Hiking News

New Chimney Rock trail restores access to falls

Posted by on Oct 15, 2017 @ 1:18 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

New Chimney Rock trail restores access to falls

For decades, one of the primary attractions at Rutherford County’s Chimney Rock Park was the loop formed high atop the mountain ridge on the west flank of the Hickory Nut Gorge by the Cliffside Trail and the Skyline Trail.

This loop took hikers across perilously narrow rock ledges and over the flowing waters of Falls Creek, just above the precipitous 400-foot drop of Hickory Nut Falls. The dramatic scenery provided the backdrop for the climactic fight scene in the 1992 film, “Last of the Mohicans.”

The loop was also the scene of a tragedy, however, as a 9-year-old girl slipped around a barricade and fell to her death in August of 1994, and a 2-year-old boy plunged to his death off a cliff in May of 2008.

Shortly after the latter accident, which occurred soon after Chimney Rock was incorporated into the North Carolina State Parks system, the park decided to close the loop until a safer, more pedestrian-friendly route could be established.

Nearly 10 years have passed since that closure but earlier this autumn a new Skyline Trial was opened at the park – a trail which safely takes hikers to the park’s highest elevation, Peregrine’s Point, and to the upper cascades of Hickory Nut Falls.

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Hiking Beartooth Wilderness high on list of Montana adventures

Posted by on Oct 15, 2017 @ 10:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking Beartooth Wilderness high on list of Montana adventures

Crawl from your warm sleeping bag out the tent door, into the darkness and predawn wind whipping across the plateau. Look up at the cathedral of the sky. Watch the whirlpool of constellations spin overhead. Hold your breath.

It’s hard not to feel vertigo in the majesty of Montana’s wilderness. Whether you seek the rocky heights of a 10,000-foot peak or an endless chain of lakes, pastels in a mountain meadow or the allure of trout, trek into one of the state’s most magnificent ranges – the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness – to find solitude and grandeur.

Don’t be put off by the name of the best way to get in there: the Beaten Path, a 26-mile trail that climbs up and over the Gallatin National Forest watershed divide, wending its way past pond after lake, peak after cliff, meadow after plateau.

The trailhead sits at the southeastern edge of East Rosebud Lake. Accessible by car from the north via a 14-mile road from Roscoe, the lake’s shores are dotted with cottages and cabins, and make it an easy jumping-off point for the wilderness.

One of the beauties of the Montana alpine terrain is how easy it is to wander.

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Western NC’s Fire Towers Provide Panoramic Mountain Views

Posted by on Oct 14, 2017 @ 8:00 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Western NC’s Fire Towers Provide Panoramic Mountain Views

At the summit, they found a good excuse to set down their packs and stretch their toes: There, a tall, rusty Tinkertoy of a fire tower, known simply as Shuckstack, cast a portentous shadow. Another hiker, having just descended steps that didn’t seem nearly sturdy enough to hold him, brushed past Peter and Brad, declaring, “I might be the last one to climb that tower before it falls down.”

How could Peter let that stand? He scooted up each wooden, partially rotten step on his rear end, bolts rattling under his shifting weight. Steel beams, blemished by decades of corrosion and graffiti, gave the tower an easy, if unsettling, sway. On one flight, the handrails were missing entirely. At 75 steps, Peter’s feet were in the trees, and above that, the physical world seemed to fall away.

A few more steps brought him into the cab, where the keeper once watched for fires from an elevation of 4,000 feet. He could see blue sky through the gaping holes in the roof; underfoot, the wood was so soft his flimsy sneakers could have punched right through it.

Wind rolled in and out of the empty window frames in the 7-by-7-foot room. “I looked out at the Southern Appalachians around me, at where we came from near the dam, and out over the range,” Peter says. “If I can trace one moment where my life took a new direction, that was it.”

Now Peter, the trails coordinator at Conserving Carolina, spends his spare time drumming up the community support, dollars, and muscle needed for restoration projects like the one completed on Shuckstack in 2014. In the process, many dog-eared, coffee-stained copies of his book, Hiking North Carolina’s Lookout Towers, have been passed among hikers.

