hike through Britain with Daryl May

mug.jpgA 63-year-old American hikes “end-to-end” — from Land’s End to John o’Groats — and reflects on Britain now and in his youth.

A “typical” thru hike:

  • 928 miles, in 56 days
  • Average of 16.6 miles per day
  • March 20 to May 16, 2007
  • Alone, carrying 23 lb backpack and bellypack
  • Stayed at B&Bs, inns, and youth hostels
  • 12 blisters, aching shoulders, sore knees, sore ankles, sunburn
  • Lost 13 lb, grew new muscles
  • Developed a large hernia
  • Ended nearly broke
  • home-map-one-with-text.jpg

    Congratulations Darryl!

    Read his trip report – Hike through Britain with Daryl May

    Hawaii hiking trails

    There are a number of good Hawaii hiking sites. But I like best the map interface used by Na Ala Hele – Hawaii Trail System & Access. (It’s far better than the one we use on besthike.)


    If you click Kauai:


    Click on one of the numbers and you get quite a good information page on the specific trail.

    It could not be simpler. Check it out for yourself:

    “Na Ala Hele” is the State of Hawaii Trail and Access Program. Established in 1988 in response to public concern about the loss of public access to certain trails and the threat to historic trails from development pressure. Na Ala Hele has become increasingly engaged in trail management and regulatory issues due to both public and commercial recreational activities and emerging legal issues.

    Administered by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife – Department of Land and Natural Resources

    Na Ala Hele – Hawaii Trail System & Access

    Now … Why don’t they add a list of “best hikes in Hawaii”?

    Related: Hawaii State Parks

    hike Wrangel – St. Elias National Park, Alaska?

    First MAPS:

    In a huge and wild park such as Wrangell-St. Elias, you can never have too many maps

    National Geographic – Trails Illustrated has produced a 1:375,000 (1 inch = 6 miles) scale map of Wrangell-St. Elias that is a great tool for initial trip planning.

    It is waterproof, tear resistant, and covers the entire park, including detailed inserts of the Nabesna Road and McCarthy/Kennecott areas. This map is available at all park ranger stations, or online through the Alaska Natural History Association for $9.95

    We highly recommend that backcountry hikers also purchase the highly detailed USGS 1:63,360 (1 inch = 1 mile) topographic maps, also known as 15-minute quadrangle maps of the particular route they plan to travel. Note: this part of Alaska is not covered by USGS 7.5-minute maps.

    maps – National Parks Service

    Next, GUIDEBOOK:

    The best I can find is Hiking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
    by former mountain guide Danny W. Kost (2000)


    This Park is very intimidating.

    Get all the information you can before you travel to hike here.

    We will simply dayhike from the road access.

    Falcon hiking guidebook feedback

    Falcon has more hiking guidebooks than anyone else in North America, some of them not very good.

    Here’s their pitch:

    FalconGuides are leading the way with more than 800 titles in over 30 series. Our 500-plus authors have personally hiked, climbed, pedaled, paddled, and recorded a total of more than 11,000 published FalconGuide trails, rides, and waterways and as many as 50,000 climbing routes in nearly every state in the nation and in nine European countries. All are documented on the more than 6,000 maps we produce every year for outdoor enthusiasts.

    Falcon Trails

    I’ve often seen the brand as an “impulse” buy. Available almost everywhere at a low cost. But not all that usable in the real outdoors.

    To my happy surprise, on a 2-week hiking trip out of Moab, Utah, the Falcon was by far the best guidebook available. I bought Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, 2nd edition 2005.


    It is written by Bill Schneider, founder of Falcon, now the retired President. It looked pretty good. Bill obviously loves this region. The text is well written, without conspicuous errors.

    After my trip I emailed Bill to give him some feedback on the book.

    First day we encountered two big snakes on the trail.

    I whipped out my guidebook to check if they were a dangerous species. What? There is no section on animal dangers! What about scorpions, black widow spiders, rattle snakes and centipedes?

    Ask a Ranger. It’s not in your guidebook.

    A bigger frustration I have with this book (and others) many others is lack of an index. Bill tells me that creating a good index is far more difficult than people think. He would love to have one, but it is a lot of work for the publisher.

    The most important part of any hiking guidebook to me are the maps. And, happily, the second edition maps are a HUGE improvement. They look very “clean”.

    Too clean. Imagine my disappointment to discover that not all backcountry campsites are included on these Falcon maps.

    Specifically I was looking for CP5 in Chesler Park. It’s not in my guidebook though it is on all the NPS on-line maps:


    Bill pointed out that “no hiker should rely on the maps in any guidebook”. His book clearly states that it is to be used with a proper map.

    Happily, I had bought a map at the trailhead. But when I opened my $3 Trails Illustrated Canyonlands-Needles National Park … I found it also left off the backcountry campsites.

    You need to buy the $10 Trails Illustrated, Canyonlands National Park – Maze District of the entire Park if you want to be able to locate your campsite.

