On a sidewalk in the old Scottish seaport of Dunbar is a statue of a skinny rag of a boy rough-hewed in bronze. He stands in tattered clothes, right arm raised toward a halo of flying birds.
Most Americans need no introduction to the shaggy-bearded man he would become. This study of youthful freedom is John Muir, pre-eminent naturalist, author and father of America’s national parks.
Here in his homeland, however, Mr. Muir remains surprisingly little-known. Until recently there was not much to mark his memory apart from this statue and the small, white, pebble-dashed house across the road, where he was born in 1838 and which today houses the John Muir’s Birthplace museum.
Last year, Scotland inaugurated the John Muir Way, a new walking route that traverses the country west-to-east for 134 miles between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. It was conceived both to resurrect Mr. Muir in the Scottish consciousness and, as environmentalist Keith Geddes, one of the Way’s architects, explained, to “help today’s young Scots develop a relationship with the countryside around them.”
Be Aware. Outside of developed recreation areas, hunting is permitted throughout the National Forests in North Carolina. Hunters must have the proper licenses, or permits needed to hunt. Hunting is a seasonal activity and state regulations for seasons, dates and licensing apply on national forest land. For information about specific dates and times, please visit: http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting.aspx, or call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission at 919-707-0010.
Safety Tips for Non-hunters visiting National Forests
Until a few nights ago, I hadn’t thought about mountain lions much as I walked The Colorado Trail.
I’m always looking for signs left by my forest neighbors — tracks and scat in the trail and around watering places. I’m always listening and looking for what the squirrels and jays are gossiping about, but usually it’s about me. I’ve seen one bear track in 2½ months and heard one bawling out in the woods. I did have a bear in camp one night, although by the time I got out of the sleeping bag, put my headlamp on and unzipped the tent door, that bear was gone.
Lions I’ve not seen or heard. Two hikers I talked to saw mountain lions, and both times it was in the Cochetopa Hills. And both times, the cat was lazily stretched out across the trail and took off the minute it became aware of humans.
Finally topping out on the ridge, I saw a nice-looking campsite, but you know how it is: Hey, there may be something better around the next bend. So, I sauntered on down the trail. Then I stopped cold.
I had the weirdest sensation that I was being shadowed. My senses were tingling and the hair on the back of my neck was prickling. There was fresh bear scat full of berries in the trail at my feet, but that didn’t bother me at all. Bears are curious, but black bears aren’t stalkers.
No. Not a bear. Something else. That was when my mind screamed, Lion! Nothing attracts the attention of a predator like a weak or injured animal. And it was late evening, dinner time. I did a rapid-fire review of everything I knew about a lion confrontation: I couldn’t raise my arms overhead to make myself appear bigger. I couldn’t easily drop my pack and yank out the umbrella, my strongest defense. My Swiss army knife was buried somewhere inside the pack. Running wouldn’t be an option.
Next time you go trekking in the mountains, carry beet juice with you, as researchers have found for the first time that drinking beet juice can help the body cope with low levels of oxygen at high altitudes.
Mountain climbers have always struggled with a basic problem – altitude sickness, caused by lower air pressures which affect the ability of our bodies to take up oxygen. The best way to minimise the risk of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS) is acclimatization, or simply spending enough time up high to allow the body to make adjustments to lower oxygen levels.
A team of researchers decided to see how nitrate-rich beet juice might affect acclimatisation on a 39-day expedition to Kathmandu and at 3,700 metres in the Rolwaling Valley, Nepal. Normal blood vessel function depends on the body’s ability to naturally produce the compound nitric oxide (NO).
Production of adequate amounts of NO at high altitudes is a challenge since natural NO production requires oxygen. But the body has a “back-up system” for NO production at altitude, and it is here that beet juice can help. The secret ingredient in beet juice is high levels of nitrate, which the body can then convert to NO.
“Let the people walk,” reads the quote on a sign at Arches National Park, taken from Ed Abbey’s classic of nature writing, “Desert Solitaire,” about his two seasons as a ranger there.
