January/February 2010 Table of Contents

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SPECIAL ISSUE

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Readers' Choice 2010

Welcome to our first all-reader edition! You'll find hikes selected by regional reader panels, plus photos, essays, tips, and reviews from the world's most experienced community of hikers. From start to finish, every section was created by your fellow BACKPACKER readers.

READER PHOTO CONTEST
Your Best Shots

Seeing is believing: BACKPACKER readers have been to some spectacular places, and here's the proof. We pored over more than 700 photo submissions to bring you the year's best images of wildlife, peaks, landscapes, and more. Pardon the drool.

America's Worst Trail (A Love Story)

Got health insurance? You'll need it for a hike on Vermont's famously rugged Long Trail, according to this bloody and bruised reader. Our Green Mountains junkie reflects on what makes this 273-mile path the country's most frustrating hike–and why he can't stay away. By David Hiscoe

READER ESSAY CONTEST
Bears! Bulls! Mayhem!

What do you do when a bear steals your food and a deer crashes into your tent? Tell us about it! From survival epics to wildlife run-ins to first-trip disasters, 15 readers share their wackiest, wildest adventures in this collection of real-life hiking stories.

DESTINATIONS

NORTHWEST

Washington's finest ridge, Idaho's lonely lakes, and Oregon's top campsite

MOUNTAIN WEST

Glacier's best view, Colorado's prettiest lake, and Yellowstone's bubbliest pool

WEST COAST

Hawaii's lushest coast, California's giant sequoias, Nevada's hidden peaks

MIDWEST

Top secrets: Oklahoma's mountains, Illinois's canyons, and Iowa's bluffs

NORTHEAST

The best of the Catskills, Adirondacks, Presidentials, and Mahoosucs

SOUTHEAST

The best wildflowers, prettiest sunset, the Smokies' tallest falls, and more

SKILLS

YOUR BEST TIPS

How to hang a better bear bag, plus 38 more cooking, first-aid, and photo skills

TOP CHEFS

Readers share winning recipes for shepherd's pie, cashew chicken, camp Thanksgiving–and s'mores upgrades.

GEAR

WEEKEND BACKPACKS & 4 ULTRALIGHT SLEEPING BAGS

Our reader test team rates affordable load haulers, ultralight bags, and more.

PEOPLE

HEROES

Get inspired by these five real-life tales of success, survival, and giving back.