Hiking News

How a Health Guru Helped L.A. Discover its Hiking Trails

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 @ 9:19 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Long before yoga pants made their first appearance in Runyon Canyon, a health guru helped Angelenos discover their local mountain trails.

Beginning in 1924, on the first and third Sunday of each month, members of the Wanderlusters Hiking Club followed Paul C. Bragg into the hilly terrain around Los Angeles. Dozens of them traipsed through Altadena’s Millard Canyon or hiked up Griffith Park’s Mount Hollywood. Men doffed their shirts. Women wore bathing suits. Sunscreen had yet to be invented.

Hiking was nothing new in the Southland. Bragg’s innovation, rather, was to sell it as a fitness activity: “Hiking is a wonderful sport to keep you young and fit and recharge your physical battery from the sun’s rays.”

But the images accompanying this article – commissioned by Bragg in the 1930s and recently digitized by the USC Libraries with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities – reveal a man unable to conceal his affection for Los Angeles and its trails.

“There is a veritable Paradise in the mountains lying adjacent to Los Angeles,” Bragg wrote in another of his columns, “and yet few people avail themselves of the opportunity to frolic in the sunshine.”

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Renville County, MN looks to develop more hiking trails

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 @ 9:12 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Provided you know how to find your way, there are miles of prairie and woodland trails offering scenic overlooks, opportunities to view wildlife, and areas to enjoy a picnic lunch alongside flowing water.

It’s all to be found in the seven Renville County, Minnesota parks, where it soon could be a lot easier to find your way.

Mark Erickson, community and environment director for Renville County, said the county park board and a specially appointed trails committee have developed a draft plan for developing a marked trail system in each of the seven parks. He presented the plan to the County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. The board is expected to adopt the plan at its next meeting.

The plan outlines the routes for trails in the parks. It also describes how the trails will be signed and sets standards for the width of trails and how much vegetation to clear.

There are currently some maintained trails in the parks, but for the most part, hikers are making their own way by following long-established paths. Many of the existing paths are really well-tread deer trails that hikers keep open by their use.

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Restoring Acadia’s Historic Hiking Trails

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 @ 9:06 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking Acadia is a pastime almost as old as the state of Maine itself. “People have been hiking Mt. Desert Island and these moutains since the mid-1800s,” said Gary Stellpflug, Trails Foreman at Acadia National Park.

Between the 1890s and the 1930s some 130 miles of trails were cut in this park. But then… “Finances for the trails program dwindled over the course of the next couple years, right into the 1960s and 1970s,” said Stellpflug.

Many trails were abandoned or fell into disrepair-that is until 1999 when a massive restoration effort began.

“People realized that the trails were a cultural resource, a natural resource, and something that everybody loved and that they were truly suffering and we needed a way to bring them back to their standard,” said Stellpflug.

So each summer a crew of 35 federal workers and some 16 youth corps are going trail by trail, bringing them back to life.

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Part 2…


Gunsight Pass: Cross Continental Divide on Glacier trail

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 @ 5:23 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

If you want to cross the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park and are looking for more adventure than walking past the sign atop Going-to-the-Sun Road, take the trail over Gunsight Pass instead.

The 20-mile trail connects Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east with Lake McDonald Lodge on the west, and can be done as a long day hike or as a backpacking trip.

Along the way, you’ll see plenty of waterfalls, at least a couple of glaciers, possibly moose and more than likely mountain goats.

One of the easiest ways to hike the full length of the trail is to park at Lake McDonald Lodge, ride the free shuttle over Logan Pass to Jackson Glacier Overlook and then walk back to your vehicle – at the end, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to sink your tired feet in the lake behind the lodge.

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Ken Burns shares secrets of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 @ 5:11 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

“There is a great human story” of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to Ken Burns, the Emmy award-winning filmmaker. As co-creator of the PBS series America’s Best Idea: The National Parks, Burns and his team spent over six years filming in national parks across the United States.

Burns sat down with USA TODAY and shared the secrets of Great Smoky Mountains and nine other national parks for a special 10-part series, Secrets of the National Parks.

While the U.S. national parks celebrate nature at its best, Burns says that there’s a great drama to the Smoky Mountains. Creation of the park forced the removal of existing towns and “not everyone wanted to be removed,” Burns said. “Remember they’re leaving dead family members in the family cemetery … or churches that they worshiped in all their lives. A lot of people were grandfathered in and permitted to stay there until they passed away and then it became a part of our common wealth.”

Burns says that one of the best things about this park is its intimacy. All you “need to do is park and get off the many, many roads of this large park and see that blue mountain haze that is part of this beautiful mythological place.”

Watch the video to hear what two trails are Burns’ favorites in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Prescott, AZ 7th annual hiking spree starts Sept. 6 at Highlands Center

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 @ 6:41 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Prescott, AZ 7th annual hiking spree starts Sept. 6 at Highlands Center

This year’s Hiking Spree enthusiasts will start their morning at the Highlands Center at 9:00 AM, September 6th with a free presentation by Sam Frank, Central Arizona Director for the Arizona Wilderness Coalition (AWC), in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. “This presentation will include inspiring photos, history of the AWC, take-home maps, and a Q&A session. As it is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Hiking Spree will have a special focus on wilderness trails, with six wilderness trails (two new and four previous trails), chosen for hikers to explore,” commented Dave Irvine, Executive Director. A Highlands Center naturalist will lead the first hike following the presentation.

“Participants hike at least eight of the 12 provided hikes and then can enter into a drawing for a $200 gift card to the Hike Shack. Trails consist of various skills but at least eight are fine for any participant,” Irvine added. Participants do not have to complete the hike to count it. Entry for the drawing will close on December 10th, and then within a week one participant will have a $200 gift certificate to the Hike Shack. Hikers can pick up forms at the kickoff event, or at the Highlands Center’s Benson Family Nature Store, Hike Shack, or the Prescott National Forest Offices on Cortez Street.

“Several of the hikes this year have been highlighted for families, and are a wonderful way for new and avid hikers alike to explore new trails and be invigorated for the upcoming winter holiday season. Trail maps will be provided highlighting interesting points along the way,” Irvine added. Pre-registration is required for the free bi-monthly guided hikes also available. Check highlandscenter.org for dates.

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Trekking in Yunnan China, where dragons stand guard

Posted by on Aug 18, 2014 @ 8:18 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

For sheer dramatic natural beauty, Tiger Leaping Gorge in China’s Yunnan province takes some beating. Situated around 60km west of the historic city of Lijiang, the 15km-long gorge carves its way through steep-sided and snow-capped Himalayan peaks that line up like a rugged roll-call of nature’s tough guys.

Most people walk part or all of the one-day Low Way, a 21km flat and paved path through the bottom of the gorge. However, the 22km High Path – a more physically demanding two-day trek through remote Naxi hill farming terraces – is the ultimate way to discover the region’s beauty.

The High Path is widely considered to be one of the finest treks in China due to its unbeatable mountain and gorge views. It is also one of the most accessible treks in the world. While most great mountain treks require multi-day supported and guided backup, this well-marked route does not require a guide or any technical mountaineering skills. In addition, you’re far from the tourists hordes below.

Starting from the small town of Qiaotou, the gateway to the gorge, trekkers simply need to pay the entry fee, pick up a free trail map from the visitor centre and start walking.

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Itinerate hiker: Retired surgeon explores, volunteers on CDT

Posted by on Aug 17, 2014 @ 10:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Itinerate hiker: Retired surgeon explores, volunteers on CDT

Eric White has hiked 8,500 miles. And his favorite mileage has been along the Continental Divide Trail. It’s what brings him to Butte, Montana every summer to volunteer on crews improving the trail. White, a retired orthopedic surgeon who lives in Williamstown, Mass., spends part of his summers in Butte volunteering with AmeriCorps to improve the trail.

He first became acquainted with Butte in 2008 when he became lost on the infamously poorly marked CDT. He bumped into Jocelyn Dodge, recreation forester with the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, who pointed him in the right direction. But a week later, when he found he couldn’t make his way through deep snow in the Pintler Wilderness Area, he contacted Dodge and asked to be put to work.

For White, contributing a few weeks a year of his time to help build bridges, put up signs and record routes on GPS units is the least he can do. “Many hikers who have done the long trails appreciate all the help they get from others – Trail Magic,” White said. “Having experienced this, many hikers, myself included, want to give back to the trail community what we previously have received.”

White, known as “Mini Mart” in the long-distance hiking community, which is fond of bestowing nicknames on its members, said of the triple-crown Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails, the latter is his favorite. He hiked the AT while still working in the late 1990s and the Pacific Crest shortly after retirement.

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Take a Hike Across Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains

Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 @ 8:57 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hauling yourself up a stony path, the air thins with every breath. Ribbons of mist weave past and a vulture circles overhead. Just when you think your legs can’t take it anymore, you reach the top.

Your guide warns you not to step any closer to the edge. It is the most terrifying sensation—and one of the most rewarding. All around similar hills rise like turrets in the valley below, with sheer drops for sides, and it is hard to take in the scale. With these majestic cathedrals of rock—and not another soul as far as the eye can see—it’s obvious why they call this the Roof of Africa.

The Chinese-built roads make the three-hour drive to the base camp at Sankaber an easy whiz through lush pastures and past goat herds weaving their way across the road, oblivious to traffic. Soon the roads give way to dirt tracks, and after leaving the final village, the real adventure begins. It is unimaginable to contemplate this stretch without an SUV, as you lurch from side to side through unfathomably deep mud, on a number of occasions jolting within a hair’s breadth of the precipitous edge.

Once on foot you pass trees covered in lichen as wild thyme perfumes the journey. Blue salvia plants illuminate the pastures. Sitting contentedly in a neat circle, are three gelada baboons—found only in the Ethiopian Highlands.

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A short drive from Seattle, the hiking is spectacular

Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 @ 8:41 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

This summer’s devastating wildfires in eastern Washington have cast a smoky pall over some of the state’s premier hiking destinations, but those trails have been largely untouched by flames. So “best days” can be had in abundance throughout the Cascade Mountains, on trails within easy driving distance of the city. And you don’t have to scramble up steep rock to experience them.

It’s hard to say what’s best about a trip up to Ingalls in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness — that glorious moment when you pop over the ridge and 9,415-foot Mt. Stuart is revealed in all its majesty, lunch beside Ingalls Lake, the après-hike dip in the crystal-clear Teanaway River to wash away the trail dust or the blue-cheese-and-grilled-onion burger at the historic Brick tavern in Roslyn — which stood in as the Alaskan town Cicely in the ’90s TV show “Northern Exposure” — on the way home. Partake in all of these, and you’ve got yourself one magical day.

There are options. Most straightforward is the trail to Lake Ingalls (nine miles round trip, 2,500- feet elevation gain) at the edge of Washington’s legendary Enchantments range, the views getting better with each step as you rise up to Ingalls Pass, with the culminating moment with Mt. Stuart. From the pass, the trail dips down to flower-filled Headlight Basin before its last jaunt to the lake. Or go a shorter distance (five miles round trip, 2,100-feet gain) on a branch to Longs Pass just to see the view and perhaps some mountain goats.

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Explore hiking trails of former military base

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 @ 11:18 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Since the closure of Fort Ord in 1994, the 28,000 acres that comprised the military base have been spun off into various civilian uses. As a part of that process, on April 12, 2012, President Obama signed a declaration setting aside 14,650 acres—half of the former base—as Fort Ord National Monument. The Bureau of Land Management currently oversees 7,200 acres, and the remainder will be turned over to the BLM once the military completes environmental remediation.

