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  1. 3 points
    Chris, Randy and I sat at a local brewery, a map of Olympic National Park spread across the table. We had climbed in the Olympics for decades, but now we were attempting something different – a thru hike from one side of the park to another. You might have thought planning to cross using established routes would be simple, but it was proving anything but. “Even the freaking rain forest is on fire.” Chris traced a route with his finger. The Pacific Northwest was suffering through one of its hottest summers on record, and our choices were dwindling. Park rangers had nixed the north-south high route, telling us the Elwha Snow Finger – the path leading from the mountains to the central river valley – had disappeared with climate change. Descent would require a rope and rack of climbing gear. As Chris noted, the western exits were threatened by the Paradise Fire, burning for months in the upper canopy of the Queets Rainforest. After a month of planning we decided to come in from the east, up the Dosewallips River Trail, over 5800-foot Hayden Pass, and then out to the north, along the Elwha River. Even this route reflected the consequences of a changing climate and aging park infrastructure. We’d be out for six days and travel 60 miles, but 11 miles of that total would be on what were once access roads. A 310-foot section of the Dosewallips River Road had washed out in a flood in 2002, and cost, competing views of wilderness, and the likelihood the river would continue running higher essentially meant the road – the traditional eastern approach to the park – would never be rebuilt. We would end our trip the same way. On exiting the trail system at Whiskey Bend, we needed to trudge six miles along a road that was frequently blocked by flooding and was crumbling away one chunk of asphalt at a time. The trip began, then, with our staggering along the Dosewallips Road. The temperature topped 90 degrees. The steep rise to the abandoned ranger station angled us into the sun’s glare, bleaching the road bed white and burning the outline of my pack along my shoulder blades. Drenched with sweat, we dropped our packs at the base of a towering cedar. I sucked in a breath and looked at what remained of the ranger station and campground. The place felt haunted. The river’s white noise might have blended with voices, as families came to picnic beside the sparkling water. Now plywood covered the windows and doors of the park service buildings. Modesty at the toilet was provided by a shower curtain hung where the door had once been. Waist-high grass swayed, overgrowing the picnic tables, and the informational signs – “Dosewallips Trailhead/Mountain Wilderness” – and a host of others had been blown over, the plastic facings shattered and their bases smothered in weeds. On the trail at last, we fell into a familiar line: Chris leading, Randy next, and me anchoring. Our goal was camp on Deception Creek, 8 miles and 1500 vertical feet away. Our time on the sun-drenched road had wasted us. Even sheltered under the cedars and firs, I couldn’t catch a full breath in the heat. We dropped onto the mossy carpet beside the trail at ever-shortening intervals. At each stop we’d gulp water and then guiltily check our bottles, evaluating whether what remained in them would last till camp. Finally, mercifully, a bear wire appeared, tracing a line from a fir’s branches to the ground. The camp was just below the trail, a big dusty circle with the creek trickling quietly along one side and the river giving a full-throated roar on the other. I dragged myself down the path and walked out beside the river. The Dosewallips cascaded by in blue-white arcs smooth as Chihuly glass. We had 13 miles behind us and 47 left to go. “These long hikes, you get faster each day,” I said over dinner. Randy, ever the cynic, caught Chris’ eye and bobbed his head my way. “Does he ever stop lying?” “Well, the weather is supposed to break soon,” I replied, trying to fight the leaden mood exhaustion brought on. But the next morning supported Randy’s negative world view. The trail climbed the valley, popping out of forest and into meadows of head-high grass and Russian thistles, the plants holding heat like a sauna and disguising chuckholes deep as tiger traps. I remembered the first book I’d ever read about the Olympics – a 1970 edition of the Olympic Mountain Trail Guide by Robert L. Wood – and thought how this day contrasted with his telling. Mt. Fromme, described as “crowned with snow cornices”, now shimmered at the valley’s head, a series of naked cliffs that seemed to float, detached from the earth. Near tree line, Dose Meadows opened before us, acres of grass and lupine burning with light. At Woods’ writing, the meadow had teemed with wildlife, marmots, deer, and bears among throngs of backpackers, but we hadn’t glimpsed an animal, human or otherwise, in a day and a half, the three of us alone on the once-popular trail. A boot path led around a low dirt hill to another gorgeous site on the Dosewallips, the river here placid and shallow. Once the tent was up, Chris and I hastily repacked for our side trip up Lost Peak. We might be thru-hiking, but peaks rose all around us, and the climbing bug couldn’t be easily shaken. “You sure you’re not coming?” I asked. Randy stood beside me with a book under one arm. “Swear to god, man, just two miles up. No farther than that.” But Randy snapped his book open, and the two of us headed up the Lost Pass Trail, so primitive and steep we had to kick our boot edges in to hold the slope. We reminisced along the way. One goal of this trip was to slow life down and refocus. “I feel like the last twelve years went by like a dream, Doug,” Chris said. “Like I lost them. Where’d they go?” Once, we climbed three weekends a month, but we all settled down and had kids, and while their young lives flew by, our trips to the mountains had become rare and manic in turn. Harsh alpine country surrounded us at Lost Pass. We headed toward a rounded dome to the east, kicking over talus and through krumholz. The mountain was parched. Heather snapped as we pushed through, and every broadleaf alpine plant was burned a brittle red. Lost Peak was a rubble pile about 100 feet higher than the dome, and we scrambled the boulders to the top. We looked back the way we’d come. The river’s canyon wound away, slopes darkening with firs until everything vanished in the haze. Randy was still reading when we returned, reclining against a log in the meadows and bathed in sunset light. The scene was blissful, and, next morning, the universe picked that same joyous tune. High clouds rolled in and the heat wave broke. For day three we’d maintain our basecamp, go light to Hayden Pass, and then follow a climber’s trail to Sentinel Peak. The river breathed its last beneath a final bridge, just a sheen of water trickling down rock steps. We hiked through tundra and followed the looping switchbacks to the pass, just a sharp notch in the ridge. A strong trail south wound up Sentinel, crossing talus basins and squeezing through clumps of alpine firs. Views opened on the rock slabs just below the summit – far off, the smoke plume from the Paradise fire and, nearer, clouds building behind Mount Anderson, a tortuous ridge-run away, its twin summits separated by a glacier and a rock pillar thrust skyward like a knife blade. We settled back in camp early. I’d planned on an afternoon nap, but we shoveled down snacks and chattered away, and I couldn’t keep my eyes closed, afraid I’d miss the next story though I’d heard each one a dozen times. That evening, a buck stepped from the shadows across the river, the first animal we’d seen in four days out. Heedless of us, he lowered his head to drink, his neck and shoulder muscles rippling. He picked his way soundlessly through the brush, glowing in front of that dark forest like Zeus come to earth in animal form. The next morning we hiked to the pass again and took the Hayes River Trail down, coasting nine miles to the banks of the Elwha. The views of Mount Anderson’s intimidating glaciers disappeared. We navigated a trail washout, and shortly after that entered a gentler world. Hikers appeared in clusters. The forest rose and moss painted earth and blow downs a delicate green, every image softened as though viewed through a gauze-covered lens. On the porch of the Hayes River Patrol Cabin we took a break before strolling to yet another perfect river camp. Compared to the Dosewallips, the Elwha was mellow, its water clear and the gravel-lined bottom symmetrical as though a pool boy had taken a rake to it. Our final