personal BEST hikes

Brandon Esparza of Florida Outdoors RV polled experts in the outdoors to put together a list of their FAVE hikes:


El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, Sonora, Mexico

Shining Rock Wilderness in Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina

Little-Big Econ State Forest in Geneva, Florida

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Gasterntal Valley, Switzerland

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Florida Trail, Ocala National Forest, Florida

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Atlas

Blue Ridge Mountains

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Smoky Mountain National Park, North Carolina

West Coast Trail, BC

High Country Pathway, Michigan

Swiftcurrent Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

Hallett Peak, Colorado

Cottonwood Lakes, Eastern Sierra, California

Rainbow Springs, Ocala National Forest

Wheeler Geologic Area, La Garita Wilderness, Colorado

Experts Weigh in on Their Favorite Camping/Hiking Spots!

Click through for details.

Murder in the High Himalaya – a review

Popular and a prize winner, I’d been looking forward to listening to this book on my recent trip to the Himalaya.

AudibleMurder in the High Himalaya: Loyalty, Tragedy, and Escape from Tibet (2010)

It’s based around the Nangpa La shooting incident of 2006 near Cho Oyo:

… A group of unarmed Tibetan pilgrims attempting to leave Tibet via the Nangpa La pass were fired upon by Chinese border guards. Kelsang Namtso, a 17-year-old nun, was killed and a number were injured. …

The Chinese government initially denied the charges, but Kelsang’s murder was graphically filmed by a Romanian photographer, who was nearby as part of a climbing expedition.

After Romanian photographer Sergiu Matei smuggled the video out of Tibet, it became headline news around the world, drawing attention to the plight of Tibetans under Chinese rule/occupation. …

A documentary called Tibet: Murder in the Snow, based on this incident, was released in 2008 by 360 Degree Films, an Australian production company, working in collaboration with the BBC. …

It’s an awful story.

There’s no need for the author to demonize the Chinese. Their crime speaks for itself.

Click PLAY or watch a book trailer on YouTube. The video includes the shooting of Kelsang Namtso.

Quickly I lost confidence in first time author, investigative journalist Jonathan Green.

The telling is very cliche. Everything China BAD. Everything Tibetan GOOD.

It was as balanced a portrayal of the situation as the film Seven Years in Tibet. Biased.

He keeps making the statement: “oxygen level is half what it is at sea level“.

Of course the percentage of oxygen in the air does not change significantly with altitude, but absolute O2 content decreases as air pressure decreases.

Is that investigative journalist clear on the difference?

I’m not sure he knows what he’s talking about.

One character in the book when questioned states that Annapurna is in Tibet. It’s entirely within Nepal.

Apparently Jonathan Green spent a lot of time the Himalaya.

It’s not apparent in this book.

This is a disappointing read.

donating to Washington State National Parks

Money is tight.

Downsides of budget cuts at Olympic National Park were obvious to me when I was there.

State residents have this option. A vanity mountain license plate.

NationalParkPlate

… The sale of each plate results in a $28 contribution to support Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks. Last year, more than $120,000 was donated to the parks …

details

Of course you can make a straight donation to the Washington’s National Park Fund, if you prefer.

Long term we need to move management and funding of Parks from government to users.

Friends of Olympic National Park needs to do more as the taxpayers cut funding.

Gros Morne National Park – what the frack?

The UNESCO world heritage committee says a monitoring mission should be sent to Gros Morne National Park to assess fracking risks.

… it’s seriously concerned about plans for potential oil exploration near the site. …

Gros Morne

CTV – Fracking risks in Gros Morne should be assessed, UNESCO says

State of Canada’s Parks:

Among the good news: a huge new park in Québec which is now eastern North America’s largest protected area and Canada’s largest provincial park!

The bad news? We’ve identified numerous emerging threats to some of our most iconic parks. The threat of oil fracking metres from Gros Morne National Park heads the list, along with ongoing concerns about federal budget cuts and inappropriate commercial developments in our national parks. Also, some provincial and territorial governments are backtracking on promises to create new parks and protected areas. …

read more from CPAWS – One step forward, two steps back for Canada’s parks: CPAWS’ 2013 State of Canada’s Parks Report

Long Path, NY

The Long Path is a 347.4-mile (559.1 km) long-distance hiking trail beginning at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey and ending at Altamont, New York, in the Albany area.

