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Susan Alcorn's Backpacking Tales and Tips Newsletters 2020

 All Newsletters 2020 , 2019 , 2018 , 2017 , 2016 , 2015 , 2014 , 2013 , 2012 , 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 , 2005 , 2004

Shepherd Canyon Books
25 Southwood Court
Oakland, CA  94611
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Publisher of "We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill--Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers."

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Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #251 April 2020

Hi Dear Readers,

hope.jpgI hope this finds you well. This is such a difficult time in so many ways; I had a hard time knowing where to start with this month’s newsletter. My heart hasn’t been in it until now—which is why it’s out later in the month than usual. However, I am starting to do better at coming around to this new reality, which is actually an old reality, “Change happens,” and I hope this issue gives you some information, inspiration, and entertainment.

As I am sure that many of you have had to do, we’ve had to cancel a couple of trips that we were looking forward to. Ralph and I were going to return to the Camino to complete the Vezelay, FR route that we started in 2017, and then I was going on to Namibia to join a writers’ retreat. I assume all of this will be possible in the future, so I am not really upset about this postponement.

Being semi-retired, we don’t have to deal with the situations that so many people do—job losses, adjusting to working at home, childcare, and more. We are extremely grateful that we are well, live where we do, and that we can hike nearby in beautiful places. Yet I deeply miss being able to go on the long trails, and exploring new places. Mostly, like I imagine many of you, I really miss being able to see friends and family easily.

But, like I hope you are, we are focusing on staying healthy, planning our next adventures, and dealing with any stresses we are feeling. I am also working on a new project--but it's much to early to spill the beans. Our daily walks are primarily to places near us and I am collecting photos of the quirky, the heart-warming, and the beautiful things around us—some of which I am sharing here.

Contents: 

#1. Last day of extra REI 20% discount (sometimes greater) sale

#2. ‘Seek’ and find!

#3. It’s NOT an overreaction. Why hikers need to postpone thru-hikes on the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide. 

#4. Halfway Anywhere has done his homework!

#5. Follow or plan a unique hike—Accessing the Lofoten Islands

#6. Camino chapters across the U.S.

#7. Navimag’s new service to Patagonia

#8. Food guides of the world

#9. Water Striders and You

Articles: 

hug me.jpg#1. Treeline Review—TODAY is the last day! Special REI items on sale. Treeline Review offers even more benefits.

#2. Seek: When you are next out on your “Essential Services” walk near where you live, you may see wildflowers you’d like to identify. The app, Seek 2.0, is from the INaturalist team at San Francisco’s Academy of Sciences. When you point your phone’s camera at something in nature, Seek will name the plant at the top of the screen. A big plus, Seek does not record precise location information, making it safe for children to use. https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app   Free!

#3. 'Halfway Anywhere' details why the Pacific Crest Trail Association, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy have all officially requested hikers to postpone or cancel their thru-hikes. 'Halfway Anywhere' gives some excellent statistics on the age of the populace in the small towns through which the trails pass, and info on the dearth of accommodations along the way. Also of interest—many of the towns on the PCT do not have hospitals! Link here

#4. About 'Halfway Anywhere': Mac has an excellent website and blog on the PCT. Info on resupply places, ideas to whet your appetite for your next adventure (the hike, of course, should wait.) PCT info central: Click here

#5. The Hiking Life and Accessing the Lofoten Islands: Cam “Swami” Honan is an adventurer who you can count on to tell about remote and/or unique hikes to investigate. “The Hiking Life is a compilation of tips and advice on trip planning, lightweight backpacking techniques and improving your wilderness skill set. It contains detailed information for more than 180 of the world’s great hikes, and was put together with the mission of inspiring and enabling folks to go backpacking.” Subscribe to follow this renowned hiker!

“Just off the coast of northern Norway in the Arctic Circle, lies a legendary archipelago by the name of Lofoten. A combination of deep fjords, windswept beaches, jagged peaks and picture-postcard villages, its staggering beauty has long been celebrated in art and literature, and in more recent times, seemingly every second landscape photographer’s Instagram account. While its unparalleled beauty is by no means a secret, there is still a way to escape most of the crowds and experience the Lofoten’s wonders in comparative solitude. It’s called the Long Crossing – a 160 km (99 mi) hiking route through the spectacular heart of the island chain."

  

Links: 

https://www.thehikinglife.com/2020/02/the-long-crossing-of-norways-lofoten-islands/

Torghatten-nord.no for ferry information. 

The idea for the “Long Crossing”:  A goldmine for all things hiking in the archipelago. Click here.

Distance (11 Stages):  160 km (99.4 mi) –  Our seven day journey ended up being approximately 200 km (124 mi), as we also included side trips, some connector road walks, and most notably an overland link between stages 9 and 10 (see Alternates for details). Average Duration:  11 days. Difficulty Level:  Moderate to difficult. 

NO permits required. Frequent (daily) places to find 

#6. American Pilgrim chapters are found across the United States. Link here. On the West Coast, you will find chapters in Seattle (Puget Sound), WA; Portland and Southern Oregon; Silicon Valley, Northern Cal, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara, Southern CA (Los Angeles area), and San Diego, CA. 

#7. Navimag Ferry to Patagonia. In 2010, Ralph and I went for our second time to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. To get to the southern part of Chile, we took a car/cargo/passenger ferry. Now there is a new ship, the Esperanza, worth considering for your future voyage between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales through the fjords. Click here

#8. The website of the FAO United Nations Food and Agriculture has listings of food guides throughout the world, guides issued to promote healthy eating. The guidelines often reflect the traditions, resources, and challenges of the countries. For example, the guide to Kenya suggests: #1. Eat beans, peas, lentils, cowpeas, pigeon peas, soya, nuts and edible seeds regularly (at least four times a week) and #7. Drink plenty of safe water. The guide to Germany’s recommendations suffers in the translation to English, because it now reads. “8.Gently to prepare: Cook food as long and as short as possible, with little water and little fat. Avoid burning food when roasting, grilling, baking and deep frying.” And one of Canada’s guidelines reminds us to “Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices.” I found that many of the links on this site are no longer good, but it can be fun to poke around anyway.  http://www.fao.org/nutrition/education/food-dietary-guidelines/regions/countries/

#9. Water Striders and you. The next time you are out near a still pond or lake, look for water striders. In “Bending Light”, (Bay Nature), John Muir Laws explains what you may observe. "Water striders stand on the surface tension of the water. Their feet dimple the surface bending light into crisp rings on the floor of shallow pools.” You can see how this works here

Be well, my best wishes!

Susan Alcorn (aka Backpack45)

rockhopper penguin

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, March 2020

photo above: Rockhopper Penguin in the Falkland Islands

Contents:

  1. Tips for staying healthy on the trail
  2. How far can you walk?
  3. Ned Tibbits Snow Basics Classes
  4. What is Rawlogy?
  5. Camino—gear reviews (Treeline)
  6. Camino—Day-trip to Finisterre - Muxía (Costa da Morte)
  7. Volunteer opportunities from Passport in Time
  8. Regional: Camino: Nor Cal group of American Pilgrims Shell Ceremony and Potluck
  9. Regional: Greater S.F. Bay Area: Bill and Dave Hikes
  10. Regional: Greater S.F. Bay Area: Lynch Canyon and Rush Ranch


Articles: 


#1. Stay healthy with some of these tips: WaterHikers and backpackers are divided on whether or not they need to purify water when on long-distance trails. Some always purify (that would include Ralph and me); some never purify; and others do so depending on where they are. Those that never purify or sometimes do, make their decisions based on their level of confidence that they can find “good” water in certain places. Treeline Review has a ton of information of filters, so I won’t go into which ones are best and why when you can read it unedited here -Treeline Review on water filters


I will mention, however, that there was a time when a Sierra Club metal cup could be dipped into the streams in Yosemite Valley and you would be usually be just fine (or course even that could have been polluted by a dead beaver upstream, etc.). Nowadays, with an average of four-million people visiting the park annually, things are different!


Food: It isn’t usually food that’s eaten on the trail that makes hikers ill—it’s the handling of it. Namely because of improper sanitation measures. Water is often hard to come by, but washing with soap and water is the #1 line of defense—for the 20 seconds it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song. Hand sanitizer is good, but NOT as good. If you carry some, be sure it is 60% or more alcohol. Leave it on until it dries rather than wiping it off. NOTE: Hand sanitizer does not remove visible dirt. Link to CDC article.