Despite Abbey’s connection to the park, the quote is an odd choice: Arches and its location of Moab, Utah, have become virtually everything “Cactus Ed” hated. The road he opposed turned Arches into an epitome of “windshield tourism,” allowing visitors to see nearly every attraction with little effort. Once-sleepy Moab became a hub for “adventure travel” where outfitters offer mountain biking, zip lining, off-road driving – just about anything, it seems, except plain old hiking.
In “Desert Solitaire,” “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and other bestselling books, Abbey showed why wilderness should not be paved, making him a favorite of desert rats and many others.
While southeastern Utah has become more developed since Abbey’s time, travelers can still find the starkly beautiful red-rock country that drove him to rapture. This corner of the state is known for its fantastic rock formations and the wide variety of ways people enjoy the landscape, be it by foot, bike, boat or car. Moab is also unique in that it has two national parks just outside its boundaries: Canyonlands National Park and Arches are on opposite sides of U.S. 191 about 10 miles apart.
Although they share a location, Canyonlands and Arches represent dramatically different visions of what a national park can be. Canyonlands is less developed than Arches, making it more work to see.
North Carolina native Nancy Weaver has always loved the outdoors, so camping and hiking seemed natural to her.
In more than forty years of hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail, Weaver, now 88, has learned a few things: be prepared for rain and the occasional bear, pack lightly, and expect kindness from strangers. “Trail Magic,” they call it, and it comes in all forms.
She first started hiking the trail with her late husband, a Boy Scout leader, and two of their five children. Later on, they went with other couples, then she went with women friends.
Eventually, you choose a trail name or someone chooses it for you. Hers was “Lady Slipper.”
On the Appalachian Trail, you can expect rain and bears. The rain bothered her more than the bears, since hikers get drenched. A bear runs away, but the rain stays on.
When hikers finally come off the trail, they’re beyond dirty. Weaver’s husband got a ride into town one day, looking like a tramp. He got picked up anyway. Here’s where the Trail Magic comes in. One fellow hiked up to the shelter where their group was staying, hauling fresh peaches for everyone. Another placed a cooler with iced-down soft drinks on the trail, and a sign reading, “Help Yourself.”
As October gives way to November, winter begins to arrive in the high country. The fall color fades and the trees shed their leaves. The summits and peaks get their first serious dusting of snow, and dirt trails vanish under a white or leafy blanket.
As a result, hiking in the mountains changes. Backcountry exploration in late fall can present dangers that far exceed those of hiking in the summertime. Rain can quickly turn to white-out, snowy conditions – disorienting even for the most experienced of hikers.
Trails buried under snow can be difficult to follow. Ice can make the tread slippery. Steep side slopes covered in unstable snow are a recipe for a very nasty fall. And it gets dark early.
Despite the increased risks, hiking can be a pure joy in late fall. It’s easier to find solitude, which also increases your chances of glimpsing wildlife. The air is crisp and exhilarating. And with the trees bare, new views open up.
Still, hikers need to do plenty of advanced planning and take precautions before hitting the trail.
Fall is a great time to hit the trails. Colorful scenery, cooler temperatures, less bugs and lower humidity all contribute to make a very pleasant experience. But, are you ready to take to the trails?
Hiking, particularly in mountainous regions, may lead you to strenuous climbs that will require some serious integration of muscle activity. These muscles include, but are not limited to, your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, low back and abdominals. Before you can experience all these trails have to offer, you may need to put in work for the reward.
Getting yourself ready for hiking involves a three-pronged approach that includes strength training, cardiovascular training, and nutrition.
Squats and dead lifting the appropriate weight (for you) will help your body adapt to and handle the stress placed on the muscles during a hike. An adequate program will allow you to blaze the trail with very little breakdown of the body during and after the work, leaving you only with the feeling of success post hike.
Do not be fooled, moving up or down the mountain can leave you gasping for air if you are not prepared. Integrating steady bouts of cardiovascular activity that mimics the activity of hiking is a great way to prepare for hiking. An incline treadmill or a stair mill can be used to imitate a hillside climb. Just simple walking around your neighborhood is invaluable exercise.
Healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your regular diet will help sustain your body from start to finish. Depending on the length of your hike, you should consider packing a healthy snack. Protein bars or fresh fruit and nuts can easily be transported on your hike. Do not forget to hydrate properly and bring enough water for the distance you wish to travel.
