Mary Moynihan has the math all worked out. She will need to average 21.8 miles per day, which comes out to about 12 hours per day. She will need to hike at a speed of 2½ to 3½ mph. And if her math is correct, she will hike a total of nearly 8,000 miles — in one calendar year.
It’s called the Calendar Triple Crown, and only a handful of hikers have ever accomplished the feat — all of them men. Moynihan hopes to be the first woman.
The 31-year-old Bend, OR resident and manager at the Patagonia outdoor clothing and gear store in Bend plans to solo thru-hike the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails, all in 2016.
If she has anything going for her, it is that she has completed all of those hikes before. She hiked the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail in 2006, the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2007 and the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail in 2011. Her book about hiking the CDT, “Married to the Trail,” was released this fall, and she also has her own hiking website.
The idea has been a few years in the making. When Moynihan returned to Bend after hiking the 1,850-mile Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand in 2014, she was asked the same question numerous times.
“Every person would say, ‘What’s next?’” Moynihan says. “And it’s a beautiful question, but sometimes it gets overwhelming. For a few years, I’ve had the idea to re-hike these trails.”
In 1968, the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails became the first “National Scenic Trails,” but ten years later Congress designated the third. Splitting the country’s midsection like a corkscrew, tight-roping the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada, the 2,700-mile Continental Divide Trail is acclaimed as the third jewel in the hiking world’s Triple Crown.
The CDT has a split personality. The path careens like a pachinko ball veering from jaw-dropping scenery to moments when it claws you in the back. The CDT’s informal slogan is: “Embrace the Brutality.”
In Wyoming, the Wind River Range’s surreal, shark-toothed white granite nearly supplants California’s Sierra Nevada in natural beauty. In New Mexico, the trail swoops you up sheer cliffs out onto broad mesas the equal of better-known Zion and Bryce. And in Colorado, on the summit of a 13,000-foot slab-sided peak, you may look down at a helicopter struggling for elevation near its flight ceiling.
Today there are 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails. Our Forest Service lands have 158,000 miles of trails. I could give you chapter and verse on the conservation, environmental and health benefits of trails. But what will really strike you is the economic benefit of trails.
In June 2008, the PA Appalachian Trail Act was amended by Act 24, requiring the 58 PA municipalities along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) to take action to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the Trail and to conserve and maintain it as a public natural resource. The legislation was prompted by a Commonwealth Court case related to a proposal to construct a country club for sports car enthusiasts, which threatened a portion of the A.T. in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
Act 24 requires such actions – including the adoption, implementation and enforcement of zoning ordinances as the governing body deems necessary – to preserve those values. The PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) was directed to assist municipalities with implementation. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) now manages the Act 24 implementation project with oversight from the National Park Service (NPS).
DCED appointed a Task Force to design a program to implement the intent of Act 24. The Task Force identified the need for resource material to assist municipalities in developing the most appropriate zoning and other conservation strategies. The resulting Conservation Guidebook for Communities Along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Guidebook) identifies seven characteristics of communities that are most likely to be effective in addressing issues associated with the Trail. Those characteristics – also known as the Seven Principles – provide the basis for a suggested checklist for municipalities to use in making their own assessments of how well the Trail experience is conserved in their community.
The trio of do-gooders — Seth Orme, Joe Dehnert, and Paul Twedt — named their effort the Packing It Out initiative. Their goal was the removal of more than 1,000 pounds of litter as they hiked from Georgia to Maine.
They hit the trail in March, and by August 15th had met the goal. To remove this much debris they relied on the help and generosity of good samaritans who packed litter out to trailhead garbage cans and recycling bins near the route.
Orme said people were more than willing to help once they found out the cause. The men were even offered food and housing along the way.
To weigh the trash the three used a cheap (and light!) luggage scale. They estimated that at certain parts of the trail you could collect 1 pound of garbage per mile.
The idea to pick up garbage while hiking was born out of Orme’s desire to hike the Appalachian Trail as a young boy. But over the years he noticed his local hiking trails were getting gummed up with trash.
Seth’s premise is simple — if people start to clean up trails from years of discarded waste the cleaner environment may deter the next person from littering.
The Skylands Region is home to rolling hills and endless acres of farmlands. It also boasts the highest point in New Jersey—aptly named High Point State Park in Sussex County.
The Gateway Region is the most urban part of the state, but that doesn’t mean it offers less hiking than the state’s other regions. The best thing about hiking these parts is the potential for skyline scenery in the distance.