two days of hiking had a dreamlike quality to them after the battering we’d taken at the outset. On day four, the valley broadened as we passed the Elkhorn Guard Station, deciduous trees draped with moss in a scene out of the Mississippi bayou. After one last camp, on the Lillian River above the Elwha, we passed increasing numbers of hikers and reminders of the human history in this valley: the weathered cabin grandiosely named “The Elk Lick Lodge” and the equally-dilapidated Cougar Mike’s Cabin a couple of miles further up the trail. Half an hour past Cougar Mike’s came trail’s end at Whiskey Bend. We swung around the road damage and hiked the pavement the final six miles to one last barrier, the gate closing the road to traffic. There we encountered a scene of intentional destruction, all in service of this beautiful country we’d just traversed. I dropped my pack and followed my friends onto an overlook platform. Across the river, a matching platform was filling with tourists exiting a bus, but on our side we stood alone. A century ago, the Glines Canyon Spillway had been erected to dam the Elwha at a cleft between rock walls. Now the dam was gone, removed in 2014 to restore the river and allow a vanished ecosystem to be reborn. In all honesty, it didn’t look like much – the spillway was just two weathered cement walls caked with moss, old metal channels hanging loose above the rushing water. Back in the direction we’d come, manmade Lake Mills had drained. The ground it once covered looked like a construction site, braided channels flowing through a mudflat and patches of scrub. But the point of it, I told myself, was what this scene symbolized. With the park’s roads crumbling, the high country parched and the forest on fire, at least this attempt was being made to return one river valley to its pristine state in a way everyone could enjoy, whether or not they chose to hike the whole darned park to get there. Information: As the park service says, “Wilderness Camping permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park wilderness (backcountry) year-round.” All of the areas on this trip were considered “non-quota”, which makes getting a permit easier, but the process is still fairly complicated and appears to be changing from an in-person or phone in to an online system. Best recommendations are to check out the wilderness sections of the park website, call the park at (360) 565-3130, or stop into a wilderness information center at Hoodsport or Port Angeles. One possible complication is that the Hayden Pass Trail was damaged (fire again) in 2016, and right now the NPS doesn’t recommend it. If it is not reopened, you might consider taking the primitive Lost Pass Trail north and exiting at Hurricane Ridge. Best Time to Go: Obviously, the weather has been warming, but from the end of July through September, weather in the Pacific Northwest remains as close to perfect as you can imagine. While it’s always a necessity to pack rain gear, days are long and nights are temperate. Getting There: The Dosewallips River Road leads west off Highway 101, just north of the tiny town of Brinnon, Washington. If you’re coming from the Seattle area, the coolest way to make the trip is via the Edmonds/Kingston ferry (reserve your spot through the Washington State Ferry system), and then take Highway 104 till it ends at Highway 101, at which point you head south toward Brinnon. Maps and Books: Olympic Mountain Trail Guide by Robert L. Wood – last edition available out in 1970 is the book I still use for general park info since the author knew every trail well. A lot has changed, but for the basics, with reliable info on backcountry camps and distances, it’s still great. If the idea of bagging a few peaks along the way appeals to you, be aware that the Climber’s Guide to the Olympic Mountains is known to have some interesting route descriptions for obscure peaks. The guide lists both Lost Peak and Mount Fromme as Class 1, trail all the way to the top, excursions. Lost was a thrash that became a light scramble at the summit; Fromme appears to be a Class 2 that begins with a steep unpleasant stomp through krumholz. Most of the other allegedly 1.1 climbs in the Dose Meadows area are probably of a similarly mixed character. The book does give an overview of all of the approach trail systems, so it has its uses. There’s also a newer Falcon Guide, Hiking Olympic National Park by Erik Molvar. For navigation, the waterproof and tearproof National Geographic Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park Map is suggested.
  2. 2 points
    In his beautiful and evocative memoir The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness, acclaimed travel writer Gary Ferguson breathes emotional and humane life into the Mountain West. After 25 years of marriage and as many seasons sharing a USFS ski patrol hut, Ferguson’s wife Jane passes away suddenly in a tragic canoeing accident in northern Ontario, dividing Ferguson from not only his partner and best friend, but from his identity in relation to her. In recognition of her last wishes, he sets out to scatter her ashes in her five favorite backcountry locations, and in doing so begins to hunt for what meaning he can reconstruct of his own life in her absence. As Ferguson takes the reader through the deep wilds of the American West, he constructs his world through prose as granular and pulsing as his environs: “West of Caineville the land melts into the bare bones of existence: rusted waves of sandstone peeling away with every passing storm; deep blue sky, hot and thirsty and bright.” But what breathes life into his writing is not the descriptions of the earth around him, but rather the emotional connections he generates to it with his readers. Each of the locations at which he scatters Jane’s ashes bears personal meaning, and he imbues that meaning into his descriptions from the opening passage: “The end came for Jane, and so for us, at the edge of a spring, when the leaves of the north country were washed in that impossible shade of lemonade green. A color she said always reminded her of a certain crayon in the old Crayola 64 boxes she had as a kid – one labeled simply “yellow green” – a clumsy name with no hint of the promise it held” From the first page, he reaches out and takes the reader’s hand, guides us through the Mountain West as he knows it. His travels to lay Jane to rest take him through the heart of the northern American Rockies, from the Sawtooth Range of Idaho to the northern reaches of Yellowstone and the Beartooths, south down to the canyons of Utah, but the greater story that he tells brings the reader to Colorado, Oregon, and the Northwest Territories of Canada. His trips start brief as he recovers from his own injuries, making short forays into the Sawtooths and into Utah alone to say his private goodbyes and close the intimate chapters on the story of their life together. But by the time he’s ready to make the final scatterings, he’s joined by friends, family, and anyone who has their own closures to make with Jane, and leaves straight from his front door in the foothills of the Beartooths and hikes a hundred miles south and west for her final ceremony in the northeast corner of Yellowstone. And like a guide, he shows us what’s worth seeing, tells us about his connection to it, but encourages us to make a connection for ourselves. He lays the emotional agar and steps away to let us seed it with our own experience. He occasionally gets in over his head in this regard, jumping back and forth, often several times per (already short) chapter, between multiple recollections of a place. But while understanding the location’s importance in his and Jane’s life is crucial to our appreciation of his voyage in the present, his frequent and sporadic trips into the locations’ natural and explorative history often interrupts the pacing and adds further complexity to an already complex story. But of course, a search for identity is necessarily complex, and that is ultimately what brings Ferguson out in the wake of Jane’s death. Not to find the right place to lay her to rest, not even to honor her memory at the places she loved the most. He spent 30 years of his life at her side, as rangers and as partners, and thus his identification with nature is pinned to his identification with her. His journeys lay Jane to rest, sure, but ultimately his driving force is to work out who and what he is without her, and how he relates to these timeless wilds. Jane is now part of the wilds just as she is part of him, but as the wilds go on, so too must he. You can find The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness here on
