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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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 –

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.


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 –


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.

(via Tech Blog – Top 10 Strangest Camping Gadgets)

photos on Flickr – Warren Long

problems hiking “The Wave”

I was surprised and happy to get one of 10 available hiking permits available through an in-person lottery for the famous day hike in southern Utah known as The Wave.

I slept in my car at the BLM (not BoweL Movement, rather Bureau of Land Management) office that distributes hiking permits so I would not miss the 8:30AM random draw.

Surprisingly, there were only 9 hikers there for 10 permits. Score! (Some days 50 apply for the 10 spots.)

The SW USA is one of the very best hiking destinations in the world — unless it rains. Flooding, even drowning, is a severe risk in arid slot canyons.

the morning-of-the-hike sky

It did not look good. But I decided come Hell or High Water, I would hike The Wave.

At 2:30PM the drizzle seemed to abate. I jumped in the car and sped to the trailhead, now short of time to finish the 6mi (9.7km) return trip by dark. On the other hand, I felt the best photos would be available in the dying light.

Of the 10 essentials I carried only the 11th — a can of Diet Coke.

Jogging the slip rock (no real trail) and attempting to short-cut, I quickly became lost. Easy to do in this part of the world.

When I finally got to The Wave, I was very happy to bump into some other hikers who had braved the rain and hail. Included was the Mountain Artist, Elizabeth Wiltzen, who has seen her share of misadventure in the wilderness. She worked many years for a heli-skiing outfit in Banff. Needless to say, she want not much impressed with my preparedness as a hiker.

How was The Wave?

Fantastic. Well worth the hassle. The unusual sandstone formation is wonderful from every direction.

larger image – Wikipedia

There is a “second Wave” and other terrific geology nearby. The more time you have, the better.

27 Wave photos – Flickr

I hiked back with several others arriving at the trailhead parking lot right at dark. Doh! In my rush to get here I had forgotten to fuel the vehicle. Others had to follow me to the closest service station. I rolled in on fumes.

If you want to be better prepared than I, check details on how to get to The Wave –

dog survives unbelievable mountain fall

wally.jpgMy hiking buddy (Shasta, CA), Wally the Wonderdog, took a severe fall on the ice fields of Mt. Eddy, California.

The Wonderdog hit the ice and rocketed straight down for several hundred feet, gathering speed the whole way. Unfortunately, at the bottom of the ice field lay a steep rockfield, which he hit at full speed, sending him on a cartwheeling, pinwheeling ride over 600 vertical feet of very sharp, very hard rocks.

Michelle – an experienced mountaineer and backcountry skier – said simply that “it was the gnarliest thing I’d ever seen.”

She estimated he bounced and cartwheeled in the neighborhood of two dozen times, and that the total distance of the fall was in the 800-1,000 range.

“It was like it went on forever.”

I can’t imagine what it felt like to see that, but after a lengthy traverse to the bottom of the rock field, both Michelle and Nancy expected to find a dead doggie.

What they found was a battered, stunned Wonderdog staring at them.

This launched a rescue effort where Michelle – who weighs 120 pounds if you turned a fire hose on her – resourcefully jury rigged a small daypack and carried the 80-pound Wonderdog back up the ohmigod-steep rocky slope (if you’re handy with numbers, that’s 2/3 of her body weight) while Nancy steadied him.

I’m impressed.

On flatter ground, he was able to walk (limp, actually) down the trail towards the truck, but by the time I saw him at home, he was a battered puppy.

Bleeding from a bunch of wounds, his nose, and his mouth, he’d had a tooth ripped out and the right side of his face was swollen up so bad his eye was closed.

Get well soon, Wally.

Trout Underground Fly Fish Blog » Bamboo Ascendant in Dunsmuir. Wally the Wonderdog Plummeting in Mountains.

Maoist rebels still taxing Everest trekkers

Besthikes recommends you trek to the highest mountain on Earth via the Dingri to Everest Base Camp route in Tibet. The views of Chomolangma are far superior than those on the far more popular normal route out of Kathmandu, Nepal.

