Hiking News

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.

Cite…

 

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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5 hikes to find Colorado’s last glaciers before they’re gone for good

Posted by on Sep 23, 2018 @ 9:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

5 hikes to find Colorado’s last glaciers before they’re gone for good

Time is running out to see Colorado’s year-round alpine glaciers before they recede into extinction — which is, in some cases, a couple decades off, according to a study from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

In the Ice Age, glaciers carved much of Colorado’s alpine landscape. Wide mountain valleys — now dotted with towns and zig-zagged by hiking trails — are glacial byproducts of millennia past. But these days, only 14 tiny scraps of moving ice are left.

Many are nestled under peaks where the sun can’t heat them up and melt their surfaces, their shadowy locations also making them hard to reach. Late summer, early fall is the best time to see the remaining ones before they’re surrounded by snow.

The Arikaree is likely to melt in fewer than 20 years, but before it goes, you can still see it from the Arapaho Glacier Trail, located near Rainbow Lakes Campground on County Road 116 near Boulder. At the glacier overlook, the last little bit of moving ice is nestled just to the north of the Arapaho Glacier, to the right when facing the glaciers from the lookout at treeline.

Here are five glacier hikes worth investigating…

 

Cat hiking videos are the wholesome escape you need in your life

Posted by on Sep 22, 2018 @ 7:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Things you can reasonably expect to see on a hike: trees; rocks; streams. Thing you might not expect to see on a hike: A cat on a leash walking with its owner.

Turns out that hiking cats are more common than you might think. These adventurous felines can be found on YouTube and Instagram, where they explore rough mountain terrain, rocky beaches, and green pastures.

There’s Cezar, the traveling cat who’s been to France, El Salvador, and Malta. Then there’s Honey Bee, the blind cat who loves to spend time outdoors. Or Paul the cat, whose high-altitude hiking videos will put your own hiking abilities to shame.

While most cats are naturally pretty curious, not every cat is built to explore the outside world. Felines that possess a playful demeanor and an interest in the outside world — and are willing to wear a harness — might make solid hikers.

If you’re just looking for 15 minutes of nature footage and cute cats, watch a video or two and then daydream of one day climbing a mountain with Whiskers by your side.

Check out the videos…

 

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Is this Europe’s most underrated hiking destination?

Posted by on Sep 21, 2018 @ 8:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Is this Europe’s most underrated hiking destination?

Just over a century ago a chap called Pedro Pidal, Marquis of Villaviciosa and an Asturian senator, returned from a visit to Yellowstone and Yosemite in the US with a burning ambition to introduce the idea of national parks to Spain. “If we do not guard the possessed paradise between the lost paradise and the promised paradise,” he said, “we do not deserve, like Adam, to have any paradise.”

In 1918, as a result of his efforts, Covadonga National Park was established in the Cantabrian Mountains, with the protected area extended in 1995 to its present boundaries, which take in chunks of Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León – a total of 250 square miles.

This year therefore marks the centenary of what is now called the Picos de Europa National Park, an extraordinary prickling of scenery that lurks just inland from the Asturian coast and is easily reached from the UK via Asturias, Santander or Bilbao airports. It’s an immensely popular destination for Spanish tourists, but other country’s citizens have yet to find it, which is a peculiar state of affairs when you consider the abundant virtues on show: staggering, razor-sharp peaks, endless hiking paths and adjacent Atlantic beaches.

The Picos range is split into three main massifs: the eastern, western and central peaks. The latter two are separated by the mile-deep Cares Gorge, with the village of Caín at one end. It’s one of the most popular day hikes in Spain: a six-hour route over 14 miles.

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This is what hiking 2,000 miles feels like

Posted by on Sep 19, 2018 @ 9:03 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

This is what hiking 2,000 miles feels like

Hiking 2,000 miles feels like waking up tired every morning, like eating the same food again and again until it loses all meaning. It feels like wondering with amazement when 20 miles became a short day. Like pushing yourself up the last climb of the day. Going faster and faster while your legs ache and sweat runs down your face and into your eyes, but you don’t slow down, you keep pushing because you’ve become so strong that you no longer know where your limit is, where the bottom of this energy sits and it feels good to dig way down deep, to where you forget what easy is and there is only the burning left.

And suddenly. Suddenly you’re at the top of the climb and the world erupts around you and a wave of endorphins threaten to overwhelm your more human side and you laugh away the urge to open up your throat to the heavens and howl. But the urge is there, it is right below the surface.

Hiking 2,000 miles feels like the merging of what you hoped would be and what is. Where you realize that you’re now doing all of the things you’d dreamed of when you planned this hike. All of those desires which you held at arm’s length, knowing that the odds for finishing the PCT are not in your favor and it would break your heart to admit to yourself how desperately you wanted this, only to not get it.

But now you’re here and it’s nothing like what you imagined, though all the better for it. Hiking 2,000 miles feels like making it to the playoffs, the final round of the spelling bee, it feels like the moment before the hero pulls off the big heist. You’re not there yet but you are so, so close. And if you can just be smart and lucky and hold your body together for a little longer, then you’ll make it. And that will be the best worst day of this whole thing.

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A Leave No Trace Principles Refresher

Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 @ 12:19 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

A Leave No Trace Principles Refresher

Outdoor enthusiasts often prefer visiting different types of locations. Some love trekking high into the Appalachian Mountains, while others enjoy paddling through the river-carved rocks of the Southwest. Some may like to explore the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, while others enjoy ambling about aimlessly amid the grass-dotted dunes of the Gulf Coast.

You like forests; your buddy prefers prairies. One of your kids likes the beach; the other prefers the bayou.

But these various locations all share one uniting characteristic, one about which all outdoor enthusiasts can agree: They offer you the chance to spend some time in an unspoiled place, which has suffered only a minimal amount of human impact.

Whatever types of places you prefer for hiking, trekking, camping or paddling, you surely appreciate that these activities all give you the opportunity to spend time in untouched wilderness areas.

However, careless use of these places will quickly ruin them. After all, they’re becoming more and more popular by the day. If those who visit these pristine places aren’t careful, they’ll destroy the very thing that they sought in the first place – natural, untarnished beauty.

Fortunately, a lot of outdoor enthusiasts have already begun taking steps to protect these places, and you can join right alongside them. You just have to embrace Leave No Trace Principles.

 

A day with long-haul hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail

Posted by on Sep 16, 2018 @ 10:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A day with long-haul hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail

They’re easy to spot this time of year in the North Cascades: lean, fast-moving hiking machines in their trail-running shoes, ultralightweight backpacks and a look in the eyes that says they have places to go.

It’s the annual migration of thousands of northbound hikers traveling the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexico border to Canada. Most of them began the journey in late spring, which means to reach their destination before the snow falls, they’ll need to average at least 18 to 22 miles per day.

Hence the look you get as they whoosh! past you on this well-traveled highway to heaven, their eyes clearly on the prize ahead.

“We call it the 10,000-yard stare,” said Katie, a spokesperson with the Skykomish Ranger Station. “And that’s kinda sad, because they’re coming into the most beautiful part of the Cascades.”

At this point, long-distance PCT travelers, or “thru-hikers” as they’re more often called, are just beginning to experience classic North Cascades hiking, with its signature glacier peaks and glistening, high-Alpine lakes.

Five years ago, 988 northbound permits were issued. In 2017 that count more than tripled to 3,496 permits.

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