  3. 2 points
    Spacious silence and cool, dry air. The sun is always warm in California, even in the dead of winter. Winter time is the off season here in Death Valley National Park, but I can’t imagine why. Boasting the hottest recorded temperature on Earth, it seems funny that most of the park’s visitors come in the summer. If you want to feel some serious, otherworldly heat, then pay us a visit in July! However, if you come to explore at any other time of the year, California’s mild and pleasant weather can be almost guaranteed. Spring is especially nice in Death Valley, when the warm nights return, and the wildflowers occasionally bloom for miles. If you stop by in winter however, you will probably find ample solitude on the trails in the area. At higher elevations in winter, there will be snow and ice towards the top of the mountains, but usually not very much. Cold, crisp air awaits as you hike higher, complete silence, and most likely, isolation. Starting from the charcoal kilns area, deep in the Panamint Mountains you will know when you’ve arrived, because these strange, stone, beehive-like structures will suddenly appear in the pinyon pine forest. They will certainly bring a moment of fascination. Most people don’t realize Death Valley has forests at the higher elevations. As the road winds higher into the mountain range, trees will suddenly appear. Any further up from here it becomes 4 wheel drive only. That road will lead to the trailhead for Telescope Peak, another great day hiking option. The charcoal kilns are a very cool landmark to check out. In the 1800s they would burn the pinyon pine forest here to make coal, and send it for fuel to the nearby mining boom-towns. I used to live in Death Valley and I fell in love with the park. The Panamint Mountains were my great backyard. When I would get some time to myself I’d wander up into them and enjoy their majestic silence. The hike here took place in January, and the conditions were icy, but without too much snow. The hike didn’t require any special gear, or any special permits. Just drive up into this lonely land and see what’s out there. The Wildrose Trail will generally have less snow on it than the Telescope Trail, so can be a good option in winter. I felt refreshed at the beginning of the hike as I left the charcoal kilns, taking my camera along and meandering around a few scenic corners, before heading straight up! This was the most challenging part of the day as I climbed through the forest, but was the perfect warm-up in the sharp, high desert air. The charcoal kilns are already at 6,800 feet of elevation. Coming from the bottom of Death Valley, I left the warm weather behind having driven literally from sea level, and would climb to over 9,000 feet high on this 4.2 mile, one way hike. It wasn’t too far before cresting the ridge, and I looked down to the first sweeping view of Badwater Basin in the valley. This, I could tell, is where the great scenery would begin. The rest of the hike was much easier than the first part of the ascent. Now I got to stroll along the ridgeline, taking in the view of Telescope Peak behind me. Telescope is Death Valley’s tallest mountain, and has an incredible ridgewalk as well. Trails in this area are great options for day hiking the Panamints. After the mellow ridgewalk, I encountered one final push to get to the summit. This is where the snow and ice began, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I was actually wearing sandals as well! I wouldn’t completely recommend this, because my toes were getting cold, but I generally love sandals for desert hiking. Just don’t hit a cactus! Finally, the summit awaits. I sat there and froze for a very long time, writing in my journal and wandering around that place which feels on top of the world. I took shelter in a pinyon pine tree to each some snacks, surveying the colorful, mirage-like desert all around. No matter the elevation, the sun always feels warm around here. Another great thing about Death Valley is you can hike in the bright moonlight, so I didn’t feel too rushed to get down knowing the moon would be showing up tonight. Still, it’s always a good idea to bring a flashlight or headlamp and the 10 essentials. Upon arriving back home in Death Valley later that evening, the warm air was a welcome greeting. Information: There is a free campground at the beginning of Emigrant Canyon Road, and at the junction of Wildrose/ Emigrant Canyon Road. They are reserved on a first come basis, and are often crowded or full most times of the year (except winter). Free camping can be found on the BLM land at the bottom of Wildrose Road in Panamint Valley, on many dirt side roads, and roadside camping/sleeping is acceptable there as well. Backcountry permits, day hiking or camping, are voluntary in Death Valley, and can be filled out at the two visitors centers – one in Lone Pine, CA, and one in Furnace Creek, CA. Check with a ranger about snow condition before attempting a hike, and be prepared with all your own water. It’s up to you how much water to carry because it is heavy, but 2-4 liters should be sufficient for a colder, shorter day hike. Of course if you bring more, you can always drink more! Books & Maps: Hiking Death Valley: A Guide to its Natural Wonders and Mining Past by Michel Digonnet. This book is more than just a hiking guide, the author knows Death Valley very well and explains its rich and colorful history along with the descriptions of the hike. He will also tell you the many unique plants and animals found in the region, as well as more obscure hikes off the beaten path. This guide includes hidden gold mines to explore and descriptions of how to find them. This guidebook is one to constantly return to whenever planning a hike in Death Valley. Hiking Western Death Valley National Park: Panamint, Saline and Eureka Valleys by Michel Digonnet. This book provides a closer look at the trails on the west side (the best side) of the park. Death Valley and the Amargosa: A Land of Illusion by Richard E. Lingenfelter. A fascinating read for anyone interested in Death Valley, or who is familiar with the park, this book will convey all of its history. There are many stories, some grim and some funny. From the lost Mormon wagon train that accidentally discovered Death Valley and gave it the name... to the many prospectors and con-men who called the place home. It’s a long and highly informative read, and an excellent series of stories about this haunting land. Death Valley National Park Trails Illustrated Map, National Geographic. This is the only map I have ever needed when exploring Death Valley. It has clear topography lines and the beautiful coloring of the map makes it fun to look at and easy to read. It has info on the side about trail suggestions and concerns about hiking in the park. Getting There: If traveling from the east, take CA hwy 190, the main road through the park. After passing Stovepipe Wells village, drive 10 miles further and you will find Emigrant Canyon Road on your left. Take that turn, and drive for about 25 miles straight to the Wildrose trailhead at the charcoal kilns. The road will turn to dirt 5 miles before the kilns. These same directions can be used if traveling from the West on CA hwy 190. After you pass Panamint Springs village your turnoff is 22 miles away on the right. If traveling from Los Angeles area however, you will be coming into the park from the south. In this case you can take the back route in... After leaving the town of Trona and cresting the Slate Range Pass, you will drop into Panamint Valley. Take the right turn for Wildrose Road, 15 miles after Slate Range Pass. This will connect you to Emigrant Canyon Road, take a right turn there, and drive just 8 miles to the charcoal kilns. When exploring the region, it is fun to take both roads, Emigrant Canyon and Wildrose Road, to make a driving loop out of it. Best Time to Go: Hiking the Panamint Mountains can be done any time of the year. My favorite time is December, because the air is very clear that time of the year, but the temperatures can be quite cold. The only time the hike should be avoided is immediately after a high altitude snowstorm or during one. This information should be found out at the visitor center, or at least by gazing up at the snow level on the peaks. Springtime snow is very possible in Death Valley. The best time to do the hike is on a rare cloudy day…In the summer, this hike is an excellent escape from the hot weather, and temperatures will still be mildly warm at the summit. In the spring, vast meadows of wildflowers sometimes bloom in the Panamint Mountains.
