The Great Outdoors Challenge, Scotland

Since 1980 thousands of people have taken up the opportunity to backpack from Scotland’s west coast to the east as part of this annual event – each of them following their own carefully crafted route.

Many of those Challengers come back time and time again, drawn by the potential for both wilderness and camaraderie. The 2018 event takes place 11th – 26th May. Read more here

Live The Outdoors posted an excellent account of their 2017 TGO.

related – Andy Howell – Planning Your First TGO Challenge

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Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles by Chris Townsend

When I was first getting into serious hiking one of my gurus was Chris Townsend.

And he’s still one of my gurus today.

Understated. Informative. Interesting.

ChrisTownsendOutdoors.com

He hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1982 averaging only 15 miles a day with the heavy equipment of that era.

In 2015 Chris published his account of that trip. I highly recommend it.

related – Keith Foskett – Chris Townsend Interview

A Walk with Mud – PCT north to south

I rated this trip journal 2/5 on Amazon.

Not enough hiking detail. Too much on the weird, strained relationship of Mud and Bug.

By the end I mostly felt sorry for Mud who seemed to be simply dealing with PTSD with marijuana and thru-hiking.

He might have been better off hiking alone.

It was the first north to south trip report I’d read. Sounds much more difficult than the usual south to north.

If you are vegan or vegetarian you might be interested. Both tried to observe a vegan diet on the trail.

A Walk with Mud: a story of two friends hiking from Canada to Mexico on the Pacific Crest Trail

Elfin Lakes hike, Squamish B.C.

22km round trip to Elfin Lakes campground (600m gain) + Gargoyles side trip
• LOTS of snow at the end of July
• be prepared for very wet trails
• BUGGY !
• registration online or by phone required to stay overnight

From the start I had problems. First finding the trailhead out of Squamish, B.C. – street signage is not all that clear. I asked different mountain bikers to find the right gravel road.

Elfin Lakes is popular. The parking lot was full. I squeezed my rent-a-car in on the side of the approach.

The first 5km to Red Heather Meadows campground is a road.

You share most of this trail with mountain bikers. And chipmunks.

Breaking out of the trees first vista is impressive Diamond Head. Actually, that’s Atwell Peak. Many make the same mistake I did.

We’d enjoyed dry sunny weather for weeks at this point. Still many parts of the trail were wet with snow melt. Some sections have been improved.

On a hot day like this, walking snow fields was fun.

I’d read the hike was on Paul Ridge. True. But it’s not a ridge walk. Normally you are on one side of the ridge or the other, not the top.

Elfin Lakes campground. A beautiful scene.

You can sleep in a large shelter or tent on one of these side slope platforms.

Elfin Lakes are not lakes, they are meltwater ponds. One for drinking water. One for … swimming.

Earlier in the week a mouse had somehow gotten into my Ursack food bag while up on the line, so I switched to a dry bag.

I enjoyed a siesta in my tent (escaping the voracious bugs) and was sluggish getting going for the recommended side trip to the Gargoyles.

Here’s the trail from Camp leading to the Gargoyles. More interesting but wetter than the Elfin Lakes approach.

Climbing up to the Pass was easy but long. Snow conditions good, you simply walked in footprints or kicked in your own steps.

Looking over to the other side.

A trail runner came down recommending I scramble the Gargoyles.

Instead I listened to my audiobook and relaxed.

The next 3 hikers arrived keen to climb. One had been here before. I climbed up the first Gargoyle to take some photos. Wow.

Suddenly inspired I scrambled the ridge myself to the end to get to this view – scenery reminding me of the Himalayas.

That’s the 11.5km trail continuing to the new Rampart Ponds Campground (Mamquam Lake Campground is permanently closed).

Tempting.

See all my high resolution photos.

Guidebook – 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia