Hiking News

Armenia is emerging as a hiking destination. It’s not quite there, but oh, the views.

Posted by on Oct 14, 2018 @ 11:13 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Armenia is emerging as a hiking destination. It’s not quite there, but oh, the views.

For much of the last century, nobody would have considered the former Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic a hiking destination.

But a few decades of independence and a strengthening democratic government have given the little nation a growing reputation as an interesting, safe hiking place. Hikers from France, England, Canada, Belgium and Australia are all coming.

Smithsonian magazine earlier this year identified Armenia as one of the next world-class hiking destinations.

The country’s beautifully wooded Dilijan National Park resembles Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The plateaus of volcanic Mt. Aragats look something like the Sierra Nevada’s high country, with its barren igneous rock, gravelly slopes and snow-covered peaks.

Lake Sevan is twice as large as Lake Tahoe and a thousand feet higher in elevation. Though its waters don’t have the clarity that makes Tahoe so spectacular, you won’t find a traffic jam around the lake’s perimeter or dense neighborhoods of mansions.

What the country lacks in affluence is offset by the warmth of the people, whose identity is anchored to its long history. Yerevan, the capital, was founded in 782 B.C., decades before Rome. Between hikes, you can visit ancient temples and some of the oldest Christian churches in the world.

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Hikers In Breckenridge Are Being Greeted By A Giant, Mysterious Troll

Posted by on Oct 13, 2018 @ 9:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hikers In Breckenridge Are Being Greeted By A Giant, Mysterious Troll

Generally, encountering a literal troll is a pretty sedentary activity because they don’t exist, so you are only going to roll up on one in a book, movie, tv show, tabletop game, or the comments of an internet article. And this is an overwhelmingly good thing, as trolls tend to be incredibly ugly, aggressive and slow-witted.

Now, however, people in Colorado can both go for a hike and meet a troll, and though it might sound scary, it’s actually quite awesome.

In August of this year, Danish artist Thomas Dambo finished installing a 15-foot tall troll named Isak Heartstone on the easy and family-friendly East Wellington Trail in Breckenridge. Suddenly, social media is alight with pics of Isak and people are making it a point to visit the fantastical gent.

Dambo is known for the trolls that he has constructed all over the globe, but this is the first one in the Western United States, which is awesome for people who don’t have the resources to make it to one of the other 39 trolls erected in places like Denmark and Korea. Each of them varies in size and he tends to create them using recycled materials. In this instance, Isak Heartstone is made of scrap lumber and downed trees collected over the ten-day construction period.

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Joshua Tree National Park: Into the wild, hours from L.A.

Posted by on Oct 12, 2018 @ 7:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Joshua Tree National Park: Into the wild, hours from L.A.

We were surrounded by trees that could have been drawn by Dr. Seuss. A desert hare had just crossed the trail in front of us, its ears translucent in the still-rising sun. But it was something else that caught my 28-year-old son’s attention.

“I can’t believe how silent it is out here,” he said. This was an offhand comment. I agreed, but said nothing. We walked on.

So I think I know the answer to the questions I brought with me to Joshua Tree National Park that morning. Can a person find isolation, silence and beauty in a visit measured in hours? Is it possible to experience a national park’s wildness in the time usually allotted for a blacktop tour?

We left Los Angeles at 10:58 a.m., an hour later than planned. Twenty miles west of the park, we began seeing the Joshua trees.

They’re not actually trees, but a species of yucca. One could be forgiven the confusion. Their trunks are shaggy with the desiccated foliage of previous seasons, which eventually falls off to reveal treelike bark. The new growth at the ends of branches looks like exuberant pineapples. They’re a kindergartner’s version of a tree.

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Hiking a new mega-trail in the Balkans

Posted by on Oct 10, 2018 @ 9:50 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking a new mega-trail in the Balkans

Close to the top of Mount Maglić, on the Bosnia-Montenegro border, a deafening clap of thunder rips across rugged Piva national park. The summit of the 2,386-metre limestone peak is not far away, but with a glance at the darkening sky, the guide decides it’s best to turn back.

We weave our way down towards perfectly heart-shaped Lake Trnovačko, just reaching a forest as the downpour hits. When the storm passes, the view across the valley is our reward – glittering, luminous and streaked with post-squall mist. The slopes are lined with tufted grass and a golden eagle floats overhead. The scene silences us, and we walk in quiet contemplation until the guide stops us to point out a sign: “Welcome to Bosnia.”