Where the Salinas Valley reaches Monterey Bay, a vast level plain separates Big Sur’s Santa Lucia Mountains from the Gabilan Range. On the pancake-flat agricultural outskirts of west Salinas, drive south on Davis Road through huge fields of green salad fixings. Up ahead, across much of the horizon, the lands of Fort Ord National Monument rise as a level stretch of upland bluffs perhaps 100 feet above the farm lowlands.

The map of the national monument indicates several access points, but the Creekside Trailhead is the quickest approach to an impressive web of trails. The parking area is at the foot of the bluffs, so job No. 1 was getting up top.

The trails at Fort Ord National Monument are ideal for mountain bikers, and dog lovers will appreciate that their pets can explore off-leash. Don’t expect a special landscape or an enticing destination, but you will find many miles of pretty trails.

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Minnesota’s secret hiking trails

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 @ 11:10 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Minnesota’s secret hiking trails

Minnesota’s “Land of 10,000 Lakes” moniker evokes lasting memories of fishing, paddling and campfires at the edge of a shore. But being on the water isn’t the only way to enjoy the outdoors.

Thousands of miles of hiking trails crisscross Minnesota, with some seeing more foot traffic than others. From well-maintained, easy-to-access trails to narrow footpaths ­hidden deep in the wilderness, there’s a trail to suit all tastes and skill levels.

On Aug. 21-23, the North Country Trail Association will host the Minnesota Hiking Celebration at Spirit Mountain in Duluth. In addition to seminars on hiking equipment and guided tours on the famous Superior Hiking Trail, the event will promote hiking on the lesser known North Country Trail and other under-the-radar routes.

“Our goal is to raise awareness of the North Country Trail,” says Matthew Davis, regional trail coordinator for the North Country Trail Association in Minnesota and North Dakota. “We want to get more people to think about hiking as a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors and disconnect from our fast-paced society. Enjoy a healthy activity,” says Davis.

Minnesota will be home to 775 miles of the North Country Trail, but only about 60 percent of the state’s network is complete, with two contiguous sections.

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Vanilla cookie trees and other hiking surprises

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 @ 7:59 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A group of hikers pause along a heavily wooded trail in the Lincoln National Forest. One leans into a Ponderosa pine, sniffs the trunk and proclaims, “Vanilla cookie tree! Who wants to smell vanilla!”

The other hikers raise their eyebrows, wondering if their companion has gone mad, but you can’t resist. Feeling slightly foolish, you lean into the tree, put your nose against the bark and inhale deeply. The others wait silently for your verdict. “Hmm, smells more like … butterscotch.”

Yummy surprises with Trail Snails! Soon everyone in the Trail Snails, a local informal hiking group, presses noses against the tree bark. “Deep inside the crack is best!” “Yes, it smells just like vanilla!”

Jim Edwards, the Snails’ organizer, explains, “When a Ponderosa’s bark begins to show yellow or pink, the tree is mature and acquires a smell reminiscent of vanilla.” Sniffing “vanilla cookie trees” is one of many yummy or tasty surprises enjoyed by the Trail Snails on our twice-weekly excursions.

“Algerita bushes smell like citrus, and corn lily leaves smell like peanut butter,” reminds Jim. “And don’t forget mint,” add hikers Carolyn and Roger.

Other hikers chime in, “Wild morel mushrooms and common field mushrooms are delicious!”

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Tunnel Creek: Nevada’s hidden hiking gem

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 @ 7:43 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

No shortage of stunning scenery exists in the Lake Tahoe Basin, but while the majority of sightseers flock to the southwestern portion of the lake to take in the postcard-picture-perfect vistas afforded by Emerald Bay, the northeastern portion of the lake offers a quieter and equally spectacular experience.

