gear – “Ursack” – bear and bullet resistant food bag

tko_72_smlr.jpgHard to believe, but here’s a food bag a bear cannot penetrate. Amazing.

No worries at all about rodents and other pesky varmints.

Ursack – bear-resistant containers

A 10.5 litre Ursack is now in stock in a gear shop in my town for about US$65. Price seems a tad steep. But I’ll likely get one before my next major hike. This is a big improvement over the sturdy kayak bag I use now to hold food.

You can also buy an aluminum liner for extra protection, but the weight is prohibitive, I feel. (For example, “the Ursack TKO 2.0 weighs 6.2 ounces. The aluminum liner adds 14.2 ounces.”)

The Ursack alone sounds like it will turn away all but the most persistent bear.

Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

UPDATE:

Ruhaizad Daud contacted us with excellent information. He’s a Malaysian doctor from Sabah who is passionate about Mount Kinabalu.

Ruhaizad is also the editor of Mount-Kinabalu-Borneo.com, a content rich site with everything you could possibly need to plan a trip. He confirms that "Anybody, I repeat anybody – can reach the summit – provided that they have the best information and preparation."

We’ve subscribed to his blog and newsletter. Ruahizad even publishes a .pdf guidebook which you can download for a small donation.

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St. John’s Peak 2005 – photo Ruhaizad Daud


We’ve added Mt. Kinabalu to our list of best hikes in Asia and linked to Ruhaizad’s site.

However, this is just the kind of adventure which tends to attract beginners who may get hurt or killed. A British teenager died there in 2001. Guides are mandatory but the quality of those guides is suspect.

On the other hand, I really want to go to Kinabalu myself.

At over 4000m (13,123ft) it’s South-East Asia’s highest mountain. The photos look very appealing.

Malaysia is the most under-rated country in Asia, in my opinion. I definitely want Kinabalu on my own list of the best hikes in the world.

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photo – zbjernak

more great Kinabalu photos on flickr

( via Adventure Blog)

“adventure travel” insurance

nomad.jpgEvery time I shop for travel insurance it hurts my brain.

There are so many different options. Agents always try to up-sell me with cautious concern whether all my adventure activities will be covered.

No more.

We’ve affiliated with World Nomads, an on-line company out of Australia catering to the active traveller.

Of the many different policies I checked for a 2007 trip to Australia, World Nomads was the least expensive and clearest in what is covered and what is not. Buying took just a couple of minutes. It could not be any easier.

Prices are kept low because World Nomads is internet only with all referrals coming from sites like this. To sweeten the deal they offer additional benefits like free iPod language lessons and on-line travel journals.

Check it out for yourself – World Nomads.

should we close Angel’s Landing in Zion?

When I first saw Angel’s Landing from a distance, I wondered how anyone could get up there.

A group exploring Zion in 1916 felt the same way. Frederick Fisher exclaimed, “only an angel could land on it.”

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photo by champy1013

It’s a gain of 1700ft (518m) via Walter’s Wiggles, steep switchbacks blasted into the cliff. This is strenuous hiking, almost scrambling.

Despite the narrow ridge walk at the top, sheer drop-offs on either side, this climb is safe for those experienced in mountain hiking.

But it is not safe for the general public who have too easy access. After the death of 29-year-old Bernadette Vander Meer in August 2006, perhaps more safeguards need be added.

Climb to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and you’ll have an incredible view of Zion Canyon and the surrounding cliffs. You’ll also risk a spell of vertigo if you get too near the edge and glance into the void.

In fact, reaching the top of the landing can be unnerving at times as you have to climb up some steep, and narrow, stretches of rock. The Park Service is well aware of the exposure on these sections and has anchored heavy chains into the most precarious spots so you have something to hang onto.

Over the years five people have died in falls from Angel’s Landing. …

National Parks Traveler: Woman Dies in Fall From Angel’s Landing

On our list of the best hikes in the world, Angel’s Landing is the shortest we include. It’s a fantastic experience for a confident hikers. And only a hop, skip and a jump from Zion Narrows, an even better hike.

I say keep Angel’s open — but do a better job of informing “tourists” of the risk.

more photos on flickr tagged “Angel’s Landing”

recommended hiking books

I spend a lot of time checking Amazon, the world’s largest bookstore, especially the user reviews.

If you click through to Amazon.com from this site, we get a small commission, about 4%. This helps pay for the hosting of besthike.

Amazon is happy. We are happy. And you are happy if we get the recommendation right on the best hiking guide. We don’t endorse a book unless we have seen it.

Most amazing about Amazon to me are their low prices. I always check Amazon prices first before cycling over to my local bookstore. If you do not live in the USA, shipping is normally no hassle though Amazon can’t guarantee books won’t be stopped at your border. (It is out of their control.)

Amazon launched a new service where besthike now hosts our own bookstore page.

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hike NAKED – are you crazy?

Seems it’s fairly popular in Germany and the UK.

Steve Gough is the most (in)famous proponent.

In the United Kingdom, Steve Gough, known as The Naked Rambler, received much media coverage for walking naked from Land’s End to John o’Groats in 2003–2004 and again in 2005–2006. He was arrested and imprisoned several times during both his walks. In both 2005 and 2006 the European Alps were crossed naked during a one week hiking (tour), there was little media coverage and no-one was arrested or troubled.

