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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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/

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

NCTThe North Country Trail -The Best Walks, Hikes, and Backpacking Trips on America’s Longest National Scenic Trail
By Ron Strickland with the North Country Trail Association
Paper: 978-0-472-05184-7 / $22.95 • Also available as an eBook

The North Country Trail is the longest of America’s eleven congressionally designated National Scenic Trails. Winding through seven states—New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota—the NCT’s 4,600 miles attract more than one million visitors annually. Featuring everything from urban strolls to backcountry adventure through mountains, rivers, prairies, and shoreline, the trail crosses a region rich in cultural history and striking in natural beauty. The North Country Trail promises to be the definitive guide for NCT hikers—whether first-timers, seasoned backpackers, or any level in between—who wish to maximize their experience on this splendid trail.

The North Country Trail

The North Country Trail

In addition to a full overview of the trail’s tread in each state, the guide describes in detail forty of the NCT’s premier segments and provides helpful information, including:
·    Easy-to-read trail descriptions
·    Physical and navigation difficulties
·    Trail highlights
·    Hiking tips
·    Precise maps incorporating the latest GPS technology

The North Country Trail is the creation of the North Country Trail Association, the all-volunteer organization charged with developing, maintaining, and promoting the North Country Trail in partnership with the National Park Service. The segments included in the book were selected as the best of the trail by the people who know it best—the members of the regional chapters of the NCTA—and each segment was hiked by the author of the guidebook, noted trail developer, author, and conservationist Ron Strickland.
Click here to purchase.

Ron Strickland is one of only two living founders of National Scenic Trails. He is the author of seven books, including a memoir, Pathfinder: Blazing a New Wilderness Trail in Modern America, and The Pacific Northwest Trail Guide: The Official Guidebook for Long Distance and Day Hikers. He wrote The North Country Trail in collaboration with the North Country Trail Association (www.northcountrytrail.org).

Read Full Post »

Take A Hike - Rochester 3rd edition

Take A Hike – Rochester 3rd edition

Spring is coming – eventually. Be prepared when that warm, sunny day arrives by purchasing guidebooks now so you can hit the trail and enjoy the burst of spring. The latest (3rd) edition of Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester NY Area” is ON SALE for only $16.95 (retail $19.95).

Also ON SALE for $12:
Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment
Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Finger Lakes & Genesee Valley Region.

Take Your Bike - Genesee Valley

Take Your Bike – Genesee Valley

Stock up – no matter how many guidebooks you purchase at www.footprintpress.com, the shipping for the entire order is only $3.50.  We have guidebooks for hiking, biking, paddling, exploring waterfalls, and more – lots of fun spring adventures to enjoy across New York State.

Bruce Trail hiking narrative

Bruce Trail hiking narrative


Read Full Post »

By Rick Steelhammer, WVGazette, link to original post

Great Eastern Trail through-hikers Bart Houck and Joanna Swanson cross the Tug Fork River and enter West Virginia, the approximate halfway point on their 1,800-mile, nine-state trek. Accompanying them are TuGuNu Hiking Club members Tim McGraw and Paul Kenney.

Great Eastern Trail through-hikers Bart Houck and Joanna Swanson cross the Tug Fork River and enter West Virginia, the approximate halfway point on their 1,800-mile, nine-state trek. Accompanying them are TuGuNu Hiking Club members Tim McGraw and Paul Kenney.

Snow clung to the hilltops lining the Tug Fork Valley surrounding them, but at river level, it was a rare snow-free day on the trail for Joanna Swanson and Bart Houck as they walked across the bridge separating McCarr, Ky., from the Mingo County town of Matewan WV.

Wednesday’s walk into West Virginia marked the fifth state that Swanson and Houck have entered since beginning what they are determined will become the first through-hike of the 1,800-mile Great Eastern Trail.

Extending from the highlands of Alabama to the Finger Lakes region of western New York, the Great Eastern Trail, America’s newest long-distance hiking venue, extends through nine states in all, with West Virginia falling at its midpoint.

“I like to think of Mullens being the true halfway point,” said Houck, a Wyoming County native and a substitute teacher and athletic trainer for Wyoming East High School. “But it’s probably closer to Hinton.”

“After getting to this point, I’m very confident we’ll make it the rest of the way,” said Swanson, a native Minnesotan who served as coordinator of West Virginia’s section of the Great Eastern Trail as a VISTA volunteer based in Wyoming County in 2011.

The first half of their journey has been a frosty one for the long-haul hikers.

“We’ve hiked through snow in every state so far, but it was our idea to start in January,” Swanson said. “We’re ready for spring.”

Swanson said the Great Eastern Trail, and the Appalachian Trail, which she through-hiked in 2009-2010, “are totally different monsters. The Great Eastern Trail goes into places that feel more rural and remote than the Appalachian Trail, but at the same time, the Great Eastern goes through towns, including downtown Chattanooga.”

