Hiking News

Night hiking: Beating the heat in Grand Canyon

Posted by on Sep 4, 2017 @ 11:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Night hiking: Beating the heat in Grand Canyon

Below the Tapeats on the South Kaibab Trail is a great place to stop and rest called “Big Shady.” When it is hot, this spot is nice and cool. But folks are here huddled up above the trail in the shelter of a slight overhang in the cliff, trying to stay dry and wishing that there weren’t so many clouds in the sky. Rather odd given that it is the middle of August. But it is 2:30 in the morning and so far the 21 mile rim-to-rim hike across Grand Canyon is unfolding as planned.

With daytime temperatures soaring above 100 degrees, hiking the Grand Canyon in the summer is difficult. Knowledge of the area and planning are essential. For this hike, start in the late evening and count on crossing through the bottom of the canyon when it is relatively cool.

Part of the planning involves figuring out which direction to go. Many argue that hiking north to south is best in that you save yourself from having to hike up an extra thousand feet. But a strong argument can be made that the elevation difference actually favors a south to north itinerary. It is 6.8 miles and 4,200 feet to the north rim from Cottonwood Campground, while it is 7 miles and 4,800 feet to the south rim from Bright Angel Campground.

11:15 is a good time to start down the trail. You will likely have cool temperatures all the way to Phantom Ranch, where the forecast in August is for an overnight low of seventy-five degrees. Although this would seem to be the perfect time to hike, others don’t really seem to get the message. The vast expanse will seem wholly yours.

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10 Exercises That Will Get You Ready For Any Hike

Posted by on Sep 4, 2017 @ 6:29 am in Hiking News | 2 comments

10 Exercises That Will Get You Ready For Any Hike

Preparing your body for a hike is often overshadowed by other hiking preparations, such as what gear to bring, which trail to take, and whether you have the right hiking shoes. As important as these preparations are, it is equally important to prepare your body for hiking by strengthening your muscles, increasing your cardiovascular capacity, and improving flexibility.

Hiking is a lot of fun, but it can be a challenge too. In order to make your hiking experience the best that it can be, it is smart to train your body for any hike, whether it’s a beginner 1-mile trail or an epic backpacking trek. Body preparation will prevent injury and soreness and ensure that you have a great time on your adventure.

If you want to get in shape for your next hike, these 10 exercises will target all the muscles you’ll use the most. For hikers, there is a lot of strain placed on the leg muscles: the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves, especially if you are drastically changing elevation on your hike.

Follow this workout for 4 weeks leading up to your next outdoor adventure. Aim for 3 nonconsecutive days a week. Make sure to warm up with some dynamic stretches before the workout, and cool down with some static stretches after the workout. Note that you may feel sore after the first week. That’s normal and will improve with exercise consistency.

Get the 10 exercises here…


Greece Beyond the Beaches: The Undiscovered Epirus

Posted by on Sep 3, 2017 @ 11:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Greece Beyond the Beaches: The Undiscovered Epirus

Epirus is on the northwest side of the Greek mainland. Multicolored concrete culture in Athens switches into green-blue stone villages, ancient arched bridges, ramshackle castles, quiet mountains topped with snow, and clear river gorges. It’s pretty rugged and was not easily accessible for many years (even now, the only way to reach it is by bus or car.)

In Epirus you’ll feel like you’ve entered a realm where the past is charmingly present. 75 beautiful arched bridges are used to connect small villages to each other, and have the ability to quickly transport visitors to a bygone era.

Secluded from masses, embraced among the mountains, and so close to Gods, Epirus used to be home to an ancient oracle where priests and priestesses looked for signs that would lead them in the right direction. You can walk around the theater of Dodona and its nearby ruins.

If there is any advantage to Epirus’ poor infrastructure, it is definitely the pristine surroundings, where one barely notices the sparse human touch. The majority of the terrain is rough, often only marked by a path that belongs to the official national or international network of hiking trails.

One of the areas with the most stunning views, hiking trails, various animal species, and diverse vegetation is Pindos National Park. The highlight of the park is the 20km Vikos Gorge (its deepest point is 1,600ft).

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Canada’s ‘Great Trail’ Is Finally Connected

Posted by on Sep 2, 2017 @ 12:06 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Canada’s ‘Great Trail’ Is Finally Connected

In 1992, three Canadians, inspired by their country’s 125th birthday celebration, thought up a crazy plan. What if they could connect all of Canada’s hiking trails, footpaths, rail trails, and boardwalks into one giant mega-trail that snaked from coast to coast?