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Conserving Carolina’s Trail Crew builds, maintains sustainable trails

Posted by on Oct 14, 2017 @ 8:18 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Conserving Carolina’s Trail Crew builds, maintains sustainable trails

Every Wednesday, the Trail Crew convenes to create and to improve Conserving Carolina’s extensive network of trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge, under the direction of Conserving Carolina’s trails coordinator, Peter Barr.

“Our crew is now fondly called Conserving Carolina ‘Rock Crushers’ Trail Crew, because we hand made so much gravel,” says Peter. “We make gravel to harden the tread surface—or underneath the surface—of trails, which makes them more sustainable. Rock lasts forever, and boots that step on rock instead of soil or mud don’t disturb or dislodge any soil, eliminating erosion and impact to the natural resource.”

Earlier this month, the crew improved the Bearwallow Mountain trailhead by spreading and compacting 40,000 pounds of gravel and installing parking signs.

Creating and maintaining what may seem like simple paths through the woods is actually quite complex. Much like Conserving Carolina’s work to permanently conserve our lands and waters, trails must also stand the test of time while minimizing impact to the natural resources through which they traverse.

When creating new trails, Peter seeks to achieve physical, ecological, social and managerial sustainability. These four components respectively address level of upkeep as well as care for the land, flora and fauna, and trail users.

“Sustainable trails are a science,” says Peter. “A well thought out and skillfully constructed trail won’t damage the land long-term while also offering an enjoyable and deeply impactful experience to all those who follow it—now and forever.”

With these principles, the “Rock Crushers” typically focus on special projects such as building stairs, installing grade reversals, solving drainage issues, installing trailhead kiosks, clearing debris and deadfall after the Party Rock fire, supporting professional trail contractors in their construction process and monitoring Bearwallow Mountain’s summit—removing discarded trash and fire rings from illegal camping.

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“Camping in the Old Style” Re-created at the Cradle of Forestry

Posted by on Oct 11, 2017 @ 11:52 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

“Camping in the Old Style” Re-created at the Cradle of Forestry

The Cradle of Forestry in America invites the public to explore a re-created campsite of the early 1900’s during its “Camping in the Old Style” event, Saturday, October 14, 2017. A classic camping interpretive team known as the Acorn Patrol demonstrate the low-tech/high-skill approach as practiced in the outdoors during what some historians consider the Golden Age of Camping.

During this time in history, the Pisgah National Forest was in its infancy City folk were discovering the joys of outdoor recreation. It was a time when camping meant sleeping under canvas and cooking over an open fire. Here in the wood smoke, surrounded by the outdoor gear of a by-gone day, the traditional skills of camping will be practiced in the Cradle of Forestry’s scenic setting in the corral along the Biltmore Campus Trail.

Visitors can see fires ignited by flint, steel and friction, old-style campfire cookery, four different styles of period shelters, and traditional camp tools in use. Each camper has expertise in various aspects of woodcraft, history and nature study, and welcomes interacting with visitors and questions.

“Camping in the Old Style” is inspired by Horace Kephart, author of Camping and Woodcraft, originally published in 1906. Kephart’s approach to enjoying the outdoors holds lessons for today’s modern campers.

The Cradle of Forestry is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 for adults, free for youth under age 16. Golden Age, America the Beautiful and Every Kid in a Park passes are honored. The Cradle is located in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, on US Highway 276, 6 miles north of Looking Glass Falls and 4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Call 828-877-3130 or visit www.cradleofforestry.com for information about the Cradle of Forestry in America.

How the Mt. Everest region is thriving two years after the deadly earthquake

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 @ 11:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

How the Mt. Everest region is thriving two years after the deadly earthquake

In a colorful Buddhist monastery perched at 12,787ft, Nima Sherpa sits cross-legged on a brocade pillow, calmly chanting mantras in a monotone at 5am. It’s a daily ritual the monk wrapped in a burgundy robe has been practicing at the Tengboche Monastery in Nepal’s remote Khumbu region for the last 15 years and one that makes his mind and body feel purified whenever he’s done.

‘It [the mantra] has a special type of power that helps to remove the bad things of my previous life and present life,’ Nima says. ‘We are trying to remove bad things from our body and from nature.’

Purifying the mind and body is a common practice along the challenging 65km trek from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. The famous Tengboche Monastery sits halfway in between, attracting hikers and Everest expeditioners to light candles and seek blessings for good health in the weeks to come.

It’s also where the scenery transforms from dwarf birch, blue pine and rhododendron forests along the sparkling Dudh Kosi river into a magical world of boulder-dotted alpine meadows and summer yak pastures surrounded by dramatic snow-capped peaks, Everest and Ama Dablam the most spectacular among them.

In 2015 a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed approximately 9,000 people across the country, including 22 people at Everest Base Camp and three others in the surrounding region. Rebuilding the Everest region was a priority – the Everest Base Camp trek is one of the most popular in Nepal.

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The Most Underrated Endurance Workout? Hiking

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 @ 7:16 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Most Underrated Endurance Workout? Hiking

Have you ever met anyone who regretted taking a good, hard day hike? Me neither.

There’s something special about moderately paced movement through nature that leaves one feeling refreshed, renewed, and satisfied. Recent studies show that a walk in the woods—especially at the right tempo—is a superb way to build endurance and strength.

For a study published earlier this year in the journal PLOS One, a team of researchers affiliated with the University of Innsbruck in Austria had individuals complete two three-hour workouts under distinct conditions. The first was a “fast walk” on an indoor treadmill; the second was an outdoor hike through mountains. In the treadmill condition, the incline settings were contrived to mimic the outdoor route as closely as possible, so that the physical strain of both scenarios would be similar. (The researchers could not force the treadmills to decline, so outdoor downhill segments became indoor flat segments.)

During and immediately following both workouts, the researchers collected physiological and psychological measures. What they found is interesting, a bit paradoxical, and fully in support of hiking.

For starters, participants pushed themselves harder during the outdoor hike, as evidenced by heart rates that were, on average, six beats per minute higher. Given this, you’d think the participants would have experienced the outdoor hike as more tiring and perhaps less enjoyable. But the opposite occurred: They reported increased feelings of pleasure both during and immediately following the outdoor hike, and they said they felt less fatigued afterward.

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How Armenia Plans to Become the Next World-Class Hiking Destination

Posted by on Oct 8, 2017 @ 12:16 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

How Armenia Plans to Become the Next World-Class Hiking Destination

Dilijan National Park stretches across the mountains of Armenia’s northeastern Tavush region, 92 square miles of beech and oak tree forests and pine-covered slopes that delve into deep gorges with wandering streams and rivers. Brown bear and deer are frequent park visitors, lured by the scent of blackcurrants and gooseberries, while rarer flora like Armenian Saint John’s wort and edible scorzonera grow among rocks and along cliffsides.

The park houses some of Armenia’s finest cultural monuments as well: centuries-old monasteries like Matosavank and Goshavank, along with villages and towns like Dilijan, the “Little Switzerland of Armenia,” known for its reportedly healing natural spring waters.

With help this summer from a global network of volunteers, Dilijan National Park is also now home to the newest section of the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT)—two connected long-distance hiking trails—a northern route through Georgia and Azerbaijan, and a southern route through Georgia and Armenia—that, when finished, will span more than 1,864 miles and connect approximately two-dozen existing and proposed national parks throughout the Caucasus region, where the peaks of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains stretch between the Black and Caspian Seas.

Together with ongoing projects such as HIKEArmenia, the TCT is part of an effort to transform modern Armenia into a worldwide trekking destination: one with the infrastructure to connect the country’s rural communities and spur their economy and development through tourism.

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The Yosemite most people never see: 10 dazzling hikes

Posted by on Oct 8, 2017 @ 6:44 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Yosemite most people never see: 10 dazzling hikes

Gazing at the spectacular scenery surrounding Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy reservoir, one can’t help but marvel. Nature has endowed Tuolumne County with such splendor, it almost doesn’t seem fair. That these riches are so easily accessed by hiking trails makes us all the luckier.

Before this lake was formed at Yosemite National Park, Hetch Hetchy was a glacier-carved, granite-walled valley complete with a mighty river and waterfalls crashing down from dizzying heights. Sound familiar? Naturalist John Muir called the valley “a wonderfully exact counterpart of the great Yosemite (Valley).” Muir led the battle to save the valley from being dammed to create a reservoir for post-earthquake San Francisco — a fight that was ultimately lost.

It’s still wondrous, though. The trail skirts magnificent Tueeulala and Wapama Falls, torrential in the spring but subdued in fall.

Less than 5 percent of Yosemite’s visitors come to this area, tucked away in the northwestern part of the park, where there is so much to see. Hetch Hetchy lies near the Big Oak Flat entrance to the park on Highway 120. Pretty Carlon Falls is nearby, offering a 3.8-mile round-trip jaunt, sometimes skirting fire-damaged forest, which burned in the devastating Rim Fire of 2013.

If you’re a hiker or wilderness lover, this is nirvana. If you follow eastbound Highway 120 as it becomes the Tioga Road, you’ll find an array of High Sierra hiking trails leading to Lukens Lake and Ten Lakes, Yosemite Creek, North Dome and more.

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How to not die in the Smokies

Posted by on Oct 7, 2017 @ 11:48 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

How to not die in the Smokies

When you think about the Great Smoky Mountains, you might conjure grand vistas, verdant forests or majestic elk. Your thoughts might not immediately jump to death and destruction.

But that is exactly what adventure travel writer David Brill of Morgan County, Tenn., dives into with his new book, Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The book, published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, explores all the fatalities that have occurred in the 83-year history of the park. Far from being simply a morbid litany, however, the book also magnifies the bravery and heroism of park rangers and visitors in times of stress and trauma.

Into the Mist looks at factors that can turn the land from relaxing to relentless — factors such as trees falling, horses bucking and lightning striking.

“The last thing I wanted to do is make people fear this amazing natural resource, but I do want them to respect what can happen in the park if you’re not prepared or don’t take it seriously,” Brill says. “People are so afraid of bears and snakes in the park, but the real danger is auto accidents.”

In fact, Brill says the top two causes of death in the park are automobile accidents and airplane crashes. Other top causes include heart attacks, falls, drowning, lightning strikes, hypothermia and suicide. There has only been one fatal bear attack in the park’s history and no recordings of fatal snakebites, but there have been 14 reported murders.

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Humans Today Have Even More Meanderthal DNA Than We Realized

Posted by on Oct 7, 2017 @ 7:12 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Humans Today Have Even More Meanderthal DNA Than We Realized

An international team of researchers has completed one of the most detailed analyses of a Meanderthal genome to date. Among the many new findings, the researchers learned that Meanderthals first mated with modern humans a surprisingly long time ago, and that humans living today have more Meanderthal DNA than we assumed.

Before this new study, only four Meanderthal specimens have had their genomes sequenced. Of these, only one—an Altai Meanderthal found in Siberia—was of sufficient quality, where scientists were able to accurately flag variations in the genome. The new analysis, enabled by a remarkably well-preserved genome taken from a 52,000 year old bone fragment, is now the second Meanderthal genome to be fully sequenced in high fidelity. The resulting study confirms a bunch of things we already knew about Meanderthals, while also revealing some things we didn’t know.

Based on previous archaeological and genetic evidence, archaeologists and anthropologists suspected that Meanderthals were thinly dispersed across Europe and Asia. The lack of genetic diversity in the Vindija 33.19 specimen affirms these earlier findings, showing that Meanderthals “lived in small and isolated populations” and “with an effective population size of around 3,000 individuals.”

The previous Altai Meanderthal study also suggested that Meanderthals started breeding with archaic modern humans around 100,000 years ago, but the new analysis pushes that back even further to between 130,000 to 145,000 years ago. The location of these sub-species encounters probably happened in the Middle East or the Arabian Peninsula, but before modern humans spread en masse into Europe and Asia.

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Oh wait… Did that say Neanderthals?


The best hiking trails in Metro Detroit

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 @ 12:42 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The best hiking trails in Metro Detroit

The leaves are changing and it’s the perfect time to enjoy the many hiking trails around metro Detroit. Many of the area’s Metroparks and nature preserves offer scenic views and multiple trails for hiking, cycling, cross country skiing, and horse riding. A linked map marks the pathways that offer all or some of these.

The map spans as far north as Kensington Metropark to the long trail system at the Lower Huron Metropark. Also included are some urban trails like the Dequindre Cut to explore. Remember that Metroparks need a pass, as does Belle Isle (if you drive there). There are also included links to park/trail maps, where applicable.By no means is this an exhaustive list, as many local parks offer places to wander, hike, jog, or bike.

