Vermont’s Long Trail

I met Alan Wechsler on the John Muir Trail this past summer. I hiked in parallel with his group, finishing the same day at Whitney Portal.

Alan convinced me to put Vermont’s Long Trail in autumn on my personal life list. He suggested I follow the changing of the leaves starting late September and hiking south.

272 miles (437 km). 70 backcountry campsites.

Details.

Alan is a writer and photographer based in the Northeast. He recently spent a year section-hiking the Long Trail in various seasons. His 73-page narrative describes the challenge and history of the trail, along with the people he met along the way, and is generously illustrated with his photos. Download the e-book here:

 

Vancouver Island Trail – Work in Progress

Formerly called the Vancouver Island Spine Trail (VISpine), the Vancouver Island Trail is planned to end up close to 800km long.

About 95% of the Trail has been located and is defined on the ground well enough to be followed/hiked.

However, much of the route north of Port Alberni is not officially open since gaining the permission and support of several Indigenous Communities is on-going and a number of administrative arrangements (land use agreements, Section 57 approvals etc.) have not yet been completed.

Where the Trail is located across private forest lands, detailed planning and location of the trail has been progressing following completion of a Memorandum of Understanding that reflects the co-operative working relationship between Vancouver Island Trail Association (VITA) and Mosaic Forest Management, the timberland manager for both TimberWest and Island Timberlands. …

Current Status of the Vancouver Island Trail

The southern section from Victoria to Port Alberni you can do right now. Brendan Sainsbury cycled it. I’ve cycled all of the southern section, as well — and would say it’s better cycling than hiking.

Alex and Sarah hiked the entire island summer 2021. For them it was 40 days of backcountry camping and nights in motels when they hit small towns.

Magpie and her partner hiked it summer 2020 putting together a LONG video trip report. Watch that here.

Crossing Iceland on Foot

Łukasz Supergan posted a terrific summary of options for hiking across Iceland.

I’m looking to do some bike touring and hiking summer 2022. #research

Łukasz did the #4 route (green) in winter, for example.

He recommends we do it in summer.

Variant no. 2 may be the easiest, but it leads through the roads used by cars, which may be tiresome.

Variant no. 1 is more demanding.

Variant no. 3 is the fastest traverse from all of the options. Going east-west requires more time and planning, and it is combined with bigger difficulties (less roads, more paths and sometimes the wilderness, crossing the rivers, long distances with no water). Choose it, if you are sure of your skills and you can survive far away from people. …

Crossing Iceland. Part 1: the route and preparations

I’m also researching options for bikepacking Iceland.

Proposed NEW thru hike in France

Kevin Ginisty and friends want to officially launch the Hexatrek by summer 2022. In fact, you can join them in the first year.

This 3000 km trail will connect 14 of the most beautiful nationals parks and crossing France from the Vosges to the Pyrenees.

The path follows the highest mountain regions of our hexagon, joining along the way some of the most emblematic summits, natural wonders and wildest places. …

The route has been designed to connect the most beautiful places and maximize wild camp use where it’s allowed.

They are fund-raising for the project. And the documentary.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

10 Adventures podcast

One of my favourite outdoors podcasts is 10 Adventures.

Check it out.

A good starting point is their interview with Jim Kern on how to Save America‘s Outdoors.

… As the founder of the Florida Trail, co founder of the American hiking society, and president of Big City Mountaineers, Jim has led an awe-inspiring life and career that has gone far beyond the scope of just his own adventures, helping at-risk youth by introducing them to the outdoors and inspiring real change. …

The Best Treks in Northern Peru: Cordillera Huayhuash and Cordillera Blanca The 10Adventures Podcast

On this episode we dive head first into the incredible trekking regions known as the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Huayhuash in Northern Peru. Our guest Christian Alvarado, owner of Huaraz-based adventure tour operator Go2Andes shares his expertise on these 2 incredible mountain ranges and the 3 main treks offered here.  If you’re a lover of high altitude trekking, you don't want to miss this in depth look at the 3 most popular treks here, the Alpamayo Trek, the Santa Cruz Trek and Huayhuash Treks. Find out what goes into preparing for these types of high adrenaline adventures as Christian shares everything from acclimatization plans, transporting gear, and best times to travel.    Check out a full list of Go2Andes incredible trekking tours on 10Adventures or going to https://www.10adventures.com/tour-operator/go-2-andes/
  1. The Best Treks in Northern Peru: Cordillera Huayhuash and Cordillera Blanca
  2. Adventuring in Europe Now: What‘s it like to travel right now
  3. The GR5: Trekking from the Alps to the Mediterranean with 10Adventures founder Richard
  4. Cycling from Brighton to Budapest with Ryan
  5. Cycling and wild camping 5,000 km around Europe with Jens

19 Days on the JOHN MUIR TRAIL

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

INTRODUCTION

The John Muir Trail in California is our #2 hike in the world.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Though I’d hiked almost every segment over the years, this was my first time hiking over 200 miles continually.

There are hundreds of excellent JMT Trip Reports online. For example, I enjoyed Jai’s joyful photo journal from Aug 11-30, 2021.

Rather than post a detailed day-by-day account, here I’ll simply recount some of my own HIGHLIGHTS.