It’s now 2017. Canada has celebrated its 150th birthday. And on August 26th, those three dreamers—along with the thousands of volunteers who helped clear brush, fix planks, put up signs, and do all the other little tasks that make wilderness passable—celebrated the coast-to-coast connection of what they’re calling the Great Trail.

The trail can be used for biking, hiking, and horseback riding in the summer, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. “First you build it, then get people using it and then it becomes an icon that will hopefully last forever,” Paul LaBarge, one of the original founders.

The path stretches 24,000 kilometers, or nearly 15,000 miles, criss-crossing southern Canada before forming a huge loop in the Northwest. A quarter of this length is water—wetland and river routes where hikers will have to trade boots for boats.

It’s also over five times as long as the West Coast’s famed Pacific Crest Trail, and over six times as long as the Appalachian.

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Yosemite fires shut Glacier Point Road, road to park entrance and popular hiking trails

Posted by on Sep 2, 2017 @ 9:03 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Yosemite fires shut Glacier Point Road, road to park entrance and popular hiking trails

Should you be traveling to Yosemite National Park for the Labor Day weekend, be prepared for smoky conditions and trail and road closures.

Separate fires have shut Glacier Point Road, California Highway 41 leading from Oakhurst to the southern entrance into the park, a campground and popular hiking trails.

Yosemite’s website warns visitors about smoke conditions in Yosemite Valley and beyond: “Expect poor air quality and limited visibility due to fires in Yosemite. Avoid strenuous exercise outdoors and remain indoors when possible.”

“Dense morning smoke impacts, clearing in the afternoon” was predicted for Yosemite Valley by the U.S. Forest Service’s wildfire air-quality program.

Hotels, restaurants, visitor centers and stores in Yosemite Valley are open.

As of late September 1,2017, Inciweb.gov reported these fire-related park closures…

Couple this with fires in Glacier National Park, and at least two of America’s favorite national parks are suffering.


The 650-Mile Alabama Trail: Coming Soon to a Town Near You

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 @ 11:29 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The 650-Mile Alabama Trail: Coming Soon to a Town Near You

In 2001, a small group of avid hikers met at the Open Pond Campground in Conecuh National Forest near Andalusia, Alabama. They had with them a state roadmap that they had picked up at an aging rest area along an interstate. Using an orange magic marker, they began to carefully draw a line on the map.

The line started in Florence, near the Tennessee state line, then headed south connecting several dots along the way—state parks, national forests, city parks, open public land—and finally ending at Fort Morgan on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

The result was a proposed new long trail in the state, a mountain-to-sea hike that they would eventually call the Alabama Trail.

Since that time, the Alabama Hiking Trail Society has been laying the groundwork for that trail to become a reality. Construction has gone in stops and starts over the years, the trail building is finally underway, bringing a dream years in the making to fruition. The final route of the path will determine its final length, but currently, AHTS estimates that it will more than 650 miles long.

An actual complete walk-in-the-woods from the Gulf to the mountains is still years off but AHTS is working to connect those dots with a temporary roadwalk between them. And when it’s finished, the route will delight hikers with all that makes Alabama an amazing outdoor wonderland: tranquil blackwater rivers, rich green swamps and wetlands, deep canyons, towering waterfalls, and mountains with spectacular views.

Learn more here…


AT Crushed: ‘Stringbean’ Sets Both Speed Records

Posted by on Aug 31, 2017 @ 9:17 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

AT Crushed: ‘Stringbean’ Sets Both Speed Records

Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy, a well-known speed hiker, set a new record on the Appalachian Trail today. He hiked the 2,190-mile route in an unofficial fastest known time (FKT) of 45 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes.

McConaughy’s hike began the trail on July 17th at 6:31 a.m. EST, in Georgia (South to North). If verified by community-recognized officials who manage FKTs (and it likely will be), Stringbean’s hike breaks both the unsupported and supported records.

His new unofficial record would beat the old record of 54 days set by Heather “Anish” Anderson by an astounding nine days.

Maybe more remarkably, it also means that, under his own power and without outside support, McConaughy beat renowned ultrarunner Karl Meltzer’s record set in 2016 of 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes. His effort raises the bar on through-hiking speed to an almost unfathomable level.

He averaged about 50 miles per day without outside assistance. Epic.

While his hike went on without the fanfare of Meltzer’s 2016 supported hike (in which ultra-runner Scott Jurek provided support), McConaughy is well known.

In 2014, he smashed the record on the Pacific Crest Trail, finishing the 2,660-mile journey in just 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes. He was 23 years old at the time.

Learn more about Stringbean here…


Volunteers are Vital Component to Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation Project

Posted by on Aug 31, 2017 @ 7:16 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Volunteers are Vital Component to Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation Project

Earlier this summer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials recruited for volunteers to assist the Trails Forever trail crew with a rehabilitation project on the Rainbow Falls Trail. Citizens from across the region responded and their volunteer effort has significantly helped in moving the project forward these past few months. In order to maintain the momentum, officials are now issuing a second request for volunteers.

Volunteers are needed every Wednesday from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers must register at least one week in advance by contacting Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator, Adam Monroe, whose contact information is provided below.

The Trails Forever crew will focus rehabilitation efforts on several targeted locations along the 6-mile trail to improve visitor safety and stabilize eroding trail sections. Rainbow Falls Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park leading hikers to Rainbow Falls and Mt. Le Conte. The planned work will improve overall trail safety and protect natural resources by reducing social trails and improving drainage to prevent further erosion.

“Thanks to the generous support of volunteers along with the hard work of park staff, we have been able to progress nicely with this Rainbow Falls Trail renovation project,” said Tobias Miller, Trails and Roads Facility Manager. “Once complete, the trail will be a national treasure and volunteers will be a part of its legacy for generations to come.”

The Trails Forever program provides opportunities for both skilled and non-skilled volunteers to work alongside park crews to make lasting improvements to park trails. The Rainbow Falls Trail project provides a great opportunity to improve a part of the park that was damaged by the 2016 wildfires.

Trails Forever volunteers will perform a wide range of trail maintenance and trail rehabilitation work depending on volunteer experience level including installing drainage features, rehabilitating trail surfaces, constructing raised trail segments, removing brush, or planting vegetation. While these jobs may vary in complexity, all Trails Forever volunteers must be able to hike at least four miles and safely perform strenuous and often difficult manual labor.

Volunteers should be comfortable lifting heavy objects and using hand tools such as shovels, rakes, axes, and sledgehammers. The park will provide all the safety gear, tools and equipment needed for the projects. Volunteers will need to wear boots and long pants and bring a day pack with food, water, rain gear and any other personal gear for the day.

The Trails Forever program is a partnership between the national park and Friends of the Smokies. To sign up for a work day or for more information, contact Adam Monroe at 828-497-1949 or Adam_Monroe@nps.gov. Prior notice of your attendance is mandatory for project planning. More information and Frequently Asked Questions can be found at https://friendsofthesmokiesorg/trailsforever/volunteer/.


The grim side of long-distance hiking

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 @ 11:57 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The grim side of long-distance hiking

Thru-hiking conjures imagery of a retreat to Mother Nature, to return feeling fresh and invigorated. For trail neophytes, it’s romanticized with visions of rosy cheeked hikers bounding across grassy knolls and the scent of wild lavender wafting around lean, muscled figures.

However, the reality is a little rougher than the Instagram pictures paint it.

Sure, you’ll be in the wild, but the wildlife you’ll predominately rub shoulders with will be insects. To keep your pack light, one can ditch the inner bug tent. This allows all sorts of creepy crawlies direct access to you. It’s akin to lying in a coffin with caterpillars crawling on your cheeks, beetles trundling over your bedding or earwigs lurking close to one’s lobes.

It’s clear that the phrase “ants in your pants” originated from a real backpacker.

Get used to a relentless reek. Even clothing with the wispiness of gossamer can hold a remarkable amount of stench. In case of chance encounters with civilians on the trail, it’s best to clamp arms firmly down.

Here are some other harsh home truths about long-distance hiking…


Your 1 Million Acres: The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 @ 12:26 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Your 1 Million Acres: The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

Your property includes cascading waterfalls, ancient forests, and the highest mountains in the East. You can go anywhere you like on your property. You can hike hundreds of miles of trails and paddle, fish, and swim in its pristine streams.

You share ownership equally with every other American, and you pay your staff—the U.S. Forest Service—to manage the property. They maintain the trails and enforce the rules that you make.

Every 20 years, you write a plan that describes how your estate should be managed. You get together with the other owners to hash it out, and your staff writes it all down. This plan is the most important document of your property. It spells out the rules for your property and decides how your property taxes are spent.

The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is the third-most-visited national forest in the country. Its popularity has skyrocketed by 136 percent in the past two decades. Over 6.8 million people visited the forest last year, and most of them came to hike, camp, and enjoy its scenic wonders.

The Forest Service recently released a preliminary draft of their forest plan, which will guide the next twenty years of forest decisions. It’s already mired in bitter controversy.

