

Earlier this year, locals helped pay for snowplowing at Yellowstone when the national park couldn’t afford it because of automatic federal budget cuts known as the sequester. This time around, though, “the likelihood of reaching agreement on that type of approach is not likely.”

Read full story…


Hikers climb fence into Zion National Park in protest of gov’t shutdown

Posted by on Oct 6, 2013 @ 9:49 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hikers climb fence into Zion National Park in protest of gov’t shutdown

A heavy metal gate with a large “do not enter” sign was not enough to stop James Milligan from visiting Zion National Park on October 5th.

“I wanted to go hiking today, and so I thought I’d invite some friends to come join me,” Milligan said before leading about a dozen protesters over the fence and into Zion. “The way I see it this is our park over here and no one has a right to shut us out of it.”

The group met about 8 a.m. just outside the park’s entrance, energetic about their plan despite the chill that persisted in the shadow of the red rock cliffs. The parking lot and entrance to the park looked more like a ghost town than one of Utah’s largest tourist destinations, and the gate at the end of the pedestrian bridge into the park remained locked.

They called the excursion “Occupy Zion,” an act of civil disobedience in protest of the federal government shutdown that closed the park October 1st.

Zion park representatives met the group near the gate, warning them of possible consequences if they chose to ignore the closure and enter the park.

“We did warn them we are closed, and they seem to understand that,” Aly Baltrus, a public information officer for the National Park Service said. “We are simply observing, and we’ll be taking pictures. We’re trying to let people know they can get tickets and they can get cited later, and we’re trying to get them to just follow the basic rules.”

That did not deter Milligan, a Cedar City resident and manager of Zion Outfitter. “Just because they’re having a dispute in Washington doesn’t mean they can close the park and kill the town of Springdale,” he said.

“It’s an American legacy, this is something that was set aside for us, it’s supposed to be preserved and protected for all generations so we can come here enjoy this area, and right now we can’t enjoy it.”

Read full story…


Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government) is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. It argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.


Treasures of the Cinque Terre

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 @ 10:09 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A millennium ago, when pirates began marauding in the region, the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast of Italy had no beaches, and villagers hid high on the hills amid their vineyards and gardens. Eventually, they built watchtowers to look out for buccaneers. Those watchtowers still spike the coastline, darkly romantic mementos of an age of swords and bullion.

Half a dozen centuries later, following the raiders’ retreat, a garland of beaches and breakfronts bloomed at water’s edge, eventually attracting an invasion of vacationers. They came to sunbathe, to swim, to eat fresh fish and to admire the dazzlingly archaic backdrop of the villages. They also came to do by choice what local farmers and fishermen had done out of necessity: hike the vertiginous stone stairways and narrow paths that link the villages and afford breathtaking views.

The Cinque Terre was romanticized by a racy Victorian memoir from an intrepid traveler named Margaret Fountaine, who wrote in “Love Among the Butterflies” of her hunt for Italy’s sublime views and handsome men. “No wonder these southern natures are quick and passionate when every scene around them is such sensuous loveliness!” she rhapsodized.

Come for feasting, boating and hiking, and a swim in the grotto where Lord Byron once skinny-dipped, below the nearby cliffs of Porto Venere, the harbor of Venus.

Read full story…


With Shutdown, Questions About Visiting National Forests

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 @ 8:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

While closing gates around a national park or monument is relatively simple, closing a forest is not. Newspapers and radio and television news operations around the country are reporting that while offices and facilities within the national forests have been closed, the land is still open to outdoor enthusiasts.

Any activity requiring a permit, like hunting or camping, will still require a permit, according to many reports, and while forest stations are closed, permits can be purchased through local commercial retailers, while supplies last. The same applies to parking passes at United States Forest Service trail heads and sites.

Camping facilities are also officially closed, and in many cases, water and electricity has already been turned off (so no flushing toilets or charging your cellphone).

“The main message is: the forest is still available,” Boyd Hartwig, a spokesman for the Lolo National Forest in Montana said.

Judi Perez, a spokeswoman for the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana, told The Associated Press that while campgrounds were closed, people could still access the forest because it has no fence.

Find out more…


Hiking the Trails of Dominica

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 @ 5:11 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking the Trails of Dominica

Dominica has long been known as the Caribbean’s “Nature Island,” and it’s easy to see why. It is the most mountainous island in the region — but also one of its most sparsely populated, and there are myriad ways to explore this natural Caribbean treasure.

Earlier this year, Dominica declared the Waitukubuli National Trail an Eco-Tourism site, and the 115-mile trail is the longest of its kind in the Caribbean Sea and the region’s first major walking trail.

Completing the 115-mile trail will take an experienced hiker about two weeks, although the beauty of the Waitukubuli is that even a single segment is a true adventure.

The trail is segmented into 14 continuous segments, spanning communities across the country, from Scott’s Head in southern Dominica to the Cabrits National Park at the northern tip.

It also takes hikers through the country’s Carib Territory, the last remaining home of the indigenous Carib, or Kalinago Indians, who roamed the Caribbean for centuries.