In addition watch how you share food. When items are passed around a group, consider how safely this is done. Instead of everyone dipping their hands into a potato chip bag, everyone should pour out what they want to eat. At the recent NorCal Ruck in Berkeley, presenters explained why doing the fist bump when meeting people is wiser than shaking hands from a sanitation perspective.


Finally, proper toileting includes proper hand cleansing (see above).


#2. How far can a healthy person walk? A question that frequently comes up on hikers’ forums—especially the ones about the Camino de Santiago. Here’s an interesting article that delves into the importance of training, considerations of proper shoes and socks, and more. IMO it doesn’t take age into account, but it does have a great deal of helpful info. Link here.


#3. Ned Tibbits is offering Snow Basics Clinics on March 7 and March 14 —more to come—at Carson Pass in the Tahoe, CA area. They are free (but tips are welcome). If you want to attend, email him at nedtibbits@gmail.com. You do not want your first experience using crampons to be when descending a steep mountain on the John Muir trail. This is a great chance to learn snow skills needed during off-season section hiking. Ned is extremely knowledgeable and experienced with snow travel and with educating hikers so they'll have more success and fewer injuries. 


#4. What is Rawlogy? Do you have sore muscles? Need to reduce tenderness in quadriceps, hamstrings, blues, calves, feet, IT Band? Many Physical Therapists recommend using a tennis ball or similar to massage the sore area for relief. At the ALDHA-West Ruck in January, we met Marek Bowers who founded a small company called Rawlogy. Bowers, when training for a marathon years back, developed plantar fasciitis. In the process of healing his foot problem, he tried various devices including a rubber lacrosse ball that a friend recommended. “With a consistent, daily self-care practice of rolling out his feet and back, Marek's pain went from unbearable to non-existent.”


But as a hiker, Bowers didn’t want to carry a heavy ball. He decided to develop one that was “ultra lightweight and made of a material that was good for the planet. And with that, Rawlogy came to be. When Marek went looking for a raw material that was lightweight, natural and durable, he found CORK. He took it a step further by looking for a way to make a new product out of something that would otherwise be thrown away (wine corks). In addition to upcycled cork massage balls, Marek also joined forces with a natural rubber supplier in order to create a gym-standard ball made from small-lot, eco-friendly natural rubber.”


You can find out more, and order the ball at rawlogy.com (and no, I didn’t get any freebies for mentioning thisJ)


#5. For Camino walkers, too. Though Treeline Review is primarily focused on U.S. long-distance trails, having hiked both here and extensively in France and Spain, I know that information from PCT hikers (who have done the 2,650-mile backpack) can be helpful to Camino walkers. This link is about gear and much more. Click here about gear


#6. Day-trip to Finisterre - Muxía (Costa da Morte). An interesting trip to the end of the earth in Spain. Ivar Rekve ivar@casaivar.com (of the Camino forum) recently sent word of guided visits. ”Get your ticket now for a day trip to Finisterre and the coast. Get the ticket now and confirm the date when you are closer to Santiago directly with the Guiding company.

 

“This is a collaboration with Art Natura and Casa Ivar. Art Natura is a guiding company that has been guiding pilgrims and tourists in Santiago for many years. Run by Manuel (a friend of mine).

 

“If you buy this product I will ship a card to you that is a ticket for 1 person. Since you most likely do not know what day you will be using the ticket, you need to get in touch with Manuel (Art Natura) once you are closer to Santiago (email or phone found on the card I send you). At the latest the day before you would like to go. The price here is €29,-; if you get the same ticket in Santiago it is €35,-.

 

“Discover the most impressive landscape of "Costa da Morte", visiting the sites of Finisterre, Muxía, Ézaro, Muros and Pontemaceira.

 

Departure from Santiago de Compostela at 9:00 hours stopping at: Muxía, by the Sanctuary of "Nosa Señora da Barca" beautifully located on the seafront. Place where, according to tradition, our Lady appeared to the apostle St. James. Great scenery in front of the rough Atlantic sea. “Finisterre is the end of the ancient world, place where the pilgrims who come to Compostela meet the immensity of the ocean. Stop by the lighthouse, the most important of the Coast of Death, which light has guided the ships in this dangerous coast.

 

Ézaro, a visit to the spectacular waterfall of the river Xallas which runs into the sea, the only case in Europe. Muros, clearly influenced by the Galician culture and tradition where the sea is the main character. Interesting and picturesque old town where there´s a large number of restaurants that will give us the chance of tasting the local cuisine. Free time for lunch before return to Santiago. Pontemaceira, a beautiful bridge over the Tambre River.

