For day hikers who want to take the next step or for a seasoned backpackers who can’t find the time or resources to make that long trip this year, outdoor author Jim Parham is offering up the solution that is just right: the short backpacking trip.
His recently published book, Backpacking Overnights, details 50 one- and two-night trips in the Carolina Mountains. The premise of the book, and Parham’s philosophy, is that backpacking should be easy, accessible and fit into the schedule of the 9 to 5 working stiff.
Instead of keeping the old backpack in the closet collecting dust and waiting for the day you promised yourself you’d hike entire the Appalachian Trail or limiting yourself to short, out-and-back jaunts, Parham recommends spending a night in the woods. Although day hiking is better than no hiking, there’s no equal to sleeping under the stars.
“It’s half the experience, part of it is the hike and the other part is going to sleep with the crickets chirping and the creek gurgling beside you,” Parham said. “You miss that on a day hike.”
Backpacking Overnights introduces readers to 50 different one night and weekend backpacking trips in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. It also includes a section introducing readers to the basics of backpacking, maps of each hike, GPS coordinates and a mile-by-mile synopsis of landmarks and points of interest along each route.
“I have met but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in the mid 1800s.
Thoreau, a Massachusetts man, was many things — an author, philosopher, naturalist, historian, transcendentalist — but perhaps more importantly, he was a walker. And if Thoreau hadn’t learned “the art of walking,” his life and legacy would have been far different.
“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements,” Thoreau wrote.
This sentiment struck a chord with John Gibson, a seasoned hiker from Hallowell and the author of “In High Places with Henry David Thoreau: The New Hiker’s Guide to Thoreau’s Mountain Travels,” published in June by Countryman Press.
Divided into sections, the book covers 12 treks Thoreau took in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, including Mount Kineo and Katahdin.
“The book provides insight into how [Thoreau] traveled and appreciated the woods and the mountains, which he found absolutely essential to psychological health,” said Gibson in a recent interview. “There’s a lesson in the book that you’ve got to get out there, that this sort of staying indoors and playing video games is not a life.”
Wiffer’s Wayside is really just a condo. But for hikers trekking across North America on the Continental Divide Trail, it’s truly a luxury hotel.
Sharon Henschen of Sidney, Ohio, is well-known to the hiking community as “Wiffer,” a trail name she was given because of her keen sense of smell. She makes her vacation condo – two miles north of Purgatory, CO at Durango Mountain Resort – a home away from home for hikers in need of rest.
Henschen is one of many trail angels who exist along the Continental Divide Trail. Being a “trail angel” has proved to be a perfect fit for Henschen, who is in her fourth year of offering up motherly love to those in need.
In June alone, Henschen housed 21 through-hikers, anywhere from one to three nights, as they rest and take advantage of the hospitality she offers.
Hikers are about 800 miles into the trail when Henschen greets them at Stony Pass, a half hour’s drive from Silverton, in her bright orange Jeep.
Being a part of the hiking community is a role Henschen happily accepts. Meeting new people and knowing she has been one stop in their journey to Canada, accompanied with all the great trail stories she hears, keeps her motivated. She finds that no two hikers are alike.
At 10,000 feet and above, wildflowers bloom a wee bit later than, for instance, at sea level. That’s why Cedar Breaks National Monument’s 8th Annual Wildflower Festival is just beginning on July 6th.
“During this spectacular display, visitors to the Monument will be able to see paintbrush and primrose, lupine and larkspur, and a spectrum of other flowers in meadows, woods, and marshes,” said Park Superintendent Paul Roelandt of Utah’s Cedar Breaks near Zion and Bryce Canyon.
The festival runs through July 21. Volunteers will be available to lead guided walks each festival day at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The walks, approximately one hour in length, will focus on the latest bloomers and how they live and survive in the subalpine habitat.
On festival weekends from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., a variety of family-friendly activities will be offered in the Visitor Center area.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is located 23 miles east of Cedar City, Utah, along Highway 148 between Highway 14 and Brian Head. The park entrance fee is $4 per person, ages 16 and older. Those traveling to the festival should come prepared for cool weather at 10,000 feet.
In California, we rely on our National Forests for half of our water.
That is one of the many reasons why the National Forest Foundation is working to restore the valuable resources in the forests that contribute to $37 billion in food and commodities.
From their work in the Tahoe on aquatic, forest and rural communities to their work in the Angeles National Forest to reforest and restore native plant communities, they are improving the value of the lands that cover 20 percent of California.
The California National Forests not only provide critical ecosystem services, but they support 38,000 jobs in the outdoor industry.
By promoting sustainable recreation that protects natural resources, the National Forest Foundation is ensuring local economies succeed while fish and wildlife thrive.
Hiking 34 miles in steamy, hot temperatures probably isn’t what most schoolteachers dream about doing on their summer vacation.
For five Hampton School District teachers and coaches, though, it was their idea of a “challenge.”
The group got together June 22 for the 17th annual Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy Challenge – a 34-mile hike between North Park and Harrison Hills Park in Harrison, PA through woods, across highways and in creeks.
Hikers have 15 hours and 4 minutes to complete the challenge officially, but participants are allowed to continue as long as there is daylight.
The teachers were among nearly 600 hikers this year braving the uncomfortable heat. Another 200 hikers attempted the 18-mile Homestead Challenge between Springdale High School near the homestead of Rachel Carson and Harrison Hills. About 100 hikers participated in the Friends and Family Challenge, an 8-mile course.
This year had a higher number of participants who did not complete the event, with the high temperatures blamed as the cause. Last year, 85.9 percent of the participants successfully completed the Challenge within the allotted time limit; this year only 70.8 percent did so.
Join Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) on Saturday, July 13, for a guided hike through CMLC-owned Florence Nature Preserve. Hikers will trek a lollipop-route, circumnavigating the Preserve to reach two of FNP’s most scenic locales: Rattlesnake Knob and Little Pisgah Point. These rock outcroppings feature scenic views of the rugged Hickory Nut Gorge. This hike is open to CMLC members as well as non-members, so bring a friend.
Comprised of 600 acres on the southern slopes of Little Pisgah Mountain, Florence Nature Preserve was generously donated to CMLC by Dr. and Mrs. Florence in 1996. The Preserve boasts more than five miles of hiking trails that feature scenic rock outcroppings, pristine cascades, and old-growth forest. The entire Preserve is part of the state-designated Little Pisgah Slopes Significant Natural Heritage Area.
Total cumulative hiking distance is 4.5 miles. This hike is rated as moderate in difficulty, featuring a total elevation gain of 1100 feet. This is a public hike open to CMLC members and non-members alike.
Participants are required to be in reasonable physical condition and capable of completing a four mile hike over uneven, forested terrain. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate dogs on this hike. Hikers should wear sturdy walking shoes (no flip-flops), bring several layers of clothing in preparation for changing warm and cold temperatures, pack plenty of water as well as a snack/lunch to eat during the hike. Hikers who attend are required to participate in the entire duration of the hike.
A handy, pocket-size book that has long been in many a Portland hiker’s collection has gotten an upgrade and a facelift.
“Around & About Mount Hood” is a new edition of an old classic that was first published in 1997. The author is Sonia Buist, with Emily Keller.
Lots of things have changed around the mountain since the previous version of the book appeared, including the 2006 washout of the Eliot Creek crossing on the Timberline Trail.
This book is written to tell users how to get the most out of the Timberline Trail, without endangering themselves and others with a freelance crossing of the robust river.
Six shorter hikes (some for the whole family, including children) have been included to encourage people who might be intimidated by the thought of hiking on Mount Hood to get introduced to the mountain.
Information about the receding glaciers, including future projections have been added, as well as about how the forest recovers from a fire. The mountain has had several burns in recent years that impact on some of the trails.
Hikers flocked to Mount Fuji on Monday as Japan’s highest mountain, which last month was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, opened for the climbing season.
At the 3,776-meter summit, climbers cheered as the sun broke through the clouds at around 4:40 a.m. Monday.
They trekked up the mountain, which straddles Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, after three of its four climbing routes opened at midnight Sunday. Another route, from Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, will be completely opened by midnight next Sunday.
