Shepherd Canyon Books
25 Southwood Court
Oakland, CA 94611
Toll free number 866-219-8260 email backpack45 at yahoo.com
Publisher of "We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill--Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers."
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Hard for me to believe, but this is the last newsletter of 2004! It's been fun keeping an eye out for the news items, stories, tour companies, non-profits, and products that seemed like they'd be worthwhile to pass on to our community of hikers and backpackers. I've enjoyed your questions, hints, and compliments and hope to continue to receive them next year.
#1 Congratulations: to Jane H. for making it up Yosemite's challenging Half Dome. To Irene Cline for her trips this year: hiking the North Downs Way in England and sections of the Ice Age Trail; backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail near Washington's Mt. Rainier. Irene celebrated her 84th birthday this year.
#2 While on the topic of the PCT, I read in their Dec. issue the following about safety during a thunderstorm, "If you are traveling with a mule in a thunderstorm, too bad! Everyone knows of the powerful magnetic attraction of the personality of mules. The best thing you can do is kiss your ass goodbye."
#3 Some of you may be considering the purchase of a new pack (or adding it to your "wish list"). These figures may be of help. According to REI: 2,500-3,000 cubic inches capacity is considered suitable for daypack or ultralight overnight use; 3,000-4,500 cubic inches is appropriate for 3-season, weekend adventures; 4,500-6,000 for trips of 3 days to a week; 6,000 cu.in. for trips of more than a week. Ultralight devotees may want to go down a size. (My new Granite Gear Vapor Trail, which I love, holds 3,600. That was perfect for one week. The pack weighs 2 lbs.) Also, consider that men's and women's torsos are different. Packs designed for women usually have narrower shoulder straps, shorter torso lengths, and smaller hip belts. Manufacturers do NOT have a standard set of measurements for their "small, medium, and large" packs. You can measure your torso; it's from your shoulder (at the upper vertebra that protrudes farthest out from your spine) to the top of your hip
#4 Add to your list of other "cool" items: pot cozies and tiny LED flashlights.
Have a wonderful holiday season filled with beautiful sights, smells, and sounds. I am very grateful that this season finds my family healthy and
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.
#1 Kathy responded to the question about bears, bear canisters, etc. "Regarding bearbagging, which always gave me trouble, too, I'd comfort Cindy first by telling her that nobody does it very well unless they have a pitcher's arm. Second, why go to the hassle of hanging food from trees, anyway? It's ineffective against bears, though it helps with rodents. In many parts of the Sierra, bear canisters are now required, so with a bear canister, all the bearbagging problems go away. Most canisters make good camp-seats, too. Canisters are really the best alternative, but their weight is a problem. In areas where canisters aren't required, consider using an 8-oz. Ursack TKO with its odor-containing liner. I believe that most if not all Ursack "failures" are the human's failure to follow directions and use the Ursack properly, so follow those directions. Practice at home. See www.ursack.com. I've used Ursacks quite a bit and find them effective and convenient. Finally, [no offense, please], I pee around the area where my food is stored to let the local critters know to whom this turf now belongs. This is easier for guys, but gals can manage, too, especially if they use
one of those funnels.
#2 Scott Williamson, a tree trimmer from Santa Cruz, CA, is believed to be the first person to complete a round-trip -- a "yo-yo" -- of the Pacific Crest Trail. Scott completed the 5,300 miles, taking 6-1/2 months, on November 13, 2004.
#3 The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its travel section. It tells you at a glance the health risks of your destination. The levels of warnings are: in the news, outbreak notice, travel health precaution, and travel health warning. If you are planning a trip to another region of the U.S. or to another country, you can check it out at: www.cdc.gov/travel.
#4 This hint might be helpful if you are planning a trip with a tour or adventure travel company: Pay by credit card! Paying within 60 days of departure will protect you against losing your money if the company goes belly-up. Credit card companies, by law, must refund your money is a service is not provided AND the customer notifies them within 60 days of the charge.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving; we did! Please forward this newsletter to anyone who you think would be interested.
"Millions long for
immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a
rainy Sunday afternoon." Susan Ertz (from "Believing in
Ourselves--The Wisdom of Women," Ariel Books)
Whew! Ralph and I are back from New Orleans and the Zydeco dance cruise in the Caribbean. I'm still waiting to get my land-legs back, but I don't mind if the music stays in my head for a while. We had a great trip with beautiful weather, a short kayak trip, swimming in aquamarine waters, a climb up Jamaica's Dunne River Falls aided by linking arms with a chain of other adventurers... We also saw some of the amazing destruction that occurred on Grand Cayman during the recent hurricanes--huge trees uprooted, boats pushed on shore, homes destroyed, tens of thousands of cars totaled. And I'm still trying to understand why I gained weight on the trip. I mean...I went to the gym a couple of times, walked miles of the ship's corridors, and danced twice daily. Could it be the desserts (also twice daily), or the beautifully presented gourmet dinners, or the "chocolate extravaganza" (you name it, they had it), or maybe it was one too many visits to the soft-freeze ice cream? Next year I promise to do better!
Tip #1: When is the best time to cross a mountain stream? It's often stated, including in a recent article in Backpacker Magazine, that it's best not to cross a fast flowing stream in the evening, but to camp nearby and cross in the morning. The idea is that since the sun melts the snow during the day, the amount of waterflow will increase throughout the day. Conversely, as night falls and temperature drops, less snow will melt and less water will flow. Jessica Lundquist, info to follow, decided to research this matter in depth. She found that there are several factors involved and time of day is only one. Another factor is how deep the snow pack. That will have an effect because it will take more time for melted water to percolate through deeper snow (assuming equal compaction, etc.) Also, how far away is this snowpack? The following info is from Jennifer's "Understanding Daily Variations in Streamflow" (concerning Yosemite) Jessica Lundquist, Soon-to-be PhD Hydroclimatology Group, Scripps Inst.of Oceanography (If you want more detail, let me know and I will forward her notes. It's from the Yosemite Assoc. e-zine) 'John Muir, with his adept skill at observation, was acutely aware of this phenomenon. In "The Yosemite," he wrote, 'In the spring, the Yosemite streams sing their grandest songs. Countless rills make haste to the rivers, running and singing soon after sunrise, louder and louder with increasing volume until sundown; then they gradually fail through the frosty hours of the night.' DATA [Susan's condensed version]:
Small streams: min.flow: noon; maximum: 9-11 p.m.
Medium streams (such as Lyell fork of Tuolumne): min.: 10-12 a.m.; maximum: 8-10 p.m.
Large streams (such as Merced River at Happy Isles): min. flow: noon to 3 p.m.; maximum: midnight to 4 p.m.
"In summary, it's not always a good idea to set up camp solely for the purpose of waiting for better stream crossing conditions in the morning. This generally works near small streams in the summer, but not if you're some distance from the snowline. However, setting up camp near a stream for several days could be a fun experiment. Watch the water rise and fall and learn what it tells you about the water's journey from the top of the snowpack to the spot where you stand."
Tip #2: We tried the "Kettle Valley fruit bookmarks" that reader Diddo recommended (newsletter #29). Very good. All fruit, and none of that cloyingly sweet flavor of the sugared ones. Elisabeth writes: "Trader Joe's sells fruit leather that is similar, it looks like a bookmark, and is real fruit instead of sugar water colored and flavored to appeal to our sweet tooth. It's great!"
#3 I believe that I have found a wonderful resource for women wanting to go exploring with a group. It's a travel company for "active women over 30." Called Adventure Women, run by Susan Eckert, it's been around since 1982 offering trips, here and abroad, for hiking, skiing, rafting, horsepacking, etc. I do not have personal experience with them, but I'd sure check them out if I wanted to go bear viewing in Alaska or something equally exciting. www.adventurewomen.com or 800-804-8686.
#4 Cindy from Washington writes wanting to know how others manage to hang food from trees. "This has been the biggest bugaboo for me and friends especially when trees have slopping limbs, or the limbs are too high to reasonably throw a line over. I sent her some ideas; do you have some favorite ideas?
And Joyce has a question for readers: What environmental projects (beyond money) are you involved in that allow you to feel you are "putting back in?" (Many of us are looking for a way to get more involved in order to compensate for an administration that seems determined to take away all the environmental gains of recent years.)
P.S. Come see us on December 4th at the Quincy Christmas Fair at the Quincy Fairgrounds.
This has been (another!!) terrific week. We had a wonderful party at Title Nine Sports on Wednesday. We were treated to healthy snacks, including home-made vegetarian cookies, as well as a beautifully decorated sheet cake. First everyone watched our slide program on the John Muir Trail and then we all ran outside to watch the lunar eclipse. My thanks to manager Emily
Ferrey and hike leader extraordinare, Alison H.
The TALES & TIPS:
#1 We received word that "Scrambler" -- a ten-year-old girl -- and her mother have just completed (Oct. 25) the Pacific Crest Trail. This may be the youngest finisher of the PCT ever!!!.
#2 Diddo writes about a "wonderful new product discovery, Kettle Valley real fruit snack. Some people call this category of product 'fruit leather.' That term makes me think of the Donner Party - eating their boots and then their companions. Most of those products are too hard and/or sugary. The Kettle Valley product is not hard or sugary. It's just fruit - mostly apple - with various other natural fruit flavors. I call them fruit bookmarks because the Kettle Valley product looks like a thick bookmark. I tested them on a 4-day backpack. I took them out of their foil wrappers, dusted them with oat flour so they wouldn¹t stick together, and put 8 in each of 4 snack bags. They were great for backpacking. I keep them in the bag I carry around with me and in my car and I grab one when I¹m hungry and not home or about to eat in a restaurant. I really really like them - and I haven't liked any other brand." After discovering these snacks (being given out as a promotional), Diddo couldn't find them for sale many places. Let's hope they start showing up on store shelves so we can all give them a try.
#3 If you are like me, you were glued to the news reports mid-October when an early snowstorm hit the Sierra and more than a dozen backpackers were stranded. Sadly, two Japanese climbers died while attempting Yosemite's El Capitan. But, all of the backpackers survived until rescue teams arrived. Here are some suggestions of things to do BEFORE you leave on your backpacking trip.
a. Leave a detailed trip itinerary: either with the rangers when you obtain a permit, or with someone back home.
b. Check on current, and local, weather conditions.
c. Go with an experienced companion.
d. Take a wilderness survival course.
e. Carry a satellite or cell phone.
f. Bring layers of clothing. Synthetics only, NO cotton. Poly-synthetics underwear, fleece layers, Goretex or other waterproof outer layer. Down is the warmest material pound for pound -- for jackets and sleeping bags. If you use it, be sure you can keep it dry. Why no cotton? Because cotton dries slowly. If you wear wet cotton clothing to bed, chances are that instead of getting your garments dry, your sleeping bag will get wet. And, if the moisture in the cotton freezes, so will you.
g. Wear a hat. Most of your body's heat is lost through your head. Wear fleece covered with a
waterproof layer. (I can double-up by putting my wide-brimmed "Sunday Afternoons" hat over my fleece cap.) Gloves: two layers -- outer layer waterproof. h. Carry an umbrella. I just purchased a new one (made by Samsonite) that weighs less than seven ounces, and folds to less than 7-1/2" in length.
Regional: Bay Area hikers: East Bay Regional Park has re-instituted their "Over the Hills Gang" hikes (suggested 55 and over). These are monthly hikes that take place in various parks from 10 a.m. noon on Tuesdays. Register at (510) 525-2233.
"If you want to
get a thing done well, get a couple of old broads to do it."
#1 Lightweight backpacking stoves
#2 Stories to encourage
#3 Hiking companions
#4 Book and radio events (Marin County)
# 1. (From Kathy) "As an owner and user of an alcohol stove, the Tinman Pepsi-can stove at 0.4 ounces (yes! it's incredibly light!), I've had good experience with the stove and would highly recommend that people interested in alcohol stoves also go to Tinman's site, www.antigravitygear.com. At $12 for a 0.4-ounce stove with windscreen and a tiny cup for measuring the alcohol, how can you go wrong? I've found that at any altitude (I've tested the stove up to 11,000+ feet), 2 ounces of denatured alcohol in this stove will more than bring the water in my 0.9-liter pot to a boil. It just takes a little longer as you go up in altitude.
Tinman (George) has been most helpful, personally answering questions and accepting my comments via his site. The site also has many detailed and illustrated instructions on how most efficiently to use the stove. I highly recommend pot cozies, too, also offered on the site and also quite cheap ($8 for the one I bought). By bringing water to a boil, using some for soup, dumping the main-dish ingredients into the pot and remaining water and putting the pot into the cozy, a dish that would normally take 15 minutes of boiling cooks itself inside the cozy while I'm sipping my soup. Pretty neat stuff! [We definitely agree about the pot cozies, Susan].
The lightest Brasslite stove weighs 1.4 ounces versus the Tinman stove at 0.4 ounces. You don't need a stove that can simmer when you have a pot cozy, and the pot cozy is great no matter what stove you have. Cooking your meal inside a pot cozy means NO burnt-on gunk!
The Brasslite stove starts at $30. With the Pepsi-can stove from Tinman plus a pot cozy, you could get the stove AND a cozy and still have money in your pocket." [One thing to consider is how much water you need. When traveling with a partner, you will need twice as much water to prepare food, tea, and do your dishwashing. Susan]
#2 Ken and Marcia Powers, who have hiked the Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest trails, are currently planning their 2005 adventure. Their goal is to backpack the Southern route of the American Discovery Trail (coast to coast) over an eight month stretch. Ken and Marcia, by the way, present a beautiful slide show of their hikes on occasion. Check on their progress and programs at www.Gottawalk.com.
#3 Elderhostel has their 2005 international catalogs out (and at their website www.elderhostel.org). They offer a wide variety of courses and activities --including hiking and backpacking.
#4 If you just happen to be in Pt. Reyes Station tomorrow [10/16], stop by and visit -- "Susan Alcorn, author of We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill -Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers, will be at the bookstore for conversation and book signing from 10:30 am to noon on Saturday. (She will be interviewed on KWMR on The Vicarious Traveler at 9 am)."
Bonus: I just posted a backpacking article on www.Seniorwomen.com I think you'll enjoy the site.
Hi Friends and family,
This newsletter is a bit late, and somewhat longer, because I have been in Utah at the 15th anniversary celebration of The Great Old Broads for Wilderness. What a group! (more info follows). We camped in Snow Canyon (near St. George), where the hiking and vistas are magnificent.
I was recently reading from John Muir's "The Animals of the Yosemite" and was delighted to find the
following: "In my first interview with a Sierra bear we were frightened and embarrassed, both of us! After studying his appearance as he stood at rest, I rushed forward to frighten him, that I might study his gait in running. But contrary to all I had heard about the shyness of bears, he did not run at all! and when I stopped short within a few steps of him, as he held his ground in a fighting attitude, my mistake was monstrously plain."
#1 For those who are interested in the lightest of backpacking stoves: check google.com under "brasslite stove". You can follow to that company, or find numerous listings by people who make their own stoves from soda cans, etc. You can also google under alcohol stoves for info. Or, you can also go directly to www.brasslite.com.
#2 The Yosemite Association has completed their Ranger joke contest. Winner #8 provided the following:
Q: What did the ranger get on his IQ test?
#3 "Trail angels" is a name given to those who help backpackers along the trail. "Angels" do such things as give hikers a ride into town to pick up supplies, leave jugs of water along a desert route, buy them a beer at at a resupply point, etc. Connie and Mike Snyder are trail angels on the American Discovery Trail. Connie is postmaster. When Bill and Laurie Foot (Laurie's stories are included in my "We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill"), hiked/biked the trail, they stopped in Londonberry, Ohio to pick up a re-supply box. After getting their box to them, Connie invited the Foots home for lunch. Next came a readily accepted offer of warm showers. Then, the Snyders
suggested Foots take a day off (they had just spent a week traveling through cold weather and flooded areas). So, Bill and Laurie spent the night, enjoyed a tour of the town the next day, and then were delivered back to the trail revitalized.
#4 In my non-ending quest to find lighter camping and backpacking equipment, I learned of a company that makes lighter tent poles. If you have a self-supporting tent that you like, but want to make it lighter, one possibility is to replace the existing metal poles with carbon fiber ones. Go to www.fibraplex.com and click on "carbon fiber poles." We heard of this company from Dale Johnson, himself a well-seasoned backpacker in the Rocky Mountains.
#5 The Great Old Broads Anniversary Celebration: WOW! is all I can say. I only recently joined, and wanted to meet some of the members in person. I was totally blown away by the accomplishments of this group. Part of why they are so successful is that they educate themselves on the issues, and offer reasonable alternatives. You can find out a lot more at their website: www.greatoldbroads.org but briefly their main goals are to keep the wilderness wild and to increase wilderness holdings. So, they spend amazing amounts of time fighting against mining, logging, drilling, and cattle grazing, ATV (all terrain vehicle) usage, and so forth in wilderness and other sensitive areas. Consider joining--you can make a difference.
"You don't really know a man until you go camping with him." (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt)
Dear Friends and Family,
#1 I sometimes hear people comment that they did not carry required bear (food) containers into the
backcountry and had no problems. The problem is that eventually the bear WILL get food, will associate campers with food and most likely will become more aggressive. Injuries to people are more likely and the bear's days are numbered. Recently a man was injured by a bear in Angeles National Park (near L.A.). As reported in the S.F. Chronicle (9/4/04), the family was camped and heard the bear breaking into their ice chest about 2:00 in the morning. The wife and children ran to their car; the man stayed out and threw something at the bear. The bear retaliated by swatting at him and then returned its attention to the food. The 39 year old man then returned to his car. He was later treated for cuts to the chest (luckily not serious injuries). The campground was closed so that Fish and Game could find the bear and kill it. Though there has never been a fatality recorded in California due to a black bear, such incidents have occurred in other states. Black bears are increasing in number throughout the state and showing up in areas where they were not previously found. Check the regulations of the area where you are headed and for everyone's safety, please follow them.
