NEW podcast – Cicerone Hiking guidebooks

As publishers of nearly 400 outdoor travel guidebooks, Cicerone Press are a specialist team who love the outdoors and want to inspire and guide you on your next outdoor adventure.

In this episode, hosts Amy Hodkin and Hannah Stevenson introduce themselves and speak to Joe Williams about the history of Cicerone, our team of expert authors and the areas and activities covered in Cicerone guidebooks.

Whether walking, cycling, trekking, scrambling, mountain biking, running or skiing, Cicerone offers guidebooks written, edited and tested by outdoor experts.

Find out more and view our full range of guidebooks on the Cicerone website, www.cicerone.co.uk.

You can also search for @CiceronePress on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and join our Facebook community group, Cicerone Connect.

I used their Aconcagua guidebook, for example, when hiking independently to French Base Camp.

Hiking Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island

Here’s our list of the best hikes in Strathcona, so far:

I spent over 3 weeks hiking Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island June – October 2020.

Fantastic.

The real experts on this park are Mike Blake and his team at MB Guiding.

If you are looking to organized a guide trip — climbing the Golden Hinde, for example — go with MB Guiding.


If you’ve never been to Strathcona before, easiest access is via the Paradise Meadows trailhead out of Courtney / Comox which gives easy access to the Forbidden Plateau.

Well signed, well organized, well maintained, there are loops of increasing difficulty depending on your time and the weather.

One loop is wheelchair accessible, for example.

There are trails ideal for kids, as well.

Three campsites on the Forbidden plateau are first-come, first-served. Great value at CAD $10 / person / night.

If you want to tent, I’d recommend you head for the furtherest campsite – Circlet Lake.

From there are fantastic day hikes to Moat Lake, Castlecrag and/or Mt Albert Edward.


There are even better trails in Strathcona in the more remote section of the park around Buttle Lake. That’s where you find the main car campgrounds.

My favourite was Cream Lake via the Bedwell Lakes trails.

Cream Lake

Nearly as good for me was Elk River with a tough side trip up to Elk Pass.

Landslide Lake

There are many, many more great hikes, of course, well documented in the best hiking guidebook – Exploring Strathcona Park by Stone.

I’ll return to do more.

Barney (Scout) Mann’s Pacific Crest Trail book

In Journeys North, legendary trail angel, thru hiker, and former PCTA board chair Scout spins compelling tales of hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007 as they walk from Mexico to Canada.

That year terrible snow storms rocked the Canadian border starting the last days in September.

Barney (Scout) Mann hiked with wife Sandy (Frodo) Mann, and recounts fascinating stories of others they traveled alongside that season.

For me, Blazer was the most interesting.

The book is unusual.  Not your standard step-by-step trail journal.

Instead the time line jumps forward and back along the trail, using PCT anecdotes to illustrate bigger life lessons.

If asked to recommend just one book on the PCT, Journeys North would be it.  The best starting point for a hiker considering it. 

Other excellent and inspiring reads include:

Amazon

Barney Scout Mann has hiked the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails. He has been board chair of the Pacific Crest Trail Association and is president of the Partnership for the National Trails System. Mann has been recognized with a Lowell Thomas Journalism Award and is the coauthor of The Pacific Crest Trail: Exploring America’s Wilderness Trail and author of The Continental Divide Trail: Exploring America’s Ridgeline Trail. He and his wife, Sandy, live in San Diego and have hosted more than 7,000 PCT hikers. Visit him online at BarneyScoutMann.com.

 

 

Andrew Skurka interview

Andrew Skurka is without question one of the most accomplished hikers in history.  A legend.

  • Alaska-Yukon Expedition (6 months, 4,700 miles),
  • Great Western Loop (7 months, 6,875 miles), and the
  • Sea-to-Sea Route (11 months, 7,775 miles).

He’s run a 2:28 marathon, as well.

The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail, was published by National Geographic – over 125,000 copies sold.

Today he and his team lead people to exciting destinations, teaching skills along the way: planning, gear, fitness, food, navigation, responding to emergencies, etc.

In a recent podcast interview Andrew explains why he still prefers map and compass, using electronics as a back-up.  And you have to believe him since it was sponsored by the Gaia GPS app.

Click PLAY or listen to it clicking through via Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cycle hiking Gabriola Island, B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

On July 1, 2020 I cycle toured Gabriola Island, the first time I’d been back to the island since I was a kid on family summer vacation.

Gabriola is about 14 kilometres (9 mi) long by 4.2 kilometres (2.6 mi) wide, about the same land mass as Bermuda.

I caught the ferry over from Nanaimo in the early evening.

Next morning, while celebrating Canada Day, I was reminded that descendants of the original inhabitants are still there — the Snuneymuxw, a First Nation of the Coast Salish People.

Sobering.

First stop was the Malaspina Galleries, a sandstone cliff carved by wind and waves. Lovely shoreline, as well.

To navigate I used Cycling the Islands: A Guide to Scenic Routes on the San Juan and Gulf Islands by John Crouch.

And Hiking Trails 2: South-Central Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands by Richard K. Blier.

Gabriola is less developed than I anticipated.  A definite hippy vibe.

I circled the island counter-clockwise, stopping next at Sandwell Provincial Park.

Popped in briefly to Joyce Lockwood Community Park.

There’s a marina and campground at Silva Bay at the far end of the island.

Cycling and hiking temperate rain forest is wonderful when it’s not raining. And the rain held off this day.

My last stop was Drumbeg Provincial Park.

One day was enough to explore Gabriola. All good. The hiking trail infrastructure is excellent for a small island. Paths well marked.

All trails are short and easy.

I recommend Gabriola.

Out There: A Voice from the Wild by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend (born 1949) is the hiking author who’s influenced me most.

He’s written over 20 books, including Cicerone guidebooks,  and countless articles

I started with High Summer: Backpacking The Canadian Rockies (1989).

He’s most famous for The Backpacker’s Handbook.

But If you’ve never read Chris Townsend, I’d recommend you start with Out There: A Voice from the Wild. I recently read the Kindle edition while hiking on Vancouver Island.

Chris reflects back on the takeaways from all those trips.

Drawing from more than forty years of experience as an outdoorsman, and probably the world’s best known long distance walker who also writes, Chris Townsend describes the landscapes and wildlife, the walkers and climbers, and the authors who have influenced him in this lucid and beautiful book.

Writing from his home in the heart of the Cairngorms he discusses the wild, its importance to civilisation and how we cannot do without it.

Kilimanjaro Uncovered by Alexandra Tanbai

I read this book in preparation for our own Kilimanjaro climb scheduled for September 2020.

Alexandra penned Kilimanjaro Uncovered in real time while preparing and during her climb on the Northern Circuit, a little-known hiking route away from the crowds to the top of Kilimanjaro.

She provides valuable guidance for those interested in climbing themselves and tells a broader story of a truly life-changing experience.

Alex is a rookie mountain climber. She over-prepares. Is cautious and thoughtful about every aspect.

The book is very informative for anyone who has never done a serious multi-night tent trip.

I admire her courage in planning that big adventure on her own. I admire her  honesty and vulnerability sharing fears and problems on the trek, big and small.

Alexandra Tanbai made the summit. In fact everyone in her guided party made the top though one had a serious ankle injury. No helicopter was available for evacuation.

Less than a year after publishing Kilimanjaro Uncovered, Alexandra founded KiliGATE.com—the first and only online Kilimanjaro tour booking platform committed to responsible tourism.

Her goal—make it easy for tourists to book their climb with a responsible tour operator and promote fair porter treatment.

I do feel this book is too long.

It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats.

 

History of climbing K2

In advance of a trek to K2 Base Camp and Gondogoro Pass, I’m doing some reading about those insane alpinists that dare to climb the second highest peak in the world.

So much tragedy.

The 1954 Italian Karakoram expedition finally succeeded in ascending to the summit of K2 via the Abruzzi Spur on 31 July 1954. …

… 23 years after the Italian expedition, Ichiro Yoshizawa led the second successful ascent, with Ashraf Aman as the first native Pakistani climber. …

The third ascent of K2 was in 1978, via a new route, … by an American team led by James Whittaker …

I recommend K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain. (2010) by Ed Viesturs.

Ed’s the Mount Rainier alpine guide who went on to become the most accomplished American high altitude climber.

Cautious and lucky, Ed survived 30+ expeditions to the world’s highest peaks. And he’s climbed Rainier over 200 times.