  4. 2 points
    My personal luxury item is good coffee. It might not sound like much of a luxury but a relaxing cup of high quality coffee brewed over a fire puts me in my Happy Place.
  5. 2 points
    Being a "naturalist" is what makes being out there so rewarding. There is actually more to see off the trail. The term is left over from the NPS days when they had people in ranger suits giving talks to people at campgrounds. Now they mostly have law enforcement agents instead. I am always looking for plant ecologists, foresters, range people and wildlife biologists to talk with in the wild.
  6. 1 point
    I have backpacked in the Highlands of Scotland and can relate to that. In my experience, sprays can work temporarily. Most that I have tried, however, don't last much past one or 2 good soakings. Others here might have some better ideas than I do on this, but I usually try to carry plenty of extra socks and air my feet out whenever I can. One thing I learned about waterproof boots tho, if water gets in them, it doesn't come out. I got caught in a storm and had my pants tucked into my boots. Water ended up soaking thru my pants and running into my boots.
  7. 1 point
    Wow....just wow... I think this is the best "lesson learned" story so far! No bum sliding down a snowy hillside! Thanks for sharing.
  8. 1 point
    So I got a reply from Yellowstone staff regarding this and thought I would pass it on for anyone interested. When you get your backcountry pass they will also issue a vehicle pass to display when you are parked at the trailhead. I don't want to spend a week in the back country only to come out and find I had been towed. Given what I have learned from researching the trip so far public transport is pretty nonexistent to the park unless it is part of a tour package and rental cars in that area are pretty expensive, so am road tripping this one. It will give me a good chance to see a few other places on the way. Hope this helps anyone else interested in such a trip.
  9. 1 point
    I'm considering getting this pad. Not that I really *need* a new sleeping pad but the wider width with a standard length and the lack of any crinkly noise from the pad appeals to me. Think I'll wait until the fall and see if there are any good sales first though .
  10. 1 point
    Greetings and welcome to the group. There is a lot of good information here and some great people, I hope that you can find this forum as helpful as I have. Again, welcome.
  11. 1 point
    Hey all, I have been a novice hiker for a long time, but recently I have been really wanting to get into back country hiking. I thought a forum would be a good place to start and gain information from the more experienced people. At the moment I am starting to acquire gear. I have a compass, hiking shoes and camel back. LOL. I'm taking my time because I have no idea what would be the right gear needed hence why I am hear. Any information would be so appreciated. I am currently living in California, but I am originally from Maine. Hopefully, I can make it to some meet ups and meet some great people and enjoy God's beauty. Cheers.
  12. 1 point
    Welcome to TrailGroove and best of luck getting started and getting all the gear assembled. For some tips in that regard feel free to browse past issues of the magazine - as a Premium Member you can download all the past issues here to catch up on all our past reviews and tips on gear. You can also find reviews and guides on everything from pack selection to sleeping pads over on the blog: Lastly, feel free to ask any questions that might come up here on the forums!
  13. 1 point
    Thank you, Aaron for this blog posting. I've been a regular Gaia user, using it for downloading gpx. routes to the app and then tracking my hikes. I've now just become a premium subscriber (to Gaia that is; I sure wish I'd known about TrailGroove's special offer regarding a free premium membership to Gaia with a $20 premium membership to TrailGroove!!) to create routes myself, let alone having the confidence to play around with all the possible map layers. This blog posting of yours allowed things to really start coming together for me. I'm taking myself on my first hiking tour in the Southwest and I'm very grateful to have this wonderful Gaia app more useful for that.
  14. 1 point
    Hey Everyone. I'm Andrew I'm hoping to gain experience from on the boards. I'm very new to hiking and backpacking. I'm from Philadelphia and I'm trying to get back into hiking. I did some small group hikes years ago. I'd like to get back into in and maybe do a multi day backpacking trip. I'd like to meet some people and get suggestion on easier hikes i could try.
  15. 1 point
    just saw this on an instragram post a few weeks ago and tried it for the first time while mountain biking the other day and was surprised how accurate it was! being that i was down in a canyon the sun sets at a different time than I am used to at home so this trick came in very handy! held up my hand and figured I had about 45 minutes of good light left and sure enough exactly 45 minutes later ( within a minute or two ) the sun dropped and it started getting dark. Very cool trick and awesome skill to have when spending time in areas where the sun set is different! Thanks for sharing !
  16. 1 point
    Hi All! New here and excited to learn more about this group and the various hike destinations. Taking a team to the Grand Canyon in a little over a week and looking to branch out in other hike destinations.
