Hiking News

Hiking the Appalachian Trail: Boots not made for Pennsylvania

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 @ 8:12 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania is “where boots go to die,” and “lots of people leave Pennsylvania limping and bruised.”

After traversing all 220 miles of the AT in the Keystone State, both statements are indeed accurate. The reason is entirely geological, owing to the amazing jumble of rocks of all types, sizes and shapes – known scientifically as felsenmeer – that make up the progressively more difficult mountain terrain.

The Pennsylvania rocks at best have hikers stumbling about much like a drunken sailor for miles at a time; at worst the jagged rocks grab and tear at boots, twist ankles, snap trekking poles, bloody shins, sap spirits and exhaust already weary walkers. Take a fall on the nasty rocks, and all bets are off.

The trail enters Pennsylvania on South Mountain and follows its long ridges north through the piney woods of 85,500-acre Michaux State Forest. Several state parks punctuate the route through the forest.

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Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises ire

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 @ 2:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

When Jackson Spencer set out to tackle the Appalachian Trail, he anticipated the solitude that only wilderness can bring — not a rolling, monthslong frat party.

Shelters where he thought he could catch a good night’s sleep while listening to the sounds of nature were instead filled with trash, graffiti and people who seemed more interested in partying all night, said Spencer, who finished the entire trail last month in just 99 days.

“I wanted the solitude. I wanted to experience nature,” he said. “I like to drink and to have a good time, but I didn’t want that to follow me there.”

Spencer, or “Mission” as he is known to fellow thru-hikers, confronted what officials say is an ugly side effect of the increasing traffic on the Georgia-to-Maine footpath every year: More people than ever causing problems.

At Maine’s Baxter State Park, home to the trail’s final summit on Mount Katahdin, officials say thru-hikers are flouting park rules by openly using drugs and drinking alcohol, camping where they aren’t supposed to, and trying to pass their pets off as service dogs. Hundreds of miles away, misbehaving hikers contributed to a small Pennsylvania community’s recent decision to shutter the sleeping quarters it had offered for decades in the basement of its municipal building.

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This Land Is Our Land

Posted by on Aug 30, 2015 @ 4:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

by Nicholas Kristof for the NY Times

Most of the time in America, we’re surrounded by oppressive inequality, such that the wealthiest 1 percent collectively own substantially more than the bottom 90 percent. One escape from that is America’s wild places.

At a time when so much else in America is rationed by price, egalitarianism thrives in the wilderness. On the trail, no one can pull rank on you — except a grizzly bear. (In that case, be very deferential!)

Wilderness trails constitute a rare space in America marked by economic diversity. Lawyers and construction workers get bitten by the same mosquitoes and sip from the same streams; there are none of the usual signals about socioeconomic status, for most hikers are in shorts and a T-shirt, and enveloped by an aroma that would make a skunk queasy.

Car campers often pay fees. But there are almost never fees for backpackers in the real wilderness. Instead, you pay in sweat and blisters. In that respect, the wilderness reflects a vision for America that is more democratic than just about any other space in our country.

Wilderness offers therapy for the soul as just about the last fully egalitarian place in America. Here we all stand equal — before the bears and the mosquitoes. And there’s a lesson here worth emulating for the rest of America.

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Washington Wildfires: How and Where To Hike Safely

Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 @ 12:39 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

As August winds down into September, summer days in Seattle, WA are still long but the temperatures have cooled off, making it the perfect time to get outside for one last hurrah before summer officially comes to a close. The only problem? It’s also prime wildfire season—and this year is no exception. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that the biggest wildfire in Washington’s history is currently raging in the northeast part of the state.

Even so, this doesn’t mean adventurous types can’t venture into the outdoors, but you’ll have to do a little more planning to avoid the fire zones. The first thing to be aware of is which areas of Washington are blazing; it’s generally a good idea to keep healthy distance from these areas, both for your own safety and to stay out of the way of fire-fighting operations that are already stretched thin.