Many outdoor adventure blogs are quoting a German Press Agency report that Mt. Everest trekkers starting in Kathmandu are still being asking for a US$35 “donation” each from Maoist rebels. This despite that extortion being banned under the terms of the ceasefire agreement. There are hassles in Tibet too, but not extortion by armed gunmen.

… the Maoists collected the money from the tourists at Manjo, the main entry point to the Everest region.

… “Tourists pay 1,000 rupees (about 14 dollars) to the Everest National Park. In addition, they have to pay aircraft boarding taxes at Kathmandu airport. Tourists are being taxed at every point

… About 3,500 trekkers visit Everest in each of the three tourist seasons, making it the most popular trekking route in the Himalayan kingdom.

The Raw Story | Maoists intensify extortion from trekkers in the Everest region

photo from superb trip report by edMichel

UPDATE: Terrible breaking story in the region: China tries to gag climbers who saw Tibet killings (via GetOutdoors)

US hiking in decline?


… according to an annual survey by the Outdoor Industry Foundation, a Boulder, Colo.–based nonprofit affiliated with the Outdoor Industry Association … while backpacking is still a vital activity, with an estimated 13.5 million American participants last year, that figure represents a 22.5 percent decline since 1998.

… More disturbing yet to backpacking enthusiasts, young people are snubbing the backcountry in even bigger numbers, evidenced by a 32 percent drop in backpacking among 16- to 24-year-olds since 1998.

Packing It In. A great Northwest pastime—backpacking—is getting a little too gray. – Seattle Times

Is hiking really in decline? Is it changing?

Hikers I know are doing more ridge walks and scrambles. Others are planning thru hikes.

Worldwide I’m certain hiking is on the increase. The internet is making it easier to plan, communicate and organize hikes.

These stats are a blip, I reckon. Hiking everywhere, including the States, will become more popular in the future.

(via The Adventure Blog)

“drinking your water raw”

filter-water.jpgContributor George Novak normally hikes without water bottle or filter. He “prehydrates” — then drinks as much as he can if and when he finds good water. He has no more stomach trouble than the most careful hiker.

Everyone agrees the literature is hyper-cautious when it comes to water treatment.

Doc’s Rules for Sipping the Waters

Study the watershed you are in. Know what is there.
Look for water near to its source.
Try to take water from the sideslope streamlets.
Avoid water from the main valley stream.
Look for icy cold water.
Look for fast-moving water.
Study the area for the presence of large animals.
Ascertain whether numbers of elk have recently been in the area.
Avoid waters near beaver ponds or cattle grazing.

Two-Heel Drive: September 2006 Archives


How careful are you with water treatment?

hygiene & sanitation on the trail

I carry a container cut from a 1-gallon milk jug when I hike. The container is about 5 inches high and weighs about an ounce. I use it and a small bandana (along with a few ounces of water) to get a sponge bath in the evenings. It is truly amazing how much trail dirt can be removed with just a few ounces of plain water and a bit of effort. …

I also carry a 2-ounce bottle of Isopropyl alcohol and some cotton balls. When I finish with my “bath” in the evenings, I apply some alcohol to a couple of cotton balls and clean and deodorize the “obvious” areas of my body (underarms, groin area, area between my buttocks and my feet).

Rainmaker’s Suggestions For Hygiene & Sanitation On The Trail

Even better, warm the water for your sponge bath.


Out-of-context photo is the open air “throne toilet”, a breezy design eventually abandoned by Parks Canada. I could not resist throwing it into this post.

: )

mountaineering clothing on Nanga Parbat

Patagonia sponsored Steve House and Vince Anderson climbed Nanga Parbat in six days in “pure alpine style. It was a new direct route on the Rupal Face, a wall with the largest relief of any wall in the world (14,000 feet)”.

For this they won the Oscar of Mountain Climbing — the Piolet d’Or (French for The Golden Ice Axe).

Patagonia posted some great photos, video and a detailed shopping list of Steve’s clothing. (All Patagonia, of course.)

Nice use of the internet! I like this company.


UPDATE: For a terrific article about the controversial Steve House, check The Devil Wears Patagonia – Outside magazine

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