home of Shepherd Canyon Books

Help support this site by using our Amazon or REI buttons for any purchase

Susan Alcorn's Backpacking Tales and Tips Newsletters 2017

 All Newsletters 2017 , 2016 , 2015 , 2014 , 2013 , 2012 , 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 , 2005 , 2004

Shepherd Canyon Books
25 Southwood Court
Oakland, CA  94611
   email backpack45 at

Publisher of "We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill--Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers."

  If you would like me to remove your name from the newsletter e-mail list, please let me know. If you know anyone who wants to be added, please have them send me a message. Thanks.


Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #217 February 2017

That we, with Thee, may walk uncowed
By fear or favour of the crowd. (Rudyard Kipling,Christmas in India, 11)v


  1. Stroll with Ridge Trail this weekend
  2. Flyway Festival coming soon
  3. California Mission Walk
  4. Leave No Trail information
  5. Marcia Powers, Grand Slam hiker, to hold backpacking clinic
  6. Alcorn's Camino presentation: Burlingame, CA
  7. Ned Tibbetts gives mountain education 
  8. American Pilgrims Gathering
  9. Hospitalero trailing – East Coast
  10. JMT or PCT food supply at Edison Lake
  11. Cuckoos are not just for clocks
  12. ‘Boots’ in the news
  13. Death of activist and environmentalist Mark Baumer  



#1. Bay Area Ridge Trail:  San Francisco Super Stroll & Roll. Feb 5 , times vary. “No plans for Super Bowl Sunday ? Join San Francisco volunteers for the Super Stroll & Roll on February 5 !  Whether you want to traverse the city from Lake Merced to the Golden Gate Bridge or do a more leisurely hike from transit to Twin Peaks, choose your hike or ride and sign-up today! Free!” Click here for additional information and registration. v

Also: April 22, 2017 . Ridge Trail’s signature fully supported event, Ridge to Bridge is a fundraising hike and ride on the Ridge Trail in Marin and San Francisco with over 400 participants! We need lots of volunteer support to put on this event—especially volunteers to staff rest stops and our catered lunch for the hikes (up to 26 miles) and mountain bike rides (up to 40 miles). If you'd like to volunteer for Ridge to Bridge please click the link below to fill out a brief survey about your volunteer job interest. Please respond to this emailwith any questions.

1#2. S.F. Bay Area Flyway Festival Volunteer at the Flyway Festival on Mare Island, Vallejo, CA. February 11-12 on Mare Island near Vallejo celebrates the return of over one million shorebirds and hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, hawks, songbirds and even monarch butterflies that migrate through the Bay Area. The Wildlife Exploration and Birding Expo has live bird visits and educational presentations and exhibits—including a table to learn more about the Bay Area Ridge Trail, San Francisco Bay Trail and Water Trail! Volunteers needed:Ridge Trail is looking for volunteers to staff their exhibit for 2-3 hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday  between 9am-4pm . No experience necessary! Reply to this email with interest and availability.

#3. California Mission Walkers: An Open Invitation to Hike from Mission San Buenaventura to Missions Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and La Purisima April 22-29, 2017 . 
News from a group, California Mission Walkers, which is hiking between various California missions—their last walk ended at San Juan Capistrano last September. ”This year, Curt Cragg is organizing a panel discussion in Santa Ynez about the El Camino Real in late April. I propose that we hike from Mission San Buenaventura to Missions Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and La Purisima.  This itinerary would allow us to participate in the panel at Mission Santa Ynez before continuing on to Mission La Purisima.  The leg between Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez would especially benefit from some shuttling.  For those of us on a budget, camping could be available about half of the time.v

If you are interested in participating in part or all of this hike, the sooner you Butch Briery know, the sooner they can all start planning.” Butch Briery email: v

Their goal: “We are dedicated to promoting a walking route along the historic El Camino Real between the 21 California Spanish missions, and supporting those who walk it.v

#4. The Pacific Crest Trail website has a revamped page on Leave No Trace Ethics. Check it out and learn how to make minimal impact on this and other trails.  v

#5. Marcia Powers & the PCT. Marcia gives Pacific Crest Trail digital presentation including physical prep, gear and food choices for any long distance hike; Leave No Trace practices to enjoy and protect nature. This is from one of our country’s foremost experts on backpacking. Marcia Powers has hiked the PCT, Discovery Trail. Appalachian, Continental Divide and more. Save the date: February 12, 2017 1 PM to 5 PM , Pleasanton Public Library, 400 Old Bernal Road, Pleasanton, CA.

