Minnesota-based Granite Gear announced this month it will sponsor a crew of 15 dedicated “Leave No Trace” thru-hikers to clean up America’s hiking trails.
The brand selected its Grounds Keepers team to build on the success of the 2015 and 2016 Packing It Out (PIO) initiatives, which removed more than 1,700 pounds of trash from the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails.
The Superior Hiking Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, and Arizona Trail are among those set for cleanup this year. Grounds Keepers will also pack out trash along the AT and PCT.
The Grounds Keepers team is composed of experienced thru-hikers who have already traversed major trails. The first of the 2017 missions launched in January.
Last year, Seth Orme and Paul Twedt finished a thru-hike of the PCT. They searched, found, and packed out trash along the way. The year before that, the duo hiked the AT and hauled out more than 1,000 pounds of refuse.
Eric Piggott of Washington hiked to the top of Mailbox Peak for his birthday this week – to replace a missing, legendary mailbox with a new, donated one.
“The last time I saw the previous box was three weeks ago on my last hike there,” Piggott said. “In my talks with various people, I’ve learned that there have been as many as eight other mailboxes over the years.”
The box at Mailbox Peak has drawn hikers for years. Hikers inscribed their names on the old mailbox, leaving treats and touching mementos. A 2008 Seattle Times report on the difficult hike says references to the mailbox began in the early 1990s.
The latest mailbox may have been swept away by recent high winds. If it’s found, the Department of Natural Resources would appreciate its return.
“Signing the box is a right of passage for those scaling the trail,” Piggott said. “The old box was covered from front to back in signatures. People also left treats for other hikers to come such as cliff bars or candy. In the past I’ve found little trinkets, snacks – even mementos of loved ones who enjoyed hiking but had passed away.”
Piggott likes to leave snacks for others to enjoy once reaching the top. The hike is a challenging one: steep and around 4,000 vertical feet from the trailhead to the peak.
For the past several years, Friends of South Cumberland has presented a hiking challenge each year, designed to encourage visitors to explore South Cumberland State Park’s over 25,500 acres scattered across four counties. Last year’s challenge was called Hike Into History and focused on historical aspects of the park.
This year’s challenge, Hiking in Mack’s Tracks, is dedicated to Tennessee’s well-known and admired State Naturalist Emeritus Mack Prichard. It recognizes the extensive work he has done across Tennessee, but especially in the South Cumberland region, as an advocate for nature.
The Friends of South Cumberland will host a kickoff event Feb. 25, 2017 at the Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City. At a 9:30 a.m. brunch, memberships (new or renewing) will be offered with a $5 discount. Following brunch, you can head over to the South Cumberland State Park visitors center on Highway 41 in Monteagle to catch a shuttle to Raven Point for a hike on the newly rerouted section of the Fiery Gizzard Trail. This will save you 8 miles of hiking in and out from the Grundy Forest trailhead just to get to that section of trail.
Again this year, there will be two categories of hikes: the Discovery Series and the Adventurer Series. The Discovery Series hikes are family-friendly, easy-to-moderate, self-guided hikes that follow some of the same routes where Prichard led expeditions in the 1970s when generating support for the creation of the park.
Hiking through deep snow, especially in remote locations where trails haven’t been packed down, is a great workout, but it can be frustrating.
Let’s start with the obvious. You’re going to sink down into the snow. There’s no avoiding that. But if you wear snowshoes, you won’t sink down quite as far as you would if you were just wearing boots.
Snowshoes come in all shapes and sizes. There are snowshoes with traction spikes — also known as crampons — which help gain purchase when climbing hills. When selecting snowshoes, keep in mind that different sizes of shoes are made to handle people of different weights. Heavier people will want bigger snowshoes. Also, if you’re dealing with deep snow, you’ll generally want bigger snowshoes because the increased surface area helps you stay afloat.
Why walk on two legs when you can essentially have four? In deep snow, it’s much easier to snowshoe if you use trekking poles, which will help you maintain balance and gain traction uphill.
In addition, it’s important to put snow baskets on your trekking poles. Snow baskets are little round devices that fasten to the ends of trekking poles and prevent them from tunneling all the way down to the frozen ground.
Here are a few more things to consider before hitting the trails after heavy snowfall…
After an unproductive meeting between Gov. Gary Herbert and outdoor recreation business representatives, industry leaders say they hope to find a new location for the Outdoor Retailer shows “as soon as possible.”