 

Departures:

- 09.00: Parking La Salle (Rúa Ramón de Valle-Inclán 4); - 09.05: Artnatura office (Plaza de Fuenterrabía 2

 

Return:

- 17.30 approx.;

The itinerary could be altered.

 

#7. Volunteer opportunities from Passport in Time (PIT) in archaeological sites.  Our friend, Tom Coroneos, who also volunteers frequently with Wilderness Volunteers (trail and habitat projects), sends along this other option for paying back for the trails, wild places, and historical sites we enjoy. “Spring is right around the corner and coming with it, the kick-off to the PIT field season! There are already a great number of projects looking for volunteers, and many more to come over the next months, so keep checking the PIT website (www.passportintime.com. Do note that some of the currently available projects are "ongoing until filled" and will close once the target number of volunteers is met, so apply today!”

 

A Sample of Current Projects:

January 1-December 31, 2020 - Caretaking Kentucky Camp 2020 - Coronado NF - AZ

Come on back to Kentucky Camp for the 2020 Season! We are seeking friendly and independent caretakers for one site on the Coronado NF – Historic Kentucky Camp. At the site, caretakers will be responsible for greeting the public and answering questions, and will be responsible for maintenance (e.g., adobe patching, light carpentry, grounds-keeping, cleanup of the facilities, etc.). You will also work with FS archaeologists on stabilization and interpretive projects. Amenities available may vary; detailed information will be provided to those volunteers selected for the project. Each session will run for one full month. Applicants must be able to commit to the full time period and, dependent upon staffing needs and availability, are welcome to participate in additional sessions.

 

April 20-24, 2020 - Surveying the Pacific Crest Trail - Angeles NF – CA.

The Angeles National Forest needs your help to conduct an important archaeological survey project in the San Gabriel Mountains! This year we will focus our archaeological journey on surveying sections of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and using it to access other areas in the vicinity. The area is known to contain both historic (cabin remains, wagon roads, mining activities) and prehistoric archaeological sites (Native American encampments). Volunteers will gain experience in systematic survey methods, map and compass reading, artifact recording, and so much more!

 

June 15-20, 2020 - The Archaeology of Freedom - Investigating Miller Grove - Shawnee NF - IL

We are back at Miller Grove this year, once again working with our partners at Southern Illinois University. Through archaeological investigations, we will continue to uncover bits and pieces of past life in this pre-Civil War, free African-American community. This year work will focus on the rural farmstead of Harrison and Lucinda Miller. Harrison and Lucinda Miller and all seven of their children were manumitted in Marshall County, Tennessee, and traveled to southern Illinois in the 1840s to begin a new life as free people of color. They were soon joined by six other families to build the community that came to be known as Miller Grove. So please join us in June as we learn more about this unique community nestled in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest!

 

The PIT Clearinghouse, http://www.passportintime.com Mailing address: Passport In Time Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 15728, Rio Rancho, NM 87174

 

#8. Camino: Northern California Group. Their announcement: Blessing & Shell Ceremony Potluck, St. Augustine Catholic Church, 400 Alcatraz, Oakland, California. Saturday, March 21, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Celebrate pilgrims heading out to the Camino this year at our annual Blessing & Shell Ceremony Potluck. A blessing by Rev. Michael Barham and a gift of a scallop shell, as well as recognizing departing volunteer hospitaleros.

 

There will be breakout tables to discuss various Camino routes and the day will end with an open Q&A session to answer any of your lingering Camino questions.

 

Doors open at 9:30 AM. If you can help with setting up, meet us at 8:45 AM. We also need help with cleaning up afterwards. All are welcome to join and participate in any capacity. This event is not co-sponsored with the church.

 

RSVP

To help us with planning, a response is required. Use our online RSVP page at https://forms.gle/ydkDhEPKNWLuMhRj7 to respond by Thursday, March 19. Please, online responses only.