3#6. Camino de Santiago program. Susan and Ralph Alcorn will give a digital presentation on the Camino Frances (Camino de Santiago) onWednesday, March 29, 2017 . Burlingame Library, CA. Details to be determined.v


#7. Hiking the John Muir Trail or Pacific Crest Trail. Ned Tibbits, Director Mountain Education, Inc., recently wrote some information of important to anyone hiking in the mountains this year. Hiking north-bound is way better because all the good glissades down from the passes are on the northern aspects (sides or the pass). Going SoBo [southbound] only means you will have to slog your way up the snow rather than enjoying exhilarating glissading descents down them.”v

“Dead reckoning or line-of-sight navigation over snow is really easy above timberline, but requires that you know how to read a topo map in 3-D. This is a skill, too…. All the snow skills you’d ever want to learn we’ve been teaching to hikers for 34 years. If you guys are heading into the Sierra any time before mid-July this year, you might want to learn your snow skills first! We have great Snow Advanced Courses designed for the summer backpackers who want to get into early season snow hiking.v

“Also, Mountain Education cuts into and maintains a path across Forester’s ice chute every year starting about mid-April. I think we’ll be chopping it near the end of April this year. So, when you guys get there and see a nice trough across the chute allowing your passage to be much safer, remember we are out there teaching and making sure everybody is safe and having fun, even crossing creeks!” Email here. v


#8. American Pilgrims Members20th Annual Gathering of Pilgrims: The Camino Community: Past, Present and Future.  March 23rd-26th  in Atlanta. "There will be a myriad of amazing speakers talking about the evolution of the Camino community and what awaits us pilgrims in the years to come. Attendees will be treated to a wonderful flamenco performance as well as the screening of a Walk to Fisterra. As always, we will have new pilgrim favorites such as What to Pack… or Not, Pilgrim First Aid, and New Pilgrim Q&A. Finally, there will be our infamous Camino Cabaret and Camino 5x5 where you will have the opportunity to share your Camino experiences and talents! Visit our website in mid-January to register."v


#9. Hospitalero training in Georgia. If you've been looking for a way to say thank you for all that the Camino has given you, look no further than American Pilgrims on the Camino and its hospitalero training courses. There’s one in March and there are a few spots left. This will be on the east coast with training in Hampton, Georgia (outside of Atlanta). This training takes place two days (Tues, March 21st thru Thurs, March 23rd ) immediately preceding the Annual Gathering of Pilgrims. Visit our website


The cost is $295, which includes the training, two nights' accommodations (dormitory style/shared rooms) and all meals Friday  evening through Sunday  lunch.  Towels and linens are provided; you must stay at the training facility. No off-site lodging; Last day to register isMarch 9th  for Hampton, GA or when all the openings fill.v


#10. Cuckoo! In a post entitled, “Going Cuckoo, I learned something new. David Jennings and his wife, of Kings Beach CA, walked the Camino Francés in spring of 2012. While on the trail, they heard the delightful call of the Cuckoo bird. When they returned in the fall of 2016 walk the Portuguese trail, they were disappointed that they didn’t hear the bird. Ralph and I have heard the Cuckoo birds on several Camino trips, but not all. I had never stopped to think why—or more accurately, I just chalked it up to the different regions where we were hiking. However, Jennings did a Google search and found out the “the male bird makes that sound as a courting song in the spring. That is why the European common Cuckoo is called ‘the harbinger of spring.’ More importantly, the Cuckoo does not like cold weather so in late August or early September they migrate [upwards of 10,000 miles] to the warmer climates of Africa” One more reason to do Camino hikes in the spring.

#11. More JMT and PCT info. Roleigh Martin in January posted that he “got an email from Muir Trail Ranch's owners (the most favored spot for JMT hikers who desire a zero day along the trail; they have natural hot springs there; they are also the last convenient resupply spot hiking Southbound for about 110 miles (From VVR junction to Kearsarge Pass Junction). The Edison Co is planning on draining Florence Lake this summer to work on the dam. They're scheduling a meeting with us sometime this month to give us more information.”

However, I checked their website on Feb. 3 and found this update, “We WILL be open for the 2017 hiking season. Regardless of the water levels in Florence Lake, we will figure out a way to get your bucket to the ranch. Please check back later for updated information on resupplying with us in summer 2017.”

#12. Boots in the news. Hi, for anyone curious, here is an interview with Geolyn (creator of Boots) on Cascade Hiker Podcast. Click here. “Geolyn Carvin started the single panel cartoon about 15 years ago after she started to section hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Boots, the character, is a girl that doesn't work and has nothing but time to hike. She is not bothered by problems on the trail that seem to put a damper on other hikers around her. 'Boots' is also the trail name given by other hikers to Geolyn, who has finished the PCT now as well as the Tahoe Rim Trail. She has a ‘regular’ job working for hiking famed Tarptent. Take time to also check out her music found on her website!

As for her cartoon, it can be found: Facebook- Boots McFarland Cartoonv

#13. THE TRAGIC DEATH OF MARK BAUMER, A PROLIFIC POET AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST FOR THE SOCIAL-MEDIA AGE article by Anna Heyward. “In 2010, [Baumer] kept a blog as he walked across America, in eighty-one days, generating as little waste as possible.”

In October 2016, he set out again, barefoot, to raise awareness of climate change and other environment causes. On Saturday, January 21, 2017, he was hit by a car and killed. He had been on the shoulder of Florida’s highway 90, was walking against traffic, and wearing a high-visibility vest. Florida’s Highway Patrol is going to press charges. (info sent by Tom Coroneos) Article click here. v


Still keeping sane and healthy on our wonderful trails!

Susan “backpack45” Alcorn

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #216 January 2017

3 Hi all and Happy New Year!The photos in this issue include a shot from a trail in Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills that we walked (again) on January 1. I love starting the new year with a brisk walk. The Nimitz Trail at Inspiration Point is paved for the first 4+ miles and so is a popular place for families on foot and on bicycle. Next, you’ll see two photos that are related to stories in this newsletter: of a flight of hidden steps in San Francisco and the Mojave Desert in the springtime! 


  1. John Muir Trail info
  2. Walking in scenic San Francisco
  3. Camino: Hospitalero Training
  4. Liz “Snorkel” Thomas
  5. Hear the Legendary Jeff Garmire—triple crowner winner (in one year!)
  6. Volunteer opportunities with Wilderness Volunteers and others
  7. PCT brings “Trail Dirt Live” to Southern California
  8. The Ruck by ALDHA-West
  9. Bats!


#1. John Muir Trail info: Roleigh Martin has a PDF file entitled “JMT Crib Sheet” that is a goldmine of info about places to stay, shuttle and transportation services and more. 


#2. Walking San Francisco's 49 Mile Scenic Drive. A new book, by Kristine Poggioli and Carolyn Eidson, that includes SF history that you can enjoy while doing all 49 miles—in segments.  She gives you 17, 2-3 mile walks. Also available as an e-book. Walking San Francisco's 49 Mile Scenic Drive: Explore the Famous Sites, Neighborhoods, and Vistas in 17 Enchanting Walks. Available at: Amazon, Book Passage, and more

#3. Hospitalero opportunity. "If you've been looking for a way to say thank you for all that the Camino has given you, look no further than American Pilgrims on the Camino and its hospitalero training courses. The next one available is Friday, February 3, 2017 through Sunday, February 5, 2017 in Los Gatos, California.

The cost is $295, which includes the training, two nights' accommodations and all meals Friday evening through Sunday lunch. Towels and linens are provided. You must stay at the training facility. No off-site lodging. You must attend the entire training for certification so please plan your travel accordingly.

Last day to register is Friday, January 20th, or sooner if all the openings fill.

In order to be eligible for training as an hospitalero, applicants must have overnighted in at least three non-private (municipal, parochial or association-run) albergues on the Camino, must have walked at least 100 km (or biked 200 km) of the Camino, and must be a member of American Pilgrims on the Camino.

If you are interested and you qualify for this training session, the registration form can be accessed through the Hospitalero page on the American Pilgrims On the home page click Actions, then Hospitaleros and then Hospitalero Training through American Pilgrims.

If you would like to contact American Pilgrims for more information about becoming a volunteer hospitalero or if you have specific questions about this training, please contact the hospitalero training coordinators at

#4. Liz "Snorkel" Thomas. Scott Williams wrote (on Facebook) to recommend reading the guest editorial by Liz "Snorkel" Thomas, in the January 2017 issue of Backpacker magazine. “Backpacker is getting serious about long distance walking! Definitely worth a read.”

Snorkel is an incredible long-distance hiker; she’s completed the AT (at one time she held the speed record), PCT, and CDT as well as the “Little Crown,” which is the Long Trail, John Muir, and Colorado, in one year.