While not yet a continuous trail, relying on road walks in some areas, it nevertheless takes in many of the popular hiking attractions west of the Hudson River, such as the New Jersey Palisades, Harriman State Park, the Shawangunk Ridge and the Catskill Mountains. …

Plans call for it to be extended through the Adirondacks to the Canadian border.

Unlike the Appalachian Trail, I actually set out to day hike the Long Path.

Rick Long Path

But didn’t go far.

Long Path

The tree locked trails of the eastern USA simply don’t engage a guy from the Rockies. It’s mostly a green tunnel out here.

I left a Summit Stone with this caterpillar, … and turned back.

summit stone

No Long Path for me.

Here’s a glimpse of the kind of terrain we’re talking about.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

via NJ Hiking

Dingri to Everest, Tibet

Trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal is wonderful. 🙂

Why would anyone want to trek to north Base Camp in Tibet? 😦

Everest North Face from the Rongbuk Monastery - steynardThe views from the north side are far, far superior.

The climate is dryer. The trekking season longer.

On the other hand, guided tours on the Tibet side are dodgy at best. Altitude sickness delays or stops many tours. It’s a gamble to sign on to one of those.

Masochistic hard core high altitude independent trekkers only should click over to our updated Dingri to Everest information page.

If only to find out all the other reasons Nepal is superior. 🙂

Expedition Idaho Race wrap-up

by site editor Rick McCharles

Race Director Dave Adlard impressed one and all with his passion and tireless effort to make the inaugural ExpID a success.

Check out his wrap-up post for results and highlights – Expedition Idaho: The FINAL Update!.

The top teams transported themselves over 500mi of rugged north Idaho and Montana. Here’s a vastly simplified map of the route.

Mostly on foot, mountain bike and paddle, Dave added dozens of other challenges. Personally I liked “build a raft” and “light a fire” (without matches).

It’s hard on the body. My friends took significant damage moving constantly for 6 days.

Andy Tucker
Jeni McNeal

… but talk about a life altering experience. Expedition Adventure Racing makes Ironman look trivial.

Winners Thule from Europe just might be the team to beat at Worlds in Tasmania.

I was responsible for the race blog and social media:

» Team Photos | Photos | Videos | Twitter

Though I’m personally not a fan of Twitter, it was our best mode of communication during this race. Multiple people logged in to our account to update from the mountains by mobile phone.

The SPOT devices were almost more trouble than they were worth, working semi-reasonably perhaps 30% of the time. Multiple points of failure: human error, SPOT failure, battery failure, weather interference. The satellite network is unreliable too, it seems.

The one time we really needed SPOT to work, it didn’t. The team needed to climb to elevation to use a mobile phone to call 911 for air evacuation after a bike fall.

My $9.50 Trakfone was far more reliable in the wild than SPOT.

Here’s my favourite photo from the week, nighttime navigation – Team Bones.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness = BUGGY

Just finished a week hiking and biking out of Leavenworth, Washington. (Trip reports to come.)

Alpine Lakes Wilderness … is one of the most popular outdoor recreational areas in the State of Washington.

Although this area has the wilderness designation and no motorized vehicles such as cars, motorcycles, or even bicycles can operate … there is heavy foot traffic and camping throughout. … managing the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area to preserve its integrity is very challenging. …

This being my first visit, there are a couple of lessons learned:

• Mosquitoes and no-see-ums are terrible anywhere near alpine lakes. Doh!

I’d hoped it was just this summer, buggy in August due to the long, late Spring. But one regular hiker in the area told me it’s always this bad.

The Enchantments truly are the most popular destination, with fierce competition for camping permits.

The (grumpy) Rangers in Leavenworth leave pre-booked permits outside in a rustic wooden box. At least one was stolen this past weekend, the actual group that had booked and paid for it required to wait around a few hours before getting a replacement. (Parks needs to find a way to prevent this problem.)

One solution, I feel, is simply to open up more camping permits for the Enchantments. Is that high region really much more vulnerable to human damage than anywhere else in the Cascade Range? … Or have they created an artificial shortage.

I saw plenty of campsites, plenty of toilets up there.

related – Washington Trails Association – Enchantment Lakes