Find out why here…


Trail work in Arizona’s Rim Country

Posted by on Aug 27, 2017 @ 7:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Trail work in Arizona’s Rim Country

Trails are complicated things.

It doesn’t always take the easiest route and sometimes isn’t clear, dwindling into a wash and then sneaking out to the lowlands and zigzagging erratically up a steep slope.

For trail builders, forging a path with flow is everything. The way a trail bobs and weaves around trees and rocks should be effortless. It should curve to hide what is coming, making the hiker want to turn one more corner to see what is next. And it should shed water off its banks, not hold it in, so it stays smooth, not rutted and washed away.

A good path, trail builders say, should go unnoticed. At the end of the journey, the hiker should be smiling and ready to do it all over again.

Arizona Rim Country trail builders know if they develop trails to which people want to return, they can help revitalize an economy so dependent on recreation users.

Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona (VOAz) have done work on the eastern flank of the Highline, a trail originally built by settlers to connect ranches. The Highline travels east some 50 miles to the 260 Trailhead, clinging to the base of the Mogollon Rim.

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Celebrating the completion of Trekking Catalina

Posted by on Aug 26, 2017 @ 6:34 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Celebrating the completion of Trekking Catalina

Catalina Island Conservancy is celebrating the recent completion of Trekking Catalina, a new master trails system that includes 27 miles of new and enhanced hiking trails and is the biggest addition to the Catalina trails system since the completion of the Trans-Catalina Trail in 2009.

With the completion of Trekking Catalina, the Conservancy now offers 165 miles of recreational roads and hiking trails for visitors and residents to explore Catalina’s more than 42,000 acres of wildlands off the coast of California.

The new master trails system offers improved access points of entry at Avalon and Two Harbors, changes to the Trans-Catalina Trail and new waterless restroom facilities along the trails. Trekking Catalina also includes improved trailheads and signage for navigating trails, as well as interpretive enhancements.

Hiking maps depicting the new trail system will be available in early September and may be purchased at the Conservancy House in downtown Avalon. Hiking permits are required so hikers can be located in the event of an emergency. Hiking permits are free and can be obtained online from the Conservancy’s website or at the Explore Store, the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, the Nature Center on Avalon Canyon Road, Airport in the Sky and Two Harbors Visitor Center. To protect the natural habitats, the Conservancy asks hikers to stay on the designated trails.



Lightning strike blasts clothes off Sierra hiker

Posted by on Aug 25, 2017 @ 12:09 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Lightning strike blasts clothes off Sierra hiker

An Austrian man hiking 9,000 feet up in the Sierra Nevada was on a peak taking a photo when he was struck by a lightning bolt that blasted away his clothes, burned a hole in one of his shoes and left him with severe burns.

Mathias Steinhuber, who was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with his girlfriend and friend Carla Elvidge had an entry wound on his hand and an exit wound on his foot, Elvidge said in a phone interview from Fairfield, California.

“He was taking a picture and the next thing I know, I see this white flash, like an explosion,” Elvidge said.

Steinhuber had major burns throughout his body and was struggling to walk when a helicopter crew rescued him from an exposed peak among the rugged mountains near Donner Summit, the California Highway Patrol Valley Air Operations said.

Steinhuber was hiking ahead of his friends and had reached the top of Tinkers Knob, a bare peak with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and the forests below and was taking a photo when the women heard a large crack and saw a white flash.

Steinhuber was thrown away and his shoes and all his clothes, including his underwear, were ripped off from his body. The lightning bolt singed his clothes and burned a gaping hole through one of his tennis shoes.

“It was a terrible experience. One of those things that you never want to be near or involved in,” Elvidge said.



Clingmans Dome Tower Rehabilitation Project Begins

Posted by on Aug 25, 2017 @ 6:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Clingmans Dome Tower Rehabilitation Project Begins

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed beginning Wednesday, August 23 through the remainder of the 2017 season to complete rehabilitation work thanks to funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded last summer to Friends of the Smokies on behalf of the park after being one of the top nine most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks Campaign in 2016.

Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee state line at 6,643 feet, the tower is a prominent landmark and destination as the highest point in the park. The rehabilitation work will consist of repairing the worst deteriorated areas on the concrete columns and walls, stabilizing support walls at the base of the ramp, and repointing some stone masonry. To accomplish this work in a timely manner and for the safety of visitors, the tower will be closed for the duration of the project.