There’s no checkpoint and no fuss – perhaps surprising, given the history of these once war-torn Balkan countries. We’re hiking part of a new mega-trail – the Via Dinarica – and up here, the conflicts across the former Yugoslavia feel firmly in the past.

The main artery is the White trail, from Slovenia to Albania – via Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montengro, and soon to be extended into Kosovo – following the Dinaric Alps for 1,260km, taking in the highest peaks. Opened fully in 2017, it has mapped and united old trails, shepherd paths, royal hunting grounds and military routes, with accommodation in mountain huts, riverside cabins and lodges along the way.

When two further trails have been completed (blue, along the coastline, and green, connecting small villages), the route will also take in Serbia, uniting seven Balkans countries.

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New Mountains-to-Sea Trail segment completes path from Clingmans Dome to Stone Mountain

Posted by on Oct 9, 2018 @ 6:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

New Mountains-to-Sea Trail segment completes path from Clingmans Dome to Stone Mountain

Leadership from state and national parks, volunteers, local officials, and trail enthusiasts gathered at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Oct. 3, 2018 to celebrate the completion of a 300-mile connection on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea State Trail (MST).

State trails staff, members of the Carolina Mountain Club and other volunteers and supporters recently completed construction on a linchpin 8-mile section near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Swain County. That segment completes a continuous footpath from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Stone Mountain State Park.

Development and construction of this trail section included negotiating difficult terrain east of the Great Smoky Mountains, working around the tunneled sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and through the Qualla Boundary lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

In 2016, the Eastern Band agreed to host a section of the trail through reservation lands, enabling the connector trail’s completion. In June of this year, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, the National Park Service’s Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Carolina Mountain Club collaborated to complete the final section of this connection.

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The Bay Area Ridge Trail: Bays, Bridges, and Some Really Big Trees

Posted by on Oct 8, 2018 @ 7:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Bay Area Ridge Trail: Bays, Bridges, and Some Really Big Trees

Despite the San Francisco Bay Area being highly occupied, a lot of land within it is protected and set aside for recreational use.

Like any loop trail, starting and ending points can be wherever a thru-hiker wants. The Bay Area Ridge Trail’s southern tip sits below farmland in Gilroy, known for its pervasive (and delicious) garlic aroma. Going clockwise, it travels north along the Santa Cruz mountains and up the peninsula, cutting next to the coast before taking a sharp right upon reaching San Francisco so you can go over Twin Peaks.

It crosses the Golden Gate Bridge and continues north in Marin, sidestepping Mount Tam and circling around Napa. It then turns south back toward the Bay, crossing the Carquinez Strait and through the mountains that overlook Richmond and Oakland before continuing down the East Bay, over Mission Peak and past San Jose to the farmland it began in.

It passes through a number of Bay Area landmarks, including the old Army base in the Presidio, Jack London’s grave, and some of the area’s most iconic redwood forests.

Perhaps the trail’s biggest downside is its severely limited camping options. Dispersed camping is rarely allowed in county and state parks in the Bay Area, with all backpackers staying in designated backpacking camps when out in the backcountry. There are campgrounds, but more in some areas than others and not conveniently placed a day’s hike along the route.

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Jenny Lake, the breathtaking centerpiece of Grand Teton National Park, gets a refresh

Posted by on Oct 7, 2018 @ 8:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Jenny Lake, the breathtaking centerpiece of Grand Teton National Park, gets a refresh

Named after Jenny Leigh, the Shoshone wife of British fur trapper Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh, Jenny Lake is a hole formed about 12,000 years ago by glaciers pushing rock and debris out of Cascade Canyon. The many cascades and creeks in this canyon filled the hole, which is about 420 feet deep, with water. When Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) was founded in 1929 it was only about one-third the size it is today, and Jenny Lake was one of only six lakes included in it.

For the first time since the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the earliest official trails around the lake in the 1930s, its built environment is worthy of its natural environment. Jenny Lake has long been the park’s flagship attraction — more than half of its visitors stop here — but this was despite the man-made improvements to the area.

Previously, Jenny Lake visitors suffered crumbling retaining walls, excessive and buckling paved pathways, a lack of signs and confusing visitor-created shortcuts. Once they reached the lake — it’s several hundred feet from the parking lot — it took away their breath: Jenny Lake sits at the mouth of Cascade Canyon, in the perfect spot to reflect the snaggiest of the snow-capped Teton peaks to the west, which rise more than 6,000 feet.