 

What to Bring

Your favorite dish or drink to share at the potluck. We’ll have 3x5 index cards to make a label for your dish. A request to cover our bases: If your last name starts with K-Z, bring a food dish (main, side, salad with serving utensils). If it starts with A-J, bring a dessert or beverage (coffee will be provided). Extra points for something from the Camino. Wine counts, too! We’d also love “second breakfast” snacks (muffins, pastries, fruit, etc.) to tide us over until lunch. Be Green! We encourage you to bring your own plates, cups and utensils to help us to minimize trash and reduce costs on disposable items. There is a kitchen to wash items after use.

 

El Rastro is a gigantic flea market in Madrid. We’ll hold our own version again. Bring your excess gear, memorabilia, guidebooks and other good “junk” you thought you needed, but don't anymore. There will be an area to display your items. This will be a “cash-free” zone. Bring it and forget it! See something you want? Take it. Contributions: Help us cover our event expenses (room, supplies) with a cash contribution to our donativo box at the check-in table. Your generosity allows us to devote more of our resources to our mission that includes supporting the Camino infrastructure through our grants program.

 

#9. Regional: Greater Bay Area: From Bill & Dave Hikes. Kenwood, CA—Advance notice, mark your calendars.  Join us Saturday, May 9, when we are officially retiring at our 20th anniversary hike and barbeque party.  We’ll be hiking the entire rim of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park from Bald Mountain to the Robin Williams overlook.  This 9.6 mile strenuous hike has an elevation gain of 2000 feet and will last approximately five hours.  Meet us at 9:45 AM in the White Barn parking lot for a prompt 10 AM departure. 

 

We’ll fire up the grill upon our return to the group campground, and at 4:30 PM Dave and I will be serving brats to everyone.  We will also provide buns, condiments, soft drinks, plates and utensils.  Please bring a side dish, with a serving utensil if needed, to share.  We have over 1,200 names on our e-mail list and approximately 12,000 people have joined our hikes over the past 20 years, so we are expecting a large turnout for this hike. If you can’t make the hike, just come for the party!

 

We have finalized our succession plan and are pleased to announce that Sonoma County Regional Parks will continue the Bill & Dave Hikes by providing hike leaders, publishing the hikes at their website, and sending out the monthly e-mail blasts as we have been doing for the past 20 years.  We also have a core group of our longtime hiking friends and supporters who will be assisting Regional Parks as needed.  After the transition, Dave and I will continue hiking with the group every month as long as we’re able.  Here’s a hotlink to the Regional Parks’ official announcement of their first “post retirement” Bill & Dave hike scheduled for June 6:

https://parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Play/Calendar/Bill-and-Dave-Spring-Lake-to-Annadel-Hike-2020-06-06//

 

Bill & Dave Hikes are sponsored by Sonoma County Regional Parks, California State Parks, Team Sugarloaf, and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council.  For more information, contact me at 833-6288, Dave at 539-8847, and visit our website at www.billanddavehikes.com.

 

#10. Greater S.F. Bay Area Regional—Solano Land trust: Hiking destinations: Lynch Canyon is open Fridays through Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to picnic, fly a kite, see cows and wildlife, and explore the trails on foot, mountain bike or horse. Parking is $6. Rush Ranch is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for visitors to picnic, explore exhibits, see horses and cows, and walk alongside the tidal marsh or hike up hills. Parking is free. Both locations offer 360 degree views of Solano County and the Bay Area. Solano Land Trust protects land to ensure a healthy environment, keep ranching and farming families on their properties, and inspire a love of the land. For more information about Solano Land Trust, its upcoming events and to make a donation, visit solanolandtrust.org.

 

PLUS: Reminder from Susan: I am just beginning to write up our amazing trip on my new website, so I hope you will take a look. http://www.susandalcorn.com. Go to the blog heading and you’ll find the Antarctica posts. I am still in the process of building the site, so if you’d like to see more about the trails in the U.S., the Camino, Nifty Ninety, or other topics there, please let me know. Thank you!


Susan

Happy trails and travels!


Susan Alcorn (aka Backpack45)
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
https://www.backpack45.com

Author of Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.


Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don't always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back -- and as I was reminded recently, send the message to someone before you are at a trail head that might not have reception!


To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send message to this (almost) monthly newsletter, please send a message to Susan at backpack45@yahoo.com  

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Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #249 February 2020

little library image

Dear friends,

Ralph and I recently returned from a three-week trip to Antarctica and other points far south, which is why there was no January issue of this newsletter and why I am now saying “Happy New Year—and where did January go!” I am just beginning to write up our amazing trip on my new website, so I hope you will take a look. susandalcorn.com . Go to the blog heading and you’ll find the Antarctica posts. Meanwhile, enjoy one of the thousands of photos we took (this one was on South Georgia) ! 

I am still in the process of building the new website, so if you’d like to see more about trails in the U.S., the Camino, Nifty Ninety, or other topics there, please let me know. Thank you! 

Cheers,

Susan


Contents: 

1. ALDHA-West Rucks

2. World Health Organization says exercise can reduce risk of dementia

3. Permitting for PCT hiking

4. Treeline reviews trail runners. 

5. Free Outside: A trek against time and distance

6. What is the SierraClub.org/ico

7. Andrew Skurka, notable hiker, gives backcountry navigation tutorial

8. With the Wild Things

9. Regional: SF Bay Area BPWA offers 'Free Libraries' Hike

10. Regional: SF Bay Area Solano Land Trust offers Yoga Hike

11. Regional: SF Bay Area NorCal pilgrim group upcoming events

Articles: 

#1. ALDHA-West Rucks: American Long-Distance Hiking Assoc-West holds several RUCKs in the west and they are well worth your time. These are informal and informative gatherings that are well worth any wanna-be or highly experienced hikers’ time—and they are fun! Those new to hiking can find a wealth of information; experienced hikers can learn about new places to explore, update skills,  and meet or have have reunions with others in the hiker community.

We went to the one in El Cerrito (S.F Bay Area) this past weekend and enjoyed a full day of presentations. Duncan and Snorkel covered "Wilderness Travel, From Surviving to Thriving” and Giggles and Mountain Mama talked about “Leave No Trace” and Trail Town Etiquette. Our first batch of smaller group discussions included such topics as navigation, budgeting, women’s specifics, and food. The second breakout sessions were about various trails—Pacific Crest, Camino de Santiago, John Muir Trail, etc. 

Oh, did I mention that the cost—$20 member, $35 non-member (it pays to join!) included a wonderful light breakfast with bagels and smoked salmon and a delicious hearty lunch with BBQ and chili, salad, dessert, and beverages. What a bargain it all was!  All this food was thanks to ‘Shroomer’ Scott Williams and his merry band of hiker pals. 

The topics and programs vary at the different RUCKS—so check the specifics for yours. 

Cascade Ruck, Stevenson, WA, February 22, 2020

Colorado Rockies Ruck, Golden, CO, March 7, 2020

North Cascades, Sedro-Woolley, WA, 21 March 21, 2020

#2. World Health Organization (WHO) says exercise can reduce risk of dementia: UC Health and Wellness Alert reports “World Health Organization Issues Recommendations to Lower Dementia Risk” (Editorial Staff -January 27, 2020) 

Recommended: “Engaging in physical activity and not smoking top the list of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations for a lifestyle that will reduce the risks of developing dementia.” This was the first time that WHO addressed the topic of dementia. In 2019, they “addressed potentially modifiable risk factors after examining available evidence and synthesizing the findings.”

Also strongly recommended: Managing hypertension and diabetes, using lifestyle interventions or medications, and following the Mediterranean-style diet and reducing or stopping harmful drinking.

Questionable at avoiding dementia: Taking vitamins B and E, omega-3 fatty acids, or multivitamins. They also note that high doses can be harmful. Also cognitive training, managing overweight, using antidepressant medicines or hearing aids, or engaging in social activity are of questionable value for avoiding dementia. However, they note, these activities may be good for overall good health.

#3. Permitting for PCT hiking: Wow, this has become a bewildering process. And it seems like the rules and regulations keep changing. This is what I have found so far:

'Jaunting Jan' in Facebook group PCT Section Hikers wrote:

RE: Oregon Permit Requirements for hiking without a PCTA long-distance permit. Here are the details directly from the USFS.

hiker crawling under treeAll overnight visitors to the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness are required to have a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit. There are also day hiker permit requirements for select trailheads. Permits will be required starting on the first Friday before Memorial Day weekend, May 22, 2020. The last day of the permit season is Friday, September 25, 2020.

A portion of permit availability for the full summer season will be released on April 7, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. (anticipated)

The remaining permit availability will become available two days before a trip would start. For example, for a trip starting on a Friday, that permit could be reserved starting on the Wednesday prior.