While visitors will not be able to climb the tower for views out over the surrounding tree tops, the Clingmans Dome parking overlook will be open and offers outstanding mountain top views. The visitor contact station and store, the trail to the tower, and all access to the trailheads in the vicinity will remain open. Visitors should expect some construction traffic in the vicinity of the contact station and along the trail.

The observation tower is a precedent-setting design of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program, which transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower, where they can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding mountains and valleys. Some minimal preservation work today on the tower will ensure that visitors continue to experience this unique structure spiraling up from the highest point in the park.

For more information about the Clingmans Dome Tower, please visit the park website.


The Highest and Lowest Elevation Points of 20 Countries Around the World

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 @ 11:41 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Highest and Lowest Elevation Points of 20 Countries Around the World

Our home planet is amazing. It’s easy to get wowed by ever-improving pictures of our neighbour planets, but Earth really has it all.
Every region has its own astonishing range of terrains at all altitudes. From the depths of dried-out lakes and swamps to the peaks of our highest mountains, how much do you really know about these dramatic extremes?

For example, most people know that Mount Everest is the highest place on Earth. Positioned on the border between China and Nepal, it’s nearly 30,000 feet above China’s lowest spot – that’s the dried-out lake called Tulufan Pendi, or the Turfan Depression. People actually live in this dusty basin, fighting against the odds to produce grapes, melons and cotton.

But did you know there is a challenger to Everest’s throne? Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is only 20,564 feet tall but — because it is positioned on a bulge in the planet — it actually reaches 1.5 miles further into the sky than Mount Everest.

Thanks to new friend Amit Raj for sharing this infographic with us by Budget Direct Travel Insurance. It’s a celebration of some of the highest and lowest points in the world. From Death Valley to Mount Fujiyama, it explores the extremes of 20 popular tourist destinations.



The National Parks Like You’ve Never Experienced Them Before

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 @ 11:31 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The National Parks Like You’ve Never Experienced Them Before

Veteran travelers of national parks may think they’ve done it all, but not so fast: There are 417 sites managed by the National Park Service, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy each of them. Non-profit friends groups and NPS officials compilde a short list of National Park activities and spots that are a bit off the beaten path, and just plain cool.

Lookout Point Trail at Wind Cave National Park – Most people who go to Wind Cave don’t go beyond the national park’s namesake, but there’s plenty of exploring to do above ground. Lookout Point Trail offers views of the prairies in the Black Hills. If you’re looking go farther than the roughly two-mile hike, you can add on the more demanding trails Centennial and Highland Creek.

Kayaking to Sea Caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – Check out the sea caves at Apostle Islands from right on the water. Kayak to Devils Island, Swallow Point on the eastern part of Sand Island and the western part of the mainland. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before you leave Lake Superior’s shore.

Joshua Trees in Mojave National Preserve – The largest concentration of Joshua trees isn’t in Joshua Tree National Park. Instead, it’s close by in Mojave National Preserve. Drive to the Teutonia Peak Trailhead on Cima Road. On the trail, you’ll gain 700 feet in elevation and hike for 3.4 miles through the Joshua trees. At the peak, look out and see the Cima Dome, a granite rock that towers several hundred feet over the desert floor.

And here’s the best news. On August 25, 2017 all national parks will be free in celebration of the National Park Service’s 101st birthday. Waiting are you waiting for? Get on out there.

Here are more off the beaten path national park destinations…


Science, Solitude And The Sacred On The Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 @ 7:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Science, Solitude And The Sacred On The Appalachian Trail

Solitude can be hard to find in the modern world. Cities are, of course, exactly about mixing it up with our fellow humans. That’s the source of their potent innovation. So, while you can find places in the city to be alone, it is much harder to find true solitude.

The difference between the two — being alone and being in solitude — is the secret many people find the wilderness teaches. Now, for a lot of folks, the idea of being alone can be discomforting — if not downright terrifying. That’s understandable because we are, by nature, social animals. Evolution tuned us to live in groups and be attentive to others.

But being in the wild without others doesn’t mean being alone; in fact, it can be quite the opposite.

Going alone into the wild is an ancient tradition. It makes up a common theme in the class of common myths Joseph Campbell called “The Hero’s Journey.” Taking a long journey anywhere alone can be scary. That’s also what makes it exciting.

But going into the wild alone takes us beyond just adventure. The reason, once again, is solitude. In the wild, in solitude, you’re never really alone.

In part, it’s all the life that’s there already. The pillars of individual trees stretch back into the woods and, after a while, you realize it’s the forest that’s really the organism. And then there are the bird calls in the air and frogs crossing the trail. After a few hours on an extended hike, you become just another of the forests’ inhabitants plodding along on your way.

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