Alpacka lightweight raft

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Raft 11cropped, originally uploaded by adamnoman.

I think I need this for pioneering a new route on Vancouver Island.

The Alpacka packraft rolls up to about the size of a 3-person tent and weighs only 4 pounds. Add the Alpacka deck for 11-ounces more and you can motor through rapids in the inflatable bathtub.

It’s a pretty cool little boat, but it’ll set you back almost $800. It’s a lot of money, but apparently it’s more than just a pool toy—the little boat is popular for long backpacking trips and gaining access to unclimbed ranges. The Goat » Blog Archive » Lightweight Inflatable Kayak Looks Suspiciously Like Tire Inner Tube

Thanks Rocky!

Alpacka rafts

bushwhacking Olympic Peninsula, Washington

On the Freezer Bag Cooking blog I learned of an amazing hiker named Mike.

Mike does trips I don’t even want to dream of. The thought of fording the Queets River in the Olympics multiple times in a day, to find an elusive waterfall is something I don’t think I will ever be capable of!

Mikes spent 31 days in 2004 crisscrossing rugged, remote wilderness, often solo, often off trail.

He’s put up an excellent new website called Mike’s Rain Forest Treks.

The first of a series of planned photo trip reports is already posted. Detailed and inspiring.

My big-picture plan for the next month will take me on a disjointed spiral around the west side of Olympic National Park’s million-acre wilderness. My route is varied enough to explore all the major ecosystems of the world’s most ecologically and geologically diverse slice of land.

Starting out in typical northwest spruce and fir forests, I will see the park’s high alpine playgrounds, its extensive coastline beaches, its uncannily immense glaciers, and it’s most prized treasure… the finest remnants of old-growth temperate rainforests left in the world.

The route has been split into three manageable “legs,” ending with a 16-day mega-trek through the most remote and untouched off-trail wilderness in the entire park. These first two legs (each a week-long trip) will be a fantastic “warm-up,” a way to strengthen my legs and awaken my soul before testing my limits.

2004 Olympic Solo Trip


trekking in Oman

locationoman.pngUntil recently I had never heard of hiking in Oman on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. .

Turns out there are excellent treks there.

I’ve subscribed to the Oman Expat blog. (Trekking category.)

It recommends the Trekking in Oman website:

The trekking season is generally from September to May, but the best period is October to April. Above 1,900 meter altitude trekking is possible all year round. The countryside is mostly rugged and the trails are loose, but trekking is by far the best way to enjoy Oman’s spectacular mountain-landscape.

Different types of trips with varying degrees of difficulty can be done; from the easy start in the Capital Area to the stunning Rim Walk in the Grand Canyon of Jabal Shams.

Trekking in Oman

Grand Canyon of Jabal Shams – Oman Expat

There are even a couple of hiking guidebooks available:

• Adventure Trekking in Oman
• Oman Trekking Guide


Kalalau Trail, Hawaii – trouble in paradise

Kalalau Trail is one of the best hikes in the world.

Along the Nā Pali Coast of the island of Kauai in the state of Hawaii, it’s paradise.

source –

Kalalau Trail – website

But there’s trouble in paradise. Illegal squatters.

You can do the 11mi difficult trail in 4-8hrs.

But some stay in the valley for days, weeks, even years.

… access is controlled in the cause of conservation. A limited number of permits are issued for camping in Kalalau Valley every year. In spite of the efforts of the state of HawaiÊ»i, many people illegally hike the trail and even live in Kalalau Valley.

These long-term campers are suspected, by some, to cause serious harm to the ecological balance of the valley by their waste and propagation of introduced species.

Kalalau Trail – Wikipedia

David Lurk posted a lengthy, entertaining Kalalau trip report — mostly detailing the colourful characters he met along the way.

He wants to go back. But next time for 3 weeks!

Hiking Kauai, the Garden Isle

Hiking Kauai, the Garden Isle – Amazon

Tasmania, the Forgotten Island

This is the best introduction to Tasmania I’ve seen on-line. Superb photos!

It includes a hike on Freycinet Peninsula, one of the best hikes in the world.

Numerous walks are possible at Freycinet National Park, from one full day to a three to four day circuit, introducing each time more of the marvelous granite of the Hazards mountains which domineer the place.

I try to think of what place they remind me of, looking at the shape and color of the rocks, smelling the spiky shrubs on the trails. Corsica or some of the American West Coast mountain ranges come to my mind. And New Zealand of course.

Tasmania, the Forgotten Island — Tasmanie, l’île oubliée by La Tartine Gourmande



South Coast Track, Tasmania – trip report

We’ve just posted another information page — The South Coast Track in Tasmania. It’s a classic, often compared often with the Kokoda Trail in Papau New Guinea. (They are both muddy.)

The best trip report we’ve found was not our own, but the photo journal posted by Evan of Getting There is Half the Fun.

Most hikers fly in to the trailhead at Melaleuca, as Evan did. (Most manage not to vomit up their breakfast, however.)

His group got the typical Tassie weather:

We spent 8 days in the bush, of which it rained for 7, sometimes heavily.