You can read Snorkel’sblog here; her latest post is entitled, Dealing with Post-Hike Depression 

#5. The Legendary Jeff Garmire. Enjoy “an evening with Jeff Garmire as he recounts his adventure of completing the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide trail (CDT) - 7600 miles- All within the Calendar year of 2016!” These three trails compose what is termed the Triple Crown of Hiking. Only 258 people have completed it. Jeff is one of only five people who have ever accomplished this in one calendar year.

January 07, 2017 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Price: $24 at the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center at the State Theatre, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn , CA 95603. Phone: 530.885.0156. This event is a fundraiser for the Pacific Crest Trail Organization and Suicide Awareness.

Email: Web: Event ID: 186827

#6. Wilderness Volunteers. Once again our friend Patricia Schaffarczyk is going to co-lead a service project in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. The group will be doing a lot of invasive plant pulling (Sahara Mustard). While this is officially a seven-day trip, what usually happens on the WV trips is work for a couple of days, taking one day off to explore, and then working another couple of days. This particular trip is full, but there are plenty more openings with WV. 

2Wilderness Volunteers is not alone in offering volunteer vacations with jobs such trail building or maintenance, eradicating invasive species, etc. There are other organizations such as the American Hiking Society, whose trips go from Alaska to the Virgin Islands; Sierra Clubwhose service trips also include some with a focus on history (such as their Shenandoah Valley Battlefields, Virginia, trip in May); and thePacific Crest Trail Association.  The level of difficulty of these work/play trips typically ranges from Easy to Very-Strenuous; food is included. The time commitment varies from one day to weeks. Costs range from $0 (PCTA) to $400.  

#7. Learn more about volunteer opportunities through the PCTA at their Trail Dirt Live in Riverside. They will meet on January 21, 2017 at the Mission Inn Hotel in a social setting with “local volunteers, members and partners with PCTA staff and board members.” Information, awards, and fun! There will also be a special presentation for “Longtime Trail Gorilla leader, Pete Fish,” who is retiring.

#8. NorCal Winter Ruck. Scott Williams posted info about the upcoming American Long Distance Hiking Association West, Ruck. (ALDHA-West). It will be March 4, 2017 at Camp Lindblad in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

There is also a Cascade Winter Ruck to be held on Feb. 25 Feb 2017, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, at the Gorge Pavilion - Marine Park, Cascade Locks, OR.

From Williams, “For those who haven’t been to a Ruck, it’s usually a morning of presentations on hiking and a time for those who are new to long distance hiking to schmooze with the old timers, people who have done one or many of America’s National Scenic Trails.  The afternoon provides time for one on one, “pack explosions” during which the new folks can bring their gear and have it personally critiqued by one or more people who’ve done the trails you’re looking to hike.  For Camino folks, I’ll be personally checking out your kit and I’ll bring some of my own to share.  There’s a lot of overlap between what is needed for our U.S. long distance trails and what is needed for the Camino.  The ticket to enjoying both is to train, and go light.  My hikes are about training and going light is what this event is all about!

“ALDHA-West is a wonderful, non-profit organization I’ve been involved with for a number of years now.  Along with promoting long distance hiking, they’ve sent members to Washington each year to help lobby support for America’s National Scenic Trails.  If you’ve never been to one of their ‘Gatherings,’ which take place in the fall, or a Ruck like this one, this will be an opportunity to get some early season one on one time with seasoned hikers.”  

#9. Bats! We in the San Francisco Bay Area have at least 15 kinds of bats—including the western mastiff bat (aka as the greater bonneted bat), which is the largest bat in North America. As you no doubt know, bats are terrific assets to the ecosystem because, among other things, they consume mosquitoes and other crop pests in great quantities. Though bats are doing fairly well in our area, they are not doing so well in other parts of the country. In fact, half of all species are either endangered or declining due to habitat loss, disease, and climate change. To find directions on how to add bat houses to your landscape, go to Bat Conservation International’s site.

Happy trails,

Susan “backpack45” Alcorn

. I’d love to include your success stories and other items of interest with the hiking/backpacking and Camino communities. I encourage you to send them to me at for consideration.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn

 All Newsletters 2017 , 2016 , 2015 , 2014 , 2013 , 2012 , 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 , 2005 , 2004

Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67.  She last hiked it at the age of 76.

Page Changed: February 3, 2017 13:38

[Home][Top of Page]   - Please send comments, suggestions to backpack45 circleatsign yahoo dot com
All text and images copyright © Shepherd Canyon Books - 2003 through 2013
“ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to”