documentary – Surviving the Outback

Michael Atkinson places himself in the historic predicament of two stranded German aviators in 1932 to see if the his skills as a survival instructor, pilot and adventurer will allow him to escape to the nearest civilization.

It is a gripping film.

I learned a lot about surviving in the harsh Australian coastal wilderness.

The most remarkable feature of this documentary is its mode of filming. It is not performed by any film crew that follows his journey. It is single-handedly managed by Mike through drones and cameras so it preserves the natural element. The breathtaking pictures of the ocean, varied shades of the waters, flora and fauna of marine sea and the natural cliffs along the coast paint an excellent landscape for the viewers. It manages to take one to an unexplored world …

 Watch the hour long documentary FREE on TubiTV.

BikePacking Wesley Ridge, Vancouver Island B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

AKA Mt. Wesley Traverse

I tried and failed to do the Wesley Ridge traverse:

  • close to tourist hotspot Cathedral Grove
  • trailheads on highway 4 between Parksville and Port Alberni
  • about 10km with 750m elevation gain/loss
  • about 6-8 hrs from one end to the other
  • additional hour or two walking abandoned rail tracks back to start
  • not maintained. Hundreds of fallen trees.
  • buggy but few mosquitoes
  • route finding necessary

I started at the end closest to Parksville assuming it would be less busy than the Cathedral Grove trailhead.

click for larger version

I made a video of the BikePacking trip. Cycling to and from my parent’s place in Parksville qualifies this as a #MicroAdventure.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I hid and locked my bike close to the trailhead. Transferred what I needed to my hiking pack — and headed up the railway tracks.

I missed the turn-off up mountain. It’s not obvious. On my return I flagged the start to make it more conspicuous.

Steep.

The strenuous 2km climb up to the telecommunications tower is called Wesley Tower Trail.

Many continue on to the first lake vista. It took me about 2 hours to get here. There are two benches, one named Forever Tuesday after the Tuesday Walkers Club in nearby Port Alberni.

Most turn back at this point. There’s no one path across the ridge from here.

I gave it a good try. You follow different (competing) sets of orange tape flags. Some lead to dead ends.

A bigger problem was scrambling hundreds of fallen trees. Not bringing long pants, I got quite scratched up. It was bushwhacking.

Another problem is water. I saw no flowing water — only remnant snow melt tarns. 

With daylight failing, I finally decided to find myself a great tent site.

It doesn’t get much better than this. I had to HIDE in the tent at dusk, however, pestered by small non-biting flies.

From here I could see steam rising from Port Alberni.

Here’s where I stopped.

Good night.

Next morning, nearly out of water, I decided to hustle back the way I’d come. I’ll try the Ridge from the other end on some future trip.

related – Lonny Barr – Wesley Ridge Trail

Copper Creek Trail, Kings Canyon CA

Kings Canyon National Park, California
 
The following is a hike discussed in detail by Riley Smith on his new audiocast, Broken Laces: A Hiker’s Podcast.

 

Subscribe here, or find on your favorite podcast provider (iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.). 
Alternatively you can listen on Podbean.
 
Most who arrive at Roads End Ranger Station  in Kings Canyon National Park end up doing the popular Rae Lakes loop, which in of itself, is an amazing Sierra Nevada trail.
For a more strenuous and less-traveled hike, head to the Copper Creek trailhead.

 

This is not a day-hike.  You’ll put the effort in at the beginning to enjoy near solitude, granite crag, and alpine lakes at every turn.  To start, the ascent is steep. You spend the first 7.5 miles climbing 6,000 feet, gaining great views of the valley below (including the Sphinx) until you reach the Lip.  At that point, feel free to go off trail and find a campsite at a nearby lake (ex. Grouse Lake). You just did the hard part!

 

Now, you can use this as a basecamp, because you have several day hikes available. Spend some time at Granite Lake perched on its own plateau, or follow the ridge line along Goat Crest and across several glacial alpine lakes.  Bring your favorite route-finding devices and skills as you can truly make your own adventure at 10,000+ feet. At this point, you may not see anyone, so soak your feet in a lake, go for a swim, or just enjoy the serene landscapes that the Sierras provide.

 

Should you want to make a loop of it, you can pick up basecamp and finish out Kennedy Canyon, where you’ll end up back at Cedar Grove Village. You’ll be several miles away from your car, so either be comfortable with hitchhiking, or have two cars available to shuttle yourself from trailhead to trailhead.

 

For the full story on how two intermediate hikers prepared for this hike and how they tackled this trail, listen to Broken Lacesepisode 1 on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or you favorite podcast provider.

 

Palm Springs to Paradise Cafe – day 5

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Tent sites don’t get much better than this.

Another gorgeous night. No fly. And my broken tent held up for the night on the ridge.

It was windy.

My gear got sooty from the 2013 forest fire burn.

It’s a stark and beautiful landscape.

I LOVE this section of the trail. Every step gorgeous.

Inspired, I left a Summit Stone for a PCT hiker to discover.

I was in a philosophical mood. In camp I was listening to an audio book about a man who lived alone for a year in Patagonia exploring the effects of deep solitude.

Here I left the State Park and entered San Jacinto Wilderness.

A father and son recommended a campsite where they had stayed the previous night. I found it using two popular PCT apps.

That’s Guthook. A paid app that most PCT hikers use.

I also used the free (no longer updated) Halfmile PCT app.

Though hidden from the trail, GPS found the place oft used by rock climbers. I was pleased to find a camp chair and large tarp for keeping my gear clean.

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

hike to Lago Windhond, Isla Navarino, Chile

Quite famous in 2019 is the Dientes de Navarino Circuit out of Puerto Williams, Chile.

It’s billed as the most southerly established hike in the world.

HOWEVER the Lago Windhond hike also out of Puerto Williams goes further south. But it’s far less popular.

From Here to Nowhere:

… Now, after failing to reach the Windhond trail from the Dientes Circuit a few days before due to dangerous snow conditions, my plan was to reach the lake via the Rio Ukika valley and, if time permitted, walk around the eastern edge of the lake to truly reach the southern end of Isla Navarino. Beyond that point Cape Horn is the only land before Antarctica. …

For the first half of the day the Windhond trail follows the Ukika valley, gradually climbing to its head, passing several pretty lakes which are the source of the Rio Ukika, and offering magnificent views of the backs of the mountains I walked along only a few days before on the Dientes Circuit.

Ahead, the Dientes de Navarino slowly come into view – and to be honest, the views of the mountains were better than those from the Dientes Circuit. …

Compared to the Dientes Circuit there was very little elevation change involved, and after my experience on that circuit I decided not to be too fussy about following the path exactly when the markers disappeared because of beaver damage. …

Solo Hike to Lago Windhond, Isla Navarino

related – An Outdoors Family did it coming from the day 1 route of the Dientes Circuit.

I believe this trail is now available free on the Maps.me app.

However … it’s a route, not a trail. You’ll be mucking through beaver damaged, wet meadows for long sections.

Turned back on the Dientes de Navarino trek, Patagonia

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles 
Dientes de Navarino (Teeth of the Navarino) is one of the best hikes in South America. The island of Navarino has the most southerly established trails in the world.

The jumping off point is Puerto Williams.

Most do the 50km over 4 days.
FIRST you need get to the end of the world. That’s Puerto Williams (pop. 2000) on the island of Navarino.
There are three ways:
– flight on small plane from Punta Arenas ($150 one way 2019)
slow (30hrs) ferry from Punta Arenas ($167 one way 2019)
– fast boat from Ushuaia (45min) and shuttle van (45min) about $100 one way 2019
I stayed at the friendly and relaxed El Padrino hostel. Most people there are either coming from or going to a hike. It’s a great place to get maps and up-to-date information.
For overnight hiking you are asked to register (free) at the police station. I found it fast and efficient.

The day of my departure some left the hostel at 8am. As is often the case, I was last to get on the trail. I left town at 1pm. It was only 4-6 hours to the first campsite.
I had a hot un-dehydrated last meal for lunch. 🙂

The first big snowfall of the year was the previous week — the end of February.
Almost everyone that week had turned back after post-holing deep snow. Most trail markers were hidden.
Weather was improving for my departure March 1st. But everyone had rented snowshoes over the past couple of days … just in case.
I’d decided NOT to rent snowshoes hoping enough people were gone ahead of me to put down a trail in the snow.
But Shila — the main gear store in town‚ happened to be open (for the first time) as I walked past on the way to the trailhead. I grabbed their last pair. ($3 / day)
Even if I didn’t use them, they would make me look more macho. 😀

It’s a couple of kilometres to the start. Most people walk from town.

Summer on  Navarino island is lovely. I can’t imagine how it must be during the very long, dark, cold, wet winter months.

Everyone stops by to give their respects to the Virgin. It couldn’t hurt.

This trail is really well managed. RESPECT to whomever got this organized.
Trailhead
Actually, it was Lonely Planet’s Clem Lindenmayer who popularized it in his 1992 Lonely Planet guidebook Trekking the Patagonian Andes.
Clem died age-47 while hiking in China’s Sichuan Province, I’m sad to recall. I loved his book. It was part of the inspiration that had me start this site.
The BEST thing about the Dientes Circuit is this free pamphlet. I can’t recall a better one hiking brochure anywhere else in the world.

In Spanish with English translation, it’s crystal clear. All you need for navigation.

The start is up, up, up through the trees.

Quite a bit of trail maintenance has been done in this section.

I used Maps.me as a back-up to the pamphlet description.

The start is the most popular dayhike out of Puerto Williams. Up to some viewpoints.
Puerto Williams
Beagle channel
Most day hikers finish at the giant Chilean flag.

I continued up on the rocky plateau.

It’s fairly well marked here, as well, though you do have to keep your eyes peeled for cairns. In spots there are multiple trails to get to the same place.

The only real problem is punching through snow or ice and getting your feet wet.

A difficult section is a long traverse along the side of a mountain.

You pass a chain of pretty alpine lakes.

This is the kind of snow I faced on the first day. Easy — but with some exposure. If you slip it would be a long, painful fall.

There’s my destination. Under the teeth of Navarino. It’s a steep scramble down.
Laguna del Salto
I set up late in the day on the observation platform. Serious hikers sometimes day hike here and back. That would take at least 8 hours.

Most people tent over by the waterfall.

It was a gorgeous evening and night. I was optimistic for the weather next day.

Unfortunately clouds were getting denser when I awoke.

Here’s what I would face day 2 trying to get to Laguna Escondida. Lots of snow.

Potentially no vistas. Potentially a slog in the fog.

I also awoke with a bad stomach ache.
What to do? I had mixed feelings.
In the end I decided to hustle back to Puerto Williams and catch the 4pm ferry. It only runs twice a week in summer.
Back in town it looked to me like the highest peaks were clearing. My odds of getting through the circuit MIGHT have been 70% or more, I believe now.
I may have made the wrong decision. ☹️
Oh well. This gives me an excuse to return!
Check our Dientes information page if you want to organize this trip for yourself.

related – bookmundi information on this hike