The concept for the Great Eastern Trail is more than 60 years old. Four years after Earl Shaffer completed the first through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 1948, he proposed opening a parallel route to the west, linking a series of existing trails meandering through a patchwork of state and federal land.

As use of the Appalachian Trail steadily increased, with some stretches becoming crowded at times, hikers began to take a fresh look at Shaffer’s proposal. In 2003, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Southeast Foot Trails Coalition began to discuss the creation of a western alternative to the Appalachian Trail. By 2005, the American Hiking Society and the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program joined in the effort, and came up with the name Great Eastern Trail.

While segments of the Great Eastern Trail remain sketchy, including much of the section passing through West Virginia, most of the GET incorporates existing long-distance trails, including parts of the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama and Georgia, the Cumberland Trail in Tennessee, and the Pine Mountain Trail in Kentucky.

In West Virginia, plans call for the trail to pass through R.D. Bailey Lake Wildlife Management Area, Twin Falls State Park, Camp Creek State Park, Pipestem State Park, and follow the New River through Bluestone State Park and Wildlife Management Area to the Virginia border. The trail then veers into a section of Virginia near Glen Lyn and joins a section of the Appalachian Trail near Pearisburg, where it follows the top of Peters Mountain on the West Virginia-Virginia border before joining the Allegheny Trail and moving back into West Virginia.

Plans call for the GET to continue along the Allegheny Trail through Monroe and Greenbrier counties to Lake Sherwood in the Monongahela National Forest, cut back into Virginia for a 150-mile link of connected trails before joining the existing Tuscarora Trail, which passes through an additional 33 miles of West Virginia, and extends through parts of Virginia, Maryland and into Pennsylvania.

“This trail showcases 190 miles of West Virginia, and will be great for the state,” said Houck. Several towns along the trail’s route through Southern West Virginia, including Matewan, Mullens, Pineville and Hinton, have already signed on to be Great Eastern Trail host communities and have agreed to blaze the trail through their streets and encourage trail activities.

In Southern West Virginia, GET hikers can be expected to use the same amenities that have sprung up to serve motorized trail users on the Hatfield-McCoy Trail. “Both ATV riders and hikers like pizza and cheap places to stay,” said Swanson.

While other through-hikers are sure to eventually follow the trail blazed by Houck and Swanson, most trail users are expected to be day-hikers exploring sections of the GET that pass near their homes.

“In West Virginia, there will be plenty of bite-sized day hikes,” Swanson said.
For the time being, sections of the GET that don’t follow existing trails through public land are routed along less-traveled public roads and highways.

Houck and Swanson said their average day on the trail covers 12 to 15 miles, although they have hiked as far as 22 miles in a day.

“We’re on the trail at least eight hours a day,” said Houck, who generally carries a pack weighing about 40 pounds, “most of it food.” Swanson said her pack load averages a little less than 30 pounds.

To avoid the monotony of cooking and preparing trail meals, “whenever we see a place along the trail where food is available, we veer toward it,” Swanson said.

The only form of potentially dangerous wildlife encountered along the trail so far has been a snowy interlude with a wild boar in Tennessee. But all in all, “yard dogs have been our biggest threat,” according to Houck.

Along many sections of the trail, local hikers and officers of area trail clubs have accompanied Houck and Swanson on their northward journey. The two have also reported numerous unexpected, but gratefully accepted, offers of food, lodging and refreshment.

“The kindness of the people we’ve met along the way has really blown us away,” said Swanson.

During their trek through their last stretch of Kentucky into Matewan on Wednesday, Houck and Swanson were accompanied by Tim McGraw and Paul Kenney, president and vice president of the TuGuNu hiking club, based in Wyoming County.

“The Great Eastern Trail is a work in progress,” said McGraw. “It’s going to take some time to get a route established through Southern West Virginia. It would be a big help if the Legislature could establish a Great Eastern Trails Authority to help us work out cooperative agreements with private land owners, and get the trail route established.”

“We have a pretty good idea of where we want to go, but it’s not exact, yet,” said Doug Wood of the West Virginia Scenic Trails Association, which is helping to chart the trail’s course through West Virginia.

“The complaint for many years has been that parts of the Appalachian Trail are overused,” Wood said. “I think a lot of people would like to have a trail system that was more amenable to [Appalachian Trail founder] Benton MacKaye’s vision of a braided web of hiking trails that would semi-parallel the Appalachian Trail.”

Houck said that when Swanson first suggested the idea of through-hiking the Great Eastern Trail, which had unsuccessfully been attempted in 2007, his initial reply was “Hell, no!”

But he’s glad he eventually changed his mind.

“It’s a great trail, and I want people to get excited by it,” said Houck. “But you don’t have to be a through-hiker to enjoy it. You can go from Mullens to Pineville and have a great time.”

To follow the journey of Houck and Swanson, who also go by the trail names of “Hillbilly Bart” and “Someday Jo,” go to www.gethiking.net. To learn more about the Great Eastern Trail, visit www.greateasterntrail.net.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham…@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »