Hiking News

Why Forest Bathing Has Become a Global Health Phenomenon

Posted by on Jul 8, 2017 @ 8:50 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Why Forest Bathing Has Become a Global Health Phenomenon

No, it’s not what it sounds like — forest bathing doesn’t actually involve an exterior physical cleansing. However, it does facilitate a cleansing of the mind and inner body. Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese practice that translates in English to “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” What exactly does that entail, if not a bathtub in the woods?

According to the definition of the term, coined in 1982 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, forest bathing “refers to the process of soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a natural setting to promote physiological and psychological health.”

To give you an example of its uses, sufferers of chronic tension or anxiety could turn to forest bathing for some much needed relief. David Yaden, a research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, says, “There have been studies comparing walking in nature with walking in an urban environment and testing people on their mood, different aspects of depression, and in some cases, brain scans. In the natural setting, people are more relaxed and less stressed.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. After years of research, there is now a vast collection of scientific evidence that proves that forest bathing helps the body, mind and spirit.

Learn more here…

 

Why Hiking Is the Perfect Mind-Body Workout

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 @ 8:38 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Why Hiking Is the Perfect Mind-Body Workout

At first, walking and hiking may sound like two words for the same form of exercise. The footwear and scenery may vary, but the lower-body mechanics seem the same.

Surprisingly, though, they’re radically different. Research shows that your joints, heart and muscles perform in distinct ways during a hike compared to what they do during a jaunt around the block.

Like a pendulum, walking on flat terrain allows you to keep moving with little effort. “But when you walk on uneven terrain”—the type you’d encounter on nature trails, deep-sand beaches or other natural surfaces—“that knocks out a lot of that energy transfer,” the researcher says. “Your heart rate and metabolic rate go up, and you burn more calories.”

In fact, hiking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28% compared to walking on flat ground. The varying ground slopes you encounter while hiking also make it different from flat-ground walking. Paths that go up, down and sideways require subtle shifts in the way your leg muscles lengthen or shorten while performing work, and those shifts increase the amount of energy you’re expending during your trek.

But the benefits of hiking extend well beyond the extra calorie burn.

Learn more here…

 

A modern journey on the Oregon Trail tells a story of risk and reward

Posted by on Jul 6, 2017 @ 7:19 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A modern journey on the Oregon Trail tells a story of risk and reward

The sun is low over Wyoming’s South Pass, pinkening the western sky that called thousands of pioneers over this 20-mile basin between high, grassy slopes. It’s beautiful and historic, and the aroma of sage pings feelings of adventure.

Most of you know it as the Mormon Pioneer Trail. But the images and place names — Chimney Rock, Fort Laramie, Soda Springs.

Those in the so-called Oregon Trail Generation (born late 1970s to early 1980s) may remember well from elementary-school computers the educational game that simulated a months-long trek from Independence, Mo., to the Willamette Valley of Oregon — and killed you off when you made poor decisions. Allow your family to travel too long without rest or adequate rations, and little Jebediah will succumb to typhoid. Travel too slowly, and winter in Idaho will pick off your relatives one by one. Ford your wagon through a too-deep river to save the cost of a ferry, and you might end up with a pixelated tombstone and a chance to write your own epitaph.

The first 600 miles or so of the Oregon Trail, from Missouri through most of Nebraska, was relatively smooth going along flat river valleys. So when emigrants saw Courthouse & Jailhouse Rock and Chimney Rock towering over the horizon, they maybe got their first clues of the terrain they were getting into.

Scotts Bluff has probably the finest hiking on this segment of the Oregon Trail. The park has five trails of varying lengths around the large rock bluffs that formed Mitchell Pass, a shortcut passageway that pioneers began using in 1851. The rocky overlooks make for scenic hiking with great views of western Nebraska (prettier than you think), and lots of wildflowers when visited in late June.

