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Backpacker Magazine – June 2012

Burn After Reading

Empty White Mountain summits. Tourist-free Yellowstone geysers. Rarely hiked Yosemite ridges. Rangers, guidebook writers, outfitters, and ultra-hikers dish their favorite routes for the first time.

by: Michael Lanza

(Photo by: Ben Fullerton and Layne Kennedy (Fishing))
(Photo by: Ben Fullerton and Layne Kennedy (Fishing))
Mt. Helen (Photo by: BruceTremper.com)
Mt. Helen (Photo by: BruceTremper.com)
East site of Lac La Croix (Photo by: Layne Kennedy)
East site of Lac La Croix (Photo by: Layne Kennedy)
Horsehoe Mesa (Photo by: Valerie Long)
Horsehoe Mesa (Photo by: Valerie Long)
Carbon Glacier (Photo by:Kirkendall-Spring)
Carbon Glacier (Photo by:Kirkendall-Spring)
Lower Ottoway Lake (Photo by: Ron Mackie)
Lower Ottoway Lake (Photo by: Ron Mackie)
Mt. Guyot (Photo by: Lisa Densmore)
Mt. Guyot (Photo by: Lisa Densmore)

WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST, NH
Your guide: 
David Govatski, a 30-year fire and aviation management officer in the U.S. Forest Service and obsessive White Mountain hiker.

Day: Mts. Webster, Jackson, and Pierce  
Get all-to-yourself ridgeline vistas. 

Govatski is not tired of this circuit even after 317 laps and counting—an average of nearly once a month since 1984. But it’s no wonder, given the reliable solitude and front row views of the Presidential Range from three open summits. Govatski’s prize perch, though, is “a ledge just west of Mt. Webster with a view of Crawford Notch 2,000 feet below. Not many see it from this perspective.” From the Crawford Path trailhead on US 302, walk .1 mile south along the highway to the Webster-Jackson Trail. Link it with the Webster Cliff Trail and Crawford Path for a
9.6-mile loop.

Weekend+: Pemigewasset Wilderness Loop  
Score no-city-in-sight views.

This wilderness area is a place Govatski refers to as “the vast, lonely heart of the Whites” for how little-trafficked it is. From the first night’s campsite at Stillwater Junction (8.9 miles from Lincoln Woods trailhead), stroll five miles, out-and-back, to 4,700-foot Mt. Carrigain on “one of the least-used trails in the system,” the Desolation Trail. Camp two lies just east of Shoal Pond (often glassy, always swimmable). Spend night three at Guyot Campsite. But this is all just prelude to a final-day traverse of Mt. Bond and Bondcliff and their non-stop, backbone-of-the-world views stretching from the Presidentials to Franconia Ridge. Connect the Lincoln Woods, Wilderness, Shoal Pond, Ethan Pond, Zeacliff, Twinway, and Bondcliff Trails for a 35.3-mile loop.

Week: Appalachian Trail from Kinsman Notch to Pinkham Notch 
Bag the Northeast’s classic traverse.

Question: What’s the greatest life-list trek in a region littered with them? Govatski’s instant answer: this 70-miler. “It delivers the most challenging backpack journey in the state, with long stretches above treeline. It visits historic mountain huts and high-elevation lakes. You’ll see alpine plants and fragile tundra. And several stretches have surprisingly light usage, such as the Kinsman Ridge, Ethan Pond, and Twinway Trails.” The first three days cross Franconia Ridge, Garfield Ridge, and South Twin Mountain, each with big vistas. Days four and five bring cliff-walled Zealand Notch, and a night at bucolic Ethan Pond. Wrap it up with a two-day traverse of the Pressies. PRO Map to order a custom topo map of this trip printed on waterproof expedition paper.

Maps AMC White Mountain Guide ($25, outdoors.org)
Contact (603) 536-6100; fs.usda.gov/whitemountain




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Feb 01, 2014

Live to hike another day by staying found and knowing how to use a compass. Even skilled explorers can become lost or somehow end up spending the night hunkered down because of weather or injury. Many people never consider that they might end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors or waiting for medical help --and so they hike without the essentials. Day-hikes can be the most dangerous because hikers usually carry minimal supplies. Learn what to pack for a day-hike, what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing just in case you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors. Read "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon). Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. A compass doesn't need a signal, satellites, or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Learn how to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. This book is for all ages. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart."

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Nor
Jul 20, 2012

I stumbled on the Pitamaken loop in a guide book while I was in the park gift shop. I decided to do it, and it was one of my top 3 hikes of all time.

Nor
Jul 20, 2012

I stumbled on the Pitamaken loop in a guide book while I was in the park gift shop. I decided to do it, and it was one of my top 3 hikes of all time.

Brian Sweeney
Jul 19, 2012

Webster Cliff trail is excellent: quintessential NH hiking. Very close to the AMC Highland center and the Mt. Washington Hotel as well. Read more here: http://www.briangerardsweeney.com/2011/06/peak-bagging-and-summit-beers.html

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