Tunnel Creek, just outside of Incline Village, is a popular trail with locals due to the unparalleled look at Crystal Bay as it spans out beneath the ascending trail, along with the swerve of coastline as it winds southward. Couple those views with its relative degree of seclusion, particularly in comparison with much of the easy-to-moderate hiking trails in Lake Tahoe, and any avid hiker can see why the trail is an indispensable part of the basin’s recreation portfolio.

The trailhead is located just south of Ponderosa Ranch roughly one mile from the downtown corridor of Incline Village, Nev.

Ponderosa pines dominate the East Shore, as the Carson Range has a different geology and ecology than the Sierra Nevada Mountains that populate the West Shore.

One of the chief attributes of Tunnel Creek Trail is the great views come early and often, so those with less of an appetite for exercise or on a time crunch don’t have to carve out a huge portion of the day to get the experience.

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White People Love Hiking. Minorities Don’t. Here’s Why.

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 @ 8:10 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

White people simply love to spend their free time walking up and down mountains and sleeping in the forest. Search “hiking” in Google Images and see how far you have to scroll to find a non-white person. Ditto rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, and so on.

That white people love the outdoors is so widely accepted as fact that it’s become a running joke. The website Stuff White People Like has no less than three entries on the subject: “Making you feel bad about not going outside” (#9), “Outdoor Performance Clothes” (#87), and “Camping” (#128). The latter entry reads, “If you find yourself trapped in the middle of the woods without electricity, running water, or a car you would likely describe that situation as a ‘nightmare’ or ‘a worse case scenario like after a plane crash or something.’ White people refer to it as ‘camping.'”

The Outdoor Foundation found in a study that 70 percent of outdoors participants were white. “As minority groups make up a larger share of the population and are predicted to become the majority by 2040, engaging diverse populations in outdoor recreation has never been more critical,” the report reads. “Unfortunately, minorities still lag behind in outdoor participation.”

Yes, there are economic barriers, but the cultural ramifications of those economic barriers are more devastating, as they ripple across generations.

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Rocky Mountain National Park considers closing Crater Trail

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 @ 1:25 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Due to excessive erosion and damage to sensitive natural and cultural resources, the Crater Trail, a short trail located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, will remain closed to use for the remainder of this year, according to the National Park Service.

The Crater Trail is a 1-mile dead-end that is normally open to visitor use by mid-August each year after the bighorn sheep lambing season. The trail leads to the top of the Continental Divide and provides an overview of “The Crater” located on the west side of Specimen Mountain.

Park personnel say the trail is not sustainable in its current location and is subject to erosion, which is damaging cultural and natural resources, including alpine tundra. Improving the trail in its current location is not desirable because the cost of long term maintenance would be excessive, according to park officials.

The trail leads directly to the Specimen Mountain Research Natural Area (RNA). There are three RNAs in the park. These designated areas are an integral part of the park’s designation as an International Biosphere Reserve. RNAs contain prime examples of natural resources and processes that have value for baseline and long-term studies for scientific and educational purposes. Providing direct access runs counter to the purposes for which the Specimen Mountain RNA was established.

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Bottled water comes from the most drought-ridden places in the country

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 @ 2:09 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Bottled-water drinkers, we have a problem: There’s a good chance that your water comes from California, a state experiencing the third driest year on record.

The details of where and how bottling companies get their water are often quite murky , but generally speaking, bottled water falls into two categories. The first is “spring water,” or groundwater that’s collected, according to the EPA, “at the point where water flows naturally to the earth’s surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground source.” About 55 percent of bottled water in the U.S. is spring water, including Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead.

The other 45 percent comes from the municipal water supply, meaning that companies, including Aquafina and Dasani, simply treat tap water — the same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home — and bottle it up. (Weird, right?)

But regardless of whether companies bottle from springs or the tap, lots of them are using water in exactly the areas that need it most right now.

