introducing John Chapman

If you want to hike in Australia, you want to know John Chapman. He is the hiking author down under.

John and his wife Monica authored the first 3 editions of the Lonely Planet bushwalking guides for Australia. When John decided to self-publish the 4th edition, Lonely Planet changed the title and focus of their guide, now more of a general overview: Lonely Planet Walking in Australia

Many hikers from abroad are unaware of John’s 4th edition. (Only the 3rd edition is listed on, for example.) Check John Chapman’s up-to-date list of his many published guidebooks.

For example, I will be buying his dedicated Overland Track guidebook for a planned pilgrimage to Tasmania in 2007.

Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon

Every hiker wants to cross the Grand Canyon. Just because it is there.

I did a similar trip across the much deeper Colca Canyon in Peru. Very challenging and very rewarding.

But to cross rim-to-rim takes advance planning. Of 30,000+ requests for backcountry permits each year, the park issues only 13,000.

Ideally, you should book at least 4 months in advance. Transportation can be a hassle. Details on Kaibab Trail

This is why we need — to get a heads-up on which of the great hikes require advance planning.

The best time to walk rim-to-rim is Spring and Fall. Summer is hot! Also, the North Rim facilities and road access close during the winter.

The second best hike in the Grand Canyon is a loop from the South Rim. Logistics are much easier. But hike rim-to-rim 20.6mi (33.2km), 3-days, 2-nights if you can.


mountaineering ethics

In the death zone everyone is at risk. It’s not an Olympic yacht race. The same rules do not apply.

Anyone who climbs that high knows the risks.

As I write at least 10 have died during the 2006 Everest high season. Thomas Weber died on the way up at 8,700m. His partner David Sharp freaked out on the way down and died 300m below the summit. Perhaps 40 climbers passed unwilling or unable to save him.

My Journey Home from EverestThey were criticized by Edmund Hillary — but I don’t judge them. I’m not sure what I would do.

Lincoln Hall, another day, was left for dead at 8,800m. He survived overnight, a miracle, and was helped down the mountain next day.

What I am saying is that this issue is more complicated than it seems. Read Beck Weathers uplifting book Left For Dead before you pass judgement.

Climber left for dead rescued from Everest

North Coast Trail, Canada

For years we have been waiting for the opening of the North Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, an extension to the existing Cape Scott Trail. It seems we cannot book in for summer 2006, however.

May 11 2006

Cape_Scott_Trail--w_Dutchman-5_small.JPGThe province should ante up for the North Coast Trail. A real, long-term sustainable project, the North Coast Trail is a safe bet that has the potential to be the turn card for tourism on the North Island.

With nearly $1 million already invested by the federal government, the call is to the provincial government to make a moderate contribution of $250,000 to the pot.
And timing is everything. With usage limitations on the West Coast Trail and limited access to Nootka Island, the North Coast Trail could be the next backcountry conquest for many serious backpackers, who are ready for a new adventure on Vancouver Island.

While the province plays it close to the (treasure) chest, other North Island tourism prospects are dimming with the reality of a reduced ferry service that makes large tourism operators nervous. With summer nearly upon us, it is imperative to get the trail completed before more backcountry hikers and others are turned away.

And it’s not just the tourists and hikers leaving the trail table. What about the backpackers’ hostel in Port Hardy, built to accommodate the anticipated increase in hikers? How long can such businesses last unless Cape Scott and the new trail are ready for summer?

The North Coast Trail Society is to be commended for courageously working on the project for many years.

They have dealt well, the federal government has played well and now it is time for the provincial government to sweeten the pot of the project before it is forced to fold for the summer.

BCNG Portals Page

If you have up-to-date information on an opening date, leave a comment below.

Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand

In a brilliant marketing strategy, New Zealand promotes 10 Great Walks.

It’s a bit of a laugh for Kiwis, actually. For one thing, one of the Great Walks is a river paddle.

Many Kiwis avoid the Great Walks because they are crowded with foreigners. They know other hikes that are just as good — but not on the list.

The most unique of the other hikes is the Queen Charlotte Track.

It’s a gorgeous ridge walk. Some viewpoints look down on waterways on both sides!


71km (44mi), 4-days, 3-nights, ideal for all levels of experience and fitness. You can even have a water taxi shuttle your pack from lodge to lodge.

More details on Queen Charlotte Track