The Delaware River Region, which encompasses five counties, borders the Delaware and includes part of the Pinelands—a National Reserve made up of more than one million acres of land and home to dozens of rare plant and animal species.
While the Shore Region does encompass more than half of New Jersey’s beaches, it’s also home to some great hikes. Hartshorne Woods Park is known for its extensive network of trails—almost 19 miles in just under 800 acres.
Its claim to fame may be Atlantic City, but this southern New Jersey county isn’t all casinos and beaches. At Estell Manor Park there are more than eight miles of hiking trails, which include about 1.5 miles of boardwalk.
Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay, the southernmost New Jersey counties of the Southern Sore Region have a flat mix of sand and marshland terrain.
There is a sign at Arches National Park featuring a quote that reads: “Let the people walk.”
It’s a line taken from Ed Abbey’s 1968 nature writing classic “Desert Solitaire.” It might seem like an odd choice: Arches, and its nearest city, Moab, Utah, have become virtually everything “Cactus Ed” hated. The asphalt road ribboning through the park has turned Arches into an epitome of “windshield tourism,” allowing visitors to see nearly every attraction without walking. Once-sleepy Moab has become a hub for “adventure travel,” where outfitters offer mountain biking, zip lining, off-road driving – just about everything except plain old hiking.
But the quote is fitting if taken as an admonition, an interpretation that likely would have suited the curmudgeonly writer, who spent two seasons working as a ranger at Arches. In “Desert Solitaire” and other best-selling books, Abbey championed the untamed spaces, making him the conscience of Moab and a favorite of desert dwellers.
Southeastern Utah has become more developed since Abbey’s era, but visitors can still find ways to enjoy the starkly beautiful red-rock country that sent him into rapture – be it by foot, bike, boat or car. This corner of the state is known for its fantastic rock formations. Moab is also unique in that it has two national parks just outside city limits: Arches and Canyonlands, on opposite sides of U.S. 191 about 10 miles apart.
Arches and Canyonlands represent dramatically different visions of what a national park can be. Canyonlands is less developed than Arches, making it more work to see. But explorers will be rewarded. Hardcore hikers will appreciate Canyonlands while less-active travelers will prefer the easy access of Arches. Any true desert lover should see both.
Hiking Horsetooth Rock is a rite of passage for northern Colorado residents, and it’s especially spectacular at sunrise.
The wind was fairly calm that morning, but it can be gale force – so make sure to have layers with you. There were only four other people up there for sunrise, and no other dogs.
Getting down Horsetooth with a 75-pound dog is much more difficult than getting up. Fit your dog with gear that assists in getting her up and down the rocks. Alma wore a Ruffwear pack that had a handle on the back, which was excellent for hauling her up and steadying her on the way down.
Also consider that your dog should be in fairly good shape for the hike: Alma is a 4-year-old couch potato doodle and she did just fine, but she has youth on her side.
The hike is five miles, round-trip, and it’s fairly steep. You gain 1,441 feet in 2.5 miles, going from 5,815-7,256 feet. There are lots of stairs, ruts and a Class 3 scramble at the end that has some pretty decent exposure on the back side of the mountain. I have a healthy fear of heights, and that was enough to give me some butterflies.
This trail is OK for kids that have their wits about them, but parents should keep a close eye if they are 10 and under: There are several spots you can fall hundreds of feet.
The Green Mountain Club said they listened to member feedback to improve and update their most celebrated publication, without changing the features hikers value.
This is the most complete map of the entire Long Trail system in Vermont. “We are not only excited about the detail of the map but the aesthetics are wonderful as well.”
Still printed on quality waterproof paper, the Long Trail map is durable in all Vermont weather. It increased in size from six to eight folding panels allowing for more detail, including significant Long Trail relocations through the Winooski River Valley and in Smugglers’ Notch.
For hikers looking for a short excursion, thirty-five suggested day hikes and directions to trailheads are highlighted. For those planning to section hike, or hike the whole trail, The Long Trail Map combined with the Long Trail Guide and the End-to-Ender’s Guide provide the most comprehensive resource.
Proceeds of this map and other GMC publications support the work of the Green Mountain Club to protect and maintain Vermont’s hiking trails. The new map can be purchased from the Green Mountain Club website.
Lamping Homestead may be one of the most isolated hikes in Ohio. It is a long ways from anywhere, in rugged southeast Ohio. The 5-mile loop doesn’t cross any roads in the rolling Appalachian foothills between Haney and Pleasant ridges in southwest Monroe County.
It is managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the 240,900-acre Wayne National Forest that includes 12 Ohio counties. The national forest lies within an 834,000-acre tract established by Congress in 1934.
The Lamping Homestead Recreation Area is off state Route 537, about two miles from state Route 26. It is about 35 miles from Marietta as the crow flies over the heart of what’s called the Switzerland of Ohio due to the number of Swiss immigrants.
The main trail begins on the other side of a pond and cuts through the picnic area. You will hike through a white pine plantation and into a beech-maple forest. Ravines are numerous. The trail crosses hills, goes down and up in hollows, across ridge lines and along the side of steep hills. The area is heavily wooded with small streams crossing the trail. If the leaves have fallen, you may get glimpses of the Clear Fork of the Little Muskingum River.
Not far away is one of the best backpacking trails in Ohio: the tough 11-mile Archer’s Fork Loop with its massive natural rock bridge. The hike in Washington County includes at least seven climbs of more than 250 feet, crossing between the Ohio River and Little Muskingum watersheds.
More than a month after a Tennessee woman was injured on a solo hike in the Cold Mountain area of a Haywood County, NC, she visited the sheriff’s office yesterday to thank the rescue crews who spent days searching for her.
Julie Hays and her husband Craig personally thanked Sheriff Greg Christopher and others yesterday.
More than 200 people from more than 60 local, state and federal agencies helped search for Julie after she didn’t return from a day hike in late September.
The search continued for two days until she was found injured about 100 yards off a trail in the Lenoir Creek area on Sept. 21, 2015.
“These guys put their lives on hold, they stopped everything that they were doing to save Julie,” Craig Hays said. “It really has changed us because without them, she wouldn’t be here today; she wouldn’t be alive today.”
In spring and summer 2014 Trevor Rasmussen, known also by his trail name Fronkey, used the crowdfunding resource Kickstarter to finance his thru hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail, and to pay for production of a documentary film detailing his adventures. 130 contributors donated a total of $5,262 to his project.
The original Kickstarter requirement was only $1,700, so Rasmussen used the extra contributions to improve his camera equipment inventory, ostensibly to enhance the production quality of the documentary film. In the summer of 2014 Rasmussen and his dog Tala completed the 1,200 mile journey from Glacier National Park in Montana to the most western point of the United States along the Washington coast.
Rasmussen’s Kickstarter pledge was to have his film available to his supporters in April 2015. That time came and went, with no updates from Rasmussen on the status of the project. Spring 2015 passed. Summer 2015 passed. Still no film, and still no communication from Rasmussen to his backers about the status of the project.
The Kickstarter Support team was contacted in October 2015 to make them aware of the negligence exhibited by Rasmussen with this particular project. The support team reached out to Rasmussen and offered their assistance in nudging the project along, and encouraged him to communicate with his sponsors. That has not happened. Still total silence from Rasmussen.
Inquiries via the Kickstarter comments page have gone unanswered. Inquiries on Facebook have been met from Rasmussen by blocking the accounts of those inquiring. Simply put, Rasmussen has chosen to ignore any communications about his Kickstarter project, and leave those who donated their money in the lurch.
It’s a shame too. It leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those 130 who trusted him. It was a tremendous opportunity to give recognition to the beautiful Pacific Northwest Trail and those pioneers like Ron Strickland and Jon Knechtel who made it happen. For those who believe in the system of crowdfunding by fine organizations like Kickstarter, it has been more of a kick in the teeth. Unfortunately, Rasmussen’s inaction makes people less likely to contribute to worthy Kickstarter campaigns in the future. Once burned, twice shy, and all that.
It’s still not too late for Rasmussen to honor his commitment. If anyone reading this happens to know Trevor Rasmussen, I would encourage you to reach out to him and tell him that there are folks out here that are still interested in his project. Just tell him, better late than never.
There is a new section of the Appalachian Trail in Bear Mountain, NY that will open this weekend, thanks to nine months of work by volunteers.
The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference’s Long Distance Trails Crew, an all-volunteer group, contributed more than 3,000 hours this year to relocate a 0.2 mile section of the historic trail in Bear Mountain State Park.
The section was heavily used and deeply eroded, said Chris Reyling of Hartsdale, who’s the head of the Trails Crew team. The relocated route was built with natural stones to minimize erosion, he said. “We hope what we designed is going to last for a long time,” Reyling said.
The Appalachian Trail runs for nearly 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, passing through 14 states, eight national forests and six national parks.
The Bear Mountain section of the trail was originally built in 1923 by the Trail Conference, and the organization has been working on multiple trail renovation projects in recent years. The opening of the new section will be celebrated with a ribbon-cutting event at noon Saturday, November 14, 2015.
Nothing spoils a good walk in the great outdoors like someone who simply doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, about the rules of the trail. They’re not hard to learn. They’re not overly cumbersome. Most of them aren’t even rules as much as they are fervent suggestions.
Still, when you’re hiking, whether it’s a short day trip on a mile loop in the closest state park or a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, you have to know them. You have to know that, for example, blasting Metallica from a wireless Bluetooth speaker strapped to your backpack is not cool. And it’s not because it’s Metallica. It’s you.
You don’t have to be Johnny Backpack to see that many people don’t know the basics, though. Go out on a day hike. Head out on an overnighter. Too often there are too many people mucking it up for others.
Noise, like the guy with Metallica, is one problem that crops up from time to time. But keeping the wilderness clean is a constant challenge, especially for the part-timers out there.
A big key to etiquette on the trail is making sure everyone knows that the outdoors are out there for everybody, not just the guy flicking his cigarette butt or the woman going to the bathroom too close to the stream — and then covering it, toilet paper and all, with a rock.
The trails at Granny’s Acres Conservation Area near Warsaw, Mo., wind through woodlands, up and down steep hills, and across shady valleys cut by small streams. This oak and hickory-dominated woodland is a pretty place for a late autumn or winter walk. The signed hiking loops range from 2.6 to 4.1 miles in length.
“It’s kind of a unique area,” said Jake Willard, department resource forester and area manager. “The trails go way back in and it’s fairly remote.”
Hikers should be aware that the terrain is challenging and rugged in places. They will encounter steep hills. Often loose rock is underfoot on the trails. The rewards are pretty scenery and relative solitude in the woods. Wildlife can be spotted such as deer and armadillos. A variety of birds can be seen in the area.
About 46 acres of glades, open areas with unique plant communities associated with limestone rock, have been restored. A woodland ecosystem is one with open areas between trees with native plants and shrubs.
Granny’s Acres is in a general area of Missouri where historically America’s eastern woodlands met the prairies and intermingled.
Black bears of the Smoky Mountains are starving this fall and their foraging is bringing some of them practically muzzle-to-face with residents and tourists near the most visited national park in the U.S. While bear attacks are rare, officials are concerned and warning people to be careful.
Bears near the park have climbed into cars, ripped open garbage, tried to enter cabins and even chased people. A periodic problem of nature—a collapse of the natural crops of cherries, acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts that bears love to eat—is driving bears out of the park into surrounding areas, said the park’s wildlife biologist Bill Stiver.
The area’s supply of bear nosh is particularly low, probably due in part to random climate factors like late freezes or isolated periods of drought that can impact the trees, he said. Many cubs of the park’s more than 1,500 bears are severely undernourished and their mothers are trying to find food for them, according to biologists, who tracked one bear that walked in the middle of the day through the downtown of Sevierville, Tenn.—about 12 miles from the edge of the national park.
If you encounter a black bear, you should make yourselves “large and loud,” shouting, waving your arms and blowing a whistle if you have one, said Dana Dodd, board president of the Townsend, Tenn.-based Appalachian Bear Rescue, which cares for orphaned or injured black bear cubs until they are healthy enough to return to the wild. “Then back away very slowly. If you run, you can look like prey,” she said. “Everybody with food has to be careful; it’s a desperate situation.”
Biochemistry and microbial biology are majors that require a fair bit of studying. The workload can be stressful. You’ve got to really know your stuff. You can ask Montana State University seniors Colleen Rooney and Emma Sirr. It was after a particularly stressful day during sophomore year that Rooney jokingly suggested to Sirr that the two take off for the West Coast to hike.
The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail begins in Olympic National Park at Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous U.S., and terminates in the high country of Glacier National Park. The trail covers more than 1,200 miles in Washington, Idaho and Montana. It looked like a tangible goal, as did tacking on a leg of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which would allow the hikers to arrive on foot back in Bozeman. Total distance: 1,523 miles.