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Forest Service plan could fundamentally change hiking in Oregon’s wilderness

Posted by on Jul 5, 2017 @ 6:33 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest Service plan could fundamentally change hiking in Oregon’s wilderness

News that the U.S. Forest Service is proposing a way to limit the number of people entering Oregon’s wilderness areas didn’t come as a major surprise.

As the number of people hiking and camping in Oregon’s outdoors has skyrocketed, wilderness areas, often in fragile alpine environments, have been particularly hard-hit.

What did surprise many was the scope of a plan announced this month by Willamette and Deschutes national forests. They propose a system that would require a permit to hike or backpack in the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Three Sisters, Diamond Peak and Waldo Lake wilderness areas.

The goal is to limit crowds and damage by restricting numbers, officials said. But it would also represent a fundamental change in a state that, for the most part, allows people to recreate as they please on public lands.

Reaction to the news was mixed. Many who’ve watched places such as Jefferson Park and Green Lakes Basin get trampled were supportive of the proposal. But many pushed back against fees associated with the proposal. The cost of a permit would range from $6 to $12, officials said.

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Women of the White Blaze

Posted by on Jul 4, 2017 @ 11:26 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Women of the White Blaze

The Women of the White Blaze are yawning as dusk falls around them, their tired bodies begging them to lie down for the night. But something more important than sleep beckons on this night. Their shuttle bus driver mentioned that they might get to see the lightning bugs known as “Blue Ghosts” that tend to move down the mountains like fairies carrying lights down the hillside.

As the time drew near, Butterfly headed down the trail to the water source. She wasn’t gone long when she quickly reappeared, saying there was something in the bushes. The women grabbed their trekking poles to bravely ward off the “bear” blocking their route to the Blue Ghosts, but they were greeted instead with snorting and rooting around. Alas, it was a hog.

Meet Callie “Grasshopper” Cole, Olivia “CoffeeBeans” Affuso, Kathy “Jedi” Morgan, Jessa “Fast Feet” Freeman (twin sister of Grasshopper), and Mary “Butterfly” Adamy. These ladies from Birmingham, Alabama, are section hiking the Appalachian Trail, carving out time from their busy work and family lives to chase that white blaze.

All of different ages and backgrounds, they share two commonalities: they belong to the Birmingham Ultra Trail Society (BUTS) and are no strangers to physical and mental challenges that most would shy away from.

These women have been methodically ticking away the 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

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The man who went on a hike – and never stopped walking

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 @ 9:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The man who went on a hike – and never stopped walking

In his 61st year on this earth, the man who calls himself Nimblewill Nomad left home and walked a very long way through the mountains – about 10 million steps, he estimates, or 4,400 miles. Then, he took another, even longer walk. And then another one. And then another. Soon, he had given away almost all of his money and taken to walking almost year-round, roaming the post-industrial wilderness of North America in what he called “a desperate search for peace”.

His fellow long-distance hikers speak of him in mythical terms. They told me that, in order to avoid foot infections, he had chosen to have all 10 of his toenails surgically removed. He was said to never carry more than 10 lbs on his back, and to have invented a tiny stove that ran on twigs and grass, so he wouldn’t have to carry fuel.

Over 15 years, he had hiked 34,000 miles. First he completed the so-called Triple Crown of long-distance trails: the Appalachian trail (2,200 miles), the Pacific Crest trail (2,650 miles), and the Continental Divide trail (3,100 miles). Then he went on to complete all 11 national scenic trails in 2013. Triumphant, fulfilled, and nearing his 75th birthday, he vowed to hang up his hiking boots.

Then, the next spring, he was back. He announced he would complete a grueling road-walk from New Mexico to Florida, in order to complete a route he had named the Great American Loop, which connected the four farthest corners of the continental US. This, he claimed, would be his last long hike.

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The thru-hike you’ve never heard of: Oregon Desert Trail

Posted by on Jul 2, 2017 @ 12:38 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The thru-hike you’ve never heard of: Oregon Desert Trail

Photographer Meg Roussos is one of just 290 hikers who have completed all three long-distance hikes in the U.S.: the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails. But this spring she decided to hike a lesser-known path, the Oregon Desert Trail, and rather than hiking with friends, she walked alone.

She set out from her hometown in Bend, Oregon, in April to reach the trail’s endpoint near the Idaho border in Lake Owyhee State Park, 750 miles away. Along the trek, Ruossos took pictures of the quiet moments and desert landscapes. She trudged along rutted roads, encountered wildlife and passed structures commemorating pioneer and Native American history.

The Oregon Desert Trail was created by Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) in 2011. The trail passes through a number of wilderness study areas, and ONDA is working to get more sections of the path protected. The route, different from other continuous footpaths, links four-wheel-drive roads, existing trails and overland travel. The off-trail sections may require extra effort to find, but are important in keeping the route wild and undeveloped.

Roussos found those conditions humbling. “I try to capture my experiences of what is out there, and at the same time what it feels like to walk a marathon every day,” she said. “At the end of the day, I take off my backpack that contains everything I need to survive for months on end. I resupply when I need food, take a shower when I can and leave the rest up to the silence in the nights.”

Cite…

 

Changes coming to Superior Hiking Trail

Posted by on Jul 2, 2017 @ 8:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Changes coming to Superior Hiking Trail

Several changes are in the works for the 310-mile Superior Hiking Trail this summer. They include rerouting a portion of the trail in one place and installing a bridge in another location. In addition, the Superior Hiking Trail Association recently purchased land near the Encampment River to ensure the continued path of the trail through that property.

On July 21 and 22, a fiberglass bridge will be installed over the Red River near the Minnesota-Wisconsin boundary, completing the final segment of the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota. The bridge will span about 30 feet. At the border, the trail will join the existing North Country Trail.

A crew has begun building a reroute of the trail in the Gooseberry Falls State Park area where a private landowner asked that the trail be closed on his property. That rerouting of the trail will be about 3½ miles long.

The Superior Hiking Trail Association has purchased 10.6 acres of land on the west side of the Encampment River from a private party. The trail had crossed that land as part of an easement agreement and will remain in the same place.

Two bridges, over the Encampment River and over the Split Rock River will remain rock-hopping exercises, since the last bridges washed out during high water in 2013. The association is raising funds for the replacements.

Cite…

 

10 backpack essentials for summer hiking adventures in Colorado

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 @ 10:02 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

10 backpack essentials for summer hiking adventures in Colorado

Colorado summers are as beautiful as they are volatile. Before you head into the high country for a hike this season, check your backpack. A well-packed bag can be the difference between a great day in the mountains and altitude sickness or — worst-case scenario — a rescue.

According to a report based on National Park Service data, the most common contributing factors to search-and-rescue incidents are making an error in judgement; fatigue and physical conditions; and insufficient equipment, clothing and experience. Many of these factors can be avoided by packing (and then acting) smarter for a day in the wilderness.

This list is based on recommendations by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the 10 essentials adopted by the American Hiking Society and other groups, as well as some Colorado-specific advice.

“The 10 essentials is a good place to start, and the list varies depending on the organization and the people,” said Jeff Golden, marketing manager for Colorado Mountain Club and an experienced mountaineer.

Here are 10 things you must have in your all-purpose day-trip pack…

 


How to Pack a Backpack for Hiking

 

Empowering women in the outdoors: Why the white-hot interest?

Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 @ 7:02 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Empowering women in the outdoors: Why the white-hot interest?

Call it a new wave of feminism, call it a reaction to the current political climate, but there is a concerted push to get women outdoors — women’s-only trips, women’s classes, images and stories of women adventurers. One example: REI’s Force of Nature campaign, launched in April 2017 to “level the playing field,” has crossed from marketing to activism by earmarking $1 million for nonprofits that help girls and women get out.