If this page is too long 😀 … watch highlights of my trip in less than 5 minutes.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

FIRE & DROUGHT

Jai’s group finished one day before Forest Fire closures were announced.

We were lucky too. Aug 7 – 24, 2021. No closures. Haziest day was Aug 23rd near Whitney.

Climate change will — in future — increasingly make thru hikes of the John Muir Trail more difficult.

LIGHTNING

The other big worry on the JMT is afternoon lightning. This season Nicholas Torchia, 37-years-old, died after trying to take cover by leaning against a tree while hiking close to the John Muir Trail.

FRIENDS

For this adventure, I was happy to have my old hiking buddies Brian and Rocco join me for the first week.

Hiking with friends is more fun. But logistics more complicated.

Under my failed leadership in the past, we are known as the Backcountry Bunglers. AND we managed to bungle logistics again — though the hiking itself was superb.

We had Pacific Crest Trail 500+ mile permits rather than JMT permits. PCT are much easier to get. BUT require that you start exactly the day and trailhead on the permit. Also, you have to carry a print copy. Lessons learned.

Thousand Island Lake

Near Reds Meadows we made the short detour to Rainbow Falls.

And Devil’s Postpile.

TREES

Rocco is a student of flora and fauna. He particularly enjoyed the many kinds of beautiful (and weird) trees.

FOOD

When in town we felt obliged to CARBO LOAD in advance of our freeze dried future.

One of our favourite restaurants was Breakfast Club in Mammoth.

On the trail my dinners were mostly based on ramen, instant mashed potatoes and instant stuffing. REAL bacon pieces were one of my treats as were Jelly Belly.

FEET

Critical to a successful hike is footwear and foot management.

What worked best for me in the California dry heat was trail runners and Injiji toe socks. In fact, I left my usual Merrell Moabs in Mammoth after the first 5 days.

I cleaned and cooled my feet as often as possible during the day.

Mid-day I’d stop for about an hour to use solar power to recharge my devices.

CAMPSITES

In the Sierra Nevada there are plenty of opportunities to wild camp. Set up your tent anywhere not too close to water. … Unless it’s posted.

Late afternoon we had set up our tents … before noticing this sign.

It’s EASY to find fantastic places to tent. Actually.

SIDE TRIPS

Many on the JMT stick to the trail, unwilling to miss even a single official step. Not me.

I took 4 side trips:

  • Reds – Thousand Island lake on the PCT
  • southern Red Cone from Lower Crater Meadow junction
  • Goodale Trail to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) because the boat wasn’t running
  • Mt Whitney
southern Red Cone

VERMILLION VALLEY RESORT (VVR)

On past hikes I’d never made the famed side trip to VVR.

On arrival, the new owners welcome you warmly and offer a free cold beer.

I’m really glad I did VVR this time, taking a ZERO miles recovery day. I met more people there than the rest of the days combined. Found myself at the same table with PhD students and veteran thru hikers.

I stayed for the Saturday night all-you-can-eat barbecue. $26.

Due to drought and low snow fall the previous winter, governments had held back water from Lake Thomas Edison. When this happens, the ferry can’t shuttle hikers to VVR. It’s a half day extra walking.

For me it was well worth the side trip.

Lake Thomas Edison – DRY in 2021

I skipped the Ranch.

SUNSET, NIGHT SKY & SUNRISE

Highlights for one and all. Yet I’m disappointed I didn’t take more photos. I should have woken up more often to see the Milky Way.

PASSES

The story of the southern JMT is climbing a high pass every day.

I enjoyed it. By Seldon I was feeling fit. My feet were great. In fact, I was in the BEST physical shape for hiking at the end of 19 days. It would have seemed EASY to hike back north.

MUIR PASS

Weather was good — but cold and windy when I reached famed Muir Pass hut.

PEAKFINDER APP

Navigation is easy on the John Muir trail with most of the popular hiking apps.

I used Guthook and the free Maps.me app.

Another I really appreciated is the free PeakFinder app. You must download the regional data when online as there’s very little service on the JMT.

FIN DOME

Of many, many impressive peaks en route — including Whitney — my favourite was Fin Dome.

Fin Dome and Arrowhead lake

BOOKS & WHITNEY

The south gets higher and bleaker. I re-read DUNE on this section as it was appropriate to the environment. Hiking alone I was able to finish quite a few audio books, in fact.

Here’s the final push to the top of Whitney.

I was briefly the highest person in the lower 48.

Since the weather was good, I decided to have dinner atop the peak. Stay for sunset. It was very hazy.

A highlight, however, was walking down to Trail Camp on the far side of the mountain by headlamp and moonlight. My only night hiking of the trip.

Next morning I was up for dawn to enjoy my final morning on the John Muir Trail.

Whitney massif at dawn from Trail Camp

Finally down at Portal, we celebrated with the traditional burger and fries. Relived highlights with hikers whom I’d been walking with in parallel for many days.

A wonderful trip.

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Emma Rowena (Caldwell) Gatewood, known as Grandma Gatewood was an American ultra-light hiking pioneer.

After a difficult life as a farm wife, mother of eleven children, and victim of domestic violence, she became famous as the first solo female thru-hiker of the 2,168-mile (3,489 km) Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in 1955 at the age of 67.

She subsequently became the first person (male or female) to hike the A.T. three times …

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Amazon