The biggest burn right now is a group of fires near the North Cascades known as the Okanogan Complex, which started on August 15. 2015 and currently covers more than 280,000 acres. Among others, there are also large fires in Chelan, near the Colville Indian Reservation, and the Umatilla National Forest near Walla Walla.

Here, the rundown on the Washington wildfires, plus resources and tips to help you figure out where to go and how to stay safe on your end-of-summer outdoor excursions in Seattle and beyond.

 

Top 25 Australian hiking tips

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 @ 5:53 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

You have arrived at the campsite after the first of five long days walking. The view is spectacular as the sun dips between the surrounding peaks, sending shafts of light splintering across the valley.

You delve into your hastily loaded pack, glancing at the surrounds and wondering if life could be any better. Then you reel in horror – your hand hits a wet patch, deep in what should be dry territory. You delve further, only to find a soaking sleeping-bag.

The culprit is a cracked water bottle. It will be a long, cold night. The cardboard packaging that houses the rice you had planned to eat for dinner is also wet and has created a soggy mess down one side of your pack. You sit to compose your thoughts and remove your boots – a lace snaps.

To top it off, as the sun disappears and the cold silence of the evening engulfs you, you can’t remember where you packed your head torch, the ignition on your new stove is not working and the only matches you have are also wet. What should have been a magical evening has turned into an uncomfortable affair.

What lessons could be learned from those who have experienced such wild and unforeseen moments for years? Those who walk often develop habits and routines through extensive experience; handy tips that most often remain a mystery to us mere mortals.

Here, the experts impart their wisdom…

 

50 Years of National Trails: a very English triumph

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 @ 7:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

1965 was the year Winston Churchill died and Mary Quant introduced the miniskirt. The Sound of Music was released and the US Supreme court legalised the use of contraceptives by married couples. Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, released just the year before, seemed prophetic indeed.

But perhaps it was the opening lines of the iconic song – “gather round you people/wherever you roam” – that best forecast one of the landmark events of 1965: the opening half a century ago of the 267-mile long Pennine Way. Yet while the launching of the nation’s first long distance footpath marked an important departure, it also signified something that has become very British; a fruitful accommodation between public and private interests rarely found in the wildlands of the world.

Britain’s 117,000 mile network of public footpaths and rights of way – used by pilgrims, travellers and local people for thousands of years – ranks as an ancestral legacy with our greatest buildings and monuments. Yet its history has not been without conflict, and nowhere more so than on the bleak moorlands of the Pennine Way.

The roots, perhaps, go back to 1900, and the founding of the first working-class rambling club in Sheffield. By the 1920s tens of thousands of workers were spending Sundays walking in the wild. In 1932 some 15,000 headed for the hills from Manchester alone every weekend. But they often found their paths blocked.

It all came to a head that April when some 600 ramblers undertook a mass trespass, walking from Hayfield in Derbyshire to Kinder Scout, to demand that landowners should open a public path through the High Peak District plateau, to be walked when the land was not in use. Scuffles followed, six of the demonstrators were jailed, and a legend – and a cause – were born.

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Missouri towns see Rock Island line as another path to prosperity

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 @ 3:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Missouri towns see Rock Island line as another path to prosperity

Many Missouri business owners are preparing for the state to finish conversion of the former Rock Island Railway into a hiking and biking trail. “The trail would stretch about 200 miles in Missouri, from Pleasant Hill, a town half an hour southeast of Kansas City, to Beaufort in the south-central part of the state. It also might loop with the Katy Trail, creating 400 miles of the longest rail-converted trail system in the country.”

A year ago, the trail’s future was uncertain, but the Surface Transportation Board approved the transfer of the Rock Island corridor from Ameren Corp. to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in February. Now the greatest challenge is raising funds to build the trail as quickly as possible, said Greg Harris, executive director of Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc., a non-profit coalition of trail supporters.