#2 Unfortunately, I have an even sadder story to relay. Sarah Bishop, a 27 year old woman who was backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail near Oregon's Mt. Hood, died earlier this month while attempting to make a crossing over Sandy River. There have been many letters on backpacking forums and her death touched many. We have heard that it was a rather cold (50s), wet day. The area has several trail junctions and where to cross can be confusing. Sarah's pack weighed
about 60 pounds. Her pack was securely strapped on and the straps had to be cut to recover her body. One of the people who responded to the news about Sarah wrote: "'Walter's Starr's last verse still reverbs with me, 'Defiant mountains beckon me, to glory and dream in their paradise. Until that final step, I will walk with the wilderness to live.' Go for a hike for Sarah."
#3 Let's suppose you are planning a trip in the months ahead within the U.S. or abroad and you want to know the temperatures -- high and low -- of your destination. Here's where to go to find that info: www.weatherunderground.com. It has historic "on this date" info, current temperatures, and forecasts.
#4 Susan's upcoming events: Sierra Club dinner, Berkeley,(9/23); Booky Joint,Mammoth Lakes (9/29); Great Old Broads Conf(10/2); Pt.Reyes Books (10/16); Orinda Books,(10/21), Title 9 Sports, Berkeley (10/27). Please check www.backpack45.com for details.
If you are so inclined, on your next trip to the library, suggest to the acquistions person that the library order "We're in the Mountains, Not over the Hill..." for their collection. Thank you.
Susan Alcorn's Backpacking/Hiking Tales and Tips #25 Sept.1, 2004
Dear Friends and Family,
Having had a month to collect items, it was hard to narrow down to the following items of interest:
First off, Ralph and I had a great backpacking trip from Sonora Pass (Hwy. 4) to Donner Pass (Hwy. 80). 140 miles, two weeks, on the Pacific Crest Trail. We had great weather with only about a teaspoonful of rain. Very few mosquitoes. Wildflowers, particularly in the southern portion, in profusion. I loved walking through stretches where the lupine was higher than my head. No bears -- but lots of scat. Because we were at the 7,000 to 9,000 elevation most of the time, we heard and enjoyed many more birds than are found in the higher points on the trail. I had my first sighting of a weasel; it was extremely inquisitive (and cute!). Its home was in a rock slide/talus slope area -- same as the neighboring marmots and pikas.
Our midway point was Echo Lake and that's where Ralph had mailed our food for the second week. We stayed overnight at the Berkeley Kids' Camp. Though I had visions of sharing a tent with kids giggling into the wee hours, it was nothing like that; we had our own tent cabin overlooking Lake Tahoe. We also enjoyed the hot showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities, and dining hall food.
#1 Bear Passes Out After Only 36 Beers Aug 19, 8:23 am ET
SEATTLE (Reuters) - A black bear was found passed out at a campground in Washington state recently after guzzling down three dozen cans of a local beer, a campground worker said on Wednesday.
"We noticed a bear sleeping on the common lawn and wondered what was going on until we discovered that there were a lot of beer cans lying around," said Lisa Broxson, a worker at the Baker Lake Resort, 80 miles northeast of Seattle.
The hard-drinking bear, estimated to be about two years old, broke into campers' coolers and, using his claws and teeth to open the cans, swilled down the suds. It turns out the bear was a bit of a beer sophisticate. He tried a mass-market Busch beer, but switched to Rainier Beer, a local ale, and stuck with it for his drinking binge.
Wildlife agents chased the bear away, but it returned the next day, said Broxson. They set a trap using as bait some doughnuts, honey and two cans of Rainier Beer. It worked, and the bear was captured for relocation. (Thanks to Sue Ann for forwarding this
#2 Reader Jean, in response to last issue's comments about clothing treated with Permethrin and the use of DEET to avoid mosquitoes, sent the following: "Permethrin is a suspected carcinogen and endocrine disrupter. It washes out and gets into our water supply. To avoid winged critters, I wear a netty jacket, long pants and have a mosquito netted cap (though I've never used the cap) ... looks funny but much easier on the environment. And I swing my hands a lot. Maybe I'm just not that tasty to critters. Also, I avoid attractive colors in my clothing and meaty food that brings out the carnivorous insects." Jean sent a great deal of background information, which I don't have room to run here, but you can check out for yourself at "Beyond Pesticides" and make your own decision.
#3 Reminder: To avoid contaminating water supplies, when you wash clothing in the backcountry: collect the water from the stream/river/lake, carry it at least 200* feet away from the nearest water source. Use soaps, even biodegradable types, sparingly, and dump the wastewater well away from the fresh water. (*Leave No Trace recommendations.)
#3 I was recently intrigued by an article at Bakersfield.com (Steven Mayer, 7/28/04) about a Kernville, CA woman, Ruby Jenkins. Ruby, who is now 79, is the co-founder of the Kern River Valley Hiking Club. She leads several hikes each year -- for anyone who can keep up with her.
In 1979, Ruby became serious about hiking and writing when her son, Jim, was killed by a driver whose car ran off the highway and struck him. Jim, a ranger at Sequoia National Forest, had written guidebooks to the Southern Sierra. After his death, Ruby was approached by Wilderness Press to update Jim's books. After Ruby backpacked the John Muir Trail, at age 50, she felt qualified and ready to continue Jim's legacy. She then proceeded to hike all the trails in the guidebook in 1980 and again in 1990 to do so. Both Jim's and Ruby's names are on the cover of "Exploring the Southern Sierra: West Side."
++This newsletter is e-mailed twice a month; I would appreciate it if you would forward it to at least one person to whom you think it would be of interest. If at any time you decide that you would like your name removed from further mailings, just drop me a line.
Susan Alcorn's Backpacking/Hiking Tales & Tips #24 August 1, 2004
"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found I was really going in." John Muir (from Jeanne Dowell's "Yoga News.")
