|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Sam Gardner plans to hike the North Country Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail back-to-back-to-back-to-back.Look out, Andrew Skurka: Someone's gunning for your job. Michigander Samuel Gardner just began the All-In Trek on Jan. 1—through hiking the North Country Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail back-to-back-to-back-to-back (with plane flights in between to trailheads). In one year. That's 12,500 miles of hiking to make your calves explode with the thought. Read Full Story...
A dam release meant to protect the Grand Canyon's endangered humpback chub has an unintended consequence: releasing more chub-eating rainbow troutIn a move that drew deep on its inner Homer Simpson, the Bureau of Federal Reclamation caused an artificial flood in 2008 by releasing water from the Glen Canyon Dam with the purpose of restoring habitat for the imperiled humpback chub, a minnow-like fish endemic to the Colorado river. But the flood also increased the rainbow trout population by 800 percent. The bad news? Rainbow trout eat humpback chub.
NPS continues popular program of waiving entrance fees for certain days"Jobless recovery" still wracking your wallet? That's still no excuse not to hit up a national park. Just in time to help your broke self, the National Park service announced its free admission days for 2011. The remaining fee-free days are (drumroll, please): Read Full Story...
Rock n' roll peakbaggers make good on fighting cancer, as Tanzania opens its first children's cancer wardSome charity hikes raise "awareness." This one raised a roof. Literally. In our June 2010 story "High Note," Nick Heil reported on the music-meets-mountaineering mash-up of Love Hope Strength. He joined Mike Peters of the Alarm and other rockers on Mt. Kilimanjaro, where two dozen trekkers climbed to the 19,341-foot summit and raised money to help bring cancer treatment to Tanzania. (See a photo gallery of the climb here.) Read Full Story...
Get a jump on your summer hiking dream trips with free Print & Go planners!Most of the country is buried in Arctic snow and chill; not exactly great hiking weather, but the perfect time to kickstart the summer-hike dream factory. We're here to help: With BACKPACKER's Print & Go trip planners, you'll get all the beta you need for incredible weekend hikes in every part of the country.
Colorado wildlife officials shoo a napping black bear out from under a hospital with blaring music--country music, obviously.Bears: All that fur, teeth, and claws, and all it takes to scare one away is a little blaring country music. Colorado Division of Wildlife specialists chose to use this method to spook a bear who'd taken up residence beneath housing on Boulder Community Hospital property.
Vice TV releases a free documentary on environmentally devastating mountaintop removal practices in West Virginia's coal industryIn BACKPACKER's March Issue, contributing editor Tracy Ross followed the evangelical environmental movement as they fought against mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia ("Hike. Pray. Protest." p. 80).
Wildlife biologists argue for reintroduction to augment Washington's dwindling grizzly bear populationBet you didn't know this: Washington has grizzlies. It just doesn't have many—the last time anyone spotted a genuine griz in the North Cascades was 15 years ago. While wildlife biologists think the population still exists, the members number probably less than 20. Surprising news, given that the area is remote enough to support astonishing recoveries for wolves, lynxes, and wolverines.
National Forest Service and the U.N. join forces to celebrate worldwide forestsExactly how does one celebrate International Year of Forests? Do you hug a tree? (Too obvious.) Plant a tree? (Earth day's got that one.) Build trails in a forest? (A year's a long time to lug a pulaski.)
A controversial plan by the National Park Service will increase flight-seeing tours while decreasing noise—if it worksIn a bid to ease the tension between air-tour operators and hikers/nature lovers, the park service is introducing a plan they say will increase flight-seeing tours while also reducing air traffic noise over the Grand Canyon. If you're like us, your first response might be: huh?
In which I answer a reader question from last week's survey
Campfire map scribbling. October in the Absarokas. Pic: howephoto.us
Last week I asked readers what they’d like to see in this blog. I’ll try and address those responses one at a time, in between some other subjects.
First up: “I like the occasional updates on gear you're testing but how about something on the old reliable type of items you just can't do without? --Chris”
Well, for the most part I don’t have a lot of “old reliable” items, except for boots that fit my weird feet, because most older gear isn’t as good as the new stuff. Never was; never will be. When you test a ton of gear, in direct comparisons, you realize that often the "old favorite" you were in love with is just nostalgia, the "golden sieve of memory," and the fact that you haven't sampled much of the market. But I’m not big on the latest and greatest either, because I’ve been testing gear for 20 years, and I’m seriously jaded.
That said, here’s what I’m currently in love with, and will probably stand the test of time:
With tales, and links to user manuals for map, compass, common beacons and GPS receivers
In which I ask readers: What the hail do you people want?
2009's Odometer Turns Over With a Flurry of Incidents
Ever want to chuck it all and sail away, like these two?
Heads up! In this season of hope and joy, there's plenty of trouble if you want it.Tis the season for celebration, campers, because we've turned that solstice corner. Ever since 12:47 p.m. on Monday, your days - and your daily outdoor fun window - have been getting longer, not to mention warmer, courtesy of earth's 23.5-degree axial tilt relative to its orbital plane. But it's still winter, and that cold, hard fact is reflected in a lot of recent mishaps.
And clearly, X-gamers need to step it up.Sigh. There are times when I wonder why I even bother to write about survival situations and techniques, given the human propensity to walk a tightrope edge between life and death, even in the most recreational settings. Clearly, some people out there want to die. As proof, witness the new Euro sport of Buggy rollin'.
Mount Hood, Canyon Rescue, and the Tetons get a SAR HQ maybeHey campers! I’ve pulled my head out of…Gear Guide writing, and I’ve got a few hours before driving north to a surgeon’s consultation (I’m getting a stainless steel hip "resurfacing" this winter). Soooo it’s time to get back into rescue blogging. Here are a few recent highlights:
Eight reasons to be glad you're not a mouse, and the world's scariest hiking trail
A simple primer for staying out of trouble at sundown
Sundown in saguaro country. Pic: Howe
Hey campers, sorry for the delay, but I just now came up for air after shepherding several features through the sausage-making process for a March issue, uploading a pile of video files from Alaska, and writing up Gear Guide and Editor’s Choice tests for April. I was going to summarize some recent backcountry accidents, but I got beat to posting by a freakin’ dog! That is so not right.
At least I managed to get in a few short trail runs during the week, mostly by blasting out the door way too late in the afternoon and racing darkness back to trailhead. This is a theme for many winter exercise junkies, and that’s reflected in numerous recent search incidents where victims got caught by nightfall, then had to endure the resulting hypothermic suffer-fest. Hence our lesson for today.
A gearless overnight bivy is always miserable, but in winter, it can be life-threatening, even in so-called ‘warm’ environments. There are far fewer people out on local park trails and bike paths, so you can’t count on help just happening by. And in most U.S. latitudes it’s now dead dark from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., so if you do get stuck, you can expect about 15 hours of serious frigidity.
old bike tubes and climbing ropes go to the dogsBackpackers, climbers, cyclists. As much as many of us try to minimize our impact on the environment, our outdoor fun can create trash. While there is no use for discarded Gu wrappers that I am aware of, two creative companies are making dog leashes and collars out of busted bicycle tubes and tired climbing ropes.
my new favorite winter layerYou know when you find a piece that changes the way you dress? That's the effect Patagonia's Nano Puff Pullover had on me this winter. This super light wind and water resistant 8 ounce insulation layer replaced my fleece midlayers and has subbed in for my puffy on numerous occasions. Because of its weather resistant exterior, I also find myself wearing it as an outer layer on winter hikes and even some ski days. It's way warmer than it looks, but the deep chest zip provides ample venting even for high output activities like backcountry skiing and skate skiing when it's really cold.
scientists link BPA to heart diseaseWhile the FDA isn't willing to fully commit on the safety of endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA)--its promised report is months overdue--researchers from Peninsula College of Medicine in Britain took on the task. They looked at data from the 2003-2004 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which included urinary BPA levels for the first time, and found that 25% of the population with the highest levels of BPA were more than twice as likely to report having heart disease or diabetes compared to the 25% with the lowest levels of BPA.They thought that maybe it was a statistical fluke. When the 2005-2006 NHANES came out, the same team did the same analysis on a different population sample, and they got the same results.
an ultralight billfold made from tent scrapsDealing with waste is a constant challenge for brands that make anything for the outdoors. Tent maker Nemo had a brainstorm, and came up with a great use for its tent leftovers: the Ditto Wallet. Made from old tents and factory floor fabric scraps, as well as manufacturing seconds from Nemo's tent fabric supplier, the Ditto has a billfold, three credit card pockets, a clear license window pocket, a storage pocket and a zip change pocket. A Velcro strap wraps the outside folds over to keep cards from falling out without adding bulk. Mine is translucent white/silver/gray with black diamonds of fabric reinforcement--subtle and techy looking. Here's a pic --though it's even better in person.
Monsanto GMO corn linked to organ failureIt's already January 15th,and I have yet to write a depressing blog entry about how the environment is collapsing around us or how corporate America is screwing the public. Hope you enjoyed your vacation... here we go.
it holds your point and shoot and moreI am a professional photographer, and though I have several large, heavy, high resolution camera bodies, I often carry a my Canon G11 high res point and shoot with me in the car or in my daypack when I am not on assignment. The G11 is not one of those credit card-sized cameras that you can stick in your back pocket. It has some heft to it, and I've been frustrated trying to find a case that will hold the camera, extra cards in cases, an extra battery, and, when I am on the road, the charger. Thanks to Mountainsmith I now have a great option.
December in Laos
An update from our reporter on Al Gore's speech and moreIn a series of special reports provided exclusively to BACKPACKER, Letitia Webster takes us inside the meetings currently underway at the global climate conference in Copenhagen. Letitia is the director of corporate sustainability and marketing for The North Face and one of the leading thinkers in the outdoor industry about reducing the carbon footprint of the products we play with outside. Our very own Berne Broudy, the usual author of this blog has worked extensively alongside Letitia on the industry's sustainability panel. (Berne is on assignment in Laos until next week.) Read Full Story...
A series of on-the-scene snapshots from our reporter at the global climate conferenceIn a series of special reports provided exclusively to BACKPACKER, Letitia Webster takes us inside the meetings currently underway at the global climate conference in Copenhagen. Letitia is the director of corporate sustainability and marketing for The North Face and one of the leading thinkers in the outdoor industry about reducing the carbon footprint of the products we play with outside. Our very own Berne Broudy, the usual author of this blog has worked extensively alongside Letitia on the industry's sustainability panel. (Berne is on assignment in Laos until next week.) Read Full Story...
Snapshots from our reporter first day at the global climate conferenceIn a series of special reports provided exclusively to BACKPACKER, Letitia Webster takes us inside the meetings currently underway at the global climate conference in Copenhagen. Letitia is the director of corporate sustainability and marketing for The North Face and one of the leading thinkers in the outdoor industry about reducing the carbon footprint of the products we play with outside. Our very own Berne Broudy, the usual author of this blog has worked extensively alongside Letitia on the industry's sustainability panel. (Berne is on assignment in Laos until next week.)