When the Civilian Conservation Corps built trails around Jenny Lake in the 1930s, only several thousand people visited the park annually. Since then, the number of visitors to the park has grown; in 2017 the park got 4.9 million visitors, which is less than half of what the country’s most-visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains, got, but enough to land Grand Teton in the Top 10. Over the decades new trails were hastily added around the lake. Also, visitors looking for shortcuts created “pirate” trails that were used enough they came to look like real trails. The South Jenny Lake area was a mess.

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Europe’s best wilderness cabins and mountain huts for hikers

Posted by on Oct 6, 2018 @ 8:31 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Europe’s best wilderness cabins and mountain huts for hikers

From designer dens to remote refuges, there are thousands of – often free – walkers’ huts in amazing locations across Europe.

Finland has a huge network of open wilderness huts across its 40 national parks, where hikers, skiers and canoers can spend one or two nights for free. Most are log cabins, some dating back to the 1900s; more unusual huts include a former lifeboat rescue station on Koivuluoto Island and an ex-military canteen on Ulko-Tammio Island, both in the Gulf of Finland national park; and a former fire guard’s home in Rokua national park. Facilities are generally basic, but a few have saunas. Vargis, a hut with a jetty on the banks of a small channel in the Kvarken archipelago, is a fantastic place to stay on a canoe trip.

The Swedish Tourist Association owns 40 or so cabins in areas of outstanding natural beauty, spaced 10-20km apart along skiing and hiking trails. They are good places to meet fellow explorers, stock up on supplies and get local tips. Guests chip in with tasks such as chopping wood and fetching water, and cook in the communal kitchen. Many are on lakes, such as Lunndörren Mountain Cabin, where you can fish, swim or forage for cloudberries before warming up in the wood-fired sauna. It’s on Lunndörr pass, a 1,000-year-old trail near stunning Issjö Valley.

In Crete, local mountaineering clubs manage about a dozen shelters on the main mountain ranges. The most popular is Shelter Kallergis in the White Mountains, which has views over the north and south Crete seas; Shelter Greleska in the same range overlooks the Agia Irini gorge and doubles as an observatory for the endangered Cretan ibex. Others include a circular stone tower in the Ida (Psiloritis) range in central Crete, and a sanctuary next to a windswept chapel on the top of Stavromenos, the highest peak in the Thripti range.

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A New, Majestic High Route Through Yosemite

Posted by on Oct 3, 2018 @ 1:49 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A New, Majestic High Route Through Yosemite

This loop through Yosemite could just be the finest high-altitude thru-hike in the country.

Where the boundary of Yosemite National Park overlaps with the Sierra Crest, from Dorothy Lake Pass in the north to Rodgers Peak in the south, there exists a world-class high route around the upper headwaters of the Tuolumne and Merced rivers that stays entirely within the park.

South of Rodgers Peak, the park boundary straddles the divide between the upper Merced and the North Fork of the San Joaquin, two major westbound rivers. This topography remains conducive to a high route to Triple Divide Peak, beyond which the watershed divide and boundary fade into less interesting foothills.

Thankfully, here the seldom visited Clark Range T-bones the boundary, providing worthy terrain for another ten miles.

North and west of Dorothy Lake Pass, the park boundary roughly follows the watershed divide between the Tuolumne and Clavey rivers, the latter of which drains the Emigrant Wilderness.

The route is majestic, remote, and largely off-trail but still technically practical for a backpacker. It shares just one pass with the Sierra High Route, and utilizes the Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail for only a half-mile. The wilderness experience matches and sometimes exceeds that of other established high routes.

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Marriage Proposal Goes Awry After Hiking Couple Gets Lost

Posted by on Oct 2, 2018 @ 8:59 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Marriage Proposal Goes Awry After Hiking Couple Gets Lost

  A marriage proposal in Boulder, Colorado, went awry because of some overly ambitious hiking plans.

Joshua Mason, 27, and his girlfriend, Katie Davis, 28, had set out on an eight-mile hike from the Fourth of July Trailhead to the nearly 13,000-foot summit on Jasper Peak. When the two came upon an isolated, scenic spot along the trail, Mason surprised Davis by popping the question. Davis accepted the proposal, and the happy couple continued their trek to the peak.

However, Davis and Mason had gotten a late start for a hike of this length, embarking at around noon. There are also no clear trails to Jasper Peak, and as darkness fell, the hikers lost their bearings. They had neglected to bring enough water, clothes for the cooler temperatures, or overnight camping supplies. They followed the ridge line until around midnight, when they came to a cliff and could go no further. With few other options, the two began to scream for help.