Question: How many rangers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? (answer at bottom of page)
#1 I don't know how to prove, or disprove this item, but I recently heard that a ranger had warned that
bears are drawn to those deodorizing air fresheners that people hang on their car's rearview mirror.
#2 With mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus continuing their spread across the country, it makes sense to avoid getting bitten. Since the standard advice to avoid being out-of-doors at dawn and dusk is rather difficult for backpackers to follow, other measures must be used. I've noted that clothing pre-treated with repellents are now available in sporting goods stores and catalogs. Since we are heading for the Sierra this week, we have sprayed our clothing with Permethrin (manu. by Sawyer and others). Both the store-bought and home-sprayed items are supposed to be effective for up to 20 washings.
#3 The July/August 2004 issue of the Sierra Club Yodeler (Bay Chapter)has a good article by Patrick Colgan on why he loves backpacking. Also there are listings of about a dozen trips coming up within the next two months. I was happy to read that the club has taken several measures to reduce hikers'impact on the backcountry--including limiting the number of participants to 8-12 on many trips. You can check out the article and the trips at www.sfbaysc.org
Answer to above: None, rangers aren't afraid of the dark.(Thanks to the Yosemite Assoc. newsletter 7/30/04).
Please note: there will be no mid-month issue of this newsletter because I refuse to carry a computer on the PCT. Packweight this trip will be under 25 pounds. (Hiking Sonora Pass to Tahoe Summit).
Dear Friends and Family,
I'm now back from a vacation in Eastern Europe: Prague, Budapest and then on the Danube to see parts of Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. It was an interesting trip and it was nice to see so many people feeling more optimistic about their future and happy to be out from under the repressive years/lifetimes under Soviet rule.
Item #1: I don't usually do dietary items in this newsletter, but I have read such good things about
Flax, particularly for women, that I thought I would include the following from Dr. Susan M. Lark
(www.drlark.com) Most of her suggestions for adding it to your diet can be used on the trail as well as at home:
"My Flax Recommendations
I recommend taking 1 to 2 tablespoons of flax seed oil or 4 to 6 tablespoons of ground flax every day as an easy way to support your health on many levels.
1. Sprinkle 4 to 6 tablespoons of ground flax on top of cooked oatmeal, dried cereal, or soy yogurt. (You can buy ground flax meal or grind the seeds yourself with a seed or coffee grinder.)
2. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons ground flaxseed to shakes or smoothies.
3. Instead of butter, try flax seed oil on your bread.
4. Use flax seed oil instead of canola or olive oil when making salad dressing.
5. Combine 1/8 cup flax seeds with 1/2 cup each pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds."
Thanks to Melanie for forwarding the above.
Item #2: I'm reminded of one of the major reasons I enjoy backpacking when I read Buddist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn's message: "If I am incapable of washing the dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert, I will be equally incapable of enjoying dessert. With the fork in my hand, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the texture and flavor of the desert, together with the pleasure of eating, will be lost." Backpacking provides an opportunity to slow down and watch the clouds drift by, to breathe in the fresh air, to listen to the sounds of a waterfall, or to watch a marmot or lizard lazily stretch out in the sun.
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear inthe face." Eleanor Roosevelt (contributed by Janet H.)
Hi Friends and Family; welcome new "subscribers,"
#1 This recent item ran recently and may be of interest to any parent traveling with a young child out of the country. "Parents traveling out of the country with a child under 18 must have a notarized letter of consent signed by the parent not accompanying the child." (Oakland Tribune).
#2 Adapted from, "What are Sunrise, Sunset & Twilight?" (Naturalist notes, Mount Diablo Review, Winter 2003/2004.) Sunrise and sunset generally are used to refer to the times when the upper edge of the disk of the Sun is directly on the horizon. However, before sunrise, and after sunset, there are intervals of time in which there is reflected light. Dawn is the period of reflected light before sunrise; twilight is the period after sunset.
#3 Getting lost, being found: Search and rescue experts recommend the STOP acronym: "Stop if you feel panicked and lost. Think about where you were last sure of your location. Observe details that might provide clues to where you should be. Plan your next course of action." Teach children to stay put and "hug a tree" if they are lost. (LA Times, Julie Sheer 3/7/04)
#4 Marcy sends word that the Claremont Club (Claremont, CA) has a hiking club led by a very capable leader, Rich McHard.
#5 While recently in the Plumas/Lassen area visiting dear friends and having a wonderful book "mini-tour," we took a spectacular 4 mile hike into the mountains behind Sierra City. "Round Loop Trail" is within a beautiful bowl of mountains, very near the PCT in that area, and takes you by five sparkling lakes. Highly recommended to anyone visiting that area of California.
This newsletter is longer than usual--in part because I will be playing tourist in Eastern Europe and then visiting Portland and Ashland for book events most of July--therefore, there will be no mid-July newsletter.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one lesss traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost (reprinted in Woman's Day 6/15/04)
Hi Friends and Family,
#1 Marianne sent in the following in response to last issue's hints about dealing with mountain lions: Carry an umbrella (best if it's an automatic one); if you do see a mountain lion, put it up. Makes you look large very quickly. [As most of you know, Ralph and I carry umbrellas to ward off rain, (snow in France!), sun, and wind--now we have another good reason!!!]
I also received the following info: "NPR's "Living on Earth" is having/had [date unknown] a segment on cougars east of the Mississippi. For a transcript of the show go to http://www.loe.org/ then click on "This week's show" then click on "The Panther's Path". And Check this out. Map of conclusive and highly probable cougar sightings in the east. http://www.easterncougarnet.org/Conclusions [end
#2 We are seeing more and more lightweight backpacks on the market. This is very good news for those of us who enjoy carrying reduced loads. I have purchased a new pack by Granite Gear called the "Vapor Trail". Weighs only 2 pounds, but has well padded shoulder straps and hipbelt. Granite Gear is a major player; the backpack received an award last year from Backpacker Mag. I'm looking forward to using it when we do our backpack trip from Sonora Pass to Lake Tahoe this summer. I'll let you know how it compares with my old, beloved Kelty weighing in at 4.8 pounds.