For example, Paint Creek Trail in northern Oakland County runs nearly 9 miles and was the state’s first non-motorized rail-to-trail. It’s a favorite for joggers, cyclists, cross-country skiers, and hikers. It runs from Rochester to Lake Orion, and there are a variety of places to park to access the trail.

Up in Shelby Township and going into both Oakland and Macomb Counties, Stony Creek Metropark has 27 miles of hiking trails. The park has a variety of trails, from paved to primitive, flat to hilly, and some are shared with cyclists.

See more here…


The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests: An Economic Powerhouse for Western North Carolina

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 @ 7:06 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests: An Economic Powerhouse for Western North Carolina

  If you’re one of the 4.6 million people who visit the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests each year, you already know how incredible this corner of the Southern Appalachians is. Perhaps you’ve paddled down the Tuckasegee River, climbed at Looking Glass, or hiked in Linville Gorge. No matter your preferred form of adventure, you know the Nantahala-Pisgah offers access to unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities — access and opportunity that’s hard to put a price on.

But now a series of new economic studies, commissioned by the Outdoor Alliance, does just that: researchers from Eastern Kentucky University found that outdoor recreation in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests generates $115 million in annual spending on paddling, climbing, and mountain biking — while also supporting local jobs and attracting both businesses and residents to Western North Carolina.

“More people visit the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests each year than Yellowstone — people who bike, paddle, raft, hike, climb, and otherwise enjoy these treasured public lands,” said Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance. “These national forests provide adventures that feed the souls of millions of visitors. Collectively these visitors spend a ton of money and make these cherished national forests economic powerhouses that generate jobs and income throughout the region.”

The research comes as U.S. Forest Service officials update a plan that will guide management of the Nantahala and Pisgah forests for the next 15 to 20 years. The studies illustrate why human-powered recreation deserves to be a top priority for the U.S. Forest Service as it completes this new plan in the coming months.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Reopen Chimney Tops Trail October 6

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 @ 7:05 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Reopen Chimney Tops Trail October 6

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will open the Chimney Tops Trail to a newly developed observation point starting Friday, October 6, 2017. The entire trail has been closed to the public since the Chimney Tops 2 Fire event occurred in late November 2016.

“We are excited to complete the work on the Chimney Tops Trail in time for the fall color season in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We understand that many people have a strong emotional tie to the Chimney Tops Trail and its reopening has been a priority for moving forward in our recovery from the fire event.”

The extended closure of the trail allowed the park’s trail crew to design and develop a section of the trail which will provide a safe and sustainable gathering area for hikers to enjoy beautiful views of Mount LeConte and the Chimney Tops pinnacles. The top most 0.25 mile section of trail to the Chimney Tops pinnacles themselves, though, was heavily damaged by the fire and will remain closed until further notice due to the significant safety concerns that exist.

“While the upper section of trail and rocky pinnacles are not safe for visitors to explore at this time, restoring access to the trail allows us to enjoy the rehabilitation investment made to the trail by the Friends of the Smokies’ Trails Forever Program in 2014, and also ensures the Chimney Tops Trail will remain a destination for visitors to enjoy a true Smoky Mountain hiking experience,” added Acting Superintendent Jordan.

The funding for this trail project came through donations made by individuals from all across the country to the Friends of the Smokies’ Fire Relief Fund. This fund was established in response to the outpouring of public support to aid in the rehabilitation and repair of park areas impacted by the fire.

Chimney Tops Trail is traditionally one of the most popular trails within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It provides a short, but steep climb through mature forested areas with multiple bridge crossings over rushing mountain streams and spectacular mountain vistas. With this reopening, visitors can continue to enjoy most of the trail.

Visitors hiking the trail must remain within the open section and not explore beyond the closed area at the trail’s termination due to significant environmental damage and safety concerns. The former trail past the closure point continues to slough off the side of the steep slope due to ongoing erosion of rocks and soil.

Park staff will be monitoring the closed section of trail and the Chimney Tops throughout the upcoming season as rain, freeze and thaw cycles, and wind events continue to change the landscape. If in the future the ground is determined to be safe and stabilized enough for sustainable trail construction, the park will consider trail rehabilitation of this area.