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Joseph McConaughy Smashes Pacific Crest Trail Speed Record

Posted by on Aug 10, 2014 @ 3:38 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments


Come back here for more details as information becomes available.


A 23-year-old Seattle man has smashed the speed record for hiking the full length of the Pacific Crest Trail. Recent college grad Joe McConaughy crossed into Canada on Sunday, exactly 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes after leaving the Mexican border on the storied trail. McConaughy says he felt elation and disbelief at the finish of the 2,660 mile journey.

“I immediately broke down,” he recalled a few hours later. “I was switching between laughing and crying – thinking of all these incredible tales and trips we’d had day in, day out and all the pain.”

There is no official time keeper for long distance trail records. McConaughy had a support team and a satellite tracking beacon to verify his time. He says he ran the downhill and flat sections and generally hiked the uphills.

Even McConaughy sounds astonished by the pace he maintained. “I can’t believe that I averaged 50 whole miles a day over some of the toughest mountains in the West – the toughest mountains in the West,” he marveled.

The Seattle native shaved a full six days off the unofficial record time for a supported end-to-end Pacific Crest Trail hike. Santa Monica College track coach and exercise physiology instructor Josh Garrett – a vegan – held the previous record of 59 days, 8 hours and 14 minutes. Garrett set that mark last summer.

The long distance hiking fraternity recognizes a separate record for trekking border to border alone, without an accompanying support team. Heather ‘Anish’ Anderson of Bellingham, WA continues to own that record of 60 days, 17 hours.

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Popular Smokies hiking trail under reconstruction

Posted by on Aug 10, 2014 @ 10:20 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Popular Smokies hiking trail under reconstruction

While some crew members pounded rock into gravel with sledgehammers, others used pry bars to skid granite boulders into place. A hand-powered cable winch capable of pulling 4,000 pounds was strapped to a buckeye tree at the top of a steep flight of steps, and everyone was covered in mud.

The crew members were 1½ miles up the Chimney Tops Trail, one of the rockiest, steepest and most popular hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Three years go, with funding from Trails Forever, they began working their way up the mountain from the trailhead off U.S. 441, also known as Newfound Gap Road.

Now, they’re only a half-mile from the double-capstone knob famously known as Chimney Tops, and barring any unforeseen delays, they expect to finish by mid-October 2014.

Launched in 2009 during the Smokies’ 75th anniversary, the Trails Forever program provides dedicated funding to address the park’s most heavily damaged hiking trails. To create the endowment, the Friends of the Smokies raised $2 million that was matched dollar-for-dollar by the Aslan Foundation, the philanthropy of the late Knoxville lawyer Lindsay Young. The $200,000 in annual interest from the endowment pays for a special trail crew that focuses on trail reconstruction as opposed to the routine trail maintenance already handled by the park’s other two crews.

Not since the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps have trails in the Smokies undergone such basic reconstruction.

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Hiking requires right mix of food, water

Posted by on Aug 10, 2014 @ 9:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

One aspect of hiking that differs from other endurance sports such as running is it’s easier to eat almost anything while you hike. But that’s not to say you should.

Hiking often is a lower intensity workout than running, but it can still include several hours of continuous aerobic activity. It is often done at elevation, carrying a pack up and down steep grades, negotiating rock steps, logs and other obstacles.

Sometimes, hiking is done at an exertion level near or even above the anaerobic threshold. So it makes sense to eat appropriately before, during and after a hike, just as you would for a long run, bike ride or other endurance activity.

Whether you prefer a high-carbohydrate diet or a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, or some combination, getting something in your stomach 30 minutes or so before you start hiking allows time for digestion before you ramp up the activity level.

A good mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat will provide energy over a longer period than carbohydrates alone. Since most hikes or climbs start at lower elevations and/or exertion levels than the final objective, proteins and fats might be more easily absorbed and converted to energy during the early portion of the hike than later.

And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

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