Permits will be available through recreation.gov, by calling 1-877-444-6777, and at some Willamette and Deschutes National Forest offices.

The Forest Service has proposed the following fees for these permits (The comment period for the proposed fee is open until January 10, 2020. Comments submitted between Oct. 9, 2019 and Jan. 10, 2020 will be considered and inform adjustments to the proposal.):

Overnight permit fee $5.00 per person, per night in all three Wilderness areas.

In addition, there is a $6 per permit reservation fee charged by recreation.gov

Day-use permit fee $3.00 per person (required at 19 trailheads, none required at 60 trailheads)

In addition, there is a $1 per person reservation fee charged by recreation.gov

No fees for youth 12 and under, but a reservation in the limited entry system is required regardless of age.

Additional details can be found at the below link. For planning purposes I recommend downloading the pdf for Maps of the Permit Area. This document shows quota per trailhead (Trail quotas from the Decision Notice on the Central Cascades Wilderness Strategies Project). I didn't see anything about the PCT trailhead limitations. 

I'm sure more details will flush out as the permit sign up day approaches. Mark your calendar for 4/7/20! 

RE: Inyo National Forest: Inga posted 1/31 on Facebook. From U.S. Forest Service - Inyo National Forest. "There has been a lot of discussion in the Eastern Sierra community about John Muir Trail permit administration this winter.

Background: There is a long-standing agreement between parks and forests for local wilderness permits in the Sierra Nevada region (Inyo National Forest, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park). This agreement means that these national parks and forests will accept hikers with a permit issued by another local agency where the trip begins, and a permit was valid if the trip was for continuous wilderness travel. The four agencies have agreed to apply a consistent definition of continuous wilderness travel.

Exiting to resupply was never part of a locally issued wilderness permit. This includes a JMT permit. However, in the past, Inyo National Forest Trail Rangers were making an exception to allow resupply. In recent years it had been widely publicized that you could leave the trail, but it was not a term of the permit. Wilderness Rangers are documenting misuse of these permits. An example is people leaving the trail for extended periods and then returning where they left off well past when they were permitted to be traveling through an area. These misuses are well beyond the spirit of a resupply and then returning to the trail.

Last year, Kearsarge Pass had four times the traffic of previous years, greatly exceeding the quota mandated to manage impacts at Kearsarge. We would be remiss if we do not address these resource impacts and wilderness management issues.

Concern: Local businesses that provide resupply services, the John Muir Trail communities, and many others have expressed concern for loss of business and experience if resupply was not allowed.

Solution: Leadership on the Inyo National Forest wants to be responsive to our communities and the experiences that people seek in the Sierra Nevada. We also want to be good partners with our neighboring agencies and help address the collective concern for managing an increasingly popular and busy trail corridor.

“The Inyo will continue to allow exit for resupply for JMT and other local permits with a long-distance hike,” said Tammy Randall-Parker, Forest Supervisor for the Inyo National Forest. “However, we are asking our community, both locally and in the JMT community, to adhere to the spirit of a resupply and to offer constructive solutions that help us manage these wilderness areas.”

The Inyo National Forest will be reaching out to our partners, stakeholders, and interested publics over the upcoming year to define what resupply looks like in the Sierra Nevada region."

Bottom line, know the jurisdictions through which you intend to hike/backpack and stay informed to dates, rules and regulations. Good luck!

#4. Treeline Review on trail runners: Shoes--a subject dear to my heart! Link to the review here. Altra Lone Peak (our current favorite) continues to be high on the list, but they aren’t for everyone so it helps to have professional reviews by hikers/backpackers who aren’t on manufacturers’ payrolls.   

#5. Book recommendation: Free Outside: A trek against time and distance by Jeff Garmire. 'Jaunting Jan' on Facebook writes. “I just finished reading this book about Legend's [Jeff Garmire] single year trek combining all three long trails, AT+PCT+CDT=Triple. This is my review. It's currently available on Kindle Unlimited [and in paperback]. Proof a Hiker is more than a Hiker. Well done Legend! Jeff did an admirable job sharing his same year triple trail hike. It didn't feel like reading a journal. There was a perfect balance of trail details mixed with adventure realities.

It's a great way to learn about the three long trails while thinking about how you might handle similar situations. I highly recommend! Oh I should add, it confirms why I choose to cherry pick trails."  