  17. 1 point
    After making the switch from hiking books to trail runners a few years ago, I’ve been fairly loyal to various iterations of the Brooks Cascadias. At any given time during the hiking season, there is usually at least one Gore-Tex pair of Cascadias and one regular pair on my feet or in my gear room. Alternating between the two based on trail conditions or the season has kept my feet happy for well over a thousand cumulative miles of backpacking and trail running. I’ve found both versions to be supremely comfortable for my absolutely average feet and, when purchased on sale, to be reasonably economical since they generally seem to last less than a year of frequent use, even when splitting the wear between two pairs. The Brooks Cascadia 13 is the most recent version of the popular trail running shoe and continues with the same general principles of comfort and performance that have defined them since they came on the market. I used the Cascadia 13s on a few brief day hikes before lacing them up at the Iron Gate Trailhead on the edge of Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness for a 60-mile backpacking trip. As expected, and as with most trail running shoes, there really isn’t any break-in period required – they’re comfortable right out of the box whether you’re going on a 3-mile run or a 30-mile hike. The trip in the Pasayten put the shoes through a good mix of terrain and conditions – from well-graded forest trail to steep burned sections, and sunny afternoons followed by snowy mornings. Despite a pack with gear for shoulder-season weather in the Pacific Northwest and five days of food, the Cascadias were exceptionally comfortable and provided all the support needed. Even after long days with lots of elevation change – the most challenging day being around 24 miles and with 3,500 feet of elevation loss and 4,100 feet of elevation gain – my feet were still pretty happy at the end of the day (although they became even happier when slipped into Crocs at the end of the day after a quick soak in a stream). I’m prone to sweaty feet and appreciate the breathability of non-waterproof trail runners, but even on uphills during a warm and sunny afternoon my feet never felt like they were sweltering in these. The Gore-Tex lining came in handy when crossing small streams and was particularly appreciated when walking through a few inches of wet snow. Similar conditions a few months later during a trip to a hot springs in Idaho saw the Cascadias working well in the same conditions, as well as when hiking through overgrown stretches of trail. They also gripped well on dusty and eroded sections of creekbank which, at one time at least, had a trail along it. Subsequent trips with more cross-country travel, including some particularly rough sections through recovering burns, put some wear and tear on these shoes. Extended use in such conditions rapidly wears out the less rugged parts of the shoes, with the mesh areas and spots where one piece of fabric transitions to another being the most vulnerable. While the performance in full-blown bushwhacks is reasonably good (a pair of gaiters is almost essential for keeping our debris), it is best to avoid using these when in rugged off-trail terrain due to how rapidly it reduces the lifespan of these shoes. As a backpacker and not an orthopedic expert, I can’t comment with much authority or intelligence on the various merits of the shoes relatively standard 10mm midsole drop or its “neutral” support. All I know is that for someone with no major footwear preferences, no foot issues, or other special considerations that the shoes performed slightly above my more-or-less average expectations. One nifty feature that I truly appreciated was the elastic stash pocket on the front of the tongue to tuck the laces into. This clever design provides a place to keep laces out of the way, which was helpful when putting on gaiters as well as when trail running to provide some additional peace-of-mind about tripping over them or having them snag on an errant branch or root. At 12.3 ounces (each) the Cascadias are light enough to not feel burdensome when on the trail and, after changing into fresh socks and opening up the laces, function decently as a camp shoe once you’re done hiking for the day. Based on my experiences with the 13s, I plan to buy at least another pair when the 14s inevitably are released and they are marked down for closeout. And I’d say that it’s likely you can count me in for the 15s, 16s, and 17s as well. The Brooks Cascadia is available in both a Gore-Tex and mesh version starting at around $130. Find them here at REI, at, and on
  18. 1 point
    Your question has motivated me to write a post about my favorite multi-day backpacking loops in the PNW.
  19. 1 point
    Got it, that makes more sense. If you can get permits for it, a loop from Deer Park Campground, up Gray Wolf River to Falls campsite, on to Gray Wolf Pass, to Dose Meadows campsite, up Lost Pass to Cameron Pass (nice campsite in Cameron Basin below the pass) and then Grand Pass and Grand Valley, then back to Deer Park via the ridge east of Obstruction Point. About 50 miles total and not very crowded at all, with spectacular scenery. I did it in late August and there were no bugs to speak of.
  20. 1 point
    Some great suggestions in here. I'm a bit confused by your request -- are you looking for a loop (hike that starts and ends at the same trailhead) or a thru/point-to-point hike where you start at one trailhead and end up at another (requiring a shuttle/two cars/other arrangements to get back to starting point)? For loops, I would suggest looking at options in Olympic National Park and maybe North Cascades National Park, both require permits so go check out the websites and figure out your itinerary. You could also do point-to-point hikes there as well, with hiking on the Olympic Coast being an option if you wanted to do another coastal trip. Both are great. The Loowit Trail around Mt. St. Helens is fantastic, but is probably only a 3-4 day trip at most (around 30 miles, but with no camping in a 12-mile section which throws off equal-mileage days a bit).
  21. 1 point
    I would highly recommend the Timberline Trail around Mt Hood. One of the best loops in America with all aspects of the Pacific Cascades. I do the Timberline Trail every year. Here are my last two TT treks:
  22. 1 point
    That was a mistake I made. I bought a Helium II rain jacket, and while it was fantastic it didn't fit over my down jacket. That was fine until I went on a trip where the snow was a bit wetter and the down started getting damp. Exchanged it for a size up (thank you REI return policy!)
  23. 1 point
    Yeah, Iooks like the dividends have been calculated / applied but the rest of the page wording just hasn't been updated quite yet.
  24. 1 point
    Cool, good to know those are posted. I'm considering a new tent to replace the MSR Hubba I've been using since 2012, but haven't totally decided whether or not to do that this year or try to squeeze another season out of it. Still going fairly strong, just had to patch some mesh earlier this year.
  25. 1 point
    Welcome to TrailGroove!
  26. 1 point
    I took my daughter for her first "official" hike to Saddle Lake in the Hoosier National Forest. It is a very short trail, but I wanted to start her out on something easy. She enjoyed the stream and creek crossings, and picking icicles from the rock outcroppings. I do recommend this trail, even though it is a short one.
  27. 1 point
    I will agree that it is something of a luxury item. Wildlife photography is something I very much enjoy and I want a chance to potentially shoot (as in photography) some of the more nocturnal critters. I will be sure to post some pics and a review here after I have tested it for any that might be interested.
  28. 1 point
    I've got that same cup (same color too, albeit a little less faded) and it is one of my favorite pieces of backpacking gear. I've had it for probably around 10 years now and think it will definitely be seeing another ten years of use. My only complaint is that it is just barely too tall to properly nest inside my kettle (MSR Titan) with the lid on.
  29. 1 point
    Great information here. Site selection seems to get overlooked by many backpackers (even more experienced one) and can make all the difference in having a good campsite. Always good to remember that even though it might look like a great campsite, it is always smart to double-check that it has some of the actual criteria for a great campsite.
  30. 1 point
    Relatively new backpacker here from the great city of New Orleans. I say relatively new because I have been on 4 group backpacking excursions but have yet to strike out on my first solo hike. Hopefully, I will be checking that off my list in March of 2019! I look forward to meeting plenty of like-minded souls and soaking up as much knowledge as possible from all of you. Opus
  31. 1 point
    Planning to finally get to Yellowstone this year. Was all set to go this last year but could not at the last minute. Currently planning on visiting the Lamar Valley when I can. Also hoping to do part of the Sheltowee Trace in Daniel Boone National Forest. Other trips as time allows.
  32. 1 point
    We've got plans to visit Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon and other sites this spring, then later in the summer headed for Utah and Colorado. July and August is for RMNP to Glacier on an extended swing Can you tell we're retired?