The Rock Island project has invited comparisons to the Katy Trail, but the two trails are unique. The Katy Trail follows the Missouri River across the state and passes by larger cities such as Columbia.

In contrast, the Rock Island trail is more rural with varied terrain and long tunnels and bridges, including a mile-long bridge 100 feet above the Gasconade River. The Rock Island route also travels through the middle of small towns, which is not as common along the Katy.

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More hut-to-hut hiking in the USA?

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 @ 11:16 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Americans love to hike their 167,00 miles of trails located on federal and state lands. We are building new trails to meet demand, and trail use is projected to continue increasing. But how do Americans feel about placing hut systems on some fraction of their trails? How do we feel as a nation about hut-to-hut hiking, skiing and biking? No one knows. It’s worth talking about.

In the USA there are a dozen or so hut-to-hut systems. While popular with those in the know, hut systems are not yet part of the consciousness of most American outdoor enthusiasts and recreation professionals. There is almost no discussion about huts as part of our growing outdoor recreation and education infrastructure, and we know little about how they operate. Why does this matter?

First, population growth, along with demographic, lifestyle, and health trends are creating increased pressure for access to the outdoors. How can we accommodate more people on our trails without damaging the environment we are trying to preserve? The irrepressible impulse of Americans to connect with the outdoors is a significant challenge to parks and recreation managers. Hut systems are an environmentally responsible way of supporting human use of the back-country.

Second, we seem to have created a hiking paradigm of extremes: backpacking vs. day hiking — with nothing in-between. Of the 35,000,000 American “hikers”, 3% identify as backpackers, and 97% as day-hikers. Backpacking is great for the few of us who are strong enough to carry the weight, can afford the equipment, and highly resourceful and skilled. But lets talk about the 97%.

What are we doing to meet the needs of the “day-hikers” who are eager to go beyond 1 – 5 hour hikes that start and end at a car?

Read full story…

Then come back here and share your feelings in the comments below.

 

Arkansas Governor promotes Delta Heritage Trail

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 @ 11:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Arkansas Governor promotes Delta Heritage Trail

This new project would convert an abandoned rail line and Mississippi River levee road into an 84-mile biking and walking trail. Governor Asa Hutchinson, in his weekly radio address, said “I believe in this new vision for the Delta, and I want to do what I can to promote it. I’ve even pledged to take a bike ride along a portion of the Delta Heritage Trail this fall. I encourage every Arkansan to do the same; to enjoy our great outdoors and to rediscover the Delta.”

This project converts an abandoned Missouri Pacific rail line and part of the levee road into a biking and walking trail. When completed, the 84-mile trail will follow the Mississippi River from Helena to Arkansas City. Along the route is the site of the Elaine Race Riot, the White River National Wildlife Refuge, the Rohwer Japanese Internment Camp, and historic Arkansas City. Nearby are historic Downtown Helena, the Arkansas Post National Historic Monument, the Louisiana Purchase State Park and Lakeport Plantation.

The Trail pieces these small sites together to tell a larger story: the story of the Delta, the story of Arkansan heritage. In addition, the project will have a positive economic impact in the poorest corner of Arkansas. When completed, the trail will attract visitors from across the country and across the world, and the increased tourism dollars will mean jobs for Arkansans. In Missouri, the $6 million Katy Trail State Park has had an $18.6 million economic impact.

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NC Mountains to Sea Trail Interactive Map

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 @ 6:58 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail have provided an interactive map that allows you to explore multiple aspects of the MST – the route across the state, terrain, and satellite imagery. They have also added icons to help you find places along the trail where the route has been updated, as well as photos taken along the trail route by FMST members.

Learn more about the map here…

 

 

WCU professor predicts stunning fall leaf season

Posted by on Aug 23, 2015 @ 5:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

WCU professor predicts stunning fall leaf season

Due to a drier than usual spring and summer, the fall leaf color in the mountains of Western North Carolina should be putting on a more spectacular show than it has in many years, according to Western Carolina University’s autumnal season prognosticator Kathy Mathews.

Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU, gives her annual prediction of how foliage around the region will perform as the sunlight of summer wanes and days become frosty.

She specializes in plant systematics and bases her color forecast on both past and predicted weather conditions. She believes the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, but especially as fall comes around the bend.

“This fall could be one of the best leaf color seasons in Western North Carolina in recent memory,” Mathews said. “Three words explain it — unusually dry weather.”

Sugar concentrations in the leaves increase during dry weather because the trees are not taking up as much water through their roots, Mathews said. The abundance of sugars leads to the production of more anthocyanins, the red pigments that appear when green chlorophyll begins receding.

“That’s what causes the leaf colors to really pop, along with the simultaneous appearance of orange and yellow pigments on the same or different tree species,” she said.

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Why the Most Popular Hiking Memoirs Don’t Go the Distance

Posted by on Aug 23, 2015 @ 1:35 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The question arises: why are the three most famous accounts of hiking three of the world’s most famous long-distance trails written by people who did not hike the whole distance?

The loneliness and skull-bound nature of a long-distance hike fits quite nicely with the thinking out, if not the actual writing, of books. The dusty back aisles of Amazon are glutted with first-person accounts of successful thru-hikes, most of which tend to be buffed-up re-writes of the author’s trail journal. These books have a limited audience (namely, other thru-hikers), whereas the books that become best-sellers speak to people who would never embark on a long-distance hike in the first place.

The rare best-sellers leap this pitfall by hitching onto other well-established genres: Bryson’s is a humorous travelogue, Strayed’s a memoir about healing, and Coelho’s a quest novel. They also avoid the doldrums of strict, day-by-day linear storytelling.

Because they began in places of utter ineptitude and painfully ascended to the status of hardened veterans, Strayed, Bryson, and Coelho were able to fashion engaging emotional trajectories for their books. But that same lack of preparation and training made it exceedingly difficult for them to finish the trail, so they were ultimately forced to trim back their ambitions.

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Five tricks for getting tired kids through a hike

Posted by on Aug 22, 2015 @ 4:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Is it looking like your plan to hike your kids and your 12-year-old nephew 3,000 feet and nearly four miles uphill to the brink of Upper Yosemite Falls—and then, of course, back down—is on the express bus to the graveyard for dumb ideas from overzealous hiker-dads?

Hike, backpack, cross-country ski, or do anything physical outdoors with kids regularly, and there will inevitably come a time when you have an unhappy kid who’s complaining he can’t take another step without severe consequences, possibly including death. You’re out on the trail, still on the hike—you can’t just call a cab. What do you do?

First and foremost, picking a hike that inspires kids will go far in making the outing successful. Minutes beyond that moment of epidemic disgruntlement in Yosemite Valley, you round a bend to your first view of Upper Yosemite Falls plunging over a sheer cliff through a vertical quarter-mile of air, creating a cloud of mist that rains onto the trail. That will spin the kids’ attitudes 180 degrees. They may alternately walk and run the remaining 2,000 feet of that ascent.

But that turnaround may be because of some other tactics you used to energize the kids. Plus, you can’t always count on having a 1,400-foot waterfall in your corner.

Here are a few tricks that help get young kids through difficult times on a hike or any outdoor adventure…

 

Hiking Tasmania’s beautiful South Coast track – and how to survive it

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 @ 9:13 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The South Coast track is not like the Overland track, Tasmania’s most popular walk. There are no huts and it’s not guided. We would be cooking all our own food, carrying our gear the whole way and carrying out all our rubbish.

The only access to the starting point at Melalueca is by light plane. A false start on day one – the fog was too thick for the plane to land – made it clear why most hikers choose to fly in and walk out rather than the other way, risking getting stuck in bad weather waiting for a flight back to Hobart.

Some days you need to time the start of your day with low tide so the tide chart, printed from the Bureau of Meteorology site, is essential. With various creek, river and ocean point crossings, just trying to cross quickly doesn’t keep the water out of your shoes. Take them off – it’s worth it.

The Ironbound mountain rangesinclude a 3,000 foot climb that is steep, rocky and full of false summits. Start early to avoid full sunlight and when you reach the peak the sun burns through the clouds and reveals spectacular views of Tasmania’s rolling mountain ranges and stretching coastlines.

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Airman hiking 710 miles to honor fellow soldiers

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 @ 8:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Tech. Sgt. Stacy Trosine is on the journey of a lifetime. The Fairchild Air Force Base airman is hiking 710 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, much of it alone, in honor of three soldiers she served with in Afghanistan. She started the trek on Aug. 8.

Trosine has been deployed seven times in her 18-year military career, including three stints in Afghanistan, but her most recent deployment affected her profoundly.

“I was embedded with the 466th EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) last year. I was deployed with the most amazing group of men,” she said during an interview before she left on her hike. “On one of the missions, three of our guys got blown up during an ambush.” She paused and cleared her throat. “It was hard to deal with.”

Trosine returned home determined to do something to honor the wounded soldiers’ courage and sacrifice.

On her blog, she wrote, “I was in awe by everything that I have witnessed and got to know about these outstanding EOD techs.”

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Pillboxes at Hawaii’s Lanikai hiking trail deteriorating

Posted by on Aug 19, 2015 @ 5:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A popular Windward Oahu hiking trail sees countless hikers every day. How safe is it?

There have been concerns about rocks falling at the Lanikai Pillbox Trail, that danger is currently being addressed, but hikers have brought up new issues about the pillboxes and are worried they could one day come crashing down.

Ask any hiker headed up the Lanikai Pillbox trail and you’ll probably hear something like this. “The pillboxes, its quite a historic place and its an unbelievable view on Oahu,” said hiker Lasse Christiansen.

“I have been coming here for a few years and it is definitely deteriorating up there,” said hiker Noah Cronin.

“It looks like a very hazardous situation because a lot of people go up there with their kids,” said hiker Taylor Kennedy.

Many people climb on the pillboxes and the the concerns are that many of the support beams are rusty and falling apart. “It is only a matter of time before one breaks off and someone is going down the hill,” said Cronin.

Cite…

 

Foot and Ankle Surgeons Offer Safety Tips for Hikers

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 @ 10:38 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

In the United States, more than 38 million people annually go hiking and the popular recreational activity has recently seen increased interest in its more competitive and extreme forms. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) reminds all hikers, whether avid or recreational, injuries are common and careful planning is essential to reducing the likelihood of injury and complications when they occur.

“We’ve all seen hikers accomplishing great feats such as completing the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trails and these stories inspire us to undertake more challenging or longer hikes,” says Gregory Catalano, DPM, FACFAS, a Massachusetts-based foot and ankle surgeon. “As the number of people hiking increases and they take on more challenging terrain, we are seeing an increase in injuries of all levels of hikers, from Achilles tendon and heel pain to more traumatic injuries including sprains and fractures of the foot and ankle as well as stress fractures of the leg, foot and ankle.”

Hiking related injuries range from minor concerns such as blisters and bruises to more serious conditions including stress fractures and ankle sprains. These complex hiking injuries may initially be assessed as less serious or even overlooked as an overuse injury that will repair itself. Some hikers first attempt to treat pain by modifying their walk (gait) or pace or by switching shoes. While these kinds of modifications seem straightforward, they can actually contribute to complications and further injury.

“It is critical hikers know the signs and continually monitor for complex injuries, as not seeking treatment may result in additional damage that can lead to longer, more involved treatments and recovery periods,” continues Dr. Catalano.

Careful preparation can help reduce the likelihood of injury and make it easier for professionals to treat when problems occur. ACFAS advises hikers that a few key steps can make an important difference: