NEW – Pamir Trail, Tajikistan

The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range between Central Asia and Pakistan. It is located at a junction with other notable mountains, namely the Tian ShanKarakoramKunlunHindu Kush and the Himalaya mountain ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains. …

The Pamir Highway, the world’s second highest international road, runs from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Osh in Kyrgyzstan through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, and is the isolated region’s main supply route. …

The Pamir Trail is a proposed 1000km+ route. A work in progress.

Jan Baaker, author of Cicerone Trekking in Tajikistan, hopes to connect the entire route in 2024.

We wish him luck. Some of the rivers can be impassable.

To learn more, click through to the

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman

Of all celebrities, the one I’d like to most go for hike is Nick Offerman.

I got to know him as the hilarious Ron Swanson in the sitcom Parks and Recreation (2009–2015).

He’s an actor, comedian, boat builder, wood craftsman, and author.

This book starts with day hikes in Glacier National Park with friends Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders. The three are well prepared — but ultimately incompetents.

It’s very entertaining while being smart and philosophical.

Nick is a humane and thoughtful guy.

I recommend Where the Deer and Antelope Play.

Trailed by Kathryn Miles 

Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders (2022) is deep dive into the unsolved murder of two free-spirited young women in the wilderness, a journalist’s obsession—and a new theory of who might have done it.

In May 1996, two skilled backcountry leaders, Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, entered Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park for a week-long backcountry camping trip.

… During their final days in the park, they descended the narrow remnants of a trail and pitched their tent in a hidden spot. After the pair didn’t return home as planned, park rangers found a scene of horror at their campsite, their tent slashed open, their beloved dog missing, and both women dead in their sleeping bags.

The unsolved murders of Winans and Williams continue to haunt all who had encountered them or knew their story.

Wanderlust Himalaya: Hiking on Top of the World

A 300-page coffee table book that showcases 26 of the finest hikes from the world’s highest mountain range (along with a handful from the adjoining Karakoram Range).

The featured trails include established classics such as the Annapurna Base Camp, Markha Valley, and K2 Base Camp Treks, along with lesser-known excursions such as Bhutan’s Jomolhari Trek and Tibet’s Ganden to Samye Monastery Trek.

The Hiking Life

With the release of Wanderlust Himalaya, the series now numbers six in total. In order of their release, the first five books were as follows: 1. Wanderlust: Hiking on Legendary Trails; 2. The Hidden tracks: Wanderlust off the Beaten Path; 3. Wanderlust USA; 4. Wanderlust Europe, and; 5. Wanderlust Alps. 

Sadly, I didn’t find the full set under the Christmas tree 2022.

Trespassing Across America – by Ken Ilgunas

An excellent book. Even if you have no interest in hiking or pipelines. 😀

In fact, you won’t learn much about hiking. A thru hiker would not be impressed. Ken’s gear was too heavy. And he hiked the wrong months of the year.

Ken Ilgunas has a Masters in English from Duke. He’s a terrific writer.

This book has given me the best insight into how poor North American rural people think. An insight into why they vote for political Parties that make the rich richer, the poor poorer. Worse education and health care.

Children and grandchildren leave for big cities. Life is tough for those remaining.

Ken mostly sought out small town religious leaders, asking them for advice on where he could tent safely. He was astonished by the generosity of those spiritual leaders.

Ken worked as a backcountry ranger in Alaska. And was forced to take a job as dishwasher in a high Arctic oil camp.

Jobs there were high pay — very low quality of life.

Those arguing for the Petrotoxin industries usually shout JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Ken came away thinking these were actually lousy jobs. High rates of alcoholism and drug abuse.

In September 2012, I stuck out my thumb in Denver, Colorado, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles north to the Alberta tar sands. After being duly appalled, I commenced my 1,700-mile hike south following the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast. It would become a 4.5 month journey across the Great Plains. To follow the pipe, I couldn’t take roads. I’d have to walk across fields, grasslands, and private property. I’d have to trespass across America.

The book is about my journey–fleeing from cows, taking cover from gunfire, and keeping warm on a very wintry and questionably-timed hike. But it’s also about coming to terms with climate change and figuring out what our role as individuals should be in confronting something so big and so out of our hands. It’s about taking a few months of your life to look at your country from a new perspective. Ultimately, it’s about embracing the belief that a life lived not half wild is a life only half lived.

Most of the folks he met were supportive of Keystone XL Phase IV — but over the months Ken didn’t come away with even one good argument in support of the project.

Few jobs. Short term jobs. MOST of the money kept by the corporation, not those people who had dirty oil flowing over their property.

Most of the dirty Canadian oil is shipped overseas.

There are plenty of pipelines in North America. If you must ship Petrotoxins, pipelines are likely the least terrible way.

But Keystone XL became symbolic of the debate over how to slow or reverse climate change.

On January 20, 2021, Biden revoked the permit for the pipeline on his first day in office. It may never be completed.

I QUIT the Long Crossing of Lofoten Archipelago, Norway

BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Inspired by Cam Honan’s 2018 adventure, I set out for the Long Crossing – a 160 km (99 mi) hiking route through the spectacular heart of the island chain. 

It’s not all that popular yet. In fact, AllTrails doesn’t have it. And it has every trail everywhere.

After one day — 9 hours in perfect weather — I’ve decided to QUIT. That day was too difficult and too dangerous for me carrying a heavy pack.

Olderfjorden pass

It LOOKS easy in the photo. But it’s mostly route finding through marshy terrain. Worst was a risky descent clutching a water pipe and safety ropes. Starting up near the top of the waterfall.

This was the Kleppstad to Svolvær leg.

I’d already visited Lofoten on another trip, doing most of the popular day hikes.

I’ll follow the general path of the Long Crossing. But camp low. And climb high with a day pack. Weather will dictate which established day hikes I choose.

I’ll be following recommendations set out in the Rando-Lofoten guidebook by Souyris & Brede:

Hiking the Lofoten islands

Wish me luck. Things tend to #fail in Arctic Norway — usually due to weather.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

I’d recently enjoyed reading the young-adult wilderness survival novel series written by American writer Gary Paulsen. It starts with The Hatchet (1986).

Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) is some what similar.

… the story of a 12-year-old island girl named Karana, who is stranded alone for years on an island off the California coast.

It is based on the true story of Juana Maria, a Nicoleño Native American left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century. …

… the subject of much literary and pedagogical scholarship related to survival, feminism, the resilience of Indigenous peoples, and beyond. …

Both books won the Newbery Medal for distinguished contributions to American literature for children.

It was made into a film in 1960.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

British Columbia Hikes NOT Requiring Reservations

British Columbia is a fantastic hiking destination. BUT campgrounds and some of the best hiking areas require difficult-to-aquire permits — most famously, the West Coast Trail.

Happily, Taryn Eyton, author of Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia, details many great hikes that DO NOT require permits:

No permits required for the Sunshine Coast Trail

Vancouver Island

  • Juan de Fuca Trail in Juan de Fuca Marine Provincial Park near Port Renfrew (requires backcountry permits)
  • Wild Side Trail on Flores Island near Tofino (requires a water taxi to reach the trailhead)
  • Forbidden Plateau Core, Bedwell Lakes, Elk River Trail, and Arnica Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park (All require backcountry permits except Arnica Lake.)
  • Nootka Trail on Nootka Island near Gold River (requires a water taxi to reach the trailhead)
  • North Coast TrailCape Scott Trail, and San Josef Bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park near Port Hardy (requires backcountry permits, North Coast Trail requires a water taxi to reach the trailhead)
  • Raft Cove in Raft Cove Provincial Park near Port Hardy (requires backcountry permits)
  • Carmanah Valley in Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park (requires backcountry permits)

Interior and Eastern B.C.

  • Trophy Meadows in Wells Gray Provincial Park near Clearwater (requires backcountry permits)
  • Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park near Keremeos (requires backcountry permits)
  • Okanagan High Rim Trail near Vernon and Kelowna
  • Spectrum Lake in Monashee Provincial Park near Cherryville (requires backcountry permits)
  • Gwillim Lakes in Valhalla Provincial Park near Slocan
  • Kaslo Lake in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park near Nelson (requires backcountry permits)
  • Earl Gray Pass in Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park near Kaslo
  • South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park near Lillooet

Northern B.C.

  • Hunlen Falls in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola (requires backcountry permits)
  • Monkman Memorial Trail in Monkman Provincial Park near Tumbler Ridge
  • Wokkpash Valley and McDonald Creek in Stone Mountain Provincial Park near Fort Nelson
  • Mount Edziza in Mount Edziza Provincial Park near Dease Lake

Backcountry permits are not reservations. And they don’t sell out.

Taryn has more advice for hikers in this post:

How to Go Backpacking in BC Without Reservations

The Hatchet by Gary Paulson

Hatchet is a 1986 Newbery Honor-winning young-adult wilderness survival novel written by American writer Gary Paulsen.

Brian Robeson is a thirteen-year-old son of divorced parents. As he travels from Hampton, New York on a single-engine Cessna bush plane to visit his father in the oil fields in Northern Canada for the summer, the pilot suffers a massive heart attack and dies.

Brian tries to land the plane but ends up crash-landing into a lake in the forest.

He must learn to survive on his own with nothing but his hatchet—a gift his mother gave him shortly before his plane departed.

… He discovers how to make fire with the hatchet and eats whatever food he can find, such as rabbits, birds, turtle eggs, fish, berries, and fruit. …

Over time, Brian develops his survival skills and becomes a fine woodsman. …

I enjoyed the short book. But it’s far from realistic. The Alone (TV series) documented just how difficult it is to survive on the much easier west coast of Vancouver Island.

The film adaptation is even more over the top.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Many readers asked the author WHAT would have happened to this teenager if he had to try to survive the Canadian winter. Brian was rescued by floatplane in The Hatchet.

So — in 1996 — Paulson published what would have been a sequel IF Brian had not found the emergency beacon.

Brian’s Winter

… still stranded at the L-shaped lake during the fall and winter, constructing a winter shelter, building snow shoes, being confronted by a bear, befriending and naming a skunk and learning how to make a bow more powerful. …

There are more books in this series. I’ll read those as well as I’ve grown to wonder how Brian adapts to civilization.

There are 3 other Brian books. All quite good.

I thought Brian’s Return was quite good. He meets a mysterious Indian mentor in the woods.

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