Wait a minute. Haven’t we already done that? Casual observation yields lots of women out hiking, biking, camping and more. Why this focus on women? And why now? Statistics tell part of it — a 2016 Outdoor Foundation report found that of those who participated in outdoor activity, 46 percent were women, 54 percent men. In aggregated annual studies from 2009 to 2015, the website Statista shows women’s participation growing. In talking with local outdoorswomen, the takeaway is it’s a complex issue. More than skills or gear, outdoor activity requires time, money and confidence.

“For women who are participating in wilderness experiences, relying on their bodies to connect with nature can be a mind-blowing experience. But you have to get there first,” said Dr. Britain Scott, professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas. “There are still differences in the way we socialize girls and boys. Our culture continues to define femininity in ways that put women at odds with their natural self, so that it’s difficult to adhere to the feminine ideal and use your body effectively in the natural world. Kim Kardashian is no closer to a natural human who could confidently move through the outdoors than June Cleaver.”

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Elevated arsenic readings close popular San Diego hiking trails

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

Elevated arsenic readings close popular San Diego hiking trails

On the northwest side of the one of the City of San Diego’s more popular open space parks is a trail called Miners Ridge Loop.

It’s appropriately named because the city says the abandoned Black Mountain Arsenic Mine is located on the north slope of Black Mountain.

But, if you had any thoughts of escaping the city life for a hike on a portion of that specific trail you’d be turned away. A sign that blocks the entrance says the trail is closed temporarily.

If you take a closer look at the note fastened to the sign it reveals “The City of San Diego, in collaboration with its research consultants, has detected higher than normal arsenic readings at the abandoned arsenic mine in Black Mountain Open Space Park. There is no conclusive evidence that there has been or is an imminent threat to the health of the public, plants, or wildlife in and around the mine or along nearby trails as a result of this discovery.”

The press release says trails in close proximity to the mine are closed to allow researchers to conduct further testing, sampling, and monitoring. It also says research and thorough testing is expected to take months.

You just never know.

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Hiking back in time to celebrate 100 years of the Long Trail

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 @ 12:51 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking back in time to celebrate 100 years of the Long Trail

Dew shines in the early morning summer sun along the network of trails near the Winooski River. It’s where Mike Debonis continues his journey back in time on Vermont’s Long Trail. This year, the trail is celebrating 100 years. Debonis is honoring the anniversary by dressing in traditional 1917 attire – all wool – and spending his vacation on the spine of the Green Mountains.

“I grew up in Vermont,” Debonis said. “Some of my first memories of the outdoors are getting out on the trail.”

His trek, like those of hikers 100 years ago, also includes a handmade brown ash backpack and wax fabric to keep his materials dry.

“It’s a little different in some ways. The trail doesn’t change that much; the gear is different and some of the things change, but the hikers are the same they are having the same experience,” Debonis said.

The bridge is the biggest difference in the 100 years since the first Long Trail guide came out. Back then, you would have to be ferried across the river on a boat to continue the trail. So to keep the trip as authentic as possible, friends picked him up so he could ferry across.

“One-hundred years ago to get across the Winooski River, the May family that owns the land around here, you would get in a boat and pay 25 cents to have someone take you across,” said Alicia DiCocco of the Green Mountain Club.

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Volunteers Remove Nearly 150 Tires From Linville Gorge Wilderness

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 @ 11:30 am in Hiking News | 1 comment

Volunteers Remove Nearly 150 Tires From Linville Gorge Wilderness

Linville Gorge Wilderness is now a more beautiful place thanks to the efforts of 85 volunteers who worked over 1,800 hours under the lead of Wild South to remove nearly 150 tires from the deep gorge.

In the 1970s a large flood washed the tires down into the Linville Gorge Wilderness from a business north of the area. Since that time, tires have been a common site along the Linville River.

With only the traditional tools available to them in the Wilderness, a huge volunteer effort has been quietly underway over the past year. Volunteers gathered tires, one-by-one, and steadily moved them to the Wilderness boundary. Avoiding punishing trails like Pinch-In was a priority to minimize risk to volunteers.