Fortunately, a nearby hiker heard their calls. At that point, Mason and Davis were showing signs of severe dehydration and altitude sickness—the path to Jasper Peak has an elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet. The hiker brought them back to a campsite where a group of his friends had settled in for the night. They ushered the newly engaged couple into a warm tent and provided them with food and water. One of the campers walked two miles back to her car and then drove down to a nearby town to call 911.

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On the Trail of Interdependence

Posted by on Sep 30, 2018 @ 9:10 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

There may be two approaches to life pervading every facet of our society, extrapolated from long distance thru-hikers. We could call the one “endarkic” and the other “exarkic” (from the Greek word arkeo, “to suffice”). In political science or economics, the word autarky is used to describe a state of self-sufficiency. Endarky is rather the drive toward self-sufficiency; exarky, its inverse.

We all know what an endarkist looks like. America has practically mythologized the type. Most of our best-known nature writers were vocal proponents of endarky: John Muir tramping off with a crust of bread tied to his belt, Thoreau hammering together a cabin beside Walden Pond, Edward Abbey advising his readers to “brew your own beer; kick in your TV; kill your own beef.”

In the past, we may have called these people “rugged individualists.” They tend to internalize information and skills. They grow their own food, build their own furniture, distill their own whiskey. Truly endarkic people crave solitude and, perhaps less consciously, cataclysm, if only for the opportunity to prove their self-reliance.

The exarkic person, on the other hand, is utopian, the type who believes in improving systems, not rejecting them; who does not shy from asking for directions; who would rather rent or share or borrow a home than own one; who has no qualms uploading his digital memories to something called the Cloud; who welcomes the notion of self-driving cars. Exarks prefer a well-trained police force to a well-oiled firearm. They walk, nimbly, with a kind of holy faith, atop wires others have installed.

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Chile Launches Epic Hiking Route Through Patagonia Region

Posted by on Sep 29, 2018 @ 8:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Chile Launches Epic Hiking Route Through Patagonia Region

A new hiking route has been launched through Chile’s Patagonia region.

Created to attract more tourists to the area and improve awareness of the need for conservation, the Route of Parks run from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn – a distance of 2,800km in total.

The area is known for its lakes and rich array of wildlife and plants.

The trail was funded by US billionaire Douglas Tompkins and his wife Kristine.

The North Face and Esprit co-founder, who died in a kayaking accident in Chile three years ago, set up the Tompkins Conservation foundation, which bought up great swathes of land in Chile and Argentina in order to preserve it.

Mr. Tompkins’ widow Kristine, the former CEO of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, signed over a large amount to the Chilean government in 2017 with the idea of using it to make a series of connected parks and trails.

The land was used to create 17 national parks, all of which are connected by the new hiking trail, encompassing a huge area around the size of Switzerland.

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Property owner in Zion Narrows closure wants to welcome back hikers, but says the feds need to step up

Posted by on Sep 28, 2018 @ 2:42 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Property owner in Zion Narrows closure wants to welcome back hikers, but says the feds need to step up

Scott Bulloch wants you — and thousands of other hikers each year — to be able to cross his family’s land in the Zion Narrows.

Better yet, he wants the federal government to own or at least hold easements on his 880-acre parcel along Zion National Park’s eastern boundary.

He just wants fair consideration for property he and his family have held for 50 years, Bulloch said, after they posted signs announcing a “trespassing fee” where the canyon enters the area known as Simon Gulch. The sign prompted the National Park Service to suspend issuing permits to hike what is considered among the world’s most sublime slot canyons — just as the fall tourism season is ramping up.

All the agencies involved in the proposed acquisition of public easements say they want the same thing, but federal regulations over land appraisals appear to be getting in the way.

For the past few years, Bulloch and his sons have been negotiating with the feds, who the elder Bulloch now contends are lowballing the property. Out of frustration, the family posted the controversial signs, which also announce the property is for sale.

The Narrows experience may be beyond price, but federal land-acquisition rules require purchases not exceed “fair-market value.”

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Smokies Park Hosts Stargazing Event at Purchase Knob

Posted by on Sep 27, 2018 @ 7:22 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Smokies Park Hosts Stargazing Event at Purchase Knob

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a stargazing event at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center beginning at 7:00 pm on Friday, October 5, 2018. Located on Purchase Knob, the learning center provides one of the clearest views of the sky in the park and in Haywood County, NC.