Nantahala, Pisgah forest planning focuses on recreation

Posted by on Oct 1, 2017 @ 9:00 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Nantahala, Pisgah forest planning focuses on recreation

The Access Fund is one of many members of the two collaborative groups – the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership and the Stakeholders Forum – working on recommendations for the Nantahala and Pisgah Plan Revision.

The years-long project holds the potential to change the way millions of people use the two giant forests that spread across the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Overcrowded trailheads could get more parking. More hikers could set foot in the most remote areas of the two forests, which combined take up 1.1 million acres.

And mountain bikers – the newest generation of outdoor enthusiasts – stand to get greater say on managing trails.

In the last Nantahala Pisgah National Forest Management Plan, released in 1987 and amended in 1994, rock climbing was a footnote, and mountain biking was not even mentioned.

The national forests in the Southern Appalachians have been through many incarnations through the centuries. Heavy logging and clearcutting in the early 19th century led to more conservation efforts and creation of wilderness areas, wildfire suppression and a move from timber and vegetation management to places of intense recreation and outdoor adventure.

Recreation opportunities now range as widely as the vast swaths of forests, with their rich biodiversity of plants, animals and habitats, elevations from less than 2,000 to nearly 7,000 feet, plunging river gorges and waterfalls, trails and views, coves and rock cliffs and of course, trees, and more trees.

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In the Teton Wilderness, where two oceans begin

Posted by on Sep 30, 2017 @ 11:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

In the Teton Wilderness, where two oceans begin

The camp is located 22 miles from the Turpin Meadow trailhead along the famous plateau where North Two Ocean Creek makes a baffling break into two, sending Pacific and Atlantic creeks toward their namesake oceans. It’s usually reachable terrain by mid-June, once the sunshine in the high country has erased the last signs of winter atop Trail Creek Pass.

Right now, in the early fall, it’s about as bustling as it gets in the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s Teton Wilderness, a treasured Wyoming high country that’s bounded by Yellowstone National Park, the Absaroka Range, Buffalo Valley and the Snake River.

Summer can be packed, too, the result of fishermen drawn to fabled cutthroat trout runs out of Yellowstone Lake and up the Yellowstone River and its tributaries. Continental Divide Trail through-hikers and packrafters populate the 900-plus-square-mile wilderness during the narrow season the trails are dry. Then there are the “progressive campers,” guided adventurers who typically come in on horseback to eat good meals, relax and see the sights of a landscape that’s more remote than any other in the Lower 48.

Count Mike Leonard, a temporary tenant of the Winter camp, in that last category. A ninth-generation North Carolinian, he’d had a stubborn and ultimately successful lifelong ambition to see the Parting of the Waters. It started when he read about Atlantic and Pacific creeks’ mysterious split in a Yellowstone book his mom gave him when he was a grade schooler.

“That just caught my eye when I was 9 years old,” Leonard said. “It just took me 55 years to get here.”

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10 Health Problems That The Outdoors Can Help Prevent And Treat

Posted by on Sep 30, 2017 @ 7:07 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

10 Health Problems That The Outdoors Can Help Prevent And Treat

Should your doctor tell you to “take a hike,” you may want to listen. With more and more scientific studies uncovering different health benefits from spending time outdoors, is the healthcare industry not fully appreciating ways of preventing and treating disease?

During an October 2016, White House Roundtable session entitled “Health Benefits of Time Outdoors,” Michael Suk, M.D., Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Geisinger Health System and a member of the National Advisory Board at the National Park Service, mentioned the possibility of doctors writing prescriptions for national parks…as in, “Take a trip to a national park once a week and see me in six months.”

How many medication prescriptions could eventually be replaced by prescriptions for hiking, biking, climbing and other outdoors activities?

Unless someone is pulling you around in a wheelbarrow, being outdoors forces you to move your body more. Think about how much of your time indoors is spent remaining relatively motionless, such as sitting in front of a computer or in a meeting, texting on the toilet or staring at the television.

Being outdoors in many ways forces you to be more active. Trails make you hike. Hills and mountains make you climb them. Bigfoot makes you run. A number of studies have shown that access to the outdoors can significantly increase physical activity levels.