“Initially volunteers were carrying tires up the 1,500-ft sides of the deep gorge, but as they discovered dozens more tires along the riverbank it became clear they would need a different plan,” explained Kevin Massey, Executive Director of Wild South, and chief tire removal coordinator. “With help from private landowners, a more feasible route was devised.”

A hike up the Pinch-In trail in the Linville Gorge Wilderness is a true test of human endurance. For even the experienced hiker, a hike up Pinch-In is a challenge. From the wild and cold Linville River, the trail climbs nearly 1,500 feet out of the sheltered gorge onto the cliffs above. Hikers stopping to catch their breath and re-hydrate, a constant need on the exposed trail, are rewarded with sweeping views of the heart of the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Now imagine hiking up this trail with a 50-pound tire strapped to your back.

Volunteers spent over a year carrying tires for miles through the gorge in relays, eventually accumulating a cache of 148 tires plus other trash near the Wilderness boundary. Recently the final effort was made to carry all out across private land to a point accessible by a truck provided by the US Forest Service to haul the tires to a recycling facility. This herculean effort is an example of the Forest Service, partner, and volunteer relationships that are critical to managing public lands and preserving Wilderness experiences for future generations.

The Forest Service thanks the public and partners who are critical to protecting the Linville Gorge Wilderness through clean ups, trail work, and education. Visitors benefit from the hard work of a caring and dedicated community of volunteers as well as partners such as Wild South, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail, and Carolina Climbers Coalition.

The 1964 Wilderness Act, in which congress designated Linville Gorge as a Wilderness, states: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area’s wilderness character to insure that it is “unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness.” The use of motorized equipment and mechanical transport is prohibited except for emergencies involving public health and safety.

 

What To Do If You Sprain Your Ankle While Hiking

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 @ 8:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

What To Do If You Sprain Your Ankle While Hiking

Contrary to what most people believe, sprained ankles aren’t one of those things that just happen. Not only can they be effectively treated when they happen, but with a little forethought, and some preparation, they can be prevented.

Sprained ankles and other foot injuries are common in hiking. But you can dramatically decrease your chances of a sprain by taking some precautions. Strengthen your muscles between hikes. Wear protective shoes, particularly with ankle support. Replace worn shoes that no longer provide that support. Be careful where you step, watching for uneven surfaces.

Prevent recurring injuries. Whenever you decide that you want to begin pursuing a sport such as hiking, try to learn better what your body likes and doesn’t like, and when there’s something such as hiking that causes your body to rebel, prepare for it. This might include lots of stretching exercises prior to beginning, using tape, or wrapping with elastic wrap. Whatever time and effort you put into this prior to beginning will pay back big dividends in not only injuries prevented, but many miles of relaxing hiking.

If at any time during a hike you experience pain, stop or modify what you are doing. Remember that pain is your body telling you to stop what you are doing or do it differently. Everybody has heard the old saying that pain is weakness leaving the body, and to a certain extent it’s true, but it’s also true that you should heed the lessons your body is trying to teach you. Ignoring pain and stiffness can also make an injury much worse.

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The Crew Building the Next Great American Thru-Hike

Posted by on Jun 24, 2017 @ 11:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Crew Building the Next Great American Thru-Hike

In eastern Tennessee, 70-year-old trail builder Peter Berntsen is laying segments of the Cumberland Trail. The path will wend more than 300 miles through deep hollows, spiraling waterfalls, and diverse flora in the heart of Appalachia, at the mountainous edge of the Cumberland Plateau. He lugs an axe and mattock up a rocky and root-riddled stretch meandering through untouched forest. He and his two-man crew are slowly chipping away at the final 100 miles.

The Cumberland is on track to be all but complete in 2019 and will function as a leg of the country’s next great wilderness trail: the Great Eastern Trail, which will span 1,600 miles from Alabama to New York and be composed of already existing trails.