The mountain’s registration on the world heritage list is expected to attract more climbers this year, so the authorities will face a greater challenge to ensure adequate safety measures are in place and to protect the environment.
To help preserve the environment and fund safety measures, the two prefectures will charge a ¥1,000 admission fee on a trial basis for about 10 days from July 25 near the halfway points, and conduct a survey of climbers about the admission fee.
About 350,000 to 400,000 people climb the mountain every year, according to the Yamanashi Prefectural Government.
A Canadian man said he lost all his camping gear and footage for a documentary about his five-year hike when someone stole and burned his backpack.
Dana Meise said he was hiking in Saskatchewan when he was invited by a family to see the chuck wagon races in Onion Lake.
When he turned his back for a few minutes while preparing to sleep in one of the wagons, someone stole all his equipment and backpack, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. He found his backpack burned on the ground nearby.
A hard drive containing hundreds of hours of footage for a documentary about his hike, credit cards, his passport and camping gear were stolen or destroyed by fire, the CBC said.
He said the worst part was all the souvenirs that had been destroyed, including bracelets given to him by the parents of dead soldiers. “I carried these things with me for thousands of kilometers in honor of my fellow Canadians and a gift to my country,” he said.
Meise was attempting to be the first person to hike the entirety of the Trans-Canada Trail, hiking for six months of each year, the CBC said.
Want to get your children hooked on the active life? In these five family-friendly towns, adventure is right outside the front door.
New York City is a great place to raise a cultured, worldly kid, but when it comes to teaching them to appreciate nature, the Big Apple falls short in a big way. Though it’s geographically close to a number of quick, fantastic getaways—kayaking in the Hudson and East rivers, climbing at the Shawangunks, hiking at Bear Mountain—it doesn’t exactly make it easy to give kids the kind of consistent exposure to the wild that will encourage them to keep going outside later in life. There’s no place to store the equipment, for one. And how often can we realistically get away from the city with one or more kids in tow?
Outside Magazine talked with some parents and grandparents of adventurous kids and asked them to make the case for their hometown (or the city or town they’re scheming to move to). In making their picks, they looked for towns that had affordable housing, were close enough to the city to give kids exposure to museums and other cultural institutions, and, most importantly, had easy access to a variety of outdoor recreation. While this list is by no means comprehensive, these five cities are a solid bet for parents looking to give their kids an early entree to adventure.
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina won the platinum award for Favorite State Park in Blue Ridge Country’s 2013 Best of the Mountains travel poll, covering seven southern states in the Appalachian Mountains. Readers awarded three more platinum honors for Best Hike to Take the Dog Along, Best Birding Area and Best Beautiful Fall Foliage Spot.
Chimney Rock also received three golds for Best Hiking Trail (non-AT), Best Scenic Photo Opportunity and Best Waterfall. Chimney Rock, North Carolina, has been one of the Southeast’s most popular outdoor travel destinations for more than 100 years. View Chimney Rock’s online media gallery at chimneyrockpark.com.
Chimney Rock is perhaps best known for its 75-mile panoramic views from atop a 535-million-year-old rock monolith, conveniently accessed via an elevator inside the mountain. This family-friendly park has an abundance of scenic hiking, guided rock climbing, nature education programs and adventures worthy of summer travel vacations that attract visitors from around the world. Chimney Rock’s inspiring mountain scenery was featured in the film The Last of the Mohicans.
Held every five years, the Best of the Mountains poll features reader-selected awards, from best waterfall to best southern cooking. Ballots produced 250 platinum, gold and silver awards for cities, attractions and activities in the Blue Ridge Mountain region. Winners were announced in Blue Ridge Country’s 25(th) anniversary edition.
Brian Dirksmeier and his family came down the trail along Redfish Lake Creek, deep in the Sawtooth Mountains, surprised at where they had been in early June. They could get to places near Elephant’s Perch and near Alpine Lake much earlier than in previous years.
A lot more places will be accessible in Idaho’s high country than in previous years for the Fourth of July holiday.