#3 Bay Area women hikers: East Bay Regional Park Naturalists continue a series of hikes (1-2 a month) entitled "Women on Common Ground" in various locations. Reservations required. Call: 925-862-2601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Please check our website: http://www.backpack45.com for additions and changes to "author events." You will soon see a new listing: Ashland, Oregon on Thursday, July 22 at the Outdoor Store (John Muir Trail slide show).
Hi Friends and Family,
Welcome to the new "subscribers." Twice a month I send this newsletter--containing a few items that I hope will be of interest to hikers and backpackers. I invite you to send questions or contribute hints and news items of general interest.
#1 Minimizing the risk of Mountain Lion encounters: First, a reality check; your chance of ever seeing one in the wild is remote. With his 30 years as an outdoorsman and writer (and undoubtedly hoping to spot a mountain lion), Paul McHugh has only seen the tail-end of one as it vanished down a riverbank. And, though there have been a couple of incidents, including one death, in California within the last year, your chances of being attacked are also remote. Even so, there are things you can do if you know you are in a vulnerable location. Info from Paul McHugh (S.F.Chronicle 4/8/04):
1) hike with a companion.
2) carry a stout hiking stick or pepper spray.
3) be alert when traveling under ledges and steep
4) keep children near you and in front.
5) if threatened: stand tall, put your arms up in the
air and wave them slowly--do NOT crouch; you want to
look big. Hold up a jacket. Do NOT run.
6) pick up children without bending over.
7) maintain strong eye contact.
8) yell at the lion in a loud, commanding voice.
9) if attacked: fight with everything at your
command--boots, rocks, hiking pole--and aim at
vulnerable spots--eyes, nose, throat, etc.
#2 John Vonhof's "Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes" tells you all about foot
care--from blister prevention to plantar fasciitis and then some. His third edition, now published by Wilderness Press, is due out this month. As anyone who's had a blister knows, foot problems can bring a run or hike to a quick halt; look for John's book and save yourself a lot of grief.
#3 I often am asked how someone can find a group with which to backpack. I can't be a clearinghouse for informal groups, but occasionally I hear about non-profit or commercial operations that offer interesting trips. I have recently heard from Lori Bowie of West Coast Women Adventures whose company, based in British Columbia, offers "Active Getaways for Women 30+." You can find out more by contacting them at: www.westcoastwomen.com or 604-803-3009. (Note: I have no experience with them, but wanted to pass their info on to those who might be interested in such a
In closing: If you know anyone who would like to be added to my mailing list, please tell them to send me a message. I do not give out names to anyone. If you want your name dropped from the list, please let me know. Thanks.
Hi Friends and family,
Yes, I know it has been a while since the last "edition" of this newsletter:
#1 Ralph and I were on a 3-1/2 week trip to France (our first) and after a very brief time in Paris, we made our way to Le Puy to start a 2-1/2 week hike on one of the major trails that leads to Spain's Camino de Santiago (which we hiked in 2001). On this trip, we hiked 150 miles over hill and dale in a very rural setting. We had light rain and hail, snow, as well as some delightfully sunny days. Actually, the snow was the most exciting (totally unexpected by anyone) and made for beautiful scenery. As on our Spain trip, we each carried about 15 pounds (we were able to leave some "fancier" clothing at our hotel in Paris while hiking). Sleeping bags were not necessary, we carried silk liners for those occasions when sheets were necessary (in the hostels--called "gites"). Once again, we were very happy to have umbrellas; though we have waterproof jackets and pants, it is so much nicer to have the umbrella so that rain is not pouring on your head. It also cuts wind or sun. As you know, Ralph and I travel pretty light, but I would not recommend light boots or running shoes for this trail (GR65). We were often walking along very boggy and muddy trails, snow and snowmelt, and rough rocky paths. Our hiking sticks were wonderful. This was a great trip; we met wonderful people, were welcomed everywhere we went, and enjoyed thecountry. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys backpacking -- very do-able. I have more notes for anyone who wants to read them (just ask!) and I am certain that Ralph will be adding more details on our website soon:
# 2 I am very pleased to report that Doris Klein, who has lead 100s of hikes for Vallejo Rec. Dept, was recently honored with the dedication of the "Doris Klein Bench" which is now along one of her favorite local trails. Doris quipped, "It's especially nice to be honored while you are still here to enjoy it."
#3 From a Rick Steves newsletter: Rick was walking in Switzerland and encountered Olle (the local teacher), "'Alpine farmers expect to lose some of their cows in hiking accidents. These days cows are double the weight of cows a hundred years ago and no less stupid. If one wanders off a cliff in search of greener grass, the others follow. One time at the high Alp above our village [Gimmelwald], forty cows performed this stunt... like jumbo lemmings. The meat must be drained of blood immediately or it's wasted. Helicopters fly them out, but it's only meat for the dogs.'" Happy trails,
#1 Though not for everyone, walking with a group offers many advantages: motivation, meeting new people, sharing tips on hiking and equipment, safety, and exploring new trails. In the S.F. Bay Area, we have a wealth of hiking clubs and advocacy groups that lead hikes. This month, I thought I'd mention the Greenbelt Alliance. Their mission is to protect open space and promote livable communities. They lead many hikes--generally on the weekend. Check them out at Greenbeltalliance.org
#2 Donna M. sent this message in response to my last newsletter's item about hiking poles: "My father used two walking poles. He said, 'With my canes I am able,'-- a play on Cain and Abel of Biblical times."
#3 Mt. Diablo State Park, near us, has a "Trail Adoption Program" that I hope will spread like wildfire to other parks. Basically, they are encouraging families, friends, or other groups, to agree to maintain a trail or portion of a trail for
one year. The park will provide training and tools. The upkeep will be at the schedule and pace of the
adopting team. For more info on this program, call Sue at 925-837-6122.
*I will be exploring trails in France for the next few weeks, so there will be no newsletter on May 1st and the mid-month one will be later than usual. In the meantime, keep this thought in mind: "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." T.S.Eliot
Welcome to Spring!