“Unfortunately, what we heard from Governor Herbert was more of the same,” according to a written statement by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), which has close ties to the massive, twice-yearly shows in Salt Lake City.
“It is clear that the Governor indeed has a different perspective on the protections of public lands from that of our members and the majority of Western state voters, both Republicans and Democrats — that’s bad for our American heritage, and it’s bad for our businesses. We are therefore continuing our search for a new home as soon as possible.”
The show’s owner, Emerald Expositions, said in a news release that it would not include Utah in its request for proposals from cities hoping to host the trade shows, which bring about 40,000 visitors and $45 million to Salt Lake City each year.
OIA director Amy Roberts said “it is important to our membership, and to our bottom line that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.”
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recognized Roan Mountain State Park, located off TN Hwy. 143, as the 2016 Park of the Year for its demonstrated excellence in innovation, sustainability, interpretation, resource management and fiscal responsibility.
“All 56 Tennessee State Parks strive and succeed in achieving our mission to preserve and protect unique examples of natural, cultural and scenic areas,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill. “But Roan Mountain went above and beyond in 2016 thanks to the talent and skills of park staff and creative partnerships with local communities.”
In 2016, the park was designated an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). Roan Mountain is only the second community to receive this prestigious designation in the state, which highlights the park as a premier destination for hikers to access the Appalachian Trail. Over the course of the year, the park also strengthened its partnerships with the local community through the Carter County Tourism Committee, Chamber of Commerce and the Roan Mountain Citizens Club (RMCC) to enhance visitor experiences.
“Roan Mountain State Park is an iconic and enchanting park on Tennessee’s eastern border that offers experiences like no other for our visitors,” said Robin Peeler, East Tennessee parks area manager. “This recognition is not only a testament to the innovative ideas of park staff, but also the participation and energy the local community brings for this beautiful place.”
National Park of American Samoa, 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, is spread over parts of Tutuila, Ta’u and Ofu. It attracted 13,892 visitors last year, about what Yosemite gets in a summer day.
Probably fewer than 300 of them found their way to the park’s greatest asset, a beach on Ofu with creamy sands, volcanic boulders, serrated mountain ridges and turquoise shallows.
Although the park does have rangers, trails and a few miles of road, there are no campgrounds or lodgings, no snack bar, no shuttle buses, no entrance gate, no admission fee — few of the conventions that Americans imagine when they hear the words “national park.”
“It’s probably the most remote culture you can visit that’s still in the U.S.,” park superintendent Scott Burch says. “It’s the only paleotropical rain forest in the U.S.
The park is 9,000 or so acres of rain forest and about 4,000 acres of coral reefs. Look for unusual wildlife like flying foxes (a.k.a. fruit bats) that steal bananas and papayas; the crown-of-thorns starfish that gobbles coral and wears a fearsome exoskeleton of venomous spikes; and the giant coconut crab, which climbs trees, weighs as much as 9 pounds, looks like “the world’s largest bug” and is prized as a delicacy.
It’s hard to pin down a specific stretch of coastline as the most scenic – isn’t the whole thing beautiful? – but then again, it’s hard to argue against Boardman State Park for the honor.
Officially the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, the 12-mile stretch of coastline runs along the southernmost part of the Oregon coast, encompassing high cliffs, stunning seastacks, beautiful beaches and secret coves.
The area – once slated to become a national park – was established in the 1950s, named in honor of Samuel H. Boardman, the “father” of Oregon’s state park system, on the eve of his retirement.
Boardman was a key figure in the development of public lands in Oregon. He “felt a great responsibility to protects scenery for future generations.”
While many in the state and national government looked at parks as places of recreation, rather than preservation, Boardman was a staunch advocate for conservation and minimal development on park lands, arguing that “strange as it may seem, the more the world civilizes the primitive, the more barbaric we become.”
Alright, so you’ve decided you want to go hike a mountain. Even the most fit person needs to be sure they’re prepared to start hiking — as climbing that big hill takes a lot more endurance than your average gym session.
Your first hike requires you to not only be physically fit, but also mentally fit and prepared. What if one of your friends comes up and says “I did it — I bought myself some hiking gear — let’s go!”
Well friend, that really is fantastic, but get prepared because having the right gear is just one of the most important steps to getting fit for your first weekend hike.
Since hiking your first mountain can be a daunting task in itself (seriously, it will singlehandedly be one of the most physically and mentally enduring tasks you’ve ever done — but don’t worry, it gets easier over time), here is a list of the top 7 Ways to Get Fit for Your Weekend Hike.