In fact, in some years Dirksmeier remembers doing backcountry ski trips this time of the year. Not this summer. The Dirksmeiers weren’t the only ones surprised by the early opening of the backcountry.
“I think backpacking season is on,” avid backpacker Fred Stillman said two weeks ago after returning from the fourth Bench Lake in the Sawtooths. “We headed to Bench Lakes in an annual warm-up for the season,” he said, “I knew it was a low-snow year, but I didn’t expect no snow.”
That theme is being echoed from Lick Creek Summit near McCall to the Magruder Road in North-central Idaho.
“Lick Creek Summit opened up four weeks ago,” said Brian Harris, spokesman for the Payette National Forest. There are some years the 7,000- to 8,000-foot area north and east of McCall is still inaccessible around the Fourth of July holiday. “We’re three weeks to a month ahead of what has been typical in the past,” he said of the high country of Central Idaho.
In parts of California’s Sierra Nevada, marshy meadows are going dry, wildflowers are blooming earlier and glaciers are melting into ice fields.
Scientists also are predicting the optimal temperature zone for giant sequoias will rise hundreds and hundreds of feet, leaving trees at risk of dying over the next 100 years.
As indicators point toward a warming climate, scientists across 4 million acres of federally protected land are noting changes affecting everything from the massive trees that can grow to more than two-dozen feet across to the tiny, hamsterlike pika. But what the changes mean and whether humans should do anything to intervene are sources of disagreement among land managers.
“That’s the tricky part of the debate: If humans are causing warming, does that obligate us under the laws of the National Park Service to try to counteract those effects?” said Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
“How do you adapt to a changing climate if you’re a national park?”
We’re planning to hike a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail next summer. We’ll have a week. What are the best sections for a trip like this?
Jack Haskel is the Trail Information Specialist at the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
“There are a lot of options,” says Haskel. “It’ll come down to personal preference but it also comes down in my mind to scenery, logistics, and avoiding the crowds.” He suggests that prospective hikers start by taking a good look at a map–the PCTA has one online–to see which sections appeal to them.
For those who don’t mind company and want plenty of public transportation options to help them access the trail, Haskel recommends a classic stretch through the Sierra Nevada. “The John Muir Trail section of the Pacific Crest Trail is probably the most recommended section of the PCT,” he says. Visitors aiming for the Sierra can fly into Reno or San Francisco, or even Los Angeles, and make their way to the trail from there.
Haskel also highly recommends pretty much all of Washington state. One tactic he suggests is to pick one of the volcanoes that dot the trail through the Cascades and hike the stretch surrounding it. Good options include Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, or Mt. Jefferson.
For solitude, he recommends the Klamath Mountains in Northern California. “One place that I love to send people to because it’s beautiful mountain hiking and relatively little used is what we call the Big Bend section,” he says. The trail through this area feels remote, but it’s still accessible via the I-5 corridor.
The PCTA maintains a detailed website with resources for hikers. Check the “Find a Trip” page for tips on selecting your section.
The Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District is inviting the public to the opening of Moore Creek Park at 2607 Chiles Pope Valley Road on Sunday, June 30. The official ribbon cutting will take place at 1:00 p.m. Hikers and cyclists are welcome to participate in group hikes and rides or explore on their own.
Moore Creek Park will host about 4.7 miles of Ridge Trail anchoring a new route along Napa’s eastern ridgeline.
The opening will include a trail dedication with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. Moore Creek Park plays an important role in the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council’s “GO NORTH” trail alignment in their plan to promote and sustain a 550-mile hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trail on the ridgelines around San Francisco Bay.
Today, more than 340 Ridge Trail miles are open. The council is working to connect the full loop. When complete, the trail will connect over 75 parks and open spaces. The trail is being designed to provide access for hikers, runners, mountain bicyclists, and equestrians. It will be accessible through trailheads near major population centers, while the trail will extend into more remote areas.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working on the Ridge Trail. They partner with governments, nonprofit land trusts, and volunteer organizations in all nine Bay Area counties to help protect and preserve open space and plan, construct, and promote the Ridge Trail. The Council office is located in The Presidio, San Francisco.