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Backpacker Magazine – November 2012

From the Field: BACKPACKER Trail Scouts' Top Western Local Hikes

Whether you want an uncrowded hike in Zion National Park or a five-miler through a gypsum dune field in New Mexico, our scouts have paved the way.

by: Sarah L. Stewart

Goat Lake (Photo by Hikingwithmybrother.com)
Goat Lake (Photo by Hikingwithmybrother.com)
Gypsum Dunefield (Photo by Chuck Haney)
Gypsum Dunefield (Photo by Chuck Haney)
Chinle Trail (Photo by Joe Braun)
Chinle Trail (Photo by Joe Braun)

Alkali Flat Trail, White Sands NM, NM
Becky Wiles, Alamogordo, NM

Forge into the heart of the world’s largest gypsum dunefield on this five-mile loop with constant 360-degree views across snowy white sand. “The water table is only a foot below the surface,” Wiles says. “It’s the glue that holds the dunes together.” Watch for surprising signs of life as you traverse the 50-foot mounds, including grasses sprouting in the flat interdunal areas, the occasional yellow splash of a cottonwood, and lizard, bird, and beetle tracks snaking across the sand’s surface. Orient yourself with landmarks like 11,973-foot Sierra Blanca, which lies due north. Trip ID 1776824

“Start just after sunrise for brilliant yellow-orange light.”




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Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
May 16, 2013

Never lose your way in the clouds or succumb to exposure just because you want to avoid the crowds on a glorious trail around an emerald lake! Know how to find your way by reading "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 satellites or batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart." The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. Learn what to pack for a day-hike, what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing (for the car and for the trail) just incase you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors.

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