It may also serve an important purpose: to siphon foot traffic away from the nearby Appalachian Trail. “The Great Eastern Trail is going to ease the pressure off the Appalachian Trail,” Berntsen says. “If we can relieve just a bit from the big bubble of hikers that starts in Georgia every year, it’ll be beneficial for everyone.”

Last year, nearly 4,200 thru-hikers set off to walk the AT—more than three times the number of people who attempted in 2007.
Overcrowding has exacerbated issues like norovirus and trailside litter, prompting the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) to push for alternate start dates and travel routes for thru-hikers. The hope is that the Great Eastern will siphon some of the crowds, thus lessening the environmental burden on America’s favorite wilderness footpath.

The Great Eastern, however, is only around 70 percent complete. Without any setbacks, it could be finished within ten years. But first, trail advocates will have to overcome a number of hurdles between hikers and a new glorious trail.

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Hikes To Explore Colorado’s Western Slope This Summer

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 @ 11:40 am in Colorado, Hiking News | 0 comments

Hikes To Explore Colorado’s Western Slope This Summer

Colorado’s Western Slope is rich in backcountry hikes. Knowing where to find them — and what to expect on a trail — just got easier with a new guidebook by Grand Junction outdoor writer Bill Haggerty. The Falcon Guides “Hiking Colorado’s Western Slope” has details on more than 45 trails in Western Colorado.

It doesn’t have just the standard route descriptions. Haggerty includes historical tidbits, geological information, suitability for canines, and observations gleaned from a lifetime of hiking in Colorado. His trail descriptions incorporate the joy he finds in hiking.

Haggerty says he often wonders whether publicizing hikes like these means they’ll get too crowded.

“Yes, that’s been a problem about writing for the outdoors since 1976 when I had my first column about the Black Canyon. And I’ve really wrestled with it for years,” he said. “But my main issue remains that if you don’t write about it, if you don’t get people out there if they don’t understand what they have, it will be ignored, and then taken advantage of. And somebody else will take it and it’ll be gone from us.”

Haggerty’s book comes out just as the Colorado Trail Explorer – a comprehensive online statewide trail map – goes live. That online resource is part of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful Initiative.

See Haggerty’s recommendations…

 

Hiking and biking County Mayo, Ireland’s Wild West

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 @ 7:20 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking and biking County Mayo, Ireland’s Wild West

When the sun breaks out in rural Ireland, you can almost believe in fairies.

County Mayo is the kind of place that visitors imagine when they think of rural Ireland: whitewashed stone houses in impossibly green fields dotted with sheep; rolling hills that tumble into the sea or break off in sheer cliffs; narrow winding roads that lead to villages with pubs and fish markets; residents with an admirable patience who are happy to take a moment to chat; small towns with cozy cafes and restaurants serving local fare.

Croagh Patrick reposes like a sleeping giant on the edge of Clew Bay. It dominates the landscape in western Mayo and tempts day hikers of all stripes with its gradual slope rising to a 2,507-foot summit.

Within minutes, the view opens up over the pastures and hills; islands dot the silver sea below. Teams of paramedics relaxed around first-aid tents, ready for the inevitable injuries. Children bounded by, leaving parents and grandparents behind, scrambled up hillsides for better views, shouted to each other. Some climbers wore the Gore-Tex of serious hikers, others seemingly their Sunday best. Some wore stout shoes, others flimsy sneakers. Some were barefoot on the loose, sharp stones as part of the Reek Sunday ritual, the annual pilgrimage day when tens of thousands of people make the ascent.

Depending on the source, this pilgrimage predates St. Patrick by a millennium or more. Some say the annual rite began in the Stone Age 5,000 years ago when people climbed to mark harvest season; others say it started 1,500 years ago. All seem to agree that St. Patrick fasted here for 40 days in 441, and since then the pilgrimage has been made in his honor.

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