The Astronomy Club of Asheville will lead an exploration of the night sky at this high elevation site with a 260-degree unobstructed view of the sky. If skies are clear, visitors can expect to see the Milky Way Galaxy high overhead that night, along with the planets Saturn and Mars, the Andromeda Galaxy, and many striking star clusters.

“National Park areas often offer a wonderful opportunity to stargaze,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Parks across the country monitor and manage for natural night sky conditions in much the same way as we do to protect our air and water. Visitors are often amazed at the number of stars that can be seen simply by entering into the natural darkness of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

The event starts with an indoor presentation, which will be held rain or shine, to discuss what can be seen in the nighttime October skies. After that, participants will head outside, weather permitting, to stargaze. The learning center is located at 5,000 feet in elevation so visitors should dress in warm layers. The program is free but limited to 80 people, so reservations are required and can be made by registering through Eventbrite, at www.eventbrite.com/e/star-gazing-at-purchase-knob-grsm-np-tickets-49856316585, or by calling 828.497.1946.

Purchase Knob is located off US 276 near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. The use of GPS or an internet map service to find Purchase Knob is not recommended, but park staff can provide reliable directions when visitors make reservations.

 

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Posted by on Sep 26, 2018 @ 7:06 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

How did hiking evolve from the upper-class European sport of alpinism and the publication of an English travel guide into an activity that now has millions of participants all over the world? Who built the thousands of miles of trails that now crisscross America? What did early hikers wear, and what were some of the key inventions and innovations that led to our modern array of hiking gear and apparel? How was information about hiking, trails and gear disseminated in the early years? And what were some of the reasons why people hiked, and how have those changed over time?

For answers to those questions, and more, check out Ramble On: A History of Hiking, by Jeff Doran, a name many Smokies hikers should be familiar with. This is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks.

This book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the nineteenth century, the first trails built specifically for recreational hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel.

This book also takes a look at some of the issues that currently impact hikers and trails, such as overcrowding and social media, and takes a peek into the future on how some of these trends could unfold.

You can pick up a copy here…

 

How to Pack a Backpack for a Hiking Trip

Posted by on Sep 25, 2018 @ 9:33 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

How to Pack a Backpack for a Hiking Trip

Backpacks have come a long way since the 70’s, when hikers swore by (and at) bulky external frames and nifty side pockets were few and far between. Nowadays, there’s any number of high-tech packs that help you lug more gear longer, and farther, than ever before. But it’s still critical that you know how to pack a backpack right.

If you’re headed out for a beach vacation or a family reunion, there’s nothing wrong with throwing your belongings in a bag and calling it good. But hitting the trail is different: You’ll be carrying your pack for hours, days, or even weeks at a time, so balance and comfort are tantamount. Carefully loading up your backpack can even keep you safer: On tricky scrambles or exposed trails, a well-loaded backpack will help you keep your balance and prevent nasty falls.

Chronic overpackers beware: Your backpack, and all the things inside it, become an extension of you once you’re on the trail. Remember that less is more, even if you’re not an ultralighter.

Don’t let a badly-loaded backpack put a damper on your next adventure in the backcountry. Learn how to pack it the right way—with efficiency, convenience and comfort in mind.

Learn how here…

 

Seeking America’s Quietest Spots: The Quest for Silence in a Loud World

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 @ 9:15 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Seeking America’s Quietest Spots: The Quest for Silence in a Loud World

The hiker trudged up a logging road and into a valley, tracing a route that seemed unremarkable. There were no sweeping views of the mountains that towered nearby. There was no summit to scale. Yet he stopped suddenly, jubilant, after about four miles of walking. He had found exactly what he was searching for: quiet.

In these loud times — with political foes yelling on television, trucks rumbling through streets, and smartphones chirping all around — who doesn’t want a little peace and quiet? But some wilderness lovers have taken their aversion to the cacophony of the modern world a step further, traveling to some of the country’s most remote areas in a quest for utter silence.

Connoisseurs of quiet say it is increasingly difficult, even in the wilderness, to escape the sounds of vehicles, industries, voices. A study published last year in the academic journal Science found that noise pollution was doubling sound levels in much of the nation’s conserved land, like national parks and areas preserved by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The National Park Service has a policy requiring park managers to measure “baseline acoustic conditions” and determine which noises have an adverse effect. There is even a branch of the Park Service known as the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division that is dedicated in part to preserving the untrammeled soundscape.

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