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

disappointed by Greg Mortenson

If you saw the 60 Minutes piece (VIDEO) on author Greg Mortenson, you’ll be saddened and disappointed too.

… Krakauer, and others, say that Mortenson has embellished some of the details of his story to make them sound more dramatic and impressive. That some of the things he claims happened to him in his books are, at best, stretches of the truth, and at worst, outright fabrications.

There are even some indications that the funds that are raised by CAI are not being spent properly and that the organization lacks transparency in how it operates. …

I’m not at all convinced by Greg’s response to the charge as published by Outside – Greg Mortenson Speaks

Greg Mortenson is finished. What a setback to a great cause.

(via The Adventure Blog)

Juan de Fuca Trail threatened

Adjacent to the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island B.C. is the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.

I’ve done the WCT three times, the Juan de Fuca once.The Juan de Fuca is a nice alternative for hikers who don’t have enough time or experience.

But now some West Coasters are up-in-arms:


West Vancouver developer Ender Ilkay is planning a big new resort along Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Park.

The latest version of the plan calls for 263 cabins, three lodges, paved roads, and septic fields on the steep Pacific slope. Over the next 12 years, blasting and bulldozing within meters of the park would damage up to 16 kilometers of the Juan de Fuca trail between China Beach and Sombrio. …

details on Forest Action

I’ll be following this head butting.

GORE-TEX® fabric of deceipt

Super hiker Andrew Skurka:

Least favorite gear piece.

Waterproof/breathable fabrics are not very waterproof, at least in real-world conditions. And they’re not very breathable, either. Unfortunately, the alternatives aren’t any better: Waterproof/non-breathable fabrics cause excessive sweating; a wind-shell with more clothing is not as warm; and ponchos and umbrellas are not good in wind or when bushwhacking.

on Gear Junkie

I’m shopping for a new “Gortex” shell.

Seems to me any of the light weight $100 shells are equally good. Equally water resistant.

BC-200 Ultralight Shell

Disabuse me in the comments if I’m wrong.

drive the Annapurna Circuit

Last Footfall in Nepal is a NY Times article posted a year ago by Ethan-Todras Whitehill:

… by 2012 a road will have been built on this path, destroying this experience and, according to many, placing the last nail in the coffin of what was once the greatest trek on earth. …

I assumed that was an exaggeration. The tourism industry would not be silly enough to degrade Annapurna, … would they?

So I checked with Andrew Ostrowski on what he saw on their recent trek on the Circuit and up to Base Camp:

… As to the road to Jomson, it’s there and all the way to Muktinath with larger trucks, jeeps, bikes, etc. traveling there every 15 minutes or so.

… We hiked to Jomson and then took a bus to Ghasa … it’s scary ride !!!, and continue walking along the road to Tatopani from where we hiked towards Sanctuary/Base Camp.

This road is in use for quite some time, I guess for some few years now, however it’s often damaged by some mud slides and some sections need to be walked across for a couple of hundred meters over the slides to continue on as was a case with us. Just a week or so before our scary bus ride there was an accident when a jeep with 12 people in it went over the edge and rolled down into the river, all died.

The road on the eastern side of Annapurna trek, leading someday to Manang is still under construction and only some easier sections are semi-complete, we were stopped a couple of times and needed to wait until rock blasting on the opposite side of the valley was completed before being allowed to continue on …

This road leads over extreme and steep terrain and my guess is it will take another 10-20 years to complete, if ever, not to mention constant rock/mud slides in this area. All work seems to be done by manual labour, no heavy equipment seen around, just blasting/scaling crews visible. …

Here’s one of Andrew’s photos from the ‘Circuit’ …

The Annapurna Circuit is one of our top 10 hikes in the world. Should it be taken off the list?

hiking Iceland in June

Locked and loaded.

I fly out of Halifax on the red eye June 2nd one way to Reykjavik. ($315 direct on Iceland Air)

There are even cheaper fares out of Boston and Chicago on the discount airline, Iceland Express, but I had no luck contacting them by email or phone.

It’s not my style to book so early … but both the last two summers I found that airfares skyrocket around June 1st. And those flights fill quickly.

Laugavegur hike

I understand weather is a factor.

more interesting Iceland photos

West Highland Way trip report

If you’ve ever considered hiking the most famed trail in Scotland, click over to books bike beer

… The trail is ridiculously easy to follow. Plenty of people along ‘the Way’ had guidebooks and maps, but we simply brought the photo-copied article I mentioned above. I should say that the article itself says it is no substitute for a true guidebook. Well, that might be true for some of the other hikes the authors write about, but for the WHW, I’d say save money and weight and leave the guidebook at home. …

along Loch Lomond

They loved this section, as did I.

But my own trip report is titled not recommended – West Highland Way, Scotland

As Lonely Planet Walking in Scotland says:

… you can’t help but wonder what Muir would think of a path through two power stations, one of them nuclear …

I couldn’t understand why so many German hikers made the pilgrimage here when they could go to one of the truly best hikes in the worldPicos de Europa – instead.

Spain is just as easy to access as Scotland.

Don’t Tase me, Bear

A $2000 piece of hiking gear.

The Wildlife TASER electronic control device is a revolutionary new multi-shot ECD that can engage multiple targets, and deliver a calibrated Neuro Muscular Incapacitation (NMI) pulse from up to 35 feet away.

The Range Adjusted Dual Laser System increases effectiveness, while providing a more humane means of animal control for wildlife. These devices have been proven effective for wildlife and are available today for wildlife managers, field biologists and zoo caretakers.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):

… calls the X3W inhumane

Tasers cause uncontrollable muscle contractions and overwhelming pain. Humans and animals on the receiving end have died as a result of the shock. For these reasons, the National Animal Control Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association both recommend against their use. Aggressive methods should be explored only if one’s life is truly in danger.

In extreme nuisance wildlife cases, large wild animals (without young) can be live-trapped and relocated. …

read more – ABC 15

moving the besthike database?

For years I’ve been wanting to move our list of the best hikes in the world to a wiki.

Currently it’s locked up in software called GoLive, defunct for years.

Yet every time I research the state of the art wikis, I’m disappointed.

We don’t need much:

• WYSIWYG easy page editing for ‘normal’ people
• good security

As a fall back plan, I’m currently trying to move it to Google Sites.

Click PLAY or watch a tutorial on YouTube.

Leave a comment if you can recommend other options.

my BearVault is stuck

I love my clear plexiglass BearVault, happy to carry the extra weight for the convenience of tossing my food anywhere I like.

But if I tighten the lid enough for the simple plastic clip to “click”, it can be tough to open. Sometimes I need strip down, call on super human strength, and sit on the thing to squish it a little bit oblong.

Turns out that’s normal for this gear. Check this rant from thruhiker Crow:

It was 4am and I was lying in my frosty tent in the Sierras, thinking how splendid a hot beverage would be right now. I was hungry as I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before because I was low on food and one of the ways I ration my food is to skip dinner.

I was thinking: for the same weight as the bear canister I could have brought my stove, pot, fuel canister, and 5 snicker bars. Right now, I could be drinking a hot beverage and eating a snicker bar. That would be good, but instead I have a bear canister.

I reached out of my tent, grabbed my frosty bear canister, tried to open it—it didn’t budge. I straddled it and tried to open it, it wouldn’t turn a bit–it was completely locked up. And that is when I renamed my BearVault 450 bear canister: my “G…

read more – Gear review: BearVault 450 bear canister

I too leave mine as threaded as possible, but not quite locked.

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