Hiking News

Lighten Your Pack with These 20 Ultralight Equivalents

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 @ 2:36 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

If you’re new to the world of ultralight backpacking, baseweight numbers in the 5-10 lb range can sound like a hoax. These guys had to be skimping on essential gear somewhere to get their packs so light, right? Turns out after years of research, it is possible to have an ultralight pack with the same basic functionality and safety features as a traditional pack. You’ve just got to think a little outside the box.

In the linked article is a stereotypical traditional backpacking gear list. While this certainly won’t be representative of everyone’s situation, hopefully it still helps illustrate the points. For each gear item or group of items, they’ve also listed the ultralight equivalent and potential weight savings (detailed notes on exactly which models were compared are at the end of the article).

You could take all of the ultralight versions without noticing any appreciable change in the performance of your gear. Again, opinions and personal preferences will differ, but the primary goal is to show that there are plenty of ways to save weight without sacrificing function or safety.

Ready to lighten your load?

 

The Army Veteran Who Became the First to Hike the Entire Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 @ 12:28 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Army Veteran Who Became the First to Hike the Entire Appalachian Trail

 

 

 

Carry as little as possible,” Earl Shaffer said. “But choose that little with care.”

Shaffer was a World War II veteran, who, in 1948, became the first person to walk the entire Appalachian Trail. He was so picky about gear that he ditched his own cumbersome tent, sleeping in a poncho for months instead. He was particularly enamored of his Russell Moccasin Company “Birdshooter” boots, which bore him all the way from Georgia to Maine. (By contrast, modern through hikers may chew through two or three pairs of newfangled Gortex contraptions.) He paused often to sew, grease and patch his footwear, and twice had the soles replaced at shops along the route.

The boots today are still redolent of 2,000 miles of toil. (Shaffer frequently went without socks.) “They are smelly,” confirms Jane Rogers, an associate curator at the National Museum of American History, where these battered relics reside. “Those cabinets are opened as little as possible.”

Perhaps the most evocative artifact from Shaffer’s journey, though, is an item not essential for his survival: a rain-stained and rusted six-ring notebook. “He called it his little black book,” says David Donaldson, author of the Shaffer biography A Grip on the Mane of Life. (Shaffer died in 2002, after also becoming the oldest person to hike the whole trail, at age 79, in 1998.) “The fact that he was carrying those extra five or six ounces showed how important it was to him.”

First and foremost, Shaffer, who was 29 at the time, used the journal as a log to prove that he had completed his historic hike. The Appalachian Trail, which marks its 80th anniversary this summer, was then a new and rather exotic amenity. Some outdoorsmen said that it could never be traversed in a single journey.

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Meet the woman who designs Colorado’s highest trails

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 @ 9:32 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Meet the woman who designs Colorado’s highest trails

What do you see when you look at a trail? Dirt and rocks? A line sketched across the landscape by 100,000 footsteps? The adventure of some not-yet-visible lake or summit or cirque?

Master Forest Service trail designer Loretta McEllhiney sees those things, too. But she also believes that a good trail is about controlling two unstoppable forces: People flowing up a mountain, and water flowing down.

“Sideslope,” McEllhiney says helpfully. That’s why she’s picked this route for a new trail on the southern toe of Colorado’s Mount Elbert: The land here is steep enough that the path contouring across it will be the only place you can walk without tumbling over, and water will drain easily off its downhill edge, instead of scouring a trench down its center. “Sideslope,” McEllhiney concludes “really helps confine people onto a bench.”

The official South Mount Elbert Trail that this route will replace, meanwhile, is a textbook example of what happens when walkers and water run amok. Colorado has 54 peaks over 14,000 feet high — its famous “Fourteeners” — and Mount Elbert is the tallest, rising to 14,433 feet from the bulky Sawatch Range just southwest of Leadville. People once drove to its summit in jeeps, and climbers eager to tag the state’s highest point followed the same straight-up route. Today, above treeline, the trail is a series of nasty-looking parallel trenches and denuded patches of tundra that McEllhiney calls a “catclaw” — 21 feet wide here, 13 there, knee-deep in places.

Over the next three years, professional trail crews and volunteers will close and revegetate 2 miles of this mess, and build more than 3 miles of new tread that McEllhiney and her seasonal assistant, Dana Young, have designed. They’ll use landscape elements like sideslope and structures like rock retaining walls to keep people on the right path and protect fragile alpine plants and thin topsoil. It’s one of 42 new “sustainable” routes on the Fourteeners that McEllhiney has conceived as the Forest Service’s Fourteener program manager.

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Pack it in, pack it out

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 @ 9:14 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Pack it in, pack it out

Summer is the peak time for hiking all across the country. Not co­incidentally it also is the peak time for littering along trails.

Hiking has always been a popular pastime in a country rich with majestic forests, breathtaking views and well-maintained trails to suit just about any taste and fitness level.

But in recent years use of them has soared for a number of reasons, including publicity given to some trails, most notably the iconic long distance trails that was featured in popular books and movies; increased population; increased tourism and promotion of local hiking trails by communities eager to encourage visitors to linger longer.

Along with increased use has come increased litter: food wrappers; paper and plastic bags; Kleenex, paper towels and even toilet paper; plastic water bottles and food scraps.

Even people who otherwise are conscientious about following the “pack it in, pack it rule” argue that it’s all right to leave apple cores, orange peels, pistachio and peanut shells and other food scraps along hiking trails and at view points. One hiker debating this issue on social media maintained: “If it’s organic, it’s not littering.”

This is not true. Garbage is garbage, whatever form it comes in. If there’s any uncertainty about this, there’s a simple rule of thumb: “If I were at home, would I throw this on my living room floor?” If the answer is no, then it’s garbage.

While it’s true that organic items will eventually decay, there are grave misperceptions about how long this will take. Not only that, fruit waste are simply non-native food supplies for wildlife. In many cases, their digestive systems are not meant to handle an orange peel or nut shell.

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The Rule of 200 Feet and Other Campsite Tips

Posted by on Jul 9, 2017 @ 12:12 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Rule of 200 Feet and Other Campsite Tips

You’ve hiked all day and you’re ready to create a pop-up home for the night. Maybe you have the perfect backcountry campsite in mind. Maybe not. Maybe it’s already been snagged by other hikers.

If you have to set up camp at the end of a day on trail, do you know what you’re looking for? How well do you know your Leave No Trace principles?

Try to plan your route and your intended campsites before you go, and mark them on your map. It’s also not a bad idea to have a few locations in mind, in case one is occupied.

When it’s not possible to camp in your intended location, use this easy rule to help you choose a great campsite and set up your camp stations.

  • Tent: 200 feet from trail, water, food storage, dishwashing, toilet
  • Food Storage: 200 feet from tent, dishwashing, toilet
  • Dishwashing: 200 feet from tent, water, trail, food storage, toilet
  • Toilet: 200 feet from tent, trail, water, food storage, dishwashing

Learn more here…

 

Lycian Way: Hike through the best trekking route in Turkey

Posted by on Jul 9, 2017 @ 8:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Lycian Way: Hike through the best trekking route in Turkey

The Lycians built scads of city-states on the coast of the Mediterranean and formed the Lycian League to compete with other naval powers at the time. They were conquered by Alexander the Great and got Hellenized, much like everywhere else in between Athens and India.

The Lycian Greeks governed themselves democratically, grew lots of olives, minted coins, and built a lot of tombs. They had a thing about death, it is clear even in major cities like Fethiye you can find thousand-year-old sarcophagi in the middle of traffic roundabouts.

Fethiye, along with a few other places down south, has tombs carved into cliff walls, not unlike Jordan’s Petra. After the Lycians, it was the Romans, and after the Romans, it was the Byzantines; thus following the pattern of history everywhere in this country.

Lycia though had a distinct culture, and they left their imprint on the land. Hulking walls, tombs and crumbling castles dot the coast. Kate Clow saw a golden opportunity. Alongside teams of local and foreign volunteers, she bushwhacked through goat paths and mule trails and solid scrubby thorny brush to create a trail through the ancient kingdom of Lycia.

Her vision was to see the coast as the Lycians saw it, and as the shepherds of the mountain villages still see it – at walking speed. And so the Lycian Way was born – a 500ish kilometer-long trail from Fethiye to Antalya, weaving through rural coastal towns and ruins alike.

Clow wrote a guidebook, The Lycian Way, so detailed that she’ll describe the width of the path, the kinds of landmarks you’ll see and how long each stretch of trails should take.

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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…

 

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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