The trail brings you through a kaleidoscope of coastal regions, forests, small villages and the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Read full story…


FMST supports dual routes to connect Smokies to Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 @ 4:50 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

FMST supports dual routes to connect Smokies to Blue Ridge Parkway

For 30 years, the ultimate route of the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) in North Carolina has been uncertain. The original vision was a trail route that would roughly parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway from its southern end just outside the entrance to the GSMNP, but a precise route that would work on the ground had never taken shape.

Now, thanks to a planning effort funded by State Parks exciting new routing ideas have been formulated, and the GSMNP, BRP, Nantahala National Forest and Swain and Jackson counties are all looking at ways to build trails that have the potential to be some of the most popular on the entire MST.

Four routes have been proposed, and Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail is asking that two of them be designated as MST routes of equal stature. The two routes will give MST hikers a choice of hiking entirely through the GSMNP and BRP or hiking a “River Valley Route” along the Tuckaseegee River past mountain farms and small towns. To learn more about the proposed options, read Chapter 6 (pages 32-27) of the draft trail plan funded by State Parks and FMST’s comments on the draft plan.


MILE… MILE & A HALF is now available on DVD/BluRay, iTunes and other VOD platforms

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 @ 8:43 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

MILE… MILE & A HALF is now available on DVD/BluRay, iTunes and other VOD platforms

Just 250 miles from Los Angeles and fewer than 200 from San Francisco, the John Muir Trail (JMT) stretches 211 miles through some of the most beautiful and pristine wilderness in the world.

In July of 2011, five friends and artisans set out on an epic 25-day journey on the JMT from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney to document the sights and sounds of the Sierra Nevada high country.

What began as an adventure to see – let’s be honest – if they could complete the trail, became the need to capture the experience in order to share the trail with others. For this is not the story of die-hard rugged athletes defying all odds to endure a harsh environment. It is the tale of five friends with passions in the arts and the outdoors that join with like-minded people and share an escapade like no other.

The unique visions of artists on the trail are exposed in video, photography, paint and music, as this unlikely group grows, creates art and gathers others along the way. Artisans are joined by teachers and students, seniors and preschoolers, families and a solo hiker from Japan, all becoming a trail family that together summits the highest point in the contiguous United States.

Take the trip of a lifetime with them as they face epic once in a generation snow conditions, capture the wild and pure alpine beauty of the mountains and create lasting friendships with the eclectic crew of characters they met along the way.

Learn more directly from their site: www.mmaah.com


Hiking during hunting season: How to stay safe

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 @ 6:21 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

If you’re like me, when you were a kid your parents warned you not to play in the woods in the fall and winter. “Hunting season,” they said.

The prospect of being mistaken for a deer didn’t always deter us kids (sorry, Mom and Dad!), nor should it deter hikers looking to take advantage of the cool weather and fall colors. If you take the proper precautions, you can play outside to your heart’s content and make it back home safely.

Here are some tips…


Teamwork can help to protect wildland

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 @ 3:20 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

This is the time of year when Montanans shoulder their backpacks or saddle their horses and head for the hills.

From snow melt to the end of hunting season, Montana’s wilderness and backcountry beckon, calling with opportunities to reconnect with nature and rebalance Life through solitude, adventure and recreation.

Every year, people from all over America and the world journey to Montana to answer the call of the wild. Many do as most Montanans do — explore the wild lands on their own. Tens of thousands of other visitors, however, do as tourists have done for generations — hire professional outfitters and guides to lead the way and enhance their experience.

Commercial outfitting is such an important and traditional aspect of wilderness use that Congress explicitly included outfitting as part of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the law under which wilderness areas are designated and managed.

Wilderness guides and outfitters also contribute in ways that don’t have dollar signs attached. Guides serve as public-land stewards, ambassadors, educators and emergency responders. Outfitters and guides provide access and opportunity to people who don’t necessarily possess the skill and confidence to experience outdoor treasures on their own. And they provide a level of managed tourism that ensures minimal impacts to resources and other users.

Read full story…


Camp Hale Efforts Focus on Restoring the Headwaters of the Eagle River

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 @ 1:54 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Camp Hale Efforts Focus on Restoring the Headwaters of the Eagle River

Just below the Continental Divide in the high Rockies of Colorado lies a truly iconic landscape. To most, this flat valley surrounded by majestic peaks is simply a high-elevation recreation mecca. Visitors use Camp Hale for convenient car camping, to start a hike on the Colorado Trail or Continental Divide Trail, to launch a multi-day ski hut tour, to hone their rock climbing skills, to ride ATVs or snowmobiles through open spaces, to catch trout or even bag an elk. Yet, few think about the many other values of this landscape.

Camp Hale contains the headwaters of the Eagle River, which provides valuable drinking water for eastern and western Colorado communities. The area’s forests, opens spaces, streams, and ponds provide habitat for numerous wildlife species. But what I think makes Camp Hale such a unique mountain landscape is its rich history.

This is the former home of the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. Ski soldiers that trained high in the mountains of Colorado, the 10th fought bravely in the European Alps during WWII and returned home to become successful entrepreneurs, politicians, and pioneers of the US ski industry. They are a truly inspiring group.

Through the Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences campaign, the National Forest Foundation is leading an effort to restore the headwaters of the Eagle River that flow through Camp Hale, while preserving and celebrating the area’s history and its boundless recreation opportunities.

Read full story…