  33. 1 point
    yea, that would give me pause, too. A story that made the news a few years ago still sticks in my head. A guy found a rifle that was over 100 years old leaned up against a tree in a national park in Nevada. One thing I love about traipsing through the backcountry is that you never know what you will stumble across.
  34. 1 point
    Looks like the top of a woodstove to me. That's the chimney outlet in the back--the oval opening
  35. 1 point
    Went to Yosemite this fall in late October and it was glorius.
  36. 1 point
    We shuffle off the bus and melt into a crowd of tourists, all headed for the perfectly framed view of the Maroon Bells surrounded by bright yellows and greens. Just a minute from the parking lot and we’re already sold on our three-day adventure. More commonly a four-day trip, the Four Pass Loop is one of the most popular – and most photographed – backpacking routes in the United States. The 28-mile trek takes hikers over four mountain passes, ascends and descends over 7,800 feet, and challenges even the most experienced of adventurers with its constantly changing conditions and frequent mid-afternoon summer thunderstorms. It’s no wonder they’re nicknamed the “deadly Bells.” We’d waited for a clear weather window, but these mountains still had a lot in store for us. Our first day leads us through the peaking aspens and over two of the four passes. We begin climbing almost immediately from the trailhead at Maroon Lake, energized by a good night’s sleep and the excitement of the day and too awe-struck to notice the weight of our heavy packs on our backs. At 1.4 miles, we hit Crater Lake – a dried-up landmark on our map that means it’s time to head west. We opt to do the loop clockwise to avoid a notoriously challenging ascent up Buckskin Pass, assuming a steep downhill will be much less exhausting. We blissfully navigate forests of thick yellow and began crawling up mellow, rocky slopes. Soon enough, they begin switchbacking and we catch an intimidating glimpse of our first mountain pass: West Maroon. We had done significant research and prep before heading out, including purchasing a topographical map, downloading digital maps, and even tracking our hike using two cell phone apps. That said, we couldn’t figure out how far we would have to travel on our first day. Apparently, not many hikers do the Four Pass Loop in only three days, so the mileages and trip reports just didn’t add up. We figured it would be anywhere from 10 to 13 miles to Fravert Basin, where we intended to camp, but we had no idea how challenging our day-one itinerary would be. Once we begin ascending West Maroon Pass, our pace slows significantly. It’s mid-afternoon, and we haven’t eaten a proper breakfast or lunch. I’m already delirious. We pull over to the side of the trail and dive into a hearty meal of Clif Bars and gorp – definitely not what my body wants – and push upward, determined to hit camp before dark. We crest the first pass with high spirits, stunned by the impressive view on the other side. The trail seems to dip and dive into the valley below with no sign of re-ascending another, but there’s still plenty of sunlight remaining. After a painfully steep descent, we continue on toward aptly named Frigid Air Pass. As we start another climb, the wind picks up significantly, pushing back against each step forward. Only motivated by the thought of my next meal, I force my hiking partner, Andrew, to step off the trail and cook us a real lunch: ramen noodles. In the distance, I notice a bright orange tent against the green backdrop of the valley – nestled up against a dream-like lake, peaks forming a perfect circle around the campsite. Can’t we just hide out here tonight? I toy with the idea for a short second before realizing Andrew’s already begun stuffing things back into my pack. At least full and warm again, I summon the willpower to continue upward. Once we complete the long and arduous ascent up Frigid Air Pass, we crawl over the ridge just as the sun is setting. It transforms the maroon peaks into dark silhouettes and we can’t help but pause to take it all in. For a moment, all that matters is the remarkable stillness and silence in the mountains, and we don’t care what the lack of light means for the remainder of our descent to camp. The next few miles are a blur – we trudge on mostly in silence, only stopping to don our headlamps, hats, and gloves before entering a pitch-black evergreen forest that supposedly houses at least a dozen campsites. The temperature is dropping quickly and there are no signs of other campers nearby. Our map tells us that we should realistically be surrounded by sites, but there are no noticeable signs or packed-down paths leading away from the main trail. Finally, we come across a wide, flat clearing directly next to us, and a few tents appear in my spotlight about 100 feet back. “We can’t sleep this close to the trail,” I objected, but after another 15 minutes of exploring our (lack of) options, we decide this is it: our home for the night. We walk our bear canister into the downed trees nearby, crawl into our sleeping bags, and shiver ourselves to sleep. We wake up with the sun and our nearby neighbors, who explain they had spent two nights there and don’t think there were any other open campsites the night prior. What would we have done if this spot were taken? I wonder. There’s no way we could have continued for another eight miles. After a hearty breakfast and giving the necessary thanks to our camping gods above, we hit the trail. Day two’s agenda: ascend another 2,000 vertical feet over Trail Rider Pass and camp near an alpine lake. It’s a slow and painful start. Our bodies ache, our legs sore from the unexpected torture we put them through yesterday. I silently wish we’d opted for the four-day option, and wonder aloud if another night in the wilderness is worth it. Always, I think. But Andrew pulls me back to reality quickly – we both have jobs, and as refreshing and energizing as it is being out here, part of the allure and magic is the fact that we don’t get to do this very often. We continue our long walk. After what seems like a steady and continuous uphill climb for most of the late morning, we drop into a stunning valley: an alpine lake envelops its middle, surrounded by towering peaks on all sides. We look across the way and spot what look like ants in the distance, crawling up a switchbacking trail at a painfully slow pace. At first, we think they’re ascending a Fourteener – a 14,000+ foot mountain fairly common in the Rockies – but upon closer inspection, we realize they’re not on another trail. They’re on our trail. We haven’t even made it halfway up the pass yet. We break for noodles, watch our dog splash through the green-blue water of the alpine lake, fend off sleep while lying in the warm sun, and regain motivation. Trudge up the pass. Descend into a stunning valley dominated by the lake. Scramble past a field of loose boulders. Race down the final approach into camp to snag one of the last designated spots. Pitch our tent. Crawl to the shore to cook a meal just as the sun lowers behind the peak above us. Our minds and bodies are exhausted, barely able to perform basic functions or form full sentences as we brace for another frigid night. But as our heavy eyes begin closing with a tent-door view of the expansive lake next to our encampment, none of that matters. We don’t rush to leave camp, instead opting to bask in the peaks’ symmetrical reflection in the water as we finish off what remaining food we have: a dehydrated pad-Thai meal, cinnamon oatmeal, instant coffee, and peanut butter. In the minds and stomachs of two hungry backpackers, this is indeed a final-day feast. Satisfied by our eclectic meal and the resulting amount of weight we’ve cut from our packs, we say goodbye to our perfect campsite. We fly past almost everyone that had left camp earlier that morning, determined to make it back to the trailhead with plenty of time to down beers and burgers in Aspen before a long drive home. And before we know it, we’re thanking ourselves for choosing to descend Buckskin Pass instead of climb it. It’s miles and miles of steep, painful downhill. Our legs beg us to stop, but with each camera-wielding, backpack-less tourist we pass, we realize we’re getting closer. Finally, the view that stunned us three days ago as we hopped off the bus rewards us with another appearance. Equally as awe-struck, we stop at the main viewing area and stare at the surrounding peaks. It’s hard to fathom how expansive this range is, and I