And remember.. the reward at the top isn’t only the view — it’s the sheer fact that you will be beaming with pride for having reached the summit.
If you’d polled Kimberley Brookshire’s friends a couple years ago, they’d likely have said the chances were slim to none that the Charlotte resident would ever think seriously about leaving it all behind to hike more than 2,000 miles through North Carolina.
“I wasn’t much of an outdoors person,” said Brookshire, 32.
But she is now. Last fall, Brookshire became the first woman to complete a “yoyo hike” of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. In plain English, she hiked the 1,200-mile route from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks and then turned around to do the whole thing over again. She finished the trek in November 2016, 206 days after setting out solo.
After years of working in the fashion industry — as a magazine writer and then as a teacher of young girls — Brookshire had the itch to try something different. She’d recently discovered that she enjoyed day hiking, and with the beginning of 2015 she resolved to try a long-distance hike, something that was completely outside of her comfort zone. The next year was devoted to reading books, gathering gear and taking survival courses.
Finally, she was ready. She took leave from her job as a nanny, sublet her apartment and embarked solo on the cross-state trek.
“At first it was terrifying,” Brookshire said. “I had never camped by myself or spent the night outside by myself except for maybe once at my house to practice, so it was a little strange. All the noises — I just know it was something that was going to come and eat me or tear my tent apart. It took about two weeks to really feel good in my tent.
“After that I slept the best I’d ever slept in my life.”
Forty years ago this week, state and federal officials in Missouri issued a dry document to announce a grand ambition.
In a 43-page proposal dated February 7, 1977, they stated their aim to blaze a footpath through the Ozarks, the rugged highlands that roll across southern Missouri. It wouldn’t be easy. The native flora, fauna, terrain and certain human occupants made that area, for hiking purposes, hostile territory.
The planners envisioned an “Ozark Trail” that could start near St. Louis and snake its way south over the region’s hills and hollers toward Arkansas, using as much public land as possible. An eastern spur would swing across Johnson Shut-Ins and Missouri’s highest point, Taum Sauk Mountain.
The state felt pressure to deliver such a corridor. In places like St. Louis, hiking was booming. Folks now enjoyed the requisite free time (thanks to labor reforms) and mobility (thanks to automobiles and interstates) to wheel out to the countryside, tramp around and breathe the forest air.
But the Ozark Trail remains unfinished today. It’s not that demand for hiking trails has flagged. According to the DNR’s most recent citizen survey, “trails are the most popular type of outdoor recreation facility in Missouri and the one that residents most want to see increased.”
No, the Ozark Trail isn’t finished, and perhaps never will be, because the last third is the most daunting: The trail must somehow traverse seven gaps of mostly private property — a combined 162 miles through eight different counties — and in a region that has historically cast a suspicious eye toward government, outsiders and recreation projects.
Adventures in the American Southwest are trips of a lifetime that will challenge you physically and engross you spiritually, leaving an unforgettable and enduring impression of the richest wild places on the planet. The Southwest contains literally thousands of amazing hikes. Therefore, Southwest Discoveries decided to separate the wheat from the chaff and give you the absolute cream of the crop. They rounded up 7 of the Grandest Adventures in the Southwest, treks they have experienced firsthand.
As you immerse yourself in this landscape, you will understand why hiking in the Southwest should be on every adventurer’s travel list. Experiencing it fully isn’t just about putting one foot in front of another; it’s about stepping into the geology, history and stupendous scenery of canyon country.
First up on our list of the 7 Grandest Adventures in the Southwest, Buckskin Gulch. Trekking Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon is about walking down narrow gorges; places where sunlight seldom enters obscured from even the most intrepid of hikers. When you journey down these two canyons you enter the sublime.
The Paria Canyon – Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness beckons adventurers who hanker for solitude, scenic glory and the chance to explore some of the most majestic canyons in the world. Serpentine red rock walls are streaked with desert varnish and canyons are so narrow in places that the sky is reduced to a narrow ribbon of blue. Navajo Sandstone cliffs tower 1,500 feet overhead. Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the world.
It took the world a long time to discover Patagonia, the trendy adventure area shared by both southern Chile and Argentina. While other mountaineers had been hiking and climbing the Alps and Rockies for over a century, Patagonia wasn’t explored much until the 1980s. In fact, the recreational area didn’t become mainstream until the 21st century, when more accessible transportation, lodging and tourist amenities were finally added.
What’s all the fuss about? In between knife-like mountains, this is arguably the best place in the world to see moving glaciers. It is also a great place to meet gentle but playful people.
When people say they’re “going to Patagonia,” they usually mean the massifs of either Torres Del Paine (pronounced “Piney”) in Chile or Fitz Roy in Argentina. After all, greater Patagonia is nearly twice the size of Texas and mostly barren.
What makes these mountains so special, then? 1) Both have vertical drops of around 10,000 feet from the viewing floor, which appears more impressive than mountains of equal height but with lesser prominence. 2) These peaks are more like steeples than the traditional triangles you’re used to seeing. Like mountain-sized shanks dusted with powdered sugar. This effect makes them appear more sinister than other ranges. Indeed, one indigenousness interpretation of Paine reputedly means “don’t go there.”
Perito Moreno Glacier may be the most impressive and powerful sight you will ever see (and hear). Massive doesn’t begin to describe it.
From lowering blood pressure and decreasing anxiety to reducing the risk of a heart disease diagnosis or reversing the course of diabetes, the benefits of hiking are numerous.
The American Hiking Society also includes weight loss, stabilizing cholesterol levels and reversing the effects of osteoporosis among the many benefits. Hiking can be more than a good time — it can be good for you.
Novice hikers, however, might not want to go it alone on the trails, and that’s where hike leaders come in.
One of the most important traits to being a good hike leader is to be able to provide a perimeter of structure and direction without controlling every aspect of the hike. You must be informed and have good hiking skills, survival skills, first aid experience, and ability to be flexible with the situations as they arrive.
Risk management skills are a priority. Reviewing the trails, trail maps, and possible alternative trail access ahead of time is crucial. The ability to review hiker’s expectations and skillset prior to an event will better ensure that there is a good match between the hike and the hikers. A good leader must be prepared for a variety of situations before they occur so that you can minimize and, hopefully, prevent unpleasant or unsafe situations from occurring in the first place.
Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) for five Friday hikes offered to the public, free of charge, this spring.
The community is invited to enjoy the beauty of our Carolinas with PAC. Come see what the work of many conservation organizations have done for the preservation of area natural resources and take in the beauty of the arrival of spring.
Starting February 17, 2017 PAC’s first trek will head to DuPont State Forest for an approximately 7-mile, easy, loop hike. The trail will lead hikers along old roadbeds, through a managed pine forest and past Thomas cemetery, named for the family that lived near the site in the 19th century. Hikers will take a short jaunt to view Wintergreen Falls, and then return to the main loop, making their way back to the parking area.
On March 3, the hike will take place in Pisgah National Forest, along the Coontree loop and Bennett Gap trails. On this moderate, 6.6-mile hike in the shape of a lollipop, participants will enjoy terrific views of the surrounding mountains along Bennett Gap before descending and completing the journey with a walk along Coontree Creek.
On March 17, the group will head to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area for a 5.6-mile, moderate, out and back hike along the Pinnacle Pass and Naturaland Trust trails to Moonshine Falls.
On March 31, hikers head back to Pisgah National Forest for a moderate 8-mile, loop hike starting from the Davidson River Campground. The hike will follow the Davidson River to the North Slope trail through a dense deciduous forest, and then veer onto the Connector trail to the Art Loeb trail which follows Shut-in Ridge before heading back down to the campground and parking area.
Finally, on April 14, the group heads to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a 6.8-mile, moderate hike along Asbury Trail which straddles the boundary between the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Appalachian Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.
If you are interested in attending the PAC spring hikes and would like more information, please call the PAC office at 828-859-5060 or e-mail [email protected] You can also find information on PAC’s website, www.pacolet.org, and on PAC’s Facebook page.
PAC invites the public to participate in a “Hiking Challenge.” Complete all five of the hikes this spring and receive a custom bumper sticker acknowledging your accomplishment.
PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds.
Unified Warrior Foundation is planning a Continental Divide Trail hike, beginning in late March 2017.
“Unless the issue of veteran suicide is constantly kept in the minds of Americans, it will silently disappear as many important issues do because of the vast amount of information we all have to compete with,” said Eshleman. “Keeping this issue alive is a fight in itself. Just as we fought for our brothers in combat, we must continue to fight to bring assistance and improvement to the current processes and solutions for them and their families.”
Unified Warrior Foundation has chosen foundations they work with to assist veterans. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), America’s Fund and Guardian Overwatch have all demonstrated their commitment to helping veterans. These organizations will be featured in Podcasts delivered from the trail over the five-month journey.