#1 Another use for duct tape? Plantar Warts are caused by a virus and appear on the bottom of the
foot. U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter (April, 2004, pg.7) reported on a study that found that duct tape had 25% better results at removing warts (from hands and feet) than the standard treatment of cryotherapy (freezing). The treatment was to cover the area around the wart for 6 days, then soak the area in water and scrape the wart with an emery board or pumice, then after 12 hours, repeat the whole process. This treatment was continued for up to 2 months. (The article noted that genital warts are an entirely different matter and should not be self-diagnosed or treated).
#2 Hiking poles reduce fatigue and help maintain balance. According to my Spring 2004 L.L.Bean catalog, hiking poles can "help reduce stress to the knees by 250 TONS over an 8 hour day."
#3 Recently read an article by Arthur Frommer on "soft adventure" which he defines as challenges with no real risk or physical hardship. Apparently this is a growing field within the travel industry. The trips emphasize nature or cultural tours with stays in tents rather than big hotels. Groups are kept small and travel by van rather than huge buses. www.softadventure.net is a starting point for those
interested in researching this kind of travel.
#4 I have just joined Great Old Broads for Wilderness. Who can resist an organization that objects to vested interests who claim that they are pushing roads into wilderness areas for their (the old broads') benefit? To check out the Great Old Broads events--from political activities to river floats to hiking--go to: www.greatoldbroads.org
P.S. I'll be in Pleasant Hill, CA on April 6; Orinda
on April 21. Hope to see you.
"Do not regret getting older, remember it's a privilege denied many." from "The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem" by Nathaniel Branden.
#1 Since the weather is warming up and most of us are outdoors hiking more, it seemed like an opportune time to provide a list of the "Ten Essentials" to carry with you -- whether you're on a day hike or in the backcountry. Though these lists of essentials may vary slightly from source to source, carrying these items may one day save your life--if, for example, you get lost and have to unexpectedly stay out overnight. found this article in the Oak. Trib. (3/7/04) with the following list by the Seattle-based Mountaineers: map, compass, flashlight, extra food, extra clothing, sunglasses, first-aid supplies, pocketknife, water-proof matches, and fire-starter. Oh, and don't get lost!!!
#2 I thought I would pass on a bit of advice from Camino hiker Joyce who wrote me the following: "I was not prepared for the fact that pilgrims would steal things from each other..." When Ralph and I were hiking Spain's Camino de Santiago, we often stayed in refugios. We always took turns taking showers, etc. so we could guard each other's security belt (with passport, etc) and backpack.
My purse was recently stolen. The thieves broke our car window and took the purse (at a park near our home). I can attest to the fact that it is both an inconvenient and expensive event. It's even worse when you are traveling. So, I want to express my sympathy to Joyce and to thank her for reminding us that, unfortunately, petty thievery occurs everywhere. I am very saddened by the recent horrific bombings in Spain and the great number of deaths and injuries. The people of Spain were wonderful to us and we loved the country.
P.S. I have added at least two items to my "author events" list at www.backpack45.com I will soon be in Pleasant Hill, Orinda, Sonoma, Portola (Plumas Cty.), Murphys (CA) and in Portland, Oregon. Check it out!!!
Today I have three items of general interest and one very important message for Bay Area residents about a hard rock mine (quarry) threatening to destroy Apperson Ridge adjacent to Sunol Regional Park (Alameda County).
#1 I can't wait! We are coming upon prime wildflower season. I can't list all the possibilities, but here are a few spectacular locations: "Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve" near Lancaster, CA. Check with www.parks.ca.gov Also in California: "Carrizo Plain National Monument," San Luis Obispo County, www.ca.blm.gov. "Lamoille Canyon" in Ruby Mountains Elko, Nevada. www.fs.fed.us/htnf. (Info thanks to Via Mag.)
#2 I recently read in the Oakland Trib an article from Cox News Service entitled "'Girlfriends weekends' increasing in popularily." The gist of it is: getting away with your women friends is one of the hottest new vacation trends. There's even a website: www.girlsgetaway.com that provides a step by step guide to planning your adventure. Meanwhile I have come across a couple of group adventure tours, though I have no personal experience with them, that sound interesting: For women only "Gutsy Women Travel" www.gutsywomentravel.com (866)464-8879. For adventure travel for those over 50: ElderTreks, www.eldertreks.com (800)741-7956.
#3 For those of you traveling abroad: Some countries require that your passport be valid for six
months beyond your trip's ending date. So check your expiration date.
Apperson Ridge (S.F. Bay Area): Saturday Ralph and I joined friends and a group for a hike in Sunol Regional Park to see Apperson Ridge. The good news is that it was a beautiful day and hike. The bad news is that the magnificent view we had from the ridge will eventually disappear unless a plan to quarry Apperson Ridge is halted. We enjoyed the 5.5 mile hike so much that we took other friends out to the same area on Sunday. On Sunday, we saw about 40 elk--which are among the animals threatened by the proposed dynamite blasting and demolition slated for Apperson. In about a month, Sunol's hillsides will be blanketed with wildflowers. Do NOT miss exploring this area. If you would like to go on the next planned hike or would like info on how to register your protest to the quarry, please call Jeff Miller of Alameda Creek Alliance at 510-845-2233.
I hope you are planning one or more backpacking trips this
year. If you are going into an area requiring permits, it's
time to look into the procedure and when permits need to be
#1 According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, Wyoming has the highest percentage of backpackers, 27.3 of the state's population, and Rhode Island the lowest, 0.4.