struggle to make the final march toward the bus. In three days, we’ve experienced every type of terrain from scenic forests to wildflower-covered meadows to barren, rocky mountain passes and crystalline alpine lakes. We’ve climbed thousands of feet, descended the same amount, crossed innumerable streams and creeks, fallen asleep under clear night skies, and found ourselves in awe over the hump of every mountain pass. It’s truly been one of the most spectacular trips to the mountains, and we stare out the window of the 3pm shuttle back to town wondering when we’ll reunite with this jaw-dropping range. Hopefully, soon. But first, burgers. Information: Entrance is $10, but the Maroon Lake parking lot often fills up by early morning throughout peak seasons, so parking is only allowed before 8am and after 5pm. A shuttle runs every 20 minutes (June 9 through October 8) from nearby Aspen Highlands Ski Area along Maroon Creek Road. Tickets can be purchased next door at Four Mountain Sports for $8 round-trip (more info here). Lodging and restaurants are available in nearby Aspen. Camping is allowed at many marked, designated spots along the trail, or at least 100 feet from any body of water. Wilderness permits are required and are available at the trailhead ranger station or by self-registration at the trailhead if you’re arriving after-hours. Water can be filtered at most points along the trail, but keep in mind that many streams and even lakes included on maps might be dry in late summer months. Bear canisters are required for the trek. More information on the trail can be found here. Best Time to Go: Summer is the peak season, but early afternoon thunderstorms are common – it’s safest to be over any pass before noon, at the latest. If you’d like a bit more wiggle room, early fall offered spectacular and unparalleled views of the changing aspens (sans storms). Temps dropped to around 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit at night, but days were still mid-70s. Getting There: The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is located just outside of Aspen, Colorado. From downtown Aspen, take highway 82 for .5 miles west before exiting the roundabout onto Maroon Creek Road. From here, it’s another 9.4 miles to the parking lot. If you’re instead planning to shuttle from Aspen Highlands Ski Area, it’s only 1.5 miles on Maroon Creek Road. Books and Maps: A National Geographic topographical map for Maroon Bells/Redstone/Marble can be purchased for $12 – we found it extremely helpful in figuring out where we were in relation to marked campsites we could only find on non-topo maps online. When paired together, the combo worked perfectly. There are also several other books on hiking Colorado’s many famed Fourteeners in the area, if you’d like to tack on any major peaks during your camping excursion (and have the necessary training and gear). We passed trailheads for many of them including Pyramid, Maroon, and North Maroon peaks while hiking the Four Pass Loop. These are all more technical, class three and four climbs. The Author: Sarah Nelson is a backpacker, volunteer outdoor educator, and journalist based in Boulder, Colorado. Follow along for more of her adventures at @sarahhlynne.
  37. 1 point
    I managed to fit in one last adventure with Chip Morrill in the Mokelumne Wilderness last weekend, this time hiking down the Mokelumne River from Hermit Valley to Deer Creek and beyond. This is a really beautiful area with deep pools in the river, wonderful views, and great campsites. But this is also very isolated country. In fact, the sign at the trailhead pretty much discourages anyone from hiking down more than a few miles. On the other hand, the scenery in amazing, and we had a great time trying to make it more accessible to more people. We hiked in on Friday morning, a crew of four volunteer and Chip. We did a bit of lopping and trail work on the way in, and set up camp at the confluence of Deer Creek with the Mokelumne. The trail to this point was not bad...and M and I had hiked it years ago, and we managed to follow it to the cascade at the bottom of Deer Creek. But then came the crossing of Deer Creek. This creek is fed by the outlet from Meadow Creek Reservoir, so it runs all year with a good flow. Our crew spent at least an hour and half just looking for the best possible place to cross: the perfect solution would include a nearby dead tree to drop across the creek to form a bridge. After a lot of bushwhacking and consulting, Chip made the call, and we got to work with the saw. Before you knew it, we had a bridge that would withstand high water and was pretty darn stable. We used it for the rest of the weekend as we worked lower down on the river. The next day we hiked the trail, lopping bushes where they impeded progress, cutting through logs where they blocked the trail, marking the trail with logs and branches where we could find them, digging out duff through the forest floor, and putting up cairns where the trail went over solid rock. Hard work, but we got a lot done. Day three began with Chip suggesting that we might want to take a quick one-hour hike up Deer Creek to see the cascades. I think we were all perfectly happy to get to work, but also really appreciated Chip's desire to make sure that we really enjoyed the trip. We happily followed him on a bushwhack up the creek...which turned out to be a two and a half hour adventure up granite, through manzanita, under trees, and over logs. What fun! And the views we attained were really amazing. Once back in camp, we loaded up our tools and headed down the Mokelumne. Another tree sawn through, more work with McCleod and loppers, and we stopped for lunch on the gravel beach of a lovely deep pool. From there the trail became a bit confused, and we finally determine the best route through the last bit of forest...and then it opened up into the granite of the canyon itself. We followed cairns and did some minor work for another stretch of the trail, until it dipped down around a small granite dome. We were done for the day, so hiked up to the top of the dome and took in the view--well worth three days of trail work! The next day we packed up our camp, packed up the tools, and hiked back up to the trailhead, stopping to fix one section of the trail that had really been mixed up, and lopping whenever we got the chance. By 11 we were back at the cars, and driving off on our separate routes back to civilization. We had seen only a handful of other people over four days.How much fun was this trip? Jan and Vicky, excited about the work, decided they would come back in the near future to finish off the lopping and trail clearance nearer the trailhead. A great way to spend a few extra days in the wilderness, with good people and glorious weather. The photo album is here:
  38. 1 point
    Indeed. Going on a 900 miler starting next wk. All my food and gear had already been on sale purchased 12-18 months long before I decided to commit to the trek simply taken out of storage and given the once and second over. Same with the daily supplement paks. I'll still set everything out spreading it all out in an organized fashion on the basement floor all set to be pre posted, addressed, and mailed out by someone at home about 2-3 wks before pick up with me mailing out the first three boxes a couple of days before the start. This also helps quantify and decrease on trail expenditures. When considering daily and each resupply food wt with limited places to buy/supplement(not all hikes have the abundance of road crossings and uber food resupplying ease as the AT and PCT) I have to take into account whether I'm going to be more of a hiker or camper(95% of the time it's 14-18 hrs every 24 on the move), how many hrs I'll actually anticipate being on the move, difficulty of the trail and hike, how far resupply pts are spaced apart, what my body fat % is going in, how long I'll be out on the hike, and season. Daily food wts can range between an absolute low of 1 lb on trips less than a wk to about 1 3/4 lb on LD hikes. When resupply pts are very close together and I'm only hauling 3 or so days chow I might carry more than 2 lbs of food per day. This allows to make up a bit of the calories. Food is aimed at 130+ cals/oz with a sharp eye on overall nutrition beyond just calories. A calorie is not just a calorie. A calorie of simple carb sugar is not the same as a calorie that includes other nutrients in the food. having a good amt of fiber in trail food rather than empty "junk" cals and drinking plenty of fresh clean cool water helps to stay satiated.
  39. 1 point
    Other places can include the CA and OR coast. There are great segments of the Cali and OR Coastal Trls that can be acceptable for winter walk abouts. The SP systems and Nat Seashores and Marine Sanctuaries and WA's of these states along the coast can be phenomenal. With a 5-7 day favorable(non storm) weather window it's not totally unheard of to hike the CA Lost Coast in winter.
  40. 1 point
    I'm also a fan of Tarptent inner tent options. I have the one-person Moment DW with both mesh and solid interiors. I really like having both for the versatility of being able to use whichever inner is best suited for a trip. The mesh version is my favorite for warm weather and ventilation. The solid interior is great for cooler temps, and for the Moment DW, its only adds 2-3 ounces to the weight of the tent vs the mesh version. It's also great for more privacy when you are camped with a group and you want to leave the vestibules open for ventilation. I used the solid interior for snow camping on two winter backpacking trips and it really helped to keep me toasty warm inside the tent. I also have the optional crossing pole for the Moment DW, making it freestanding with the ability to handle light snow loads. My only wish is that the mitten hooks were easier to open/close for swapping out the interiors.
  41. 1 point
    I have been carrying polycryo for a ground sheet for several years. I backpack often, and I have only had to repair one small puncture hole over the years.
  42. 1 point
    We all have a responsibility to never need to be rescued.
  43. 1 point
    I always start with the USGS topos - was just looking at the area you mentioned on my Gaia GPS app. But, if you don’t use an app is an option where you can view and print maps, and you can measure out distances on either resource. I like to use the Gaia GPS app for planning, and it’s nice that you can also save the maps to your smartphone etc. for offline use. This post goes into detail about my planning process with the app and utilizing and saving maps, etc.
  44. 1 point
    Our next trip to Sipsey will be on Oct 19-21. We're headed to Deer Skull Falls this time and hopefully we'll be able to find it lol. It is where two separate rivers/streams join together with twin waterfalls and high walls. I have posted a picture from the internet below. Expected high/lows for the trip are 72°/47° but experience has taught me that being in a holler with waterfalls can be as much as 20° lower since cold air is heavier thus filling your holler with cold air and the streams and/or mist from the waterfalls raises the humidity. Also, never count on a fire here since most wood is either punk wood or soaking wet. Bring a stove just in case and make sure that your gear will keep you warm without a fire.
  45. 1 point
    This is one of my favorite recipes. I love everything about this soup from the easy five minute home prep to the uniquely satisfying earthy aroma of mushrooms simmering in a rich broth at the end of a perfect day in the woods. Ingredients are easy to find in any supermarket. Dried mushrooms are sold in one ounce packages, typically in the produce section or readily available online. Beef broth powder (or beef soup mix), found in the bulk food section, combines with whole milk powder (Nido) and butter to create a rich broth. Orzo pasta is slightly larger than rice grains and is a backpacker’s best kept secret, giving this soup a hearty feel and rehydrating in a... In Issue 37 Karen Garmire shares an intriguing recipe sure to be a great fit for those chilly spring trips - check out the article in Issue 37: Backcountry Cuisine 37: Beef and Mushroom Soup Issue 37 Page 1
  46. 1 point
  47. 1 point
    I don't know if I would say it was a mistake or just a really dumb move. A number of years ago I was on a business trip out west. It was to one of the mountain states and I extended my stay so I could take a day hike in the mountains near where I was working. It was February and as it should have been, snowing in the higher altitudes. I left my hotel in the rain and by the time I got to the trailhead it was snowing pretty hard. Several inches had already accumulated so I decided I would hike out a short way and then come straight back to my car and get out before the snow depth was too excessive for me to get off of the mountain. The trail was devoid of landmarks even without the snow and it was nearly impossible to see the trail with the heavy snowfall. The falling snow cut my visibility to 50 yards or less as I proceeded down the trail for about an hour or so. I decided it was time to return up the mountain and back to my car when I turned around to follow my trail out, there was no trail. The snow was accumulating so rapidly I could only follow my steps for about an eighth of a mile or so. I was not prepared to stay on the trail for long, neither in clothing I was wearing or in the provisions in my daypack, so I did the only thing I could think of. I headed straight down the mountain so I would walk out of the snow and then headed east in hopes of finding the road on which I had driven up the mountain. Luckily, my plan worked and after about two hours I was out of the snow and within another 30 minutes, I was on the road. I walked up the road for about three miles and found my car right where I left it. It was covered in more than a foot of snow, but it was there. I swept off the snow and drove up the mountain a couple of miles where I found a little lodge, a beer and one of the best bacon cheeseburgers I have ever eaten.
  48. 1 point
    Ricketts Glen is a State Park in Pennsylvania and also a National Natural Landmark, known for its old-growth forest and 24 named waterfalls along the Falls Trail of Kitchen Creek. Ricketts Glen resides within 3 counties (Sullivan, Columbia, and Luzerne) and is accessible most easily via PA Routes 487 or 118. There is no camping along the Falls trail as it is for day use only. However, there is a large campground in the State Park. Here are a few photos of some of the spectacular waterfalls. If you are planning on checking out some places in Pennsylvania, Ricketts Glen is not to be missed. Delaware Falls Shawnee Falls Mohican Falls Ganoga Falls Tuscarora Falls
  49. 1 point
    I hiked the NJ AT a couple of years ago from the Water Gap to High Point. Just looking at my maps, I think the only camping restriction was in Worthington State Forest where the only backcountry camping is at the intersection of the AT and the Douglas trail near Sunfish Pond. I made notes on my maps of potential campsites in the Delaware Water Gap and the other Forests. I know I camped at a non-designated site the first night and at a shelter the second night. I had a hammock which was the only reason I was able to camp where I did the first night, a tent would not have worked. If you are really worried, I'd contact Hope that helps.
  50. 1 point
    I spend a lot of time in the Wichita Mountains and volunteer for Fish and Wildlife on different projects for the bios. I always keep my camera handy and love to shoot big critters. What we call an Elvis bull. A few elk. And a few not so big critters.