Susan: Anyone who has done these trails in one year definitely has something worthwhile to share!

#6. Giving Back/Paying forward: How to.  At last weekend's RUCK, I learned about the Sierras Club’s program, Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO), which is all about “empowering youth from communities with limited access to connect and reconnect to the outdoors — for the benefit of both. ICO is helping create the next generation of environmental justice and social justice leaders through building community and increasing exposure to outdoor recreation, advocacy, and leadership training. Link here.

“Our 45 volunteer-run ICO groups nationwide conduct more than 900 outings for approximately 14,000 participants each year.

“About Our Program: Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) provides safe and fun outdoor experiences for youth and adults from marginalized communities. ICO is part of the Outdoors for All campaign, which works to expand universal access to nature for children and youth.”


#7. Andrew Skurka, amazing hiker, gives backcountry navigation tutorial: Essential gear & skills. Andrew Skurka “Hard-won insights from out there” — not sure how you could beat Skurka’s advice!   Link here.

 

#8. With the Wild Things:  What I liked about meeting Danielle "Giggles" O'Farrell, wilderness educator and guide,  and looking at her website is that she is the “real deal.” Her posts tell her history of learning to become a strong, confident hiker/backpacker and how and why she has created an outdoor skills company. The goal of  withthewildthings.com is to “expand people's comfort zones through sharing skills and building confidence and community.  We offer hands-on courses throughout the Bay Area covering Wilderness First Aid, backpacking and Leave No Trace.” You are invited to join the community at upcoming classes in March. For more information and to sign up check them out at  withthewildthings.com . You can also arrange skills at sessions over the phone, on Skype or by e-mail depending on what best fits your needs. 

little library#9. Regional: S.F. Bay Area: BPWA (Berkeley Path Wanderers Assoc.) BPWA newsletters and website always include info on an upcoming set of hikes. Hikes are of a range of difficulty, and appeal to a variety of interests. One I found of interest was: “The Little Free Libraries of Claremont, Elmwood, and Rockridge.” Saturday, February 8, 2020, 10:00 AM  12:30 PM. Leaders: Sandy Friedland and Colleen Neff. Start: Courtyard next to Peet’s on Domingo Ave. No reservations necessary, just show up on time. 

“On our third walk featuring Little Free Libraries, we’ll visit many of these whimsical book caches that have sprouted like giant Cubist flowers in every neighborhood in Berkeley. They operate on the honor system: Take a book; leave a book. The Little Free Library Foundation calls this practice the 'world’s largest book-sharing movement.' We’ll also meet some of the stewards of the mini-libraries on our three-mile paved route, which includes some steep stairs and hilly streets. Feel free to bring a few books to exchange along the way."  BPWA website is here

#10. Regional: Solano Land Trust. Yoga Hike at Rush Ranch. Saturday, February 8 from 9am - 11am. Barbara Fredericks will lead this family friendly hike with some warm up stretches and then will proceed on the trail. On yoga hikes, participants practice standing poses to support the body before, during and after the hikes. Participants can enjoy the sun on their face and the wind in their hair while they do yoga. RSVP recommended. Hike is Free.  Register her

#11. Regional: SF Bay Area: Northern California Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino has a full calendar of activities lined up for this year.  Link to NorCAL chapter is here

And, “to find details and confirmation about events, follow these instructions: visit the local chapter events calendar and select our chapter name in the "All Events Category" pull-down menu. This will filter to display only our chapter's events. To see what we have tentatively planned so far this year, take a look at our schedule of events.”

* Feb 16: Group Hike TBD

* Feb 20: Pilgrim Talk: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage (Berkeley)

* Feb 23, Mar 1 & 8: Spanish for the Camino Class (Berkeley)

* Mar 12-15: Annual Gathering of Pilgrims (Lake Tahoe)

* Mar 21: Blessing & Shell Ceremony Potluck (Oakland)

American Pilgrim chapters are found across the United States.  Link here. On the West Coast, you will find chapters in Seattle (Puget Sound), WA; Portland and Southern Oregon; Silicon valley, Northern Cal, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara, Southern CA (Los Angeles area), and San Diego, CA. 

**************

Happy trails and travels!

Susan Alcorn (aka Backpack45)

www.susandalcorn.com

. 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 backpack45@yahoo.com for consideration.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn

 All Newsletters 2020 , 2019 , 2018 , 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.

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