Soon we had our first of many creek crossings. Our boots stayed wet for the rest of the hike.


If you can handle rain and mud, Tasmania is a fantastic hiking destination.

You must be self-sufficient. There are no Rangers, huts or emergency phones. The South Coast Track is 83km (51.5mi).


This was the only day where it was hot enough to bring out the ‘muscle shirt’. The sun only lasted 2 hours though:(


Check the rest of his trip report and photos – Getting There is Half the Fun.

South Coast Track information page – besthike

West Coast Trail restoration

Photographer Josh McCulloch will be documenting the West Coast Trail winter storm damage restoration efforts.

It was a devastating winter in the Pacific Northwest. On the WCT:

– about 2000 trees down on the trail (80-100 is normal in a winter)
– cable cars down at Klanawa and Carmanah
– Suspension bridge at Logan Creek is down
– Landslide at km 12 near Michigan Creek

Josh has been out with the trail crews already and is optimistic:

If you are planning to do the trail this year, things are looking up. Though the damage is severe, I look at it more as an amazing event that shows the raw power of nature. When you’re walking through the forest near Pachena Bay, stop and look at the trees that are down there, it is absolutely mind-blowing!

West Coast Trail Winter Storm Damage and Restoration

This is a labour of love. Josh has done the WCT 11 times since 1997.


We’ve linked to Josh’s photos tagged “West Coast Trail” from our West Coast Trail information page.

South Coast Track, Tasmania

Rick McCharles

Most serious hikers who travel to Tasmania hike the Overland Track as training for the far more rigorous South Coast Track.

That adventure on the southern most shore of Tasmania takes even fast hikers 7 days, 6 nights after flying into the Melaleuca airstrip trailhead. It’s 83km (51mi) to exit at Cockle Creek through the world’s largest temperate wilderness.

Me – I ran out of time.

Instead of doing the entire South Coast Track, I spent only 4 days, 3 nights enjoying the southern beaches out of Cockle Creek.

South Cape Rivulet campsite

I’ve seen tea stained water before, but never as dark as the water of south coast Tasmania. (It’s quite safe to drink.)


The only hassles on this section were biting flies and the odd very deep mud pool. (I almost lost my shoe knee deep at one point.)


I enjoyed the beach sunsets best of all.

Though it looks lovely, be aware that “there are no huts or people living along the track so you will need a tent. There are no fires allowed along most of the coast. You will need to carry your own fuel stove. Lastly and most important – there are no food resupply points between the two ends of the track. You must carry all your own food for the entire trip and also carry out your rubbish. There are no hut wardens …”

John Chapman – guidebook author on the South Coast Track

whale statue at Cockle Creek

More annotated photos of the South Coast Track out of Cockle Creek

Final word. One veteran hiker told me that the similar Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea was “more difficult by half” than the South Coast Track. On the other hand, in PNG you can have porters carry your pack.

concerned – West Coast Trail

Those who love the West Coast Trail are happy it MIGHT open May 1st on schedule for it’s 100 year anniversary.

Bill Fox, manager of marine assets at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, told Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District directors Wednesday that contractors and First Nations are rebuilding and repairing 10 bridges, three cable cars and clearing thousands of fallen trees along the West Coast Trail.

“We might open as of May 1,” said Fox. “The West Coast Trail experience will be different for a while, probably for much of our lifetimes.”

West Coast Trail May Open May 1 –

larger version – flickr – BluePeak

Among those of us concerned is Bob Bannon, author of The West Coast Trail – One Step at a Time.

If you’re looking for inspiration, this is the book for you. It’s a feature length trip report including a bear encounter and the antics of “hockey stick hikers”.

The book reminds me of the best-seller Marley and Me — the life story of a dog named Marley which might have been written by any dog owner.

Likewise, anyone could write a book about an intense week on the West Coast Trail. Bob and his buddy Gord were neophyte hikers, deeply uncertain about their ability to complete a physical challenge like the WCT. They had some tough times on the trail but ultimately conquered their fears … and the dozens of steep ladders.

We heartily recommend The West Coast Trail – One Step at a Time.

The author sells it directly on his website for C$20. Or you can pick it up in book and gear shops in Western Canada.


West Coast Trail storm damage

The trail we named “best hike in the world” usually opens May 1. As this is the 100 year anniversary of founding, celebrations were planned. But the WCT opening may be delayed — a suspension bridge is missing and two cable-car crossings are out.

The West Coast Trail is one of North America’s best-known and most challenging wilderness treks, but the storm has left it impassible, at least until repair work can be done.

An estimated 2,000 trees are down in the park, one footbridge has been destroyed and three of the five hand-operated cable cars that allow hikers to pass over streams and ravines are out of service.

“It was unbelievable,” Mr. Brand said, recalling the Dec. 11 storm. “We had trees coming down everywhere. The sea was like a giant washing machine. . . . I think the problem was not just the wind, but the gusts. It went from 60 knots to 100 knots in a microsecond.”

STORM DAMAGE: B.C.’s trail of destruction
– Globe and Mail

Happily, the Canadian federal government said it will pay for part of the cleanup.

West Coast Trail – besthike information page


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