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Archive for the ‘Long-distance Hiking’ Category

As a hiker (and train lover), I like this idea – using trains as a transportation mode to get to hiking trails. I only wish it was more of an option in the US. But, click here to read “What is a Hiking Train Station?” and plan a hiking vacation in Europe.

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There’s a “real-time” blog being kept as Thad Lunceford makes his way east on his end-to-end Finger Lakes Trail backpacking trip…as of today (July 15) he is in Bainbridge, NY headed east, 451 miles down / 110 miles still to go…you’ll love the photo of his blistered foot, many of us have ‘been there and done that’ and can definitely empathize !

Check out the blog at:  http://kimo342.com/

source: Larry Blumberg via FLTC e-list

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Here’s a list (with photos) to get you dreaming. Heck, don’t just dream – go do it. I’ve only hiked 5 of these, so I better get busy: Take a hike: The world’s 30 most spectacular hiking trails

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WENY, link to original post & video

Eighteen hundred miles, through nine states. That is the distance that Bart Houck and Jo Swanson have traveled as the first hikers to complete the Great Eastern Trail that starts in Alabama and ends at the Finger Lake Trails in Bradford.
“We have encountered lots of weather, physical elements, scenic views, and absolutely the best part of the people that we have met along the way,” said Houck.
The pair started the journey in the snow covered hills of Alabama and during there journey experienced all kinds of severe weather conditions.
Swanson says, “It can be really overwhelming when you wake up and its pouring rain and your tent is wet and everything you have is wet, and then you hike all day in the wet and then you set up a wet tent.”
Houck and Swanson will spend the night in a lean-to that marks the end of the Great Eastern Trail.
“We started out this hike not knowing what it would be, it truly turned out to be something that I was not expecting, and I feel that we have been ambassadors for the trail.” said Houck.
Bartt and Jo want everyone to know how humbled and grateful they are for the support they received.
If you want to see the hikers blog follow the link http://www.gethiking.net/

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Two hikers on the Great Eastern Trail will finish their thru-hike in NY’s Steuben County on June 17 or 18. The terminus is where the Crystal Hills Trail intersects the main Finger Lakes Trail near South Bradford, NY.

If you want to follow their adventure, check out their blog at www.GEThiking.net

Click here to read an article that appeared in the Lockhaven PA newspaper after their visit in Woolrich PA

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by Sue Freeman

Looking at a pair of hiking boots is not normally what sets someone to feeling old. But, I can’t help it. My life is measured by hiking boots and their progression in technology. As with other advances (notably electronics!), the hiking boots of today are a world away from the hiking boots of my young adulthood.

Montrail Moraine hiking boots before hiking the AT.

Montrail Moraine hiking boots before hiking the AT.

In 1995 I began preparations to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. The prep included shopping for, selecting, and breaking in a new pair of hiking boots. I selected a state-of the-art all leather, mid-calf hiking boot called Moraine from Montrail. These were rugged behemoths that weighed 4 pounds and surrounded your foot in protective leather. The footbed was flat, requiring an insert to provide a minimum of cushioning and arch support.

Months before hitting the trail I began wearing my boots; first around the house for short time intervals.

Montrail Moraine hiking boots after hiking the AT.

Montrail Moraine hiking boots after hiking the AT.

Then for forays outside, gradually building up the time span and letting the boots somewhat conform to my feet as they were softened by sweat. Some hikers would fill their boots with water and others would even wear them in a shower in an attempt to get the perfect fit. But, as you can imagine, water wasn’t the kindest to leather.

In fact, we slathered the boots with waxy waterproofing which served to keep the water out but also proved adept at keeping sweat inside. I came to learn, in a painful way, that sweaty feet are a breeding ground for blisters. On the trail, I trashed my hiking socks and began wearing only liners. And I took frequent breaks with my boots off to air out my feet and  liners. Still, my feet blistered horribly.

Over the years, as I hiked other long-distance trails, I tried various boots. Each was an improvement in small ways. But, one thing that irked me to no end was the impossibility of finding boots that weren’t waterproofed. For years, a boot wasn’t sold unless it sported GoreTex waterproof fabric.

TevaSphere Trail boots

TevaSphere Trail boots

Fortunately, those days are long gone – and so unfortunately is my youth. I got a new pair of hiking boots recently – TevaSpheres. Hot off the development and manufacturing line, they’re the latest advance in technology, built for those of us who enjoy a variety of land-based outdoor fun that covers a diverse range of terrain. The ones I got are the TevaSphere Trail. They’re built specifically for women and offer a sturdy trail shoe, but NO waterproofing. Yipee! My happy feet can breathe. And I’m only lifting 1 pound of boot – a far cry from the 4 pound behemoths which probably weighted closed to 5 pounds once they got wet and stayed wet.

Some things do get better with age. Technology advances – such as the first-of-its-kind spherical heel and pod-arch system are significant improvements for people like me with aging feet. I bet the young ones will enjoy them also. I’m looking forward to giving my new TevaSpheres a decent workout.

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Talk to golfers and you hear about birdies, bogies and par. Talk to a bird watcher and you’ll hear of passerines, accipiters and puddle ducks. Talk to a long-distance hiker and you’ll need a dictionary to decipher their language too.

Rich and I recently returned from The Gathering of the Appalachian Long Distance Hiker’s Association in West Virginia. It’s an annual affair where people afflicted with the burning desire to spend months on end in the woods following a ribbon path to mountaintop after mountaintop, gather to regale each other with tales of glory and visions of another mountaintop to scale. It’s where I go once a year to renew my spirit and feel there’s somewhere on this Earth that I belong.

Sue fFeeman gazes over Georgian Bay along the Bruce Trail.

Sue fFeeman gazes over Georgian Bay along the Bruce Trail.

It’s also the one time in the year (unless I’m actually following one of those ribbon paths) that I get to speak a beloved language – the long-distance hiker language. It’s not a secret but it is a language spoken by very few and understood by even fewer. ‘Tis a shame – it’s such a pretty language. Here are some basic terms to get you started:

Hiker box – a box placed in a hostel, shelter, or post office where hikers deposit stuff (food, gear, supplies) they don’t want to carry and other hikers rifle through and claim stuff they need or could use. it’s a mutually beneficial trading system.

Mail drop – a box of resupply items that a helper mails to the hiker at post offices along the trail. It might contain items such as toilet paper, new map sections, iodine tablets, and lots of dehydrated food.

Bounce box – a box of unneeded gear or supplies that you mail ahead to a post office further up the trail because you’re likely to need the stuff later but don’t want to carry it all the way.Bruce Trail

Slack pack – to hike without your full backpack. Usually someone transports your pack farther up the trail and meets you at a road crossing. Meanwhile you hike light-footed carrying only minimal equipment.

Purist – someone who unfailingly follows the designated trail from one end to the other and probably doesn’t slack pack. Also called a white-blazer – someone who follows every white blaze.

Blue-blazer – a hiker who sometimes takes side trails (which are often blue-blazed) as a shortcut.

Yellow-blazer – a hiker who hitches rides to jump ahead to a new section of trail. He or she is following the yellow blazes painted down the middle of most roads.

Flip-flop – to hike to a point along the trail then take a ride to the end and hike back to the point where they stopped hiking. This means the hiker has hiked the entire trail and usually has escaped severe weather at the far end.

Yo-yo – to hike an entire trail then turn around and hike the whole thing again in the opposite direction. These people are truly afflicted.

PUD – pointless ups and downs – what many trails offer when they repeatedly take you to the top of every successive hill or mountain.

Thru-hiker – an afflicted person who hikes an entire long-distance trail. They are usually scarred for life.

A pump – a water filter used to purify water.

Vitamin I – Ibuprofen pills taken hourly to mitigate the aches and pains of long-distance hiking.

Personally, I’m stockpiling Vitamin I and preparing mail drops in preparation for my next thru-hike. I’m not sure where I’m going yet. Maybe the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Florida Trail, the Finger Lakes Trail, or one of countless others. I’ve already completed the Appalachian Trail, the Bruce Trail, England’s Coast to Coast Trail, the Camino de Santiago Trail

Bruce Trail hiking narrative

in Spain, and portions of others. It’s in my blood. I’m afflicted and proud of it.

(Visit www.footprintpress.com to pick up a copy of Bruce Trail – a travel narrative about thru-hiking the Bruce Trail.)

by Sue Freeman

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