    Bill explained, ” … listing designated campsites is a moving target for guidebook authors. Virtually every year, the NPS has to change campsite locations, close campsites, open new campsites, etc. for management reasons, but a guidebook is in print for many years.”

    I sheepishly asked each hiker I met if they had any idea where I could find my campsite.

    Despite my problems, we’ll be recommending Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. And I look forward to 3rd edition improvements. In the meantime, I recommend Falcon check some of the best hiking guidebooks in the world for inspiration.

    GO blog unimpressed with Google Earth

    When announced April 12th, the Trimble Outdoors layer with GPS-based interactive hiking information was much ballyhooed.

    The Get Outdoors blog tells it like it is (I think):

    I’m gonna file this one under Google Hype! since I can tell you first hand using Google Earth for any serious outdoor planning is useless.

    It doesn’t come close to a topo for route planning …

    Other than a rough overview of terrain and approaches I’m still giving Google Earth a big thumbs down for usefulness…

    If you want to use some kind of computer planning tool you’re better off with Topo! or another CD-Rom based product. I couldn’t even find the trails when I booted up Google Earth. If it takes more than a minute …

    Get Outdoors – Google Earth Adds Hiking/Biking Trails Layers: Yawn! – Getoutdoors.com Outdoor Blog

    We all know the future of hiking is 24/7 worldwide internet connectivity, real-time blogging with geo-tagged photos.

    That time is not here yet.

    Modern Hiker gave the new layers feature a try:

    That said, it looks like it could be pretty cool, eventually. I don’t know about your home area, but right now the map’s Los Angeles hiking trail map looks pretty dang barren.

    Google Earth Hiking Trails

    Leave a COMMENT if you have had more success with it.

    larger image – Google

    Google Earth adds hiking trails

    Real time GPS navigation by mobile phone getting closer to reality.

    Want to scout out some hikes before your next trip? Google Earth’s new layer has hundreds of them.

    Specifically, the Trimble Outdoors Trips layer features GPS-marked trails for activities including hiking, biking, backpacking and running.

    The info includes directions to trailheads, a difficulty ranking, and notes on interesting sights to see along the way. Some legs also include photos, audio and even video clips.

    But here’s where it really gets interesting: One click sends the trip info straight to your phone–and if it’s a GPS-enabled phone, you can get the actual coordinates as well (as opposed to just the map).

    Users can, of course, submit their own hike routes as well. …

    Google Earth adds hiking trails – Lifehacker

    Thanks Warren.


    great photos – Mono Andes

    Mono Andes from Concepción, Chile is a big time outdoors photographer on flickr.

    Here are just a few of his great photos.

    Volcano Villarrica


    more Mono Andes HIGHLIGHT photos – flickr

    He’s using every feature of flickr, including geotagging.

    Here’s the map of his Araucanía photo set:

    source – flickr

    You can see those photos and interact with the map on his Andes – Araucanía set page.

    A couple more, to inspire a trip to Chile.



    geotagging photos – cool !

    I am liking this new feature on flickr.

    First you post a wonderful photo:

    Mongolia China Kazakhstan Russia – Where four countries meet.

    original – flickr

    Then you add a tag to show where the photo was taken:



    Here’s the BIG map of Kit Seeborg’s photos.

    By the way, because of this photo I learned that Kit is editor of the WorldChanging website. It looks very interesting. I subscribed to her RSS feed.

    This is a great example of how photo sharing can connect people.

    hiking the Netherlands

    header_01.gifJan de Jong recommended the very professional wandelnet.nl website (in Dutch) for a comprehensive list of hikes 100km or longer. It includes guidebook recommendations.

    To translate to English, I used the Babel Fish website. It works quite well, though only one page at a time.

    The best part is the interactive map. (screen shot below) On the website version you can hover over the map and click on the routes.


    If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much. Thanks Jan.

    Stichting Wandelplatform-LAW – Lange-Afstandroutes : LAW’s (long routes page)

    trekking Nahuel Huapi, Argentina

    I went back to browse the travelogues of Jeffrey Poznanovic.

    After seeing his pics of a 6-day trek through Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, I was tempted to start brushing up on Spanish and shop for airline tickets to South America.

    more photos – Jeffrey Poznanovic

    We’ve listed the Nahuel Huapi Traverse one of the best hikes in the world.

    It’s perhaps the best hike in the superb Argentinian Lake district, a wilderness of granite spires & gorgeous lookouts. The location is perfect, only 20km by bus from the outdoor adventure town of Bariloche.

    The Villa Catedral to Puente Lopez route is 36.5km (23mi) plus sidetrips, 5 days, 4 nights recommended. Wind and cold are the biggest challenges.

    On a related matter, MyOutdoors.net has added KLM data for some of their hikes.

    What’s KLM? (That’s what I said.) It’s a pointer file which takes you a specific place on Google Earth. For example, they post a KLM for a hike of Nahuel Huapi.

    This is pretty geeky stuff. To try it out you need a fast computer, high speed internet connection and to download a (free) copy of Google Earth software.

    Oh, and lots of time. You might get hooked flying over the Earth checking out future adventures.