Well, here are 10 health problems that time outdoors may help prevent or treat:


5 Awesome Inca Sites that Aren’t Machu Picchu

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 @ 12:17 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

5 Awesome Inca Sites that Aren’t Machu Picchu

Everybody knows that Machu Picchu is THE place to visit in Peru. However, there are many other fascinating Inca sites that are worth a visit, and most are within easy reach of Cusco. If you are backpacking on a budget and can’t afford to visit Machu Picchu, or simply want to explore more, the Sacred Valley is filled with Inca ruins to discover.

On the hill above Cusco lies Sacsayhuaman or Saksaywaman, one of the easiest Inca sites to visit from Cusco. The name means ‘satisfied falcon’ in Quechua, the language of the Incas. Located on the mountain overlooking Cusco, Sacsayhuaman was the capital of the Inca empire.

The city was designed in the shape of a jaguar, with Sacsayhuaman as the head. Built like a fortress, but more probably used for religious purposes, Sacsayhuaman was constructed using huge stones that fit together so well that not even a pin could fit between them. Some of the stones are massive, weighing in at nearly 300 tons, so it is hard to imagine how the Inca could build it with such precision and expertise, and without the use of mortar.

Now all that remains are the stones which are too big to move; the Spanish destroyed the rest and built colonial Cusco using the remnants of the ruins. If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk up to the ruins from Cusco, or hop in a taxi if you’re struggling with the altitude.

Every year, Peruvians and tourists from all over the world come to Sacsayhuaman to celebrate Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun which marks the summer solstice on 24th June.

Here are a few of the best Inca sites to visit that aren’t Machu Picchu…


Have crosscut, will travel; Sawyers from Bitterroot National Forest aid hurricane recovery effort

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 @ 11:52 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Have crosscut, will travel; Sawyers from Bitterroot National Forest aid hurricane recovery effort

Three sawyers from the Bitterroot National Forest of Montana are taking their crosscut saws to hurricane-ravaged Georgia to help clear trees in wilderness areas there.

The three — Amelia Shields, Sierra LaBonte and Katherine Bicking — left the Bitterroot National Forest, where they worked all summer clearing trails. They expect to be available for work on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National later this week near Blairsville, Georgia, cleaning up after Hurricane Irma.

“It’s part of the Appalachian Trail that’s in a wilderness area,” said Mark Smith, a trails specialist for the Bitterroot National Forest. “There are about 600 trees down on this portion of the Appalachian Trail, and they need some technical experts, people who are available this time of year when resources are low, since a lot of people have gone back to school.

“They’re trying to maintain those traditional skills and work ethic in a wilderness area, and these three are perfect for that.”

The trio spent the summer helping to clear about 700 miles of trails with other groups like the Montana Conservation Corps and Bitter Root Back Country Horsemen. LaBonte noted that they worked eight days at a time, amid temperatures in the 90s, along with bugs and smoke, then would have six days off.

“We walk in and cut trees, and walk out and cut trees,” Bicking said with a laugh, noting how they can sometimes clear a trail only to have the wind topple more trees within days.

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National Parks Struggle With a Mounting Crisis: Too Many Visitors

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 @ 6:47 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 1 comment

National Parks Struggle With a Mounting Crisis: Too Many Visitors

The rocky shorelines, shifting deserts and winding canyons of the country’s 59 national parks have been hallmarks of American vacations for generations.

But the number of park visitors has reached an unprecedented level, leaving many tourists frustrated and many environmentalists concerned about the toll of overcrowding.

In 2016, the National Park Service tracked a record 331 million visits, and after a busy summer, the system is likely to surpass that number this year. In August alone, some 40 million people came through park service gates.

Shuttle buses at Zion National Park, in southwest Utah, filled like sweaty subway cars. Selfie-takers clogged the slender path through the Narrows slot canyon, one of the park’s best-known attractions. And at the top of Angels Landing, an iconic trail of switchbacks on the east side of the park, some portable toilets were marked off with a sign: “Due to extreme use, these toilets have reached capacity.”

Zion is among the most visited parks in the system and is particularly prone to crowding because many of its most popular sites sit in a narrow six-mile canyon.

So this year, park managers announced they were considering a first for any national park: requiring reservations for entry. A final decision is expected in 2018.

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