Rooney and Sirr began planning the trip for the summer of their junior year. They tested ultralight backpacking equipment on a trip to Zion National Park and got out for training hikes between cramming for exams and putting together lab reports. They’d need the same determination they’d mustered for school, and a whole lot more, to complete the route from the West Coast back home.
The amount of foot traffic on the PNT pales in comparison to the number of hikers navigating the Pacific Crest Trail and there’s a relative dearth of information on the former. The trail was first developed in the 1970s, but the PNT wasn’t designated a National Scenic Trail until 2008. The route is still very much in its infancy. Finding information as essential as reliable maps was a challenge.
Even on trails, hiking the right way is sometimes counter-intuitive. Especially this time of year.
Take, for example, a familiar and notorious fall hiking obstacle: the mud puddle. What is the best way to pass?
Toss a big branch over the puddle to create a makeshift bridge to keep your boots from getting muddy? Skirt the edge of the puddle? Walk through the puddle as if it wasn’t there?
“That’s one of the biggest things we tell people when it comes to hiking in the rain,” said Kindra Ramos, spokeswoman for the Washington Trails Association. “Just walk right through. You actually do more damage walking around. “It creates wide spots in the trail. It can damage delicate flora.”
Similarly, tossing branches or rocks over the puddle can change the way water flows on the trail and damage the path. It could also leave a hazard on which others might slip or trip.
Watch your step.
A hike in the park could turn into a scuba trip if you walk slow enough in Grüner See, a mountainous Austrian park that turns into a lake every year.
Grüner See, which means “Green Lake” in English, sits at the base of the Hochschwab mountains near the town of Tragoess in Austria, and everything in the park – the benches, grassy knolls, creeks and bridges – become a popular diving spot come spring, when winter’s snow and ice flood the area with beautiful aquamarine water.
By summer, the lake reaches its maximum depth of about 40 feet. The lake’s green color (hence its name) is a result from the grass and foliage that line the bottom of the basin.
We’re getting into prime hiking time, just make sure you don’t take a long nap on one of those benches – you might wake up underwater.
Unless you happen to live there, New Zealand is a long way away from just about everywhere, its distant geographical location for many a barrier to visiting the land of the long white cloud.
Although Google’s Street View has offered couch-based travelers a good chunk of the nation’s jaw-dropping scenery for some time now, most of the content has been limited to the view from New Zealand’s roads having been gathered mainly by Google’s camera-equipped cars.
The good news is that from today you can go well and truly off-road to explore some of the country’s famous “Great Walks,” popular trails lauded for their stunning natural beauty.
“New Zealand’s Great Walks have long been on the bucket list of keen outdoors people from all around the world,” Street View’s Cynthia Wei said in a blog post announcing the new 360-degree imagery. “We hope by bringing the Milford, Kepler, Abel Tasman, Lake Waikaremoana, Heaphy, Routeburn and Rakiura/Stewart Island tracks to Street View, these images will not only help people who are about to trek them prepare, but give anyone who wants to virtually roam the beauty of the Great Walks an opportunity to do so.”
Long hikes through the Grand Canyon are notoriously treacherous. Hikers can suffer heat exhaustion, dehydration, elevation sickness, injury and worse if they haven’t adequately prepared, usually with months of cardio training. So when Kristin Salzman, 44, decided she was going to complete a two-day, 48-mile hike with the non-profit Project Athena, she started training. A lot.
To ready herself for the trek – which would include a 6,000-foot elevation gain and hikes through incredibly steep switchbacks – Salzman worked with a registered nurse and personal trainer for four months. They used an online platform to program Salzman’s rigorous workouts, which included three climbs lasting 45 minutes, an hour-and-a-half and two-and-a-half hours, respectively.
Salzman also did three hikes at an elevation of over 5,000 feet while carrying a backpack that weighed 20 lbs. The longest hike took nine hours. And she rounded out her workouts by kayaking and swimming in the lake in her backyard of Clear Lake, Minnesota, and by circuit training, running and exercising on a trampoline.
The intense training gave her a newfound respect for her body and new priorities when it comes to being healthy. “I used to want to be skinny or hit a certain weight, but now when I go to my circuit-training class, I see my arms, and I’m like, ‘I have muscles!’ You need the strength and the will to go through something like the canyon.”
At the height of training, she was logging almost 20 hours of training a week – and it was grueling. But it also felt like the perfect way to celebrate being breast cancer-free for two years.