Naked hiking – Wikipedia

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image – Integral Nacktiv

the hiker’s satellite phone is (almost) here

Today, satellite phone manufacturer Globalstar just announced the GSP-1700, the company’s smallest satphone to date, weighing just 7.1oz (203gm) and 43 percent smaller by volume. In addition, this Qualcomm handset packs an EV-DO modem, so you can get high-speed data access from “virtually anywhere you can see sky,” according to the company’s website. The GSP-1700 also stays loaded for four hours of talk time and 36 hours of standby time on a single charge. We’re not sure on the price of this handset, but given that its predecessor, the GSP-1600 goes for $750 (without a service plan), it’s a safe bet that this one will go for at least that much when it’s released “in the coming months.”

Globalstar GSP-1700 satphone also loaded with EV-DO – Engadget

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slow hikers vs fast hikers

The tension between slow hikers and fast hikers easily burns the whole group down. I know, because I experienced the frustration looking at the person in front of me disappearing behind the branches. I know, because I was left behind with blisters hiking alone in the dark with tears.

Final Frontier: An Outdoor Blog » Blog Archive » Slow Hikers; Fast Hikers

lost-hiker.jpgThis is a real sore spot for the author of this blog, L’il Po, as she leads hiking groups. She is responsible for the safety of the entire group. Obviously when some speed ahead, it is impossible to ensure the safety of all.

But even with my own hiking friends speed is an issue. It must be addressed early in the trip.

Ideally I want everyone to hike the speed at which they are most comfortable.

Fast hikers (that get frustrated with the slow group) I urge to leave camp late. Give the rest of us a head-start, then catch-up.

Fast hikers can dash ahead to set up a lunch boil-up for the rest of the group. When we finally get there, the hot water is ready.

Fast hikers can climb up to vantage points in order to take photos of the rest of the group.

It is too much to ask for large groups to stick together all day, I feel. Assign one fast hiker to be the leader (and not let anyone pass) and another to hike last (and assist anyone who needs help). This way no one gets lost.

Leave a comment if you have any other strategies.

Paria – the best canyon walk in the world

Of the long list of the world’s best hikes, Paria Canyon was close to the top of my personal to-do list.

I finally got there though I needed to rent a car for a week. Public transport is terrible in the SW USA.

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Paria is a river walk, normally 37.5mi (60.4km) from White House trailhead near Page, Arizona to Lees Ferry, Arizona. This is the easiest and safest route.

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Much is made of the risk of flash flood. But the standard route staying in the Paria is fairly safe. Escape to higher ground is possible almost everywhere. And you cannot get lost as the cliffs are impassable.

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I loved hiking through the canyon though footwear is a big issue. I wore neoprene booties in 5-10 Canyoneers, a water walking shoe. And I was much happier than those wading in socks and approach shoes.

There are a surprising number of animals living in the canyon (you know because of the footprints) but they have learned to be elusive. The only critters I saw live were rodents, including one that somehow got into my tent as I was just falling asleep.

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I also spotted just once one of the reintroduced California Condors.

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Hardcore hikers & mountaineers would prefer connecting Buckskin Gulch. I hiked a couple of miles up Buckskin from the confluence with the Paria. It is much narrower and more dangerous. If a flash flood hits, you are almost certainly swimming.

bgmap.gifIn Buckskin I ran into a couple of Colorado hikers with full canyoning gear. They were very happy to see me as dayhiking Buckskin had taken far longer than they expected. I was able to fill them in on just how much time it would take them to exit via Paria. They walked out in the dark.

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My biggest problem on the hike was … water. Sounds crazy, I know. But filtering the Paria river is not a good idea. It’s not only silty but also very polluted. Cows drown in it on a regular basis.

I filled up in tiny trickle springs coming directly out of the mountain.

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These canyons are colourful, tranquil and mysterious. The play of light and dark is amazing.

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It was Fall. There is a great variety of trees and bushes in the canyon micro-climate. Many were changing colour.

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An important side-trip for me was up a flood devastated side canyon to Wrather Arch, with a span of 246ft (75m) it’s the least accessible of the largest 10 natural arches in the world.

I met 2 local hikers who somehow scrambled down the canyon walls to dayhike Wrather. That route was harsh and exposed they told me. Not recommended.

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I did try to climb up as high as I could to get some photos from above.

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After 3 nights in Paria canyon, I decided to backtrack to my parked vehicle. That was 18.5mi in one long day. Though the river is flat, I found it difficult to hike quickly. Four days, three nights is minimum for this hike.

If you might want to hike Paria Canyon someday, check our Paria information page – besthike.com

And if you want to see high resolution pics of the canyon, I posted 137 Paria photos on flickr. (click SLIDESHOW and set time to 1sec)

Certainly I recommend Paria as an ideal hike for all levels of ability. Children and dogs will do well on this hike. In fact, it’s my favourite hike in the region and one of my top 10 hikes anywhere.

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set up a tent in 2 seconds

UPDATE: “Decathlon, manufacturer of the 2 Second tent … is shuttering its U.S. operations. They’ve also issued a product safety recall for all their 2006 tents due to extreme fire hazard.”

2 Second Tent Recalled U.S. Operations Shuttered – GetOutdoors.com

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original post – Oct. 11th, 2006

Years ago I saw one of these tents that accordion into a bundle.

It did not work at all.

But the latest generation from Quechua looks like the real deal: “when thrown in the air, it deploys into full form before reaching the ground.”

Repacking takes much longer.

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(via Tech Blog – Top 10 Strangest Camping Gadgets)

photos on Flickr – Warren Long

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