An additional endeavor for this hike from the Canadian border in Northwest Montana to the Mexico border in Southeast New Mexico will be to pass on the benefits of the outdoors and a little knowledge to the youth in the U.S.; many who have never or may never have the opportunity to see this part of America and be involved in something so important.
Just a few clicks on a website and people can access information on 2,958 miles of trails in Kansas.
That’s right, trails that you can hike, run, bike, or horseback ride. With a few more seconds worth of clicks you can find which trails are within an hour of your house, which ones you can complete in a half-day and which ones are graveled or paved.
You can also learn what’s happening, that day or in the near future, for more than 30 outdoor activities ranging from archery shoots to wildlife viewing from all corners of Kansas, hosted by some of 119 orgaanizations. It’s all on getoutdoorskansas.org.
“Basically it’s a website that provides a free, and quick, way for organizations or individuals to post their outdoors events. It also for the public to view those activities or find any trail we have,” said Mike Goodwin, of the Kansas Trails Council and originator of the online idea.
Goodwin said the project has about filled his original dream of better trail education, and proved his thought that Kansas had more miles of trails than most realized.
All of those miles have been walked, biked, floated or ridden with GPS units to get exact readings for locations and length. Trails range from paved city park walks of a few hundred yards to the Flint Hills Nature Trail, which is 117 miles long.
Did the fires hurt wildlife?
The impact will unlikely be large enough to affect overall populations, and long-term the fires will result in a flush of green in the understory that will ultimately benefit wildlife.
Will the fires increase the chance of flooding and landslides?
With more than a month elapsed since the report’s Dec. 12 completion and multiple heavy rains in the rear-view mirror, there haven’t seemed to be any issues. Many areas that the team completing the report initially observed to have water-repellent soil seem to be absorbing water much more readily.
Is a spring fire season likely?
To a degree, the fire season could depend on the scruples of people in the area. Of the 20-plus fires that burned through WNC last fall, only one is thought to have resulted from natural causes. The rest were caused by humans, either accidentally or on purpose.
How did the fires affect the Appalachian Trail?
South of the Smokies, 58 miles of the A.T. run through North Carolina. Of those 58 miles, 26 miles were part of the burned area. Of those 26 miles, about 90 percent experienced pretty mild burning, about the same level you’d get with a prescribed burn. However, about 10 percent burned hot, consuming wooden anti-erosion features on the trail and creating hazards like holes in the ground and dead trees.
Are you sick of going to bed late and waking up tired? Then grab your hiking boots and a tent. A new study suggests that a couple days of camping in the great outdoors can reset your circadian clock and help you get more sleep.
The circadian clock is an internal clock that tells your body when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Scientists track this clock by measuring the amount of melatonin circulating in a person’s blood at any given time.
In a healthy sleeper, melatonin levels rise a few hours before bedtime, stay high through the night, and then settle back down to daytime levels when it’s time to wake up. The span of time when melatonin levels are elevated is known as biological night.
In our modern society biological night does not usually coincide with night in the natural world. Most of us stay up many hours past sunset and would probably sleep in many hours after sunrise if we could.
Researchers recruited 14 physically active volunteers in their 20s and 30s. Nine went on a weekend camping trip, while the other five stayed home. At the end of the weekend, the authors monitored the volunteers’ melatonin levels to see if there had been any shift in the timing of their biological night.
The researchers report that in just two days, the campers’ circadian clocks shifted so that their melatonin levels began to rise more than an hour earlier then they did in the days before they left on the trip.
The first person to hike the full length of the Appalachian Trail, a white man named Earl V. Shaffer, wanted to “walk the Army out of his system.” That was in 1948. Since the 1970s, when 775 hikers completed the trail, the number of “thru-hikers” has doubled each decade so that in the 2000s, close to 6,000 hikers covered all 2,190 miles.
Most of those people still look like Shaffer—they’re white men. Only about a quarter of thru-hikers are women, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and though there’s little information about the racial breakdown of thru-hikers, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of them are white.
Last year, Rahawa Haile, a writer now based in Oakland, California, became one of the very few black women to attempt to hike the entire trail. (She was able to find exactly one other attempting the feat in 2016.) In March, she began in Georgia, the more popular end of the trail to start on, and by the middle of October had hiked its entire length. She carried along with her, too, a series of books by black authors, which she left in trail shelters along the way.
Haile spoke to Atlas Obscura about the challenges and joys of hiking all those miles and the particular experience of being one of the few people of color spending months on the trail.