Archive / July, 2015

NOTICE- I am on Vacation from July 23-26



I will be on vacation from July 23 to July 26. As such, I will have limited access to e-mail.


To compensate for the inconvenience to my customers, I offer the code VAYCAY2015, good for 20% off all purchases until July 27th.

Continental Divide Trail- Dividing- and Uniting- a Continent

Last time, I wrote about the Pacific Crest Trail. Now, I will write about the Continental Divide Trail.


Basically, the trail roughly follows the continental divide. The continental divide is a boundary, running roughly along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. To the east, water drains towards the Atlantic. to then west, water drains towards the Pacific.


The trail itself has three southern termini. Crazy Cook Monument in New Mexico, Antelope Wells, New Mexico, and Columbus, New Mexico, all near the border with Mexico. (Crazy Cook is considered the “official” southern terminus, but it far away from any lodging or other services.) From there, the trail stays close to the divide for about 3,100 miles until reaching the section of the Canadian border next to Glacier National Park. Unlike the Pacific Crest Trail, parts of this trail are still incomplete, and as such the route is occasionally routed along roads and truck trails.


Not surprisingly, food and lodging are very hard to come by on the trail, especially because most of it passes through remote areas. While not an issue for day hikers who use part of the trail to hike to a mountain and then return home, this becomes an issue for section hikers and thru hikers.


So what would be needed to hike along the backbone of this continent?


Obviously, hikers would need the ten essentials. But they would also have to make sure to manage their resupply points. A popular method of resupply is mailing supply packages to post offices near the trail. This all but guarantees that thru hikers will have the supplies that they want, rather than whatever is available at a small town store.


Water is, of course, very important. Contrary to what some people may have heard, there are no pipes along the trail delivering drinking water. One supplement to carrying cases of bottled water are water purification tablets, which kill disease-causing germs that can be found even in running water.


Another thing you will need are repair supplies, after all, you could be several days from the nearest store that offers a new backpack. Duct tape is very versatile. Glue can be useful especially if the soles separates from your hiking boots.


And of course, you will need navigation gear to reduce the chances of getting lost. While a map and compass are useful, a GPS is especially helpful.


In sum, make sure you are prepared every step of the way, from New Mexico to Montana.


The Continental Divide Trail coalition has more information.


Back to Main

The Pacific Crest Trail- A Great Wonder

From the Mexican border to the Canadian border, there is a line of mountains rising along the east side of the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. and these mountains had numerous hiking trails, truck trails, and roads. Someone named Clinton C. Clarke came up with the idea of linking trails such that one could theoretically hike from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. and thus was the genesis of the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail was completed in 1993.


(Pacific Crest Trail overview map, courtesy U.S. Forest Service)

The trail runs about 2,660 miles, from the border near Campo, California to the boundary of Manning Park in British Columbia. Elevations range from near sea level along the banks of the Columbia river to Forester Pass at 13,153 feet. The trail passes through many places like Kings Canyon National park , Yosemite National Park, and the Mount Hood Wilderness.


There are of course plenty of trailheads, and day hikers often make use of the trail. But there are also section hikers who would hike an entire section (such as the section through the San Jacinto Mountains) or even the entire trail from Campo to Manning Park.


Section hikes can take up to a week (depending on the length of the section) and a thru hike, from south to north, can take up to six months, depending on a hiker’s physical condition.


But what would it take to do a thru hike all the way?


One thing to remember is that you obviously can not carry all of the supplies you would consume. It would be too much, even if all of your equipment and tools are ultralight. And extra weight means a slower hike, which could mean you might not make it to the end before the first winter snowfall.


It is very imperative to remember the resupply points, where you can purchase or retrieve supplies. You will occasionally pass near some resort areas like Lake Tahoe and Diamond Lake, where there will be plenty of opportunities for resupply (as well as lodging that includes a bed). Most resupply points are small villages where selections are limited. One popular alternative is mailing supply packages to post offices near the trail, so that you may pick them up when you arrive. Some businesses may hold packages for hikers; you will of course have to inquire with them for details.