Discover Dominica Authority, in collaboration with the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, has announced that a number of Dominica’s hiking trails are open.
Seven segments of the Waitukubuli National Trail, the Caribbean’s longest walking trail, are ready to welcome the adventurous hiker. Some trails were closed after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika which caused obstructions and infrastructural damage. The Forestry Division has worked tirelessly to ensure that trails are accessible. Segments Three, Four, Six, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen, totaling nearly 50 miles, are open to hikers. Trail users are advised to exercise caution when hiking the open segments of the trail as some landscape features may have changed.
Other popular attractions which involve some level of hiking are now accessible and operational. They include: Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, L’Escalier Tete Chien, Middleham Falls, Freshwater Lake, Cabrits National Park and Syndicate Nature Trail. The trek to the famous Boiling Lake-a level 4 (difficult) hike across towering mountain ranges, hot streams, hot boiling mud, mini geysers and forests-is open and considered a “must do” for the trekking enthusiast. Guides are recommended as there are landscape changes on certain trails. Hikers are encouraged to use appropriate hiking gear when trekking in Dominica.
The Forestry Division continues to assess the island’s hiking trails and will provide updates once assessments have been made and necessary repairs have been completed.
Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced a Kentucky statewide trail master plan.
The master plan would connect Kentucky’s existing 12,000 miles of trails and would allow people to hike, cycle or ride horses across the state, Jane Beshear said. The plan was put together by the Office of Adventure Tourism and will be an outline for cities and groups interested in developing trails.
In the plan, there would be webs of trails across the state, with continuous paths from east to west and north to south.
The next step will be for towns and cities to receive “trail town” designations so they can be trailheads, the governor said. Nine communities are designated as trail towns, and 30 more are applying, he said.
The plan will help local governments highlight assets, such as canoeing creeks or ATV trails, and help market the trails once they are done.
The night before Bethany Hughes started on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile hike from Mexico to Canada, she was so wired that she kept rifling through her bags. Everyone else was asleep, but Hughes thought a “real” backpacker knew where to find anything she needed. So she kept pulling out gear, then repacking it. Over and over, all night.
Eventually, another hiker said, “You’re like a 5-year-old the night before Christmas,” and her trail name of “Fidgit” was born. It has never fit better.
Five years later, the 29-year-old with the curious inability to sit still is preparing to depart on her next daring expedition: She will attempt to become the first documented woman to travel the length of the Americas — from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Barrow, Alaska — entirely by non-motorized means. The 20,000-mile trek will begin in December and take an estimated five years to complete.
Along the way, Hughes plans to spend time in local villages and bear witness to their way of life, promoting education, opportunities for women and other social issues. “I really want to inspire others to pursue their own audacious goals,” she said.
Wisconsinites might grimace at how rough winters can get these days, but 20,000 years ago much of the state was under a sheet of ice thicker than a mile in some places. This Laurentide Ice Sheet extended south of Chicago. One of the most fascinating marks it left as the ice melted was the Kettle Moraine.
A “kettle” forms when debris from a grinding glacier gathers in a deposit as the ice melts away. In this case, a chunk of ice at the center lasts a bit longer under the pile and when it finally does shrink, it creates a sunken bowl-shaped middle to the moraine. This long north-to-south area between the crushing forces of two major ice lobes — the Green Bay and Lake Michigan lobes — is so rife with them that the entire region took the term as a proper name.
Geneva and Pike lakes are two of the largest kettles. The extensive collection of moraines, eskers and kames is a natural geological textbook, and much of it has been set aside as state forest. When the mosquitoes and hot temperatures are gone for the season, hikers head for Kettle Moraine for its excellent fall colors.
Five units make up Kettle Moraine State Forest: the Northern, Southern, Lapham Peak, Loew Lake and Pike Lake units. Covering 56,000 acres, the units extend 100 miles along glacially altered lands from Elkhart Lake in the north to just south of Whitewater. But the state forest does not encompass the entire Kettle Moraine and several areas outside park borders make excellent hikes as well, particularly along the rustic footpath of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, or IAT.
Practice these four poses pre-hike to improve strength and stability for a safer journey and post-hike to ease any tight spots.
Mountain vistas, fall foliage, glistening lakes—the sights along a good trail are worth the inevitable sweat stains and muddy boots.
But beyond the aesthetic reward, hiking can also complement your yoga practice: It requires both focus and stamina, making it a powerful moving meditation.
And doing some key poses before you hit the trail will help prep you for sthira (steadiness) to maintain balance on uneven surfaces and sukha (ease) to move with fluidity and agility on the path’s twists and turns.
The National Park service is encouraging senior citizens to enjoy the outdoors. On Oct. 8, 2015 all national parks will grant complimentary access to seniors 62 and older.
“Spending time in parks has demonstrated benefits for physical and mental health, and the National Park Service is helping Americans make this connection,” says National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.
It’s part of a partnership with Humana Inc., a Louisville-based health and well-being company that is serving as the official sponsor of the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration. The park service turns 100 on Aug. 25, 2016.
“National parks are great resources offering a range of healthy experiences for people of all ages, and they represent a simple way to enjoy being healthy and active,” says Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard.
Not a senior yet? Don’t fret. The National Park Service offers several free days for visitors of all ages during the year. Plus only 127 of the 408 national parks usually charge an entrance fee.
If you are a senior, take advantage of this fee free day, and while you’re there consider purchasing a Golden Age Passport. It’s just $10 and allows access to all national parks for the rest of your life. Now that’s one of the best recreation bargains going.
Piedmont Hiking & Outing Club steps up to support new span at Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Just in time for a fall hike or backpacking trip, there’s a new bridge on Doughton Park’s Grassy Gap Trail. In the past, the crossing at Basin Creek was often difficult, with only a long, precarious log spanning the waterway for hikers. Thanks to generous donations to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation by members of the Piedmont Hiking and Outing Club, the 30-foot bridge now makes the trek safer and more accessible.
It’s an inspiring example of a group recognizing a need on the Parkway and working together to make a project a reality. Under the direction of the National Park Service, the bridge was constructed by a crew from The Student Conservation Association.
This important connector provides access to the popular Basin Creek Trail up to Caudill Cabin and the rugged Bluff Ridge Primitive Trail that leads to the Bluff Mountain shelter near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Grassy Gap Trail is also the route from Longbottom Road to the backpacker campground at the confluence of Basin and Cove creeks.
To explore this area of Doughton Park, you get there from Longbottom Road between McGrady and Traphill, make the gentle but long hiking descent from the Parkway via Grassy Gap Trail, or take a steep trek on Bluff Ridge Primitive Trail.
The UK’s oldest national trail hit its 50th birthday earlier this year, and tourism bosses are urging walkers to celebrate the anniversary by pulling on their boots and visiting the route.
The path, which runs from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, was officially opened at a ceremony on Malham Moor in the Yorkshire Dales in 1965. The trail passes through three national parks, the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty, two national nature reserves and 20 sites of special scientific interest.
Highlights include the Peak District’s highest hill Kinder Scout, scene of the 1932 mass trespass that was instrumental in the campaign to open up Britain’s hills to the walking public, Malham Cove, the 80m (260ft) limestone crag that forms a spectacular natural amphitheatre in the Yorkshire Dales, High Cup Nick, the deep chasm cutting into the Cumbrian Pennines and dubbed ‘England’s Grand Canyon’ and the nearby Cross Fell, highest point on the route and home to the a unique meteorological phenomenon, the Helm Wind.
A draw for visitors every year from both the UK and abroad, this remarkable national trail stretches through some of the most spectacular northern landscapes this country has to offer, through the Peak District and Derbyshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Northumberland and County Durham, forming an important link between many towns and rural communities.
Last week 20 people died in a wave of flash floods in southern Utah, eerily similar to a summer in Arizona 18 years ago. Of those who died, seven were in a narrow canyon in Zion National Park and another 13 were lost when their cars were swept away from around the town of Hilldale. The seven in Zion were geared up with helmets and ropes, not the most trained group, but certainly capable. The 13 from around Hilldale were drivers and passengers who found themselves unexpectedly swallowed by a flood that dammed itself with debris and then burst through Short Creek. It was the desert announcing itself yet again.
Most people don’t think of the desert as flood prone. But most people don’t live in the desert. Yet the strange, Roadrunner-cartoon topography is directly and indirectly caused by flooding. Storms break over ground that holds little vegetation. Rainwater flies across the land looking for any downhill passage. Arroyos and washes funnel together, as the contents of thunderheads arrive in tight, narrow spaces: a canyon where you can touch both walls, or a storm drain dry almost every day of the year, until suddenly it is not.
This is where the word flash comes from in flash flood. A canyon can be dry for months or even years. A storm lands far away. The water comes all at once.
Samples taken from the floods that August of ’97 were sometimes only 10 or 20 percent water. The rest was mud. The earth was being reduced and transported. Where a flood hit the town of Kanab, Utah, not far from Hilldale, a scientist waded into one of its red-brown eddies with specimen bottles. Viscous mud draped down his legs. He was wearing the earth.
The Rogue River National Recreation Trail runs 40 miles along the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River in southwestern Oregon. The route offers a variety of amazing landscapes and rewarding hiking experiences.
In addition, the western 16 miles cross the Wild Rogue Wilderness. These national designations recognize and help protect the Rogue’s outstanding scenery, fisheries, and recreational resources for present and future generations. The trail and the river are co-managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Medford District and the US Forest Service’s Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
The Salem, OR Statesman Journal describes the setting: “The mountains encase the valley in thousand-foot walls, and the river glides deep and green past wildlife, forest, and a civilization of rustic lodges built beginning in the 1930s.”
The Rogue River Trail is managed for hiking and backpacking only. Most of the trail is well constructed and has moderate grades. The average hiker takes 4-5 days to walk the 40 miles.
Backpackers will find a number of campgrounds along the way. Many campsites are sandy beaches next to the river. These sites may also be used by boaters. Private lodges along the trail can also accommodate hikers who make reservations.
Through hikers, those hiking from the Mexican border to the Canadian border or vice versa, on the Continental Divide Trail are a loosely organized, yet tight knit group.
Sometime around the second week of April, around 150 hikers depart from Silver City, N.M., bound for the Canadian border in Glacier National Park. Another 50 or so depart on the reverse journey.
Of the roughly 30 percent who finished, many wrapped up their hikes in the past couple of weeks. To celebrate, CDT Montana, a branch of the Montana Wilderness Association that works to maintain and complete portions of the trail in Montana and Idaho, hosted the Hiker Hoopla, a sort of end-of-year hurrah to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. Held just off Marias Pass at the Summit Mountain Lodge, the Hoopla was a chance for hikers to reconnect with other hikers they met along the way.
Thru hikers faced an epic year on the CDT. Many were delayed by the fires burning in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and elsewhere on their route, and nearly everyone battled the deep snowpack in Colorado. Thru hikers are a diverse group with many stories to tell. Hikers typically earn a trail name sometime during their journey, and most are best known to other hikers by that name.
Through a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, West Virginia University will conduct voluntary surveys of visitors recreating on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.
Beginning Oct. 1, 2015 WVU students, and employees will host survey stations at developed recreation areas, trailheads, and along Forest Service roads. People who agree to participate in the survey will not be asked their names, and all responses are confidential. The basic interview lasts about eight minutes, and every other visitor is asked additional questions related either to economics or satisfaction, which may take an additional five minutes.
The information gained from the survey will aid the Forest Service in analyzing recreation needs and trends and assist state and local governments with tourism strategies and planning. In addition, the survey will provide National Forest managers, partners, and Congress with an estimate of how many people recreate on federal lands and what activities they enjoy while there. Other important information includes how satisfied people are with their visit to the national forest and the economic benefits on the local economy. The data gathered by this program is also used, along with other factors, in determining how funds for recreation management are allocated to the national forests.
Although the survey is entirely voluntary, the Forest Service hopes as many people as possible will stop to answer survey questions. It is important that the Forest Service gather information from both the local and out-of-area national forest users so that all types of visitors are accurately represented in the study. There are about 300 survey dates scheduled beginning October 1 and continuing through September 30, 2016.