#2 The proper care of footwear: When you buy boots and raingear, you will undoubtedly come across the terms "water repellent" and "waterproof." Water repellent" means the boots (or outerwear) have been treated to shed water. "Waterproof" means just that, but even Goretex doesn't stay waterproof forever. Boots need care and eventually--restoration. So clean off caked-on mud after your hike and stuff wet boots with dry newspaper, replacing the paper as needed, until your boots are dry. Never dry your boots at the campfire or on a heater--boots can be damaged (become brittle and cracked). Follow manufacturers'
directions regarding waterproof sprays, waxes, etc. (adapted from LA Times article by Julie Sheer)
#3 2002 California Outdoors Hall of Fame winner, Carole Latimer, has an exciting variety of women's hiking, backpacking, and other trips scheduled for 2004. Carole's Berkeley-based company, "Call of the Wild," has been leading adventure trips for 25 years. They can be reached at (510) 849-9292 or 888-378-1978 and on the web at www.callwild.com
"Life should not be measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away." -unknown
I want to express my gratitude to the anonymous Oaklander who
responded to my request (last issue) to send in a review of
"We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill" to Amazon.com. From
the beautifully written review: "Backpacking is a priceless
activity--we're fortunate to be able to do it, and we're
really missing out if we neglect it." How true!
#1 Tom Stienstra, in today's Chron, reported on a winner of the 2004 California Outdoors Hall of Fame, Ola Eikrem, a San Rafael woman. Ola was the first California woman to climb all 14,000 foot peaks (68) south of Canada. Her other feats included climbing Washington's Mt. Rainer when she was 39 and pregnant and backpacking over Muir Pass (on the JMT) with her baby in tow. What an inspiration!
#2 Not everyone needs to be concerned about weight loss when backpacking; many of us are happy to lose a few pounds while hiking. But backpackers thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or other long distance trails, can't affort to lose too much weight. Months of hiking expending 5,000 calories a day and taking in 1,500 calories can become a health issue. One product that has a lot of calories per ounce is freeze-dried butter. You can order it in one lb. qualities from several suppliers of outdoor products. Check Google.
#3 Several women have asked me if I know of any backpacking groups they might join. While I can't
really become a listing service for those who want to find hiking partners, I can list information from time to time about groups. In the S.F. Bay Area, Diablo Hiking Club leads hikes and ski trips. Some of the members have expressed interest in backpacking. You can contact: Board Member Ellen Salassi (925)229-3313 for more info.
Correction: the item in the Jan. 2 "Tales and Tips" about hazardous plastic bottles was from the Sierra Mag. Nov/Dec 2003 issue (not Backpacker Mag) I am happy to report that I will be doing a few radio interviews in February--in Napa and in N. California/S. Oregon. You can check the stations and times at our website: www.backpack45.com
P.S. Helpful comments are always welcome/you can also
unsubscribe. Notify me at email@example.com
Well, we are off and running (at the gym) with the start of
this new year--so far so good on the resolutions. Ralph and I
are trying to get ready for our April/May trip. We are going
to spend a few days in Paris and then start from LePuy towards
the Pyrenees on the pilgrimage route. We will walk as far as
our time allows.
Tip: I'm reading a wonderful new book by Angela and Duffy Ballard of their thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail entitled "A Blistered Kind of Love." I am at the point in the book where one of Angela's knees is causing her extreme pain. Finally, at Tuolumne Meadows, they stop for 48 hours so she can ice, elevate, let the ibuprofen do its work, and rest her knee. It works.
The "tale": Angela reads Duffy from a medical study out of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that found that pictures of mountains and sounds of babbling brooks reduced patients' pain by half during some medical treatments. The phenomenon is known as 'biophila.' It's sort of what we intuitively know--if you are absorbed in something wonderful, you notice pain a lot less.
Tip: This is an unverified (by us) tip that showed up on the PCT listserv that might be worth checking out if you are in the market for new socks. White synthetic socks of recycled fiber purchased at Costco. They were used by a father/daughter team, Bob and Bug Turner, who did the PCT in 1997 and by the unnamed person who sent the tip. "Lightweight, cushiony, easy to wash, cost about $1 a pair."
Tale and Tip: I recently received an e-mail announcing this year's backpack trips from Terry Gustafson, owner of Rainbow Expeditions II in Colorado. Several years ago I tried to interview Terry for my book--this was before I found out that he was a guy. Anyway, this year his company will be leading backpack trips in Utah, California, Arizona, and Mexico. Some of you have asked for information about backpacking trips besides those lead by the Sierra Club. So although I don't know Terry personally, I think the fact that he was a backcountry ranger in Kings Canyon/Sequoia for 16 years is encouraging. If you are interested, he can be contacted at: 303-239-9917 or www.rainbow2.com
Susan's request: We could certainly use some more rave reviews from readers of "We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill--Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers" on Amazon.com. I'd appreciate it!!!
Let me be among the first to wish you "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" It is raining here in the S.F. Bay Area, but that does not stop us from climbing stairs at the gym in order to be ready for steep passes in the summer, does it?
#1 Sierra Magazine, among other sources, have recently reported that some types of plastic bottles may not be safe to use/reuse because some harmful chemicals may leach out. The warning is based on findings that came about as a by-product of some research being done on mouse reproduction. The manufacturer of Naglene has responded that earlier research has shown no danger from using their bottles.
If you want to eliminate the bottles in question, don't reuse the #1 bottles you buy water in (recycle them with your curbside trash), eliminate the hard, clear #7 bottles, and go for the #2, 4, and 5 bottles (bottles are rigid, not clear).
#2 New entry in the bear canister field. We've been hearing a lot of discussion on the backpacking forum about the new "Bear Vault." It is $79.95 at REI ($1 more than the black Garcia). Apparently its capacity is greater than the Garcia, weighs about 5 ounces less (manu. specs), and is translucent. As with all new entries, it has a provisional permit for one year. Apparently Kodiak--the remarkably ingenuous bear that the officials use for testing purposes--has not made his way into this new canister.
Susan Alcorn will be making several presentations during January/February--some are slide shows, some are talks. I'll be in San Francisco, San Mateo, El Cerrito, and now--Ashland, Oregon. Check our website for updated information.
It is with regret that I pass on the message that Outside Interests of Danville is going out of business mid-month. They are having a 50% off closing sale.
Once again Tom Stienstra, in today's (Jan.2) S.F. Chronicle, gives us a great list of waterfall hikes in the Bay Area. This is the season!
Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67. She last hiked it at the age of 76.