Study your map for campsites. You will likely spend almost all of your evenings sleeping in campsites. Weather can ghet unpredictable, so you will need at least a tarp to protect yourself.


Thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail will take you through bear country. And one thing bears love is food. These are animals that would break into an SUV just for some yummy snacks. Bear proof containers were developed so that campers and thru hikers can store their food, whether trail mix, granola bars, and freeze-dried blueberries without waking up and finding it inside a bear’s stomach. Several parks, such as Yosemite National Park, require food to be transported in bear proof containers.


In addition to the ten essentials, you will need additional items. One, you will need a credit card with a high credit limit, so you can purchase supplies when you reach towns. Another thing you would need are repair tools and supplies to repair your gear in case something happens like a boot sole coming loose or a backpack strap breaking when you are over a day’s hike from the nearest store. It certainly would be cheaper and more convenient than having to have a helicopter deliver spare parts.


The basic tips are plan ahead (like months in advance), pack light, and check the weather frequently.


(Photo courtesy National Park Service)

NOTE: The Pacific Crest Trail Association has more information.


Back to Main

The 10 Essentials for Hiking

Hiking and backpacking have their charms. Rather than working out on a stairmaster inside a crowded gym and paying $100 per month for the privilege of working out there, you get to go out in the outdoors, among the trees and brush, seeing great views.

However, hiking has fewer amenities. If you are hungry, it is unlikely you will be within five minutes’ hike to a McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or a fancy steakhouse. And so, we discuss the ten essentials for hiking.


1. Water


Water is essential, as we can not go on without water for more than forty-eight hours. How much water you need depends on several factors, such as the length of the hike, elevation gain, and outdoor temperature. For short hikes in local parks, a bottle of water from a grocery store will suffice. For longer hikes, you may need to bring lots of water; a  hydration pack will be very useful.


2. First Aid


This, too is, important. It could take many minutes for an air ambulance to arrive if there is an emergency; swift administration of first aid is necessary.


A proper first aid kit will include bandages, rubbing alcohol, gauze, ointment, c old compresses, and tweezers.


3. Map


A map is very important. It is diffuclt enough to navigate roads; hiking trails have fewer navigational markers, particular those in wilderness areas.


4. Compass


A magnetic compass has been a very important tool for navigation for over one thousand years. It is especially useful at night or during a cloudy day.


A great alternative is  GPS navigator, making it easier to find out where exactly you are on the trail.


5. Lighting


Hiking trails do not have lampposts. Because of this, you will need to bring your own lighting, like a flashlight or lantern. And of course, make sure you have some spare batteries.


6. Sunscreen


Sunscreen is essential. some people just end up looking like boiled lobsters after just three hours in the sun. you will not enjoy your hike with a bad sunburn. Make sure to use that sunscreen.


7. Knife


A knife can be a versatile tool. You can cut branches and brush that is in the way, cut wood for firewood, and even use it in first aid situations.

8. Matches


Matches are a must. You will need something to make a fire at a camps site. Alternatively, you could use a mechanical firestarter. Please make sure to follow fire safety tips from the U.S. Forest Service.


9. Extra clothing


Weather can be unpredicable, and as such you may need extra protection from the cold. This is especially important from late fall to late spring, or in the far north or south latitudes, when temperatures plunge below forty degrees.


10. Food


Finally, there is food. Especially if you are backpacking for a few days; you could be more than a day’s hike from the nearest convenience store, let alone full-service restaurant. Crackers, fruit snacks, trail mix, or freeze-dried blueberries are great options.




Of course, in some situations, you may need additional items. During winter, when there is snow in higher elevations and latitudes, you may need snow gear to keep yourself from slipping. You may also need water purification supplies if you go on multi-day hikes.


Hiking and backpacking can be fun, and you will have definitely have stories to tell. Just make sure you bring the essentials so you do not have to tell stories of disaster.

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